They’re just words and they engage only one of the five senses, so how is it that by placing them in the right order an author can scare the hell out of us?
And with Halloween just around the corner, Flavorwire has picked the 50 scariest short stories of all time. Two LA authors lead the list:
“I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream,” Harlan Ellison
Ellison’s 1967 cult classic is a post-apocalyptic, sci-fi version of hell, in which the last four survivors on the planet are tortured by a vindictive and all-powerful computer. Get ready for the future, humans.
“The Veldt,” Ray Bradbury
Bradbury has a number of scary stories to choose from, including the famous and existentially terrifying “There Will Come Soft Rains,” but I always come back to “The Veldt.” What’s more terrifying, the lions, the house or the children?
At number 12 is “Flowers for Algernon,” Daniel Keyes – one of the few selections I was familiar with that seemed out of place. I’d say that story is heart-wrenching more than it is scary.
Edgar Allan Poe doesn’t appear on the list until lucky number 13 — “The Tell Tale Heart.”
Poe is the stranger-king of gothic horror, and this is him at his best, with a murderous narrator being driven slowly mad by the beating of his victim’s heart under the floorboards
Whether fiction is scary is a highly subjective thing, however, I recommend Richard Wadholm’s novel Astronomy, a Lovecraftian homage. I read it a few years ago and it truly creeped me out. If that’s the experience you’re seeking this Halloween, get a copy and give it a try.