Weird Short Stories

These stories are weird in some way. They might have ridiculous or uncommon plots, unusual narrators or confusing narration, absurd situations, or anything that stands out as different.

See also Gothicism

Stories that are Weird, Strange, Odd, Bizarre, or Unusual

The Nose | Nikolai Gogol

A barber, Ivan, cuts into a loaf of freshly baked bread only to find a nose inside. He recognizes the nose as belonging to a regular customer of his, Platon. Fearing he will be in trouble, Ivan thinks about how to get rid of the nose. Meanwhile, Platon wakes up in his home and the absurdities continue.

Read “The Nose”

The First Year of My Life | Muriel Spark

The narrator, a baby, is able to relate the first year of its life because, as we’re told, babies are omniscient in their first year. Born late in WW I, the baby reports on its caregivers, famous people’s lives, and the war.

A Woman Seldom Found | William Sansom

A young man walks the streets of Rome alone and without purpose. While walking home on a quiet street he encounters a beautiful woman who smiles at him.

Read “A Woman Seldom Found”

An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge | Ambrose Bierce

A confederate sympathizer is sentenced to hang from Owl Creek Bridge during the American civil war.

Read “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge”

Horse Camp | Ursula K. Le Guin

Sal and Norah, sisters, are waiting for a bus with their friend Ev. They are going to Horse Camp, and talk about the cabins, the counsellors, and the head handler, Meredy.

Dinner Time | Russell Edson

An old man waits for his wife to serve dinner. She makes a lot of noise and has a hard time with it, while he becomes impatient and starts punching himself. Their behavior escalates into absurdity as they get more annoyed.

Read “Dinner Time”

William and Mary | Roald Dahl

A doctor approaches a dying man with the suggestion that he keep his brain alive in a tub. The dying man is considering it, but his wife is against the idea.

Read “William and Mary”

The Semplica-Girl Diaries | George Saunders

A forty-year-old father of three girls starts a diary to inform future readers how life is in the present. He chronicles the events leading up to the thirteenth birthday party of his oldest daughter, Lilly. The family is middle-class, but they live beyond their means. The father wants to buy his daughter an expensive present, and also wants a status symbol to show off to the neighbors.

Read “The Semplica-Girl Diaries”

A mammoth anthology of weird, strange and dark stories with lots of seldom-seen titles

The Weird: A Compendium of Strange and Dark Stories

Royal Jelly | Roald Dahl

A baby has been losing weight since birth, worrying the mother. Her husband, a bee expert, adds royal jelly to their baby’s formula.

Read “Royal Jelly”

The Aleph | Jorge Luis Borges

After the death of the woman he loves, the narrator begins visiting her father. The father claims there’s a point in his cellar, an aleph, which contains all other points in space.

Read “The Aleph”

The Crocodile | Fyodor Dostoevsky

Ivan goes with his wife and friend, Semyon, to an exhibition to see a crocodile. It swallows Ivan, but he remains alive inside it. There is a discussion about getting him out, but monetary concerns take priority.

Read “The Crocodile”

My Life with the Wave | Octavio Paz

A man gets seduced by an ocean wave. It finds its way home to him and they have a tumultuous love affair.

Read “The Wave”

The Door | E. B. White

A man is touring a house. He is confused about the location of the doors in the house, and compares his situation to rats that are experimented on.

Read “The Door”

A Story for Children | Svava Jakobsdottir

A woman devotes herself to her home, husband, and children. She has a lot of work to do and is subject to the many whims of her kids. Eventually, her brain and heart are affected by the demands placed on her.

Read “A Story for Children”

A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings | Gabriel Garcia Marquez

In a small town, an old man with wings washes up on shore. There are many ideas about what he is and where he’s from. A couple takes him and locks him up on their property.

Read “A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings”

The Metamorphosis | Franz Kafka

A man wakes up one morning to find he’s been transformed into a giant insect-like creature.

Read “The Metamorphosis”

The Rememberer | Aimee Bender

A man experiences rapid, reverse evolution. He goes from man to ape to sea turtle, losing about a million years a day.

Read “The Rememberer”

The Ratcatcher | Roald Dahl

A ratcatcher is called to a farm by special order of the health department. The ratcatcher is an off-putting man, but he knows his job well. He comes up with a plan to eliminate the rats, and he shares his knowledge with the owners.

Tobermory | Saki

At a party at a country house, a guest announces that he can teach animals to speak. As proof he produces the host’s cat, Tobermory, who proceeds to embarrass the guests by revealing details of private conversations.

Read “Tobermory”

How a Muzhik Fed Two Officials | Mikhail Saltykov

Two life-long white collar government workers find themselves transported to a deserted island. Their skills of keeping records and writing reports prove useless in their new environment. They realize that if they could just find a peasant he could look after everything.

Read “How a Muzhik Fed Two Officials”

The Orange | Benjamin Rosenbaum

An orange that grows in a grove in Florida is made ruler of the world. Everyone is pleased with the arrangement.

Read “The Orange”

The Lord of the Flies | Marco Denevi

Flies imagine their god—a fly of various colors, sizes, and temperaments who will take them to paradise.

Read “The Lord of the Flies”

White Rabbits | Leonora Carrington

The narrator lives on Pest street across from a creepy looking house. She doesn’t see any activity there until one day when a woman comes out on the balcony and empties a dish of bones for a raven. The woman tells the narrator she would appreciate her bringing over any bad meat she has.

Read “White Rabbits”

The Distance of the Moon | Italo Calvino

The narrator recounts the time when the moon was close enough to Earth that people could reach it with a ladder. They made trips to the moon to collect moon milk. One of them, a deaf man, thoroughly enjoys his moon visits.

Read “The Distance of the Moon”

The Vegetable Man | Luigi Ugolini

The narrator recounts a story told him by a green man. He had a degree in Natural Sciences and explored the Amazon and Mato Grosso. He found many wonders, including a new plant beyond classification – tall as a person, with thick and fleshy leaves, reddish branches, and long white hair.

Read “The Vegetable Man”

Mimic | Donald A. Wollheim

The narrator tells the story of a man he knew from childhood. He always wore a black cloak and a wide brimmed hat pulled down over his face. He kept to himself and never caused any trouble. One day there was an incident.

Read “Mimic”

The Long Sheet | William Sansom

Four groups of captives are being held in a long rectangular metal structure with skylights. Three feet off the ground, running thru all the cells, is a long white sheet soaked with water. The warders tell the captives that they will be released when their section of sheet has been wrung bone dry.

Read “The Long Sheet” (Pg 132)

The Town of Cats | Hagiwara Sakutaro

The narrator used to take many drug-induced voyages. They had a bad effect on his health. He starts taking long walks, ending up in an unfamiliar, charming town. He relates one such walk he took while staying at a resort.

Read “The Town of Cats” (scroll down over half way)

Disappearing Act | Richard Matheson

A man records the events of the last ten days. He and his wife Mary had been arguing about money. His writing isn’t bringing in anything, and his part-time job doesn’t bring in much. He goes out one evening with his married friend and two women they’ve met. Shortly after, things start getting strange.

Read “Disappearing Act”