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Photography by Levi Mandel

Spook yourself silly with homemade horror

Get your freak on with some DIY Halloween horror as we showcase the spookiest tales from Reddit’s scary-story hub r/nosleep

Blockbuster horror movies aren’t what they used to be. The production values are too high and the special effects are too effective. Horror movies should be about off-colour blood, rubbery guts, and bad-actress babysitters. Tusk (2014) was about a podcast, for Pete’s sake. But the culture of scariness isn’t dead – it’s just gone DIY. This Halloween, get inspired by homemade horror. There are a tonne of cool Halloween zines out there, like John F. Malta’s upcoming Halloween zine and Daniel Jamie Williams’ winsome While Await Me Only Worms. But DIY horror really reaches its apex in scary stories told on the internet, penned by those masked behind the anonymity of a server. This week, we pick ten of the freakiest (okay, some just the funniest) from Reddit’s scary-story hub r/nosleep, illustrated by Levi Mandel’s eerie photographs from HALLOWZINE, an online haunted house going live on 31 October at Timeghost.

WHATEVER IT IS, IT WANTS ME UP

WHY IT’S FREAKY: Who knows what happens when you’re sleeping?!

Psychological horror and fitness technology: a match made in heaven. In this story, the poster claims that his fitbit (a gizmo that counts your footsteps) is recording phantom strolls in the middle of the night. What’s more, something spooky keeps waking him up. This story goes from the prosaic to the horrendous in no time at all. It starts off all “I knew someone in the VP of sales of fitbit and decided to ask them about it. They said to take it back and get a new one. Easy enough.” Soon enough we’re at: “The one on my nipple was brutal. Like a knife cleaved the poor fucker in-twine.” Freaky shit.

DEAR DIARY

WHY IT’S FREAKY: An object lesson in internet-oriented narrative

This story is, I think, about a guy who invents an artificial intelligence system. I think? He might be talking to aliens too. It meanders all over the place, from ‘evolving the internet’ to comparisons like this: “Think how you would feel creating bitcoin, I think the fame is still hitting him like me but that is just an example from this planet.” All told, this story isn’t very frightening, but its gradual collapse into near-nonsense is beautiful: “This was different. They act different. They talk different. So many different languages all so understandable on an inner level. It's almost like music the way they talk…Slow notes of perfect information. Answers so correct you feel them like a beautifully made song.”

MY DAUGHTER MADE SEVERAL BOTHERSOME DRAWINGS THIS MORNING, AND BROKE MY FAVORITE MUG

WHY IT’S FREAKY: A story to make you investigate long-acting contraceptives

Kids do spooky stuff all the time. The daughter in this story, however, is something else. This story about a girl whose disturbing felt-tip drawings of her ‘night-friends’ disappear and mutate and terrify her mum is deservedly one of the most popular on r/nosleep. Make sure you read all the updates.

A HOLE APPEARED IN MY CEILING AND THERE ARE NOISES IN MY WALL [UPDATE]

WHY IT’S FREAKY: That spider seems scared, so I am too

This story is brilliant for the fact that pretty much nothing happens in it, but you can tell the poster is freaked out as all heck. She seems to be scared mainly on behalf of her pets. There are some great lines in here: “Anyway that noise stopped a few weeks ago, just as the noises in MY walls started. But, before that, a quick mention of the spiders.” A cautionary tale about the dangers of playing Deadly Premonition and lurking on r/creepypasta in bed all day.

THE CREEPIEST THING JUST HAPPENED DUE TO A STORY I READ ON /R/NOSLEEP

WHY IT’S FREAKY: A horror story about wifi cutting out

This story is about a poster getting freaked out by reading scary stories online and then losing his shit because the wifi cuts out. Then he hears a giggle in the hallway and feels someone breathing on his ankles: “I yanked them up so hard my laptop hit my face because it's in my lap.” Don’t spend too much time online, kids.

MY DEAD GIRLFRIEND KEEPS MESSAGING ME ON FACEBOOK. I’VE GOT THE SCREENSHOTS. I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO

WHY IT’S FREAKY: Not even your internet-self is safe from ghosts

As one commenter puts it, “I'm really sorry this is happening to you, but the reality is the dead can't Facebook.” This story might change your mind, however. Is the poster losing his grip on sanity, or is his deceased girlfriend really haunting his social media presence? Warning: there are photos, which makes everything a lot scarier.

I WAS A PART OF QUEEN'S GUARD IN ENGLAND - ONE OF THE RARE JOBS WHERE YOU AREN'T ALLOWED TO MOVE, NO MATTER WHAT STANDS IN FRONT OF YOU

WHY IT’S FREAKY: An occupational hazard that shows up in your bedroom

Have you ever wondered what the worst thing that could happen to a Queen’s Guard would be? Well, turns out it’s a lady who leans really close in your face and counts down from ten and then keeps coming back and also shows up in your bedroom. This is a long one, in multiple installments, but worth reading all the way through. Original and rightly scary.

DOES ANYONE KNOW A GOOD PLUMBER? I DID ONE OF THOSE STUPID RITUALS AND NOW MY SHOWER IS LEAKING. AND THERE’S A FACELESS GUY IN MY KITCHEN

WHY IT’S FREAKY: Tinder-magic is not safe

Ok, maybe this one isn’t entirely serious, but it could happen! Drunk-message a girl from Tinder, she convinces you to do a ritual, suddenly you’re drunk and there’s a guy in your kitchen: “I finally got a good look at him. He definitely didn’t have a face.”

I BOUGHT FAKE BEATS BY DRE FROM EBAY AND NOW... NOW , WELL NOW I'M FUCKED

WHY IT’S FREAKY: Fitbits, Tinder, and now…headphones? Is nothing sacred? 

This guy bought a pair of Beats by Dre online and, what do you know? They were fakes. That’s annoying, but nothing compared to what happens next. Dre would never let you eavesdrop into a terrifying conversation on one of his legitimate products. These fake headphones, however, do just that. Always buy the real thing, folks!

THIS MORNING I WOKE UP, AND I HAVE AN EXTRA KID

WHY IT’S FREAKY: Kids – the most frightening monster of all.

This is the stuff of actual nightmares. A mum wakes up to find that her usual kids are there, no problem, except that they have a new sibling. Oh, and she also has a new cat. The best thing about stories like this is how seriously the commenters take them. Here, there are recommendations to see a doctor, and some good insights into the possibility that demons did it: “I've never heard of demons messing with people's memories, but I guess I couldn't put it past them. I don't know what they would get out of doing that though.”