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5 Free Creepy Short Stories for Halloween

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by Jennifer Muirhead (subscribe)
I am learning all the time. The tombstone will be my diploma. ~ Eartha Kitt
Published October 18th 2017
Tales to keep you awake
Halloween is a great time for ghost stories. If you're not up for inventing your own, here are five very creepy tales you can read or listen to for free online. Light some candles, settle in and get ready for some chills.

1. The Lottery by Shirley Jackson

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Shirley Jackson.

When Shirley Jackson's The Lottery first appeared in the New Yorker in 1948 it caused something of a stir, with some readers cancelling their subscriptions and sending hate mail over it. It has since been adapted into a number of films and inspired numerous other literary works. It's a timeless warning about peer pressure and blindly following tradition.

A full cast recording of the story is available for free here.

2. The Legend of Sleepy Hollow- Washington Irving

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Ichabod's chase, by F.O.C. Darley. Public Domain.

Ichabod Crane, the schoolmaster from Conneticut is new to the Dutch settlement of Tarry Town, New York. When he woos the young Katrina Von Tassel, heiress to a farming fortune, his romantic rival Brom Bones frightens him with tales of the Headless Horseman, the ghost of a dead Hessian trooper who had his head shot off in battle.

This tale has become something of a Halloween classic, though it never actually mentions Halloween. You can find it online for free here.

3. Counting From Ten- Michael Montoure

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Jack shoved his chair back, stood, backed away, turned at the last minute and carefully did not run down the hallway to the bathroom. He walked, and raided his medicine cabinet for gauze, alcohol, tape, anything that looked useful. He came back, led Tommy over to the kitchen sink, and carefully pulled the bandages off. Tommy's right hand had only the ring finger and thumb left."

A young man robbing an old woman's house finds himself the victim of her dying curse. Counting From Ten comes from the short story collection of the same name by Michael Montoure.

You can listen to the story for free on Pseudopod.

4. Tailypo

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Tailypo is a North American folk tale about an old man who lives in the woods with his three dogs who makes the mistake of cutting the tail off a strange creature he finds in the woods and eating the tail in stew. The creature comes to the cabin at night and wants its tail back.

This story is often told to children, but there are many different versions of it and some of them are more kid-friendly than others.

You can read it for free here.

5. The Murders in the Rue Morgue- Edgar Allan Poe

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Byam Shaw's illustration for Poe's The Murders in the Rue Morgue in "Selected Tales of Mystery", 1909. Public Domain.

A gruesome double murder occurs in Paris in a room that was locked from the inside. It is heard by several witnesses but they cannot agree on what language they heard the murderer speaking. C Auguste Dupin investigates and solves the crime.

Poe's fictional detective, Dupin inspires later literary sleuths such as Sherlock Holmes and Hercule Poirot.

You can listen to it for free on Librivox.
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