Waking Up to This

Sunday at almost exactly 2 a.m., I was in the middle of a particularly bad dream when the phone rang. Everyone hates phone calls in the middle of the night, and ever since I moved to the States, I’ve been convinced that if the phone rings late at night, it can only mean that my parents are calling to let me know my grandmother has died. (She’s fine, in case you’re wondering where this is going.)

I stayed under the covers and waited to hear the answering machine pick up. I don’t know if it was the relative quiet in the middle of the night or something else, but the machine filled the apartment. It wasn’t my parents, as I said, but this instead:

[audio:Creepy Phone Message2.mp3]

I understand that it’s not exactly heavy breathing, or someone asking me what my favorite scary movie is. But when the loud, random beeping started sounding like Mary Had a Little Lamb (it’s about 35 seconds in), I admit I was scared shitless. By then, I had woken up Kris, who had slept right through the ringing phone.

“Hon,” he asked softly, “Where is that noise coming from?”

I realized, of course, that as scary as it had been for me, it must be even more nerve wracking for Kris to wake up to a strange, computerized version of a nursery rhyme booming through the house. The message ended and Kris got up to check the caller ID (there was a name and a local number) and make sure all the doors were locked. I thought about calling the number back, but I realized that either drunk kids were fooling around and were hardly likely to sound apologetic, or (what seemed more likely) the evil monsters that were calling me in a horror movie-like way might be less likely to kill me during the day.

We both slept fitfully. At dawn this morning, Kris (who usually can sleep through anything) woke up, rattled that the phone was ringing again. I told him he was just hearing birds chirp, because I had been awake for a while and knew what woke him.

The number turned out to belong to a residential address just a few blocks from us, and after work today, we tried calling it back. Ironically, the machine always picked up– it had voice of an old man cheerfully announcing his name. There’s no chance that the old man died, and his ghost was trying to call us, is there?

6 Responses to Waking Up to This

  1. Can't tell says:

    Its 10:00 in the morning and I can’t link the tune to Mary had a little lamb. Even after you giving me the big hint. It sounds more like the old man’s ECG making out with your answering machine.

    You sure it wasn’t your answering machine going ” I should be so lucky…lucky , lucky, lucky …”

  2. Kris says:

    I remember that night differently:

    A blast of icy wind blew open the shutters of my bedroom window and I woke up with a start. “Honey, wake up!” I shook Pulao’s shoulder, and she murmured something in Latin as her eyes rolled into the back of her head.

    Over the flap, flap, flap of the drapes in the wind and the rattling of the shutters I heard something else: A child’s voice, with a London accent, singing, “Maaaary had a little . . . lamb, a little lamb, a little laaaaaamb . . .”

    I peered out of my bedroom and something black scuttled across the recesses of the kitchen. British children giggled from the walls. I hid under the covers as sharp-fingernailed hands scratched at me through the bedsheets.

    Or something like that.

    Ok, TRUE story — I woke up, very scared and confused, and listened to the creepy tune on the phone. Eventually I steeled myself to stand up and investigate the answering machine. I swung my legs over the bedside and, just as my feet touched the floor, the off-key music stopped, mid-tune, with a click.

    OK, let me tell you, that was EXTRA scary.

  3. Matt says:

    Dude. Scariest nighttime experience I’ve ever had is closing the bedroom door too fast after a bathroom run and nearly bisecting the cat as he tried to sneak through.

    Or, I guess, waking up an hour later to hear him yowling dolorously right outside.

  4. Kirsten says:

    I can definitely hear “Mary had a little lamb” in there. It is uber creepy and I can imagine how waking up to that in the middle of the night would not be condusive to a good night’s sleep.
    But I would have to pick up and say something. Or call back if only to convince myself that it was not an other worldly creature dialing from the abyss.

    Note to self-do not call Kris and Pulao late at night.

  5. karah says:

    Dang, that IS creey [and it IS “Mary Had a Little Human-Flesh-Eating Lamb.”] Crap. I’d’ve jumped out the window.

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