14 Real-Life Scary Stories You Shouldn't Read at Night
With Halloween just around the corner, we've striving to bring you content that'll get you ready to celebrate the costumes and candy holiday — no matter your age.
And while we've covered terrifying texts from the dead, horrifying small-town crimes, and even paranormal encounters that are sure to make you shriek, today we've culled the internet for true scary stories that actually happened to people in real life.
So if you'd prefer fictitious ghost tales around the fire, these factual accounts might not be for you. Below, 14 true scary Halloween stories that you definitely won't want to be reading alone at night.
1. Almost learned this driving tip the hard way.
Many years ago when I was in high school, I was staying up late playing video games. Parents were out but no big deal; being home alone didn’t scare me.
So I’m playing the game and at around 3 a.m., my parents finally arrive. This in itself wasn’t unusual but based off their demeanor, something had happened.
My dad told me that on their way back from their friend’s house a far drive away, he had noticed they were being followed. My mom had no idea but my dad (being the driver) was aware of this car that had followed them from about halfway back.
Our house was in the suburbs and thus, getting to our house involved a few turns and whatnot. My dad purposely drove past our house without stopping, which is when my mom asked what he was doing. Sure enough, the car continuously followed my parents through the neighborhood.
My dad ended up driving to the police station, which is when the car turned away and stopped following them.
It’s scary to think what could’ve been had my dad not had the presence of mind to be aware of his surroundings as a driver and to act on his intuition. My parents would’ve opened the garage door to put the car in and the idea that a car whose occupant(s) likely had a malicious intent was right behind them is a thought that still bothers me to this day.
Because of that past incident, I learned to always mind my surroundings when driving.
2. Overnight illness.
Ten years ago. I was 18 years old. As I was taking a shower and washed my hair, with every washing motion I pulled out more and more of my own hair until I was bald. No reason, no warning, nothing, just the pure horror of pulling out hands full of hair. The drain clogged with my hair as I silently stared in the mirror across the room at my own bald head. It felt like I was falling apart. Mentally and physically. I honestly thought I would die that day.
It was sudden auto-immune disease. Alopecia over night. It was scary as hell. The weeks after, I lost all my body hair as well. My hair never returned and I am very OK with it now, but I can never ever forget that moment in the shower...
3. What if it's not a hallucination?
When I was 15-16, my mom put me on “diet pills” (still don’t know what they are) that let me get away with just eating a tiny cup of soup the whole day and be ok with sleeping less than 3 hours daily. I got hooked on them because I could study way more.
I guess the sleep deprivation finally caught up one night, and I started having auditory hallucinations. It started with white noise, then morphed into what sounded like a garbled shouting argument between a bunch of people and started echoing until it became a man with a deep, sinister laugh laughing hysterically.
The rational part of me figured it’s auditory hallucinations but holy crap it was petrifying and I could feel every hair standing up.
Then another part of me just thought, “Well, if it’s not a hallucination and I’m actually going to get murdered by bloodthirsty ghosts, at least I don’t have to take the test tomorrow.”
I continued studying.
Asian schools were tough.
4. If these stories teach you one thing, it's to always trust your gut.
Me and my fiancée saw a guy on the side of the road asking for a ride. I told her there was no way in [hell] I'd pick up a male hitchhiker. She told me it was the right thing to do but I convinced her that we shouldn't. Three days later he was arrested for murdering the couple that picked him up.
5. Terrifying to think how many people have similar stories.
I'm 52. When I was about 8 years old, five other 8-10 year olds were in a kid's bedroom playing. This one boy and me were wrestling around when someone turned off the lights. When the light went off there was a loud pop. Another kid had found a pistol and fired it. I was laying on the bedroom floor. The bullet missed my head by two inches. It was a straight down shot that narrowly missed.
6. True story in real time.
Someone broke into my house TODAY and made himself a plate of food, took a shower, and put on my father-in-laws clothe's, and even switched my laundry.
Me and my girlfriend walked in on him sitting by the front door. My gf’s father knows a lot of people, and he was wearing my gf’s father's work shirt, so we just assumed he knew him. He asked us if we believed in God and told us the church sent him. We ran out immediately and called 911. He did not chase us fast at all. He calmly walked out the door as we drove away.
While on the phone, we watched him hop two fences very calmly. He saw the cop coming down the road (he came in literally 1:30 thank god) and ditched the shirt. We didn’t know if we had locked our gun cabinet so we didn’t know if he was armed. The cop jumped out and detained him, and he CALMLY went to the ground.
He destroyed the house but didn’t take anything. He ruined my gf’s parents bathroom door (like he got stuck inside the bathroom???) he tore the tile in our room???
He made a pile of what he was gonna take but didn’t even run when we caught him. My girlfriend is very shook up because this guy must have been here when while we were because we were only gone for 45 minutes.
The timing of when we got home was so perfect. My gf accidentally honked the horn when we pulled up, notifying him that we were home. Normally we walk in the house and go straight to our room and we would NOT have noticed him if he was still in the shower, or in the kitchen. He has previous charges of battery with a deadly weapon. Thank god we got lucky. He was definitely watching the house to know our very predictable leaving patterns.
7. Where is grandma?
When I was 8 (and my brother 6) my mom picked us up from school one day. When we got home my mom had forgotten her keys so she knocked on the door for my grandma to let us in.
Now architecture is super important to the story: we lived in a very well-to-do apartment building, on the 8th floor, where each floor was a loooooong rectangle, with a single apt on each end (so two apts per floor). In the middle of the rectangle of each floor, there was a single elevator. The building was essentially all glass, there were no external fire staircases or ladders and the nearest structure was another building an entire block away.
Ok. So we knock on the door. My grandma yells from the inside "I'm coming!" so we wait. And we wait. One minute, nothing. So we knock again. Again my grandma: "I said I'm coming!". Three minutes, then five. She still isn't opening the door even though we can clearly hear her in the kitchen inside the house so we are getting pissed. We knock and knock and she just keeps on saying the same thing: "I said I'm coming! I'm coming right now!"
Ten minutes later, the elevator opens behind us and out comes my grandma. The apartment had been empty the entire time.
It's been 20 years since then and my mom, brother, and I all clearly remember talking to that voice that sounded EXACTLY like my grandma. Zero explanation. My grandma is still alive btw.
8. No, this definitely counts as terrifying.
This probably doesn’t count but my dad once dug up two WW2 mortars in his back field (thankfully he didn’t hit them and was fine). Scared the [crap] out of me that they’re just like... there. Chilling underground.
Until they blow you to [bits].
9. The footprints though!
I was about 9 laying in bed watching snow fall out of a window that faced the back yard. Suddenly a man’s face popped up just inches from my window staring right at me. I still remember his beard coated in ice and his steamy breath. After a few seconds I unfroze and ran into my mom’s room. She thought I was making it up and sent me back to my room, I hid so I couldn’t see out of the window. The next morning when we left for school there were footprints in the fresh snow that straight went back to my window.
10. "I realized my parents weren’t home and someone else was in the house..."
This happened while living at my parents house about 10 years ago. My whole family, brother, sister, and parents were at a Major League Baseball game, it was a night game and being baseball it ran a little later into the night. I was working as a lifeguard in high school and would get off around 9 p.m. usually. The pool was super close to my parents so I could get home within minutes.
Well, I finally get home and get a shower and am trying to be quick about everything bc there was a party that night that someone from work was throwing. I’m getting out of the shower and walk into my room and here all this shuffling and running down stairs, so I yell “hello?!” Thinking it’s my parents. I then yell, “mom” “dad?!” Again to no avail and hear the running of footsteps down stairs, and next thing I know I hear our garage opening up (you could just manually lift the door at the time bc our garage door opener was broken) anyways that kinda freaked me the hell out bc literally no one was home except for me.
I ran across the street and got my neighbor and her son and I walked through my house with a samurai sword bc I was afraid whatever was in there was still there. The neighbor ended up calling the police, when we did another walkthrough we found that my dad had about $2-300 cash stolen, my mom's diamond rings and earrings were all stolen and there was a set of earrings lying on the bedroom floor with the jewelry box lid askew.
What happened was my parents' house was in the process of getting robbed while I came home, I was in the house with the intruders for some time before they realized I was home and heard the shower running and me starting to yell for my parents which startled them and made them make a run for it hence the footsteps and shuffling I was hearing and the escape route was through the broken garage door which they must’ve scouted out about our house for some time. The cop said that was the third break in on our area within the past week and they have been on the lookout for suspicious people without tipping off the public.
Real [stuff]. Probably one of the scariest things I’ve had happen to me though. The moment I realized my parents weren’t home and someone else was in the house with me was a terrible gut-wrenching feeling.
11. Brief but chilling.
I was abducted off the street while jogging, choked and threatened to kill me, and sexually assaulted me. I lived. He murdered the next female he snatched off the street from the same small town in California. He is on death row at San Quentin.
12. Full panic mode.
When I was 16, my grandparents hired me to house sit for three weeks at their farm house in a small town. It was the second to last night of my stay and all had gone well for a 16 year old completely alone in a big empty house for three weeks. It was about 1 a.m. and it started to thunderstorm outside, so I decided to turn everything off and go to bed. I was upstairs in the front bedroom that overlooks their driveway, using the toilet when I heard a loud noise outside that sounded similar to a tractor or riding mower. Now this isn’t completely unusual as my uncle lives down the street and he is who did the lawn care for their house. But at 1 a.m. during a storm it was quite odd.
I heard the side door to the house open and could hear my uncle's work boots enter below me. I thought maybe he was there to help out in case of a power outage. What really got to me though was the fact that the three German Shepherds were laying at the foot of the bed — completely unaware, which is not like them at all. Those dogs go wild at a leaf falling to the ground 15 feet away. So, I go to the window and look out at the driveway — no cars, no tractor, nothing. No one is out there. All of the sudden the stomping intensifies and I start to hear what sounds as if someone is banging a broom on the ceiling below me. Now the dogs start going wild and I’m in full panic mode. The thunderstorm outside is intensifying, the stomping and banging on the ceiling is getting louder and the dogs are going berserk. Instantaneously, the power goes out and everything — EVERYTHING stops. The dogs, the stomping, the banging, everything. The room I’m in is pitch black for about five full minutes and I hid under the covers trying to call my uncle in a sheer panic. After that, everything was as if nothing happened and the storm passed shortly after. Was the scariest and weirdest night ever.
13. Stop it, Minnie Mouse!
Wake up at around 1-2 a.m. to go get a drink, walk down my hallway and start to walk downstairs in the darkness and all I hear is my daughter's Minnie Mouse toy go off from downstairs "Hee hee wanna play!?" I ignore and and keep going down "Hee hee wanna play!?" I decided my drink wasn't worth it and went back to bed, woke up in the morning and the Minnie Mouse toy was next to my bed without any batteries in it.
Well played demon toy, well played.
14. It's always about the footprints.
Used to live in a house in a quiet neighborhood. I’d often stay up late in the living room, which had a fairly large glass door to the back yard that you could slide open with no curtain. Sometimes I’d hear noises in the backyard but it’d usually be my cats. Sometimes the motion sensing porch light would turn on, but again I figured it was some nighttime critter.
One day after a night of snow I noticed a fresh set of shoe prints that stopped dead right in front of that glass door. Someone had obviously been there at some point in the night. Another time I noticed the glass door’s lock was slightly tampered with. I’m actually freaking myself out writing all of this because at the time I figured it was just a one time thing but in reality this person could have been making repeat visits anytime he wanted before and after that snow day.