As I've mentioned on past Bloodlust episodes, I'm a huge fan of the audio fiction podcast NoSleep. What better way for horror junkies to continue creeping themselves out while cleaning the house or stuck in traffic? It's horror for multitaskers! And far from just being convenient, the quality of the series is unmatched in terms of story, production, & performance. Simply put, this is my favorite podcast, & I want you all to check it out.
In honor of NoSleep's recent season 7 premiere (and their fifth anniversary), I present you with my personal favorite stories, in no particular order. Use these as a jumping off point to discovering your own favorites.
The Cocoa Jumping Spider
Season 3, Episode 14 There have been quite a few stories about creepy crawlies on NoSleep, but none can match the storytelling panache of this tale. We watch an invasion unfold with a wry old veteran & his dog. This one has humor (and the kind of pathos that you only have when a pet is involved), but that doesn't stop it from being utterly horrifying. Bonus points for letting narrator Peter Lewis show off some diversity by playing a non-psychopath for a change.
The Disappearance of Ashley, Kansas
Season 2, Episode 5 A tale told by assembling 911 calls from the inhabitants of a small town. They find themselves unable to leave Ashley, Kansas, & the deputies dispatched to check it out can't seem to find the town where it had always been. Though it originally appeared on Reddit's NoSleep forum (as do the majority of the podcast's stories), this story is best presented as an audio drama. It's a nice example of how to make the most of your medium.
Season 4, Episode 22 There are ghost stories galore in the six-and-counting seasons of NoSleep, but this particular ghost story takes the familiar territory of shadows in the corner & sleepover seances and adds its own weird twist. The ending left me imagining possible scenarios for the character's future, which is a clear sign of a good short story.
The Good Thomas Shea
Season 6, Episode 13 If you'd told me this time last year that a NoSleep story could get me choked up, I would've laughed in your face. Then I listened to last season's excellent Christmas episode, & by the end, well...I wasn't laughing. "Thomas Shea" starts off as a normal, suspenseful creep-fest, until the twist that hits you like a punch in the stomach. Narrator Jessica McEvoy gives a particularly fearless & affecting performance, one of her best.
Season 5, Episode 4 This story of a book club who inadvertently summons an evil imp to their biweekly meeting is like listening to someone narrate their own nightmare. Hallucinatory & gory af, with lyrical prose that sounds like a fairytale from hell.
Season 4, Episode 18 In what may well be the strangest story NoSleep has ever released, "Tug" introduces us to a man who has grown up with an extra set of appendages that seem to exist in another dimension. These "garlands," as he calls them, are just a private oddity for the man, until an unseen force becomes aware of them as well.
Soft White Damn
Season 5, Episode 18 This story, produced and narrated by Jeff Clement, boasts a seriously creepy monster. I found myself thinking of its disturbing voice hours later. If you like it, be sure to check out Jeff Clement's YouTube page & his other project, Chilling Tales for Dark Nights.
Penpal (pts. I & II)
I'm cheating a bit, since this is really a series of connected stories. But I'm the head honcho around here, so I'll do what I like. The real terror in the "Penpal" series is born out of the innocence of its main character, who recounts confusing events from his childhood that only make sense to him as an adult. Parents, you will never let your children out of your sight again after this one.
Season 5, Episode 12 Hopefully you're getting the idea of just how unique NoSleep's stories can be. In case you're not, let me present "The Oddkids." The titular characters live in the forest on the other side of a creek, & if you cross into their territory, you're pretty much screwed. Good luck finding a movie with monsters this horrifying.
I hope you're intrigued enough to check out NoSleep for yourself. And if you already have, let me know which stories are your favorites! I have plenty more that came close to making the list. -AP