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LJ13: Open Topic
From the running journal of Sarah G.

Jan 4
I really did it.  I not only made the New Year’s resolution to run but I got out the door and went to the park and back.  I’m not sure how far it is and I stopped to walk some but I started and that’s what counts.

Feb 16
I’m still running.  I run 2-3 miles three times a week and that’s plenty.  I met a girl on the treadmills at the gym and she was telling me it’s easier to go further outside, but while it’s still this cold I’ll stick to the treadmill thanks.  She’s thinking of signing up for a race this summer and said maybe we could sign up together and be running pals.  I haven’t decided yet but I like Lisa and chatting with her does make the time go by faster.

Mar 8
I’m signed up to run a half-marathon in June.  That’s 13.1 miles which I think is crazy but Lisa says we have plenty of time to get there, and the cute trainer guy at the gym agrees (and this was a great excuse to talk to him!).  She’s researched some beginner training plans online and we picked one out over dinner this week.  Once the weather is nicer she’s going to show me a local trail that she said is awesome.

Mar 29
We ran on the trail for the first time, it’s beautiful.  It is paved in blacktop and a lot of local folks use it to walk, bike, and run.  The area is woodsy so it’s shady and you can see the local reservoir from some vantage points.  It’s also seven miles long one way with clearly marked distances every quarter mile.  I’m definitely going to the trail as often as I can, its way more peaceful then dodging people on sidewalks and dealing with cars at stop lights.

Apr 19
Lisa was out of town this weekend, so I went to the trail to run by myself for the first time.  Much as I enjoy chatting with her, running out there alone had a different vibe that was really cool.  Oh and get this, there’s a payphone in the middle of the trail.  I hadn’t seen it before, but then we’ve only been out that far once.  It seems like such an anachronism, who carries change for the phone anymore?   And weirder yet even if you did call someone from there they’d still have to hike 3.5 miles in to get to you, or you’d have to hike 3.5 miles back out to get to them.  It seems silly to me.

May 10
I keep meaning to point the payphone out to Lisa, but haven’t yet.  Somehow when I’m running with her I just don’t notice it.  I’m less into my surroundings when we’re chatting.  The training is going really well, I can run eight miles now without stopping.  I’m not very fast, but I can keep going.

May 24
Lisa is gone for the holiday so I ran on my own today, and decided I was going to find the payphone again.  On the way out I didn’t see it, even though I’m pretty sure I know where it is.  I stopped briefly and asked some people resting on the bench nearby if they had seen a payphone and they looked at me like I maybe had heatstroke.  On the way back I found it again, and am not quite sure how I could have missed it, though it is back off the trail a little and in a shaded spot.  I stopped to study it more carefully and it looks like the payphones I remember from when they were still common years ago.  I touched the handset but didn’t pick it up.

Jun 7
Today was weird.  I ran ten miles, which is the furthest I have to go before the race, which is awesome.  But on the way back Lisa was ahead of me a bit, I was walking to nurse out a side-stitch.  When she rounded the corner in front of me I heard this weird noise, and then realized it was a phone ringing.  The payphone was ringing.  I didn’t answer it but it kept ringing until I was out of earshot.  I didn’t mention it to Lisa, when I caught up to her she was dealing with a calf cramp so I just kept talking to her to keep her moving until it worked out.  But I can’t get it out of my head tonight.  Who was calling the payphone in the woods?

Jun 14
I had to run seven today and decided to go to the trail even though Lisa was going to stay in town. While I was out there I asked several of the people I see all the time on the trail about the payphone.  Some of them had no idea what I was talking about; a few of them remembered seeing it and we laughed together about how weird it was.  One older man looked scared when I asked him about it, and told me harshly to stay away from that phone.    Since I was running seven my turnaround point was right near the payphone, I thought I heard it ringing again as I approached but got distracted by all of the bikers out today.

Jun 21
I did some research online about the payphone, and no one really keeps track of them anymore so I can’t figure out if a phone is supposed to be there or not.  I ran seven miles again, which is further than I was supposed to go, but I wanted to see the payphone again.  Lisa is annoyed with me and keeps saying that if I don’t taper correctly I’ll be in trouble for the race.  Today it was ringing again.  I had just picked up the handset when a group of really fast guys came around the corner.  I didn’t want them to see me talking on the phone so I dropped the handset and turned to go back.

Jun 21 pm
I keep thinking that payphone is only ringing for me, and that I need to answer it.  I’m sure I’ll be sore but I’m going to get up early tomorrow and run out there, and if it rings this time I’m answering.

-end of journal-

Sarah Gerard, age 26, has been missing for two weeks.  Her car was found parked at the head of the Winchester Trail late on June 21st.  If you have any information as to her whereabouts please contact the local police at 650-555-2069.

***This week in Idol it's the exciting and feared open topic which means we can write about anything we choose.  There really is a payphone at the 3.5 mile mark of my running trail, it really doesn't make any sense, and I've never heard it ring or even picked up the handset to see if there's a dial tone.  I've been meaning to build some kind of story around it, this was a perfect opportunity.***

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Oooo. Now that is cool. And creepy. Great story!

Yay, I will take cool and creepy. Thanks!

Excellent! Shivery goodness!

Ooh shivery is a good word, I'm glad I made you think of it. Thanks!

Heh, thanks. I pass the actual payphone regularly these days and I keep being intrigued and mildly creeped out by it, I wanted to try and wrap that into a story.

I don't quite understand why it is creepy though. You say it's roughly in the middle of the trail, so what if someone felt sick before there were mobile phones everywhere? Seems logical that you could go there instead of all of the 3.5 miles to either end "back to civilization".

I think it's that it just looks so out of place there, this one bit of civilization in the trees. I suppose someone could contact the park service to drive in and get them so it's not completely silly, though that would take a while. But I've been running on this trail for five years and never seen anyone use the phone (though a deer was nibbling near the cord of it once) so it has taken on vaguely mythic qualities in my brain. Creepy might not be the right word, but it's always struck me as a little odd.

Ah! Right dose of Creepiness there..;) Well done!! Kudos! Loved it!

Aw thank you! I've wanted to write a story about the payphone in the middle of nowhere for a while, I'm glad an open topic prompt finally gave me the kick I needed to do it.

Very nice! It's got a kind of Stephen King vibe to it.

Wow, thank you! I was aiming for creepy so a King vibe is wonderful.

I love that you have taken the odd payphone on your runs and created this story about it. I feel for the poor man who may realize she is gone and that he should have maybe said more to her.

I've been passing that phone for 5 years and kept meaning to talk about it, or build a story, or something. Leave it to Idol to give me the kick in the pants I needed.
I think the man knows something about the phone isn't right but doesn't know what, so his warning couldn't have been much more specific even if he wanted to be.

Uh-oh! It was a people-eating payphone!

I suppose it must be left over, from a time when it would be reasonable to need a payphone when away from the house for a while? But it does seem oddly anachronistic now.

Heh. I think it's a people transporting payphone, but I like your version too!

Yeah I'm sure they just never bothered taking the phone out, it's just weird to me that even if you made a call from there you'd still have to pack out or in. The access road is a mile away, even there it would make a little more sense. Ah, well.

Ooo, I like that. I wonder where they all go?

Hmm, maybe it's for, "Okay, I'm half done, so however long it's been, add that and come pick me up then." :)

(It's probably so that if you need paramedics, you don't have to go all the way to the access road to call -- they can be heading in while you're heading out.)

Edited at 2014-07-04 06:59 am (UTC)

i was waiting for it to get weird, and then it did! with a very suspicious payphone. i like it!

Yay, I'm glad I managed to build a sense of anticipation into this. Thank you.

Always heed warnings from old men or women. Jeez, that's why they're even in the story! :p

This was a really fun read!

Right? When the random old person tells you to beware, you should beware! Heh- I didn't consciously realize what a trope that is when I wrote it.

Yay, thank you.

creepy! could be it's an emergency pay phone for stranded hikers? kind of brilliant when you think about it.

What a cool folding of something real-ish and fiction! I really liked what you did with this, and the puzzle of that payphone... I can see what that inspired you. :D

Ask not for whom the phone rings... *DUN DUN DUUUUNNN*

So creepy! Makes me really wonder what might be calling...

You did a fantastic job with this. I knew you were a runner, so I originally figured this was a post about you, but the payphone brought an interesting element into it, and I like where you took it. Nicely done.

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