Ten Super-Spooky Ghost Stories To Keep You Awake At Night

In DepthIn Depth

We’ve read through your ghost stories and picked out ten of our favorites. Read on for tales of creepy photos, scary basements, a haunted daycare center, and one very, very unwelcome visitor.

The evil doll

My mother […] had a large Shirley Temple doll when she was little whose eyes she says followed her, literally. She hated that doll, and it ended up buried somewhere, only to resurface when she was much older. She would not tell me the rest of the story until I begged her, and made me promise not to ask my aunt about it, and to not mention it again after she told me.
She gave the doll to my cousin. Why she did this, I can’t imagine. She says that she had convinced herself that she was imagining things as a child herself, but seriously?
Anyway, my cousin is playing with the doll one day, when my aunt comes in and finds the doll TALKING to my cousin. So, she promptly freaks the fuck out, and takes the doll away. My uncle buried it, in pieces, as it continued to laugh up a storm.
That shit is evil.
I asked my aunt about it (against my mom’s wishes), and she simply said, “I don’t want to talk about it.”

The scary room

My dad was dating a woman (let’s call her Anne) in Rochester, NY. She lived in an old farm house. I don’t even know where to begin with this place. Let’s bulletpoint it out:
1) The basement looked like the basement in Stir of Echoes. Most of it was cement, except for “the scary room” which was a mound of dirt and sand. Weird and scary things would result if anything happened in that room, like having to run wires through it. Anne placed a chest-high piece of wood in the door frame to keep her animals from getting in there. It’s worth noting that while her cat would go into the basement, her extremely loyal dog could not be made to go down the steps. That’s when you know something’s wrong. Anyway, Anne kept her cat’s food dish on the top step to the basement. One day, she noticed a few pieces of the cat’s food laying a couple steps down from the dish. Thinking nothing of it, she let it be. The next day, the food had moved down a step in the exact same pattern. Next day, same thing. Again and again until the food disappeared. Anne tried not to go into the basement as a matter of course, but had to soon thereafter to do laundry. She saw the cat food in the same pattern in the scary room. Blaaaagh.
2) Before my dad lived with her, she had a nightly routine. She would get in bed and read and then would turn on the t.v. (which was directly across from the bed) and fall asleep. Her dog would lie on the floor by her side. One night, she was reading and her dog jumped up and started barking at the t.v. Since her dog was generally hyper, she thought nothing of it—didn’t even look up. But when the barking persisted, she looked at the t.v. The t.v. was off, but there were black and white images on the screen. They kept changing every minute or so—a church, a skull, etc. While she had experienced many scary things in her house, this freaked her out badly. She called my dad, panicking, and asked what to do. He said, “Take pictures!” She did. I’ve seen them. That t.v. was most definitely off and there were most definitely images on it. You can bet that when I stayed in their guest room for a Thanksgiving visit, I made sure the t.v. across from my bed was unplugged (not that it would’ve made a difference, but it made me feel better!), the lights stayed on, and the blanket was over my head all night.
3) Anne had a ghost travel with her to visit my dad one time. While it wasn’t a mean-spirited ghost or anything, I still find that unbelievably creepy….so Paranormal Activity-ish.
4) I asked my dad what the scariest thing was that happened to him while living in that house and he said that one day, he was making a sandwich in the kitchen (which adjoined to the basement stairs, btw) and felt something hit his back and then heard it drop to the floor. It was a penny. “Weird,” he thought. He started walking to the living room and something hit has back again. Same. Penny. Not cool, ghost. Not cool.

Colonel Walker

My mother worked in a daycare that had taken over the wing of an old school and the building is notoriously haunted with the ghost of the school’s name-sake and founder, Colonel Walker. The attic of the building was used as storage for the daycare and many people reported small, fairly unobtrusive events while being up there, things like boxes shifting around behind you, drawers opening on the other side of the room where you were, curtains suddenly moving, the feeling of someone else being in the attic with you. But the kids were the most in tune it seems. I know that lots of the kids talked about “the old man” at the daycare (which was staffed entirely by women), and I have definitely seen the kids react by all at once looking to the door as if someone entered the room when no one had. Personally, I always felt as if someone was walking directly behind me whenever I had to go from one end of the hallway to another and sometimes I would hang out in the kitchen waiting for my mom to finish up work for the day while I finished my homework or something, I often felt like someone was there with me (I spent a lot of time there, especially in the summer when school was out, helping around the daycare). The most famous piece of evidence of Colonel Walker’s ghost was a picture taken at Halloween of all the kids in their costumes. Right in the back, standing behind the children and looking straight at the camera, is the watery and somewhat blurred face and upper body of an older man. Like, you don’t even have to squint or tilt your head to make out that it is there. Now I know that it could have been some bleed from some other photos or something, but I think, given all the other evidence it seems they got the Colonel on camera.


When I was 8, my family moved into an old Colonial that was built in 1810. My father still lives there. Until I was 17, every before I feel asleep, I would feel pressure next to me as if someone sat down on the bed next to me. This would always be accompanied with a feeling of increased pressure in the air. Although I knew this probably didn’t happen to everyone, I didn’t think about it much.
Until I got a cat. He was a present for my twelfth birthday. Each night, he would sack out on the bed near my feet. Each night, he would bolt from a dead sleep and glare at something in the doorway before hightailing it out of there. A few moments later, the pressure would return.
Again, while this was a weird thing to happen, I didn’t really question it. Maybe the cat was just neurotic. I didn’t talk about this nightly occurrence to anyone. However, I did refer this feeling/presence/what have you as “Charlotte.” I don’t know why.
So one day in the summer when I was thirteen, an elderly man and his middle-aged daughter pull up to our house and explain that the father lived in the house with his aunt while he was a boy and that he raised his family there for a few years. They had been visiting family in the neighborhood, and they wondered if they could take a tour for old times’ sake. My mom said sure. She, my sister and I led them around the house, and they recalled different memories.
Afterward, my mom asked them if they remembered strange occurrences or stories about the house. “Like ghosts?” the old man asked and chuckled. His daughter became very quiet and said firmly, “It’s not funny, Dad.” The man explained that everyone who slept in one bedroom felt a little unsettled, and his daughter interrupted to say that she always felt as if someone sat on the edge of the bed and she tried to go to sleep. Her father said they used to joke that it was just his aunt looking out for them—his Aunt Charlotte.
This confirmed what I had never admitted to myself. I had a freaking ghost that basically tucked me in at night for the previous five years.
Still, going to bed was never freaky or scary. I just tried to ignore the feeling when it came.
Until one night when I was 16. My parents had been going through a weird patch in their marriage, I was feeling depressed, and in general, it was a weird year. I went to bed; after about 20 minutes the cat took his typical bolting exit from the bed, and I felt the familiar pressure on my side.
Then I felt a hand brush through my hair.
Then I ran straight downstairs to the living room where my mom was dozing. She woke up when I burst in the room, saw my face, and asked what was wrong. I told her I had a nightmare and left it at that.
I spent a week sleeping in the guest room. When I got the nerve to go back to my room, I was nearly asleep when I realized I didn’t feel the pressure next to me. I did feel pressure in the air. I rolled on my back and saw the figure of a woman in her 60s, wearing a housedress, her hair pulled back in a bun, with her arms folded. She was looking right at me, very concerned. When I found my voice, she disappeared. I said out loud, “I don’t care if you stay, but I can NEVER, EVER, EVER see you again.” I never did.
However a few years later, after my parents divorced and my dad moved in his girlfriend and her 4 year old son, I wasn’t really surprised when she told me her little boy said a lady named Charlotte told him stories at night.

The lady in the bathroom

About ten years ago my 3 year old son and I moved into a new house. Well, it was new to us, but it was actually a very old house. The inside of the house always seemed to be just a little darker and a little colder than it should be. I had noticed that the first time I went to view the house but as it was summer I figured it would save on cooling costs.
Soon after we moved in a friend of mine came by. We were sitting and talking for a few minutes but she seemed uncomfortable the whole time. Then I saw in her face that something in the other room caught her attention. Her eyes got big. She said “I have to go.” I asked her what was wrong but she said she didn’t want to tell me. I kept after her because her reaction was kind of freaking me out. On her way out the door she finally said “This house is haunted” but she wouldn’t tell me what made her think so. Still to this day ten years later she refuses to tell me what she saw.
About a week after that night my 3 year old son casually asked me who the old lady in the bathroom was.
One day I was leaving for work but once I got to the car I realized I needed to run back in the house to get something. I walked in to the house and as soon as I got inside this framed photo on the wall shot off the wall. Now, I don’t mean it fell because of some issue with the nail or anything like that. It shot horizontally away from the wall, not vertically down. And it landed on a mosaic table with enough force to break some of the tiles off of it. I felt like whatever was in the house was pissed that I came back in after it thought I had left for the day!
After living in the house for about six months, I noticed a weird square cut into the boards on the deck. There was no handle but I was able to pry it up. The hole was just big enough to fit through, and there was a ladder going down. For some reason I went down and found myself in what looked like a homemade basement. It was basically just a room dug out of the earth, no constructed walls or stone supports or anything like you would expect if it was a basement that was built with the house. It was very dark but I could see over in the corner a suspicious-looking large stone. It looked like one of those light-colored 100+ year old headstones that you see in old cemeteries. Just then some camel crickets started jumping at me so I got my ass out of that “basement” as fast as I could and never went back.
Now, this is the part that affected me most and the reason we left the house. One night I was in bed but not yet asleep, laying on my stomach. I heard someone walk into the room. I heard footsteps come from the doorway over to my bed. I didn’t realize until later that the fact that I heard the footsteps was weird because the room was carpeted. When the footsteps reached my bed, I felt someone put their hands on my back. Two hands, just gently laid flat on my back and kept there. I assumed it was my son. I said “What are you doing?” but no one answered. I looked up and no one was there. I got up and checked my son’s bedroom but he was in bed asleep.
We moved out soon after that.

The mysterious photo

When I was a kid, my best friend and I were looking at old photos in his house. There was one of a family wedding, a group shot outside our local church. One of the men in the photo had no legs. Not like, was in a wheelchair or anything, but literally in the photo, his legs just stopped at the knee and you could see the huge old slabs of the church — they even matched perfectly with the slabs that were on either side. It was exactly the same as if you were looking at a photo and looked at the wall above his head, rather than below his knees.
Now, I can’t blame digital trickery as this photo was WAY too old for that (70s, maybe?). Maybe someone with a working knowledge of photography could explain it.
The weird thing is that the guy in the photo (my friend’s uncle) ended up with diabetes and had both legs amputated at the knee years later.


My great-grandmother was very close to my mom and was apparently an incredible woman. She died before I was born, but my mom tells us a lot of stories about her. From the time my little sister was born, she’s had a very strong resemblance to old pictures of my great-grandma and her whole side of the family. Once, when my sister was a baby just beginning to learn to speak, my mom was holding my sister on her lap, talking and playing with her. My sister reached up and took my mother’s face in her hands (like my great-grandmother used to do to my mom when she was alive), looked her in the eye, and very clearly said, “You always were such a beautiful baby.” My mother was shocked, but my sister, who was not yet speaking in full sentences, had gone back to making her typical baby sounds.
My mom told this story at dinner when my sister was about six or seven. This was the first time my sister ever heard the story, and she was a little freaked out. As soon as my mom finished telling the story though, my sister’s eye twitched, as if she were winking.

Church trip nightmare

The only time where I am pretty certain that I saw a ghost/something supernatural was on a church youth group trip I took in early high school. It was an all-girls trip where we stayed at a beach house in Wilmington, NC for the weekend. In the middle of the second night we were there, I woke up to one of the other girls staying in the room screaming in her sleep. I sat up, looked over, and saw a girl standing over her bed and right by where she was sleeping. At first, I thought it was just a girl who stayed in another room at first, but once I looked more closely, it wasn’t. I was definitely wide awake and laid back down as I watched her walk around the bed. I noticed that there was what looked like a red and whited striped towel on the wall (which was not there when we went to sleep), and the thing that really freaked me out was that the mirror facing the two beds was pitch black. Even in darkness, you can still see somewhat of a reflection in a mirror, but not this one, it was completely black. No reflection. The girl noticed that I was looking at her — she turned around and made the nastiest, snarliest face at me. I still remember the slits of her eyes giving me that evil glare. My entire body ran cold and I began to shake, as I start screaming that there’s a ghost. This doesn’t wake up the girl who was shouting in her sleep, but it does wake up the other 2 girls in the room, who say go back to sleep. The ghost-girl doesn’t disappear. She stands there placidly at the end of the other bed and watches us as one girl tells me to calm down. I start crying and hide under the covers until I manage to fall asleep. In the morning, I was so relieved to wake up and see the mirror back to normal and no towel hanging on the wall. Of course, I am all “ghost! ghost! there was a ghost!” in the morning, to which I receive rolled eyes and chidings of “Christians don’t believe in ghosts, and you shouldn’t either” (eff that, you need a better reason than that). One of the girls who I woke up starts laughing, saying she thought it was so silly of me. I run through my story – creepy girl, black mirror, red and white towel on the wall. At the mention of the towel, she stops and gives me a funny look, a look that clearly said to me that she did see something when I woke her up. I didn’t say anything, but after that, if [my ghost] was brought up, she quickly changed the conversation.

The sibling

Nothing happened when I was younger, but in my early teens I started to notice weird occurrences (and since then I’ve read that it’s “common” for things to start around teenage girls’ adolescences. . .). The very first thing happened my freshman year of high school when I had a sleepover, and several girls brought cameras and took pictures. When they got their photos back, there were pictures in two separate rolls which seemed to have white vortex shapes swooping across me, obscuring my face and upper body.
Immediately after this, an odd tapping began coming from my bedroom walls. At first I thought nothing of it because it’s obviously a very old house and they creak. But as I heard it more frequently I started realizing that it had some very strange characteristics. First of all, it only ever seemed to happen as I got into bed when I was in that receptive almost-asleep stage. (I had my desk in there, too, where I would spend many long hours doing homework, so I would have noticed if they had come at other times.) Also, they alternated walls; they would rapidly switch from one to another, and sometimes they’d go simultaneously on two opposite walls, then switch suddenly to the other two opposite walls.
Then something even more dramatic happened. In childhood and up until I was 17 I had bunk beds, which were actually great since I was always having friends spend the night (my house was where we all hung out due to size, location, and how well my parents got along with everyone). One night I was had just gotten into bed on the top bunk, when suddenly the sheets were jerked sharply towards the wall, pulling partially off me. It was almost as if someone were in the bottom bunk, playing a trick on me or trying to get my attention. So that was very strange, but felt almost playful, so I didn’t feel too scared by it. But it was VERY odd, nonetheless.
When I was 17 I got a new bed so we started dismantling the bunk bed, and first gave away the top mattress to our neighbors who had a young son, so for a little while I used the top bunk as a sort of shelf (but it still had the solid railing so it was boxed in on all sides). One day I put a pile of textbooks and magazines on the top bunk in some boxes I had sitting there, and was on the computer on the other side of the room typing something up, my back turned. Suddenly there was a loud series of quick crashes and I whirled around just in time to see my last textbook sliding over the side of the top bunk and cascade to the floor on top of the others books. Since the railing is about ten inches high on all sides and the boxes were about the same AND the pile was not that tall, they would have had to have somehow ‘jumped’ over the both the side of the box and then the side of the bed!
The creepiest experience was when a friend was spending the night, and we were getting ready for bed, and my cat (who is the most docile, sweet, and gentle cat I’ve ever known), was curled up on my lap purring loudly. My friend switched off the light and he continued to purr warmly, but not ten seconds later he drastically changed on the turn of a dime. His body suddenly stiffened, all his fur rose up completely on end, he dug his claws deep into my thigh (enough to draw blood!), and started to growl loudly. The growls quickly escalated into horrible piercing noises, like shrieks, at the top of his lungs that I have NEVER heard any cat make. The whole time his entire body was rigid and tense also. Even aside from that, there was a general off feeling in the room, and my friend quickly rushed up to turn the light back on. Almost immediately the claws pulled out from my skin, and he relaxed and settled down, but still seemed unsettled. That only happened once in his whole life, but it remains extremely disconcerting to me, to this day.[…]
Then last year, one of the strangest things yet happened to me. I was home from London on break, and though nothing of note had happened for years, that changed. I was alone because my parents were at work, but out of habit I locked the bathroom door anyway when I went to take a shower. Nothing was noticeably amiss in there; everything seemed in order. I laid my clothes down on the floor and stepped straight into the bathtub where I took a really long shower. After a long time I opened the curtain back up and I immediately and strongly felt like someone had been in there unnoticed while I was showering, but I checked the lock (which is an old-fashioned latch on the inside) and it was still fastened. I grabbed a towel, stepped out, then noticed something really strange.
The bottle of baby powder (which we never use, it’s typically on the bottom shelf in a basket) was not only out but lying open right in the very middle of the bathroom floor, with its contents scattered everywhere in the entrance area. Footsteps led through it and onto the dark yellow bathmat, stopping short of the tub. At first I though, “That’s strange, I REALLY don’t remember it being there but I guess I must have walked through it to get here.” I was almost positive that it hadn’t been there since it was so clearly right in the middle of where I would have walked, and such an obvious mess, but it was the only thing I could think of as an explanation. But then I noticed that one of the footsteps was half on the mat, half on my jeans, and that there was another obvious footprint on my jeans after that. Then I thought (though even more skeptically), that I must have stepped ON my jeans somehow before getting in, even though I was convinced that I had stepped straight out of them and gotten directly in. Still, it was the only explanation I could think of. However, when I looked more closely at the prints, I couldn’t convince myself of anything; they were significantly smaller than mine, almost like a child’s.
After that day and in retrospect everything that has happened almost seems like something a child would do; they’re all fairly playful or something your younger sibling would do.

The farm visitor

I was 7, my brother 10, my mom in her early 40s, my grandmother (her mom) in her 60’s. So we were all cogent. No one was too young or too senile to not recall this nonsense. Yet, still no bloody answer.
Grandma lived on an isolated country road in NC that was named after her family since they were the only crazy fuckers who lived on the land for about 1000 acres. And I *do* mean crazy. We have stories about relatives that start with, “You remember that time Uncle Bob was in the ditch with a shotgun?” “WHICH TIME?!”
Her house had been empty for several weeks while she’d been visiting us in Florida, but we were all back, spending the weekend with her before trekking back to the Sunshine state. The house is in the foreal country, literally over train-tracks, past a salvage yard and her nearest neighbor (a cousin — everyone is related to everyone who owns a house on the road) ain’t within screamin’ distance. Yes, that seems to be a real system of measurement — “screaming distance.”
It’s early in the AM, like just before daybreak. We’re awake because these are farm freaks who wake at the crack of dawn from sheer ingrained habit. We’re eating cereal when we hear someone pull up outside. Curious, we all run to the big picture window that looks onto the front yard. There is a strange truck there. No one seems to be behind the wheel, though the engine is idling. The truck is… well, old, for one thing. It’s old-timey like from maybe the 1930’s? You could picture the Joad Family heading to California in this thing. It’s rusted but it was probably once painted blue.
We stare at the thing, bewildered. Mom asks grandma if she knows who that is. Nope, not a clue, says grandma. She runs to get the phone to call her cousin and ask him to come up — she thinks maybe it’s a hired hand and he’s just at the wrong farm. Just as she asks him to come on down, the phone goes dead. Well, that’s unsettling.
All at once, there is a loud, insistent banging on the front door. We all scream. My grandma, who is terrifyingly resourceful, huddles us all into the living room, away from a window where anyone can see us. Then, while mom, me and my brother tremble there on the couch, she grabs a serrated bread knife from the kitchen and cautiously approaches the front door. She peeks out a side window, very stealthily. She turns back to us and looks confused. She shakes her head, like, “No one is there.” We all kind of breathe easier.
Then EVERY goddamn door in the house is banging — relentlessly. I can still hear it. Rhythmic and terrifying, like all the doors are about to splinter and crack. There were two doors in the basement beneath us, so the sound is also a reverberation at our feet. The three ground-floor doors are shaking — we can see them trembling and jerking on their hinges from our vantage point on the couch. Finally, mom runs to the window — either from a psychotic break with reality or terror, I have no clue. She cries, “Oh thank Christ — Cousin is here!” We run to her and peek out the picture window — there is no one that we can see in the yard, but we can’t see all the doors from our viewpoint.
Cousin walks by truck with a shotgun in his hand. Cousin, it should be noted, has pretty much every gun ever made. He looks puzzled, looking at the rear of the truck, then he glances in the cab window and he stops. He goes pale, runs a hand down his face. Then he RUNS towards to house, towards us.
My grandmother flings open the kitchen door as she sees him coming. He shouts, “Everyone get behind the couch! Get DOWN!” He runs past us as we bolt for the couch. The banging starts AGAIN, all the doors and now we can hear the windows rattle. It’s like a tornado or the end of the world. We are too scared to even scream. Cousin flings open the front door and fires the huge shotgun, once, BANG, deafening. As he does, the truck roars into life and it sounds like a train. We scramble up; the banging stops, mercifully. Cousin is advancing onto the lawn, gun leveled at the truck. We run behind him, wanting to be out of that shaking, quivering house and near the dude with the gun. The truck peals out, backwards, cutting across the yard and racing into a breakneck speed. Tires sqeal, rubber is burned. Cousin fires again and we all cower behind him. He blows out the back window with the sound of a thousand plates smashing into linoleum but the truck never even hiccups, just roars down the road. No tags, not even a vanity plate on the back.
There was NO ONE behind the wheel of that thing.
We all had a clear view. Everyone agreed. Not a driver in the cab.
Not anything we could SEE, anyhow.
The police were called. The phone line had been cut. There was not a single boot print in the entire yard except Cousin’s, from where he’d run into and out of the house. Cousin reported that there had been no plate but when he looked into the cab, it looked like “something from a horror movie.” He said there were all kinds of weird restraints — handcuffs, c-clamps, nylon straps — and he said the floorboards looked covered in what “smelled like” blood to him (Cousin was famous for his keen sense of smell and the window was down, so it’s possible).
Cousin said he thought he saw a blur of something out the picture window and ran to fire the first shot, but “missed” because, once he stood there, nothing or no one was on the lawn or in the truck. Then it shot backwards out of the yard and out of our lives, leaving no answers, just a deep sense of unease every time we’d visit.
Grandma and Cousin have passed. Deeply religious people, they stuck by their unchanging versions of the story until they died. My brother, mother and I have never been able to figure it out — neither did the cops, I think it should be noted. We don’t know how all the windows and doors were banging, and we don’t know why we never saw a SOUL anywhere or how they could get around the sides of the house without leaving a trace in the damp earth.

And just in case you want to get to sleep tonight, here’s one with an explanation — though it’s still pretty creepy.


So, as a little girl, my friends’ mother used to talk about this nice old lady who used to sit on her bed and stroke her hair as she fell asleep. Now, the parents thought she was just imagining it, and other relatives called ‘ghost’ — but on the whole they just put it down to the overactive imagination of a little kid.
THEN — one day, their housekeeper sees a woman coming out of the little girls’ bedroom. So she runs after her and grabs this real-life woman, who is in her 80’s and very confused.
Turns OUT that this woman used to live in the house and moved nearby, but since they didn’t change the locks when they moved in, she kept letting herself into the house at night and gently petting my friends’ mum as she fell asleep!

Image via Tom Smith/Shutterstock.com

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Share Tweet Submit Pin