Web legends and mystery memes have been oozing bone-chilling horror from every corner of the social media universe long before the catch-all term “Creepypasta” was coined as a label for these viral phenomena. But recently, these haunting hybrids of freakish fact and fiction have crossed over from niche online communities to mainstream media — as evident in SyFy’s Creepypasta series CHANNEL ZERO, bestselling novels like PENPAL, and multiple attempts to bring viral villains Slender Man and Jeff the Killer to the screen.
But there was a time when Creepypastas lived only in the virtual shadows, nurtured and propagated by horror communities on Reddit, 4chan and the like… and one of the first (and most effective) of these breeding grounds is the subreddit known as NoSleep.
Boasting millions of subscribers, NoSleep is home to untold thousands of terrifying topics, which include grisly backstories for unsolved crimes, first-hand reports of paranormal activity, cryptid and UFO sightings, unexplained images and/or video footage, and some tales which defy all sane description.
One of the hallmarks of NoSleep is the community’s “Prime Directive” by which all members must abide: the factual nature of posted content must be neither confirmed nor denied. Per the site’s slogan: “Everything is true here… even if it’s not.” It’s therefore up to the reader to determine if what they’re reading is authentic; stories are rated on their ability to suspend disbelief… and to freak the hell out of you, of course.
Reddit post rankings rise and fall on a daily basis, but here are five examples of NoSleep’s highest-scoring threads in recent years. Click the title of each to access the original post… but bear in mind, they call this place “NoSleep” for a good reason.
“It’s official… I’m an old man,” begins the author of this tale, fully aware of his own mortality. But the passing of years does not trouble him; instead, he seeks the comfort of death, if only as an escape from the nightmares which still haunt him after a horrific encounter nearly 63 years ago.
During his illicit exploration of the local library’s basement, he found a hidden staircase leading deep beneath the building… leading to a reading room which, despite its age, was stocked with amazing books. The room became his own secret sanctuary, and for some reason no one disturbed him there — even after three years of sneaking downstairs to partake of its literary wonders.
Until his first encounter with the “friend” whose appearance in the secret library initiated the author’s long and horrible relationship with death…
“This is going to sound kind of strange,” began the mysterious caller, in a blood-curdling tale recounted by a 911 emergency operator. The caller reported a strange man walking in circles in his front yard, looking toward the house… and then the visitor’s behavior became increasingly bizarre.
“His teeth are so huge,” said the panicked caller, who then claimed the man was pressing his face against the front window. “There’s no color in his eyes…”
The operator tried to keep the terrified caller on the line as the situation escalated. But things quickly get out of hand…
This odd tale is one of just a few creepypastas to revolve around an allegedly haunted piece of music. The title song is credited to a one-hit wonder pop band named Symmetry Icon, and was supposedly in heavy rotation when the author was working at their college radio station in the fall of 2008.
A few years after graduation, the author remembered the song’s brief popularity and, on a whim, tried searching for it online… only to find no record of the track or the band anywhere.
Months passed with numerous attempts to track down the song proving fruitless, until one fateful day when the author received an email from a stranger who claimed to know the song’s horrific history in graphic detail. The email also had an mp3 file attached, along with a warning: “Please be careful…”
Another tale of horror ripped from the pages of collegiate life, this story centers on the dorm room of the title — which bears the fitting nickname “The Suicide Room.”
The author recalls her experience as a newly-arrived freshman at the unnamed university, where she and her roommate bunked in the room next door to 733, located in an older wing of the dormitory quad. Their Resident Advisor informed them that two separate residents of that room had killed themselves, and one had jumped seven floors to her death. The author debated the authenticity of the RA’s story, assuming it was just a way of hazing the incoming freshmen.
She changed her mind, however, on a cold October night when she heard a loud scraping sound coming from Room 733… the sound of someone opening the window. But that sound was only the beginning…
It all began as a father-and-son chat about internet safety — the cautionary tale of a young boy named Colby who was lured into giving a fellow online gamer his home address. But this wasn’t your typical scare tactic.
You see, the author gets rather… well, creative in his intent to utterly horrify his son, spinning a story of shocking, unrelenting and graphic horror more gut-wrenching than the vilest snuff film.
Then again, maybe “son” isn’t exactly the right choice of words here…