The Journal of James Oaklund

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So first thing’s first. The person who called me the other day (when I got to see Amy) was another good friend of mine, Ryan. Me, him, and Amy go way back. Grew up in the same small town, went to the same elementary, middle, and high school, all that. It’d been a couple weeks since I’d last heard from Ryan, but he was in a pretty good mood when I picked up the phone.

“Yo, man, what’s happenin’? How are you?”

“I’m great, actually. How about you, Ry?”

“Ohh shit, dude, you have no idea! I’m doing amazing! Amy called me a few days ago and told me about this shrink guy, right? Nicest dude ever, helped her out of a real bad spot mentally. So, I decided to call him up! She said he liked talkin’ to folks for his study or whatever, so I figured he wouldn’t mind too much. Well, the guy picks up, I introduce myself, tell him I’m a friend of Amy, and we strike up a convo.”

I was kind of shocked by this absurd coincidence. But having both of my close friends also consulting with doc Ben was a pretty great prospect; he’d been helping me sort my life out, so it could only really do them good too, right?

“I tell him about my gig workin’ that ratty old salon downtown and how I’d always wanted to move up in the world and work at that really, really classy one at the mall, all that shit. Well, I ended the conversation pretty soon after talkin’ about how my car got all fucked up in that accident a month back, right? How it hasn’t worked properly since then, y’know?”

“Yeah, I know.”

“Well, we said our goodbyes and shit and then the next day, I happened to drive past that dealership near Marcy’s. You know how I’m always droolin’ over that real pretty blue Mustang in the lot, but I’ve never been even close to bein’ able to afford it? Well, they were havin’ a raffle-type thing. Sometimes, they’ll let you come in and pay $20 for a key, and they’ll let you try it on a couple different cars. If it actually unlocks the car, you get to drive it home that day, no questions asked. I don’t know a single fuckin’ person who’s ever won one of these, but I felt compelled to at least give it a shot.”

“Let me guess. You wasted twenty bucks on a stupid rigged raffle that literally nobody has ever won before?”

“You know me, I’m a sucker for a good gamble. So, I walk up, give em my twenny, and pick this one key in the second row from the bottom, all the way on the left. I dunno what it was, but I was just super sure it was gonna be that one. I went to go check it on the locks of the cars out front, and I realize one of em is that blue Mustang I’ve always wanted. I thought I was just bein’ stupid, but I beelined for that one first.”

“Don’t tell me...”

“The dealership guy had this smug grin on his face like he knew it wasn’t gonna work, the asshole. Anyway, I stick the key in the lock and it slides in-and turns! The fuckin’ thing worked! I had to call my roommate to drive my old car back to our apartment while I drove the Mustang home, but man, I’m so fuckin’ excited! Still, even a few hours later...I can’t believe that shit really happened!”

I had a look of shock on my face. Ryan’s story was incredible, and I was excited for him, but I just couldn’t believe it. When I say nobody’d ever won that stupid thing, I mean literally nobody. It had never come up in the news, and the keys the dealership had on display were outdated models because they’d kept them for so long without giving any away because no-one had ever won. Until that day.

“That’s...That’s fucking incredible, Ryan. I’m so happy for you!”

“Thanks, Jay. It was a shame mom couldn’t be there to see it...I’ll tell her when I go visit her tomorrow.”

Ryan’s mother had slipped into a coma two years ago, and it was pretty much exclusively because her father’s side of the family was absolutely loaded beyond belief that the hospital had kept her alive this long. Happy as they were for such a juicy paycheck, they weren’t optimistic about her chances of ever waking up again. Ryan held on to hope, though, and made sure to visit her whenever he could. He’d sit by her bed and talk to her while he held her hand. I’ve gone with him a couple times and it’s...Heartbreaking, to put it lightly.

The conversation wound down from there gradually, and we eventually hung up. I ended up calling the doc a bit later, and our conversation was really brief this time. He mostly just asked about how I’m feeling and about how Amy’s doing, seeming to be really happy to hear she was in better spirits. I would’ve written today off as mostly uneventful were it not for the text I got from Amy’s number. That shit definitely weirded me out.

I was sitting there in my house after work, watching some stupid show on the TV while I ate my dinner, when my phone buzzed. I saw I had a text from a number I was pretty sure was Amy’s, though it was definitely strange; I thought I’d registered her name with her number in my phone, so it should logically just say her name instead of her whole phone number. But I kind of just shrugged that off and opened it. It was a voice message, about fifteen seconds of audio. I hit play and was greeted by about ten seconds of static, with about five seconds spread about randomly of clear, discernible sound. I’ll do my best to write what I could make out:

“(Long burst of static.)er, d(Short burst of static.)r...Can’t...(Long burst of static.)n you...(Short burst of static.)ar me?”

It sounded like Amy’s voice, but I couldn’t tell for certain. When the message finished, my phone shut itself off. I mean the exact second the audio stopped, my phone went completely dark. I rebooted it and it was fine, but I can’t find any record of that number texting me or of that audio message at all.

I texted Amy asking her if she was alright and she replied yes, with a photo of her cat Mittens sleeping in a really cute pose to prove she was safe and sound at home. I breathed a sigh of relief, and I guess I’m chalking it up to some kind of prank text or whatever. I don’t know how else to explain it.

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