Real Scary Stories That Will Keep You Up at Night | 22 Words

Who doesn't love some good scary stories? I'm pretty sure the only reason I ever agreed to go camping as a kid was the promise of s'mores and scary stories around the campfire. But these stories aren't your standard ghost story. They're 100% real stories that happened to real Redditors.

Not that ghosts aren't real... But these stories are about real people in crazy and dire situations. No urban legends here! So pull up your favorite campfire youtube video, crank the spooky tunes and dive in. These stories are sure to send a shiver up your spine and keep you awake way later than you wanted to. Seriously. I was up way too late last night after working on this story and I'll probably be up late tonight.

And because all of these stories are real, we feel compelled to provide this content warning. Some of these stories contain sexual assault and murder.

Great, let's just dive in with this complete horror show that I don't want to read ever again.

I was working the evening shift at a gas station. A man comes in all disoriented. I go to help him out. He has a gash on his head and doesn't know where he was. I couldn't see any crashes around so I assumed he had fallen or something. Normally we are supposed to stay inside the glass shielded register area whenever anyone is in the store. I, being a nice human being, went to help while calling the police/EMS. They got there and checked him out. They thought his head may have been fractured. I took him to the ER. I went back to work. Cops stopped back by for some coffee a few hours later. They told me the guy got hit by a baseball bat trying to break into a little girl's bedroom and was wanted for rape and murder in two other states. I never left the register area at night again. -Shadowhenge

Oh great, a story that makes me suspicious of everyone I think I know.

The story of John List. He killed his whole family-wife, mother, daughter and two sons. He meticulously planned the whole thing -- canceling all delivery services, excusing the kids from school, and even turned the air conditioning as low as possible to preserve the bodies for as long as possible. After he killed them all, he placed the bodies in sleeping bags and lined them up. He then wrote a letter to his pastor explaining why he had to kill them.

He then leaves and isn’t heard from again.

18 years later he’s remarried and doing the same job as before but this time he doesn’t have any children. He’s finally arrested after a tip was given to the FBI. Crazy thing is that because he planned it so well, the bodies weren’t discovered until a month after the murders so he had a huge head start and essentially started a new life in the same career and was heavily involved in a new church down in Virginia. Took 18 years to capture him. -mcsmith610

This is the story that made me stop listening to My Favorite Muder because it was too disturbing.

The story of Mary Vincent always stands out to me. In 1978, 15-year-old Mary was hitchhiking. A man named Lawrence Singleton picked her up. He brutally raped her and eventually made her get out of the car. She planned to run, but he noticed and cut both her arms off. He threw her into a ditch/ravine and left her to die.

She packed her stumps with mud to stop the bleeding and spent all night crawling out.

She eventually makes it to the highway and starts walking, naked and covered in blood. The first car that saw her sped away in fear. The second car was a couple on their honeymoon. They picked her up and she survived. --spookyxghost- He hardly served any time, got out on good behavior, and went on to kill Roxanne Hayes a few years later. NOPE.

Okay, another personal story. Because somehow those are worse.

One of my friends had someone following her home, hiding in the bushes so they couldn't be seen. She booked it to her house, got inside, and he was watching the house from the outside. She called the cops. They come along quietly and got the jump on him. He had condoms, handcuffs, and a knife. When they got his DNA, it turned out that he was linked to a half dozen rapes in the area. She credits her regimen of running sprints to outrunning him that night and firmly believes she would have been raped if she couldn't outrun him then. -JimmyL2014

A brush with a serial killer...

In my town in the early '90s, there was a notorious killer that had all of BC, Canada on watch. My wife's mother (years and years before I knew them) had been home alone while her husband was in England doing tree surgeon work (arborist). She was in her laundry room when a man walked up from her basement, completely scaring her, she freaked out and said, "what the hell are you doing here?"

He said he was friends with her husband and was just coming to see if he was here. Apparently, he told him he could just walk in.

So she knew that was BS. She was smart enough to tell him that he was just at the store and would be back any minute. He said he would wait outside for him, as soon as he left she called the police, but he was long gone by the time they got here. Two weeks later, the killer was caught, his mugshot was put on TV and it was the guy in her house. -sixesand7s

It's creepy how many similar stories there are.

When my parents were in college they went on a trip down to Florida. They had met through mutual friends and were down there together but hadn’t gone on a date yet. My dad and one of his friends were planning to meet my mom and some of her friends at a hotel but being the carefree college guys they were they lost track of time and realized it was impossible to get to the hotel on time by walking.

They decided the best solution to their problem was to hitchhike and a car with two women picked him up.

Everything seemed fine until the driver asked them if it was okay to stop for gas. My dad and his friend agreed it was no problem since they were making good time and she drove into a gas station. She then pumped her car full of gas before hopping back in and flooring it, basically stealing the gas with two hitchhikers in the back. My dad and his friend were beginning to freak out when she pulled a gun from under her seat and asked, “are we gonna have a problem" or something like that.

My dad and his friend shook their heads vehemently because what else do you do in that situation.

She then drove them to the hotel and dropped them off without so much as a scratch and they kinda thought nothing of it until the news started reporting on a serial killer in Florida known as Aileen Wuornos. He took one look at her picture and instantly recognized her as the driver. The only reason my dad thinks she didn’t straight up kill them was because they were super polite and respectful to her and her victims where usually scumbag guys trying to take advantage of her. So basically, a serial killer is the reason my dad got to his first date with mom on time. -FlyingRatSauce Side note: the movie Monster is about this serial killer and it's fantastic.

This one is less murder-y, but almost more terrifying.

An acquaintance of mine sent his son to triathlon camp in Texas. A week later, his son came back from camp. The next day, the son was complaining of a headache. Four days later, he was dead. Healthy, happy, fit 12-year-old one week, dead the next. Turns out the lake had Naegleria fowleri, a brain-eating amoeba. The amoeba needs to come into contact with the top of your nose, so you have to snort the water.

Or, if you happened to live in Louisiana in 2013, they weren't using enough chlorine in the water supply, so people using neti pots with tap water were exposed.

The good news is that the brain-eaters really like specific conditions - they like very warm, stagnant water with zero salt or chlorine. So even a little bit of chlorine or bromine is enough to protect yourself. In the US, only lakes in the South meet those conditions, and humans don't want to spend a lot of time in that water since it's usually pretty gross. Even then, you still have to get the water up your nose. You just have to move quickly, because once a person loses their sense of smell, it's already over (because the amoebae have eaten your olfactory bulb, the part of your brain responsible for smell. Then it continues eating, and eventually ends up at your brainstem, which controls things like breathing and heart rate). Nothing scares me as irrationally as already being dead and waiting for your body to catch on. -persondude27

Here's a short story that's just straight-up depressing.

Three sailors survived the sinking of the USS West Virginia at Pearl Harbor, only to die 16 days later, due to the lack of air. The Navy knew they were there, but couldn't get to them. -Tsquare43

Pro-tip: don't do this next one.

My dad and some friends got drunk and went for a drive on some back roads and were going as fast as the truck would go as teenagers. My dad was slightly less drunk than the others and eventually demanded they let him get out. They pulled over and he and one other girl got out. He and the girl started walking to town while the other three sped off in the opposite direction.

Well, less than a mile up the road from where they got out is an extremely sharp turn, which they missed and hit a tree going pretty close to triple digits (miles per hour).

Two of them died on impact and the only reason the third survived is because they crashed in front of a house that two doctors lived in. The survivor was paralyzed and lost his leg and part of his arm and was in the hospital for eight months before dying. This was in the ‘60s so medical care wasn’t what it is today.

When I first got my permit my dad took me to that corner to explain the importance of safe driving.

It gave me goosebumps about how close he was to being in the truck. He said that the dad of the driver got what remained of the truck to be hung up in the center of town for months after to be a warning to all. -justthatoboist

Guys, don't drink and drive.

I was hanging out with a buddy at the bars and we leave to go back to his place for some smoke and video games. His roommate comes home from work (he was a bartender) and tells us he's heading out to the bars and asks if we want to go, he'll drive. We go back and forth but eventually decide to stay in.

Turns out, the buddy had been drinking heavily at work, but we couldn't tell.

He ended up flipping his Jeep off of an overpass and dropping 20+ feet. The entire back of his jeep (where I would have been sitting) was crushed into the back of the front seat. The roll bar was smashed into the passenger side. Buddy ended up getting some serious brain injuries and spent the next few years learning how to walk and talk again. He's still pretty off and much different than he used to be. My other buddy and I came very close to a similar or worse fate. -DarthRusty

This story is messed up on so many levels.

This is a hometown story that stayed with me. It happened literally right around the corner from where I grew up, maybe a two-minute drive away. Judy Kirby murdered six children and one adult by intentionally driving the wrong way on a divided highway in an attempt to commit suicide. She had been hospitalized for depression, but had also just ended a relationship with her ex-husband's brother and was by some reports involved in drug trafficking and fearing an imminent arrest.

She picked up her sister's son, who was celebrating his 10th birthday that day.

She then loaded her three children into the car, supposedly to pick up a gift for the nephew. Instead, she went missing with the carload of kids. A short time later, calls started coming in to 911 about a car going the wrong way down the highway at a high rate of speed. They made it about 90 seconds before a head-on collision with another vehicle, driven by a father with two children and another child along for the ride.

The crash annihilated both vehicles.

The only survivors were Kirby herself, and the child who was along for the ride in the other car. There were pieces of children all over the highway. She was sentenced to 215 years in prison. -chrisw1984 Really didn't need that last detail...

Home invasion stories are no joke!

Years ago when I was 8 my family lived in this big weird house kind of on the edge of a small town. The school district was in the middle of a big restructuring so even though we were only a couple grades apart my brother and I went to different schools and took different buses. This left me as the last person to leave in the morning and the first person to get home in the afternoon, which meant it was my job to make sure all the lights were off and the door was locked.

One morning I noticed the basement door was open and the light was on.

So before I left I turned off the light and closed the door. When I got home that afternoon the light was on and the door was open again. I just assumed that I’d forgotten to actually take care of it when I noticed it in the morning so I went over to turn off the light and close the door. When I got to the top of the basement stairs I looked and there was a big shadowy male figure towards the bottom of the staircase. I freaked out, slammed the door and pushed a bunch of boxes against it and then went and hid in my closet.

For months I didn’t tell my family because I was positive what I had seen was a ghost and didn’t think anyone would believe me.

Then about a year after that incident, my mom and her boyfriend realized that small amounts of money had been going missing for months (totaling around $800-900, but never more than $60 at once). So we all walked around the house with flashlights trying to figure out how they could have gotten in. Turns out some creep was climbing in through a small hole in the outside of the house, shimmying through a crawl space, then coming up into the house through the basement. Realizing I had been alone in the house with him on at least one occasion was one of the worst, most terrifying moments I’ve ever had. -wesailtheharderships

I'm never going outside after this next one.

Nutty Putty Cave in Utah was sealed up in 2009 after John Jones was trapped upside-down in a small crevice while spelunking. When rescue teams finally arrived he had been upside-down for so long that his legs were drained of blood. They almost get him out, but then one of the pulleys snapped and he got trapped even worse. The only possible way to have gotten him out was to break his legs, which would’ve sent him into fatal shock. He died after being trapped for 28 hours. His body’s still in the cave. -Kalb157

This last story is hard to read.

One night, I was out at a bar with a friend I was visiting in New Rochelle, NY. We went outside for a cigarette, and a car came flying past the bar. The car burned through a red light and started going up this hill that was on a curve. We watched as he veered over the double yellow, and smashed head-on with another car coming from the other direction. Both car's hind ends lifted up, then slammed down. The car that was driving correctly burst into flames.

I ran inside and grabbed the fire extinguisher, then yelled to the bartender to call 911 and say there has been an accident.

My friend, a few other patrons, and I ran to the cars. Now, I used to think this was a fictional trope, but I was pretty drunk before this happened, and I swear it sobered me up instantly. I tried spraying the fire, but it did nothing. The fumes and heat were awful, and all we could do was stand back. The worst part was, and this will haunt me forever, was that the woman in the burning car was screaming as she died.

My God, it was the worst sound ever.

The fire department came and put the fire out. The police took us back to the bar and took statements. I found out the next day in the news, that the car that was not speeding was being driven by a young woman coming home late from work.

She was a block away from home, and I think she was either newly married or a new mother.

The rotten person driving the other car was some rich drunk douche. He lost a leg but otherwise was physically unharmed. I have no clue if he did time, as I left to go back home a day or so later. -revd676767