Scary stories aren’t the stuff of campfires and sleepovers anymore. For adults who still enjoy a good spook, the internet is the place to turn for tales of horror and the supernatural.
Specifically, scary story fans us r/nosleep on Reddit to post their original horror stories and creepypastas — the legendary internet tall tales that bred iconic horror figures like the Slenderman. From quick, frightening anecdotal stories that you can read in under five minutes to lengthy series that will keep you up all night scrolling, the following are the 40 best-written, most iconic tales of horror you can find in the online depths.
40. Jeff the Killer
To kick things off, we’ll start with a classic entry: “Jeff the Killer.” What this story lacks in nuance, it makes up for in middle school fright value. “Jeff the Killer” is a real delight for droves of high schoolers, but the chilling image that comes along with it is enough to give a reader of any age a fright.
39. I’m a 911 Operator. Just Had the Most Terrifying Call…
It’s sickly sweet how simple this short story is. A couple clearly crafted images. The feeling of helplessness. Here’s the first irrational fear to add to the r/nosleep shopping cart: looking outside at night.
38. The Russian Sleep Experiment
This legendary creepypasta has inspired a legion of copycat stories that all hinge on the theme of medically-induced inability to fall asleep. Sleep in and of is itself a horror hallmark, and it’s true that scientists don’t know why we sleep. So, I guess the horrifying conclusions at the end of this pasta are… somewhat in the realm of possibility.
37. Tales From the Gas Station
If you like Welcome to Night Vale, the creepy, yet somehow heartwarming, fictional podcast series, you’ll love “Tales from the Gas Station.” In the same vein of a number of surrealistic small town stories narrated by an amiable public servant, this series is a fantastical delight.
For anyone who has spent a day in a darkened room, scrolling through social media and diving into deep corners of the internet, this story will resonate with the inkling feeling that you should probably go outside. A word to the wise: don’t read this after you’ve already spent hours trawling through other creepypasta, or else face the nagging fear that something about this story could come true.
35. If You Find a Book Called “The Tale of Roly Poly”, Don’t Open It, Don’t Read It!
Any story involving children and their parents’ worst fear is bound to incite shivers in anyone who has a kid, knows a kid, or just knows what a kid is. That’s why horror movies like The Babadook are so popular, and why this classic tale of woe from r/nosleep makes the cut.
34. Smile Dog
Similar to “Jeff the Killer,” this pasta hinges on the visual. Unwanted chain mail is scary enough, but this story recalls the kind of internet tall tale that certain attachments can lay on curse on whoever dares to click them. A more refined creepypasta reader might roll their eyes at these kind of clickbait-y attempts, but “Smile Dog” is inarguably a staple.
33. The Story of Her Holding an Orange
Here’s the thing: a woman holding an orange shouldn’t be scary. There’s nothing inherently alarming about some citrus and a run-of-the-mill grocery shopper, even if she’s suspiciously far from the produce aisle. But this story takes some real twists, turns, and dramatic leaps. It’s a classic that long-time r/nosleep readers may have forgotten.
32. Feed the Pig
The whole pretense of r/nosleep is that posts are supposed to be written as though the user is actually living the events. Unlike communities like r/writingprompts, the creepy quality behind r/nosleep is elevated by the assumption that everything is real. So in this case, describing a trip through literal hell kind of discards that mission. And yet, it’s a good enough piece of writing that we’re willing to forgive.
31. The Rake
This legendary monster conjured up by a twisted mind on the internet is perfect fodder for those late-night horror story swaps. Most iconic supernatural beings, from the wendigo to Bigfoot to the Mothman, are local cryptids. The beauty of the Rake is that he can strike anywhere, at any time, throughout history.
30. A Story to Scare My Son
Oh, the joy, and in this case, the subsequent horror, of wordplay. All short horror stories (sidenote: check out r/shortscarystories for the treasure trove) rely on a delicious, delightful, or disturbing twist. The delivery here is one twisted twist.
29. Here Comes the Child Bride
What could be more horrific than the ritualistic forced marriages between young girls and opportunistic older men held covertly in the US? This story. This story is more horrific than that.
28. Infected Town
This series deserves serious credit for a few reasons. One, it’s excellent. Two, it’s long — but the ending delivers. And three, it’s totally unique in that the author wrote three series by three separate Reddit accounts that are all interconnected by one moldy plot line. There’s a guide to all three separate series here, thankfully.
27. Most Amazing Weight Loss Treatment EVER!!!
At first, this post seems like it was submitted to the wrong subreddit. It reads more like a diet testimony than a horror story. And then, oh God. Oh no. You’ll just have to read it to find out.
26. My Rich American Family
This cleverly crafted tale is reminiscent of The Handmaid’s Tale and The Stepford Wives, only it’s a little more mysterious, a bit sicker, and more likely to make you sleep with a nightlight.
Speaking of another irrational fear caused by r/nosleep and creepypastas, this one brings you… bunk beds! Seriously, you’ll never want to sleep in a bunk bed again. Or a bed, period. In fact, you might just skip this story if you ever think you’ll consider sleeping again.
24. My Student Submitted the Most Disturbing “Living History” Project I’ve Ever Seen.
The horrors of war are sometimes more devastating than anything an author could summon from the depths of their imagination. Unless, of course, the author is posting to r/nosleep, because those souls have dreamt up some crazy shit. This is one of those.
23. A Package Marked “Return to sender”
One of the best things about scary stories written for an internet audience is that they tend to revolve around Black Mirror-esque topics like technology and its role in our society. After all, r/nosleep is an online gathering for internet readership. And this submission is a subtle examination of how far people will go for internet clout.
22. NoEnd House
This little shop of horrors is so revered in the creepypasta community that an entire season of the pasta-inspired Channel Zero series used it as inspiration. Haunted houses are full of sticky fake blood and smoke machines and not much else, right? Well, don’t hold your breath.
21. Room 733
What college dorm isn’t haunted, you might ask. It seems like every university campus is filled to the brim with legends and spooky anecdotes ranging from suicide attempts to missing items and strange noises in the hallways at night. This is like those, only dipped in hellfire and with a heaping side of dread.
20. Anansi’s Goatman Story
Cracking twigs, rustling leaves, eerie wind — being in the woods at night is super fun, right? Right? There’s no one behind you, right? Nothing unexplainable lurking around the trees past the campfire, right? Forest cryptids are a genre of their own, but the Goatman is the only one that will have you counting every group of strangers you’re ever in again.
19. Copper Canyon
There’s something in the air at Copper Canyon, it seems. Something that would cause a normal person to act very abnormally. But it’s not a disease, and it’s not a monster. It’s the human condition. What could be scarier than that?
18. Squidward’s Suicide
Irrational fear number 3, here we come. There are plenty of creepypasta entries based on pop culture, from video games like Minecraft and Legend of Zelda to cartoons like The Simpsons and SpongeBob SquarePants. But how could someone make Squidward Tentacles into a nightmarish horror story? Believe me, once you read this pasta, you’ll never watch Nickelodeon the same way again.
17. Ted the Caver
This is the one internet horror story that isn’t found on a subreddit or a wiki entry. It’s an entire entity in itself. But “Ted the Caver” is more than just a flash landing page from the early 00’s. It’s one man’s diary of a caving exploration gone so wrong, you’ll be screaming at your computer screen.
16. The New Fish
Prison isn’t very fun. That should go without saying. But what’s even worse than prison is a not-quite-right prisoner. This story is chilling regardless, but the incredibly written dialogue and description almost makes it feel like you’re wearing a jumpsuit and drinking hooch, too.
15. The Deepest Part of the Ocean Is Not Empty
Is it just me, or is the bottom of the ocean a really terrifying place? Giant jellyfish? Humongous squids the size of your house? Anglerfish, like in Finding Nemo? And if you think that’s bad, those are kindergarten stories compared to what’s floating in this dark, deep r/nosleep favorite.
14. A Shattered Life
This is the top-rated story of all time on r/nosleep right now, so of course, it deserves a place in this list. It would be higher, too, if it weren’t for the fact that u/m59gar has so many amazing, and dare I say better, stories out there. It wouldn’t be hyperbole to call him the Stephen King of Reddit, and a lot of his stories are connected by the fictional worlds and creatures he’s created. There’s a suggested order of reading them here, so that you can recognize all the nuanced references.
Slenderman is perhaps the best-known product of creepypasta. There was that wildly popular Slenderman game that shot a bunch of “Let’s Play” YouTubers into the spotlight, the real-life Slenderman stabbings that claimed young lives, and now a Slenderman movie. The only reason good ole’ Slendy isn’t higher up is because the original tall tales leave more legend to be desired. But, alas, the cultural impact is undeniable.
12. Fuck Oranges
This is the second story to feature oranges, another u/M59Gar piece with a pointed, underlying satirical nudge. At this point in the r/nosleep game, it’s clear that oranges are the most frightening fruit. Or are they? If the title of this one isn’t enough to reel you in, just know that the writing is enough to carry you through.
11. My Dead Girlfriend Keeps Messaging Me on Facebook.
This r/nosleep post reigned supreme on the sub for a while. For many, including yours truly, it was the first introduction to the community. And because it’s backed up with screenshots, and the user profile is so unassuming, it’s easy to get caught up in the narrative that this is all really happening. And that’s perhaps the most terrifying aspect of it altogether.
10. The Smiling Man
We’ve entered the top 10. If you haven’t met, allow me to introduce you to the Smiling Man. The short film produced in honor of this truly nightmarish meet-up (whether it’s true or fabricated, we’ll never really know) is very well done, but do yourself a favor and read the story first. It’s the kind of encounter everyone can imagine experiencing on the street late at night. So just don’t take walks in the wee hours by yourself, alright?
9. I Was a Part of Queen’s Guard in England
The folks over at r/nosleep are divided over this one, I won’t lie. It has its mega-fans, and also it’s detractors. What I can say for certain is that the first half of the series will give you the shivers. The first chapter alone makes it a historical benchmark of the subreddit. There’s one dream job you can cross off your list forever.
8. Candle Cove
Here’s another creepypasta entry that made it onto a season of Channel Zero. This fake forum discussion about a childhood TV series is hauntingly well-written and surprisingly simple. Well, except for the nightmare fuel tucked in-between the memories of a shockingly grim show. I’ve read this story at least five separate times, and the ending still gives me goosebumps.
7. Third Parent
Your babysitter growing up may have been mean, or ignored you, or sent you to bed an hour early, but no one compares to Tommy Taffy. This series jumps from generation to generation, each with a little more bloodshed and a little more grim. It never gets easier for the families adopted by Tommy, but it’s very easy to read their gripping accounts.
The thing that’s so horrific about “Autopilot” is that it’s based on not one, not two, but tens of true stories that echo exactly what happens here. It’s a terrifying phenomenon, and it could happen to anyone. But maybe, after reading this, it won’t happen to you.
5. I’m a Search and Rescue Officer for the US Forest Service
This is perhaps the most iconic r/nosleep series in recent memory. The tidbits from this alleged S&R officer will stick with you. Especially — wait for it — irrational fear number four: staircases. And not just any staircases. Staircases in the middle of the woods. Confused? Intrigued, even? This is one of the breeziest, easy-to-read, addicting series out there, so what are you waiting for?
4. Has Anyone Heard of the Left/Right Game?.
The most recently-published entry on this list is actually in the top 5, too. Because it’s just that good. I can guarantee this quirky ritual, journalist heroine, and a conniving cast of characters will stand the Reddit test of time. Every bend in the road is darker than the last. And you never know what you’ll encounter on the median. But believe me, you’ll want to follow along in Alice’s footsteps.
Speaking of footsteps, the Penpal series is without a doubt the most critically-acclaimed scary story on the internet. Not only is it enshrouded in the Reddit Hall of Fame, but it was so popular that it’s being turned into a movie. It’s stuck in development hell, but to pass the time, why don’t you read the inspiration?
2. A Spire in the Woods
I never thought I’d say it, but I’m pretty sure this is peak self-awareness within a scary story. I won’t spoil anything, but this trip takes its reader from a local legend with bite to a devastating series of consequences to the kind of epiphany you find at the end of an Oscar award-winning film or dramatic memoir. Oh, and it’s really fucking scary. Enjoy.
You came here because you wanted something tangibly dark, distressing, and disturbing, right? Well, Borrasca is the tale of woe for you. Most quality NoSleep stories rely on the fear of the unknown to send chills up the reader’s spine. Borrasca takes the game further. The twisted reveal at the end is a stark reminder that there are scarier things than what goes bump in the night. And if the conclusion leaves you wanting more, you’re in luck — there’s a sequel.
If you’ve gotten to this point, congratulations! And I’m truly sorry. Perhaps we should have put this disclaimer at the top: reading through the 40 greatest r/nosleep and creepypasta classics is not advised for one sitting. But it’s okay. Just don’t go outside, or inside, or close your eyes, or open them, or be alive, or be dead. None of that, and you’ll avoid every monster and fright in this list! Happy sleeping!
More From Inverse
11 Creepy Subreddits To Keep You Up At Night
People come to Reddit for all sorts of reasons. Sometimes it’s to learn new skills. Sometimes it’s to connect with other likeminded individuals. And sometimes, it’s to read up about the strange and unusual — so it’s a good thing that there’s no shortage of creepy subreddits that will keep you up at night, isn’t it? Not going to lie: That’s the main reason I frequent Reddit. Because I’m a weirdo with weird hobbies, and I like to read up on weird stuff in my spare time. And I have no regrets about any of it.
If you, like me, also like to read up on weird stuff in your spare time, I’ve done a little legwork for you and assembled 11 of my favorite creepy subreddits. The list is heavy on text-based subs, rather than on image-based ones, because, well… I’m the one who wrote this post, and that’s what I find the most interesting. That said, though, there are plenty of good image-based subs about weird stuff out there; r/Creepy_GIF, for example, is full of — you guessed it — supremely creepy GIFs. But me? I’ve always loved a good story (which is perhaps unsurprising, given that words are literally my bread and butter) — whether it’s long or short, or real or not real, or something in between.
So here — have a look. Take your time; there’s plenty to read, and time enough at last. Just… maybe try to get your reading done before the sun goes down. Otherwise, you, uh… might have some problems.
For me, NoSleep is the OG creepy subreddit, even though plenty of other creepy subreddits predate it in terms of when they first hit the internet. But it’s one of the very first creepy subreddits I found when I began reading Reddit some six or seven years ago, and for a long time, I popped onto it to read all the newest stories just about every day. (I often did this alone in the house at night, which in retrospect was probably a poor decision, but whatever. I appear to have suffered no long-term negative effects from it so far.)
The stories on NoSleep are usually fiction, although every so often, a true one will make its way onto its pages (like, for example, “The Smiling Man”). They’re often told from the first person, and many of them use the existing format of Reddit itself — that of strangers talking to other strangers via the internet — to great effect. Indeed, the main draw of the sub is its cardinal rule: Everything is true here, even if it’s not. The suspension of disbelief is what makes these stories live — and, I would argue, it’s an essential quality for the most effective horror tales.
NoSleep has spawned a number of spinoffs, including a sub devoted to workshopping stories before they get posted on NoSleep proper and a podcast — but I always keep coming back to the original. If it ain’t broke, you know?
Recommended reading:“Penpal,”“Correspondence,”“I found a video tape on the beach a few weeks ago.”
Dig the idea of NoSleep, but interested in stories that are more involved and perhaps a little more polished? Library of Shadows should fit the bill nicely. Like NoSleep, it’s devoted to horror fiction; however, the work hosted on it tends to be a bit more professionally packaged. It describes itself as “Reddit’s premiere online suspense fiction magazine,” which tells you pretty much everything you need to know about its style.
I may not have quite the same emotional connection to Library of Shadows as I do to NoSleep, but there really is some spectacular writing on it. Sitting down to read it is an investment in a way that NoSleep sometimes isn’t, but it’s almost always worth it. I would almost approach it the way you would a book or a collection of short stories — something you’re going to spend at least an hour or so with at a time, rather than something you read to fill the 10-minute subway ride you have a head of you.
Recommended reading:“The Spire in the Woods,”“Nine Brief Scenes from the End of the World.”
Like your creepiness to be true, rather than fictional? Unresolved Mysteries might be the place for you. It’s pretty much exactly what its name implies — a repository for facts and discussion of cases, crimes, and other mysteries that remain unsolved. There’s a little bit of everything here, from disappearances to serial murders and from TV, radio, and internet mysteries to events and phenomena that just… can’t be satisfactorily explained (yet). You’ll mostly find stuff from history here; one of the rules is that posts about murders or disappearances that are less than a year old will be removed. This one is a good subreddit to go and get lost in for a while; if you like to play armchair detective, it’s right up your proverbial alley.
Recommended reading: Professor Derek Abbot’s AMA about the Taman Shud/Somerton Man mystery, “Max Headroom Signal Intrusion Incident,”"Elisa Lam."
Was I amiss in not mentioning Three Kings in the NoSleep section? Perhaps — but there’s a reason I held out, and that reason is this: It’s got its own subreddit these days.
What is Three Kings? It’s a game of sorts — an example of what’s often referred to as “ritual creepypasta” or just “ritual pasta.” It’s a particularly effective one, though, mostly because as far as I can tell, it’s not fiction at all. The point isn’t to summon ghosts or demons or anything; it’s kind of a meditative exercise that helps you explore the inner workings of your own mind. The thing is, most of us probably have things lurking in there that we might not really want to let out.
The Three Kings “recipe,” as it’s called, was originally posted to NoSleep about four years ago by a Redditor called FableForge under the heading “Please don’t actually try this,” and it quickly went viral. That’s where r/ThreeKings comes in: The game spawned its own subreddit devoted to other similar games. It’s never been quite as active as it was during the first few weeks of its existence; however, if you’re curious about these kinds of games — whether you think they’re real or not — it’s a good place to go to read up and ask questions. It also has an excellent index of creepy games.
Recommended reading:“Three Kings Ritual,”“The shoe-box telephone,”“The Doors of Your Mind.”
I actually remember when Let’s Not Meet started; it was sort of a spin-off of NoSleep, with the goal being to tell stories of freaky encounters with other human beings that were absolutely true (as opposed to things that were just true while you were on the sub). It also exists as a sister site to r/LetsMeet (which is where Let’s Not Meet got its name); that sub is devoted to Redditors sharing stories about humans they’ve met that they really do want to meet again. Nice people. Not creepy people. Not the kind of people you find in the stories on Let’s Not Meet.
In many ways, I find Let’s Not Meet to be the scariest of the bunch; it’s the only one listed here that I expressly do not read while home alone at night. This is because everything on it actually happened. Why is that so scary to me? Bustle’s Emma Lord recently explained it perfectly: No matter how many people might be around you, or how seemingly OK a situation might seem, there are always “swift and brutal reminders: I am a woman existing in a space by myself, and by that virtue alone, I am not safe.” Although Let’s Not Meet features stories from people of any and all backgrounds, a lot of them are from women, and people often creep on women in ways that they don’t on men. And it's horrifying.
Sometimes the truth really is scarier than fiction.
Recommended reading:“The Smiling Man” (originally cross-posted on NoSleep and Let’s Not Meet), “Roommate Wanted: Female Only,”“The Bridge.”
I’m actually not really a fan of the straight-up r/Creepy subreddit; I honestly don’t find it… well, creepy. Old School Creepy, though? You guys. I just discovered this one, and it’s one of those “WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN ALL MY LIFE?” situations. It’s a little quieter than some of the other subs on this list, but that’s OK; what’s there should keep you occupied for a while.
There aren’t a ton of rules governing this sub; the guiding principle is that whatever you post, whether it’s a story or an image, it should be “creepy and old.” You’ll find a lot of photographs here, so if you’re the kind of person who finds early photography strange and fascinating, there’s plenty to entertain you. Old School Creepy isn’t really a discussion-based sub, though, so if you want to actually chat about the things posted here, you might have to get, well, old school: Show your friends, then talk with them about it.
Recommended reading: “Two children with a person who is dressed as an Easter bunny,”"Old Doll Factory,"“Boy Buried Alive Dies In Most Frightful Agony (1900 newspaper article).”
If NoSleep is horror fiction for the person with an average-length attention span, and Library of Shadows is horror fiction for the person with a particularly long attention span, Short Scary Stories is horror fiction for the person with a very short attention span — but in many ways, it’s my favorite of the subreddits devoted to fictional spookiness. There’s a particular kind of cleverness required to write an effective spooky story while keeping the word count under 500; they usually hinge on twists, with the final lines gut punching you in a way that you’re never prepared for, no matter how many times you experience it.
If you want something even shorter than the tales available for your perusal on Short Scary Stories, try r/TwoSentenceHorror. You’d be surprised how much you can scare a person in just two sentences.
Recommended reading:“We are aware the subreddit was hacked,”“So I lost my phone,”"The Animals Knew Before We Did."
The Truth Is Here describes itself as “Think r/NoSleep without the fiction,” so that should give you a pretty good idea of what to expect from the encounters detailed within it. Although the name implies a focus on aliens — particularly for those of us who grew up during the ‘90s, the phrase “The truth is out there” will always be associated with The X-Files — any and all inexplicable encounters are welcome here, as long as they happened either to you personally or to someone you know. Ghosts, aliens, cryptids… you’ll find them all in The Truth Is Here.
Recommended reading: “Doppleganger,”“My daughter’s tale of a past life,”“Creepy Encounter at Diamond Fork Hot Springs in Utah.”
Paranormal and The Truth Is Here bear some similarities — indeed, you’ll sometimes find cross-posts shared by both subs — but the big difference is in how they each approach the stories: The Truth Is Here is more just about sharing each encounter, while Paranormal examines each encounter critically, questioning it and challenging it in such a way as to attempt to get to the bottom of the mystery. Which sub you read at any given time depends largely on what you want to get out of the experience: If you want to spook yourself or know that you’re not alone in something weird you’ve experienced, head to The Truth Is Here; if you want investigative discussion about bizarre encounters, head to Paranormal.
Recommended reading:“Me and a friend found this creepy statue while hiking” and its followup thread, “My huge collection of paranormal-themed AskReddit threads,”“Man explores abandoned mine.” (Watch the videos in that last one — the second video in particular concludes on a spectacularly eerie note.)
Originally inspired by an AskReddit thread encouraging users to submit their real-life “glitch in the Matrix” experiences — “I'm talking weird occurrences, coincidences you haven’t been able to easily explain,” wrote Redditor superunhappyfuntime at the time — this subreddit might make you question your own reality. As it describes itself in the sidebar, “This is a place to share the things we usually tell ourselves to forget, because they’re just too out of step with what experience tells us reality should be like.” These things might, as they were in The Matrix, be examples of deja vu; or, they might be something else entirely. Whatever they are, though… they’re weird. Really, really weird.
Recommended reading: “The Mandela Effect,”“I think I called myself,”"I Know I've Dated My Date Before - He Swears We've Never Met."
Ladies and gentlemen, meet my new favorite obsession. This one is for anyone who has ever fallen down the rabbit hole of weird Wikipedia articles, because honestly, none of us really know how we start out on a page about the color blue and end up on one about books bound in human skin. There isn’t always a ton of discussion on the Creepy Wikipedia subreddit, but it is a great place to go if you just want to read about creepy stuff; it’ll point you in so many right directions that you almost won’t know where to start.
Recommended reading: “The wikipedia page on humans doesn’t sound like it was written by a human,” “Dyatlov Pass still freaks me out, and I looked this stuff up ages ago,” “Pretty spectacular… the odds.”
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a lot of reading to catch up on.
This post was originally published on Aug. 19, 2016. It was updated on Aug. 27, 2019.
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10 Of the Most Ridiculous Reddit Creepypasta Stories
Yeah, I know.American Horror Story: Hotel isn’t holding up to your inflated expectations, and all you really got fromCrimson Peakis the image of Tom Hiddleston‘s ass etched in your brain. You need something REALLY, GENUINELY creepy for you to vibe off of in the coming week leading up to Halloween. Well, guess what! I … don’t have that for you, so tough tits – who am I, John Waters?
What I can offer you lovely folks is creepy-ass shit but like, in a vomit-inducing way. Enter CREEPYPASTA, the world’s foremost Reddit thread for dubiously scary and poorly written stories! If you’re familiar with r/nosleep or r/creepypasta, you’ll know that they house some of the most cringe-worthy “scary” stories your poor eyes will have perused thus far. And here are ten of them for you (some of them are way too long to include here, so click the link if you want to see the whole damn thing).
1. The Keyhole
A man checked in at a hotel, walked up to the front desk to collect his key. The woman at the desk gave him his key and told him that on the way to his room, there was a door with no number, that was locked, and no one was allowed in there. Especially no one should look inside the room, under any circumstances. So he followed the instructions of the woman and proceeded to his room and going straight to bed.
2. Abandoned by Disney
First sitting up, then climbing to its feet, the Mickey Mouse costume… or whoever was inside of it, stood there at the center of the room, its fake face just starting directly at me as I mumbled “No…” over and over and over…
3. NoEnd House
Let me start by saying that Peter Terry was addicted to heroin.
4. “Milf” (Yes, it’s LITERALLY called MILF)
The article didn’t load. The only thing on the page was the banner. It wasn’t the first time this has happened. It’s not like I have the more advanced ISP or connection, so there’s bound to be some hiccups. I move the arrow to the refresh icon once again and click. No article, same ad, updated distance. “James! MILFs in your area want to meet you! One MILF is just 5 miles away!”
5. My Perfect Sister
I love my older sister. I really do. She has some issues, sure, but she’s all I really have since dad passed away a few months ago.
The skin makes a funny sound as you pull it away from the flesh. Like slowly peeling tape off of a piece of wood.
7. The Strangers
My name is Andrew Erics. I lived, once, in a city called New York. My mother is Terrie Erics. She’s in the phone book. If you know the city, and you read this, find her. Don’t show her this, but tell her I love her, and that I’m trying to come home. Please.
8. Mr. Widemouth
I don’t exactly recall how I met Mr. Widemouth. I think it was about a week after I was diagnosed with mono.
When it was about 9 AM, I got up and looked out of the window. I could see everything clearly now. The policemen were gone, and it was all silent. I was about to go do something else, but something on the window pane caught my eye.
Something, or someone, had scratched on the glass: “YOU’RE NEXT”. I froze on the inside.
I was looking for a good, free game. I found a weird Russian website with a simple, black background. I had to translate the Russian, which said something like this: “Free game. Very fun!”. I wouldn’t normally download from such a weird and shady site, but I really wanted to play a game.
|Known for||Reddit creepypastas|
_9MOTHER9HORSE9EYES9, sometimes abbreviated to 9M9H9E9 or MHE, is the screen name of an anonymous writer of creepypastaspeculative fiction on the social news website Reddit.
From 22 April to 17 July 2016, the writer posted a science fiction horror story in short installments to apparently random Reddit discussion threads. The story, sometimes referred to by others as the Interface series, touches on such topics as "Vietnam, Elizabeth Bathory, the Treblinka concentration camp, humpback whales, the Manson Family and LSD", and particularly involves entities called "flesh interfaces".
The story attracted media notice the day after its first parts were published.The Guardian, reporting on the story, described it as "compelling" and "gradually more beautifully and boldly written from multiple narrative perspectives".Vice mentioned the possibility of the whole thing being part of a viral marketing campaign for something yet unknown. An impromptu fandom collects information about the story in a subreddit and wiki.
The story features several loosely-interconnected narratives. Most individual narratives are linear, but the story jumps between them non-linearly.
Early parts of the story focus on two main narratives:
- The first one deals with attempts to create, understand, and control interdimensional portals with the form of tunnels lined with human flesh, named "flesh interfaces", created by subjecting people to large doses of LSD. Flesh interfaces are first created in 1944 in Treblinka, and research about them is abandoned around the year 2020.
- The second narrative takes place in 2039, with a large share of humanity spending their entire lives connected to virtual reality Internet feeds. An unknown entity named Q hijacks the Internet to take over the minds of humanity. It is hinted that Q has been empowered by the prior experimentation on flesh interfaces. The last survivor of a group dedicated to fight Q and her caretaker flee the nuclear bombing of Atlanta and, knowing that all their attempts to stop Q will be futile, start writing their life stories, trying to create another timeline in which Q is stopped.
The later parts of the story deal with two more narratives:
- In one of them, a young child is abducted by a supernatural entity made of animal body parts, including horse eyes, which names itself Mother. Mother makes his parents disappear, keeps him locked inside his own house and forces him to perform magic for it. His magic doesn't let him escape, but eventually he uses it to bring his future self to his rescue.
- The second narrative focuses on the experience of addiction through the eyes of Nick, a failed writer struggling with alcoholism and childhood trauma. The novel Nick claims to have written reflects the first parts of the story about flesh interfaces and Q. Eventually, Nick reveals that the abducted child is himself, and the experiences with Mother triggered both his writing and his alcoholism. He doubts his own sanity, but after his roommate narrates his own experience finding a flesh interface made of bones, he is convinced of the reality of his own experiences and tries to face and understand his past. He visits the flesh interface and unknowingly uses it to travel to the past. In the final scene of the story the two versions of Nick meet, as the older one makes peace with his past and the younger one is freed from Mother.
It's hinted that Mother and Q are the same entity, and it's not clear if the rescue of Nick is part of a timeline in which Q is defeated.
There are also some small side narratives. One of them culminates with the narrator being assimilated to a flesh interface, one of them seems to document how humans got the ability to create the interfaces and one of them seems to be a metaphor for humans not being able to comprehend flesh interfaces and Q.
In a later deleted post, the writer described himself as a "30-something American male", and indicated a history of substance abuse. However, this post also incorporated fictional elements of the story. A BBC article also reported that the author said he is "male, in his thirties, lives in the United States, works as a freelance translator, and was once a heavy user of LSD." The author told Gizmodo that "I live in a home for men and work a little to make ends meet." Both Vice and Gizmodo have speculated that Reddit user /u/Anatta-Phi, prolific conspiracy theorist and moderator of the "ShrugLifeSyndicate", a subreddit of similar themes including psychedelics, psychosis and synchronicity, is the writer of the story.
Reddit's r/NoSleep is a special 'horror bubble' for internet writers that has born book deals and even a Steven Spielberg adaptation
- Anyone who knows anything about Reddit has heard of r/NoSleep.
- It's one of the most popular and successful subreddits on the site, and attracts readers and writers from all over the world.
- Writers have got book deals, careers in writing for Netflix, and even movie adaptations out of their amateur stories for the subreddit.
- It's a place for people to tell first-person horror stories, which comes with the pre-agreed assumption that you treat everything on there as if it's real.
- The beauty of r/NoSleep is it can keep you awake at night in fear, but it's also one of the most friendly and welcoming places on the internet.
- Insider spoke to two of the sub's moderators and some popular storytellers about why they love r/NoSleep, and how it really is its own special little horror bubble on the internet.
- This story is part of a series commemorating Reddit's 15th anniversary.
- Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.
There was a long discussion on the r/NoSleep Slack channel recently about whether a particular horror story on the sub was convincingly true to life.
"At this point, most of the fingers on one of her hands are gone," Rog, one of the moderators, told Insider. "We kind of battled back and forth with that one because doesn't she need them to type? How is she posting? Does that violate believability?"
The whole idea behind r/NoSleep is that "everything is true here, even if it's not." Stories are written from a first-person perspective and everyone commenting underneath has to post on the assumption that they're existing within the realms and boundaries of the world the OP has created.
Internet writers with no professional experience have gotten book details, careers in writing for Netflix, and even a Steven Spielberg adaptation out of writing for the subreddit as a hobby.
To celebrate Reddit's 15th anniversary this week, we took a look at what turned a creepy little place on the internet into an online juggernaut, and some of the biggest success stories to come out of it in the last 10 years.
'Everything is true here, even if it's not'
In one series the mods were discussing, the OP is staying with an exchange family in Japan, and "something very wrong is happening" there. At first, they notice wet footprints at the end of their bed like someone has been watching them sleep, then people in the village start running away, as if alarmed by their presence.
Things gradually get worse and worse after the OP ventures into the family's grandparents room one night, and is subsequently overcome with an insatiable and unquenchable hunger that has readers despairing for them.
"This is beginning to stress me out. Ugh," one person wrote in the comments. "WTF is wrong with that family? It seems like they're always a step ahead of you."
Rog said he and the fellow mods had a humorous yet fairly in-depth conversation about whether an OP could really type up their story in real-time if they'd chewed their fingers on one hand right down to the bone, but ultimately decided it passed the test.
"We legitimately had that conversation in the chat," he said. "Has she still got fingers on one hand? Or are they nubs?"
Everyone has to play along in the comments
There are over 14 million Reddit users signed up to r/NoSleep. The sub began back in March 2010, and the distinct brand of horror has become its own culture in the decade since — dubbed "creepypasta."
A group of moderators, led by Christine (cmd102), ensures every post is approved and follows the strict set of rules before it is posted. A story has to be believably within reason, be a first-person narrative, and the writer cannot die before the end.
Mods also read every comment made on the stories, making sure they are respectful and contribute to the discussion by playing along.
Rog doesn't remember when he first came across r/NoSleep, but he was sucked in and has been a long-time fan for seven or eight years. He's been a mod for about a year now, helping out with reading the stories and contacting writers if they need to make changes before being published or if they haven't made the cut.
He dedicates 10-20 hours a week of his spare time to the sub, yet still finds himself losing hours by falling down "the NoSleep rabbit hole," especially when it's a series with multiple parts that provides a slow burn with plenty of character development.
"It's not something I like to read at 3 a.m. because I will never sleep," he said, fittingly.
What Rog loves about the sub is the "creep factor" that really makes you feel terror for the person who is writing the story. It's a very specific brand of horror where the community gets involved and interacts with the writer, so they become part of the story.
"The whole goal of the story is to inspire fear in others," Rog said. "In some of my favorites, you can feel it. I don't know if they've actually experienced this in their lives, but they're either exceptional writers or they're just putting out what they feel."
It's like you are sitting around a campfire telling scary stories
Rebecca, another mod, said r/NoSleep has a campfire vibe, "where you help someone figure out something really horrible that happened to them."
"I know some people aren't as into the immersion rule, and having to stay in character, but I do think there's something really special about the environment that it creates," she told Insider. "Just having to pretend you are sitting around a campfire telling scary stories to people. I always really liked that."
The saying goes: if you want hate, post something on Reddit. But while the sub does get occasional trolling and mean comments, they are in the minority. Rebecca said she loves being a moderator because it helps protect that unique community aspect of it, where people's creativity is welcomed and celebrated rather than mocked.
It's vulnerable sharing something you've created, and r/NoSleep, for the most part, is considerate about that.
"Helping to maintain that role-playing for people makes it really come to life," Rebecca said, "And that way people really can just immerse themselves in it and enjoy that small little magical creepy world."
Caitlin, who goes by Cymoril_Melnibone on Reddit, was already an r/NoSleep regular when she wrote a series based on a drab seaside pub about four years ago, which remains a firm favorite among the sub's fans. It started with a beautifully descriptive short story about a youth-sucking yellow-haired demon-type woman called Mona who is a regular at a pub the OP works in.
Caitlin said she got the idea from a writing prompt about a waitress at a diner "where the patrons are starting to scare you," but thought it would be more fun to set it in a "shitty seaside British pub."
"As I'm a fan of British mythology, I thought I'd sort of mash together myths to make interesting supernatural creatures, and settled on the idea of a bar for supernatural losers and outcasts," she said.
She hasn't been very active on the sub in the last two years, but she used to enjoy the challenge of crafting a new tale "with horrifying elements that hasn't been conceived of before."
"I think there's a lot of wildly under-appreciated creativity and originality on r/NoSleep, but unfortunately due to the nature of Reddit, some of it never gets seen by a large audience," she said. "For the readers, I guess [they like] the nearly endless horror content being pumped out by the huge stable of authors.
"It's like an almost bottomless bucket of horror popcorn to munch on at your leisure."
r/NoSleep has taken on a life of its own
Since r/NoSleep began a decade ago, it has taken on a life of its own. There's the No Sleep Podcast, which isn't technically affiliated with the sub, where stories are read out loud and discussed.
Many authors have also adapted their stories into published novels, such as Dathan Auerbach with his now-legendary series "Penpal" where the OP is stalked by an ominous character throughout his childhood.
User The_Dalek_Emperor was hired to write for "The Haunting of Hill House" on Netflix, and Tony Lunedi's story "The Spire In The Woods," which he wrote under the username theboyintheclock, is being adapted by Steven Spielberg.
Ryan Reynolds revealed he was interested in turning a renowned story on the sub called "The Patient Who Nearly Drove Me Out Of Medicine" into a film in 2018.
"I'm pretty sure I scared the living daylights out of the girl I was dating at the time with the scream of triumph and delight I made when my manager called to tell me Ryan wanted to do it," the author Jasper DeWitt told Insider when asked how it felt to be recognized by a Hollywood star. "Does that answer your question?"
DeWitt now lives in Los Angeles where he has been working on his second novel and a screenplay. He said it still feels hallucinatory that he's had so much success because his "The Patient" series was "a little bit of harmless fun" he would have during periods of insomnia.
"I'd go to the local all-night IHOP, post up, get bottomless iced coffees, and just write through the night," he said. "In my wildest dreams, I thought maybe the titular patient would end up a creepypasta legend like 'The Rake,' or 'Jeff the Killer.' The idea that he and his story would catapult me into the entertainment industry never even occurred to me."
Before he started writing his own horror stories, DeWitt's literary skills only came out when playing gothic horror-themed Dungeons & Dragons campaigns with his friends. He took inspiration from H. P. Lovecraft and E.F. Benson when materializing his nightmarish worm-shaped monster, and from "Silence of the Lambs" for the mental hospital element.
He likes to think of his style as a modern take on the "Gothic-inflected, gaslit, pessimistic, dream-like type of horror" that was written in the late 19th and early 20th century, where authors would "build tension by drawing on the uncanniness of even seemingly mundane situations."
"What was particularly enjoyable about the stories written at that time was that they didn't require any blood and guts, or jump scares, or any of the unsubtle trappings of modern horror," he said. "Hell, sometimes the horror in those stories wasn't even happening to the protagonist; it was just something they were witnessing."
What made it work is something that is deeply entrenched in the r/NoSleep culture today — atmospheric prose that conjures up feelings of dread, even when nothing is really happening. The creepy feeling of being watched or a sense of impending doom isn't just for conventional horror junkies either. Fans of mystery and thriller novels often flock to r/NoSleep as well because they know there's no chance of something jumping out at them.
'It's comforting to think there are dark corners we haven't explored'
DeWitt didn't actually take r/NoSleep, or the creepypasta genre in general, seriously for a long time, thinking of it as "Slenderman" knockoffs and nonsensical memes like "Who Was Phone?" But his impression changed after he started reading some of the more immersive stories, and realized the potential of short, snappy writing.
He saw how the "everything is true" rule let people engage with the worlds he was building, which reminded him of the D&D worlds he used to carve out in his friends' imaginations.
"I loved screwing with the readership and seeing whether I could be unpredictable enough to out-think an entire forum's worth of commenters, all with theories on my stories," he said. "That element of playfulness and mutual escapism makes r/NoSleep an extremely attractive and welcoming place for a new writer, I think."
He thinks a lot of the popularity comes from people looking for "escapism and for catharsis in our very troubled modern era."
"It's comforting to think there are dark corners we haven't explored, or that the world could be so much worse than we know," he said. "Because that implies that however bad things are right now, at least we have something to be thankful for."
He said he can't think of another community that is so welcoming of "the shadows in other people's minds" and full of praise when a story is done well. There may even be a therapeutic aspect, given how horror movies have been shown to alleviate anxiety in some people.
"I wouldn't be surprised if the r/NoSleep community gives a lot of people a productive way to creatively engage with their own issues, while not feeling judged or held up to literary scrutiny the way they would on other hubs of creepypasta," said DeWitt. "And frankly, that's wonderful."
Where you should start
Rog thinks the sub isn't just a great place for entertainment, but also for writers to hone their craft and really experiment with their voice.
"The guidelines of posting forces you to be a better writer, honestly, because you've got to stick to within this certain parameters and then still craft something that's interesting and engaging," he said, "and I think that helps writers a lot."
Rebecca loves how much variation there is on r/NoSleep, which makes sense given hundreds of stories are submitted every day.
"I think the ones that make the most impact are the ones where there's more of a beautiful aspect to them as well, or something really grim," she said.
Some of her highlights include "Free Coffee with Order of Pie by /u/Deadnspread, the 8-year long "Correspondence" series by /u/bloodstains, and "The New Fish" by /u/Theworldisgrim. She said her favorite is probably "Let Me Introduce the Demon Inside of You" by u/ByfelsDisciple.
"It's really haunting because it's about the concentration camps, which is a really difficult thing to write about," she said. "But I think that's emblematic of what's so cool about r/NoSleep — it's not just ghost stories or someone being chased by a killer, you can write something really deep like that and still have it meet all of the rules."
'It really is its own special little horror bubble on the internet'
More than anything, r/NoSleep is a feeling rather than something tangible. You'll read a story — whether it's a tale about a mysterious package, or a secret in an old hometown — and think that it has the creepypasta vibe, but you may never find the right way to put into words exactly what that means.
Reddit is probably the only place r/NoSleep could have transcended from being a niche creative forum into something so treasured by so many. That may be because, against all the internet odds, it has remained a largely pleasant place for something that exists purely to scare people. It's maintained a rare sweet spot of immense talent, fun, and thoughtfulness for a community of its size which is almost unheard of anywhere else online.
It could also just be the fact that people seem to have an endless appetite for snack-sized horror stories that keep them up at night.
Whatever the reason for its success, there is an almost endless supply untapped talent just waiting to be discovered on r/NoSleep, and the mods are defending and curating it as diligently as they ever have to make sure stories are treated with the respect they deserve.
"It really is its own special little horror bubble on the internet," said Rebecca. "It really couldn't exist in any other form other than the way it does."
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No Sleep, a popular Reddit community for original horror fiction, has locked its subreddit "to protest content theft and unfair crediting and compensation" from YouTubers.
You've probably been freaked out by a story that was originally published on No Sleep before. Whether it's the story of the pop song that makes you commit suicide, or the tales of a fictional search and rescue officer for the U.S. Forest Service, No Sleep has been staying true to its name by keeping me and it's over fourteen million subscribers awake at night. Starting this Monday, though, the subreddit will be locked for a week. In their statement about this closure, the mods of the subreddit say that it's because their authors are being plagued by theft of their work. People on YouTube will read or narrate the stories without credit or permission.
"There are still people sharing and narrating r/nosleep stories without permission. There are still fans of those channels and pages who are either ignorant of copyright laws in regards to posting written work to the internet or refuse to believe that those laws exist. There are still authors who aren’t aware that they have rights in regards to what is done with their stories once they are posted," the mods said in their collective statement about the closure. "So we, the mods of r/nosleep, have decided to take a stand in support of our authors and the projects that have been created to fight on their behalf."
Christine Druga, one of No Sleep's mods, said over email that this problem has spanned years. Two years ago, Druga said that they created a subreddit to help foster a positive relationship between authors and the people who would like to narrate their work in YouTube videos. Between then and now, several other communities have been created to both educate writers about their rights and teach YouTubers about copyright. Nothing has worked, and the issue has come to a head this month.
"The Youtuber Mini Ladd, who has over 5 million subscribers, had read several r/nosleep stories on his channel without permission. After 4 months of attempting to contact him to resolve the issue, a handful of the affected authors filed DMCA strikes against the videos, and his channel was scheduled for deletion," Druga said. With his channel under threat, Mini Ladd's fans rallied to his defense, and Durga said that No Sleep authors ended up being harassed, claiming one of them was doxed.
"Mini Ladd wound up posting a public apology and contacting the affected authors to resolve the issue, and his channel was saved. Unfortunately, the damage that had absolutely rocked the community had already been done," Druga said.
Motherboard reached out to Mini Ladd regarding this incident but have not yet received a response.
Druga claims that, for the authors that have their work read on YouTube, the damage can range from mild annoyance to loss of livelihood.
"Some authors have nearly lost paying gigs because of it, others have stopped posting to r/nosleep and/or removed their stories from the subreddit completely because they were so tired of seeing their work stolen," Druga said.
Olivia White, who is an author on No Sleep and also works for the unaffiliated No Sleep podcast, said that this theft has affected her in multiple ways. The No Sleep podcast, which pays authors for the right to reproduce their work, now also has to compete with YouTubers with much larger audiences than them.
"People taking and adapting my work from r/nosleep means they’re literally reproducing something that someone else holds the audio rights to," White said. "Sometimes it’s a story we’ve already run on the podcast, and may want to do something else with in future, so having random Youtubers adapt it without permission makes that harder too."
Author T-Jay Lea, whose first book comes out August 31, said that he estimates that he's lost $10-30,000 in revenue.
"That would be a conservative estimate," he said.
Lea has watched people on YouTube and elsewhere steal his work without credit since 2012, when he wrote a short story called "The Expressionless" which went viral.
"I will tell you straight up that for several years it killed my love of writing," Lea continued. "I saw all these adaptations of my work and once the glamour of 'exposure' faded and I saw it was not a neon sign but instead a paltry promise with nothing behind it, I felt powerless to stop it all from happening. I was a 22-year-old kid with no experience in the industry, no understanding of how I should be adequately paid and in some cases I believed bigger YouTubers who said they 'couldn’t afford to pay me.'"
If you're not a huge corporation with tons of money and an army of lawyers, creating original work on the internet often leads to people ripping off that work. Independent artists face a myriad of copycats selling their work on Amazon, and teenagers with Tumblrs see their artwork traced and slapped on album covers. It's no different in the world of original fiction, where someone can swoop in, read your story, and make money off of it without asking permission or obtaining the rights to the work. That said, authors on No Sleep haven't unilaterally been screwed over by the people who want to adapt their work. The anthology television show Channel Zero has based some of its seasons on work that was originally posted to No Sleep, and properly licenses, credits and pays the authors.
Druga said that she hopes that the people who want to narrate original fiction and authors of it can come to a mutual understanding, because they have more to gain by working together.
"There is so much potential for the communities to work together and to promote each other, they just need to learn the right way and what's necessary to do it," Druga said. "I really, genuinely, hope that all of the hard work we have put forth leads to the two communities to form a better relationship."
No Sleep will reopen its virtual doors at midnight on March 2. Hopefully the authors who post their work there can finally close the book on this particular art theft horror story.
Correction: This article originally said that the No Sleep podcast is the official podcast of the r/NoSleep subreddit. The No Sleep Podcast is not directly affiliated with r/NoSleep, though it often uses stories found there and shares the name.
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