Here is an incomplete list of stories that disturbed me as a child, teen, and/or adult. I recommend you check them out.
“The Green Ribbon” by Alvin Schwartz–A girl always wears a green ribbon around her neck. Why? The ending of this fucked me up as a child because it was so abrupt and I wasn’t expecting it.
“The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson–A small town has an annual lottery where they choose someone to sacrifice in order to ensure a good harvest.
“The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas” by Ursula K. Le Guin–Omelas is this absolutely perfect town where everyone is happy. What is the dark secret that makes it so happy?
“Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” by Joyce Carol Oates (This is my all time favorite short story.)–A young girl is visited by an old fiend. Implications of rape and/or murder. Inspired by serial killer Charles Schmid, aka the Pied Piper of Tucson.
Skeleton Man by Joseph Bruchac–I don’t remember this one much, but I remember a scene about a guy who went camping and burned his finger and put it in his mouth to cool it down, tasted his flesh, and then promptly began eating all the flesh off his body.
“High Beams” from Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark by Alvin Schwartz–A girl is followed by a guy who keeps flashing his high beams at her, but is he the real threat? (This is one of the only stories I remember from Scary Stories that I clearly remember and know for certain it came from Scary Stories.)
“The Monkey’s Paw” by W.W. Jacobs–A magical monkey’s paw grants wishes, but wishes always come with a price.
“Borrasca” by CK Walker and “Penpal” by Dathan Auerbach are two stories originally published on Reddit that, while they could probably use some good editing, are very unsettling. “Borrasca” is about a small town where young girls tend to disappear. When one girl disappears, her friends decide to go looking for her and they uncover…a lot of weird shit, let me tell you. “Penpal” is a collection of various strange stories that happen to the protagonist from like kindergarten through sometime as a young adult that chronicle him being stalked. For both of these stories, it’s the endings that are really fucked up.
The urban legend of Bloody Mary (The first time I heard this story was in the middle of the woods with a bunch of other preteen girls.)
I am also currently reading The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson, and let me tell you, I haven’t gotten very far and I am already fucked up. This is not to say that the beginning is particularly scary. But I it is uncanny how Shirley Jackson was able to capture my inner turmoil in the character of Eleanor. I’m scared to read on, knowing this is a horror novel and it’s not going to work out for Eleanor.
I also really want to read The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. This one might be a little too relevant for today, though.