The early hour of 3 A.M. is a strange time. Known in Western culture as the witching hour, it is said to be the time when mystical creatures such as witches, demons, and ghosts appear and are at their most powerful. Its origins can be traced back to the Catholic Church. Supposedly, the devil began his work at 3 A.M. as a mockery and inversion of the time of Christ's death: 3 P.M.
Be warned, the following stories of ghosts, spirits and otherworldly encounters are best enjoyed in daylight hours. Reading these tales at night could conjure up more than simple nightmares, especially during the witching hour. These are 13 of the scariest true ghost stories that you should never read in the dark.
1. Imaginary Friend
“When I was younger, I had an imaginary friend who lived in this massive antique dresser. I vividly remember him telling me stories, although I have absolutely no recollection of what they actually were. I remember one day talking to my parents about it (dad traveled quite a bit so he wasn’t up to date with what I was into) and when I started telling him about my dresser buddy, he wanted to know his name. It was something innocent like Peter but I can still see him going white in the face as I told him. I then drew a picture of Peter for him. The very next day, my dad and my uncle took out the dresser and burned it.
“It wasn’t until a few years later when I found out my dad’s little brother (my uncle) also had the same friend with the same name who lived in the same antique dresser. After a few months of the typical imaginary friend stuff, my uncle started having night terrors and couldn’t sleep because of Peter. It got so bad that they had to move him out of his room before he managed to get back to normal.” – TonyFX
2. The Disconnected Number
“A few years ago my brother would get a call on his cellphone around 2:00–3:00 am every night. He would answer and it was this hellish sounding noise. Like static mixed with screams. He changed his cell number after a month of this and it stopped.
“Then after a week or so it began again. The exact same noise. Exact same time. Finally, one day he decided to back dial the call. It was an old man that had no clue what he was talking about. Still, the calls persisted. If he didn’t answer, it would call a few more times. No messages were left. He decided to say screw it. Ended his contract with his phone company, switched to a new one, and then got another new number. You guessed it, the screaming static calls continued after a short delay. By this time he was terrified every night. Unsure why this was happening. He back dialed the number again and got a different person. Around this time, he lost his job and his phone. The calls stopped of course. His phone was disconnected now.
“One day my mom asks me to listen to this weird message she got on our home phone. It was the static screaming. We showed my brother and he was freaking out. He back dialed the number again and it said the number was disconnected this time.
“Never heard from it again after that.” – Mastrius
3. Cabin in the Woods
“The first time I moved away from home, I lived in an old cabin-like house that I rented really cheap. I never had a good night's sleep in there. I always tossed and turned and woke up several times during the night. But it wasn’t until after a few weeks things started to get weird.
“In the beginning, it was just small things that I didn’t really think too much about, like keys missing and cups and plates not being where I thought I had left them. Then I started waking up in the morning to find various drawers opened and things laying around like someone had been in a hurry searching for something. I even came home to a wide open main door and decided to change the locks. But even then, when I was home, with the door locked, I would walk past and just in the corner of my eye see the door slide open.
“One time, I was cat-sitting one of my friend’s cats and it would just sit for hours in the middle of the room and toss its tail from side to side and watch, as if it was following something around the room with its eyes. Creeped me out. If you can only imagine what it felt like to see the cat slowly following something that “floats” randomly around the room and finally stop, right beside you.
“After a while, I just could not live there anymore and finally moved out.” – spudcake
4. The Handprint
“Heard a tapping on my window at night. The next morning, there was a hand print on the outside of my window.
“I live on the third floor of an apartment building.” – Chrysalis1
5. Funny Papa
“My grandfather died last year sometime when my son was maybe a year old. We had dinner with the whole family every Friday night so my son had seen him several times. My grandfather was a very quiet, proud man, but when he thought he was alone or unseen he would make silly faces at my son to get a laugh. A couple nights after his funeral my son (who liked to crawl into bed with us in the middle of the night) started just laughing uncontrollably at like 2:00 am.
“I get out of bed to see what’s going on and find my son sitting in the middle of the living room, in the dark, laughing. I say, “Hey buddy, what are you doing?” In toddler speak, he says “Papa funny!” I got a little nervous for some reason and went to pick him up and bring him to our room for the rest of the night. As I’m hauling him away, he says, “Bye papa!”, and blows a kiss at absolutely nothing I can see.” – fatcage
6. Don’t Turn Away
“I was a kid when this happened. My uncle and I were finishing up chopping and gathering firewood for my grandmother because it was getting dark. Driving back on a dirt road at about 30 mph (give or take 5 mph) I had this awful sense of being watched. Before I could turn to look out my window (passenger side) my uncle quickly shouted, “Don’t!” I completely froze. My heart felt like it was beating out of my chest then completely stopped when I heard a tap, tap on my window. My uncle sped up and was loudly praying in my native language. I didn’t know what was going on and thought it was over till our truck suddenly dipped from the bed.
“My uncle then started saying, “Look at me” and “Don’t turn away” over and over. Then I heard it again, tap, tap but from the window behind me. It was getting harder for me to breathe and I wanted to cry. A minute or two passed and the truck dipped again. My uncle looked around and sighed. It was quiet besides the truck and the road.
“He looked at me and said, “We will ask your father to do a prayer in the morning. So the evil will forget our faces.” (Navajo to English equivalent). I remember curling up on the seat and just staring at the radio watching the time. Listening to my uncle sing an old prayer till we got to my grandmother’s house.” – Navajo_Joe
7. The Man in the Top Hat
“When I was growing up, one of my best friends told me about a very creepy situation involving him, his younger brother, and a man in the window.
“When my friend and his little brother were younger, they shared a bedroom. They’re some years apart, but his younger brother was born with a multitude of different health issues, including multiple sclerosis, and he’s confined to a wheelchair and cannot care for himself. So, to keep an eye on him overnight when his parents couldn’t, they shared a bedroom.
“One night, my friend randomly woke up for no particular reason and happened to glance over at his younger brother, but noticed something very startling; a strange silhouette of a man wearing a top hat was looking in through the window behind his younger brother’s crib. The first thing my friend did was jump up and turn the light on, then ran into his parent’s room to tell them what he saw. When his parents came back into their room to investigate, his younger brother was having a seizure.
“A few of his family members say it was his younger brother’s guardian angel standing in the window that night, but my friend believes it was death.
“It’s all still pretty unsettling to me.” – StinkyRaptor
8. The Light
“My wife’s mother passed away in 2003 from cancer. After the funeral, family and friends gathered at her house for a final celebration of her life. The gathering went late into the evening. My son, three at the time, needed to go to bed at that point. I walked with him up the stairs to where he would sleep. The room that my mother-in-law passed away in was upstairs and straight down the hallway as you reached the top of the landing. My son and I walked upstairs together, with me holding his hand. As we nearly reached the top of the stairs, my son stopped and wouldn’t move … at the point which he could just see down the hallway. He was staring straight down the hall.
“I looked at him, then down the hall to an open doorway to a completely dark bedroom. He just stared, and would not move any further. I asked him, “Buddy, are you OK?” His response was ”Daddy. The light. The light scares me.” I looked again down the hallway where he was staring into the darkness. “Buddy, you see a light?” “Yes Daddy. It scares me.” I promptly picked him up and went back downstairs.
“To this day, the hairs still stand on the back of my neck when I think of it.” – mcboone
9. The Old Piano
“When I was in eighth grade I went on a school trip that was called the Louisiana Tour. It was mostly going around to significant sights in south Louisiana. One of the places we went was Myrtles Plantation, which is considered to be one of the most haunted places in the country.
“There are all kinds of stories about the place, but at one point we were standing in a room as a part of a larger group and the tour guide was talking about something, I don’t remember what. As I’m standing there I start to hear what sounds like someone hitting a piano key. After I heard it a couple of times I started to look around for the source of the noise. I didn’t see a piano, but I kept hearing it. So I asked my friends who were standing near me if they heard it, they said no. When I heard it again I said there is it again and that they must have heard it. They thought I was crazy.
“So I went back to looking around the room. Everyone’s eyes were on the tour guide except for one woman. She caught my eye and pointed at me and then at her ear with a questioning look. I realized she was asking if I heard it too and I nodded. At this point, the tour guide starts telling a story about a soldier who had died there and that he played the piano and multiple guests had reported hearing him playing in the night.
“I honestly didn’t know what to think, I guess I still don’t. I talked to the woman as we were all leaving the room and she had heard the exact same thing as me, but her husband and son had not heard it.” – Scribbling_des
10. How Lucky You Are
“Spring break of 2010. My buddies and I decided to camp out on an island at a local lake. One night as we are cooking food and drinking beer, a canoe floats by with one guy in it. He asks how we’re doing and we invite him to our island for grilled meat and beers. Being in South Arkansas, we naturally assume that everyone is friendly and wants to hang out. His name was Curt, and he was super friendly but really seemed to be sad.
“We asked him what was up and he replied: “Oh nothing really, it’s just that my friends are probably worried about me.” He looked at me and winked. “They’ll find out soon enough.” That still haunts to this day.
“Everyone liked Curt and, noticing that it was getting dark and he had been drinking, we offered to let him stay with us that night. He declined, saying that he had to get to where he was going and he seemed very adamant about that. I asked where he was headed thinking maybe we could give him a ride on a jet ski or something. Curt ignored the question and said, “You boys don’t know how lucky you are.” He hopped in his canoe and left.
“We didn’t think much about it. The next morning we woke up early to do some fishing. As we’re fishing, a police boat pulls up. The officer asks if we’re part of the search party that found the body. We obviously have no clue what he is talking about so he tells us a story about a young man in a canoe that disappeared last week. Apparently divers found his body at the bottom of the lake two days before. The young man’s name was Curt Clark.
“This was so freaky for us that we all packed up and left camp that day.” – GarrettDHall
11. Heavy Footsteps
“I was in the basement watching TV in the dark while my whole family was upstairs. As I’m chilling there, I hear footsteps coming down the basement stairs. While I normally can tell which family member it is by the cadence/heaviness of the steps, I didn’t recognize these ones. The footsteps stopped before the bottom of the stairs, so I called out saying, “Oh haha, so scary, I know it’s you”, thinking that it was my brother or someone trying to scare me.
“I look back to the TV, and the footsteps start again and I whip my head back to the stairs just in time to see a dark figure go into a side room that has glass doors. It’s pretty much pitch black, so I assumed whoever it was, was standing right behind the glass looking at me. That’s when I started to get scared and so I ran to the lights and flipped them on, only to find the room empty.”
12. The Praying Nun
“My dad worked at a mental hospital that used to be connected by an underground passage to a nun’s home, now abandoned. He says that one night he was walking down there when he saw a praying nun. He walked by her and said hello but she did not acknowledge him.
“My dad does not believe in ghosts, but he swears there was a nun down there that night.” – gmen1080
13. The Rocking Chair
“My Grandma’s house is in small Midwestern town. A white and old looking home, on a farm, she even has a chipped wooden mother Mary nativity in the front yard, you get the picture. The worst thing is that she has a cemetery about a half mile down the road. Anyway, I used to sleep in the room in the corner on the top floor (my aunt’s room) and it had a wooden rocking chair in it. When I was younger, I would wake up because I thought I heard it rocking. It freaked me out to the point where I would wake up my Grandma to stay in her room.
“Well, about 10 years, later my mom, aunt and I during Thanksgiving were talking about how creepy Grandma's house was. My aunt goes on to talk about how when she was younger the reason my mom and she ended up sharing a room was because she thought her room was haunted. She said she woke up one morning and the rocking chair was about two feet closer to her bed, and after that night it would start rocking on a nightly basis at midnight.” – luvaluva
This Story Was First Published on Occult Museum.