The 13th Floor

This Random Google Maps Search Went Horribly Wrong

Image Credit: Markus Schieder

Today’s nightmarish tale has been recounted in a few different variations, but the most chilling account comes from an unknown user who claims to have been the last to hear from the unfortunate person involved.

There is no concrete evidence — beyond a series of text exchanges, from which the attached images were pulled — that any of the following events actually took place. That’s probably for the best, because even the slightest hint of physical proof for this unsettling scenario would be enough to keep you off the internet for life.

Image Credit: iStock/Nikada

The originator of this tale learned from his best friend how to use Google Maps and Google Earth to virtually travel the world via satellite and street-view imagery. This was a source of great joy to him; since sustaining major injuries in a car accident a few years ago, he developed a fear of driving or even riding in any motor vehicles, and thus seldom ventured far from his own apartment and the surrounding neighborhood. The virtual “travel” these searches provide allowed him to fantasize about exploring faraway lands, free from those debilitating fears.

Little did he know an even greater horror — one he couldn’t have dreamed up in a thousand nightmares — was waiting for him within the very pixels of those globe-spanning images.

Image Credit: Francesco Cantone

It began at ground level, as the man excitedly “walked” through the major cities of nearly every country on Earth. He made virtual visits to historic sites, natural and man-made wonders, and even picked random neighborhoods in remote towns, just to get a feel for the local culture, all the while pretending he was physically walking those bustling streets, sidewalks, alleys, trails and motorways.

In each location, he made a point of looking for people, studying their clothing and their activities, despite their faces being digitally obscured by the mapping software.

It was during his virtual visit to Tokyo that he found her.

Image Credit: iStock/RichLegg

Like all the others, her face was blurred, but there was something about her — perhaps her stylish but comfortable attire, her attractive physique, or her confident posture — drew him to her in a way he couldn’t quite pinpoint.

She stuck in his mind long after he switched off his laptop for the night, and he even found himself dreaming about her, imagining what her facial features might look like.

The next day, he decided to “visit” Paris… and with every click of his laptop’s track-pad, he saw all shapes, sizes and colors of people, fascinated to watch them frozen in a single moment of their daily lives, making up imaginary backstories and scenarios for them. It was a game, and he couldn’t stop playing.

Then he saw her.

He knew it was statistically impossible… but nevertheless, there she was: the same woman he saw on the streets of Tokyo, now waiting for a train in Paris. As before, her face was obscured, but there was no doubt in his mind this was the same person.

While trying to remain rational about what he’d seen, he began to investigate other cites in search of the mystery woman. It wasn’t long before he found her again… this time in Berlin.

Image Credit: iStock/querbeet

He toyed with idea that this was some kind of playful prank, or even a hidden Easter egg implanted by Google, waiting to be discovered by virtual travelers — sort of like a “Where’s Waldo” game for obsessive map-searchers. To that end, he searched for any reference to this kind of stunt online, but turned up nothing.

That’s when he texted his friend — the same one whose recount of these events became the basis for what is now a viral mystery.

In these texts, he attached the images of the woman from Toyko, Paris and Berlin, and asked what his friend could make of this bizarre coincidence.

“I see the lady you’re talking about in Berlin,” the friend replied, “but I didn’t see her in Paris or Tokyo. Is this some kind of game? Are you okay?”

Image Credit: Google Maps

Stunned to hear this, the man went back to the street views of those cities to find her again. He couldn’t just be imagining this.

He did find her in both cities… but this time, she was in a slightly different location and position — standing when she’d previously been seen sitting, for example — or she had either donned or removed her jacket.

He tried again, this time a shopping district in Brussels. He scanned the street view up and down, looking at every individual on the sparsely-populated block. The woman was nowhere to be found.

He began to relax a bit, and was about to enter another city into the search engine, when he caught a glimpse of someone looking out one of the windows from an upper level.

Image Credit: iStock/LordRunar

It was her… and she was looking down at the street-level camera. More precisely, she was looking at him.

He felt panic mounting as he began to search other cities. Sydney, London, Venice, Zurich, Hong Kong… she was everywhere. No matter what she was doing, she was always looking toward the camera. Even behind the pixilated “mask,” he knew she was aware of him. He could feel her eyes on his.

In the man’s last few texts to his friend, he shared these findings, but got the same response: the woman was only visible in the first image from Tokyo. His friend insisted his isolation was getting to him, and that he was only imagining the woman’s now-threatening presence.

Image Credit: iStock/THEPALMER

The images shared in their final conversation were maps and street views of the city where the troubled man lived. His last terrified message claimed that he’d spotted her approaching the neighborhood in which his apartment was located.

It’s unknown whether the woman shown in this detail — taken from a Google Maps image of the man’s apartment building — is the stalker he feared, since she is not present in any other map images provided. All we do know is that there were no more texts to his friend after this one, and that friend reported him missing the following morning.

As of this writing, police have not located him, and the elusive mystery woman is no longer present in any current Google Maps images.