Weird Short Stories: Strange, Odd, Bizarre or Unusual

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.

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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.

“The Vegetable Man” can be read in the preview of The Weird: A Compendium of Strange and Dark Stories.

“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.

This story can be read in the preview of The Devil’s Dictionary, Tales, & Memoirs.

Ghost Story | Ethan Rutherford

Soren and Hana live in an apartment with their two sons. One night, the boys want a bedtime story, a scary one. He tells them the story of the Seal Lady. When Soren was twelve, he went to Anchorage for the summer to be with his father, who captained a small fishing boat. Before going out one day, Soren walked into the woods and ended up at an out-of-the-way house.

Some of “Ghost Story” can be read in the Amazon preview of Farthest South & Other Stories.

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.

This is the first story in the preview of Big Book of Best Short Stories: Russian II.

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.

This is the eleventh story in the preview of The Big Book of Modern Fantasy.

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.

This is the third story in the preview of The Chronicles of Clovis.

“The Distance of the Moon” by 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.

This story can be read in the preview of The Complete Cosmicomics.

“The Hanged Man” by Edward Bryant

Rockaway is hanging upside down from a tree branch, a tight nylon rope around his ankles. Owen refuses to cut him down. They talk while Rockaway suffers.

This story can be read in the preview of Among the Dead and Other Events Leading to the Apocalypse(24% into preview)

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.

The Hospice | Robert Aickman

While taking an unfamiliar route home, Maybury gets lost and runs out of gas. He comes across a hospice offering food and accommodation. It’s an unusual place, but desperation makes him stop for help.

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”

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. They talk about the cabins, the counsellors, and the head handler, Meredy.

The Sea Was Wet as Wet Can Be | Gahan Wilson

After a night of drinking, a group of friends go to the beach for a picnic. They are soon approached by two strangers—one tall and bulky, the other short and hunched. They are reminiscent of Carroll’s The Walrus and the Carpenter. The pair has a disarming effect on the group.

Read “The Sea Was Wet as Wet Can Be”

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

Mary Pearl receives a letter from her lawyer following her husband’s death. Her husband had been approached by a doctor with an unusual plan for extending his life. He went ahead with it, even though Mary was 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”

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.

Read “The Ratcatcher” (PDF Pg 103)

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”

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.

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”

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.

Read “The Howling Man”

Bitter Grounds | Neil Gaiman

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.

Read “Bitter Grounds”

The Function of Dream Sleep | Harlan Ellison

McGrath wakes up and sees a large mouth closing up on his side. He’s sure it isn’t a dream—he sees and feels it. He gets a call from Sally, the widow of his recently deceased friend, Victor. In the morning, McGrath goes to the doctor about his side. She suggests that the recent deaths of several friends is affecting his mind.

Read “The Function of Dream Sleep” 

How to Talk to Girls at Parties | Neil Gaiman

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.

Read “How to Talk to Girls at Parties”

The Dark | Karen Joy Fowler

In 1954 a family disappears from Yosemite National Park. In 1960 and 1962 there are two other incidents in the area. Keith Harmon, a plague specialist, is called in to investigate after the third incident. He hears a story of a young boy in the wild.

Read “The Dark”

The Ice Man | Haruki Murakami

The narrator met her husband at a ski resort. He is an Ice Man. She was curious and approached him. He didn’t talk about himself but he knew all about the narrator’s past. He can’t read minds but he has this gift. Her family is against their relationship.

Read “The Ice Man”

Tales of Houdini | Rudy Rucker

Houdini is broke. He agrees to shoot a film where he’ll complete a series of dangerous, unrehearsed escapes. Shortly after his door is kicked in at four in the morning, his ears, eyes, and nose are covered with wax, and he’s bundled up with bandages and taken away.

Read “Tales of Houdini”

A Shower of Gold | Donald Barthelme

Peterson, a sculptor with little money, agrees to appear on a game show, Who Am I?, that stresses an extremely pessimistic view of life. He says he’s not sure if he believes in absurdity. Soon after, strange things start happening.

Read “A Shower of Gold”

Singing My Sister Down | Margo Lanagan

The narrator, a young boy, accompanies his family to the tar pit. The Chief orders the boy’s older sister into the pit. After she picks a spot, her family walks out to join her. They have mats to spread their weight, so they can be on the tar as she sinks. She has shamed her family.

Read “Singing My Sister Down”

Born of Man and Woman | 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)

Squirrels Have Bright Eyes | John Collier

The narrator falls in love with a woman—tall, darkly suntanned, a hunter and all-round superb creature. Her penthouse is adorned with the heads and skins of her prey. He wants to marry her but she’s devoted to her current lifestyle. He’s crushed by her refusal and decides to do away with himself.

Read “Squirrels Have Bright Eyes” (Ctrl + F the title)