Scary October – Day 9

Hello, Everybody!

Today, I have a link from Jim Ryan. You may remember his interview and if you don’t, you can go back and read it here. On his post, he discusses his fears, especially those related to the arachnid family. Personally, I’m not all that crazy about them myself! Read what he has to say here.

While I really loathe those 8-legged creatures, I did a little digging and found a site that discussed movies with an arachnid theme for those who actually like to be scared out of your wits by spiders. You can check out the list at Den of Geeks.

Okay, let’s get onto a different subject as these creepy crawlers are beginning to make me itch! I thought I’d give you a taste of one of my Neighbourhood Chronicles. Years ago when my kids were little and would play with the neighbour kids, we moms would sit on the front steps, watch the kids and tell stories. This is part of one that I created, changing the names and adding a bit of fiction to make it fun. Here’s the beginning:

THE CALLER

The shrill cry of the phone split the night like a singer’s perfect pitch shatters glass.  Bonnie awoke with a start, her heart in her throat.  She lay in the dark, listening to the next two rings, trying to convince herself that it was only Harold calling about a new flight schedule, or her mother trying to get hold of her about a family emergency.  With a trembling  hand she lifted the receiver.

“I know you’re alone . . . ” said a deep, raspy voice, “so I’m coming to kill you!”

Bonnie slammed the phone down and sat up in bed, her stomach in knots, tears of fear forming in her eyes.  She folded her arms across her knees and placed her head on them, trying to calm her nerves and think what to do.  Her mind went blank.  All she could hear was the man’s sinister threat ringing in her ears.

Why was he tormenting her this way?  Was it just a prank, or was this really a maniac bent on revenge for some unknown crime she may have committed against him?  How was it, that this creep knew she was alone?  Was it merely a lucky guess or was he watching the house?  What about the children?

That final thought spurred her to action.  She packed a few things in an overnight bag and went to rouse her youngsters.

*

He saw her leave the house. 

Good! 

He really had her on the run.  He loved having so much power over other people’s lives – and deaths.

*

A car door slammed.

“About time,” Sheila thought, expecting her daughter’s return from a date.

She shut off the TV and stood in the bay window, hands on her hips, trying to present a stern parental image.  She was surprised not to see a car parked on the street in front of the house, no sign of her daughter.  Across the road, however, Bonnie was carrying a sleeping bundle into the car.  Glancing at the clock, Sheila realized it was well past midnight.  She hurried out under the spring stars, oblivious to the fact that she wore only her pyjamas and slippers.

“What’s wrong, Bonnie?” she asked.

“It’s that . . .” her voice caught on the words.  “You know, the Caller.”

“Again?”  Sheila’s usually smiling round face was pinched into a frown of concern. “Where are you going?

“I called my mother.  I’m taking the kids over there where they’ll be safe, in case that creep decides to make good on his threats.”

“You don’t have to travel half-way across town.  Keith’s bed is empty downstairs.  I’m sure it’s big enough to hold all of you.”

“I can’t impose on you like that!”

“I insist.  You’d have to get the kids ready for the babysitter twice as early in the morning, if you were all the way over at your mom’s.  Stay here.”

Bonnie let out an immense sigh of relief.  At this point she was too tired to argue with her friend and eternally grateful for the offer.

“That would solve a lot of problems.  I hate to bother Mom this late.”

“Then it’s settled.  Let me carry my ‘boyfriend’ in.”

Bonnie smiled at the reference.  Her extremely shy son and their neighbour had developed a special friendship.  Sheila was one of the few people he had really warmed up to.  He was at Sheila’s more often than he was at home, probably because she spoiled him rotten!

The two women tucked the children into the big double bed in the basement, recently vacated by Sheila’s son.  Keith had dumped his current girlfriend and moved into an inexpensive apartment close to home.  It was a place where he’d have a little privacy for his tom-catting around until he found true love.

Sheila waggled her fingers at Bonnie, inviting her upstairs to chat.

“I don’t want to keep you up,” Bonnie said, “and bore you with all of this.”

“It’s certainly anything but boring!” Sheila told her.  “Besides, I have to wait for Lisa to get home, anyway.”

Bonnie plunked into the easy chair by the dining room.  She was not sure if she could even talk about the incident.  It still made her shudder.  Sheila handed her a glass of cola.  As she brought it to her lips she could smell the rum.

“It’ll steady your nerves a bit,” Sheila told her, with a twinkling eye.

Bonnie flashed her with a thanks-filled glance, then shook her head wearily.

“I don’t know what to do, Sheila.  This is the second time that guy has called when Harold was out of town.  The first time I just thought it was teenagers joking around.  This time, I’m not sure.  It’s got me spooked.”

“Sleep here tonight.  If he calls again tomorrow, notify the police and they’ll put a trace on the phone.  That’s what we did when that crazy girl was after Keith.  Or go and get one of those phones with call display.”

“Good idea.  I’ll do that right after work tomorrow.  Speaking of work, I’d better get some sleep.  Morning comes far too early.”  Bonnie rose and gave her neighbour a hug.  “Thanks for everything, Sheila.”

“It’s nothing,” she insisted.  “Just get a good night’s sleep without having to worry about that lunatic.”

*

Next day, Bonnie finished up the paperwork after the last patient left the dental office.  She hurried to the babysitter’s to pick up the kids, then they headed to the Phone Centre at the nearby mall.  She got information on the call display phones, how to trace an incoming call and what she should do if the annoying caller called again.

“The only problem,” the clerk explained, “since your line does not contain the caller display service yet, it will take at least a day to connect you with the system.”

“Thank-you for your help,” Bonnie said as she paid for the new phone.

She stopped at the drive-through window of the kids’ favourite fast-food restaurant before heading home.  While the kids munched on their hamburgers and fries, Bonnie carefully read the phone instructions.  She plugged in the electrical cord and the cord that went into the phone jack, then set the phone on her bedside table.  She knew if the caller harassed her again, it would probably be at night, so it would be best to have this particular model of phone close at hand.  As she reviewed the manual, she wondered why the bastard had picked her.

“Perhaps it was a disgruntled patient, who didn’t like the way I cleaned his teeth, or something,” she thought with a smirk.

She began to regain a greater feeling of security – until the phone rang.

“It’s not him,” Bonnie whispered aloud in an attempt to convince herself.  “He calls at night, after I go to bed.”

Nevertheless, that did not prevent her from glancing at the blank screen of the phone’s display.  There was still no way of knowing who was calling, although she could still dial *57 to have the phone company trace the call.  Then she could call the police.

“God!  I hate this!”  She picked up the phone.

It was her mother.  “Are you alright, dear?

“Yes, Mom.  I’m fine.”

“Why don’t you and the kids come for supper tonight?  You really shouldn’t be alone.  Your dad can come pick you up.  When he drops you off again, he can check the house for you and make sure you’re secure.”

“Thanks, but I don’t think that’s necessary.”

“Well, if you won’t come here, why don’t I send your father over and he can spend the night.  That way if that horrible man calls, your dad can answer.  That should scare him off.”

“Maybe that would be the answer,” Bonnie considered.  “The only problem is, I don’t have a spare bed.”

“He can sleep on the couch in the basement.  It’s not too uncomfortable.”

“Only if he feels up to it.  I generally don’t like giving in to my fears, but I must admit, I’m really upset by all of this.”

“Your father says he’ll be there right after dinner.”

“Thanks, Mom.”

*

The caller knew she was not alone. 

He did not call her while her father was there.  He waited patiently until Harold went out of town again, which was about a month later…

*

“I’m going to miss you,” Bonnie told Harold at the airport.

Her green eyes were wide like a frightened child’s.

“If that bastard calls you again,” her husband said, kissing the pointy end of her nose, “promise me you’ll call the police.  I won’t have you victimized like this.  I have to know you’ll be safe when I’m not there.”

“But the call display is working now.  If he calls, I’ll give his number to the police.”

“What if it’s a cellular number or unlisted?”

“I’ll still call the police.”

“That’s my girl.”

He bent over and kissed her forehead.  Pushing his wire-framed glasses up the bridge of his nose, he gave her a one-handed hug, picked up his suitcases and waved good-bye.  Bonnie watched his back and gave an involuntary shudder.

*

As she passed, he turned into the phone booth, the receiver to his ear.  The loud buzz of the dial tone was annoying, but he had to seem disinterested in the blonde passing by the booth.  He lowered his lids, but kept his eyes on her until she left the terminal.  Hanging up the receiver, he sauntered down the corridor, thinking of the fun he was going to have tonight.

*

“I shouldn’t think about it,” Bonnie thought as she got ready for bed.

Despite the thought, she couldn’t help but glance at the new white phone.  Ever since Harold left, she had developed an overwhelming sense of dread.  She hated feeling so out of control, jumping every time the phone rang.

“At least I don’t have to worry about the children.”

Her sister had offered to keep Alicia and Jonathan with her until Harold returned.  Bonnie blessed her sibling for being so understanding.  Now she would not have to worry about them, even though she was scared to death for her own safety.  The reason she was staying alone in the house suddenly escaped her, then she remembered.  She was hoping to catch the creep this time and report him to the police.

Something scraped the front of the house.  Her heart skipped a beat.  The fading whine of the wind reassured her.

“It’s just the cedars rubbing the eaves,” she thought, although she wasn’t entirely convinced.

She went to the living room to confirm her suspicion, peering through the curtain.  Something darted past the window.  Bonnie drew back in alarm.  A grey and white apparition pranced on the window ledge outside.

“Sparky!” she exclaimed.  “Why aren’t you chasing mice instead of frightening me half to death!”

The fluffy feline rubbed his face against the glass before leaping to the grass.  He sauntered lazily across the lawn towards Sheila’s house, the tip of his tail twitching with each step.

Bonnie’s pulse finally resumed its normal beat.  Shaking her head at her foolishness, she headed back to the bedroom.  A flash of light gave the room a ghostly glow before darkness returned.  A loud crash made Bonnie’s skin prickle with fear.  The sound rumbled to a whisper, followed by another flash of light.

“Great!” she thought.  “Just what I need tonight.  A thunderstorm!”

*

Rain washed over his windshield, the wipers making a futile attempt at clearing his line of vision.  He didn’t mind it, though.  This was the perfect night to impose his perfected form of terror on one who had been attracting his attention for some time.  It wasn’t the woman so much as her husband that he wanted to torment. 

Ever since he had been passed up for the promotion and Harold had taken his place on the corporate ladder, the caller had been preparing to take his revenge.  He was not a novice at this type of intimidation.  Many times he had stroked his ego by making others feel weak and helpless –  and it would probably not be his last…

*

The trill of the new phone chilled Bonnie to the bone.  The screen of the call display said, ‘Unknown name, Unknown number.’

“Shit!” Bonnie swore under her breath.

The trill of the phone continued.  Bonnie wondered if it would ever stop.  Was it him?  Taking a deep breath, she decided to take a chance.  If it was him, she would call the police.  Then it would be over once and for all.  With a shaky hand, she lifted the receiver to her ear.

That horrifying, deep raspy voice greeted her with, “Hello, Bonnie.”

She nearly dropped the phone.  How did he know her name?

“I know you’re still there.  I can hear your breathing.  You sound frightened.  Is it because you think I am coming to kill you?”

Bonnie could not answer, frozen with fear.  A crack of thunder split the night.  She squeezed her eyes shut and tried to control her incessant shivering.

“Quite a night, isn’t it?” the gravelly voice chuckled.  “Not the best night to be out, but I like the rain.”

Bonnie quickly hung up and pressed *57.  The call display still read, ‘Unknown name, unknown number’.

The phone trilled again.  “I’m very close, now.”

Bonnie nearly cracked the phone from the force she exerted slamming its receiver back on its cradle  Before the caller had a chance to redial, she called 911.

“You have reached the Emergency Dispatch Centre.  All our lines are busy at the moment, please stay on the line.  One of our operators will be with you shortly.”

Bonnie pulled the receiver away from her ear and stared at it in disbelief.

“You put me on hold?” she screamed at the phone.  “I could have my throat slit by the time you take my call!”

A few seconds later, she heard,  “This is the Emergency Dispatch Centre.  Thank-you for waiting.  How may I help you?”

“Someone just called and threatened me.  I think he wants to kill me!”

“Please give us your name and address.”

Bonnie complied, urging the operator to hurry.

“Is this the first time he’s called?” the woman asked.

“No.  The same caller has called twice before.  Each time, my husband was out of town.  The first time I thought it was just a prank.  The second time it happened, I panicked and went to a neighbour’s.  Now, I’m really scared.”

“Does your phone have caller display?”

“Yes, but the guy’s number is unknown.”

“We will send a cruiser there immediately.  Just stay calm and don’t answer the door until they arrive.”

Idiot!  Bonnie thought with disgust.  What did she think I was going to do?  Invite the guy in for tea and crumpets?

There was a click on the phone and the line went dead.  Then the LCD numbers on her clock radio went off, as did the caller display on the phone.

“It’s just the storm, it’s just the storm,” she repeated to herself, rocking nervously on the bed, her clasped hands pressed tightly against her lips.

She left the bedroom to wait for the police.  Huddled behind the coffee table, she stared outside, the street light’s coppery glow reflecting off the sheets of rain.  Thunder rumbled in the distance, the storm moving away.  Gusts of wind still whipped the cedars, causing them to rustle and scratch the siding, sounding like hundreds of little fingernails trying to claw their way inside.

She didn’t hear sirens, but she saw the blue and red beacons on the cruiser oscillate as it screeched to a halt in her driveway.  A burly policeman in an orange rain cape thumped a fist on her front door.  Bonnie rushed to the door, wrapping her satin robe around her.

“Mrs. Lester?  This is Constable Mathis of the Winnipeg Police Department!”  He held his badge up to the peep hole so she could read it. “Is everything alright, Ma’am?”

“The lights went out and the phone’s dead.  It happened while I was still talking to the dispatcher.”

“Probably just the storm, Ma’am, but we’ll take a look out back.”

“Thank-you,” she sighed.

The arrival of the police comforted Bonnie immensely.

*

The caller peered above the door panel of his car, his face breaking into a huge Cheshire-cat grin as the police scanned the Lester’s property.  The only things they would find were cut wires and over-sized footprints.  He would dump the enormous boots he had worn in the nearest trash can…

 

 

Hope you enjoyed this snippet. See you all tomorrow! 🙂

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6 comments on “Scary October – Day 9

  1. I like how this story begins, and hope to see where it goes some day.

    And thanks for the Den of Geeks public service piece about which films to stay away fro- well, OK, they may want you to *watch* some of these, but, well…

    • I will probably post the end of The Caller within the next day or two. I understand your feelings about those movies, although in native cultures spiders are regarded as spirits of those who have gone on before us. 🙂

  2. I don’t have a problem with spiders actually, I quite like em, never kill them or anything. Mind you I’m not sure I’d cuddle a tarantula !!

    I enjoyed the story, the build up of tension was well handled and the little touches, like the police putting her on hold etc made it all very believable. I’m looking forward to the next installment!!

    • When it comes to spiders, I usually let my cat deal with them. My brother-in-law used to breed tarantulas, so I usually avoided going down into their basement!

      Glad you like The Caller. The conclusion is coming right up! 🙂

  3. Pingback: Scary October – Day 10 | mywithershins

  4. Pingback: Scary October #29 | mywithershins

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