Scary movies and haunted houses, fictional as they may be, have primed us to be convinced a ghost is around when we're home alone at night and hear a creepy noise. Some seemingly paranormal experiences, however, have scary explanations - scarier than any poltergeist, spook, or demented wraith bent on our untimely demise. Just as some haunted houses can be explained via science, sometimes the paranormal experiences people think they're having are actually real-life menaces.
People on Reddit were asked, "What was the creepiest thing you experienced that you thought was paranormal, but was actually much scarier when you found out what really caused it?" Their answers will give you the chills, and remind you to trust your barking dog.
From Redditor /u/ChellyTheKid:
When I was 8 we were on a long holiday, staying with some family in a town called Surat... in... Queensland, Australia. I was staying in their son's room; [he] had moved to Brisbane for university. Each night I had the same recurring nightmare of an alien tentacle trying to grab me. After a week I was terrified of going to sleep, but my parents kept telling me... I was just frightened because we were staying somewhere new and that it would be okay.
Well, I couldn't get to sleep. I kept watching the clock, waiting for the sun to come up and terrified of the alien. It was just after 2 am when a large tentacle landed on the bed. I screamed in terror as I felt the tentacle wriggling. I jumped out of bed and kept screaming. My parents, aunt, uncle, and sister [ran] into the room to find me huddled in the corner screaming.
Turns out it was an adult carpet python over 2 meters long (6.6 feet). Each night it worked its way under a ceiling tile, and onto the bed. I still have an Indiana Jones fear of snakes. Why'd it have to be snakes?
From a Redditor:
When I was around 11 years old, my family said I would randomly flip out for no reason. We'd be sitting at dinner and my mom told me, on more than one occasion, I'd throw my silverware across the room and start cursing and wailing on my brother. Completely unprovoked, I'd start beating the sh*t out of my (then) 8- and 10-year-old brothers, and one time, I even hit my grandma.
It got to a point where I'd have to eat by myself. The worst part of it was that I'd have no memory of these outbursts at all! I had no idea why my brothers were afraid of me, why I'd have to eat alone every night, and why everyone seemingly hated me. It was an extremely alienating childhood experience to say the least, and for a short time, I was suicidal (not in action, but definitely in my thoughts).
My teachers, friends, and other family members couldn't understand what my family was talking about. To them, I was the sweetest, smartest, and humblest kid they'd ever met. I was loved by everyone outside of my home.
My mom brought me to a psychologist, a therapist, and at one point, a Catholic priest. She actually thought I may have shown signs of being possessed. She told them I'd "become a different kid in front of their eyes." And because I had no recollection of anything she'd been talking about but seeing the extent of what she was willing to do to get to the bottom of it, I was inclined to believe her!
One day, with my dad, I went to the movies and fell in the lobby and hit my head. Gave myself a nasty concussion. To make a long story short, a [CT] scan had been done and they found out that I had a cyst in my head... The cyst was the size of a baseball and... growing. My brain was being crushed against the right side of my skull... causing severe damage... We went to a neurologist... who... saved my life.
He said that falling and hitting my head was a miracle because I was mere weeks away from dying in my sleep of a hemorrhage, and said I'd need to be in surgery by the end of that week. It was at that point he asked my mom why they hadn't brought me in sooner. She was like, "Well, I'm not a neurologist, so...," and he said, "I'm sure he's been showing signs of SOMETHING going wrong... outbursts of anger, memory loss, unexplained nosebleeds, severe depression..."
I'll never forget the look on my mom's face. Her eyes widened. She turned and looked at me, grabbed my face and started sobbing uncontrollably. I still get emotional thinking about this. She just kept saying "I'm sorry! I'm so sorry" over and over. Tears poured down her face. I just looked her in the eyes and said, "It's okay, Mommy! I'm gonna be better soon!" with a hopeful bounce in my voice.
That was 22 years ago. The doctor saved my life and there were no complications after the surgery. The outbursts had completely stopped, and after only one month of recovery, I was back in school and I had gotten on the Honor Roll for the first time in my life. I was able to fix my relationships with my brothers by being the best brother I could be for them, and for the last two years of my grandma's life, I made sure I told her I loved her every day and never said anything even remotely nasty to her.
That surgery fixed me in so many ways. And I owe it all to a slip and fall at the movie theater...
From Redditor /u/IAlbatross:
I was 5 years old and playing in a pile of leaves in our backyard. The yard had a brick wall at the far end; on the opposite side was a highway. There were a few openings along the bottom of the wall - for drainage, I guess.
So [I was playing] in the leaves and suddenly I [heard] this SUPER weird noise. It was a like a high-pitched yowl, and then I [saw] this weird thing emerge from one of those holes at the bottom of the wall. It was moving slowly and really weird, and I froze in the leaf pile and just watched. (I distinctively remember whispering to myself, "A monster," because I 100% thought it was a monster.)
It staggered up to the leaf pile and I realized it was just a cat. I knew what cats were, because my dad loved cats and we had several pets. This cat was enormous and he was also very fluffy. (Think Crookshanks from Harry Potter.)
So I grabbed this cat and dragged him into the house to show my parents.
Here's the scarier/sadder part, that I didn't realize until I was older: Apparently someone had thrown the cat against the brick wall from their car. That was the noise I heard. And the reason the cat was walking so weird was because his spine was broken. There was a real monster that day. It just wasn't the cat...
My family adopted the cat... "Furball" (or Furby, for short) needed a lot of surgeries, never regained full use of his back end, and couldn't control his bladder. But he was very affectionate. He loved sitting on people's laps and cuddling. He survived maybe two or three more years before he passed... during another surgery. But he had the best and most comfortable life we could provide him.
From Redditor /u/apostate456:
This did not happen to me, but it happened in my city when I was in high school. A family thought that their house was "haunted" because things like furniture and objects would randomly move or go missing. This went on for several months. They even reached out to their pastor to "bless" the house.
Well, the house wasn't haunted. It turned out that a drifter had wandered in at some point and had been living in their attic. He would come out when the family was at work and eat their food, and go through their things for cash and stuff to sell. One day, one of the family members came home unexpectedly and caught them. Called police for an "active break-in." The cops quickly discovered what had been going on.