This story was contributed by TechieInAK
Randy slammed the front door shut and unzipped his coat. He smiled as the warmth of his home embraced him, dispersing his memories of the dreary outside.
"Honey, I'm home," he called out as he hung his coat in the closet and kicked off his boots.
Charlotte's head appeared in the doorway to the kitchen with a smile stretching across her face.
"Hi, sweetie. How was your day?"
"What's for dinner tonight? I'm starving." He walked into the kitchen and dropped a pile of mail on the counter.
Charlotte shrugged. "Just got home myself. Maybe we get something from that Reuben place? You love their burgers."
Randy laughed, patted his bulging midsection and nodded. "Yeah, a little too much. Honestly though, it sounds more like an excuse for you to get that chicken sandwich you like."
Charlotte slammed her fist into Randy's shoulder, then withdrew it with a yelp.
"You shouldn't do that, you know. One of these days you'll really hurt yourself," Randy said with a grin as he ducked to avoid a slap to his face.
"Better watch yourself. One of these days you won't be fast enough."
"Right." Randy paused and nodded towards the answering machine. "Hey, look, there's a message."
"Really?" Charlotte said with raised eyebrows while she flipped through the pile of mail. "Nobody ever leaves messages."
Randy picked up the handset and checked the missed calls log with a frown. "Unknown caller."
Charlotte sighed. "I don't know why you insist on keeping that thing. No-one ever calls, except telemarketers. All our friends have our cellphone numbers."
"I know, hon, I know. It's just—"
"Just what? When was the last time anyone actually called that wasn't trying to sell us something?"
"You know I'm right," Charlotte said with a frown and opened the fridge.
"All right, you win. I'll get rid of it."
"Thank you. Beer?" She held out a bottle in Randy's direction. He accepted and twisted off the cap and took a swig. "Before you get too deep into that bottle, play the message, all right? Let's get it over with."
Randy put the handset down and pressed the play button on the answering machine.
A soft static hiss played from the speaker, its intensity oscillating.
"What the..." Randy tapped the answering machine and raised the bottle to his mouth. "It's just static."
"Are you sure? That's it?"
"Another thirty seconds or so. Probably just another prank call, just like you said." Randy reached for the stop button.
"Just let it play. Might as well."
Randy put his hand in the air with a smirk on his face. "As you wish, my dear." He sat down on a stool next to the counter.
After a few more seconds, the hiss on the recording faded and a female voice spoke up.
"Um, hi, mom, dad, are you guys there? Hi, it's Amber. Your daughter."
Charlotte's mouth dropped wide open, her eyes widened and her beer bottle tumbled to the floor and shattered. Beer splattered everywhere while a million pieces flew in all directions. She suppressed a yelp with both hands. Randy froze and slowly lowered the bottle from his lips.
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