The 13th Floor

The VHS Tape Bore His Name… and Its Grisly Contents Sealed His Doom

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The origins of this gruesome viral tale are still something of a mystery, but the details appear to have be excerpts from the personal journal of a teenager in Belleville, Illinois, who identifies himself only as “John.”

The first known entries begin shortly after his family relocated to the new city from Florida, where John began attending Belleville East High School and befriended a girl named Elizabeth, with whom he shared similar interests.

While visiting family in Florida, John recalls passing idle time at thrift shops, garage sales and amusement park souvenir stands, from which he bought a few odds and ends… but when he returned to Belleville, he discovered an item in his backpack that he had no memory of acquiring: a VHS tape with a simple label on it… on which his first name was hand-written in marker.

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Intensely curious about the tape’s contents, John had to search through his family’s attic in order to find a working VHS player. He hooked the long-disused machine to the TV set in his room and sat back to watch…

At first, he was startled by loud, abrasive static, but that eventually cleared enough to reveal an image of a darkened room in which a woman could be seen in an old chair, sitting still in the shadows with a faint, placid smile on her face. Over the course of the next fifteen seconds, John watched that woman’s smile slowly fade into an expression of dread, combined with a deep, agonizing sadness.

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That’s when she turned to the camera and spoke.

“I’m so sorry, Harold,” the woman said, tears beginning to course down her face. “I hope that you can forgive me.”

With a sudden quick movement that made John jump reflexively, the woman reached toward the camera, which had previously been fixed in position, and began to pan it across the room. Among the shadows, the camera lens fell upon a figure that could not possibly have been human.

Through his terror, John tried to make out what few details he could, seeing the light catch large, bulbous eyes, razor-sharp teeth and hints of patchy, matted hair on a skeletal body. He could also see that the creature was enraged by something the woman had done.

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The woman’s voice behind the camera becomes desperate and panicky, begging the thing: “No! I did it how you wanted it done!” she screamed. “You can’t!”

In an instant, the creature’s odd, inhuman shambling turned into a lightning-fast dash toward the camera, making John jump. The video’s perspective tumbled madly as the woman’s screams of horror and agony drove the volume levels to distortion.

The screams continued as the camera rattled to the floor, and the image blurred… but John could just make out the vague shape of a mutilated human corpse. But it wasn’t the woman he saw… it was a man.

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Frozen to the screen in a combination of shock and fascination, John was startled out of his trance by the voice of his mother, who told him his best friend Elizabeth was on the phone. John ran to the receiver, nervously excited to tell Liz what he’d just seen… until he heard her voice, which sounded hoarse from screaming, or crying, or both.

“John,” Liz said softly, almost a monotone. “I came home from Anna’s house and I… I just… my mom and dad are on the floor… and… I don’t know what happened.”

John told her to hold tight and immediately headed over to her family’s house, which was a short walk from his own. When he rounded the corner to her street, he was surprised to see several police cruisers at the curbside, accompanied by two ambulances. Liz was there, standing outside the house with her friend Anna.

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Trembling, Liz described what she’d discovered: her father was sprawled on the living room floor, his body horribly mutilated, and her mother had been tossed like a rag doll against the wall, slashed to pieces by someone — or something — large and powerful.

The images from the VHS tape still burned into his brain, John pulled Liz aside and whispered in her ear: “You need to come to my house, now. No questions, not here. Just trust me.”

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Though she was clearly on the verge of an emotional breakdown, Liz was able to confirm that the people in the video were indeed her mother and father. Her body shook as she whispered the question: “What is that… thing?

John was about to answer her when he heard a clicking noise, followed by a sharp, hard strike to the back of his head… and he immediately lost consciousness.

When he finally awakened, head throbbing in pain, stomach reeling with nausea, John thought he recognized his darkened surroundings: it appeared he was in one of his school classrooms, sometime after sundown… but before he could even begin to think about how he got there, his mind immediately flashed to the image of his friend.

Where did they take Liz?

Stumbling from dizziness and disorientation, he tried to stand steady, and surveyed the room; the long worktables, gas-pipe connections and sinks identified it as the science lab. He staggered toward the door… but it was locked. The light switch didn’t work either.

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His mind reeling, he tried to work through the oncoming panic and focus on his goal of finding his friend. He remembered that the lab’s storage closet had a back door leading to another corridor, and he managed to find the key.

The closet was cramped and the smell of chemicals burned his nose as he wormed his way through toward the second door. The gap beneath it revealed that the lights were also out in the hallway beyond. Before he opened the small door, he stopped to grab a utility knife from the supply shelf for self-defense.

Peering slowly out into the corridor, he found it empty, and quietly began searching for the nearest exit, which revealed itself by the faint moonlight coming through the glass doors.

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He had barely crept forward a few yards before he heard a faint clicking sound in the darkness.

He turned instinctively toward the sound, reaching for the knife in his pocket… but saw nothing in the corridor behind him. But the clicking came again. He still couldn’t tell where it was coming from… but he knew it was coming closer, and fast. Panic took hold, propelling him to start running from the sound — which wasn’t getting any further away, no matter how fast he sprinted down the hall.

Nearly falling, he pushed off from a wall to spin himself around the next corner… and that’s when he saw it. It was clearly the creature from the VHS footage. The clicking noise was coming from its long, sharp fingernails as they brushed against the walls and floor.

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He turned to run and gasped when he nearly collided with Liz, who had just emerged from an adjoining corridor, also running at top speed. As she cried out his name in a combination of surprise and relief, the creature heard her and spun immediately in her direction.

But before John even had a chance to warn his friend, the creature was already attacking her. In seconds, it had ripped her to pieces with its teeth and claws.

In desperation, John smashed the glass protecting a fire extinguisher, setting off the fire alarm in the process. As the creature darted toward him, he hurled the canister into one of the large windows, shattering it. Without thinking, he dove through the ragged opening… and tumbled two floors to the ground below.

Once again, the world went black.

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John’s last journal entry was written from his hospital bed, from which he tried repeatedly to find out more about Liz’s fate… but according to his parents and classmates, no body was found at the scene. News and police reports confirmed that Elizabeth had gone missing without a trace; there was no evidence found in the school building, apart from the window which John had broken. It was as if she’d simply vanished.

“I can still see this thing outside of my window every night as I sleep,” John concludes. “It’s judging me. It knows that I am being tortured by its presence… It’s deriving pleasure from my situation… I know it.”

The entry concludes with a chilling resignation: “I just want this to be over.”

There are no further entries.