When it comes to scaring up a spine-tingling fright, there is no shortage of options these days. A flick of the TV remote or a few clicks of the mouse are all it takes to deliver your instant, horrifying gratification.
But while movies and series are great (terrible), and while a good (creepy) horror novel or collection of short stories is always a comfy (unsettling) companion, nothing beats a true scary story when it comes to shattering your nerves and wrecking your sleep.
Luckily, the internet is rife with tales too terrible to be real — but they are.
Or … at least that’s the claim these 11 websites make. They’re some of the darkest places on the web, and they have an entire smorgasbord of horribly true scary stories just waiting for you.
So, just sit back — or hunch forward in fear — and click your way into the realm of the unbelievable.
After all, this stuff can’t really be real … can it?
Thought Catalog is one of those catchall sites that is jam-packed with headlines that just make you itch to click them. You know, gems like …
- I Miss You, But Loneliness Is WAY Better Than Being With You
- Here’s How Much Money Millennials Are Actually Making In Their First Job Out Of College
- All The Words That Helped Me Get Through 2017
It’s pretty Millennial-focused, and that might be a turnoff for some until you realize that some of those young authors are cranking out pieces like
- 17 Creepy Driving At Night Stories That Will Freak You Out Every Time You Get In Your Car
- 11 True Scary Stories To Read In The Dark Tonight
- 17 Chilling ‘I Met A Murderer’ Stories That Will Make You Paranoid AF
There are plenty more where those came from, too, and you can find the whole list of scary true stories from Thought Catalog on this search results page.
Are all of these dark tales really true? Probably not, but just the possibility that some of them are should be enough to give you chills.
You might expect a website called The Occult Museum to be sort of, um, dark.
And you’d be right.
Their offerings run from urban legends to traditional horror stories to creepy photos and videos of dolls and clowns and — gulp! — medical procedures.
One terrible common thread that runs through most of the articles at The Occult Museum is that the horrors depicted just might be real. I mean, you’re never really sure if that scarecrow in the old grainy photo is just a Halloween costume and not a madman on the verge of a rampage … right?
Even more frightening than the possibility of realness is the certainty of it. And every once in awhile, TOM will just come right out and tell you that what you’re reading actually happened.
And that’s really bad news when you’re talking about phantom hand prints on third-story windows and non-existent pianos that play by themselves.
Get your chill on with these and 11 other quick, scary tales here.
Everyone knows about Reddit — it’s the “Front Page of the Internet,” after all.
But if you dig past the hot stories of the day and suspend your “need” for slick design and full-color images, you can find just about anything you want in the thousands of subreddits.
And if being creeped out is on your daily menu, then you can definitely get your fill in “Let’s Not Meet.”
If you spend a few minutes on this subreddit, you’ll quickly get a bead on its flavor. Mostly, the stories are about guys (or girls) creeping around or doing creepy things or just looking creepy. It’s all enough to make your skin crawl, especially when you consider that these stories are (ostensibly, at least) told by people who have actually lived them.
And, every once in awhile, a bit of the supernatural will slip through in one of the narratives.
Check out Let’s Not Meet if you’re ready to watch your back. You definitely won’t want to meet these folks.
Like The Occult Museum (above), Darkness Prevails is a full-service, shivery website specializing in creepypasta, spooky videos, and, most of all, true scary stories.
In particular, Darkness Prevails splits their creepy tales into three main headings:
- Real Monster Sightings
- True Paranormal Stories
- True Creepy People Stories
They also collect all of these into one big stream of spine-chilling savagery here. Scroll down through these tales to your heart’s content, or at least until it stops due to fright! And if you make it through your first reading, keep coming back for more, because DP posts new stories every day or two.
Reader’s Digest has a long and, ahem, storied history as the Walmart of reading. Within the pages of this monthly magazine — and on the RD website — you can find little bits of everything.
From human interest stories, to brain teasers, to nuggets of humor across a broad spectrum of human endeavor, Reader’s Digest offers something for nearly everyone.
And, while they aren’t known for their horror stories or creepypasta, RD does publish condensed books, many of which tend toward darker matter.
But every so often, the venerable old magazine breaks out their scary sticks in earnest and goes hunting for the willies. The results usually run along the lines of this article, which promises, “These Chilling Real Ghost Stories Will Make You Believe.”
While the stories in this particular piece are culled from Reddit, Reader’s Digest has built up a robust library of “real ghost” stories over the years, chock full of enough chills to keep you shivering for ages.
Short ‘n Scary Stories is one of those simple websites where you can lose yourself for hours before you even know what happened. With entries stretching back nearly six years, this site presents hundreds of scary tales to suit most any taste.
While the level of writing ranges from over-the-back-fence neighbor slang to fairly sophisticated prose, the stories all share a brevity and focus on hair-raising thrills that make them great to hunker down with on any dark night when you need a scare.
And, while many of the narratives are clearly pure fiction, several are anecdotes with the ring of truth or downright gritty first-hand accounts of harrowing encounters.
In fact, Short ‘n’ Scary dedicates an entire category to more than 100 “true ghost stories.” Whether they’re all truly true is debatable but, as with other sites and tales in this list, even the possibility of veracity is enough to make these tales all the more chilling.
“The Lineup” is a pretty generic name, so you might think it’s another sprawling clickbait site. Spend a few seconds on the homepage, though, and you’ll see how wrong you were.
Sure, The Lineup is definitely sprawling. And, yes, you’ll want to click on just about everything you see.
But this is no shallow romp through every topic under the sun. No, The Lineup is tightly focused on scary stuff, with nearly irresistible topics like …
- How to Bury a Witch: The Stories Behind 7 of the Strangest Witch Burials in History
- This Famous Wigmaker Said He Provided a Disguise for Jack the Ripper
- 15 Killer Kids That Will Change The Way You See Children
From there, you can delve into books, movies, true crime, ghost stories … if you fear it, it’s probably here.
In fact, there are enough terrible real stories at The Lineup to give you nightmares for months, but if you want one place to start, it’s hard to beat 5 True Scary Stories Guaranteed to Give You Chills.
Just remember … you asked for it! (by clicking)
OK, so Esquire is the magazine that men turn to for style advice or to kick a Playboy habit or when they feel the need to bathe in free cologne samples.
It has nothing to do with the paranormal, so this must be the point when this list has finally and officially jumped the shark, right?
Not so fast …
Esquire regularly reviews all kinds of scary stuff, from movies to television series to American politics.
And, occasionally, the editors spring for a full-fledged, goose-bump-pumping horror piece designed to get your heart racing and your mind misfiring.
One of the best of this genre is “5 Terrifying-but-True Horror Stories Reported in the News.”
Like the rest of the entries here, these are quick hits that might bug you for a long time, and don’t be surprised if they send you scurrying for more information about their dark subject matter.
The Unexplained Mysteries website is just what the title promises — a huge collection of resources for examining mysteries of all sorts. From possible alien encounters to people who seemingly disappear into thin air to odd medical occurrences, this site is full of fascinating reads.
And there are few things on this earth more mysterious than the bumps in the night and flashes of light and cold spots in the corner that we often attribute to ghosts and hauntings.
So it’s not too surprising that Unexplained Mysteries features a full complement of ghost stories that they deem to be true among their volumes of odd and creepy tales.
With more than 100 posts in their “True Ghost Stories” category, UM will keep you entertained — and worried — for hours.
When you happen upon a site called “Ghosts and Ghouls,” it would be a colossal disappointment if they didn’t provide you with a healthy dose of true scary stories, wouldn’t it?
Never fear (well, until you read some of the tales on this list), because Ghosts and Ghouls is almost completely dedicated to bringing real ghost stories into the light of day.
And, while the site does a ghoulish job of profiling haunted joints across America and various terrible and haunting objects, some of the best posts come from their readers.
That’s where we get deep into the ghost-telling roots of the site, with contributors recounting experiences they’ve had or stories they’ve heard.
Hundreds of detailed true tales line page after page of spine-tingles, and new entries are added on a regular basis.
Jump into the “fun” here and check back again when you feel brave enough for fresh frights.
You might not expect a site that’s focused on the happenings in a small midwest city to have anything scary on it beyond the occasional crime report.
And normally, you’d be correct.
But Dayton, Ohio, is an old river town with a long history and many old, old buildings and houses. That’s just the type of setting that often leads folks to see and hear things, or at least to come up with stories about seeing and hearing things.
And Dayton is also renowned for their wicked haunted houses — they seem to spring up from the pavement around Halloween, and they’re some of the best and scariest in the region (at least).
So maybe it’s not so surprising that Dayton.com regularly features stories with scary angles to them, from dark-alley dealings to ghost stories.
Did someone say ghost stories?
Well, yeah, and Dayton.com dug in deep at Halloween in 2017 to deliver several first-hand tales of terror (to varying degrees). They’re well worth the read, and the site is one to watch as it continues to pull in scary true stories from across the nation.