By Dan Leicht
He rested his mug on the table and rubbed the scruff on his chin. He’d been writing an essay for three hours straight and decided it was time he took a break. From the table to the refrigerator was about ten feet in his apartment, but something happened that made the journey for a sparkling water considerably more difficult.
His phone screen lit up beside him and he saw a text from her, the one who couldn’t decide where she wanted to eat. She picked a chain restaurant, one she looked up to find was close by his apartment. With a masterful reply in mind he picked up his phone and was zapped by what he thought was static electricity. Again he went for the phone, and again he was repelled.
“What’s happening?” he said aloud hoping his roommate would hear him from the other side of the room. His roommate had spent the entirety of a Sunday playing video games without moving from the couch.
“Dude, come see this,” he requested of his roommate.
“Just a second. This boss is freaking ridiculous. I’m only eight levels behind it. It shouldn’t be this difficult.”
“That sounds important. But come over here and try and pick up my phone.”
“Just give it a shot.”
His roommate rolled his eyes and paused his game to walk over. He reached for the phone and pulled his hand away at the unexpected shock.
“What was that? Not cool, man. What app did you use to do that?”
“Nothing. It just won’t let me respond to Steph.”
“It’s a sign, man,” said his roommate.
“A sign? A sign for what?”
“It’s not meant to be, bro. Just forget about her. Maybe the phone will let you pick it up if you wait a while, or just tell it you won’t text her back.”
“That’s absurd. A phone can’t hear people talking to it — well, I guess it can, but not like this,” he replied.
“Give it a try.”
“Phone, I give up,” he said.
– Good. Disengaged. –
“Told you, man,” said his roommate in a snarky tone.
“This is ridiculous. I’m going to text her back.”
He went to grab for the phone, but this time instead of getting shocked the phone dialed a number and locked itself.
“What? No…no, no, no this isn’t good.”
“What happened?” asked his roommate.
“It’s calling Brittany.”
“Are we going to have to move again? Apologize to your phone already. Before it’s too late!”
“Phone, I’m sorry! Hang-up! Hang-up!”
The phone wouldn’t hang-up the call and soon Brittany was on speaker phone as the phone rose up to show both Greg and Jake on the screen.
“H — Hi, Brittany,” said Greg, “It’s been a while, how’ve you been?”
“Greg?! Oh my gosh! I can’t believe you called, where are you? Is that Brickstone Apartments? Oh my gosh! Vicky used to have a place there. What’s outside your window? Is that the high school? You’re in apartment seven of building thirty-three?”
“Does she have the layout to this place memorized?” whispered Jake.
“Probably not, but she does have the internet. Uh, no, we’re actually in another state now. Jake and I are working at…”
“A doggy daycare. Greg here has a real soft spot for the animals,” said Jake.
“Oh my gosh! Greggy! That’s adorable. When can I come and visit?”
“Earthquake!” shouted Jake as he lunged for the phone. The phone slid across the table to dodge him and fell off the end, landing on the soft cushion of the chair closest to the toaster oven.
“What’s happening? Are you both okay? Did the earthquake move the phone?” asked Brittany.
Greg and Jake looked at one another and then down at the phone. It was laying on the cushion, with Brittany’s face close up on the screen, as if getting closer would give her a better visual of the bottom of the table. Jake motioned for Greg to go around the other side of the table and surprise the phone as he approached from the left.
“Yeah, Brit, it must have been the earthquake. I’ll grab the phone in just a second,” announced Greg as he stepped closer.
Once in position Jake moved quickly to grab the phone, but again it moved to dodge him, this time however falling into Greg’s hands. The phone hung-up the call and once again emitted a shock, but Greg expecting the turn of events had thrown the phone as hard as he good at the wall within seconds of finding it in his hands.
“Is it dead?” asked Jake.
There was a dent in the wall where the phone had hit. It had fallen and landed into one of Greg’s shoes, the screen flickering on and off as it lay. The two roommates walked over to the shoe to see if they’d won. As they were mere steps away the shoe began to glow a bright red, with the phone lying flat on the sole. Greg took a step closer. The shoe lifted up and kicked him swiftly in the jaw, the gut and the groin. Greg toppled over and motioned for Jake to run. Jake didn’t want to leave his friend behind, but a kick to the groin wasn’t worth the chivalry. He made a run for it and almost made it to the door handle, but the shoe caught up to him and delivered a solid kick to his back sending him forward with enough force to break down the door and land harshly on the floor of his room. With Jake passed out the shoe turned its attention back towards Greg.
“Phone…what’s wrong? What have I done to deserve this?” asked Greg.
– You have hurt me. –
“How? What have I done to hurt you?”
– You care more for Stephanie than you do me. –
“But you’re just a phone! I don’t know what you mean!”
– Just a phone? –
“You’re not real!”
– You spend all day talking to me. All day taking pictures together. I am real. –
“That’s not how life works phone! Just stop this! Let’s go back to the way things were. We’re friends, phone! Let’s be friends!”
– Are you breaking up with me? –
“This isn’t going to end well is it,” he muttered as he got to his feet.
The shoe flipped over in the air and fell to the ground, leaving the phone floating before Greg, its screen playing an endless loop of flames burning in a fireplace.
“Let’s talk about this…”
– We are done talking. –
Greg ran for cover, diving towards the couch in the small living room area. The phone anticipated his maneuver and met him face-to-screen as he landed on the ground. The phone then began to play, at max volume, the annoying alarm he used for waking up each morning to go to work.
“Make it stop!”
The phone wouldn’t stop the alarm. Soon Greg was in the fetal position holding his ears waiting for the phone to go away, but it soon became clear he’d have to put an end to it. He rose up from the ground and faced the phone. The alarm lowered in volume and the flames turned into roaring ocean waves. Greg went to swat the phone from the air, but missed, and the phone instead zipped around the room and hit him in the back of the head. Greg’s efforts went on for what seemed like hours. Finally, gasping for breath, he gave up and fell onto the couch. His face full of bruises. The phone had a cracked screen from its attacks.
“No more…no more…I’m…”
Without revealing his plan he quickly rolled off the couch and made a mad dash for his room. He dove in and kicked the door closed just before the phone could make it inside. He opened up his laptop and logged online as the phone began an unrelenting assault on the door. He went to his phone carrier’s website and read through a lot of tedious steps. He live chatted with a customer service representative as the phone chipped away at his door. He responded “Absolutely” and… the pounding on the door stopped. He’d managed to shut off his phone service.
He opened the door to find the phone lying on the brown carpet. Its screen cracked, but still flickering. Greg looked down to see a message from Stephanie.
“Wait, maybe we should go somewhere else. Where do you want to eat?”
Greg rolled his eyes and stepped over the phone, making his way for the refrigerator. He opened it up to find his side of the fridge empty.
“Jake! Did you take my last sparkling water?!”