As the saying goes; fact is stranger than fiction. And more often than not it’s far more frightening too. Everyone loves a good scare now and then, so it should come as no surprise that thousands of people from around the world have been sharing their most terrifying true-life horror stories for our reading pleasure. From tales of death, madness and otherworldly beings to a strange encounter with a sinister smiling man, who dances ever closer in the dark.
Readers beware, if you’re reading these terrifyingly true horror stories at night, you’ll soon be reaching for the light switch and pulling the bed covers tight. Sweet screams everyone.
1. The Morgue
“I used to work in a hospital (in the IT department). We did a number of overnight rollouts, as well as on call work/response when issues occurred overnight. Many weird things happened or appeared to happen.
The thing that struck me as oddest, was when I saw the coroner running at full speed down the corridor, in the opposite direction, towards the morgue. This guy, an older guy in his 50s or so, was going at full speed! I had never seen him above an amble before, but this time he was really going for it. As he got close to me he yelled “Out of the way—I got another live one!”
I am not sure what was more disturbing, the fact that he was dealing with what I could only assume was a dead body that now appeared to be alive, or the fact he said “another.”” – TheJooce
2. The Rocking Horse
“One night when I was maybe 10 – 12 I had trouble falling asleep. My bedroom was the entire top floor of our house with my bed and such being on the left side and storage closets and a play area being on the right.
I was lying in bed when I heard a noise from the other side of the room and saw a rocking horse begin to rock. It was sitting just outside one of the storage closet doors. It proceeded to rock its way halfway across the room and stopped dead under the ceiling light. At this point I was freaking out and just buried my head under the blankets and never peeked out again until morning.
It was all confirmed to not be a dream as the rocking horse was still in the middle of my room when I woke up. Furthermore, I got a stern reprimand from my parents for being up out of bed playing with my toys well past my bedtime. Their bedroom was directly below the storage closet/play area and had heard the creaking of the rocking horse shuffling across the room.” – Heresyed
3. “You’re Not Supposed to Answer”
“My old co-worker had a son that was in his mid 30’s and he had a son named Hunter that was four or five. She said that Hunter would have bad dreams and that he would sleep with his dad when he got scared.
One night his dad woke up because he heard Hunter calling him. But he was calling him by his name, not ‘dad’. So he went to his room and he was asleep. He woke him up and said “Hunter, you were calling me. Is everything okay?” And Hunter said, “Dad, when they call you you’re not supposed to answer.” and fell back asleep.
He asked him about it in the morning but he said he didn’t remember saying it.
I get chills when I think about it.” – Anonymous
4. Red Light
“Driving home with a buddy from the high school summer job at the local amusement park. It’s about 3 in the morning, and there is no traffic at all. Get stuck at the red light that never ends and while we are waiting, another car pulls up next to us.
Big black hearse, in immaculate condition,
With a clown in the driver’s seat, with full makeup and costume on.
He never moved, didn’t look at us, nothing; just stared straight ahead the whole time.” – aelios
5. The Bridge
“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.” – spectre_alabama
6. The Hidden Confession
“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 kindergartener, in childish scrawl was ‘I KILLED THE BABY.’” – Anonymous
“My grandmother’s entire life she had a recurring nightmare. In this nightmare, she would be walking down a long dark hallway, turn to the left, open a door, and see something terrible. She’d always wake up before seeing what it was.
In her 40s, she, her husband, my dad, and my aunt were on vacation. They booked the hotel at the last minute, so they ended up having to get two rooms with two twin beds on opposite sides of the floor.
My dad wakes up around 3 AM and can automatically tell something’s not right. He calls out in the darkness “Dad?”. No response. He turns on the bedside light. “Dad?” he says, a little louder this time. Still no response. Getting worried, he slides out of bed and shakes his father. He doesn’t wake up.
My dad ran down the hotel hallway to my grandma’s room and started banging on the door. My grandma worriedly opens the door, and my dad shouts “something’s wrong with dad!”
He leads her down the hallway. A long hallway. To the last door on the left. My grandmother reaches the door, turns to left, and sees her husband dead in bed. Heart attack.” – DSice16
8. The Playground
“Finding a woman who had committed suicide by hanging herself from the monkey bars of a park I used to work at 6:15 on a very foggy morning. When I got to the gate of the park to open it (park maintenance worker) I could see her 100yds away at the playground and thought she was just standing there looking at the ground with her umbrella on the ground beside her, it was only when I got closer did I realize she was hanging from a jump rope 6 inches off the ground. My voice was very shaky during my 911 call. The dispatcher asked me to touch her to see if she was cold (she was very cold and very wet, had been raining all night).
The fu*ked up part is this park is very close to an elementary school and the parking lot is a popular place to drop kids off at…and it was a weekday.” – Bandito13
9. Last Phone Call
“A few years ago my boss went on holiday for a couple of weeks to Spain. Mid-way through the holiday he got a phone call from the police informing him that his sister had died in a fire in her flat. So he rushes back home early, deals with the police and the death and everything.
My employers told him to take some time off to grieve, which he duly did. When he came back into work on a monday morning a few weeks later, we invited him in to our coffee room to talk and offer him our sympathies and support. About half an hour later he excuses himself to start work.
He walks into his office, sits down at his desk, turns on his computer and checks to see if there are any answer phone messages. And the very first message that plays is his sister, screaming down the phone “Help me! Help me! I’m trapped I can’t breathe…”
Still, sends chills down my spine to think about.” – FriendWatermelon
10. The School Bus
“When I was a kid I was always the last kid picked up by the bus driver to go to school.
One day I was waiting for the bus by myself and a bus with no kids pulled up.
The bus driver smiled and told me to hop on. I just had a bad feeling, I said “where are the other kids?” He said “We will go get them now, just get on.” He got more and more pushy but didn’t do anything crazy. I just kept saying no and he shrugged and left.
The real bus pulled up a few minutes later.” – oneb62
11. The Man With No Face
“In a cold winter night in a remote village from Québec, Canada, in 1990, me and my two brothers were asleep. We were 1, 3, and 6 years old. In the middle of the night, someone entered our house without knocking, walked around and was talking to himself. Our house is 2 miles from the village, in a rural area. My father woke up, went to the living room where the guy was. He had a car accident one mile from our house with his buddy who died instantly, and his scalp fell in front of his face, so the first time my father saw him, he saw a man with no face. He was drunk and his body was frozen. He was speaking to himself “Je vais mourir, je vais mourir!” which means “I’m gonna die”. The fact that his face was partially frozen might have saved his lives, preventing him to loosing too much blood. My father took him to the hospital at 25 km from our house by car. He did survive.
To this day, my father is still blessing the fact that we never woke up during the night with all the noise.” – Ralal
“I was an RA in a dorm for two years in college. A girl who had been having stress issues finally snapped. She was found by someone in a dark stairwell (I was in an older dorm, circa 1887, so there were plenty of nooks and crannies). By the time she was found she had already torn out over half of her hair and had eaten it. She just kept on saying, “I just need a haircut,” in a perfectly normal voice. It took 6 of us and the police sedating her to finally get her strapped down to an ambulance gurney.
To this day I can’t forget how powerful she was. She couldn’t have weighed over 120 pounds, yet she had this sort of superhuman ability to rip her arms away to tear out another clump of hair and stuff it into her mouth. All with a perfectly straight face.” – happyhobbit
13. The Ringing of Bells
“This isn’t something I heard from my kid’s room, but it was something creepy heard over a baby monitor. I did at home care for a little while, and there was this one client I had a couple of years ago. The lady I assisted had dementia, and she was just at the point where the good days were fading. We had a baby monitor in her room so we could hear when she was waking up. I’ll go ahead and mention that we also had bells pinned to her sheets so that when she was trying to get up on her own (fall risk) we would hear the bells jingle. It was common to hear her down in her room talking to “that man.” Asking “who are you?” and “what is it?” to an empty room. One evening her and I were in the living room together by ourselves, and I heard the bells start jingling on their own over the baby monitor. There was no ceiling fan, the AC/heat wasn’t running, no windows were open.
I always had bad feelings in her house, with things like cabinets opening and one really creepy time where it sounding like footsteps coming down the hallway which really scared me. I’m honestly glad I will never have to go into that house again.” – winglamo
14. The Man with the White Gloves
“I was driving on some country roads at 1 a.m. with my buddy one night in the summer. Come up to a one lane, old, rickety bridge at the bottom of a valley. The bridge is also next to an old bar that now sits abandoned and is frequently vandalized, so it’s already sketchy. Pull onto the bridge and there is a car waiting on the other side… At first we thought nothing of it. If a car is on the bridge you have to sit there and wait your turn to cross. But here’s where it gets sPoOkY…
My friend and I get closer and closer to the car, but something is wrong. We see a white glove waving at us at about half-way to the other side. As we are almost across the bridge we see that the person waving his white glove has an expressionless mask on… Needless to say, we freak the f*ck out as we have to slowly weave around the car and stare face to face with the person still waving. Drive off, scared sh*tless, but have to take the same road back… We get to the bottom of the hill, car is still there, but there is no one inside. We kinda look around for a second before we gtfo of there and we haven’t been back since.” – JiffyJuggler
15. The Apartment
“This happened to a friend of mine.
It’s a Sunday. She comes home to her apartment from running errands around 1 pm. She was in med school at this time, so she pretty much parked herself at the kitchen table and studied for the next 5-6 hrs. She’s sitting there and looks up to see a dude casually stroll out of her bedroom. No other entrances, she’s sitting by the front door, so he’s been there the entire time she has been home. He pauses at the doorway to her kitchen, between her and the door. She basically froze. Then her phone rang and kind of startled both of them. She ran to get the phone, he ran out the door. She moved and got an enormous dog.” – GrumpyDietitian
16. The Toilet
“This happened to a friend of mine a few years ago when he and his wife where hiking in the Gold Coast hinterland in Queensland, Australia. After a good days hike they stopped at the rest stop to use the bathroom before heading back to the car.
The bathrooms at the rest stop were compost toilets, so the block of toilets were positioned on top of a large tank, the waste goes in the tank and breaks down naturally (and in the winter months often shoots a blast of cool air up the bum of anyone using them.)
My friend’s wife went to use the ladies while he waited outside, but she’d not been in there long when he heard her scream and rush out of the toilet. It’s Australia so there are many reasons for running out of a bush toilet screaming (Snakes, Spiders, Drop Bears, Ivan Millat), but this one takes the cake.
“THERE’S A MAN IN THE TOILET!” My friend was confused. His wife explained to him that she’d gone to the loo, and after she’d finished she’d looked into the tank (come on, you know morbid curiosity would get the better of you too) and there, submerged in liquid poop, she saw a bald man staring up at her.
He didn’t believe her, but she was adamant he go look, so he went into the ladies and with the flash-light from his iPhone he illuminated the poo pool to get a better look. He couldn’t see anything, but she was certain there was someone hiding in the tank watching people use the toilet.
As they were leaving and still arguing about it when they were approached by a man. “Excuse me, but did you see something weird in the toilet?” My friends wife answered “Yes!”, the man replied “Was it a man?!?”. He and his girlfriend had been hiking the weekend before and his girlfriend had seen the same thing. They all ran back up to the toilets for a second look, when they reached the door they heard a sound from behind the toilet block, my friend and their new acquaintance went around the back of the toilet block to check it out while his wife looked in the tank from the bowl.
At the back of the tank the top hatch had been opened, the bolt and chain had been removed and a telltale brown smudge seemed to suggest someone had slid down the back of the tank and taken off into the bush.” – joffreysworld
17. Under the Bed
“I had just moved into my first apartment and was in the process of moving in. The door that led into my apartment locks itself automatically when closed. So, I was going to the entrance of the apartment complex to get my mail while talking on the phone with my boyfriend. I returned to my apartment and sat on the bed while opening the mail while using the phone, I dropped the phone on the floor and it landed under the bed so I had to lie on the floor and stretch for it. I saw something that caught my eye, there was someone under my bed… My eyes widened and I choked the urge to scream. The person under my bed was lying still with his back towards me and his head to his chest, so I couldn’t see his face. And he didn’t see me, trying to be rational while so many thoughts rushed through my head, I picked up the phone, said “Sorry I dropped my phone, I’m just gonna take a shower and call you back.”
The bathroom is right by my bed so I hastily walked in, quietly locked the door, turned the shower on, jumped out my window (my apartment is on the first floor) and called the police. They told me to wait nearby, but to go to across the street and see if anyone comes out the door to the apartment complex. This was during summer and it was still light out, I placed myself across the street, hiding behind a car while watching my open bathroom window and the entry door. I called my boyfriend and he came to me just before the police. I gave them my keys and they went inside. Only moments later two cops came out holding a thin and tired looking man. His eyes looked crazy, but he didn’t try to get away. The policeman that had stood beside me and comforted me while the police searched through my house (I was a mess, shivering and crying) told me that the man stood outside my bathroom door with one of my kitchen knives waiting for me to come out.
This man had somehow crept in my entry door while I was getting my mail and hid under the bed.The man that was trying to hurt me turned out to be a homeless person and was placed in a mental hospital.
My boyfriend moved in with me the very next day.” – Myhra
18. The Last Ride
“If you’ve ever been to Portland or you know that our public transportation system is pretty nice and the MAX system has a tram that runs between the Airport and the City Center until fairly late at night. I was coming home from seeing my family at Christmas and my flight came in very late so I was lucky enough to catch the last MAX home. Because it was so late it was just me…and a guy who looked homeless sitting a few seats ahead of me. He was sleeping with his head against the window. I paid little attention to him but noticed his head lolling around and wondered if he was wasted.
Anyway, we get to the city center and there are cops waiting there because apparently the homeless guy sitting in front of me is being escorted off the tram. Airport security had tried to get him off before and thought he was ignoring them and refusing to move. And that’s when both the cops and me find out that the guy had been dead the whole time. He had overdosed at some point before the MAX had even arrived at the airport We had been riding on that dark midnight ride alone together with one of us fairly deceased.” – killskerry
19. The Haunted House
“When I was younger I used to sleep over my best friend’s house a lot. He has an enormous, old house which is also quite beautiful. One night, I woke up and went up these long stairs to the bathroom while it was all really dark and I can’t start to describe the noises I heard while I was in the bathroom. I heard steps right outside the door, heard someone scratching the door and I thought “This must be my friend pranking me”, so I went and opened the door. Nothing, absolutely nothing. The noises stopped suddenly as soon as I opened it.
I slept in the bathroom that night and recently told my friend now that we are older what happened and he told me they had their house “purged” a year ago due to weird things happening, specially with his little sister.
To be honest, I don’t believe in ghosts nor anything of that kind but that event was a complete horror.” – Anonymous
20. The Call
“My grandfather told me this story about how one time he was sitting in a chair in front of the house, when he heard his wife repeatedly calling him from inside the house. The thing is, my grandmother passed away a few years before that. But he told me that the voice was so pressing that he actually got up to look inside the house, and as soon as he got inside he heard a loud crash behind him and turned around to see that the chair he has been sitting in moments ago had been crushed by the cast iron gutter that fell on it. If he didn’t.
If he didn’t come inside the house he would have probably been seriously injured. Every time I think about it, it sends chills down my spine.” – nuggetprincess
21. The Smiling Man
“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 the fuck 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.” – blue_tidal
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