It was a little after midnight. The phone rang. I yawned, wiped my eyes, and looked to my night stand in disbelief. I had to be dreaming, right? No one in their right mind would call me at this hour. But no. The phone really was ringing. It might have been a family emergency or something. So I reached across my bed and picked up the phone.
"Hello?" I half-stated, half-asked while still half-asleeep.
I don't even remember what the man with the raspy almost-to-a-whisper voice said at first.
"Who is this?" I continued as soon as I realized it wasn't a family emergency after all.
"I want to f*ck you so bad," he answered.
At that point I was awake. And I was uneasy. It wasn't my boyfriend's voice on the other end of the line. He wouldn't dare make a call like that -- the epitome of the "nice guy" types. And he certainly wouldn't pull that crap at that hour, knowing I had a long day ahead. I didn't recognize the voice at all. But at its near-whisper even his mother probably wouldn't recognize that voice.
"Who is this?" I demanded much more forcefully.
"You mean you don't know?"
"Who. Is. This?"
"I want to f*ck you so bad," he continued as though I didn't get that message the first time.
There was a brief exchange after that, with a last ditch effort to identify the caller. And then I hung up.
I sat there in bed feeling nervous, heart-pounding. I have an ex who likes to surface a few times a year in creepy ways -- setting up new email addresses to contact me and get around my attempts at blocking, contacting me online to let me know he "saw me the other day" because he was creepily up at my apartment complex lurking around for no good reason. I'd say "you know the type," but I hope you don't.
Could that call have been from him? I have to imagine I would have recognized the voice, so I doubt it. I dated a guy briefly last year who had a naturally raspy voice. He too had tried to contact me several times after I left (generally looking for hook-ups). So I unblocked him online, contacted him, and he immediately responded to let me know it wasn't him -- although he couldn't help but make me feel even more uneasy by proposing yet another romp. After letting him know I was happily in a relationship and still very much disinterested, I blocked him again and moved on.
No one else I knew could have, or would have, made this call.
"It must have been a wrong number," I tried to comfort myself. After all, I'm a generally logical person. And mis-dials do happen. Just not often to me. And when they do, the person doesn't usually have me on the line that long. They heard my voice clearly. They would have known if I wasn't the person they were trying to reach. They would have apologized. They would have hung up. I would have gone back to sleep.
But they didn't hang up. They kept taunting and pressing me. They insisted I should know who they were. That didn't feel like a simple wrong number to me. I looked up the phone number online. I discovered it was a cell phone based in my hometown.
I called the number back, hoping to get the creepy man on the other end of the line so I could demand to know if it was a mis-dial or if he was just some prick out to ruin my night. He didn't answer. His voicemail system did. It said the user hadn't set up their voicemail account yet, which made me think it was probably a new number -- so even if I did know the person, I wouldn't have recognized the number in my caller ID.
And that is where reality ended and my writer's imagination picked things up....
While I mostly write nonfiction -- business, freelancing, social media, and related topics -- I do dabble in fiction, both in novels and screenwriting. I have a particular interest in horror and murder mysteries (and children's writing oddly enough, although that's irrelevant for now). I have a very active imagination when it comes to dreaming up plots in these areas.
That simple yet incredibly unnerving phone call had all kinds of things running through my head. It read like a stereotypical horror movie plot though -- woman gets strange call, tells herself it's just a wrong number and forgets about it, gets another one where creepy dude on the other end of the line calls her by name, chase and attempted slaughter ensue.
It's not a story I have any interest in writing. It's been done. But no doubt I could play with it and create something new(ish) if I wanted to. And that's what made me think of you -- yes you -- writers.
While I can't consider this late night call to be a normal part of my everyday life, it was completely out of my control. And it did put the gears in motion as far as fictional plots go. Have these kinds of things ever happened to you? Have you ever found inspiration for your writing in unexpected, perhaps even unsettling, places? Share your stories in our comments, and let us know if you ever acted on those ideas and turned them into a work of fiction. I think I'll settle for turning them into a blog post. After all, it's not like I'll be going back to bed tonight.