Fear—deep fear—stays with you for a long time. Even years later, while you’re going about your mundane day-to-day, you might suddenly remember just how scared you were in the past. Your heart seems to stop, you get goosebumps, and you look around wildly, wondering if history is going to repeat itself.
Reddit users opened up about the scariest things that have ever happened to them while staying at someone else’s home, and we’ve collected the most chilling tales to share with you today, dear Readers.
Some of these stories are terrifyingly uncomfortable in a very down-to-earth way. But others… well, they blur the line between reality and the paranormal. So much so that we got goosebumps just reading them. When you’ve upvoted the stories you enjoyed the most, share your own similar experiences in the comments.
You’d better start believing in ghost stories, dear Pandas—you’re in one! [Cue thunder and lightning.]
Bored Panda wanted to understand why we enjoy telling others scary stories and how reading about horror might help us face terrifying situations better, so we reached out to Doug Murano, the founder of Bad Hand Books. Doug is a Bram Stoker Award-winning editor, so when it comes to horror and storytelling, he’s a real expert.
“I think there’s something inside every human being that likes to walk to the edge of the cliff and stare over it. This isn’t exactly a death wish—but it’s a need to peer into the abyss. We love that sense of vertigo. Telling scary stories gives us a chance to get that same thrill without the possibility of gravity winning the day,” he shared with us. Scroll down for our full interview and to learn why horror doesn’t have to make sense.
Age 6-8ish. Slept over at a friend’s house with my little brother. Her father woke us all up in the middle of the night, had us bundle up, and loaded us in the family minivan. He drove to a gas station and talked the whole way about how a bakery exploded behind their house. He said the resulting gases and such could kill us, so we had to try and drive as far away as possible.
They were also our next-door neighbors, so I was worried about our parents’ safety. At the gas station, our friend’s mom bought us snacks while he canvassed the area. I told her I didn’t hear any explosion and asked about my parents. She must have called them from a pay phone during the snack run, because they pulled up a few minutes later to take us home. I was, of course, terrified to go home.
Later, our parents sat us down to explain that our friend’s father was sick with something called schizophrenia that makes him hallucinate.
We were curious to get editor Doug’s opinion on whether or not there’s a ‘right’ way to deal with scary situations, both in real life and in fiction.
“Fear makes people do really, really silly things. So, if I’m watching a horror film and I see a character do something that doesn’t make any sense in the face of overwhelming panic (like run upstairs and corner themselves), that feels about right,” the founder of Bad Hand Books explained to Bored Panda.
slept on a former friends sofa, he decided to “prank me” by pretending to be a bugler wearing a ski mask, then he pretended to try and “kidnap me”, long story short i broke his nose, and we are no longer friends.
My mom and stepdad went out of town and hired a pet-sitter for five days. I was feeling burnt-out from work, and I needed to do Christmas shopping (my mom lives two hours away near a lot of good shopping), so I asked her if I could stay at her house for two days…
The second day, I was maybe five minutes from leaving the house, when I heard a noise outside. I stood up but realized it was a neighbor loading something into their truck. As my eyes shifted away from the truck, I saw smoke. It was coming from behind the couch, almost like when you blow out a candle, but I hadn’t lit any candles.
I went around to the back to see actual flames inside the couch. I was so confused, but I filled up a thing of water and threw it into the burning couch. I did it a few times, to be safe, then reached in to feel for hot spots. The wood inside the couch was all hot to the touch. It eventually cooled down and the fire was out, but I was still pretty confused as to how the couch caught fire… I slid the small table that was behind the couch back into place and noticed a focused beam of light on the couch.
My mom likes to decorate and has a glass/crystal ball on the table… This crystal ball has been in the same spot, on the same table, with the same couch, for almost a year, with no issues. This one day where the sun came in at a perfect angle and I happened to be at the house when nobody should have been there, the ball focused the beam into a fire starter. They would have lost the house, the dog, everyone’s Christmas presents. Everything. Because of a stupid table ornament.
Pic for proof: the burnt opening looks small, but it was mostly burning inside the couch.
“Some viewers will complain about it—but the nonsense behavior and nightmare logic are my favorite parts of any scary story. Life doesn’t make sense. Horror definitely shouldn’t make sense,” he said.
Bored Panda also wanted to know if being exposed to horror stories, both real and imaginary, might help us react better when we’re faced with actually terrifying situations. According to Doug, there’s a hidden upside to watching and reading horror that some of us might not think about.
I was 14 or 15 and spent many weekends at my friend’s house. One day we discovered that her mom’s boyfriend has a hidden camera in her room, under her desk. I was supposed to go on vacation with them and my mom told me she didn’t feel comfortable with him, we found that camera a week later. Thanks mom!!
The first time meeting my boyfriend’s family, who live in another country, we stayed in his old attic bedroom. In the middle of the night, he reaches over and shakes me awake. “Huh?” I mumble and he says, “shhh… be very still…I think there is someone else in the house.” I lay motionless, thinking that someone has broken in and I’m about to be psycho murdered. Listening to the sounds of the old creaky attic, convinced every gust of wind is a foot step. He puts his arm around my head, covering my ears. I don’t move for hours in fear… until I hear him snoring.
And that was the night I discovered, for the first time, he talks in his sleep.
I’ll share 1 of the (many) other stories of his sleep-talking:
We were in bed discussing things we need to pick up at the store. I was making a mental note, “so… eggs, milk, bread… I think that’s all… anything else?” He goes, “oh, can you add rope to the list?” I go “yeah, sure.” A few seconds pass. “Wait, what do we need rope for?” “For the net,” He says. “Cool… what net?” “You know, the net for the trap.” “What trap?!” “The trap for Vince Vaughn! We have to stop him… stop him before he kills us.”
When I was 8 or 9, my friend’s dad yelled at me, angrily, for pooping at their house. I lived down the street, so he told me that I should have went home to poop.
“Watching horror films and reading scary stories might or might not help us survive an actual horrible encounter, but I think it does something more important. Exposing ourselves to horror can help us get through the day-to-day worries and anxieties we all face,” he said.
“Horror fans are some of the kindest, gentlest people I know—and I think it’s because horror (and the enjoyment of horror) is rooted in empathy. Experiencing horror stories builds empathy. The world could use a lot more of that.”
When I was about 16 I had spent the night at my Best Friends House. During this time there were rumors going around that I was gay because I came out to a previous friend who decided to share it with others. My best friend knew of my sexuality but it did not bother him at all. During this sleep over, I remember laying on the floor while he was in his bed. I was still laying opposite to his head which angled me towards the opening of his bedroom door. In the middle of the night I get this Jolt of adrenaline in the middle of night as I had the feeling that someone was watching me. I still had the cover over me and made a hole shape to peek out of. The door was cracked open. It was completely shut before we both knocked out. I stared deeper into the crack and notice what looked like another pair of eyes staring back. I get this horrible pit in my stomach as the eyes continue to look around the room. Right up to the point when it locked onto my eyes. The door began to crack open wider. I see a full head peek it’s head in at an attempt to get a closer look of something. When all of a sudden this thing bursts the door open shouting “I CAUGHT YOU!” While removing the covers off my friend. My friend immediately shouts what the f**k and flicks on the light switch. It was his mother. She stormed out of the room and slammed the door to her room. Me and my buddy had a hard time falling back to sleep as we were trying to figure what that was all about. The next morning I overhear my friend talking to his mom while I was in the bathroom. Apparently she heard I was gay and that she always had a feeling. She was trying to catch if I was doing stuff to him in his sleep. F*****g Ridiculous was my reaction but I washed up and told my buddy that I would be going home. Her head popping in was some scary s**t. Never told him why. We are still best friends I just avoid his mother.
About 14 years old. Sleeping over at my friend’s house, and in the middle of the night we heard some rustling around in her enclosed patio (which was adjacent to the living room we were sleeping in.) We shrugged it off because she had two very active outdoor cats who generally slept in the patio. When we woke up the next morning and went out there to eat breakfast, we saw the screen door had been slashed and several pieces of furniture (TV, etc) were gone. So the rustling we heard in the middle of the night were actually burglars. Not sure if they knew that several teenage girls were in the living room, but still freaks me out a bit when I think about it…
I was watching a friends kids when I was in the Army. I was crashed out on the couch early one morning when the door flung open and 3 kids that didn’t live there entered the house, the one in front had a gun.
They were making a b line for the kids bedrooms and had not noticed me on the couch.
Scared as s**t but not gonna let them just kill the kids I was watching I jumped up and barreled into the lead kid and took the gun.
There was screaming and the kids I was watching came running out into the front room.
Turns out it was a BB gun, the kid with the gun had just received it as a gift and wanted to show the kids I was watching. The visiting kids had been told by the resident kids that their rents were away for the weekend so they just bardged in.
Of note they were all like 13 so it wasn’t exactly hard to take the BB gun, still scared she s**t out of me.
Our fascination with scary stories comes from the fact that they—whether in the style of true crime or actual fiction—provide us with an emotional release. We get to experience all the thrills while being completely safe in our homes (or our offices when we should be working, but we’re not here to judge).
There’s also a certain sense of satisfaction and peace of mind that comes from realizing that our experiences aren’t isolated: others have felt the same fear that forced itself into our lives. At the end of the day, many of us Pandas have had weird stuff happen to us at our own homes or while we were guests elsewhere. Lights flickering, unnatural chills, feelings of foreboding, strange noises while nobody’s around the house… you name it. And don’t even get us started about creepy music boxes playing without being wound up.
Slept over at my friend’s house one summer night during high school. Woke up to his mom calling out to him because his step dad was unresponsive and passed away during the night.
I was catsitting for some family friends. As I approached the house one evening, I noticed a light was on that hadn’t been on that morning. I walked in the front door and yelled up the stairs, but didn’t hear anything. There were small things that had been moved around (a knife on the counter and some trinkets, etc) but nothing was missing except the cat (it never came running for its food). I checked all the rooms but no sign of the kitty. I even checked the fridge, and noticed the pepperoni had been moved from the shelf to the drawer. Why did the cat burgular move the damn pepperoni?!?
Well it turned out that the family had a maid that I didn’t know about and she had accidentally closed the cat in a closet…
Friends dad showed me porn and asked me if I knew what a hard penis felt like. I was 10. Haven’t told anyone I know irl
Lee Chambers, a psychologist and well-being consultant from the UK, previously explained to Bored Panda why people are so fascinated by the true crime genre. He also revealed why we’re so drawn to figuring out the darker, more unsavory aspects of what some human beings are capable of doing.
“When considering why the darker side of humanity and entertainment are so compelling, we have to first look at our evolutionary journey as human beings. For the majority of our existence, we were prey and always hyperaware of threats to our safety, which created a negativity bias that we are drawn towards,” the psychologist told us during an interview, earlier.
“But in today’s safe and often sanitized world, we are rarely threatened significantly, and the ability to explore evil, frightening and gruesome entertainment is one of the few ways we can visit this part of humanity while remaining safe and comfortable,” psychologist Lee said.
I once spent the night at a friend’s house. His drunken uncle shook me awake and then my friend as well with all the noise he was making. I opened my eyes starlted to see a gun to my face and he demanding who the F i was. I was scared speechless and just looked at my friend hoping hexd chip in for me. He did. He said, “Uncle! That’s my friend! Chill! Uncle! That’s my friend!” His uncle then put it down and just walked away as if nothing had happened. He was drunk . . .
I was at this strangers house to give him some money for accidentally hitting him on his bike (I was also on a bike), and the first thing I notice is that his house is really dark. Not in that his lights weren’t on; his house didn’t have lights at all. No ceiling lights or lamps or anything. Homeboy legit used a flashlight around his own house to get around and find things
Next thing I know, this guy who I’ve spoken maybe 100 words or less to is showing me a straight up two handed sword and matching dagger that are both RAZOR SHARP. This is one of those people who have a harder time being quiet than thinking of things to say, and next thing you know I’ve been into every room in his place and met his pet parrot the size of a f*****g eagle.
The reason I was there in the first place was to replace a handmade Italian seat for his bike, and he ended up giving me: a pair of $30 gloves, the old gloves that got a few scratches on them when I hit him, 5-10 high end protein/power bars, and a glass of strawberry lemonade. Definitely a strange experience.
Family told me their house was haunted. I just brushed it off. But one night around 3 am, I was sleeping on the couch, and I could see into the laundry room that had a bunch of empty hangers.
The lights flickered, and all of the clothes hangers crashed onto the floor. I was petrified.
“There is a level of novelty to it, it removes boredom quickly, and it helps us to discover our emotional limits while understanding the minds of those who go beyond social norms and potentially gaining knowledge of how we might avoid being victims ourselves. They also offer closure, with many stories ending with the mystery being solved, and the criminal being brought to a level of justice.”
The psychologist noted that some people feel comforted when they see all the evil things being portrayed on the screen: everything bad is happening to someone else while we’re completely safe. Meanwhile, we’re free to indulge in our fascination with the dark side of humanity.
“It can take us on an emotional rollercoaster, have us trying to solve the puzzle and test our fear in a controlled way. The permission to explore evil is powerful, as we so rarely get the chance elsewhere, and in itself, it is healthy and normal in moderation.”
I was at a friend’s house late at night, and the two of us were watching reruns of the classic The Twilight Zone. His family was out somewhere, so it was just us in this large two-story house.
The episode we were watching had to do with this town that gets enveloped in never-ending darkness, and the people in the town all hate each other, so the darkness was supposed to be a manifestation of their anger or something like that. The episode nears the end, and Rod Serling begins his ending narration. He says something to the effect of, “And be sure not to let the darkness consume you,” or something similar (my memory is vague).
And I sh*t you not, as soon as Rod said those words, the power in the house went out, and we were left in shock, sitting in the living room in total darkness. It was the freakiest coincidence I’ve ever experienced in my life! And no, it wasn’t a prank, because nobody else was home and my friend never left the living room.
I was a freshman in college when I spent Christmas with my high school buddy who didn’t go with his family out of town. I went to his kitchen to get a drink when I looked out his kitchen window and saw two figures jumping his fence. Luckily I saw them before turning on the light, so they didn’t see me. I quietly told him to get ready to call the cops, when I saw them making their way to his door. Without thinking I ran to the door and opened it and yelled, “LAPD! Freeze!” And luckily the two figures got scared and ran away. Thinking back on it they sounded really young and they were probably just gonna ding dong ditch the place or something. But to be safe I stayed with him until his family came home.
I was 11yo and at my friend’s house, his parents and all of his siblings were home. Everyone but his dad was in the front room of the house. His dad was doing yard work in the backyard. I got up to go to the bathroom, and while passing the backdoor saw that my friend’s dad was on a ladder with an electric tree trimmer. Before I looked away and continued on, his dad fell off the top rung of the ladder and crashed *hard* on the ground. The tree trimmer was still somehow on and landed next to his body. The trimmer was going full horror movie and slowly moving towards him and he was not getting up. I’m the only one who saw this happen. So I yelled, “Friend, Friend’s mom! Your dad fell, come quick!”, and ran outside to pick the trimmer up and move it away. By the time I turned it off and started focusing on him, everyone else was outside. We helped him up, the mom took him to the hospital for back pain and a mild concussion, the older siblings watched us while they were gone, and everyone was very thankful I had to pee.
Edit: It was scary to me because I did not know what to do and acted on adrenaline and instinct. The fall was also pretty intense-looking. I thought I saw a guy die.
It was my parents home. They asked me to house sit. The neighbors knew they were gone and called the cops on me. I guess the cops just hung out outside waiting for the (presumed) burglars to come out but when that didn’t happen and the lights went out they decided to come in. I awoke to a bunch of cops shouting at me with drawn guns and flashlights shining blinding me and backlighting the pistol pointing right in my face.
Sleepover at best friend’s house when I was about 12. Middle of the night after we’d fallen asleep, he wakes up and starts screaming that his head is going to explode. Not a bad dream, he keeps going, just screaming and crying and thrashing around. His parents wake up, scoop him up, and rush him to the hospital.
Turned out he’d just never had a headache before, and his first was apparently a doozy.
When I was like 11, I slept over at my friend’s house, which was in the middle of the country. At 2 am, I heard scratching and pounding at the door, followed by howling.
I woke my friend up and was like, “YO, WHAT IS THAT?” She woke up, looked at me, and just said, “Oh, those are the coyotes. They’re just scratching at the door. Go back to bed.”
I was probably 7? My friend lived down the street. Her mom had invited some girls to come hang out from our class and she made us sandwiches, cookies, juice, popcorn, the normal ‘girl day’ type of fun. We were in the garage playing.
Her dad was either drunk or had an anger problem. He came in yelling at us, saying we were too loud. He grabbed my friend’s mom by the arm and hit her, she started crying. Then, he grabbed my friend and spanked her. Alright. Well he proceeded to grab each girl and spank them hard. I ran away as fast as I could back to my house.
I remember my friend consistently coming to school being real tired, sometimes falling asleep at her desk.
Farrah, I hope you’re okay.
Edit: she moved away soon after. No idea where she went. I did tell my parents. After that, I remember only being allowed to go to one friend’s house. Any other time my mom would invite my friends to come to ours.
Edit 2: I ran before he got to me. Still told my mom anyway.
Edit 3: yes, CPS was notified. I’m sure teachers were well aware of abuse before anyway.
I was house sitting for an aunt of mine while she was on holiday – she told me there was a leak in the lounge area but it was fixed, so if there were any issues to let her know.
A massive storm happened a couple nights in. I heard some trickling in the early hours so I went to go check that there wasn’t a leak.
The entire wall was flooding with water, like an actual waterfall. Turns out the spouting was blocked and the water was just forcing its way through the cracks in the wall.
I knew it wasn’t my fault, but it was so terrifying watching someone’s house fall apart on your watch, just piling towels on the floor and shifting furniture to keep everything dry.
At my grandmother’s alone one night, on my computer, when a music box downstairs played a few notes.
My best friends dad was in the reserves and would come home late at night a lot. One time he had come home and we didn’t notice. We were heading to the kitchen to go make bread and cheese and we froze in the hallway because we saw someone kneeling in front of the fireplace which wasn’t lit. We proceed to freak the f**k out which wakes dad up and he comes out of his room laughing his a*s off. Turns out he thought it wold be funny to set his duffle bag up, wrap his coat a round it, hat on top, boots in front and it looked just like some dude chilling with his head on his knees.
Ol Clarky boy, I miss him. He was so much fun. Completely unrelated story with him is he bought a gold vw golf and when he came home with it he burst in my friends bedroom where we were watching DragonBall and yells “I LOVE GOOOOOOOOOOOLD” and runs off. He was always doing crazy s**t.
edit: some people have asked for our bread and cheese recipe so here ya go. get some uncut sub rolls, hollow them out, stuff them with sharp cheddar, and then microwave them til theyre gooey and melty. im afraid to try it now that im older, idk if itll make me s**t my pants or constipate me for a week.
I was 18 and my friend and I were alone at her house. Her parents were going through a nasty divorce and her dad (who had anger problems) was not allowed to come near the house because the mom had a restraining order. He ended up banging on the door and trying to break in since he knew the mom wasn’t home. We hid in my friend’s room with a samurai sword while she called her mom to come home.
My friends step-dad tried to give me a massage while he was drunk.
When I was like 8 or 9 I was at a relative’s house for a family gathering when one of my distant relatives flipped out and grabbed a kitchen knife. I don’t remember the details but I’m pretty sure he was threatening people. I remember being ushered into a side room with everyone else and being cramped in there for like a minute or two just listening while a few male relatives who had remained outside with the guy encircled him, got him to calm down, and disarmed him. I learned later that the dudes brain was like partially fried or something from drug abuse. Never saw him at any family gatherings again after that.
was at my girlfriend’s, and in the middle of the night, two kitchen cabinets collapsed. They were packed with plates and glasses.
One cabinet fell onto the sink and completely destroyed the frame around it. Some cups fell into the sink and hit the tap. Of course, plates and glasses were all over the place, covered in an inch of water. The sound when it fell down just freaked me out. My girlfriend was asleep and literally fell off the bed.
It was just such a bummer to clean up, but the moment they fell down and shattered in the dark was frightening.
My friend when I was around 10yrs old used to talk about a ghost in his house that would turn on the radio in the kitchen when you left the room. Called b******t. Well about a month after, I am waiting on him to get out of the shower, and am in the kitchen having a snack. As I open the cabinet, the radio behind me turns on… I jumped, turn it off, then remember the story. Was afraid to go to the kitchen after that. scary, but only happened the once to me. His mom didn’t want to throw it out or move it in fear of angering what ever it was. Not sure what ever happened to that radio
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