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Ding Dong Ditch

Ding Dong Ditch

A Story by Devin Gates
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Technology can get the best of us sometimes. Other times, the technology that is purposely designed to help make us feel safe can be the most terrifying.

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Is there a better use of time late on a Tuesday summer night in the middle of school vacation than playing ding dong ditch? It was the second greatest thing you could do as a kid, aside from ‘Trick-Or-Treating’ on Halloween. The one thing that could have made ding dong ditch a little bit better was that Halloween only comes once a year; you can play ding dong ditch any day, or night, of the year.


As a reminder, ding dong ditch is a game in which a group of mischievous kids run around a neighborhood ringing as many doorbells as possible before running and hiding from the unexpecting adults. There are, more than likely, many different variations of the game, but that is the general idea. The only way that game could disappoint was when the unexpecting adult was not home to hear the doorbell ring. Well, fast forward a couple decades, and now those mischievous kids don’t have to be home to hear the doorbell ring.




***



The end of his much anticipated sales call is when his phone decided to play aloud, again. Obnoxious beeps and tones echoing through the now silent conference room.


“Excuse me,” he professionally apologized as he checked his phone. “My doorbell app keeps going off, and I thought I put my phone on silent.”


“No worries. What exactly is a ‘doorbell app’?” his potential client, John Munster, asked.


“It’s a actually a very clever application. You see, my doorbell is connected to my Wi-Fi at home, and it will send an alert to my phone when someone rings it,” he explained. “It’s really a cool app to have!. Anyway, where were we?”


“I believe you were going to send me a link to your website, and I will let you know if I find anything I like,” John Munster said, checking his watch as he leaned forward in his chair. He didn’t look too impressed, and was certainly focused on the time.


“Right! Well John, I truly appreciate your time today.”


“Not a problem, you certainly have an interesting pitch. I have your business card, I’ll let you know if I need anything. Thank you for coming in,” John Munster politely rejected him as he was shown the way out. The usual back and forth dialogue that happens on the way out of a meeting went on for a few minutes, and came to a loud end when the door slammed shut behind him.


That was certainly not the first time that week he had faced a rejection. However, it was the end of that trip, and he wanted to go home. When he got back to the car, he checked the app on his phone to see what the alerts were all about. Several times throughout the week the app would try to inform him of a visitor. Every time he checked his phone, there was nobody at his door. The one feature he didn’t mention to John Munster was the camera on his doorbell. Not only did the doorbell ring on his cell phone, he was able to get a live video feed of his front door step. Even still, there was no indication that someone had actually been trying to visit him.


He wasn’t sure what bothered him more; the doorbell app constantly going off, or the fact that he flew all the way to Chicago just to send someone a link through an email. That conversation could have been had over the phone in his office in Massachusetts. But now it was time to get in the car, and head back to his hotel room, and possibly get something to eat.



At first look, it was just an ordinary hotel room. At a second look, it was just an ordinary hotel room. It came with all the ‘fixings’; iron, ironing board, couch, desk, two beds, and an unnecessary quantity of power outlets. No matter what, he always seemed to get a room with two beds, without asking for it. However, this room came with a really comfortable desk chair which is where he sat to complete his notes for the day and check emails.


Two hours later, his call notes were complete, and his stomach was growling. The only good place to eat within walking distance of the hotel room was a White Castle. But, that wasn’t a problem. He couldn’t get White Castle back home, so this was an actual treat!


Without fail, his doorbell app started beeping as he sat down for ‘dinner’. He checked his phone, and to his surprise there was actually a package at his front door step. Not recalling if he had ordered anything from Amazon, he quickly dismissed the image and went back to his “number one with cheese and no pickles”. After the second slider, the mystery package was itching his brain. He decided to dial up his neighbor across the street.


“Hey, man, how’s Chicago?” his neighbor answered the call.


“Oh, you know. Cold and full of traffic! Hey I need you to do me a favor,” he said to his neighbor, not wasting any time.


“Sure thing, but I think it’s a little last minute to catch a flight to Chicago!”


“No, no. Look, my doorbell app keeps going off, and it looks like there is a package on my doorstep. I don’t exactly remember ordering anything on Amazon, could you go and check it out for me? Just let me know what the return address is?” He asked the neighbor.


“Let me just finish up with dinner, and I’ll head over there. Want me to text you?”


“Yeah, that would be great. Thanks, man, really appreciate it,” he said to his neighbor. They went back and forth with how their weeks were going so far, and then the call ended.


The steamed burgers got a little too soggy for his liking, so he decided to toss the rest of the meal in the trash. He went out to the front of the restaurant to smoke a cigarette when his phone went off. Not the doorbell app, a text message.


‘Just chekd your doorstep….didn’t see any package there?’ the text message read. His heart skipped a beat. He was absolutely sure that he saw a package there just before calling his neighbor. Not wanting to sound like a lunatic, he replied with; ‘oh weird. Thanks anyway’.


Well, he was going to be heading home tomorrow morning anyway, so he will be able to check for himself soon enough. Tomorrow morning seemed like a week away, though. He had a plan. Once he got back to the hotel room, he was going to set his phone up to watch the live feed from his doorstep. That way, if anyone is going to ding dong ditch him, he will see them for sure.



“What a great way to spend a Friday night in Chicago. Spying on your own doorstep from a hotel room!,” he said to himself out loud. His cell phone had a ‘kickstand’ on it that would allow him to prop the phone up on the night in the middle of the beds. He turned the hotel TV on quietly, and started watching both screens at the same time.


Wasn’t long before he caught a glimpse of something on the small phone screen. It was a group of mischievous kids running by his house. For a minute, he recalled his days of running around the neighborhood ringing as many doorbells as possible. For another minute, he felt a sort of closure. If it was just a bunch of the mischievous neighborhood kids ringing his doorbell, all is well. The group ran by a few more times before the doorbell rang again. The doorbell rang again, but there was nothing being shown on the cell phone screen. He immediately dialed up his neighbor.


“What happened, get another mystery package?” the neighbor answered.


“Not exactly. Look, my doorbell app has been going off like crazy this week, and I’m just not sure what is going on. Just now, my doorbell rang, but there was nobody standing there!” he explained to his neighbor.


“Well, how the hell would you know if someone was standing there anyway?”


“The doorbell has a camera on it, and I was actually watching the live feed. I saw a group of kids running past my house a couple times, but didn’t see ANYTHING when the bell actually rang,” he said, knowing he probably sounded crazy.


“Yeah, those kids have been terrorizing the neighborhood this week. Do you remember when we used to play ding dong ditch all night? Oh, to be a kid again!” the neighbor reminisced.


“Yeah, yeah, sure. Look, could you go over to my place and turn the porch light on? Possibly keep an eye out for anyone coming around my house?”


“I guess so, but I don’t have a key to your place.”


“There’s a “hide-a-key” under the doormat. Just go in, and it is the middle switch on the left hand side of the doorway when you walk in. I owe you!” he instructed his neighbor.


“Right then. I may help myself to some beer in your fridge!” the neighbor teased.


“Good luck, haven’t had a sip in over a year,” he said, deflecting the teasing. “Just text me when the light is on.”


He received a picture of his front doorstep with the light on. The smartass even left a Budweiser on the doorstep, right where that package should have been. He checked the feed on his app, and could clearly see his doorstep. The night vision on the doorbell camera helps, but it’s no substitute for actual lighting.


While his neighbor was keeping an eye out on things, he decided to go for a shower. There was nothing he enjoyed more than taking a shower using the hotel supplied toiletries. He always wondered who the hell even makes those small bottles. Hotel showers always made him feel a bit vulnerable. He was not a stranger to the “Psycho” movies, and couldn’t help but imagine falling victim to a disgruntled hotel employee!


Merely seconds after exiting the shower stall, he checked his doorstep feed to see if anything had happened. The night vision camera was on. The light on his doorstep had turned off. Refusing to believe that his neighbor would pull a prank on him, he decided to refresh the app. Night vision. That wasn’t enough; he restarted his phone. When the phone came back on, and the app opened, the feed was gone. He was unable to see anything, and it looked like his doorbell was ‘offline’. Another phone call.


Before the neighbor could respond to the ringing phone, “look, I don’t know if you are pulling a fast one here, but what happened to the light on the front doorstep? I checked the app, and it was off.”


“Yeah, I noticed. That happened about ten minutes ago. I just assumed you turned it off with your phone somehow,” the neighbor said.


“No, I don’t have my lights setup for remote use. Why do you think I had you go over and turn the light on in the first place?” he said, uneasiness in his tone. “Now the app is saying that my doorbell is in offline mode, is there a power outage on the street?”


“Well, I have power, and the Dennison’s do too. I don’t see any lights on at your house, though. Did someone forget to pay their electric bill?” the neighbor asked in a sarcastic tone. They went back and forth for a few minutes before he decided to call the power company and see what the problem is.



After being on hold for twenty-five minutes, he was finally able to get a human on the phone. They checked his status, and he was not in default of any bill. But, they were getting an error message back which would indicate that the power to his home is not on. He was told that there have been a lot of complaints this week, so they are a little backed up. The earliest they could send someone over was tomorrow afternoon, probably around the same time he would be getting home from Chicago.


With no doorbell app working, and no power at his house, the only thing left to do was to head to bed. He figured he would give his neighbor a break from house sitting.



***


After a short but obnoxious flight from O’Hare to Logan International, he woke up with his least favorite Metallica song in his head. In his opinion, there was nothing worse than a flight full of crying babies, and whining dogs. Well, maybe hearing that Metallica song is worse! He always reserved the seats close to the front of the plane, so at least he wouldn’t have that long of a wait to unboard.


Getting home from the airport was sometimes tricky when he didn’t bring his car to the airport. Most people would think that is a terrible idea, but leaving your car at the airport for a week costs as much as the flight itself these days. There is only two inexpensive ways home at that point; using the local Logan Express bus service, or ‘summoning’ an Uber driver. Considering the bus times are more of a guideline than an actual schedule, he had the Uber app open before he could even claim his baggage.


Not long after he arrived at the ride sharing lot outside of Terminal C did a black Dodge Grand Caravan pull up beside him. After confirming the last three digits on the license plate, “195”, matched what was advertised on the Uber app, he proceeded to open the side sliding door and take a seat beside a woman of the same age.


“Hi, good afternoon,” he said to the woman next to him.


“Good afternoon, good flight?” the woman asked,which was probably the most cliche thing one could ask at an airport. She still had her ‘in flight neck pillow’ and headphones on, looking ready for a nap.  


“The flight was fine, but we all know that it’s the landing that we have to worry about,” he responded sarcastically. He didn’t really expect a response to that, so he reached for his phone to check on his doorbell app before he remembered the power outage. Home was only an hour away from Logan, so it wouldn’t be long before he was finally able to try and solve this doorbell issue. That is, as long as the stranger sitting next to him doesn’t take him in the complete opposite direction first!


The Uber driver hinted at the fact that both he and the stranger next to him had very similar destination times which was a relief. After spending an entire week on the road travelling from one hotel to another, it was always the last ‘few’ miles of the trip that took the longest to complete.



***


The Grand Caravan arrived at 233 South Street, and there was no sign of the electric company being there. As he grabbed his baggage and exited the van, he could hear the song that the now sleeping stranger was listening to. Of course she would be listening to the very song that he had been playing in his head after the short but obnoxious flight home.


He quickly peered across the road and spotted his neighbor waving to him through the kitchen window. He returned the friendly gesture and headed to his own front door. His door, luckily, was still locked. He placed the RF card on the front door sensor, and the door unlocked. As the door closed behind him, he quickly started for the bathroom. After rounding the corner through the living room, he noticed a figure standing there in the middle of the room. His heart free falled into his stomach as was stopped in his tracks.


“H-hello?” He called out to the figure in his living room. The figure was impossible to identify in the dark room.


“There is no need for pleasantries here,” the figure responded.


“W-what do you want. I am going to call the police!”


“There is no need for pleasantries here,” the figure repeated. He discovered that his phone had died when he tried reaching for it to make an emergency call. Now it was just he and the dark figure standing in his living room. No power, no lights, no cell phone.


In a firm, almost authoritative tone, “I am going to have to ask you to leave,” he warned the dark figure. The figure didn’t budge. It simply stood more straight, and looked him in the eye.


“Oh, I will be on my way soon enough. But, you will be coming with me,” the figure stated. “You need not wonder any longer, the bell, it tolls for thee.”


His cell phone somehow turned on just long enough for his doorbell app to play aloud in the dark and silent living room. However, this time, he need not wonder who was at his door.


© 2017 Devin Gates



Author's Note

Devin Gates
Be as brutally honest as can be.

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I am not good at being a critic, I look at everything on a bright side and find the good points. Very descriptive, long, made a point and has wonderful imagery. I really enjoyed this for being a story.

Posted 6 Months Ago



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Added on November 20, 2017
Last Updated on December 26, 2017
Tags: Technology, Science Fiction, Knock Knock, Who's There?, Trump, DG

Author

Devin Gates
Devin Gates

MA



About
Travelling sales person who likes to creatively tell stories. Sometimes, those stories are written down. There are also some poems involved. more..

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