Here are some short stories that were adapted into episodes of the Twilight Zone. There are some great anthologies available, such as:
- The Twilight Zone: The Original Stories
- Stories from the Twilight Zone Series
- Twilight Zone: 19 Original Stories on the 50th Anniversary
If you prefer listening to your stories, there’s a Twilight Zone treat available: The Twilight Zone Radio Dramas have a full cast, music and sound effects, and feature a known actor.
“An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” by Ambrose Bierce
A man is on a bridge in Alabama, his hands bound and a rope around his neck. He’s a civilian, a confederate sympathizer, and is being held by Federal soldiers. He’s been sentenced to hang from Owl Creek Bridge during the American civil war.
Read “An Occurrence . . .” (Includes Analysis)
Death Ship | Richard Matheson
The crew of a spaceship is collecting samples from various planets to determine their suitability for human habitation. While nearing a new planet, Mason spots a metallic flash. The crew speculates that it might be a ship. Captain Ross orders a landing to check it out.
“Death Ship” can be read in the preview of The Time Traveler’s Almanac.
Nightmare at 20,000 Feet | Richard Matheson
Wilson sits on a plane that’s preparing for takeoff. He’s shaken by the thunderous noise of the engines. He isn’t feeling well, physically or mentally. He rushes into the bathroom and tries to calm himself. He returns to his seat and tries to sleep, but can’t. Looking out the window, he sees something moving around on the wing.
This is the first story in the preview of Nightmare at 20,000 Feet: Horror Stories.
Third from the Sun | Richard Matheson
With the impending threat of a major war, a family and their neighbors decide to sneak away to safety on a spaceship. The father will use his position as chief test pilot to gain access to the vessel.
This is the second story in the preview of Duel: Terror Stories.
“Button, Button” by Richard Matheson
A hand addressed package is left at the door of Arthur and Norma Lewis. Inside is a contraption with a button on it, and a note saying that Mr. Steward will call on them at 8 PM. He arrives at the appointed time and makes them a startling proposition.
This is the first story in the preview of The Box: Uncanny Stories. (30% in)
To Serve Man | Damon Knight
Earth is visited by the Kanamit, a half pig and half human alien race. They bring gifts—ways of increasing food production, power generation, and other helpful things. Some people question their altruism, so the Kanamit are subjected to a lie-detector.
This story can be read in the preview of The Best of Damon Knight. (35% into preview)
Perchance to Dream | Charles Beaumont
Philip Hall goes to a psychiatrist. He’s thirty-one, and hasn’t been able to sleep for 72 hours. He’s afraid if he goes to sleep, he’ll never wake up. He explains how his problem started when he discovered the power of his mind.
This is the first story in the preview of Perchance to Dream: Selected Stories. (34% into preview)
The Howling Man | Charles Beaumont
The narrator recounts his experiences traveling through Europe before he commenced his professional life. He ended up falling sick with pneumonia in Germany. He woke up in the Abbey of St. Wulfran’s, under the care of a monk, Brother Christophorus.
In His Image | Charles Beaumont
A young man in a train station is accosted by an old woman who starts preaching to him. He tries to get her to leave him alone. The train approaches. He puts his hand on her shoulders and pushes her.
Song for a Lady | Charles Beaumont
A newlywed couple book passage aboard the Lady Anne, an old ship taking its farewell voyage. They receive an inhospitable welcome. The other passengers are British; the couple, being American, assume that is the problem. Two passengers, Burgess and Mckenzie, do their best to convince the couple to cancel their trip.
It’s A Good Life | 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.
Four O’Clock | Price Day
Mr. Crangle is at home at 3:47 in the afternoon. Three weeks ago he realized he had the power to mark all evil people in some way. He would be the judge, and he had no moral qualms about using his ability. He sets 4:00 in the afternoon as the time when he will execute his judgment.
Brothers Beyond the Void | Paul W. Fairman
Marcusson is preparing for a space voyage to Mars. He and his friend Conrad talk about who he will meet. Conrad explains that people are the same everywhere. Marcusson takes comfort from this and also feels some fear over his upcoming trip.
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.
Time Enough At Last | Lynn Venable
Henry Bemis wants to read a whole book. He hasn’t been able to because he just doesn’t have the time. His wife and his work at Eastside Bank and Trust take up every moment. One day at work, he sneaks away to the vault with a magazine in his pocket. His timing turns out to be fortuitous, as he hears a thunderous crash from above.