This is Taylor

📅 Published on May 21, 2021

“This is Taylor”

Written by Micah Edwards
Edited by Craig Groshek
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

Copyright Statement: Unless explicitly stated, all stories published on CreepypastaStories.com are the property of (and under copyright to) their respective authors, and may not be narrated or performed, adapted to film, television or audio mediums, republished in a print or electronic book, reposted on any other website, blog, or online platform, or otherwise monetized without the express written consent of its author(s).

🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available

ESTIMATED READING TIME — 8 minutes

Rating: 9.70/10. From 10 votes.
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911 gets three kinds of calls.  There’s the “someone needs help” call, obviously.  That’s the sort that most of our training deals with, and it’s the kind that everyone pictures first when they think of 911.  You could, if you wanted, subdivide these calls into “actual problems” and “people who need to learn to solve their own issues.”  But the people calling in legitimately think they need our help, so I’m keeping them lumped together here.

Then there’s the wrong-number category.  Again, you could split this up into “stayed on the line to apologize” and “hung up and made us send police,” but it’s all the same idea.  You’d be surprised how much of our training focuses on these, too.  With the folks who stay on to apologize, you have to absolve them of their guilt so they’ll hang up quickly and not tie up the line.  With the ones who hang up, you have to learn to manage your own panic, at least early on.  They often won’t pick up when you call back, so then you end up running through worst-case scenarios in your head, thinking that if only you’d been able to pick up a second sooner, you might have saved someone’s life.  In the end, the police nearly always find that there was nothing wrong.  When I started, we had an entire seminar on how not to wind yourself up over nothing.  Didn’t really help, but at least it was a nice thought.

And then there are spam calls.  You know, the reason that no one picks up their phone for unknown numbers anymore?  But while you can just thumb “ignore” and drop the phone unanswered, we don’t get that luxury.  We answer every call that comes in.  No blocking numbers, no screening.

Spam accounts for over half of all phone calls these days.  And while some of the robodialers are smart enough to exclude our numbers, plenty either don’t know enough, or don’t care enough.  So several times during every shift, I end up having a conversation like this:

THEM: “Yes, this is such-and-such with the IRS.  Your payment is overdue.” ME: “Do you know it’s a felony to call 911 without an emergency?” Now, you’d think that would be the end of it.  There’d be a click, the call would end, I’d move on with my day.  But in fact, most of them will argue with me over it, telling me that they know what number it called, and it wasn’t 911.  I used to try to explain that 911 was a relay number and that our phones had actual, unpublished numbers as well, but those explanations never went anywhere.

Now I mainly just say, “Please stay on the line.  We’re tracing this call.”  That tends to get a pretty immediate hang-up.

A couple of months back, though, I got a guy persistent enough to stay through even that line.  The call started off like they all do.

“This is Taylor with Microsoft, and we have been getting reports that your PC is infected.” “Sir, this is 911.  Please hang up if you don’t have an emergency.” He brushed right past my line like I hadn’t said anything.  “I can provide help with this problem.  Are you at your computer?” “I am.  I’m in a dispatch center for 911.  Go ahead and stay on the line.  We’re tracing this call.” “You do not need to lie to me.  I am trying to help.  Me helping is going to solve your problem.  I need you to listen carefully.” “I need you to get off of the phone.  People have real emergencies.” “Listen.  You do not want my help?  Assuming you do not treat this problem—” “There’s nothing wrong with my computer, and you are not with Microsoft.” There was a pause, a sigh, and a click as the call ended.

As the day went on, though, I kept coming back to that call in my mind.  It wasn’t just that he’d been more persistent than usual.  There had been something odd about his cadence.  He’d had a thick Indian accent, so maybe I’d just been imagining it, and it was just a normal pattern for him.

Still, it kept eating at me.  Eventually, I pulled up the audio recording to listen to it again and ease my mind.

The first line sounded normal, and I felt foolish for how much brain space I’d devoted to this.  But as I was reaching to stop the recording, he started the second line.

There was a clear emphasis on “provide help.”  His whole line had been “I can provide help,” but the “I can” had been mumbled.  Was he asking for help?

I played it back several times.  There was a small but definite pause after the word “help,” too.  It didn’t sound accidental.

I let the recording play on, and became convinced that the pause I’d heard was intentional.  There were more like it, odd moments that broke up the flow of the sentences to emphasize certain words—almost always around the word “help.”

Two sentences ran together to make the phrase “help me.”  Another, if you took just the first syllable of the next word “assuming,” was “help us.”

I played the recording over and over.  I couldn’t be imagining this.  He’d even said, “I need you to listen carefully.”  I’d missed it.  He’d called in needing help, and I’d shooed him away.

I checked the call location information, but it just pointed to an office center in Texas.  It was possible that this guy was in Texas, but it was a lot more likely that that was just where the call was being routed through.  I had nothing, no way to trace this at all.

I barely slept that night, thinking about how I’d screwed up.  How desperate do you have to be to start sneaking coded messages into your speech, hoping that someone picks up on it?  And if they do understand, how are they supposed to do anything?  Through sheer luck he’d gotten through to 911, to maybe the only people who could have helped—and I’d missed it.  This guy was still trapped in whatever conditions had caused him to reach out like this, because I hadn’t understood.  Still trapped if he was lucky, maybe.  If someone there had picked up on his hints, he could be dead.

Morning came, and I dragged myself to work.  I told myself that it wasn’t my fault, that I couldn’t always save everyone.  I put on a fake smile for my coworkers and manned the phones, and even I didn’t realize exactly how much it had depressed me until I answered one call and heard a familiar voice.

“This is Taylor with Mastercard, and we are calling to make you a special offer.” My heart leaped.  “Taylor!  I can help you.”

Click.  The line went dead.

“Stupid, stupid!” I hissed at myself.  Obviously, he was afraid that someone was listening in, or he wouldn’t have been trying to hide his message in the first place.  And here I was just announcing everything to anyone that might be on the line.  Still, at least he knew that his message had gotten through.  He’d called back before.  I had to believe that he would again.

I checked the call location again, figuring that if it was the same place I could at least get a local officer to go take a look.  No luck; this time it claimed to have originated from Seattle.  I was going to have to figure out some other way to get the location.

It was two days before Taylor called back again.

“I wanted to let you know that your automobile insurance is about to lapse.” “Yeah?” I asked, my heart beating fast.  I tried to sound like an average call.  “You don’t sound like you’re with my insurance company.  Are you in India?” “India?  Ah,” Taylor said, “You mean my accent.  I am in Macon.  Yes, I am.” “C’mon, not with an accent like that,” I pressed him.  “Where are you really?” “Macon,” he insisted.  “It is where Geico is.  You can Google it if you like.” “Geico’s not even my insurance company,” I said.

“I am sorry.  I must have made a mistake.”  Click.

Once again, I found myself listening to the recording, trying to discover what I’d missed.  It turned out that Geico did have a large call center in Georgia, but I doubted that that was the real answer.  It was too easy, and also didn’t make any sense.  Georgia certainly had its problems, but it seemed unlikely that they were imprisoning anyone in call centers.

The only thing that I noticed about the call was that Taylor had pronounced “am” oddly the first two times he’d said it, almost like he was starting to say “ambulance.”  He used the word again at the end of the call, and it didn’t have that subtle B sound that time.  It was definitely a hint, but I had no idea what to do with it.

I tried Googling it, as he’d suggested, but it just brought up random words and celebrities starting with “amb.”  I tried a few other things, but kept coming up blank.  Finally, out of frustration, I just started typing in the entire transcript of the call, one line at a time.

When I started the second line, I got only two words in before Google’s auto-suggest turned “India Ah” into “india ahmedabad.”  A quick trip to Wikipedia told me that this was a major city in India, and I started to feel hopeful before I realized that it was home to over six million people.  That was a lot like narrowing the call down to “somewhere in New York City.”

On a hunch, I added “amb” to the end of my “india ahmedabad” search string.  Google suggested “bank of india ambawadi ahmedabad.”  Probably Taylor wasn’t calling from the Bank of India, but the important information there was that there was a neighborhood in Ahmedabad called Ambawadi.  This was a much more reasonable area to search.

At least, so it seemed to me.  It took several weeks of arguments for me to convince my superiors that there was something to this.  Everyone admitted that it was odd that Taylor kept calling back regularly, but not everyone agreed with my conclusions no matter how many times I played the recordings.  Still, the small clues kept piling up and confirming each other, and finally, someone with enough pull managed to get their counterparts in India to agree to go track down this call center.

Taylor called in the day before it was all supposed to happen, telling me that my refrigerator was under a recall notice.

“Listen, buddy,” I told him.  “I know what you’re up to.  If you ever call here again, so help me, I will come find where you are and drag you out into the street.”

“Sir, your threats do not bother me.  I will be waiting.” “Not for long,” I snarled.  He hung up the phone.

I let out my breath in a whoosh.  All I could do at this point was hope.

The next day, it was all over the news.  The IPS had raided an office building in Ahmedabad and discovered an entire floor of people who had been kidnapped and forced to work there.  They were literally chained to their desks during the day, and had nearby cots where they were tethered at night.  All of them were emaciated, and nearly all bore open wounds or missing digits from where they had been punished for one infraction or another.

I saw the news, and I wondered which one was Taylor.  Obviously, it wasn’t his real name.  Probably I would never know.

I was re-reading the article when the phone rang.

“This is Taylor with Microsoft, and we have been getting reports that your PC is infected.” Had they raided the wrong center?  How many of these could there possibly be?  Maybe they’d just missed a floor or something.

I swallowed my panic and tried to respond normally.  “What’s wrong with it?” “It is generating some very grave reports.  I think the problem might be worse than you expect.  Can you let me dig around in the files?” “I don’t think I can give you that access.”

“If I do not get behind the system files, I cannot show you how deep the problem lies.” “I’ll take a look myself,” I said.  “Thank you for letting me know.” After some convincing, the IPS returned to the office building and searched in the lot behind it.  They discovered dozens of bodies buried in a mass grave, jumbled together and left to rot.  Most looked to have been severely beaten, then dumped in the hole either already dead or to die of their wounds.  They still wore the bloody clothes they had died in.  A few even still had their phone headsets clamped around their heads.

We still get spam calls at work, and I still threaten the callers with tracing the call.  But I always listen closely to how they respond, to the words they choose.  You never know who might be calling out for help, or how hard they’ve had to work to reach you.

Rating: 9.70/10. From 10 votes.
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🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available


Written by Micah Edwards
Edited by Craig Groshek
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

🔔 More stories from author: Micah Edwards


Publisher's Notes: N/A

Author's Notes: N/A

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Copyright Statement: Unless explicitly stated, all stories published on CreepypastaStories.com are the property of (and under copyright to) their respective authors, and may not be narrated or performed, adapted to film, television or audio mediums, republished in a print or electronic book, reposted on any other website, blog, or online platform, or otherwise monetized without the express written consent of its author(s).

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