Between August of 2017 and February of 2018, writer, illustrator, and cartoonist Adam Ellis captivated the internet with what became known as the “Dear David” story — a ghost story Ellis alleged was unfolding in his own apartment. What made the tale notable was the way in which it was told: Ellis revealed each installment through Twitter, keeping his followers on tenterhooks for an extended period of time. But Dear David isn’t the only creepy horror story to have unfolded on Twitter; following Ellis’ adventures with the ghost boy allegedly stalking him (which he still maintains to this day actually happened), more and more creative types began to embrace Twitter as a storytelling medium — one that’s particularly well-suited to telling spooky, scary tales.
Scary, spooky tales like these ones.
To be fair, creative folks with a penchant for storytelling have been experimenting with social media to tell spooky tales for almost as long as it’s been around. In the early days of YouTube, there were web series such as lonelygirl15, the Wyoming Incident, and the Louise Paxton mystery; on Facebook, there was the short film Take This Lollipop; there was even Sickhouse, a feature film shot entirely on Snapchat. But Dear David underlined how Twitter specifically might be used to tell these kinds of stories — and the outpouring of chilling tales that has continued ever since is proof that there’s still plenty more where all of these came from.
Here are seven horror stories that, like Dear David, unfolded on Twitter. They might be real; they might be fictional; or they might be a little bit of both. Regardless, though, they’re spooky as heck.
You might want to keep the lights on tonight while you sleep.
1. The Haunted Cabin
For the last few days of March 2019, Australian writer Tom Taylor, who has written for a variety of Marvel titles in addition to co-creating the television series The Deep, retreated to a cozy cabin in Victoria to get some work done away from the distractions of everyday life. He realized as soon as he got there, though, that the cabin was more creepy than cozy — and, as it turned out, he probably wasn’t alone there. From unseen wind chimes ringing in the middle of the night to mysterious packages arriving at his door unbidden, Taylor’s “productive” weekend turned out to be more than he’d bargained for — and he live-tweeted the whole thing, posting short video clips as he went.
Taylor’s haunted cabin tale resembles Dear David in some respects, from the interactive nature of it to the fact that it starts believably enough before becoming obviously fictional. What I think makes Taylor’s story work so well, though — so much so that I think it’s ultimately more successful than Dear David was — is that it had a clear and delineated endpoint: Since Taylor was only staying in the cabin for four days, he had exactly that long to tell the story — no more, no less. It also feels satisfying enough in its arc that I don’t think he was just making it up as it went along (which makes sense, when you consider what he does for a living).
The ending is particularly effective. Make sure you watch — and listen — to all of the videos he posted throughout the story. Then head here. Pay attention to the last few seconds.
What do you hear?
2. The Doppelganger
Right around the time that Dear David started terrorizing Adam Ellis, Spanish screenwriter and cartoonist Manuel Bartual went on vacation. Two days in, everything was fine — but then, something… odd happened: A man — a stranger — opened Bartual’s hotel room and just walked in. The door had been locked, of course. Like most modern hotels, the door locked automatically and opened only with the correct key card. So how had the man gotten in?
Bartual didn’t know, but he was unnerved by the man’s behavior — he spoke at great speed in garbled sentences, with his words all in the wrong order. Eventually he left, but Bartual was naturally concerned, so he went down to reception and had the lock on his door re-programed.
Soon, though, other things started happening: Objects appeared in his hotel room that didn’t belong there. Other items — his personal property — went missing. And he began to feel as if he was being followed. Eventually, it became clear that someone was following him — someone who looked exactly like he did. He didn’t know what “the other Manuel,” as Bartual began calling him wanted… but whatever it was, it wasn’t good.
Bartual tweeted about his adventures — or, perhaps more accurately, misadventures — with his doppelganger in real time; at the end, though, he came clean and informed his followers that it was all a piece of fiction he had put together with the help of his partner and child while they were on vacation together. The tale was chilling and unique, though, and kept Twitter occupied for days as the plot thickened. The original thread is in Spanish; you can find it here. Bartual later created an account specifically to host the English translation of the thread, too, though, which you can find here.
Be careful the next time you go on vacation.
3. The Greg Thread
The Greg Thread, as it came to be known, starts with a familiar setup: Someone — the titular Greg, in this case, tweeting from the handle @gr3gory88 — inherits a piece of property from an estranged relative; weirdness ensues. Part The Blair Witch Project, part The Strangers, and part… something else, Greg’s story unfolded between the end of October 2018 and the beginning of January 2019 — and as he attempted to get to the bottom of what was going on in the woods surrounding the old house he’d inherited from his grandfather, it became apparent that whatever it was, it happened each and every fall.
The events were cyclical. Cyclical, and gruesome.
Unlike some other Twitter-told horror stories, this one doesn’t start slow and gain steam in terms of the creep factor; it’s pretty clear right off the bat that it’s fiction. (Actually, it’s the sort of story I would have expected to see in a YouTube web series, rather than on Twitter.) But although it might not be quite as well constructed as some of the other tales on this list, it’s still engrossing; you can check it out here. (The story is the only thing on the Twitter account, despite the fact that the account was originally created many years before the story began — I’d recommend just scrolling all the way to the beginning of the feed and working your way up to read the whole thing in sequence.)
It’s worth noting, by the way, that Greg hasn’t tweeted anything since January. I’ll be curious to see whether the story picks up again sometime soon, though; he did note, after all, that if whatever was going on at the house happens every year, then maybe there was something he could do next time. “I have to try,” he said.
We’ll find out soon whether he’s got something in mind.
To be fair, this one is less of a story in the traditional, has-a-beginning-middle-and-end sense and more of a meandering episodic adventure — but it is still magnificent, and it is definitely worth your time. On June 1, Twitter user The Nerdy Vixen brought home a doll she had spotted in an antique store some time ago — and ever since her tweet about her find went viral, she’s been documenting what life is like with Abigail, as she named the doll. Abigail enjoys pizza. She gets along with the cat. She even has her very own chair.
But unlike, say, Annabelle, Abigail seems to be mostly benign (for now, at least); maybe she just wanted someone to love her. As the Nerdy Vixen tweeted after bringing her home, “She may have a spirit. When I brought her home, I felt a really sad/lonely vibe from her. But I honestly don’t feel it as much now. If there is a spirit attached, it’s happy to be home.”
Abigail even has her own Twitter account now; you can find her @abigail_haunted, AKA Abigail: The Totally Not Haunted Doll, where you can follow along as she makes new friends and learns how to enjoy the finer things in life. She’s also on Instagram @abigail_haunted. I for one wish Abigail a long and happy life in her new home.
5. The Ryan Thread
This one is definitely one of the most mysterious stories on the list — largely because it’s not clear whether it’s fictional or not. We also can’t reexamine the original thread anymore, as the Twitter account that originally posted it has since been suspended. Horror YouTuber Nexpo documented it at the time it unfolded, however, so we do have some record of it, at least — and it’s… an adventure.
Not like the Greg Thread, the Ryan Thread gets its name from the moniker attached to the Twitter handle responsible for it: When the thread was tweeted in August of 2017, the handle’s display name was “ryan :$” (the @ name, meanwhile, was @Iustforlove). The story details what happened when the titular Ryan dog sat for a neighbor — and, uh… if the story is real? Someone should probably use the appropriate channels to make sure that dog gets rescued. Besides the fact that the owner allegedly kept it in a crate the majority of the time, the house in which the owner and the dog lived didn’t look incredible safe.
The owner was a bit off-putting from the get go, Ryan said, tweeting that there was a lot of unwanted touching and physical contact when they went to meet the dog and get the rundown on its care. Then, the first night Ryan spent in the house, they found that a lot of the lights didn’t work, that a lot of the doors were locked, and that one room had an incredible creepy doll sitting it. On a little doll-sized chair. Alone.
(The doll could definitely give Abigail a run for her money.)
Ultimately, Ryan got too freaked out to stay the night, opting to leave at 1 a.m. instead of waiting until daylight. And… that’s it. That’s the thread. Ryan finished by saying that they were never going back to that house. The end. We still don’t know if was real or not, but either way, it was freaky as heck.
6. Red Monkey
It started one day in August of 2018, when Spanish programmer Nela García found a mobile phone just lying in the street in Madrid. The phone had very few apps on it; it didn’t even have a lock code, enabling her to access what little was there without any issue. Among the apps it did have, though, were Instagram and Facebook, both of which were logged into an account belonging to someone from Madrid named Marta Gutiérrez. She thought the phone must belong to this woman — to Marta Gutiérrez.
But the photos on the apps weren’t of Marta Gutiérrez. After a bit of online sleuthing, Nela discovered they actually belonged to an American named Beatrice Williams — and that Beatrice had died eight years ago.
As she dug deeper into the mystery of the phone, Nela began to wonder if the whole thing was connected with some kind of viral game — an alternate reality game of some sort, perhaps. And, indeed, it turned out that some of the few messages on the phone, which were nothing but strings of numbers, turned out to be global coordinates.
But it got weirder. And scarier.
Someone broke into Nela’s mother’s house and recorded a video of the two of them while they were asleep.
It all spun out from there — although of course, it ultimately turned out to be a piece of creatively told fiction. Like the doppelganger story, Red Monkey, as the story is called, was created by Manuel Bartual, this time with some help from fellow writer and designer Modesto Garcia. They later released a Twitter Moment talking about exactly how they put the story together; check it out here if you’re interested in a look behind the scenes.
7. The Voicemail
On March 13, 2018, a Twitter user going by the name Ty and tweeting from the handle @strayedaway received a phone call. His phone rang while he was driving, so he (wisely) didn’t pick up and let it go to voicemail instead. When he checked his messages later on, he heard something strange: The recording left in his inbox was a long sequence of code words from the NATO phonetic alphabet and a series of numbers — which, when decoded, read, “Danger SOS it is dire for you to evacuate be cautious they are not human SOS danger SOS” and a bunch of coordinates.
“I am throwing my phone away,” Ty wrote.
The next day, he got a weird DM in a language that turned out to be Indonesian telling him to delete his Twitter post about the voicemail. Ty tweeted that message, too — and also drew attention to something he had tweeted about a few days before the voicemail’s arrival: Some random person approached his house at three o’clock in the morning and started taking flash photographs of it.
More DMs followed, and the plot continued to thicken. It eventually came out that the coordinates in the very first voicemail were located quite near where Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 went down, giving rise to the most popular theory about the message — that it might somehow be the lost airplane’s black box recording — and as new coded messages came in, tweeted out by Ty in the in hopes that someone would be able to help him get to the bottom of it.
But alas, this story doesn’t have a satisfying conclusion. It has largely been debunked; for the reasons YouTuber ReignBot explained in the video embedded above, the black box theory doesn’t make sense — on top of the fact that the theory was originally pushed by a fake news site, as Snopes’ page on the topic notes. What’s more, several Redditors were able to show that the original voicemail was likely faked as well. But from there, the story just sort of… petered out. The original tweet has been deleted, as well — and, indeed, the @strayedaway Twitter account was even deactivated for a time. It was all clearly some sort of hoax, although to what end, no one knows.
Or at least, no one knows except “Ty,” whoever he is. And he’s not talking.
We do know that some of these stories are fiction — but how many of them could be real? That's the beauty of this kind of storytelling; it blurs the line between fact and fiction in a way that makes the whole experience deliciously spooky.
That's assuming they ultimately all are fictional, of course.
Because if they're real?
...Let's just hope they're not.