The Dial Tone

When I picked up the phone all I could hear was a dial tone. I said hello several times but there was no reply. Wondering why I was talking to a dial tone, I hung up and thought about why I’d picked up the phone in the first place. It hadn’t rung, yet for some reason I was still holding it. I hung it up again and went to the kitchen for a drink of water to clear my mind.

The water had a funny metallic taste to it. I’m sure it had always been like that, only I hadn’t noticed until now. Thoughts have a tendency to do thatーmost ideas will linger by unnoticed to the sleeping observer, but if you’re watching wide eyed, things appear that weren’t there before.

I hadn’t finished my drink when something smacked into the window. By the time I looked over it was pasted on the glass and slowly sliding down to the floor. It was a big crow. “Funny”, I thought. “No blood”. It was dead on the balcony and wasn’t twitching at all, but it was making a fizzling sound and there was a wire sticking out its foot.

It wasn’t a bird at all, at least not in living sense. It looked to perhaps be a surveillance apparatus of some sorts. I wasn’t sure so I had an expert dissect it and it turned out to be just that, with cameras in its eyes, memory in its brain, and lots of small wires and circuits in its belly.

Some time later I awoke to the sound of tree branches scratching on the windows. My apartment is on the 26th floor, so it was impossible to say the least. I slowly reached for the phone and then stopped myself. Who was I going to call? The Ghostbusters?

My oh my, the false sense of security a phone brings. If anything terrible truly happens, the chance of a phone being useful or even within reach at the time is quite slim. I listened to the empty dial tone for a moment and thought about throwing the phone on the floor. I never did and as I hung it up noticed a crow perched on the windowsill cawing.

I watched it for a moment before it noticed me, its hair standing on end, half its beak falling off and onto the floor. With that it flew into the house and gripped its feet onto the tv. I swatted at it with the first thing I could findーan umbrella. I chased it all around hitting the walls and screaming like a crazy old bag out of her tree. I myself was only 24 at the time.

It felt like it had been days by the time I finally connected and blood squirted all over the walls. The bird swayed from side to side for a moment, dropped its head down, and fell to the ground in a spin. I was sick at the thought and lost consciousness. When I awoke the bird was gone and there were no blood stains, just a broken umbrella and scratched walls, the sun hanging in the morning sky, red stained out the window, a bird’s mouth on the floor.


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