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Rated: E · Other · Contest Entry · #2003654
Madness in the suburbs
The screen flashed 9-1-1. Natalie saw the numbers out of the corner of her eye as she hustled down the sidewalk.  The screen was aglow but the phone was abandoned.  Suddenly Natalie's pulse quickened.  If the screen was still lit, that means the numbers were dialed within the last minute.

Whose phone was it and what happened to its owner?  Natalie looked around apprehensively.  Although dusk had begun to set on the city, there was still some residual light.  It was a beautiful Tuesday evening in suburban Chicago, but the streets seemed unusually empty.  Natalie could see the tail-lights of two cars as they slowly made their way down the street but there were no cars currently heading in her direction.  There were a few pedestrians on the next block.  Suddenly she saw movement to her left.  She swung her body around but there was nothing there.  Had she imagined it?  She looked closely at the phone.  The numbers 9-1-1 stared at her. 

She contemplated her options.  She could just drop the phone and run.  Would she look like a mad woman, running for no reason?  If she did that, would she be abandoning someone in trouble?  Of course, she could always go to the phone's list of contacts and see if she could determine whose phone it was.  Perhaps this person has an "ICE" contact listed.  Should she use her own phone to call her boyfriend Dale, whose house was a five minute drive away?  She could call 9-1-1 and explain the situation. 

She decided to call 9-1-1.  However, right before she hit send, the screen went dark.  She tapped it and hoped that it did not have a passcode.  She slid her finger across the screen.  Luckily, no pass code needed to be entered. She had no idea what she would even say to the 9-1-1 operator. If the operator believed her, she wasn't sure what she would say to the police.  Suddenly, she felt exposed, standing in the open.  She hurriedly called Dale.  Her breathing grew more labored as his voicemail kicked on. 

She could see the convenience store a block away and decided to head there.  At least she wouldn't be alone.  As she started to head up the street her phone began to ring.  As she pulled her phone out of her pocket, she prayed that it was Dale.  However, as she looked at her phone, she realized that there was no incoming call.  It wasn't her phone that was ringing after all.  She carefully looked at the phone in her other hand.  There was an incoming call from someone named Joshua.  She had no idea who Joshua was but maybe he could help her.  She answered the call.  Before she could even say hello, a voice began speaking very rapidly.  The voice, probably Joshua, was telling her to stay put, he was coming for her.  Natalie attempted to explain that she was not who he thought she was but the voice ignored her.  He just kept telling her to stay put and he would be there in a few minutes.  Then the line went dead.  Natalie went to the contact section and called Joshua back.  Like her call to Dale, all she got was voicemail.

She decided to stay put for a few minutes as the night slowly ate up any remaining light.  She then realized that Joshua may have no idea where she even was.  Surely he didn't expect the phone's owner to be on some random block.  He was probably headed to where that person was headed.  She decided to head to that convenience store after all. 

After taking a dozen or so steps, she heard it.  She wasn't sure what it was, but it was a very pronounced sound.  Not quite a grumble, not quite a roar.  It was coming from somewhere in front of her.  No, now it seemed like it was behind her.  The sound, while not loud seemed to envelop her.  Natalie thought she was going insane. 

How long had it been since she first saw the phone?  It was perhaps two minutes but it had seemed like an eternity.  Just a few short minutes ago she had been a confident young woman out for an evening stroll.  Now, she felt she was losing her grip on reality.  She admonished herself for picking up the phone in the first place.  If someone was in trouble, Natalie knew she wasn't helping. 

As she stopped, she realized the sound had as well...if there ever had been a sound.  She looked up the block and saw a few people milling about.  She looked at the house directly in front of her and while there was a light on, there was no other sign of life.  The only activity she saw was on the block ahead.  She picked up her own phone and dialed Dale again.  Once again, nothing but voice mail.  She tried her sister in Phoenix, but she was relegated to voicemail. 

On the verge of panic, she tried to reason with herself.  If there had been imminent danger, surely it had faded.  Enough time had surely passed.  If something awful had happened to the owner, the danger was likely far away by now.  She could put the phone down and hurry to the convenience store.  She could wait there until Dale returned her call.  She could call a taxi to take her home, even though she lived only a mile away.  But, if something awful had happened, her fingerprints were all over the phone.  How could she explain her inaction?

Natalie no longer cared if anyone thought she was crazy.  She was going to call the police and explain what happened.  They could determine the best cause of action.  She dialed 9-1-1 but before she could hit send, her phone rang.  She looked and finally, it was Dale.  She answered but could barely hear him.  She tried to explain what had happened to her over the last few minutes but was answered with silence.  Frantically, she called Dale's name to no avail.  They had been disconnected.  She called Dale back, but once again was met with voicemail.

Her chest tightened, and her world was on tilt.  Natalie was on the verge of breaking down.  Her vision narrowed as she began to run in the general direction of the convenience store.  Her footsteps seemed to echo as her world closed in around her.  Suddenly the phone rang.  The name Joshua appeared on the screen.  She was done with this madness.  She hit ignore and once again dialed 9-1-1.  Then she thought she heard the growling behind her now, but closer.  The convenience store was now just across the street.  She turned and ran.

She had no chance.  The light facing her was red.  The pickup truck was going 30 miles an hour. Even though the driver slammed on the brakes, there was simply not enough distance to stop in time.  The impact sent Natalie into the air.  The phone in her hand fell some distance away and landed face down.  As she began to lose consciousness she heard "9-1-1, what is your emergency?"  Footsteps quickly approached her.  The last sound she heard before the world faded was a panicked male voice say "My name is Josh Fielder and there has been a terrible accident.  We need an ambulance immediately." 

1229 words

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