Do you have that one hazy memory in the back of your memory? Something that happened to you when you were young that truly terrified you? Maybe it was all perfectly logical, maybe you still can’t explain it. But either way, the memory makes you shudder.
This piece is based on a number of AskReddit threads. Links on the last page.
1. It wasn’t Santa Claus.
I was 4 years old, taking a nap with my puppy in front of our fireplace.
It was the first winter that we were in the house, so it was the first time we used the fireplace. All of a sudden I hear a massive CRACK and a blood curdling shriek.
The first one fell from the fireplace the first flaming squirrel. It attacked. I freaked out because as far as I could tell a demon was charging full speed right at me.
Then the rest fell from the chimney. It was like a scene from Lord of the Rings when the orcs piled down the mountain, but instead it was 10 flaming squirrels charging out of the flames. I couldn’t take them all – there were too many – so I ran. My dog ran as well.
My parents made it upstairs and called the Fire department. Our house was fine; singed but fine. Looking back, it was one of the most horrifying things that I have witnessed.
2. Black tie event.
I remember falling into a pool when I was a toddler. I was flailing my arms in such a way that I was pushing myself down rather than up. I could see people above the water on the deck looking down at me. Then I saw a man in a white dress shirt and a black tie dive into the pool at the far other end. That’s all I remember. My mom says that last part never happened, but if it didnt I dont know how Im alive.
3. Napalm in the morning.
When I was very young I had very vivid memories and nightmares of what I now know to be the Vietnam War. It was as though they were memories from my own life, but of course I as never in Vietnam. The dreams stopped by the time I was 8.
4. What was he doing?
I was outside playing with friends one afternoon – we were about 9 or 10. We lived in a quiet area. As we were playing, we noticed a man in a truck drive by. Then he drove by again. And again. Each time he passed my friends yard, he would slow down. Then we realized something creepy about him.
This man was recording us with one of those old hand held recorders. It freaked us out. We ran inside their house and called his mom. She told them they needed to stay inside and that I should go home. I tried explaining that my mom wasn’t home at the moment, but she still made me leave.
I lived about a mile or two down the road. I’ve never run so fast in my life. I was terrified that the man was going to find me as I was running back home.
When my mom found out what happened, she was furious that my friends mom hadn’t allowed me to stay at their house until she could come pick me up. We never found out who that man was, but Im sure he was bad news.
5. Rude awakening.
I was around 11 years old and I woke up in the middle of the night to a man straddled on top of me with his hand over my mouth and nose. He told me not to scream. I rolled onto the floor and tried to scream bloody murder (I say “tried” cause when you are truly terrified it can take a second to find your voice). My mom heard me, ran in, and fought the guy. He was at least 6′ and she was 5’3, but she scared him enough that he took off out the window he had come in through. They never did catch him.
6. Mom and the cougar.
My aunt owns a nice big property out in the backwoods. I was about 6-7 at the time, and I was exploring some old overgrown trails near her house with my Mom, my cousin (4-5 at the time) and aunts. We go pretty deep into the woods, and it starts to get dark, so we start to head back.
Suddenly we noticed everything was eerily silent, and our parents were acting strange, scanning the woods, looking in all directions. Then, the house comes into view, about 200-250 meters away. Then, one of our aunts says “Guys, we’ll race you back to the house. GO!”
She, my cousin, and I bolt for the house, and we notice my mom and other aunt are staring something down, backing away slowly. We eventually all got to the house, locked the door, and they told us that we weren’t actually playing tag, but fleeing from an angry cougar.
When I was a kid, my brother and I would get stuck with babysitting the neighbours kid. His name was Alex. Alex was really fond of my lego set that I had in the corner of my room facing the window. He would play for hours while my brother and I would play video games in the living room.
So one night, I fell asleep on the couch while babysitting. I woke up when my brother shook me in a panic and said: “Alex is under your bed, shaking, too scared to speak. I asked, “What’s wrong with him? What happened?”
My brother told me to follow him into the room and try to talk him back out from under the bed.
I go inside to find him on the verge of tears as he was trembling profusely under my bed. I asked Alex, “What’s wrong? Why are you under there?” Alex whimpered, “It…” while looking at the my sliding closet. As I walked toward the bed in order to help him out, he ran; he ran all the way back over to his house and waited on his front steps until his parents got home.
Now, my parents were out to dinner with his, and he explained the whole story in detail to both his parents and mine; his explanation sent shivers down my spine when my brother and I left the house to meet up with his parents and find out what happened.
My mom told me me that Alex was playing with my legos and heard a slight murmur from my closet, something that resembled a faint vocalization of, “come here.” He said that he looked behind him and noticed the closet had a slight opening with light peering in from my lamp. He stared at the crack until he saw an eyelid open. He told us that there was a man in my closet. Alex then hid under my bed.
When my parents got home, they found my closet door open. My window had been left open too, when it was previously closed, and a few things were knocked over which had not been touched previously.
8. Go figure.
When I was in elementary school, I shared a queen size bed with my older sister, and our family dog (a mutt that looked like a short haired Lassie) would sleep at the foot of our bed every night. When I was about 6 years old, I woke up one night around midnight and saw a dark figure standing at the foot of the bed. The figure was entirely in black without any eyes or a face. I tried to wake my sister up, but she rolled over to go back to sleep.
My sister must have accidentally kicked the dog, because the dog woke up and raised her head and started growling at the figure at the foot of the bed. The growling then woke my sister up and she saw the figure and started screaming. When my parents came into the room and turned the light on, nothing was there.
To this day, both my sister and I are adamant that we saw a ghost or other demon in our room. We know we aren’t crazy because the dog saw it too.
9. Door shaker.
When I was about 16 years old I encountered something that still bugs me to this day. I woke up around 6AM on a normal week day and went downstairs to get ready to school. No one else in my family had woken up at this point. I got in the shower, still sleepy and could barely hold my eyes open. After a few minutes of showering someone tried to get into the bathroom.
I told who ever it was that I was in the shower. The ‘person’ then proceeded to aggressively open the door. I saw the door handle going up and down like crazy and he/she/whatever knocked on the door harder and harder.
And then it suddenly stopped. Didn’t think that much about it, but when I got out of the shower I realized that nobody was up yet. I proceeded with eating breakfast. And after a while my dad came down the stairs, so I asked him if it was he who had wanted to use the bathroom earlier. He said no, and that both my mom and younger brother was still asleep, so it could’ve not been them either.
And even if it had been any family member, they would not have tried to open the door so aggressively at 6 in the morning.
10. I hear violins.
Growing up, my older brother had a computer program that he used to compose piano music on. I remember I was reading in the living room when I heard the most beautiful violin melody I have ever heard.
I listened to the whole thing which was several minutes long. I walked down the hallway to compliment my brother on his masterpiece when I realized my brother was not using the computer, and I was home alone.
11. The voice within.
When I was about 8 years old, I was on my way to the park. It was in the middle of day in the middle of summer, but as I open the gate I freeze.
I hear a very creepy voice whisper my name in the distance. I look around. No one within sight, and I live in the middle of town. Then I hear it again, but this time closer. Still frozen on the spot, still scouting for the source of the voice. Then, I hear it agin, but this time – RIGHT in front of my face.
I immideately unfreeze, sprint back inside, and hide under my desk. It took a couple days for my mom to convince me it was safe to go outside.
12. Trapped in the closet.
My sister and had a prank war for like a week straight. Well, we agreed to a ceasefire since my 11th birthday was in two days. But later that night I heard my closet door open.
So my sister wants to prank me on my special day, eh? Ill show her I thought. So I had an idea, I would get up and push her!
So I slowly get up and she steps out of the closet. But it wasn’t my sister.
My sister doesn’t have long black hair and scars on her face and isn’t as tall as a grown woman. I wanted to scream, but instead I just froze and silently started whimpering and crying.
She puts her finger up to her lips and let’s out a “shhh. Then she opens my window and crawls out, slowly closed my window, never to be seen again. At first I thought it was a ghost. Now Im convinced it was a transient.
13. The woodsman.
My cousin and I were walking through the woods. We were maybe 8 years old. It was more like a large urban forest trail, but big enough to get lost in. Suddenly we saw a man standing in the bushes, he was wearing nothing but underwear, dress shoes, and a watch and had his back toward us. We kind of just froze there, staring at him.
He must’ve heard the rustling behind him and slowly turned around. He had the creepiest smile on his face and started slowly moving toward us while making a beckoning motion with his finger. I remember being frozen with fear for a few moments before turning around to look at my cousin, who was no longer there. I could only see his heels flashing in the distance as he was running away. Of course I followed immediately. I don’t think I’ve ever ran that fast before or since.
Laying in bed one night, it’s pitch black apart from the light creeping under the door from the landing. My mum was actually with me in the same room as we had only just moved in and she was sleeping on the floor.
I look up and the door slowly creeks open and slowly an oldish women peers around the door looks at me and goes away.
I just thought I was in a nightmare and turned around real fast and went under the covers, hoping I would wake up.
Then I will never forget my mum whispering to me “Did you just see someone peer round the door?” Safe to say we didn’t sleep a wink that night.
15. Odd Todd.
In third grade, I had this teacher named Mrs. Todd. She was always super nice to me in class. She’d always call on me to do the fun activities first, compliment me whenever I did something, and was generally just very positive toward me. At the time, I thought she was perhaps my favorite person in the world. I remember even telling my mother about how much I loved Mrs. Todd.
Anyways, one day, I sat down at my desk and opened it up to put stuff inside. Shockingly, I realized there was something very unexpected inside my desk.
There was a Victoria’s Secret magazine sitting in the pull out drawer. The kid sitting next to me noticed how shocked I was (I thought I was going to get in trouble), and we started talking about how it might have got there.
Almost immediately, Mrs. Todd walks up asks “What have you got there?” I was seriously confused, and told her it was sitting in my desk when I got here this morning. Well, she looks at me and tells me that the kid sitting next to me must have put it there. She kept repeating that statement over and over again (to both him and me), until I finally admitted that I guess he could have put it there.
Maybe a few days after that, she approached me after class to tell me about this special field trip I could go on if I kept doing well in class. It would be a trip with just her and I to the Gulf of Mexico for the weekend. I remember being really excited about it at the time. However, suddenly she got replaced at the school and we got this new teacher that didn’t like me as much. I was so heartbroken at the time.
It wasn’t until many years later that I realized how messed up that situation was. It scares me thinking about it still.
16. One small decision.
When I was five, I was in a car accident. The car I was in was rear ended by a bus. This knocked us into the intersection against a red light where we were broadsided by a bus. The only reason I’m not dead is I decided to sit in the middle seat in the back so I could look out the front window. If I had sat in my usual place, I would have been dead on impact.
17. Love never dies.
About two years after my uncle passed away, we had a big sixtieth birthday party for my grandmother. We brought the helium balloons home to her condo after the party. One of them started following her – including going down under door frames and bulkheads, then going back up to the ceiling. We never saw it coming, it would just turn up.
On it was printed “I love you, Mom.”
18. The rose.
My mother split and transplanted a rosebush from my grandfathers farm about 40 years ago. It took but never bloomed. At that point she only kept it because it grew into the fence nicely and kept us kids from climbing it.
My grandfather died about 5 years after she transplanted it, and that spring it bloomed red roses. A few years after that, my grandmother died and the spring after it bloomed white roses. These are the only two years it has ever bloomed.