The Phone Calls
Brenda considered herself a woman of science and dedicated her adult life to scientific research. She felt at home in her lab coat and among her beakers, flasks and petri dishes. She believed science could explain everything, one just had to know what formula to apply.
The mysterious phone calls were a nuisance at first. The phone would ring, Brenda would answer and… nothing. Only noise on the other end.
“They’re all from the same number,” she told Lisa, her co-worker, “you’ve no idea how many times I’ve blocked it.”
“Why do you answer then?” Lisa asked.
“That’s the creepy part,” Brenda replied, “the calls come from my grandfather’s number. He died when I was seven, but it, and my house, are the only phone numbers engraved in my memory.”
“Maybe someone else has the same phone number?”
“But why don’t they ever speak? It just sounds like someone at a party butt-dialing me.”
“Weird,” Lisa shrugged and returned to her experiment.
Then Brenda noticed the coincidences.
One day she walked down a crowded city block. The hubbub of voices, footsteps and car horns buzzed in her ears, but the phone rang too loud to ignore. With an exasperated sigh, Brenda paused at a busy street corner, despite the pedestrian light signaling to cross. Oncoming passersby gave her angry looks as she blocked the sidewalk while she fished in her purse for the insistent phone.
A car sped through the red light and almost hit the man on the crosswalk. He skipped onto the safety of the sidewalk and cursed the driver.
“Good thing you weren’t crossing,” he turned to Brenda, who’d blanched, “he’d have run you right over.”
“That wasn’t the only time,” Brenda chatted with Lisa the next day during their coffee break, “there have been other, little coincidences.”
“Go on,” Lisa coaxed and sipped her coffee.
“The other day, I had finished up in the kitchen and was retiring for the night, when the phone rang. I’d left my phone on the table, but when I reached it, it stopped ringing. I shrugged and gave my apartment a last glance; I noticed the front door. It was unlocked! Had the phone not rung, I would’ve gone to bed without locking it!”
“And you’re sure it’s your granddad’s number?” Lisa asked, “May I see it?”
Brenda pulled the phone from her lab coat pocket and searched in the phone call register. As Lisa took the phone, it rang. The mysterious number blared on the screen. The women blanched and stared at it. Brenda’s hand shook as she lifted the phone to her ear.
“Hello?” She squeaked.
“Get out of the building now!” A warm voice, an old voice, demanded.
Brenda’s heart skipped and tears sprung to her eyes. That voice, it couldn’t be…
“Who are you?” She bleated.
“You know who I am, Brenny-kin,” the familiar voice replied, “get out of the building now!”
Brenda grabbed Lisa, and pulling her along, led her out of the building.
“GET OUT!” Brenda yelled as they rushed down the hall, “Get out of the building!”
Lisa, ashen with fear and surprise, echoed Brenda’s warning.
They reached the courtyard; Lisa begged Brenda to stop by a weeping willow. People filed out after them and loitered on the grass, bewildered.
“What the…?” Lisa panted.
A loud boom drowned out her voice.
The ground shook beneath them as a heavy rumble echoed through the university grounds. Lisa watched horrified as the building they’d vacated crumbled and blazed. She put her arm around Brenda, who wept and sobbed with her hand covering her mouth.
The authorities determined a gas leak caused the explosion. An accident, they said, it was lucky no one died.