Flash Fiction Friday – Ringing

First Night

The phone rang.

“What the–” Richard snapped awake. He lifted his head from the pillow, squinted at the clock’s digital display through one eye. It flashed 03:00.

The phone rang again. He picked it up. His heavy hand knocking a container of pills from the dresser. It hit the discarded bottle with a clink and a rattle, rolling out of reach into the dark room.

“Hello?”

“Which colour shoes do you prefer, Mr Sibley?” the disembodied voice asked.

“What?” Richard said, rubbing the sleep from his eyes. “Who is this?”

The receiver remained silent replaced a few moments later by the dial tone.

“Damn kids.”

He lay back down and soon drifted off to sleep.

Second Night

The phone rang.

He rolled over with a groan and looked at the clock. The red glow burnt 03:00 on his retinas.

“Yes?” he said into the receiver.

The same voice from the previous night answered:

“Do you prefer socks or no socks, Mr Sibley?”

Richard squeezed the phone tighter.

“Listen you little shits, this isn’t funny.” He barked. “I’ve to work tomorrow…today…whatever. Stop fucking ringing.”

He slammed the receiver back into the cradle and heard a crack from the plastic base unit.

Too late to sleep now, he thought and filled a glass from the bottle beside the bed.

Third Night

The phone rang.

03:00.

Richard was ready for it this time. It was against his ear almost before the first ring had died away.

“What? You little bastard. What do you want?”

“Trousers or jeans, Mr Sibley?”

He didn’t answer. Instead, he gave the phone a firm tug, ripping the cord from the wall.

He tossed the discarded phone into the laundry pile, washed down a couple of the pills with the remained of the bottle and lay back on his bed.

Forth Night

The phone rang. Its sound muffled beneath the pile of unwashed clothing.

He padded over, cautiously reaching a hand out to retrieve it from the basket.

“H-Hello?”

“Would you rather a jacket over your shirt, Mr Sibley?”

“Who are you? Why are you doing this?” His trembling hand reached out for the glass before he realised it was still on the dresser.

“You already know, Mr Sibley.”

The line went dead.

Richard sank back against the wall, sliding down until he sat on the floor. He pulled his knees tight into his chest and sobbed.

Fifth Night

The phone rang.

Richard lifted the receiver and touched it to his ear without a sound.

The message was brief. Two simple words:

“It’s time”

Richard nodded.

The chair was where he’d left it. He pulled it over to the edge of the bed. A glance over at the bottle. The idea quickly dismissed.

He climbed up onto the seat. Hands fumbled in the darkness.

Found it.

His fingers passed over the braided chord, soft. It looped once, back into the knot.

The loop passed over his head without difficulty. Knot pulled tight.

One last breath…

10 thoughts on “Flash Fiction Friday – Ringing

  1. This story is a real page scroller! I think this is a story about a man planning to end his life and mentally trying to determine, well, what to wear. The use of the phone is effective and creates a compelling story. Why is someone calling inquiring about clothing choices? It keeps the story moving forward in an effective way. It also detaches Mr. Selby from what is happening. From his reality? At the end we are surprised by what he is going to do. Nice work, Chris.

    One another note, I agree with starting to struggle with keeping stories under 500 words, which is a good thing! For me, it means my writing is evolving and improving!

  2. Why are people so alone? It’s a 21st century curse. Where are his parents? His friends? His mother would have vanquished the demon easily with a bowl of hot soup and an aspirin. It’s all in your head she would say. And just like that the voice would be silenced.

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