Short Story Centre

Top 10 Dark Short Stories


Curiosity, the cat-killer, is one of the reasons human race has been going through so many unsavoury experiences. 

Not only does our inquisitive mind drive us to do things our saner self wouldn’t even consider, but it also sometimes disrupts our future and upward life’s trajectory. 

With that forming the basis of our everyday life and daily decisions, it comes as no surprise that we embrace the most unquenchable and unforgiving genres of stories. 

After all, we have the capacity to read the darkest of the tales and hear most depressing of the stories. Tales so dark, you wouldn’t dare reading them the second time but cannot ignore reading them at least once. 

So here are a handful of unsettling stories, some fabricated, some true. If you haven’t taken a walk down the dark and twisty lanes of the human mind, it’s time to get rolling. 


Homesick for Another World by Ottessa Moshfegh

Ottessa Moshfegh’s Homesick for Another World has grotesque and gruesome characters who see the world as a place of sick, solitude, and darkness. They are expert in self-pity, are unlikeable, but become interesting when they start the search for another world. 


Dancer in the Dark by David Gerrold

David’s Dancer in the Dark is about a fictional world that’s witnessing self-imposed darkness that has crept in the cities and across the land — something bad has happened and the world has turned terrible. 

In this skewed bleak city, a young boy beckons and struggles to understand his identity and the blinding presence of new creatures around him. 


The School by Donald Barthelme

Barthelme’s The School is a classic escalation story that intensifies with every sentence and becomes more grandiose as it goes on. It begins with a failed school gardening project but piles on as the students are repeatedly faced with death — an experience from which adults want to save them but don’t know how. 


Jack-in-the-Box by Ray Bradbury

Jack-in-the-Box is a fantasy short tale first published in 1947 by American author Ray Bradbury. The main protagonist of Jack-in-the-box is Edwards who has been taught that the house he’s been living in is the Universe, where his father is the God, and if he ever escapes the Universe, his father will die. 


Who Will Greet You at Home by Lesley Nneka Arimah

Lesley’s Who Will Greet You at Home is a short thriller that involves a young Nigerian woman, who, in order to bear a child, should first create it from the raw material of her choice, since these materials will determine the child’s character. 


Standard Loneliness Package by Charles Yu

Standard Loneliness is one of those stories that find it’s identity as a wicked satirical tales. The story is about a young man working at an Indian office where an employees’ job is to outsource negative emotions from one human to another. 


The Husband Stitch by Carmen Maria Machado

Carmen’s The Husband Stitch demonstrates a rich variety of intertextual storytelling that runs like a ribbon throughout the narrative. The narrator shares her feelings about a young man she knew she would marry, their scandalous affair, mutually desirous marriage, the birth of their son, and then an inevitable betrayal by him.


The Other Place by Mary Gaitskill

The Other Place by Mary Gaitskill starts off with a father discussing his son’s obsession with violence. It’s a story about a young soul haunted by violent fantasies that he usually acts upon. The boy knows he’s stuck with something too kinetic but cannot figure out how to deal with it. 


Likeable by Deb Olin Unferth

Deb Olin Unferth’s Likeable is about a woman who believes her life experiences have made her a mature and wise person. Because of this wisdom, she starts isolating herself from others and eventually develops mental and emotional distress.


Pilgrims by Julie Orringer

In Julie Orringer’s Pilgrims, which is part of her award-winning debut short story collection ‘How To Breathe Underwater’ we meet Ella whose family has been invited to a Thanksgiving dinner at a house of people they know nothing about. The author taps into the private world of Ella’s mind and immerses us in its longings, fears, and insecurities. 


That’s my favourite ten. But, chances are, you’ve got a different list of titles worth adding here. So, feel free to mention them in the comments section. 


And Hey, I’d like to grow my readership. Can you help me out by sharing this blog post? 

(2) Comments

  1. hi, your site is so good.Following your posts.

    1. Thank you Oleta. So glad you liked this!

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