“He just sent me an audio. It was that noise. Like the voicemails but worse…”
Narrated by: Mrs. Nightmare
Hello my Little Nightmares! I have another story for you from John Beardify it this story is particularly creepy because I don’t know about you but I get phone calls from unknown numbers all the time he also has a new eBook out called “Tales of Winter” you can find it on Amazon and there’s a link in the description.
Is anyone else getting random phone calls from weird numbers??
That was how it started. An innocuous message in the group chat I share with my four co-workers: Todd, DeShawn, Natalia, and Emily.
We’d started the chat because one of our managers, Kurt, was a pain in the ass: he didn’t want us talking in the office, especially not about things like our salaries or time-off requests. Kurt moved on, but the chat survived-used to vent, share memes, and generally find ways to laugh and commiserate about our situation.
It was a place where anything could be shared, from a stupid GIF to a personal tragedy–sometimes one right after the other. I never knew what to expect when I opened the chat, but I never expected it to turn so…sinister.
Todd: Is anyone else getting random calls from weird numbers?
I didn’t think anything of it at the time, and the responses were the usual mix of rumors, jokes, and bad advice:
Natalia: y dont u answer and find out lol
DeShawn: bruh its spam I get calls all the time
Emily: noooo once you answer they’ll call you forever
Emily: trust me I made that mistake
Emily: there wasnt even a robocaller
Emily: just this weird wooshing noise like wind at the other end of the line
Natalia: it was the tumbleweeds blowing thru my bank account
DeShawn: wait you guys are getting paid???
So it went. Until yesterday afternoon.
Todd: I answered one of the calls!!!
Natalia: tell us about your new timeshare
Todd: No really it was messed up
Todd: There was this buzzing noise
Todd: Like millions of Mosquitos
Todd: I hung up right away
Todd: but you know? I sort of wanted to call back
Todd: to hear it again
Todd: it was like if flesh could scream
DeShawn: bruh what r u smokin
DeShawn: gimme some
That last part stuck with me. ‘If flesh could scream.’ I’d made the mistake of scrolling through the chat right before my daily post-work nap.
I had nightmares of raw, red meat gnashing against itself with a wailing sound, and woke up in a cold sweat to the ping of a notification.
A private message from Natalia. I’m not proud of it, but we’d hooked up at a party a few months back, and–since I still held out hope for something between us–I never put her on mute.
Hey, her message read. Did Todd call you too?
Groggily, I checked. There were missed calls from Todd–seventeen, in fact. I frowned. As I wrote Natalia back, I started to listen to the voicemails.
I understood immediately what Todd had meant about the sound. The noise I heard swarmed, quavered, and rose to a crescendo that was louder than I thought my phone’s volume could reach. Clutching my ears, I flung my phone against the wall instinctively before finally crawling over to delete the message.
The buzzing didn’t stop until I’d turned off my phone and removed the battery.
It had hurt my ears, but it hurt my brain even more. The worst part, though, was that I thought I heard Todd’s voice mixed in with it, screaming something.
Maybe it was a warning. Maybe it was pure agony.
As I finished my response to Natalia, I noticed a new group chat had been created:
*‘*WTF is wrong with our friend.’ - created by Emily at 7:08 P.M.
Emily: you guys have been getting the calls too right? Did anybody answer
DeShawn: No I was gamin y?
DeShawn: is ol dude ok?
Natalia: No but I listened to his message
Natalia: Or tried to anyway
Natalia: Somethings wrong
Emily: I keep calling him back but he doesn’t pick up
Emily: or respond at all
It wasn’t surprising that Emily was so concerned about Todd. According to office rumors, Todd had confessed his drunken, undying love for Emily at the same office Christmas party where I’d hooked up with Natalia–and she’d rejected him. Since then, Emily had this sort of pitying, guilty attitude toward Todd, like she was responsible for him somehow. It definitely wasn’t healthy, but at the moment we were worried about something a lot worse than heartbreak. I couldn’t say what, exactly, but whatever it was had me so scared that I’d double-checked all the doors and windows. Peering out, I half expected to see Todd, his eyes full-moon wide, his mouth stretched into a wide, insane grin. What was wrong with him? What was wrong with me? What was wrong with all of us?
Notifications from the new chat continued to pop up:
Emily: wait he just sent me a video
Emily: its just black static…
DeShawn: bruh hes prolly just butt-dialing
DeShawn: not everything has to be some big emergency
Natalia: u didnt hear the voicemails
Emily forwarded the video to the chat. As she’d said, it was impossible to make out anything but darkness.
Emily: he just sent another one
Emily: okay it looks like hes in the woods
Emily: theres this weird glow in the distance
Emily: okay, third video–
I checked out the recordings. By the third video, it was clear that the ‘weird glow’ was the golden light from a house window–I wondered why Emily hadn’t seen it before. As far as I could tell, Todd was creeping slowly and deliberately towards someone’s home. To make matters worse, something about the window seemed familiar…
Emily: this next one is taking awhile to load
Emily: must be a long one
DeShawn: thats what she said
Natalia: guys this is serious he could be in real trouble
Emily: hang on someones at the door
After that, nothing. Too tense to focus on anything else, I pulled up Todd’s video on my laptop and used some old photo-editing software to isolate the frames. I zoomed in on the yellow rectangle. It was blurry, but I could even see shadowy shapes moving inside it. I was looking at a wide bay window, divided into three frames, like the one where I’d kissed Natalia that night–
At the office party–
In Emily’s house.
Panicking, I called Emily. No response.
Anyone heard from Emily? I hammered into the chat.
Natalia: im scared
DeShawn: look if itll make yall feel any better Ill go by Emilys and see whats goin on
DeShawn: Its gonna be nothing and yall gonna owe me a pizza im tellin ya
Natalia: dont its not safe
Natalia: just stay home ill call the police instead ok???
DeShawn didn’t see the message; apparently, he’d already left.
Natalia: this is so messed up…
Natalia: I tried to listen to the voicemails again but they make my head hurt so much
Natalia: that SOUND
I looked out the window at the pitch-blackness of an early winter night. It was like Natalia and I were the only two people left alive in the world. I decided to give her a quick call.
On the other end of the line, Natalia was sobbing. I asked if she wanted me to come over–more for mutual protection than anything else–but that only made her cry harder. It was too dangerous, she said. The roads were terrible. It wasn’t until then that I checked the news and learned that the light rain that had been falling all evening had started to freeze, turning roads to sheets of ice. I wondered if DeShawn had made it home safe; he still hadn’t seen Natalia’s warning…
I sighed. It was past 11:00 PM and I still hadn’t eaten dinner. What if DeShawn was right, and we were freaking ourselves out over nothing? I looked around my dark, dingy apartment. The whole day had been wasted.
I dragged myself out of my bedroom and got some pasta boiling. Meanwhile, I washed dishes, folded clothes, and took care of all the other tiny chores I’d ignored throughout the week. Soon I was sitting in front of the blue glow of the living room T.V., a plate of spaghetti and meatballs balanced atop the blanket on my lap, with my cat Napster purring beside me and the sound of sleet rattling against the window outside. I was warm, cozy, and ready to forget about everything that had happened with Todd. I dozed off midway through Chinatown and woke up hours later to the sound of knocking at my door.
It was almost 4:00 AM, and I had eight more missed calls from Todd. I crept to the door’s peephole. Although I tried to be stealthy, it felt like I banged into or knocked over half the apartment on my way there.
It was Todd, alright. His breath came out in ragged white clouds, and he was very pale. He didn’t have a coat or jacket, just his work clothes–which were roughed up and stained by what looked like blood. He glanced from side to side with wild eyes, as though he expected something to drag him off into the night. With a sigh, I opened the door.
“Thank goodness.” Todd whispered when he saw my face. “Thank goodness…”
“Hey man,” I looked him over, not sure whether I was more frightened of him or for him. “What’s goin’ on? We’re all worried about you.”
“I…” Todd rambled. “I didn’t know where I was. The last thing I remember I was answering the phone, then it was after midnight and I was in the woods…I don’t know how I got there…” He trailed off helplessly. He was shivering. “I…I don’t know what’s happening to me.”
“It’s okay, man.” I squeezed Todd’s shoulder and pulled him inside. “It’s okay. You walk here?”
“Y-yeah,” Todd chattered. “Look…I’m afraid something horrible happened. I’m afraid I’m responsible f-for…”
“Heyyy,” I held up a hand, guiding Todd to the shower. He left a trail of unsteady, muddy footprints across the carpet. “No need to jump to conclusions until we know what happened. For now let’s just get you cleaned and warmed up, and we’ll go from there.”
“Yeah. Okay.” Todd mumbled. The look on his face said that I was a bad liar. It was clear enough that we both had already jumped to some conclusions about exactly what had happened during Todd’s missing time.
“By the way,” I added, trying my best to sound nonchalant as I grabbed some towels and a change of clothes, “Where’d you walk here from? That might help us to figure out–”
“I walked out of the woods by a neighborhood called Beechfield Heights.” Todd answered. He moved and talked like a man in a dream, barely even noticing my presence as he stripped off this filthy uniform and stepped into the scalding shower.
“Okay, gotcha.” I nodded. “Just holler if you need anything.”
I used the sound of the shower to calculate, more or less, how much time I had. I needed to know one thing: was it possible for Todd to have walked from Emily’s house to this ‘Beechwood Heights’ place in time to have done something unspeakable at the first location?
It turned out that it was more than possible. It was likely. A single clump of undeveloped forest connected the two areas to my apartment complex–giving Todd more than enough time to have done whatever he did there and then come to me.
“What’cha lookin’ at?” Todd asked. I jumped in my computer chair and turned to see a dazed, naked, and dripping Todd standing just inches behind me. His eyes followed something invisible to me around on the ceiling.
“Um.” I cleared my throat. “Nothin.’ Just trying to figure out what happened to you.”
“Yeahhh…” he almost laughed. “It’s probably fine. Look, I gotta run–”
“Shouldn’t you put on some clothes first?!” I blurted.
“Oh.” Todd looked down at himself. A trickle of piss ran down his leg and onto my carpet. I made a disgusted face, but the look on Todd’s face mad my angry words choke in my throat. It was the look of true insanity. “Oh,” he laughed. “Ha! Right!” Todd grabbed some clothes (not the ones I’d offered him) and threw them on haphazardly–while I clutched the arms of my chair, held my breath, and prayed that he wouldn’t suddenly attack me.
When Todd finally staggered toward my door, he was wearing a pair of my pyjama bottoms, a hoodie, a suit jacket, and unmatched socks. He didn’t bother with shoes, but did grab his phone–
which started to ring.
“Todd, wait!” I screamed. “Hey!” Against my better judgement, I followed my friend out into the predawn sleet–not much better dressed than he was. He had quite a headstart on me, but even over the distance and the crunch of ice beneath our feet, I could hear the horrible buzzing noise pouring out from Todd’s phone. It was so much more awful than even the voicemails had been; I fell to my knees in the slush and held my ears. People cursed and lights flashed on throughout the apartment complex, but Todd kept right on going, back into the woods. I lay in the fetal position in the frigid grass, fighting the urge to headbutt other people to death until my own skull shattered and the sound stopped. After what felt like forever, it faded.
Todd was gone.
Groaning, I got to my feet and batted the slush off of my pants. I rushed back inside my apartment–only to realize I had no idea what to do next. I knew from previous conversations that Todd didn’t have insurance; if I called emergency service and he got hospitalized, I’d be ruining his life. On the other hand, something was definitely wrong here. I decided to consult the chat–more than anything, to see if there might be a message from Emily or DeShawn that could dispel my suspicions. They were growing darker by the minute.
Todd came by, I typed. He wasnt himself. I went on to describe the strange behavior, hoping my friends could shed some light on what was happening.
Natalia: it sounds like hes having some sort of psychotic break
Natalia: did he say anything about Emily or DeShawn at all???
DeShawn: there is nothing to fear
Natalia: omg D im soooooo glad to hear from you!!!
Natalia: y didnt u respond sooner we thought u were dead
Natalia: my heart is pounding so much right now lol
DeShawn: there is nothing to fear
DeShawn: i am coming
That was that, then. DeShawn would take care of it. I lay back on the sofa, exhausted. My moment of rest was interrupted by the buzz of a video call from Natalia. When the chat connected, I saw her sitting at her laptop in a hoodie, hysterical.
“Oh my goodness can you please come over right now?!” she sobbed.
“Why, what’s wrong?” I gulped. “I thought DeShawn was–”
“He just sent me an audio. It was that noise. Like the voicemails but worse. I had to smash my phone to stop it, that’s why I’m video-calling you from my laptop. And it’s just…I wanted to see your face. Know you’re alive. Not crazy. Something about that noise made me think things that I…I…”
“I know.” I learned into the screen. “Trust me, I know. What’s important right now is to stay safe. I’m gonna call the police–”
A silent notification popped up on my screen, momentarily hiding Natalia’s blurry face.
DeShawn: i am here
The screen went black.
“Natalia?!” I screamed. The call had ended.
I threw on winter clothes, stuffed my phone into my coat pocket, and stormed downstairs to my truck. On the way, I grabbed a hammer. There was something both scary and comforting about its deadly weight in my hand. I don’t know why, but I half-expected Todd, DeShawn, or even both of them to come running out of the miserable weather like starving, flesh-hungry wolves.
The biggest threat, it turned out, were the roads–the back of my truck jackknifed more times than I could count as I sped across the icy pavement. The lump in my throat was warning me that I was already too late.
DeShawn’s car had skidded into the middle of Natalia’s yard; the lights were on in her house. Like Emily, she lived in a shared rental, but both of her roommates were out of town–and they weren’t very likely to have kicked in the door, either. I stepped through the splintery gap with hammer in hand. The place had been completely ransacked. Dark splatters that I didn’t like to speculate about dripped down from open kitchen cabinets. Smashed fruits and broken plates covered everything–and were those fingernail marks tearing through the wallpaper?
My grip on the hammer tightened. I tried to head quietly upstairs to the second floor, but the stairs creaked with every step.
There were no lights on upstairs. In fact, they seemed broken.
I peered into the shadowy room on the right. It would be easy, I realized, for someone or something to hide in all that overturned furniture, in those heaps of clothes…
Who knew what might be skittering around in that darkness
Although I didn’t want to turn my back to the room without clearing it first, I looked to my left. Natalia’s bedroom. I let out a deep breath, trying to prepare myself for what I might find.
I recognized the pajama bottoms right away.
The treatment Todd had received I’d only ever seen in nature documentaries, the kind where hyenas tear out a gazelle’s guts piece by piece while its still alive. The worst part was, this hadn’t been done with knives or bullets…it had been done by hand.
If flesh could scream. I thought again. I thought of the sound, how it had made me want to rip apart everything around me. I realized that I was shivering, and not because of the cold. I’d never seen a dead body up close before. Especially not one that used to be my friend.
I was so transfixed that I didn’t notice the shadowy form dropping down from the ceiling behind me until it was too late. I felt myself slammed against the wall. A cold metal edge cut into my throat.
“Are you one of them?!” Natalia hissed.
“Ow!!” I managed to squeal. Apparently, that was proof enough that I wasn’t mind-controlled or insane. Natalia lowered the butcher knife.
“I was hiding in the attic.” She explained numbly, looking at Todd’s body. I was no medical expert, but the monotone of Natalia’s voice hinted that she might still be in shock. “You should’ve seen it. DeShawn got here first. Kicked in the door and started throwing things around. I’m amazed the neighbors didn’t call the police, especially with the noises he made while he was doing it. It was like…part-scream, part-giggle. It was awful. I just climbed up there and hoped he wouldn’t find me. Then Todd came in the back. By that point DeShawn had started to come down from the whatever it was–I heard him sobbing quietly–but Todd kept going wild, screaming his head off trying to find me. DeShawn came back into his senses enough to try to stop Todd–’stop man, stop, this isn’t us!’–he kept saying, and Todd seemed to calm down…but then DeShawn got another call. And when he answered it, all hell broke loose. He…he tore Todd apart with his bare hands. Then he ran off.”
I drove Natalia back to my apartment. Dawn was breaking, but neither of us felt much like talking. Back home, I boiled some water for tea, turned the heat on full blast for once–and finally called the police.
I wish I could say we learned something useful from the investigation. They asked Natalia and I a lot of questions, but weren’t forthcoming at all about what they uncovered. We were probably considered suspects. The detective in charge–a beefy man with a grey flat-top haircut and wraparound sunglasses–was as hard and silent as stone. It was only through overhearing the radio chatter that we learned a few pertinent facts:
Officers found Emily’s house ransacked. A huge blood-smear led from her kitchen out into the woods, but she was still considered missing.
DeShawn hadn’t been located either, although a “madman” had been reported trying to break into cars that were stuck in the morning commute.
The unknown numbers were also a dead end. They’d been set up like standard spam numbers, but, unsettlingly, they turned out impossible for the police to trace…and when the officers gave us back our phones, the voicemails featuring that awful sound had been deleted. For our safety, we were told.
Now that I think about it, its possible that the officers allowed Natalia and I to hear their radio conversations, maybe to gauge our reactions–or guilt. If it was some sort of test, we must’ve passed, because the iron-haired detective left a few hours ago. Natalia fell asleep on my couch soon after. Although I’ve not slept in over twenty-four hours, the adrenaline still keeps me wide awake.
I don’t know what to make of what happened to us. Were my friends the unwilling participants in some kind of secret psychiatric experiment? Is some unearthly force using phone signals to possess people? I have no idea. At this point I’m willing to believe anything. All I can do is pass on this warning:
Don’t answer calls from numbers you don’t know.
Thanks for listening everyone remember you can find this author’s new ebook “Tales of Winter” on Amazon there’s a link in the description.
I hope you have a good night
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Written by: John Beardify - u/beardify
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