9 Women Share Their Most Terrifying & Awesome Ghost Stories

This article was originally published on May 20, 2016.

Whether you're a self-identified scaredy cat or a wannabe Ghost Adventures crew member, it's undeniably fun to scare yourself once in a while. In fact, it's good for you — harmless little scares can actually activate feel-good neurotransmitters and hormones.

But, when you aren't prepared to feel afraid, those bumps in the night can have a totally different, unnerving effect. After all, who hasn't been snuggled in bed, safe and sound, only to hear a freaky noise from the hallway? Maybe if it were the daytime, or maybe if you weren't alone, you'd be able to convince yourself it was all in your head. But, at night, when you're all by yourself, any noise can turn into something insidious — a presence from the other side, perhaps.

We've probably all had these kinds of creepy run-ins, so why not talk about them? You might get over your fears and scare your friends in the process. That, or you might end up pissing off the ghost you're pretty sure lives in your closet.

Ahead, nine women share their scariest ghost encounters. Do not read these before bed.

Welcome to Death Week. This week, we'll attempt to unpack our feelings, fears, and hang-ups about death, dying, and mourning. We’ll do our best to leave no gravestone unturned.

Illustrated by Norah Stone.
"In college, I was in a debate club (I was a super-nerd, I know) that had access to private rooms (they called them chambers) in two class buildings on campus. There was a long-running joke about a ghost being in the chambers, because of the spooky noises the vents made in the middle of the night if you were studying there. But late one night, my boyfriend (now fiancé) and I were in one of the rooms studying, and as we walked down the building's stairs to leave, we heard the sound of an eerie music box playing from a dark (and completely empty) hallway. I know I wasn't crazy, because we both heard it — and bolted the heck out of there. I stuck to late-night studying in the other building after that."
Illustrated by Norah Stone.
"My sister's boyfriend had a very, very sudden, tragic, and untimely death in the fall of 2014 (he had a grand mal seizure). He was the love of my sister's life. Anyway, his birthday came up that December, which was obviously a difficult time for everyone who knew him. The night of his birthday, my sister had an extremely vivid dream in which he came to her bedside and spoke to her — he told her he was okay, and everything was going to be alright. Not only that, but she saw a medium a few weeks later, and the medium knew every detail about the dream/encounter."
Illustrated by Norah Stone.
"When I was growing up, we lived near an abandoned insane asylum, Letchworth Village. It was open until 1996, and then all of a sudden it ran out of funding and it was literally abandoned. People just straight up walked away, left food in the fridge, pictures on their desks — it was wild. A lot of the residents were transferred to other psychiatric centers, but some were supposedly let out in to the real world.

"There were rumors for years that people were finding ex-residents in their attics, garages, their garbage would be picked through, etc. In high school, we would go to the old asylum to hang out (because that's what you do in high school, I guess)...and I always felt something. Something was off, always a feeling of dread.

"Nothing really happened until one night. I was in the car with a friend and my brother. While driving past the golf course nearby, my brother and I both saw a small boy standing next to a tree, wearing a newsboy hat... We shrugged it off, thinking we were both seeing what we wanted to see. We then stopped at a red light, and all of a sudden, a huge burst of white light came flying down to the car windshield. I busted through the light (screw that, I wasn't waiting for the green) and drove straight home. We all felt terrible and panicked, and the feeling of dread I felt didn't go away for days. I never went back again. We were all stone-cold sober, so I can't even chalk it up to drugs!"
Illustrated by Norah Stone.
"True story: My grandmother's family house in Kernersville, NC, has a ghost. It is just called the Anew (Enu?) and there is some debate as to the gender/age of the ghost. I never visited the house until after she died, when we went up to bury her in the family plot. We stayed in the old family house (now a historic site where no one lives) the night before the funeral — we were pretty cavalier about staying in the house next to where the Anew has been heard, but later that night, we all freaked out and smushed into the double bed where two of my cousins were staying. There are all kinds of family stories about hearing the Anew at night, and I swear I heard clomping around even from the first floor."
Illustrated by Norah Stone.
"A couple years ago, a friend got married at an old hotel up in Maine. My boyfriend and I were wandering around the downstairs bar and found a random vending machine tucked away in a dark hallway. The hallway was eerie as hell, but nothing could come between me and my Doritos (or so I thought). I watched the chips squirm around in place each time I tried to purchase them. By my third attempt, I was getting angry and had some strong words with the machine, at which point the spring keeping the chips in place sprung out of control and smacked the glass case squarely in front of my face. Later that night, we learned from the bartender that, years ago, a woman had hung herself in that hallway and it was haunted."
Illustrated by Norah Stone.
"My dad lives in a former hospital on the ground floor (the morgue floor), and basically every one of my family members has had a spooky encounter. I was once kept awake by voices directly above my bed, in the air vent, speaking Polish or Russian or something for like three hours. They were arguing, and then laughing and carrying on, at like 4 a.m. My dad swears he's seen apparitions standing around his bed multiple times, and one of his neighbors has 'an older couple' who live in their apartment and they swear they see [them] regularly. My brother was once in his bedroom when he was home alone and heard a bunch of pots and pans rattling in the kitchen, like someone was making food, and he came out and there was no one there, but the cabinets were open where the pots are kept. My dad was also sitting on his couch once with his girlfriend, and one of my dog's tennis balls rolled across the floor like someone had thrown it, while she was asleep at his feet."
Illustrated by Norah Stone.
"I'm not one to believe in ghosts, but I had an undeniable experience this winter that left me 100% convinced that I'd encountered one.

"I was staying at the 1770 house in East Hampton, which is a super old house (from 1770) now converted into a B&B. I woke up in the middle of the night with the overwhelming feeling that someone was staring at me. I could literally pinpoint the exact spot in the room where the stare was coming from. Feeling freaked out, I got up and went to the restroom. When I turned out the light, I felt the vibe of the 'ghost' in front of me, to the left. When I looked in that direction, everything was hazing — like when you're looking through the gas above the stove before you light it. Everything was just swimming a bit. I kept rubbing my eyes, thinking I was going insane, but when I looked anywhere else in the bathroom, everything was in perfect focus. It was just that one spot, where I felt the human presence, where everything remained fluid and hazy. Anyway, I quickly ran out of there, got back in bed...and forced myself to ignore the feeling of a human standing next to me. Eventually, I convinced myself I was crazy and fell back asleep.

"The next morning, I was still so flustered by the experience that I told everyone. They probably think I'm crazy."
Illustrated by Norah Stone.
"The house I grew up in was definitely haunted. At least, I am convinced of this, and always have been. It was built in 1896, and my family discovered that, at some point in time, it was a boarding house, and...someone had passed away in the dining room.

"Amongst personally witnessed events: I once woke up in the middle of the night to our piano playing itself downstairs; I think I was seven. Having a near-constant feeling of being watched from the basement when halfway down the stairs...foot-steps creaking on the second-floor stairs if alone in the house...our defunct grandfather clock tick-tock[ing, or] ringing at random.

"Maybe most prominently, I remember sometimes seeing a tall male figure in the second-floor bedroom, dressed in a three-piece suit. I remember seeing him in my peripheral vision when leaving my room and running down the stairs...I remember seeing someone standing in the room, near the closet, facing towards the door. Once, when my aunt was house-sitting for us, she had a dream that she was in the house, in the master bedroom...and was confronted by a man on the landing of the second floor. He asked who she was, why she was there, and said he was 'security.' He was dressed in a three-piece suit."
Illustrated by Norah Stone.
"My apartment senior year of college was 'haunted,' or that’s what my roommates wanted me to believe. When I got back from winter break, they had all these stories of mysterious banging at night and shadowy figures in the hallway. I called BS at first — I’d never heard anything in my room, though they insisted that was only because my room was on the other side of the house. So, just out of curiosity, I agreed to sleep in my roommate’s room with her one night.

"She warned me that we’d hear one very loud 'bang' at midnight. So, we were watching Gilmore Girls, as two college-aged women do, when we noticed it was already past midnight, with no bang to speak of. Before I could even finishing gloating, a massive bang interrupted me. Obviously, we both jumped and yanked the covers over our heads. It sounded like it was coming from the opposite wall, but that wall just faced the outside on the second floor. Nevertheless, it sounded like someone wanted to come in. 'But, that was it, right?' I asked my roommate. She said, 'Yeah, that’s usually how it goes' — then, we heard another, second, WHOLLY UNPRECEDENTED bang. The next day, our other roommate performed a small ritual to banish the ghost (salt in all outward-facing corners) and hoped for the best.

"I try telling myself now that it was just the building settling, but I can’t help but wonder if the ghost really wanted to prove to me that it was real that night."