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Pay phones have nearly become extinct in this day and age, gone the way of VHS tapes and keeping your dinner to yourself rather than sharing it via social media with thousands of others. So when you see one of these rare structures from a simpler past, most often worn away by the elements and stained with graffiti and dirty advertisements , you often think: who, bar homeless people checking for change or embarrassed men wanting a number for a busty escort, uses these anymore?
It was on my way home from finishing a shift at a very budget version of a KFC that I noticed one. I had taken that some route home most days for the last 3 years and never even registered it being there, but on a slightly colder than usual night in September, as a misty rain started to blur the vision of my glasses, there it was. The solitary phone box. Not decorated with the average drawn on penises and curse words, but disheveled and enamelled with black grime nonetheless.
I started to walk on, unfazed by the outdated mystery box that had passed me by for years. Until it rang.
Why did I answer? I don’t know. Call it man’s innate curiosity, but something got the better of me. Who the hell was calling a random British small town pay phone at 11:07pm at night? Was it one of those pre-recorded cold calls (likely)? Or was it something far more bizarre? For a 22 year old fried chicken shop worker, life wasn’t all that exciting, so picking up the receiver to make a Tuesday night a little interesting it was.
“Well, good evening,” I answered cockily and confidently, just in case I stroked it lucky and it was one of these filthy chat up lines.
Crackling. Wind. Static. Maybe a woman’s breathing, the connection was too bad to tell. I put the phone down and made my way back to my one bedroom flat.
It rang again.
Once more I thought, I really had very little going on at home that night.
“Hello, Jamie speaking, how can I be of assistance on this dreary night?” I answered.
“Oh hi! Sorry about the last call, the signal is really bad here!”
A girl. An American girl. What sounded like a cute American girl (British accents aren’t all that sexy, so I just presumed).
“Erm… no problem. So… whattup,” I said for some reason, my internal voice reminding me why I’m single.
“Oh nothing much, just bored! You said your name was Jamie, right? I’m Charlotte, great to meet… well, not really meet, but great to talk to you!” The voice at the other end of the line stated gleefully, the crackling and the wind still slightly present in the background.
“Same to you, I guess? Just one question though: why the hell are you are calling this pay phone?”
“Oh, silly me! Here I am just bursting into conversation. Of course you’d think this was weird, some unknown girl just calling you up in the middle of the night! Oh, is it night where you are? It’s always dark here so I just presume it is everywhere.”
“Yeah, it’s night.”
“Ah lucky guess! Well I didn’t really know who I was calling, I just pressed this EMERGENCY button on this pay phone on my end and here I am talking with you!”
“Wait, you said emergency? Are you ok? Do you need help?”
“A little bit, yeah.”
My night just got interesting.
“Like… are you meaning the slang-word-Instagram-hashtag-Starbucks-drinking-white-girl kind of dead from LOLz, or literally dead as in your heart has stopped beating?”
“Ha! You’re so funny! The second one. I am literally dead.”
I mean I’d rather have went with the what are you wearing line, but a conversation with a dead girl is better than no conversation at all. So I played along.
“So what does being dead feel like?”
“I’ve got to be honest with you, it’s not great. It’s obviously a bit cold, but my skin doesn’t feel like ice. It feels like concrete,” she said, her voice lost its positivity. “All my joints can move, but it feels like if I move too fast I’ll start crumbling. It’s also really hard to breathe… like I can breathe, but every breath is so small and sharp that I’m never satisfied. It always feels like it needs to be deeper but my lungs just can’t do it.”
“Jesus… I was hoping for a bit of a joke answer not an actual serious description. Anyway, how did you die?”
“I slit my wrists in the bath, but I can’t remember why I did it. I don’t think I wanted to die.”
“Ok. I am even more flaccid than when this conversation began. Thanks for making my night slightly intriguing, but PornHub awaits me.”
“No, you can’t go!” An anger now emanated from the receiver, which when I think about it should’ve been fear.
“And why is that?”
“Because you can help me… and I can help you.”
“What could I possibly get from a dead girl apart from a couple years in a mental hospital for necrophilia.”
“I can give you a message. Don’t you want to hear from that couple you ran over and left to die?.”
A lump the size of a heavyweight boxer’s fist filled my throat, the moisture from my tongue disappeared and the unnatural chill that first filled the phone box was replaced with a sauna level of nervous heat.
“Who… who the fuck is this?” I managed to stutter.
“Don’t be afraid, the dead just know things. They’re here with me… they want you to know something.”
“You fucking listen to me you creepy little cunt, I don’t know who this fucking is but I’m going to find you and end you.”
“Just like you did them?”
No one knew that. No one could possibly know that. I never told anyone about them.
“They’re not mad that you didn’t turn back and help them, they know you were scared and have been sad ever since, but they’ve got the secret to make you happy, Jamie! That’s what you want, isn’t it? To be happy. To not work late nights in a greasy takeaway, bored out of your mind, only to return home and jack yourself to sleep.”
I wanted so hard to put the phone down then. To run. To hide. But as frozen as I was with fear, the curiosity grew in me. What if I really was in contact with the beyond? What if this mysterious phone box, that maybe did just appear from nowhere, did connect me with the other side? And if the dead did have the power to contact the living… what secrets could they bestow upon me?
“Where are you? Can we meet face to face and talk?”
“You wouldn’t like it here, Jamie. It’s awfully cold and doesn’t really make sense whatsoever! It’s just a long crooked road with a dim light at the end, kind of like when the sun is just about to set over the horizon… except it’s more red than a burning orange. But anyway, listen to me go on about the landscape of the afterlife like I have all the time in the world!”
“You don’t have all the time in the world?” I asked, puzzled about the rules of death.
“No, you see, you’re my one phone call. My one phone call that could bring me back to life.”
“Bring you back to life? How would that work?”
“All I need is some blood, Jamie. Just a few drops of blood to replace some of mine that I lost when I took my own life.”
Clarice’s voice had a sense of desperation about it now. I heard it in the obese people that came in the chicken shop ravaging with hunger, over ordering as they bulged over the counter.
“So do I mail it to you? Go to the nearest pet cemetery? What’s the process for this, lady?”
“Just cut your hand open and put it to the receiver. I’ll get it, don’t worry.”
“And then you’ll tell me the secrets?”
“Yes, you’ll know everything I know.”
I took my pocket knife from my work bag and ran it through my hand without hesitation and pressed my bleeding palm to the bottom of the phone, the pain not really bothering me due to the absurd situation that I was in – but catching a vanereal disease from the sticky receiver did cross my mind.
I held it there for 30 seconds, not really knowing how long it took for blood to seep through to wherever the hell this dead girl was, then brought it back to my ear.
“Hello? Did it get to you? Has it worked?”
A laugh arose through the line. It didn’t sound like the dead girl… it didn’t sound like anything I’d ever heard before. It was a mixture of hysterics and pure agony that sounded like it came from so many people, but it all joined together into this one choreographed barrel of shrill laughter.
“I haven’t been completely truthful with you, Jamie,” the deceased chick’s voice said, now back to her normal tone, like that chorus of laughter never happened.
“I am dead of course, that is not a lie. But there’s no secrets I can tell you.”
“You fucking bitch,” I roared, embarrassed that I ever fell for such a bullshit idea.
I dropped the phone, leaving it swinging as I went to push the door to exit the box. But it didn’t budge. I put my shoulder into it, not caring if I smashed the glass in my efforts, but still nothing.
I returned to the phone.
“What… how the hell do I get out of here?”
“Aren’t you wondering why I killed myself, Jamie?”
While I pondered her question I noticed that the blood was still pouring from my hand, but instead of hitting the floor as gravity would intend it to, it was floating upwards towards the roof of the phone box to create an upside down puddle of deep red.
“Well, after YOU killed my parents drunk driving I was handed off to my uncle, who didn’t treat me very nicely, let’s just put it that way. The children at school called me orphan girl, this teamed up with my so called uncle’s advances towards me didn’t do any good for my mental health.”
I was feeling lightheaded now, the blood was now gushing out of me like a vacuum cleaner was sucking it out. It was now slowly starting to cover the windows of the phone box, blocking my view of the outside world.
“That’s why I decided to cut my wrists. But as I lost blood in the bath and my eyes started to flutter, I realised I didn’t really want to die. Which is when my parents met me on the other side. They wanted me to live too, and they told me of a way I could live. The dead do really know things, Jamie, oh you’re going to find it so interesting being dead!” She exclaimed with a joy filling her voice.
“How… how can you live?” I managed to whisper, my legs becoming weaker with every word I said.
“If I could find someone undeserving of life and willingly get them to offer blood to me to replace the blood that I lost, then I could return. My parents told me of you… how you knocked them over while you were blind drunk and left them to die while they were on vacation in your country. It was a tough call whether to bleed you or my rapist uncle dry, but I figured I could take care of him once I’m back in my body. Because if you’ve taught me anything Jamie, it’s easy to get away with murder.”
I fell to the floor, only just clinging on to the phone. Clarice’s voice had now disappeared, replaced with that choir of deafening laughter from beyond the grave, singing me to sleep as my eyes began to shut for the last time, surrounded by my own blood which had now consumed the phone box completely.
My breath got short. My skin felt hard. As I found the slightest strength to open my eyelids I saw a dim glow of light that was neither the rising or setting of the sun, but of something morbid that filled my non-beating heart with a sinking lack of faith.
I was dead.
So here I am posting this story onto Creepy Pasta from the other side on my iPhone (because who really answers the phone anymore?!). I’m glad I’ve got your attention. Because it’s true, the dead do know things. And I know what YOU have done.
I’ve gotten so lonely here on the dark road, but now that you’ve read this and I’m in your head, I can’t wait for you to join me! After all, we deserve to be here.
Be careful next time you cut yourself, because there’s a chance it might not heal.
See you real soon.
Credit: Jamie Carson
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