Do you ever feel like you can never get enough stories? Like you crave a constant thread of narrative across every waking moment of your life? It can't be just me.
Undoubtedly this is a far more common experience than we might talk about out loud. We desire a living, breathing conversation—and more so, the chatter of a fascinating documentary or fictional story to supplement our daily exercise, the dull moments between Zoom meetings, and more. They're especially fantastic while on the go—so if you're traveling for the holidays, we've got you covered.
There’s also so much out there to choose from—options for literal hours of entertainment. Here are some of the best short fiction horror podcasts that have been hitting podcast streaming services for the last couple of years.
Alice Isn't Dead
Created by Welcome to Night Vale creator Joseph Fink, Alice Isn’t Dead is an addictive narrative built around diaries from a truck driver that is going around America searching for Alice, who she believes is, well, not dead. The premise allows for the story to explore all kinds of tropes and go on wild supernatural tangents while continuing to thread the main plot arc along. It’s really well done and the sort of narrative you want from a fiction podcast, addictive and vastly entertaining.
By now most have at least seen the Netflix series while they scroll through the service; just as many enjoyed the run of episodes and were upset when a second season wasn’t picked up. However, never fear because the podcast that inspired the Netflix series, cocreated by Daniel Powell and Marc Sollinger, runs multiple seasons and the story goes into further depth than the adaptation ever did.
Archive 81 tells the tale of an audio archivist named Dan who is hired to go through an increasingly odd array of old audio tapes in a remote location in the woods. Soon he discovers a sinister secret involving Melody Pendras, who spent an exhaustive amount of time interviewing the Visser building.
The Magnus Archives
The Magnus Archives is written and stars Jonathan Sims—albeit in a fictional persona within the podcast—as he tells different impossible tales of an increasingly Unsolved Mysteries sort of vibe. The anthology podcast series is long-running and has five seasons and no end in sight.
Sims plays a similar role to Dan in Archive 81 as an archivist providing candid and informative reveals from the fabricated Magnus Institute, an organization pioneered to study the paranormal. The podcast is perfect for those listeners looking to quell their paranormal urges because you can never go wrong with a mysterious organization with enough secrets for multiple governmental entities.
Nightlight podcast is an anthology podcast series that takes inspiration from classic TV series like The Twilight Zone and maybe even Tales from the Crypt.
The podcast’s creator, Tonia Ransom, conceived of Nightlight to focus on Black authors telling Black stories, and each episode focuses on doing just that. Every episode explores something from the world of horror, everything from mystery to sci-fi, horror tropes, and something odd. You better believe there’ll be enough to leave a lasting mark across its multiple seasons. Dive in and enjoy the horror.
Know Fear Cast
Though not directly a fictional drama, the Know Fear Cast goes into serious depth about all the best things that go bump in the night. With three hosts, each with their own expertise—Matt, writer and expert on horror tropes; Mel, a practitioner of all things haunted houses; and Lisa, an expert on gothic horror—the Know Fear Cast team really knows fear.
I particularly love how they pull apart everything that makes fear so unavoidable yet relatable. Sometimes you want to be invigorated by a deep conversation, the sort that gets your own creative juices flowing… and who knows, gets you writing through your own fears!
The No Sleep Podcast
The No Sleep Podcast is the brainchild of Reddit, originally designed by Matt Hensen to be a podcast that chronicles the scariest stories shared on the Reddit forum of the same name. Since then the podcast has grown in immense popularity and has entertained countless listeners as well as attracted the gamut of notable narrators to tell horror stories that step outside of the box in effect to scare the hell out of a person.
Above all that the podcast has continued to strive for, it’s to venture into the world of the more disturbing and often psychological side of horror. It’s a great podcast to dive into, even now, with so many episodes to experience. Hit play and lose a few hours (or an entire day).