Creepypastas (aka Internet urban legends) are supposed to make the person reading them at home feel unsafe. They want readers to believe that every creak they hear, every dark hallway they see, and every presence they feel is someone who broke into or invaded their homes to get them.
Some go the more realistic route and rely on human predators. Others prey on your irrational fears by presenting a supernatural being that wants to get you.
To this day, Al Apanamo is a prolific writer of horror stories for the Internet, but this story remains his biggest hit. A father tells about the events that began on the night of a severe thunderstorm, the first one his son ever experienced at that age. Then, on a perfectly serene night, the child says that he is still seeing lightning coming through the window. But his father dismisses it, believing that the storm has inspired his son to dream of lightning.
Then two more pieces of information are revealed. The father learns of the arrest of a child predator who was taking photos of children. But much worse was what his son had told him. At one point, his son saw “lightning” coming from the closet. Since the father had merely dismissed the flash of the camera before that, who knows what he could have allowed to happen? The story ends with him thinking about the photos that are in the police’s possession.
To see more of Apanamo’s stories, check out his story collection.
9 ‘Laughing Jack’
Laughing Jack is an Internet boogeyman who became about as popular among the creepypasta community as Jeff the Killer and Slenderman. Like Slenderman, the character was said to be the inspiration for a preteen American girl attempting to stab someone to death.
In this case, it was an unidentified 12-year-old girl from Elkhart, Indiana, who stabbed her stepmother to death and then set her family’s apartment on fire. The girl was judged unfit to stand trial.
As the story begins, the father of a boy named James hears that his son apparently has an imaginary clown friend, Laughing Jack, with a big, swirly, cone nose. That night, the father has a nightmare in which he hears “Pop! Goes the Weasel” and wakes up to find action figures placed in his room. His son claims that he didn’t put the figures there and then goes out to play. When his father goes to check on James, the father finds that his son has gotten hard candy from someone. James says that it was from Laughing Jack.
That night, even though the doors and windows to the house are locked, someone breaks in, kills their dog, and stuffs it with candy. The next night, the father puts his son to bed with a baby monitor in the room. Then the father falls asleep himself.
On the monitor, the father hears a horrible laugh and runs into his son’s bedroom. He sees a horrifying tableau of his son having been nailed to the wall after being gutted and having his eyes and tongue removed. Still alive, James emits a low moan. Laughing Jack appears and laughs at him.
The father snaps and charges at Laughing Jack with a knife he’d been keeping for protection. Just when the father’s about to stab Jack, he disappears, and the father accidentally stabs his son in the heart instead. As a result, the father is convicted for murdering his son.
At night in his cell, the father hears the song “Pop! Goes the Weasel” drifting in through the window.
8 ‘Why I Didn’t Shower For 21 Years’
Many commenters have said that the thought of how a person might smell after not showering for 21 years might sound like the real horror. But even with a title like that, Patrick Chance’s story was so creepy that it became one of the most popular stories on reddit’s Nosleep subforum, also the source of stories like Dathan Auerbach’s best seller ‘Penpal.’
In “Why I Didn’t Shower for 21 Years,” a guy named August describes the creepy, old woman who moved into a home across the street when he was 12 years old. The woman would watch him closely from across the street, including through his window. She was frail enough that she mostly sat in a wheelchair, but he still found the constant attention unnerving.
After a while, something happened when August took a shower. After the door opened, he saw long, bony fingers on the curtain and someone got in behind him. It was the old, decrepit woman from across the street. She mumbled his name. Then the kid scrambled out of the bathroom and called the police.
Twenty-one years later, while browsing online, the man, who’d been taking baths after the home invasion, chanced on an image of the old woman and her husband named August when they were much younger. He saw that he looked like her husband as a young man. Presumably, she had met her husband when he was 12 or younger, which explained how she could have made that mistake in her old age. What left him really unnerved was how much his wife looked like the intruder as a young woman.
7 ‘I’m A 911 Operator’
An effective way to chill people on the Internet seems to be describing a threatening person with a smile on his face. This story by Grant Pierto makes a threatening person look creepier because they’re also being bizarrely silly. The story gains additional verisimilitude by being structured like the transcript of a 911 call, with the video above designed to sound like a 911 recording.
A male caller is reporting that there’s a strange man outside his house who stands perfectly still while looking inside with a big, demented smile. The demented man is also doing a handstand in the snow. The caller says that the trespasser’s teeth are much too big and his eyes have no color.
The dispatcher tells the caller to confirm that the front and back doors are locked. The caller backs toward the rear door while keeping his eyes fixed on the man outside. But when the caller looks away for a split second, the trespasser is suddenly pressed against the window but otherwise perfectly still. The dispatcher tells the man to look for a room he can lock himself in, but the caller is too afraid to move. The dispatcher asks if the man is alone in the house. He says that he is.
The man outside can hear the caller and tells him that he is not alone. Then the call cuts off.
6 ‘I Told You To Smile’
Unfortunately, Robert Cherry does not seem to have written any horror stories for the Internet besides this excellent one. As the tale begins, a man hears a knock at the door at 2:04 AM on January 2. Later that night, he hears the front door slam shut and then sees the word “Smile” written in the frost on his window. When he gets his cell phone to call 911, he sees the words “I told you to smile” typed onto it.
He runs from his home and stays with his neighbors for the night. A cursory police investigation finds no evidence of a break-in, and the report is dismissed as the homeowner having a bad dream.
Eventually, the man returns home. Still feeling paranoid, he sets up a camera to record his room. Looking at the footage the next day, he sees a gray, emaciated intruder come out from under his bed. The intruder walks to the camera, gives it a big smile like he told the homeowner to do, stares at the man in the bed for a while, and then crawls back under the bed, where the intruder remained even as the man watched the footage nearby.
This tale is a more malevolent version of the story of Tatsuko Horikawa.
5 ‘She Found Her Way Into My Home’
Author William Dalphin starts this story by telling us how he was bringing up the laundry one day when he looked out and saw a woman standing in his yard, facing away from him, with her light dress fluttering in the breeze. After initially writing it off, he sees her again during the night and tries to reach out. She doesn’t respond. But after he goes to bed, he feels compelled to look out in the backyard again. As he peeks through the blinds, he sees her looking up at him.
The next night as he puts his daughter to bed, she tells him, “Daddy, there’s someone in the closet.” He can see the woman inside, but she doesn’t move even when he carries his daughter out of the room. He doesn’t see her again that night. When he tells his wife, his history of being a prankster means that she doesn’t believe him.
The following night, his daughter calls to him, saying that the woman is back. He’s so frightened that he doesn’t have it in him to go help her and feebly tries to claim that the woman isn’t real. Eventually, his daughter becomes quiet.
Two nights later, he sees the woman looking at him from the doorway to his daughter’s bedroom. This time, he can’t do anything but stare, sure that he is going to die. The two look at each other until his awareness seems to wink out for a second and she is gone. Later, he sees her again in the house, at work, in his car, everywhere.
Unlike most stories of this type, William Dalphin provides some photos of the places he describes. Despite their mundane nature, they manage to be surprisingly creepy in relation to the story.
4 ‘Annie96 Is Typing’
Although it was written by Pascal Chatterjee for his Facebook friends, this story went viral after the general population of Tumblr got wind of it. For a time, debate raged on sites like reddit as to whether this was a true story or not. Chatterjee humbly attributed its success to its format as a series of texts. But the story also features good characterization and an ending that leaves the reader wanting more.
A pair of students named Annie and David are casually chatting using the snapchat app. From her bedroom window, Annie notices that someone who looks like David has wandered into her yard. The person breaks in, and Annie hides in the closet, where she continues chatting with David. Suddenly, she says that it is safe and asks David to come over to help her feel better.
After a moment, he asks, “Annie, how do I know this is you?” The story ends with the ambiguous title.
3 ‘I’m Blind And I Can’t See What’s Been In My House’
Most stories like these involve able-bodied protagonists so that more readers can identify with them. Username Oaksandoaks tells us about a blind protagonist and gets us to fear for him instead, partly by not trying to force the reader to feel sorry for him. It makes you wonder why more horror stories don’t involve main characters with disabilities.
Except for his dog, the main character is home alone and feels a presence near him. He doesn’t know who it could be and can’t get a response but feels better when his guide dog, Julia, comes when he calls her. Nights later, he hears the unusual sound of his dog growling in the hallway but still doesn’t find anyone in his house.
Later, he takes a nap on the couch with Julia asleep on his lap. He wakes up to the feeling of someone’s breath on his neck while his dog is still sleeping on his lap. When he sits up, his dog barks in alarm. But the eerie presence seems to be gone.
The next day, a living assistant, George, arrives to help the main character prepare for a speech. No presence is detected as he stays the night. When George goes out, the main character calls for Julia at one point. She doesn’t come, but he can’t hear any sign of her.
After the blind man calls George to help find Julia, George arrives and asks if the dog was let out. Even though the blind man did not let her out, the windows were shut, and the doors have an automatic locking system, Julia was outside. As the police rather chillingly describe it, she is in “pieces.”
The police observe security camera footage. It reveals that there has indeed been a person around him at times, but there is no footage of him harming Julia. Instead, the footage of the front yard just cuts out for a second, and then the dog is there, scattered about the lawn.
The story was popular enough that Oaksandoaks expanded it into a series, all of which is available here. Unfortunately, the popular consensus seems to be that it went downhill after the extremely creepy beginning.
This creepypasta from reddit is by far the shortest story on this list, and the structure is the simplest. A man describes how his nights have boiled down to a paranoid routine. He makes absolutely sure that he closes all the exits and activates the security system. He also thoroughly checks his closet with a flashlight to see if there’s anything inside.
Of course, there’s nothing in there but clothes. There’s never anything out of the ordinary in there, with no reason there should be. Yet at night, the door to the closet opens, the floorboards creak, and the man feels the breath of something on his neck.
Since writing this story, author Kelsey Donald has successfully launched a Kickstarter campaign for a book called Doors. Unfortunately, more than two years after the project was funded, she was still working on it. If it captures the same feeling as this short story, it should definitely be worth the wait.
1 ‘A Story To Scare My Son’
One of the most pointless but widespread elements of horror stories is a framing device. Often, it simply removes the audience from the scene of the horror and reduces the sense of visceral threat. However, R.D. Ovenfriend’s story uses a framing device to add an element of ambiguity that makes his story creepier than it otherwise would be.
A single parent is trying to tell his son, William, a cautionary tale when the father sees his son playing Minecraft. The kid demands a properly scary story from his father, not just a cheesy, little bedtime story. Stepping up to the challenge, his dad tells the story of a kid named Colby on Minecraft. After Colby gives some valuable diamonds to another user named Helper23 during the game, Colby gives Helper23 his home address to receive a present in return through the mail.
One night a short time later, Colby is lying in bed, feeling guilty about having given out his home address, when he hears footsteps approaching his room. His father’s head pops inside and talks to him in a weird voice. Then his mother’s head does the same. Finally, the man to whom he’d given his home address steps inside, revealing that he is holding the heads of Colby’s parents. Then he went to work on Colby so that “after several hours, the boy was almost dead.”
Helper23 hears the sound of a screaming baby and leaves Colby to die. Helper23 had never killed a baby before. But when he goes into the nursery and carries the infant to the changing table, he is charmed by the child as it stops crying in his arms. Helper23 decides to take the baby and raise him as his own. The baby’s name is William. At the end of the story, the William to whom this story is told has reason to believe that it was about him.
Dustin Koski can be followed on Twitter, but please don’t break into his home.