Weekly Yuputka: Dave is Calling

Yuputka (n.): the phantom sensation of something crawling on your skin. 


Today’s true scary story is about a group of friends who were contacted by a troubled friend after he died from suicide. I chose this story because, as someone who has dealt with depression, I think it speaks to the struggles of those suffering and the people around them. I debated editing some of the language, but it’s not my story to edit. Rather, please take caution if you’d find this topic upsetting.

PostSecret provides a list of wellness resources (including hotline numbers) for those in need of guidance.

Dave is Calling, from user Tara Babcock (Jezebel Scary Story Contest)

Here is a story that I have not shared before because honestly- it creeps me the fuck out. I don’t like thinking about it. I don’t like the things it implies about the nature of the universe we inhabit, and it fills me with existential dread. It also happens to involve a friend’s suicide, so it’s not the easiest thing in the world to talk about, even without the paranormal stuff.

About seven years ago, my friend Dave* blew his brains out with a shotgun. Tragic though it was, it wasn’t much of a shock for those of us who knew him; the dude had always had some serious issues with depression and he had threatened to end his life before, many times. Add to this the fact that he had recently separated from his wife and had moved back in with his brother and was using meth again, and… yeah. The writing was pretty much on the wall.

About three weeks after his death, his widow, Jessica- who happens to be my best friend- came to see me. She was clearly upset. She shoves her cellphone into my hand and tells me that I need to hear this voicemail. She doesn’t tell me anything else about it. So I listen to it.

It was static. But underneath the static… there was a voice. It sounded like it was coming from far away and across a very bad connection.

It was Dave’s voice. I would have recognized his gruff baritone anywhere.

And he was shouting my friend’s name over and over again. “Jessica!….Hey, Jessica!…Hey!.. Jessica!”

Hearing his voice, knowing that he was almost a month in the ground, and the fact that he sounded so desperate and afraid made my blood run cold.

I handed the phone back to Jessica and just kind of stared at her stupidly for a moment. “That was Dave,” I finally said, when I could speak.

“I know,” she said.

The voicemail had apparently just shown up in her voicemail inbox, with no record of a missed call and no phone number attached to it.

We both listened to it again 3 or 4 times, just to be sure, but when Jessica went to show someone else a few days later, she was surprised to discover that it had spontaneously deleted itself. It was just gone.

About a week or so after that, my ex-husband, Ivan, stopped by to drop off our son for a shared custody arrangement. He had been Dave’s best friend since childhood, so even though things were kind of tense between the two of us, I wanted to let him know how sorry I was, and that he shouldn’t blame himself for not being there. We talked about Dave for a few minutes, and I mentioned the strange voicemail that Jessica had gotten. Far from being shocked like I thought he would, he simply nodded knowingly.

“I got one, too.” He said. “Same thing. Static, but his voice, underneath that. Only he was screaming my name instead of Jessica’s. And my phone actually showed that the voicemail- and a few other missed calls- came from Dave’s cell phone. I never heard the phone ring, though. And this was all weeks after he died.”

I was pretty disturbed by this, so I began casting about for explanations. Was it possible that Dave’s phone was still functioning? Maybe his brother was carrying it around in his back pocket and butt-dialing it? Maybe the family hadn’t turned it off yet? Ivan rejected each proposed explanation, since he had already investigated. Apparently, Dave’s family had terminated his phone service within a couple of days of his death. It should have been impossible for that phone to make any calls. And while butt-dialing might explain how a dead person’s phone could make calls weeks after the owner’s death, well… it doesn’t really explain those voicemails.

I asked Ivan if I could listen to the voicemail on his phone, but he shook his head.

“It’s gone,” he said. “It just disappeared after a few days. So did the record of the missed calls from Dave’s number. I went to show them to somebody, and they suddenly weren’t there.”

It’s been many years, but thinking about that voicemail still makes me break out in goosebumps. It was frightening to me for many reasons. For one thing, I don’t like thinking that my friend Dave, who was so tormented in life, would continue to be so in death. I don’t like how he sounded in that voicemail. He sounded terrified.

I struggle with depression myself, and there have been times in the years since when I have found myself staring over a literal or proverbial ledge, contemplating ending it all. But always, the memory of that voicemail, and of Dave’s voice, will come to me.

And I talk myself down.

Because wherever Dave was calling from, I don’t want to end up there.

*Names have been changed to protect the privacy of the other people in this story, both living and dead.

For more about phone calls from beyond the grave, check out this past post.

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