God I hate phone music.

Who gets paid to compose this shit? It’s not even as if it’s a known tune, just something some poor sap banged out on a keyboard somewhere. I can see the requirement presented to them now: “Nothing fancy. We want bland mixed with soul destroying. Just make sure it’s a minute long”.

Drumming my fingers along to the monotonous beat - not as if I’ve got anything else to do as I wait.

Ah, here comes the one minute mark and time for the droning, bodiless voice again:

Thank you for holding. Your time is important to us. Someone will be with you shortly.

Christ, last time I heard someone that emotionless it was my wife. Thank God she’s not a problem anymore. I just want to get the insurance claim moving!

This music’s really beginning to get to me now, setting my teeth on edge. Why the hell won’t someone pick up my call!? Their customer service is shit! Fuck it...I’ll call back later...., it’ll be just as bad then. Just got to stay on the line and wait. Someone will answer eventually and I’ll finally be able to start the ball rolling on my new life.

Police and Fire have done the rounds - nothing. I’m free and clear. All the paperwork's done, just this final call to the insurers and it's finished. Once the money’s in the bank, they won’t see me for dust round here. Rid of my responsibilities and rid of this shit-heel town now I've dealt with that miserable bitch. Shame about her sister and kid, but how was I to know?

Thank you for holding. Your time is important to us. Someone will be with you shortly.

Arrrggghh! For fuck's sake! All I’ve been hearing for God knows how long is some shitty phone music, that soulless voice, and the drumming of my fingers!

Maybe… maybe I should call back later?

No. No, I’m here now, on the line. Just got to show some of the same patience I used when planning the fire. I’ve got the time, I’m in no hurry. Just need to wait a while longer that’s all.

Could always entertain myself with drawing what I’m going to buy with all that money in the dust here. Always had a hankering for one of those expensive convertibles.


Why is there so much dust on this desk?

Wait… how long have I been on hold now?

I… I don’t know.

Minutes, hours… days?


No, no… that can’t be right. I’d know. Surely I’d know! I can remember what I was doing this morning! I was… I was….

Christ! When did I last sleep? When did I last eat? Hell, when did I last move!?

Hold on, hold on! That’s a lie - my fingers are still moving, drumming along to that relentless, droning music. A quick, reassuring look....

Huh... why didn’t I notice the sharp tat, tat, tat, tat, tat of my fingers on the desk before? The way my sleeve hangs loosely on the bare, dusty bones protruding from it?

Snap out of it! Wake up! Wake up you dumb bastard! It’s a dream - it has to be!

Focus! Focus on anything. Listen to the music even. Just… think! Work out what’s going on!

There it goes again, looping round and round, the same bouncy, repetitive tune. What’s... what’s that underneath it though… that sound. Hadn’t heard it before, but now I can almost make it out… sounds like... like the crackle of flames, and the... the sound of muted screams, piling over and over and over each other, tearing at my ears...

No, no, NO!

I’m going mad. I must be! Wake up! Please, just WAKE UP!

Thank you for holding. Your time is important to us. Someone will be with you shortly.

Oh God, I can hear something in the voice now, just at the end. A barely contained laughter.

Throw the phone down! Throw it as far as you can! Get up from this desk and run, just run and never stop running!

I can’t.

The phone remains pressed to my head, the music spills into it in a never-ending flood, and my drumming, skeletal fingers keep an eternal beat. Caught in an endless loop.

God I hate phone music.

Written by CharminglyShallow
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