What are some of the most disturbing short stories you have come across?

One evening, a man went to a party. He wasn’t really the sort to attend large social gatherings, but somehow today he was compelled to make an exception.

He had been standing about with a champagne glass in hand for about an hour by the time he began to regret his decision to attend. The party guests, although dressed in all fineries, seemed to lack a spark of intelligence that fueled interesting conversation. Suddenly, movement caught the corner of his eye- another room, further inside the house. Upon entering he realized there was a man at the back of the room, surrounded by excited party guests.

“He’s a palm reader!” One lady practically screamed at him. “He said there is fame and fortune in my future!”

Intrigued, the man sat down in front of the palm reader, who looked at him sagely. With a flick of his wrist, he lightly grabbed the man’s palm and laid it flat on his. The palm reader rubbed his hands over the man’s, leaned in and began inspecting the lines.

All at once, the palm reader turned paler than ivory, stood up, snatched up his suitcase and flew towards the front door. The man began chasing him and grabbed his arm just before the palm reader could leave.

“What did you see? What did you see that makes you so terrified?”

“I- I cannot reveal that.” the palm reader stammered. “For your own good, I cannot.”

“Tell me!” The man pronounced gruffly.

The palm reader began sweating visibly and shifting his eyes to and fro. Leaning in, he whispered, “You are destined to kill someone in the next 72 hours.” In his shock the man let go, and the palm reader disappeared into the black night.

For that night and the next, the man went sleepless. He had no desire to become a murderer, but he knew he could not change his fate. Finally, he decided that there was only one thing to do- he had to kill someone, willingly and on purpose. If he knew who he was killing, then surely it wouldn’t be nearly as bad.

He hatched several plots, and finally decided to send poisoned sweets to an old aunt he had never liked. Within hours after they had been delivered, he received news that she was dead. He rejoiced- until he was informed that his sweets had never been consumed, as she had succumbed to illness before she ever saw them.

By the 71st hour, the man was desperate. He had not killed anyone, and he had only 60 minutes left to do so. He found himself at the edge of a bridge well after dusk, and began to cross it. At that moment, he looked to the side and saw the shadow of a man, standing over the bridge’s edge and looking down at the raging river below. The man did not think twice- he rushed over and pushed the figure right over the edge.

But before the figure fell into the river, the man got a glimpse of his face, as round and white as the moon that was illuminating it.

It was the palm reader.

All credit goes to Oscar Wilde for this story- I merely took the spoken version I have heard and wrote it in an acceptable form to be read.

Edit: My dad has informed me that the original title for the short story is Lord Arthur Saville’s Crime- and this is an abriged version, so go check out the original!

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