• Sofia Sawyer

Writing Prompt: The Unexpected Call

Write about an unexpected phone call.


Willow inhaled a deep breath through her nose, pushing harder to beat her running time from the day before. After getting laid off three weeks ago, she enjoyed quiet mornings running along the quaint streets of Hyannis to the marina. Her feet pounded on the pavement in a steady rhythm that brought a sense of calm during the otherwise turbulent turn her life had taken unexpectedly.

Even in the early morning hours, the air had warmed noticeably these last few weeks. Soon, the town would bustle with Bostonians as they migrated to the Cape for their summer weekends. For now, she took in her beach town’s peaceful solitude, something she never had time to appreciate when she’d been working.

Willow had worked consistently for a decade, so getting the news was a shock. Without her normal 9 to 5, she felt unsettled. Restless. Thriving on consistency and stability, this change was anything but.

After giving herself a week to wallow, she got sick of her daily pity party. Finding some form of structure in her day-to-day would stop her from spiraling, so she did what she did best.

She planned.

Her days now had purpose. She spent her mornings running, followed by three hours of job applications. Afternoons were open for interviews and chores.

With her new routine, Willow believed things would turn around for her. She held onto that hope.

Something had to pan out. And soon.

Rounding the corner, she stopped at her favorite spot along the marina and stretched. Something about it spoke to her soul, evoking a sense of inner tranquility. Maybe it was the way the sunrise sparkled on the surface or how the water gently lapped against the wooden docks. Even the seabirds squawks had a calming effect.

She was tempted to stay there all day and bask in the calmness, but she reluctantly pulled herself away. After all, she only had another month of severance pay to float on, and she knew finding a job might take longer than that.

Just as the thought entered her mind, her cell buzzed in her pocket. An unknown number flashed across the screen. Although she normally ignored these calls because they were almost always telemarketers, she picked it up. It was a local number. Maybe it was an opportunity for an interview.

“Hello. This is Willow.”

A woman’s rough whisper came across the line. “H-hello. I need your help,” the voice urged, causing Willow’s heart to jump into her throat.

Something feels off.

She chewed her bottom lip. “I think you have the wrong number.”

“Please don’t hang up,” the woman begged, the desperation in her voice utterly haunting. Willow’s blood ran cold. “I couldn’t remember my best friend’s number. I called the number closest to it hoping someone would answer. That they could help me.”

“Is this some sort of prank?” Willow snapped, her fear putting her on edge.

“I only have a few minutes.” The woman’s voice trembled. Even a pranker couldn’t be that good at acting.

“If you need help, call the police.”

“I tried. I don’t know why I can’t get through to them. Something about this damn phone. I need you.”

“I-I don’t understand. Who is this?”

“My name is Kate Barnes. I live on Chestnut Street in Hyannis. I’ve been abducted.” Another muffled cry came over the phone. “They’ve already killed my friend. I’m next. Please get help.”

Heart thumping harder, Willow processed the information. She felt lightheaded, but pushed it away. If this woman was telling the truth, she couldn’t faint. “Where are you?”

“I…I don’t know. Three men took us when we were walking home from the Duck Inn Pub two days ago. They threw us in the trunk and drove somewhere for about an hour. We could be anywhere.”

“Can you enable GPS on your phone?”

“No. It’s limited. Probably a burner. Please get help.” Her voice cracked at the request.

Just as Willow was about to speak, the woman screamed in pain and Willow heard the unmistakable sound of flesh hitting flesh and a struggle.

With weak legs, she ran as fast as she could to the police station a few blocks down. She only prayed she made it in time to help Kate before it was too late.

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