I almost forgot to do one of my oldest blog traditions: sharing a series of classic ghost and horror stories to celebrate Halloween! The list of past post is too long to share these days, but you can search “Halloween Treats” on my blog page to find my past posts.
This year, I thought I would go with a theme for my stories. At first, I thought about doing a theme of “disease,” but… that is a bit too topical! So my second choice? Horrors of the sea! So many creepy stories are set at sea or feature the ocean prominently in some way, which is not surprising: the ocean is ancient and vast, and can produce a visceral fear even without adding supernatural threats to it.
So without further ado, here are a list of nautical-themed horror stories, with links!
The Shadow over Innsmouth, by H.P. Lovecraft (1931). One of my favorite horror stories of all time! When a young man opts to take a sightseeing tour of New England, he finds the cheapest route requires a stop at the sinister seaside town of Innsmouth, where the locals appear very unhappy to see him. Innsmouth holds an ancient secret, and as the sun sets in the town, the narrator finds himself hunted by residents determined to keep that secret. (Incidentally, the story of Innsmouth was made into one of the best horror games of all time, Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth, which came out in 2005. You can still buy and play the game, but sure to seek out the unofficial patch for the PC version!)
The Derelict, by William Hope Hodgson (1912). Derelict ships are always creepy as heck (see, for instance, the real story of the Mary Celeste), but Hodgson creates a derelict like none other in literature! When the crew of the Bheospsé come across an ancient and abandoned ship off of the Eastern coast of Africa, they send a small boarding party to investigate. But none of the boarders are prepared for what they find, and for the true nature of the nameless vessel.
The Upper Berth, by F. Marion Crawford (1926). Simply one of the most effective ghost stories ever written, with one of the best closing lines of any such story, as well! When the sailor Brisbane takes an Atlantic voyage on the ship Kamtschatka, he is assigned the lower berth in room 105. Soon he realizes that his chamber may be occupied by something not quite human.
The Sea Raiders, by H.G. Wells (1896). Wells is most known as a science fiction author, but his short fiction could be quite horrifying! A quite town on the coast of England finds itself the target of a monstrous invasion of beings that are decidedly hungry for humans.
MS. Found in a Bottle, by Edgar Allan Poe (1833). Though some speculate that it is a satirical tale of nautical horror, Poe’s story nevertheless manages to chill with eerie and incomprehensible happenings. When disaster strikes a cargo ship heading from Indonesia, only the narrator and an old sailor are left onboard. From there, things get stranger and stranger as the pair are sent towards what seems to be an inexorable doom.
I hope you find these stories entertaining, and happy Halloween!