The 13th Floor

A Nightmarish Lesson About Talking to Strangers

This week’s epic creepypasta comes once again from Reddit’s notorious NoSleep community, the dwelling place of many a terrifying internet legend. A user with the handle “Inaaace” recounted this haunting tale from his brother-in-law, a British soldier who had experienced the horrors of war firsthand during multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan… but claimed his most horrifying experience occurred after he returned to England, when he was appointed to the Queen’s Guard in 2012.

The Queen’s Guard is a considered a position of honor, often bestowed on soldiers who distinguish themselves in service. Their traditional red uniforms and tall bearskin helmets are a hallmark of British identity, and on-duty guards are legendary for their rigid, statue-like countenance and refusal to smile, laugh, speak, make eye contact or react to civilians in any way. Tourists often pose for photos with them, trying everything possible to make them laugh or smile for the camera, and almost always fail in the attempt, as the guards are under strict orders to show no sign of distraction from their duties.

Image Credit: iStock/Dynasoar
Image Credit: iStock/Dynasoar

This particular guard, however, found his resolve tested far beyond its limits when he was assigned to a post at the Tower of London on a warm summer day. The usual annoying tourists teased and flirted with him, but he remained vigilant as ordered. Then, out of the corner of his eye, he noticed a woman staring at him. Even within a large crowd, he could sense the penetrating stare of the pale-skinned, dark-eyed visitor, who appeared to be around forty years old. He thought little more of it until she began to slowly, deliberately walk straight toward his post. Before long, she was standing just a few feet from him, looking him directly in the eye.

That’s when her behavior began to change.

Cocking her head to the left, then the right, she seemed to be studying him like a bird of prey. Without shifting her feet, she began to lean toward him, pivoting from her ankles, bringing her face even closer to his. That’s when her entire body began to shudder with tiny convulsions, which rippled through her muscles until they reached her face… which began to stretch, her mouth opening as if preparing to unleash a horrendous scream. But no sound came.

Unnerved by the woman’s bizarre, threatening behavior, the guard exercised a provision in his orders which allows a guard to take a ten-pace march away from his post and back. He used this to walk away from the strange visitor, but when he did an about-face to march back, he was shocked to find her facing him, even closer than before, blocking his path back to the post. He employed another emergency provision, calling out the phrase “Make way for the Queen’s Guard!” a warning to those who interfere too aggressively. The woman showed no sign that she’d even heard the shouted command, and began to lean closer, her body convulsing again.

He was finally forced to take a more drastic measure, raising the bayonet on his rifle toward her as a final warning… and she instantly snapped back into “normal” posture, standing casually in place, but still maintaining her penetrating gaze. Relieved, the guard marched around her, returning to his post.

His feeling of relief ended instantly when he suddenly heard her voice behind him, whispering the numbers “10, 9, 8… 10, 9, 8…” He could hear the voice coming closer, whispering the sequence faster each time: “10, 9, 8, 10, 9, 8, 10, 9, 8…”

Image Credit: iStock/Ivan Bliznetsov
Image Credit: iStock/Ivan Bliznetsov

He reached his post, sweating with fear, and slowly turned to face forward again… and found himself looking directly into the woman’s eyes. She was still whispering the number sequence, more intensely each time.

Finally, his fear became so overpowering that he faltered and broke his orders before he could stop himself. “Ma’am,” he whispered, “would you please… stop doing that…?”

It’s uncertain whether she would have stopped on her own, or because a large crowd of arriving tourists surged forward behind her. But she did stop. Never breaking eye contact with the guard, she slowly backed away, blending into the crowd, and finally disappearing from view.

That seemed to be the end of it — until he happened to mention the incident to his superior later that day. The commander seemed to be alarmed by the news, and asked the guard if he’d spoken to the woman. Afraid of losing his job, the guard lied and told him no. For some reason, the commander was visibly relieved to hear this.

“If she ever comes back, remember never to speak to her,” he said urgently, then turned to the rest of his unit and told them to heed the same warning.

About a week later, the guard was awakened in the middle of the night to a loud knock at the door of his apartment. He turned to see if his girlfriend had heard the noise, but she was apparently in a deep sleep — most likely from jet lag, having flown in late from Amsterdam to visit him.

The knock at the door became an insistent banging, as if something heavy was being thrust against it. That’s when the guard remembered the frightening incident with the woman and her insistent whisper “10, 9, 8… 10, 9, 8…”

Mustering up the courage, he looked one more time at his girlfriend, who was still sleeping deeply, and crept into the entry corridor, slowly approaching the front door as the thudding became louder and more insistent.

Steeling himself against what he might find on the other side of the door, he took a deep breath, reached for the handle and pulled it open…

It was his girlfriend, her luggage piled at her feet, her expression a combination of anger and pure exhaustion.

As she began berating him for forgetting to pick her up at the airport, he did not hear her words; his mind was reeling with shock and horror.

How long was I asleep? Why didn’t I remember to pick her up at the airport? Was I dreaming that she was already in the bed? If I wasn’t dreaming… then who was lying next to me?

He managed to get a hold of himself, then told his girlfriend to wait in the hallway while he checked the bedroom. Moving slowly, deliberately, he crept toward the room, peering through the door into the shadows beyond.

Image Credit: iStock/gaiamoments
Image Credit: iStock/gaiamoments

There was a woman standing in the corner. Her body was shaking, shuddering all over as she took a step forward from the shadows, her face barely visible in the faint streelight outside the window. She began to whisper.

“7, 6, 5… 7, 6, 5…”

As the horrifying shape continued to approach him, he suddenly found himself frozen where he stood, paralyzed with fear. It was only his girlfriend’s scream behind him that jolted him back to reality, and he grabbed her hand, rushing them both out of the bedroom. The nightmarish woman continued to walk steadily toward them.

The couple hid themselves in the kitchen, hoping the intruder failed to notice where they went. The strategy seemed to work, as the woman began shuffling down the hall, her body randomly convulsing, her mouth opening unnaturally wide, then slowly clenching shut. Finally, she staggered out the front door, and he could hear her footsteps scraping down the walkway outside. Satisfied at last that she was gone for good, he rushed to slam the door and lock her out.

The couple gave statements to the police, including a description of the woman and her bizarre behavior… and the next morning, the guard decided to come clean and tell his commanding officer the truth. The commander was enraged at hearing this confession, and told the guard that he would be reassigned immediately for this violation. He never explained why it was so critical that no one speak to this bizarre woman.

The following week, he was reassigned to guard St. James Palace. Things seemed to go smoothly for the duration of the week, and he was relieved to be stationed at a location away from the general public. Near the end of the week, he was looking forward to seeing his young niece, who was coming to visit Saturday from Birmingham.

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons
Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Friday night, huddled against a light rain, counting down the last minutes before going off-duty, he looked out through the rain… and saw the woman.

She was walking slowly forward from across the street, her dark, rain-drenched hair sticking to her skull, partially obscuring her dark eyes — which were turned toward the sky. She was shuddering, as if feverish. Her mouth began to open impossibly wide, the rain coursing down her throat. As she walked toward him, her black gaze turned to meet his eyes. Closing the distance, she began to lean toward him as she came uncomfortably close.

The guard could take this no longer, and finally shouted at the woman: “Would you please just fucking stop already!”

She stopped. Then she smiled at him.

“4, 3, 2, 1… 4, 3, 2, 1…” she whispered, over and over again.

Suddenly the commanding officer came running toward the post, his voice urgent, his eyes avoiding the woman as he asked, “What was the last number she said? Tell me! Was it zero?”

“No,” the guard managed to blurt out. “She stopped at one. Why?”

His superior didn’t answer, but ordered him to leave immediately. “Just go, and don’t come back!” he yelled. “I’ll take care of this!”

The guard did as he was ordered, and never returned.

The next day, his niece arrived as planned, and he tried his best to forget about the entire situation with the nightmarish woman. Instead, he focused all his attention on the girl, much to her delight.

That afternoon, they played hide and seek on the grounds of the apartment complex, using a pair of old walkie-talkies to give each other clues. When his niece failed to answer his last call, he became nervous, looking around for her, repeatedly calling her on the walkie.

That’s when a strange voice came over the tiny speaker: “Zero… zero… zero…”

Now running in panic, he tore around the corner of the building to find the girl face-to-face with the woman, who was leaning in toward her, smiling the way she’d smiled at him last night, repeating “zero… zero… zero.”

Thinking only of saving his niece, he tackled the woman to the ground and grabbed the girl’s hand, pulling her along as he ran back to his apartment.

Behind them, her nose bloodied from the impact, the woman was approaching, picking up the pace, now running after them, still mouthing the words “zero… zero… zero…”

Once inside the apartment, the door locked, he pulled his terrified niece into the kitchen, where he prepared to call the police. Somehow aware of where they were hiding, the woman came to the kitchen window, staring, her mouth agape, blood running from her nose, her muscles twitching.

Image Credit: iStock/canjoena
Image Credit: iStock/canjoena

She was looking directly at the little girl.

Their eyes locked for a long time, but the woman made no move to break the window or try to enter the apartment. She smiled one last time before slipping away from view.

The police arrived shortly after he called, and soon they apprehended a woman matching the description, whom they’d found staggering around the area, seemingly catatonic.

Before driving to the police station to identify the suspect, he decided to take his niece to the train station so she could return to her parents. While waiting for the train to arrive, she seemed withdrawn, clearly in shock. Finally, a friendly conductor managed to make her smile when he offered to give her a tour of the station and see the train engines.

He brought her back to her uncle in time for her own train to arrive. The conductor offered to help the girl onto the passenger car, telling her to say goodbye to her uncle before she boarded.

She didn’t respond, and never looked back at her uncle, and never said another word to him. Instead, she turned to look up at the conductor, looking intently into his eyes.

Before they disappeared into the car, he swore he could hear her say something faintly to the conductor.

“10, 9, 8…” she whispered.