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Out of the many forms fiction takes, horror short stories are my favorites. I can’t get enough of ‘em. When done right, a good short story will include the same elements as a novel, but in a more condensed form. You get captivating characters. Spooky settings. Plots that tangle you up with intrigue. And best of all — there’s often a gut punch of an ending. They’re just the right size, too — short enough to read in one sitting. What’s not to love?
They’re even better when they’re free — like the stories you’ll find on Metastellar. So, just in time for Halloween, here’s my list of the best horror stories on Metastellar.
1. Nothing in the Dark by C. M. Fields
With so much horror fiction floating around out there, it’s plenty difficult for writers to come up with original stories. But C. M. Fields delivers a story about a haunted astronomical observatory that’s eerie and fraught with tension. Some readers may be turned off by the abundant descriptions of the inner workings of the telescope, but one gets the feeling Fields is simply immersing herself in a world she knows well — she’s also an astrophysicist. The tale manages to conjure up plenty of thrills as its protagonist wrestles with the question of what evil may lurk amongst the stars.
2. The Tended Field of Eido Yamata by John Michael Kelley
Of all the terrifying creatures that have been brought to life in books or on the silver screen, mummies weigh in at the bottom of my list. Sorry, Brendan Fraser. The idea of evil undead princes swathed in bandages never seemed scary to me. But the process of mummification! Now, that is terrifying. It actually happened in history, as we know from the ancient Egyptians. John Michael Kelley exploits this fear and ups the ante in this deeply introspective — but brilliantly written — horror short that’s evocative of Clive Barker’s lyrical writing style.
3. Second Bite by Aeryn Rudel
Over the years, the vampire genre has been so worked over, it’s a bit of a bore. Props to Aeryn Rudel for doing something creative with the genre we’ve never seen before. His story about a dentist who helps an aging tycoon attain immortality by fitting him with a very specific pair of pointy dentures is loads of fun. The writing here is taut and interesting, with an unexpected twist that’s pure delight. Horror fans will definitely want to, ahem…sink their teeth into this one.
4. Lizzy Williams’ Swampy Head by Joshua Jones Lofflin
Joshua Jones Lofflin takes no prisoners with this beautifully horrific tale that’s probably the finest thing you’ll read on Metastellar. A poor swamp girl becomes the center of attention when she brings a nightmarish conversation piece to the playground. It’s a talking head that answers questions about your future — for a fee. Fascinated and envious, the girl’s young peers will stop at nothing to acquire a head of their own. Through this remarkable story, Lofflin’s prose remains crisp and invigorating, with haunting imagery that stays with you long after the cringe-worthy conclusion.
Robert Stahl is a former bartender who left his bottle opener behind to follow his dreams as a writer. Now the Dallas-based freakazoid writes advertising copy by day and fiction in the evenings. He loves to connect with others about the craft of fiction. Click the link to find his blog as well as links to some of his stories: robertestahl.com.