147 E. 9th Street – Chapter 4

New horror for your Friday the 13th.

Happy Haunting.




Chapter 4


“Johnnie Walker Black. Rocks,” Carolyn said to the bartender. She sat at the bar and waited. She didn’t know where to look. It had been years since she had been anywhere alone without her phone. She saw an ancient and possibly apocryphal black phone on a lower shelf by the bartender with the long braids. Who would she call? She didn’t know anyone’s number. And she was too stunned to do anything but look straight ahead, seeing her pale reflection in the mirror behind the bar. The woman she saw looked like a ghost.

The word sounded ridiculous. Ghost? Is that why her doors slammed and a make-believe girl hijacked her phone? She stared past the bottles to the mirror behind the bar. Her face. Her short hair. No crazy horror movie blood streaks. No absent reflection. No forced reflection of a goblin or bewitched little girl scout with poisoned Samoas. Just her and her drink. And the woman who was now sitting next to her.

“Johnnie Walker. Neat. You got blue label?” the woman asked. The bartender raised his eyebrow.

“I know,” she said. The bartender shrugged and walked to the back of the bar, reaching on tiptoes for the blue-labeled bottle on the highest shelf. “Every time,” she said. “You think they’d start keeping it lower.”

“Maybe they don’t want it to get broken,” Carolyn said.

“Then they should tread more carefully,” the woman said. “It’s really fucking good scotch.”

“Yeah it is,” Carolyn said. And she didn’t know why she said that. Or why she had even ordered it. She never drank scotch. But she was now.

The bartender placed the really fucking good scotch in front of the woman. And not gently. The liquid tilted and swayed in the glass.

“He’s a shitty actor. I saw him in Medea in some trash theater in DUMBO. He was a lousy Jason. No wonder she killed his kids.”

Carolyn was quiet.

“That I can forgive. Not everyone has talent just because they want it. But not taking care of good scotch? That’s inexcusable.”

Carolyn smiled, still not wanting to talk.

“You’re not an actor, are you?” the woman asked.

“No,” Carolyn said.

“Pam,” the woman said, holding out her hand. “I know. Nun’s name.”

“Are you a nun?” Carolyn asked.

“Yes,” Pam said. Carolyn stared at her.

“Get out of here,” Carolyn said.

“Sacred sisters of booze and tobacco,” Pam said. “So, not an actor. Are you a nun?”

“Not yet,” Carolyn said. She rubbed her shin it was still sore from the crack it took earlier.

“You from the neighborhood?” Pam asked. Carolyn nodded, not giving anymore. Creeped out or not, she was still a minimal-information New Yorker. “Me too. Haven’t seen you here.”

“Look. Before you…I’m not interested.”

“I’m not asking,” Pam said. “But I’m interested.”

“Okay,” Carolyn said.

“Okay,” Pam said. She nodded to Carolyn’s drink. “Phone’s ringing.”

“No, it not mine. I forgot mine-“ Carolyn stopped. Her phone was on the bar, next to her drink. She knew she hadn’t brought it with her. She knew it. But there it was. And it was ringing. A standard old-fashioned phone ring.

“That’s not my fucking phone, “Carolyn said.

“Nope. Not a nun,” Pam said. “Well, honey, it ain’t mine.”

“I could have sworn that I left it-“ She stared at the phone. It stopped ringing. Carolyn took a swig of her drink, draining half of the glass.

“I like you. Too bad you’re not interested,” Pam said. She slowly sipped her own drink. A drop lingered at the corner of her mouth. Pam licked it away with a tongue so dark it looked purple.

Carolyn held her glass in two hands. Gripping the glass helped steady the shaking. She raised it to her mouth, then stopped. The phone next to her started ringing again, but not the old-fashioned ring. Now it was the tinkling, pecking music she had heard before at home.

“You should answer it,“ Pam said. “They really want to talk to you.” The music continued playing.

Carolyn stood. “What are you doing?” she asked.

Pam took another deep drink from her glass. But this time, she didn’t raise the glass to her mouth. She held it in her hand by her chin. From there, she stretched out her long tongue, definitely a deep purple, and dipped it into the amber whisky. She held it there for moment, then curled it back to her mouth, bringing a splash of the drink with the long, spiny tongue.

“They want to talk to you,” Pam said. “They’re going to talk to you. Now answer the fucking phone.”

Carolyn was terrified. She knew that if she tried to run, tried to even move, this woman would hurt her. That tongue, with its points and barbs would be down her throat, ripping the soft tissue and filling her mouth and lungs with her own blood. The plunking of the far away piano continued.

“Answer your phone, Carolyn” Pam said. She put down her drink and turned, facing Carolyn directly.

Carolyn had no choice. She put down her drink and picked up the phone. It looked exactly like hers. The chip out of the top right edge. The rainbow crack curving over the left lower corner. Pam stared at her.

“Hello?” Carolyn rasped.

“Mummy!” the young voice called to her. “Mummy, are you coming to get us? It’s so dark in here. We miss you so much.”

“Who is this?” Carolyn said through chattering teeth.

“You have to go home. You have to take care of Daddy,” the child’s voice said again. “We’ll see you there later.”

“WHO IS THIS! What are you doing?” Carolyn yelled into the phone. The bartender with the braids looked up at her. Just as quickly, he looked back down at the pile of pages he was reading.  The voice in the phone was gone. She could only hear darkness.

“You’d better get home then,” Pam said. She reached past Carolyn and took her drink. She downed the rest of it in one swallow. She licked her lips. “Don’t worry. I’ll get your drink.”

Carolyn looked at her hand. The phone was gone. She looked at the bar. It was barren except for her empty glass.

“I’ll keep this. Don’t worry. You’ll see me again when we need you,” Pam said, smiling. “Kiss that handsome man goodnight for me.”

Carolyn didn’t think. She just ran out of the bar. She looked back as she passed through the door. The woman was gone.


147 E. 9th Street – Chapter 3


 Chapter 3


The apartment door slammed shut, but she didn’t hear the deadbolt. He always turned the deadbolt. Even if he was just grabbing the mail or picking up their Thursday night avocados. Or limes. He never, ever remembered to get limes. This was something that was adorable at first, then bugged her to no end months into to their coupling. She had eventually accepted and come to find endearing that he would forever forget the limes. Because he secretly didn’t like them. But he always remembered to bolt the door.

“Baby?” she called. Their place was not exactly the biggest. Their place. She still stumbled over that one. Their bed, in their place, was at the top of an unforgiving ladder that could only be called “stairs” in the most generous of circumstances. But for two bedrooms in the East Village, you made compromises.

It was quiet. Maybe it wasn’t their door she heard slamming. Probably the Indian couple next door. Those boys could bang some doors. She leaned over the bed, remembering this time that she couldn’t stand fully erect to put on the clean pillowcases, or she would bruise her forehead on the slanted back wall. More East village compromises. Then she heard the door close again. Definitely their door. And then their lock clicking. She put down the still-naked pillow and walked downstairs. As she cleared the last two steps, facing towards the wall and clinging onto the railings on both sides for support, she heard the door unlock and swing open.

“Shawn?” she called. But she knew he wasn’t there. No way. She walked toward the door. When she got within two steps, she felt the air exchange inches from her face. She realized she was sweating. Phone. Needed her phone. It wasn’t in her back pocket. Bed. Pillows. Upstairs. She slipped and cracked her shin against one of the steps. Blood dripped on the dark, faded wood. Get upstairs. Get the phone. She finally got to the top. It wasn’t by the pillows or anywhere on the bed. Then she heard it vibrating from downstairs. Back down, slipping on the last step. Finally upright, she ran across the room and grabbed the first and biggest thing she could hold. Smashing his guitar over the head of whoever was opening and closing her door wouldn’t do much, but she felt better having it in her hand. Where was her phone? She heard it vibrating. Maybe on the counter but the door, she ran to it and grabbed it. She looked up when the door slammed shut again. Full-view, eyes open. She saw the door. It was closed but then it independently swung open, paused as if someone stopped it with their foot and then kicked it shut. Her phone stopped vibrating. And it was suddenly in her hand. Everything was quiet. Then her phone rang.

It was a song she knew, but couldn’t name in this moment. Old and tinny. Something from a black and white movie with fainting girls and men in fedoras and waistcoats. Then it faded, the notes dimming. They were replaced with the sound of a child, young, when boys and girls have the same voices. The child was talking. The same accent as Shawn.

“Hello. Are you there? Someone? Can anybody hear me? I don’t know where I am. I’m…I need my mummy. Is she there? Mummy?”

Carolyn stared at her phone. The screen was black. Nothing. She pressed the power button, the home button, nothing. The phone stayed dead.

“Mummy, I’m so tired. I want to go to sleep in your big bed. Rub my hair so I can go to sleep. Tell the scary goblins not today. Mummy…sleepy…” The child’s voice stopped.

“Carolyn,” she heard, and she finally looked up from her phone. It was the same accent, only a grown man’s voice. She jumped and screamed when she felt the hand on her shoulder.

“Love, what are you doing? What’s the trouble?”

She spun and saw Shawn standing over her. She grabbed him, wrapping her arms around him and squeezing. “Someone’s here. In the house.”

“Who’s here? One of your work mates. Is it Dae?”

“I don’t know. I can’t see them. They are here. And there’s a little boy on my phone.”

He took the phone from her hand and examined it. He pressed the home button and the screen lit up, showing apps and a wallpaper photo of a rosemary scone she had baked in their kitchen. Like there always was.

“There’s no boy on your phone,” Shawn said. “And I don’t think anyone is in the flat.”

Carolyn grabbed the phone from him and put it down on the table. She rubbed her hand on her leg after she dropped it.

“What’s going on?” he asked.

“I don’t know,” she said.

“Why don’t you go lie down? I’ll bring you in some tea.”

“Fuck your tea. I’m not staying here,” she said.


“No,” she said. She walked past him to the next room. He heard her scoop her keys up from the table. Then he heard them drop onto the floor. She swore again and picked them up. Pushing beyond him in the doorway, she walked past the table where her phone was lying. She looked at it, but refused to touch it. She didn’t feel Shawn pulling at her hand as she rushed out the door.


Drowning Above Water – an excerpt

Malina and the Dock

Malina’s head felt as if it had been smashed in by a cinderblock. It hurt so much she was convinced that if her neck didn’t keep straining or spasming, her head would simply topple off her body. Her mouth was dry and gritty. She retched onto the floor but there was not enough food or liquid in her system for her to vomit. She only managed a sandy cough. It was stark black inside the trailer. She couldn’t see anything, didn’t know if it was day or night. Her legs ached and begged to move, to rise, but she was afraid to try to stand because she felt fairly certain she couldn’t. The grinding of machinery and wheels in the last hour had awoken her, letting her know that she wasn’t on the water any more. She’d made it across and she had no proof that she was dead. Felt like it. Would have been preferable. But she wasn’t.

Kneeling. That was the thing. Crawling. Try that first. Getting to her hands and knees, she felt moderately stable. But, a few strides later her arms stared to quiver. Another two paces and they collapsed under her. She didn’t know where she was in the tank, so she had to keep moving until she felt metal, which would eventually turn into the metal door. Turning, she sat down and inched her way ahead, using her heels to slide her along and her arms just to keep her from falling backward. It felt like hours. She counted forty-seven pulls until she felt her toes hit metal. Then she adjusted, putting her flank as close as she could to the metal plane. One corrugated segment at a time, she searched for the door. She was weeping with exhaustion.

When she opened her eyes again, she was still lying against the metal. Her face was flat and flush against the wall. She might have been passed out for thirty seconds or the better part of a day. She couldn’t remember where she had been or not been inside the box, so she started her forward scooting again, following her feet. Counting, she pushed forward seventy-two bumps and finally her hand brushed over the horizontal bar of the segmented door. Pulling herself to her knees she grasped the handle in both of her fists and pulled as hard as she could. The door creaked and leaned upward by an inch then flopped back into place. The tears wanted to come again, burning and itching her eyes but Malina disallowed it. With a wobble, she got to her feet, not taking her hands off the bar of the door. Throwing her weight up and back, she screamed as she lifted with everything she had. She laughed when the door slid open only a foot and a blaze of sunlight cut a path into the black trailer. She dropped flat to the ground and started to wiggle under the opening of the door to the other side. She had made it to the dock.


(Drowning Above Water is the new novel from Alyssa Herron. It is available now at Amazon.)