Every month, I ask BuzzFeed readers like you to share their creepiest real-life experiences. From true crime to the paranormal to glitches in the matrix, I've read it all. That being said, this just may be the creepiest bunch of submissions I have ever received. You've been warned. Some of these are kind of a long read but, I promise, they're worth it. So, without further ado, let's get into it:
1."When I was in college, I lived off campus with a roommate. Our apartment complex had a shuttle to campus, which was very convenient. So, I was sitting in the shuttle one day when I heard a voice as clear as if it was spoken by one of the other students riding alongside me. It said, 'Your grandmother is going to die, and you are going to miss your economics test.' I looked around, and no one appeared to have said anything. It creeped me out, obviously, but it was also confusing because I had two tests the upcoming week, and the econ test was later in the week."
"When I got home, I was pale and shaky, so my roommate asked what was wrong. I told her what I'd heard, and she immediately dismissed it, blaming exam stress. She got me a beer, and I sat down.
As soon as I opened it, the phone rang. It was my mother calling to tell me that they did not expect my grandmother to live through the night, so I should pack a bag and come home, which I did. My grandmother passed away that evening.
The weirdest part is, I drove back to school two days later for one exam, but my econ exam was on the day of her funeral, so the voice was completely correct."
2."One winter, I came back to my on-campus apartment shortly after a snow storm. Fresh snow about a foot and a half deep was covering every exposed part of the ground, including right up to the back door of the apartment. It was a townhouse-style place — the ground floor included a general living space, the kitchen, and a dining room with a large window. My roommate was out of town that week, so it was just me in the place, and I had a habit of making sure the back light was on at night because we'd had people come up and knock at the back door before. When I walked over to flip on that light, I spotted a pair of very fresh boot prints just standing and facing the dining room window, and a greasy face print like someone had been peering in."
"There were no prints coming or going, and they hadn't been filled in by the snow. I called and asked a friend to stay over that night and never did find out who had been out there. It happened a couple more times over the winter, too."
3."I have 4-year-old twins, and one of them tells a lot of stories about things that happened 'when she was older than she is now.' These stories are usually either pure fantasy ('When I was your age, I drove a unicorn to my work.') or obviously self-serving ('I didn’t have a car seat when I was older.'). But some of them...are a little different. One day, the three of us were eating lunch together, and she started to get upset out of nowhere. I asked her what was wrong, and she said, 'When I was grandma’s age, my whole family got dead, and I was all alone.' Her twin sister got this look on her face like she had just remembered something, and she said, 'Oh yeah, you were sad. That’s why I brought you with me.' And then they shared a little smile and went back to eating chicken nuggets like nothing had happened."
4."Before we were married, my husband and I lived together in a tiny studio apartment in an old 1930s building. Since we’re both big horror fans, we decided one night to finally check out the show American Horror Story for the first time. We ended up marathoning half of the first season, watching late into the night and finally going to bed around 2 a.m. Of course, we were thoroughly creeped out and on edge by the time we went to bed, but in a good way! About two hours later, we were abruptly woken up by the sound of loud TV static. Somehow, while we were sleeping, the TV had gotten switched on."
"I was, of course, very startled by the loud noise, but I was especially confused because this was one of those TVs that automatically muted itself whenever there’s static. You would have to intentionally go out of your way to turn the volume up in order to hear the static. I quickly got out of bed to turn it off, and when I got over to the TV, I looked to my right and noticed that the door to our apartment was wide open. Since this was a studio, the door to our bedroom led directly into the main hallway of the building.
I personally don’t believe in ghosts, but given the choice between something paranormal versus an unidentified stranger coming into our apartment while we slept to turn on our TV, I’m really hoping it was paranormal. We’d never met anyone else who lived in the building, so it’s unlikely that it was someone we knew pulling a prank. What I can’t explain is, if it was a person, how did the culprit disappear so quickly? Since we woke up the instant the TV static came on, you would think we would have at least seen someone dashing out the door. We searched through the apartment, and there was no one there."
5."My fiancé and I were stalked by a serial killer, and I eventually caught him in the act. This was in the summer of 1969 in the San Francisco Bay Area. We had a recurring night visitor at the bedroom window of our ground floor apartment over the course of a couple months. Late one night, I was home alone and went to bed. It was very hot, so I opened the full length window. Soon after, I heard footsteps on the grass coming up to the window. So, I crept over and yanked the thin curtains back. There was a man standing there not two feet away through the screen. I screamed at him. He just calmly stared at me. Eventually, he turned slowly and walked away. I was having none of it, so I ran out the door and chased him through the complex. He jumped on a motorcycle just as I got near him."
"I figured he was just some perverse lurker, but the fact that he had driven there multiple times bothered me. A few years later, I was reading about the Sacramento East Area Rapist, now known as the Golden State Killer. There were artist renderings, and one of them was exactly the man I had seen. Suddenly, it all made sense. This was right at the time when he had started his rampage in the East Bay.
I reached out to the investigators and ended up being interviewed by Michelle McNamara, the author of the book I’ll Be Gone in the Dark. She passed away, and that monster is now languishing in prison."
6."My best friend's dad passed away, and he loved yellow roses, so when I was walking one day and saw a bush of yellow roses outside a house, I took a picture and sent it to her. Fast-forward a while, and I was invited to live with some roommates. It turns out to be that house, from the picture. Fast-forward again, and one of my roommates overdosed and died in his room there. I broke my lease and moved out. I started living with new roommates, and one of their friends went to rehab. I start talking to her when she got out, and it turned out she was living IN THAT HOUSE and started using in that very room my previous roommate died in. Keep in mind — this is a large city, so this many coincidences was pretty strange. Fast-forward again, and I got a boyfriend. He finally invited me over, and...he lives in that house!!"
"I told him I felt uncomfortable there and explained the reason why, so we went back to my place. Things were getting hot and heavy, but when he took off his shirt...he has the exact tattoo of my deceased roommate in the same exact spot. I broke up with him and bounced out of that city as soon as I could."
7."Oh, man. I remember a few years back we were selling a used car. This man kept calling and coming to look at it, changing his mind, saying he didn't want it, coming back, calling over and over, leaving notes when we weren't home, saying he still wanted it, could we call him, and texting us. I had just gotten out of hospital from surgery, and I was home alone. This had been going on for weeks at this point. That day, he came to the door. I didn't want to answer — I was in pain and nervous around him, especially when alone. When no one answered, he tried jiggling the handle, and then started walking around our house, and knocking on the windows. He went and sat on our deck for a few minutes, then did the whole process again."
"Needless to say, I was terrified. I called the cops who said he'd just go away, and if he didn't, to call back. Some help. So, I called my neighbors down the road instead. My friend is about 6'7", and his wife is no slouch either. They came squealing into the driveway in their truck, got out, and asked the guy if they could help him. He said no, because this was his house! They said, no, they know the people who live here. Then he backtracked, saying we had invited him over. They said, 'No, there is a sick woman inside who is terrified of you.' He apologized, and got in his own car, and drove away.
However, he didn't drive very far. He parked two houses down, at a trail entrance. When my husband came home, he followed him, claimed we had humiliated him, and demanded we sell him the car, but he didn't have enough money. I filled my husband in on the day, and my husband said here, take the car, keep your money, but if we ever see you on our property again, we will call the cops. He never came back, but it was the most terrifying situation I've ever been in."
8."20 years ago, I had a close girlfriend who was married to my husband’s best friend. After my divorce, we lost contact, as the men didn’t want us to remain friends. Ten years later, I suddenly thought of her daughter, who was then in her late 20s. I googled her daughter’s name and found she had been murdered two days before by her boyfriend in Denver. I sent a letter and flowers to my former friend, and she responded, but again did not continue contact. Last year, I suddenly thought of my old friend and googled her, but found no recent news. It continued to bother me, so I emailed her remaining daughter, and she responded that her mother had died the day I thought of her, due to a heart attack while sunning at a pool in Florida. Since then, I've learned not to discount my intuition."
9."I moved into a two-bedroom apartment with a friend in January of 2001. I often felt...unsettled there. I didn't like being home by myself. One night, I got home from work around 9:15 p.m. I presumed my friend/roommate was home, because I heard heart-wrenching sobs coming from the hallway that led to the bathroom and bedrooms. She had been having a tough time with relationships recently, and after about 10 minutes, I knocked on her bedroom door, only to find that she wasn't home yet. Just to double check, I look in the parking lot, which was empty."
"I could tell it wasn't coming from another apartment. It was too loud and too clear. Plus, it was January in Maryland and cold, so none of us had our windows open. I was getting really nervous at this point.
My roommate got home, and I asked her if she'd ever felt weird in the apartment. She answered 'yes' with no hesitation. I got two pieces of paper, handed one to her, and kept one for myself. I asked her to write which room she felt most uncomfortable in, while I did the same. We both showed our pieces of paper at the same time, and both read, 'bathroom.'
From then on, we salted the corners and threshold by the front door (this works sometimes, though I don't think maintenance loved us for having a line of salt in our doorway) and had far fewer creepy feelings and no more crying, thank goodness! That crying, though — it sounded like someone young, like anywhere from elementary-aged to a very young adult. And so despondent. I'm not superstitious, but that shook me for sure."
10."There was this old, empty church and parsonage in the small town I spent my summers that was rumored to be haunted. One day, a friend and I went up there to explore it. The place was naturally creepy because both buildings were well about 100 years old when this happened (1987). Add the old church cemetery to the equation and you've got nightmare fuel. We went inside the house and started looking around. In one of the bedrooms, I suddenly started smelling blood. Literally. It was so strong, I could taste it in the back of my throat. That cloying, coppery taste was causing my eyes to water; I started feeling disorientated."
"My friend Edgar was saying something to me, but his voice seemed like it was a million miles away. I staggered out of the room, and the smell completely disappeared, even though the door was wide open. Edgar didn't smell anything, inside the room or out, but the look on my face scared the shit out of him, and we promptly made our way out of there.
Turned out, there was a young woman who died during childbirth in that house, and I'm willing to bet it was in that room. The baby died as well, and both mother and child were buried in the graveyard right next to the house. The cause of death was massive hemorrhaging.
The church burned down in 1990, and the house was demolished soon after. Even now, I feel uneasy driving by that graveyard."
11."When I was in college, my coworker was struggling with chemistry, and I offered to help tutor her. We met up at the library and looked around for a table, but they were all full. There was a bigger study area downstairs on the first floor, and the stairs to get there were on the opposite side of the library near the entrance. There was a stairwell near us, so I figured we’d just use those stairs and walk over to the study area. When we got to the first floor door, there was a piece of paper over the window with a stop sign on it. I remember being annoyed and decided to go through anyways."
"This was a separate part of the library — there were no lights on, and the room was filled with cubicles. The opposite wall had long, slanted windows that were letting in a small amount of light. We continued walking into the room. I was on the left side of my coworker, with my head turned to the left, looking down the rows of cubicles. Suddenly, I saw a girl or a woman, who appeared to be naked, sitting on the floor. She was huddled over with her arms wrapped around her legs and her long, brown hair hung around her body, and it looked unwashed or wet. We didn’t break stride, and my head whipped forward trying to comprehend what I just saw.
My coworker grabbed my arm and said frantically, 'What was that?!' I told her I didn't know, and we quickly walked toward the red exit sign. It was a small room with an elevator and an emergency exit door. We were pressing the elevator button, and nothing was happening, so I grabbed her hand, pulled her to the emergency door, and opened it. No alarm triggered, and suddenly, we were in dazzling sunlight, surrounded by a bunch of other students walking around campus. It was the weirdest thing I’ve ever experienced. I don’t know if it was a ghost or an actual person, but there were rumors about that library being haunted."
12."In the middle of winter, when my kids were 3 and 6 years old, we drove up to the mountains in Colorado to ski for the weekend. We had Airbnb’d a row-house that had been built around 1900 to house miners. We arrived a bit late on that Friday evening, and as we unloaded the car, my mind was on feeding the kids dinner and getting them to bed soon since they had ski lessons at 8:30 the next day. But when I walked into the Airbnb, the hair on my neck stood up straight. It was abundantly clear to me there was a ghostly presence inside the house."
"I didn’t want to scare the kids, so I decided to ignore the feeling and proceed with the evening as planned. We got takeout and put the kids to sleep in the front room together. All evening, I felt intently watched. After the kids were settled, I told my husband, 'There’s a ghost here. He’s right over there. He’s not malicious, just curiously watching us.' My husband reacted with disbelief and a bit of mockery, so I dropped it.
We got up the next morning with a rush to get out the door for ski school without much thought about the ghost. When we got back to the row-house that evening, walking inside had a totally different energy than the night before. I told my husband, 'He isn’t here now.' Once again, he scoffed at me. A few minutes later, our 3-year-old ran up to us and asked, 'Where is the man who lives here, mommy? He’s not here.' I asked her what she meant. She said, 'The man whose house this is. The one in yellow with long white hair. He came and talked to me in our room last night. He’s gone today. Where is he?'"
13."When I was in elementary school, there was a popular story going around that the school was haunted by a former student named Tyler Bergquist. This was because there was a plaque saying 'TYLER BERGQUIST: 2004–2015' on a rock behind the school. I loved the story, but I wasn't really a believer in the supernatural, so I never thought it was really true. Fast-forward maybe a year to an after-school function. A girl I was friends with had gone behind the school a little while before and came running out saying she saw Tyler Bergquist. Of course, I ran to check it out, wanting to see if ghosts really did exist, and I saw something I don't think I'll ever forget."
"In the reflection of one of the windows, there was a teenage boy with grayish skin and insects crawling out of his eye sockets. I just stood there, staring at him for a few seconds before I ran away as fast as humanly possible. A lot of my friends probably didn't believe me when I told them, but that memory will always stick with me. Chilling."
14."One of the places I lived on campus was a renovated motel. It was originally built in the 1970s and was across the street from the oldest building on campus, which was supposed to be haunted. Over the years, that building had been a dorm building, admin offices, the headquarters of the theater department, and eventually ended up being staff offices by the time I was there. The story was that a student had passed away in the '50s or '60s, and as a result, there was a ghost light that could be seen in the windows on the third floor."
"I didn't believe in the stories until I was walking to my room late one night after studying with some classmates. I happened to look up while I was unlocking my door and spotted a light slowly moving from one end of the building to the other. It looked kind of like someone was carrying a flashlight, except that the person holding it would have had to be about eight feet tall, because it was up near the top of the very tall windows.
I watched for a while as the light got to the end of the building and turned around to make another circuit. I stopped when I saw a very pale, much shorter face peering out one of the windows."
15."I have always had weird dreams. One night, I was saying goodbye to my friend from a playdate. I was 10. I said, 'I might see you in my dreams tonight,' not thinking very much about what I'd said. That night I dreamed a quite disturbing dream. A stalker was rapidly killing people, and I was the last person. I raced to the balcony of a house, and watched, as the killer approached me, and behind him, my friend. I jumped off the balcony and woke up with a start. The next day at school, I told her about the dream. She gave me a look that I'll never forget, and said, 'I saw you jump off my balcony in my dream.' I had never been to her house before, as all playdates were at my house or outside. Sure enough, when I visited her house for the first time, the balcony was identical to the one in my dream."
16."I used to live in an apartment building that was converted from an old hospital at the turn of the 19th century. They basically blew out all the walls, separating the individual patient rooms and made them into long, oddly-shaped apartments. The original doors were still there, old brass handles and all, leading into the main hallway of the building. They were just nailed shut and painted over to be the same color as the walls. So many things happened in this place that it's hard to pick just one, but one of the most memorable moments was something that happened in the middle of the night."
"Footsteps in the hallway at night were a regular occurrence in this place, to the point that I had friends that refused to stay the night. I would always sleep with my door shut, because I didn't want to see whatever the hell was walking up and down the hall. I know you're wondering — I was a very broke college student, and the rent was dirt cheap; otherwise, I would have been outta there way before this.
One night at around 3 in the morning, I was woken up from a dead sleep by the sound of what I can only describe as furious knocking on my bedroom door. It basically sounded like someone was standing on the other side, beating their fists against the wood, trying to get in. They were smacking the door hard enough that I could see the clothes I had hanging on the back of the door shaking with every blow. It didn't last that long, probably only a few seconds, but I was absolutely terrified.
It stopped just as suddenly as it started, and I called out to see if anyone was there. No answer. Finally, I just had to know. Even though I was basically shitting my pants, I opened the door to see if anything was there. The hallway was empty. It makes my palms sweat still, just to think about it. I have no explanation for it."
17."When I was a teen, my family moved to a bigger house that was about 10 to 15 years old. My siblings and I got kind of a weird vibe from it, like we weren’t alone in the house. Strange things would happen on occasion, especially in our rooms. Things fell off shelves seemingly on their own when no one was there to see it, for one. One time, we decided to use an ouija board and didn’t really get conclusive results, just gibberish of the same letters over and over. But, things got weirder for me."
"My stereo system I had in my room would adjust its volume BY ITSELF. I thought maybe it was a glitch, but one time when it happened, I was looking right at the screen and the volume number turned all the way down, then I felt something cold pinch my chin. I also saw a small white human shape at one point, while getting up for the bathroom at night. I believed it to be some kind of child spirit that was just having fun messing with us, because once I said something like, 'You’ve had your fun, and we respect you, but this is our house now,' it stopped.
My parents also later told me that a neighbor asked them about the 'old lady' that lived with us when we first moved in. The thing is — we never had an old lady living with us."
18."As a kid, I really loved one particular grandfather (technically a step grandfather, but I adored him). He was covered in old Navy tattoos and smelled of pipe tobacco and Old Spice, and always wore a cowboy hat and boots. I can still remember the sound of those boots, and my mother still blames him for my love of tattoos. Grandpa Fred was also a bit wild and loved to go up to the gold mines in Utah and Alaska and pan for gold. I thought this was so cool and loved to tell my classmates that my grandpa was a gold miner."
"One day out of the blue, he showed up at our house unannounced. No big deal — he did that often and would crash on my mom's couch for a few days. But this time, he showed up at 2 or 3 a.m., and I could hear his boots in the hallway coming toward my bedroom. Sure enough, I heard my door open and him walk in. Again, he did this a lot to check on me when he stayed with us, because I had terrible nightmares as a kid. But I didn’t hear him leave, so I turned over and opened my eyes. Sure enough, Grandpa Fred was standing over me. It was weird because he would normally check on me and just leave. But this time, he just stood there for a good amount of time. I said, 'Hey grandpa, I’m OK' and went back to sleep.
The next day, my mom got a call in the morning, and I could hear her crying. Turns out, Grandpa Fred was shot in the mines and was dead. I was so confused and kept saying, 'No, he was here checking on me last night.' Every now and then, I still smell him when I have had a bad dream."
19."My cat is a psychic. One night, she woke me up by climbing onto my chest with one of my favorite necklaces — a gold chain that my best friend gave me for my sweet 16 — dangling from her mouth. Confused, I scolded her for taking the necklace, put it back on my dresser, and went back to sleep. The next morning, my best friend called me to tell me she had been robbed. She'd come home before the burglar had a chance to steal anything except a gold necklace. I told her about my cat's odd behavior, and we were both spooked."
"Another night, I was getting ready to go to sleep, and I couldn't find my cat. I looked all around and eventually found my cat sitting stiffly on a box in the garage. She was hissing, her fur standing straight up. I tried to bring her to bed with me (she generally sleeps next to me), but she scratched me when I tried to pick her up. She never scratches me. I gave up and went to bed.
Later in the night, I woke up when I heard the garage door open. I ran downstairs, freaking out. The garage door was closed, and there were no intruders. My cat was still there, hissing. There was no way she could have accidentally opened the garage because the button to open it didn't work, so I could only open it from inside the car. It's like she knew what would happen and was protecting me."
20."I was around 18 years old when I woke up from a dream that felt too real. I told my mom that I was dreaming about a very big lady who passed away and couldn’t find a coffin for her due to her size. This was back in Cuba in the '90s. My mom said it was just a silly bad dream and to shake it off. The next day, my mom received a phone call from her family letting her know her sister passed away unexpectedly. Guess what? She was a big woman, and they did not have a coffin that could fit her. They had to make one for her size. Ever since then, my mom doesn’t want to know about my vivid dreams."
21."We bought a house in rural Minnesota. It was foreclosed, and the bank had to replace a lot of components because the prior family — a couple with a son and daughter — trashed it after the foreclosure. When we moved in, there were what appeared to be knife stab marks in the bedroom doors and the screen to a bedroom window was shredded. We assumed it was just from the house being trashed. Shortly after moving in, though, little things started happening."
"My toddler would always say, 'Hello there,' to her bedroom closet, which we shrugged off as goofy toddler stuff. My older daughter one night saw 'somebody' in our toddler’s bedroom closet, reaching their arm out to my kids. She was screaming, 'Leave us alone, please leave, don’t hurt us.' I brought them in my room, locked the door, and called 911. The police said they saw all sorts of footprints circling the home in the fresh snow, but no sign of forced entry.
About two weeks later, I was asleep when I felt somebody gripping my ankles tightly. I thought it was one of my kids, so I told them to stop and that it hurt. When I looked up, I saw a girl with long black hair and a night gown at the foot of my bed. I jumped up, and she was gone.
The next day, I asked my neighbors about the family who lived there before me. They said, 'There was a lot of abuse in the house; we had to call the police multiple times.' They then told me that the mom left the dad and moved out with their son…but nobody ever saw the daughter again. She just disappeared. When I asked, they confirmed that the daughter had long black hair. Needless to say, we moved out shortly after."
22."I had a recurring nightmare in my elementary school years. It was the most frequent nightmare I've ever had. In it, Frankenstein lined up my family members oldest to youngest...my dad, my mom, my oldest sister Julie, my middle sister Natalie, me, and, finally, my dog, Chewy. We waited in line from my parents' bedroom, where Frankenstein had a huge blender and blended my family up until it was just Natalie, me, and Chewy. I woke up screaming so many nights because of it."
"Fast-forward to my late teens. I was dating a boy who was a martial artist, and I brought my friends to his fraternity house one night. Waiting in line for the bathroom, high on marijuana, I saw a painting one of his roommates did of FRANKENSTEIN PUTTING PEOPLE IN LINE IN A BLENDER. I never told anyone about this dream, not even my best friends, but I shared it with them as we ran out of that place.
Several months later, I learned that the guy I had been dating back then (who was now my ex) was charged with beating his new girlfriend to death. The newspaper literally said, 'All of her features were blended together.'"
23.And finally, "When I was in sixth grade, I stayed home sick from school one day. I wasn’t that sick — just had a slight cold. At that age, I could be home by myself, as my parents couldn’t afford to take off work. The bedroom I was sleeping in was right in front of the house by the front door. We left the back door open and had the windows open since it was a nice fall day."
"Later, my mom called to check in on me to see how I was feeling. I told her I was doing better. Then, she asked why the dog was barking. I replied, 'There’s someone who keeps ringing the doorbell.' She told me to peek out and see who it was. Carefully, I peeled back the shade. The glimpse I got made me think it was a teenage boy selling something in a green bin — something we would have on occasion. I told my mom, and we finished up our conversation. Before she hung up, she told me to go close and lock the back door, just in case.
I walked out of the bedroom into our living room, which had long glass windows all along it. As I did this, I noticed the same guy was walking around the corner of my house in the backyard. Hurriedly, I retreated back to the bedroom and hid in a closet that already had the door open to avoid making any noise.
The guy came into my house, and my tiny 10-pound dog was losing her mind. I heard him throw one of her toys, and when she wouldn’t leave, he kicked her. She yelped and retreated to the bedroom to find me. I picked her up in my arms and held her tight to my chest, trying not to breathe. He then continued throughout the house, opening all the doors upstairs, only really spending a minute in each room.
Suddenly, I heard him come back downstairs and approach the bedroom I was in. He took a couple steps into the room, and my dog growled. It was the most ferocious that I had ever heard her growl. It revealed my hiding spot, and he saw me in the closet. When we locked eyes, I was able to get a better glimpse at him. Because I was so young, I think it distorted his features in my mind, but he was about six feet tall with dark hair and a forehead that seemed to protrude quite extensively. My heart sank, and I could feel the cold sweat running down my face. He then turned around and ran.
Once he was gone, I sat on the bed, basically in a dissociative state, and my mom called back. She wanted to make sure the person left, so I told her what happened. At first, she thought I was joking because of how calm I was, but I was in utter shock. She then said she would call the police. My mom got there before the police did, because she was zooming home. Her instinct was right, but we never found out who the guy was.
I did learn then that our house was prime for breaking into, because we were relatively isolated, with bushes and trees between us and the neighbors, low lighting, and no security cameras. In fact, there were several times after that we caught people trying to break in. Of course, this break-in happened in broad daylight, but we learned that it’s also worth it to invest in some cheap security cameras."
Have you had a creepy, bone-chilling experience like these? If so, tell us about it in the comments below or via this 100% anonymous form. And if you enjoyed these creepy tales, you can read more of them here, here, here, here, and here.
Note: Some submissions have been edited for length and/or clarity.