Scary stories are a morbid fascination we have. Every time we read a well-written one, we regret that we couldn’t get a room at Hook and Ladder 8. Yet we keep coming back for more, because for some sick reason, scary stories get our blood pumping in ways no other form of entertainment can.
One of the best sources for myths, legends, and ghosts is r/nosleep. Everything on the subreddit is original fiction, so you won’t see these stories anywhere else (provided everyone’s following the “no plagiarism” rule). When we’re feeling the inexplicable itch to scare-poop our pants, we head over there to see if anyone’s posted anything lately. Most times, they have.
If you have an account with Reddit, make sure you get over there and give OP an upvote. These stories are all true, even if they’re not, according to the subreddit’s description. That means if you’ve clicked through, you have to allow yourself to get swallowed up in the world the poster has created. Not only is that the rule, it’s way more fun.
The Limping Woman
Our first pick is a straightforward urban legend. Everyone can relate to it because everyone’s town/city/suburb/fortress/commune has some version of the haunted stretch of road. So many devil roads, cursed highways, and satanist driveways exist across the US that you could probably make a cross country road trip from only ghost streets. But don’t let their prevalence distract you from just how scary these roads can actually be and “The Limping Woman” reminds us these stories exist because they work. You don’t have to be crazy original, just an effective storyteller. This one hits all the notes it needs to to make you second guess your midnight pedestrian plans. Read
It Turns Out the Scratches Didn’t Come from a Bear After All
Of all the stories we read for this feature, this is the only one to make effective use of images. You get to see detailed photos of the setting as well as of whatever it is the two people saw in their time on location. This story is on the shorter side, but the writer also makes some of the most economical use of words we’ve ever seen in a story. By the time the ending rolled around, we were swearing up and down we would only be spending the night in fully furnished, solid constructions. None of this vulnerable abandoned cabin stuff for us, no matter what inheritance we get from well-off, deceased relatives. Read
I’m a Search and Rescue Officer for the US Forest Service
Time for a bit of honesty. We didn’t read this whole series. It became a little too much for our terrified caveman brains to handle, so we had to go watch reruns of Veep until we calmed down. The incidents the officer talks about in these posts are viscerally impactful. Everyone’s been out in the woods, everyone’s been out in the woods for too long, and everyone’s been out in the woods too late. These stories touch on those primal fears, of when you’re trying to get your dog back to the car to make it out of the park before sundown, or when you’re out camping and nature calls after dark, so you go to the treeline and things start rustling. Absolutely read through these, then absolutely call your congressmen to advocate shutting down the US Forest Service. Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8
The Quiet Neighbor
This is easily one of the best twists on “creepy guy on our street is creepy” we’ve ever read. The creepy guy being creepy is the main foundation for the story, but the actual conflict between the kids and the guy goes beyond anything we were expecting. The buildup is expertly plotted and the payoff is a well-crafted, quick burst of heart-pounding action with a horrifying twist. This could easily have been a story about the guy who murders kids in his basement, which would have been fine, but definitely not included on this list. Instead, the story brings in new ideas and freshens up an aging trope. Read
A Package Marked “Return to Sender”
Urban legends rarely make the jump to modern times gracefully. People from a century ago and beyond seem to be better in touch with what’s unsettling on a supernatural, personal level, so those are the stories that connect with us in upsetting ways. But when a new legend blends old fears and new technology, it makes it all that much more satisfying. We can’t say too much without spoiling the whole story, so what we’ll say instead is that you should always get to know your neighbors as best you can, even if you don’t particularly like them. Read
You may have noticed that Reddit user Pippinacious wrote three of eight of our picks, so we want to say we didn’t do that on purpose. This article isn’t a secret plug for their writing and Pippinacious isn’t an account we made just to get some extra internet points. Their multiple inclusions are simply the product of the stories being really good, creepy stories. Like their other stories, this one takes something the audience would already be familiar with, but brings in enough originality that fans of the genre will still be surprised. Read
Something’s Really Weird about My Sexy New Neighbor
This title doesn’t do this story justice. Everything we picked was well-written and fun to read, but this is the only story that injects genuine personality into its narrator. Every other narrator has been fleshed out well enough that we connect on the necessary level, but this is the only guy who we read who we felt like we knew in real life. The narrator is a funny, irreverent, horny teenage boy who gets caught up in some creepy shit, mostly because he and his brother wanted to spy on their sexy neighbor. The multi-part series spins a much deeper tale than we were expecting and never loses the teenage tone that brought us in in the first place. Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6
Grandma’s Light is Always On
We wanted to close out with a short story, because by now you’ve probably clicked through to at least two series with a half dozen or more installments, along with other posts whose length more suits a literary journal than a forum post. “Grandma’s Light is Always On” is a quick, straightforward ghost story, hitting all the right notes without dragging anything out or bogging itself down with unnecessary detail. It takes for granted that we all understand grandparents have some weird habits, which is a fairly safe assumption, and moves on from there. It’s also one of the only stories on this list that keeps everything traditional, opting for simple dark vs. light rather than going on a monster hunt through the woods or diving into voodoo and witchcraft. It’s a quick, solid ghost story that will make you reconsider why people have the habits and beliefs they do. Read