Random Number Hotline

#10 of ten short stories from my 2015 self-published horror anthology, Random Number Hotline.

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When Nikolas Bryant woke, the first thing he noticed were his surroundings. They were completely unfamiliar. The bed he lay on, the room and everything else inside, he had never seen any of it before in his life. What the hell happened last night? He sat up and rubbed his eyes and face, trying to wake up. The entirety of the previous twenty-four hours were gone, like they had never happened. The memories were just…empty. Whether he had drunk too much or if someone had slipped something into his drink at the bar, he didn’t know. He wasn’t sure if there had even been a bar. All he knew was he felt like shit.

It wasn’t the first time he had woken up in some stranger’s house after a night out on the town. But even if that were the case, he should have been able to remember something; who owned the place, where it was, anything. The more Nikolas thought about it, the farther he felt from an answer. He looked around the room again. There wasn’t a lot to see. A steel bed, a small wooden desk and matching chair, an old telephone sitting on the desk and a painting hanging on the wall next to a closed steel door. Other than those, the room had nothing else of note. Nikolas groaned and rose from the bed.

The door was only a few steps away, but walking there proved far more difficult than Nikolas had thought. Every step caused his head to pound in pain, to the point where he thought he would pass out if he took one more. He brushed past the painting, which swung on its fixture before coming to a halt a moment later. Nikolas reached out and tried to pull down on the door handle, but it refused to move. Unperturbed, he tried again, wiggling the handle up and down this time. Still nothing. He gripped the handle with both hands and put all his weight onto it, but no matter how hard Nikolas tried, the door wouldn’t budge.

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Rehabilitation

#9 of ten short stories from my 2015 self-published horror anthology, Random Number Hotline.

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His eyes fluttered open as the bright halogen lights flickered and turned on. Their white glow lit the chamber from top to bottom. It took a moment to readapt to the new environment. The grey walls, scratched and marked by hundreds of desperate hands weren’t familiar. Anton Terrey would know if he had been in here before. He wasn’t frightened. This was his routine now.

They were still at it. These people would never give up. Not until he talked. But he would never break. A few more weeks in this place wouldn’t matter anyway. They were going to kill him. Maybe now, maybe later. He didn’t know exactly what these people did to those who refused to cooperate. Judging from what he had seen them do so far though, it would be prolonged and excessive. The past month he had spent here had been an inescapable nightmare. Anton had no doubts in his mind the next month would be just as unbearable. It was only a question of when.

An unseen speaker screeched and crackled to life somewhere above him. The interrogator. His best friend since this whole things started, or so they told him between beatings. The lights continued to sputter to life right up towards the top of Anton’s cell. It stretched up as far as he could see, with no end to it visible from where he sat. His cell was wide enough to hold him as he lay against the rounded wall, and even then it was still a tight fit.

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Mind Games

#8 of ten short stories from my 2015 self-published horror anthology, Random Number Hotline.

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Vicki Hermanson pushed her trolley across the supermarket floor, weaving around the other shoppers she shared the aisles with. It wasn’t usually this busy here at the Alville Market. It felt far busier than normal to Vicki, with the store packed in comparison to their usual meagre number of customers.

Alville had been Vicki’s home for several months, ever since moving out west after some rather grim events came to light in her old home town. She hoped to put it all behind her, and so far coming to Alville seemed to have worked. Sure, she had left everything and everyone she had known back there, but she needed a new start. And Alville had fit the bill perfectly. New friends had been easy enough to make, after getting involved in the community and various events. And the town itself wasn’t too bad either. Nice and quiet, just what she was looking for

Despite being a bit older than some of her friends, they treated Vicki all the same. She was in her mid-forties, with shoulder-length auburn hair which she kept tied behind her head in a small bun. She could be kind when she wanted to, which was most of the time, but if something irritated her, she wouldn’t let it bottle up. It was one of the qualities her new friends appreciated. She was honest and would stand up for herself and others when necessary.

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Stowaways

#7 of ten short stories from my 2015 self-published horror anthology, Random Number Hotline.

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There wasn’t a single pair of eyes on Willow Beach not fixated on the incredible sight just offshore. Everyone had seen a cruise ship before, but nobody appreciated just how enormous one of these ships were in person.

Beach-goers had spotted the ship off in the distance a few hours ago, and soon noticed it was heading straight towards the beach. Some thought it would change course, but it only glided closer and closer, soon coming to a halt just off the sandy shore.

As Clive Warner watched the motionless ship, he sighed. Perfect, just what I need on my damn vacation. He grabbed his phone and dialed a number. Warner brushed his sandy golden hair from his eyes and held the phone to his ear.

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Anomaly

#6 of ten short stories from my 2015 self-published horror anthology, Random Number Hotline.

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They had never seen anything like it before in their lives. The object consisted of an abnormal black stone which seemed to absorb the morning sunlight. Even while illuminated, the strange stone monolith appeared to be in permanent darkness. It appeared out of nowhere overnight right in the middle of the narrow street, flanked by the apartment blocks of the sleepy little town of Sareen. When morning came, everyone woke to find the anomalous structure just there, sticking out of the road like a spear. Calls were made to friends, relatives and law enforcement personnel for hours after the bizarre discovery. Among the hundreds of calls was one made by Terry Ronan.

Those who knew Ronan were well aware of his hobbies. Rock climbing. Hiking. Urban exploration. He had taken many friends and family members with him on many adventures over the years. He and all his associates enjoyed every second. Nobody ever refused a call from Terry Ronan. He had seen it all, abandoned train stations, derelict factories, unexplored forests.

So when he woke to find an immense black stone tower looming in the middle of town, he snatched up his phone, called up the usual people and asked them somewhat cryptically if they wanted to climb the anomaly of Sareen with him. It got their attention easy enough, just as Ronan hoped. So there they stood, Ronan and three of his closest friends, the sun barely halfway over the horizon yet. Ronan quivered with excitement as he stared at the anomaly, and after fifteen minutes, he couldn’t wait another second.

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