19 True Stories That Could Ruin Your Sleep Tonight

    Sweet dreams.

    Have you ever had something happen to you that made your pulse pound and your adrenaline kick into action? Something so scary that you had to take a moment or two to recover?

    You may need a moment to recover from just hearing some of these 19 (terrifying) true stories from AskReddit. The people who lived them certainly did:

    1. Dancing Man

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    Photo Credit: Andris / Flickr (CC)

    About five years ago I lived downtown in a major city in the US. I’ve always been a night person, so I would often find myself bored after my roommate, who was decidedly not a night person, went to sleep. To pass the time, I used to go for long walks and spend the time thinking.

    I spent four years like that, walking alone at night, and never once had a reason to feel afraid. I always used to joke with my roommate that even the drug dealers in the city were polite. But all of that changed in just a few minutes of one evening.

    It was a Wednesday, somewhere between one and two in the morning, and I was walking near a police patrolled park quite a ways from my apartment. It was a quiet night, even for a week night, with very little traffic and almost no one on foot. The park, as it was most nights, was completely empty.

    I turned down a short side street in order to loop back to my apartment when I first noticed him. At the far end of the street, on my side, was the silhouette of a man, dancing. It was a strange dance, similar to a waltz, but he finished each “box” with an odd forward stride. I guess you could say he was dance-walking, headed straight for me.

    Deciding he was probably drunk, I stepped as close as I could to the road to give him the majority of the sidewalk to pass me by. The closer he got, the more I realized how gracefully he was moving. He was very tall and lanky, and wearing an old suit. He danced closer still, until I could make out his face. His eyes were open wide and wild, head tilted back slightly, looking off at the sky. His mouth was formed in a painfully wide cartoon of a smile. Between the eyes and the smile, I decided to cross the street before he danced any closer.

    I took my eyes off of him to cross the empty street. As I reached the other side, I glanced back … and then stopped dead in my tracks. He had stopped dancing and was standing with one foot in the street, perfectly parallel to me. He was facing me but still looking skyward. Smile still wide on his lips.

    I was completely and utterly unnerved by this. I started walking again, but kept my eyes on the man. He didn’t move.

    Once I had put about half a block between us, I turned away from him for a moment to watch the sidewalk in front of me. The street and sidewalk ahead of me were completely empty. Still unnerved, I looked back to where he had been standing to find him gone. For the briefest of moments I felt relieved, until I noticed him. He had crossed the street, and was now slightly crouched down. I couldn’t tell for sure due to the distance and the shadows, but I was certain he was facing me. I had looked away from him for no more than 10 seconds, so it was clear that he had moved fast.

    I was so shocked that I stood there for some time, staring at him. And then he started moving toward me again. He took giant, exaggerated tip toed steps, as if he were a cartoon character sneaking up on someone. Except he was moving very, very quickly.

    I’d like to say at this point I ran away or pulled out my pepper spray or my cellphone or anything at all, but I didn’t. I just stood there, completely frozen as the smiling man crept toward me.

    And then he stopped again, about a car length away from me. Still smiling his smile, still looking to the sky.

    When I finally found my voice, I blurted out the first thing that came to mind. What I meant to ask was, “What do you want?!” in an angry, commanding tone. What came out was a whimper, “What the fuu…?”

    Regardless of whether or not humans can smell fear, they can certainly hear it. I heard it in my own voice, and that only made me more afraid. But he didn’t react to it at all. He just stood there, smiling.

    And then, after what felt like forever, he turned around, very slowly, and started dance-walking away. Just like that. Not wanting to turn my back to him again, I just watched him go, until he was far enough away to almost be out of sight. And then I realized something. He wasn’t moving away anymore, nor was he dancing. I watched in horror as the distant shape of him grew larger and larger. He was coming back my way. And this time he was running.

    I ran too.

    I ran until I was off of the side road and back onto a better lit road with sparse traffic. Looking behind me then, he was nowhere to be found. The rest of the way home, I kept glancing over my shoulder, always expecting to see his stupid smile, but he was never there.

    I lived in that city for six months after that night, and I never went out for another walk. There was something about his face that always haunted me. He didn’t look drunk, he didn’t look high. He looked completely and utterly insane. And that’s a very, very scary thing to see.

    2. It took you eight years?

    After living in my house alone for eight years, I came to the realization that I had closed a lot more doors than I had opened.

    Related: 15 Creepy Quotes You Won’t Want to Read Alone 

    3. Hitting the Ground

    I was on vacation in Ithaca with my boyfriend at the time.

    We had literally, I’m talking 10 minutes, just gotten into town and stopped at a suspension bridge near Cornell’s campus. I’m terrified of heights and, so, my boyfriend was coaxing me step by step over the bridge. It was gorgeous and we stopped at the middle to take a picture.

    On the side we had come from there was a parking lot with steps leading to the bottom of the gorge but on the far side there were hiking paths with no barrier.

    A woman walked past us and offered to take a picture for us. We declined and she smiled and walked quickly to the far side of the bridge where she smoothly jumped off into the gorge. There was not a second of hesitation, it was almost like she expected the path to keep going.

    The sound of a person hitting the ground from a jump like that sticks with you.

    4. On the Tracks

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    Photo Credit: Bossi / Flickr (CC)

    I watched in horror as this drunk seeming guy fell (maybe it was on purpose, but I don’t know) onto a commuter rail track just as the train was coming. The sound/sight of him getting run over (crunching, splattering, awful) has stayed with me for life as the scariest, brain-scarring thing ever.

    5. “It had been unlocked the whole time”

    I was about 15 minutes from finishing the night shift at work when there was a massive crash on one of the windows in the office so I get up and go to check it out. Someone has thrown quite a sizable rock through one of the windows on the front of the building. This is made especially weird because I’m working in the industrial district at 11:30 at night with none of the other businesses open. I go back to my desk, put a quick call through to security to let them know and decide to head home. As I’m leaving the building I’m freaking myself out about it more and more and end up running to my car, getting in and taking off. I’m almost home and I’ve started to calm down a bit when I realize that I didn’t unlock my car when I got in. It had been unlocked the whole time. I do a quick check with my hand in the backseat for any possible murderers that might be hanging around there but there’s nothing there.

    Fast forward 30 minutes: I’ve called a friend of mine who says he is out drinking so I decide I’m going to join him. I jump on my bicycle and start riding over. I’m doodling along the road on my bike, it’s a nice night and I’m in no big rush, just enjoying the moonlight when I hear someone riding behind me. I straighten up and stick to one side of the road. He passes me really slowly and, when he is right beside me, he shoots me a smile I can describe as purely insane. I kind of flinch and am taken aback as he rides on. That’s when I realize. He is riding my mom’s bike.

    Needless to say, I sprint home. When I get there, sure enough her bike is missing and one of my car’s doors is open. The back left one. I was driving, and had no need to open that door.

    Related: 10 Haunting American Urban Legends to Tell in the Dark 

    6. Falling

    I was standing on my balcony when I saw some drunk guy flash in front of my eyes. I was on the 10th floor and apparently he fell over from the 21st floor. The split second he passed by, I got to see his look of fear, shock, disbelief and a whole bunch of other emotions before he fell to the floor in a thud and crack. You could just tell he was dead.

    7. Fortune

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    Photo Credit: Ruth Hartnup / Flickr (CC)

    I’d been living alone for less than a week. I got some Chinese take-out and was eating in front of the TV. I finished my meal and cracked open the fortune cookie. It read “You will have a visitor tonight, lock your door.” There were no visitors that night, but the memory still haunts me.

    8. Seagulls!

    I saw this little bird walking on the street when suddenly a seagull grabbed it in its mouth. Seagull started to smash this helpless bird against the ground few times. After a while it ate the bird and I saw a bump on seagull’s neck like the bird was stuck in its throat. Then it flew off.

    I was just standing there and said: “What the, seagulls shouldn’t do that.”

    Screw seagulls.

    Related: 10 Chilling Stories That Prove Truth Is More Terrifying Than Fiction 

    9. Who’s There?

    I was once in a hot tub with some friends late at night, and we were all telling some stories. One of the guys told us this one, a story of a girl he knows (not sure if it’s true, but multiple people in the hot tub who knew her verified it was true):

    So one day, this girl was called over to babysit. She did it a lot for these people, so it was routine for her.

    Anyways, she was told to put the kids to bed at nine, and she did. After she put the to bed, she started watching TV and doing homework, waiting for the parents to come home. But then, she started hearing some noises coming out of the basement, like pans falling and stuff. She just ignored it, and thought it was the washing machine or something. Anyways, a little later, she starts hearing the noises again. She decides to call the police, and tell them she was hearing noises coming out of the basement at the house she’s babysitting at.

    The lady at the station told her there’s a patroller in her area, and that he’ll be at the house in about 20 minutes. Anyways, in about five minutes, she hears a knock on the door. She answers, and it’s a full swat team. She asked, “I thought they were just sending a patroller...” and one of the guys told her, “After you hung up the phone, we heard a second phone on the line hang up.” Ended up there was a man in the basement, listening to the conversation. The lady in the station waited and heard him hang up, then immediately sent the SWAT team to help. They went downstairs and caught him; he was wanted for multiple cases of rape.

    10. Camping Alone

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    Photo Credit: Josh McGinn / Flickr (CC)

    A group of friends was staying at this remote cabin that one of my friend’s cousins owned. There were no roads leading to the cabin, and it was a good 3/4 day hike from where you parked the cars.

    I couldn’t go at the same time as everyone else due to work obligations, so I decided to head up the same day but later. It would mean I would have to camp for a night by myself though (the latter part of the trail is too dangerous to be taken at night, especially by someone who doesn’t know it). I didn’t care, I was kind of looking forward to it as I’ve never camped alone before.

    So I was in the middle of these woods when the sun went down. I got my camp set up in this small clearing. Probably 40 feet across. Get my camp fire going and pitch my small, one person tent. Do all that camping stuff like cooking hot dogs on a stick over the fire and s’mores. I probably stay up for a good 2 or 3 hours after dark (it was mid-autumn so the days were somewhat short).

    The entire time I thought I heard things moving in the woods on the edge of the clearing. I didn’t think anything of it at first cause the woods are full of animals, but as the night went on I realized that whatever it was was just circling the clearing over and over. Once I started paying attention it made 4 or 5 laps around before I decided to get up and investigate. The noise stopped as soon as I stooped up and I thought I heard some sounded going away through the woods.

    I just shrug it off thinking it was some fox that was curious that got scared when I stood up. I decide its time to sleep, douse the fire and climb into my tent. I start to doze off and stay in that half asleep half awake state for a while. I normally hear weird stuff when I’m in this state, so I don’t think much of it when I hear a voice.

    Something wakes me all the way up though and I realize the voice is real and right outside my tent. Its just above a whisper and I’m not sure if it was another language or if they were just speaking English in such a way that I couldn’t understand.

    I lay there for some time, I don’t know how long, listening and waiting for something to happen. There is just enough moonlight to light up the walls of the tent, so I can see when a hand presses into the wall of my tent down near my foot. This freaks me out and I sit up quickly. Who ever was outside of the tent tore out of there. Like running full sprint through the woods.

    I get out of the tent and shine my flashlight around and see nothing. I was expecting there to be a bloody handprint on the tent, but nope. Didn’t sleep that night, packed up camp at first light that morning and booked it to the cabin.

    11. Signals at Night

    I was playing around with a radio once when I was a kid, just slowly spanning through the static trying to find a station. I had found an old television antenna, attached it to the side of our house and ran a wire out my window to it with an alligator clip attached to the radio antenna, allowing me to get a way broader range of signals.

    So I’m sitting there, early in the morning (like 2:00 A.M.), slowly sweeping frequencies, and suddenly I get to this station that’s playing this very weird crackling sound. It sounded sort of like cracking knuckles, or maybe Rice Crispies cereal, but with a fixed, rhythmic pattern instead of being random. I sat there listening to it for a second, then it suddenly stopped and this faint voice says “It doesn’t work. We’re already dead. We’re already dead.”

    It took a second for the weight of the words to hit me, but when they did I freaked out and almost threw the radio across the room. I’m pretty sure it was just someone messing around with a radio transmitter, but damn if it didn’t scare the crap out of me at the time.

    Related: No Sleep Tonight: 9 Scary Thriller Books 

    12.“Don’t EVER do that again!”

    My dad died of cancer the day I turned 16 after about two weeks in a coma. It was really fast–less than two months between diagnosis and death. He died in the house (we had a hospice attendant and my mom was very good about seeing to him in those final days).

    Anyway, a lot of weird stuff happened after he passed, but the one that still freaks me out when I think about it happened about 12 hours before he took to bed for the last time. He was in our living room napping on the couch while my mom was in the kitchen cooking. No one else was home.

    Suddenly, he jerked awake and was shouting for my mom in a very loud, agitated voice. Clearly angry with her. “Beverly! Don’t do that! Don’t EVER do that again!”

    She ran into the room, alarmed and asked what he was talking about, and he said, “Don’t do that. Don’t walk past me like that in that long, black wig.”

    Sometimes I think he saw death.

    13. New House

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    Photo Credit: Kathleen Conklin / Flickr (CC)

    My parents bought their first house back in 1972. It was a fixer-upper, but they decided to move in right away and fix things as time/money permitted.

    Within a few days of moving in, the new neighbors came over to introduce themselves. They also let my parents know that the previous owners had moved out after a nasty divorce. They had lost their second baby from SIDS, and their relationship went downhill from there.

    My parents were horrified, more so because they were newly pregnant and couldn’t imagine going through such a thing. They eventually pretty much forgot all about it. Life went on. They were in love with their new life and their new house.

    In preparation for the baby, they decided to wallpaper the nursery. Now, my Dad told my mom there was no need in wallpapering the inside of the closet, but she insisted. She was kneeling down, scraping off old paint inside of the closet when her eyes fell upon something that made her blood turn to ice.

    Written in crayon, at about eye level for a kindergartner, in childish scrawl was: I KILLED THE BABY.

    14. Night Dive

    This was a few years ago on a night scuba dive. There were eight of us in the group including our dive master and his assistant. We had just finished our dive and were gathered up in a circle ready to ascend and get out of the water when my dive master freezes. He takes his flashlight and pointing it outside our circle of divers he catches something circling us with the beam. Turns out it was a 12 foot long great white shark.

    At this point half of the group are trying to keep the shark illuminated as it circles us and remarkably everyone stayed calm. The only things going through my mind were iterations of these two thoughts, “don’t look like a yummy delicious fatty seal, and that I hope I taste terrible.” My dive master gets our attention and slowly puts his thumb up and then makes an upward motion. We all begin to ascend and the shark kept with us until we were maybe 10 feet from the surface. Then it turned off into the darkness and was gone. I did not go back into the ocean for about a week after that.

    Related: A Horrifying Discovery Beneath the Water 

    15. “I was the only one in the house”

    Woke up one night around 1:00 A.M., heard the shower was on … I first thought it was my brother, he works night shifts, so thought he had came home late and was in the shower … It went on for about half an hour until i got up and went to see wtf he was doing … No one was in the shower, my brother wasn’t home yet, I was the only one in the house. Still to this day, i have no idea how it turned on or who did it.. Almost five years later i still think about it … Even writing this now i feel like turning every light on in the house … ahah why do I do this to myself!!

    16. Ghosts

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    Photo Credit: Pony Lauricella / Flickr (CC)

    I housesit for a family friend when she goes out of town. The woman who lives there is really into a bunch of spiritual stuff–new age stuff, reiki, etc. The very first time I was housesitting, I was outside watering the plants. I was the only one there and had closed the door after me. From the driveway where I was watering, I had a completely unobstructed view of the front door, the only door that was unlocked at the time. When I went back inside, there, on the little table next to the front door was a half eaten cookie. The table had been completely clear when I went outside and I hadn’t seen cookies that looked like that anywhere in the house. Nothing too creepy, but very puzzling and unsettling.

    When the woman returns, I mention it to her and she laughs and says she “gets ghosts all the time.” I’m a fairly skeptical person, but honestly, ghosts were the best explanation.

    The next time I was over, I was in the bathroom around 10:30. The house itself is fairly old and creaks from time to time, but nothing too loud or disruptive. While I was in the bathroom, there comes a single loud knock from the other side of the bathroom door. This wasn’t a little creak or pop from the house, it was a loud, determined rap on the door. It was enough to scare me for the rest of the night.

    17. It happened “right behind the door”

    One of the scariest things I ever heard was when I worked in retail. My stored used to do layaway and that was where I worked. Right by the layaway counter, we had three bathrooms. A men’s multi stall, a women’s multi stall and a family bathroom. Well, only the family bathroom had a door that locked. All the others had the push/pull swing door.

    I was in the back cleaning up and I thought I hear screaming so I walked out front by the counter. I heard more screaming. I was not sure at first where it was coming from I ran and checked the men’s and women’s bathroom and they were empty and I still heard the crying and screaming. It was coming from the family bathroom. I banged on the door but the yelling, screaming crying kept going on. It sounded like a child and I had no idea what was going on. I called for a manager because I had no way of getting in the door since it was locked. This whole time there is still crying, screaming banging. After several attempts of trying to open the door we called 911. We had no idea what we going on but it didn’t sound good. I think about fifteen minutes at this point, although it felt forever. Then the sound check stopped. No more banging, crying nothing. We banged on the door until the police came. When they finally did they had to kick the door in since we had no key. As we all stood around and looked in all we saw was blood all over the place.

    We were not really sure what happened at first but the police told us to back up and that is when they pulled out a lady and a child. A bloody child, maybe three. We all just stood there in shock. The child was not moving, we thought he was dead because of all the blood. They took the lady away in handcuffs and the child to the hospital.

    We all had to give statements. Later my manager told me what happened. She just snapped because he wouldn’t stop crying and she just had enough and did whatever she could to make him stop. The child did live. I was sure he was dead but he wasn’t she had just knocked him out from hitting him so hard.

    This story is not scary in the ghost sense but for that to happen right behind the door and not know what is going on or be able to help was pretty scary to me.

    Related: 19 Seriously Scary Ghost Stories That Will Haunt You for Life 

    18. Organ Music

    Years ago, I lived in a townhouse above the an old couple that were the landlords. This was in the historic section of Albany, NY, near the park. The landlords were in their 60s, maybe early 70s. This place actually had a plaque on the front of it saying it was built in 1880-something and that some rich state senator had lived there. There’s places like this all over the area that had been subdivided and rented out.

    I lived there for a year and every now and then, always while I was trying to sleep, I would hear faint, organ music accompanied by some rhythmic banging sounds. I always have slept with a fan to drown out any ambient noise and sleep better. This music was just … floating through my room. No one was above me. Just the old people who went to bed at nine below me. I would get up and try to find the source of the sounds but it just seemed like it was everywhere and nowhere.

    Since I never heard any music or anything from any other room, and I never heard that music during the day, I concluded that it was the ghosts of previous occupants that had lived there decades before. This actually affected my decision to live there again when my lease was up. The old couple even offered to knock $50 a month off the rent if I resigned. That would have amounted to nearly a month of total rent over the course of a year. I thanked them, but declined, opting instead to live in a newer place.

    Flash forward a couple of years. My friend is having a party. He invites some coworkers that he used to work with at the state. I’m talking to one dude about all the places in Albany I had been in. He’s lived in several, too. After some conversation, we find out that one of his friends used to live in that exact same apartment before me. I’ve never told anyone about the music and banging I would hear there but I just have to ask this guy if his friend ever said anything about the place being haunted. His eyes light up when I ask him.

    “You’re not going to believe this!” he says and starts thumbing through the contacts list in his phone. He dials his friend. When the guy answers, he gives him a brief overview of the conversation we had been having then hands me the phone.

    “What’s up, man? Yeah, I lived there in 2003. You heard the music, too? That was the landlords having sex below you. I swear to God. I actually asked about them about it the morning after I had heard it for the tenth time. The old man sheepishly explained that he was banging his old lady. He apologized and said they’d keep it down. The funny thing is, it seemed to get louder and louder over the last couple months I lived there. It was almost like they wanted me to hear.”

    The mystery was solved. That organ music I had heard was literally organ music that the old people would have sex to. Somehow, that was creepier than it being ghosts.

    19. “Something in the middle of the woods catches my eye”

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    Photo Credit: Walter Smith / Flickr (CC)

    Well, I’ll never forget this one…

    My wife and I used to live in a townhome that was next to some woods. We both took off work one day to get some things done in the yard, cutting the grass, weeding our large flower beds, laying mulch etc.

    Our yard wasn’t big; it took about two full grass clipping bags. I would walk a couple of feet into the woods and dump them in a pile.

    As I’m walking back to empty the second bag, something in the middle of the woods catches my eye. Something out of place and it’s moving.

    I crouched down to get a better look and I just froze. At first, I could make out a pair of shoes just swaying back and forth and then was able to see the legs and body of a teenager. There in the middle of the woods was a teenage boy who had hung himself. Next to the tree, I could see a skateboard leaning up against it.

    I yelled for my wife to call the police and started running back to try and save him but he was gone. His body was limp and his head was was just slumped over. His dark scruffy hair was slowly blowing in the breeze.

    The cops came and quickly cut him down and they were gone.

    As it turns out, he was having problems getting along with his parents and this is what he decided to do.

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    This story was first published on did you know?  

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    Featured photo: Seniju / Flickr (CC); Additional photos: Andris / Flickr (CC ); Bossi / Flickr (CC); Ruth Hartnup / Flickr  (CC); Josh McGinn / Flickr (CC); Kathleen Conklin / Flickr (CC); Pony Lauricella / Flickr (CC); Walter Smith / Flickr (CC)

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