"Hello? Is.. anyone there?"
The voice on the other end of the line speaks hesitantly to Maddie, and her heart sinks to her stomach as the storm outside the Crisis Center rages on, thunder rattling the trinkets on her desk.
"I'm here for you."
"How can I help?" She asks in her friendliest voice, trying to display sympathy. She could hear the sadness in his voice. The rain makes pattering noises against the facility's windows.
"I want to kill myself."
The voice on the other end of the line says abruptly, as if it were a casual sentence. "Nobody really cares for me. I'm alone in this world." There's silence for a moment.
Maddie offers, staring numbly at the phone's keypad. "Please, don't hurt yourself. You are cared for, you are loved." Her heart begins to race as she awaits his response.
"No, you don't."
The voice says through what sounds like gritted teeth. Letting out a frustrated sigh, the stranger continues. "Nobody loves me. I have a gun. I'm going through with it." Maddie feels a tear fall.
She says desperately, remembering her first call here. She'd been too late, and the man had shot himself. The memory of the gunshot rings through her ears. The storm rages on in the background.
"I.. I love you."
Maddie lies, grasping at any opportunity to keep the person on the other end of the line alive. "Please, stay alive. For me." She begs, worriedly biting her lip before he finally responds.
"You.. you love me?"
The caller says incredulously, voice emanating hope. "Yes, you are loved." Maddie responds guiltily, looking mindlessly down at the Thermos on her desk. "Prove it." The stranger says.
She nearly whispers, feeling confused. "Come to my home. Please." The sad voice begs, her heartbeat pounding in her ears. "I can't-" "Please, if I could just see one person who cares.."
Her heart fills with sympathy for the man as she considers.
"I.." "Please. It's perfectly safe." He says earnestly. She thinks hard, remembering the man she couldn't save.. "O-okay. Just for a cup of coffee."
He gives her the address.
"Okay, I'll be there soon." She hangs up, walking outside to her car, hurrying into it to get out of the rain. Turning on her windshield wipers, she types the address into her phone and drives.
15 minutes later, she pulls up to a secluded, wooded home.
Lightning strikes as she parks her car in the driveway and gets out. Maddie looks at the well-kept home in front of her, and the front door opens. A handsome, smiling man holds a coffee mug.
She hesitantly walks closer, and up the porch steps.
Relieved he looks friendly, she looks into his sad eyes. "Hello." He smiles shyly, and she smiles back. "I'm Maddie." "Jason." He says warmly, gesturing for her to enter.
Maddie walks inside.
The home smells of french vanilla. "Are you.. alright?" She asks awkwardly, noticing he's staring intently. "I am now." He says ominously as he locks the door.
She gulps as he comes closer.
He sets the coffee mug down on a side table, walking toward her as she backs away. This feels all wrong. Why'd he lock the door? "I-I have to go." Maddie stutters, but he grabs her by the arm.
"You're mine now." He pulls her into a tight embrace.
"I love you too," He whispers softly. He retrieves a syringe from his pocket. Maddie struggles as he plunges the needle into her neck, darkness taking over quickly. "Forever."