Modern Horror: The Call

Amar double checked the locks on his one room kitchen apartment and turned towards Big Bad Bombay. It had been a year that he had come from Goa to Bombay. Working as a sales guy in a local shop at Goa, he thought that the offer to work as an assistant manager at a chain of electronic products would be the job of a lifetime. Amar had always grabbed every chance in life with with both hands and taken every risk with the enthusiasm of a fictional character. For the now, his risk was giving him good returns, with his good command over English and general physical appearance made him a hit with the customers at the mall.

He had made himself a good repute in Bombay, with many people in and around his locality recognizing him as a silent and shy character. Though what was shy and silent about a person who'd be seen with a cigarette in his mouth and a racer back every day was beyond his comprehension.

But Amar had other things to think about. He was happy and satisfied with his life in Bombay, but not content as yet. Like every young man in a new city, he wanted companionship of the opposite gender, which he did get off and on. However, his sales guy mentality did not allow him to pay for this service, and he had decided to find a good girl with whom he could go steady.

Amar took some time trying to think of all the girls he had met in Mumbai, that cute neighbor, that sales rep at his work, that grocery shop owner's daughter. With these happy thoughts Amar put the key in the ignition of his bike and kick started it. He started driving towards the main road, where he would once again join the sea of dreamers, each deciding that they would get one step ahead to their dreams and ambition – and that's when his phone rang.

Normally, a man would frown and try to remember who has disturbed them in their general state of bliss, but this was not to be so this time. Because Amar recognized the number. It was of a call center girl who had been calling him since the past one week regularly – but only professional basis. Her voice was sweet and almost medically good for him after a year of listening to crass voices all around him.

Ever since he had come to Mumbai, he had heard that it was simple for a guy to get hitched by one of these call center girls. He would listen to the stories his colleagues and friends would tell him with eyes like saucers and ears like a rabbits, ready to gobble up every juicy tidbit they would let him on. Whether it was true or not was not the question, the human mind always wants to believe what's good for them – how it could happen to him was the question.

So, he decided he had really done something good in his past life when he got this call for a credit card. His instinct told him that the girl who owned this voice was lonely and easily befriendable, like thousands other people living alone in metros.

Drat it, he thought. He had forgotten his handsfree. But risks had to be taken, and he was this much close to asking her out for a date. He cradled the cell phone between his shoulder and left ear, while he started looking at Mumbai in a twisted angle. He moved ahead on the road, driving his bike, frowning as he tried to decipher the words as the cell phone fought with the wind to stay on the network.

'Hello'

'Hello, sir... this is Pallavi, calling on behalf of One Bank. Do you remember, I had called you yesterday for the documents? Can I send my executive to your office today to collect the same?'

Amar glanced at the space between the speedometer and the handle guard. The documents were right there. He smiled as he once more felt the sweet voice pour into his general being.

'Ma'am.. you had told me yesterday that we'd meet. Can't we get the documents then?'

'Sir... we are not allowed to go out of the office for any kind of official work... can I send my executive...'

'So, who is telling you to come out for official work? Can't we meet after your office hours? I will have to go back to my house to get the documents.'

'Ok, sir.. maybe we can meet today... I will call...'

Amar felt a surge of sheer excitement race through his body. That girl actually had decided to meet him. There was just no way for him to understand or look at the truck that had suddenly swerved into the wrong side. His weird angle of sight prevented him from understanding the calamity in true sense.

* * *

Pallavi waited for an exactly thirty seconds and then hung up. She knew something had gone wrong. It wasn't the everyday disconnecting of phones. She had deduced that Mr. Amar was driving while talking, which was dangerous as it is, but what frightened her was that she heard a loud smash and then nobody answered the call.

She just shrugged it as something she couldn't do anything about. Like she had done to so many things in these two years after her father had expired. She came from a rich family, where women were frowned upon if they worked. But after her father's death, she had nothing to turn to except empty promises by relatives and grumbling doles by friends. She decided to join a call center – something that the educated jobless of the entire nation were doing. The going had been good till now. Though she had to learn a lot of things, today she was on her own feet, and feeding her family. Why, her relatives were already proudly beaming of a family member working in a call center. She was earning, after all.

She hadn't made as many friends as many thought she would. She was this silent, sturdy type of girl who minded her own business till someone told her not to. Of course, she saw the hundreds of colleagues she had who made thousands of male friends and fed on them, some even what they called 'went steady' with them and married them in the end.

Of course, being in Bombay had given her a lot many new and different things to think about. And an abruptly cancelled call was not something on the top of her mind to think about. She made it a point to call Amar within an hour or so.

* * *

Pallavi got down from her company conveyance car and gave a concerned look towards her balcony. Her job had changed the lifestyle of the Patil household. The entire household had started living in the nighttime, with mornings, afternoons and evenings being dull and drab, with one daughter in school and the other sleeping away her sheer tiredness.

Her's was the only house with the lights on at two in the night. She waved her co-passengers and colleagues good bye and took a few heavy yet flighty steps into the house. Like a ritual, she told her mom that she had eaten, looked at her lil sis sleeping blissfully and finally closed the doors to a busy, bustling and mad world. Like every night, a barrage of questions sped through her mind. Only this time, there was one more question:

Why didn't he take the call later?

* * *

The next day was normal for Pallavi. She still had the normal feeling of being herded into the prison, what with people moving suddenly changing from their chirpy self to a professional person the minute they crossed the gates of the company. But she was not worried. She had seen all of this all her twelve months of living in Mumbai.

In fact, nothing different or strange happened with her until she reached the pantry for her tea. One of her friend's group were discussing amongst themselves.

“Yea, and the body were really mangled too. He wasn't even wearing a helmet re… poor dude was gone when the truck hit him”.

”Yea, and people say he was talking on the phone. Damn, who must have called him? Do they know what happened to that guy?”

Pallavi felt as if her entire day had crashed upon her in that single minute. There was of course, no way for anyone to confirm, but she had a gut feeling that this was the call she was going through yesterday. Quickly, paced out of the pantry and sat at her table. Her list was open, her work was on schedule, and she was ready to work.

But it wasn't a normal day under any circumstances. As soon as Pallavi started dialing the number she was about to call on the computer, she heard a ring. At first, she was surprised. She didn't even know that this call center allowed out going calls. Then, she was excited. She was not one of those people who'd be irritated about getting a call. Later, she was scared. This was the first time in all her time at the company that an incoming call had ever come. She was sure, this was a rare occurrence, which would have requested everyone to look at her. Was this a call from some manager or something? No. There was another phone for those things, and this was a completely professional phone line.

With trembling hands she connected the call. Her hello was lost in the deluge of hellos that surrounded her at the moment. But this one was a frightened cry for help. What she heard over the line was a mixture of a network lag, electric jism and unbridled, lethal and pure anger. Her reflex was of what would happen if she was talking to the devil himself. She disconnected the line and was left a very sweaty, shuddering and frightened young girl.

She decided to let her mind wander off for a while and did the one thing she was allowed to do to forget her problems while at work - read the company newsletter. The first page blared:

'Do You Wear A Helmet While Driving? Practice Safety First!'

Below were the only pictures that were allowed for public consumption. A man lay in a pool of blood on the street. His bike was a blot in the surroundings, and then she noticed. – the body had no head. Of course, the photo did not show that, because a rock was conveniently placed where the head should have been, with the camera angle begging the viewer to ignore the rock fact.

She couldn't take it anymore. She shot off e-mail to her team lead and dashed outside the office. She went into the washroom and puked, her disarrayed gaze staring at the basin. She cleaned herself off and went off home.

Her mind was working overtime while she was reaching home. The problem was that she didn't know what she was thinking about. Her mother was not at home, her sister was at school. As soon as she opened the door, she heard the phone screaming for her attention. In a reflex, she picked it up, only to hear that same electric voice, which had by now bored into her thoughts.

'You bitch… what the f*** do you think you are? You f***ing think you can call anyone anytime and talk to them? How the bloody f*** could you not understand that I was on the road?”

Pallavi shrieked and threw down the receiver, and made an attempt to run out of the door. But she couldn't. The phone suddenly came to life and its cord draped over her wrist. She did not feel that it was just some plastic. By now, the phone line had turned into rusty iron, strong enough to stronghold or destroys a fort door.

She was horrified when she felt herself being pulled away from the door, the iron was strange, strong yet flexible. It flung her into the glass cupboard of hers. She could feel the glass spiking into her back. It hurt, it hurt badly. She suddenly remembered one of her friends who had gone through an accident and was paralyzed for life.

However, Pallavi tried to stand inspite of her injuries. She tried to get up once again, tried to get to the door somehow, anyhow.. and that was when she heard the plastic of the telephone receiver cracking into two. The broken receiver now surged towards her like hooks and bit into her shoulder blades, and plunged her back into the house, only this time, she was stunned onto the chair, with the phone painfully unhooking itself and the wire grasping her throat, as the phone choked her, the receiver blared out to her…

'Hello, sir. This is Pallavi from One Bank… this is regarding your credit card account with us…'





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Roy D'Silva

Roy Daniel D'Silva is a content writer who has written content on various topics on the Internet, right from dating to computer technologies.

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