The Text. Short Story.

I groaned and rolled over as my phone went off. Already I knew who it was, Alexis had been freaking out the night before due to another break up with Brad. My alarm hadn’t gone off yet, that meant it was before 7.30, usually she was good about holding off until at least 9 before the barrage started. I rubbed my eyes, then started to summon the energy to deal with her. It would only be a few days until things had blown over and they were back together, I could do it.

I picked up my phone and it started vibrating, the alarm was going off. I swiped it from the screen and went to my messages. It was an unknown number, frowning I clicked in, “Don’t take the bus today.” I looked at the message for a minute, reading it over and over again, trying to make sense of it. Sure, it was clear, but who would send me something like that? I typed out a quick response, “Hey, who’s this?” And put my phone down, time to get ready for the day.

When I had gotten out of the shower I hadn’t received a response. The message stayed with me in the back of my mind. It was such a strange thing to send to someone and why? I briefly thought about contacting someone, but then discarded the idea. Who would you even ring about something like that? Besides, I didn’t want them thinking I was crazy. Probably just some idiot mistyping a number, trying to let someone know they’d get a lift that morning.

I was drinking my coffee when the phone buzzed again, this time it was Alexis, asking me if I thought she was right to kick Brad out. I took a drink from my coffee and replied. It was going to be a long day with her. It was the second time she had kicked him out, the last time she made it less than a day before he was back in the house with her. As I pressed send another message from her arrived. I glanced at the clock, I was ahead of schedule, I replied then threw my phone into my bag. If I didn’t hear the texts I wouldn’t feel bad about ignoring them. Besides, there was nothing urgent in them, I could safely wait until lunch, when she would no doubt ring to cry at me. I grabbed my keys, my bag and I was out the door.

The morning was brighter than I expected, despite the sun the air was still chilly. I only had a short distance to walk to the bus stop, then it would be a few minutes wait. Normally I arrived a moment or two before the bus, but today I’d have to wait a little longer. As I sat on the bench to wait I heard my phone beeping in my bag. I rolled my eyes, no doubt more texts from Alexis, though I could have sworn I put it on silent. I dug around in my bag, grabbed out my phone and looked at the screen. 4 new messages. That wasn’t as bad as I expected. 3 were from Alexis, another was from the unknown number. I opened that first, expecting a “sorry, wrong number” response. I stared at the screen, “Don’t take the bus.” I looked up from my phone and at the people either side of me, it had to be some kind of joke. No one was looking at me, everyone was too engrossed in their papers or their own phones. I put my phone back on silent and put it into my bag.

The bus pulled up a moment later, I felt a pang of anxiety when I first saw it. I stayed sitting as those around me filed onto the bus, running it over in my head. As the last person stepped onto the bus the doors closed and it pulled out, I let out a breath, the decision was made. I’d be late if I waited for the next one, but it was only a half an hour walk.

I arrived in work only a little late, when I got the bus I normally arrived at least twenty minutes early. Everyone was still chatting and getting settled in, so I wasn’t too worried. Angela, my boss, wouldn’t be in for another half hour anyway, she was always late on a Monday.

By the time lunch rolled around I’d forgotten about the messages that morning, at least until I checked my phone. There was one new message from the number, “Thank you.” That was it. I had several from Alexis, but before I could read them my phone was ringing. I answered and was immediately greeted with the sound of sobbing. “I’ve made a mistake, I shouldn’t have done it, it was a mistake.”
“Alexis, honey, take a deep breath, ok? I can barely understand you.”
“I shouldn’t have kicked him out, I”
I tuned out as she went on and on, she didn’t want advice, she just wanted someone to talk at. Occasionally I made sounds of interest as I ate my lunch. By the time she had wound herself down it was almost time to get back to work.
“Thanks for listening, you give really good advice you know?”
“Uh, thanks. I’ll talk to you later ok?”
I hung up and shook my head, she had come to her own conclusions, I’d barely said anything. I looked at the text again and brought up the news on my phone, there was nothing about buses, nothing interesting seemed to be happening at all. I dialled the number, hesitated for a second, then pressed ring. Who ever it was wasn’t going to tell me who they were and I wanted to find out. I started clearing away my lunch stuff as I waited for an answer, but none came. I hung up and put my phone back into my bag, telling myself it was probably just someone playing a prank. After all if you texted a few people the same thing you were bound to get it right with someone.

I stood outside work, the weather had gotten worse and it was steadily raining. I was huddled under the bus shelter with everyone else when my phone beeped. Same message again, “Don’t get the bus.” I shook my head and put my phone away. I was not walking in the rain again and nothing had happened the last time. I was sure it was a prank. When the bus pulled up I filed on with everyone else and paid my fair. I found a seat and settled in for the short journey. My phone beeped a few times but I ignored it, no doubt Alexis giving me status reports on her relationship. I’d be home soon enough and I could deal with it then, once I was in my pyjamas with a cup of tea in my hand.

I let myself into my apartment and put down my bag. I changed out of my work clothes and threw on something comfortable, then I put on the kettle while I looked in the fridge. I was in no mood to cook anything, so I chose some left over spaghetti to heat in the microwave. As I set the timer I remembered the texts I’d gotten earlier. Sighing I went to my bag and grabbed out my phone, the faster I dealt with it the easier it would be.

There were five messages, all from the unknown number.
“Don’t get the bus.”
“You shouldn’t have done that.”

“I enjoyed watching you walk this morning, I wanted to see it again.”
“You should have listened to me.”
“I’ll see you soon ;-)”

My heart was thudding heavily in my chest, the sound of blood rushing through my ears. I jumped as someone knocked on the door. I moved away, trying to be quiet. It was probably nothing, once they were gone I’d ring Alexis, she’d come around and then together we could go to the police and get this all sorted. My phone beeped in my hands. Cursing myself for not silencing it I looked at the screen, another message, “Open the door.”

I closed out of the message and started dialling the police. I let out a shriek as a hand fell on my shoulder. “I told you to open the door. You should have followed my advice.”

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About Alan James Keogh

I am a 24 year old writer who somehow tricked U.C.D. into giving me not only a degree in English and Classical studies, but an Hons Masters in Creative Writing too. Visit my blog where I post short stories twice a week (Monday and Wednesday) and an installment of a serialised novel on Fridays. I did consider writing this in the third person, as though it was written by someone else, but Alan is not comfortable writing in the third person as it seems kinda creepy and unbalanced so Alan decided it was probably best to write in the first person. He hopes it went well for him.
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