It begins at the crossroads of the world: Times Square. The lights are blinding and each animated sign flashes so quickly it feels seizure inducing. Giant billboards proclaim NEW YORK CITY SUPPORTS TRUMP FOR PRESIDENT and CHICAGO: NOW STARRING WILLIAM HUNG FROM AMERICAN IDOL AS BILLY FLYNN! You’re smashed shoulder to shoulder between tourists, selfie-sticks rise above the crowd like torches and pitch forks. “WHERE IS TIME SQUARE?” bellows into your ears at alternating intervals, always questioned with a whining southern twang. Sneakered feet move in unison, side to side like wind up dolls on their last crank.
A group of Elmos squeezes through the crowd, they circle you counter-clockwise, putting matted fur-covered hands on the small of your back and chanting “Picture? Picture? Picture?” You try to scream NO! but the yell is muffled by the chatter of tourists and the engine roar of double-decker sight-seeing buses. One of the selfie-sticks flashes capturing an image of you and the Elmos.
“5 DOLLARS!” the Elmos begin to chant, growing louder and more aggressive. They begin to chase you, nashing giant teeth that have suddenly grown out of the red fur. You manage to break free of the tourist mob and run. Elmos try to trip you, still shrieking “5 DOLLLLLLARS!!” but some how you make it down into the subway.
The Elmos all fling themselves at the turn style, clawing for your wallet, your eyes, your butt cheeks. Their mittened hands are too clumsy to swipe a Metrocard! You make it out of Times Square and into the second chamber of terror: The New York Subway.
The light is dim and liquid drips from the ceiling. The screeching sound of subway breaks is unrelenting, penetrating the still, hot air that hovers between dirty green columns. Pools of vomit submerge each base. A raving drunk stumbles into you and you slip in the vomit, sliding off the platform down onto the subway tracks. You hit the ground and a wave of giant subway rats scamper across your body, making it impossible to arise. You hear the train approaching. The sounds of its horn blares, becoming louder and louder. Suddenly a hand reaches for you, hoists you back onto the tracks just in time.
You look up at your savior and see the disgusted face of your ex-girlfriend. The one who cheated on you, broke your heart, and you still think about sometimes when you touch yourself. She gives you a look of pity, wrinkles her nose at the smell of your vomit crusted hair, laughs scornfully and says, “Nice to see you. We should totally get coffee sometime,” then tongue kisses the gorgeous man standing beside her and disappears into the night.
You stumble, dazed onto the train. The car smells like piss and human excrement, or is the smell coming from you? The train screeches to a halt in the dark tunnel. The lights flicker. “We are experiencing train traffic ahead of us. We apologize for the inconvenience. Thank you for riding MTA New York City Transit.” In rapid succession, people burst into the train car.
“HAVE YOU ACCEPTED JESUS CHRIST AS YOUR LORD AND SAVIOR!?”
“WHAT TIME IS IT!? SHOWTIME!!!!”
“EXCUSE ME, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, I DON’T MEAN TO BOTHER YOU BUT….
An hour later you finally make it home: just in time for the horror grand finale. The streets of your neighborhood are eerily desolate. You can just make out muffled crying in the distance and a petit figure sitting on the stoop of your apartment building. As you get closer, your recognize the person’s features. She’s a girl you met on Tinder, slept with once, and then ghosted. You back away but she sees you. Her face is streaked with tears. “WHY DON’T YOU LOVE ME!?” she sobs, “I HATE YOU! GIVE ME ANOTHER CHANCE! MEN SUCK! TAKE ME BACK!”
You invite her upstairs. “This ending is a lot better than I was afraid of!” you smile to yourself.
You awake the next morning. She’s gone. You have a funny, funny feeling. You look down and see a rash spreading across your junk. A bed bug crawling in your chest hair. You reach for your iPhone 6S. In its place is a post-it note, “You get what you deserve, asshole!” is scrawled in girlish handwriting.
“NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!” You can’t stop screaming.
Happy Halloween, NYC!