Gaiman writes many unusual stories, sometimes with content you’re not expecting in a short story.
For short stories suitable for a younger audience, you can check out M Is For Magic. There’s a short preview available on Amazon.
“Only the End of the World Again”
A man wakes up feeling terrible in his freezing room. He wants to stay in bed, but a sick stomach drives him to the bathroom. He vomits an assortment of filth, some of it more troubling than the rest. The sheets are ripped and clawed and there’s hair in the bed. He changed last night.
This story can be read in the preview of Lovecraft’s Monsters. (41% into preview)
All the animals disappeared a few years ago. The world wasn’t ending, it was just the animals that went. After a short period of uncertainty, people figured out how to continue.
The narrator is dead in every way that counts. He starts driving. He throws away his cell phone and withdraws all the money he can. After staying over at a motel, he meets a man in the lobby who’s waiting for a cab. He offers the man a ride.
Shoggoth’s Old Peculiar
Benjamin Lassiter is on a walking tour of the British coastline. The experience is not what he expected. His guidebook indicated it would be charming, delightful, and populated with friendly people. He eventually stops at an Innsmouth pub for a meal. Two men there strike up a conversation with him.
This story can be read in the preview of The Book of Cthulhu 2. (12% into preview)
The Case of the Four and Twenty Blackbirds
A private detective sits in his office drinking and cleaning his gun. A beautiful woman comes in and shows him a picture of a dead man. She says he was her brother. The death was ruled an accident but she believes he was murdered.
Rajit, in his forties, has found the cure for cancer. The treatment doesn’t function as a normal drug; it works by resetting the body’s genetic code. The cure, however, does have a significant side-effect which, in turn, produces many unforeseen developments.
Read “Changes” (Ctrl + F “by neil gaiman”)
Mrs. Whitaker, an elderly woman, finds the Holy Grail at a second-hand shop. She thinks it would look nice on the mantlepiece, so she buys it. Shortly after, she gets a visit from a striking young man who’s on a quest.
Click-clack the Rattlebag
A young boy asks a visitor, his sister’s boyfriend, to tell him a bedtime story. They start the long walk upstairs. The boy talks about Click-clack the Rattlebag. The boyfriend isn’t familiar with this and asks him a bit about it.
The Daughter of Owls
The narrator relates an old third-hand story. A new-born girl was left on the steps of a church. She was holding an owl pellet. The old women of the town want her killed, thinking she’s the daughter of owls. She ends up being taken to the Convent and raised in seclusion.
An old man relates an incident that occurred when he was a young man. A storm separated him from his caravan, leaving him lost in the desert for days. He eventually finds a city with refreshing food, elegant furnishings, and beautiful women.
Don’t Ask Jack
At the bottom of the children’s toy chest is a red and gold Jack-in-the-Box. It’s provenance is unknown and the children don’t play with it. It could be a valuable antique. The children whisper about it.
Down to a Sunless Sea
A woman walks the docks in London as she has for a long time. You’re under an awning to get out of the rain. She sees you and starts talking about her son.
How to Talk to Girls at Parties
The narrator, Enn, follows his friend Vic to a party. Vic talks to girls easily while Enn is awkward. Vic assures Enn that he just has to talk to the girls and everything will be fine. They are greeted at the door by Stella, a beautiful girl whom Vic immediately flirts with. Enn is left to navigate the party by himself.
Cthulhu narrates his memoirs to his human servant, Whateley. He starts with his birth on his home planet thousands of years ago, and tells how his father and mother came to their end. A visit from his uncle, Hastur, leads to an exploration of other worlds. They eventually decide to head for Earth.
A Lunar Labyrinth
The narrator likes exploring unusual local attractions. He walks with his guide, an old man, up a gentle hill. They’re headed for the site of a destroyed maze that the locals called the lunar labyrinth. Everyone around would walk in it. It was believed that those who made it to the center and back out would be helped in some way. There was also a rumor of something dangerous inside.
Some of this story can be read in the preview of Trigger Warning: Short Fiction and Disturbances. (82% into preview)
Regan is looking at a wide selection of mousetraps, but none of them is right. He explains what he wants to the shopkeeper. She gets an item from the back and Regan makes his purchase. It sparks a memory of Gwen. He joins Janice in the car. That night there’s a bit of a surprise.
Nicholas Was . . .
A very old, isolated man is forced to carry out a difficult task.
This is a very short story.
Read “Nicholas Was . . .”
Queen of Knives
As a boy, the narrator used to stay occasionally with his grandparents. On one such visit, they took him to King’s Theatre to see a variety show. There was a comedian, dancing women, a singer and a magician. The grandfather prided himself on knowing how things worked; he explained away all the magician’s tricks.
The Return of the Thin White Duke
The Duke rules the worlds. He had tried to be a good ruler but doesn’t care anymore. His life is without challenge and he’s unhappy. An opportunity for adventure arises. A messenger from Beyond arrives, asking him to assist her mistress, a Queen.
Read “The Return . . .”
A Study in Emerald
The narrator, who is looking for a roommate, meets a man who deduces he has just been tortured in Afghanistan. They agree to share accommodations in Baker Street. The narrator’s roommate is a consulting detective. He is visited by Inspector Lastrade of Scotland Yard.
The Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountains
The narrator, an unusually small man, is looking for a cave on the Misty Isle. He wants to hire Calum MacInnes as a guide. MacInnes is reluctant to go because of the legends about those who take gold from the cave. It is a long journey.
We Can Get Them For You Wholesale
Peter Pinter is a moderate man who loves a bargain. When he finds out his fiance Gwendolyn is seeing another man, he takes out a “contract” on her life. He arranges a meeting in a seamy pub to discuss the details.
The Wedding Present
Belinda and Gordon get married. At their earliest convenience, they unwrap all their presents and write their thank you notes. At the bottom of the pile is a large brown envelope that says “Gordon and Belinda’s Wedding”. The paper inside has an accurate description of their wedding written on it. It’s not signed. Some time later, Belinda looks at it again. She assumes Gordon is playing an inappropriate joke on her.
When We Went To See the End of the World by Dawnie Morningside, age 11¼
A family goes on a picnic so the daughter, Dawnie, can see the end of the world. She narrates the trip. There are lots of unusual sights, and her parents have various disagreements along the way.