Scary Places are Close to Home

New York is a very large city. It’s made larger by the habits of New Yorkers. In a city this large, it’s easy to fall into patterns and spend most of your time in one, two or three neighborhoods, rarely venturing into “unknown” territory. A friend moves — and you explore a “new world.” You get a new job — and here’s another new one.

But the status quo is, well, status quo.

Every now and then, I’m introduced to an entirely new — and entirely frightening — place. I was headed to an off-Broadway theater. I took a subway down to the Brooklyn Bridge/City Hall stop and headed west on Chambers Street. This is a part of Manhattan that never fails to confuse me. A few blocks away in any direction I’m fine — Chinatown, SoHo, the Bowery, even the area around the courthouses is familiar turf, but… The theater turned out to be further south and further west, and the walk from subway, on a dark winter’s evening proved to be an adventure.

I misjudged the distance, or misunderstood the directions, and walked right passed the Borough of Manhattan Community College campus and found myself walking alone on an elevated walkway above a busy multi-lane road. I climbed up the wide stairway, carefully stepping over the patches of hard-packed black snow, and up into a corridor connecting one part of Chambers Street to the next.

I was alone — completely alone — a pretty strange state of being in NYC.

This is where my imagination took over. What a great place for an urban vampire to hunt! What a wonderful spot for a murder! And as I approached the far end, I realized that what appeared to be the sole exit was a locked access to a city high school. Then I spotted my escape, a winding staircase — also spotted with black ice.

When I reached the other side and realized I’d gone too far and needed to retrace my steps — and repeat my trip through the covered bridge in the night — my imagination went wild. I made it to the theater with plenty of time, but only after I’d managed to scare the shit out of myself. It’s an occupational hazard, but I’m glad I discovered a new scary spot and I will definitely use it in a story one day soon.


  1. I have had times like this myself. The crazy one is late at night and I am sitting in the quiet living room by myself. As I shut everything down and lock the doors my imagination begins to run free. Have you ever been afraid to open a curtain and look outside your window into the empty black night?

    • Candy Korman

      Living in a city — not just any city, but one that doesn’t completely shut down — makes empty, black night a rarity. During the five day black out that followed Super Storm Sandy, I experienced real darkness in and around my own. Truly scary and strange and yes, the imagination strays and follows all sorts of odd pathways.

      I’ve always been able to turn the ordinary into the scary, wild, crazy… When I say “able” it’s more that it’s part of me. It happens. The quiet ally becomes a dangerous passageway. The closet door a portal. The… you get the picture.

      In other words YES I can scare myself! And I do!!!

    • Yes! Ever since I saw the Innocents [old movie adaptation of the Turn of the Screw] I can’t open curtains at night, at least not without a hefty fight between The Wimp and Wonder Woman. 🙂

      • Candy Korman

        My surrounding are more REAR WINDOW — what hints of other people’s lives will I see across the courtyard.
        What’s scarier — the wildness of nature or other people?

  2. Lots of empty black night around my neck of the woods, but even more so at my family’s property in Montana. It can still even get creepy to go walking off in the woods during daylight as well. So easy to get turned around in the dense forest…

    • Candy Korman

      Getting turned around in a forest — classic fairy tale, classic horror, classic… classic!