E.F. Fluff: Josie’s Numbers

Spider and The Bottle, “Hera” from “Father and Six Daughters series”, 2015. Source: gnypgallery.com

30 Second Quickie!

Wet horny college girls waiting for your call now!

Garish, bawdy and downright pornographic ads screamed from the back pages of the magazine. Pausing occasionally to push a wet strand of hair out of her open mouth – fingers shaking slightly – she thumbed through the pages, taking care to choose the right number for tonight. Fingertips slid gently across the buttons, their tinny responding beeps echoing into her dry mouth.

The electronic rotate of the connection signal ran a shiver from the heat of her ear to her mouth.

Bzz,

bzzz,

*click*

“Hi! My name’s Tina! And I’m a slim luscious blonde with firm thirty six double D breasts and I’m a gym instructor. Ever since I was sixteen I…”

Josie had found out about the numbers three years before her eighteenth birthday. The phone bill arrived on the morning; it wasn’t opened until later in the evening, a passing thing. A great birthday, the best ever – ruined. It took a few minutes for the shock to wear off her mother. Josie’s father had laughingly plucked the bill from her hands saying something like it can’t be that bad – a glance then he too said nothing, simply sitting down, the colour draining from his face. Before finally looking at her brother Paul and quietly telling him to go pack. Saying nothing, Paul stumbled backwards out of the living room, upstairs. The only sounds were those of scrambling about his room above them, throwing things into a bag.

All hell broke loose when he came back down trying to make a quiet exit. Her mother sprang from where she sat, her face turning from white to a vein throbbing crimson, screaming like an enraged harpy she poured vile, hissed obscenities on Paul.

“Filthy dirty sick pervert!”

She repeated over and over.

“You’d break your own family for a wank! Over some whore on the phone!”

She spat the words into his cowering face as she squared up to him.

Jamming her hands over and into her reddening ears, Josie didn’t listen anymore. Words weren’t enough though, so deep was the fervent fury that gripped her mother. Her hands soon found the broom, twisting it about to wallop and beat Paul about the head and body with every ounce of strength she could manage.

When her father finally managed to restrain Josie’s mother, Paul was bent double, holding himself up by a chair, blood seeping from where the broom handle had snapped across his forehead. Bleeding, followed by the righteous bile vomited after him by his mother, he managed to crawl out to safety.

Five months later Paul, homeless, jobless, hung himself from a tree in the park. A week prior his mother was committed to a locked ward.


This would be the beginning of her addiction, the first seeds sown. It would develop meticulously, calls budgeted, a stopwatch beside the phone. Sometimes the odd sense of professionalism she gave the act would make her giggle.

But only sometimes.

Funding it was never a problem. Money was never, ever a problem, not anymore. Not since her brother had given her his computer when she was eleven. With a computer, with coding, with design, with networking, anything computer related, Josie’s was a step beyond talent. Still she was careful, she didn’t want to end up like her brother.

Josie didn’t do it for pleasure. Once dialled, she’d sit in some semi-horrified, semi-repulsed nauseous state. Disgusted yet unable to put the phone down. Unable to stop calling, she’d sit in growing discomfort, unease, sickened by what she heard. Feeling so dirty by the end of it sometimes she would spend hours beneath scalding hot water trying to wash away a dirt that felt far deeper than her skin.

But still she’d sit, mind recoiled in on itself slightly from the bare crude words kissed through the receiver. Thick blunt accents making such a commonness of words spoken with a hint of uncaring, unfeeling airy breeze, almost rushed.

A mutual sense of wanting to get it over with, words spoken so many times, they’ve lost any meaning except for the pushed forced inflections meant to heighten arousal.

To say, though, Josie had never done anything to the voices would be to lie. She had, twice – would a third time. The first was in the breathless disgusted confusion of her first call a few years ago. The second, months later during her first one-to-one call, after being practically verbally forced to remove her dress and panties by a deep throat woman called Benny.

The third and final time would not happen for nearly another three and a half years, and it would be out of necessity.

Years dragged nonchalantly by, evenings spent with Josie huddled shuddering by the receiver, mouth hung agape, listening. Until one night mid-September, when it – the sounds – began.


After returning home from work, having washed and eaten – the same ritual every day. Josie prepared to make her usual single phone call of the night before bed. A new magazine bought she decided to call a number listed amongst others of an apparent new company. It was dialled with the usual dry mouth hesitancy and Josie sat with her usual impatience through the company preliminaries.

When it started, it practically blew up out of the phone. Storming from nothing into a blazing lurid stew of rough dirty sex. It happened so suddenly, Josie started, almost dropping the phone. She managed two full minutes of it, though the cigarette-tinged, powder blue voice on the other end fit enough in for ten. Two minutes, before she abruptly hung up the phone, shaking violently, mind feeling as if it had been scraped by razor blades.

About a minute after she hung up. The phone started to ring again. Wide-eyed Josie stared at it before shakily extending her hand to pick it up, dragging it to her ear. For a moment there was nothing, then a *click* and the phone roared into life, Josie’s eyes blinking painfully wide in shock.

“He wasted no time once he had closed the space between us, jamming his spit-wet fingers into my creamy…”

Josie slammed the phone down and sat panting from fright. Again it started to ring. This time she picked it up, put it down immediately and hurried away upstairs from the phone.

Sitting curled about a mug of coffee, Josie tried to immerse herself in the banality of the roaring television. But sitting there, behind the blare of the TV, on the periphery of her hearing, she could hear the phone ringing downstairs.

Not another call was made for three weeks. Though eventually the addiction came calling.


The magazine lay untouched, on the seat beside the phone from the last time. A new number picked from the glaring fleshy Ads that beamed from it. Same company as the last number dialled but a seemingly calmer Ad. Girlfriend experience it said.

It began as usual, though softer than before with an unusual touch of sensuality. So gentle in comparison with the one, which had driven Josie from the phone weeks earlier that it beguiled Josie from her usual state of disdained disgust.

A minute and a half into the call, interference crackled onto the line. A continuous fuzz, with odd clicking, slithering sounds in its distance. The interference seemed to grow and oscillate or maybe Josie’s attention just became more attached to it. There seemed to be more to it than just line interference. Straining to hear, she thought she caught the echo of some organic hissing, then it was gone. When Josie realised with a shock she’d run almost five minutes over her allotted four, the receiver slammed down with an uncharacteristic sworn oath.

Over the next few days Josie tried the same number, over and over hoping to get the same interference to no avail. The words, the need for the disgust having faded secondary to the odd hypnotic interference. But it never came on the line of that number again.

Days later after another uneventful call she resolved to try one of the company’s other numbers, tomorrow evening she told herself. The noise, that intricate noise is so much more interesting than their filthy whorish wet words she whispered to the food to herself as she cooked.

The new number was supposedly to a German girl called Lucy, who wanted to tell you about her experiences in an all-girls boarding school. When it switched in she thought it was just another recording. Seconds in, interference boiled up through the line twice as great as that first call.

The fuzz, the clicking slithering sounds, ones almost like movement were louder now, clearer, and that organic hissing not just a passing glimpse, but fading in and out, more constant. Straining so hard to hear it all, her eyes began to throb and the receiver pressed in – digging into her face and jaw. So caught up in the noise, she didn’t notice the time fly by, until it was fifteen minutes over her four. Swearing, the receiver was slammed down.

Work went by normally, Josie was talented enough at her design jobs that she could buzz through the day in empty drone mode, mind never really switching on until she was home in her mews. But she was getting worried about the increasing time she’d begun to spend on the numbers. So she tried to drag the evenings out, do more work at home, more work done more money, read books watch television, distractions. Anything to resist the urge to call up the number and sit rapt in the noise. Even to the point of the thumbing through the small box of possessions she had left of her brother.

A couple of Pink Floyd tapes, an old photo album, an old collection of comics and a worn tattered, heavily used and underscored book on numerology. Try as she might though, Josie just couldn’t give her full-undivided attention to these things. The phone would always be at the back of her thoughts, niggling away.


It was two weeks before Josie tried a new number of the same company. Allotted time had increased from four to eight, twelve on Fridays. She’d also doubled her workload as a financial precaution. Every evening for two weeks she sat, rapt in the fuzz, with its odd clicking and slithering, tidal organic hissing.

The new number was not as calm, softly spoken erotica was replaced by moaned, whimpered, panted breathless words of lust.

For the first time in weeks its line was perfect, causing Josie to listen to forced carnal filth. Yet her disgust didn’t come through, only impatience. She waited a whole five minutes before slamming the phone down, swearing almost as thickly as the woman on the other end.

Retiring to bed early, Josie fell into a deep sleep.

At first it was duvet-like nothing, dreamless slumber, which slowly faded into Josie sitting cross-legged, naked, in an empty door-less room, the noises from all the phone calls collected playing all around her, from nowhere, from everywhere. That inescapable dream panic set in during the first few moments, before subsiding into a curious interest, slowly beginning to strain, to listen, then to listen tightly, carefully to the growing surrounding noise.

Ringing.

Ringing, repetitive shrill ringing.

Josie sat bolt upright from her dream, just in time, she thought to catch the end tones of the phone ringing out. Gathering herself she moved downstairs to sit beside the phone for a while, hoping to catch it – to prove that it hadn’t been the dream. Though if it wasn’t she wasn’t sure what she would do.

Eventually Josie returned to bed and sleep, only to be woken minutes later by the phone ringing again. She didn’t go down this time. Instead she lay listening trying to drift back to sleep once it’d stopped. Five minutes into every return to sleep, Josie was woken to the phone ringing off the hook.

Work the next day crawled by. Josie’s nerves were cut on edge so badly she jumped every time the phone rang. Colleagues looking on curiously. Still, it didn’t affect her work. Well, except for the designs and animations. They seemed to become more fluid and organic in style.

“Different yet strangely beautiful.”

“Oddly warped but captivating.”

Was just some of the praise from her coworkers.

Ringing.

A client kept Josie late. So totally unlike her, she ran past her usual bus stop swearing foully, running instead to the taxi rank, and grumbled darkly to herself in the back seat the whole way home. Throwing money at the cab driver in a sprint to the door.

Ringing.

Just as she reached the door. She caught ear of the ringing that stopped just as she reached her door.

Josie stopped dead, leaning against the door to take stock of her actions. The ringing made her catch her breath, startling her back to reality, as softly, she began to cry in a long slide down the door as she asked herself over and over what was happening.

No calls tonight.

Or, at least, she tried.


Josie found herself sneaking out of bed, downstairs like a teenager at four in the morning. A new number, promising live sounds of hardcore lesbian strap-on anal action. Same company as always, a recording as usual, it seemed. But within seconds, the fuzz slithered clicking onto the line, hissing fading into a constant. The slithering grew in volume, something moving, thumping a wet heartbeat as it seemed to drag itself closer to her ear. Or so it sounded.

Behind, behind the hissing, there was something else, something new. Distant, so distant on the line every muscle in Josie’s body strained to hear it. Hollow, dry ethereal mumbling, maybe rasping a chant damply. Seconds, Josie lasted only seconds before she hung up, terror at these new sounds engulfing her.

Slamming the phone down so hard, it was eventual fear she had broken it that brought her out of the shivering, leg-clutched state. Tentatively picking the receiver up again. Instead of the steady tone of a ready line, it was still there.

The wet slap of flesh, the moaning faded into the background as the interference swept over it like seaweed-clogged waves. It wasn’t her imagination. It was, it really was voices. At first one, the hollow dry ethereal mumbling. Then more, a low damp rasping chant. Slapping slithering slimy on stone, there was still more behind the wet heartbeat thumping, but faint, so faint it was audible only every so often. There – a gelid flicker, a febrile whisper. Terror almost gone, Josie sat in horrified morbid curiosity – listening intently.

Josie.

The syllables curled and rasped through the receiver. Her heart stopped and fingers clenched the phone so hard it creaked from grinding strain.

Josieyy.

Curling, rasping, wetly the voice vexed her name out.

Josie slammed the phone down in abject shock, then picked it up to slam it down again, and again and again. Her body shook so hard it may as well have been convulsions. Crawling quickly away from the phone, Josie jammed herself into a far corner and affixed it with a wide-eyed stare.

Time drifted – dragged by and her eyes grew heavy lidded and the phone began to fade.

Ringing.

It rang so suddenly, Josie screamed. When it kept ringing Josie screamed into her hands for a long time – until her voice cracked and went hoarse. Even after she’d stopped screaming, stopped crying, it kept ringing. It rang all night, all morning, and all day and it was still ringing when Josie reached her front door, only to stop abruptly again when she touched the wood.

No calls tonight.

For real this time.

No calls tonight.

She muttered and whispered to herself.

No calls tonight.

By now Josie was too scared to even be in the same room as the phone so she sat in the kitchen. Around ten o’clock the phone started ringing again. Ringing insistently over and over, ringing. Josie lay in bed most of the night, head beneath pillows, wishing, praying for it to stop. It finally did around four, allowing Josie to get some voice-filled, nightmare-ridden sleep.

Work again. A new web page, done in a day. They said it was her best yet, alien beauty, how did she do it. These words managed to seep through the fog of coffee and confusion. The hours ticked by easily, padded over with the pixel glare of her work. Then home, to bathe and eat.

Thankfully the phone wasn’t ringing anymore. It just sat now, there, brooding in thoughtful plastic.

No calls again, still too scared, but later when the television was blaring, she was sure she heard it ring, and again, once, much later as she slept. When woken to silence, Josie was still almost positive the phone had woken her.


Days and work collided into each other – weeks ran ringing into each other, until eventually the addiction came calling.

She wanted the disgust, the revulsion again – she needed to feel her skin crawl. More – she wanted that and the noise, the interference.

Josie began calling again, starting on the earlier numbers, easing herself back into the noise, avoiding the number that had spoken to her. Weeks passed until Josie felt she had the nerve to call a new number. It was her birthday, and she decided to try one of the company’s one-to-one numbers, to treat her self, to see what curiosities it offered.

When it rang through, the line was cracked with plain electrical interference. Disappointed, Josie hung up. Outside the weather turned, sheets of rain lashing against the windows of her mews. Still anxious for her fix, Josie rang again. The line clicked through, but buzz flickered and cracked. On the other end when it cleared, she could hear the women talking, panting to their customers, some of whom spoke, others moaned breathing heavily down the lines. Whatever had happened, all the lines had been crossed, giving Josie a rare privilege to listen in on everything.

Slowly the interference began to grow on the phone. More distinct, it sounded as if something was moving, really moving this time, slithering across lines, babbling, mumbling, chanting, looking for something. It seemed it would go silent when it reached a quiet line, as if it was studying the silence of just after or an operator smoking, before moving on.

When she heard a wet hollow voice whisper curl her name, Josie realised she couldn’t hang up, she tried – first slamming the receiver down – then putting it softly but firmly held down. The phone would give the strangled half ring before ringing as if to insist natter and nag that the lines were indeed still open but lines remained open, still there when she picked the phone up again to check.

The sounds, the movement getting closer and clearer down the line, terror gripped Josie, what would it do when it found her line, the completely silent one. Would it know it was her, what would it do when it found her. Heart pounding, lungs thumping for breath, Josie caught the echo of her own breath on the receiver and it hit her. She tore her jeans off, dragging underwear with them. Sweat-sodden, shaking hands finding purchase between her thighs, Josie closed her eyes and forced herself to be lost into the rough sensations she administered to herself.

The sound of it there, right there, studying her breathing, and a half-escaped moan brought Josie from where she was lost to sensation. She panted, moaned, and it waited, slithering, whispering, listening. Finally the hollow rasping wet voice began to say her name, asking for her. It knew she was there, but it couldn’t find her. Then it went silent, waiting again. Josie was close, breathing hot and ragged, and she was terrified.

The voice came back on the line, louder, clearer, but changed, deeper, still hollow and damp but more singsong into a whisper

“Take the eight change it for a six… take the five change it for a nine… Two should be three… Three should be two…”

Freeing a hand Josie scrabbled for a pen, scrawling on her thigh as the voice rearranged the number, it repeated itself just once before the line went dead.

She sat listening to the silence for a long time before hanging up. Staring at the long new number scrawled on her leg, Josie copied it to paper before running half naked to shower, to wash herself to scrub beneath the hot water until her skin was raw.


Another day another web page.

Work flew by. This web page they said was her best, definitely her best, stunning, a work of art. Amazing, startling, warped, otherworldly they said.

At home Josie sat for hours staring at the scribbled number, edging her trembling body bit by bit downstairs to the phone. She dialled it twice, hung up each time and sat staring at the cord-curled, sleeping form of her phone that sat silent like a waiting creature.

Finally she dialled and waited.

It rang long and slow before it went through. The line crackled into life, no interference. It was filled with a mind-warping miasma, a sound-demolishing cornucopia of noise. Sounds and voices – circles and strings – an unordered cosmos – almost geological in its cacophonous madness. A susurrus crying utterance resonating, reverberating from beyond and all.

Tears streaming down her face, Josie sat rapt, lost in it somewhere.

She’s famous now.

Though she shuns it, a recluse of such extremes she does not even leave her home to shop or walk or work. Though she hasn’t given it up, she works from home now.

Her web pages are renowned worldwide. Inhuman, alien works of mind-bending beauty, Josie’s designs have become revered by web designers looking for success, a multitude of books written about her art.

They say when they held the first exhibition of her work, she begged them not to, but they didn’t listen.

A gallery full of computers on desks glowing her art forth to people.

But then they say many things about Josie: that no-one has spoken to her in six years. The only man who is rumoured to see her is her delivery man, and he’s paid well not to talk. They say her hair is as long as her body. Once black, it’s now white as light.

Her work is also favoured by people on drugs, her cult status reaching so many levels. It’s said two people lost their minds exploring her websites whilst tripping on acid and another lies in a coma, no drugs involved. They say he found her homepage.

Josie’s website, urban legend tells, is one of the hidden grails on the world wide web. Its address is changed once a month as stories whisper. But you’ll never meet anyone who’s seen it, you’ll only hear stories. Josie’s own website, legend tells, is an organic, warping pulsing flowing sea of numbers and mathematical symbols. Huge, spanning pages and pages of special design saved solely for her. To stare too long is to risk migraines and nose bleeds, to stare longer is to risk… it is unknown… no one has, and if they have, they aren’t speaking.

The latest story circulating the chat-rooms and message boards of this genius recluse, is that she appears abruptly in empty tattoo parlours, dropping her clothes, asking for the artist to go over things she’s scribbled on herself in Biro. But that’s all they hear, for she pays them well never to speak of her tattooed body.

Lastly, legend tells her phone has been engaged for six and a half years…

Each night Josie sits, naked, biros and paper always close, one hand holding the receiver, the other wrapped about her tattooed, covered form, rocking gently as she listens.

As she listens…

“Ten… eleven… four as seven… Seven equals the door.”