Estimated reading time — 3 minutes
When I got the first one, I was literally seconds away from stepping onto the plane when a call from “UNKNOWN” blared from my cell phone. It was a ringtone I hadn’t heard before, one I was pretty sure hadn’t come with the phone.
Normally, I wouldn’t have stopped to answer it, but I was expecting a call about a job I had interviewed for the previous week. I took a deep breath in and accepted the call.
“Do not get on the plane.” A woman’s voice, garbled and strange, as if her vocal chords had been shredded, and she was trying desperately to choke out speech. Despite the unnerving, fractured quality of her voice, her tone was insistent and eerily calm. Then the call ended.
I froze. I had always had a slight phobia of air travel, and something about this call just… there’s no way I was about to get on a seven hour flight now. I turned around and headed toward the food court. I’d just get another flight later in the afternoon, I figured.
I watched from the airport Starbucks three hours later as every TV in the terminal lit up with the crash footage of the plane I should have been on.
No survivors. Not a single one.
I tried to trace the call. So did the police. But there was nothing to trace. There was no evidence my phone had ever received a call around that time. They analyzed phone records, incoming and outgoing communication to my phone… nothing.
I wasn’t making it up. I couldn’t have been.
That wasn’t the only call. Throughout the years, they were few and far between, but always right. And I always listened.
“Do not go on that blind date tonight.” Five months later, my would-be “date” was convicted of killing four women, all with my hair color and build. Found them in a shallow grave about 250 feet from the diner he offered to take me to.
“Do not drive to the concert tonight.” Eighteen-wheeler lost control and plowed into a line of cars. Every driver crushed. Every driver killed. In the stretch of freeway I would have been driving down.
No matter if I got a new phone, if I moved across the country, the calls would still come. I could almost feel the presence of… whatever it was, whatever it is, watching over me.
I imagined being at the bottom of the freezing ocean, still strapped into my coach-section plane seat, or being in that mass grave across from the diner, or watching an eighteen-wheeler skidding toward my car, knowing death was imminent, and I’d get this tightness in my chest. I’d think about how thin that line was. How close I’d gotten.
If I hadn’t had a job interview I was waiting to hear back from, I’d have never listened to that first call. And that would be it for me.
It always felt like something was coming for me. But there was always this… this fractured, warped voice, with these calls that never seemed to exist after I heard them. Self-destructing warning signals, rotting away before my eyes. And I was alive.
I had a bad feeling about this cruise.
I had planned it as a girl’s week out with some of my old friends from college, and was looking forward to a week in the tropics in the dead of winter—but part of me could almost sense that the call was coming. Maybe I’d watched Titanic one too many times, but there was a little nagging fear from the start.
I hoped it would be fine, but I knew that if something was going to happen, I’d get the call. I’d know.
Now, a week before I’m set to go on the cruise, after stepping into my apartment after returning from dinner with a friend, I notice my cell has a message from “UNKNOWN”. They’ve never had to leave a message before. Haven’t checked it all night.
Damn it, and I had really wanted to go on that cruise, too. Ah, well. Not worth whatever horrific fate awaited me in that cold dark ocean.
I click “play message”, and feel my stomach drop as I listen to the voice, sounding horrifically distorted, as if it emanates from a throat slashed to ribbons, crackling with more urgency than ever before. I look around my apartment as the voice on the phone repeats the same phrase over and over again.
“Do not come home after dinner tonight. Do not come home after dinner tonight. DO NOT COME HOME AFTER DINNER TONIGHT.”
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