SHORT SHOTS | ‘Long Distance Call’ 

(Editor’s note: SHORT SHOTS is a column where I review short stories from horror anthologies, collections, and zines.)

Illinois author John Everson’s horror novels and short stories often use the disturbing combination of the occult and taboo sex to explore infidelity and obsession. While he won a Bram Stoker Award for First Novel with Covenant in 2004, his 2012 nominated novel NightWhere is the one where Everson reaches another level of horror in tackling those themes like never before.

But after reading Everson’s first published book, Cage of Bones & Other Deadly Obsessions, I realize the seeds of NightWhere were there all along. Originally released in 2000, the collection features 20 short stories. One of my favorites – and one of the tamer tales – is “Long Distance Call.” Just FYI, my review features spoilers.

“Long Distance Call” opens with a married banker named Jack in the midst of a heated sexual encounter at his office with a co-worker named Christina when the phone rings. It’s his wife Angela, and she knows Christina is there. 

The dichotomy of a wife telling her husband “I’m so alone” on the phone while the man’s mistress teases him on the other end of the line is quite sad. However, Jack may have a reason for straying. 

Months ago, his wife told Jack “No more sex” because she must be “pure” to contact her brother Ed, who died in a car accident. After Ed’s death, Angela started reading occult books to learn how to reach the “other side” and talk to her dead brother. 

With a spouse who no longer shows interest, Jack rationalizes his affair but still cares for his wife. He tells Christina he’s sorry, but he better go home.

Once he arrives, the story takes a dark turn as Jack finds his wife hanging from the ceiling by a phone cord, a likely victim of suicide. Angela left behind a chilling note for Jack and a cheeky gift for Christina. A skeptical police officer doubts Jack’s story since the timeline of Angela’s last call and time of death doesn’t add up. 

When Jack meets Christina for sex the following night, the phone rings again, and Angela is impossibly on the other end, hurt but hopeful. Is Angela really calling from beyond the grave? Is it a mean joke? Or is Jack’s guilty conscience torturing him? No matter what the answer, the story spirals quickly into a nightmare for Jack. 

“Long Distance Call” is an interesting take on infidelity. Jack is not a sympathetic person, but neither is his wife or Christina. Everson is a master of creating dubious characters and letting you sort out the aftermath of their fates. Do they deserve what happens to them? 

Cage of Bones & Other Deadly Obsessions is available on Amazon. Click here to visit John Everson’s website.


SHORT SHOTS | ‘They Say the Sky is Full of Snakewolves’

SHORT SHOTS | ‘Wreckers’

SHORT SHOTS | ‘The Wolf Hunters’

SHORT SHOTS | ‘The Painting My Husband Keeps’

SHORT SHOTS | ‘A Traveler Between Eternities’

SHORT SHOTS | ‘Quiet Embers’


SHORT SHOTS | ‘Political Suicide’

SHORT SHOTS | ‘The Hay Bale’

SHORT SHOTS | ‘Still Life’

SHORT SHOTS | ‘Complex’

SHORT SHOTS | ‘Cabin Twelve’ & ‘The Face’

SHORT SHOTS | ‘The Sun Sets Nonetheless’

3 thoughts on “SHORT SHOTS | ‘Long Distance Call’ 

  1. Pingback: SHORT SHOTS | ‘My Body’ – The Official Website of Horror and Fantasy Writer Lionel Ray Green

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s