Most people love a good creepy story, but the ones we often hear are usually fake. Not these, though—and we’re not sure if that makes us feel better or worse.
We’ve all heard our fair share of urban legends, but we can usually take some level of comfort in the fact that they’re just spooky stories—right? The only thing scarier than a creepy movie, story, or photoshopped picture is the knowledge that it’s real, or at least based on something that really happened. Here are some of the creepiest real stories that sound like they’re fake—you’ll try to convince yourself they are, at least.
A Number that Kills
Thankfully, no one can be given the phone number 0888-888-888 anymore in Bulgaria but, if it’s ever been yours, we imagine that you’re probably not around anymore. In the 10 years before the number was discontinued, every person who was given that phone number died.
The deaths weren’t necessarily mysterious or unexplained—the original holder of the number died of cancer, and two of the other people who once held the number were mob bosses who may have had it coming for one reason or another. Still, it’s a little too much of a coincidence to put that type of pressure on some unexpecting cell user, so the number was discontinued.
The Ultimate S.O.S
Sometime during 1948, the SS Ourang Medan began to put out a distress call that was picked up by another ship that sat near the Indonesian coast. The morse code message coming from the ship simply said “I die.”
When the crew of the nearby ship made it onboard the ship, they were greeted by a ghastly sight—they found all of the crew members of the SS Ourang Medan dead, their eyes and mouths open wide, and their eyes looking upward.
A message relayed back to the nearby ship told the crew that, “All officers including the captain are dead, lying in chartroom and bridge. Possibly whole crew dead…”
It is not known why the crew members passed away, though theories suggest they were transporting hazardous materials or suffered from carbon monoxide poisoning—others doubt that the story is real at all.
You might be reminded of the Paranormal Activity craze looking at this photo but what’s even creepier is that this story is real.
In 2008, one man decided that he wanted to set up a camera in his house after he noticed that things were missing from his kitchen, or just out of place. Instead of a ghost, what he caught on camera was the presence of a real person, a woman who had managed to live in his house for a year without him being aware at all.
The woman would come out of one the vents in his apartment each and every night to not only eat whatever she pleased, but even venture further into his house to take showers while he slept.
The woman was eventually arrested when the man reported his findings the police; she said that she found the door to his home unlocked and decided to stay because she was homeless.
A Letter from the Grave
Most people would be happy to receive a letter from their brother or sister—if they’re alive, that is.
One man opened up his mail one day in 1885, only to see that there was a letter that appeared to be from his brother. We can imagine that his blood ran cold when he saw it, as his brother had been dead for the past 13 years.
As if the letter itself wasn’t creepy enough, what it said was just as eerie. In it, his brother wrote that he was mentally ill and would soon be coming to pay his brother a visit. The man was completely disturbed by what happened, and decided the only way he could settle his mind was to look into his brother’s buried coffin for himself.
After he dug it up, he made the horrifying discovery that the coffin was empty with no trace of a body at all.
Edgar Allan Poe’s True Tale
We all know that Edgar Allen Poe is one of the masters of all things creepy, but he may be able to add “prophet” to his repertoire, as well.
Poe released his novel The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket in 1838 and, while it may not be one of his most well-known works, it tells an interesting story that is said to have come true some years later.
In the novel, a group of sailors are out at sea and are unfortunate enough to get stuck in a shipwreck. As time ticks on, three of sailors eventually decide that they must resort to cannibalism to survive, and one of their friends is the unlucky victim.
Apparently, this very story came true aboard the Mignonette in 1884, but that’s not even the weirdest part. The man who was sacrificed was named Richard Parker—the same name that the character in the book had. This really did happen—after a very public trial upon their return, the killers Tom Dudley and Edwin Stephens were sentenced to six months in prison.
King Louis’ Prison Mask
This story is definitely a little creepy, yes, but it’s also more strange than anything.
King Louis XIV of France once sent a man to prison in 1669 but, to this day, the reason why he decided to do this remains unknown. The king sent him off without any sort of trial and made him wear a mask made of whale bone that wrapped around his entire skull.
You’d think such an extreme action would have an equally extreme explanation, but there isn’t one that’s known. Even stranger is that no one knows who the man is at all, but that could be why the king made him wear a full face mask—perhaps he wanted his punishment for whatever crime he committed to be the death of his name in the history books.
He died in prison on Nov. 19, 1703 under the name of Marchioly, although no one knows if that was his real name.
Lincoln Dreamt His Death
Unless you’re currently in school learning about it right now, everyone knows about the tragic death of Abraham Lincoln. He was out for a night a fun, seeing a play at Ford’s Theatre, where he was unexpectedly shot by the now-infamous John Wilkes Booth.
Oddly enough, Lincoln may have known all of this was going to happen. A few days before his death, Lincoln shared a dream that he had with a small group of people that included his wife and bodyguard. In the dream, he said that he saw a casket and a soldier standing next to it.
He decided to ask the soldier who the man in the casket was and the soldier told him that it was the president and that he had been killed by an assassin.
The only reason he didn’t think about it too much after the fact is because he recalled that it was not his own body that he saw in the casket.
Stealing the Skull of Timur
Also known as Tamerlane, Timur was a conqueror who founded the Timurid Empire of Central Asia and Persia. He was known as a pretty ruthless invader, and this reign even followed him into death.
In 1941, Joseph Stalin ordered one of his architects, Mikhail Gerasimov, to open Timur’s tomb in Uzbekistan so that they could use his skull to make an accurate bust of his face, something Gerasimov was especially gifted at. It is said that many locals tried to stop them, warning them that the tomb was cursed, but they pressed on anyway.
The next day, June 22, 1942, the Nazis invaded the Soviet Union, which led to the deaths of thousands of Russians.
After this continued for a few months, Stalin finally took the curse seriously and ordered his men to return Timur’s skull to his tomb—the Nazis surrendered just one month later.