Most scary stories

Most scary stories DEFAULT

Click If You Dare: 100 Favorite Horror Stories

Animated illustration showing a child reading a book, with a creepy shadow behind her

Angela Hsieh/NPR

Who doesn't love a good scary story, something to send a chill across your skin in the middle of summer's heat — or really, any other time? And this year, we're celebrating the 200th birthday of one of the most famous scary stories of all time: Frankenstein.

A few months ago, we asked you to nominate your favorite horror novels and stories, and then we assembled an expert panel of judges to take your 7000 nominations and turn them into a final, curated list of 100 spine-tingling favorites for all kinds of readers. Want to scar your children for life? We can help. Want to dig into the dark, slimy roots of horror? We've got you covered.

As with our other reader polls, this isn't meant to be a ranked or comprehensive list — there are a few horror books you won't see on it, despite their popularity — some didn't stand the test of time, some just didn't catch our readers' interest, and in some cases our judges would prefer you see the movie instead. (So no Jaws, sorry.) And there are a few titles that aren't strictly horror, but at least have a toe in the dark water, or are commenting about horrific things, so our judges felt they deserved a place on the list.

One thing you won't see on the list is any work from this year's judges, Stephen Graham Jones, Ruthanna Emrys, Tananarive Due and Grady Hendrix. Readers did nominate them, but the judges felt uncomfortable debating the inclusion of their own work — so it's up to me to tell you to find and read their excellent books! I personally, as a gigantic horror wuss, owe a debt of gratitude to this year's judges, particularly Hendrix, for their help writing summaries for all the list entries. I'd be hiding under the bed shuddering without their help.

And a word about Stephen King: Out of almost 7000 nominations you sent in, 1023 of them were for the modern master of horror. That's a lot of Stephen King! In past years, we've resisted giving authors more than one slot on the list (though we made an exception for Nora Roberts during the 2015 romance poll — and she's basically the Stephen King of romance.) In the end, we decided that since so much classic horror is in short story format, we would allow authors one novel and one short story if necessary.

So screw your courage to the sticking point, and dive into this year's list! Here are some quick links to make it easier for you to navigate:

Blood Roots, Zombies And Vampires And Werewolves, The Fear In Our Stars, Horrible Homes, Final Girls, Horribly Ever After, Hell Is Other People, Short And Sharp, Scar Your Children, The Kids Aren't All Right.


Mary Shelley's tragically misunderstood monster turns 200 this year, and he is still lurching along, one of the most influential creations ever committed to the page. While reviewers at the time condemned Shelley's "diseased and wandering imagination," her vision of human knowledge and technological advancement outstripping humanity's ability (or inclination) to use that knowledge responsibly still resonates today.


OK, it wasn't the first vampire novel, but Bram Stoker's most famous work was certainly the first book to pull together all the qualities we now associate with vampires — except the sparkling: Transylvanian, aristocratic, dangerous to young women, so, basically Bela Lugosi (who was actually Hungarian, but oh, that accent). Much like its monstrous companion Frankenstein, Dracula wasn't initially regarded as a classic — but once the film adaptations began to appear, it quickly achieved legendary status.

'Young Goodman Brown'

Nathaniel Hawthorne's short story is the ur-American horror tale. Published in 1835, it's short and savage: A young husband travels through the dark woods and stumbles upon a satanic orgy. Everyone he knows is there, including his lovely young wife. Then he wakes up in his own bed. Was it all a dream, or do his neighbors lead secret double lives? Is his wife a blushing bride or an emissary from hell? Modern America still lives in the shadow of these implications.

'The Tell-Tale Heart'

Why do you think I'm mad? I'm just nervous. Nervous, I swear. Look at how calmly I can write up this summary of one of Edgar Allan Poe's most famous stories, about an unnamed narrator recounting how he killed the old man with the "evil eye." It wasn't the man, you see, but his "evil eye"! But what's that noise? Louder! Louder! Louder! It is the beating of his hideous heart!


"I have been in love with no one, and never shall," whispers the lovely vampire, "unless it should be with you." Long before Dracula had any brides, Sheridan Le Fanu's deliciously shivery novella gave readers a thrill with its barely-veiled lesbian subtext. Though lesser known than Bram Stoker's work, "Carmilla" was a great influence on Dracula — and a classic in its own right.

'The Turn Of The Screw'

Nobody's entirely sure what evil lurks at the heart of Henry James' seminal story, but we can all agree that it's creepy as heck. Written in the form of a manuscript by a former governess, now dead, it describes her experiences caring for two unfortunate children on a country estate that may or may not be haunted by the ghosts of former estate workers ... who may or may not be communing with or somehow controlling the children. As with several of the stories on this list, readers are left to judge whether the horrors are real or whether our narrator is merely mad.

'The Great God Pan'

Creating a hole in a human head is almost never a good idea, particularly when it's done by a mad scientist who wants to open up the skulls of mankind to the spiritual world. This story of a half-divine woman who inveigles men to their doom shocked critics in its time — and was a major influence on H.P. Lovecraft and authors in his orbit. (And the great god Pan here isn't much like the Pan of Greek myths; he is closer to being one of the Lovecraft-inspired Elder Gods.)

'The Monkey's Paw'

That old saying about being careful what you wish for predates W.W. Jacobs' classic spooky story — but there may be no better illustration than this tale of a father, a son and three wishes gone horribly wrong. "'The Monkey's Paw' gets us to do the work of dreaming up the monster on the other side of the door. But it's no less real for that. Really, it's more real, probably," says judge Stephen Graham Jones.

'The Willows'

Two friends, never named — though one, we learn, is "devoid of imagination," so remember that as you read — are on a canoe trip down the Danube during its summer floods. This seems foolhardy enough, but then they decide to make camp on an island that turns out to be packed with monstrous, night-walking willow trees who definitely don't want them there. This story was reportedly one of H.P. Lovecraft's favorites, and we can see why.

'The Yellow Wallpaper'

Charlotte Perkins Gilman drew on her own experience of illness and powerlessness for "The Yellow Wallpaper" — prescribed a "rest cure" for her nerves, she was forbidden to work, to touch pen or pencil, allowed only two hours' intellectual stimulation a day and commanded to live as domestic a life as possible. It nearly broke her, and she later said she wrote this story of a young woman driven mad by a rest cure and some unfortunate wallpaper as a direct message to her doctor.

'Oh, Whistle, And I'll Come To You, My Lad'

Between 1904 and 1925, M.R. James, an ascetic British scholar who lived his entire life at boys' schools, either as a student or a professor, turned out four short story collections that transformed ethereal phantoms into hideously corporeal apparitions with too many teeth, too much hair and plenty of soft, spongy skin. His characters merely had to read the wrong book, collect the wrong artifact or bump into the wrong person on the street, and soon one of his creations would be slithering into their safe spaces — their warm bedsheets, their cozy parlor, their beloved study — and enveloping their faces in a soggy, smothering touch.

The Werewolf Of Paris

Kind of a Les Miserables for lycanthropes, Guy Endore's 1933 novel is The Great American Werewolf Novel. A man journeys through 19th century France, seeking to destroy his nephew — whom he suspects of having inherited the family curse — and along the way giving readers a tour of man's appetite for carnage, with stops during the Franco-Prussian War and the Paris Commune. What does it matter, Endore asks, if a werewolf kills a few people, in the face of a political system that kills thousands?

I Am Legend

Richard Matheson's novel about the last man left after a plague turns humanity into vampire-zombie hybrids is as much a meditation on loneliness as it is a horror story. (Spoiler alert: Things don't end well for the dog.) I Am Legend was turned into several movies, and it was also a major influence on horror master George Romero, who once said he had taken the idea for Night of the Living Dead from Matheson's novel.

Let The Right One In

Sometimes we'll tell you to see the movie and skip the book, but in this case, you should read the book, too. Lonely, bullied Oskar befriends his new neighbor, Eli — who seems to be a 12-year-old girl, but is actually a centuries-old vampire. She has a few other secrets, too, but we'll let you find those out on your own. Let the Right One In is a skillfully spooky mix of horrors supernatural — vampirism — and sadly mundane — alcoholism, bullying and child abuse.

The Vampire Chronicles (First Triology)

In 1976, Anne Rice released Interview with the Vampire and no one much cared. In 1985, she released the swaggering, sexy The Vampire Lestat to massive sales, which retroactively turned Interview into a bestseller. What had changed? AIDS. Suddenly, everyone got scared of blood and bodily contact. Rice's sensuous, sexy vampires with their raw desire seemed suddenly so much more dangerous and decadent, like a raised middle finger to condoms and fear. The party continued with the third book, Queen of the Damned, but the series began to stutter after that.

Minion (Vampire Huntress Legend Series)

Author L. A. Banks was a pioneer in black supernatural fiction and horror, says our judge Tananarive Due — and this saga of Damali, a young spoken-word artist who discovers she is part of an ancient struggle between good and evil will appeal to both fans of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and True Blood. But Banks adds extra layers of African spirituality, mythology and musical knowledge — Damali's guardians and guides travel with her in the guise of her backup band, camouflaging their weapons as instruments.

The Hunger

The real Donner Party apparently wasn't scary enough for Alma Katsu, who recasts the story of the infamously ill-fated pioneers as supernatural horror. We know the Donner Party, trapped by snow in the Sierra Nevadas, turned to cannibalism to survive the winter – but what if there was more to it? What if it wasn't plain old wolves that killed that young boy and stripped his flesh? What if ... something ... is following the wagon train as the snows close in, tempers fray and death circles closer?

Those Across The River

World War I veteran Frank finds himself broke and unemployed in the midst of the Great Depression, so he decides to try for a fresh start by moving back the rural Georgia town where his family once owned a plantation and writing a book about the estate and the awful events that happened there. Needless to say, this is a bad idea. Those Across the River is one of many books on this list that dig into the ways that humanity's great evils — war and slavery — can haunt countries and generations.

Bird Box

Something is out there — something you can't see. Something you must not see, because one glimpse will drive you violently insane. In Josh Malerman's near-future apocalypse, it has been five years since "The Problem" began, and only a few survivors are left. One of them is a young woman with two small children in tow, who must get them 20 miles to safety, all while blindfolded to avoid catching sight of the mysterious horrors.

Feed (Newsflesh Series)

What if journalism was our last line of defense against a zombie apocalypse? (As a journalist, I ... well, actually no, this book scared the bejesus out of me.) In Mira Grant's zombified world of 2040, humanity is confined to tightly patrolled safe zones and bloggers are their primary source of entertainment and information. Brother and sister team Georgia and Shaun Mason are chronicling a presidential campaign convoy that gets attacked by zombies — leading them to uncover a vast conspiracy to use fear of zombies to force social change.

World War Z

Inspired by actual oral histories of World War II, Max Brooks' zombie-apocalypse novel chronicles a world on the brink of collapse after a zombie plague. In Brooks' dystopian vision, corporate malfeasance, government repression and incompetence allow the plague to run wild, eventually leaving just a remnant of humanity left to start planning a D-Day (Z-Day?) style attempt to retake the world from the mindless hunger of the zombies.

The Girl With All The Gifts

Young Melanie — only 10 years old — isn't entirely sure why she needs armed guards or why she is so different from the adults who feed and educate her. And then she gets her first taste of human flesh. Melanie is one of the "hungries," humans infected by the cordyceps fungus (which exists in our world for real, though it mostly attacks insects), and a lot of the horror in M.R. Carey's novel — apart from all the gooily gross descriptions of the infected — comes from what the few remaining "normal" humans do in the face of a fungal apocalypse.

'The Shadow Over Innsmouth'

"Even among unrepentant Lovecraft readers, 'The Shadow Over Innsmouth' can start arguments," says judge Ruthanna Emrys, our resident Lovecraft expert. "The Deep Ones, hybrids between humans and their ancient, aquatic brethren, are among Lovecraft's most compelling creations, and it's a rare Lovecraftian anthology that doesn't include a story or five about their amphibious exploits. On the other hand, Lovecraft's terror of Other People is on full display here. Close parallels are drawn between having kids with non-human monsters and having kids with natives of Pacific islands, and there are repeated shudders over Innsmouth folk speaking languages other than English. If you can handle this sort of thing it's an entertaining read; whether you read it or skip it, modern takes like Sonya Taaffe's 'All Our Salt-Bottled Hearts' — also on this list — provide compelling alternatives." Emrys has also written a thoughtful essay for us on how to think about Lovecraft — check it out.

The Ballad Of Black Tom

Victor LaValle grew up reading H.P. Lovecraft — but when he got older, he began to recognize the racism in those stories he had loved. The Ballad of Black Tom is a powerful response to Lovecraft's racism, taking one of his most hateful stories, "The Horror at Red Hook" and recasting it in the voice of a young black man in 1920s Harlem (and, let's not forget, making a much stronger story out of it). LaValle doesn't look away from this darkness at the root of modern horror — instead, he builds something strange and angry and new on top of it.

The Fisherman

Two men, Abe and Dan, have both lived through terrible losses. They take up fishing together, which sounds perfectly peaceful and soothing — until they decide to look for a fabled fishing spot called Dutchman's Creek, which doesn't exist on any maps. It does appear in legends, though, generally featuring a huge, scary monster — but Abe and Dan press on into the upstate New York wilderness, and untold horrors await.

Laundry Files (Series)

Charles Stross' Laundry Files series starts off as half spy-thriller pastiche, half satiric take on the practically-Lovecraftian horrors of office bureaucracy, but it quickly gets into actual horrors like war, fascism, climate change and the inability of humanity to stop metaphorically punching ourselves in the face. "Manages to be both funny and gut-churningly terrifying," says poll judge Ruthanna Emrys.

The Cipher

The first novel for Kathe Koja and the first book published by Dell Abyss, a legendary experimental horror imprint, The Cipher struck like lightning and won the Bram Stoker Award for best novel. A pair of starving artists in a burned-out industrial helltown find a hole in their storage space that swallows anything, and it's not long before someone sticks their hand in — and then things get really weird. A shot fired across the bow of a horror industry that was becoming increasingly misogynistic and conservative, it reminded readers that another early name for horror literature was "the weird."

John Dies At The End

There's a drug, it's called soy sauce, and it lets people see into other dimensions. How long will it take for all hell to break loose? "David Wong is an editor for and his John Dies At the End books (three and counting) deliver the overeducated, undermotivated smarty-pants tone of the best Internet writing, in an anything-goes whirlwind of flying dogs, reality-warping drugs and monsters made out of frozen meat," says judge Grady Hendrix.

At The Mountains Of Madness

"'At the Mountains of Madness' is a classic of cosmic horror and one of Lovecraft's best stories," says judge Ruthanna Emrys. "The terrifying thing isn't meant to be the strange creatures — one hesitates to call them monsters — but the simple fact that all civilizations, all species, fall eventually to entropy. Of course, 'Mountains' inevitably shows off Lovecraft's own well-known prejudices as well, since what actually brings down the ancient civilization of the Elder Things is a slave revolt, with the story squarely on the side of the slaveholders. The definitive abolitionist shoggoth story has yet to be written (though Elizabeth Bear's award-winning 'Shoggoths in Bloom' is an excellent starting point)."

'All Our Salt-Bottled Hearts'

What must it be like to know your family will all return to the deep to live forever under the waves in fabled Y'ha-nthlei — and to know that a genetic quirk dooms you forever to dry land? Or worse, to live trapped between wave and shore? Poll judge Ruthanna Emrys calls this story "my single favorite modern deconstruction of Lovecraft. ... Sonya [Taaffe] is among my favorite emerging voices and not nearly enough people have heard of her."


A dental technician turned manga artist, Junji Ito is one of horror's singular visionaries. He employs tight, precise draftsmanship to deliver stories that are hard to read, not because they can become grotesque, but because they take ideas (living over a greasy restaurant, falling in love with a house) and pursue them to their logical, and deeply disturbing, ends. While his short stories like "Hanging Balloons" and "Glyceride" are more upsetting than anything else on the market, most people discovered him through his epic, novel-length manga, Uzumaki, about a town where everyone is obsessed with spirals. If you think that sounds harmless, then you don't know Junji Ito.

Communion: A True Story

"How does a book published as nonfiction sneak onto a list of fiction?" asks judge Stephen Graham Jones. "Easy: Read it all as made up, while also, for the scare, completely and 100 percent (secretly) believing in it, because not believing in this case draws a bull's-eye on your back that can only be seen from the sky." Our judges had a hard time deciding between Communion and Whitley Strieber's equally scary fictional Roswell alien tale Majestic -- so why not read them both?

'The Repairer Of Reputations'

Robert W. Chambers' "King in Yellow" stories "are a foundational classic that doesn't get as much attention as Lovecraft for the simple reason that there are only four of them," says our judge Ruthanna Emrys. "This is the best of the lot and a sterling example of a story where the narrative undermines the narrator's prejudices (and eventually everything else he says). It starts with the main character talking approvingly about a rising fascist movement complete with 'suicide chambers' and forced removal of Jews, but quickly becomes obvious that the author is not in sympathy." She also points out that Chambers was one of the first authors to imagine a book (or in this case a play) that harms its readers.

The Haunting Of Hill House

One of the finest haunted house novels of the 20th century — if not any other century. A scientist convenes a group of four paranormally-experienced people at a mysteeeerious mansion, hoping to find some concrete evidence of the supernatural. What could go wrong? A lot, it turns out, as things begin to go bump in the night, and one of the four, Eleanor Vance, seems fall further and further under the house's evil spell. But are the ghosts real? Or is Eleanor just disturbed? The uncertainty is part of the scare.

The House Next Door

Anne Rivers Siddons was best known for writing posh fiction about posh Southern people when she turned out this perfect haunted house novel. Taking one part economic anxiety from Robert Marasco's Burnt Offerings, one part emotional unease from Shirley Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House, and adding her own observations about Southern yuppies, she updated the haunted house formula to include this beautiful, modern home that wages unrelenting psychic warfare against its owners. Everyone has felt, at some point or another, that their house hates them. Siddons' book explains exactly how much.

Burnt Offerings

At first, haunted house books were about intrepid investigators unraveling the secrets of a cursed fixer-upper (see: The Haunting of Hill House). But Robert Marasco knows what really scares us: Money. BurntOfferings created the formula of a family getting a fabulous deal on a piece of property they can't possibly afford, then being brutally punished for their sins. In this 1973 novel, Dad tries to drown Junior, Mom becomes an obsessive neat freak and Grandma's health fails, until the only thing they can do is run screaming into the night, losing their entire deposit. Every modern haunted house book about a deal that is too good to be true — from The Amityville Horror to The Shining — has its roots here.

The Shining

"The Shining is one of those rare novels in which the premise pulls us in immediately," says judge Stephen Graham Jones, "before we're even through listening to the whole sentence: A writer at an empty hotel for the whole winter — and just like that, we're racing down those hallways, throwing balls at the wall, no schedule, a stocked pantry, a typewriter waiting over there and thousands of feet of floor space for us to fill with our imaginations."

House Of Leaves

Mark Z. Danielewski was weird right from the start, as his debut novel House of Leaves amply proves (even the footnotes have footnotes, and eventually they take on a life of their own). Partly a haunted house story, partly a love story, partly an account of a fictional film, partly a saga of mental illness — and did we mention that it's written in different colors for different concepts and multiple fonts to designate the multiple narrators? -- House of Leaves will rummage around in your mind and leave it ever-so-slightly different afterwards.

The Elementals

Proclaimed "the finest writer of paperback originals in America today" by Stephen King, Michael McDowell spent his career slumming in the low-rent paperback trade — but that didn't keep him from becoming one of the great 20th century chroniclers of Southern life. Rooted in Alabama, McDowell's characters explored haunted houses choked by sand dunes, pierced their dead mother's hearts with ceremonial knives and married into families of amphibious river monsters but remained always recognizably human. Though he is best known for writing the screenplay for Beetlejuice and contributing to the one for The Nightmare Before Christmas, McDowell's books are being rediscovered now by readers who want more humanity with their chills.

The Woman In Black

The heir to M.R. James' tradition of quiet, chilly ghost stories, leavened with some of Daphne Du Maurier's keen psychological insight, Susan Hill has spent years tending her small corner of the horror garden. Her 1983 novel, The Woman in Black, is essentially a slim thesis on the return of the repressed, but it has had an enormous impact, spawning a viewer-scarring BBC adaptation in 1989 and a two-person stage play in 1987 that has become one of the longest-running plays in West End history. Reading Susan Hill feels like standing in a dark room and feeling an ice-cold child's hand slip into yours.

Lunar Park

A lot of readers voted for Bret Easton Ellis' best-known work, the slasher novel American Psycho. But our judges felt that Lunar Park was a stronger choice."You go into Lunar Park knowing it's a novel," says Stephen Graham Jones, "but then Bret Easton Ellis tricks you into forgetting that, at which point he can set up scare after scare, run you through this navel-gazing haunted house of a life — not necessarily his. But maybe."

The Bone Key

Shy, awkward museum archivist Kyle Murchison Booth gets tangled up with all sorts of supernatural creepies in Sarah Monette's story collection — sometimes literally, as in the case of the demon lover whose touch leaves scars on his skin. In her introduction, Monette says she was inspired by H.P. Lovecraft and M.R. James, but our judge Ruthanna Emrys says that unlike Lovecraft, "Monette makes these into intense character studies where every ghost and monster provides a window into Booth's anxious, lonely psyche."

Wylding Hall

A British acid-folk band retreats to a remote old country house for the summer to regroup and write music after one of their singers dies. But ... something ... is there with them. Or maybe it's not? They are, after all, all completely out of their minds on various substances the whole summer. Maybe there's a reason for all those dead birds in the house, for the doors that are locked and then unlocked, for all those odd little details that add up, day after day, reality fracturing a little more — until it breaks.


It's hard to tell what's scarier in this comic series about a Muslim woman and her multiracial neighbors: the evil spirits that haunt their apartment building or the real-life hatred and xenophobia those spirits feed on. Or the shadowy, scratchy art by Aaron Campbell, which will give you creeps for days.

The Ruins

After Scott Smith's debut with a black-as-night best-selling thriller, A Simple Plan, everyone wanted to know he was going to do next. And it turned out that he wanted to do next was write about Yankee tourists getting trapped in Mexico by a sentient plant. The Ruins could have become a travelers' advisory on the dangers of Latin American tourism, but instead it's a cautionary tale about the risks of bumbling around foreign countries and assuming their culture and traditions only run as deep as what you see on the manicured grounds of your five-star resort.


Published in 1938, Rebecca wasn't just a massive sales success and it wasn't just the basis for a blockbuster 1940 Hitchcock film that won two Oscars — it also inspired a resurgence of gothic romances (those unavoidable books with covers featuring women running from houses) 20 years later. A tour de force of first-person narration, Rebecca sweeps readers into the point of view of a woman who feels so little right to exist that we never even learn her name. In 1960, Ace Books editor Jerry Gross relaunched the gothic romance after spotting his mother reading Rebecca. "They don't write like that anymore," she told him. She was right.

'Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?'

Sulky teenager Connie is tired of being compared to her perfect older sister. She wants to hang around with the older kids; she wants to talk to boys. What she gets is an encounter with one of horror's great monsters — Arnold Friend and his creepy gold car. Joyce Carol Oates has said this story was inspired by a real-life serial killer, but everything beyond that has been debated endlessly — is it a feminist fable? An allegory for the changes America was going through in the 1960s? Both? And what do those numbers on the side of Arnold's car mean?

The Red Tree

Sarah Crowe may be a novelist, a storyteller by nature, but she is the most unreliable of unreliable narrators in Caitlin R. Kiernan's dark tale of love, obsession and suicide. Sarah moves into a spooky old house, where she unearths a manuscript written by a former resident about his fixation on the gigantic red oak near the house. The tree seems to be connected to a series of murders and accidents ... but then, Sarah's own sanity is slipping, as reflected in the journal entries that tell her story.

Swan Song

Just a magical girl and her dog ... up against unfathomable evil. Seven years after a nuclear exchange with the Soviet Union blows America apart, the country is an unrecognizable hellscape, overrun by competing armies, poisoned by toxic rain and sunk in the permanent gloom of a nuclear winter. Young Swan — along with her dog Killer and her pro-wrestler buddy Josh — must face down the entity known as "Friend" to avert further horrors — and with her power over growing things, restore life on Earth.

'The Screwfly Solution'

This 1977 short story by Alice Sheldon is still scarily relevant today in its depiction of a world devastated by a disease that causes men to murder women, and the religious movement that helps justify the killings. Notably, Sheldon is better known by her pen name, James Tiptree Jr. — her true gender wasn't known until late in her career. And today, the James Tiptree Jr. Award is given for works of sci-fi and fantasy that expand our understanding of gender.

'Left Foot, Right'

Nalo Hopkinson "uses Caribbean mythology to create stories that are as horrific as they are character-driven and fresh," says judge Tananarive Due. And this story of loss and guilt and grief, of sparkly red shoes and a young woman coming to terms with an accident that cost several lives is both. It'll warm your heart at the same time it sends a chill down your spine.

Come Closer

Amanda has it all — a great career as an architect; a happy, tidy marriage ... and a strange voice in her head that tells her to shoplift, pick up random men and drop obscene prank documents on her boss's desk. And the dreams — at night, she dreams of a woman with sharp teeth, standing beside a bloody sea. Is this the demon Naamah, who has apparently been visiting Amanda since her childhood? Or is she just losing her mind? (Amanda herself is pretty certain it's a demon.)


Perhaps we should put a content warning here: Poll judge Ruthanna Emrys says Livia Llewellyn's work is "occasionally X-rated, with a dash of Y, Z and WTFBBQ." However, she adds, "I'm a hard scare and it scares me." The stories in Furnace are surreal and gorgeously written, shot through with equal parts lust and confusion, dripping with bright blood. Read with care.

The Bloody Chamber

A gallery of darkly glittering fairy tales, Angela Carter's 1979 book takes "Sleeping Beauty," "Little Red Riding Hood" and "Bluebeard" — among others — and mutates them until they're poisonous draughts of sex and death, garnished with baroque curlicues of sadomasochism and cruelty. A decadent, throbbing book in which the Beast licks off Beauty's flesh, the Erl-King is garroted with his own hair, and Little Red Riding Hood is warned about men who are "hairy on the inside" before throwing her clothes in the fire and seducing the wolf, it resulted in Neil Jordan's feverish and ravishing movie, The Company of Wolves.

Through The Woods

Don't step foot in the forest — or if you choose to, read cartoonist Emily Carroll's short story collection first, so you get an idea of what you might be up against. Carroll's illustrations are shiveringly gorgeous, all bloody washes of red and icy blue shadows, spidery black and faint yellow glows in the darkness, woven through with skittering lines of story. "These are tales of strange things that come from or go into the woods — and what they did to people, or had done to them, along the way," says our reviewer Amal El-Mohtar.


Neil Gaiman's chronicle of Death's little brother Dream isn't strictly horror (he is more a mopey goth, annoying and still somehow compelling), but our judges agreed that vast swaths of his realm, the Dreaming, are pretty horrific. And then there is the 1989 story "24 Hours," about a villain who steals an artifact from Dream and uses it to trap a group of people in an all-night diner and torture them — forcing them to confess their sickest secrets, worship him as a god and ultimately kill each other in gruesomely beastly ways. Where's Dream? He shows up at the end and doesn't do much (*shudder*).

Her Body And Other Parties

Carmen Maria Machado's debut story collection is an unsettling mix of ghost stories, campfire tales, the things young girls whisper to scare one another at sleepovers (the woman with the ribbon around her neck, ugh) and even Law & Order reruns. They run the gamut from fairy tale to horror, but all of these stories consider the bodies and experiences of women, the violence visited on them and the ways they respond.

White Is For Witching

Teenage Miranda Silver is tormented by a craving for things that aren't food, like chalk and plastic, and as this early novel by Helen Oyeyemi opens, she is dealing with her mother's death and the malevolent spirits in her house. Lush and incantatory, packed with twins, strange hungers and hauntings, White is for Witching is a cornucopia of creepy scares.

'Goblin Market'

Oh Laura, oh Lizzie — maybe you should just have stayed home. But who can resist the temptations of "Figs to fill your mouth, Citrons from the South, Sweet to tongue and sound to eye?" And who wouldn't peep at goblin men, no matter how dire the consequences? I'll buy, I'll buy.

Experimental Film

There is a line you can draw between the ghosts and spirits of horror and the silver nitrate ghosts that flicker across the frames of early silent films, and Gemma Files makes the connection clear in Experimental Film. Film critic Lois is at a low point in her life when, one night at an experimental film screening, she sees a few fragments of mysterious silent footage featuring a woman in a shimmering dress, moving through fields and speaking to workers; this is Lady Midday, a spirit fading along with her films, who sees in Lois a chance to regain her powers.


Super-scary ghost stories aren't for everyone. Even people who get a thrill from Halloween movies and love to curl up with frightening books about witches or vampires will get some goosebumps from these creepy tales! You may even live near one of the haunted places that inspired these stories; after all, they're set all over the country. And after reading through this roundup, you might be inspired to visit one of the spooky ghost towns talked about here.

If you live on the East Coast, you'll be especially interested in the Crying Lady in the Dakota, a famous apartment building located in New York City. John Lennon himself claims he saw the ghost roaming the halls of his residence. For those living in the Southern part of the United States, there are a handful of stories that originated there. Huggin' Molly, a haunted figure in Abbeville, Alabama, reportedly chases—and embraces—people around the town. In Eureka Springs, Arkansas, there's a property called the Crescent Hotel that's allegedly haunted by a number of ghosts. (We likely won't be booking our stay there anytime soon!) And in St. Francisville, Louisiana, a ghost named Chloe apparently haunts Myrtles Plantation to this very day.

That's just a preview of the terrifying tales listed here, but there's plenty more to read. Scroll through these scary stories (preferably during the day!) to really get in the spirit this Halloween.

1Sloss Furnaces | Birmingham, Alabama

Birmingham, AL, was founded in 1871, five years after the Civil War, and with it, the need for tons of pig iron to fix America's crumbling infrastructure. To satisfy the demand, Colonel James Withers Sloss started construction on Sloss Furnaces. A year later, the company opened its doors to hundreds of employees, according to its official website. Working on blast furnaces was an advanced job, and it was also dangerous. That danger was soon realized as many workers started being incinerated in the furnaces and falling to their deaths.

Conditions only worsened in the early 1900s after a cruel foreman, James "Slag" Wormwood, took a job at Sloss. According to Reader's Digest, Wormwood took dangerous risks in order to increase production. As a result, nearly 50 employees died on-site and many were involved in terrible accidents during his tenure. Allegedly, in retaliation, his workers tossed him into the furnace in 1906.

You can still tour the grounds today, if you dare. While there, you might just hear the voice of Slag telling his employees to "get back to work" along with other paranormal occurrences. Sloss even hosts a fright night every year around Halloween that's based heavily on the Slag story.

2The Crying Lady in the Dakota | New York, New York

The Dakota, an apartment building in New York City, has been home to many rich and famous residents since it opened back in 1884. John Lennon and Yoko Ono moved into the building in 1973, and John was also assassinated outside the structure on December 8, 1980. Before his death, John claimed he saw a "crying lady ghost" roaming the halls. Then, after John died, Yoko, who still lives in the building, said she witnessed John's ghost sitting at his piano. Yoko says John told her: "Don't be afraid. I am still with you."

3The Bell Witch | Adams, Tennessee

If you're a scary-movie lover, you might actually know about the Bell Witch. The films An American Haunting and The Blair Witch Project are both based on the story. Way back in the early 1800s, a man named John Bell moved his family to an area in Tennessee called Red River, which is now known as Adams, Tennessee. After they had settled in the new home, some peculiar things started happening. The Bell family began hearing some bizarre noises, including dogs barking, chains rattling, rats chewing, and a woman whispering. Soon, that woman became known as the Bell Witch, and many people believe she's the ghost of a former neighbor of the Bell's, Kate Batts. Batts and the Bells had a dispute over land, and she had sworn vengeance on the Bell family before she died. Later on, Bell died from poisoning, and it's rumored to be the work of the Bell Witch.

4The Ghosts of the Crescent Hotel | Eureka Springs, Arkansas

Spend the night in the haunted Crescent Hotel in Eureka Springs, Arkansas, which opened in 1886. (During construction, a worker named Michael was killed, and his ghost reportedly still haunts room 218.) The hotel came under the ownership of known medical fraud Norman Baker in 1937, who fancied himself a doctor. He turned the hotel into the Baker Cancer Hospital, claiming to have the cure for the disease (he did not, obviously). Patients who died under his care were buried right in the hotel's basement, which served as a makeshift morgue. He was arrested in 1940, but his patients' spirits are said to still remain. Because the hotel is still open, guests often say they see apparitions and hear noises during their stays. SyFy's Ghost Hunters even has footage of something moving in the basement.

5Huggin' Molly | Abbeville, Alabama

It's best to stay home when the sun sets in Abbeville, Alabama, if you want to avoid Huggin' Molly's chilly embrace. As the legend goes, beginning in the early 1900s, an oversize figure clad in all black began roaming the streets at night looking for unsuspecting victims. Once she fixates on someone, she hugs the person and screams loudly into their ears. Many people have recounted stories of being chased by what they believe was Huggin' Molly. Local parents have even taken advantage of the story to keep their children in line. The town embraces its nighttime warden, proudly calling itself the "home of Huggin' Molly." There's even a family-friendly restaurant named after her!

6The Surrency House Ghost | Surrency, Georgia

The Surrency clan began experiencing paranormal activities in present day Surrency, Georgia, in the 1870s. Family members reported witnessing objects soaring across rooms, hearing laughter and crying, and seeing red eyes staring into the house. Food was thrown from their plates and utensils twisted into unusable shapes. The townspeople speculated that these occurrences were cries for help from spirits who thought the family would be able to save them. On the day the family decided to finally leave the house, a fire iron allegedly floated up and started hitting one of the sons on the head. No one was ever brave enough to live in the house again, and the building went up in flames in 1925.

7The Ghost of Bellamy Bridge | Marianna, Florida

For a taste of true haunting love, travel over this spooky bridge in Marianna, Florida, which has several ghost legends surrounding the structure, according to its official website. In the 1830s, Elizabeth Jane Croom Bellamy married local politician Dr. Samuel C. Bellamy. On their wedding night, her dress accidentally caught on fire, which covered the young bride in horrible burns. She initially survived, but eventually passed away. Elizabeth was buried along the banks of the Chipola River, and it was said that her love for her husband was so strong, she couldn't rest. The deceased newlywed, dressed in white, can allegedly be seen wandering the banks from the vantage point of the bridge (which was built after she died). It's said that she appears on fire either walking through the swamps or diving straight into the river, as if to douse the flames, or somberly walking along the side of the river.

8The Ghost of Deer Island | Biloxi, Mississippi

Back on May 20, 1922, Anthony Ragusin, aka Mr. Tony, relayed this tale in a column in the Sun Herald. He writes that in the early 1800s, two fishermen spent the night on Deer Island off Biloxi's coast. They heard noises that they ignored until it became impossible to do so. When they went to see what was causing the ruckus, they claimed they found a headless skeleton that ran after the pair. They immediately made a beeline for their boat and got off the island immediately. It's said that the bony frame belongs to a pirate who had his head chopped off by his captain, and his body was left behind as a ghastly guard to watch over buried treasure.

9Zombie Road | Wildwood, Missouri

Outside of St. Louis lies Zombie Road, a hotbed of ghostly activities. There are many scary stories stemming from Lawler Ford Road (its actual name), from sightings of Indigenous spirits wandering the stretch to victims of train accidents (there used to be active tracks there) like Della Hamilton McCullough, who was struck by a passing train. In the 1950s, it became a popular late-night teen hangout spot, with various murders happening in the area, too. It's also been rumored to be the home base of a murderer named Zombie, who escaped a mental asylum. These days, the stretch has been rechristened as a nature trail, but it's closed once night falls (with hefty fines for those who dare to trespass).

10Dead Woman's Crossing | Weatherford, Oklahoma

This one's a regular murder mystery turned ghost story, according to Atlas Obscura. In the early 1900s in Weatherford, Oklahoma, Katie DeWitt James left her home with her baby after she filed for divorce from her husband. She planned to move in with her cousin, but her family never heard from her. After an investigation, it turned out that she moved in with local prostitute Frannie Norton. She was last seen leaving the house with Frannie and her child in a carriage. Frannie returned with the child, who was covered in blood, but without Katie. Her body was found later, along a nearby creek, with her head cut off. It was rumored that her ex-husband had her killed with Frannie's help, but Frannie claimed she wasn't involved in Katie's death. But on the day she was supposed to be questioned by the police, she poisoned herself. Katie's still around though. She allegedly appears as a blue light floating around town, and people have reported hearing a woman looking for her baby and the rolling sound of wheels.

11The Myrtles Plantation | St. Francisville, Louisiana

Of the numerous spirits haunting this plantation, built in 1796 in St. Francisville, Louisiana, the most known entity is Chloe, according to the official website. It's said that plantation owner Clark Woodruff carried on an affair with an enslaved person, Chloe, which he ended abruptly. She began to eavesdrop on his conversation, and he caught her. As punishment, he cut her ear off. She then poisoned the rest of his family with a birthday cake, leaving him alone. The other enslaved people knew what she had done and hanged her. She supposedly still remains on the property, with a photograph from 1992 where her spirit is reportedly visible.

Ashley LeathAshley Leath is the Copy/Research Editor for Country Living and Veranda magazines.

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All 82 Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, Ranked

Photo: Stephen Gammell/Harper & Row

The Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark movie hits theaters this weekend, but true fans still remember the original book series — Alvin Schwartz’s iconic short horror stories for children. For many, they were a childhood staple: The stories, powered by Stephen Gammell’s ghastly, often unforgettable illustrations, are still etched into our memories and, possibly, inspired a passion for all things spooky.

But how good were those original stories, really? The series was published between the late ’80s and early ’90s and spans three books — Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, More Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, and Scary Stories 3: More Tales to Chill Your Bones — yet only a handful of the 82 stories made the film cut. Judging by the trailer, this includes fan favorites like “Harold” and “The Red Spot,” undeniably two of the best in the collection.

Still, there were plenty of duds. In honor of the movie’s release, we revisited all three books to determine which of the 82 tales hold up in terms of scariness and have remained relevant over the years. This proved daunting, given that each book ends with a “funny” section devoted to lackluster gags. Still, there were plenty of undying themes of abuse and self-hatred that sent chills up our spines, along with some old-fashioned scares. So here we go — maybe don’t read this list at night.

82. “The Big Toe,” Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark
Unpopular opinion: The trilogy’s opener, which will appear in the movie, is a total dud. Tasked with catching the reader’s attention after the book’s brief explainer introduction, “Strange and Scary Things,” this story is about a filthy little boy finding and harvesting a big toe from the ground to add to his family’s soup. Problem is, the toe’s owner shows up looking for its appendage, but how? Something like 85 percent of our foot control comes from the big toe, so I call bullshit on that corpse finding the boy post-dinner, pre–physical therapy.

81. “The Dead Man’s Brains,” Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark
Some of the series’ weakest points come when the stories fit a gimmick rather than a narrative. Here, we’re told this is a game, in the same way that one of your more annoying acquaintances might trick you into a never-ending night of Monopoly or the like. You’re probably familiar with this game, however, which involves using food as a substitute for a rotting corpse and relies on a darkened room to disguise it as such. The eyeballs are grapes, which checks out. The ears are dried apricots, which is ingenious. And so it goes, each body part corresponding to another delectable — that is, until we get to the hands. They are rubber gloves, but instead of being filled with something like popcorn they’re filled with mud or ice, as if that isn’t a big WTF because both things are slightly inconvenient while also being nothing consistency-wise like a hand. Furthermore, reading this how-to isn’t even meant to scare you, just inspire you.

80. “The Viper,”Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark
Let’s dive into the funny sections of these books right away. I’m not saying there’s no room for humor in horror, and I appreciate the books ending with a little levity — sort of like when you would avoid nightmares by putting on a comedy after letting a horror movie scare the shit out of you as a kid — but most of these are instantly forgettable or frustratingly stupid. Without giving too much away, let’s just say all of this could have been avoided had the protagonist checked the peephole before opening her door and letting in a totally well-meaning, if slightly off, window washer.

79. “The Attic,”Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark
Attics have a long history of being scary. Often dark and dusty, the horrors of an attic can range from ritual sacrifice to adolescent incest. So it’s confounding that this story is somehow one of the least scary in the series. Although it hints at a gruesome death for man’s best friend, specifically Rupert’s dog, Sam, in this story, in the end the horror hinges on the storyteller taking a pause after screaming “AAAAAAAAAAAH” and banking on somebody asking, ”Why did Rupert scream?” The big finale? He stepped on a nail.

78. “The Slithery-Dee,” Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark
The Slithery-Dee’s simple story line paired with its comic-strip-like presentation makes it almost memeable. Though the reader never sees the Slithery-Dee in question, it’s safe to assume it’s a sea monster who eats animals — and a very curious creature with a long tail and the stance of a human — that dare to stroll along the coast. This seems ripe for resident fish-man obsessive Guillermo del Toro’s treatment, however, and with a little movie magic, we could be looking at a top-ten story that’s the darker version of The Shape of Water. Alas, this would-be palate cleanser in what’s sure to be an otherwise horrifying film will not be making the cut.

77. “The Bad News,” More Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark
The fact that this story is called “The Bad News” and is about baseball yet has absolutely nothing to do with the 1976 seminal sports comedy The Bad News Bears seems especially rude. Instead, we’re introduced to Leon and Todd, two dudes who played baseball growing up and have since graduated to watching baseball and talking about baseball as adults. Both are very concerned about the baseball prospects in heaven. I can’t imagine meeting these idiots at a party. Anyway, Todd kicks the bucket and up to heaven he goes. But only briefly, because there is of course baseball in heaven, which means Todd has to travel back down to Earth to let Leon know this. The bad news? Leon is scheduled to pitch tomorrow. Seems this story is more satisfactory than scary — Todd and Leon get exactly what they want, and the Earth is spared their uselessness.

76. “The Brown Suit,” More Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark
“Okay” is the only note I wrote while reading this story. Maybe I’m desensitized, but the ending seemed more reminiscent of a MacGyver episode, not a terror-inducing tale. After two men are prepared for viewing at a funeral home, their respective wives decide the color of each one’s suit is off. The undertaker is happy to make a switch, but instead of undressing two full-grown stiffs, he just switches their heads. Sure, life moves fast, but death moves faster. Who knows what else the undertaker had to do that day, but thanks to his ingenuity, he’ll be sure to get it done.

75. “Ba-Room!,” More Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark 

This is one of a handful of scary stories that are set to music. Readers are instructed that the story be read to the tune of “The Irish Washerwoman,” which gives it a very “Third Class Dance”–from–the–Titanic vibe. The subjects, however, are not dancing. Instead, they’re dead. Yes, both O’Leary and O’Reilly are dead in the very same bed completely unaware of one another. Are we sure ba-room isn’t simply the sound of a relationship’s death rattle?

74. “Thumpity-Thump,” More Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark
This tale closes out the series’ second installment leaving something to be desired. A poltergeist tale as old as time, it revolves around a family terrorized by a chair that thumps around the house. Eventually, the chair takes a break, and one of its legs seems to be pointing to something. So, the family decides to dig a hole in the ground where the chair leg has set its aim. They do indeed find a body, which has the potential to cause dread, but they bury it back so swiftly that it’s barely a blip in the story — which ends with the family leaving to return to their hometown, where chairs “don’t go rarin’ and rampagin’ ’roun’, scarin’ folks out of their wits …” You get the idea … they prefer a stable place to sit. Seems fair.

73. “Strangers,” Scary Stories 3: More Tales to Chill Your Bones
This is less a scary story and more the tale of a female superhero. It opens with a man and a woman sitting on a train. The woman takes out a book and begins reading. Like clockwork, the man asks, “What are you reading?” Because that’s what anyone reading a book wants, to be taken away from it to engage in asinine small talk. So she tells him it’s a ghost story. He, of course, starts to share his thoughts on the existence of spirits even though no one asked him to. Her response is to vanish. Not only does she prove ghosts are real, but she also quickly gets away from this dude. Scary story or dream come true?

72. “The Hog,” Scary Stories 3: More Tales to Chill Your Bones
Who here has been haunted by an ex? That song that reminds you of them, or that smell, or that very specific post-breakup Instagram they posted of themselves daring to live on after the dissolution of your relationship. Often, after a breakup, your former relationship can seem inescapable. Sometimes, however, you’re the one who ended it and an ex who refuses to move on becomes the bane of your existence. In this story, the ex comes back as a hog that’s able to run as fast as a car can drive and uses that skill to stalk a former flame. Seems annoying, right? It gets worse. When the protagonist confronts the hog, albeit in an aggressive manner, it responds, “I was just out for a brisk walk, enjoying myself. How could you strike me after all that we meant to one another?” Damn. Talk about getting gaslit.

71. “Is Something Wrong?,” Scary Stories 3: More Tales to Chill Your Bones
Yes, something is wrong, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s scary. A quick entry that appears in the trilogy, this story directly follows “The Hog” and has a similar vibe, as the protagonist cannot seem to outrun a horrible thing. It might not be an ex, but it does have the same aggressive approach coupled with an insincere amount of politeness that we saw the hog portray earlier. After chasing the protagonist to the point that he thinks his lungs will burst, the creature simply taps him on the shoulder to ask if something is wrong. The nerve!

70. “It’s Him!,” Scary Stories 3: More Tales to Chill Your Bones
This is a cut-and-dry case of two assholes getting what they deserve: an eternity suffering together. These two people are so mean that they have to live in the woods by themselves where they can’t bother anyone else. The wife is so mean that when she gets annoyed by her husband, she cuts his head off and buries him out back. The husband is so mean that he comes back to haunt his murderous wife as if he too isn’t a piece of shit that no one likes. Epitomizing the standard for-better-or-for-worse vows, the story spins around to reveal death doesn’t do you part if there’s no one else who can tolerate you.

69. “T-h-u-p-p-p-p-p-p-p!,” Scary Stories 3: More Tales to Chill Your Bones
The illustration accompanying this story looks like an alien, which might lead people to believe they’re in for a real invasion-laden treat. So where does this extraterrestrial tale take us? Out of this world? Absolutely not. After Sarah sees the alien fucking around in her room numerous times, her aloof father responds, “You’re upset over nothing.” Immediately, this could mean he’s already an alien or a dickhead of a dad. Honestly, he’s probably both, but we never truly find out because the alien in question is quick to fulfill its mission. You might think it’s here to take over the world, but this alien is much less sinister and has come to Earth to give humans … raspberries. No, not the fruit. That thing that people do to babies to make them giggle.

68. “You May Be Next …,” Scary Stories 3: More Tales to Chill Your Bones
Honestly, this one might have Song of the Summer potential. A little ditty about dying, it ends with the line, “And that is the end of a perfect day.” Morbid? Sure. Catchy? Definitely.

Photo: Stephen Gammell/Harper & Row

67. “The Girl Who Stood on a Grave,” Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark
This story presents a theory that is especially easy to test. It posits that if you stand on a grave after dark, the person buried below it will grab you and pull you under. Whether “under” refers to beneath the grass or into the darkest hell imaginable is unclear. Either way, it seems inconvenient to meet this fate. It also seems unlikely, which is why the girl in this story takes the dollar bet to stand on a grave. She’s instructed to stick a knife in the dirt to prove she was there. She plunges the knife into the ground of a grave she fancies, but what she doesn’t realize is that she lets it pierce her skirt first, which means she’s jerked back and falls to the ground when she tries to leave. Presumably she spends the night screaming for help, but her friends don’t bother to look for her until later, and by that time she’s died of fright. This taps into the fear of fear itself, sure, but it also points out how stupidity can cost you your life.

66. “The Walk,” Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark
Now here’s a story that aptly portrays how the fear of oneself can be greater than the fear of the unknown. As a man walks down a dirt road, he comes across his mirror image. They make eye contact and are instantly terrified by one another. Try as we might, we’re unable to escape ourselves, so it’s true to life that the two continue down the same path, becoming increasingly scared by themselves. And that’s it. This is seemingly their eternity. Spooky, huh?

65. “The Thing,” Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark
Now that we’ve established that your present self can be scary AF, what about your future self? In this tale, two men are faced with a skeleton decked out in black pants, a white shirt, and black suspenders. The men and the skeleton play a little cat-and-mouse game, the skeleton following the men as they run away, only to become bored and eventually leave them alone. Years later, however, one of the men becomes sick, and as he deteriorates, he looks more and more like the skeleton. Seems lame given that we’re all slated to age. I suppose if you’re an influencer, though, this one might hit home.

64. “A Man Who Lived in Leeds,” Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark
Simple and direct, the opening of this story informs us that “some say this rhyme doesn’t mean anything. Others are not so sure.” That’s surprising given that it’s a clear warning about keeping vigilant in the wake of backstabbers. And the story isn’t speaking in metaphors. It literally advises that one stay on the lookout for a penknife-wielding killer, unless you want to die as blood runs down your back.

63. “Wait till Martin Comes,” Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark
A man looking for shelter from the rain, which is a recurring theme throughout the series, finds it in an abandoned house. Well, abandoned except for a bunch of of cats that keep insisting the man stick around until Martin comes. He doesn’t and instead hightails it out of there. It’s a lackluster story that fails to utilize the potential creepiness that cats can offer.

62. “The White Wolf,” Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark
This one could have cracked the top 50, if it weren’t so predictable. Want to avoid a gruesome death? Keep your promises. Or don’t and end up like Bill the butcher. After a stint with the meat cleaver, Bill hangs up his chainmail to hunt white wolves, which are overpopulating the region. He’s so good at his job that it becomes obsolete, and he makes a promise never to kill a white wolf again. Does he keep that promise, or does he try to bait a remaining wolf with a lamb only to be torn to pieces by the predator? As with a lot of these stories, which were written for children, there’s a clear moral. In this case, it’s pretty chill — keep your promises or die a gruesome death, kids.

61. “Alligators,” Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark
Alligators are scary, and they’re actually having a bit of a moment right now as gator fever spreads. From Crawl to Chicago’s Chance the Snapper, alligators are on the come-up. So how does this set of alligators rank? Let’s see. In this story, a woman is convinced her husband is trying to turn himself and their two sons into alligators. Sure enough, her entire family vanishes while three never-before-seen alligators are spotted at a local watering hole. It’s clear what happened here, which makes the scariest part of the story that no one will believe the woman. In fact, they don’t even bother trying to offer her another explanation for the disappearance of her family; instead, they throw her in the hospital because “everyone knows there aren’t any alligators around” there. Terrible advice: Up until this summer, there weren’t any alligators in Chicago, either.

60. “Cemetery Soup,” More Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark
Soup is not scary. Soup is delicious. This soup, in particular, sounds most appetizing. With some carrots, green beans, corn, barley, onions, potatoes, and a “snitch of beef,” with some salt and pepper, this soup is chef’s kiss. The catch? The soupbone most certainly belongs to a corpse as it was found in a cemetery. Yet when the corpse comes back for what’s its own, the soup-maker simply throws it back to the corpse before serving herself some soup. Scary? More like succulent.

59. “No, Thanks,” Scary Stories 3: More Tales to Chill Your Bones
This is the tale of the Vector Marketing scam. You remember Vector, right? The company that convinced you and all your down-and-out friends to sell kitchen knives during college as part of a pyramid scheme? In this story, we see a man so hopeless that he resorts to cold-calling anywhere he can, even a warehouse parking lot after hours. “Hey, mister,” he calls after an employee heading to his car. “Nice sharp knife … cuts nice and easy,” he spews his sales pitch. “Hey, man, only three dollars. Two for five.” he continues before adding, “Nice present for your mama.” The mark dodges him by saying, “No, thanks. She’s got one.” The scary thing is? She probably does, because no one’s safe from a pyramid scheme in this small town. More annoying than scary, this one sits comfortably on the chiller, not chilling end of the list.

58. “Faster and Faster,” Scary Stories 3: More Tales to Chill Your Bones
The passing of time offers up a certain type of fear. It’s fueled by anxiety, and something like an increasingly frantic drumbeat is sure to set it off. Here, as a ghostly drum beats faster and faster, a man watches his brother die in front of him but is unable to prove that what he heard and what he saw was real. The terror comes from time — or, rather, the lack of it.Pair that with the frustration of having to prove what you saw with your own eyes, and that’s why it creeped up on the list.

57. “Rings on Her Fingers,” More Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark 
If this story had a tagline, it would be “Don’t get mad, get even.” After Daisy dies and is buried in all her finery, a grave robber goes after her jewelry. Specifically, he wants her wedding ring and its smaller but stunning ruby companion. When he pries open her casket, though, her body has already started to bloat and the rings are stuck on her swollen fingers. Dude is determined, so he cuts her fingers off. But to his surprise, her fingers start to bleed and she begins to stir. Scared, he trips over a bunch of his own shit and falls directly onto his own knife. Daisy, unaffected, collects her belongings and walks home while the grave robber bleeds to death. Serves him right.

56. “Oh, Susannah!,” More Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark
This is absolutely not what you think it is. Not at all. That semi-charming song you used to sing at the top of your lungs as a kid has been replaced with a dorm-room nightmare. Susannah and Jane are college students living together when Susannah starts hearing “Oh, Susannah!” being hummed at irritating hours. Surely it’s my roommate fucking with me, she thinks and yells at her to stop. The humming, however, does not stop, so Susannah goes over to Jane’s bed to set her straight. But when she pulls the covers off, Jane she discovers her head has been cut off. Convinced it’s a dream, she tells herself all will be well when she awakens, and then the story trails off, leaving us to wonder whether Jane was really decapitated or if Susannah has gone girl interrupted.

55. “The Church,” More Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark
Sometimes it’s the smallest of things that can take you out of a story, and that’s what happens here. We’re off to a good start as Larry is seen driving around in his topless Jeep when a storm starts. Good, a Jeep bro is going to have his parade rained on. Passing by a cabin that he knows is haunted, he drives further to a church to seek refuge. He quickly parks his gas guzzler and runs for cover. Sure enough, the church is dry as a bone, so the man feels his way to a pew where he can stretch out and wait out the storm. But then lightning crashes, illuminating the church to reveal it is full of ghouls waiting for their graves to dry out. At this point, it seems literally anything could happen. Maybe the ghouls mercilessly tear Jeep guy apart limb by limb while mocking his chosen mode of transportation. But no, instead one of them simply says, “ Baa-a-a!” That’s it. All it takes is one sheep noise and the story takes a turn for the worst.

54. “Footsteps,” Scary Stories 3: More Tales to Chill Your Bones
This story is eerie, sure, but entirely safe. While Liz is doing homework, she swears she hears someone in the house. Her sister Sarah is there, but for some reason Liz is certain the footsteps she hears belong to a man, even though when she goes to check who is upstairs, she’s only able to find Sarah. Later, Liz sees footprints in the snow, but something tells me they’re the result of a well-executed prank by her little sister.Like, if you’re trying to truly scare us, let’s see some blood in the snow. (Sarah, you can use ketchup for this.)

53. “Like Cats’ Eyes,” Scary Stories 3: More Tales to Chill Your Bones
Glowing animal eyes are the No. 1 cause for alien conspiracy theories, and this story illustrates that perfectly. Are the numerous eyes that cut through the dark and seem to peer into your soul simply a collection of pets watching you sleep, or are they a family of extraterrestrials plotting your dissection? There’s only one way to find out. Hit the light, if you can manage to find the courage to expose the truth.

52. “Such Things Happen,” Scary Stories 3: More Tales to Chill Your Bones
As the title indicates, this story has a very so-it-goes vibe that relates directly to the death of an elderly townswoman. While the town doctor is convinced the 90-year-old died of old age, Bill, the story’s protagonist, is certain he killed her via a series of spells his grandpa suggests after Bill’s livestock starts mysteriously dying. Why does Bill blame this woman for the death of his livelihood? Because earlier in the story he ran over her cat and killed it. More silly than scary, and at one point an auxiliary character says, “But witches have gone out of style, haven’t they?,” which maybe dates the book more than the tired trope of a mystical and cruel cat lady.

51. “The Dead Hand,” Scary Stories 3: More Tales to Chill Your Bones
Situated directly after the classic “Harold,” this story acts as a real comedown. Starting off slow, we’re introduced to Tom Pattison, who rather stupidly for a Scary Stories character, comments, “I work out there every day. Not once have I ever seen anything to frighten me. Why should it be different at night?” Well, Tom, because shit goes bump in the night, which he quickly learns when a dismembered hand reaches for his in the dark. And then no one can find Tom for weeks. When turns up again, he’s clearly traumatized, and where his hand is supposed to be there’s nothing but a “ragged stump oozing blood.” So although this tale of hand-on-hand crime doesn’t outshine “Harold,” it does remind you there’s still something scary about the dark.

50. “Bess,” Scary Stories 3: More Tales to Chill Your Bones
This twisted tale takes us on a familiar journey to a fortune-teller. As with the majority of stories that involve a mystic, her word goes unheeded. In this particular take, John Nicholas visits the fortune-teller and is told his beloved horse, Bess, will be the death of him. Only slightly worried, he mostly laughs it off and completely forgets about it once he retires the horse and sells it to a family for their kids to ride. Eventually, Bess dies. Remembering his fortune, he chuckles and decides he would like to see Bess one last time to say good-bye. After all, a dead horse can’t kill you. John is told the horse’s bones are in a far corner of the family’s farm. Once he locates them, he bends down to pat Bess’s skull and a rattlesnake that had taken up residence in the horse’s carcass bites and kills John. It’s a solid tale, but not all that original or compelling.

Photo: Stephen Gammell/Harper & Row

49. “The Wolf Girl,” Scary Stories 3: More Tales to Chill Your Bones
This is a longer one with a title that tells you all you need to know, but if that doesn’t feel like enough, may I suggest you watch Wildling? It’s streaming.

48. “The Ghost With the Bloody Fingers,” Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark
No this is not about finger-banging on your period, which is only scary if you’ve never done it before. It is instead very predictably about a ghost that will not shut up about its bloody fingers. As one of the joke stories, its ending is abysmal and involves a guitar guy (you know, like the one from college) telling the ghost to chill and grab a Band-Aid. Seemingly solid advice, if the dude wasn’t, you know, dead already.

47. “The Guests,” Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark
While this tries to impart the messed-up lesson that if you’re very stupid, you deserve whatever scary thing happens to you, in the end it falls flat. A couple traveling to visit family stops at a complete stranger’s house to see if they rent out rooms. They don’t, but they will for this couple. Red flag! But then the stranger makes them cake and coffee and refuses to accept any money for their kindness. Red flag! The couple spends a comfy night and leaves the next morning only to be told by a local server at a diner that there’s no such stranger in town and that the house they claim to have stayed at burned down a long time ago. The couple returns and sure enough it turns out they had spent the night with a ghost in a haunted house, but they did so for free, so really the only scary thing here is knowing a visit with the in-laws is just around the corner.

46. “The Dream,”Scary Stories 3: More Tales to Chill Your Bones
Judging by the trailer, an adaptation of this will appear in the film. A visual treatment makes sense, given that the story pales in comparison to the haunting illustration accompanying it. In the same vein as “The Guests,” this is an odd no-stakes story about an overnight stay. Lucy Morgan, an artist, decides she needs a change of scenery and heads for a hotel. Prior to her trip, she has a dream that the hotel will be made of trapdoors with the windows nailed shut. She decides to change her plans based on this premonition and travel to a different town. Once there, however, the room she receives is exactly as she saw it in her dream and the woman who had shown her to her room turns out to be the same pale-faced, black-eyed woman with long black hair that haunted her sleep. This sounds like a recipe for disaster, right? Well, it isn’t. Lucy escapes without a scratch.

45. “The Wreck,” More Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark
The movement of time in “The Wreck” is interesting in that Fred and Jeanne meet at a Christmas dance, where Fred gives her tinsel to put in her hair. Later, Jeanne asks for a ride to her car, which she had crashed earlier, but requests to be dropped off at the end of the road she claims to have left it on. Fred acquiesces and doesn’t ask at all why she went to the dance after a car accident. After driving away, he realizes he doesn’t have Jeanne’s phone number, so he turns around to get it. That’s when he sees a wreck ahead and a car caught on fire. Upon closer inspection, he sees Jeanne pinned to the steering wheel with tinsel in her hair. I’m not sure what’s more unbelievable, that Jeanne’s ghost went to the dance, put tinsel in her hair, and then returned to the scene of her death or that Fred couldn’t have found her on Tinder instead of turning around.

43.–43. “The Window,” More Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, and “The Drum,” More Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark
What exactly is there to say here other than watch out for seemingly innocuous inanimate objects, because in a Scary Stories series, they will be neither. Instead, they will be the reason you die. Luckily, at least one of these is easily avoided.

42. “What Do You Come For?,” Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark
Conspiracy theory: This story directly influenced Manfred Mann’s “I Came for You.” Without getting too deep into it, a disheveled man (“Wounded deep in battle, I stand stuffed like some soldier undaunted”) is determined … to repeat the line “I came for you” until he gets a record deal out of it.

Photo: Stephen Gammell/Harper & Row

41. “The Bus Stop,” Scary Stories 3: More Tales to Chill Your Bones
What’s more horrific than hitting it off with someone only to be ghosted? Perhaps discovering that the person you’ve fallen for is literally a ghost. Thus is the fate of Ed Cox, who picked up Joanna Finney at the bus stop to save her from the rain. The kind gesture blossomed into a burgeoning relationship, until one day Joanna seemingly stands him up. When Ed sets out to find why, he’s told by Joanna’s mother that she died 20 years ago.Scary sure, but there are better, more spine-chilling romantic snafus to come.

40. “Clinkity-Clink,” More Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark 
Even though this story has one of the more jubilant titles, it goes deep. Following the death of an old woman, it serves up lines like, “When she died her eyes were wide open, staring at everything and seeing nothing.” Depending on how honest we want to be with ourselves on any given day, that could be referencing eye strain from staring at a computer too long or literally every mistake you ever semi-willing made by ignoring the obvious. In this story, it tilts toward the latter, as a gravedigger decides to rob one of the graves he’s supposed to be making room in the cemetery for. The rest of the story plays out as if it was inspired by Rhianna, with the robbed ghost laying down a beat before demanding she is paid. Here’s an excerpt: “Wind: Bizze, bizze, BUZ-OOOOOO-O-O-O Money: Clinkity-clink, clinkity-clink Ghost: Give me my money. Who’s got my money? Whoooo? Whoooo? Gravedigger: Oh Lordy, lordy!” It’s a real jam.

39. “The Trouble,” Scary Stories 3: More Tales to Chill Your Bones
This is by far one of the longest entries in the series. Unfortunately, that doesn’t make for one of the best. A classic poltergeist tale, it’s told through dated entries and feels reminiscent of The Amityville Horror movies. The spin is that it’s a commentary on teenagers and posits that poltergeists are not ghosts at all; instead, they’re a manifestation of the hormones of “normal teenagers.” It’s an ambitious story, no doubt, that calls to mind the likes of Carrie, but it fails with its matter-of-fact delivery.

38. “Somebody Fell From Aloft,” More Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark
This is for the studio dwellers, the bunk-bed sharers, and anyone else who has slept aloft in a space-saving bed. Although it’s about a specter falling off the upper rigging of a ship, if you’ve ever worried about falling out of your bed to the cold hard floor below, you’ll get it. It also involves a murder conspiracy, after it’s presumed one of the shipmates finds a fallen stowaway and shoves his body overboard. This clearly raises the question, could you push your partner out of bed and get away with it?

37. “Something Was Wrong,” More Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark
Sometimes the simplest story is one of the scariest. Case in point is John Sullivan’s story, which involves him walking through town only to cause chaos wherever he goes. The reason? Unbeknownst to John, he had died the day before, a fact that is revealed only when he called home for his wife and is informed she is at his funeral. Is this real or an elaborate breakup scheme?

36. “A Weird Blue Light,” More Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark
This is another ship-related story that easily translates to a present-day danger. Sure, the weird blue light in the story is referring to an old-school schooner aflame in the water, but let us not forget the current danger blue light from digital devices is posing. The ghost ship vanishes without harming anyone but makes for a great story. Sort of like the story you tell when you’ve bought blue-light-blocking glasses to vanquish digital eye strain and you cannot stop recommending them to everyone you know.

35. “The Voice,” More Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark
This is not about the reality-TV show, but you already knew that. It does, however, have a weird connection to the trials of childhood stardom. How is that? Well, the horror relies heavily on the neglect of a kid. Ellen, who is hearing someone call her name and threaten that they’re coming upstairs to get her, repeatedly yells for her parents to no avail. When they do finally come to her rescue, whatever was tormenting her seems to have left. Perhaps Ellen just needed a little parental attention. Remind anyone of being raised by Baby Boomers? There’s nothing like inherited horror that will inevitably trickle down through generations to come.

34. “The Babysitter,” Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark
This is a classic story that hasn’t aged too well, even if it did spawn “The call is coming from inside the house.” First thing first, landlines are practically obsolete, so the idea of one ringing incessantly is a bit unbelievable to modern audiences. And if you have your phone on anything other than silent, you get what you deserve, which is probably a lot of ring-related anxiety and maybe death. Regardless, the man upstairs ends up being apprehended by the cops before he can do anything more than creepily smile at the babysitter and her temporary brood, making this more of a shake than a scare.

33. “A New Horse,” Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark
A new horse is an old horse is a dead horse, of course. Seriously, these books take some sick pleasure involving animals in their devilish ways. But sometimes the horse isn’t a horse at all and instead it’s a man who’s been turned into an animal by magic. Does he take it lying down or does he buck? Oh, he most certainly bucks, exacting his revenge by placing the cursed saddle on its rightful owner and seeing how she likes being rode hard before the discard.

32. “May I Carry Your Basket?,” Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark
Yes, please. I’m tired. Seriously though, I would love for you to carry my groceries. Here we have Good Samaritan Sam offering to carry a woman’s basket. He can’t really make out this woman’s face because it’s bundled up in a scarf. Or is it? No sooner than when Sam takes the basket does he hear from it a woman saying, “That’s very nice of you.” Sam freaks and the woman’s body and her disembodied head began chasing him and biting at his legs. Why is this scarier than some of the other stories? Because it reinforces the notion that helping others only gets you grief, which is a dark and dangerous thought.

31. “The White Satin Evening Gown,” Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark
If you’ve ever rented the runway, scoured the thrift shops, or in general avoided buying clothes brand new, this story, which was probably written by Capitalism itself, is here to scare you. A woman of little means is invited to a dance but has nothing to wear. Her thrifty mother suggests she rent an outfit, so off to the pawnshop she goes. There, she finds the most beautiful white satin evening gown, which is a specific kind of mood if you’re wearing it to something other than your own wedding, so good for her. She has a wonderful time dancing the night away until she feels dizzy and decides to leave early. Once home, she goes to bed. The next morning, her mother finds her dead. The enjoyment of this story comes from its insanely specific explanation for her death. An autopsy indicates the woman was poisoned by embalming fluid. You see, the pawnbroker bought the garment from an undertaker’s helper who must have taken it off a corpse, and the embalming fluid that had rubbed off on it entered the woman’s skin as she got sweaty while getting down. Word to the wise, wash your second-hand items before wearing them.

30. “Old Woman All Skin and Bones,” Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark
This is a summer bop about a lady who’s taking full advantage of leisure season. After traveling to the church, she stops to rest awhile. By the time she gets to the door, she thinks to herself, I’ll rest some more. This lady knows what’s up.

29. “Cold As Clay,” Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark
Speaking of summer bops, “Cold As Clay” could easily be a chart-topping country song. Set up as a ballad of star-crossed lovers, a farmer’s daughter falls for the farmhand. To keep the two apart, the farmer sends his daughter across the country to live with an uncle. The farmhand dies of a broken heart, which the father keeps from his daughter. He returns, however, one night atop a horse, knocks on the daughter’s door, and tells her that her father has requested he come to get her. The two ride back on the horse, and the woman notices the man is as “cold as clay,” so she offers him a handkerchief to warm his head. When they return to the farm, the horse and farmhand vanish, leaving the father unable to keep his dark secret. Not only does he come clean to his daughter, he goes and tells the farmhand’s parents, who open his casket to discover his corpse is still there, but with the addition of a handkerchief around his head. Basically, this is the worst version of Trisha Yearwood’s “She’s in Love With the Boy.”

Photo: Stephen Gammell/Harper & Row

28. “Sam’s New Pet,” Scary Stories 3: More Tales to Chill Your Bones
Here, a family travels to Mexico and happens upon a cute puppy. Sam’s parents insist they bring the puppy across the border so he can have a companion. They manage to accomplish this, only to discover their beloved pet is actually a rabies-infected rat. Thought to “reflect anger over Mexican workers who entered the United States illegally and competed for jobs held by Americans,” according to the notes section at the back of the book, it’s worrisome, even frightening to think this story was provided to children, allowing it the opportunity to shape their bias — which makes it one of the scariest tales on this list.

27. “The Haunted House,” Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark
This story is a killer tale of female-executed revenge. After being murdered by her lover for her money, a woman haunts the last place she was alive. A well-meaning preacher catches wind that this haunt is happening and sets out to remedy it. Luckily for him, this spook is more than a game. She requests the preacher dig up her hidden bones so she can rest properly before instructing him to take her ring-clad pinky finger to the church to place in the collection plate. The preacher does as he’s told. The following Sunday, when the murderous dudebro gets passed the collection plate, the finger sticks to him. No matter how hard he tries, he can’t shake it, which leads to a confession and his hanging. What sweet justice this is.

26. “The Hearse Song,” Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark
The imagery in this one is top notch, even if it’s one of at least ten stories that have the exact line “the worms crawl in, the worms crawl out.” I get it, though. There are only so many ways to describe decomposition to children. Some of the more choice descriptions, however, include “Your stomach turns a slimy green / And pus pours out like whipping cream / You spread it on a slice of bread / And that’s what you eat when you are dead.” Sounds suspiciously like some sort of Flutternutter sandwich for the underworld. I bet it’s delicious.

25. “The Cat’s Paw,” More Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark
“Spittin’ and yowlin’ just like a cat” is a phrase that sticks with you, and so does this story in which a woman-cat, not to be confused with Cat Woman, goes about the town stealing Jed Smith’s meat. Ham, bacon, you name it, Jed’s smokehouse was no match for this “black she-cat.” So Jed sets out to catch that cat burglar, lying in wait with a shotgun. He manages to shoot the cat’s paw clean off when she shows, but when he goes to inspect it, it’s actually a woman’s foot. The idea that we women can no longer safely assume the body of a cat to steal meat in 2019? You hate to see it.

24. “Room for One More,” Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark
I’ve seen thisserviceable story praised elsewhere, and I can assure you the title took me aback because there’s little worse than being asked if there’s room for one more. There is never room for one more. If someone is asking if there’s room for one more, it’s because they’ve assessed the situation, found it to be crowded, but don’t give a shit and still want to get involved. In turn, if someone is insisting there is room for one more, they’re up to no good. Specifically, in this story, a hearse driver begins stalking Joseph Blackwell and calling to him, “There’s room for one more.” Joseph ignores him until he comes across one of the most formidable “room for one more” situations known to humankind, the office elevator. Sure enough, someone says, “There’s room for one more.” Joseph squishes in before realizing it’s the hearse driver, and off to hell they plummet.

23. “The Cat in a Shopping Bag,” More Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark
These books contain a lot of stories surrounding theft and the punishment one sees fit for the crime. Here, a woman accidentally runs over a cat, which she then places in a shopping bag so she can bury it when she returns home. But when she parks her car to run the errands she had set out to complete, another woman steals the bag, assuming it’s full of recently bought items. The first woman follows the second to a diner, where she stops to check what fortune she’ll find in the bag. Joke’s on her, of course, and she faints — but that isn’t punishment enough. The woman who ran the cat over makes sure to follow the ambulance that was called for the second woman in order to deliver the bag, because she wouldn’t want that poor lady to lose her stuff. How devious.

22.“Hello, Kate!,” Scary Stories 3: More Tales to Chill Your Bones
This story might make you think twice about ghosting someone. Tom Connors is headed to a dance, a popular pastime in the Scary Stories universe, when he happens upon a woman in the woods. Thinking she could be a possible dance partner, he stops to wait for her only to realize it’s his old flame, Kate Faherty — who had died a year earlier. The two had danced together many times before, but Tom never thought to reach out to her, essentially ghosting her. To his horror, Kate’s real ghost had come back to haunt him, following him to the dance and getting so close to him that they touched. Tom wanted to scream, but the terror, or perhaps the guilt, silenced him. Let that be a lesson.

21–19. “Me Tie Dough-Ty Walker,” Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark; “The Little Black Dog,” More Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark; and “The Black Dog,” Scary Stories 3: More Tales to Chill Your Bones
All three of these stories stick out because the horror relies not so much on suspense or spooks but on dogs dying. If you’re a dog lover, these are not for you. From a siren song meant to lure a dog to death to a phantom canine ready to kill man’s best friend for sport, hounds are haunted and hunted in equal measure and the survival rate is zero. This reveals the scariest part: Your own pending doom. Everyone knows anyone who is willing to kill man’s best friend is going to be down to kill you, too.

18. “The Wendigo,” Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark
This story comes from a long tradition of campfire tales. Set in the cold, dark woods, we’re introduced to the namesake creature. It’s a mythical man-eater unable to satiate it’s murderous intentions and greedy desires. Told different ways by different people, this version focuses on the Wendigo’s ability to swoop in with the wind and carry its victims away so fast that their feet burn. The scariest part? The Wendigo is real.

17. “A Ghost in the Mirror,” More Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark
If you’ve never played Bloody Mary before, now’s the time. This iconic entry acts as more of a how-to than a ghost story, providing you with everything you need to know to summon a ghost in your mirror and a little history behind the legend. Growing up, I figured locking myself in the bathroom, turning the lights off, and saying Bloody Mary three times was enough. I never saw a ghost. Turns out, I was doing the last part all wrong. The book suggests you say the name anywhere from 47 to 100 times. Why didn’t I think of those arbitrary and somewhat exhausting numbers? The ghost is most likely to be angry that you’ve disturbed it, but fret not — it’s easily vanquished with a flip of the light switch.

16. “The Hook,” Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark
Here’s a car-related classic you’ve probably heard before. Two kids hit the road, then park to get frisky without their parentals interrupting. While getting down to business, a news report interrupts the music playing on the stereo. It seems a prisoner with a hook for a hand has escaped from a nearby prison and is armed and dangerous. The couple argues about whether they should pack up and leave. To no one’s surprise, the sexist boyfriend gets pissy and says, “Girls are always afraid of something,” while the girlfriend rationally suggests they get out of the immediate area of the prison. Before he finally agrees, she believes she hears something, but her boyfriend is still mad about not getting laid so he ignores her and drives her home. Once there, he manages to squelch his toxic masculinity long enough to walk her to her door, but when she invites him in for cocoa, he goes right back to being an asshole and declines. When he returns to his door, he sees a hook attached to the door handle. An oldie but goodie.

15. “High Beams,” Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark
Another car-related classic, “High Beams,” is here to terrify anyone who has ever found themselves driving down a rural road alone at night. An aggressive truck driver tails the protagonist while flashing his brights. Given the size disparity between a car and an 18-wheeler, what seems to be a glaring case of road rage is scary enough. It’s the twist however, that reveals the true horror. The truck driver had actually been trying to warn the driver that a stowaway was in the back seat waiting to strike. Each time the villain rose with knife in hand to stab the driver, the truck driver flashed his lights to scare the villain back into the shadows. Chilling stuff.

14. “Maybe You Will Remember,” Scary Stories 3: More Tales to Chill Your Bones
This one feels like a cheat. It’s confusing at best and seemingly completely open-ended. That is, until you follow the written instructions to a page in the back of the book that busts the story’s history wide open. So what ghastly thing are we dealing with here? The plague in Paris, baby. Prior to getting the entire story, we’re told that a daughter is sent away from the Parisian hotel she and her mother are staying in to fetch some medicine. She is given the runaround almost everywhere she goes, which initially seems like it might be related to a language barrier until she arrives back to the hotel and is unable to locate her room or her mother. The unhelpful hotel staff gaslights her into thinking she has the wrong hotel, when in reality they have disposed of her mother’s body after she died of the plague and remodeled the room to fuck with the daughter’s head. Apparently Paris couldn’t bear to let word of the death get out, because it would cause total panic. Not much is scarier than a large-scale government conspiracy against you and your own.

13. “The Curse,” More Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark
Here’s a story that remains terrifying because it’s true to form and topical. Centered on one of the scariest holdovers of modern day culture, “The Curse” is about the very specific toxic masculinity associated with fraternities. After a hazing so horrendous, the fraternity in question is disbanded by its college and the members are suspended for one year. This is the punishment for indirectly losing (read: murdering) two of its pledges. Don’t worry though, no one was arrested, the narrator assures us, and now every year one of the former frat members goes crazy from the trauma. Are we sure this one isn’t a news article?

12. “The Bed by the Window,” More Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark 
This is an allegory for the corner office if I’ve ever read one — a chilling allegory for capitalism, if you will. Set in a hospital, there’s one good bed to die in. It’s by the window and supposedly offers a spectacular view. So spectacular, patients start plotting to kill one another so they can get their turn in the bed. Richard, for example, knocks another patient’s heart pills off his nightstand to ensure he has a heart attack. His plan works and he delights in his pending future, which he assumes will be full of all the things previous patients had described seeing out the window. Richard, however, comes to find that the only thing that window is facing is the blank brick wall of its neighboring building — and an emptiness, not unlike the kind that might settle over a backstabbing co-worker who’s made it to the top with no one to rejoice with, envelopes Richard’s final days. Talk about a postcapitalist nightmare.

11. “The Appointment,” Scary Stories 3: More Tales to Chill Your Bones
Short, sweet, and to the point, this story reminds us that you cannot escape death. A boy heads into the small-town square near the farm he works at and is beckoned by death. Thinking he can escape his fate, he begs his grandfather to let him drive to the city. The grandfather allows it and, in a show of strength, goes back into town to confront death. Death is unexpectedly apologetic, explaining that he didn’t mean to beckon his grandson but he was surprised to see him downtown when he has an appointment scheduled with him for this afternoon in the city.

10. “Wonderful Sausage,” More Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark
Butchery is a fine trade backed by hearty tradition. It’s also a unique skill that allows anyone who masters it access to the exact tools needed to get away with murder. Enter butcher Samuel Blunt (not to be confused with Sam Franklin, famous for bringing Alice the meat), who becomes irritated with his wife and kills her. He, of course, disposes of the body by making sausage and tells anyone who asked that she moved away. Samuel sounds like a real jerk, so of course the townspeople buy it. But a strange thing happens. Blunt finessed his sausage recipe, and it became a huge hit. Greed took over, and he began killing anyone he could to feed his newfound fame. Then one day a boy managed to escape and Blunt went after him into the town, where everyone saw him. It dawned on the dim townspeople that they had been eating human meat all along. Seeking revenge and one last taste of the special sausage, they fed Blunt to his own grinder. There’s a lot going on here, the most appalling part being that in the process of exacting revenge, the townspeople have become what they once abhorred. It’s also pretty worrisome that this entire town is now down with cannibalism.

9. “The Dead Man’s Hand,” More Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark
What’s spookier than blatant sexism? Perhaps the sort that is explicitly perpetrated by women upon other women. At a school for nurses, everyone gets along with everyone else — except Alice. What’s so bad about her? “She was always friendly and always cheerful,” and, among other fine traits, “she didn’t even bite her fingernails.” This made the other students resent Alice and plot to prank her. They decide to take a corpse’s hand that they’ve been studying and tie it to a light cord in her closet. Sure enough, when she goes to get something from her closet, she gets spooked by the hand. What no one anticipated, though, is that she’s so scared her entire career is derailed. What’s scarier than that?

Photo: Stephen Gammell/Harper & Row

8. “The Bride,” More Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark
Here comes the first in a one-two punch for anyone who finds marriage the epitome of terrifying, anyone who wonders if vows bring with them the death of independence. This story takes it one step further by taking not just the bride’s individualism but also her life. Calling to mind one of the shittier parts of society, “The Bride” shows just how invisible a woman can become after she says, “I do.” So invisible that when she goes missing later on her wedding day only a lackluster search is executed and eventually everyone gives up by the week’s end. Talk about a disastrous wedding that gives true credence to the term cold feet — she’s found years later in trunk, and her skeleton is all that remains. Cue the Dead Wife think piece.

7. “Aaron Kelly’s Bones,” Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark
This one’s great because it taps into the fear of entrapment many people spend their entire life trying to avoid. It also features one hell of a horrific asshole. Aaron Kelly is a man who refuses to let his wife experience any sort of happiness or security after he dies (and quite frankly, I’m sure he was an asshole to her when he was alive, too). Although he doesn’t necessarily haunt her, he does make it extremely difficult for her to move on by refusing to stay in his coffin. Asserting that he “doesn’t feel dead,” his skeleton walks around looking shitty, but not shitty enough to convince the insurance company not to pay out his widow. And when the widow gets a chance to remarry, do you think Aaron allows it? Absolutely not; instead, he makes sure to chase off her suitor. Talk about deadweight.

6. “Sounds,” More Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark
This is an especially dark tale about a woman’s cries for help going unanswered. One of many seeking-shelter-from-the-storm stories in the series, this is by far the scariest. While three men wait out the storm on the first level of an abandoned beach house, they hear screams coming from upstairs. Then blood begins to drip from the ceiling. “Not me!” screams a woman, followed by a man’s voice yelling, “I’ll get you!” There’s a brief silence followed by a deafening laugh, then the three men downstairs hear someone dragging something heavy down the stairs and out the door. At no point did any of the men think to help the woman upstairs, and only after she is clearly murdered do they feel true terror and go running from the house.

5. “One Sunday Morning,” More Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark
If you ever slept through your alarm — or worse, thought you were setting one on your phone only to later realize you were fucking around on your calculator in a sleepy haze — here’s the horror story for you. Waking up to the sound of church bells, Ida realizes she’s late for the service and rushes out the door. Once she arrives and takes a seat, she starts to realize the congregation looks unfamiliar. Finally, she recognizes a friendly face, only to remember the person died a long time ago. One by one, Ida realizes each person there is already dead and runs out of the church barely escaping as a few of her garments are ripped off her and torn to shreds by the undead. It’s a relatable, real-life nightmare that transcends your basic late-for-work and naked-in-front-of-co-workers disasters.

4. “Just Delicious,” Scary Stories 3: More Tales to Chill Your Bones
Here’s the scariest line of the story: “George was a bully, and Mina was a timid woman who did everything he asked because she was afraid of him.” One day, a neighbor dies and Mina mentions it to George, who brushes her off as always. Defeated and unable to have a conversation with her husband, Mina begins to prepare George’s food for the day. While he’s out, she’s feeling peckish and begins to pick at the liver she had cooked up. Before she knows it, she’s eaten the entire thing. Worried how George will react — “He would be angry and mean and she did not want to face that again” — she goes over to the neighbor’s place to secure a substitute liver. Cannibalism as a means to avoid abuse? That’s terrifying.

3. “The Man in the Middle,” More Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark
What’s the worst part about public transportation? The delays? The crowd? The smell? I’m going to go with being alone on a train car when three seemingly drunk bros drop in, two of whom are propping up their friend Jim. And of course, Jim’s friends ditch him at their stops, leaving him to writhe around while Sally, still all alone, is too frightened to switch train cars, because why draw attention to yourself when you can instead try to become invisible from the male gaze? Then the train goes around a sharp curve and Jim goes flying and where does he land but at Sally’s feet. That’s what happens in this super-scary-because-it-could-so-easily-happen-to-you story.

Photo: Stephen Gammell/Harper & Row

2. “The Red Spot,” Scary Stories 3: More Tales to Chill Your Bones
Waking up with a red spot on your face is hell. Is it a pimple? Maybe it’s a bugbite. Oh God, is it bedbugs? The possibilities are all unpleasant, as is the transformation that occurred during the night unbeknownst to you. Add to that the unavoidable urge to pick, and you’re screwed. Or maybe not — maybe you’re like this iconic story’s protagonist, so you go the hot-compress route, hoping to help the blemish work its way out. Joke’s on you, though; instead of a puss-pop situation, a shitload of baby spiders come crawling out like it’s Charlotte’s Web or something. Horrifying.

1. “Harold,” Scary Stories 3: More Tales to Chill Your Bones
This is it, the scariest story. Fittingly, it’s featured heavily in the trailer for the movie, although it’s clearly been updated. Originally, Harold the scarecrow is created so two men who are dissatisfied with their lives have something to take it out on. Named after another farmer they hate, the two men routinely abuse Harold in the most horrific manner, completely unable to fathom a healthy outlet for their unhappiness. As the story says, “They would curse at him, even kick or punch him.” While it may seem harmless enough to abuse an inanimate object, the pent-up hostility exhibited by the two farmers is spine-chilling. Even scarier is when Harold is no longer a replica of a man and is instead a living and very vengeful human being. And what is Harold’s payback? Why, he skins the farmers and spreads out their bodies to bake in the sun, of course. One of the most widely-remembered of the Scary Stories series, Harold is a haunt we can’t shake, a reminder that our wrongdoings have consequences, and, if this movie has anything to do with it, the renewed source of our nightmares.


All 82 Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, RankedSours:
3 KFC Horror Stories Animated

30 Very Short Tales Of Horror That Are Better Than Most Scary Movies You’ve Watched

In our quest for the bizarre and the twisted, we stumbled upon a scary short stories subreddit on Reddit and we knew that we had to share it with our readers. If you're looking forward to a night of sleeplessness, read on.

1. 'This new old house' by BatoutofHell821

We bought an old house, my boyfriend and I. He's in charge of the "new" construction – converting the kitchen in to the master bedroom for instance, while I'm on wallpaper removal duty. The previous owner papered EVERY wall and CEILING! Removing it is brutal, but oddly satisfying. The best feeling is getting a long peel, similar to your skin when you're peeling from a sunburn. I don't know about you but I kinda make a game of peeling, on the hunt for the longest piece before it rips.Under a corner section of paper in every room is a person’s name and a date. Curiosity got the best of me one night when I Googled one of the names and discovered the person was actually a missing person, the missing date matching the date under the wallpaper! The next day, I made a list of all the names and dates. Sure enough each name was for a missing person with dates to match. We notified the police who naturally sent out the crime scene team. I overhead one tech say "yup, it's human." Human? What's human? "Ma'am, where is the material you removed from the walls already? This isn't wallpaper you were removing."

2. 'I hate it when my brother Charlie has to go away' by horrorinpureform

I hate it when my brother Charlie has to go away. My parents constantly try to explain to me how sick he is. That I am lucky for having a brain where all the chemicals flow properly to their destinations like undammed rivers. When I complain about how bored I am without a little brother to play with, they try to make me feel bad by pointing out that his boredom likely far surpasses mine, considering his confine to a dark room in an institution. I always beg for them to give him one last chance. Of course, they did at first. Charlie has been back home several times, each shorter in duration than the last. Every time without fail, it all starts again. The neighbourhood cats with gouged out eyes showing up in his toy chest, my dad's razors found dropped on the baby slide in the park across the street, mom's vitamins replaced by bits of dishwasher tablets. My parents are hesitant now, using "last chances" sparingly. They say his disorder makes him charming, makes it easy for him to fake normalcy, and to trick the doctors who care for him into thinking he is ready for rehabilitation. That I will just have to put up with my boredom if it means staying safe from him. I hate it when Charlie has to go away. It makes me have to pretend to be good until he is back.

3. 'Guardians' by DarkAlliGator

He awoke to the huge, insect like creatures looming over his bed and screamed his lungs out. They hastily left the room and he stayed up all night, shaking and wondering if it had been a dream.The next morning, there was a tap on the door. Gathering his courage, he opened it to see one of them gently place a plate filled with fried breakfast on the floor, then retreat to a safe distance. Bewildered, he accepted the gift. The creatures chittered excitedly.This happened every day for weeks. At first he was worried they were fattening him up, but after a particularly greasy breakfast left him clutching his chest from heartburn, they were replaced with fresh fruit. As well as cooking, they poured hot steamy baths for him and even tucked him in when he went to bed. It was bizarre.One night, he awoke to gunshots and screaming. He raced downstairs to find a decapitated burglar being devoured by the insects. He was sickened, but disposed of the remains as best he could. He knew they had just been protecting him.One morning the creatures wouldn't let him leave his room. He lay down, confused but trusting as they ushered him back into bed. Whatever their motives, they weren't going to hurt him.Hours later a burning pain spread throughout his body. It felt like his stomach was filled with razor wire. The insects chittered as he spasmed and moaned. It was only when he felt a terrible squirming feeling beneath his skin that he realised the insects hadn't been protecting him. They had been protecting their young.

4. 'Seeing Red (The First Day of School)' by Zenryhao

Everyone loves the first day of school, right? New year, new classes, new friends. It's a day full of potential and hope, before all the dreary depressions of reality show up to ruin all the fun.I like the first day of school for a different reason, though. You see, I have a sort of power. When I look at people, I can...sense a sort of aura around them. A colored outline based on how long that person has to live. Most everyone I meet around my age is surrounded by a solid green hue, which means they have plenty of time left.A fair amount of them have a yellow-orangish tinge to their auras, which tends to mean a car crash or some other tragedy. Anything that takes people "before their time" as they say.The real fun is when the auras venture into the red end of the spectrum, though. Every now and again I'll see someone who's basically a walking stoplight. Those are the ones who get murdered or kill themselves. It's such a rush to see them and know their time is numbered.With that in mind, I always get to class very early so I can scout out my classmates' fates. The first kid who walked in was basically radiating red. I chuckled to myself. Too damn bad, bro. But as people kept walking in, they all had the same intense glow. I finally caught a glimpse of my rose-tinted reflection in the window, but I was too stunned to move. Our professor stepped in and locked the door, his aura a sickening shade of green.

5. 'They got the definition wrong' by Lloiu

It has been said that the definition of insanity is "doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results". I understand the sentiment behind the saying, but it's wrong.I entered the building on a bet. I was strapped for cash and didn't buy into the old legends of the hotel to begin with, so fifty bucks was more than enough to get me do it. It was simple. Just reach the top floor, the 45th floor, shine my flashlight from a window.The hotel was old and broken, including the elevator, so that meant hiking up the stairs. So up the stairs I went. As I reached each platform, I noted the old brass plaques displaying the floor numbers. 15, 16, 17, 18. I felt a little tired as I crept higher, but so far, no ghosts, no cannibals, no demons. Piece of cake.I can't tell you how happy I was as I entered that last stretch of numbers. I joyfully counted them aloud at each platform. 40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 44. I stopped and looked back down the stairs. I must have miscounted, so I continued up. 44. One more flight. 44. And then down ten flights. 44. Fifteen flights. 44.And so it's been for as long as I can remember. So really, insanity isn't doing something repeatedly and expecting different results. It's knowing that the results will never ever change; that each door leads to the same staircase, to the same number. It’s realizing you no longer fall asleep. It's not knowing whether you've been running for days or weeks or years. It's when the sobbing slowly turns into laughter.

6. 'My Daughter Learned to Count' by RealScience87

My daughter woke me around 11:50 last night. My wife and I had picked her up from her friend Sally's birthday party, brought her home, and put her to bed. My wife went into the bedroom to read while I fell asleep watching the Braves game."Daddy," she whispered, tugging my shirt sleeve. "Guess how old I'm going to be next month.""I don't know, beauty," I said as I slipped on my glasses. "How old?"She smiled and held up four fingers.It is 7:30 now. My wife and I have been up with her for almost 8 hours. She still refuses to tell us where she got them.

7. 'Timekeeper' by gridster2

He had been given the watch on his tenth birthday. It was an ordinary grey plastic wristwatch in every respect except for the fact that it was counting down. "That is all of the time you have left in the world, son. Use it wisely." And indeed he did. As the watch ticked away, the boy, now a man, lived life to the fullest. He climbed mountains and swam oceans. He talked and laughed and lived and loved. The man was never afraid, for he knew exactly how much time he had left.Eventually, the watch began its final countdown. The old man stood looking over everything he had done, everything he had built. 5. He shook hands with his old business partner, the man who had long been his friend and confidant. 4. His dog came and licked his hand, earning a pat on the head for its companionship. 3. He hugged his son, knowing that he had been a good father. 2. He kissed his wife on the forehead one last time. 1. The old man smiled and closed his eyes.

Then, nothing happened. The watch beeped once and turned off. The man stood standing there, very much alive. You would think that in that moment he would have been overjoyed. Instead, for the first time in his life, the man was scared.

8. 'There's no Reason to be Afraid' by whoeverfightsmonster

When my sister Betsy and I were kids, our family lived for awhile in a charming old farmhouse. We loved exploring its dusty corners and climbing the apple tree in the backyard. But our favorite thing was the ghost.We called her Mother, because she seemed so kind and nurturing. Some mornings Betsy and I would wake up, and on each of our nightstands, we'd find a cup that hadn't been there the night before. Mother had left them there, worried that we'd get thirsty during the night. She just wanted to take care of us.Among the house's original furnishings was an antique wooden chair, which we kept against the back wall of the living room. Whenever we were preoccupied, watching TV or playing a game, Mother would inch that chair forward, across the room, toward us. Sometimes she'd manage to move it all the way to the center of the room. We always felt sad putting it back against the wall. Mother just wanted to be near us.Years later, long after we'd moved out, I found an old newspaper article about the farmhouse's original occupant, a widow. She'd murdered her two children by giving them each a cup of poisoned milk before bed. Then she'd hanged herself.The article included a photo of the farmhouse's living room, with a woman's body hanging from a beam. Beneath her, knocked over, was that old wooden chair, placed exactly in the center of the room.

9. 'The Perfect Plan' by Huntfrog

On Monday, I came up with the perfect plan. No one even knew we were friends.On Tuesday, he stole the gun from his dad.On Wednesday, we decided to make our move during the following day's pep rally.On Thursday, while the entire school was in the gym, we waited just outside the doors. I was to use the gun on whoever walked out first. Then he would take the gun and go into the gym blasting.I walked up to Mr. Quinn the guidance counselor and shot him in the face three times. He fell back into the gym, dead. The shots were deafening. We heard screams in the auditorium.No one could see us yet. I handed him the gun and whispered, "your turn." He ran into the gym and started firing. I followed a moment after.He hadn't hit anyone yet. Kids were scrambling and hiding. It was mayhem.I ran up behind him and tackled him. We struggled. I wrenched the gun out of his hands, turned it on him, and killed him. I closed his mouth forever.On Friday, I was anointed a hero.It was indeed the perfect plan.

10. 'Warrior of god' by KMApok

"If God exists, why is there so much evil in the world?" It's a common question, but it is misplaced.All things must have balance. Light and dark. Good and evil. Sound and silence. Without one, the other cannot exist."So if that's true, then God does NOTHING to fight evil?" That might be your follow up question.Of course he fights evil. Relentlessly. I am Dartalian, one of His most Holy and Righteous angels.I roam the Earth, disposing of evil wherever I find it. I kill the monsters you don't ever want to know about. I crush them completely so you can sleep at night. You humans have no idea how many of you live because of the work I do."But what about Stalin? Hitler? Ted Bundy? Jack the Ripper?"Well, those are the minor ones I had to let live. For balance. The ones I destroy are ....too horrible and vile to survive.What's funny, is while I would wager you never have heard the name Dartalian in any relegious texts, I bet you have heard of me.Americans, for example, have their own name for me.Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.

11. 'Hell' by MeanPete

There was no pearly gate.The only reason I knew I was in a cave was because I had just passed the entrance. The rock wall rose behind me with no ceiling in sight.I knew this was it, this was what religion talked about, what man feared .. I had just entered the gate to hell.I felt the presence of the cave as if it was a living, breathing creature. The stench of rotten flesh overwhelmed me.Then there was the voice, it came from inside and all around."Welcome""Who are you?", I asked, trying to keep my composure."You know", the thing answered.I did know."You are the devil", I stuttered, quickly losing my composure. "Why me? I've lived as good as I could".The silence took over the space as my words died out. It seemed like an hour went by before the response came."What did you expect?"The voice was penetrating but patient."I don't know .. I never believed any of this", I uttered "Is that why I am here?"Silence.I continued: "They say the greatest trick you ever pulled was convincing the world you don't exist""No, the greatest trick I ever pulled was convincing the world that there is an alternative""There is no God?" I shivered.The cave trembled with the words: "I am God."

12. 'The Accident' by minnboy

It was one a.m. and Guy Halverson sat in his dark living room. He hadn't moved for over an hour. The accident earlier that evening kept playing over and over in his mind. The light turned red, but he was in a hurry and accelerated. An orange blur came from his right, and in a split second there was a violent jolt, then the bicyclist rolled across his hood and fell out of sight on the pavement. Horns blared angrily and he panicked, stepping on the gas and screeching away from the chaos into the darkness, shaken and keeping an eye on his rearview mirror until he got home.Why did you run, you idiot? He'd never committed a crime before this and punished himself by imagining years in jail, his career gone, his family gone, his future gone.Why not just go to the police right now? You can afford a lawyer.Then someone tapped on the front door and his world suddenly crumbled away beneath him. They found me. There was nothing he could do but answer it. Running would only make matters worse. His body trembling, he got up, went to the door and opened it. A police officer stood under the porch light."Mr. Halverson?" asked the grim officer.He let out a defeated sigh. "Yes. Let me —"I am terribly sorry, but I'm afraid I have some bad news. Your son's bike was struck by a hit and run driver this evening. He died at the scene. I'm very sorry for your loss."

13. 'Next Time You'll Know Better' by IPostAtMidnight

Have you ever walked into a room and found a vampire?No, not the sexy kind, but a foul creature with bony limbs and ashen skin? The kind that snarls as you enter, like a beast about to pounce? The kind that roots you to the spot with its sunken, hypnotic eyes, rendering you unable to flee as you watch the hideous thing uncoil from the shadows? Has your heart started racing though your legs refuse to? Have you felt time slow as the creature crosses the room in the darkness of a blink?Have you shuddered with fear when it places one clawed hand atop your head and another under your chin so it can tilt you, exposing your neck? Have you squirmed as its rough, dry tongue slides down your cheek, over your jaw, to your throat, in a slithering search that's seeking your artery? Have you felt its hot breath release in a hiss against your skin when it probes your pulse—the flow that leads to your brain? Has its tongue rested there, throbbing slightly as if savoring the moment? Have you then experienced a sinking, sucking blackness as you discover that not all vampires feed on blood—some feed on memories?Well, have you?Maybe not. But let me rephrase the question:Have you ever walked into a room and suddenly forgotten why you came in?

14. 'Hands' by minnboy

The doctor pulled the stethoscope ear tips out and hung the device around his neck."Mr. Weatherby, all of your tests have come back negative and my examination shows nothing abnormal."Adam knew what was coming next. "I'm not crazy, Doctor.""I'm sorry, but there is no physical reason for why you occasionally lose control of your hands. A psychologist can help...""I don't need therapy. I need answers. They seem to have a life all their own. I can't hold a job. I'm under investigation for assault. I almost killed my neighbor. This can't go on. I'll try anything at this point."After two weeks on a new medication, Adam saw no progress and grew increasingly depressed.He was convinced that despite what the doctors said, it was not a psychological problem. That night, a frustrated and angry Adam sat in a chair and drank bourbon. Drunk and hopeless, he stumbled to the garage and started the table saw, then slowly lowered his wrists toward the screaming blade.Detective Armstrong entered the garage where several uniformed officers stood over the blood-soaked body."So what do we got?" he asked, taking in the blood-splattered scene."This is a weird one, Detective.""How so?""Take a look at the body. He apparently chopped off his hands with the table saw and bled to death."Armstrong knelt down. "And?""And we can't find his hands anywhere."

15. 'He Stood Against My Window' by sabethook

I don't know why I looked up, but when I did I saw him there. He stood against my window. His forehead rested against the glass, and his eyes were still and light and he smiled a lipstick-red, cartoonish grin. And he just stood there in the window. My wife was upstairs sleeping, my son was in his crib and I couldn't move I froze and watched him looking past me through the glass.Oh, please no. His smile never moved but he put a hand up and slid it down the glass, watching me. With matted hair and yellow skin and face through the window.I couldn't do anything. I just stayed there, frozen, feet still in the bushes I was pruning, looking into my home. He stood against my window.

16. 'Fallers' by dastard82

People started falling from the sky by the close of the decade. They were never clothed, always naked, always a petrifying grin on their faces.It had been just a few at first, but then hundreds and thousands would fall at a time, destroying cars, homes, blocking off highways.Strange discoveries were made upon research; they were human, but lacked any blood, intestines, even a heart. No one could explain the hideous grins they had, or even where they came from.It was a woman in Costa Rica who made the latest and most disturbing discovery. She recognized one of the fallen bodies as a long dead relative, one who died back when she had been a teenager. Then more and more identifications were made.Soon people were picking out their long dead loved ones amongst the video feeds, cadaver piles, and crematoriums. No one could explain why they were coming back, falling from the sky.Even more distressing, after disposing of the bodies, it wouldn't be long until that same body came plummeting from the sky again. You could not get rid of them, no matter what. People were getting killed by the higher volume of falling bodies, and soon after burial, they too, began to fall.My mother was killed when a body landed on her car, crushing her. The next week, the news reported on a body that had gotten lodged in an airplane windshield. I saw my mother’s grinning face, the happiest I had ever seen her.They say when hell is full; the dead shall walk the earth. What about heaven?

17. 'The Happiest Day of My Life' by recludus

I watched as my soon to be father-in-law held his daughter's hand as he walked down the aisle. Tears streamed down his face as the wedding march that played in the background reminded him that, in a few minutes, he would be watching me hold his daughter's hand and slipping on her ring.He walked up to the altar and I took hold of her hand, grinning from ear to ear. It was the happiest day of my life.My bride's father got down on his knees and started begging. "Please, I did what you asked. Just please give my daughter back."I glared at him. "Shut up and stop ruining the moment. If you sit back down and enjoy the ceremony, maybe I'll tell you where I’ve hidden the rest of her body."

18. 'Hidden' by KMApok

"Where are you?!" I scream.Panicked, I run through the abandoned farm. I can't find her. Not in the old house. Not in the barn.I run into the empty field, heart racing. As I scan the area, I run into a mound of dirt and trip, sprawling to the ground.Getting up, it hits me. Abandoned farm. I tripped over freshly tilled earth.Crouching down, I start frantically clawing with my hands. Scooping handfuls of dirt, I hit something hard. Wood."Are you in there?!" I cry, pressing my ear to the wood. I hear muffled cries.I start digging again, but realize it's taking too long. Looking around, I see a garden shed. I sprint to it, ripping the door open. I see a shovel, still caked in dirt. Probably the same one that bastard buried her with. I grab it.Running back, I started digging with purpose. Soon the wooden box is exposed. I toss the shovel, and rip open the crate.She stares back at me, eyes wide. Bound. Gagged. But alive. I sigh with relief. Thank God.I reach into my bag, pulling out my rag and chloroform. I crouch down, placing it over her face. She struggles, faints. I toss her over my shoulder."Ah, hell!" My brother says as I walk back to the truck with a smirk. "You found her!""Yup. You almost had me though!" I laugh."All right. My turn. Where did you put her?"I gesture to the creek area. "Somewhere over there. Drowning's an issue though.""Jerk!" he says, running off. I smile, watching him go. I love adult Hide and Seek.

19. 'My Favorite Support Group' by IPostAtMidnight

Look, I'll be the first to admit I'm a complete bastard. I'm also lazy. I'm only here to find the idiot, because there's almost always an idiot.This support group is pretty typical. We connected online, decided on a quiet place, and now we're all sitting cross-legged in a circle. Real Kumbaya crap. Jerome takes the lead, pouring everyone a cup of tea as he starts talking."I'm Jerome. You can drink your tea, but only after explaining why you're here. I'll start."Jerome tells us he's never been loved. I can see why—the guy's ugly as sin. He sips his tea while the mousy chick speaks next."Miyu," she says. "My parents."Short and sweet, no blubbering. Gotta admire Miyu. She's probably not the idiot. Next to talk are a legless veteran, a broke businessman, a needle-tracked junkie, and a diseased old crone. Then it's my turn."I'm an ass. Everyone hates me."I take a loud, annoying slurp of oolong as the fat kid with a black eye goes next, telling his boring fat-kid sob story.Afterwards, we're all sitting quietly when Jerome keels over. Then Miyu's eyes roll back and she slumps forward. Only the fat kid reacts."What's happening?" he whines. "I thought this was a suicide support group!"Found the idiot."It is," I say, spitting out my mouthful of tea. "They support it. No one wants to die alone, kid."Oh, how ghost-white he turns, looking into his cup! I love it! These suicide meetups are a sadist's dream, and I never have to lift a finger.Told you I’m a lazy bastard.

20. 'ylim3' by IPostAtMidnight

Little Emily vanished last year. Now they're pouring new sidewalks in my neighborhood, and I've found her name in the wet cement, written in remembrance. But it was written in reverse. And from below.

21. 'The Eyes are Watching Me' by recludus

I bought a new house in the small town of Winthrop. The house was cheap, but the most important part was that I needed to get away from the city. A few months ago, I had a run-in with a stalker. While I had managed to get him arrested, I couldn't shake the feeling of eyes just constantly watching me. I felt like there were eyes everywhere, at home and on the street, so I decided to move out into the country to somewhere with less people, just for peace of mind.The house itself was big and somewhat old, but otherwise very welcoming. The agent who introduced me to the house had been required to mention that a serial killer had lived here in the past, which was why the house was so cheap. However, he, and later, my next door neighbor Sarah, both told me to pay the thought no mind. Four other owners had lived in the house since then, and all of them were very happy with it.I loved the house. Its interior furnishings were beautiful and very comfortable. The people of Winthrop were friendly, often bringing over freshly baked pastries or inviting me over for dinner. "Get-togethers," they said, "were the key to making sure everyone who lived in Winthrop loved it there."Yet after a week, I stopped "loving it." The feeling of someone watching returned, worse than before. I tried to ignore it, but soon I started losing sleep. Giant bags grew under my eyes and I began yawning almost as much as I breathed. Sarah was kind enough to let me stay in her house for a few nights.It was during this time that I heard the legend of Forrest Carter, the serial killer who had lived in my house. While no one knows his exact kill count, Carter, also known as the Winthrop Peacock, was a man with extremely severe case of narcissism. Legends say that he couldn't fall asleep if he didn't feel like he was being watched. He was finally arrested for putting up a scarecrow to watch him during the night. Only it wasn't a scarecrow. Carter had murdered a 17 year old girl, just so her corpse could stare at him.The story gave me shivers, and after I went home, I felt like there were hundreds of pairs of eyes just watching me no matter how I turned.Today, however, was the first day that I acted out. I was cooking breakfast, when I felt the eyes. Instinctively, out of fear, I threw my kitchen knife, which lodged itself into the wall. As I pulled it out, I found myself staring at a pair of eyes, pickling in formaldehyde.I've been watching the police peel away the drywall of my house for hours now. So far, they've found 142 pairs of eyes in little glass jars. The scariest thing is, each and every one was staring at me.

22. 'The twist at the end' - ai1267

Cradling my four-year-old daughter in my arms, all I could do was listen as the screaming outside the house got louder and louder, interspersed with sounds of violence and horrible, horrible wet thuds and the unmistakable echo of muscle and sinew resisting the force that was slowly tearing them apart.It started just three days ago. Something happened, out there in the world, and before we even get news of what's going on, seemingly half of the world is gone. Police and military were unable to stop it, providing such a short frame of resistance it's hard to know whether it was real or just a fluke. There was no centralised target, no way to use our most powerful weapons, not without incinerating ourselves in the process. They poured forth across the world, from wherever it was that it started.I hear banging on the door downstairs, and the screams of people being slaughtered, unable to mount a proper resistance against such a force. It doesn't take long before the pounding gives way to splintering and the sound of shattering wood.They're in the house.No more than a moment or two passes before the door to the bedroom starts shuddering. The things I piled against it are holding, for now, but I know, realistically, that they're going to manage to come through.I keep rocking my little girl, humming a lullaby in her ear to calm her as she cries. The pounding grows in force and volume, the frame starting to crack.I put my little girl on my lap, her back to my chest, and I stroke her head with both hands, from the top of her scalp, down across her ears, just as I've done ever since she was a baby. Just the way she loves it.The effect is instantaneous. Her desperate crying calms to a series of sobs and hiccoughs, her small body shuddering against mine in fear. I keep humming to her, soothing her hair, acting for all the world as if nothing is out of place, not a single thing amiss. Agonisingly slowly, in a reverse cadence of the sound of splintering wood, she calms down. I can feel it when she stops tensing, as I keep stroking her down the sides of her head. A final hiccough of a sob, and she falls quiet, her body relaxed.She doesn't even have time to realise what's happening as I twist her neck with a violent jerk, accompanied by a dry snap of a sound. She's dead before she can even slump down into my lap.The door is giving way, the furniture pushed back. I may be torn limb from limb while I scream, but at least my baby angel's safe from harm.

23. 'Crying isn't going to help' by HonestRage

I pointed the gun at the sick bastard who killed my wife. He sobbed as he feared for what was to come. I pulled the trigger.If only he spoke and tried to reason with me then maybe he could've lived. But that was obviously not going to happen. After all, he was born just a few minutes ago.

24. 'Return of the Messiah' by Huntfrog

In the year 2026 the Messiah came back down to Earth. She performed miracles and cured the sick. There was no doubt as to her authenticity. She appeared to all nations at once. All believed. All worshipped her.

Some time later, after this period of our history known as the Age of Peace, She dropped a bombshell on us. She warned us that Heaven was almost full. Nobody had gone to Hell during this Age. There were a fixed amount of spots left. Paradise would be closed to all who died after the Gates close.

That is when the Mass Suicides began. Taking your own life, She had told us, was not a sin if you died a pious man. The race was on!

She looked on and was pleased. She returned to her home, to her throne of fire and flames, and greeted all with a nod of her wicked horns.

25. 'The Enemy' by AG_plus

I flung myself through the door and vaulted the toppled, long-dead refrigerator that served as an ineffective barricade in front of me. My legs propelled me through the room and into the small hallway on the other side. I couldn't stop to eat the expired contents of the fridge, appealing to me despite their stench after several days without food. The shrieks of pain and cries for mercy around me spurred my body onward and filled me with unexpected energy in spite of my hunger.We were at war.I came to a halt in front of a small bathroom.A noise. Something behind the shower curtain.My fear heightened and images of the enemy flooded my mind. Merciless beasts wearing human skin, devouring indiscriminately, accepting no pleas and respecting no argument. Zombies.It had begun as we expected, with a virus. The original infected were almost a cliché. There was no humanity left in them. Just mindless rage, twisted bodies, and some primal urge to consume others. Our generation had prepared, with almost obsessive focus, for this monster. The first wave was eradicated with almost laughable ease.We were not prepared for adaptation. We were not prepared for the creature we bred by destroying the instantly recognizable zombie. A creature with more tact.Most of the first zombies were killed at close range, you understand, since longer range attacks were less likely to be fatal. We had trained ourselves, even before the outbreak, to equate "infection" with "death" when it came to zombies. A person "died" when their eyes clouded over and they started biting, not when you put a bullet in their head.The new strain of the virus still controlled the body, yes, but it left other faculties to the host.Maybe you could pull the trigger on a hopelessly crazed caricature of your best friend, your spouse, your child. But what if there was still a soul behind those eyes? If even as they attacked, they sobbed and screamed in their own voice? All the virus needed was a moment's hesitation.I bet you'd hesitate.I did.Which is why now I could only watch as my arm wrenched back the shower curtain and my hands reached for the cowering child. Why I could only beg for forgiveness before the virus used my mouth to tear ragged, bloody hunks from his body. Why I couldn’t even vomit as my hunger dissipated with the now sickeningly familiar taste of human flesh.We were at war. And I am the enemy.

26. 'So I lost my phone...' by Lynxx

Last night a friend rushed me out of the house to catch the opening act at a local bar's music night. After a few drinks I realized my phone wasn't in my pocket. I checked the table we were sitting at, the bar, the bathrooms, and after no luck I used my friend's phone to call mine.After two rings someone answered, gave out a low raspy giggle, and hung up. They didn't answer again. I eventually gave it up as a lost cause and headed home.I found my phone laying on my night stand, right where I left it.

27. 'The Brave Ones' by scarymaxx

Here they come again, the brave ones. Another Halloween night, and the kids are back, here to prove their fearlessness. The old house's floorboards creak beneath their sneakers.Only half an hour until midnight, so I have to work fast. I start with their flashlight, blowing lightly against it, so that it flickers, but this inspires little more than a nervous giggle.Fifteen minutes until midnight. Time to take things up a notch. I hover up to the ceiling, and will my body into flesh. My every nerve is on fire, but they've given me no choice. I force drops of blood to trickle out my nose, but the boys below don’t notice. I knock against the ceiling, but they won’t even look up."I thought this place was supposed to be haunted," says the leader. "What a joke."Five minutes until midnight. I'm running out of time. With the last of my strength, I scream— so loud that they finally turn to look up at me. I like to think I put on a good show: I sway on an invisible noose, and the blood flows freely from my nostrils now. A couple of drops hit a skinny one with a crew cut. The boys scream and run into the night, just in time.Below me, I hear the Thing turn, its disappointment palpable. For now, it sleeps. But one day, I will fail. The boys will be too brave, and I won't scare them out in time. One day they will wake it.

28. 'Nap in the car' by _b_o_o_

Mommy always leaves me and daddy home on Saturday nights, and me and daddy always go get ice cream in the car after dinner. I have to sit in the back seat until I'm a big boy. I go in the kitchen to see what daddy is cooking for dinner after my Barney movie is over, but he's not in there this time. I saw a note on the counter that said mommy and uncle James were going somewhere together. I'm not sure, I don't read that good. I go find daddy in the garage. I shut the door behind me like I'm supposed to. Daddy is in the car and he already has the car turned on. We must not be eating dinner tonight, only ice cream. I get in the backseat behind daddy since I'm not a big boy yet. Daddy doesn't say anything when I said hello to him. Maybe he can't hear me over the loud car. I think I'll take a nap on the way to ice cream. I feel kinda sleepy.

29. 'What they don't tell you about the dead' by Crimsai

I don't want to sound mean, but the dead are pretty clueless. I've always seen them. When I was younger everyone thought I was just talking to imaginary friends. After a couple years, when I overheard my parents talk about calling a psychologist, I realised what I was talking to. See, ghosts don't tend to realise they're dead, and they don't look like in the movies, they look just like us.I'm pretty smart for a 13 year old, so I started noticing certain patterns to tell them apart from the living. They could be a bit distant from living people, or you'd see them try to talk to people who wouldn't even notice them. Some of them could tell I was different, that I noticed them. Like this guy I saw after school yesterday. I'm a big boy now, see, I don't need my parents to pick me up, home is just a short walk away. He was standing away from the other parents, didn't talk to them, just stared at me, that's how I knew he was one of the ghosts. I went over, told him I knew what he was and asked how I could help him. I don't remember much after that, I think because of what happened this morning.Downstairs, my parents were crying. I tried talking to them but they ignored me. They must have died last night somehow, sometimes the new ghosts wouldn't talk to me. Some police officers and reporters just arrived, they won't talk to me either, just my parents. It's weird, I've never seen so many ghosts together before. Why won't anyone talk to me?

30. 'A Message from your Personal Demons' by MrGarm

Hello, my dear. You do not know who I am, but I know you. I am one of the three demons that were assigned to you at birth. You see, some people in this world are destined for greatness, destined to live happy, fulfilling lives. You, I am afraid, are not one of those people, and it is our job to make sure of that.Who are we? Oh yes, of course, how rude of me. Allow me to introduce us: Shame is my younger brother, the demon on your left shoulder. Shame tells you that you're a freak; that those thought you have are not normal; that you will never fit in. Shame whispered into your ear when your mother found you playing with yourself as a child. Shame is the one who makes you hate yourself. Fear sits on your right shoulder. He is my older brother, as old as life itself. Fear fills every dark corner with monsters, turns every stranger on a dark street into a murderer. Fear stops you from telling your crush how you feel. He tells you it is better not to try than let people see you fail. Fear makes you build your own prison.Who am I, then? I am the worst of your demons, but you see me as a friend. You turn to me when you have nothing else, because I live in your heart. I am the one who forces you to endure. The one who prolongs your torment.Sincerely, Hope .

Sleep well.


Scary stories most

A horror movie or book or show gets your heart pumping in the moment, sure, but you can at least rest easy afterwards knowing what you experienced was a work of fiction. What’s more terrifying is when the real world gets creepier than anything Stephen King could dream up.

Real terror happens around us every day—even if it's not always making it onto your timeline. Murders, disappearances, demonic possession, and devil worship aren't just stories from a writer's mind, but headlines ripped straight from the news.

We've rounded up some of the most horrifying, unexplained real world stories below.

The Axe Murder House

The Villisca Axe Murder House in Villisca, Iowa is a well-known tourist attraction for ghost hunters and horror lovers alike. The site of a gruesome unsolved 1912 murder, in which six children and two adults had their skulls completely crushed by the axe of an unknown perpetrator, was purchased in 1994, restored to its 1912 condition, and converted into a tourist destination. It costs $428 a night to stay at the old haunted home, where visitors always report strange paranormal experiences, such as visions of a man with an axe roaming the halls or the faint screams of children.

But in November of 2014, the haunting took a darker turn. Robert Steven Laursen Jr., 37, of Rhinelander, Wisconsin was on a regular recreational paranormal visit with friends when true horror struck. Per VICE:

His companions found him stabbed in the chest—an apparently self-inflicted wound—called 9-1-1, and Laursen was brought to a nearby hospital before being helicoptered to Creighton University Medical Center in Omaha.

The Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office said Laursen suffered the self-inflicted injury at about 12:45 a.m., which is around the same time the 1912 axe murders in the house began.

Laursen recovered from his injuries, but has never spoken publicly about what occurred that day. For Martha Linn, the owner of the home, the incident was very upsetting. "It's publicity, but it's not exactly the kind of publicity you desire to have. I don't want people thinking that when they come to the Villisca Axe Murder House something's going to happen that's going to make them do something like that.” The house remains open for tourist visits and overnight stays today.

The Haunted Doll

When you think of haunted dolls, it’s likely the creepy old Victorian-looking porcelain kind that springs to mind. None of which you probably have laying around. Still, don’t get too comfortable around any kids toys too soon, though: a Disney’s Frozen Elsa doll that was gifted for Christmas 2013 in the Houston area made headlines earlier this year when it seemingly became haunted.

Per KPRC2 Houston News:

The doll recited phrases from the movie Frozen and sang “Let It Go” when a button on its necklace was pressed.
“For two years it did that in English,” mother Emily Madonia said. “In 2015, it started doing it alternating between Spanish and English. There wasn’t a button that changed these, it was just random."
The family has owned the doll for more than six years and never changed its batteries. The mother says the doll would randomly begin to speak and sing even with its switch turned off.

The family decided to throw the creepy doll out in December of 2019. Weeks later, they found it inside a bench in their living room. “The kids insisted they didn’t put it there, and I believed them because they wouldn’t have dug through the garbage outside,” Madonia told KPRC2 Houston News.

At that point, Elsa ceased to sing the English rendition of “Let It Go” altogether, speaking only Spanish when pressed. The family then double-bagged the bizarre doll and placed it at the bottom of their garbage which was taken out on garbage day. They went on a trip shortly after, but when they returned, Elsa too had come back, and was waiting in the backyard of their home.

This time, the family mailed Elsa to a family friend in Minnesota, who taped the haunted doll to the front bumper of his truck. It doesn’t seem to have made its way back to Houston yet, as per Madonia’s latest February Facebook update on the creepy doll.

A Deadly Exorcism

In August 2016 in North London, 26-year-old Kennedy Ife began acting strange and aggressive following a pain in his throat. He reportedly bit his father, threatened to cut off his own penis, and complained of a python or snake inside of him before his family restrained him to a bed with cable ties and excessive force.

As the BBC reported:

“The family then set about attempting to ‘cure’ Kennedy through restraint and prayer over the next three days, the court was told.”

His brother, Colin Ife, told police:

“It’s clear that thing was in him, what we believed was a demon because it was not natural. It was clearly trying to kill him,” he said.
“We had to restrain him for himself. It was clear if we didn’t restrain him, he could have tried to harm people in our family.”

Kennedy Ife had been bound to his bed for three days without medical attention when his brother called emergency services, explaining that Kennedy Ife was complaining of dehydration. He appeared to have developed breathing issues, and was pronounced dead at 10:17 a.m.

As The Independent reported:

While police were at the house Colin Ife allegedly carried out an “attempted resurrection” by chanting and praying for Mr. Ife.

All seven of Kennedy Ife’s family members were accused of manslaughter, false imprisonment, and causing or allowing the death of a vulnerable adult. A post-mortem examination revealed over 60 wounds including a possible bite on Kennedy Ife’s body, and his father, Kenneth Ife, along with four of his brothers, sustained injuries as well.

The BBC reported:

Kenneth Ife told jurors he ordered his sons to take shifts and use "overwhelming force" but denied that an "association with cults, occults and secret societies" played any part in the death.

After a four day jury deliberation, all seven family members were cleared of charges on March 14, 2019.

Hulton Archive

Dead Animals in the Walls

When the Bretzuis family decided to insulate their home in Auburn, Pennsylvania in 2015, they discovered that it had already been—with scores of dead animal carcasses.

As Fox reported:

The dead animals were wrapped in newspapers from the 1930s and 40s and were among half-used spices, and other items.
After removing the items they sent hundreds of artifacts and carcasses to an expert in Kutztown.

The expert attributed the rotting animals in their walls to Pow-wow or Dutch magic, a ritual originating in the culture of the Pennsylvania Dutch to treat ailments and gain physical and spiritual protection. The Pennsylvania Dutch were a group of German-speaking settlers to Pennsylvania in the 1600 and 1700’s, and are often of Lutheran, Mennonite, or Amish faiths.

The Washington Post notes on the magic:

Many of the spells deal with the care of livestock, finding water, or the treatment of minor ailments, reflecting the conditions and concerns of early American settlers.
But powwow also has within it a tradition of darker spells, and even of such things as conjuring demons.

One notable ritual in their tradition is this hex to create loyalty in a dog:

To attach a dog to a person, provided nothing else was used before to effect it: Try to draw some of your blood, and let the dog eat it along with his food, and he will stay with you.

The mold found on the rotting carcasses in the Bretzuis home has caused illness among the family members, and they say that the odor hasn’t gone away.

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Florida Devil Worshipping

Friends noticed that Danielle Harkins, a 35-year-old schoolteacher near St. Petersburg, Florida, started acting strangely in June of 2012, developing an interest in demonic rituals.

Soon after, she was arrested for abuse of seven of her former students, as the Tampa Bay Times reported:

Danielle Harkins told the kids they needed to rid their bodies of demons as the group gathered before dusk Saturday around a small fire near the St. Petersburg Pier. They should cut their skin to let the evil spirits out, police said she told the children. Then, they needed to burn the wounds to ensure that those spirits would not return.
When Harkins held a lighter to one teen's hand, wind blew the flame out, police said. That prompted her to douse his hand in perfume before setting it on fire. The boy suffered second-degree burns, police said.
Another teen was cut on the neck with a broken bottle, police said. Harkins used a flame to heat a small key, which she then used to cauterize the wound.

The police were notified because a friend of one of the students who participated in the ritual raised alarms. However none of the students themselves told their parents about the event or would comment following the arrest of Harkins for aggravated battery and child abuse.

NBC reported:

Investigators said they've spoken to Harkins, but she didn't spell out what type of religion would require such drastic measures.
"She hasn't informed us exactly what she was trying to accomplish with this," Puetz [of the St. Petersburg Police Department] said.

The Death of Elisa Lam

Elisa Lam was last seen on January 31, 2013 in the lobby of the Cecil Hotel in downtown Los Angeles. She was vacationing through the West Coast, documenting the trip on her blog, and checking in with her parents every day. On January 31 those calls stopped. Lam had vanished. Soon the police were involved and her parents arrived to help with the search.

They had nothing. That February, LAPD released elevator surveillance footage of Lam before her disappearance. The footage shows Lam behaving strangely in the elevator, appearing to talk with invisible people, peering around the corner of the door, crouching in the corner, and opening and closing the door. But what exactly is going on in this video raises more questions than answers. Theories range from psychotic episodes, to demonic possession, to unknown assailants just out of the camera's view:

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Around that time, hotel guests started reported weird things happening with the Cecil Hotel water supply. As CNN reports:

"The shower was awful," said Sabina Baugh, who spent eight days there during the investigation. "When you turned the tap on, the water was coming black first for two seconds and then it was going back to normal."

The tap water "tasted horrible," Baugh said. "It had a very funny, sweety, disgusting taste. It's a very strange taste. I can barely describe it."

But for a week, they never complained. "We never thought anything of it," she said. "We thought it was just the way it was here."

On the morning of February 19, a hotel employee climbed to the roof and used a ladder to investigate the hotel's water storage tanks. That's where authorities found the decomposing, naked body of Lam, whose personal items were found nearby. After an autopsy, her death was labeled accidental. NBC Los Angeles reported at the time about the strange circumstances in the hotel's past:

The tank has a metal latch that can be opened, but authorities said access to the roof is secured with an alarm and lock.
The single-room-occupancy hotel has an unusual history. "Night Stalker" Richard Ramirez, who was found guilty of 14 slayings in the 1980s, lived on the 14th floor for several months in 1985. And international serial killer Jack Unterweger is suspected of murdering three prostitutes during the time he lived there in 1991. He killed himself in jail in 1994.
In 1962, a female occupant jumped out of one the hotel's windows, killing herself and a pedestrian on whom she landed.

An Exorcism in Indianapolis

Last year, the Indianapolis Star published a lengthy report on a family terrorized by three children allegedly possessed by demons. The account of Latoya Ammons and her family tells disturbing stories of children climbing up the walls, getting thrown across rooms, and children threatening doctors in deep unnatural voices. It would seem like something straight out of a movie–a work of fantasy, except all of these accounts were more or less corroborated with "nearly 800 pages of official records obtained by the Indianapolis Star and recounted in more than a dozen interviews with police, DCS personnel, psychologists, family members and a Catholic priest."

One of the more chilling sections of the report includes a segment about the possessed 9-year-old:

According to Washington's original DCS report—an account corroborated by Walker, the nurse—the 9-year-old had a "weird grin" and walked backward up a wall to the ceiling. He then flipped over Campbell, landing on his feet. He never let go of his grandmother's hand.

Another segment of the piece reads:

The 12-year-old would later tell mental health professionals that she sometimes felt as if she were being choked and held down so she couldn't speak or move. She said she heard a voice say she'd never see her family again and wouldn't live another 20 minutes.

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Utah Murder-Suicide

In September of 2014, a Utah teen returned to his home to find his parents and three siblings dead. "In a notebook, a 'to-do list' had been scribbled on the pages ... The list looked as if the parents were readying to go on vacation—items such as 'feed the pets' and 'find someone to watch after the house' were written," The Salt Lake Tribune reported. It appeared to be murder-suicide, but there was no suicide note, no prior indication that they would do this, no explanation. Police could not figure out why two parents would kill themselves and three of their four children.

For a year, no one knew exactly what happened to the family, or what would drive the parents to do something so unthinkable. In January, police released more chilling details in the case. According to accounts from family members and an investigation by police, the parents were driven by a belief that the apocalypse was coming and an obsession with a convicted killer. As the Washington Post reported:

Friends and family told police that the parents were worried about the "evil in the world" and wanted to escape a "pending apocalypse." But most assumed they just wanted to move somewhere "off the grid." Investigators also found letters written by Kristi Strack to one of the state's most infamous convicted killers, Dan Lafferty, who was convicted in the 1984 fatal stabbing of his sister-in-law and her 1-year-old daughter. According to trial testimony, he killed the victims at the order of his brother, Ron Lafferty, who claimed to have had a revelation from God. The story became a book called "Under the Banner of Heaven."

Police said Kristi Strack became friends with Dan Lafferty, and she and her husband even visited him in prison.

The Phone Stalker

In 2007, ABC news documented a series of cell phone calls to families with terrifyingly specific death threats. The unidentified callers knew exactly what families were doing and what they were wearing.

The families say the calls come in at all hours of the night, threatening to kill their children, their pets and grandparents. Voice mails arrive, playing recordings of their private conversations, including one with a local police detective.

The caller knows, the families said, what they're wearing and what they're doing. And after months of investigating, police seem powerless to stop them.

This went on with the Kuykenall family for months, who reported a caller with a scratchy voice threatening to slit their throats.

When the Fircrest, Wash., police tried to find the culprit, the calls were traced back to the Kuykendalls' own phones -- even when they were turned off.

It got worse. The Kuykendalls and two other Fircrest families told ABC News that they believe the callers are using their cell phones to spy on them. They say the hackers know their every move: where they are, what they're doing and what they're wearing. The callers have recorded private conversations, the families and police said, including a meeting with a local detective.

"The Watcher"

After moving into their $1.3 million dream home, a New Jersey family started receiving creepy death threats from someone who identified themselves as "The Watcher." As CBS News reported earlier this year:

Since moving in, the owners said they have received numerous letters from the mysterious person. "The Watcher" claimed the home "has been the subject of my family for decades," and "I have been put in charge of watching and waiting for its second coming," Castro reported.

The new owners have several children, and other letters asked, "Have they found out what's in the walls yet?" and "I am pleased to know your names now, and the name of the young blood you have brought to me."

The family was forced to flee from their home and later filed a lawsuit against the previous owners.

Matt MillerCulture EditorMatt Miller is a Brooklyn-based culture/lifestyle writer and music critic whose work has appeared in Esquire, Forbes, The Denver Post, and documentaries.

Lauren KrancLauren Kranc is an editorial assistant at Esquire, where she covers pop culture and television, with entirely too narrow of an expertise on Netflix dating shows.

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3 Creepy True Horror Stories

Fair warning: Reading this collection of scary haunted house stories in the dark or by yourself is likely to keep you up all night (as was surely the case for me). Or, at the very least, send a chill down your spine—even if you consider yourself the bravest of the brave. Oh, is that a challenge? Why yes, it is. Without further ado, we invite you to read about the following 18 scariest real-life haunted house stories from the creepiest places around the country. In case you're feeling really fearless and ready to get freaky, you can actually book a stay at most of these places—and greet the ghosts yourself, so happy hauntings ahead.

To hear more spooky ghost stories, subscribe to our haunted house podcast Dark House on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or anywhere you listen.

1The Lemp Mansion in St. Louis, Missouri

Starting strong with a very scary house: The Lemp Mansion in St. Louis, which is known to be one of the most haunted places in America due to a tragic history.

The 33-room home was built in the 1860s by William Lemp, a successful brewery owner who ended up killing himself in 1904 after the youngest of his four sons, Frederick, died. A few years later, his wife also died of cancer in the house. Then, in 1922, William Lemp Jr., shot himself in the same room William Sr. killed himself.

As if that weren't enough tragedy for one place, in 1949, Charles Lemp—William's third son—shot his dog in the basement of the home and then killed himself in his room. That same year, the house was sold and transformed into a boarding house, where reports of hauntings began. According to Destination America, witnesses have experienced burning sensations and slamming doors.

Today, the Lemp Mansion is a restaurant and inn that also holds events. On Sunday night, the inn hosts a Murder Mystery Dinner.


2The Villisca Axe Murder House in Villisca, Iowa

On June 10, 1912, Josiah and Sarah Moore were bludgeoned to death inside of their home in Villisca, Iowa. Their four children—and two friends who were spending the night—were also killed, and to this day, the crime remains unsolved. Their home is considered one of the most haunted houses in the country, and guests are drawn to it. People even pay $400+ to stay for one night.

"Tours have been cut short by children's voices, falling lamps, moving ladders, and flying objects," says the Villisca Axe Murder House website. And, in 2014, a paranormal investigator stabbed himself after spending the night. "Skeptics have left believers," adds the website.

The full story of the Villisca Axe Murder House is featured in episode 2 of House Beautiful’s new haunted house podcast, Dark House. Listen to the episode here.


3Jean Harlow House in Los Angeles, California

Los Angeles is one of the best destinations for haunted-house hunting, and this Bavarian-style home in Beverly Hills has a particularly gruesome history. In 1932, it was home to the iconic actress Jean Harlow and her abusive husband, Paul Bern, who shot himself in the head while standing in front of the mirror. Their butler discovered him and called MGM instead of the police, so there were tons of rumors that it wasn't actually suicide. Many suspected Bern's ex-girlfriend, a suspicion exacerbated by her jumping off a boat to her death a couple days later. Jean moved out after his death but died only a few years later at the age of 26.

But wait—it gets creepier. In 1963, celebrity hairstylist Jay Sebring bought the home and lived there with his girlfriend, Sharon Tate, until she left him for Roman Polanski. They were still friends, and remained so until both of them were murdered by the Charles Manson cult. Tate was the same age as Harlow when she passed.

But back to when the couple lived in the Harlow House. Tate told several friends of creepy occurrences in the home and even mentioned it in interviews. For example, once, when she was sleeping in the master bedroom alone, she saw a "creepy little man." Her friends say she she believed it to be Paul Bern's ghost. She was so freaked out when she saw the alleged ghost that she ran out of the room and then saw a hanging shadowy corpse with its throat slit in the hallway. There are also stories about two other people dying in the swimming pool over the years.

4SK Pierce House

Massachusetts has no shortage of haunted mansions, it seems, and the SK Pierce Victorian is one of the state's eeriest. The original occupant, Sylvestor Pierce, had just started making his fortune in the furniture business when he built this home for himself, his son, and his wife, Susan. As a man about town, he hosted many notable people in his 7,000 square foot home throughout the years, including President Calvin Coolidge, Bette Davis, and Norman Rockwell.

Only a week after moving into the home, Susan fell ill and passed away from a mysterious bacterial disease. A year later, he remarried Ellen, a woman thirty years his junior, and had two more children. Years later, when both Sylvester and Ellen had passed away, his sons embarked on a fiery feud about the property as well as the furniture company, but the Great Depression swept in and made their choice easier since the company basically went bankrupt.

The youngest son, Edward, was given control of the home when he turned it into a boarding house. It became a hotspot for illicit activities (including the murders and sudden, tragic deaths of several occupants) according to local lore. As a result of these violent ends, guests have reported every kind of haunting imaginable, from visions of apparitions to flying objects, disembodied sounds, pressure, temperature drops, and more.

5Mudhouse Mansion

Located in Fairfield County, Ohio (until recently), the Mudhouse Mansion has a bad reputation. Nobody can seem to agree on when it was built, but it dates back sometime between the 1840s and 1900. Unlike the other abandoned mansions on this list, you sadly can no longer visit it, as the home was demolished in 2015 after not being occupied since the 1930s. The last resident (at least legally speaking) was Lulu Hartman-Mast, and the current owner of the property is her relative Jeanne Mast.

Because there's so little information about who lived here and when, and because abandoned places tend to ignite the dark side of the imagination, there are tons of legends around alleged atrocities occurring (and consequent hauntings). The sources don't seem to be very credible, though.

6455A Sackett Street

You never hear as much about haunted apartments as haunted houses, which is strange—considering that apartments have much more turnover, and therefore a higher likelihood of something (or someone) evil having lived there before you move in.

That was definitely the case with 455A Sacket Street in Brooklyn. One woman who grew up there writes about her firsthand experiences, including unexplained fires, seriously bad energy, family tragedies, personal suffering, and, here's the kicker: the body of a child discovered in the wall after several suspicious sightings of a similar-looking shadow child in the mirror.

You can read her full account here, as well as commenters who also lived there and corroborate these claims. I'll definitely not be requesting an in-person viewing for this place—private balcony or not—if this address ever pops back up in my StreetEasy feed.

7Hotel Monte Vista in Flagstaff, Arizona

The Hotel Monte Vista has numerous paranormal guests they can’t get rid of. The hotel, which opened as the Community Hotel in 1927—named after the townspeople who helped raised the funds for its construction—has a history of underground opium dens, speakeasies, and gambling. Today, the hotel is known for the paranormal activity that haunts some of the rooms and halls.

Guests who’ve stayed in room 220 have experienced the TV changing channels on its own accord, and some have said they felt cold hands touching them in their sleep. There’s also reportedly a phantom bellboy who knocks on doors and announces “room service,” but when guests get to the door, no one's there. One of the more popular—and possibly most disturbing encounters—is the sound of an infant crying in the basement. The hotel website reads, “Staff have found themselves running upstairs to escape the sound of the cries. Though the sounds are very real to those who hear them, there has been no information that has explained the phenomenon.”


8Myrtles Plantation in St. Francisville, Louisiana

Rumored to be on top of a burial ground is the Myrtles Plantation in Louisiana, which is the home to at least 12 different ghosts. Built in 1796, ghost stories center around the tale of an enslaved woman named Chloe, who had her ear chopped off after she was reportedly caught eavesdropping. Seeking revenge, Chloe killed two of the master’s daughters by poisoning a birthday cake. She was then hanged by her fellow enslaved people, and today is reportedly seen wandering the plantation with a turban on to conceal her ear.

If you want to investigate things for yourself, you can stay at the plantation for $175/night.


9Hotel Cecil in Los Angeles, California

More cursed than haunted, downtown L.A.'s Hotel Cecil got such a bad rap that it actually changed its name to Stay on Main. If you're a true crime and paranormal super fan, you've likely already heard of it. Where to begin? So many bad things have happened here—there's literally an entire Wikipedia page dedicated to its violent history. The first recorded death by suicide is in 1931, followed by a long string of similar deaths in 1932, 1934, 1937, 1938, 1939, and 1940.

At some point in the '30s, one man was pinned to the exterior wall by a truck. A woman murdered her newborn in the building in 1944, and the pattern of suicides continued into the '60s. In 1962, a woman jumped from the ninth floor window and landed on a pedestrian, killing them both. It's worth noting that two of the women who died by suicide apparently jumped while their husbands were asleep in the room.

In 1964, tenant Goldie Osgood was brutally murdered, a crime which has remained unsolved. Next, in the '80s, the infamous serial kill Richard Ramirez (the "Night Stalker") stayed at the hotel and in the 1990s, Austrian serial killer Jack Unterwege lived there. Other weird things kept happening but the weirdest is definitely the disappearance and death of 21-year-old traveler Elisa Lam.

A few weeks after Lam went missing, her body was discovered in the rooftop water tank after visitors and tenants complained about a funky taste. They later found odd footage of her in the elevator from the night of her disappearance. It's difficult to make out what she's doing; it looks like she's either playing hide-and-seek with someone outside the elevator, or she's frightened and attempting to hide from someone but the doors won't seem to shut. Authorities ruled the death accidental drowning—but because you need a key to access the roof, many suspect foul play.

10Lui Family Mansion in Taiwan

Built in 1929 in Baroque style, the Minxiong Ghost House (aka the Lui family mansion) is a place with a heartbreaking history. Located in the Taiwanese countryside, it's been abandoned since the 1950s when the family fled abruptly. Like all mysterious places, there's plenty of lore around the family and why they left the once-beautiful place.

Local legend says the maid was having an affair with her employer, Liu Rong-yu, and when the secret came out, she jumped down the well to her death (but since she did not live to tell the tale, who's to say another family member didn't push her?). Then she came back to haunt the family until they finally left. A few years later, it was occupied by members of the Kuomintang of China (KMT), many of whom were also thought to have died of suicide, which exacerbated its reputation as haunted. People who visit report plenty of ghostly sightings.

11Los Feliz Murder Mansion in Los Angeles, California

During the mid 20th century, this large Los Feliz home was the (seemingly) happy home of Dr. Harold Perelson and his family, until the horrific night of December, 6, 1959 when he murdered his wife in her sleep with a ball-peen hammer and attempted to murder his three children before drinking acid to kill himself.

Fortunately, his eldest daughter let out a scream when he struck her in the head, waking up the younger children who then walked into the hallway to find out what was going on. During the commotion, they were all able to flee. Before the murder-suicide, he was a successful doctor who invented a new type of syringe after investing most of money into its research and production, but he got screwed out of the rights, leading investigators to blame financial problems. Other creepy details include a passage of Dante's Divine Comedy left open on his bedside table.

Two years later, it was sold to the Enriquez family, who used it as "storage unit," and their son continued to to do so until he sold it to a couple in 2016 who had plans to fix it up. But it seems to have scared them off because within a few years it's on the market again. Photographers also report a feeling of needing to "run away" from the house when they get close up to it.

12Villa de Vecchi in Italy

Villa de Vecchi is foreboding, alright. Just consider that looming fog blanket! Located near Lake Como, Italy, the "House of Witches" dates back to 1854-1857, when it was built as a summer house for Count Felix De Vecchi. The family was only able to spend a few years there, as their lives were mired in tragedy right after it was built.

First, the architect died a year after construction. Then in 1862, Count De Vecchi came home to discover his wife murdered and his daughter missing. When he could not find her after a year of searching, he died by suicide. His brother then moved into the home and his family continued to live there until WWII. It's been vacant since the 1960s, and an avalanche in 2002 wiped out all the houses in the area... except this one. Spooky.

13The Crescent Hotel in Eureka Springs, Arkansas

In 1937, millionaire inventor Norman G. Baker posed as a doctor and turned the hotel into a hospital that he said could cure cancer. Have the chills yet? Baker, who had a fetish for purple, painted many sections of the hospital in the color, and today, the chimneys remain that same color. In addition to wearing purple shirts and ties, he drove a purple car as well. People came from all over with hopes of curing their cancer, and many who were "treated" died.

Eventually, Baker was exposed and run out of town, and today the property is an active hotel. It's said to be haunted by several ghosts, including a bearded man wearing Victorian clothing and a five-year-old girl.


14Mizpah Hotel in Tonopah, Nevada

In 1907, Mizpah Hotel opened as one of the first luxury hotels in Nevada. With a rich history and elaborate decor, the hotel is best known for its legend of the “Lady in Red.” While the date remains unclear, the story goes like this: A woman was murdered in her room on the fifth floor. Some say it was a jealous ex-boyfriend, while others say the Lady in Red had been caught cheating by her husband and he killed her in a jealous rage.

Those who’ve stayed at the hotel say the Lady in Red whispers in men’s ears and leaves pearls from her broken necklace on guests' pillows. Guests can stay in the Lady in Red suite to experience it themselves, and if that’s too much for you, the Red Lady Bloody Mary at the hotel restaurant should suffice.


15​The Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum in Weston, West Virginia

The Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum was designed to house 250 patients when it opened in 1864. Fast forward to the 1950s, when the facility reached its peak and had more than 2,400 patients living in overcrowded and inhumane conditions—with some even kept in cages. In 1994, the asylum closed, and today, there are reports of paranormal activity, with souls of patients lingering and roaming the halls.

You can take an overnight ghost hunt tour from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. at the Asylum, a two-hour paranormal tour from 10:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m., or a 90-minute day tour.


16Merchant House Museum in New York, New York

Seeing as it's the only preserved and intact family home from the 19th century in all of New York City, it makes sense that this house has also been the source and subject of many ghost stories. The Tredwell family lived here for over 100 years, and the last family occupant was Gertrude, the youngest daughter, who died in the home in 1933. Staff, visitors, and even passerby say they experience weird, disembodied things here.

Don't buy it? Take a candlelit ghost tour of the museum to decide for yourself. And even if you don't catch an apparition out the corner of your eye or hear children playing and floorboards in empty rooms, you'll at least get the sense that you're intruding on someone else's space, in a completely different time, since it's virtually the same as was when Gertrude died.

17The Queen Anne Hotel in San Francisco, California

In 1890, the Queen Anne hotel in San Francisco was an etiquette school for girls. Today, it has 48 rooms for guests, though some believe the ghost of Miss Mary Lake, the school's headmistress, still lingers. Folks who stay in room 410, Miss Mary Lake’s former office, have woken up to find their blankets closely tucked around them in bed or their clothes unpacked.


18Lizzie Borden House in Fall River, Massachusetts

In 1892, Lizzie Borden was the main suspect for the axe murders of her father and stepmother. Borden was tried and acquitted of the murders, and guests who visit Lizzie's house in Fall River, Massachusetts say she can be heard cackling about it. Others say that you can sometimes hear a maid screaming for help, and that Lizzie's slaughtered parents stalk the grounds. You can experience the paranormal activity yourself by visiting the Lizzie Borden House, which is now a museum and bed and breakfast.


Danielle TulloDeputy EditorI like pink, iced coffee, and long walks through the candle section.

Hadley MendelsohnSenior EditorHadley Mendelsohn is House Beautiful's senior editor, and when she's not busy obsessing over all things decor-related, you can find her scouring vintage stores, reading, or stumbling about because she probably lost her glasses again.

This content is created and maintained by a third party, and imported onto this page to help users provide their email addresses. You may be able to find more information about this and similar content at


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The 20 Most Terrifying Stories on the Internet

Yet another installment in the Internet is a Scary Place. Photo: C.J. Burton/Getty Images

Halloweekend is almost upon us and one thing is for certain: You’re not nearly scared enough. But, instead of paying $40 for a haunted house, why not get your spoops the old-fashioned way and scare the ever-loving crap out of yourself by reading creepy stuff online. We’ve compiled a list of some of the most terrifying stories, myths, and legends from the history of the internet that are practically guaranteed to keep you up at night.


This legendary multipart story by /u/1000vultures about his childhood memories is so bone-chilling, it inspired a successful Kickstarter campaign, and an actual goddamned book, Penpal.(You can also listen to it here.)


Shaun and his girlfriend, Amy, saw something a little strange coming home from a party one evening that they can’t seem to shake. The action of this absolutely terrifying story, written by /u/bloodstains, plays over a series of emails between Shaun and an “old buddy from school.”

The Cabin

So much more than the average cabin-in-the-woods story, the Cabin is a long and totally riveting series by Reddit user /u/TheColdPeople that will leave you scared shitless by the end.

Three Kings Experiment

This is a bit different from the other stories found on /r/nosleep. The Three Kings Experiment is a set of instructions that’s said to be a physiological experiment or ritual involving a dark room, two mirrors, a fan, a candle, and perhaps contact with something called the “Shadowside.”

Lake City Quiet Pills

It begins with a cryptic Reddit eulogy, and ends in … the possible assassination of a senior Hamas military commander?

This Man

Have you ever dreamed of This Man? Started as a bizarre marketing strategy, the creepy tale of This Man has taken many forms over the years — from Creepypasta to meme. And although it’s technically been “debunked,” it’s still pretty undeniably haunting.

Isabella V.

The blog She’s a Flight Risk either tells the story of an heiress who ran away from her family and an arranged marriage, or it’s an incredibly elaborate hoax. Who’s to decide which is true?

3 Guys 1 Hammer

This wiki details the crimes of the Dnepropetrovsk maniacs, a team of Ukrainian serial killers who gained notoriety online back in 2008 when a recording of one of their most heinous murders made its way onto a shock site. [The aforementioned video is not on the wiki, and I strongly recommend that you do not look it up and/or try to watch it, as it is very, VERY disturbing.]

Unit 731

Unit 731 was part of a covert Japanese chemical-and-biological-warfare “research” unit during the Second World War that conducted horrifying (and very, very lethal) experiments on its thousands of detained human subjects. The wiki goes into a disturbing amount of detail about some of the most heinous war crimes committed within the complex.

Kwalliso No. 22

Kwalliso No.22 is the “official” name given to North Korea’s most infamous concentration camp. The wiki details the countless human-rights abuses that have taken place inside its walls as recently as 2012.


A man begins the slow spiral into madness … or does he? This one has a slow buildup, but a great payoff. (You can also listen to Psychosis here.)

Haunted Majora’s Mask

Featuring a mysterious (and definitely haunted) blank N64 cartridge with “MAJORA” written on it, a game save entitled “BEN,” and a bunch of videoclips from the supposed gameplay, Haunted Majora’s Mask is one of the most terrifyingly well-done Creepypastas of all time.

SCP Foundation

Secure. Contain. Protect. The SCP Foundation is a collection of horrifying tales about a world not too unlike our own that spawned out of a very successfulCreepypasta post.

The Bridge

While exploring the sparsely populated coast of North Wales, a redditor and his friends decide to force their way inside an ominous-looking cement bridge. After forcing open a manhole cover, they find themselves in a scene straight from a horror movie, and almost immediately turn around and book it back to the world of the living. The writer’s description of the scene is so fascinatingly terrifying that Reddit actually convinces him to return to the Bridge — this time with only one buddy for comfort — and bring a camera to record his journey. And for once, OP actually delivers.

What Are You Doing??

A woman using a sleep-recorder app finds something unsettling on her tape one morning and asks Reddit for help. (This one wins bonus points for actually having a copy of the recording.)

Stranger Under the Bed

While moving into her new apartment, a redditor happens to take a peek under her bed and finds something … unexpected.


When asked about the scariest true thing that’s ever happened to him, a redditor recounts the tale of a mysterious driver known only by his unique license plate. After posting, he finds out he’s not the only one who’s had a run in with OM.

The Lamp

A dude on Reddit was living a wonderful life — a loving wife, adorable kids, the whole package — until he noticed something off about his living-room lamp.

The David Parker Ray Transcript

A DocumentingReality user posted a transcript of the “rules” serial killer David Parker Ray played for his victims after abducting them. [Definitely don’t read this one if you’re squeamish.]

The Bong-Chon Dong Ghost Webcomic

This is terrifying. It will scare you. Don’t read it at night. (Or, ever, for that matter.) But especially not with your sound turned all the way up while you stare directly at the screen.

The 20 Most Terrifying Stories on the InternetSours:

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