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Sally was Not to be Made Fun Of

Sally Gregory folded her arms across her chest. Her brother, Samuel Gregory, tossed his baseball from hand to hand, a devilish half grin on his face, while his grey eyes challenged Sally. Around him were his gang, a group of boys that went to school with her and Samuel, that were chanting, “Chicken! Chicken! Sally is a chicken!” Sally glared at her brother’s gang. Sally was not one to be made fun of. The name calling derived from the fact that she was a girl, and needed to prove her worth to play with her brother’s friends. She was refusing to go through with their dare, her task to make her one of them.

“Come on, Sal, it’s just ole’ Mr. Ravenswood’s house, you’re not scared, are ya?” Samuel taunted, as his friends started making juvenile chicken noises.

“No! I just don’t feel like making the long walk up hill, that’s all.” Sally said, her voice shaking only slightly. She was scared. She knew the story of ole Mr. Ravenswood and his crazy wife by heart, and so did her brother, and she did not want to go up to that attic, even if her dumb older brother’s gang double dog dared her.…

And Then There’s Martha…

I live in the middle of nowhere, far away from the rest of my friends. I have to wake up very early in the morning to catch my bus and I usually eat my breakfast as it’s bringing me to school. I don’t have any brothers or sisters; There’s just me, the Ziggy the cat, and my Dad.
And then there’s Martha, the chronically pissed-off woman who insists that I call her my Mother. But lately I don’t feel so inclined to do so. She’s hardly ever around because it seems like she works every day of the goddamn week, as soon as she comes home the first thing she does is find a reason to start yelling at me or cry about something. No rational human being hates their job THAT MUCH, and no one is forcing her to continue working there. There’s the paycheck, I guess, but no amount of pay seems worth sacrificing the respect of your family. Whenever she’s not home, it’s quiet and peaceful. Whenever she’s home, she’s a mess. When she’s not screaming at me over some menial task that I didn’t do, or didn’t do RIGHT, she’s crying about it. Any other person might feel bad about this, but it’s such a frequent thing that I’ve become almost completely desensitized to it.…

Vae Victis

The following are transcripted entries from the journal of a Soldier that didn’t survive the trip home from a deployment in Iraq. Content was provided via the victim’s relatives. This might be disturbing for some people to see.

Proceed with caution.

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– 17-MAY-2008 Fort Huachuca, Arizona –

Just as the marching cadence goes, “Same old shit again” indeed. And now here I am marching my own Soldiers off to one of several pre-deployment briefings being held today. Most of it’s just the usual mandatory stuff, most of it involves what to do in combat situations we might not actually get to see, thank God. Our unit is comprised of mostly Signal geeks and I.T guys, at least a third of them are fresh out of A.I.T themselves and they’re pretty easy to pick out of the crowd: They all have this terrified look on their face like they think they’re about to die as soon as they get off the plane, and I have to laugh because that’s exactly how I felt right before my first deployment to Iraq. I feel bad for most of them, T.R.A.D.O.C fills their heads with all kinds of bullshit about kicking down doors and pretty much duct-taping their buddies back together while they’re screaming for Mommy.…

Mr Leaves

“Mr Leaves was here” – those were the first words out of my daughter’s mouth that morning. I dismissed the chatter as normal for a seven year old girl. It didn’t seem strange to me that she would develop a new imaginary friend, especially under the circumstances; change can do that to a kid, forcing them to create something to hold on to, making the world seem more secure.

We had decided to move away from the city, to find somewhere a little less hectic, somewhere we could call home. As a doctor, I had to wait until an opportunity arose and was delighted when an opening appeared in the sleepy town of Windarm. It was a quiet place filled with pristine cottages, sun-baked streets, and lush hedge rows; not too big, not too small – perfect for the three of us.

My wife, Erin, and I had named our daughter Karen, after an Aunt, but we always called her “Kip” instead. It was an old English word my Grandfather used when he was going to sleep – Karen loved to sleep more than most, and so “Kip” seemed to suit her just fine.

Our new home on the outskirts of Windarm town was older than we were used to; a converted farmhouse dating back 150 years or so.…

NCN’s

NOTE: This story involves the racism encountered by African Americans in the rural United States, particularly during the 19th and early 20th centuries. As such, this story may be offensive to some. Please proceed with discretion.

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My family could be pretty racist. I grew up in more modern times, and always considered everyone an equal. However, it was an attitude that I had to hide from my parents. I could never bring friends home who weren’t white. Through my childhood, this attitude gave way to a lot of stories about where my parents came from; Rural, isolated Southern Ohio in the 1950’s. I was born there, in a small town outside of St. Clairsville, but was quickly moved to Cleveland when my dad got a decent job offer. They always regretted leaving their small town roots, but I was happy. I could have ended up like them.

Eventually, my dad softened his views, and started to see that good people could be good people, no matter what their skin was or where they came from. One night, we sat by our wood burning stove in the basement of our nice house in a suburb outside of Cleveland. He poured each of us a shot of bourbon.…

Bad Taste

My first memory would be that of my boy hood in the summer of 1995. When I was only 12 years old my mother, my brother, and I had recently moved in to a new home apartment. Which, now that I think about it, looked more like one of those haunted houses you see in old horror movies. However, this story is not of that genre, my friend. So do not delude yourself into thinking that it will, as it is not. My mother worked a full time job at a local college and my brother and me would usually be baby-sat by one of our neighbors when she was off at work. We used to hate this particular woman, whom we called Miss. Hickory, due to her old age and her strict demeanor – like a stereotypical librarian who would shush any person who was trying to speak in the library. She would always sit on her back porch in a rocking chair and stare out towards our house, due to the fact that we lived across the street from her. This served the duel purpose of also allowing her to watch for anyone getting near her vegetable garden, especially my brother and I – every time me and my brother would be playing outside, she would scowl at us for getting too close to her vegetable garden.…

Memory Card

A few weeks ago, my parents were driving up to see my cousins. We always visit them during the summer. On the way there, we drove through a little village. Some church by the road was having a car boot sale. A massive banner told us it was in aid of charity.

My dad parked the car and got out, eager to have a little sniff around. He always had a thing for raking through people’s old stuff and finding hidden treasures. While he was off treasure hunting, I decided to go off on my own little wander.

Most of the stuff on sale was the usual crap: cakes, ugly crockery, junk, etc. Someone was holding a raffle. An old woman was painting kids’ faces, but only seemed to know how to do one animal; there were zebra-faced kids everywhere.

I remember a couple standing out over all the happiness and sense of community. There was just a man and a woman with dead eyes taking no interest in their customers at all. All they did was just stare into the distance.

Their table was full of kids junk. You know – toys, magazines, crap Playstation games, the usual. There were a lot of those Army Men games.…

Linger

I won’t say I was excited to be there. Excited is the wrong word to use when visiting such a dark piece of history, a place where so many souls passed. I had been granted unprecedented access to the camps where the Nazis had committed horrible atrocities. As a historian, I was excited, but as a human being, I felt an unexpected lump of dread mixed with the vague feeling of disgust.

The gates proclaimed that work would make you free, but the truth was that no matter how hard they’d worked, some would never see freedom, much less family or friends again. The structure of the place was purely Nazi, they had organized and filed humans, the way they organized and filed everything else, only the humans, in the cramped file drawer sized beds were never meant to be saved the way the paperwork documenting the horrors of their disposal was.

I toured the rooms full of shoes and prosthetics. Braces, arms and legs made of plastic and Bakelite standing at attention as if waiting for an owner who would never return. Then came the horrible chamber where so many met their chemical death.. the reaper named Zyklon B. In history books, they always make it sound like the gas killed them quickly, though not humanely, but the walls of this hideous room tell a different story, a story of nail marks dug into the walls..…

Don’t Wake Up

I wake up feeling a small pain on my upper back. It’s tiny, but noticeable. I know what to expect now. It’s going to be yet another small scratch that seemingly came out of nowhere. My logical mind tells me that it was only me scratching my back while asleep, or my skin just being too sensitive for the sheets and getting cut. I believe my mind, but I still have an eerie feeling about these small scratches. I get up, hobbling over to my bathroom door, sliding it open, hopping up on the counter, and pulling down my sleeve to see what this scratch looked like. As I’d expected, it was long, thin, and not deep. Just like every other one I’d gotten. As always, once I saw the scratch, I heard the soft, scratchy voice that whispered in every dream I’d had for a year. Every night, without fail, I’d hear a voice hiss in my ear; “Don’t wake up…”

At first, it really freaked me out, but by now, I’m used to it. I wake up every morning and live my life like a normal teenager does: Wake up, go to school, come home, do homework, go online, eat, sleep, repeat.…

Wolfsbane and Roses

Your Majesty, I do not mean to interrupt.

I do know that today is a day of celebration. That this feast you have thrown has been in my honor. But I bid you give me the floor.

For there is no cause for celebration. You celebrate today for the death of a beast, and yet I aim to make amends.

For you see, the beast lives on.

I can see by the look on your face that you are confused…and perhaps you feel you are owed an explanation. If it pleases Your Majesty, I will give you just that.

It all starts with her.

She was always a quiet one. Withdrawn, I guess you could call her. She spent her days in the archives; the old stone library on the edge of her village. Her charming little nose buried in some book or another.

She was different – not quite like the other women I had come across in my travels. They were all so preoccupied with finding husbands, starting families. She loved research – Guidobaldo del Monte, Leonardo da Vinci, Michel de Montaigne…these were only a few of the endless trends in her studies.

The world is changing, she had told me once.…

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