13 scariest stories from the first three years of MetaStellar

Reading Time: 8 minutes
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We’ve published 1,012 posts here at MetaStellar since we launched in the summer of 2020, the height of the pandemic. Of those, 432 were pieces of fiction — both original submissions and reprints.

And, of those, 13 were particularly frightening.

Finding Georgia by Christian Riley

A white goat stood beside a stump chewing on fungus and mold, eyes half out of its head. It gave a throaty bleat, its stomach popped like a balloon, and then it wandered off, casual like—my second clue, and final proof. The trail started at the foot of the bed. I followed it through the forest, observed bodies hanging from branches, big and small, human and otherwise.

I had this grim notion that I was looking into the contents of empty graves; except the faces were there, legitimate, and with stares not yet dead…

Read full story here. (Reading time: 10 minutes.)

Hungry by Robert Stahl

On he came, moving faster than lightning, growling and slobbering, lips pulled back to reveal his bleeding gums and rotten teeth. Will was too surprised to even scream.

That horrible face strained forward, those vacant eyes glaring, and that awful mouth open, gnashing and biting like an animal. The stranger wanted to eat him—somehow, Will knew that—and he managed to twisted away; but not before the mouth closed down on his neck.

A chunk of skin and muscle tore loose, accompanied by unimaginable pain, and there was blood, so much blood. Will started thinking he was going to die right there…

Read full story here. (Reading time: 13 minutes.)

Deify by Zach Ellenberger

The call came in late at night, one which I had anticipated for many years. My daughter Rose and I were playing in the living room when the phone rang, startling me. Jake walked into the room to tell me the news that Joseph Kavanaugh died. It had been nearly seven years since I last saw Joseph, a man twenty years my elder. I came to know him as a young girl when he took advantage of my family with promises of a renewed life, indoctrinated us into his cult of worshipers known as The Light and imprisoned me.

My parents left me as prey for Joseph, becoming his concubine and indulging his perverted sense of loyalty and devotion while they consumed every lie of his delusional utopia. Joseph became infatuated with me developing what he described as a “sacred bond,” that we shared. Eventually, he declared taking me as his new wife was not only divined, but necessary for the survival of the group.

Our child, he preached, would be the vessel for the divine on Earth…

Read full story here. (Reading time: 4 minutes.)

The Tended Field of Eido Yamata by Jon Michael Kelley

Except for not having a mouth, she appeared normal in every other way.

But then, Yamata had to look no farther than his own desiccated body to know that, “here,” “normal” was not to be the dominant theme. Obviously, the afterlife was amenable to showcasing his wasted form, one achieved in the previous one through self-mummification.

But that such a gaunt and withered state had escorted him so authentically into the next realm was rousing some concern, as he could only slightly turn his head, and to a greater degree his right arm…

Read full story here. (Reading time: 12 minutes.)

The Last Request of Gladimus McCarran by Soter Lucio

Gladimus McCarran was known to be a dabbler in the black arts. It had long been assumed that was the reason evidence was always lacking and no case against him ever stood up in court.

His appearance, his facial features, took on the look of a deranged and evil individual. His brown curly hair always was unkempt and unwashed, his clothes dirty and smelly, and his house, nestled between two large immortelle trees quite close to the river bank, contributed to the stories being bandied about the small fishing village. At twenty-three years of age his face was that of a much older man. Like in his forties or so.

His mother died giving birth to him, and his father, who witnessed his birth is said to have never spoken a word after coming out of the delivery room right up to his death when Gladimus was five…

Read full story here. (Reading time: 7 minutes.)

Mortimer the Maus by Michael Picco

I gazed into the thing’s mesh-filled eyes for some clue of its intent, but with the sun behind it, its eyes appeared to be dark empty pits, bored into the thing’s ridiculously bulbous skull. The  darkness there was deep and impenetrable.

Again, I heard that dreadful wheezing emanating from inside its mask. Up close, the thing’s mesh eyelets gave vent to an awful miasma as the damp fetor inside the suit bellowed out. Before I fully realized what was happening, the thing reached down and forcibly took my hand, shaking it vigorously. Those patrons who had gathered around us chuckled at the gesture. Utterly stunned, I found Mortimer’s handshake jarring and none too gentle, but I was determined not to broadcast my unease. After all, how many kids could say that they met Mortimer the Maus — much less shook his hand?…

Read full story here. (Reading time: 14 minutes.)

The Thing in the Woods by D. R. Smith

It fascinated us.

All its surfaces were smooth, flat, and gleaming. Yet it shimmered, it stirred, even as it sat motionless amid the weeds. It warned us away yet tempted us to touch it. It was everything boys like us dreamt of finding in their treasure-hunting forays into the woods. All the wonders of the world in one odd thing.

And it was a nightmare, a strange, beckoning nightmare, a horror for which we had no response, except to stare…

Read full story here. (Reading time: 14 minutes.)


Nothing in the Dark by C. M. Fields

Kiera yelped as she nearly collided with a rim of dark metal that stared like the eye of some great, dead beast. The telescope was a long, open cylinder of wrought steel, its far end containing the primary mirror in which she could see herself dimly reflected, its near end pressing heavily into the linoleum floor. It seemed terribly contorted–weren’t telescopes usually left upright? It looked as if someone was trying to observe an object that had drifted below the horizon. More likely, the operator had been fixing some component and simply forgot to right it.

She located the interior control pad, hit the ‘dock’ button, and watched massive, fine-toothed gears hum into motion as the telescope transformed into an imposing steel tower, eye to the sky once more…

Read full story here. (Reading time: 26 minutes.)

The Way of Water by Nina Munteanu

Dizzy and shivering in the blistering heat, Hilda shuffles forward with the snaking line of people in the dusty square in front of University College where her mother used to teach. The sun beats down, crawling on her skin like an insect. She’s been standing for an hour in the queue for the public water tap. Her belly aches in deep waves, curling her body forward.

There is only one person ahead of her now, an old woman holding an old plastic container. The woman deftly slides her wCard into the pay slot. It swallows her card and the light above it turns green. The card spits out of the slot. The meter indicates what remains of the woman’s quota. The woman bends stiffly over the tap and turns the handle. Water trickles reluctantly into her cracked plastic container. It looks like they have another shortage coming, Hilda thinks, watching the old woman turn the tap off and pull out her card then shuffle away…

Read full story here. (Reading time: 13 minutes.)

Interlude In Gehenna by Lamont A. Turner

The town consisted of two rows of clapboard buildings separated by a rutted path just wide enough to admit the passage of two wagons traveling side by side. Though faces appeared at the windows, peering furtively through the dirty panes as I passed, I saw but one man on the street.

As he approached on his mount, a stench accompanied him, and, seeking the source, I saw a dead mule at the end of the rope trailing behind him. His old mare struggled with its burden as the man slapped at the beast’s shank to little effect. As I came up alongside him I hailed him and inquired about the sheriff…

Read full story here. (Reading time: 18 minutes.)

Lizzie Williams’ Swampy Head by Joshua Jones Lofflin

It was during those months of strangling, watery heat when Lizzie Williams first told us about the head. She kept it in a burlap sack and would walk everywhere with it slung over her shoulder. When she grew tired, she let it bump along behind her in the rusty dirt. It don’t mind, she told us. It’s just a head.

A penny would get you a peek. A nickel a good look, just long enough to squint at the shadowed features. Some saw a freckly boy. Others a wrinkly old woman. Junie Lee said it was nothing but a dirty skull, but she was dirty herself and nobody paid her any mind. Ida Wallace shouted, It’s smiling at me, then Lizzie Williams snapped the sack shut and said the good look was over, even though it hadn’t been five mississippis and she knew it…

Read full story here. (Reading time: 4 minutes.)

Spiral Woman by Amanda Hard

When The Man cleans her, he takes his time about it, keeping her skin moistened, her circuits air-cleaned and dried, her body sanitized. She turns her head, since she can’t deactivate her vision, so she doesn’t have to watch. The turning motion leaves a horizontal crease in the otherwise flawless silicone of her skin. When he plugs her in for recharging, he smoothes the wrinkled places and frowns.

He no longer tells her he loves her. He no longer calls her by name.

Read full story here. (Reading time: 3 minutes.)

William’s Legacy by Bridget Haug

The weatherman announced a beautiful sunset over Tennessee this evening. I won’t see it. The hayride just turned the corner into our driveway. The dark horses hauling it blow icy smoke through their nostrils despite the warmth, their unseeing eyes a translucent blue. William is on time, as I knew he would be. Holding the reins with scaly grey hands, his skin is marked with oddly shaped burns, and a tattered rope dangles from his neck.

Dad is already sitting on the filthy hay at the back, fingers weaved in private prayers. He only turned 70 a year ago, but he seems to have aged ten since then. It’s his third ride now, my second.

Max’s first.

Read full story here. (Reading time: 4 minutes.)

MetaStellar editor and publisher Maria Korolov is a science fiction novelist, writing stories set in a future virtual world. And, during the day, she is an award-winning freelance technology journalist who covers artificial intelligence, cybersecurity and enterprise virtual reality. See her Amazon author page here and follow her on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn, and check out her latest videos on the Maria Korolov YouTube channel. Email her at [email protected]. She is also the editor and publisher of Hypergrid Business, one of the top global sites covering virtual reality.

Marie Ginga, MetaStellar's reprints and excerpts editor, has been writing and publishing books for five years. She writes as Marie LeClaire in Magical Realism. She thinks there's a little bit of magic out there if you know where to look. You can find her books on Amazon.

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