Internet Urban Legends That Are as Scary as the Slender Man

candle cove
'Channel Zero: Candle Cove' | SyFy
'Channel Zero: Candle Cove' | SyFy

HBO's Beware the Slenderman has thrust the titular internet menace into the spotlight once again. But the suit-wearing, faceless, and fictional ghoul, who inspired the gruesome in-real-life crime detailed in the doc, represents just one of countless spooky urban legends to have proliferated over the years on repositories for the hair-raising, purportedly true tales known as creepypastas. If the Slender Man fascinates you enough to make you crave more scares, take a look at some of the other frightening stories we've found lurking online.

In the late 1990s, Disney sought to build something called Mowgli's Palace near Emerald Isle, North Carolina. Slimebeast relays what happens when one intrepid researcher investigates the forsaken resort. Careful: After reading, you'll never think about Mickey Mouse the same way again.

This camping trip gone awry is one of the more psychologically thrilling entries here. A group of teens carelessly venturing into the wilderness is usually a bad idea, but things get really bad after a goatman -- i.e., a mythical shape-shifting forest dweller -- manages to slip into the group unnoticed, tormenting them and running them away from its home. (Fans should check out Endless Stairs' 25-minute "Weirdo," a video short based on the infamous beast.) 

This Kris Straub concoction originally unfolded as a fictitious NetNostalgia forum thread, one in which users recalled chilling details from a paranormal children's TV show that should have never been. Last year, the wildly popular creepypasta was adapted into the first installment of Syfy's legitimately great Channel Zero anthology series.

Two old pals reconnect via email after one receives a news story detailing a grisly murder-suicide. The culprit? Someone from their old "Saturday night gang." This sprawling trail of electronic correspondence tracks the duo's attempt to investigate what drove their friend to kill. Written as a companion piece to a feature-film pitch, "Dionaea" is immersive and riveting. (Fun fact: The author is Eric Heisserer, who just earned an Oscar nomination for his Arrival adaptation and who also helped pen 2016's Lights Out.)

Leave shit that isn't yours on the ground. Brief and heartbreaking, this story follows one schoolboy who learns this lesson the hard way.

Nathan's girlfriend died in 2012. For some reason, her Facebook account is very much active and alive. Pics or lying? If you insist.

One house. Nine rooms. Make it through all of them and you win $500. The rules are simple, but the story of this deceptively creepy haunted house attraction isn't. Written by Brian Russell, "NoEnd House" is Channel Zero's next installment, set to air later this year.

If a chain letter comes with a mysterious hyperlink, most people have the mind not to click. This creepypasta details what happened to one internet explorer who clicked and found a disturbing website devoted to the eradication of abnormal sexuality. NSFW is an understatement.

Dathan Auerbach's Penpal follows an unnamed protagonist who learns that several unsettling memories of his childhood are all linked by the same thing: a stalker. Originally serialized as a set of shorts on Reddit, the story became so popular Auerbach revised and expanded his writings into a cohesive novel.

If you frequented Portland arcades in 1981, you might have encountered Polybius, an addicting puzzle game that left players with nausea, headaches, amnesia, and nightmares. So goes the urban legend, which also mentions men in black and cryptic "records." 

In the late 1940s, Russian researchers used an experimental gas-based stimulant to keep five political prisoners awake for 15 days. In other words, expect a horrific account that reveals why everyone needs their beauty sleep.

"I've always been a night person," writes the author. "To pass the time, I used to go for long walks and spend the time thinking." What follows is a brief, albeit unsettling, encounter with a creeping, smiling man -- in the dead of night, in empty streets. This one's hard to forget, because as the OP notes, unpredictable people are often more frightening than any of the ghosts and devils our imaginations conjure.

Roughly one year ago, a Search and Rescue officer began posting stories of his weird forest encounters on Reddit's "nosleep" hub. The first post, here, briefly mentioned an unforgettable oddity: "On just about every case where we're really far into the wilderness, I'm talking 30 or 40 miles, at some point we'll find a staircase in the middle of the woods." These stairs quickly became a point of fascination for commenters, inspiring the OP to share more encounters and interview friends who had similar experiences. (Bonus: This topic has its own special subreddit.)

This long saga, written as an online journal, chronicles three friends' journey into a cave they find close to their home. Complete with original photography and vivid description, it's a spellbinding read.

Since January 2006, more than 2,000 people have said that this man has appeared in their dreams. Which theory do you believe?

"Welcome to Boothworld Industries. My name is Samantha and I will be your operator today. Name?” Careful what you say, because the term "remodeling" takes on a twisted new definition in this plea for help-turned-invitation. If you're too freaked out to call the number, don't worry: We know of someone who has.

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Sean Fitz-Gerald is a staff writer at Thrillist Entertainment and scares easily. Haunt him on Twitter @srkfitzgerald.