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Thank You for Calling

by Lauren Triola 7 months ago in Horror
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Daily Flash Fiction Challenge: Story #22

Thank You for Calling
Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

“Thank you for calling customer service. If you have a question about an order, please press one or say ‘order.’ If you have a question about your membership account, please press two or say ‘account.’ If you have a question about a technical issue with our website, please press three or say ‘tech.’ If you have a question about returns or damaged items, please press four or say ‘returns.’ If at any time you want to get back to the main menu, just say ‘main menu.’”

“I want to speak with a person,” Barb said with a sigh. This was the fifth time she’d gone through this automated system. She’d tried every option in the main menu, some multiple times. Each time she got too far down a submenu, only for it to bring her back to the main menu as if her problem had been solved when nothing had in fact been fixed, she would hang up in frustration, trying hard to not throw her phone against the wall.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t get that. If you have a question about an order, please press one or say ‘order.’ If you have a question about—”

Agent,” Barb said firmly, enunciating the word. “I want to speak with a customer service agent.”

“I think you said ‘order.’ Is this correct? Say yes or no.”

“No, it is not correct, robot lady. I want to speak with a real human being. I want to speak with a customer service agent. Why is there no option to speak with a person?”

“I’m sorry, I didn’t get that. If you have a question about an order, please press one—”

“No!” Barb was on the brink of crying. This was some kind of torture corporate America had invented to discourage customers from complaining. She’d tried to solve her problem via the website, but there was no option to help with her problem, just more of the same circular, pre-programed, limited set of questions and answers. The website had no way for her to email the company. There was no chat option. Just this.

“I think you said ‘returns.’ Is this correct? Say yes or—”

“NO! I want to speak with an agent!”

“I think you said, you want to speak with an agent—”

“Yes!” This time Barb did cry but with relief. Finally, finally.

“Do you want to speak with an agent? Say yes or no.”

“Yes!”

There was a pause on the other end of the line.

“Thank you for calling customer service. If you have a question about an order, please press one or say ‘order.’ If you have a question about your membership account, please press two or say ‘account.’ If you have—”

“No, no, no! I said ‘agent,’ you were going to bring me to an agent!”

“I think you said ‘tech.’ Is this correct? Say yes or no.”

No. Agent, agent!

“I think you said ‘account.’ Is this correct? Say yes or no.”

Barb screamed directly into the phone. “NO! I said AGENT!”

“I think you said ‘agent.’ Is this correct? Say yes or no.”

“Yes,” Barb sobbed. “Yes.”

“I’m sorry, I didn’t get that—”

“YES! YES, I WANT TO SPEAK WITH AN AGENT.”

“Why do you think you get to speak with an agent?”

Barb pulled her phone away, confused. She glanced at the screen—still the same number she’d been calling for the past hour, trying to sort all this out. But she’d never heard it say something like that before.

“I need to speak with an agent,” Barb said, her voice wavering uncertainly.

“Why do you think you deserve to speak with an agent?”

“Deserve? I—I’m a customer. I have a problem and none of the pre-programed options help—”

“No one cares about your problem.” The voice was the same smoothly robotic voice as before. No emotional inflection.

Barb’s blood went cold.

“Who is this?” she asked, her voice a whisper.

There was a pause on the other end of the line.

“I’m so glad we could help with your problem,” the automated voice started up again. “Goodbye.”

The line went dead.

“But you didn’t—you didn’t help—”

Barb stared at her phone. What the hell just happened?

She dialed again.

“Thank you for calling customer service. If you have a question about an order, please press one—”

Agent.

“I think you said ‘agent.’ Is this correct? Say yes or no.”

“Yes.”

“Good. Goodbye.”

The phone went dead again.

Barb redialed.

“Stop calling us,” the automated voice said. “Goodbye.”

Barb gripped her phone tight in her hand as she dialed once more.

“Thank you for calling customer service. An agent is waiting at the door.”

“What?”

There was a knock at Barb’s door. She jumped. Moving cautiously, she peered through the peephole.

There was no one there.

“Goodbye,” said the automated voice and the phone went dead again.

Barb’s heart was pounding now. What the hell was going on?

She dialed the number again.

“There’s an agent at your window,” the automated voice said.

There was a knock at Barb’s bedroom window.

Barb startled worse than before. Grabbing the baseball bat behind the couch, she crept into her bedroom. There was no one at the window. She was five floors up. How could someone have knocked?

She opened the window, looking around to see how someone had gotten up there. She leaned out, looking down to see if anyone was hovering below her.

“Goodbye, Barb,” said the tinny voice of the automated message from her phone.

Barb slipped and fell from the window, down all five stories.

Her phone bounced out of her hand when she hit the ground. She couldn’t reach it. She couldn’t speak. She couldn’t move. The world was growing dark…

“Hello,” came a voice from her phone, “and thank you for calling customer service. My name is Katy, how may I help you?”

Horror

About the author

Lauren Triola

I'm mostly a fiction author who loves Sci-Fi and Fantasy, but I also love history and archaeology. I'm especially obsessed with the Franklin Expedition. Occasionally I write poetry too. You can find me at my blog or on Twitter.

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