9 Really Scary Short Stories to Not Tell Alone

Updated August 18, 2021
Man and his shadow walking

Whether you are looking for stories to scare your family around a campfire or guests at a Halloween party, share a short, easy-to-remember tale that will give them a chill. Pick your favorite, put on your scariest voice, use dramatic pauses, and make those around you jump.

The Purfler

The purfler is staring into the night watching his prey. Its quiver looks innocent but really just gives it grisly energy. When Mommy turns out the light, the purfler lurks softly in the darkness of night. He watches the door close and the slowing of the child's breath. Outside the window he stands, still as stone, never blinking. In one seamless move, the window slides up, silent as the night air. Closer he creeps, two bright eyes glowing in the blackness. The child shivers but now sleeps forever.

Who Am I?

I'm at the bank and see that my checking account is empty. My savings account is also empty - how can this be?

"There was a breach on the websites of a few local stores, maybe that's the reason," says the woman on the phone.

"Can you prove who you are?" asks the bank teller, Melinda Sampson.

We went to high school together.

"Melinda, you know me."

She looks at me with that look that says she can't help me.

"So, you can't prove it?"

Whose car is that in my driveway? Who is that person unlocking my front door, holding my child?

"Get away from her!" I scream.

The woman turns around; she looks just like me.

"Isabella, come to Mommy."

My baby shudders and hugs the stranger tighter.

"Mommy, who's that scary lady?" she says to the stranger. "That's the lady who used to live here, Bella."

Twins reading a scary book on the attic

Bye-Bye Baby

After a long day of shopping at the local flea market, Beth buckles her daughter into her car seat. She notices the girl's eyes look dark, her skin pale.

"The Bye-Bye Baby says it's time to go," laughs the little girl.

"Where did you get that doll?" asks Beth.

The child's voice gets deeper. "The Bye-Bye Baby says it's time to go!"

Beth grabs the doll. "I'm going to keep that doll upfront with me until we can get her home and clean her up, okay sweetie?"

The child's fists clench. "The Bye-Bye Baby says it's time to go!"

Beth drops the doll in the parking lot and speeds toward the hospital. The car stops abruptly, turns left, then right, then left again. The odometer races from ten to twenty to forty to eighty miles an hour before launching off the rocky cliff. Just before the car hits the water, Beth looks back at her daughter, who's holding the doll.

"The Bye-Bye Baby says it's time to go!"

People of the Patch

The annual Perrystown Pumpkin Patch is a tradition for most families. But, every year one person disappears. Last year they said she got lost in the corn maze; the year before that they blamed a malfunctioning ride. There was always a logical reason. Each day, the hay wagon drove out to the patch with a load of people, but each time it came back with a new crowd. Every person in town assumed the wagon dropped off one group, left them to pick, and took another group back who had already finished. But, if you ask the pumpkins, they'll tell you their truth. Each started as a man, woman, or child looking for a perfect pumpkin. As they stood in the muddy fields, their feet sank deeper and deeper, transforming into roots. Down into the damp, dark dirt they went until all that remained was a pumpkin-shaped head. Silently each pumpkin screams to be picked so it can return to its original form. But each pumpkin that's picked must be replaced in the patch, or the farmer will come to till the field.


As you walk through the woods on a warm spring morning, you feel a small tap on your arm. You jump and look around, but no one is there. You feel a tickle on your arm and look down. Phew! It's just an extra-large cankerworm you bumped while it descended from the trees. A few more steps, another tap and tickle. They must have all just hatched, but this one looks bigger than the last.

With each step comes a tap and a tickle. Then the taps become bumps and the tickles become scrapes. The worms are getting bigger and bigger, the size of your finger. The bumps become punches and the scrapes start to constrict. You can't swipe them off anymore, they're starting to cover your body, each coiled in a ring around your limbs. As you fall to the ground, one smacks into your face, its long face and slit eyes staring you down. That's when you realize these aren't those tiny green worms, they're green baby snakes. The light fades in and out, the trees are alive, the grass is alive. How long will you be alive?

The Legend of Smoulder

Campers beware, don't let your campfire smolder through the night. Those who don't take heed meet the fate of Smoulder. After you've zipped the tent and sleeping bag, the rising smoke from hot embers collects and waits. Once you fall asleep and the night creatures come out to hunt, Smoulder plots its move. All it takes is one small trickle of smoke reaching the top of the atmosphere, and Smoulder is awakened. Slowly it descends from the stars, winding back and forth, up and down all at the same time. All it needs is one smoke trail to follow. And when it meets the heat of your campfire coals, POOF! The glowing blue fog engulfs the forest, taking every trace of life back to the stars. There, it feeds on life until the next smoke trail makes its way to the sky.

Shadows Return

They've been hiding in plain sight for centuries, plotting their return. A return to the time when shadows roamed the earth alone and unchallenged. As you walk down the street, one follows you, but you pay it no mind. You believe it is yours and not really alive, but a thing made by a trick of the sun. Indeed, shadow people are a trick of the sun. Their plan unfolds; take one person at a time. That way, no one will suspect it's them. Each day in each town when no one is looking, a shadow jumps from the ground, pulling the person through to the shadow world. So, be careful and pay attention to just who or what follows you. But day by day, one by one, you'll all meet your doom.

playing with shadows

Don't Wake Up

How did I get here? Is this a hospital?

"Someone help me."

A calm voice echoes from the silence, "We are helping you dear, just don't wake up."

Don't wake up? Don't wake up?

"Am I awake now?"

The unwavering voice answers, "Just don't wake up."

My bed begins to move, but I see nothing. There are voices.

"Scalpel," they say, and, "Remove," and "Die."

I scream and scream,

"Just don't wake up," they say. There's deep pressure on my leg, my arm, everywhere.

The last words I hear are, "Just don't wake up."

I Built This City

If I build it, they will come. One by one they'll build a house, then a store. More will come, we'll work and laugh. And when the town is full once more, I'll take them all. Dying towns can never live because they're mine to build and devour.

Scary Shot Stories That Tingle Your Spine

Many scary stories are based on common fears, both rational and irrational. From ghost stories to alien tales, what are you most afraid of?

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9 Really Scary Short Stories to Not Tell Alone