Great Short Stories With Free Versions Online

Before I start, I should mention that you are going to notice a few things about this list that reflect my preferences as a writer. It shouldn't come as a shock on this kind of blog, but I figured I would tell you that all of these stories are classics and most would fit in the horror genre, though they aren't the dripping with gore you would expect from modern horror. So, you have your shot to bugger off (I love Britishisms) if you do not like classic horror.

Oh, I should also note that the free versions I have posted here are current as of today. I have no idea what rights the sites hosting them have to the stories or if the stories are in the public domain, with the exception of Poe, which is certainly public domain. Please let me know if one goes down or if you know it is posted illegally.

"The Lottery" by Shirley Jackson (1948)

I am going to go ahead and start with the lady of the hour. You may know this story, you may not, but Shirley Jackson broke right into what was largely a boy's club with her "The Lottery." This creepy short story is a very quick read and well worth it. I've already reviewed it, if you want to read more about it here. However, I suggest using your reading time taking in the actual story, which you can find here.

"The Black Cat" by Edgar Allan Poe (1845)

I had to refrain from filling this entire post with Poe links as all of his work is available online. (I love you, public domain.) When you follow the link for "The Black Cat," check out the rest of the site, which contains many more stories. I chose this one to highlight for one reason only. It scared the crap out of me when I was a kid. While I am an atheist and I think I always have been, I really wanted to believe in things like ghosts, bad luck, aliens coming to Earth, etc. I like to be scared. Therefore, when I read "The Black Cat," I let it be feasible. That, in turn, led to walls being creepy to me. Count how many walls you see today and imagine what that was like for my very little self. I know . . . awesome. Now, for your reading pleasure, click here for some chills.

"Nightfall" by Isaac Asimov (1941)

"Nightfall," and Asimov's writing in general if we're to be honest, is really cool because it is science fiction horror. This story takes us to another planet where the attributes of the planet itself allow Asimov to explore the heart of man's most innate fear -- the darkness. This is a very well developed story for being of the short story genre. Enjoy it here.

"The Dunwich Horror" by H.P. Lovecraft (1928)

Lovecraft wrote very many great short stories. I chose to add "The Dunwich Horror" for a few reasons. Firstly, it takes place in a fictional town in my home state. Secondly, the name Arkham derives from this story and I'm a Batman fan. Thirdly, it is a great example of the Lovecraftian universe. You will find his famous Necronomicon and Cthulhu here.

"The Gift of the Magi" by O. Henry (1905)

This story is quite different from the others I have posted here, but it struck me so much when I read it as a kid that it has to be one of the best short stories of my lifetime. "The Gift of the Magi" is about family, love and sacrifice. Coming from a large family and focusing a lot of my life on them makes me appreciate the kindness and support those of us who are lucky in family have available to us. Being poor can help you appreciate the story as well. Before I ruin it for you with my lack of literary prowess, go ahead and read O. Henry's masterpiece here.

Jim "Junior" Rennie: Differences Between CBS's "Under the Dome" and Stephen King's "Under the Dome"

As a fan of virtually all things Stephen King, I was naturally excited for "Under the Dome" to come out on CBS and have been watching diligently since the first episode aired. Of course, I expected there to be some major differences. I mean, anyone who has seen shows "based on" works by Stephen King, such as "Haven" knows that the apple sometimes falls very far from the tree. I say that as a fan of "Haven." As it pertains to "Under the Dome," the biggest difference I picked up was with Jim "Junior" Rennie, played by Alexander Koch.

Note: The differences here are only up until Episode 11 of the first season. If you notice any other differences or mistakes in the ones I have listed, please feel free to comment. 

Warning: Spoilers for both the novel and the television series are contained throughout this post.

The first thing I noticed about Junior Rennie that was not in the novel was his lack of migraines. In Stephen King's "Under the Dome," Junior has crippling migraines that seem to be the catalyst for a series of insane acts. These are caused by a tumor that has also made no appearance in the series.

One of the biggest story lines involving Junior Rennie in the novel has him killing two young women and raping their corpses over the course of the novel, even thinking of them as his girlfriends. The first girl he kills is none other than Angie McCain. Yep, the girl he locks up and seems more and more to genuinely love in the CBS series is dead for most of the novel. Of course, she does make many appearances as a corpse and in Rennie's thoughts. The other girl is Dodee Sanders, who is Angie's best friend in the novel. She is a completely different person in the series.

While Junior Rennie is a relatively violent man in the "Under the Dome" TV series, he is nowhere near the sick man he is in the book. In the novel, he enlists the help of his friends to assault and beat protagonist Dale "Barbie" Barbara. In the show, Barbie repeatedly gets the better of Junior in several ways. Further, Junior is less murderous in the show, only killing one person so far to avenge the near-rape of Angie.

In the show, the acting sheriff makes Junior Rennie a deputy when it becomes clear that the town is going to need additional law enforcement. Junior is somewhat estranged from his father at this time due to the younger Jim's kidnapping of Angie McCain. In the novel, it is Jim pulling Junior's strings and making him a deputy.

Generally speaking, Junior is a far more ambiguous character in the television series. He appears to be connected to three other people trapped in the dome in a way that is important to the plot. He is the so-called "fourth hand." He may even have been acting out of love for Angie when he kidnapped her and be a genuine good guy as it pertains to her. He is certainly not the strictly antagonistic Junior Rennie of the novel. The writers of the show would be hard pressed to take a turn that way as well, given the mysterious nature they have given him thus far.

There is no doubt that other differences are coming in the final episode of the season and in the season(s) to come. At this point, there is no telling what will happen, but feel free to note coming differences in the comments section here.

Shelly Barclay