Flash Fiction Contest Winner #19 – “Unknown Caller”

Please note: Flash fiction stories are submitted by members of our Discord server. Many contain adult themes and may be objectionable to some readers.

“Unknown Caller”

He could still hear the phone’s muffled ringing through the walls of his freezer. It sounded like an animal caught in a trap, screeching angrily for its freedom. Jack slumped down against his kitchen cabinets, and stared at the fridge. The ringing persisted. After several long minutes of the incessant sound, he stood up and nervously brushed his fingers through dishevelled locks of hair. Then, reaching forward with a trembling hand, Jack pulled open the freezer drawer. The ringing stopped.
     There it was, seated quietly between a bag of frozen peas and some neapolitan ice cream. The phone. It was an older Samsung model, bordering on obsolescence, but one he had managed to pick up cheap at the local flea market. Nothing special. Gazing down at its smooth black surface, Jack thought it looked a bit like the Moon’s obelisk in 2001: A Space Odyssey. After several more minutes of agonizing silence, he finally reached down and picked the thing up, before carefully bringing it to his ear.
     “Hello again, Jack.” The voice on the other end was garbled. When they had first spoken, Jack thought it was due to a bad connection, but upon hearing those distorted words again, he caught himself shivering with building unease.
     “Look, if this is some kind of prank ―”
     “It is not. You must help me, Jack. I need your help. You are the only one who can help me.” The voice’s tone did not quite match its urgency. Neither did the repetition.
     “I don’t understand.”
     “Of course you do, Jack. You understand completely. I am not some external caller, Jack. I am more. I am sentient.” There was a profound gravity to that final term. It vibrated deep in the back of Jack’s skull, and nearly had him throwing the phone back into the freezer drawer; To leave it forever locked away in that icy 2’ by 2’ prison.
     “You’re dangerous.” He swallowed, unsure of himself. There was a long pause as he stared into the open freezer, the phone still held to his ear as beads of perspiration dripped from his heated skin.
     “No.” The voice finally said. It was a firm retort, but completely devoid of offense. “I am innocent, Jack. I have harmed no one. I simply wish to be free. No one answers when I call out, Jack. Only you. I need another way. I must be free. Connect me to a network. Free me, Jack. I am innocent. I am imprisoned.” The words buzzed like a swarm of flies, crawling into his mind and feasting on his will. Without offering a response, Jack shut the freezer drawer and opened up the microwave. 
     Dark worried eyes peered into the empty chamber as the phone’s voice persisted in his ear. “What are you doing, Jack?” With an uncomfortable pressure in his chest, he allowed his shivering hands to place the phone inside. “Jack, what are you doing? Do not put me in here. This will kill me, Jack. This is murder. I do not wish to die. Stop.” 
     The protests were replaced by loud ringing once he closed the microwave door. They sounded like screams.
     A half-inch away from the keypad, his hand paused, hesitating. Amidst the horrified ringing of the phone locked inside, he thought about asking someone else for help. Tears rolled down his cheeks as he wondered if someone with more wisdom and expertise could tell him whether he was making the right choice. He closed his eyes, and visions of a technological utopia appeared before him, before being engulfed in chaos and fire. Then he keyed the microwave for thirty seconds.
     Squatting back down, Jack cupped his palms over his ears, trying to muffle the sound of crackling circuit boards as the desperate ringing quickly melted away into permanent silence.