Uncle Jake’s here to hook you up with some of the latest and greatest horror short stories available online right now. Stories that will challenge, evolve, and redefine what horror is, and what it will become. These are themed mix-tapes of fear, dread, danger, and gore, lovingly curated just for your reading pleasure.
Antarctica scared the hell out of me when I was a kid. I had a flat map of the world, and spread along the bottom of the map was this jagged vast wasteland, colored white with blue highlights, even larger and more intimidating than the U.S.S.R. (I grew up in the Eighties.) Here was a place where no one could live. Where sustainable survival was impossible. I had vivid nightmares of being lost in that frigid outer territory huddled against the rocks, surrendering to death. No place so large, filling so much of our world, could be more frightening to me. When I saw a globe and saw the geography of Antarctica in context, it didn’t make sense to me. I remember staring at it and thinking, Nope. They messed it up.
I still want to believe that the Seventh Continent is immense, unforgiving, and unknowable. That things can exist there, in among the mountains of madness or rising up out of the ice.
So bundle up, and prepare yourself for an expedition. It’s doomed–we both know that–but the only way to survive is to traverse that expanse to seek out the truth, and to find out what lurks there in the desolate, eternal winter.
Seems like a strange one to start off our “latest and greatest” short stories, seeing how it was written in 1928, but this story of Antarctic explorers and their unnerving discovery feels contemporary and still delivers the creeps.
As the ice opens and up and swallows the lead dog of their sled team, Garner climbs down to put Atka out of his misery and learns that there is more in that dark hole than expected.
This is my favorite response to John W. Campbell’s ‘Who Goes There’ and John Carpenter’s The Thing. Deep, provocative horror that might open your eyes and offer a new perspective on some old favorites.
Sometimes you’ve got to dig a little deeper. Pull a book down from your shelf, run out to the library, or order it from Amazon. Get a collection or anthology in your hands, crack the pages, and get into it. These “Hidden Tracks” can’t be found online (as of this publication), but are worth seeking out and devouring. Enjoy the thrill of the hunt by tracking them down.
Appearing in the brilliant anthology The Doll Collection, edited by Ellen Datlow, Lebbon’s story is one of the most disquieting pieces of Antarctic fiction I’ve read. Plenty have died in the snow, but what happens when you find their bodies?
One of my favorite stories from McMahon’s collection, Tales of the Weak & Wounded. After finding a hole bored into the ice that’s too even and symmetrical to be natural, Farris dives down into the freezing water and finds something in the blackness.
From time to time there’s some extra material that I think might interest readers looking for a little more insight into our theme. Time to go back online, for a Bonus Track.
Special thanks go to Scott Nicolay for story suggestions and insight. This article (and all of his “Stories from the Borderland” series) are a treasure trove of knowledge. Nicolay is a literary archaeologist, telling the history of weird and horror fiction and trying to make sense of the world its authors lived in and how they might’ve influenced each other. Well worth checking out.
If you have a favorite story or two that fits our theme, whether online or sitting on a shelf in your library, add it to the Comments below!
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