When on Howard’s birthday, his girlfriend Alexa, answers a call on his phone, she becomes privy to a secret that Howard has been guarding for the past few years. Howard has been getting a very singular phone call on his birthdays recently. The call is from a private number that does not show up on the screen and there is no way to avoid the call. Even switching the handset off when the call is expected, is not an option. When Alexa learns more about this, she is shocked and intrigued. She learns that this call does not originate in this world. It is a call from the beyond. But, on this particular birthday, the caller wants to warn Howard about an impending danger. Does Howard and Alexa heed the warning, and do they manage to get to the root of the issue?
Private Number is a short from writer Geoffrey Gould. This short story is set in the present when relationships between aged parents and their children have been reduced to the occasional phone call. The story starts as Howard freezes when he receives his customary call from his dad on his birthday. From here, the writer builds up the suspense throughout the story, revealing more and more information in interesting bits and pieces; like adding individual brush strokes to create the masterpiece. During the grand reveal at the end, the writer awes us further with his final masterstroke.
While introducing the other world into the story, the writer creates a very relatable image of a world that is very similar to ours on the other side. It paints the other world as a grand corporation, with an effective communications department that can connect with anyone over the phone. And when you get a call from this corporation it is advisable to answer the call and follow all instructions.