So, last week, I celebrated Halloween with hourly mini-horror stories on Twitter. None are longer than a single tweet (although I had to sacrifice some full stops to manage that). I thought it would be good to collect them all together, so here are all forty-three.
Enjoy and don’t have too many nightmares.
The barrow is quiet—cold. You back out, unsure why you’re afraid.
The cold follows you home, whispers, “You’re not welcome here.”
Rain blusters against the window. You pull the covers up, feel a warm weight by your feet, hear soft purrs.
You don’t own a cat.
Your radio-controlled clock is still running backwards, faster and faster. As it does, your wrinkles smooth away.
It never stops.
This storeroom was an air raid shelter.
The door swings shut.
The lights go out.
The lock clicks
And in the distance, the siren wails
The cold wind scuds across the moors to where you wait by the bus stop.
You’ve been waiting a long time.
A very, very long time
Your car breaks down in the Fens. No signal. You start to walk.
A dog follows you.
You can’t see it.
But you hear it getting closer
You hang charms over every door and window to keep out the vengeful dead.
But did you remember the old coal chute in the cellar?
The motion sensors switch on the lights as you walk along the hall. It’s not until they go off that you hear her breathing in the dark.
Playing hide-and-seek in your new garden, you discover a headstone behind the weeds. A child whispers, “Found you.”
Tap, tap, tap.
You’ve never been in the attic. The hatch is painted shut.
Tap, tap, tap.
But there’s something up there now.
You find a broken mirror on the beach that shows a distant dark shape.
Each time you look, it gets nearer.
Soon you’ll see its face
The airfield closed years ago, but as you sit by the graffitied ruins, the sky shakes with the throaty roar of a Spitfire engine
Every night, you dream of his mouth on yours. Every morning, you wake to find your lips a little paler.
In the fog, you hear a woman weeping. You follow her tears to the very edge of the cliff.
In front of you, she laughs
And you slip
Ivy grows over your windows, one leaf at a time. Soon it will cover the doors too.
Your battery died hours ago, but don’t give up. Keep banging on the lid. Someone will dig you up eventually.
There’s a dead child standing at the top of the stairs in the boarding house. Don’t get too close—he might push you down.
There are no children in the village.
“We send them away, until they’re old enough to be safe.”
The old man doesn’t say from what.
You wake to find a lipstick mark on the outside of the glass, red as blood.
On the glass of your fifth floor window.
First snow and footprints in the middle of your lawn. No prints lead away.
Maybe they’re still there.
As you step into the holloway, the woods go silent. Hairs rise on the back of your neck.
And don’t look back. Don’t.
No one lives in the schoolmaster’s house now, but the old headmistress still watches the children’s games from the window.
Are you listening?
Can’t you hear me, love?
I can hear you breathing—can see you there.
I can’t hear myself.
As you approach the tunnel, you see the fading lights of a train, hear the singing of the rails.
The line closed in 1967.
“Beautiful things die so soon.”
“Sir, where is your daughter?”
“Here,” the moth collector said, reaching for the next cabinet door.
You hid her broken body in your compost bin.
Next spring, every flower in your garden was the exact blue of her eyes.
Lithe, golden, laughing—you see him in clubs, at the park, by the garden gate
“Don’t,” Grandpa warns. “He took my brother. In 1943”
The swings creak and sway against the wind, long after midnight. Children here don’t like to play outside.
The power is out and your internet’s down, but your song keeps playing. From downstairs, your dead lover starts to sing along.
You’ve worked the late ferry 50 years. He’s been crossing longer. Tonight, you finally see his eyes.
Your last crossing. Not his.
There’s something hungry in the cupboard under the stairs. It’s waiting for you to go to sleep.
You see the light of a phone ahead, and follow the man in the hoodie to the chapel door. He turns, revealing your own dead face.
A little girl sits on the steps outside every night. You finally stop to ask if she’s okay.
She smiles, and crumbles into ashes.
Your father’s waiting for you to come home again, son. He’s waiting by the bridge.
Waiting, because he can’t cross running water.
The old town gibbet stands in the museum yard, roped off as a curiosity.
The shadow it casts sways.
You’ll climb it one day.
You miss the daylight so much.
You wake to find a dead man standing in your bedroom door, stinking of salt and rot.
Trees separate the playground from the churchyard, but still the children trespass. Sometimes they bring back strange friends.
Your neighbour’s shed is wreathed in brambles. Its windows and door are boarded up
Today, a voice from inside calls your name.
There were wreckers on this coast once, luring ships to doom.
On stormy nights, their lights still show.
You’re the last to leave the beach party. Your car won’t start.
A wet, swollen hand paws at your window. “Take me home.”
They built the hospital on land reclaimed from the water. Now, in the dark hours, the cries of the drowned echo through the wards.
“The grave’s a cold and lonely place,” he sighs. “Don’t send me back without you.”