"One New Message"

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Horror  |  House: Booksie Classic
Erica begins receiving creepy messages on her answer machine.

Submitted: June 30, 2017

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Submitted: June 30, 2017

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"One New Message"

 

‘You have one new message.’ Beep.

‘One hundred.’

‘End of messages.’

Erica looked at the machine, it seemed to shrug at her. She tried to trace where the message had come from, but the number was blocked. The voice that crackled through was deep and seemed to resonate out of the very machine itself.

Strange, she thought. Then she thought no more about it, until the next day when she got another message.

‘You have one new message.’ Beep.

‘Ninety-nine!’ shouted a goofy, joyous voice.

Ok, that’s a bit weird, she thought. Erica tried to trace the source of the message once more, but again, it was blocked. Erica rarely used her landline phone, and almost everyone, including bill chasers, called her on her mobile. She had almost forgotten she even had a landline. Who would bother leaving such a message? Was it a marketing ploy? The questions ended when Erica got bored of them, and she spent the rest of the evening with her puppy, binge-watching terrible TV.

Erica genuinely looked forward to seeing whether she had another new message today, and when she saw the flashing ‘1’, she pressed play immediately.

‘You have one new message.’ Beep.

‘Ninety-eight... ninety-seven… ninety six… ninety five… ninety four….’

‘End of messages.’

The voice enunciated each syllable, and Erica knew that whoever had breathed those words out had done so with their lips very close to the phone. Her insides twisted at the image of some faceless creep pressing his eager lips against the receiver, whispering sweet poison.

Someone’s trying to fuck with me.

Erica went to bed a little uneasily that night.

Erica arrived home late from work that night, and her heart throbbed when she saw on the small screen a stoic, red ‘2’. Both messages had to be from whoever this creep was. The phone hadn’t rung for months, nobody would be calling this line except for the creep. She protested with herself, but then pressed ‘play’.

‘You have two new messages. First message.’ Beep.

‘Ninetythreeninetytwoninetyoneninetyeightynineeightyeighteightyseveneightsixeightfiveeightfoureightythreeightytwoeightoneeightyseventynineseventyeight.’

Erica felt nausea bile up inside her.

‘Next message.’

‘See you soon.’

It was like someone had clawed at her. She flinched and felt the air whisper and stare at her. The world became a funhouse mirror of itself and Erica decided that even if this was a prank, it was purposefully trying to scare her, and that warranted a call to the police.

*

The police didn’t say much. They took notes, they nodded in agreement, they promised to keep an eye on things, they told her to call them if it escalates, they tipped their hats and left.

Saturday. Erica would be home all day today, and she didn’t know if that was a good or bad thing. She would finally be able to answer the phone before whoever it was had a chance to leave a message. She waited many hours for it, and when it came to 7 PM, Erica knew the creep wouldn’t call, as he had always left a message before Erica got back from work, which was usually around six. Perhaps he had already bored himself with the messages, maybe he got spooked by the police, maybe he took a break on weekends. Could be any of those reasons.

Whatever the case may be, it was time for Erica to stop scaring herself.  She would go over to Renee’s house. It would help take her mind off the creep.

*

Renee had Erica in stitches that evening, and the whole deal with the creep was nothing more than a sad joke on behalf of a sad old man. It was midnight when she stumbled back home drunk and she wasn’t at all bothered by the sad old man’s sad messages.

Erica had one new message.

She wanted to vomit her heart out of her throat when she saw it. The creep had called only after Erica had left the house. But how did he know she wouldn’t be in to pick up?

‘You have one new message.’ Beep.

A sing-song voice. ‘Seven-ty sev-en, sev-ven-ty-six, se-ven-ty five, se-ven-ty four… FOUR-TY TWO!’ It said the last number almost patronisingly. ‘Don’t stay out too late, Erica.’

She sobered up straight away and called the police. It was a long time before they arrived, and when she showed them the message, they took things a little more seriously. They searched the house and surrounding area, and when they were satisfied there was no creep, they told her to lock up all the windows and doors. They advised she turn off the answering machine, that the creep would get bored if he couldn’t get a reaction. They advised her to get friends to stay with her from now on, and to watch her back.’

Erica wasn’t satisfied with their advice, and she couldn’t sleep that night until it snatched her.

Sunday morning. Erica woke up with a jolt, but there was nothing to fear. The sun was pouring into the room and her puppy trotted towards her face and gave it a good licking. When she went downstairs, Erica was satisfied to see her answering machine unplugged and useless, like a black brick with a tail. Erica stayed inside all day that day, and although she kept looking over her shoulder, nothing happened. Not a phone call, no sign of a creep at all. She went to sleep that night with her hair standing on end, but finally she had broken the creep’s combo.

Erica came home from work the next day to see a new message on her answering machine. Somebody had plugged it back in. Erica grabbed her puppy and fled out of the house, not caring to press ‘play’. She got Renee to call the police on her behalf, and the police investigated her house, but nothing was broken or stolen. They wouldn’t tell her what was on the answering machine, and instead erased the message. Erica told them she had a right to know, but the police advised it was best she didn’t hear it. Erica’s brain went numb.

Renee told Erica she would be staying with her for a while, and Erica didn’t even consider protesting.

She spent three nights at Renee’s, and Erica felt maybe she was free at last from the creep. What did he expect? That she would just hang around waiting for him to appear? As the messages faded further into the past, they became more dream-like and pointless. Were they a tangible threat? Maybe they were, but both Erica and Renee concurred that it was more to do with creeping her out than anything more sinister. Still, the persistence was worrying.

Erica walked into Renee’s apartment after working late again, and didn’t immediately see her at first. She called out her name, but Renee didn’t respond, nor did her puppy trot up to Erica. She walked upstairs and went into Renee’s room, where she saw Renee bound in rope and gagged. Then Erica felt a sharp pain at the back of her head and fell to the ground. When she awoke, she was next to Renee, who was squirming and projecting muffled screams. Erica looked at where Renee was looking, and a tall, pudgy man looked down on them both. He had thick glasses and his smile was like that of some smarmy three year old. He looked very proud of himself. Erica didn’t recognise him at all. The man guffawed.

He walked very slowly from the far end of the room towards them both, but his eyes were locked on Erica’s.

‘Ten…’

Erica, still groggy from the blow to the head, began phasing in and out of reality.

‘Nine…’ continued the plump man as he advanced step by step. ‘Eight… seven…’

Drifting.

‘Four…’

He withdrew something from behind him, and although Erica’s hazy mind could barely register it, Renee screamed and squawked through her gag.

‘Two…’

 

END



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