in lieu of providing detailed content warnings, i've organized these into categories based on the type of story (and what's scary about it) and included a sample of the story's tone with each link. choose your own adventure!
Panic Fears by Anton Chekov
If I had been superstitious I should have made up my mind it was a party of demons and witches journeying to a devils' sabbath, and should have gone on my way; but as it was, the phenomenon was absolutely inexplicable to me. I did not believe my eyes, and was entangled in conjectures like a fly in a spider's web...
638 Cobalt Road: Or, The Alienated Labourer’s Resentment by Ave Wiseman
Over time, everything outside of Floor 47 began to appear indistinct whenever she tried to think about it; the stairwell she could half-see through the panes on the door turned into a soupy white mass, the other 52 unusable buttons on the lift all blurred into one another until she couldn’t remember which button went where or where the one she wanted was located relative to the rest. She chalked this up to not caring very much about her workplace when she wasn’t in it.
Headstone Epitaph by Zara Karschay
“Well. There you go,” comes his voice, the Ghost of Corporate Histories. “You could always haunt something?”
Paranoia by Shirley Jackson
The funny-looking guy in the light hat coming quickly through the crowd looked as though he hated someone...the funny-looking guy in the light hat; Mr. Beresford turned clean around in the walking line of people and watched the man in the light hat turn abruptly and start walking downtown, about ten feet in back of Mr. Beresford. What do you know about that, Mr. Beresford marvelled to himself, and began to walk a little quickly.
Bad-Time Dimitri by Letizia Muratori, translated by Brian Robert Moore
The noble fatalism with which my parents had accepted becoming the subject of a stranger’s fanatic harassment left me speechless, but little by little I also got used to Dimitri. Until the mother appeared.
How He Left The Hotel by Luisa Baldwin
There was something stand-off about him, and he always seemed deep in his own thoughts. He never sat down in the lift. Whether it was empty or full he stood bolt upright under the lamp, where the light fell on his pale face and scarred cheek.
[ghosts, monsters, demons, and other manner of spook'ems]
Explain by Justin Carter
He still had all his fingers and most of his toes, save for the little one of his left foot. I fell into a ditch and caught it on a branch, he writes down.
The Wife's Story by Ursula K. LeGuin
It’s something runs in the blood, they say, and it may never come out, but if it does, it’s the change of the moon that does it. Always it happens in the dark of the moon, when everybody’s home and asleep. Something comes over the one that’s got the curse in his blood, they say, and he gets up because he can’t sleep, and goes out into the glaring sun, and goes off all alone — drawn to find those like him.
The Specialist's Hat by Kelly Link
Claire’s face is stubborn. “When you’re Dead,” she says, “you stay up all night long.”
“When you’re dead,” the babysitter snaps, “it’s always very cold and damp, and you have to be very, very quiet or else the Specialist will get you.”
“This house is haunted,” Claire says.
“I know it is,” the babysitter says. “I used to live here.”
The Prospectors by Karen Russell
I could see both that she was afraid of my proposal and that she could be persuaded. This is a terrible knowledge to possess about a friend. Nervously, I counted my silver and gold bracelets, meting out reasons for making the journey. If we did not make the trip, I would have to pawn them. I argued that it was riskier not to take this risk.
For He Can Creep by Siobhan Carroll
The demons have been at him again. A cat cannot be everywhere at once, and so, while Jeoffry was battling the imps on the third floor, one of the larger dark angels has been whispering in the poet’s ear, its claws scorching the bedspread.
Classic Characters You May Not Remember from Children's Literature by Daniel Lavery
Nothing and no one! Nothing and no one! Nothing and no one!
Strawberry Spring by Stephen King
We all knew her. Her name was Gale Cerman (pronounced Kerr-man), and she was an art major. She wore granny glasses and had a good figure. She was well liked but her room-mates had hated her. She had never gone out much even though she was one of the most promiscuous girls on campus. She was ugly but cute. She had been a vivacious girl who talked little and smiled seldom. She had been pregnant and she had had leukemia. She was a lesbian who had been murdered by her boy-friend. It was strawberry spring, and on the morning of 17 March we all knew Gale Cerman.
The Landlady by Roald Dahl
He pressed the bell. Far away in a back room, he heard it ringing, and then at once—it must have been at once, because he hadn’t even had time to take his finger from the bell button—the door swung open and a woman was standing there.
And Who Shall Say --? by Richard Middleton
"He's not poor father, he's not father at all; he's a murderer, and it's very wicked of you to call him father," said the boy.
Little Merritt Rides the Elevator All the Way to the Top by Nate Brown
Captured in one image as a toddler, Little Merritt stands poised to stomp one of Rowland’s beloved Persian kittens. But the image had been jocular, I insisted. There had been no real danger! In another, Little Merritt struggles mightily to bear his father’s hunting rifle. He is smiling as he attempts to level the weapon at the photographer Rowland had hired.
[sci-fi, fantasy, and cosmic horror]
Two Houses by Kelly Link
"Halfmark House," Maureen said. "Built in 1508. Queen Elizabeth came here on a progress in 1575 that nearly bankrupted the Halfmark family. Churchill spent a weekend in December of 1942. There are many photos. It was once said to be the second-most haunted manor in England. There are three monks and a Grey Lady, a White Lady, a yellow fog, and a stag."
"Exactly what I wanted," Portia said. "To float around like a ghost in an old English manor. Turn the gravity off, Maureen."
A Study in Emerald by Neil Gaiman
That I survived was a miracle, but survive I did, and I returned to England with my nerves in shreds and tatters. The place that leech-like mouth had touched me was tattooed forever, frog-white, into the skin of my now-whithered shoulder. I had once been a crack-shot. Now I had nothing, save for a fear of the world-beneath-the-world akin to panic, which meant I would gladly pay sixpence of my army pension for a Hansom cab, rather than a penny to travel underground.
The Appointment in Samarra by W. Somerset Maugham
I will go to Samarra and there Death will not find me.
The Willows by Algernon Blackwood
The sense of remoteness from the world of humankind, the utter isolation, the fascination of this singular world of willows, winds, and waters, instantly laid its spell upon us both, so that we allowed laughingly to one another that we ought by rights to have held some special kind of passport to admit us, and that we had, somewhat audaciously, come without asking leave into a separate little kingdom of wonder and magic—a kingdom that was reserved for the use of others who had a right to it, with everywhere unwritten warnings to trespassers for those who had the imagination to discover them.
The Circular Ruins by Jorge Luis Borges
At first, his dreams were chaotic; then in a short while they became dialectic in nature. The strangerdreamed that he was in the center of a circular amphitheater which was more or less the burnt temple;clouds of taciturn students filled the tiers of seats; the faces of the farthest ones hung at a distance ofmany centuries and as high as the stars, but their features were completely precise.
I Ate Three Eggs Every Morning for a Week - Here's What Happened by Scott Hines
I carefully laid poached eggs over a black bean salsa with a dollop of fat-free sour cream, for a quick south-of-the-border jaunt!
We heard the coasts were lost before the television signal cut for good. The fear in the announcers’ faces was human, but unbecoming of professionals, I thought.