Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Prank Call

Genre: Horror/Suspense

Daniel Skye

            Five simple words echoed through Melissa Alden’s phone speakers and chilled her to the core.
“You’re going to die tonight.”
The caller’s voice was distorted, yet she could clearly identify the caller’s tone. It wasn’t a threatening tone, it was a sincere one. And that’s what alarmed her.
The caller said it in a matter-of-fact way. The same way you’d tell a person you were leaving town or quitting your job. There was nothing urgent or pressing in the caller’s statement. But they did seem in a bit of a rush to get off the line.
Melissa never even had a chance to respond. The phone rang twice; she answered and heard heavy breathing, followed by the haunting words, “You’re going to die tonight.” Then the line went dead.
She didn’t try *69 because the caller had blocked their number. Instead she dialed 911 and an operator connected her with the local police, who worked to trace the call, albeit unsuccessfully.
They were able to trace the number… to a store-bought mobile phone, the kind you buy without signing up to a specific company. The kind without GPS. The caller had used a prepaid phone card to place the call, and tracing one particular card to one particular location was seen as a waste of time and resources to the police. Especially considering the police had a hunch the call was nothing more than a prank. Four more people had called the station earlier that evening with similar claims.
The police said if the creep called her again to dial them from a different phone–her cell phone perhaps–and they would try and pinpoint the location while she still had the creep on the line. 
Melissa Alden had no enemies, no crazed stalkers. She was happily married with two kids in college. She managed a department store and all the employees adored and respected her. How many bosses can honestly say that?
Shane, her husband, was a construction worker whose free time revolved around hockey, football, model trains, and most importantly, family.
Devout Catholics, the Alden’s attended service every Sunday, with or without their children present. And Shane was always the most generous when it came to the collection plate.
Why on Earth would anyone want to harm me? Melissa wondered. Not just harm me. KILL ME.
As soon as she finished speaking with the cops, she dialed Shane. His cell went straight to voicemail. She tried two or three more times and got the same result.
Then she bravely did a full sweep of the house; made sure every door and window was locked. The basement door didn’t have a lock on the outside and could not be locked with a key. But there were windows in the basement that a person could easily smash and crawl inside if so desired. So she grabbed a chair from the kitchen and wedged it firmly under the knob.
If she heard the glass shatter, she could be out the front door in five seconds before an intruder even has time to realize the basement door is jammed.
She sat in the living room for hours, her back against the wall as she watched the TV at low volume. Every light in the house was on. The place was lit up like Yankee Stadium. She had taken a butcher knife from the knife block on her kitchen counter and was clutching the handle like it was a new appendage, an extension of her body.
Her mind was racing, her heart pulsing. Where the hell are you, Shane? I need you here.
The front door sometimes sticks when you try to open it from the outside. You have to give it a hard push every once in a while to pry it open. When she heard that hard push, followed by the door bouncing against the wall and swinging back, she screamed loud enough for the whole neighborhood to hear.
“Jeez,” Shane said, dusting snow off the shoulders of his jacket. He stepped into the living room where Melissa was cowering in the corner. “What’d you see a spider crawl under the couch or something?”
“Shane!” She exclaimed.
“That’s my name,” he said, shrugging his broad shoulders. “Are you ok, babe? You look really pale. And are you holding a knife behind your back?”
“Why was your cell phone off? I tried calling you so many times.”
“My battery died on the ride home from work. Sorry it took so long. I didn’t want to, but Louis insisted on stopping for a beer. Now what the heck is going on here?”
“I got this weird phone call about an hour ago. Someone threatened to kill me.”
“What’d they say?”
“They said ‘I’m going to kill you’, and then they hung up. I tried the police but they couldn’t get a name or a location.”
“It’s probably just some punk teenager trying to scare you. I bet ten or twenty other people got calls similar to that tonight. Someone did the same thing to my aunt once. Scared the daylights out of her. You’ve got nothing to worry about now. You’re safe with me. So put that knife away before you hurt me accidently.” He chuckled as she lowered the knife and placed it on the coffee table. Then she wrapped her arms around him like it was the first time she had seen him in years. “I’m so glad you’re home.”
“Me too,” he said and smiled as she let go. “Now what’s for dinner?” he asked as he stepped into the hallway and started towards the kitchen.
He had removed his gloves and winter jacket and tossed them aside on the floor, an unbreakable habit that irked her every time he did it.
As Melissa unwrinkled and neatly folded Shane’s jacket, his phone slid out from the pocket. But it wasn’t Shane’s iPhone that landed on the rug. It was a cheap flip cover phone, a brand she didn’t even recognize.
She should’ve stopped there, turned around, and ran straight from the house. But Melissa had to know for sure.
She dug her hand into the pocket that the phone had fallen from, and her fingers brushed a thin chunk of square plastic. She drew her hand from the pocket and held the phone card up to the light of the ceiling fixture. The spot where you obtain the number to activate the card had been scratched away. The card had been activated recently.
“Tell me if this sounds familiar,” Shane boasted from the hallway. She turned and froze at the sight of the Snub .38 in his hand. “You’re going to die tonight.”

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