The Phone Call – Write at the Merge

Written for Write at the Merge. A story about cultural clashes begins after the image.

Genre: Science Fiction/Humor

The Phone Call

Sam Malook stared at the shimmering air in the arch. Cory’s Time Machine was amazing. That a 17-year old made one from trashed electronics was more amazing.

“I’ll stay here in case of a temporal fluctuation,” said Cory. “I may need to adjust the controls to maintain connection with 1952. Still, it should be easy and quick. Just get the remote camera, turn around and come back.”

“Okay. I can do that,” said Sam. Eyes filled with thoughts of fame and fortune.

“Just in case, there’s a backup plan. Find a phone and dial a certain number, even in 1952. I can pick up the phone signal through the portal. I’ll lock onto to you and bring you back. The number is 555-8884.”

Ten minutes later, Sam stepped through the time machine, and into a cornfield with stalks taller than him. He looked for the remote camera, nothing but corn. After ten minutes of searching and finding nothing, Sam gave up, but now he couldn’t find the time machine. He wandered for hours, unable to see more than a few meters. By sheer luck, he exited the field and found a road. A gas station stood nearby.

At last. Civilization!

Sam walked into the gas station. “Can I help you, son?” said the middle-aged proprietor.

“Yeah, can I borrow your phone?” said Sam, pulling out his cell phone to get the number.

“What’s that?” said the man, pointing at the phone.

“Oh, I wrote the number down here…Oh no.” He tossed the phone down in disgust.

The man picked it up and turned it over. “Don’t see you wrote a number on it.”

“No, the number is in it, but I like an idiot I came here with a low battery.”

“In it? Well, let’s open ‘er up.” He began to tug on the casing.

“No that’s okay,” said Sam, retrieving his phone quickly.

“That yer name, ‘Sam Sung’?”

“Well, my name is Sam, but…”

“Sung’s a funny name for a Mexican.”

“Actually, I’m Lebanese.”



“Sorry, son. I don’t speak Mexican.”

Sam ignored that, and remembered Cory had made him write the number on his hand. “Oh here it is!”

“There you go.” The man placed a strange-looking phone before Sam.

“What’s going on out there, Fred?” said a woman’s voice in the back.

“It’s okay, Marge,” called Fred. “Mexican boy wants to use the phone.”



“Don’t let him steal nuthin’!” called Marge.

Sam began pressing the numbers. “Lift the receiver off first,” noted Fred.

“The what?”

Fred picked up the handset.

“Oh! Okay.” Sam pressed the numbers.

“What’re you doin’?” Fred placed his finger in a hole and spun the dial. “Like this!”

“Oh!” Sam began pressing numbers again.

“Do it for every number, son!”


Eventually, he made the call.


Cory said with a shocked look, “That sounds like Grandpa! Gramps was a tinkerer, and my work is based on his. You know, they said he was crazy because he swore he saw someone disappear into thin air!”
Each week, Write at the Merge offers writing prompts for up to 500 words. Often there are several prompts you may choose from. I liked the prompt that was a quote, “The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there.” My story is inspired by this. For any others wishing to join, the challenge runs until Thursday Jan 16. Here’s the page:

About EagleAye

I like looking at the serious subjects in the news and seeking the lighter side of the issue. I love satire and spoofs. I see the ridiculous side of things all the time, and my goal is to share that light-hearted view.
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13 Responses to The Phone Call – Write at the Merge

  1. Lyssa Medana says:

    This is such a good reminder of how social attitudes have changed and the world has become wider LM x


    • EagleAye says:

      Yep. That was my goal with this piece. Our understanding of the world, and our attitude towards it, was so different, it would seem like a foreign country to us now. Thanks for stopping in and commenting! 🙂


  2. I like the comparison between Fred not recognizing a cell phone and Sam not knowing how a rotary phone works. I wonder if the cell phone would even get service in a different time. I’m always a fan of time travel, so I enjoyed this piece. I also liked how it tied back to Cory mentioning his grandfather who claimed to see a man disappear out of thin air.

    The only suggested change I would make is at the end: “That sounds like Grandpa!” Cory said with a shocked look. “Gramps was a tinkerer, and my work is based on his. You know, they said he was crazy because he swore he saw someone disappear into thin air!”


    • EagleAye says:

      Thanks Rox! No, the cell phone wouldn’t have had service. I was running out of words so I chose not to explore that aspect. I included the tie back because, well, that’s what you do in time travel stories. 😉

      I like your suggestion. It’s smoother. I may use that if it’s alright with you.

      Thanks for writing in and for your excellent comments.


  3. Tami Veldura says:

    Haha, I’m with Rox, I love that both sides don’t know how to use the other’s phone. This was a fun story!


  4. angela says:

    I loved the bit with the phone confusion, too. I think about that sometimes, how my kids will never understand the idea of a pay phone, not really.


    • EagleAye says:

      Me too. As a child in the late 60s, we still had rotary phones in the house. Now people look at me sideways when I don’t know how to handle multiple simultaneous operations with my cell. It’s a little weird living in the current time when changes have come rapidly and the difference between generations is substantial.

      Thanks for stopping in!


  5. atrm61 says:

    This is such a fun read EA-loved the tale with the surprise end:-)


  6. Cameron says:

    The old man’s voice is fantastic. Such a fun contribution!


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