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.
If there’s one thing you should learn from horror fiction, it’s that every small town has its quirks, every region has its games, and that every little, creepy, out-of-the-way place will have its traditions. A corn maze might seem normal to you, or a rodeo, or a wicker man burnt in effigy as nubile women dance to their dark masters. To me, though, it’s a little weird. A little … unnerving.
This month we’re going to explore some of the more unique activities that bring a community together or define its secret history–either in rushing, gasping whispers or in festivals of blood. I could probably do a dozen mix-tapes on the same theme (and I may, dear readers, I may), but here are the ones I’ve been dying to share. Here are the games I’m never going to be ready to play and the traditions I was absolutely no part of.
A child’s game that unlocks fate and fortune … and the consequences of a father’s actions.
An obscure sign leads to a barn museum, where we learn of a peculiar tradition in rural Ohio and the mysteries surrounding it.
Jonathan Wormcake, the Gentleman Corpse of Hob’s Landing, looks back on his life and how a game of skullpocket changed the world.
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.
The last of the old boys gets what’s coming to him in this Lovecraftian tale that shows us there’s a cost for tradition, and it’s usually paid for in blood. This story is from the brilliant Shadows Over Main Street: An Anthology of Small-Town Horror, edited by Doug Murano and D. Alexander Ward.
As a kid, Gasper Bantam lost his sister Rangel when she went into the woods. Years later, he returns to Leeds, Massachusetts to face his fears and failures, and finds that the horror in Leeds has never left. Gentle readers, if this is your first time visiting Leeds, I promise you it is 100% worth your time to track this down and give it a read. “Rangel” can be found in Bartlett’s latest book, Creeping Waves, and I promise you’ve never read anything else like it.
Classic Hidden Track
There was no way in hell I could do this subject and not include the grand-dame of the theme, you guys.
Track Six: The Lottery by Shirley Jackson
We’re going waaaaaaay back with this one, readers, to share a true classic–not only of the horror genre but of 20th Century literature as a whole. You probably read this one in school, but in case you haven’t and somehow have no idea what this one’s about, I beg you to avoid Google, avoid your friends, avoid talking to strangers (though I know how much you love to), and just get yourself a copy of The Lottery and Other Stories by Shirley Jackson and let it unfold. As for the rest of you, grab your copy off the shelf and go read it again.
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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