Fiction Mystery Speculative


Allie, Rob, and Danny,

Congratulations on your first home! I hope this card is waiting for you in your mailbox the first time you check it! I just wanted to tell you all how proud I am of you! I can’t wait to come visit! I just wish your father was still here to bless the house for you, but I know he’s looking down and very proud.

Miss you,

All my love,

Mom (Gramma)

* * *

July 18th


The phone rang on the wall in the kitchen. Allie was trying to sort through boxes labeled “KITCHEN” and find the contents' new home in the cupboards and drawers.

Allie answered the phone. “Hello?”

“Ah! Hello! I’m sorry I missed your call this morning, I was out for coffee with Kathy. I’m so glad your phone is set up!” Annette said.

“Hi, Mom! Yeah, the line went live this morning. How are you?”

“Oh, never mind me, how’s the house?! How’s Rob? How’s Danny?”

“The house is great! We slept in our sleeping bags in the living room last night. Danny was so excited that the house was empty and that we were having a sleepover in the living room. I was worried he wouldn’t like it. Rob is outside with Bill getting the furniture out of the truck. He’s good, but tired I think from the drive.”

“I’ll bet, that’s a long drive. I wish I could be there with you all,” Annette said. Allie could hear her voice getting thick.

“We miss you too, Mom. You’ll come visit soon. You can come as soon as we get everything set up,” Allie said, trying to hide the burning in her own throat. “I can’t wait for you to see it!”

“Me either hon. I’m so excited to have coffee on your deck. It looked so lovely in the pictures.”

“Oh, it’s beautiful! You can just see the lake through the trees. We can’t wait to get a patio set and sit out there. Rob is hoping we can get a BBQ this year too.”

“Oh, I’d love to have a BBQ when I’m there…”

* * *

August 9th


Allie ran in from the deck and picked up the phone. “Hello?”

“Hi sweetie!” came her mom’s voice. “How are you?”

“I’m fine, I was just outside with Rob and Danny. Danny was just playing in the sprinkler we got him. I took a few pictures, I’ll send them to you once they’re developed.”

“I can’t wait to see them! How’s the heat? I saw on the news that you’re having a heat wave,” Annette said with concern.”

“Oh, it’s so hot here! That’s why we got Danny the sprinkler. He wanted to play outside so bad but the heat is brutal!”

“Are you sleeping OK? It’s so hard to sleep in the heat like that. Is your air conditioner working?” Annette asked.

“Actually, you know what? We haven’t even had to turn it on. The house stays cool. Rob said the attic and walls must be really well insulated. Seems a little weird with how much sun we get in the afternoon, but, you won’t catch me complaining!” Allie said.

“Oh, that’s good to hear!”

“Are you ready for your trip next week? Danny keeps talking about how excited he is to see you. He misses you a lot!”

“I can hardly wait. Kathy was over the other day and laughed at me because I’m already packed but I can’t help it! I’m so excited! Tell Danny I miss him too!” Annette could hear Danny’s voice calling Allie from outside. “Oh, I can hear Danny. I’ll let you get back to the sprinkler. Love you.”

“Love you too Mom…”

* * *

September 7th


“Hello?” Allie said

“Hi sweetie, it’s me! How are you?” Annette’s voice came through the handset.

“Hi Mom, I’m fine. Just got home from picking Danny up from school.” Allie said.

“Oh good! Tell him Gramma wants to hear all about his first day,” Annette said.

“OK, hang on,” Allie said before covering the speaker with her hand. “Danny! Danny!” Annette could hear her faintly. “Gramma’s on the phone. She wants to hear about your first day!” Allie put the phone back to her ear. “Here he is.”

Shuffling came through the line. “Hi Gramma,” came Danny’s little voice.

“Hi, sweetie! How was your first day of school?”

“It was good,” Danny said.

“Well that’s good,” Annette said. “Did you ride the bus or did Mommy drive you?”

Danny sighed. “Well, I was gonna take the bus but we slept in. Daddy’s alarm didn’t go off and I was late,” he said.

“Oh no! Why didn’t Daddy’s alarm go off?” Annette asked.

“Um, I don’t know,” Danny said.

“Oh, OK. Well, is your teacher nice?” Annette asked.

“Yes, she’s nice,” Danny said.

“What’s her name?” Annette asked.

“Ummmm…” Danny said. Annette heard Allie whispering Danny’s teacher’s name to him. “Her name is… Mrs. Adams.”

“She sounds lovely. Did you make any friends?”

“Mmhmm,” Danny said.

“Well, that’s nice. Did you learn anything new?” Annette asked.

“Yes,” Danny said.

“What did you learn?” Annette asked.

“Umm, I forget,” Danny said.

Annette laughed, “Well that’s no good!” she said.

“No,” Danny said. He never talked for very long on the phone. 

“OK sweetie, Gramma will let you go. I love you. Can you put your Mom back on the phone?” 

“Love you, here’s Mom,” Danny said. Annette heard the phone shuffle again.

“Hi Mom, he’s not much of a talker,” said Allie giggling. 

“No he’s not,” Annette said trying to stifle her own giggle. “What happened with the clocks? Danny said you were late?”

“Oh, we have no idea but it was chaos here this morning. It was the weirdest thing! The power must’ve went out last night and it reset Rob’s alarm clock. But the weird part is all of the battery-powered clocks stopped too. All at 2:17. Rob said the only thing he could think happened was that there was some kind of power surge that set off some kind of electromagnetic… something. But even that sounds like a stretch.” Allie said.

“Hmm, well hopefully it’s a one-time thing! Sounds very strange…”

* * *



Happy Birthday! I can’t believe you’re 27! Where does the time go? I wish your Dad were here. He would be so proud of you. I sent you a framed picture of him with your gift, the nice portrait that he got taken right before he passed. I noticed that you didn’t have it in your house anywhere and thought you might like it.

Miss you,

All my love,


* * *

November 5th


“Hello?” Allie answered the phone.

“Happy Birthday!” Annette said.

“Hi, Mom, thank you!” Allie said.

“What are you doing for your birthday?”

“Rob and I are going for dinner and then we’re gonna go see a movie. The neighbour is gonna watch Danny.”

“Oh, that sounds lovely! Are you gonna have a birthday cake?”

“Well, I wasn’t going to but Danny insisted that we do,” Allie said with a laugh.

Annette laughed too. “I’ll bet he did. Did you get my gift?”

“Yeah, it came yesterday! Thank you, the sweater fits and is beautiful and the soap smells lovely!”

“Oh, I’m so glad it fit! Did you get the picture of your Dad too?” 

Allie sighed. “Yeah, I did, and I put it up on the mantle last night but when I woke up this morning it was on the floor and the glass was smashed.”

“Oh no! What happened?” Annette asked.

“I don’t know, I asked Danny if he knocked it over or if he was playing ball in the house or something but he insists that it wasn’t him. Could’ve been the cat I suppose…

“Was the picture ruined?” Annette asked.

“Yeah, the glass scratched it all up.”

“Oh, dear… Well, I’ll send another print with your Christmas gifts in a few weeks…”

* * *

November 13th, 9:43 p.m. Allie’s time


Annette heard Allie clear her voice as she answered the phone. “Hello?” she said with a scratchy voice.

“Hi sweetie, you don’t sound so good,” Annette said with concern.

“Yeah, we’re all sick. Danny started with it a few days ago and I got it yesterday and now Rob is starting to feel sick too,” Allie said.

Annette heard Rob cursing in the background. “Sounds like Rob is upset about something,” she said. She thought she could hear Allie roll her eyes over the phone.

“He’s fighting with the fireplace. The fires always seem to die out so fast and there’s never any coals left. It must be a draft,” she said. “The weirdest thing is that the house stayed so cool all summer and now we can’t get it warmed up.”

“Well, maybe it’s the cold from the basement,” Annette said.

“Yeah maybe… and the clocks stopped again last night. At 2:17.”

“Have you heard back from the power company?”

“They said there’s nothing- Oh! Danny! You scared me. Danny?”

“What’s wrong?” Annette asked.

“I’ll call you back. Rob!” Allie said before the line went dead.

* * *

November 13th, 10:37 p.m. Allie’s time


“Hello?” Annette said before the phone was even at her ear.

Allie’s answer sounded tired. “Hi Mom, it’s me. Sorry to hang up on you like that.”

“What happened?” 

“Danny was standing in the doorway but he was sleepwalking.”

“Has he sleepwalked before?” Annette asked.

“No, and then when I started to talk to him, he looked like he was about to cry and he started to wet his pants,” Allie said. Annette could tell her throat was getting tight. “As soon as I hung up he started screaming,” Allie said beginning to cry. “He just kept screaming and screaming. It was like he was asleep with his eyes open. We couldn’t stop it. We finally woke him up I guess you’d call it waking up. We just got him back to sleep and-“

“Honey, Honey, it’s OK. He was just having a night terror. Your cousin Jeff used to have them all the time. It’s not unusual for kids Danny’s age to get them,” Annette said.

Allie sniffed. “Really?”

“Oh my, yes,” Annette said. “You don’t remember? It scared your Aunt Grace at first too but he grew out of it…”

* * *

November 18th


“Hello?” Allie said as she answered the phone.

“Hi hon, how are you all feeling?” Annette asked.

Allie sighed. “It’s been a rough couple of days Mom. Danny has had night terrors every night since it started,” she said.

“Oh, what sin,” Annette said. “The poor thing.”

“Yeah, and he’s started getting these bruises all over his body. He says he doesn’t know how he got them, but I’m not convinced. I hope he doesn’t have a bully at school,”

“I think that if he was having trouble at school he would tell you or the school would call,” Annette said. “He’s a little boy. They’re so rough and tumble that they’re always coming home with bruises and scraped knees. Give him lots of bananas, potassium helps with bruising.”

“Yeah, I suppose… He just hasn’t been himself and he’s so tired from not sleeping well that I kept him home from school today and he has a doctor’s appointment this afternoon.”

“I’m sure the doctor will be able to help,” Anette said. “How are you and Rob feeling?” 

“Rob is starting to feel better but I feel like shit. I’ve been starting to feel nauseous,” Allie said.

“You’re not pregnant are you?”

Allie laughed, “No I don’t think so…”

* * *


Grandchildren are oh, so sweet,

This much we know is true

But what is better than one grandchild?

Of course, the answer’s TWO!


All our love,

Allie, Rob, Danny

                                                                                 and THE BABY!

* * *

December 9th


“Hello?” Allie Answered.

Annette was crying when she answered. “Oh honey I just got your card in the mail!” Allie sniffled on the other end. “I just knew it! I’ve had a feeling for weeks! How far along?” Annette asked.

“We think about eight weeks!” Allie answered.

“Oh my goodness, I’m shaking I’m so excited! I can’t wait to come see you! How are you feeling?”

“Very, very nauseous in the mornings. It’s all I can do to make Danny his breakfast. The smell of food first thing turns my stomach. The afternoons aren’t so bad, although I’ve had a few headaches.”

“Any cravings yet?”

“Oh Yeah! I cannot get enough chips and pop! And pickles! We’re going through a jar every few days,” Allie said giggling.

“I remember craving pickles with you too,” Anette said. “How does Rob feel?” 

“He’s excited but I think he’s worried too with everything going on with Danny.”

“Is he still sleepwalking and having night terrors?”

“Fewer since the doctor said to give him melatonin before bed, but it’s still happening.”

“Have you told him about the baby?” Annette asked.

“Yes, but he didn’t seem too excited about it. I think he’s having a hard time wrapping his head around it. And he’s so excited for Christmas.”

“I’m sure he’ll start asking questions soon,” Anette said.

“Oh, I can’t wait for those questions,” Allie said before both women laughed. “My brain is all loopy with pregnancy. What day are you flying in?” 

“I’ll be there December 19th!”

* * *

December 17th


“Rob?” Allie asked frantically.

“No, It’s Mom. Is everything all right? Are you OK?

“I’m fine. I just called Rob’s work and I was hoping he was calling me back,” Allie said.

“What’s wrong?” Annette asked.

“I went to put laundry away in Danny’s room and when I opened the closet there were scratch marks all over the back of the door!”

“Oh my!” Annette said.

“And I am freaking out! What is it?”

“It’s probably just something trying to get in from the cold,” Annette said.

“But if it was in the closet, where did it go?” Allie asked.

“I don’t know,” Annette answered. “I would call a pest specialist.”

“We’ve been hearing some weird things at night, but not scratching!” Allie said.

“I’m sure pest control will figure it out…”

* * *

December 18th, 7:34 p.m. Allie’s time


“You’ve reached Rob, Allie, and Danny! We can’t come to the phone right now. Leave your name and number after the beep and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can! Have a nice day!” came Allie’s recorded voice. 

Annette waited for the beep. “Hi sweetie, it’s Mom. Sorry I missed you, I just wanted to remind you that my flight arrives tomorrow at 11:30 a.m. Call me back when you get a chance!”

* * *

December 19th, 2:17 a.m. Allie’s time


“You’ve reached Rob, Allie, and Danny! We can’t come to th-”

Annette hung up the phone and tried again. She had woken up in a start on the couch. The TV was on and the house was dark. She tried the phone again.


“You’ve reached Rob, Allie, and Danny! We can’t come to the phone right now. Leave your name and number after the beep and we’ll-”

She hung up and tried again. 


“You’ve reached Rob, Allie, and Danny! We can’t co-”

She hung up again in frustration. “Where are they?” she said to herself. She tried for a fourth time.


“You’ve reached Rob, Allie, and Danny! We can’t come to the phone right now. Leave your name and number after the beep and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can! Have a nice day!” 


“Hi honey, it’s Mom. I- well it feels so funny saying it out loud now,” she said before an insincere giggle. “I guess I fell asleep on the couch. But I had a terrible dream about you all and I… I just wanted to make sure you were all right. Just… Call me back when you get this. You don’t have to wait until tomorrow. I love you all…”

* * *

What you’ve just read is a portion of transcribed correspondence between Annette Carpenter and her daughter Allie Cook that began in July of 1995 and ended on December 19th of that same year. While the events that transpired on December 19th in the Cook household are still not fully understood, many believe it was the work of supernatural or paranormal entities, including the Cook’s neighbours. However, this theory has repeatedly been denied by the authorities. To this day, it remains a mystery…

June 24, 2023 02:02

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Mary Bendickson
12:32 Jun 25, 2023

You made this sound so real!


C. Charles
13:37 Jun 25, 2023

Glad to hear. Thank you!


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Show 1 reply
08:03 Jun 24, 2023

I really wanted more details about what happened, so great job laying a compelling groundwork. I like the format : it not only built the characters and relationships, but created tension when the phone stopped being answered.


C. Charles
10:32 Jun 24, 2023

Thanks! It’s fun to experiment with different formats and narrative devices. Maybe one day I’ll revisit Annette and the Cooks. Thanks for reading!


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