911 Scary Story

Main Piece

JJ was on a trip with some friends his senior year of high school, and they stayed in a cabin in the woods in Maine. He says this is a true story:

“It was from one of my friend’s friends who lives in Boston. This is why she says she’s never gonna live alone again.

She was living alone and she heard her front door open in the middle of the night. She goes to check it out, the doors are shut and she thinks she must be imagining things. She goes back to her room and hears noises coming from her living room area. She thinks ‘there has to be someone in my apartment.’

She’s freaked out and goes into the living room and nobody’s there. She calls 911 and they answer and she tells them `somebody broke into my apartment. I’m scared and I think there’s someone in here, I’m gonna hide in my laundry room.’

They ask where the phones in her house are. She has a phone in kitchen, dining room, and laundry room. They tell her they’re gonna send people on their way, but ‘whatever you do, don’t go into your laundry room.’

The police arrive, scan the apartment. She’s been in her room. They go into the laundry room. They find a man hiding behind the laundry room door with a knife.

She’s ecstatic. ‘How did you know there was somebody in the laundry room?’

When she called 911, they heard somebody breathing on the line, not her. The man had picked up the phone in laundry room to listen, and they figured it out.”

Informant background

JJ is a student at the University of Southern California. He is from Newburyport, MA.

Performance context

This story was told during a folklore collection event that I set up with a diversity of members from the USC men’s Ultimate Frisbee team. We were in a classic folklore collection setting: sharing drinks around a campfire, in a free flowing conversation.


JJ’s story, along with every scary story I collected for this project, professes to be a “true story.” While the plausibility of this is in question, the effect of even the plausibility of this story having happened causes an extra layer of fear and fascination for the story—especially since the story is almost always told while the listeners are actually at the site.