Higher New York

From the research files of Michel Wibert, hand-written:

Subway

If you wait until the Times Square subway station is closed, and then travel to the extreme southern end of the uptown number 1 train platform, you'll find a nondescript door painted to resemble all the myriad MA utility doors in the subway system. It is just past the limit of the platform, into the local (1 train) tunnel, left of the south platform end stairs. It is necessary to walk along a narrow maintenance ledge for perhaps fifteen feet to reach the door.

When you open the door, it swings out and to the left - away from the platform. If you open it whilst standing on the platform side, it will open onto a drab utility closet - a space perhaps 6 feet wide by 12 feet deep with shelving along all three walls. In amongst the tool chests, mop buckets, and industrial wrenches and sledgehammers used to maintain subway track you can find (only once) a small laminated subway schedule. It denotes the 42nd street train arrival and departure times for each day of the week. Its publication date is 1949. Take this with you, and leave the closet. Take nothing else.

Once outside, you must close the door and not look back. Return the next day the station is completely closed, and this time, move past the door and open it from the left side. This will force you to open it all the way back against the wall to pass it and enter the room. When you enter the room in this manner, however, it will have no back wall; storage shelving along both sides will continue down a set of steep steps. Touch nothing, no matter how fascinating it may appear. At the bottom of the steps lies a left/right intersecting tunnel. Turn in the direction of your off hand. Fifty feet along you will enter a large storeroom, mostly empty with tools and shelves scattered randomly across the floor. In the middle of the room will be a mop bucket holding a rubbish fire of unusual brightness. Around it stand four men, all clad in various layers of grime-encrusted sweaters and other outerwear, warming their hands at the fire.

Approach the fire. Hold out your hands to warm them. The four men will make room for you. Do not look directly at them, nor speak, until one of them asks if anyone knows what time the last train leaves the station for 242nd Street. Without speaking, hand him the schedule you removed from the storage room. He will take it, nod, and tuck it into his clothing. Leave the room and do not look back; go back up the stairs and close the door. Do not ever return past the doorway. For as long as you live and do not pass through the door, you will know the location of every train currently moving through the New York Subway system, to a degree fine enough to allow you to run blindfolded through the subway system and never miss a sliding door nor wait for a train.

If you return through the door, you will find yourself in the closet and be unable to exit again without a fast-moving train striking you as you do. If you take the wrong tunnel turning initially, you will find yourself lost in the New York City sewer system, at least twenty-five turns from the nearest exit, and will never again be permitted through the door. If you take anything besides the schedule from the storage closet, it will only ever again open onto the closet for you.

If you speak to the men around the fire, they will bare shining fangs and attack.


Bus

In the fourth open lobby area of the Port Authority Bus Terminal there is a small water fountain. On the first hour of the night of the full moon, drink from the fountain and then make your way quickly to the nearest MTA bus stop. The bus will arrive empty; board it, and instead of using a Metrocard, show the driver an organ donor card. Take your seat.

The bus will make one stop. At that stop, exit the rear door; when the bus drives off, you will find yourself at the New York Public Library, but no other people will be within sight. Do not explore. If you leave the block of Fifth Avenue on which you stand, you will never return to the New York of Men. Enter the library through the rightmost door. You will find yourself in a small room with rough open windows looking out onto the edge of a small wood, in the evening. There will be a beating heart on a table in the center of the room. Take the heart in your hand, and without pausing take one bite from it. Swallow immediately. Put the heart down and leave the room through the door you came. If you have followed the proper form, the bus will arrive at the bus stop and allow you to board. The ghoul driver will not look you in the eye, nor (from that day on) will you be bothered by the resident lurkers of New York City. However, if you ever enter an automobile within the confines of Manhattan, you will find that from that moment on those denizens will all begin to seek you out and attempt to replace the heart with one unbitten.


Taxi

If you hail a taxi in Herald Square on the Winter Solstice by waving a flintlock pistol, an original Checker Marathon taxi will separate from traffic and stop to pick you up. Get in the cab, and hand your flintlock to the driver. He will accept the weapon, drop it on the seat next to him and drive away. Do not look out the side windows of the cab; looking out the windshield is safe but will eventually cause you violent nausea, forcing you to look down long enough for the taxi to end up somewhere you will not recognize.

When the taxi stops, pay the driver five gold coins (modern struck coins are acceptable so long as they each contain at least one ounce of gold, three nines fine). He will return your flintlock to you. Exit the taxi.

You will find yourself in the center of Sheep Meadow, in Central Park. The skyline will be that seen when The Greensward Plan was passed in 1857, leading to the Park's creation. Waiting for you will be five citizens of Higher New York and The Duellist, a man dressed in plain black whose story is not known.

They will bow to you. Return the bow. Allow the panel to inspect your weapon, take your place on the lists, and at the signal commence a ten-step turn-and-fire duel. Should you lose, you will wake up lying in the center of the Central Park Boat Pond, your head just above water, and will never see the Checker Marathon again. Your heart will be suffering from an aortic aneurysm which if left untreated will eventually burst in much the same manner as it would had you suffered the gunshot.

Should you win the duel, your opponent will fall. When he is pronounced dead, turn away from the proceedings and re-enter the taxi which will be waiting for you. Hand the flintlock to the driver, and he will drop you at a random location in Manhattan. Exit the cab without the gun. From that day forward, should you find yourself in danger in Manhattan, you need merely raise your hand as if hailing a taxicab. Your dueling flintlock, freshly loaded with a silver ball, will appear in your hand, and vanish when you drop your hand to aim the gun within ten degrees of straight down.

If you leave the site of the duel by any means other than the taxicab, you will not be seen again by anyone in the New York you departed from.



Pickman's Nodegel: The 2009 Halloween Horrorquest

If you liked this, you'll probably like the original inspiration for it.

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