Image via DreamWorks.

Gather round, ghoulies, ghosties, and goblins. It’s time for what is both the best and most dreaded time of the year: Jezebel’s annual spooky stories contest! I know it’s exciting, but try not to lose your head...

Have you or a loved one had an encounter with the paranormal? Moved into a house that never felt quite right? Gone on a Tinder date with a girl who wouldn’t, under any circumstances, untie the green ribbon from around her neck? (It’s fine, chokers are in again.) While, yes, these terrifying encounters took a lot from you (hair pigment, your soul, etc.), this is a chance to get a little something back: The validation of your internet peers! Makes being nearly ghost murdered seem almost worth it, doesn’t it?

The rules:

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  • Leave your scary stories in the comments. (You can also email them to me at madeleine@jezebel.com if you’d prefer to terrify me personally.)
  • The story must be true.
  • It must be scary.

Not sure what we’re looking for? Check out our past winners here, here, here, here, here, or here.

Or read these past winners below:

The Little Girl Who Wasn’t, from LadySparrow

I lived in a house from hell for four years, from age eleven to almost sixteen. There was constantly something happening. Doors flying open and shut, voices, footsteps. Nothing ever stayed where you put it. I was alone there a lot because both my parents worked and I was constantly terrified.

One of the most gut-level disturbing things though was the little girl in my bathroom. Every time I walked past my bathroom door (which was constantly since it was right outside my bedroom) I saw a little girl with blond curled hair and a rose-colored dress. She just stood there, staring, looking like a photograph from 1905. I started keeping the door closed so I could walk by without seeing her, but she was always there when I opened it. Once I stepped in past her, I couldn’t see her anymore but I could feel her there. She scared me, but I felt really sorry for her because she was trapped there, just like me, but probably forever.

As the years went by and things in the house continued to get worse, she started seeming... darker. I started feeling like she wasn’t really a little girl. I knew there was something ugly in the house and I felt like it was presenting this sympathetic image to me. Then I started thinking I was completely losing my mind.

One day, when I was 14, I had a friend from out of town come stay with me for a week. I hadn’t told her anything whatsoever about the house because I didn’t think she would come if I did. Right after she got there we were sitting in my room and she left to go to the bathroom. About a minute later she walked back in with a puzzled look on her face and said “So, there’s a little girl in your bathroom”. “Um, I, yeah she hangs out in there. Blond hair?” “Curls? Pink dress? Yeah. You know that’s not really a little girl, don’t you?” I almost threw up. I was so relieved and terrified and excited and ready to run out of the house screaming. She wouldn’t use my bathroom the rest of the week and I started using it as little as possible without pissing off my parents (who did not want to believe).

Eventually we moved out and I could not have been happier. I distanced myself from it mentally as much as I could. Then, when I was 18, I took another friend on a road trip to pack up a few things I’d left in the house (my parents hadn’t managed to sell it, and wouldn’t for 5 more years). The minute we got on the property, my friend seemed uncomfortable. When we came around the bend in the long, steep driveway, he went completely white. I could tell something was wrong, but he insisted he was OK, so we got to work. After a while he asked to use the bathroom and I directed him to mine. Not 20 seconds after he left, he came running back in, gasping for breath, andand slammed the bedroom door behind him. He started babbling about a little blond girl who isn’t really a little girl. All of a sudden he went dead still, looked me in the eye, and very solemnly said “She’s not happy. With you. You left, and you weren’t supposed to”. We threw whatever we could grab in two trips in my car (after I walked him to another bathroom and waited outside the door) and got the fuck out at top speed.

Mom by LieutenantDanIceCream:

I was raised Southern Baptist. We didn’t tell ghost stories around the campfire growing up. We told possession stories. And we believed in them because demons are biblical. I remember having lively debates with my friends about the biblical case for demons and how not believing in them means you don’t believe something God said. But I still doubted. It seemed too supernatural, even for a Christian.

My mother was an alcoholic, a drug addict, and had a lot of mental health problems that she never got help for. I lived with her my entire childhood and found solace in the church. She had that sort of lukewarm faith, made lots of comments like “God and I have an understanding!” instead of doing anything remotely Christian. She didn’t keep me from pursuing my beliefs so I didn’t pressure her about her own.

One Saturday, I was taking a nap in my room and I had a dream. I dreamt that my mom came in, screaming at me, angry over nothing at all. The dream was very realistic and I thought it was real until I woke up in my bed. Moments later, she came in the room screaming. Over nothing at all. Just angry and mean, spitting with rage. I tried to just sit quietly although I was so confused and frankly freaked out by this weird prophetic dream. I chalked it up to “well, she is mad and yells a lot soo....coincidence!” and put it out of my mind. Later, when my mom calmed down and I tried to approach her for a calm conversation, she looked at me like I was making the whole thing up. She didn’t remember yelling at me about anything.

A few weeks later, I was inside watching tv when I heard my mom screaming from the backyard for me to come outside. When I stepped out on the porch, she was standing near the woods holding a huge snake. My mom stood may 5’2” and this snake was at lest 7’ long. She held it by the tail, not behind the head like I had been taught in my science class, and she beckoned for me to come take it from her. My mother had always been afraid of snakes and critters in general, but she held the snake up like she was proud of it. I ran back in the house and stayed in my room. At dinner, I asked her why she was holding the snake. She didn’t remember anything and told me that I had “quite the imagination.”

I had rationalized these experiences within the context of knowing that she abused substances and was probably too drunk or high to remember these scenes. But her behavior during these two instances was truly unlike her average altered state. High or drunk, she was silly and sometimes mean but not hateful. These occurrences were strange and she was more cruel than I was used to. The strangest, though, was yet to come and I get sick to my stomach thinking about it.

I was supposed to be staying at a church lock-in overnight. My mom had dropped me off at 8pm and wasn’t supposed to pick me up until 10am the next day. She was sober and acting normal when she left the church. My friend and I were challenging each other to stay awake all night, and we were writing down what time each person eventually fell asleep. I stayed up the longest and finally gave in at 4:25am. Just as I laid down in my sleeping bag, I heard a loud bang on the window outside the chapel where we were sleeping. No one else stirred. I figured a bird had flown into the window. I settled back down and a then heard a series of loud bangs, though they were coming in rapid succession, one knock on each window in the chapel. It was like something was circling the church and hitting each window as it passed. But it was moving so quickly there was no way it could have been one person hitting all the windows. My friends started to wake up, confused, and someone suggested it was the church chaperones playing a trick on us. The exits were locked from the inside and only the pastor had the key. He was supposedly asleep in one of the Sunday school rooms so one of the kids ran to check. He came back, pastor in tow, and the bangs stopped as soon as he entered the chapel. We told him what happened and he said he would go outside to check the grounds.

He unlocked the front door and gasped loud enough to make the rest of us scream in terror. My mother was standing at the front door, looking wild, dirty, and sweaty. She was breathing heavily and muttering under her breath. The pastor asked if he could help her and she just started past him, directly at me. My heart felt like the only thing keeping it from stopping was sheer adrenaline. The last thing I wanted to do was walk out those church doors but I felt like I had no choice. She didn’t say a word; I just gathered my things and walked towards the doors. My pastor insisted that I did not have to leave and that I would be safe at the church that night but I ignored him. She was my mother, and I was terrified of her but I felt like is was the sort of fear any child would have towards a parent. I got into the car and she drove me home in silence. When I went to bed, she stood in my doorway, staring at me. I remember seeing the morning lights rising right before dozing off, still with her in my doorway.

Later that morning, she seemed genuinely shocked to see me walk out of my room for breakfast. She said she was just about to leave to pick me up from the lock in and wanted to know how I got home last night. She didn’t remember a thing.

My mom’s behavior could probably be explained through a combination of substance abuse and mental illness, but even today as an adult atheist I wonder if something more sinister was going on with her.

In the Basement with Me by foxGreyjoy and Sorrow:

When I was sixteen I would sneak out of the house at night get high and read a book (Such a rebel, I know). There was an empty forclosed home next door, and I would get inside via a basement window well and smoke in the basement’s bar area. One night it was raining pretty heavy, and I forgot to bring my lighter. I went to get it and it was still pouring when I got back.

I set up a comfy place at the bar, and turned on my camping lamp I kept there. Then I started hearing noises upstairs. I turned off the light and sat still for a moment, and realized the sound was actualy coming from the doorless room next to mine. I grabbed everything I could and made for the window, and with half my body through I heard someone running and shouting behind me. I felt someone touch me as I finished crawling out, and ran to my house where I snuck in as quietly and fast as possible.

I heard sirens soon after I made it into my house and worried that it was law enforcement that had caught me in the home. Sirens went on for a while into the night and I barely slept. I learned the next morning that someone on the next block had burned his mother’s home down with her in it, and he had been found breaking into a home later that night that was occupied several doors past the house I had been in.

It was likely him that was in the basement with me, and I still get scared thinking about it.

Who needs sleep anyway?

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We’ll announce the winners late next week.