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Ghost 9-1-1: A Halloween Mystery Short Story

IN THE October 27 ISSUE

FROM THE 2016 Articles,
andMysteryrat's Maze,
andTerrific Tales
SECTIONS

by Bartenn Mills

Enjoy this never before published Halloween mystery short story!

Tiffany tried 9-1-1. Didn’t that go through everywhere?

All that came back was a crackle of dead air. cell phone

Why didn’t they answer?

In disgust she stared at the flat tire. It wasn’t that she couldn’t change it, she just didn’t want to dig in the trunk and lift out the spare. She’d likely break a nail, or get dirt on her clothes. A semi passed on the highway sending a wake of hot air so that the short skirt of her cheerleading outfit twisted around her legs.

She could try Derek again; he would come change it for her. It might mean getting out of her little Halloween costume, but she smiled, she was ok with that. She studied her cell phone interface, no reception. How could there be no reception? She was still inside the city limits, at least she thought she was. Stephanie’s house and the party she’d just left were only five minutes away.

A car slowed. Tiffany stared at it suspiciously. She was right, the geek behind the wheel in a pizza delivery get-up leered at her. Aiming the cell she clicked a picture to send her friends—this is what disgusting looks like. The car immediately sped up so that she only got the backend of the vehicle.

Well, it was change the tire or walk to the next turn-off and call for help at the gas mart.

Pissed at having two crummy choices and not a single good one, she grabbed her purse and started down the shoulder of the highway. Cars kept swishing by, some would slow, but most just sped past. On the other side of a tall wire fence shadows moved, and she hugged her arms around herself. This was ridiculous. She should have stayed with the car.

Tiffany turned around to go back and saw a dark figure coming toward her.

“Hey, that your car back there?” he called to her.

She didn’t answer. There was no reason to answer such a stupid question.

He stopped still half a football field away, and shouted at her. “Cell phone not working?”

Moron, would she be out in the wind, letting her hair get all frizzy, if her cell phone was working?

He took a few steps closer, and she sent him a warning scowl to stay back.

“No reception down here. You have to get up there.” He pointed toward the fence and up the hill. “Can you get over the fence?”

Of course she could get over the fence. Cheerleaders were athletes; she wasn’t some book nerd. But there were things on the other side of the fence, she’d seen shadows, and it wasn’t the wind making them move.forest

As if he read her mind he reassured her. “Nothing over there but deer. That’s why the fence is so high, to keep them off the highway. They’re more afraid of you then you are of them.”

Now he was within a few yards and she recognized him. It was the creep that had sped by earlier.

“I’ll help you get over.”

“Where’s your car?”

“I left it by yours. Why, you want a ride?”

Something in the infliction told her she did not. Instead she stared at the fence. She hadn’t climbed over a wire fence since she’d been a kid. As she recalled the going up wasn’t so hard, it was the scrambling down the other side that got tricky. At least the fence would be between her and him.

Without glancing back she approached the barrier. Determined, she thrust the toe of her shoe into the diamond space of air between the wires, and hefted herself up. As she neared the top her right foot came up effortlessly. With a glance down she realized that the creep had given her foot a boost and was now using his vantage point to look up her skirt. Pervert.

The wind blew toward her and she caught the vile odor of old pizza and sweat wafting off him. Enough to make you want to vomit. She swung her legs over, then hovered on the fence, the twisting ends of the wire poking her. There was no way to get down gracefully, not without turning and facing him. Not without letting him watch as her top rubbed against the metal wires, where it could possibly get caught and lift upward—gross.

It was a long way down, but dismounting from the top of a pyramid formation was farther.

“Are you stuck?”

There was nothing else to do. Giving herself a push she plummeted the eight feet to the ground landing on her hands and knees. When she stood he was there, pressed against the fence, his fingers curled around the wires, a grin on his face. No, a jeer. It gave her a chill. She’d be afraid if the fence hadn’t been between them.

Now that she was on the other side, the hill seemed steeper and higher. The highway was so far away, all the headlights speeding past yet no one seeing anything in their haste.

She pulled out her cell phone, still no reception. Half up the hill a noise behind made her turn.cell phone

He’d come over the fence.

For an instant Tiffany froze. His tongue kept touching his lips, and like an animal’s, his eyes glowed in the dark. She started to run, frantically punching 9-1-1.

Answer! 9-1-1 had to go through. They had to answer.

He grabbed her and she spun around. Using her purse she smacked him in the face. She wasn’t going down without a fight.

He spat out a bloody tooth and grinned.

*****

“9-1-1, what is your emergency?”

No one answered.

Dispatch tried again.

“9-1-1, do you need an ambulance?”

Just her luck to get another butt dial. Caller ID blocked. No GPS signal. She triangulated the call and narrowed the signal down to the conservation area on the east side of town. Four acres of hills, trees, and deer. According to the last officer check-in that side of town had been experiencing lightning strikes. The whole area was out of power and getting a torrential downpour. dead trees

Dispatch sent an officer anyway, and he reported back just what she had expected. Nobody there, false alarm.

*****

“9-1-1.”

No one spoke, a crackle of dead air came over the line.

“9-1-1, what is the nature of your emergency?”

Thunder rumbled outside. Dispatch triangulated the call. When the conservation area on the outskirts of town came up she wasn’t surprised. She sent an officer even though the call had dropped after only a few seconds.

“Nothing out here but rain.” The officer reported back. “Looks like a tree got hit by lightning.”

*****

Dispatch watched the weather radar. It looked like the storm moving through would hit around midnight. Possible lightening.

“Who’s in the pool?” She sent out over an open line. Several officers responded, calling in times, scrambling to claim the minutes around midnight.

New to the force, Officer Sam radioed back. “What pool?”

“Ghost 9-1-1, happens every time there’s a storm. Someone calls from the conservation area, then the line goes dead.”

At preciously one-thirty Ghost 9-1-1 called. Sam won. Off shift and a hundred dollars richer, he drove home to his apartment in the sprawl of new housing on the east side of town.

On impulse he took the turn-off just past the conservation area. A gravel road led back past the trees and undergrowth. The rain had stopped leaving everything wet and sweet smelling. Sam walked along the ridge into the park. The shadow of the new cell phone tower stretched across the ground. From his vantage point Sam could see down onto the highway where a high wire fence tried to keep the deer off the road. forest

After wasting half an hour trumping through the underbrush and finding nothing, but a few startled deer, he headed home to a restless night’s sleep.

*****

Sometimes a thing hits you, and you can’t let it go. Officer Sam stopped at dispatch on his way into work. He placed a gourmet coffee and a chocolate cupcake in front of the woman at dispatch.

“What’s this?”

“Thought that I’d share my winnings.”coffee

She held the coffee cup under her nose and inhaled the hot, intense aroma.

“So when did those ghost calls start coming in?”

Her eyes half closed she savored the aroma of the fresh coffee. “I don’t know. Four, five years ago.”

“About the time the new cell phone tower was built?”

She opened her eyes and stared at Sam. “It did clear up that dead spot.” Then she smiled. “Why? You think one of the deer is making prank calls?”

“No.” Now he felt stupid, but ghosts didn’t make phone calls. “Could be somebody on the highway having car trouble.”

“Then why not stay on the line?”

She bit into the cupcake, then licked her lips, savoring every morsel. “Not your job to play detective.”

*****

A storm had been building all day. A thunder cloud sat on the horizon growing larger and larger, getting blacker and blacker, the edges roiling up and in. Sam waited for it to explode and send out flashes of electricity. Far in the distance he heard the first rumble. clouds

Parked on the side of a gravel road that twisted through the conservation area, Officer Sam stared at the five abandoned vehicle reports that dispatch had pulled for him. Each car had been found on the lonely stretch of highway he was looking down on. Three of the abandoned vehicles had belonged to young women.

He glanced over at the three missing person reports also spread out on the passenger’s seat. All three of the women from those abandoned vehicles had disappeared. What were the odds of that?

“Dispatch, when that ghost call comes in, you let me know.”

From where he was parked near the new cell phone tower, he watched the storm move closer and closer. Lightning danced across the sky in a jagged path. Without warning Sam was surrounded by light. The hair on his arm lifted as the air filled with energy. An explosion of thunder plunged him into silence. He could hear his heart beat with the odd echo of sounds underwater. He shook his head. Instead of clearing his ears a ringing started.

The phone.

Sam scrambled to answer his cell. “Do a call back!” He screamed, unable to hear his own voice and modulate it.

“That isn’t going to work.”

“Do a call back now!” He shoved open the car door and stood, straining to hear. Nothing. Then the mechanical notes of some long forgotten song pierced the air. He scurried down the hill swinging his flashlight beam left and right.

“Call it again.”

The first spattering of raindrops hit his head and shoulders. Then the clouds opened and rain poured on him. Cold ran down his back. He fought to keep his footing as the ground softened. Head down, furiously blinking to keep the rain out of his eyes, Sam kept searching. The music came from beneath his feet.

Dropping to his knees he clawed at the ground. His fingers hit something hard. He kept digging until an old flip phone emerged from the earth. The rain washed the mud away from the scratched case revealing a sparkle of sequins. Most were gone but enough remained for him to read the name once glued on the case—Tiffany.

One of the missing women had been named Tiffany.

Sam stared across the uneven ground. There were three depressions, each a few feet wide, each about six feet long. Maybe a ghost did make phone calls.

“Dispatch, I think we need to get some search dogs up here.”

Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & short stories (including more Halloween ones) in our mystery section and watch for many more Halloween short stories this month.

Bartenn Mills lives in a small Midwestern town where she lives a nondescript life and works a respectable 9 to 5 job. Nothing about her would suggest a life of fictional crime but she often finds dead people in her writing. She is published in poetry, short fiction and has three novels.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Doward Wilson October 27, 2016 at 10:29pm

Great story thanks for sharing!

Reply

2 Debbie October 28, 2016 at 9:40am

I want the story to continue! What a great lead in! Thanks for the share!

Reply

3 Gail Farrelly
Twitter: @gailfarrelly
October 28, 2016 at 11:58pm

Creepy, but excellent, story. Loved it.

Happy Halloween!

Reply

4 Margaret S. Hamilton
Twitter: @margar_hamilton
October 29, 2016 at 7:59am

Great story, Bart!

Reply

5 Julie October 29, 2016 at 6:35pm

Wow, loved it!

Reply

6 Carol P November 8, 2016 at 8:55pm

Good Read! Might want to rewrite ito a novel.

Reply

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