Everyone has at least one terrible experience that they'll never be able to forget, no matter how hard they try. Those memories can be tucked away and partially covered up as the years go by, but they'll always remember when and where they were when they came face to face with danger. Here are just a few of those stories. All posts have been edited for clarity.
"My pre-school teacher, who also ended up somehow changing jobs and becoming my 11th grade English teacher, had a fascinating life. She told this story every single year to the new students in her class. When she was younger, she was driving through Arizona on a two-way road trip while her boyfriend at the time was following behind her on his motorcycle.
For those who don't live in Arizona, certain stretches of it can be quite isolated and deserted. She said that they were on a long drive and eventually got separated by a few miles. A man who was behind her in a Volkswagen Beetle kept pulling up beside her into the other lane (no one was coming) and motioning at her to pull over. She somewhat ignored him the first few times, but he kept doing it and began getting more frantic each time. She said that she believed that he spotted something wrong with her car, so she saw a parking lot off the road for a deserted gas station and pulled over.
Once pulled over, she said that she instantly got an eerie feeling. The man was suspicious and kept telling her that he saw something wrong with her headlight and insisted she get out of the car, so he could show her what he meant. Her boyfriend who was a few miles behind her, eventually caught up and spotted her car at the sketchy gas station. Right as she was out of the car, her boyfriend began to pull in. As he did that, this man got into his car and SPED off like his life depended on it.
They were later able to identify that the man was Ted Bundy. She said she cannot imagine what would have happened to her if her boyfriend had been even another three miles behind her on the road."
"I was working the evening shift at a gas station when a man came in all disoriented. I went to help him out and noticed that he had a gash on his head and didn'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 and paramedics.
Once they got there and checked him out they thought his head may have been fractured. They took him to the ER, and I went back to work.
Some cops stopped back by for some coffee a few hours later, and they told me the guy got hit by a baseball bat trying to break into a little girl's bedroom and was wanted for some pretty grisly crimes in two other states.
I never left the register area at night again."
"When I was a baby, my dad played on a softball team. Typical social team, out for drinks and pizza after with the guys, family event-type-thing. My parents were good friends with two of the other couples, both of them had young kids as well.
On this occasion, the other two couples had left their kids at one of their houses, with a babysitter they were splitting. They invited my parents back to the house to have some more drinks that night, but I was being fussy and my mom nixed the idea (though they would have normally gone back to hang out).
Well, it turned out my fussiness on that day saved our lives. When the other parents got back to the house, they walked in on a home invasion. Two men had broken in, tied up the kids and the babysitter (and her boyfriend), and were waiting for the parents. They took the parents hostage as well, and made the dads drive with them to a bank and a grocery store where the one dad was manager and cleared out accounts and the safe.
They then came back to the house, and slaughtered both families, the babysitter, and her boyfriend. Kids included.
They caught the two guys later on. My dad attended the trials, and said it was the first time he had ever had thoughts of supporting the death penalty. It still gives me chills to know how close we came to getting killed that day, too."
"I was responsible for opening a new office for a previous employer. The receptionist that we hired was this sweet little old lady who would always bring in cookies and brownies, like almost every day. She said her husband had a sweet tooth, and she didn't know how to make just enough for the two of them so, since the kids all moved out, she always baked too many.
She would always tell us funny stories about what her husband said or did the night before. He sounded like a fun guy, and she was the absolute sweetest little old lady. Or so I thought...
A few months later, her husband was reported missing by her adult kids. They said that he hadn’t called them since Christmas and that their mom was very evasive when they would ask to talk to him on the phone.
After a little investigating, the police found the husband, hacked to pieces, in this sweet little old lady’s trunk. It turns out on Christmas night, she slit his throat in his sleep, used a hacksaw to cut him up, rolled all the pieces up in a carpet, and tucked him into her trunk.
Here is the creepy part. We hired her in June. They found the body in August.
The whole time I knew her, his body was wrapped in a carpet in her trunk. She was bringing in cookies and telling us funny 'Jim' stories, all the while he was decaying in her trunk."
"When I was 9 years old, my brothers (10 and 11) and I were playing in our street while our mom watched from our porch. A man in his 30s was walking his dog past us. It was a really cute golden retriever and my 10-year-old brother was in love with it. The guy was friendly and said he was checking out his new house that was being built down our street. My mom overheard this exchange and politely asked us to come up to the porch. The man followed behind us and introduced himself to my mom as our new neighbor. He said we were all welcome to join him while he checked out the progress, and this sent my brother into a pleading fit, so he could continue playing with the dog. My mom politely declined and said we had to go inside for dinner, which caused my brother to throw a massive tantrum.
Fast forward one week later and my mom shows us a newspaper article showing that guy had been arrested for a string of child assaults. His dog was the bait and he used the same lines on us as he did on them."
"We were on family vacation in these beautiful lake cabins at this really fun campground we went every summer. My mom, youngest brother (4 at the time) and I (5 at the time) went to the store to get food for the week while my dad and older siblings unpacked and docked the boat.
The store was a good 30-minute drive into town as the lake was far from everything and it had started to rain on the way there. We arrived to the store and made a mad dash for the doors as it started to down pour.
We grabbed a cart and started our shopping. We were in the cereal aisle when it sounded like a train was approaching. My mom grabbed my brother and I and kind of jumped on top of us. We had no idea what was happening when all of a sudden cereal boxes were flying everywhere. I remember hearing glass windows break and madness of the lights going out and food flying everywhere and hitting us. The entire cereal shelf fell backwards into the aisle behind us.
An F3 tornado had ripped right through the grocery store. It was a disaster; we were banged up and bruised, the store was a mess, people were injured, but luckily no one was seriously hurt or killed.
Ambulances came and we all had to get checked out. Our car somehow didn’t have a scratch on it. At this point, two hours had gone by, and we were cleared to leave and headed back to the lake.
We pulled in, and jumped out running toward the dock and my mom was crying, she had held it together but just lost it at this point and my dad and siblings were on the lake having had no idea what just happened.
My dad saw my mom just bawling, and me and my brother were too, and came running over as we are all trying to explain what had happened.
We decided to stay at the lake since it was safe and had tornado shelters and it did not rain once the entire week we were there. We had to go to a different town an hour away for provisions. My dad drove with my mom the next day to see the destruction and the whole little town was destroyed. It was so sad. They did rebuild by the next summer.
It was the scariest thing I’ve ever been in and I’ve been terrified of storms since."
"I was just ending my shift at a major hospital in New York. I headed back to my apartment, entertained my daughter with random conversation for a while, had a meal, and was chilling out. Business as usual.
Later that night, my mother came by and took me back to the hospital where I worked. We were talking in the car, and nothing seemed out of sorts at all. She never mentioned where we were headed, and I had no idea of the destination until we actually arrived.
When we arrived at the hospital, I kept getting questioned about who I was (including who I really was), where I grew up, who my daughter was, where I lived, and more. Battery after battery of third degree, coming out of absolutely nowhere. I had no clue what was going on or why anyone was interrogating me this way.
Fast forward to about three days later or so. I found myself sitting in a chair, calmly looking out at a lovely view from my apartment window.
Except this wasn't my apartment.
In a quiet panic, I took stock of my surroundings and realized I was at the end of a hallway, and I'd been here before. It was the hospital where I worked, but it wasn't in New York. It was Portland, and it was the psych floor. In an instant, I had no idea why I was there, what day or time it was, nor what had gone on since my last shift on the floors beneath.
It turns out that I was, indeed, working a regular shift several days prior. The story is that I walked off the job with no warning nor explanation, went to my mother's place, and was rambling on about what I needed to do in 'the City' the next day. She took me to the ER, where I reported living in NYC (complete with some bogus address and phone number) with my daughter (I was claiming that my little sister was my daughter). They admitted me, and I didn't break back into generally-accepted reality for several days. When I 'came to,' I had absolutely no idea what had happened, why I was locked up again, nor any memory whatsoever of what I'd said or done after that instant walking off of my shift.
Turns out it was Schizophrenia. It was my first major psychotic break. I'd been spiraling for several years without realizing it. Sitting in that chair by the window at the end of a hospital hallway, when literally one instant earlier I'd been casually going about my job, felt just as disorienting and jarring as you'd imagine."
"In the third grade, a guy came to our school and held our class hostage. He had already killed his wife and was there to kill his kid. The administrators convinced him the kid was not there and to take one of their cars and leave. After threatening to kill us multiple times, tying up the gym teacher, and dragging someone's grandma around with a knife at her neck, he finally left about 30 minutes later.
The police caught him in Indiana on his way to kill his parents. He was convinced the world was ending, and he was killing everyone he loved to spare them. The school did worse than nothing, they lied to parents and no assistance was given to either the kids or teachers involved. The gym teacher never came back, and every time she would see one of the kids at the store or wherever, she had a breakdown. Several of us have PTSD, undiagnosed, for decades. We just thought it was normal.
In the 70s, the Chicago Public School system was more concerned about their jobs and lawsuits, so they covered it up."
"My friend had this neighbor who was a retired mechanic. They lived on some properties with large front lawns and long driveways. His neighbor had a couple derelict cars parked up near his garage that he took parts from occasionally.
This neighbor of his started hearing noises while sitting in his living room, coming from his front yard. Every time he'd go to the window, there would be nothing there. He assumed it was a raccoon or a coyote or whatever. He kept hearing the noise, so he'd go outside to look around but would find nothing. He'd put out traps and occasionally catch something, yet the noise persisted.
Soon, he started claiming that he was hearing voices coming from the front yard, like whispering. He'd go outside and look around the perimeter of his property but would find nothing. It was persistent, so he'd started calling the cops. Every time the cops came and looked around and would find nothing. So they told him he needed to stop calling them for this, and perhaps get a security camera or whatever.
So this guy thought he was losing his mind. One summer evening he couldn't sleep, so he went to the back patio to have a smoke. Suddenly, he heard voices coming from the front of his house. He put out his smoke and snuck around to the front and got there just in time to see the doors to his derelict conversion van silently shut. He ran back to the backyard and went inside his home and called the police to tell them what he had seen. The police arrived and approached cold (i.e. without lights/sirens), and when they approached the van, the doors swung open and a bunch of people ran out in every direction.
Upon searching the van, the cops found syringes and paraphernalia and determined that people were shooting up in there."
"I work at a maximum security prison, and we have several inmates who are severely mentally ill. The ones that self harm wear a bracelet to monitor heart rate. If there is a change, we rush to their room to stop whatever is happening. On top of this we also do visual inspections.
On one round, a coworker was doing cell checks and noticed this particular inmate had blood on their face but nothing came up on the monitors or anything. So he called to the inmate to ask if they were okay, the inmate had their eyes closed and just kept repeating, 'It doesn't hurt.' The inmate would not say where the blood was from.
We opened the cell to see what the situation was and it turns out the inmate had plucked out both of their eyes, and they were laying on the floor. The inmate's HR monitor never alerted and the inmate never screamed. Paramedics said the inmates vitals were normal and the inmate was fully responsive.
One officer who responded had been on the job three days. They quit without notice the next day."
"A family member of mine is friends with a man (middle-aged) whose wife sadly died while taking their dog out for a walk through a rural area they were visiting. They had driven up to a farm along the road and gotten out when the dog tore from her grip and ran off. She ran after it to the back of the barn (where the huge open dung-cistern was).
The farmer wasn’t home, so when he came back later in the day, he found her car and thought it weird that a strange car had just been left there, doors open, with no people noticeably nearby. He went around searching for his unexpected visitors and eventually found them.
What he found was something I had never even imagined before hearing of this.
The dog had fallen into the cistern of deep, liquid waste from the farm animals. The edges on the cistern where way too high up to reach from liquid surface level and the woman must have panicked, because she had jumped in after the dog to save it and that’s where her life slowly and brutally came to an end.
The fumes that accumulate from that much dung are very toxic. The woman, after being unable to get back out, had lost consciousness and drowned, along with her dog, in a pool of cow feces.
I can’t imagine a worse way to die. I think about it now and then and hope that no one will ever die like that again. Poor souls."
"When my aunt was about 23, she was driving home from a late bar tending shift in central California and stopped to get gas. It was maybe 2 am and there were a couple cars in the gas station, but she didn’t think much of it. Rural California. Not busy streets.
She was pumping her gas and leaning against the car when the intercom said, 'Ma’am at pump 4, please see cashier.' At first, she didn’t realize she was at pump 4, and they had to announce it again. Saying there was an error with the payment and to see the cashier.
She walked inside and the guy working the counter tells her to stay calm and that he’s called 911, but that he saw a man crawl under her car and was laying there. As they stood inside, they saw him crawl into the backseat of her car on the cameras. They waited until the police came and the man was arrested. He had a pocket knife and gloves on and appeared to be homeless."
"A girl I went to high school with stayed home for softball practice while her parents and her little brother left for a weekend trip. She was home alone sleeping in her bed in a completely dark room when she was startled awake by the loud sound of her bedroom window breaking. She watched as a dark figure slowly crawled into her room through the window.
The figure's eyes weren't adjusted to the dark but it turned towards her because it saw something. This mysterious man inched slowly towards her trying to see what this lump was in the bed. He got his face almost right up to hers before he realized it was a person in a bed. His eyes widened, and he slowly backed away and crawled back out the window.
It definitely could have ended worse for her, but it still robbed her of her feeling of security. After that, she slept in the living room because it had no windows, and she slept with the lights on. Even when she moved away to college a year later, she slept with every light on in her apartment. She paid for the whole light bill to make sure her roommates were cool with it."
"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 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 on 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."
"Years ago, my now husband worked for an industrial laundry company in their head office when a PR disaster happened that messed up a number of people. Their company collected laundry from large hospitals and nursing homes and cleaned them — you can imagine the sort of heavy-duty cleaning, bleaching, and boiling needed to remove those sort of biological contaminants.
One day, a laundry cart went through the usual bleaching and boiling cycle before it dropped out into a conveyor belt to be sorted for drying/pressing when there was a horrid scream.
A small newborn baby’s body had been discovered tangled up amongst the sheets, it had been 'cooked.' The laundry workers were distraught, the whole place had to be shut down, police were called and tracked the laundry back to the hospital to discover what happened.
It turns out a (thankfully in some ways) stillborn baby had been left in the cot waiting to be taken down to the hospital mortuary after the parents had said their goodbyes and covered it with a blanket but somehow one of the nurses hadn’t realized (just on shift was the best guess) so just grabbed up all the linen out the cot and off the bed in the delivery room with the body bundled inside and emptied it into the laundry hamper. The other nurses/parents assumed the baby had been collected by the mortuary to be stored awaiting their funeral decisions.
The laundry was found not to be to blame but the parents were devastated and the hospital took a lot of flack. The poor laundry workers who discovered the body ended up being given counselling before eventually quitting. The laundry did amend its practice to individually emptying each laundry hamper into the industrial machines instead of just tipping them in to stop anything like that happening again."