30 People Reveal Scary Moments That Seemed Paranormal At First -- But Were Even More Terrifying When They Discovered The Truth 

18 People Reveal Scary Moments That Seemed Paranormal At First — But Were Even More Terrifying When They Discovered The Truth

These people from Ask Reddit know sometimes the truth is scarier than any horror movie.

1. A previous owner had died in one of my childhood homes. Strange things happened there that drove us (and my dog) absolutely nuts, but it became exceptionally creepy when my sister, who was sleeping in the basement apartment, began insisting that somebody was watching her at night.

We later found an old camera hidden in the walls and learned that said previous owner was arrested for spying on the girl who rented his basement apartment…

2. This happened to my cousin’s friend, living in San Francisco in the early 90’s. I was just a kid, so I don’t remember the exact details.

Her friend lived in a typical SF apartment, often coming home late from work. One night when she was trying to sleep, she heard loud banging noises coming from upstairs, followed by sounds of washing.

The washing noise went on for hours. She thought it was annoying, but completely normal. Upstairs neighbor probably couldn’t sleep and decided to move some furniture and deep clean the bathroom.

Next day morning she saw her neighbor going downstairs with large black trash bags. Again she told herself it’s weird but normal, since her neighbor has been up late cleaning.

A few weeks later, she learned that her upstairs neighbor had gotten into a dispute with the roommate, was killed and dismembered. The roommate was caught, and the police discovered large trash bags of body parts.

The incident happened that night when she heard the strange noises.

3. So my mom’s car kept breaking down and weird marks were appearing all around my house. One night my mom smelt electrical cords burning but we couldn’t figure it out. After about 4 brand new cars broke down we thought something was up so my mom called the police and they had a stakeout to see if anything strange was happening. First night, nothing, but our cats disappeared then the second night. The police saw a figure but didn’t act because it didn’t do anything. Then on the third night the figure tried to light the house on fire (which is what caused the electric fire smell) and the police caught it it turned out it was my mom’s ex who she broke up with.

4. I knew a kid when I was 10, who lived alone with his father up a dirt road in the middle of the woods. We were pretty good friends one summer. Everyone in our area (rural as hell, we all knew each other) thought the dad was really weird. Among the younger kids, there were rumors that the dad was a monster or a zombie or something. For one, he smelled fucking awful and had the rankest carrion-breath. Also, he would stare at the kids a lot. Creepy as hell.

When I was 14, I found out that my friend was NOT the guy’s son; that the creepy guy had in fact kidnapped him when he was 7 or so and had kept him captive up in the woods, raping him repeatedly. My friend also turned 14 when I did, which apparently was too old to be appealing to the creepy “dad”, who promptly kidnapped ANOTHER little boy from a town about 70 miles away and brought him back to the cabin where he lived with my friend. He even was trying to pay another teenager I knew, a kind of lost boy with a juvenile record, to take my friend out into the woods and kill him. So he could be alone with his new victim, who was I think five years old.

My friend realized that the same had happened to him (he’d been brainwashed for seven years, told that his parents didn’t want him anymore and had given him to the creepy guy to adopt). So he waited until the creep went to work, grabbed the little boy, and hitchhiked/walked about 40 miles to the nearest police station. Saved the kid from a terrible fate. Ended up going back to the family he’d been taken from 7 years before. It was in the news a lot, and a TV movie was made, etc.

So, the creepy, smelly old weirdo really WAS a fucking monster. He died in prison, and that was a good day.

5. This did not happen to me, but it happened in my city when I was in high school. A family thought that their house was “haunted” because things like furniture and objects would randomly move or go missing. This went on for several months. They even reached out to their pastor to “bless” the house. Well, the house wasn’t haunted. It turned out that a drifter had wandered in at some point and had been living in their attic. He would come out when the family was at work and eat their food and go through their things for cash and stuff to sell. One day, one of the family members came home unexpectedly and caught them. Called police for an “active break in.” The cops quickly discovered what had been going on.

6. As a young kid, I had “nightmares” of waking up to see my mother hovering over my bed by the window. She just blankly stared down at me and my sister. I’d get so scared yelling Mom! Mom! and she never responded. I knew it was not “my mom.”

When I was older I told my aunt about it and she told me they weren’t dreams. It was real. My mom would go into our rooms randomly to check on us. She had serious mental health issues that got worse over the years. Occasionally she would have episodes of anxiety of something happening to us and “guard” us at night.

Due to the traumatic death of her 1st child it apparently triggered obsessive anxiety when we were younger. I now know the whole fucked up backstory and can sympathize with why it would make any parent get to that mental state but I still shudder when I think of the blank face stare. I still tend to associate the “nightmare mom” as not being “my mom.”

7. My friend lived up in these pitch black windy hills about 20 minutes from any ambient city lights. No traffic stoplights, street lights – nothing. One night when driving up to visit him I reached a stop sign. I looked left, no one there, looked right, no one there, then proceeded to make a left turn. From the time it took for me to look left, then right, a man stepped into the street about 10 feet in front of my car. I immediately slammed on my brakes and he just stood there, my car lights hitting him, not moving. I slowly just drove around him and he kept facing forward as I passed (didn’t turn his head at all to look at me/make eye contact).

I get to my friends house convinced I had seen a ghost and was freaking out about it. My friend asked me to describe the man I saw, and when I did, he tells me it was a pedophile that moved in down the street with his (the pedophile’s) parents after getting out of jail.

8. When my friends and I initially entered college, we used to chill a lot at my friend’s dad’s house, who lived out in the country. Late at night, when scanning the horizon, you could see the all of the stars. It wasn’t like the city. But you could also see a radio tower, perhaps a few miles away.

One late Fall night, maybe one or two in the morning, we decided to drive out to this radio tower, just out of curiosity. It was in the middle of a large field with one entrance which happened to be open. We entered from there and drove about 1/4 mile in towards the radio tower. When we got there, we noticed, underneath the radio tower, a rusty beat up car. The thing looked like it hadn’t been driven in years. We pulled to the other side of the tower and just chilled for a little bit, talking about whatever and listening to music. Then one of my friends pointed towards the beat up car. “Does it look like there’s a light in there?” he said. We all stared at the car and sure enough, emanating behind the dust covered windows of the car was a dim light.

We pretty quickly put our car in drive and started moving out of there. It was a field though so of course we moved relatively slow. The same friend who pointed out the light noticed that the car started moving along with us, following slowly. It didn’t put on its headlights, but the light inside the car seemed to glow brighter. That was the moment that my friend driving screamed, “Fuck it!” and hightailed it faster than I’d ever seen. We left the junk car in the dust, literally in this case, and from that day we had always referred to this story as “The Ghost Car” Story. Did we really believe in ghosts? Probably not, but paranormal is better than whatever else it could have been.

Come to find out, a few years later, that field was regularly being monitored by the local sheriff’s office for big drug deals that apparently went down there. Had we stuck around any longer that night than we did, we could have legitimately been killed. This was also in the era that we watched a lot of Breaking Bad so in retrospect it seemed to us like that could’ve very much been a likely outcome from that night. Luckily we’re all good and nothing bad ever came of it for any of us.

9. When I was with my ex we lived with his parents for a bit in a kind of granny flat above their garage. I’d often take naps through the day while he was at work and stuff would inexplicably move around or go missing while I was asleep. Never happened when he was home or when I was awake. I was convinced the place was haunted and whatever spirit it was had it out for me.

Turns out his dad was coming in and doing this, with the intention of making it look like I was nuts so I would be discredited when I spoke out against his abusive ass son.

10. One night when our parents were out, I was sleeping, I heard a music box. It was pretty scary, me and my sister were cuddled up in my room. It didn’t stop until about five in the morning, and, that’s when we went out to check what it was. We found an old music box in the garbage bin, but, it looked very old. For the next few nights, it kept playing. I went down to take the batteries out, but, and I kid you not, there were no batteries in the box.

11. Me and my friend were “ghost hunting” in a forest when we were younger and we started hearing this blood curdling scream and a loud bang, we thought it was demons but when I think about it now, we might have heard a murder happen.

12. Ooh I got one. So I live in this odd place – it’s a big mixed use commercial building my husband and I own. Our apartment is kinda hidden but there’s several businesses in it – ours downstairs, and another small family business next to our apartment entrance.

Anyway we kept hearing things one summer a few years ago – whispers and just like… noises, long after hours. We all.joked uneasily about ghosts and shit, but we felt… watched… and it was creepy.

It culminated one night, at midnight. I was upstairs getting ready for bed and I heard running steps and something smash into our door, HARD. And then started ramming it over and over trying to get in.

I don’t know if you’ve ever heard a body try to smash a door down. It’s loud. I called 911 in a full on panic, thinking ghost-zombie-apocalypse or something, and meanwhile my husband grabbed a baseball bat, yelled, “I’m coming for you, motherfucker,” and did.

There was a pause and an ungodly smash.

I ran out and found: my husband midway through falling off a car hood. A dude running towards us from downtown freaking the fuck out. And giant pile of glass and a smashed door.

What had happened was, some meth head had discovered our side entrance we shared with the commercial tenant. He had been coming in and hiding above the suspended ceiling, smoking meth with a butane torch and stealing mail and nesting up there. But he had gotten locked in that Friday on accident – and it was about 100 F that weekend.

He had called his GF to meet him outside – he had a phone – but he was locked in tight for over 24 hrs in intense heat. He first tried to break in the “janitor closet” (our apartment) for meth reasons, but was horrified to realize there was an angry dude with a baseball bat inside. So, he took a header out the glass commercial doors to escape.

The dude running towards the commotion was an off duty cop, walking by who saw a meth head smash a big ass door with his body and jump in a car, followed by my husband with a baseball bat, who was pissed enough to launch himself onto the car.

When it all shook out, we found the dude’s meth nest in the ceiling, complete with butane torch for smoking meth, a bunch of false teeth, a bunch of stolen mail and a lot of candy wrappers.

13. My dad lives like next door to the entrance to the highway. His neighbor kept complaining that she had raccoons because she kept hearing noise coming from under her back porch. It wasn’t raccoons. It was the 3 hobos that stood near the highway asking for money. They would wait until they would see her lights go off and then make their way over. The scary part is that she has dogs and seems like they didn’t notice either because the hobos had mattresses underneath there and clearly had been there for a while.

14. I was seven and was hanging out with my friends. We were playing hide and go seek at the park by her house and I remember my friend and I were both hiding in some big bushes. We kept hearing rustling in the bushes next to us followed by heavy breathing. We thought the seeker was nearby so we kneeled down more but the sounds of rustling were getting nearer and the breathing was getting heavier and then my friend screamed and started to run out of the bushes. I ran after her and the rest of my friends stopped playing and looked at my friend who kept screaming that something touched her leg.

Our other friends came over and I was trying to get har to calm down but she was freaking out. As we all tried to talk her down we started to hear footsteps and weird airy breathing. Another friend started to talk about a shadow person that was known to be seen at the park.

We started to walk back to my friend’s house while looking back. We didn’t see anybody but we kept hearing airy breathing and footsteps. We were now sure we were being stalked by the shadow person.

We stopped at a stoplight that separated her neighborhood from the park and the whole time we waited we kept hearing the breathing getting closer and closer. I remember us looking behind us taking turns and I thought I saw a shape dart down in the big bushes that marked the sidewalk. It looked like a black blur like a shadow person.

I remember my friend hitting the cross light button quickly as we all kept looking behind us but nothing moved and we heard no new footsteps but we could still hear the breathing.

The light turned green and we ran across the sidewalk and when we got to the other side we turned around to nothing. Nothing was there. We continued to run to her house and spent the night freaked out.

The next morning we came back and found something that made us question what was with us at the park last night. We went back to where we think our hiding spot was (it may not have been) and found pictures of porn with a knife pinning it to the ground.

Now as an adult, it gives me the creeps to think about my friend and I were hiding in tall bushes with some sick person creeping over to us but we never saw a person over then a shape of one darting into bushes. You would think if it was a person we would have spotted more of the person.

But the walkway had tall bushes on either side and it would be easy to stay hidden I guess. Also logically we had no idea how long the porn picture stabbed into the ground was hidden in the bushes.

This was a week before a classmate was kidnapped around the same area. I think what saved my friend and I was that we screamed and ran and luckily we were a good sized group of girls. I think the fact there was six of us in a group stopped him from trying anything.

Note: yes we were all aged seven to eight. And my mom was so angry when she found out that my friend allowed us t ok go out by ourselves that I was never allowed back over to her house. We did tell police but they never updated us on anything. They probably did to our parents but not us.

This was before the kidnapping and I hope the kidnapper wasn’t whomever was in the park with us. It definitely creeped me out and I don’t trust walking down any sidewalks with large bushes definitely at night.

15. Whole family in the camp trailer at a sweet little place with full hook-ups. Kids were asleep, it was late, campground was totally quiet. A flash of light no bigger than your thumbnail lit the whole trailer up in a blue-smoke, odd smelling flash. Wife and I were certain it was a Ghostbusters type of weird shit. I went outside; nothing but that odor, but total darkness.

Apparently light struck a power transformer three miles away that finally grounded out right next our trailer, and overnight, the power pole simply smoldered away from the center out.

16. I was seven years old, home alone. My parents went for dinner at around 9 PM. They left me in bed for me to sleep, hours passed and still couldn’t sleep. Went downstairs to get some milk and cookies to watch TV in my parent’s bedroom. While I was getting my snacks, I felt like someone grabbed my shoulder. I was so scared I couldn’t even turn around to check who did it. I stayed there, frozen, for at least one minute straight; I had the balls to run and went to my parent’s bedroom.

I locked myself in there and didn’t get out until my parents came home. It was three AM and heard my parent’s car park outside the window. I was never so happy for them to come home. As soon my parents get in the house my mom screamed and called 911. The thing I thought was a ghost that grabbed me was actually a drug addict who secretly lived in our basement and that night thought nobody was home so went grab some snacks from the fridge too and confused my shoulder with the fridge’s door and then passed out. Still freaks me out to this day.

17. I had a blind dog growing up and she barked at things that were there, and things that weren’t. One night, around midnight, she woke up my mom and I (my dad’s too heavy of a sleeper) by barking at the wall next to the back door. I woke up but I was maybe 9 so I went right back to sleep. My mom got up and ushered her back to bed.

That same night, an arsonist hit my neighborhood. “He” set fire to a luckily vacant house for sale and it burned to the ground. Following his footsteps in the snow, he then passed between my bedroom and our garage and nearly lit our garage. Then our dog and my mom woke up, and we think that scared him away, and he went across the street and burned the neighbors’ garage instead. Then he stood in their front yard and watched it burn. He walked out onto the street and they lost his footsteps. They never caught him.

18. I was 24 and working at a startup dotcom. I spent a weekend at my parents house, came back to my apartment and went into my bedroom where I saw my bed was made. Felt my heart stutter as I stood frozen in the doorway because I never ever made my bed, it was something I consciously refused to do. After the initial shock, I went through the apartment examining the closets, under the bed, etc. I calmed down after awhile, convincing myself that I must have made the bed before I left for my parents and just forgotten about it. Deep down, I knew it wasn’t true but I couldn’t think of any other explanation.

I later found out it was the woman I was dating at the time who did it. She was the person who hired me. We’d been in a relationship less than a month but she managed to somehow get a copy of my key. She used to visit my place and snoop through my things when I was gone. She also slept in my bed overnight several times when I was away for the weekend. If she hadn’t made my bed, I never would have known anything was going on. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

January Nelson is a writer, editor, and dreamer. She writes about astrology, games, love, relationships, and entertainment. January graduated with an English and Literature degree from Columbia University.