“911 Emergency,” Laura answered the call coming through her station.
She had done this for so long that it had become a reflex to her whenever she answered. This time though, it took effort to remain dispassionate once she recognized the number.
“Hello, there are men o-outside my house. They’re trying to smash through the door! My name is...”
The fear in the man’s voice was palpable, and more authentic than even his most convincing calls. Before he even said it, Laura knew that his name was
and that he lived at
“71 Pine Ridge Avenue.”
The first few times he called in, he was convincing. Imaginative, too. There was one call he made where he got a SWAT team sent to someone’s house.
Another one of his prank calls fucked up the new girl so bad that she quit the next day. He got off on all of it, every time he called in.
Not three months ago, one of his prank calls sent two ambulances on a wild goose chase, diverting them from their original call of a very real multi-car accident on the highway.
A mother and father died on the pavement, as their children watched in horror. The man’s incessant voice rattled around her head ever since that call.
Laura kept a cut out photo of them from the local paper taped to the top of her monitor.
Gene’s use of a new burner phone on each call meant that the police were not interested in expending the effort of tracing him. Of course, Laura did not share in their disinterest.
She began logging the phone numbers of each burner phone he called in with.
From there, it didn’t take much effort for her to track down mass purchases of burner phones from local business in the county. That was all it took before she had a name and address.
A year back, the state was forced to close one of its mental institutions. Laura heard stories about the former patients causing trouble in the housing projects a few towns over.
Despite her initial reservations, it was quite easy for Laura to instill an obsession for Gene in a few paranoid schizophrenics.
Laura could hear the loud banging in the background, serenading Gene’s stuttering pleas for help. She savored the moment before masking her glee with indifference.
“Sir, I’m sorry. This number is for emergencies only. Please refrain from making any prank calls to this number in the future. Have a nice day.”
As she reached to press the hang-up button, she could hear Gene’s pleas grow more frantic, boiling over into screams for help as his front door splintered into pieces.
In that moment, she wished more than anything that she could stay on the line for just another second.
But she really had to move on to the next call.