2 exceptionally good short horror stories that will give you goosebumps

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short horror story

I guess that should have gotten your attention ;)

We all love short horror stories, and I bet that`s also the reason why you are here. Horror stories have been around for ages and some of them have been transformed to the most well known movie pictures of all time. And the best part about them is, that some of those horror stories are even based on real life happenings. Think about american horror story or Annabelle only to name two of them. And I guess that`s what gives us the most goosebumps. 

So without further ado, let`s dive straight into it, here are two spine tingling short horror stories for you, enjoy!

1. Peripheral

As we grow up we all realise that we aren’t perfect, having to face the damning truth that our parents don’t have all the answers, the absolute reality that bad things happen to good people and worse things happen to innocent people.

Up until I was 10 I had what can only be described as a textbook childhood. I genuinely believed I was a good child always doing as I was told and following all rules to the letter-ish, I assumed my parents had all the answers and in all honesty they normally did and thanks to the ethics of the cartoons during the 80’s and 90’s only the ‘bad guys’ fell victim to profane endings.

I was your quintessential pre-teen for 1992 and summertime was always my time to shine. My parents worked full time so during the summer holidays I would spend my time with my grandparents, we would be up early as both my parents went to work early and we’d make our way down to my Nan and Granddads. It was always a treat whenever we went as my Nan had a particularly sweet tooth and we would be party to the wonders and delights of the bottom drawer of her refrigerator, filled to the brim with Kit Kats, Penguins, Club Biscuits, Gold Bars and Blue Ribands, it was a smorgasbord of confectionary delights which we would be able to help ourselves to throughout our stay. Better still there was always Ice Cream after every meal.

But the best things about staying at my Nans is I never had to “stay” at my nans, after a brief hello and a quick stock up of chocolate biscuits, my brother and I would leave the house on our bikes and “Call” for our friends. This was one of the best things about the summer we would call for Dale first because he was usually up early too which meant we could be out and about at 8.30 in the morning. We would then try our other friends Phil and Mark, their mum didn’t work and they usually slept in until late morning, something that baffled me as a child as my family were early risers and we were never allowed to sleep past 9am even on the weekends.

We’d ride around for a few hours then come back to call on Philip and Mark where we would wait whilst they finished their breakfast (at 11:30am) and their mum fussed over them, brushing their hair and making sure they had sufficient kisses and words of encouragement and warning to last them the entire day. We would then set off on our adventures pretending to be Power Rangers, VR Troopers or our favourite wrestlers from WWF.

This was always my favourite part of summer, we would spend our time going to local woods and making Dens and finding the perfect sick that would make a fantastic automatic rifle when we played “War”.

The only thing greater than these moments with my friends was the annual holiday with my family. My parents worked full time and this time as a family was precious

That all changed in the summer of 1992 following a camping holiday. That camping trip was the best, we had spent the entire two weeks making friends and spending days playing games and the evenings telling ghost stories and trying to scare each other with practical jokes.

My family is from Plymouth, the larger of only two cities in Devon, UK and we were going to the same campsite we had spent every summer for as long as I could remember at Tregurrian Camping and Caravan Club in Newquay, Cornwall. Apart from the small shop, toilet block and a fish and chip van that came on Wednesday evenings there was nothing else to do. So we made our own fun. Playing Rounder’s, Football, Hide and seek and if we were lucky Tennis or Swing-ball.

The evening before we left one of the girls I had met took me to one side and gave me first ever kiss, she was a cute 11-year-old red-head called Gemma she was from Chichester near Bristol. Both hers and my parents had teased us about the blossoming romance all week. My parents overusing the phrase “toy boy” playing the Sinitta record of the same name and her parents crudely calling her a “Cradle Snatcher”, which by today’s standards isn’t a vernacular commonly used. I had spent the entire 2 weeks with this girl and I really liked her. Gemma apart from being older than me told the best ghost stories always able to build a sense of suspense and delivering perfect jump scares too. She was an amazing story-teller.

Prior to my first ever kiss we had actually exchanged some things about ourselves, something that by normal standards never happened between two preteens that liked one another. I spent a lot of time bragging about how I played football and did Karate and she proceeded to tell me about the abnormal things she sees out of the corner of her eyes.

As she had spent the last 2 weeks telling great stories like the hairy hand, the red woman and personalised a story about the Hounds of the Baskervilles to something that happened to her, I listened intently thinking that she was playing another practical joke on me.

She proceeded to tell me about the creature that stalked her from the staircase. I almost laughed at this but only stopped as I could see tears well in her eyes as her gaze now evaded mine.

She hugged me tight and that was that. We all spent the last night together around the low heat and light of the last Barbecue of the summer. Time meant nothing to any of us. We all ended up going to bed when the sun started to make an unexpected and unwanted appearance. That orange light peaking over the horizon confirmed that summer was over for us all.

We all slept for a few hours and spent the last few hours playing hide and seek. I spent some time with Gemma and at around 3pm she left with her family as it was about a three-hour drive home and both her parents had work the following day. We shared a teary goodbye and vowed to write to one another my parents gave me permission to pass Gemma our home number and I was given hers. I was excited as I planned to call her as soon as I got home. My family left Tregurrian at around 7.30pm meaning we didn’t get home until gone 9pm Sunday 23rd August 1992.

The journey home passed by quickly mostly because I spent the first 10 minutes talking about how I was going to call Gemma and then I was asleep for the rest.

My parents sent me straight to bed when I got home, although I still had a couple of weeks left of the school holidays they had work the next day and they had to wake me up early to take me to My Grandparents.

Sleep was difficult to come by as I had caught up on some during the trip home. I finally managed to get to sleep but was rudely awoken by that all too familiar uncomfortable feeling.

I remember waking up to answer natures call. As always the toilet light would always be on acting as guide, as I made my way out of my room toward the Bathroom where the only light emitted from I began to grow more and more aware or the dark void that was the staircase, the only way out of the house. “Thanks Gemma” I thought to myself.

In the darkness and quiet of night my mind began to quickly conjure up a magnitude of creatures, demons, ghosts and beings whose only want would be to devour me in every senseless way imaginable. On occasion as I would grow more aware of the impending doom facing me on that treacherous journey from the safety and warmth of my bed and the security of my duvet to the toilet which was guarded by the very form of evil itself, a huge heavily clawed creature with talons the length of a grown man’s fore arm, and fingers so elongated with stretched leather like grey skin they looked painful as they curled around the bannister post as the creature slowly and assuredly edged closer and closer to the gaping void of the staircase exit, the huge, extensive and hairless skull moving closer, beginning to corner the stairs where it would inexplicably shift from a steadied, unnoticeable and deadly silent sliver up the staircase that seemed too small for the creatures engorged frame to navigate without causing a single sound to being mm from your face within a second. Which I would remarkably question in my mind as this creature was so huge and I was a boy of 10, this creature wouldn’t make a sound yet, every time I snuck out of bed to get a drink tiptoeing so not to be detected I would manage to make the staircase creak so loudly that the house echoed with the muted screeching that exuded from below my feet.

The logic questioning in my mind quickly putting to bed the reality of a monstrous deity hell-bent on stripping the flesh from my bones as I silently scream and watch as it devours my bloodied extremities. Calm ensues as I finally make my way to the bathroom where I manage to meet natures call and wash my hands, choosing not to pull the flush so I don’t give the imaginary thing outside an opportunity to move from its secure expanse so I would meet the creature face to face as I pull the bathroom door open, in my moment of arrogant clarity that the images in the corner of my eye aren’t real I slowly and assuredly twist the cold tap to begin washing my hands as soon as I twist the faucet I am met with an almighty growl.

I await in the bathroom as images quickly grow in my mind as the calming fog clears to show the image of the demon that now presides the forefront of my mind. The image growing more grotesque every millisecond as my mind tries to combat the fear rising up in me by reassuringly telling me the growl was nothing more than a snore omitting from my parents room as my father readjusted his place to get more comfortable as he maintained his slumber.

After a few agonising seconds of deciding to head back to the safety of my bedroom, my bed and the duvet that would quickly become my security, a fortress where nothing could get me I hear another growl, this time it registers as the familiar sound of my father’s snorts.

I smile in spite of myself almost growing to laughter as I reach for the handle of the bathroom pulling it down slowly as the springs within clank and grown under the prolonged pressure I am putting it under so not to wake my family making more noise than I would if I had decided to pull it open in the same fashion I would do it was daylight, choosing no matter what that when I open the door I will not cast my eye left as I exit, I will not turn my head to face that staircase monster as it wasn’t there, I knew it wasn’t real, but I still didn’t want to give the fear in my mind the satisfaction.

As the door handle came to a satisfying halt in noise I pulled the door open with more confidence than I was actually feeling as if to prove to the imaginary creature that I really didn’t care and I wasn’t scared of “it”.

My plan was working as I pulled the door open completely and took my first step out from under the door frame I refused to cast my eyes left. But then an unidentified force felt like it was pulling my head towards the staircase. I fought it even closing my eyes as I stepped right towards my bedroom and the safety that awaited me.

Forcing a second step away from the bathroom and the staircase beyond, a familiar growl could be heard once again I shook it off as my father’s snoring once more but the sounds echoed in my mind mutating as it did, it seemingly grew deeper with a longing breath accompanying it. As it echoed around in my head I stood there frozen as I concentrated on the sound in my mind as if it was surrounding me, like the new cinema multiplex surround sound where the voices appear at differing locations around you making your head turn inadvertently.

The growl now contorted into what sounded like words beneath static, slowly coming together like a puzzle with only a few pieces left to finally show a an perfect picture apart from the cracks throughout the image giving it an oddly satisfying yet disappointingly interrupted picture.

The voice becoming featured above the growl and identified as a single elongated word. My name.

As I heard this the world around me came back into focus as if being pulled from beneath the water where everything was muffled and distorted seconds ago and now a rush of sound and vivid colour and precise items now clear, the darkened images of the door frames, with shadows cascading due to the light emitting from the open door of the bathroom, my shadow cast across the walls and doors to the rooms to the right of me as I had started to step toward my bedroom, then suddenly as if forcibly implanted into my mind the recent sound of the growling of my name alarmed in my mind. Suddenly I became aware that my head began twisting back toward the staircase. As quickly as I started moving my head I stopped it, I stopped myself looking at the staircase…. But, in the corner of my eye in my peripheral vision I saw it.

A scratch on the staircase and three dull red reflective lights that most certainly had not been there before.

Before I gave it a second look I shifted my weight and darted quickly toward my bedroom, sprinting the 10 or so steps to my room, shutting the door behind me hastily and diving into bed and hiding under the covers. I was safe.

Then I heard a voice come from the opposing corner of my darkened bedroom, it was low, stifled and slurred, “Thing on the stairs?” it asked in a matter of fact tone.

To my relief it was my brother, I must have told him about what Gemma had told me the night before. I had obviously woken him whilst sprinting to my bed and shutting the bedroom door a little louder than I had intended. I slowly lowered the duvet cover from my head as I adjusted and sat up. “Yes” I replied, my voice clearly shaken but with a hint or false bravery as this was my little brother I was talking too. He exuded a groggy tut, clearly annoyed at being woken.

I could hear him shift in the darkness as I watched as he began to stand up. “What are you doing?” I asked hurriedly, “Going for a pee!” he replied still groggy as he yawned with these words, I could now see his figure clearly stood up in front of the bedroom window only illuminated by the clear silver moonlight.

I sat there panicking, arguing with myself as I was deciding whether or not to stop him going to the toilet or risk looking crazy and losing face to my 8-year-old brother.

I let out a gasp quickly followed by false bravery tone I had attempted not moments before “Fair enough. Sorry for waking you”.

He walked past the end of my bed, made his way to the door way and opened it, not showing an ounce of caution, the most surprising thing was how quiet he was when doing all of this. I took note of what he did if I needed to be quick and stealthy again.

As the door opened fully the light from the bathroom flooded our room and my bed as it was directly in front of the door, he stopped rubbing his sleep filled eyes as he nodded towards the door as if gesturing whether to close it or leave it open. Once again panic overwhelmed me as I needed to make a decision, do I ask it to be closed and continue hiding in the dark bedroom or do I leave it open with full view of the passageway and more worryingly the staircase.

I’d obviously taken too long to answer by this time as he gave a half-hearted huff and made his way to the bathroom, not even a flicker of fear or caution in his movements leaving the door open fully. He reached the bathroom and closed the door behind him plunging the passageway into almost complete darkness owing its only light to the cracks between the door and door frame and the moonlight from the clear night’s sky.

Everything was deadly silent once more and my father let out another growling snore from the room directly to my right as you left my bedroom. I remained sat up in my bed, duvet pulled up to my nose, still refusing to focus any vision toward the gaping void of the staircase before me. As my eyes darted around avoiding the view directly in front of me I saw it again, from the corner of my eyes three reflective red lights about half way up the wall at the end of the hall.

I decided I would take a look, bringing the duvet over my nose and just below my eyes, I closed them quickly, the image of the three reflective red circular shapes had burned their way into my mind and began sailing around in my head with the rectangular shape cast from the closed-door of my bathroom with its light emitting through the cracks.

I pulled the duvet up a little higher impairing my vision slightly as I opened my eyes and turned to face the staircase creature head on. To my surprise and absolute relief the lights were gone and as my eyes adjusted to the darkness I could make out the staircase, window sill, window and even some of the aertex design on the wall.

Just then I heard the flush pull and the sound of water rushing to refill the empty cistern. Then I heard the tap with a rush of water as my brother began washing his hands, I sat upright in my bed lowering the duvet almost completely with a new sense of confidence and hilarity of the situation.

As I did this the tap stopped there was a moment of quiet and the door handle began to open. Light filled the void and I could see everything almost clearly, I chortled to myself at the irrationality of it all as I watched the silhouette of my younger brother block some of the fresh bathroom light that I had found hilarity at.

As he exited the bathroom, obviously still woozy from the deep sleep he was in minutes before, he reached his right hand up and absentmindedly turned off the bathroom light. Suddenly we were all plunged back into darkness, slightly worrying me once more. I saw him shuffle toward our room making his way back to the empty bed awaiting his return, I turned and noticed his bed cover was drawn back, I surmised that the heat the cocoon of goose-down had before surrounding him had now left, I wondered whether this would bother him, or would it be a welcome change in temperature to bring his body heat down allowing him to fall quickly back to sleep.

I looked back at him and the silhouette was closer now standing in the doorway, but a lot bigger than I was expecting, it almost filled the door frame, this was obviously due to the my eyes not yet readjusting to the darkness again.

He entered the room as my eyes followed him in through the door which he was showing no intention of closing, I grew anxious at this. My eyes followed him once again but in the corner of my eyes I caught those reflective red circles again, I must have looked quickly as there appeared to be six this time in 2 vertical lines of three of increasing size from the bottom up.

My new-found confidence ignored it as I then followed the silhouette of my brother back to his bed as he slid in and made himself comfortable. I spoke out quietly “Night” he quietly grunted some response as he turned away from me. My eyes quickly darting back to the door which he had either absent-mindedly or intentionally left open? Normally the open door would let in silver moonlight filling my side of the room, however, this time it was much darker. I put it down to cloud cover and settled back into my bed turning to face the window in our bedroom and my brother’s bed as he lay there my eyes focused on the window with curtains pulled almost fully albeit from a small triangular shape at the top of the curtains in the centre where it must have fallen away from one of the sliding hooks, As I looked I admired the night sky through the gap and started counting the stars to try to help me fall asleep trying to forget my ordeal however laughable it seemed now.

Then I realised that the room remained darker even though the door was open and I had counted the stars. There was no cloud cover.

My eyes quickly widened in horror as I turned abruptly toward the open door in my bedroom.

As my eyes had reached the doorway to my room I was met by 6 huge blood eyes reflecting like cats eyes as the enormous figure stood tall at the foot of my bed. It moved quickly as our eyes met and I attempted to scream but nothing came out. Within the moment when our eyes met and my attempt to scream the creature’s cold leathery hands had squeezed around my neck so tightly it suppressed my windpipe. With that it let out the familiar growl of my father’s snore in the form of my name “Miiiiiiiichael” with colossal ferocity.

With that my brother had awoken and let out an ear splitting scream which startled the creature as it disappeared quickly yet silently out of the bedroom.

Just as quickly as the monster had vanished my parents entered our room turning on the lights. My brother was in tears and I was unable to catch my breath, my asthma started to flare up as I choked for breath after my narrow escape from the Beast.

My Mum although clearly shaken managed to console my brother and I as she investigated the injuries I had sustained seemingly from nothing. Whilst my mother tended to us my Father had darted from our room as quickly as he entered leaving with the baseball bat that had been beside my bed.

As my mother tried to settle us and treat my injuries I could see the image of my father slowly returning to our room, he appeared to be ghost white, blood had drained seemingly from his entire body leaving darkened eyes, blue lips as he seemed to be trembling as his weakened shuffle edged closer to the doorway.

We all looked at him, each of us frightened by his appearance. I could feel the colour fade from my face as he stepped clumsily into the light of the bedroom.

No one said anything until he had fully entered the bedroom.

He slumped down on the end of my bed facing away from the family, back towards us, his shoulders low and his head sunken to his chest as he let out what can only be described as a sobbing sigh.

Tears instantly welled in my mother’s eyes, there appeared to be an unspoken realisation between my parents.

My father inhaled as if for the first time. Time passing by like what seemed to be hours when a matter of seconds had passed since that “thing” had scurried out of my bedroom. He turned to face us, mostly my mother as he attempted to moisten his dry lips with the tip of his tongue, his mouth split open and started to form his first word, my mother watching his face, contorting hers into one of defiance and hope. Then delivered the two words that would ultimately tear our family apart.

“She’s gone”

My 2-year-old sister was missing.

Her bedroom was next to the staircase.


2. ‘Between the boughs’

Deep in the woods grew a grand old gnarled elm tree with countless boughs and a massive, forked trunk. It's twisted roots dug deeply into the subterranean soil. It's outstretched limbs reached all the way up to the very top of the forest canopy. This 'wise old man' had seen many extraordinary things during its sequestered lifetime. From disease, fire, famine; and the bloody carnage of untold human wars. Regardless, it held all of those arboreal secrets very close to the proverbial trunk. They were sacred, unspoken truths of the forest.

One of those secrets lie far below the soil under its deepest roots. A sizable wooden chest with iron corners and hinges was buried there many, many years earlier. The old elm tree tickled the lid from all sides with its curious roots. Daily it felt along the sealed edges of the box for an opening but there was none. Since the locked box predated the life of the tree, it could only guess what was stored within. A pirate's treasure, or perhaps a human body?Whatever it was, the wooden trunk was not revealing its secrets anytime soon. If the tree unwisely divulged its location, then humans would surely dig up the mystery box for answers. The 'old man' knew that would bring about its untimely end. Mum was the word on the buried chest hidden down below.

One day a woodsman came into the forest seeking lumber to make furniture from. With its massive boughs and trunk, the majestic elm tree looked like a perfect choice. The old man had to make a split second decision. Either he had to break the oath of forest silence and entice the woodsman with a deal, or his end was all but decided. It was the elm trees only option but it had to be executed perfectly.

As trees are not apt to speak to woodsmen of sober constitutions, the old elm had to break the ice very carefully. The sharpened axe was only moments away from shredding his wooden flesh and torso. "Mr. Woodsman. Allow me to introduce myself at this crucial moment in time. I'm the large stationary tree before you that your axe seems transfixed upon. Before you embark upon any hasty actions, I'd like to suggest an equitable trade of sorts between us. One that I'm sure you will see as profitable. Can we possibly broker a deal?"

Understandably the woodsman was startled by the break in human-tree communication and etiquette. In all his years of felling trees for lumber, not one had ever spoke up or protested. Suspecting that a lurking prankster was playing a joke on him, he looked back and forth nervously. After a thorough search of the nearby woods, he was able to confirm that he was really absent of human companionship. The woodsman grinned in amused disbelief. The old elm was really talking to him! It had no face to make eye contact with and no ears to address. He wasn't even sure he was awake but he knew he was definitely alone in the woods. He decided to reply back to the gentlemanly request.

"In all my years as a lumberjack, I've never witnessed a talking elm. You'll pardon me if I appear to be caught off guard by this revelation! So, go ahead and tell me of this deal you mentioned. I assume you'd like me to keep walking through the forest until I locate another tree to make furniture from?"

The great old elm was relieved. The woodsman seemed like a reasonable man and might actually be open to a bargain to spare his bark. Now that their awkward introduction was out of they way, they could talk business. The old tree began to lay out his proposition.

"Its true that I would very much like to avoid the point of your axe but in the spirit of a bargain, both parties should get something out of the deal for it to be agreeable. If I can get you to agree to spare my life, I have something to offer you in return. Naturally, the only thing to hold two individuals to any agreement is their word. I can't stop you from chopping me down, but if you offer your word as a gentleman that you will spare me, I will reveal a financial incentive for you to do so. What do you say?"

The woodsman was intrigued. His vocation was full of back-breaking hard work with very little monetary reward. If the old elm had a mystical means of paying a self-ransom or monetary reward, it would be far more agreeable than all the work it would take to make a table or curio cabinet. While he was interested, he was very skeptical if the tree could offer anything of interest. In all fairness, it was his first negotiation with a plant.

"Before I agree to anything, I'd like some idea of what you are offering. I'm not sure the two of us have any common ground on what we value."; The woodsman replied.

"Very well. You are wise to inquire about the specific details of my proposal. If you would spare my life, I will give to you a massive oaken strongbox and you may keep all of it's secret contents."

"Strongbox? Filled with pirate treasure, jewels, Spanish doubloons, or what?"; The woodsman inquired with considerable interest."

"Aye. That's the rub."; The elm tree explained with a hint of mystery. "As I do not possess any hands, I can't open it myself but your species isn't in the habit of burying empty boxes, are they? One thing is for sure, I have no use for it and you'll never locate it without my help. I only ask for your word that you spare me of your deadly tool. As soon as you give your word, the box and all within is yours. That's the deal. Sound agreeable to you, kind sir?"

The woodsman reflected on the tantalizing details for just a moment before readily agreeing to the unusual pact. He envisioned a steamer trunk stuffed to the brim with golden coins. Visions of untold riches danced in his greedy head. All of his long days of hard labor were over. Suddenly the ground began to shake and rumble. The woodsman stepped back in nervous fear.

"Relax."; Reassured the massive elm tree. "Your prize is deep in the Earth beneath my roots. I must reach deep and retrieve it for you. I have to shift the soil back and forth to work it to the surface."

The woodsman rubbed his hands together in restless anticipation. "So it's very heavy then?"; He asked excitedly.

"Oh yes, it's very heavy!"; The elm tree remarked. "I have to shift more dirt under it so that it can raise up. Eventually I'll be able to wrestle it to the top so you can have it. In the meantime, please move over beside my trunk. I need to pull some loose ground underneath you to fill up the void I am making over here."

The woodsman dutifully did as he was told; standing between two giant limbs. Suddenly the top of the mysterious trunk broke the surface. The man shook with excitement. He was so preoccupied with watching it being unearthed that he failed to notice the massive limbs wrap around his torso. Slowly the old elm crush the woodsman to death as he gazed upon the newly unearthed chest. His fatal mistake was trusting the old tree. There's just no honor among threatened elms.

With a heave, the elm tore off the rusty padlock and cast open the old lid. The woodsman would have been disappointed. It was completely empty (but now it's not). Slowly the massive lockbox sank beneath the shifting soil to reside in its previous location. It probably wouldn't stay there forever. There was always the risk of more woodsmen.



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