12 Postcard-Sized Scary Stories to Get You Hyped for Halloween

by Peter Chiykowski

A lot of you will know that I developed The Story Engine Deck of writing prompts while I was writing weekly "postcard" stories for my microfiction project, The Shortest Story. Many of these stories are in The Story Engine Anthology, and some have even gone viral on TikTok.

My writing covers all genres, but some of my absolute favs to work on were the horror shorts. To get you hyped for Halloween, I thought I'd round up my 12 absolute best horror short stories for your enjoyment. 

A few you can even have read to you by Cecil Baldwin (the voice of Welcome to Night Vale), Jonathan Sims (the voice of The Magnus Archives), or other voice guests!

Here we go!

The Welcome

 Short story: After months at sea, we were grateful to sail into the bay and find the lighthouse glowing with a welcome beacon and our families gathered on the shore in the growing dusk.  As the lighthouse's lamp began to flicker and fail, we strained to make out the faces of the loved ones we had not seen in so long. Their eyes looked strangely vacant, their limbs crookedly joined, their mouths twisted in the parody of smiles.  And then we noticed the pattern of the lighthouse's unsteady beam. Repeating dots and dashes. Morse code.  G O  B A C K  It said.  T H E Y  A R E  N O T  Y O U R  F A M I L Y  A N Y M O R E

@theshorteststory did you guess the twist? let me know what you thought it was going to be! #foryoupage #scarystory #scary #shorteststory ♬ Horror - Luisa Miedo


The Fog


When the fog came to our town, we heeded the warnings and gathered every day to count our numbers.  How proud we were after a week with no one taken.  How proud after a month with all of us accounted for.  It was only when the fog cleared that we looked out at our proud town and saw too many empty homes.  It was only then that we began to realize the fog had not spared us. We had simply forgotten the ones it took.
@theshorteststory Hit my personal goal of posting a story a day for 30 days. I NEVER hit my personal goals! Thanks for the encouragement! #horror #fyp #creepy #scary ♬ The Fog ft. Cecil Baldwin - the shortest story


The Intersection 

I drove off without looking back, vision blurred and head swimming.  I tried to focus on following the yellow lines away from town, but somewhere took a wrong turn back to the intersection. People had gathered. A gurney had been wheeled out.  I reversed, taking backstreets toward the highway, thinking of my daughter waiting at home in her pink sunhat. I rounded the corner and found myself back at the intersection. The crowd had grown. I recognized some of the faces watching me in the light of the sirens.  By the third time around, I understood. Each time, I drove away. Each time, the road brought me back. Each time, the interval was shorter, my world smaller.  Finally I pulled into the intersection and on each side I saw another street leading to another intersection leading to another street with my car in the middle, my drink-flushed face behind the wheel.  This is my world now: an intersection, a flashing siren, a pink sunhat lying in the road.



"Did you know you're having twins?" I asked the patient as I picked up a second heartbeat on my stethoscope.  She just grinned with too many teeth as I found another, and another, and my ears began to fill with the beating of a thousand tiny hearts.
@theshorteststory T O O M A N Y H E A R T S 😬 Follow me for more weird micro stories #horrortok #fyp #shorteststory #creepy #scarystories #shorteststory ♬ Heartbeats - the shortest story




@theshorteststory beware the jellyhusks 🐙💀 #scary #writing #halloween #horrormovie #terror #horror #fyp #shorteststory ♬ Jellyhusks - the shortest story


The Lights of Earth's Cities Go Out


I thought the worst part would be the screams coming through the space station's uplink as I watched the lights of Earth's cities go out one by one.  But the worst part came later, when the transmissions returned with voices soft and sweet, saying,  DON’T WORRY  IT'S SAFE NOW  COME BACK DOWN AND JOIN US IN THE DARK.
@theshorteststory what would you say back? #horrorfan #horrormovie #horrorart #creepy #scary #shorteststory #fyp ♬ The Lights of Earths Cities Go Out ft. Jon Sims - the shortest story


The Prison of Forgetting

This story is a subtly animated GIF featuring vanishing text. In the transcript below, the text in brackets is the vanishing text and only the unbracketed text emains after 60 seconds have elapsed.   (I fear) the prison is (driving me mad. The doctor tells me it is) only in my mind.  I must (never allow myself to) trust the doctor. I have seen his (notebook. He does not) care for me. I am (not a) patient. (I am an experiment.)  These holes in my memory(—)were (they) always there?  (I think) the pills give (them to) me(. Even my) clear(est) thoughts (are like an old tapestry—faded and bare and eaten through by moths and mice.) I find myself (staring off into space, un)able to recall names and dates (or even what I was just thinking about.)  There are (ways. I track days scratching) tally marks on the floor beneath my bed. (I am running out of room, and I worry that) one day, with the doctor’s help, I will (not) remember what they mean.  Tomorrow I will get (out.) Better (to escape while) my mind is strong (than languish) in this place(.) I am (going) home.

When Life Gives You Demons


The warlock cursed our town and left the demon-possessed doll in the square.  We took it to the woods and buried it, but it was back by the time we returned home. We burned it in the blacksmith’s forge, but again it reappeared. No matter how many times we destroyed or discarded it, it rematerialized in the same spot.  So we built a furnace to run off the infinite supply of regenerating dolls. First we used it to heat the poorhouse in winter, and eventually the rest of the town too. This summer, we’re going to open a community kitchen.  A few families are still coming around to the idea of living with hellfire in our midst, but the rest of us just wink and say, “When life gives you demons, give 'em hell.”

Don't Open Your Eyes

Years ago, my cousin taught me the staring man’s game. We'd squeeze our eyes shut and look for shapes in the colour bursts. Try it. Close them and search for the outline of a man. He’ll seem to stay in the same spot, even if you move your head.  Keep your eyes closed. Pretend your vision is a camera and move it toward him. When you get close, you'll see his arms hanging at his sides with long, thin fingers. It'll feel like he's staring back. Stay calm. Ignore the sensation that he's standing right in front of you, reaching out with slender hands. Wait until you hear a low, angry growl inches from your face. That's when you have to open your eyes. Have you tried it yet? Good, good. Thank you.  I’m sorry. I lied. You're not supposed to open your eyes until he leaves, otherwise you'll see what my cousin saw: he’s there in front of you, eyeballs straining like he's screaming, except he's smiling with lips pressed so tight they’ve gone white. After that, my cousin saw him every time she shut her eyes, always getting closer. She moved two states away, but he followed. One night, she called crying that he was in the house. She begged me to play the game and draw him off. She sounded so scared. What could I do but agree?  We’ve been swapping ever since, letting him get close, then calling to trade. But last week, when I was on a trip, my cousin didn’t call. Car accident. Coma. My family waited until I got back to tell me, and by then... Well, no one saw who broke into her hospital room and tore her apart with surgical tools, but she must have. Her eyes were open so wide when they found her.  Since then, I’ve been on my own with him. I’m so sorry, but I didn’t know what else to do. It had to be a stranger, someone far away. Just pass him along before he gets close. And if you do feel him nearby just remember: Don’t. Open. Your. Eyes.

The Night of the Red Sails

There’s a tradition around here we don’t tell the city people about.  On the first new moon of the year, our village takes to the water with crimson lanterns that mark our boats safe from the Lady of the Shallows.  We always bring one outsider with us. We must explain to him what we are doing before we lower him into the water. That's important. It's not the flesh she feeds on, you see. It's the fear.  If she doesn't get her fill, she could come back early. She could take one of us. So please understand, there’s nothing personal about this. Careful now, mind the ropes as you go down.  Yes, that’s it. That’s the fear. Our lady will feed well tonight.  Oh, don’t curse now. You came to our sweet little village to tell us how quaint we are, to get your fill of our small-town ways and go home with a story.  Well, these are our ways. This is your story.  It’s not our fault if you don’t like how it ends.

Your Body in the Churchyard


For thirty years, I brought your body to the churchyard on new-moon nights to attempt the ritual.  For thirty years, you did not stir.  It wasn't until the men with picks and shovels came to dig up the groaning earth that I realized the ritual had worked every single time.  Just not on you.
@theshorteststory did you figure out the twist? 😱 #horrorfan #zombies #creepy #scary #strange #shortfilms #shorteststory #foryoupage ♬ Your Body in the Churchyard ft. Cecil Baldwin - the shortest story


The Town With No Name

All three of us were silent as we drove past the blank “welcome to” sign and into the town with no name.  The people all watched us with the same slack expression, their heads tilted at identical angles as if listening to a single far-off sound.  For a moment, I heard it too.  For a moment, the people in the car seemed like strangers and I couldn’t remember who we were or where we were going, but then we passed the last house and it came back.  We were all old friends. All travelling together. All safe.  All four of us.


@theshorteststory A 40-second horror story ft. narrator @thevelvetduke. Did you guess the twist? 😬 #horror #scarystory #creepy #fyp ♬ Forever - Labrinth



If you like these, you might consider preordering my new book of postcard stories, which features a mix of genres and some never-before-seen postcard stories and never-before-heard narrated stories!

And if you're a horror writer, you might get a kick out of Written in Ash & Bonethe deck of horror writing prompts I created for The Story Engine deck.

The Written in Ash & Bone horror writing prompts expansion for The Story Engine deck
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