The 13th Floor

A Horrifying Fate Awaits Those Who Read “The Book of Names”

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Today’s tale may have disseminated widely on social media, but its origins can be traced back more than a century ago, to one fateful day when a single ancient volume was donated to a library in Archangel, Virginia — a massive tome whose history is mysteriously bound to that of the town itself.

The book’s original author is unknown — and while the faded letters D.A. are stamped on its coarse leather cover, it has never been confirmed as to whether these are the creator’s initials. The title is also a mystery, and does not appear on the cover or on the book’s dry, crumbling pages… though over the decades, the book has picked up the unofficial title THE BOOK OF NAMES.

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A man named Alex Ward knew little to nothing of the book’s reputation when he discovered it on open display in the Archangel Library, and documented his findings in his one and only entry on the Creepypasta Wiki.

Curious, Ward describes pulling up a chair and paging casually through the book, noting the initials D.A. on the first printed page, followed by a brief series of stanzas which read like a warning:

Ye who know not the power of thee Secret Words, read ye no further.
Ye who know not the meaning of Names, read ye no further.
Ye who understand not thee meaning of these Words, read ye no further.
Ye who art aware of thee power of the Secret Words, thee meaning of Names and thee meaning of the Words thusly read, be wise to read with immeasurable caution.
Do not abuse thee Secret Words.


Image Credit: Karl Berggren

Ward describes feeling “an overwhelming sense of apprehension” upon reading this opening passage, but his overwhelming curiosity drove him to turn the page and continue.

The following section was devoted to strange symbols and figures, accompanied by captions and other text in a language Ward did not recognize. Though he found the drawings strangely compelling — and more than a little unnerving — what he found on the next page stood in shocking contrast to what came before it.

Written in English was a list of specific locations — each beginning with country, then region, state or province, followed by county, district or parish, then city, town or village. The following page was merely a continuation of that list… as was the next page… and the next.

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Tiring of the meticulous cataloging of individual sites, Ward began to flip the pages more rapidly, and soon discovered that he was skimming through a comprehensive index of what could have been every city, town and village in the entire world.

His curiosity drove him to look up the town in which he currently stood: Archangel, Virginia. He found the listing, which looked no different than the others… but only then did he become aware of a set of numbers on the far right of the page, corresponding to each location. The number listed by the entry for Archangel was 3968.

It was a page number.

Turning to page 3968, the author found an alphabetical list of individuals’ first and last names. That list went on for hundreds of pages… then a thousand… then two thousand.

Finally, he reached the final page of names… and the page immediately following it bore the title RITUAL WORDS.

Image Credit: Vera Petruk

Accompanied by more arcane symbols, the next page contained a list of seemingly nonsensical words… but this time, they were written in the English alphabet.

He quietly read the first phrase aloud: NO SAJ NHOJ DA ED.

The sound of the words, though no louder than a whisper, seemed to echo in his head, filling him with a vague sense of dread. The next phrase, SE MAJ XE LA ENOG, unsettled him even further.

Still, he was determined to figure out how the listed names related to these strange incantations which followed them.

Image Credit: Vera Petruk

On a whim, Ward searched for his own name, and found it. He considered reading it aloud, but an eerie chill and a vague tingle at the back of his neck caused him to change his mind. Instead, he looked up another name… someone he knew from town: the librarian, Johannes Steinberg, who was in the library that very day.

After a brief search, he found the name: Steinberg, Johannes Rudolf Albert.

Then, before he could think twice about it, he blurted out the last group of ritual words he’d read before: SE MAJ XE LA ENOG.

He had no sooner uttered the words when he heard a woman scream from the building’s main lobby, followed by the scuffle of footsteps and sounds of distress and alarm from a few others.

Rising to see what was happening, Ward saw a crowd forming near the library’s front desk. He heard a man asking what happened, and a woman’s voice responded:

“Mr Steinberg,” the unseen woman gasped from within the small crowd. “He’s just… he… he’s dead.”

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Even before his eyes returned to the Book of Names sitting on the desk before him, Ward somehow knew that he had done something horrible.

Ward concludes his entry with a grim, sobering confession of his unwitting crime… and an admission of what he must do next: he must return to the book, find his name, Andrew Charlton Ward… and thereafter recite the ritual words:


“I had taken the life of a man,” Ward writes. “I was not fit to live.”

It is not known if he followed through on this, but the entry concludes with a repeat of the book’s prologue:

Ye who know not the power of thee Secret Words, read ye no further.
Ye who know not the meaning of Names, read ye no further.
Ye who understand not thee meaning of these Words, read ye no further…


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