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Bad Time to Call

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I had probably the most hated job on the face of the earth. My hours were awful, my pay was shit; it sucked all around. I was a telemarketer.

Not because I wanted to be, mind you - believe me, I hated calling people when they were in the middle of dinner, getting scolded for trying to call people at ungodly hours, getting sworn at, and getting hung up on.

However, the sad fact was that I majored in philosophy back in college and could not really do anything with it. Telemarketing was sadly one of the only jobs that paid the bills for a guy like me.

I was not lazy; I would have loved to get into a better line of work. This job always felt like it was sucking my soul out, and the nights left me too exhausted to try and find another job. Not to mention I had nothing else to put on my resume, so I doubted that anyone else would ever hire me. I only found the guts to quit that telemarketing job after one particularly bad night back in early 2008.

I remember having a horribly bad night of calls. Several people had done everything from yelling at me, to holding their phone up to the screaming scene from The Exorcist.

Who really cared if these people planned to vote for a president? I did not even plan to vote myself. I was not into politics, so why should I care if these people were? Because it was the only way I was getting a paycheck. I hated myself for it. I remember going down my list of numbers to a cellphone number for “Monique Winthrop.”

“Fuck me,” I muttered under my breath.

I hated cell phone calls the most. Lord only knew where they would be and what kind of horrible shit they could try and pull. Not to mention if this woman was at a concert or something, she would have to scream before I could hear her. I know it sounds like paranoia, but I had been through that kind of shit before so, so many times.

I considered skipping over it entirely, before I half-heartedly dialed the number and waited for the rings, counting them in my head. Between four and six rings was usually where the answering machine came in.

Whenever I heard more than eight, I would just hang up and write it down as an “unavailable.” Corporate policy said I should wait until ten, but I knew the pencil-pushers upstairs really did not pay attention to these kinds of things.

I managed to count to six before the phone was answered. I sighed to myself; at least glad it was quiet on the other end, no annoying rock show or anything in the background. I waited for a “hello,” but I did not hear one. I continued to listen intently, sure that if I did not hear a hello, I would hear a click. I still heard nothing.

“Hello there, is Miss Monique Winthrop available?” I asked after a few seconds.

Even I could hear how pathetic I sounded. What followed was a sound in the distance, something not so close to the phone but still audible. What I heard was the reason I quit my job.


I froze, hearing the voice of a screaming man on the other side of the phone. A moment later I heard the higher scream of a woman and a sudden movement, as if the phone was knocked to the ground. My jaw was suddenly slack in horror.

The woman on the other line continued to scream. I had no idea what to do. I just sat there, paralyzed in fear. Soon, her screams became mangled-sounding gargles. I then heard a child screaming, asking for his mother to be let go.

There was a loud banging sound right near the phone, as if a person had crashed into a wall. The woman screamed again through the gargling, until her screams slowly faded away. The boy was screaming again, accompanied by the heavier breaths of the man who was yelling before. He continued to scream until I heard a loud snapping sound.

Then the line went dead.

Too stunned to say anything, I hung up the phone, gathered my things, and walked out of the agency that night. I never returned.

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