15 Creepy Short Stories That You Can Read For Free Right Now

Look, we all love Halloween times, what with all the pumpkins and the ghosties and the sheer terror lying in wait around ever corner. But why limit the emotion of fear to one measly month out of the calendar year? Why can't we all live in a state of constant fear instead? After all, the night is dark and full of terrors, and the internet is large and full of horror stories. Horror stories that you can read online. For free. Right now. Here are just a few of the creepiest, spine-tingliest stories that you can read online right now, from your very own phone, computer, or haunted looking glass.

These aren't just creepypasta tales from the depths of Reddit, either. Some of the finest horror authors around have their terrifying stories available free online for your reading pleasure (if you dare). Here you'll find tales of creepy dolls and unsettling wigs, doppelgangers and medical horror and bodies found in bogs. They range from classic horror stories that have lasted for generations to new (and supremely creepy) creations written expressly for the internet.

So here are a few short, scary stories to send a shiver done your spine. Just don't blame me when you have trouble sleeping tonight (or even again):


'Patient Zero' by Tananarive Due

"Patient Zero" starts off cute enough: our narrator is a little boy, confined to his hospital room. What's less creepy than a hospital? But as Due's expertly paced story unfolds, we come to understand who this boy truly is... and what's happening to the world around him.


'Click-clack the Rattlebag' by Neil Gaiman

You know that feeling you get, when you have to walk up the stairs alone in an old, dark house? And you know that you shouldn't be afraid of the dark, but you can't help but feel like something is following, just behind you? Neil Gaiman has distilled that feeling into a story. "Click-clack the Rattlebag" is short, simple, and utterly bone chilling.


'His Face All Red' by Emily Carroll

Emily Carroll is the reigning queen when it comes to creepy, interactive horror comics. "His Face All Red" is one of her best. If you like fairy tales that twist around and make you feel a little queasy, this one is for you.


'Hello, Moto' by Nnedi Okorafor

You probably know Nnedi Okorafor from her fantasy writing, but know that she can also be very creepy when she wants to. For proof, you need only read the strange, wig-based story of "Hello, Moto" (and try not to disappear in a flash of green light).


'Bog Girl' by Karen Russell

You know how they sometimes find those ancient bodies, perfectly preserved, in a bog? 'Bog Girl' is about a girl who is found in a bog, and about the boy who loves her. It's creepy bordering on sweet... but romance with a bog girl is not so simple, in the end.


'How to Get Back to the Forest' by Sofia Samatar

At first, the kids in "How to Get Back to the Forest" seem like any other kids at summer camp: homesick and loud and obsessed with creepy rumors. But then we start to understand that this is not a summer camp as we know it... and these children are never, ever going home.


'The Third Bear' by Jeff Vandermeer

If you only think of bears as cuddly stuffed animals or lovable carton goofs, go and read "The Third Bear" by Jeff Vandermeer. It is not about a cutesy teddy bear, to say the least. The word "intestines" features at least once.


'The Ash of Memory, the Dust of Desire' by Poppy Z. Brite

Poppy Z. Brite is a master at weaving together horror and magic and passionate love to create stories like "The Ash of Memory, the Dust of Desire." So if you're looking to read about steamy romance and half-rotted corpses in the very same story... this is the one for you.


'Premium Harmony' by Stephen King

Really, you just can't go wrong with a Stephen King horror story. Even the least of his writing will give you nightmares for a solid week. "Premium Harmony" is a return to the creepy, fictional town of Castle Rock (as seen in the upcoming Hulu show), where domestic disputes unravel into grotesque horror.


'Nightcrawlers' by Robert McCammon

A storm rages through a diner window. The Nightcrawlers are coming. And to find out exactly what the Nightcrawlers are, you'll just have to read "Nightcrawlers" for a vivid, tense, classic horror story set on a dark and stormy night.


'Abraham’s Boys' By Joe Hill

Yes, Joe Hill just so happens to be the son of the one and only Stephen King, but he's also a great horror writer in his own right. "Abraham's Boys," for example, captures the eternal fear of being locked in a basement to perish right in the first paragraph, and just keeps going from there.


'The Doll' by Daphne du Maurier

Creepy doll. CREEPY DOLL. Surely, the creepy doll story is the highest level of creep. And "The Doll," a story of obsession and violins and dolls with blank, staring eyes, is one of the ultimate classics.


'Sunbleached' by Nathan Ballingrud

Of course, what's a collection of horror stories without at least one vampire? "Sunbleached" brings us a most uncomfortable vampire, hidden in the crawlspace of a house to avoid the sun. It's less of a sexy vampire tale and more of a horrific, bloodsucking vampire tale. Either way, be sure to read in the shade.


'How to Talk to Girls at Parties' by Neil Gaiman

Not to double-down on the Gaiman content, but the creepy alien genre is tragically underused. Gaiman's "How to Talk to Girls at Parties" is delightfully weird, creepy, and deeply awkward for anyone who's ever been to a party where they didn't know that many people.


'Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?" by Joyce Carol Oates

"Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?" is not an especially long or complicated story. The plot is simply a guy called Arnold Friend driving up to a girl's house, and asking her to come with him on a ride. That's it. And yet... this is perhaps the creepiest story of them all. Because the longer we spend with Arnold Friend, the more we start to fear him.