February 20, 2020 | Maria Cruz

People Share The Scariest Thing They've Come Across In The Great Outdoors


We’ve all encountered something inexplicable in our lives. Some of us are lucky enough to spend time with our future selves while others have the misfortune of running into hundreds of spiders. Whatever your tale may be, these are some of the creepiest things people have experienced.

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#1 Woman in the Woods

I was driving home after an extremely late night at work. I lived in the middle of nowhere. About a mile before I got there, a woman jumped out of the woods into the middle of the road, screaming. I panicked and went around her then slammed on the brakes to help. Her boyfriend was currently chasing after her in the woods. I got her in my car and called the police where they met us at the hospital. I told them there was no way I was waiting on the side of the road when he was coming.

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#2 Mountain People

I went on a mountain hike in Transylvania with a group of friends from school. After maybe 12-14 km of trekking, we saw a house in the middle of nowhere. As we got closer, we saw a guy and five or six women. The dude came to greet us, barely speaking the language. We had a hard time understanding what he was saying but learned they lived without electricity, gas, or anything.

They all looked kind of weird with these dumb expressions on their face. However, they kept asking weird things like who the current president was and if we wanted some milk. They looked at our clothes and shoes weirdly, too. Like, we had no idea when they last time was that they even saw someone else. We were looking around to see if there were more of them, thinking there must be a village nearby. What was also weird was that all the women kept their distance. It was like he was guarding them.

One of my friends kept saying we needed to go. We walked calmly for a while, then bolted like crazy. Needless to say, we camped after a few hours and always had one person to keep watch. We told people that were living in the villages near that area, about the "mountain people," and they didn't believe us. They said nobody lives there. To this day, I’m not sure what was going on.

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#3 Exploring Churches

I was doing an urban exploration in a dilapidated church at night. On one of the floors, there was this circular motif on the floor where a podium or something was. It looked like something was recently injured there since I saw evidence of a struggle. Then, when we went into the basement later on, we heard someone running upstairs.

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#4 Big Floating Thing

When I was really young, we were on a family trip and me and my older brother took a ride on a boat. I remember my mom telling us to avoid a "big floating thing." She thought it was a buoy to signal a dangerous rock underwater or something. Being kids, of course, we went straight there to explore it. As it turned out, it wasn’t a buoy. It was a missing person, as the police informed us a few days later. Creepy thing was, he was part of a group of people that had disappeared together. I don’t think they ever found the others.

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#5 Circle of Deer

I was driving through rural parts of Missouri with a buddy one time. We drove down a single lane road that had no exit. At the end of the road, we saw something that’s stuck with me all this time. For some reason, there was a group of deer laid in a perfect circle. I'd say there were at least 10 deer. We left real quick.

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#6 Nice Jacket

I'd been at football training with a few of my cousins when I was about 10 years old. We decided to take a walk before our parents picked us up, so we went along the canal towpath. My cousin looked down in the canal and saw a really nice jacket floating along. Being a weird scavenger person, he decided to reach in to fish it out. Well, the jacket turned over. And so did the man wearing it. Not gonna lie, that was rough.

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#7 Giant Alligator

My boyfriend and I were walking through the woods on a nature trail when we came across a piece of alligator tail and foot. I freaked out — all I kept thinking was I had no idea what would be big enough to eat an entire alligator, but I didn’t want to meet it. We cautiously kept walking and a few hundred feet later, we saw a giant alligator walking along the shoreline with a whole, smaller alligator in its mouth. That was the day I learned alligators attack their own.

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#8 Pickpocket

I'm an autopsy tech and in my first month, I was preparing a body. I was alone in the room. I set up the body on the table, it was an old, scary-looking man. As I turned around to do something, he grabbed my lab coat. I almost jumped out of my skin and bolted right out of the room. In reality, it was just his hand that somehow got stuck in my lab coat pocket. I almost quit that day.

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#9 Rock Carving

There's a section of Joshua Tree National Park called "Samuelson's Rocks.” An old Swedish prospector apparently lost his mind and used to live there. He carved all sorts of crazy sayings into the rocks. During the day, they look pretty neat. But at night, in a lightning storm, they look like something out of Lovecraft .

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#10 It’s Art, Okay?

I am a night owl, so I used to stay up late at the computer lab on my university campus. It was open until 2:00 a.m. I was walking home and there were about four or five people covered in burlap robes and giant hoods, sitting cross-legged on the quad. The next morning, those people were still there. It was a chicken wire and burlap art piece.

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#11 Nice Shoes

My husband and I were hiking up a mountain in the Pacific Northwest. It’s perpetually muddy due to a large number of waterfalls along the sides of the trail, so there's no way you can avoid getting at least a little dirty. Around an hour and a half up the trail, we passed two men wearing black suits, black hats, and black glasses.

They also were holding black leather briefcases and wearing black dress shoes... completely clean dress shoes. They also had immaculately clean, pressed pants. There wasn’t a spot of dirt or a wrinkle on either of their clothes. As we passed each other, one of them whispered something in German. I looked back at them and they were both standing still and looking back at us, staring.

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#12 Going Camping

When I was about seven or eight, my parents sent me to a local summer camp that they would pick me up from in the afternoons. I never really liked it because the kids were mean. But, the place was just generally unkempt as well. Everything was either broken or unclean and the counselors obviously didn't care.

I remember the girl's changing room had a door that led out to the woods, but the doorknob was gone. So, it was unlocked all the time and you could see into it. This was primarily where the girls changed into their bathing suits, so there was usually someone blocking the view to prevent the boys from looking in.

One day, I was changing alone and someone wasn't blocking the door. I looked over and saw an eye peeking in through the hole. I pulled the rest of my clothes back on and ran out to tell my twin brother. I also told my dad that I don't want to go back to that camp anymore. He begrudgingly took us out of the camp pretty soon after because he knew how much we hated it.

Years later, (the camp has been closed down for many years) I asked my dad about the camp. He got really grim and told me it shut down because a 13-year-old boy was responsible for doing terrible things. Apparently, the incident happened just a few weeks after I told him about someone watching me in the bathroom.

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#13 Sticks and Stones

I was camping with my dad, sister, and my buddies in the early ‘90s. Something was throwing rocks and sticks into our camp. We shined a flashlight and caught a reflection of eyes and a silhouette. It was very tall and kept throwing stuff in our camp randomly for about 15 minutes. We just stoked the fire really high. In the morning, I woke up to heavy footsteps in our camp and something reeked. I woke up my dad, who then shook the tent and yelled. Whatever it was ran off.

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#14 Abandoned Tracks

My girlfriend and I were hiking along some abandoned railroad tracks and we get to a small bridge going over a little creek. I was about to explore under the bridge when she pointed something out. I looked over and in the woods across from us, I saw a guy. I brushed it off and kept heading down to the creek area. Then the guy stood up and had no clothing on. We immediately backtrack to get away from there. Once we were a minute down the trail, I looked back and this dude was just standing in the middle of the trail, watching us walk away.

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#15 Underwater Craft

I used to be a cook onboard several NOAA research ships. I remember this one time, up in the Bering Sea. I saw what appeared to be a massive, black, triangular-shaped craft dive under the water. I viewed it from a distance of maybe two nautical miles. To this day, I have no idea what I saw and can’t explain it.

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#16 That is a Nice Boulder

In a patch of trees, off of a field, there’s one of those big oil drums. It’s sealed up with a heavy boulder on top. The only way it could have gotten there was by a tractor or some sort of lifting equipment. My partner and I tried to push it off but we had no luck. I don’t know why, but it creeps me out every time I see it. I regularly walk my dogs past it to see if they show any interest. But, after watching them once look for a toy that was clearly in my lap, I’m not sure I have much faith in them.

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#17 Pictures on the Wall

When I was 15, my friends and I liked to climb abandoned buildings. We found one down by the river, it was about three stories and in bad condition. I remember there were no stairs initially and we had to pull ourselves up. We climbed to the top via broken stairs after that. At the top was a small open room where someone was living. We walked in to look around and immediately noticed the walls were covered in pictures. They were pictures of women in a bunch of strange poses. We never got out of a building so fast.

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#18 Gazing at the Ocean

I was walking on the beach with my boyfriend and we had walked to a giant rocky cliff to make out. Somebody was just gazing at the ocean, crying and shaking. Mind you, this was late at night, around 9:30 p.m. We asked him if he was okay and he apologized, practically running back down the cliff. My boyfriend and I watched him until he reached the public area and decided to call it a night. I'm pretty sure he was going to jump.

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#19 Boy and His Dog

My friend and I were chilling in the woods one day back in high school. We saw a dog walking by, later followed by this kid. He looked troubled, so we asked if he needed help. He obliged, telling us he was dog sitting for his friend and the dog got loose. So, we spent a good hour following this dog and kid around, going deeper and deeper into the woods.

Eventually, I got the dog to come to me, but it wasn't wearing a collar so I wasn't able to get a hold. My friend and I looked away for a few seconds to discuss a strategy. But, when we turned back around, the boy and the dog were both gone. It was like they completely vanished. Keep in mind, it was autumn so any footsteps could be heard. But, it was just silent. I still don't really know what happened.

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#20 Forgotten Kebab

In order to get home from a kebab restaurant I like, I need to walk a short path through the woods. Along the way, there’s an old, abandoned, partially collapsed chapel. Occasionally, I'll stand there for a few seconds admiring it. It's quite beautiful in its own way. One day during winter, I decided to rest there for a minute.

So, I placed my kebab on the bench right next to the chapel and just stood there taking in the scenery. It was already rather dark and the woods were almost completely silent. But, right as I was about to continue my walk, I heard footsteps rapidly getting louder. It was a child running towards me. As soon as they realized I was there, they started to scream, "Run, he’s coming!"

I was a bit perplexed by the situation, so I watched the child run past me without moving an inch myself. It didn't take another second for a much more weighty pair of footsteps to appear. I could make out a silhouette in the distance, which seemed to be their origin. At that point, I got really scared. As opposed to running, I decided to hide in the chapel next to the altar. After tripping over an old, broken chapel bench, I reached my hiding place.

The footsteps got louder and louder, but right as they approached the vicinity of the chapel they suddenly went silent. After about 15 seconds of silence, all I heard was, "Oi! You idiot, you left your kebab on the bench." Turns out, it was a resident of the very same street I inhabit. His nephew was visiting and he wanted to race him to the kebab stand.

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#21 Cursed Forest

This happened in an Australian bush once. I was 17, leading a staggered column of about 60 cadets to our detachment campsite. Due to light discipline rules, only myself at the front of the group and the other flight commander at the rear had flashlights. This was so that any vehicles coming along the trail could see us and so that most of the cadets could maintain their night vision.

As we walked along, I periodically looked to my sides and kept seeing what looked like dewdrops on the ground. Almost like tiny blue gems glinting in my flashlight on either side of the road. I had to maintain my position in the formation, so I couldn't get a good look at what they were. However, we stopped for a brief break and I took the opportunity to have a closer look.

Walking over to the side of the trail, I spotted a small cluster of the "diamonds.” I focused my flashlight on them. Rather than seeing diamonds or dewdrops or anything remotely pleasant, I instead saw a group of about five large spiders just crouching in the leaf litter and staring at me. They looked like huntsmen, which are about the size of an adult's hand.

Sweeping my head around, I realized there were thousands of them. They were all over the ground, some on the trunks of trees, and everywhere around me; glaring at the light affixed to my head. I walked back to the formation and attempted to play it cool while screaming in my head. Being a massive arachnophobe, I have no clue how I managed to set up a tent and spend the next week in that cursed forest.

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#22 Wooded Path

I was in a large wooded area near my boyfriend’s home, hanging out with him at nearly midnight. We had gone in pretty deep and it required a good amount of climbing. The closest path was maybe five or six minutes of climbing down, so it was highly unlikely someone could be at that spot. Even less so since it was at night.

As we were sitting there, he thought he saw a shadow move 20-25 feet to the left of us, climbing. But, it stopped suddenly when my boyfriend looked at it. He told me to be wary and that exact moment we saw a dark figure climbing a little up, but diagonally. It was like he tried to go directly above where we were.

We didn't move and watch him until he closed the horizontal gap and was directly above us. Then he began to come towards us. Without skipping a beat, my boyfriend grabbed my hand and we almost ran downhill to the path. We made it in less than two minutes and could still hear the man running behind us. We ran as fast as we could down the path and out of the forest where there was a cafe and some people. As we realized that we came close to being mugged or worse, we vowed never to go there at night again.

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#23 Climbing Trees

I was a Boy Scout, camping with my group of older buddies and an adult leader in Yellowstone. We had been backpacking for two days and stopped in a beautiful little clearing at the bottom of some hills. The sun started to set, we made a fire, and I began to climb up into the trees. As I squatted there, basking in the moonlight and appreciating the glow of the fire, I looked up to a ridgeline.

A few hundred yards away, where the moon was rising, was a big cougar. It was likely no danger to me, but seeing that outline, that unmistakable shoulder crawl they do, was haunting. I watched it sit there for a good 15 minutes until I was called back by my worried buds. I pointed the cat out to them because it was still just watching us.

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#24 Wrong Number

I know a guy who was out boating and found a body in the water. After he spoke with the police, they told him that he should send a picture to the coast guard. He used the number he thought they gave him and got a text back going “What the heck is that?!” Needless to say, he hadn’t actually texted the coast guard.

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#25 Fresh Soil

While hiking on the Pacific Crest Trail, I was ready to quit for the night and saw a clear spot with no pine cones or sticks to remove. I assumed someone had cleared it before me. But, when I stepped on the spot, the earth sank like it had just been put there. I slept on the spot but pondered it. The next morning, it became clear that someone had dug up that spot and then covered it. I think I slept on someone's recent grave.

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#26 Perfect Circle

I was hiking in northern Quebec, doing some exploration work for geologists. The thing about northern Quebec is that it has forests, mountains, hills. It’s pretty much all green, black and grey. Except that in the middle of a forest we hiked through, we found this strange, all-yellow patch of grass in a perfect circle. It was about the diameter of a medium-sized house. It was almost perfectly flat as well. It caught us off guard.

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#27 East African Forest

I worked in a forest in East Africa for a while. It was getting seriously dark and we were hiking back to the car. The wind was quite strong but you could still hear some ruffling in the leaves. As I turned around, I saw something quite big in the shrubs. It was a leopard. I shrieked and some guy from the group shot into the air to scare the animal away. I am glad he didn't hurt the animal, but I was still glad when it bolted out of there.

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#28 20 Eyes

Me and a friend decided to go camping in the mountains. I woke up in the middle of the night because I needed to relieve myself. I put on my headlamp and I walked a bit further from camp. As I did my business, I heard a noise behind me. I finished up and turned around, my headlamp faintly lighting up the area around me. All I saw was eyes, about 20 of them and just staring at me. I literally froze where I stood. Then I hear a goat’s bleat. It was a herd of mountain goats that were intrigued by the ape in their backyard. It almost gave me an aneurysm.

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#29 Cemetery Ritual

When I was younger, I rode with my parents to a nearby town. We drove by a cemetery and there were several people in white robes standing in two lines. They were facing each other in front of some columns. They looked like they were doing some kind of ritual. I told my parents and we turned around to check it out... there were statues.

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#30 Missing Parts

I once found a deer with its hind end eaten up. A few feet away was a coyote with its hind end eaten, then another few feet away was a fox with its hind end eaten up. Nothing else was there. There were no holes or signs of an arrow or anything else. I couldn't find any tracks from other people or animals. It was pretty creepy.

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#31 Collecting Cans

I found the body of a woman in the woods when I was 10. I was collecting cans to trade in for money and walked to a party spot in the woods. She was lying face-down in the grass. This was in '97 or so and I found out a few years ago it's become the center of a local urban legend. The story going around is quite different than what I experienced. It messed me up pretty bad for a while.

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#32 Bags of Bones

I was walking my dog through the woods and she'd find the odd bone. I thought nothing of it, but then she ran towards a huge black sack and was going nuts for it. I opened the bag and it was filled with bones. I thought it was weird but thought there may be hunters around or something. But then, I walked a bit further and started seeing more and more bags. I then saw a huge cluster of them, at least 20 right there, all filled with bones. I decided my dog had a long enough walk after that.

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#33 When it Happens

I once heard something that sounded like babies crying. Turned out, it was coyotes. As bad as that was, though, the creepiest thing I ever experienced was when my friends and I saw a lone person just walking through the woods in the middle of nowhere. I don’t know why it’s creepy, but it is when you’re the one who’s out there experiencing it.

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#34 Jam Sandwiches

I was once walking through the woods and kept finding jam sandwiches cut into triangles and deliberately lined up on logs. Either that or they were stacked in careful little piles on the ground. They were literally about 30 sandwiches worth of triangles spread over about one km. It was like The Blair Witch Project but with jam sandwiches. Still the weirdest thing I've ever come across.

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#35 Outside the Tent

It was 2:00 a.m. and my mom and I were in a tent in the woods of Maine. At the time, I was about eight. I told my mom something was creeping around outside the tent. She dismissed it and said I was dreaming, telling me to go back to bed. We fought back and forth for a bit, but she didn’t believe me despite me persisting.

Just then, something whapped on the side of the tent, hard enough to shake the whole thing. And my mother — who was entirely too tired to deal with anything — bolted upright and whapped right back in the same spot. From outside the tent, we heard a soft meow. It was a housecat. We didn't hear anything more for the rest of the night.

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#36 Mirror Handprints

My girlfriend once got out of the shower and called me in a weird panic. There was a handprint in the middle of the steamed up mirror, very noticeable, all by itself. To see if it belonged to one of us, I put my handprint on the left of the mysterious print and she put hers on the right. It wasn’t ours. I live alone and she’s the only one who’s been to my place in at least six months. To this day, I have no idea where the other handprint came from.

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#37 Sixth Friend

It was dark and I was sitting around a bonfire with four friends in rural North Carolina. We had been taking turns telling stories. A lull came in the conversation and the black silhouette of a sixth person stood up and faded into the surrounding darkness. We decided that we’d had enough for the night and packed everything up before walking back to a friend's house. All five us swear there was a sixth person there but don’t remember any kind of discernible characteristic besides them being a shadow.

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#38 Around the Campfire

When I was a kid, some friends and I came across people in robes chanting around a campfire out in the woods. We were staying at a friend's house for a birthday party and went for a late-night walk. Looking back now, I'm sure it was just some teenagers goofing around, but at the time it scared the living bejeezus out of us. One of the girls with us had a panic attack and started hyperventilating. It got pretty serious, but we finally managed to get her calmed down.

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#39  Album Cover

One time my buddies and I decided to go for a walk at the cemetery at night. We were roaming around until our friend started freaking out and pointed out that he saw some weird people. We thought he was just paranoid, but when we looked there were indeed three or four figures in the cemetery. They were wearing hooded cloaks of some sort and surrounding some large grave with an angel statue. We all freaked out until we saw them group around the grave with one of them taking a picture. We concluded that they must have been in a local band that needed an edgy album cover.

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#40 Big Window

When I was a kid, I used to live on a tiny property in the woods. My house was basically built around where stables once were. My room was, back when it was still stables, where the hay was stocked. When you were in my room, you could sometimes smell hay out of nowhere. My dog also always refused to go upstairs because something terrified it up there. Additionally, I could sometimes hear knocking on doors, sometimes all at once.

On top of all this, my room had a big window that gave a view over the woods and my garden was basically a clearing. Once, I heard a kid giggling from upstairs. I ran there only to find my window open and something running out in the woods. I spent two more years in this house and felt insecure the whole time.

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#41 On Your Right

I once felt like running at night last year because the park near me is pretty with the lights on in the dark. Five mins into the exercise, I felt the need to adjust my shoes because I forgot to wear a longer sock and they were hurting my ankle. I looked up and I saw this dark silhouette running towards me at full speed, wearing a hoodie.

I was on the left side of the street and he was on the right, so it was clear he was running towards me. I was terrified and felt an adrenaline surge. I thought about fighting him if he got any closer, but in a blink of an eye, the person tripped and face planted on the ground. He then started crawling in my direction again. I just left.

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#42 The Desert Has Eyes

I was hiking deep in a desert canyon during the middle of the night. It was pitch black, there was no moon, and dense shrubbery was everywhere. I saw a pair of eyes at about waist level. I stood tall and walked with two headlamps facing forward and back. Every time I looked back over the next several miles, those eyes were locked on to me. Whatever it was, it never made a sound. There was no crunch of rocks or sand, no rustling in the bushes. There was just the illumination of unblinking eyes peering back at me.

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#43 Bathroom Door

I was living in a rented house where we had two bathrooms. One of them was broken, unusable, and smelled really bad when you opened the door. I always had that one bolted and locked. One night, a thunderstorm was approaching the city. The power went off because the winds were too strong. I was sitting all alone in the living room when I heard a thudding sound coming from the bathroom.

I thought it could be because of the air pressure difference due to the thunderstorm. So, I continued to do my assignments. Then there was a loud thud and I swear I saw the bathroom door open. I freaked out and left the house, staying on the terrace until the power came on. I don't know where the lock went and how it opened. When I went back in, the door was partly closed. I locked it tight and tied it with a rope. Obviously, I chickened out of that house in a couple of weeks.

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#44 Sleep Paralysis

My wife and I went camping for our anniversary one year in Payson. We went to bed and it was so eerie to hear nothing but the wind. But, we finally fell asleep. I woke up with paralysis and a red light glowing outside our tent. The light got brighter and something started unzipping our tent. I was frozen in place, just staring at the flap being unzipped.

When the flap was almost opened, I was able to move my head and look at my wife's face. She had this horrible look of fear, mouth agape and everything. When she started to scream, I woke up with nothing but the wind and pitch black. Nothing opened our tent, and we were still laying where we fell asleep. Do I think it was a nightmare? Yeah, I'm terrified of aliens and stories about them. Maybe it was my brain messing with me. It could also have been a repressed memory. Honestly, who knows? All I know is that it really scared me and we left the next day.

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#45 Late Night Jog

I was jogging at night with headphones on in a park with dense trees and bushes. The overgrowth was taking over the path and it was difficult to see. So, I turned the flashlight of my phone on. I started to see a fire burning ahead but couldn’t really make it out. As I got closer, there was a clearing and I saw a big fire raging with no one around.

So, I paused for a minute and fished my glasses out. I saw that there were actually six people standing there. They were perfectly spaced apart from each other and they all turned at the same time to look at me. I didn’t know what was going on but didn’t plan to find out. I turned 180 and sprinted out of there.

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#46 Child’s Laughter

I once went walking in the woods while camping with an old boyfriend. We planned to walk to where the road ended and we found a giant underground cage. After exploring, we started kissing. Completely out of nowhere, we just heard little kids giggling all around us. We hightailed it out of there and never looked back.

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#47 Dog Crossing

I was driving home from night classes in rural Virginia. It was around 10:30 p.m. and I was on a back road I’d driven hundreds of times. I was going around 40 mph when I saw a dog ahead on the road. I slowed down to let it finish crossing the road. The dog stood up on its hind legs and ran like a human into the woods on the other side of the road. I wasn’t the only one in the car who saw it. My best friend also saw it. The dog looked scraggly, super lanky, and was a dark color. It’s something we’ll never forget.

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#48 Me, Myself and I

On a sailboat at sea, I had a lucid dream. I dreamt I was in a movie theater and when my future and child selves joined me. The movie I was watching morphed into a long, detailed, painful, joyous film of my entire life that I was somewhere in the middle of. The little girl held my hand and the old woman patted it, both as if to say, “Keep working to make us proud.” It was also like they were saying, “Don’t worry, you made us proud.”

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#49 Paper Route

I was doing a paper route and a guy in a wheelchair appeared out of nowhere at 3:00 a.m., just racing towards my car. We encountered him again about a week later and he did the same thing. He just high-tailed it towards my car in his wheelchair, a crazy look in his eyes. This took place like two streets over from our house. We floored it out of there and quit the paper route. I haven’t seen him again.

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#50 Passing Church

My husband and I were driving my sister-in-law home one evening. We were on a well-populated, well-used road in the center of town. As we passed a church, I saw what I can only describe as a huge, black dog appear in the middle of the road. It ran toward the church and encountered a fence. The dog-like legs then stretched out like arms as it crawled through a wooden slat fence. My husband looked at me and said, "So... you saw that, right?"

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