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The Most Horrific, Nerve-Shattering, Deeply-Disturbing Short Story I've Ever Read ('What's Yours?')

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Showing 1-25 of 69 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Aug 16, 2012 9:15:11 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Aug 16, 2012 9:17:51 PM PDT
Jeff Sekerak says:
The most horrific, gut-wrenching, deeply-disturbing short tale I've read in my life?

Well, even 'after all these years,' I've got to write that it is D. Etchison's 'Daughter Of The Golden West.' In which a couple of college kids make the mistake of 'going too far,' whilst investigating the murder of their beloved classmate.

Suffice it to say that they meet up with, in among the most horrific endings in short-tale history, a few 'sisters.' Sisters, who, descended from from the Donner Party (see,, have inherited a taste for...

Well, I'll let you get to the rest. In, The Dark Country.

If you have not read this one, it is a treat, to state it mildly.

'Honorable Mentions' in most horrific short-story category - to me personally? Stephen King's 'A Good Marriage,' from Full Dark, No Stars. Charles L. Grant's 'If Damon Comes.' And, not to be dismissed lightly, Hawthorne's 'Young Goodman Brown.'


Posted on Aug 17, 2012 5:30:35 AM PDT
Mine would be George R. R. Martin's Sandkings, which can be found in this collection. Dreamsongs: Volume I: 1 .

It's almost novella length and it WILL stick with you for a long time after you're done.
I have a lot of Stephen King short story favorites, but for here I will just mention Quitters, Inc. (which gives one a LOT of motivation to quit smoking). Another favorite, but an oldy, is The Yellow Wallpaper.

Posted on Aug 17, 2012 10:10:46 AM PDT
KinksRock says:
I know that Doum666 is going to agree with me. ERIC THE PIE by Graham Masterton would be the most disturbing thing you'd think you could read (it's on his web site) . . . except recently he included a story called SEPSIS in Festival of Fear (Anthologies), and I think he surpassed ERIC THE PIE.

Posted on Aug 17, 2012 11:30:56 AM PDT
Dingfelder says:
Funny to see a Dennis Etchison story -- another one, "On the Pike," came instantly to mind when I read the thread title. It's about a couple who go visit a geek show. It's also very sad. And the horror is quiet, though real on a profound level.

There was also a short story I read which I can't remember the name of, and it's definitely in the running. It's about a spirit of violent malevolence that somehow passes invisibly between little boys.

And that reminds me of still a third -- a classic sci fi story whose title I again forget, which is about an alien who comes to earth and takes possession of a human's body while mentally tormenting him and promising to keep on doing it with other humans ... and the nightmarish attempts to deal with the alien. It's in one of those great Science Fiction Hall of Fame anthologies, but I forget which one.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 17, 2012 11:31:58 AM PDT
Dingfelder says:
I was considering mentioning that one too. It's one heck of a good story, and I love the chilling ending, and how it comes right back to the beginning.

Posted on Aug 17, 2012 4:04:32 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Aug 17, 2012 4:06:26 PM PDT
Explorator says:
The most terrifying book I've ever read is "Off Season" by Jack Ketchum. It features the single most psychologically devastating scene I've ever read in a book (just one of many in this evil little book) and showed me just how powerful a well written horror book can be. Stephen King has also commented that Ketchum is one of the most underrated terror writers. Off Season

Posted on Aug 17, 2012 5:28:38 PM PDT
Most scary short story? Hmmm. It's got to be something from Skeleton Crew by Stephen King. There were a few real goodies in that collection. But I can't choose just one!

Posted on Aug 17, 2012 5:44:56 PM PDT
Hikari says:
Golden oldie . .

"The Lottery" by Shirley Jackson

Way scarier than its modern-day bloated variant, "The Hunger Games". Suzanne Collins mashed together "The Lottery" and "The Running Man" and is now a multi-gazillionaire.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 17, 2012 9:39:52 PM PDT
Jeff Sekerak says:
Great stuff, Marc. Yes, 'On The Pike,' is also a VERY well-done piece. During which the protagonist discovers his girlfriend has an affinity for watching 'unspeakable, acts. At a carnival. Horrific.

'On The Pike,' is in his 'Red Dreams' collection: Red Dreams

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 17, 2012 9:44:51 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Aug 17, 2012 9:46:15 PM PDT
Jeff Sekerak says:
I'm 'with you all the way,' on Ketchum, Explorator. I first read his, 'The Lost.' Absolutely terrifying, I'd say. I followed with 'Off Season.' And just read 'Peaceable Kingdom,' his collection of short stories.

If you've not read Peaceable Kingdom, I could NOT recommend that one more highly. Includes the story 'Mail Order.' In which a subscriber to 'snuff' films, after years of 'industry support,' receives his 'just due.'

Horrific, to put it mildly.

Ketchum is a master of the short, concise, sentence. The 'Hemingway Of Horror,' in my estimation.

Btw: The film version of 'The Lost' is WELL worth watching :-) See: The Lost

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 17, 2012 9:45:23 PM PDT
Dingfelder says:
That's the only book of his I've ever bought. He's very uneven, but brilliant when he's firing on all cylinders. I'd like to read more some day.

FWIW, I also found some of Roald Dahl's short stories quite creepy and unsettling. The rest I found merely terrifically entertaining.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 17, 2012 9:48:40 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Aug 17, 2012 9:50:14 PM PDT
Jeff Sekerak says:
Yes, I agree Marc. He's not as consistent as, for example, in my opinion, Ketchum, in 'Peaceable Kingdom.' Yet, as you've written, when Etchson is 'on his game,' his work is...unmatched. As in 'Daughter of the Golden West.' 'On the Pike.' 'Keeper Of The Light.' 'Sitting In Corner Whimpering Quietly.' etc..

Ah yes: He's got a new collection coming out soon. Which I'm VERY much looking forward to reading...


In reply to an earlier post on Aug 17, 2012 9:55:15 PM PDT
Jeff Sekerak says:
Thanks for the tip here, KinksRock, on Masterton. Not sure if he's got a collection of shorts available, yet I'm 'on it,' now. :-)

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 17, 2012 10:03:44 PM PDT
Dingfelder says:
Be sure to let us know what you think of it when it comes out.

Re his being unmatched when he's on his game, we agree. When I wrote my earlier post, I was thinking of saying something just like that -- like that when he's at his best, he's the best horror writer around.

Posted on Aug 19, 2012 12:07:50 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Aug 19, 2012 12:21:34 AM PDT
Jeff Sekerak says:
I should have mentioned one that, if not in the top 5 most horrific tales I've ever read, is DEFINITELY, without question, in my personal top ten. It's Wells' 'Pollock And The Porroh Man.' In which an Englishman in Africa, who'd previously placed no stock, belief, or respect in, the voodoo-like superstitions of the native peoples, learns the error of his thinking. And, of his ways.

He comes into conflict with a local 'witch doctor,' or, shaman - who is tracked down and killed by others. Yet not before placing a curse upon the Englishman, Pollock. That curse, allegedly, cannot be 'undone,' except by the Porroh Man himself.

Will the curse be the demise of Pollock? Well, it's NOT a good thing, I can tell you that, to be sure...

What transpires here is just masterful writing, beautiful, heart-wrenching imagery, a most disturbing theme, to put it mildly, and one he@# of a shocking finale. One of the best, in horror literature, to my way of thinking.

Read it here:

It is also readable in Serling's collection, DEVILS AND DEMONS: Rod Serling's Devils and Demons

I have not yet listened to the audio version (via 'Escape!' radio, however, I'm 'on it,' now. See:

:-) j

Posted on Aug 21, 2012 12:43:49 AM PDT
Most of the stories from Night Shift by Stephen King, but Grey Matter takes the cake. I still regard the bubbling foam at every glass of beer with suspicion and a little uneasiness.

Posted on Aug 22, 2012 2:53:55 AM PDT
Jeff Sekerak says:
If I had to choose King's most horrific short story, I'd have to go with 'Suffer The Little Children' (see Nightmares & Dreamscapes. Yes, Miss Sidley was her name, and teaching WAS her game.

That is, until 'Robert,' began turning into something 'different,' before her very eyes. The rest is...NOT silence. Not pleasant. And not good - for Sidley, that is.

Posted on Aug 22, 2012 2:57:54 AM PDT
Written by me.

"Help, I've been fatally killed."

Posted on Feb 7, 2013 7:24:29 AM PST
SICK by Nelson Samuels, which is my book. Give that a try for something rather gruesome and disturbing. You won't be disappointed if you're looking for shocking material. Enjoy!!!

SICK (Book 1)

Posted on Feb 9, 2013 7:46:10 AM PST
MattT says:
The Rats In The Walls by HP Lovecraft

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 10, 2013 5:41:01 AM PST
For me, 'To Build a Fire' by Jack London. Also recommended 'Vile Visions' by Chris Reed
Vile Visions
DEATH DREAMS Deluxe The Complete Works of Chris Robertson

Posted on Feb 14, 2013 11:10:08 AM PST
MommaCat says:
Too bad The Dark Country is a bit of an expense.

Recently read Puppet Graveyard (Delirium Novella Series). Left me very disturberd. Enjoyed immensely.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 18, 2013 4:11:12 PM PST
R. Mccarthy says:
Does The Wasp Factory count as a short story? Iian Banks. Pretty powerful stuff.

Posted on Feb 25, 2013 9:15:17 AM PST
J. K. Grice says:
The short stories that scared me and that I love to read again and again are the same ones that I continue to think about throughout my life:
1. THE SAMHAIN FEIS- Peter Tremayne
2. QUIETLY NOW- Charles L. Grant
4. HE'LL COME KNOCKIN'- Robert McCammon
6. THE NIGHT FLIER- Stephen King
7. PUMPKIN- Bill Pronzini
8. DOLAN'S CADILLAC- Stephen King

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 25, 2013 4:21:55 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Feb 25, 2013 4:26:28 PM PST
Jeff Sekerak says:
Good work J. K. Interesting list, this ten you've given. Now you've got me recalling some of my own, personal favorites. Many of which were included in the Charles L. Grant run of excellent anthologies. 'Terrors.' 'Horrors.' 'Fears,' and the like. Some of the most disturbing therein, 'for my money?'
*Alan Ryan's, 'Baby's Blood.' In which a drink specialty has, unfortunately, a, basis in reality.
*Henry Slesar's, 'Prez.' Hero worship, 'gone wrong.'
*Charles L. Grant's, 'Every Time You Say I Love You.'
*'Pumpkin Head,' by Sarrantonio.
*And, of course, Robert Bloch's 'beauty' on jealously, revenge, 'The Night Before X-Mas.'


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Discussion in:  Horror forum
Participants:  20
Total posts:  69
Initial post:  Aug 16, 2012
Latest post:  Mar 20, 2013

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