Graveyard Shift

People Describe The Times They Felt Real, Heart-Stopping Fear 

Sarah Blumert
Updated January 9, 2020 7.1k votes 1.2k voters 33.4k views 20 items

List Rules Vote up the stories that leave you quaking in your boots.

Pure fear is not an emotion many of us face very often. We may feel scared or nervous on occasion, but the type of terror that stops you in your tracks and sends a tingling sensation from your scalp to your fingertips is hopefully one that you'll only feel once or twice in your life. 

The people of Reddit shared the experiences that prompted a deep, bone-chilling fear within them - whether that terror was warranted or not. Vote up the nail-biting tales that will make you think twice about those shadows in your peripheral vision.

A Little Too Helpful

From Redditor /u/Gutinstinct999:

A few years ago, I was trying to find gas in the middle of nowhere. I found a gas station but couldn’t get the pump to work. A guy pulled up and told me that they wouldn’t work because it was after 8 pm. He said he had a few gallons in his truck and offered [them to me]. I offered him cash and he declined. He was nice and respectful, until he began slowly pumping the slowest two gallons of my life. Then he started saying in a creepy, [almost] angry, between-clenched-teeth voice, “You look really good, you married?”

The complete change in demeanor and tone of voice scared the absolute sh*t out of me. It sent a chill through my body. I was absolutely terrified.

Even if I’d had [something for self-defense], he could have overtaken me. There was not a soul around, and the pasture around us was at least two to three feet of grass. I knew I as a goner. He kept saying lewd things, then asking where I worked and lived until I took the f*ck off.


From Redditor /u/earwenithryl:

I was going to enter year 11 that year (so I was about 15 years old). I needed to walk to school to register, and decided I'd take a shortcut. That street was long with trees on each side, and nobody [was] around, but when I realised my mistake, I was already halfway through it, so I figured I'd continue on my way.

At some point, I heard footsteps behind me and turned around. There was a man who had something weird about his demeanor, and I remember immediately feeling it. So I gradually picked up the pace, but he just bolted and got to me, knife in hand. Asked me to give him my phone, which I should've done. That was my first phone, and as a stupid teenager with no money, I sort of thought it'd be a good idea to "[negotiate]" so he [wouldn't] take my phone. Dumb idea, 'cause he asked me to follow him while still pressing the knife against my back, acting like he was just casually holding me.

Now, I lived in a small town at the time, so I had to walk 10 minutes like that before finding a police officer to alert. Started screaming [and] crying until people eventually surrounded the guy and dragged me out of there. I was informed by a police officer that the man was actually a [convict] who had escaped prison months ago; [I] felt lucky to have escaped that one.

Air Scare

From Redditor /u/121guy:

I was flying an airliner. We were maybe 1,000 [feet] above the ground while on approach to land at a smaller airport. There were thunderstorms in the area, and we ended up in a microburst with zero visibility. We got a wind shear warning in the cockpit and started to go [aground]. At full throttle and the nose up, we were still sinking at around 400ft/min. Everything seemed to be running in slow motion - both me and the other pilot were running through our required actions and call-outs due to the training.

In the back of my mind, all I could think about was, "I can’t see the ground and we are falling. I know there is a hill out here somewhere, this is [the end of the line]." The plane got down to around 400ft off the ground before it finally started to climb. This was the most fear I [have] ever felt in my life.

Moons And Cauliflowers

We used to go sailing in the BVIs for summer holidays when I was younger. One evening, we were anchored in a bay with a party boat of teenage Americans nearby. After some alcohol, starting a water fight seemed like a great idea. At some point during the ensuing chaos, I ended up [getting taken] and held as a hostage on their tender... They decided to drive me out to sea, and once we were thoroughly out of the bay, they started joking about tossing me overboard.

...Drunk me thought the best response to this joke-threat was to stand up and yell, “YOU CAN'T THROW ME OVERBOARD IF I JUMP OUT,” which I promptly did. They laughed and drove off... I was left floating in the middle of the sea about half a mile from shore in the pitch black. At first the alcohol stopped me from panicking, and I decided to just swim back. Half a mile isn’t that bad, right? Now my brain was beginning to wonder what was swimming around beneath me, but I was mostly calm until something bounced off my leg.

...Once every four to five years, [the BVIs] get unusually high numbers of moon jellyfish. Of course, moons aren’t scary at all... It was the creature that used them as a food source that was the danger. Known colloquially as the stinging cauliflower, [they are] purple balls of pure evil...

...There I was, half a mile out from shore in the pitch black, with no idea if these kids were going to come back and get me or [not]. A moon jellyfish had just bounced off my leg, and where there are moons, there were always cauliflowers. I was pretty certain if I swam into one and got stung, chances are I wouldn’t be able to stay afloat and I would [perish]. I [started] to feel genuinely sick and scared, [struggled] to keep my breathing under control, etc.

But there’s nothing to do except swim and hope to high heaven I don’t hit one. So that’s what I did. It was over 15 minutes before the sh*theads came back to get me. By this point, the panic and swimming had turned my muscles to jelly, and they had to literally haul me back into the boat...

To this day, I can still taste the salt in my mouth and feel my heart rate and breathing increase when I tell that story.