Sometimes, the creepy plot in the latest thriller is drawn from a real-life scenario. Other times, real-life goes insane and borrows from creepy thrillers. It is possible to say either is true of the phenomena known as dead calls or phone calls from the dead. As with all things paranormal, it is not always possible to prove any of the countless stories regarding these phenomena out there, but these days, almost everyone has caller i.d. and that is where the concept gets a lot creepier.
A phone call from the dead is what it sounds like. A dead person allegedly makes a phone call and scares the daylights out of a loved one. It is usually a family member or significant other on the receiving end of these calls. Some happen before the deceased is known to be so. Some of these calls even happen years later, according to recipients.
These phone calls from the dead tend to have similar features. There are cases where the line only offers static. Other cases involve actual speech that sounds like the deceased. These calls typically involve a single repeated line, such as, “It’s cold in here” or “Why did you bury me next to grandma?” Okay, those are made up, but imagine a dead loved one calling and saying the same thing a few times before the line dies. It’s horrifying. Sometimes, the call is a bit more coherent, but they never last long. The line is almost always poor with crackling or the voice sounding very distant. That makes sense.
Because there is so much information and so many stories about phone calls from the dead, it is impossible to say whether they hit reality or popular culture first. Therefore, there is no way to say if one influenced the other. Nonetheless, calls from beyond the grave are at least traceable in fiction as far back as 1964 (Any earlier instances are welcome in the comments section.) when an episode of the fantastic science-fiction series “The Twilight Zone” titled “Night Call” had a story about the phenomenon.
The main character of “Night Call” is a woman who has lost her fiancé in a car crash that she caused. She reflects that her fiancé always did what she wanted him to do. When she started getting what she thought were prank phone calls, she told the caller to leave her alone and then discovered the calls were coming from her fiancé’s grave. That is a little too literal for reality, but it made for a great story. When she reached him again, she begged him not to go, but he told her that he always did what she wanted so he had to leave her alone. Few stories of dead calls involve this much communication.
Reading up on phone calls from the dead, it is easy to find stories of caller i.d. listings of dead people’s numbers, brief calls from the dead and even calls being traced to the deceased. The latter makes it at least somewhat provable. Calls may not be coming directly from dead people, but their phones are certainly acting up in unexpected and unexplained ways.
One verifiable instance of a dead person’s phone calling loved ones is tragic and unexplained. It involves a train crash in San Fernando Valley that killed 25 people on September 12, 2008. Among those killed was Charles Peck, a 49-year-old with a fiancé and two adult children. He died on impact, but his body was not immediately found. Searches for his body were guided by 35 phone calls his phone made to his loved ones in the eleven hours following the crash.
Peck’s family never heard the sound of his voice or anything other than static, yet they held on to the belief that he was alive in the wreckage. How else were they getting these calls? Twelve hours after the crash, his body was found. His phone had stopped calling them an hour before. It is uncertain whether the phone itself was discovered, but it was used to help find the body. According to Snopes, investigators never announced finding the phone.
What could be the cause of a deceased loved one’s phone calling you? Is it simply an explainable machinery malfunction or have spirits tried to communicate with us the only way they can? Share with us your thoughts and experiences.