The Phone Call

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Kate

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Oct 1, 2010, 5:23:06 PM10/1/10
to Flash Fiction Fridays
Hello, I've been a member for a short time and I thought I'd give this
a try finally. I didn't see a topic for this Friday, so I hope it's OK
that I start one. I'd appreciate any feedback you might have! Thanks!

Everyone in John Franco’s life knew if they had to call after 10 PM it
better be because they were dead, dieing or his house was on fire. So
when the phone rang at two in the morning, both he and his wife bolt
awake and immediately began mentally ticking through the list of their
elderly relatives while listening for the smoke alarm. Kirsten
answered the phone reluctantly and then shrugged.
“There’s no one there,” she said.
John took the phone from her, ready to start cursing at whoever the
prankster was. A voice he hadn’t heard in years poured through the
receiver in a panic.
“Calm down Craig,” John said. He slid out of the bed, covered the
mouth piece with a hand and said to his wife. “Go back to sleep…”
“Who is that?” she asked.
“An old college buddy,” John replied. “He’s…had some problems over the
years. He needs a lot of help.”
“Do you need me to do anything? Call anyone?”
“No, we’ll be fine, he just needs to talk.”
He pulled the bedroom door closed behind him and made his way down the
short hallway of their single story ranch. He checked to make sure his
daughter, in her pink princess filled room, hadn’t been awakened by
the call. She was cuddled up around a purple unicorn in a deep
slumber. John closed her door and then peeked through a crack in the
door to the room his sons shared. Both boys were sprawled in a similar
fashion across their beds. He closed the door all the way and head
across the living room and into the kitchen.
“I thought we agreed there would be no contact,” John said.
“John, I can’t get back in!” Craig was shouting.
“Sssh!” John lowered his voice to a whisper. “What do you mean you
can’t get back in? What did you do?”
“I just went out for a little bit, I needed to stretch. You have to
help me, you’re the only one remotely close…”
“I don’t have to do anything!” John told him. “You’re so stupid! You
could ruin everything! I can’t believe you didn’t learn from the last
time!”
“John, PLEASE! My wife will be getting up for work in a few hours. My
kids! You have to help me!”
John sighed heavily and slumped against the kitchen counter. He ran a
hand over the ceramic tiles he and Kirsten had spent three weekends
trying to get adhered to the counter properly. He swore he could still
smell the paint from the newly painted butter yellow walls. He
listened to the hum of the old refrigerator and looked at all of the
drawings and notes the kids had stuck to it with various cartoon
character magnets. Craig had enough sense to stop talking and give him
a chance to run things through his brain.
“Give me your address,” John said finally.
“Oh, thank you, THANK YOU!”
“Craig I’m not ever doing this again. Do you understand me?”
“Yes, don’t worry. I’m realizing now how much I have to lose. I won’t
make this mistake again.”
John hung up after jotting the directions down on the back of a
grocery store receipt. He moved quietly past the kids’ bedrooms and
carefully opened the bedroom door. Kirsten had already fallen back
asleep, but woke up as John was pulling on the exercise pants he’d
laid out for his run later in the morning.
“What’s going on? Where are you going?” she asked. Her voice was
sluggish from sleep and she yawned. “Is your friend OK?”
“I need to get him home,” John told her. He grabbed his wallet off the
nightstand and kissed his wife on the forehead. “I’ll be back as soon
as I can.”
“Be careful.”


With no traffic on the expressway, John made it around the city to the
exit he needed in a little over half an hour. He followed the various
turns and found himself in a middle aged, middle class neighborhood
full of boxey split level homes with single car garages jutting off
their sides. The street in front of Craig’s dark paneled house was
empty, giving John a spot to park. He closed his car door quietly and
walked around the garage to a gate leading to Craig’s backyard.
As Craig had said a door on the back of the garage was opened
slightly. John slipped into the door and closed it behind him. The
garage was dark, but he was quickly able to find the door into the
house. It squeaked as he opened it, causing him to stop and listen for
anyone moving towards the door. No one came. He head down to the lower
level, into a large family room where a gigantic TV was tuned to CNN;
the volume was turned so far down the newscaster were barely
whispering.
On the couch in front of the TV was a sandy haired man the same age as
John, who appeared to be sleeping. John walked up behind him and felt
for a pulse. It was there, slow and steady. Out of the corner of his
eye he saw movement along the wall near the floor. John walked over
and flipped on a floor lamp, illuminating the corner. And a purple
blue mass of tentacles; two of the tentacles were writhing around each
other. Much like the way his mother in law wrung her hands, John
thought.
“Please hurry,” the mass said. It was whisper in John’s mind, just
like the whispered voice he’d heard through the phone.
He could feel the panic and terror in the voice. It made the tentacle
running from his brain, down his spine, pulse rapidly. He looked over
at the unconscious body.
“Come on, let’s get you back home,” he said, picking up the pulsing
mass as it reached out to him.





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