This episode was originally released on October 05, 2018.
In celebration of Halloween, we're airing spooky tales from our archives. Our last terrifying story comes from a guy named Alex. He spoke to Ben and Amory, as did a few of his friends mentioned in the story. Do you believe him?
Thanks to Redditor u/MikePhillipsArt for this week's artwork, "Inktober Haunted House."
This content was originally created for audio. The transcript has been edited from our original script for clarity. Heads up that some elements (i.e. music, sound effects, tone) are harder to translate to text.
Amory Sivertson: Happy Halloween!
Ben Brock Johnson: Happy Halloween, mwhahahaha! (Laughs.)
Amory: Mwahahaha. (Laughs.)
Ben: Amory, it was fun seeing some people in real life, some die hard fans for our Halloween event. That was cool.
Amory: Yeah, thank you so much to everyone who came to our bots kick off event on Friday. That series actually starts actually Friday. And we gave a little taste of it on stage. But we're getting into the sometimes creepy, always surprising, potentially troubling, maybe exciting world of bots.
Ben: Keep going.
Amory: I know, right? That felt like a, like a slam poet today. But right now because it is Halloween, we have one more scary story for you from the archives. And this is a favorite of mine.
Ben: It's a classic! Yeah, yeah, we went diving into the crates to pull this dusty LP out. And it's, it's gonna, and it's gonna, when the needle drops, it'll drop you. Get ready.
Amory: Whoa. Yeah, we have a classic haunted house story for you. And whether you're hearing it for the first time, or the second time, or the tenth time.
Ben: If you're listening to this for the tenth time you need to ... you need to
listen to our other episodes.
Amory: No, you do you. Don't listen to Ben. You do you. If you like this one. I do, too.
Ben: Yeah, we count the listens. It's fine.
Amory: Yeah. Have a very spooky, safe, wonderful day.
Ben: Yeah. And eat all the candy but not all the candy. If you know what I mean. You know what I mean?
Amory: I know what you mean. And yet this is the day I'd say go hard. Regret is for tomorrow. You know?
Ben: (Laughs.) Yeah. Tonight, we tonight we binge.
Amory: Podcasts and candies of our choice.
Amory: And then Friday. It's bots baby. So, we'll see you then.
Ben: Get ready for some bots. Okay. Goodbye.
Josh, Amory, Ben.
Ben: Oh yes, the three Endless Thread production team amigos back together on microphones. And you know what that means?
Josh: Snacktime? Like the thing where we eat tasty snacks and talk about Reddit stories?
Amory: The Halloween version of Snacktime.
Ben: Yep. All throughout the month of October, Endless Thread is bringing you scary stories from Reddit. Stories of the supernatural...
Amory: Stories about children and creepy moments with family photo albums...
Josh: A story about zombie ants.
Ben: And a story about a creeping searing feeling of impending doom. Josh had the genius idea of calling this series not Snacktime, but Screamtime.
Ben: And to introduce Scream Time I think we should all give our best Halloween scream. You guys ready?
Amory: Oh, sure.
Ben: 3, 2, 1.
(All scream in unison.)
Ben: I'm Ben Brock Johnson and you are listening to Endless Thread, the show featuring stories from the vast ecosystem of online communities called Reddit. I'm here with my co host, Amory Sivertson and producer Josh Swartz and we're coming to you from Boston's NPR station WBUR.
Ben: When I say "haunted house" Amory, what comes up in your mind?
Amory: I'm afraid of most houses in general. So I'd say anything that has more rooms than people living in it. Like, if there are a bunch of empty rooms and a house, they've got to be haunted.
Ben: Josh, what about you?
Josh: I think about all those horror movies where there's like a group of unsuspecting teenagers who decide for some unbeknownst reason to investigate something in a haunted house that clearly does not need further investigating.
Ben: Yeah. All right. Well, I think of the intro to that show, Tales from the Crypt with the skeleton in the basement that pops out of the coffin. You guys know what I'm talking about?
Amory: No. Sounds like another dated Ben Brock Johnson reference.
Ben: I guess this, this old decrepit skeleton is showing his age.
(Tales from the Crypt clip.)
Ben: Okay, this story we found is a kind of classic haunted house story. troubled teens hanging out where they don't belong, symbolism, holy water. It's got it all. But it has this added layer of strangeness to it because it really happened. According to the guy who wrote about the experience on Reddit.
Alex Sophie: Hi, my name is Alex's Sophie. My dad is from Afghanistan and my mom was from Puerto Rico. I live out in Martinez, California. I'm 27 years-old.
Amory: Alex grew up in California's Central Valley. As a teenager he was pretty skeptical of the supernatural.
Alex: Before what happened those nights I didn't really believe in ghosts or none of that. That was something new. It was always a scary stories you heard about a friend's friend and, and whatnot. But after those visits to that house, I became a firm believer that you, I cannot be convinced otherwise.
Yeah, Ryan I, I met him when I was in third grade actually. We met riding bikes. He was outside riding his bike, I was outside riding my bike. So for four years, we would just bond over riding bikes, taking them through the fields, riding him off makeshift ramps, trying to race cars, and then we just grew up. And then eventually we got into exploring abandoned homes.
So the story takes place in Modesto, California, the city I grew up in round, my freshman year, junior year, so 2006 to 2008, during the housing crisis.
Ben: It's been 10 years. So you kind of forget that there were whole neighborhoods that got turned into ghost towns by the housing crisis.
Amory: Or neighborhoods where it was more like an encroaching blight. Certain streets were like mouths with random rotting teeth. Alex's hometown was one of those.
Alex: Here and there, you'd see abandoned houses. Some of them look like they were hit pretty hard. Other kids and gang members would tag it up and break into it and just smash it to pieces.
It was just me and Ryan. At first. We saw all these abandoned houses and we were like, why not? Let's go inside. We always set out around 12 AM. I always dressed dark so it blend in dark, dark colors blend in with a night. And I tried to bring as little with me as possible just travel light so that way I can run a lot faster from whatever. Ryan is funny. You always had this. It wasn't really a trench coat, but it was like this military jacket. And he could shove so much like stuff in there. And so he did exactly what he would do just put a bunch of knives or, or whatever he needed. He didn't travel light, he was the artillery. The front yard was fenced off. And outside of the fence. There was a there was no sidewalk it was gravel. Backyard was not kept well. Grass was pretty tall. I had this really crappy flip phone. That was our only source of light. I remember he had a pick the brightest background and they set the thing full to full bright, brightness. And that was our source of light. There's a door that leads straight into the garage. And in the garage is another door that goes into the kitchen. Both those doors were unlocked. And that's how we got in. It was empty. There was no furniture and none of that. So after we did our full round through the house, we found ourselves back in the kitchen. And above the kitchen doorway there was a bronze shield ornament hanging above. It didn't even look nice honestly, it looked old, dirty. After I pulled it down. I did take a look at it. And then I was I was just too lazy to put it back up. I tried putting it back on the hooks but I just couldn't figure it out. So I threw it at my feet and as I did that I took a step into the further into the kitchen where Ryan was standing. And as I took that step, I could hear something slide across the floor, like it was the marble floor, and I could hear something slide across it and it hit the wall. So me and Ryan kind of just sat there staring at each other kind of scared because we didn't know what the hell that was. So we both go down there to go see what it was.
Amory: This is freaky, but Ryan and Alex investigate and they're relieved to find the shield. Alex thinks he kicked it by accident when he took a step in.
Ben: I mean, he doesn't actually believe that. But that's what they agreed to tell each other. And they figure out how to place it backward originally was above the kitchen doorway.
Alex: And then I took another step and back into the kitchen and behind me, I can hear the metal hit the floor and slide across the ground again. There was definitely someone in the house, like there had to be someone else in there with us. And we were just too scared to go any further. So we left through that back door that was in the, in the backroom. And we started to make her way home.
And I think like a week goes by. I think I mentioned it to a few friends. So we're just like, "No, no, that didn't happen. Let's go check it out." So we we took them with us
we went to the same way, the door was still unlocked through the garage and and through the kitchen. As I'm walking into the garage, I noticed this shelf full of light bulbs. And I'm the last one into the house to the kitchen. And as I shut the door behind me, it sounds like someone was just pulling the light bulbs out of their boxes, and just throwing them on the ground. You see just all the glass just breaking on the floor. And we all froze. And I was super scared because I was next door. So I thought someone was just going to run inside and you know, just attack us.
Ben: The friends who had come to the house for the first time are fully spooked. One of them says, "That's it. I'm out." So the group decides to leave, and they get out of the house as fast as they can through the back door and into the long grass.
Alex: I'm about midway through the backyard and I turned around. And I noticed Ryan's not right behind me still inside the house. And he's staring down the hallway. He's doing like a lean behind a wall, looking down the hallway. But against that wall, there was a door that was off its hinges. And I'm calling Ryan. I'm like, "Yo, it's time to go. We're leaving." And he's not listening to me. So I call him a few more times. I'm just like "Ryan, right, right. I get progressively louder. And then finally he like he looks at and then he takes a step forward. And I can see the door. It looked like someone tried to slam the door on top of it. That's when he ran towards me. And I was like holy s*** dude, the door just like flew on top of you. And we both just like ran towards the group.
Amory: Once the kids scramble out of the yard and into the street where there's more light, one of the new explorers says there's something wrong with his leg, where he feels this terrible burning sensation.
Alex: And he pulls up his pants and sure enough, he's got three scratches that go up his, that start from his ankle and go like midway through his calf.
Amory: These scratches clawed up the kids leg, they look really weird. The kid who got them has no explanation. He's just terrified.
Alex: He was like, I'm never going back there ever again.
Amory: That kid didn't. But Alex and Ryan, guess what? They went back.
Ben: Why Amory why? Why did they go back? Hubris, foolishness who knows what inspires these horror movie moves? Either way, we're going back into the house with them in a minute.
Amory: It would be easy to write off Alex's haunted house story, except we have someone to corroborate it.
AJ: My name is AJ. Alex is a friend and Ryan's my brother. Alex is the kind of guy that if he if he sees something or whatever happens in a situation like it could be anything. He gets excited about it, but he doesn't exaggerate, pretty much take him at his word.
Ryan and Alex came back one night like they I mean, just like any other night, you know, after school, they would go off on their adventure and just roam the city. Well, they came back with a story and was like, "Dude, this crazy stuff happened." You know, of course, I'm like, "Yeah, right." But they're like, "Yeah, dude, let's go. Let's go look at it. We'll show you."
Ben: And when AJ gets there with his little brother Ryan and Alex, the vibe of the place immediately just doesn't sit right with AJ.
AJ: It looks like he has not been taken care of in months and You know, I was thinking it could be like a homeless person who was sleeping there or something. But I think if it was a homeless person, one of us would have seen or heard a person.
Amory: This time before the guys go into the house. That case the joint a little more from the outside.
AJ: I kind of wanted to take a closer look at the house and next to the house. There were some bushes, so I kind of stepped closer in that direction. I start to get really scared for some reason, like this sense of dread just came over me. And I, as I'm turning away to walk towards the group, some something from the corner of my eye, it's hard to say what it was but a look like something jumped out of the bushes, some black humanoid thing jumped out of the bushes and into the tall grass. And it did this really weird...motion. It looked like from the corner of my eye, I did it like a leapfrog out of the bushes and then into the tall grass. And I snapped my head over real quick. And I was and nothing was there. I didn't see anything. So I was like holy s***, like what was that? Did I really see something out of the corner of my eye? I kind of like hustle over to the group. And I was like, "Yo, I think I think I just saw some something."
AJ: And then we're like, you know, we kind of just like take a glance and look and we don't see anyone. So we just like kind of like brush it off and ignore it.
Alex: We make our way to the kitchen. And we're chatting in the kitchen, I'm sitting on the windowsill, and across to me is AJ and he's looking inside the living room.
AJ: I feel like a tugging on the back of my shirt. And just like you know, just like thinking it's one of the guys. I'm like, Hey, dude, knock it off. There's nobody behind me. I'm realizing that everybody's in front of me.
Alex: And as AJ is turning around to face us. To me it looked like someone pulled them into the room like they wrapped a rope around his waist and whatever it was just yanked him into the room. He was so scared like he was hanging on to the walls for dear life. I keep, he was just smacking everything just trying to hold on to something but it pulled them hard. And he couldn't hold on to the doorframe. So he fell on his butt. And as soon as he fell on his butt, he jumped up. And he ran over to me.
AJ: And then I'm like, okay, that's that's when I was like yeah, it's it's time to go.
Alex: And he was like, I want to get the f*** out of here. And on our way home, that's where I noticed Ryan starts to have, well, Ryan mentioned his pain on his back and he's he's grimacing pretty, pretty hard. And I've known Ryan for years, he's got the highest pain tolerance I've ever in anyone I've ever met.
AJ: You could pop him in the face and he would just smile and throw the punches right back. Act like nothing. So Alex lifts up a shirt and he sees like a it's like a big scratch like, it looks like somebody with like three fingers or a claw or something. And well I'm gonna say it looks like somebody with three fingers just like scratched him from his shoulder all the way down to like his his hip.
Alex: You can imagine it like someone took a little tiny metal wire and scratched your downtown your leg or something and it left the thinnest scratch but he was he was deep he drew blood. And then we started making our way home further and then he he noticed his his pocket knife is missing.
AJ: My brother Ryan he had this pocket knife. And that he always carried him he always had a knife.
Alex: And he was like, I gotta go back for that. I was pissed off. I was like, dude, how did you how did you lose that?
AJ: You know, at first we were just like, you know, we'll come back in the morning or or it's gone. He was just like, No, dude this my favorite knife.
Alex: So I of course I'm not gonna let him go back in there alone. So we go, we both go back.
Amory: This is a terrible idea. But they do it anyway.
Ben: And immediately when they get into the house, the guys realize they've made a big mistake, this house has come alive.
Alex: That's when the banging out really loud the banging and what it was. We think something was getting thrown. Whenever we would leave a room if the thrashing would start behind us and then we would hear throwing further down in front of us. Just sound like someone was thrashing inside the walls. And we could hear it all throughout the house.
Amory: Every time they race into another room to confront whoever or whatever is doing this. The sound moves elsewhere in the house. And worse, the guys can't find the knife in any of the rooms.
AJ: I mean there was nothing no evidence of his knife anywhere like no hallway, no bedroom it was it was gone.
Ben: So they decided to get out of there before something really bad happens. They head towards the kitchen and the front door.
Alex: And as we creep up on the front door, my light starts to show more and more. And you can see that big a** knife like someone with all their all their might, shoved it into the door. But we heard nothing, no sound and that was definitely going to make a sound out of these make a huge step throughout the whole house, but we heard absolutely nothing. And the knife was just sticking in the door. So we grabbed the knife, and we went home and I never went back after that.
AJ: I don't think I ever went back after that.
Alex: I don't do stuff like that anymore. I don't know if it was the house. But I grew out of it at a time. But I every every house I went to after that, I always deep down I was afraid that it would happen again. Me and Ryan would always question what if this house is just like that old one?
Ben: Why do you think you never got scratched?
Alex: That's a good, that's a good question. Ryan at his house, he had holy water. And every night before I went out, I would dump my hands in there. Make the sign of the cross over my over my body just to protect me from whatever was gonna happen on the night. And I honestly think it was the holy water.
It was vacant for a while, until I'm not sure who moved in but they had some old lady there. And she was creepy. I'm sure her hair was really thin and she kind of looked always like she was in a daze. Sitting on her porch. Every time I walked by the house, I always stared at it. And sometimes she'd be outside staring back at me
for the people who don't believe it, I don't believe me. It sounds crazy. It sounds like I made it up. I swear on my life. Everything in that Reddit post and everything I've said today is true.
Amory: While we were getting the story from Alex and AJ, we were having trouble getting one more important voice. Ryan. The other guys said he works long shifts. And he's not really into answering his phone. But one day we called and he
Ryan Date: Yeah, my name is Ryan Date. I live in Modesto, California. And I was one of the other guys that went into the house. I remember hearing that, it used to be like an old like an older kind of like join living old folks home.
Ben: What about the scratches? You got scratched one night, right?
Ryan: Oh, yeah, yeah, actually. Like my brother was there at the time. I'm not 100% Sure. As we were leaving, I just had this burning pain in my back. I lifted up my shirt and I guess there was three long stretch marks from like the top of my neck all the way down to my lower back.
Ben: What did you think it was when you first discovered that?
Ryan: Honestly, at that point, I did think it was something like paranormal ghosts. We are present do believe in the paranormal now. Not like you see in the movies. But definitely very close to.
Amory: The kicker of this whole story is, I suppose, what this house has become?
Ben: Yeah, people do live there. Now. It's an old folks home and we called the company that runs the home to try to talk to them. And they would not talk to us.
Employee: Yeah, I'm not authorized to give any information out.
Alex: In a way that's okay. Because as AJ said, there's this school of thought where the more you talk about paranormal stuff, the more you might be affected by it. So maybe it's better we don't tell them anything else.
Amory: Well, next week, we've got another screentime story for you a chilling account from Reddit. About a creature that hits you with venom so powerful, it makes you want to die.
"If somebody had offered me a gun. It just go on Thank you. I'm off the planet."
Ben: That's next week's episode of Endless Thread's Screamtime.