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One Call

One call


Estimated reading time — 12 minutes

One call. Years of service with the police and there was one call that I’ll never forget.

The shift started like any other. Nine PM start and I was in for the long run. It was a cold, Monday night so I expected a relatively quiet shift. After the evening briefing, I grabbed a set of car keys and loaded up the boot with my gear. Our team was low on numbers so I was single crewed for the evening. I was happy about that though, I always preferred to be on my own. I found I always had to put a mask up around others, but on my own, I could finally be myself. I don’t know why, but being on my own always put me at ease. Maybe it was because I felt that my heart wasn’t in the job anymore. When I started this job, I felt like a hero, like I could really make a difference. Now I just felt like a number on a spreadsheet, a zombie, just clocking in and out, counting down the hours until I can go home.

The time went by soul crushingly slowly as I aimlessly drove the dark, quiet streets. My eyes started feeling heavier and heavier, and as three AM rolled around it was always a time where I would have to fight just to stay awake. I was so tired, I even thought about pulling into a quiet spot and having a quick power nap when all of sudden I was jolted awake by a call over my radio.

“Yankee Bravo 26?”

It startled me. I didn’t realise I had the radio on full volume.
I grabbed it and answered.

“Yankee Bravo 26, go ahead.” I said, eager to get started.

The control room operator explained that there’d been a silent 999 call and told me all the necessary information for me to reach where the call was coming from. These calls were usually nothing to worry about, nine times out of ten they would be accidental pocket dials. So, I made my way to the address the call was coming from and when I got there a wave of disappointment came over me. It was a block of flats. I called the control room for more information but all they could tell me was that the call came from this address.

I got out of my car and had a look around the building. It was huge. There must have been at least 50 tenants in there. I checked if I could see any lights on from outside but it was to no avail. I knew what I had to do. I would have to enter and knock door to door to find exactly who called us. I sighed deeply and walked towards the front of the building.

I expected the door to be locked but when I put my hand to it, it opened with a loud creak. I stepped into a long, black hallway and let the door slam shut behind me with a bang that echoed down the dark corridor. Suddenly I was plunged into complete darkness. I took my torch out and clicked it on. It came on with a flicker that dimly lit the hallway. I could now just about see, at the end there was flight of stairs. I looked around for a moment to see if there was a light switch. There was.

“Thank God.” I whispered to myself.

I tried the switch, which resulted in a pop as the bulb blew out, slightly startling me. All I had now was my torch to light the way, and slowly, I made my way forward to the flight of stairs ahead of me. When I reached the top, another long, pitch-black corridor greeted me. This one however had doors on either side. I shone my torch over them. They looked old, with paint crumbling off all of them. I looked down and noticed for the first time how dirty the floor looked, and that wasn’t the worst of it. There was a terrible stench in the air. It was awful. It smelled like a dead animal or rotting food. There were always places you visited as a police officer where you would wipe your feet on the way out, and this was one of them. There were stains all over the carpet, deep, black stains. At that point, I reminded myself that someone most likely just called us by accident and all I needed to do was make sure everyone was okay, so, I started to knock on all of the doors.

The first few times I knocked on different doors, there were no answers from anyone. I didn’t want to force entry into any of the flats. If I’m being completely honest, I didn’t want the hassle of the paperwork. I carried on knocking on other doors when I heard a faint noise coming from above me. It sounded like furniture being scraped along the floor. Now I knew someone was here. I climbed up the next flight of stairs and made my way to the flat from which I believed the noise was coming from. When I got to the next level, I could see a small line of light emitting from under one of the doors. I made my way over and knocked loudly.

“Hello? Police, could you come to the door please?” I said with as much authority as I could.

I could hear rustling from the other side before suddenly the door began to slowly creak open. I found myself looking at an old, thin man. I could only see a part of his face as he peered around the half-opened door. He was incredibly gaunt in the face and had a long, dishevelled beard.

“We’ve had a 999 call from this address, just making sure everything’s okay sir.”

He didn’t answer me at first; his wide eyes were peering down the hallway like he was looking for something.

“Everything’s fine.” He whispered. “You should leave.”

“Why?” I asked, confused.

The old man pushed the door shut in my face and the light from under the door disappeared. I was left confused and unable to react. I couldn’t explain why, but at this moment, I began to feel a sense of unease. Was I in danger here? All I knew was that I still needed to find whoever made that 999 call, accidental or not. I collected myself once again and continued my efforts in going door to door.

I was still met with nothing but silence, and when making my way through the building the putrid smell only got worse. As the smell became more powerful, I realised it was something I recognised. It was the smell of death. Any police officer will tell you that smell is instantly recognizable the moment it hits your nose. I felt a pit in my stomach. I’d seen death before but I hadn’t prepared myself for it tonight. I grabbed my radio to call for back-up but was met with indifference. All other police officers where at emergency calls. Frustrated, I continued to follow my nose and find the source of the foul smell. As I climbed up yet another set of stairs the pit in my stomach grew and grew, and so did the foul stench in the air when, without warning, I heard a quiet whimper. It sounded like someone was crying and trying to stifle it as best they could. I admit, I was scared now. I could feel my heartbeat in my mouth and the sweat begin to make its way slowly down my forehead. The quiet whimpering continued.

“Who’s there?!” I called out, with a slight nervous crack in my voice.

The crying suddenly stopped and left me in complete silence. I stood completely still for the longest time, listening out for any more noises. All I could hear now was the occasional whistle of wind coming from outside. I pointed my torch in front me and what I saw terrified me. Black stains everywhere. All over the walls and the floor. The way the stains were formed, I knew it had to be blood. I grabbed for my radio once more and my heart sank. My radio was dead and my spare battery was in my car.

“Shit.” I whispered to myself.

In my tiredness, I had got seriously complacent. I turned around to face the stairwell and I was just about to make a run for it back to my car when there was another sound. Heavy breathing coming from behind me. It was only just loud enough for me to hear it. I quickly turned around, shining my light down the hallway. The breathing stopped; however, and I noticed that one of the doors was opened. It wasn’t before…someone must have opened it while my back was turned. Every fibre in my body was telling me that I should turn around and get back to my car, but a part of me had to know what was in there. I unclipped my baton from my belt and extended it, there are no guns in this country, so all I had to defend myself was my baton and standard issue pepper spray.

I came to the open door, and the smell was unbearable. I knew it was coming from this room, and as I stepped inside the flat, I found a light switch next to me and flicked it on…I’ll never forget what I saw.

There was blood everywhere! The walls, the floor, the ceiling, and more bodies than I’d ever seen in my life. They were all naked and strung up like pigs in a slaughter house. They were emaciated and pale grey. Some looked as if they’d been there for months and some looked like they’d only just been strung up. My breath quickened as I slowly backed out of the flat, into the corridor. Suddenly, I heard the sound of someone laughing. It was an incredibly low pitch, almost sounded edited. I couldn’t pinpoint where exactly it was coming from but it was getting louder and louder, finally causing me to lose my nerve.

I broke out into a sprint, making my way as fast as I could down the staircase. I could feel someone was right behind me as the laughing persisted. The stairs felt as if they would never end until, to my surprise, I ran into the old man from earlier. He grabbed my arm tightly and pulled me.

“Follow me.” He said in a hushed tone.

I did without question. I was too panicked to answer as he led me quickly to his flat. When we arrived, he hastily locked the door behind him.

“What the fuck was that?!” I shouted out of breath.
“Shhhhhhhhh.” The old man said, with his ear to the door. “Sit down.” He whispered.

I sat down on his sofa shaking. All my training, my years of experience seemed to just disappear. I didn’t know what to do.

“I’m sorry.” The old man said, turning to face me. “It’s my fault you’re here.”
“What do you mean?” I whispered back.
“I’m the one who called you.”

I was lost for words. I didn’t understand what was happening. It all felt like a twisted nightmare. The old man slowly walked over and sat in a dusty armchair across from me, and he began to speak again.

“I don’t care if you believe this or not so I’m gonna tell you anyway.” He took a deep breath. “That thing up there. Whatever it is, it ain’t human. Every few months, it comes out and…it feeds. I called you when it started happening again tonight, but I couldn’t speak. Whatever it is…it knows your thoughts…it…senses you. If you try and leave it will know.”

I was obviously terrified and confused at what he was saying. I thought to myself that maybe he was crazy, however, I’d been in the job long enough to know when someone was lying and I could see in that man’s eyes that he was telling the truth. I continued to sit in silence as he started to speak again.

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“It’s always the same, every few months it takes some of us into that room, and they never leave. The next morning some people come clean up after it and, just like that…the flats are back up for rent. I only moved here cause the rent was cheap.” He chuckled to himself. “Now I know why” He sighed. “It knows to pick the ones people won’t miss as well. It’s like it can read your mind, it gets in your head…I don’t know why it’s never picked me but I do know that anyone who tries to leave or tries to find help, ends up in that room.”

“So, what the hell do we do?” I said, still panicked.

“We sta…”

Suddenly the old man was interrupted by three loud knocks on the door. We sat staring at it, not moving as the doorknob started to rattle.

“Don’t move!” The old man whispered.

I couldn’t move anyway. I was frozen. Whatever was on the other side of the door was getting more and more desperate to get in until the banging and the rattling ceased all at once.

“Honey, please let me in!” Said a voice from behind the door.

It was my wife’s voice. As clear as day. What the hell was she doing here?
“That’s my wife!” I said standing up.

“No…its not. Do not let it in!”

I made my way to the door just to peer out of the peephole. There she was, she looked scared, and she was crying. She peered through at me with deep sadness in her eyes. You see…my wife had been missing for two years, I’d just about given up hope…but…there she was, as clear as day, begging me to let her in.

The old man jumped up and grabbed me, desperately trying to stop me from opening the door, but I easily overpowered him. I knocked him back with my elbow and began to unlock the door.
“Babe! Get in here!” I shouted as I unlocked the bolt and swung the door open.

The old man was right. Standing in front of me was something truly horrifying. It wasn’t my wife. Its body was thin and tall, its arms long, almost touching the floor. Its skin was pale blue and its veins were red. Its mouth was just a small hole in the middle of its face and it had no eyes. It quickly cocked its head from left to right, seemingly looking between me and the old man. Each time its head moved; a sickening crack of its neck would follow.

“You fucking idiot.” Said the old man. “You gave it permission.”

Suddenly, with great speed the creature pushed me aside and leapt towards the old man. It all happened so quickly, and in a flash the creature had grabbed him by the leg and pulled him out into the corridor. His screams echoed down the hallway as he and the creature disappeared into the darkness. I stood in fear as the screams continued. That thing was torturing him up there, I knew it. I put my hands over my ears; I couldn’t bear to hear it anymore. I had to get out of here.

The old man’s screams continued to echo through the building. For a while I was unable to move, unable to think, I was too afraid. However, I remembered my duty, I remembered why I had joined the force all those years ago, before life and the job had ruined me. I was supposed to protect. That was my job. So, I steadied myself once more and made my way upstairs through the oppressive dark; the familiar stench guiding me to that room of horrors.

I made it to the floor where the room was and shined my torch down the hallway. The desperate screams of the old man had stopped now, I knew I was too late, but I made my way forward anyway, and as I got closer, I heard a faint crack. It was that thing moving. I snuck closer. Now I could hear the sound of it breathing. I creeped even closer until I was almost at the entrance to the room when I noticed a hand slowly reaching around the door frame. I stopped and waited, staring at it; its long claws tapping rhythmically against the wood. That’s when the laughter started once more. It was louder this time, and I felt as if the sound was coming from deep in my mind.

“He’s gone I’m afraid,” a voice said.

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The voice felt like it was right next to my ear, causing me to flinch. It continued to talk to me. I was frozen, almost like it was controlling my movements.

“We can help each other…we could be friends.” The voice carried on.

It slowly stepped out of the hallway revealing itself to me once again. Slowly, it turned its head towards the room.

“You know it’s your fault he’s dead.”

The voice in my head was so painful to listen to. It felt like pins being pushed into my skull.

“Just like your wife…” it said, laughing. “Maybe if you hadn’t been so obsessed with work; taking the extra shifts, only ever thinking of yourself, you might have been there to stop it happening.”

The pain was unbearable now. Unlike anything I had felt before, but despite the pain, I managed to remember something the old man had said! It knows who won’t be missed. This means It must have selected its victims so it won’t be caught. Maybe…just maybe, I could turn around, ignore it and walk out. ‘Could it be as simple as that?’ I thought to myself. I took a step backward and with a sharp crack, the creature swung its head towards me. I turned my back on the thing as it continued to torment my mind, but my will was set. I walked forward, hearing its grotesque body moving behind me the whole time. It was so close I could feel it’s warm breath on my neck. It kept talking to me, describing all the ways it would torture me, but I persisted. In all my fear I knew one thing, the creature wasn’t trying to stop me; I was right.

As I got closer, something happened then that I didn’t expect. The thing started to become desperate, begging me to stay.

“I can help you!” It spoke. “You could live forever. I did it for the piece of shit that owns this place; I could do it for you! Fame, money, whatever you want, it could be yours.”

I found it’s desperation oddly comforting. I felt like I’d beaten it and just like that, I found myself at the exit. As I opened the door, I heard it scurry back up the stairs behind me, but not before it left me with one more voice in my head.

“I know you now, I’ll find you anywhere you go.”

I stepped outside, slammed the door and breathed a sigh of relief. I sat in my car for a while trying to process if anything I had seen was real. I knew there was no one in the whole police force who would believe me. I contemplated on what I would say for a while before putting the spare battery from my car into the radio, and as soon as I did, a voice loudly called out.

“Yankee bravo 26, update please.”

I sat for the longest time as they repeated the same phrase over and over before finally bringing my radio up to my mouth.

“Pocket dial,” I said.

Credit: Thomas G Robinson

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