Beware! These 10 Terrifying Ghost Stories Will Make You Hide Under Your Covers

I’m a little obsessed with ghosts (seriously, it’s about as bad as my true crime obsession). I spent my summers as a kid watching shows like Ghost Hunters, and I couldn’t get enough of the haunted bed and breakfast my uncle owned for several years. Yes, I’m convinced that spirits live among us, separated only by a thin veil.

Believers and skeptics alike will be creeped out by the following ghost stories and urban legends. But which is which? Is something true, told by eyewitnesses and firsthand accounts, unable to be explained by natural phenomena? Is it a legend handed down over the years and passed off as fact? I’m only going to give you a brief description of each story and some resources to learn more — from there, it’s up to you to decide. Let’s get spooked!

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1. Black-Eyed Children

Creepy children are a big nope from most of us, and the podcast episode I listened to on this one gave me the SERIOUS heebie jeebies.

A brief rundown: there are multiple accounts throughout recent history of “black-eyed kids” — children aged 6-16, usually appearing in pairs — showing up at people’s doorsteps and asking to be let in. Their requests are usually phrased oddly, and it’s said that a torrent of bad luck will follow you if you let them in your house. Theories of what these children really are range from extraterrestrial to ghosts to demons. 

To learn more, listen to the podcast episode above, check out this Wikipedia article, watch one filmmaker’s investigation, or read this article.


2. Russian Sleep Experiment

 
 
 
 
 
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Legend has it that in the 1940’s a covert Soviet experiment sought to test humans’ reaction to prolonged sleep deprivation. Five test subjects were put into a room that was then filled with gas to prevent the participants from sleeping. After a few days, things started to get…a little crazy.

I don’t want to spoil too much so I’m going to leave it there, but if you want to learn more (which, trust me, you do), check out this podcast episode, this Wikipedia article, or this creepypasta.


3. Robert the Doll

 
 
 
 
 
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I hate this one because of how damn creepy it is. I had a collection of porcelain dolls as a kid, and honestly, I don’t know how I escaped that alive.

Robert the Doll is an allegedly haunted doll currently on display at East Martello Museum in Key West, FL. It’s said to be able to move and giggle (gross). If you go see him at the museum, be sure to be respectful — disrespectful visitors have been followed by a string of bad luck, causing them to send letters to Robert the Doll to apologize.

To learn more, you can listen to this podcast episode, read this article, or you can watch this video of Robert the Doll actually blinking (I won’t blame you if you don’t, though).


4. Huggin’ Molly

 
 
 
 
 
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If you ever find yourself in Abbeville, Alabama, I have one piece of advice for you: don’t go out after dark.

Residents of Abbeville have grown up with stories of Huggin’ Molly haunting the streets at night; in fact, it’s so locally famous that the city’s “Welcome to Abbeville” sign includes a silhouette image of Huggin’ Molly chasing a child who was out after dark. 

The 7-foot-tall, black-clad woman is purported to appear at night. If she sees a young person out past when they should be, she’s said to run up to them, hug them, and SCREAM IN THEIR EAR. No thank you.

To learn more about the creepy legend that’s enraptured a whole town, you can watch this YouTube video or read this article.


5. Dudleytown

Dudleytown, aka the scariest town in Connecticut, is a place locals absolutely refuse to go. It’s a literal ghost town that’s been allegedly cursed; even famed demonologists Ed and Lorraine Warren have declared that there’s demonic presence in the town.

Don’t even think about visiting — people who have tried to live in Dudleytown have met with untimely ends. Besides, the ghost town is now on private property and police regularly patrol the area looking for trespassers. 

This article and this article will help you learn more about this cursed ghost town. Yuck.


6. Bunny Man Bridge

 
 
 
 
 
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I had to pay homage to my homeland of Virginia! I grew about 20 minutes from this haunted Northern VA attraction, and while I was way too much of a scaredy-cat to pay it a visit back then, today I’d go in a heartbeat.

The legend (that, yes, is based on factual events) is as follows: there’s this bridge in Clifton, VA that, if you visit at midnight on Halloween, may be the sight of your gruesome murder by none other than a mysterious Bunny Man.

The factual basis for this story comes from — you guessed it — an old asylum. The asylum closed in the early 1900s and the residents were transferred to Lorton Prison (a now-abandoned and equally creepy Northern Virginia spectacle); but on the way there, their bus crashed. One resident escaped but he was never found; instead, he left a gruesome trail of half-eaten bunnies in his wake.

If you want to go visit Bunny Man bridge, you’re totally welcome to — at least, as far as the county is concerned. To learn more about this (legend? Fact?) allegedly haunted locale, check out this article, this article, and this article.


7. Dear David

 

Sorry, y’all — this blurb will be short because I am absolutely NOT diving any deeper into this one. 

Dear David is a recent phenomenon. Dear David scares the pants off me. Dear David is a ghostly little boy-thing that Twitter user Adam Ellis claims is trying to kill him. And the photos…the photos are the worst part. Adam, get out of there, like, yesterday.

Ok, I’m already creeped out. You can read Adam’s full Twitter thread or listen to this podcast episode to learn more. But this one is not for the faint of heart.


8. Polybius

Time for one from my now-homeland: Portland, OR! Portland, you forever have my heart. And, apparently, you once had a creepy, psychologically manipulative video game called Polybius.

Polybius allegedly appeared in Portland in 1981, and it was one of those old, giant, clunky PacMan-esque machines you see in all your favorite throwback movies. Among the creepy things about it are that it allegedly had some wild psychoactive effects — from fights breaking out while waiting in line to play, to players developing actual addictions to the game, and even experiencing hallucinations — and every once in a while, a man in black would arrive at the machines, appearing to collect some type of data from it.

You can learn more about Polybius on Wikipedia, in this YouTube video, or by just Googling the term.


9. Winchester Mystery House

 
 
 
 
 
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You may have heard of this famous California mansion before; if you haven’t, check it out, and maybe book a tour if you’re in the area (my grandmother has gone, and she LOVED it).

The Winchester House was once home to Sarah Winchester, heiress to the Winchester Repeating Arms fortune. She seems to have gone a bit off the deep end after her husband’s death, claiming that she’d been told she had to keep the house constantly under construction or she would die.

The result? The wildest house you’ve ever been in, and definitely one of the biggest. The Winchester Mystery House features hallways and staircases that lead to nowhere, doors that open to walls, and the wackiest layout ever, which Sarah intended to confuse the ghosts who meant her harm. And, yes, the place is still purportedly haunted.

Learn more about the house on their website, in this movie starring Helen Mirren as Sarah Winchester, or in this podcast episode.


10. Annabelle

 
 
 
 
 
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Last but FOR SURE not least, the famous haunted doll: Annabelle. Yep, the star of the Annabelle series, which is part of the Conjuring franchise.

Ed and Lorraine Warren were given this doll by a nurse who said she’d been told by a psychic that it was inhabited by a little girl named Annabelle. Ever since, it has sat in a box in the Warrens’ museum, with a cryptic sign hanging on the front that says “Warning, Positively Do Not Open.”

While Annabelle’s appearance was changed for the movie series (Annabelle IRL is actually a large Raggedy Ann doll), the creepy factor still holds up. To learn more about Annabelle and her totally creepy, very unappealing haunted antics, I’d recommend this podcast episode and, of course, the whole Conjuring franchise, or this article.

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What are your favorite urban legends? Any ghost stories to share? Comment below!


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