A list of childhood fears and scary stories people believed when they were young.
What’s in the Attic
Every night, as I tried to fall asleep, I would hear scurrying noises in the attic above my bedroom. I didn’t know what it was. One time, I asked my brother what he thought was making the noise. He just got quiet, looked up nervously and said, “THAT’S WHERE CHUCKY LIVES.” It was 1989 and the Child’s Play movie had just come out. At the time, that was about the worst thing you could tell a little kid… I found out later it was racoons.
You cant beat the classic camping stories. When I went to camp, I always loved the one about Psyco Sam. Apparently, he lost his hand in a ski lift motor and went crazy. Every Spring and Summer, he killed people who went hiking on the mountain and everyone thought they just got lost! He hid the bodies in the basement of the ski lodge and cut off their skin, for no reason that I can remember… The story was always told as they led us down to the basement and it did the tick of freaking everyone out.
The Exorcist Girl
My older sister saw The Exorcist and because I was too young to see it, she told me the whole story. However, she added a lot of stuff to freak me out. She pretended that the house where it happened was in our neighborhood and that it mysteriously burned downed, and the city tried to build two more houses on the same spot, but they burned downed too. She said the people who lived in the houses had all witnessed the same thing before they burned down: A little girl standing in the front yard with her head turning around 360 degrees and throwing up green vomit. Eventually, the city gave up on building a house and decided to build a park instead. “And that’s the park where Mommy takes us sometimes,” she told me.
The Dark Man
My friend told us that “The Dark Man” lived in her basement. “Can you hear him breathing down there?” she would ask, “I can.” At night, we would crouch at the top of the steep, black, basement stairs and dare each other to walk down into the basement without turning on the lights. As soon as you got to the bottom step, the Dark Man would be at your back. He’d follow you around the basement, just barely a step behind you, but no matter how scared you were, you could NEVER turn around, because if the Dark Man saw your face, he’d remember it and follow you home. Then every night he’d sit on your bed and watch you sleep and turn all your dreams to nightmares. I only made it two steps past the bottom of the stairs before I FREAKED OUT and ran back up the stairs. Another friend made it around the whole basement, but by the time she came back up, she was so terrified that she was crying. My friend told us that once she had accidentally left the basement door open at night, and in the middle of the night she saw the Dark Man smiling at her from the bathroom mirror.
The Three Days of Darkness
My grandmother told me about “The Three Days of Darkness”. She said it was when God would just get totally fed up with us sinning humans and for 3 days and nights literally unleash hell upon the earth. To stay safe you’d have to stay in your home and board up the doors and windows and not even look outside. She said demons would come and try to trick you into opening the door by masquerading as your family members. She asked me, “What would you do if you heard your parents outside screaming in agony and begging to be let in? Would you let them in? What if they’re demons in disguise???” That terrified me for years. Anytime I was trying to sleep and heard something outside, I was convinced the Three Days of Darkness had started and there was a demon trying to get in.
I remember reading about a monster called a Skinwalker that would mimic your loved ones’ voices and call to you from outside to trick you into coming out, or pretend to cry like an infant for the same purpose. One night when I was about 10, I was lying in bed and I swore I heard a voice that sounded just like my mother outside calling my little brother’s name. I was too paralyzed with fear to do anything, and my brother was in the bed next to me sleeping like a log and never even stirred. We lived in the middle of NOWHERE at the time and it was terrifying. Gah!
Hercumerc the Wolf Boy
I once told my little brother that he was actually the third kid. There was a middle brother named Hercumerc who wasn’t very good and our parents abandoned him in the wilderness. I told him Hercumerc ran with the wolves and would come claim my brother if he didn’t do everything I said. My brother is forty now, but sometimes I like to remind him about how he lived in fear of Hercumerc the Wolf Boy…
The Old Woman
“Do you know about the old woman who used to live in this house? Sometimes I hear her at night.” My friend claimed that before her family moved into their house, it was owned by a spooky old woman who died on the first floor. “Haven’t you seen that spot on the carpet?” she asked, “That’s where they found her.” There was a stain on the carpet. She explained that every night, after everyone went to asleep, the old woman would drag herself up the first flight of stairs to the landing. Then slowly, clawing her way to her feet, she would trudge up the stairs to the bedrooms. STEP… STEP… STEP… “You can also hear her long fingernails scraping against the wall as she gets closer and closer,” she said, “All dead people have really long fingernails.” When the old lady would get to your door, she would tap, tap, tap with her long fingernails. “She wants her house back,” she explained. She said that if you were unlucky enough to hear the step, step, step and the tap, tap, tap, you HAD to stay awake until dawn or else the old woman would sneak into your room and trade places with you. Then you’d be forced to walk the house at night waiting for a victim to take YOUR place.
The Bum Biter
When we were little, my friend and I made up a story about a scary creature that lived in the toilet and would bite your bum if you stayed on the bowl too long. We called it The Bum-biter. I actually started to believe in the existence of The Bum-biter and was terrified of going to the bathroom after that.
The Hand in the Toilet
After my sister and I watched A Nightmare on Elm Street at the ages of 5 and 6, we were so afraid of Freddy Kruger that we thought he would come up through the toilet and pull us down. Whenever we went to the toilet, one of us had to hold the other’s hand while we were sitting down. That way, we could help pull each other off the toilet if the hand tried to reach up and grab us.
I was told once by my friend that he knew someone who was killed by a hand that came up the toilet and pulled them in! Every time I went toilet after that, I would go armed with a hammer from my Dad’s toolbox, waiting for the hand to appear…
We Are All Robots
I used to belive that I was the last surviving human and that everyone else on the planet was an android put there by friendly aliens to study me. I also believed that when I left a room, all the tables, chairs and cupboards would turn into computers so the robots could communicate wih their alien home planet and report on what I had just said and done. Needless to say, I would often run back into a room just after I had left it to try and surprise them halfway through this changeover, but, alas, I never managed to catch them in the act and foil their dastardly plan.
The Night Witch
I shared a room with my little brother and always wanted to talk to me for ages before falling asleep. All I wanted to do was read my book, so one night I asked him if he knew about the Night Witch. She was a Witch that came into kids’ bedrooms at night and, if they were still awake, she would cast a spell on them to put them to sleep forever. You would only wake up if there were chores to do, and if you didn’t do the chores you would fall back asleep again. So basically you would be stuck doing chores or sleeping… forever. He believed my story utterly and completely. Every night I’d let him chat for a little while and when I wanted him to go to sleep, I’d say “Ah Ah Ah… I can hear her coming. You better go to sleep quick. She’ll be here soon.” He would literally be asleep within minutes if not seconds. He believed that story for years…
My sister used to act like she was possessed and said things like, “I’m not Emily. Who’s Emily?” I would get so scared that I started crying and called our dad. He came in and told her to stop. She was like, “Sorry, I was just pretending,” but as soon as he left the room, she would turn slowly to look me in the eye and whisper, “I’m not pretending.” So I would start crying again…
The White Thing
My best friend, Melody, told us stories about the White Thing. It was a monster that was basically a ghostly head and torso. It was all white and could turn itself into a mist and seep under your bedroom door at night. The mist would engulf you on your bed and cut you up into pieces like hundreds of tiny razors.
My parents told me I had an older brother named Billy who lived in the attic. He was born with horns and devil eyes. When they put me to bed and I didn’t go to sleep, they’d bring me down to the garage and tell me I could sleep out there with Billy or go back to bed and be quiet. The sad part is I actually believed I had an older brother until I was in 8th grade.
The Lake Monster
One weekend when I was 6, we went on a family camping trip with my dad and my uncles. They wanted to play a trick on us, so they came up with an elaborate plan to convince us there was a Lake Monster. They posted warning signs on trees and told scary stories around the fire. They also made us pitch our tents far away from the lake…. just in case. The next day, my sister went to the bathroom up the trail and got trapped inside a portable toilet for an hour because there was a bear outside. I was convinced she had been eaten by the Lake Monster. To this day I still squat at the site instead of wandering off alone.
Nowhere is Safe
My friend and I were obsessed with horror movies when we were kids. We were always like “You can’t live in the city because no one will care about you when you get kidnapped, but you can’t live in the country either, because no one will hear you scream…”
Devil in the Well
My grandma had a well in her garden and when I visited her, she would tell me that there was a little devil with iron teeth who lived inside the well and if you got too close, he would sing you names and call out, “Come! Cooome! Cooooome!” and put you in a trance so you would fall down the well…
The Drowning Boy
The boy scout camp I went to used to have some great ghost stories. The best one they told was that the camp was haunted by a boy scout who went camping there years ago. He died while swimming in the lake. According to the story, every night at midnight the kid would appear, droning in the lake and calling for help. If you saw him and tried to help him, he would pull you into the lake and you’d drown along with him.
My mom told me that if I went for a pee in the woods, an evil deer named Stumpy would come and bite my penis off. I was too terrified to pee outside until I was 13…