Here are some scary short stories in the science fiction or fantasy genres. The Ray Bradbury stories are in their own section, below. See also:
“Born of Man and Woman” by Richard Matheson
An unidentified narrator, a child, tells their story through diary entries. The child is chained up in the basement, and has to keep out of sight or be beaten.
Read “Born of Man and Woman” (first story in Amazon preview)
“The Good Food” by Michael Ezell
Jensen’s ship touches down on a jungle world, a planet that was terraformed two hundred years prior. It’s been decades since anyone visited. He’s accompanied by Roy, a dog that’s been enhanced to allow some communication. He’s also assisted by his ship’s AI system, Moira. Jensen’s been sent to collect some samples due to an anomaly that was detected. Some of the planet’s growth has been cleared, although there are no life-forms other than insects.
This story can be read in the preview of Beyond the Stars: At Galaxy’s Edge. (28% into preview)
“A Dream of Waking” by Sam Best
A waking cycle begins and Jacob hears the screams. He can tell there’s light, even though his eyes are sewn shut. He’s disoriented at first, but then the details come back to him. He’s lying in an enclosed half-cylinder with tubing in his skull.
This story can be read in the preview of The Future Chronicles. (22% in)
“Who Goes There?” by John W. Campbell, Jr.
In isolated Antarctica, researchers find an alien ship buried in the ice. While attempting to thaw the ship, they retrieve a frozen alien. When it thaws, it revives. The alien has shape-shifting abilities that make it a major threat.
Some of this story can be read in the preview of Things from Outer Space. (Novella)
“A Walk in the Dark” by Arthur C. Clarke
Robert was at Camp IV preparing to leave for Port Sanderson. His tractor broke down, and now he has to walk. He’s covered about two miles, and now his flashlight has gone out. He has four miles to cover and four hours before the Canopus, the last ship for a month, takes off. It’s difficult traveling in the dark. The planet’s moons are tiny, and there are hardly any stars.
This story can be read in the preview of In Space No One Can Hear You Scream.
“Cargo” by E. Michael Lewis
Tech Sergeant Davis, a Loadmaster, is assigned to a crew headed for Jonestown to evacuate Americans. They’ll be taking a C-141 StarLifter, the largest freighter and troop carrier in the military. As Loadmaster, his job is to secure the cargo. There’s a last-minute change of plans—the Med crew won’t be accompanying them. When they arrive at the airport, there are rows of coffins.
This story can be read in the preview of Flight or Fright: 17 Turbulent Tales. (30% into preview)
“Don’t Go There” by Tracy Cross
At bedtime, a little girl tells the babysitter not to go into the basement. Her dad keeps the door locked because monsters live down there. The girl wants her room checked out before she goes to sleep.
This story can be read in the preview of Midnight & Indigo: Twenty-Two Speculative Stories by Black Women Writers. (27% in)
“The Travellers Stay” by Ray Cluley
A couple, Matt and Ann, along with Ann’s teenage son, John, arrive at the Travellers Stay, a run-down motel. A woman sits on the porch, smoking and drinking. She helps them get a room, but her attitude is unusual. Everyone is stressed, and Ann and John in particular aren’t pleased with the accommodations.
This story can be read in the preview of Body Shocks: Extreme Tales of Body Horror. (32% in)
“Butterfly Island” by C. J. Tudor
A motley group of survivors hang out at a beach bar. Bill wants to go to Butterfly Island, a nature preserve from the old world that was owned by a rich inventor. It used to be heavily guarded, but with the way things are now, it can’t be. They get a group of thirteen people together and take two boats.
This story can be read in the preview of After Sundown. (7% in)
“Devil Dogs” by Tim Lebbon
Captain Halley commands the Doyle, a Sleek-class destroyer. They’re on a mysterious rescue mission, accompanied by a civilian, Kalien. Halley is comforted in at least having the 39th Spaceborne with her. Contact has been lost with a research station. Halley has a feeling there’s a lot more going on than she’s being told.
This story can be read in the preview of Predator: If It Bleeds. (20% in)
“Sunrise on Mercury” by Robert Silverberg
As the Leverrier approaches Mercury, Second Astrogator Lon Curtis decides to end his life. He suddenly leaves his station and heads for the reactor compartment. Flight Commander Ross notices the unusual behavior and follows. Curtis has got the disease and will have to be kept confined for the duration.
This story can be read in the preview of Born of the Sun: Adventures in Our Solar System. (40% in)
“Approaching Omega” by Eric Brown
Latimer and Karen are spending their last day on Earth. They are two of the five thousand selected to leave on the Dauntless. They’ll be held in cold sleep on route to a planet to colonize. As part of the maintenance crew, Latimer will wake up in fifteen hundred years to check everything. Many on Earth are opposed to the mission, feeling the efforts would be better spent improving things at home.
The prelude of this story can be read in the preview of Approaching Omega.
“Weeds” by Stephen King
A meteor lands on Jordy Verrill’s country property. He rushes to the scene with a bucket of water and puts out the small grass fire it started. Jordy is hopeful that the university will be willing to pay good money for the specimen. He takes some pictures and thinks about the best way to start making some money.
Some of this story can be read in the preview of Dark Screams: Volume One. (30% in)
“Nothing Happens on the Moon” by Paul Ernst
Hartigan is the sole occupant of Station RC3, an emergency landing station on the moon. He contacts New York once a month to report the station’s status. Everything is always the same. One day, he gets into his spacesuit and goes for a walk. There’s an explosion of ash as a meteor strikes the surface. Walking on, he finds the meteor—smooth, round and black. He takes it back to the station for analysis. He soon notices that the color is changing to green.
“Thanasphere” by Kurt Vonnegut
Dr. Groszinger is assisting with an experiment. A manned spacecraft, the first of its kind, is two thousand miles above earth. The lone occupant, Major Allen Rice, was selected from a hundred volunteers for his strength, stoicism, and work ethic. He’s as perfect for the mission as the ship he inhabits. Groszinger and the project head, Lieutenant General Franklin Dane, are waiting for Rice’s first progress report. They’re delighted to make contact with him, but their mood quickly changes. Rice sounds hesitant and soft and is distracted by voices that Groszinger and Dane can’t hear.
“Suffer the Little Children” by Stephen King
Miss Sidley is a small, graying, no-nonsense teacher. She’s able to use the reflection in her glasses to monitor the class even when her back is turned. During a spelling lesson, she see Robert, a quiet student, change in some way. It’s only a flicker, and when she spins around he looks perfectly normal and composed. The next day, she experiences the feeling that the children are somehow different.
“Sandkings” by George R. R. Martin
Simon Kress lives alone outside the city. He likes unusual and exotic pets. After his last trip his animals died. He finds a new shop, Wo and Shade Importers, where he is shown sandkings, an insect-sized life-form with a hivemind that fights wars with other colonies.
This story is novelette length.
“I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream” by Harlan Ellison
There are only five humans left alive—four men and one woman. They’re being held in a underground complex by AM, a supercomputer. It makes life miserable for the group, but won’t allow them to die. They haven’t been provided with any food for days. One of the men hallucinates about canned goods in the ice caverns. They suspect AM is merely playing a cruel trick on them, but they set out.
“It’s A Good Life” by Jerome Bixby
Aunt Amy is on her front porch while little Anthony is tormenting a rat he caught. Bill Soames drops off a box of groceries. Bill is terrified of Anthony as is everyone else in town. He has powerful mental abilities that make everyone subject to his whims. Aunt Amy is preparing for a party that evening.
“I Am the Doorway” by Stephen King
Arthur has told his friend that he was used to kill someone and then buried him nearby. It all started with his flight to Venus. On the way back, there was an accident that left him badly beaten up and in a wheelchair. His hands are bandaged and itch him terribly. Arthur says he’s a doorway for a creature that can somehow see through his hands.
“The Voice in the Night” by William Hope Hodgson
A schooner is approached by a small rowboat. The passenger doesn’t want any lanterns out or any direct contact with the crew. He only asks for some food to be floated out to him. He leaves after getting it, but returns soon after.
“The Fly” by George Langelaan
Hélène calls her brother-in-law one night and confesses to the murder of her husband. The police are called and they investigate. Hélène cooperates fully except for one thing—she won’t say why she did it. The dead man had recently invented a device that could teleport matter through space.
“Moxon’s Master” by Ambrose Bierce
The narrator and Moxon discuss whether machines can think. Moxon is convinced they can. They also discuss the definition of life. There’s a noise from another room even though no one else lives there. Moxon attends to it. He says it was a machine that had lost its temper.
Read “Moxon’s Master”
• Scary Ray Bradbury Stories •
Charles Braling is old and dying. He spends days building his own coffin. His younger brother, Richard, criticizes it for its peculiarities. They hate each other. Richard is bad with money and lives off of Charles. He’s not going to miss his brother. The work continues for two weeks.
“The Coffin” is the sixth story in the Amazon preview of The Stories of Ray Bradbury.
A family lives in a futuristic house that automatically meets all their needs, including a nursery for the children that can create any scene they want. The parents are thinking about reducing their reliance on technology by taking a break from the nursery and all the automation, but the children are against the idea.
Charles, a fifteen-year-old, is sick in bed. His right hand starts to change; it feels like it doesn’t belong to him anymore. The doctor gives him medicine and assures him it’s manageable. Later, Charles feels a change in his other hand.
Read “Fever Dream”
“The October Game”
Mich puts the gun away. He wants his wife, Louise, to suffer more than that. It’s the last evening of October. They’re preparing to host a party. Their daughter, Marion, gets her costume ready. Mich thinks about why he’s unhappy, and what he’s going to do.
Read “The October Game”