On the desk of an old study, in this glorious abandoned house you’ve now inherited, lies an old phone and it’s answering machine. Like everything else in this room, it is enveloped in dust and weathered from age and loneliness. There are so many possibilities for this new house of yours; so much to clean and so much to create. You should have a quick look around first. There must be some things you want to keep – antique souvenirs, right?
But first, this answering machine has a bright, red ‘1’ flashing on it. This must’ve been an old message. You doubt it was anything important but listening to it wouldn’t hurt. You click the play button positioned right next to the flashing ‘1’ and you hear the automated voice chime:
“You have one new voice message. Voice message received today at 10:38 a.m.”
10:38 a.m.? Today? Why would the phone still be connected in an abandoned house?
“Message from unknown number”, it finishes as you wait for the message to begin.
——————– Begin Message——————-
*a loud burst of static*
*the static begins to fade in and out as a faint voice can be heard uttering something*
*the frequency begins to stabilize*
You finally hear a woman’s voice; it sounds quite clear. Her voice doesn’t seem to have any urgency in it. As a matter of fact, her voice is gentle and calm — almost monotonous. “For fuck’s sake, does thing even work?” She begins, with a hint of irritation that barely makes her sound believable. You hear a bit of rustling in the background of the transmission. Is she alone?
“Hello,” she starts again, “you’re probably wondering what you’re listening to so I’ll get straight to the point. You’re listening to a secret; a secret that might make you wind up here if you go and yap about it to anyone, okay? If you want to know more than that, well, too bad. Hmm. You’re trying to figure out who I am and where I am, aren’t you? You’re thinking this must be an old recording since you’re listening to an answering machine. Don’t hurt your pea-brain with all that thinking you’re doing.”
“I am ‘Mind-your-own-business’. I’m currently at ‘You-don’t-need-to-know’ and the year this is being recorded is ‘You’re-too-nosy-you-little-shit’.” She begins to chuckle sounding genuinely amused with her one-sided banter.
“Okay, okay. The least I can tell you is that I’m in a basement. Not the crazy psycho-killer basements. It’s more like the basement someone’s 45-year old son lives in. Wait.. that’s basically the same thing when I really think about it. Well, never mind, its just a fucking basement. It’s pretty decent to be honest. Its well furnished, spacious for all of us, tubs of human remains in the corner, screaming caged animals — y’know, the usual. Am I right?”
Was the last part a joke? I’m sure you didn’t find it funny. Are you gonna turn off the answering machine now? No you won’t, because she might say something more interesting next.
“I quite like it in here. It’s not top-notch but it’s better than outside.”
She scoffs. “I can’t say I don’t miss out there but what’s so good about outside? You know what outside is good for? Not a fucking thing! ” her tone suddenly rising to a shout.
“Outside is a scary place, and I’m sure you see that too. Everything’s a big secret, drug-induced conspiracy! But anyway,” she calms down slightly, “enjoy it while you’re out there. We all end up in this Basement one of these days, one way or another.”
Why would you end up in the “Basement”?
“Of course you’ll end up in the Basement!”, your wondering if she can hear your thoughts.
“It’s basically a rite of passage these days. Everyone is the same. Everyone in this basement is in the same predicament, hence we all end up here. It’s a bit unfortunate that we’ll lose our memory if– when we leave but that’s just that, I guess.”
I’m sure you start to think this is just some prank call gone awry.
“I’m not a weirdo, you prick. I’m sure that’s what you’re thinking. I’m telling you, everyone’s been here. Your mom, your dad, your best friend. Even your future kids are gonna end up here. It’s because they think we all need–”
There’s complete static. We all need what?! What do we possibly need?! What is this ‘Basement’?! You’re frantically trying to figure out how to fix the answering machine. You push this button, then that one. You check if the message is still playing, and it is. You check the chord.
You check the chord and realize that the phone isn’t even plugged in.
“Yeah. That’s why we’re here”, the message resumes with the woman being unaware of the interruption. “Like I said, don’t go yapping, no one’s gonna believe you anyway. Most haven’t gone there yet or don’t remember. Save yourself the trouble, kiddo.”
* three heavy knocks*
You’re frozen because you thought you were alone. No, you’re absolutely sure you’re alone.
“It’s Mr. Edgar,” a stern voice booms from the door, “I’m coming in.”
You turn to see who this “Mr. Edgar” is.
“Woah!” You’re attention is back on the answering machine. “I’ll call you back. Mr. Edgar is here and he’ll murder me and whoever you are if he sees me making this call.”
You can hear the door opening but it sounds like the one in the very room you’re in. And as you turn to stare at the door again, watching it slowly open unlike the fast pace of your heartbeat,
“Oh, shit. By-”
——————–The message ends.——————–
Finally the door is completely open and no one’s there.