Christine (“Chris” to those closest to her) wasn’t just Janet’s baby sister; she was also her best friend. It had been that way since their dad killed their mom when Janet was 16 and Chris was 12.
Their father received a life sentence and the girls were sent to live with their senile grandmother, meaning that at an age when she should’ve been spending her free time gushing over whatever a One Direction is, Janet had been all but raising her younger sibling. Though, the truth was that Janet didn’t mind. She loved her sister more than any other person on Earth; Chris was more-or-less the only real family she had left at that point. Plus Janet had always felt a bit guilty about not having been there when the murder took place; especially since Chris HAD been.
She managed to hide in a hall closet when the fighting began and just outside this closet was where their father had ended up stabbing their mother to death. That day changed Chris; she suffered from severe night terrors well into her twenties. Though eventually Janet’s baby sister was able to work past it and in spite of her tragic upbringing, Chris grew up to be an extremely confident and sociable woman who excelled at pretty much anything that she put her mind to.
When Chris got the job at the call-center, she thought she was going to love it but the place turned out to be kind of a bummer. Chris’s coworkers were all a lot older than her and the manager, Jerry, was a total creep. Still, the job (booking hotel rooms for people too stupid to work the internet) wasn’t all that bad with one big asterisk next to that statement in the form of the cheap phone she had been issued along with her cubicle.
Even though it was a landline, calls would constantly drop out on her and the phone’s “hold” button often required several presses before responding. Still, none of this would’ve been quite so annoying if Chris hadn’t been working at a CALL-CENTER.
When she asked one of her coworkers about it, Chris was informed that she had one of the newer model phones Jerry recently started issuing as replacements when theirs broke. Apparently, management had been made aware of the newer obviously-cheaper model’s issues; he just didn’t care. Luckily, Chris was able to locate an older model buried in the back of the supply closet while digging for printer paper one day. The phone seemed to work just fine and after that, her job became a lot more bearable…
For about a day. The call-center was a 24-hour operation and part of being the new girl was that Chris often got scheduled to work the graveyard shift (10PM-7AM) as was the case that next night. Things were literally business as usual for the first hour or so. The shine still hadn’t quite worn off her new/old phone when she got a call request from an unknown number, which was weird because the system was supposed to boot those automatically. She did it herself and a moment later, the phone began to ring once more. It was another unknown number.
Chris glanced back at where the two other people on tonight’s skeleton crew should have been sitting but one was on their lunch break and the other was smoking a cigarette out back. Finally, she shrugged at the empty room and accepted the call. Chris ran through the standard greeting with an affectation that was already beginning to sound rehearsed, concluding with, “How can I be of service this evening?”
“There was a murder tonight at the Houston [MAJOR HOTEL CHAIN], the one on [STREET NAME].” The man sounded old; his voice was something just above a whisper and muffled like he was talking into his cupped hand.
“Um, well, we-I’m sorry, that’s not what we…” Chris began to stutter in reply but the man quickly cut her off as he continued…
“I’m on my way to the one in Dallas right now. There’s going to be a murder there too.”