• A.E. Santana

Seven short stories that SCARED me

My first memory of reading horror was in the first grade with the anthology In a Dark, Dark Room and Other Scary Stories that included the short story “The Green Ribbon.” At six years old, that story frightened me in a way that I could not explain. Jenny and her unwavering green ribbon and Alfred’s continued insistence to take off the ribbon followed me through elementary school into junior high and high school. It was then that my best friend and I discussed a story about a girl with a green ribbon around her neck and realized that we had been haunted by the same story.

As an avid horror reader, I have read stories that are all blood and guts, tales that reach far into the depth of the human psyche, and narratives that expand into the terror of the cosmos. While I have enjoyed many of these stories and have definite favorites, there are only a handful that have haunted me like “The Green Ribbon.” Here are seven horror stories that horrified me:


7. Dog Days (2012) by Graham Masterton—A horrendous surgery happens in this story, and every time I think about it, I want to pull my eyeballs out.


6. The Idol of the Flies (1942) by Jane Rice—Flies are disgusting, but not as disgusting as psychotic, murderous children.


5. The Sound Machine (1949) by Roald Dahl—If you ever doubted that plants have feelings, please read this story, be scarred for life, and never want to walk on grass again.


4. Vintage Season (1946) by C.L. Moore—This novella UNNERVED me with the idea that I will someday horribly perish, and people will happily watch.


3. The Body Politic (1985) by Clive Barker—After reading this story, I sometimes stare at my hands and think, When?


2. The Boogeyman (1978) by Stephen King—It was difficult to pick one King story (I only allowed myself one) that scared the hell out me (I love everything that goes on in that man’s brain). But this short story confirmed one of my greatest fears: the boogeyman can still get you as an adult.


1. The Unspeakable Betrothal (1949) by Robert Bloch—Why did I put this story into my brain? What happened to her body?! I don’t understand and I’m scared!


This list is as true as I can imagine at the time of publishing. As I continue to read, I hope to come across more stories that bother, frighten, and unseat me. Please feel free to share in the comments which stories scare you the most.