Nightmare Fuel / Paul Jennings

The short stories of Australian children's writer Paul Jennings are often laden with Nightmare Fuel.

  • A particularly disturbing one is "Clear as Mud", in which the protagonist steals a rare insect from a lab, gets bitten by it, and soon finds that his skin is gradually turning ''transparent'' to reveal his own bones and innards, like an X-Ray. He flees a terrified but horribly fascinated public, and lives as a desert hermit for over ten years, keeping the beetle in a jar. Then it bites him again and his skin is restored to normal. However, there's a rather horrible twist: the protagonist's condition has spread to the rest of the world: they're now all transparent, and hence he's still a hideous freak. All this in barely ten pages.
  • The book series Wicked! is even worse, detailing the spread of a new virus that transforms normally harmless animals and objects into monstrous plague-spreaders: swarms of giant innards-eating maggots, smart sheep with steel wool and rather psychotic grins, cannibalistic frogs, and apple-head dolls that shockingly sprout kilometre-long strangling creeper vines! And that's nothing compared to what it also does to humans...
  • One story had a boy (called Gerald) jump from a train before the narrator's eyes after losing the flowers he was going to give her in a tunnel. This wouldn't be so bad if a few days later the flowers didn't suddenly sprout from the narrator's hands, all with Gerald's sad face on them afterward.
  • Another story No Is Yes is about a guy who meets a Mad Scientist who has trained his poor daughter Linda the opposite words to everything in an attempt to understand human language. The scientist keeps all the opposite words in a book; yes is no, mother is father, etc. The horrified guy feels pity for Linda and tries to rescue her from her dad, but suddenly a house fire breaks out, it is implied that the Mad Scientist was caught in the blaze. The Nightmare Fuel comes when the fire brigade asks Linda if her father is in the house. Her answer? "No."
  • Another story involved a headless chicken that scares two bumbling crooks who are robbing a pub, they are making a robot replica of that same chicken to scare the owner into giving them money. They are literally scared to death- and end up drowning into the pub's local river... Their ghosts are seen frantically rowing in row-boat, all while the ghost of both chickens sing "The Wild Colonial Boy" to them forever.
  • A story had a boy with no middle fingers because he stuck them under a mower while it was still running. He finds a way to regenerate them by his pet drop-tail Gecko, but the problem is his new fingers keep dropping off! This also leads to a nightmarish gross out scene at the local supermarket.
  • You know what makes a good kids story? What about a literal trip to hell, that oughta put smiles on their faces!In the short story Unhappily Ever After a school headmaster that enjoys beating his students far too much gets sucked into a whirlpool and is forced to watch images of people doing to others what those others do to them. This drives him to suicide and when he wakes up in his office you expect it was a dream. Nope! Now he's dammed to an eternity of the beatings he so enjoyed subjecting others to while he was alive.