“Hi, this is Caz. Sorry I can’t talk now. Leave a message and I’ll call you back. Ciao!”
Getting straight through to the voicemail was perhaps even more alarming than getting the text. Caroline’s phone is always on, even when she’s supposed to turn it off. I drew a deep breath and struggled to keep my voice steady.
“Caroline, it’s Mum. That text you just sent me… Are you all right? Can you ring me please?”
The text had read: I am innocent.
I ended the call. During the fifteen seconds it had taken, two more had arrived:
I was framed.
I did not kill him.
I tried again. And again. And again… Still the bloody voicemail…
Finally, after ten interminable, heartstopping minutes, my phone rang.
“Mum? Just, like, got your message. What are you on about?”
“Caroline? Thank goodness! What are you doing?”
“We’re going round an old prison. Look, what’s all this about a text? I didn’t send any texts. I couldn’t have – the walls are, like, dead thick and there’s no signal inside.”
“But…” I swallowed hard, desperately trying to sound normal. “Where are you now?”
“Outside in the yard. Geez, this place is, like, well creepy. Especially the condemned cell. They reckon it’s haunted.”
“Really?” Now it wasn’t difficult to sound normal. I knew that Caroline was just winding me up. She knew very well that I didn’t believe in ghosts.
“Yeah, really. It really, like, freaked everyone out. Even the boys. You know, Mr Barnes just told us the last guy to be hanged here went to the gallows screaming that he was innocent. Anyway, got to go now. See you later.”
“See you later. Take care, love.”
As I pressed the button to end the call, I caught sight of the screen. Another text had come in whilst we’d been talking.
It read, simply:
I should not hang…