The Scariest Places in Toronto

4:37am Dundas West Bus 

It always arrives two minutes ahead of schedule. The driver doesn’t meet your gaze as you board. You shovel a handful of filthy change into the slot, although the coins may as well be slugs and pennies for all the zombie at the wheel cares. There are two other passengers—a passed out bag man, twitching and moaning fitfully, and a guy with face tattoos muttering to himself. An aluminum can rolls back and forth along the floor. The graffiti on the chair in front of you is written in blood, or maybe ketchup, but it’s not any language you’ve ever seen before. Like Wingdings, only backwards.

It’s past the witching hour, you’re riding the proletariat chariot instead of shelling for a cab, and you know you deserve all this and more. The bus stops at an intersection you don’t recognize, although no one pulled the cord. It’s waiting for you to disembark, as quickly as you can.

Leslieville’s Cellphone Graveyard 

You sift through the wreckage of the 21st century thus far. You can’t take a step without a discarded Blackberry crunching underfoot. This place is a mausoleum, a charnel house. The acrid smell of scorched plastic burns your nostrils, and you recall a forgotten memory from your youth of junkies freebasing in the ravine behind your house (the smell of burning toys—a twig snaps and their heads snap up—you flee, terrified, into the woods, hiding supine in the mire).

This place is a testament to planned obsolescence; of technology’s failure to save us. Deep in a pile of piece-of-shit iPhone 4Ss, good only for paperweights except no one uses paper anymore, you hear a ringtone. Marimba. You know the call is for you.

Nightclub of the Living Dead

At the water’s edge, where Sherborne meets Jarvis, there’s a nightclub in an abandoned warehouse, built on land filled with heavy metals. There’s no line up to get in, no cover, no dress code keeping your homely visage at bay. You only need to know the right knock to perform on the right rusted firedoor—which you do, having found instructions etched into a bench in a graveyard. (“directions to the G-Spot.” And then below, carved shakily with a serrated knife, “the rumors are true.”)

You arrive with a friend, but lose him in the strobe lights and fog moments after entering. People clad in black are languidly writhing to music that sounds like Halloween sound effects set to dubstep playing at half speed. You try to Shazaam the track, but your piece-of-shit iPhone 4S doesn’t recognize the song. If you had the 5, you’d have answers. You try to buy a drink, but the fridges are filled with Smirnoff Ice. You suddenly realize everyone else in this club is dead.

A Condo Lobby on Spadina

Of course it’s late. Nothing good happens at this hour. You’re pacing fitfully, since a girl is unconscious on the courtesy couch. She’s ashen, and looks seconds away from choking to death on her own vomit. You briefly consider putting on her side to prevent this, but remember the flesh-eating bacteria supposedly ravaging the city’s cocaine supply and think better of it. You just cover your face with your sleeve instead.

This place smells like formaldehyde. How long have you been waiting in this place? No one comes and no one goes. You can no longer recall your life before this horrible space. Has your friend just forgotten about you? You try again to call him, but your goddamn garbage antique iPhone can’t get reception through all the asbestos in the walls. God only knows how this Ikea building, constructed overnight from pressboard and apple cores, is sturdy enough to block your call.

Lead-heavy water drips menacingly from an overhead pipe. You’re aware of the oppressive weight of humanity, packed in all around you like prisoners in a for-profit jail. You can’t breathe. The elevator starts slowly counting down from the 13th floor, and then, you remember your ex lives here. TC Mark

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