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The Top 20 Scariest Stories We Know

A handpicked collection of scary stories to tell in the dark

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Urban legends are rarely true, but they do reveal important truths about us -- our deepest, darkest fears, for example. Telling horror stories is cathartic, a means of coping with what scares us. Here's a compilation of twenty tales of terror to share with family and friends. Goosebumps guaranteed!

1. The Russian Sleep Experiment

Russian Sleep Experiment
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Not long after the end of World War II, Russian researchers conducted an experiment in which five prison inmates were confined in a sealed chamber and exposed to an extremely powerful stimulant gas to test the effects of long-term sleep deprivation on human subjects. The inmates had been promised their freedom if they could stay awake for 30 days straight. What could possibly go wrong?

 

2. The Babysitter and the Man Upstairs

Scary Story: The Babysitter and the Man Upstairs
Nick Koudis/Photodisc/Getty Images
In this classic urban legend dating from the 1960s, a teenage babysitter calls the police after receiving prank phone calls from a creepy stranger. "Have you checked the children?" the man keeps asking. While waiting for a patrol car to arrive, the babysitter has a terrifying realization: the stranger is calling her from inside the house!

3. Bloody Mary

Bloody Mary
Alain Daussin/Image Bank/Getty Images
They stood before the bathroom mirror in dim candlelight, chanting in unison: "Bloody Mary, Bloody Mary, Bloody Mary, Bloody Mary." The thirteenth time they said it, something very odd and frightening happened. Not all of them lived through it. Some of those who did wished they hadn't.

4. Humans Can Lick, Too

Humans Can Lick Too
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Once upon a time there was a beautiful young girl in a small town just south of Farmersburg. Her parents had to go to the city for the night, so they left their daughter home alone, protected by the faithful family dog. They instructed her to lock all the doors and secure the house after they left. She did as she was told, nervous about being left alone, but confident that if anything happened her dog would protect her.

5. Bride-and-Seek (The Missing Bride)

Ghost Story
Hulton Archive/Getty Images
After a lavish wedding in a stately mansion, members of the wedding party decide to play a game of hide-and-seek. It isn't long before everyone is found — everyone, that is, except for the bride. Twenty-four hours later, she's still missing. What happened to the bride?

6. The Clown Statue

Scary Clown
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A babysitter taking care of two small children called their parents late in the evening to ask for permission to cover up the life-size clown statue in the corner of the family room. "It's not that I don't like it," she said. "It just kind of freaks me out with nobody else here. It's hard to watch TV." The parents' reaction to her request freaked her out even more. "WHAT clown statue???" they answered, frantically. "Dial 911! Call the police!! DO IT NOW!!!"

7. The Killer in the Backseat

The Killer in the Backseat
Sami Sarkis/Photographer's Choice RF/Getty Images
One night a woman went out for cocktails with her girlfriends. After leaving the bar late at night, she got in her car and headed for home on a deserted highway. Several minutes later, she noticed a lone pair of headlights in her rear-view mirror. It was another car — the only other car on the road — approaching at a terrifying pace.

8. Aren't You Glad You Didn't Turn on the Light?

Aren't You Glad You Didn't Turn on the Light
Hulton Archive/Getty Images
As if we needed proof that horrible things happen in the dark, this unnerving tale about a murderous madman lurking unseen in a dimly lit dormitory room demonstrates that sometimes what you don't know can hurt you — even if it chooses for the moment to hide and wait.

9. The Choking Doberman

Doberman Pincer
Photodisc/Getty Images
A family comes home to find their doberman pincer choking in the living room. They take the dog to an emergency veterinarian and return home, only to receive a frantic call from the vet, who tells them to get out of the house, and fast! Why? Well, it has to do with what the dog was choking on.

10. The Dead Boyfriend

The Dead Boyfriend
Color Day Production/The image Bank/Getty Images
While parked late at night on Lovers' Lane, a teenage girl waits for her boyfriend to return to the car after going outside to relieve himself. After waiting what seems like an eternity, she finally hears a sound. But it's not footprints, it's something scraping back and forth across the roof of the vehicle. Then she finds out what it is.
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