The 13th Floor

This Footage Allegedly Has the Power to Summon “ZALGO”

It’s hard to know where to begin when sorting out the twisted meme widely known among the creepypasta community as “Zalgo” — which seems to involve either an unseen supernatural force, a secret cabal, or perhaps even an evil demigod, the likes of which H.P. Lovecraft himself might have mused about.

However, one thing Lovecraft definitely would not have understood is the way in which Zalgo spreads his/her/its dark influence: by somehow infiltrating otherwise ordinary memes like a virus, transforming them into hellish messages from some unknown dimension.

According to web lore, Zalgo has an odd preference for three-panel cartoons, which usually begin normally, but by the third panel descend into bizarre, chaotic, and often disturbing images, word balloons and captions.

Other, more damaging Zalgo sightings have involved the actual hacking of sites and pages — replacing images with grotesque monstrosities and transforming text into incantations and other strange passages dedicated to summoning Zalgo. In some cases, the perpetrators use deliberately misspelled “messy text” to tag their targets, often with phrases like “ZALGO WUZ HEER.”

But the most consistent factor among these seemingly random references to someone or something named “Zalgo” is a single, ominous phrase:


According to the Creepypasta Wiki, Zalgo has been described as “a creature of utmost terror,” who sometimes goes by the title “He Who Waits Behind the Wall.”

Image Credit: Myhatisblue via DeviantArt

A physical description is provided, though no source is cited for this information other than a so-called “Invocation Song” — which depicts Zalgo as “an eyeless abomination with seven mouths,” whose right hand grips “a dead star” and his left holds “The Candle Whose Light Is Shadow and is stained with the blood of Am Dhaegar.”

The same anonymous source says that six of Zalgo’s seven mouths speak in different languages… and at some undisclosed future date, the silent seventh mouth will begin to sing “The Song That Ends the Earth.”

That’s creepy enough… but we’re just getting started.

There are two controversial elements to this meme: first, artist and animator David Kelly, best known by the handle “Shmorky” and quite familiar to the Something Awful community (the birthplace of Slenderman and many other image-based creepypastas), claims to have created the first Zalgo meme on his own official site — where he first posted dark, twisted Lovecraftian parodies of classic comic strips.

Second, David has stated for the record that Zalgo can only propagate himself through text and images… but social media communities have presented some haunting evidence to the contrary, in the form of audio and video files alleged to contain specific words, sounds, images or embedded “invocation signals” capable of conjuring this all-powerful being into physical reality.

The following video is one such piece of evidence — first shared and discussed on Reddit [the thread has long since been archived], and according to commenters on this thread, was digitally captured from a reel of 16mm film. The owner of that reel, and of the file itself, has yet to come forward.

I can’t vouch for the authenticity of this clip, nor can I verify the presence of a so-called “invocation signal” embedded within the video or audio code… but then I’ve only gained access to it recently, so who knows? I may have sealed my own doom, and just don’t know it yet…


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