She’s staring at me again. She has been, almost every day, for the last ten days. Just staring.
Let me start out by saying that I live in a big city on the East Coast. Population of over 1.5 million people. Nothing really to note about our city; yes, it has a lot of history, but what big city doesn’t? The only thing that makes us stand out is our unusually high crime rate. It’s part of why I do what I do.
That first night, the night I got her initial call, was a normal night. It was a little over halfway through my shift, just after 2am. The phone rang in my headset, so I stopped the conversation I was having with the guy next to me. I glanced up at the incoming phone number. 000-000-0000. Not the strangest thing I’ve seen, but definitely not one of the normal numbers that come through when someone calls 911. I made a mental note to let my supervisor know that the phone company needed to be notified that we weren’t getting correct phone numbers again.
“Police, dispatcher 267, how can I help you?”
I got goosebumps as I heard her voice, and the static on the line was cutting her words off. She was screaming hysterically. “Help…. please…” I hit the refresh button on the location because the call was showing up as coming from our building. “Please… he’s gonna.. bridge… help…”
“Ma’am, what bridge? Where are you?” The location popped up to an area stating the call was being made within 1900 feet, which had two different bridges in it. “Ma’am, is someone on the Amtrak bridge? Are they threatening to jump into the river off the Main Street Bridge?”
Static. Nothing but static. “Ma’am? Ma’am? Which bridge are you on? Hello?” Still silence and static. Then the phone disconnected. I put in a call for both bridges:
MALE ON BRIDGE THREATENING TO JUMP… FEMALE CALLER ON LOCATION… NOTHING FURTHER..
I got up to speak to my supervisor. I asked her to double check the call, to see if maybe she could hear something I had missed, and I told her about the phone number and location acting up. She pulled up my call history, which showed nothing for a 000 number. The last call I had on their recordings was a call about a stove fire from 5 minutes before I got the call from her. My supervisor then came over to my station and listened to the call, but it was nothing but static. No screams, nothing about a bridge, just static. My supervisor just shrugged and told me to continue working, if there was a lady on the line, there is nothing we could do at this point. We couldn’t call back a non-existent number.
My next few calls were heartbreaking; a small child went missing overnight, a 15 year old girl found her 17 year old brother hanging in his closet when she got up to go to the bathroom, and a man set fire to his house with his wife inside. I forgot all about her call.
On my way home that next morning, it was still dark when I got on the bus. I sat down, put my headphones in, and zoned out while looking out the window. My bridge call entered my mind, so I tried to push it aside. Bringing home work was something I tried not to do.
A few stops before I normally would get off, I felt like someone was staring at me. I usually try to ignore that feeling on the bus, because it’s almost always some creepy guy, but this time the urge to look was too strong to ignore.
At first, I was a little unnerved by her plainness. It seems like such a silly thing to be bothered by, since she was so unremarkable. She couldn’t have been any older than 25, with muddy water colored hair pulled back into a ponytail, a plain black hoodie, jeans, no makeup. Her sad, dirt brown eyes were the only thing that really drew me in. I felt like she could see straight into my soul. I cleared my throat and pulled out one of my headphones.
Hesitantly, I murmured, “Good morning,” and nodded at her. She just stared. I shifted in my seat, deciding it was time to get off. I could walk those few extra blocks, working off a little steam. I got up, kept my head down, and waited for the bus to stop. I made my way home, made breakfast, then took Benadryl and went to bed.
I had the next two nights off, staying home to relax most of the time. I made a quick run to Walmart on my second night off for body wash, and as I was checking out, I saw her. She was standing by the customer service desk, just staring. Same black hoodie, same piercing gaze. I rushed through paying, and glanced up at her again. I instantly felt vulnerable, like she knew every thought and feeling I have ever had. I ran out to catch the bus, almost forgetting my bag. I went home and made myself a cocktail or two, still feeling exposed. I kept myself in the house for the rest of the night, and until I had to work the next night.
The next night at work was pretty busy. It was a Friday night, so we were getting a lot of our typical calls: domestic incidents, overdoses, robberies, drunken bar disputes. The night was going by fast enough that I had to be reminded to take my last break. I decided to step outside the building and get some fresh air.
The parking lot was barely lit, but a few people were still outside smoking. I walked a little ways down on the sidewalk and sat on the wall up against the building. I put my head back against the wall, then closed my eyes, sighing. Someone walked past me, muttering something politely as they went by. I opened my eyes and nodded, but my attention was drawn to the edge of the lot where it meets the street.
There she was.
At this point, I thought I was hallucinating. There was no way that this same woman, in the same outfit, was in all these different places with me. I got up to go back inside, but as I got to the door, I stopped to talk to one of the girls standing there.
“Hey, Lee, do you see that chick standing by the gate?” Lee shook her head, and I looked back.
She was gone.
I went back upstairs, and sat down, just staring at the computer for a minute. I put my headset on, wondering if I just wasn’t getting enough sleep. My phone rang, and it was time to push all thoughts of her out of my head.
“Police, dispatcher 267, how can I help you?”
Static. I looked at the phone number. 000-000-0000. Location listed as our building. “Help… please… me…”
“Ma’am, please, I need you to stop screaming. Take a deep breath. Just give me the location.” At this point, I was pleading with her. Static and screams. Refreshed the location, back to the same as a few nights before that. Between the Amtrak bridge and Main Street Bridge.
“Bridge.. help… he… kill me..” Disconnected.
I slammed my hand down on the desk in frustration. I pulled up the calls from a few nights before, to see if maybe there was any clue to where she might be. At the address for the Amtrak bridge, they found a woman’s black hoodie, but the officers on location said they hadn’t found anything else, and it was unknown how long the hoodie was actually up there.
I took a risk and put in another call for the Amtrak bridge.
FEMALE CALLER.. STATED MALE WAS TRYING TO KILL HER.. MAY HAVE BEEN PUSHED OFF BRIDGE.. NOTHING FURTHER..
I put my head back in the game. One call, no matter how disturbing, does not stop the other calls from coming. I answered a few more calls, all needing an ambulance, when the now familiar static and her screams came through after the ring.
000-000-0000. “You.. save me.. help… you.. nothing!” She sounded pissed.
“Ma’am, just tell me what bridge, please. I am trying to help, I need to know where you are!” Disconnected. Looked at the previous call for the Amtrak bridge. Officers called for an ambulance to the location. They found someone below the bridge, near the tracks. That’s the only information that was entered.
I instantly felt sick. I knew it was her, but I just got off the phone with her, so how…?
My supervisor told me to finish up and head home. I packed up my things, headed to the bus, and just knew she was going to be on the bus with me. I got on, and there she was. Just staring.
“I’m sorry,” I whispered as I sat down across from her. She just stared.
Every night since, she’s called. First begging for help, then blaming me for not saving her. I see her in random places, every day, just staring at me. I found out the next day that they were ruling her death a suicide, saying she must have jumped off the bridge.
I know the truth. I could have saved her if I knew the location. I can’t prove anything because the call never saves. It’s always just static. No one else can hear her screams in the call. No one can hear her blaming me.
I’ve found myself traveling to the bridge after work the last three days. She won’t let me see her when I’m there. But I know she’s with me. I can feel her staring.