Storm Warning

by Vanessa Gebbie

Telephone call from Istanbul, 3 am, Wednesday. Woman's voice.

"Storm Warning."

I know no one in Istanbul. In the background, I could hear other voices. A clicking, secretive language, robotic, strange.

She repeated the message. "Storm Warning."

I was awake now. Aware. The quiet here, the phone in my hand. The silence of the countryside outside, made up of infinite little sounds. Darkness made up of infinite points of light. I was aware of a breeze quickening.

I looked at the receiver. "Who is this?" I said. My voice sounded odd. It didn't belong in the room. I flicked on the bedside light. Two white moths came from the shadows, offering themselves like gifts. The curtain billowed. Rain against the sash, nails clicking on wood.

I put the receiver down on the duvet. Could just hear her voice, the deep simplicity:

"Storm Warning. Storm Warning."

Was there urgency in the voice? It sounded tinny now. "It gives us no pleasure when our suspicions are proved correct…"

I picked up the receiver. "Who?" I said. "Who is us?"

There was no reply. There never is, with these calls. Just the clicking language in the background. A room full of stick insects. A woman's voice.


Vanessa Gebbie's debut collection Words from a Glass Bubble (Salt Publishing, 2009) was nominated for the Frank O Connor Award. A second collection is forthcoming. She is founder/editor of Tom’s Voice Magazine, assistant editor of CadenzaMagazine, teaches Creative Writing, and also founded The Fiction Workhouse, an online collective for writers. Recent competitive successes include prizes at Per Contra, The Daily Telegraph, and Fish International. Her story "Three Stages in Learning to Fly" appeared in Issue 21 of The Cafe Irreal; "Uncovering the Walkways" appeared in Issue 24; and "The Note-Takers" appeared in Issue 27.