Brraaaang. Brraaaang. A sound he hadn’t heard in years, and only then because nostalgic types would make it their smartphone’s ringtone. He dug the old bakelite relic out of the chest, set it on the dusty attic table, picked up the receiver and held it to his ear. “…Hello?”

The distant, tinny voice on the other end said, “You’re braver than most people.”


“The phone isn’t plugged in. Even if it were plugged in, and you paid for landline service, phones like this won’t work with the new system. So when this phone rings, any reasonable person would be given pause. Wouldn’t you say?”

“I suppose.”

“But you answered nonetheless.”

“I suppose I did. Was there something you wanted?”

There was a pause. “Well, as I said, it usually doesn’t get this far. I’m afraid you’ve rather thrown me off.”

“Sorry about that.” He switched the receiver to the other ear, held it in place with his shoulder while he straightened his tie. “Would it help if I admitted to being mildly disturbed?”

The voice sighed. “It’ll have to do for now. Hopefully the flickering lights will have more success.”

“Come again?”

“Nothing.” A click, then only dial tone.

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