The 13th Floor

This Unwary Traveler Had a Christmas Visitor… But It Wasn’t Santa Claus

Image Credit: iStock/PeterLeonard

This week, we’re continuing the Creepypasta Christmas tradition we began last December (with the bone-chilling tale of “Mr. Elf”) by dropping off a couple of mysterious, anonymous gifts at your doorstep.

The first of these spooky surprises comes from a teenager whose holiday trauma began when a family flight to Virginia was canceled at the last moment due to harsh winter weather — leaving him, his parents and sister stuck in a run-down motel on Christmas Eve.

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The unnamed author recounts his experience of that cold winter night, which began as a mere sense of unease — something he says he’s always felt when spending the night away from home. But this motel in particular made him extremely uncomfortable… maybe it had something to do with the pervasive smell of bleach in the room where they were staying. It was almost as if they were trying to cover up the smell of something else.

Despite his discomfort, he finally drifted off into an uneasy sleep… until something awakened him a few hours before dawn on Christmas morning. At first, he wasn’t quite sure what was wrong; he thought perhaps a vague nightmare might have startled him awake, or maybe he was still dreaming. Instinctively, he craned his head around to look for the digital clock on the nightstand next to his father.

That’s when he realized there was someone else in the room.

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His heart jumped as he laid eyes on the outline of a tall, lean figure in the darkness. He guessed the intruder must have been at least six-foot-three, and while its features were obscured by shadow, the author could hear its deep, wheezing breath as it stood over the bed in which his mother and sister were sleeping.

Frozen in terror, unable to move anything but his eyes, the author thought perhaps he was suffering from sleep paralysis — a frightening but very real condition he’d recently learned about in school. He’d never experienced this kind of horrible sensation before, but it seemed to match the symptoms, including the image of a dark and menacing figure approaching the sleeper.

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He realized his eyes were still wide open when the figure suddenly turned toward the bed where he lay next to his sleeping father. Quickly, he focused on closing his eyelids until just a sliver remained open, enough to watch the unearthly intruder move toward him, but not wide enough (he hoped) for it to see he was awake. Finally, he feared the intruder could see better than him in the dark, and he closed his eyes completely.

He heard the thing shuffling closer, its ragged breath now more pronounced now… and with that came a horrendous smell. It was the smell of rotting meat… the stench of a corpse-eating ghoul.

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Already fighting the urge to scream and run away, the author was now feeling his stomach churn in revulsion. He repressed every instinct to pull the covers over his nose to filter out that awful slaughterhouse smell, as the unearthly being crept closer and closer, reaching the edge of the bed… less than a foot from the author’s face.

Then, as if a switch had been turned off, the heavy breathing eased, and he could hear the visitor turn in place and shuffle quietly away from the bedside, toward the door, the ghastly odor subsiding in its wake. The author heard the door open, then close again.

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He lay there, motionless, eyes nearly shut, for what seemed like an eternity, hearing only the pounding of his own heart against his ribcage. Finally, as slowly as possible, he turned his head… hopefully just enough to see if the horrible guest — whomever or whatever it might be — was truly gone.

Waiting another several minutes before moving a muscle, he finally allowed himself to take a deep breath, still smelling a trace of the foul odor the intruder left behind. He slowly, carefully slipped out from under the covers and put his feet on the floor.

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A strange thought tugged at him that he couldn’t shake… he needed to know where the intruder went, and if they were still in the motel. If he could spot the figure without being seen, hopefully he could make his way down to the front desk and call the police without disturbing his sleeping family.

Quietly slipping on his pants and jacket over his pajamas, he donned his shoes and very cautiously made his way toward the door. It was closed and locked — most doors like these lock automatically — and he pressed his hands against it to look out the peephole.

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The fish-eye view revealed an empty corridor — he saw no movement in any direction. Taking another deep, steady breath, he reached for the door handle and gently turned it, putting his hand on the latch to suppress any sound it might make when he pulled it open.

Prepared to pull his head back inside at the slightest sign of danger, he took a tenuous peek out into the hallway. Again, he saw no trace of the intruder… or any other movement, for that matter.

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During his slow, deliberate march toward the lobby, he realized there was absolutely no noise or movement in any part of the motel… and when he finally reached the front desk, he found it abandoned; the night concierge was nowhere in sight.

Realizing his vulnerability and suddenly concerned about his family, the author quickly turned and made his way back upstairs to their room… and once there, he saw something that made his pulse quicken in fear.

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The door was partly ajar… despite the fact he’d made a point of closing it behind him on the way out. Worse, the door was now marked with a black spray-painted “X.”

Fearing the worst for his family, his own instinct for self-preservation vanished, and he stepped immediately through the gap in the doorway.

They were still sleeping. His father’s loud snoring obscured the sound of his mother and sister’s breathing, but a closer look confirmed that they were fine.

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He gently pushed the door shut again, scanning the room once more to confirm that the intruder was no longer there. Taking a quick look in the bathroom, he calmed down with the knowledge that no strangers were present.

The rest of the night the author lie awake, staring at the ceiling, counting the minutes until his parents awakened at dawn. He never mentioned the incident… because another nagging thought told him that something horrible would happen if he revealed the truth.

When his father opened the door to carry the first of their luggage downstairs, the author noticed that the spray-painted “X” was gone. Perhaps it had been a dream after all?

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That thought gave him a strange comfort as he slumped in the back of the family car next to his sister, leaning on his worn-out backpack as he watched the snow pelting the windows. The pack suddenly shifted and fell over, causing a piece of paper to slide out onto the floor.

Even before he unfolded the small folded sheet of motel stationery, he knew who had written it. He even suspected what it might say… that the intruder had known he was only pretending to be asleep.

The note only confirmed the terror that was already swelling within him. “I KNOW YOU WERE AWAKE,” it said.

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The author closed his final entry with something even more chilling than those five ominous words.

“That note I found wasn’t the only one,” he concludes. “I still receive them.”


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