Too Late

44 Mayhew Crescent Investigation

911 Call Transcript

Total call time 23 seconds

911: Nine-one-one. What is your emergency?

Unidentified Female: You’re too late.

911:  It’s not, ma’am. It’s not; just hold on. What’s your address?

Unidentified Female: He killed me. Why wouldn’t you come?

911:  Where are you? What’s your emergency? We can —

Unidentified Female: You’re too late.

CALL ENDS

***

“Well, that’s what the computer says. The first call came from a defunct landline last used at this address. Was repossessed over a decade ago; no reason on record. Doesn’t look like anybody’s touched it since.” Officer Ellie Douglas narrowed her eyes and swept her gaze across the front of the house as they drove up. “Unless you count the lawn. Looks like the neighbour’s work. Same length.”

“It’s not much of a mystery. Goddamn punking kids.” Officer Hennessey sighed, parking in front of a dilapidated bungalow with a ‘For Sale’ sign that looked like it had seen more than a few winters.

“You wanna do the perimeter? I’ll keep an eye on the front, see if there are any witnesses.” Officer Douglas offered, sipping her coffee with laconic weariness.

“Mmm.” He was only half-listening. They’d come in sirens blazing, but almost nobody appeared at their windows – granted, it was 2 a.m. The place was like a fresh corpse – clearly motionless, but you just knew it’d twitch when you weren’t paying attention. “Yeah, sure. Hold tight.” He got out of the car.

“Hey. Watch it. Like you said, probably just some stupid kids.”

“Yeah, yeah.” Hennessey shut the door and headed up the overgrown tile footpath to the door. No picket fence, just short, rusted chain links. Flashlight out and sweeping across the porch. Once beige, the paint had stripped off in layers until the bare wooden bones underneath were visible.

Knock-knock! No answer. Another hard knock, flashlight shone through the window into the living room. Nothing. Another hard knock. “Open up! Police!” He jiggled the handle, but the door didn’t open.

Hennessey took his time circling the house. A couple windows in the back had been smashed (inwards, it appeared by the little bit of glass he could see). The back door was unlocked, but another heavy knock and shout ended up futile.

***

The flash from a motion-sensor light across the street drew Douglas’ gaze. A short, dumpy old woman in an aggressively red housecoat was trundling down her driveway, and started beelining for Douglas the moment she noticed the old woman, shuffling as fast as her decrepitude and slippers would allow.

“Great.” Douglas opened the radio. “We’ve got a gawker. Some old hag.”

“Copy. Backup’s on its way.”

She smirked. “Take your time, Hennessey. I can handle this.”

“Copy. This place is creepy as fuck.”

Douglas sighed, shaking her head, and steeled herself for the coming conversation.

“Evening Officer.” The woman kept her fingers on her throat as she talked; a gritty whisper. She pointed at the shanty. “44’s been empty for years. What are you two doing with that old place?”

Douglas glanced back at the bungalow. Hennessey was gone behind the house. The swaying glow of his flashlight slunk out of sight. She sighed and looked back to the woman. “We got a tip that someone was lurking around.”

“Bah. Nobody lurks around old 44. Little Rajon mows the lawn every few months, but I wouldn’t worry about him. His family is new here.” She winked.

“New how?”

“Oh dear, they just moved into 46 a year ago. They think it’s a ‘nice gesture.’ Phooey. But if Big Rajon wants to pay his kid to mow a lawn belonging to nobody, that’s his business.” The old woman spit off to the side. “So long as it doesn’t set the neighbourhood on fire, nobody much cares anymore.”

“Hmm. Why’s it abandoned?”

The old woman cackled. “Beats me, Officer. I’ve been here eight years and 44’s been empty since before then.”

Douglas’ walkie-talkie clicked and hissed.

“Looks like your kajigger’s buzzing. I’ll leave you be, Officer. But my advice: it’s not worth your time. Nobody cares about that place.”

Douglas answered the radio while she watched the old woman dawdle back to her house across the street. She took the number down, 41, just in case, then picked up the radio. “Mark, what’s-“

“Where are you?” The young woman wailed. “He killed me. Why wouldn’t you come?”

Shit. “Hello? Hello? Who the fuck is this?”

Silence.

“Fucking pranksters.” On a police radio? She opened the channel again. “Mark?”

“Yeah?” Hennessey’s very not-feminine voice replied.

Douglas sighed with relief. “This is way too suspicious. We need to look inside. And maybe keep the chatter down.”

A short pause. “Copy. I’ll finish a sweep out here and meet you inside from the back.”

“Copy.” She went up to the porch, peeping through the windows without the flashlight. Nothing but old furniture, bug-eaten and sun-bleached. The front door wasn’t locked, but years of weather had left it unevenly jammed against the frame. Nothing a bit of good ol’ fashioned force couldn’t handle. But she did try to do it as quietly as she could.

Gun drawn and flashlight out, Douglas began searching. The limited furnishings didn’t leave many hiding places, lurking as pale shadows pressed against the walls and deep in corners. There was dust everywhere, but it didn’t look disturbed.; she found an old phone on the kitchen wall, but the cord had been neatly cut. Okay, it’s a bit creepy.

Ring-ring. The phone trembled on the receiver. Douglas nearly jumped out of her skin.

“Mark?” She raised her voice a little, but there was no response. “Hennessey!” Douglas forced herself to yell, but the sound didn’t even fill the space before fading away.

Ring-ring.

It’s a fake. A replica old landline that’s actually cellular or something. She answered. “H-hello?”

“You’re too late.” The young woman weeps. “And now he’ll kill you too.”

***

Doghouse, nothing. Crappy wooden fort? About to collapse. Leaf-bare bushes and dead gardens.  Satisfied, he moved to the inside. Mudroom, clear. Kids’ playroom, clear. Master bedroom, stripped down to bare-bones, also empty. Reno work being done on the bathroom, half-finished. All empty and still. Like a body just waiting to twitch.

While checking out the kitchen, a phone started to ring. Only years of trigger discipline kept him from shooting a hole into the fucking thing. “Ellie?” He asked, aloud and, after a second, into his radio. Seconds ticked by.

Ring-ring.

The line was very obviously cut, but the phone still vibrated on the hook. “No, no goddamn way am I…”

Ring-ring.

Hennessey sighed. Fucking kids. Save the pranks for Halloween. He picked up.

The line was clear but for a little static. “You’re too late.”

He put his back to the wall, keeping his gun and light up. “ELLIE? What the fuc-”

“He killed me.” She wept. “Why wouldn’t you come?”

“Where are-”

“Run. Before it’s too late for you, too.”

Click.