It was the third time this week. An unknown number calling him in the middle of the night. When he tried to pick up the phone the call would be disconnected. He tried to put it out of his mind but it felt so off to him. They called him at the strangest times and never spoke when he answered. He didn’t recognize the number and no search for it yielded any results. It was as if it didn’t exist. The calls became more frequent as the year went on but they never responded when he answered. Once it became too much of a nuisance he blocked the number from calling. He had a few weeks of peace until the calls started back up from a different number repeating the same behavior. Even changing his number proved an exercise in futility. It was as if the number was haunting him. There seemed to be nothing he could do to stop the calls.
After a year of the strange calls they had become simply another part of his. His phone would always be on silent and he rarely ventured outside for things other than work. The calls essentially ended his social life and he had no energy to fight it. This was his life now. Being harassed by a mystery number intent on destroying his happiness. A new neighbor would change that. She would greet him whenever they saw each other though it was often a simple smile and wave. On the rarest of occasions he would say hi in a timid voice before vanishing into his house. None of this struck her as odd behavior at first but she soon discovered what was really going on. She would find excuses to stop by even if it was only for a brief moment. Those little visits confirmed what she had suspected, he was imagining the phone calls. Over the last five years his paranoia had begun to grow out of control and while he was taking medication, the effects had waned. He was oblivious to it and though she wasn’t trained, she tried to slowly reel him back into reality without him noticing. At times it seemed as if she was succeeding and others it felt like he was being dragged down into the darkness. He wasn’t aware of what was going on but he could feel something was off. A trip to the doctor’s office confirmed it, his medication was no longer effective. With that information he was able to piece together what was going on. His kind neighbor was trying to help him but in the process she was slowly sliding into the abyss herself. That didn’t sit right with him. It wasn’t her job to bring him back from the darkness and he wasn’t going to let her be dragged down with him. One day while she was at work he packed what he needed and left leaving only a note on her front door. In the letter he apologized for everything she went through trying to help him and for leaving. He told her not to bother looking for him but promised he was getting the help he needed.