Wrong Number

“Will it ever get to your thick head? WRONG NUMBER!!!”

Shouting at the top of my lung, I slam my phone so hard I think it may snap in two. A muttered curse promptly follows the noise of the impact.

Rolling on his side, David furrows his eyebrows, obviously disturbed by the little show I’ve just created.

“Again!”

I rub my sore eyes, allowing another curse to slip past my lips.

“Fucking annoying! That’s third time already!”

Three times in the middle of the night, when people are sleeping heavily after a hard day’s work.

“Maybe someone really needs help…”

“Then they should call a police instead of some fucking stranger! Wouldn’t dial ‘911’ far easier?”

Clearly David doesn’t share my vexation, despite he himself is also victimized to this midnight disturbance.

“Don’t be so cold…”

“Easy for you to say since you don’t work ten fucking hours every day!”

With an exasperated huff I lie back down, pulling the blanket over my head and shutting my eyes. Those stupid wrong numbers have already taken too much of my precious time and the last thing I want is to loiter about the office like a zombie with two heavy bags under my eyes. Not tomorrow. Not the day I finally gain my long-awaited promotion!

I might have heard David’s sigh but I pay it no mind.

The phone rings again when I’m about to drop off.

“You sick bastard!”

I yell at the phone right after picking it up.

“Ouch.”

David snatches the phone from my hand none-too-gently before I have the chance to hang it up.

“Hello? Do you need any help? Hello?”

Boiling with silent anger, I lie back down.

“Hello? HELLO?”

“Just hang it up already!”

I snarl at my boyfriend after his fourth “hello”.

“Strange…”

“What?”

“There’s no one. Only some sloppy sounds… like, like rubber boots stamping on puddle. Listen!”

I press my ear to the phone half out of David’s beckon and half out of my own curiosity. There’s indeed some strange noises over the phone but I can make out neither what they are or what is causing them. Heck, those noises may be just a static on the line and not any actual sounds. Damn David and his ridiculous imagination!

“Told you it’s wrong number.”

A sense of triumph eases my earlier annoyance at David as I pull the blanket up to my chin, trying to get back to my sleep.

After a few minutes, I realize I can’t have any sleep if my boyfriend keeps sitting with the phone pressed to his ear and the bed lamp on like that. When I pull the blanket down in a huff, I’m at lost to see David’s handsome face strangely pale under the dim bed lamp and a sheen of sweat coating his forehead.

What has left of my irritation is swept clean by such sight; my hand reaches his face, pushing away a damp sandy lock.

“What’s wrong?”

“I, I heard a chuckle. Short, dry and carrying… menace. Then, a voice says, it says ‘wrong number’.”

“Some sicko’s joke. Never mind it.”

“But…”

Snatching the phone from his hesitated hand, I toss it on the table, turn off the lamp and half push David down the bed. “Sleep!”, I half-command him before wiping the sweat on his forehead with a brief kiss, tasting salt.

The way I deliberately put the phone ensures there is no other wrong-numbers to disturb our sleep. Should have done it earlier.

“See? There’s no news about a psychopath on a killing spree like you’ve imagined.”

I hum triumphantly when I lay out today’s newspaper on the table, beside David’s plate of toast and blueberry jam.

His ocean-blue eyes narrow as they skim through the pages, elegant brows knitting.

“But you have to hear that chuckle. It’s chilling! And those sounds…”

“A sick joke and that’s that.”

“Anyone who chuckles like that is clearly not right in the head.”

“Exactly why we call them a sicko. If you’re so intrigued by it, why not turn it into a script? Some slasher movie about a psycho who allows his victims to make three phone calls before butchering them? It must sell better than your usual chick flicks. Slasher movies are the current trend, you know.”

David remains unresponsive to my quip. When I begin to think he’s offended, a smile suddenly creeps up his lips.

“Maybe that’s not a bad idea at all. Should give it a try.”

I reply with a haughty smirk from behind my coffee mug.

“Will I have a part in it?”

“Maybe there’s a part for the screenwriter’s girlfriend if I speak to the producer. Probably one of the victims. No, the first victim. Makes it special for you.”

“Already planned to kill me, huh? Fuck you.”

I punch his arm, laughing along with him.

“Don’t mind if you do.”

Downing the content of my morning dose of caffeine in one gulp, I leave a coffee-lipstick smear on his cheek before grabbing my coat and stand up.

“Would love to but can’t. I’ll be late tonight. No need to wait for me, OK?”

“Again?”

“Can’t help.”

I turn on my heel and walk out of the door, only to be greeted by a morning chill.

My breath comes out a thin veil of milky fog; I tighten the coat around my frame and hurry my feet.

Work. And more work.

Ten to midnight is when I step out from the pleasant heat of my car into the freezing atmosphere. Knackered and intoxicated, I pull the coat tightly around my body and begin my walk from the parking place to our apartment. About eight hundred meters and a few minutes’ walk and I’m happily united with my soft bed and warm blanket.

And my David, too. By this time he’s probably asleep already. My lazy boy.

Despite the winds scraping my face quite painfully, I inhale a good portion of cold, fresh air. As I exhale, I can feel an amount of alcohol vaporizing from my body, clearing my head just a little so that my steps slightly less falter.

Here I am, standing at the entrance of the urban monster’s filthy intestine, namely the poorly lit and trash-littered alley that leads to my apartment. Owning a rather affordable apartment in this expensive city center means having to endure certain downsides: having no convenient parking place is one; this, another.

I inhale carefully, trying to take the least of the fetid smell that takes permanent residence in this place. David laughs at me every time I wrinkle my nose as we saunter down the alley but my boy doesn’t have the slightest idea of how much it disturbs me. Hypersensitivity can be a bitch sometimes, well, most of the time.

I pull up my scarf around my nose and begin to walk down the goddamn alley. The night is completely mute, save for the echoes of my heels on the puddly ground.

No…, not just the sounds my heels. There are another.

Footsteps!

Rubber boots!

The words suddenly pop out and I feel a sharp chill instantly running along my spine, down to my toes.

For whatever goddamn reason, the joke I made with David this morning is rewinding in my head.

A psycho who allows his victims to make three phone calls before butchering them.

It can’t be this coincidental!

I quicken my steps as much as my heels can manage as I’m battling with the fear that gets amplified with each footstep my ears catch. There’s no need to tell how miserable I’m failing.

My clammy hand reaches into the pocket of my coat, finding my cell phone. I allow myself a brief sense of relief.

The rubber footsteps keep a deliberate distance behind my back, their leisure pace and crystal-clear echoes a blatant taunt.

I let you run for now. But no matter how far you go, I’ll always be right behind you.

I pull out my cell phone, skim the  contact list and hit the dial button.

021478269. My home’s phone number. David should be at home right? He’ll come and save me right?

First ring. Second ring.

My heart’s thumping wildly in my chest.

Please! Please!

“Help! Someone’s follow…”

“Wrong number!”

I’m abruptly cut short by a none-too-friendly shout, leaving me in bewilderment.

That wasn’t David. Rather than David’s, I heard a female voice.

Did I make a mistake? That can’t be! I’ve saved my home number in my phone in case of urgency and I can be one-hundred percent certain I’ve done it right.

I hit the dial button again.

The female voice again. Louder. Angrier.

Again, wrong number.

Behind my back, the footsteps seem to be picking up pace.

They are approaching me. They are coming to get me!

I shudder at the thought of myself, cut beyond recognition, being carefully placed inside a pitch black body bag, and David’s ghastly pale face.

I kick off my heels and start running. Something I should have done a life-time ago.

Dreadfulness wasn’t so strong a few minutes ago since I was clinging to the hope of David’s saving me.

2 wrong-numbers have faded it drastically.

My feet might be bleeding with the rough macadam beneath my soles. I pay them no mind. My fingers frantically hit the numbers.

0-2-1-4-7-8-2-6-9. This time it can’t be wrong.

“Help me! Please!”

Someone, please. Anyone.

“Will it ever get to your thick head? WRONG NUMBER!!!”

The female voice furiously shouts back at me, following by a violent slam and the line’s cut off.

I couldn’t have been wrong all three times. Could it be… David has taken someone to our home?

Realization and horror come crashing down on me at the same time.

The female voice isn’t unfamiliar. I know it too well. I should have.

Tears swell at the corners of my eyes yet they don’t slow my feet down. I’m running with my fastest speed in my entire life. I’m running for my life.

A few meters from the door. Just a few steps more. Please God, let me make it!

The hooded figure moves like Death-incarnate. His rubber boots create sloppy sounds which echo through the depth of the alley.

He loves those peculiar sounds. He stamps harder and harder on the puddly ground.

On the mess he’s made on the puddly ground.

He picks up the cell phone and examines it under the dim lamplight.

Nice one.

Let’s see. Recent calls. 021478269. Three times.

He hits the dial button and presses it to his ear.

“You sick bastard!”

He smiles at the furious female voice.

“Hello? Do you need any help? Hello?”

The male voice is more pleasant to his ears. His smile broadens.

“Hello? HELLO?”

He hears the female voice again after the male’s fourth “hello”. He grins widely, showing two perfect rows of gleaming white teeth as he stamps on the ground. He knows they are listening.

He hears the triumphant sense in the female voice. And then she’s silent, leaving only the male.

He can even hears his breathing over the phone.

He lets out a short, dry chuckle.

“Wrong number.”

He whispers and hangs up.

With a wide grin etched to his hooded face, he leaves the filthy alley, thinking how big of a ruckus it will cause when his ‘masterpiece’ is discovered tomorrow.

And maybe… just maybe, they’ll make a movie out of it.

That’d be lovely. Maybe he’ll come to the movie theater and watch it.

2 thoughts on “Wrong Number

  1. This is the first time I’ve read your story and I love it. It sends chills all over my body (in a nice way). The ending is a bit confusing though. I’m not sure the ‘he’ at the end refers to which character.
    Anyway, I want to compliment you on your good command of English. Can’t wait for your new stories. 😀

    Like

    1. Thank you.
      Well, ‘he’ could be anybody, a salary man, a teacher, a businessman etc.; he could even be David. As long as he doesn’t get caught, no one knows who he really is.

      Like

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