On January 12th, at precisely 12:01 a.m. – the phone rang.
He didn’t stir from his typewriter. The Zunis dare not be derailed by wrong numbers on cold islands. He ignored it. It stopped.
It rang again, at 12:02. And once more, he ignored it. The third time he jerked away from his work. Levi Cant answered typically. Yeah, so?
Either you’re a confused mute, or an annoying asshole, he groused, jammed the receiver down on the cradle, went back to work on the unresolved chapter.
On January 13th, he’d just finished wolfing down a coldcut sandwich when it rang again.
In his mildly inebriated state, it spooked him a little. His secret phone was defying his wishes. He hesitated. Answered.
He heard breathing.
So, said the woman’s voice, what did you find?
Who are you, please?
The line went dead, as did the power. For a solid five minutes Levi stood still in the pitch black, feeling each… and… every small hair on his body raise toward the ceiling. Fear antennae. He could scarcely breathe. Alone. An eternity. The whiskey whirl and adrenalin rush stunning him toward a fearsome, solitary, sobriety.
In a rude flash, the power was restored. The digital clock cheeped in protest. The refrigerator dropped the ice cubes in the tray. The furnace blower kicked on. He could smell the dry heat from the floor vents.
Yet, with all these emergent existential parodies designed to soothe consciousness and normality, Levi could only stare at Jared Chase’s chipped, dented, pus green wall phone. There. In the corner. Silently mocking his grasp on sanity.
Outside, in the pitch-black night, on Pewter Sinks Road, it was snowing again.