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The Creepiest True Stories People Lived Through

June 11, 2023 People's Tonight 259 views

Rosa Pasquarella

Most of us are familiar with the tradition of scary stories. Usually while gathered around a campfire, people will swap spooky tales about things that go bump in the night. These fanciful stories were just enough to scare you, without totally pushing you over the edge… But what happens when scary stuff starts happening IRL?

We’ve gathered some real life horror stories from the internet. Whether you prefer paranormal activity, or tales of adventurous escapes of death’s grasp, these real horror stories will make your skin crawl, and at the very least, rob you of some (if not all) shut-eye.


• 1

Woman smoking on balcony at 3AM sees suspicious man who shows up at her door moments later

“A few years ago I was living in a fairly nice apartment complex, having a cigarette on my balcony around 3 AM on a Tuesday night. I’m usually on my phone, but I got this weird chill and looked up to see a middle-aged man walking down the sidewalk across the complex. It struck me that he did not belong here, and I realized he wasn’t one of the residents. As I was thinking this, he suddenly stopped and looked right at me, making eerie, way-too-long eye contact, and then rushed off between buildings, in the opposite direction of my apartment. I told my husband about it and joked that if we get a knock on our door in the next 15 minutes, we can assume it’s that creeper. Sure as sh*t, 10 minutes later there’s this quiet, faint tap-tap-tap on our door. My eyes probably popped out of my head, and my husband jumped up to grab his gun from the other room. I slowly walked up to the door to look through the peephole, holding my breath, and there was the man I had seen, looking right at me through the peephole! I know he wasn’t able to actually see me, but the image of him looking right into my eye still freaks me out to this day. My husband walked up to the door, stared through the peephole and shouted ‘What?’ in this threatening voice, apparently the man had his hand on the doorknob and jerked back in surprise to hear a man’s voice. Dude asked for Jeremy or some made up name and my husband told him to leave. After bullsh*tting a little longer, the guy finally walked downstairs, only to peer up into my living room window from the lawn. I closed the blinds and he moved over to stare at me through the balcony door. He didn’t move on until after I shut that one too. We called security and gave a clear description and everything. A few days later, we got a report from our complex that an apartment had been robbed around that time that night. What keeps me up at night is this question: if you’re going to rob an apartment, why would you go to one that you definitely know a woman is awake and home (seemingly alone) at?”

What do you think?

Is this creepy?

• • 2

Woman finds man with knife petting her house

“My bedroom is on the second floor of the house. There’s no patio/porch/overhang of any kind beneath my windows.

Couple of years ago I was watching TV in bed around 2 AM and heard a louder than usual ‘animal’ sound. Not uncommon to hear squirrels running around on the roof from time to time. Didn’t think much of it. Kept on happening, and started to sound awfully close to the window and not on the roof. I ignored it for a pretty long time.

After at least 40 to 45 minutes of being irritated by the noise, I banged on the wall in hopes of scaring them off until I could get to sleep.

Just two quick bangs with my fist. Which were answered with two bangs on the wall right next to the window from outside.

Needless to say, I just about sh*t and jumped out of bed.

Now, my living room has a bay window, and is on the other end of the house, so I could look out that window from the side and see my bedroom window. I hustle downstairs and peek out.

I see a guy standing in front of my house, below my bedroom window. He’s got a knife (small pocket knife) in his hand, and he’s ‘petting’ the front of my house.

Call the police and wait. He never leaves the front of the house even when they roll up and ultimately disarm and arrest him without much struggle.”

• Is this creepy?

• • 3

Family moves into new house; toddler befriends ghost of man who had died there

“We moved into a new house a few months ago. As we were in the process of purchasing the house, the renter who was living in it died unexpectedly of natural causes in his mid-40s. He died right in the middle of the living room. Shortly after, we move into the house, and almost immediately our two-year-old daughter starts talking about the ghost that lives in our house. Now let’s be real here – she is two and two-year-olds are VERY impressionable. Halloween had recently passed, and she had this Halloween-themed picture book that she loved to read, so it’s entirely possible that all this talk of ghosts was just coming from looking through that book on a regular basis. Still, she was always telling me that the ghost was in her play house in the basement, or that the ghost was on the stairs, or that the ghost was standing in the corner. She never seemed to be afraid of the ghost, and considered him to be her friend, so I wasn’t all that concerned even if there really was a ghost haunting our house. If he’s a nice and helpful ghost, it could certainly be a lot worse. I would often tell the ghost that he was welcome to stay if he wanted to, but he was also welcome to go if that would make him happier. I was about 30/70 on the ghost being real and she could see and talk to him versus the ghost being just her imagination fueled by her Halloween book… until one day, when we were going out to the car to go to daycare in the morning. It was still dark out, and rainy. My daughter told me that the ghost was on the back deck, and then she told me that today was the ghost’s birthday and she wanted to sing him Happy Birthday. Once again, I mostly disregarded what she was saying, as she is birthday obsessed and has in the past made us sing Happy Birthday to Mickey Mouse, a bowl of fruit snacks, and the bathroom. So we sang and wished the ghost a happy birthday and went on with our lives. Later that day, out of pure curiosity, I looked up the obituary of the man who had died in our house. And wouldn’t you know it? It was his f*cking birthday.”

Is this creepy?

• • 4

Man wakes up with mysterious handprint on his chest

“I once woke up with the outline of a hand print on my chest. I measured it and it was too small for my hand and too large for my wife’s hand.”

Is this creepy?

• • 5

Insomnia saves man from home invasion

“Occasionally I get mild bouts of insomnia but nothing serious, usually just a delay in my bedtime of an extra two or three hours. One night I suddenly just can not sleep. Nothing will get me to relax and I eventually give up and just sit in the front room playing Heavy Rain all night as it had just come out a few days ago. The next day when I head off to work exhausted with zero hours of sleep I got a text from my roommate.

‘Dude the police are all over the apartment complex.’

Apparently nine apartments including our downstairs neighbor were broken into last night WITH PEOPLE HOME SLEEPING. Some people even reported things being stolen from the rooms they were sleeping in.

It hit me that had I not stayed up all night and left the light on in the front room I would have been robbed… or worse.”

Is this creepy?

Man hears footsteps in vacant apartment; police find stranger with knife inside

“I lived in an apartment a few years ago. Four units upstairs, four units downstairs. I lived upstairs, and the apartment below me was vacant. I kept hearing footsteps through the apartment, and I knew I shouldn’t have. Nobody was downstairs. I asked someone to come over and listen, just to see if I was crazy. Maybe I’m just hearing other apartments since it’s empty downstairs, and everything is echoing.

Wrong. I kept hearing the footsteps. This went on for a solid hour. Finally I called the landlord and the police. Apparently someone had broken in through the windows downstairs, and was walking back and forth through the apartment with a knife. F*cking horrifying.”

Is this creepy?

• • 7

Man checks on car on the side of the road; finds dead man “sleeping” inside

“I drove past a car on my way to class (in college). I always took the back roads to avoid traffic, so it was a bit odd to have a car parked on the side of the road. When I came back from class it was still there. I drove by a bit more slowly and saw what I thought was someone sleeping in there. I thought that was odder still, but maybe someone was traveling and decided to pull off to take a rest and just fell asleep longer than they planned? Nope, next morning I read in the paper a wife killed her husband and dumped his body and the car on that back road.”

Is this creepy?

• • 8

Man goes out for pizza; narrowly avoids cougar attack

“I was out in the middle of nowhere at a musical conference my wife was presenting held at an old church retreat camp. One of her presentations ran way over so the lodge’s cafeteria was closed.

With no car, no phone (this area was so remote there was no coverage for mobile), and no vending machines, the only resort was to walk into the nearest town and get food. I grabbed a coat and flashlight and had no issue on the trip down and snagged a pizza from a spot along the highway around midnight.

On the way back it was a different story. I got a severe feeling of discomfort, I could feel eyes on me. This was out in the middle of the woods, so my first instinct is there is an animal following me. Knowing most predators like to hit from either above or behind I turned on my phone light and kept it pointed behind me and swept my flashlight up and down as I walk. The whole walk back I heard rustlings, first along one side, then following behind. I kept a steady pace and acted cool… even though I was terrified.

Shortly before I was back on site, the feeling left, no more sounds. My wife and I enjoyed pizza and slept in. Two days later we got a shock from the news. A homeless woman was found less than 1500 yards from our site that had been mauled and partially consumed in what appeared to be a cougar attack. Estimates of the time of death were the same night I went out for pizza.”

Is this creepy?

• • 9

Mentally ill man on shooting spree wreaks havoc in suburban Chicago

“When I was in fifth grade some guy who was mentally ill had a meltdown somewhere in Chicago. Apparently he shot and killed some random guy and stole his car. He drove up I-94 towards my suburb, got off the highway, and drove straight into my neighborhood (it’s very close to the exit) and just started shooting sporadically at people’s houses. He somehow wound up in my backyard (which is full of trees) and was just shooting in every direction. I can still vividly remember break lights in the middle of the otherwise pitch-black woods and sparks from the gunfire going off in every direction. The cops showed up and shot him to death. Luckily no one was hurt, but my neighbors did find a bullet in the middle of their mattress. Fireworks are not so fun anymore.”

Is this creepy?

• • 10

Man becomes someone else for a day

“A few days ago, my iPhone would not accept my fingerprint for touch ID… any of my fingerprints.

My dog stayed on the other side of the apartment from me, and wouldn’t take any treats from me. I trained him not to take treats from anyone except me, to avoid poisoning or illness. But he wouldn’t even take his favorite treats from me or cuddle with me. When I went to hug him, he hid in his kennel.

My PIN didn’t work for my debit card, so I wound up running it as credit. I use the same PIN for everything.

The only websites I could get into were Reddit, Gmail, and Amazon – pages where my password is stored. Any website where I had to enter username and password, it came back as incorrect.

Thank God there’s no password to wake my computer up, or I wouldn’t have been able to do any work that day.

The next day, everything was back to normal.”

Is this creepy?

• 11

Alarms go off and phones ring simultaneously in the middle of the night

“All of the alarms in my house went off at exactly midnight, then later in the night, all of the phones in my house rung at exactly 3 AM. I watched The Babadook the day before with my girlfriend, and needless to say I was terrified.”

Is this creepy?

• • 12

Rat chews on boy’s face while he sleeps

“Woke up to a rat eating my cousins eyebrows, while sharing a a bed.”

Is this creepy?

• • 13

Empty house makes a call to 9-1-1

“Working as a 911 dispatcher, I got call from a house. Call it back, it’s been disconnected. This is actually fairly common and happened whenever it rained. The backstory on the house is that it was vacant and used to have an active landline.

The theory was that the water was somehow getting to the telephone system to the house, and was setting off false alarms. Well we get one, and I thought about just saying ‘f*ck it’ but I stuck with protocol and sent an officer.

The vacant house had just caught on fire. The day after a rain storm. Never found a witness, and the house was saved.”

Is this creepy?

• • 14

Man swerves car to avoid hitting bear, crashes into tree where another bear awaits him

“It was winter break, freshman year of college. I drove up to visit one of my friends in northwestern Pennsylvania for New Years. I needed to be back home the next day for work, so I decided to drive back at like 2 AM. I was driving down Interstate 79, and I maybe saw two cars in a 60-mile span. I came up around a bend and saw what looked like a black bear in my lane and I swerved and went off the road and crashed into the tree line next to the highway. I was in the middle of nowhere and the bear just booked it into woods. My car was f*cking totaled and I knew I wasn’t gonna see any cars for hours to help me out. I called 9-1-1 and they said they would come in like 20 minutes. I got out of the car and stood up on the shoulder of the highway and waited. After about five minutes I heard some rustling in the bushes and there it was, the f*cking bear. Turns out when I went off the road I hit a cub and mama bear was p*ssed as all hell. I booked it over to the back of the car and hopped in the trunk. Thank god I had a big Ford Expedition so the bear couldn’t f*ck with it too much. For another half an hour the bear tried ramming the car and was trying to get at me in a frenzy. The police showed up and the sirens scared mama bear off into the woods again. It was the most terrifying experience of my life.”

Is this creepy?

• • 15

Child’s night terrors are triggered by live bat stuck in his duvet cover

“I grew up in a forestry cottage miles away from any town, we often got toads and birds and other woodland creatures in the house out of the blue. I was seven at the time and suffered from night terrors. My parents often found me about the house at night speaking nonsense or screaming, must have freaked them out to no end. For a few nights I had been shouting at my parents, convinced there was something in my bed, I couldn’t sleep because of it but obviously my parents put it down to nightmares. I kept saying something was shaking in my bed and scratching me, they took all my blankets and toys out to show me there was nothing there but I was still convinced. I was an odd child so people often thought I was making things up. Turns out a bat had gotten into the duvet cover, I opened it up one night and this thing flew out, parents ran in and turned the light on to find this bat dinging around the room. Sometimes I’m still woken up by the feeling that there’s a bat in my blanket.”

Is this creepy?

• • 16

Deceased aunt makes an appearance months later

“My great aunt died in August, 2012. Six months later (February 2013) my cousin was playing in a hockey tournament. He was extremely close to our aunt and was pretty devastated by the loss.

His team was never that good; however, in this particular tournament they were doing really well… so well that they made it to the finals. They lost, but that’s where fate comes into play. All of the runner-up trophies were wrapped in newspaper. My cousin pulled a trophy out of the box and the single piece of paper wrapped around it was my aunt’s obituary from six months earlier.”

Is this creepy?

• • 17

While family watches “The Birds” actual bird triggers potentially fatal gas leak

“Years ago, around Halloween, my family had gathered to watch scary movies. My mom loved these shows. My dad didn’t care much for them, so he would get up every few minutes to work on some thing or other.

We had started watching Hitchcock’s The Birds, and it was getting late, probably close to midnight… and it was getting cold. Not just the late October chill of the foothills we lived it, the house was getting cold.

At first my mom just asked my dad to turn up the thermostat, but after couple minutes of the furnace running and the house not warming up, he realized he’d need to go check the furnace.

He grabbed a lighter and headed downstairs. A minute later, we hear him shout for us.

‘You have to come see this!’ He says with something that sounds part excitement, part nervousness in his voice.

We get down there to see him shining a flashlight into the furnace. Peering in, first we just noticed the pilot light was indeed out. Then we saw the reason. A dead bird. Something about the size of the palm of my hand, maybe a sparrow, had flown into the furnace from outside and put the flame out.”

Is this creepy?