Happy Halloween, people who aren't going to sleep tonight!
On Thursday, we ran our first installment of the winners of our annual Scary Stories contest. We read through all 2,000 of the comments left on our original call for spooky stories. And buried deep in the comments were some real, terrifying gems.
What follows are the final 11 stories we've chosen as winners for our 2014 Spooky Stories contest.
The Next Cabin Over, from hermanofibigan
When I was little, my family had a weekend cottage in the mountains not far from Stowe Vermont. Back then, it was still to some extent the back country, and quite unspoiled. Our cottage was surrounded by woods, and there was a gravel road that formed a horseshoe, where about 7 or 8 neighbouring cottages were. Often times, there was nobody in those cottages, and we were pretty much alone for miles. Needless to say, night-time was extremely dark.
One summer night, we're all sitting around on the orange shag carpeting and watching Star Trek or something, and someone knocks softly at the screen door. It's a woman, wearing a house dress, and looking very sweaty and out of breath. (I must have been about 7 yrs old, and had a brother slightly older). My dad talks to her for a little while, as she explains that she needs a lift down to the village. My dad, ever the good Samaritan, says, sure, no problem, let me get my keys. They both leave in my dad's Cutlass, leaving my Mom, brother and I sitting, still with the screen door open, watching tv on this warm but pitch-black summer night. Meanwhile, my father is driving this woman down to the village, a good 30 minutes each way, and he begins to talk to her and pay closer attention to her. He notices that she is barefoot, and her dress is all torn and muddy. She explains that her husband lives with her in a cabin in the woods, and that they have had a huge fight, and that she has run away through the woods, since he intends to kill her. She has lost her shoes in the woods, and run through brambles and branches in her panic to escape. Now, my dad is at least 30 minutes from home, and he knows that the first house a murderous guy would encounter as he chased his wife through the woods, would be our cottage, where we're all still sitting around, completely oblivious, with every door and window wide open. Cell phones haven't even been dreamt of in this era, and he has no way to reach us. He drives the woman to some friend's house, urges her to call the cops, and motors back to the cottage, wondering if he's going to be greeted by our massacred corpses. It was a different era, I guess, because it never occurred to anyone to call the cops just in case.
I still remember him getting home and calmly, icily locking every door and sitting by the door, trying not to convey to us how scared he was. That's not even the creepiest part, though. A couple of days later, my brother and I were looking around the outside of the cottage, and we noticed hand and face marks on the back windows, where a tallish person had pressed his face against the glass. We also explored the woods over that summer, and actually found the woman's shoes stuck in the mud, as well as their utterly trashed cabin. Someone had absolutely destroyed the place, breaking every glass and picture frame, and throwing all their belongings out into the woods. That was ONE creepy place. We heard later that the woman had committed suicide.
For years afterwards, my Dad and I would often walk the dog out on the gravel road, and at the turn of the horseshoe that was closest to where these people's cabin was, we always, always got a really bad feeling. They were long gone, but the hairs would stick up on the back of my neck, and I would always feel watched and terrified. I always assumed my Dad, a calm and rational guy if there ever was one, didn't feel scared. But years later, he confided in me that he always hated that spot and felt very bad vibes, some kind of immense sense of foreboding, when we walked by there.
She Never Left Our House, from mindthemittelschmerz
A few years later we left our little cabin in the woods to move to a new house a bit closer to town. I had my very own room and spent a lot of time in it playing alone and reading in it.
Every now and then, I would hear what sounded like footsteps or banging coming from below my floorboards. I guessed it was just normal house sounds, maybe pipes, and I got used to it. After a few months of pretty non-stop banging - which no one else could hear - things started to escalate. Heavy furniture started falling down on its own. A solid oak dresser simply toppled over as I was sitting on my bed, across the room, reading.
A few days later, I was playing with my Teddy Ruxpin doll when it suddenly drained of batteries. I asked my father to put new ones in, only to find that they ran down again almost immediately. We assumed the toy was broken and forgot about it.
From the day we had arrived in the house, I had known I wasn't alone in that room. I had grown up in isolation and know what that felt like - this was different. I started responding to the knocking sounds, "Stop it! I'm trying to read."
My mother was moderately concerned, but assumed I was just playing with an imaginary friend. A few months later, I had started to experience odd dreams in which I relived very commonplace memories in the house. For example, I remembered in vivid detail walking between the laundry room and my mother's art studio, sliding my little body between the framing. I knew for certain that the framing had been up for some time before they got around to sheet rocking. I asked my mother over breakfast one morning when it was that we'd finished the basement. She looked at me, puzzled, and responded that the basement had in fact always been finished.
The banging sounds got louder, nothing battery powered would last more than a few minutes in my room and things were constantly moving around. Small items - diaries, stuffed animals, keep sakes, would rearrange themselves on a near daily basis. I felt that whatever I was sharing my room with was angry, scared - like the puppy we had adopted years ago. I started speaking to 'it' more, and at this point started to feel strongly that whatever it was I living with, was female. The more I spoke out loud, the less things moved about. I felt a kind of longing, like I had knocked on a door and was waiting to be let in.
One night I woke from sleep inexplicably. I decided to get up to have a drink of water, and walked across the hall into the bathroom. Now, I should mention that this house had been built in the 1970s and there were many small mirrors, gold flecked, throughout. The bathroom, however, had an entire wall of mirrors that you looked into as you sat to pee. Bleary eyed I shuffled into the bathroom and sat down. Suddenly my skin turned to gooseflesh and I felt as though cold water had been poured down the back of my neck. I stood up, panicked, only to line my reflection up with a figure standing to face me. A figure that wasn't mine.
I tilted my head to the right and to the left. Our reflection did the same. It was me, but it wasn't me. She had shorter hair and slighter features. She wore blue pajamas where I wore a long sleeping shirt. We regarded each and I lifted my hand slowly to wave. She smiled and faded out. I waited for an hour, sat on the bathroom floor, waiting for her to reappear. Finally, I crept back to bed but couldn't sleep.
The next morning I was riding along in the car with my mother and asked, "Do you know who lived in this house, before we did?" My mother answered nonchalantly, "The woman who lived here before us was a reporter."
I asked, "Did she have a daughter?"
My mother tensed, "Why would you ask that?"
I didn't answer.
"She didn't," my mother went on, "but she was convicted of a crime that involved a little girl." My mother trailed off.
She knew that I was a strange child, and I suspect at this moment she realized that in fact my imaginary friend might be something entirely different.
"What did they do to her?" I asked cautiously. "Well," my mother began, "the woman who lived here helped her boyfriend to abduct this little girl, and she was never found."
I sat quietly for a moment and then, as my mother reports it, said very slowly, "She never left our house." I watched my mother's knuckles turn white on the steering wheel. I thought I was in trouble.
You see, when my parents looked at our new home they had wondered about the low price. The house had been foreclosed when its previous occupant had been sent to jail. A few families had come to look at it, but in a small and very religious community, people were hesitant to move in to a house associated with so much darkness. We were poor, and my parents had two children living on top of one another in a cabin with no central heating - they didn't have the luxury of worrying about the stigma of living in a house with a complicated history.
A few months later we moved into a condo on the other side of town. My parents never explained the move to us, as children, but I always suspected that it was because my mother was afraid of my relationship with the girl in my bedroom. In the few months we lived in the house I had never been able to look in the crawl space, a dark, meter high area that ran the length of the house. It had clay, dirt floors and a small light you had to crawl to on all fours. The day we moved our things away, I went down to the basement to say my good byes. She had been kept there, I was sure of it. How else would I have had her memories of the basement unfinished? As I turned to walk up the stairs, the lightbulb in the crawlspace flickered on, swinging. Just for a second. She was reaching out one more time, telling me where she was, asking me to free her, too.
Love, M, from melodramallama
When I was in high school, one of my friends was very into playing with ouija boards. She was living with her grandparents because of her family situation and I was living on my own because of mine. I really liked going over to her house, because I was very lonely a lot of the time, and her grandmother always had a full pantry. My friend and I used to hang out in her room for hours, smoking and trying to contact dead celebrities. And the ouija board worked— the planchette moved, we had conversations with whoever (although never Marilyn Monroe as we both secretly hoped would happen).
We did talk to someone whose name started with M— actually M was the only name they ever gave. The planchette would start to move in a really fast, aggressive triangle when M showed up, and M was bad news. M's defining feature was that s/he did not like me. At all. M would always spell out terrible things about me, about how and when I would die, that kind of thing. I know, the ouija is subconscious (or not-so-subconscious) movement, right? But it seemed very... purposeful and real, somehow. Even if we invited other people over to play, M would show up. It was creepy. Eventually we moved on to some other pasttime, and I stopped thinking about it.
A few months into our senior year, my friend and I had a falling out and stopped speaking. I didn't have a lot of other friends at the time. Hard to believe that a manic-depressive poetry nerd with a ouija enemy wasn't very popular, but it's true. After school I used to go back to my little apartment where I lived alone and listen to music and read and try to get the one channel I could get on my ancient tv.
I was bored. I wanted someone to talk to. Guess where this is going. I started to play ouija by myself, using a ouija board that I'd drawn. And it worked. Or I made it work. Or whatever. Eventually M showed up again with triangles and nasty words and messages of doom, and even though I was pretty sure M was some kind of creation of my self-hating subconscious, I decided not to play anymore. Things started to get a bit weird. First it was dishes clattering in the kitchen. Not constant, just occasionally. The first few times I went to check it out, but I didn't see anything. After a while, I stopped getting up to look, but the noises kept happening. I started to get uncomfortable in the apartment. Have you ever had a bad feeling about a place? Like serious bad vibes? I felt that way in my apartment, particularly in the bathroom. But I figured I was just being silly, lonely, over-imaginative.
One night, I was doing some drawing in my sketchbook. I did some paintings too, because I was painting some props for a play I was on the crew for at school, and I was waiting for them to dry. I went to bed with everything laid out on the living room floor. The next morning when I woke up, I went out into the living room, I didn't have my glasses on, so everything was kind of blurry. I saw my paintings and the finished props and thought "oh good, those are dry" and I was about to go get dressed when I noticed something else on the floor.
It looked like another painting. I went closer. It was a page torn out of my sketchbook, and turned over so the image was on the back. It was a message. It looked like it had been written by a finger dipped in paint, in red paint. and it just said DIE in big red letters. In the bottom right hand corner was an M. And the paper... the paper was scorched. Burnt around the edges, with big brown singes in the middle of the page. That was the worst part. Because for a second I thought "well, maybe I was sleepwalking and legibly wrote a message to myself on this piece of paper and cleaned everything up when I was done". But the scorching made it REAL.
I stood there, feeling like someone had dropped a cold stone down into my stomach for quite a while, holding this horrible thing. And my choices were really that I had done it and couldn't remember, that someone else had broken in and done this very specific thing and left without me hearing, or that no one had done it. All of the choices were too unsettling. And I decided to get out of the apartment. But I brought the paper with me, because I wanted to tell someone about it and I knew no one would believe me without the proof. I went to school, but didn't go to class. I told a couple of friends about this and they agreed that the message should be destroyed, so we took it out in the field behind school and burned it. And I hung out at a coffee shop as long as I could after school so I wouldn't have to go home, but of course eventually I had to.
There was something that looked like purple lipstick on the wall next to the door to my apartment. When I got closer, I could see it was an M. I left the apartment a couple of weeks later. I haven't heard from M since. But 20 years later, thinking about playing ouija still makes me very, very nervous.
Who's There? from Aikage
I pride myself on my car trip taking patience. I never rush, I take frequent breaks, and I try to generally enjoy the car trip as much as is possible. Sometimes this leads to overnight stays in random hotels in Connecticut.
My friend's wedding came and went and I needed to get home as I didn't really know my friend's family all that well and my daughter, who at the time was 2, was busy being cute. There's a general rule about my kid being cute - I need to be there to see it.
ANYWAY, so I start pulling one of those comical TV driving things where my eyes start to close and I begin driving off the road. As I'm not really anywhere near home, I figure I'll stop at the first hotel I can find. My GPS guides me to a Best Western but it's all booked up for a Biker Gang Weekend.
THe next hotel I find is off the beaten path and very....quaint. It's late and I'm so tired I don't really care so I check in and they hand me a key. A real, made of metal (iron? copper? Tin? Lead?) key. That's the kind of place this was. I found my room, unlocked it, walked in, relocked the door (there was no deadbolt or other safety feature), sent a quick text to my wife to let her know I wasn't going to be home until tomorrow afternoon, then crashed.
Around 4 o clock in the morning I woke up. I'm not really sure why I woke up but I found I couldn't get back to sleep. Everything was too quiet. I usually sleep at home with a box fan for white noise but here there was nothing. No air conditioner to hum loudly. No refrigerator to hum. No neon lights to buzz noisily outside my window. The night was still.
What's weird is that I never heard footsteps. Or a car. You'd think with it being so quiet I would have heard something. But all I heard was the sound of a key rattling in the lock. It seemed to take an extraordinary amount of time. So long that I remember clearly having the thought, "Someone must just have the wrong room." I was just building up the courage to shout when the key clicked. For 3 eternity like seconds or so, nothing happened. Then the doorknob turned.
I'm not sure if the moon was super bright that night or if I had been tossing and turning so long that the sun had just started to come up but I could see the outline. It was tall, maybe 6 foot or so. It was wearing a hat, like a baseball cap. Whoever it was had long hair, down to their shoulders. They were thin, but not skinny and they must have had a quilted vest on or something because they seemed kind of ...knobby around the shoulder area.
In my head I've gone over the next 30 seconds a trillion times. In my head, I get up and run to the door and shout and raise a scene. I'm brave and I scare this person off, or at least turn on a light and let them know that they shouldn't be here. I am courageous in the face of this unexpected intruder. In reality I lie there. I hold my breath. I don't move a muscle. My eyes feel like they should fall out because I have them opened so wide, desperately trying to make sense of the situation. To have some detail come into focus that will right this so obviously wrong scene. Nothing happens.
The figure stands in the doorway. I know it's just my eyes playing tricks on me but his fingers seem to get longer then shorter. They aren't moving either. Just standing there with arms akimbo, like they're posing for "creepy stalker" magazine. And so we sit there. I'm not sure how long we stay there. Time in situations like this really hammers home that it is a construct of human imagination. There is no measurement here. Lifetimes pass.
Finally the figure clears their throat. An ugly gutteral sound. They turn about and walk away, leaving my door wide open.
I spend about 30 minutes of just sitting there, waiting for my heart to calm down, or maybe trying to convince myself that it was a dream. To put enough temporal distance from the event that the edges of unreality creep in. Eventually I climb slowly from the bed, convinced that a noise is going to alert the figure that I am here, and yes, I am very edible. I grab my bag, creep out to my car, and I drive away as fast as I possibly can.
Later I get a bill from the hotel for 20$ to replace the key that I drove away with.
When She Got Back, I Was Dead, from thatsslightlyraven
I was visiting my parents over the holidays. My mother loves nothing more than to break open a bottle of cheap chardonnay (Kendall Jackson if it's a fancy night) and watch home videos of us kids when we were little. It's pretty harmless, if a little embarrassing, so we indulge this habit with her.
We were watching videos of my sister and me dancing and singing and generally hamming it up for the camera when I was 4 or 5-ish. We watch like four of these videos and I notice in everyone that I talk to the camera about my younger brother. I keep saying things like "When I was 10 and my brother was 7 we did X" or "When I was 8 and my brother was 5 we did Y". I don't remember ever talking about this. There was a consistent 3 year age gap between this younger brother and me and all the things we did were activities on a large, rural farm. Between the ages of 0-7, we only ever lived in major metropolitan areas, my immediate family has never lived on a farm.
I asked my mom about it because it was weird. She said she always brushed it off because I was an imaginative little kid, I was always telling stories and I really wanted a younger brother. She said I stopped talking about it around the time my younger brother was born when I was 6. She said there was one time that I said something that really weirded her out. One time I apparently said, "When I was 12 and my brother was 9, I fell out of the tree near the silo. It hurt really bad. Buzzy went to get Mama but when she got back I was dead." I don't remember every saying this, my mom said I was really nonchalant and when she asked me about it, I wasn't bothered. I just said it again like it was a fact. My mom said that my brother was born a few months after that and I never mentioned it again so she let it go. She wrote it off as me trying to get attending with a new sibling on the way.
Flash forward about 3 days and my mom's mom and stepdad are there for Christmas. My mom's stepdad married her mom when my mom was in her late 20's and I was a baby, my mom didn't grow up with him and she doesn't know his extended family well. A few glasses of wine and back to the baby videos. One of them has me mentioning my brother again. My mom retells the creepy story from earlier. Her stepdad goes white. My mom knew that he had a sibling pass away when he was young, I had never heard that before. His oldest sister, Shirley passed away when he was 9. She was three years older than him. They were raised on a grain farm in Iowa. They were playing on a tree and she fell head first out of the tree when her foot slipped. My mom's stepdad was right there when it happened. He went to get help but she passed away from the fall.
The part that not even my grandmother knew: His sister couldn't say his name when she was little and mispronounced it as Buzzy. No one called him that after his sister died. He got really mad at me and was convinced that someone told me and that 5 year old me was messing with him. I had no idea he had lost a sibling. My grandma is the only one in our family who knew all the details about it, but even she didn't know about the nickname.
I have no memory of telling these stories as a little kid and even seeing all the videos hasn't helped my remember it. My mom and I haven't talked about it since. My mom's stepdad hasn't talked to me at all since.
Then Why Were You Screaming? from Tara Babcock
When I was 18, I lived with my (now ex) boyfriend in a basement apartment in a town in Wyoming. It was not a happy time in my life for various reasons (boyfriend was abusive, I was pregnant with his child) but it also didn't help that the apartment was creepy as shit. Even for a basement apartment, it was unusually dark and cold all the time.
As soon as we moved in, weird shit started happening. Scratching noises would seem to be coming from inside the walls. I attributed this to mice, but not a single trap that was set ever caught one. I would be doing dishes in the kitchen and I would hear an enormous crash from the living room. It would sound so much like the TV had fallen over, taking my boyfriend's shelf of Star Wars memorabilia with it, that I would rush into the living room expecting to find a complete mess and not a thing would be out of place. Sometimes I would be coming down the dark, narrow hallway that connected the living room to the rest of the apartment and I would swear that I heard whispering coming from the bathroom at the end of the hall. I would often wake up in the middle of the night after hearing something like a camera shutter clicking right in my ear. As unsettling as these things were, they didn't really disturb or frighten me so much as annoy and puzzle me. When I started finding out the history of the apartment from the locals and I had some context to put them in, that's when it got scary.
A few months after we had moved in, a guy from my hometown came to visit me. He was living in the same city at the time, attending the same college that my boyfriend was. He brought a friend with him who was local. I greeted the two of them outside the apartment, and the friend introduced himself and said that he used to know a guy who lived in these apartments. When I invited them inside and we went down to the basement apartment, the friend got a really weird look on his face.
"This is the apartment that guy I knew lived in," he said. "Have you had any problems here?"
I asked him what he meant, and he told me that the guy he knew who had lived here had been a meth dealer and self-proclaimed Satanist who used to host weird group sex parties in the name of the dark lord or some shit. (In any other town, this would seem far-fetched, but this town was/is a very strange place.) The friend said that the guy was now in prison for beating his girlfriend almost to death and pushing a TV over on top of her.
Well, that spooked me. I told my boyfriend (who hadn't taken me seriously up to that point) and he, being a non-practicing Catholic, decided that calling a Catholic priest over to come bless the place was the best solution. I was/am not religious in the slightest, but I didn't have any better ideas, so we called the local parish and they sent an old priest over. He sprinkled some holy water around, said a few prayers in Latin, and was gone.
Later that night, we were invited to a small gathering at our neighbor's apartment. He lived in the apartment directly above us, and we had told him earlier in the day about the priest coming over to bless the place because of the spooky shit that was going on. When we arrived at his apartment that evening, he asked us how it went. We shrugged and said fine.
"Then why were you screaming?" he asked me. "Were you having devils cast out or something?"
My boyfriend and I exchanged puzzled looks. I told him I hadn't been screaming. Nobody had. The whole thing had been pretty uneventful. The neighbor swore up and down that he had heard a woman screaming coming from our apartment while the priest was there. He had thought it was me being "exorcised" or something. WTF.
I had hoped that was the end of it, but it wasn't. Things actually started to get worse over the next few months. The weird noises came more frequently. The camera-shutter sound woke me up every night instead of just once in a while. My boyfriend began experiencing the phenomena as well. Around this time, the fights we were having started to escalate and my boyfriend became very violent. He had never been a nice guy, exactly, but I had never thought he would actually hit me with closed fists, but he did, and quite often. It was a very bad time.
Early one morning, I woke up suddenly and saw that my boyfriend was still asleep in the bed next to me. I looked away to check the clock, and when I looked back, he was staring at the ceiling with his eyes wide open. It startled me because I had never seen him wake up so suddenly. I said good morning and asked if he was okay.
"I spoke to it," he said. "The thing that lives here. It told me I can't leave. It said it owns me now."
I started to ask him what the hell he was talking about, but he immediately closed his eyes and went back to sleep. Somewhere deep down, I thought I knew what he was talking about, and that freaked me out even more.
One night a few weeks later, I was alone in the apartment. Boyfriend was out drinking with friends. I was watching Ace Ventura: Pet Detective on the TV in the living room. I decided to go to the kitchen to get a drink. As I was walking down the long, dark hallway to the kitchen, I stopped dead in my tracks. I had heard something growl. At first, I thought it must have been the TV, but as I strained to hear, the noise coming from the TV in the living room was Jim Carey doing one of his voices. The growl came again, and it was coming from somewhere much closer, and off to my right. I turned and saw a dark shape crouching in the hallway. I had just enough time to wonder if a stray dog had somehow gotten in when the thing stood up and rushed at me, snarling. I fucking freaked. Bolted down the hallway, up the stairs and out the front door.
The neighbor who lived above us wasn't at home, so I went up another flight of stairs and knocked on a different neighbor's door. The lady named Dawn who lived in the apartment on the top floor came to the door. I had not met her before this, but I immediately started babbling about the shadow thing in my apartment and begged her to come take a look. She and her SO, who lived there with her, accompanied me downstairs. There was nothing to see and nothing out of place, but the hallway was ice cold. I felt stupid and crazy and embarrassed, but Dawn told me she believed me.
"You know, this apartment is messed up," she said. "Lots of crazy shit has gone on down here."
I told her I had already heard about the Satanist dude who tried to murder his girlfriend. She laughed and said that was only one of the people that had lived there. Before that guy, a Mexican lady had lived there. She was a devout Catholic who did not speak a lot of English and had a life-size crucifix on the wall. Dawn had never seen anything like it outside of a church, and when she asked about it, the Mexican lady crossed herself and said that it was to "keep the evil in the apartment at bay". Before that lady, the apartment had been rented by a photographer who used it as his darkroom. He was busted for kiddie porn. My blood froze as I remembered the weird camera-shutter noises that would wake me up. Dawn told me more about the history of the apartment and the people who had lived there, but I can't recall any of the other details- just that each person had either been terrified of the place, been a terrible person, or met a terrible end.
I moved out of the apartment and back in with my parents a few weeks later. I might have stayed longer if not for the fact that my boyfriend had become so violent during one of our fights that he threatened to kill me and then himself. Whether it was him finally showing his true colors or "the evil in the apartment" working on him, I'll probably never know- but I knew that my life and the life of my unborn child was in danger, so I got the fuck out of there and out of that relationship.
Unborn child is 12 now. Abusive boyfriend is out of the picture and has been for over a decade. I am still very good friends with Dawn. Sometimes I still have dreams about that place, though. The dreams are always terrifying, and sometimes I wake up in the dark, totally convinced for a few moments that I am back in that apartment.
Strangers in the Hallway, from Gillian Holroyd
One experience that has haunted me for years: When I was 19, I had a one-bedroom apt in NY with a roommate. I had the bedroom, she had the living room, and there was a long narrow hall between the two rooms. A few months after we moved in, this woman upstairs who was 26 and very dramatic, started asking to borrow our phone. She had just moved to the city and didn't know anyone, had no money, etc. She was very fixated on me and she made my skin crawl, but I felt sorry for her because she was clearly struggling with some mental problems. Anyhow. One night I wake up and hear shuffling. I get up and see over a dozen people shuffling up and down my hallway, and they're all emaciated and silent and staring straight ahead in the dark. I scream and turn on the light: they're gone. My roommate tells me I'm crazy. I don't mention to her that I felt like they were Holocaust victims because it sounds even nuttier - but somehow I knew that was what happened to them.
A few nights later, I wake up to more Holocaust victims standing around my room - not looking at me, just staring into space. I turn on the light - they're gone.
At this point, I feel pretty fucking haunted but have no idea why this is happening. Then Neighbor comes down two nights later in a bathrobe. She's clearly distressed and as we're talking, the bathrobe begins soaking through with blood; she's cut herself with a knife on her stomach, legs, breasts, etc. It's rolling down on her legs onto the floor. We call 911, ambulance and cops come, and they send me up to her apartment to get her some clothes to wear to the hospital.
I go up to her apartment, where I've never been. All the lights are on, so is the TV, 2 faucets running. And all over the walls are photos of her standing in concentration camps she visited in Europe - like over 30 black and white pictures of her in these places - and other pictures of Holocaust victims, along with notes she's printed out and taped up saying "I should have died" etc. Every wall is covered with Holocaust notes and pictures. I'm now fully FREAKED OUT but I grab clothes, take them down to her and go off to the hospital with her. Where, thank god, they admit her.
On my way back to our building, I see my roommate walking toward me with a terrified face. She says "You're going to think I'm crazy, but after you guys left, I kept picturing in my mind all these people who died in the Holocaust like they were in our apartment." Mind you, I had never told her my theory about the people I saw, and I hadn't had time to tell her what I saw in Neighbor's apartment.
Neighbor left NY after that and I thought it was over. But one night I was in the kitchen pouring water with the lights off and I saw another one of them standing in my roommate's room - a very emaciated dead woman just watching me. I froze and she vanished. We ended up subletting for the summer and both moved out.
Connie, from LouisaMaybe12
When I was a teenager, my grandfather (my mom's dad) started suffering from dementia and came to live at our house for a few years. It was a nice time being with him, but it was also sad, watching him decline. The dementia went mostly as expected; strangely misplaced items, general confusion. But there was one really weird thing that my grandfather did that really disturbed me and my mom.
One day he started talking about "Connie." "Where did she go?" he asked. We thought he was talking about my deceased grandmother, but her name was Anne. No one in our family was named Connie, so we figured he was just confused. But he kept asking about Connie. I started wondering if Connie was some woman that had been in his life that none of us had known about.
The weird stuff started happening shortly after. He would randomly have his shoes already tied by seemingly no one (he had long ago lost the motor skills to do it himself) and when asked, he would, of course, name Connie. One day he casually explained there would be a storm coming, and shortly after, one would come. Again, he said Connie told him. There were lots of little things like this. Furniture and doors moving around. Mysterious footsteps at night. And always, he would say it was Connie. My mom and I started to think of Connie as a sort of kind ghost or angel looking after him in his old age.
Until one day, he was talking about Connie, and he grabbed my hand suddenly and looked at me with his eyes wide and his lip trembling. He looked terrified. "Where's Connie?" He asked, as usual. "She's not here," I said. (my usual answer.) "Quick, shut the door! Don't let her find me. Quick, before she gets me again!" A creepy feeling came over me. "Who is Connie?" I asked for the millionth time. But he just put his hands over his face and started to rock back and forth, moaning.
After that we heard less about Connie, but mostly because we were too creeped out to keep asking about the weird noises and the random things he seemed to know. However one night I woke up to the sound of footsteps and scratching. The footsteps were fast, like someone was running around the house. I hesitated to leave my room, scared of what I would find. I saw a figure down the hall, turning around the corner, and I almost stopped there and shut my bedroom door when I heard my grandfather's moaning and realized the figure was him.
"Grandpa?" I asked as I went over to him. He was scratching frantically at something. "What is it?" I touched him on the shoulder and he turned around startled. On the table was a ripped out page from a magazine ad of a woman, and he had scribbled in pen all over her eyes. "Connie's eyes," he said. "her eyes are missing. She's horrible. Why won't she leave me alone?"
My mother and I had no real way of comforting my grandfather through these nightmares and terrors he was experiencing. The doctors said it was normal for him at this stage, and we all sensed that he had little time left. When he died a few months later in the hospital, the nurses told us that he called out Connie's name in his worst times. My mother and I don't really talk about it anymore, and we just figure that it was all a symptom of his dementia. But sometimes when I hear weird sounds in the middle of the night, I think that maybe Connie is still with me, waiting to torment me with big gaping holes where her eyes should be.
Look at Me, from theatreguy
This happened in my junior year of high school.
One evening, my mother and stepfather had gone out to some event, maybe it was an extended dinner or a concert, it's hard to remember. I had stayed at home to work on a paper that was due the next day (I was one of those kids who procrastinated until the last minute) and spent the whole night working at the desk in my room. To give you a picture of the room, my desk faces a wall and sits next to a small window that's on the same wall, and from where I sit, my back faces my doorway. While I was working, I was wearing these great headphones that I had gotten for my birthday — the kind that are noise canceling.
My parents left the house around 6:00 PM, and the whole time they were gone, I sat at my desk, blasting music through my headphones and writing my essay. Occasionally, I would take breaks and watch the rain and lightning outside my window (we lived in Houston at the time and there was a big storm that night). I never left my desk.
My parents returned around 11:00 PM. At some point late late in the evening, I had removed my headphones, so when my parents came home (coincidentally just a few minutes after I had taken off my headphones), I clearly heard the garage door open and my parents open the door to the house. Seconds after I hear them enter, I hear my mother shout my name. "Adrian!" she screams, "what on earth happened in here!?" Confused, I get out of my chair and start walking through the house to them. There's only a small hallway that separates my room from the living room. Due to my rush to figure out why my mother was yelling, I paid little attention to the hall and the house. After a few moments, I get to my parents. My mom looks livid. She's pointing at the carpet floor yelling, "Was this you!? Did you have friends over!?" I look down. The carpet is ruined. It's covered in muddy footprints.
I frantically explain to her that I have no idea how those got there, that I spent the whole night at my desk working on my paper. I watch as her face goes from anger, to confusion, to fear. We realize that someone else must have entered the house. Quickly we scan the footprints, trying to make sense of the situation. It only takes us a few moments to figure out where they start: our back door, which we usually left unlocked. Then we noticed something else. The footprints started at the backdoor, but there were no footprints exiting the back door.
We hear something pounding through our house. We hear the front door get torn open, then slammed shut with a sharp WHAM!
We all run into the garage and lock the door. My mom starts shouting at the police through the phone, "Please come quickly! Someone's broken into our house!" After what seems like hours, the police arrive. An officer stays with us in the garage as his partner goes through the house room by room. His partner tells us that it's safe to go back in, that there's no one in the house. Then she asks us a question. She asks us whose room is down the hall to the left. My parents look at me and I tell the officer that it's mine. She asks us to follow her down the hall.
As we go, it's easy to see that the footprints weave through my house from the back door. They go through the living room, through the small hallway, into my parents room (which is down the hall to the right) and then turn around towards my room. They stop in my doorway.
Then the officer points at my door, which I had left open the whole night. On it, in black sharpie, was written the following:
8:47: I see you
8:53: You forgot to lock the back door
8:59: You seem focused
9:24: Turn around
9:47: Look at me
10:15: Look at me
10:37: Look at me
10:49: Look at me
For nearly two hours, someone stood in my doorway watching me. To this day, I shutter to think about what would have happened if I had ever turned around and looked at them.
Didn't You Love It Here? from indianajoan
We met an agent who showed us this building, and when I tried to verify the price with her (the median price for most places we looked at), she said it was actually several hundred dollars cheaper than that. It was strange. Every other place we saw had lines of people and tons of competition, but strangely we were the only ones there. She immediately called us after we left and said we could have the apartment. We were ecstatic.
When we filled out all of our forms later, she mentioned there was a building manager who lived there. He was friends with the owner, who was a very old woman. He was also, very old, but we should give our rent checks to him and let him know if we needed anything.
Living there started off fine. The apartment was a little weird, and even had an electrical socket *in* the shower, which I tried to cover and make water proof. The manager though was strange. You couldn't say exactly why he was strange, but there was something... off about him. One day he would nod in our direction if we saw him and other days we would hear him mumbling incoherently at people that weren't there. The few times we went to him with a problem, he would start yelling, almost like in a different language. One day though we were startled by loud banging on our door. It was him. I was terrified and made my husband open the door. He screamed and raved about a note we left on a car that was blocking our garage door, which was apparently his car. He wasn't making any sense, but it was terrifying. He told us he would make us pay if we ever left a note on the car again.
Here's where the scary piece happens. I had been trying to avoid him as much as I could at this point. He seemed... unhinged somehow. There was a look in his eyes. Something wasn't right, and it was obvious he was very angry with us. One night I woke in the dead of the night to noise in our hallway. We had wood floors, and they creaked when you walked on them. They were creaking.
My husband was dead asleep. I had a history of being paranoid, so I closed my eyes and tried to fall back asleep, telling myself it was nothing. That's when the feeling of absolute horror and fear seized me. It's unlike anything I had ever felt before. Can't even describe it, except I was terrified, and I couldn't move. It was like I was paralyzed. I did manage to open my eyes, even though part of me didn't want to, and he was standing there, next to the bed, watching me. I laid there in complete panic, unable to move, and he stood there too, stock still, but kind of shadow-y. He shifted his feet, the floor creaked. He was breathing hard. I wanted to scream or do something, but I couldn't. It felt like it lasted forever. Finally, I just closed my eyes again, unable to even pray I was so scared. The floor creaked again. I opened my eyes, he was gone.
I laid awake the rest of the night. The horrible fear that pressed against me was gone and I was able to move again. Tears poured down my face the rest of the night. That was all I could do.
The next morning, I looked at the front door, and the latch was still set. No one would have been able to open the door from the outside and get in without breaking it. I tried to convince myself that it was just a terrible dream, but I knew I was awake. It happened. We moved shortly after that. When we went to give notice to the manager (neither of us would go seem him by ourselves, so we agreed to do it together), he smiled creepily and said, "Now that's a shame. You've been such good tenants." He looked at me. "Didn't you love it here?"
Bottom of the Stairs, from Britters
This happened about four years ago. I live in a resort community and started working for a local real estate agent, taking photos of homes for sale. I usually photographed 3-4 homes a week; lakefronts and shacks alike. I had seen unusual things, like the occasional hidden room or unique art collection left behind. But I had never encountered anything scary - until this happened.
It was a summer day, warm and bright. I knew the neighborhood I was heading to and had no concerns about safety. The area was very suburban for the mountain with a large park and school nearby. I packed up my camera and drove twenty minutes to the home. Upon arrival, I began my session by taking pictures of the exterior. Nothing was out of the ordinary. After struggling to navigate the sharp slope the home was on, I managed to snap it's sides and rear deck. It was time now for interior shots. I proceeded to the front, entered the lockbox code and tried to unlock the front door. As I fumbled with it, I felt overwhelmingly uncomfortable. Something washed over me in that moment and I knew I shouldn't be there. I finally opened the door and found a house completely destroyed. The living room was a sea of debris. An EMT board laid in the middle, with a charred doll beside it. Holes littered the walls. Light bulbs were smashed all over. It was a scene straight out of a horror movie. I observed all of this without taking a single step further. I immediately closed the door, walked to my car as fast as I could, and called the agent.
I told the agent that she would need to find someone else to take pictures of this house. She asked why, and as I tried to explain it to her, I realized I sounded a little crazy. How can you professionally describe to someone the feeling of being scared shitless, for no apparent reason other than a disgustingly filthy house? She told me she had seen homes that were less than welcoming, but we both had a job to do and she couldn't complete hers without me doing mine. I left the property, but decided I didn't want to lose my job over this. I called my father, who lived locally, and asked if he'd accompany me to the house. In all my days, I had never heard my dad discuss anything remotely spooky. He's a very no nonsense kind of man and simply wouldn't tolerate talk of ghosts or witches. Therefore I thought he'd be perfect for this assignment. He'd keep my head in the game for sure. I arranged to pick him up at his house in 30 minutes.
My heart sank a little as I pulled up to my parents' house and my dad's truck was gone. My mom came running out, purse in hand, to tell me that my father had to leave for work reasons, but that she'd go with me instead. She brought along a flashlight and assured me that I'd be 'just fine!'. As we drove to the house I described to her what had happened. Her cheeriness level came down a few notches and I could tell she was slightly unnerved. We parked in front of the house and I knew she didn't want to go inside. I didn't want her to go in either. She came up with a solution - she'd call my cell phone and talk to me as I walked through the house. She'd stand right outside of the front door. I answered her call, turned on my flashlight, and headed in. Again, immediately upon entering, I was scared. And just for clarification here, I am not easily scared. I am not one to 'see' or 'feel' things of that nature. Ever. So the fact that I was actually feeling something terrified me.
By this time it was later in the day and the house was positioned in such a way that it was completely shaded from the sun. The electricity was off and it was dark. Very dark. My mother was on the phone telling me to 'breathe! I can't hear you breathing! Are you that scared?? Is it that bad?' I had a hard time speaking as I took in all that I saw. The toilets were completely black on the inside. The kitchen had blackish reddish smears all over the counters. Children's toys were mixed in with porn magazines lying on the floor. I just kept clicking, trying not to focus on any one of the deeply disturbing things inside this house. I went as quickly as I could through the main level. I then came to a set of stairs leading down. I told my mother, through the cell phone, that I was heading down. She continued to reassure me and told me to hurry up and get it over with. I began walking, extremely cautiously, down the steps - one at a time. The steps led to a landing and then turned the corner, so all I could see was a white wall at the bottom. I had this immense feeling that I was going to see something horrific once I turned that corner. I was two or three steps away from the landing when I heard it. A scream coming from my phone. Not a mild scream but a blood curdling scream. Like someone was being murdered on the other end of the line.
My Mom. I have never ran, nor have I since, as fast as I did running up those stairs. I completely expected to find my mom laying lifeless just outside the house. I got to the top of the stairs and there she was, standing there, looking completely terrified and perplexed. I grabbed her hand and we ran to the car. We drove for nearly five minutes before one of us said anything. Then she turned to me and said, tell me why you were screaming. I told her that I thought it was her. Neither of us were screaming, but both of us, for a certainty, heard a woman screaming for her life on that phone. We stopped at a grocery store parking lot and just sat there, trying to catch our breath.
When I got home, I uploaded the pictures, without actually looking at them, and sent them to the real estate agent. I told her she'd have to do editing on her own, as I would not have them on my computer. I then deleted the email and every single image. Because of that, I don't know the address of the house. Nor have I driven by it since. In hindsight, I would have liked to research the history of the property. Alas, I'll never know what happened there.
Illustration by Jim Cooke; gravestone images via Shutterstock