|The Tale of the Phone Police|
|Season 3 , Episode 4|
|Air date||January 29, 1994|
|Written by||David Preston|
|Directed by||Jean-Marie Comeau|
The Tale of Watcher's Woods
The Tale of the Dollmaker
The Tale of the Phone Police is the Fourth episode of the Third season of Are You Afraid of the Dark?, as well as the Thirtieth episode in total.
Midnight Society Cast
- Daniel DeSanto as Tucker
- Ross Hull as Gary
- Jodie Resther as Kiki
- Raine Pare-Coull as Betty Ann
- Joanna Garcia as Sam
- Jason Alisharan as Frank
- Marcus Turner as Jake O'Brien
- Ryan Kent as Chris
- Marlowe Dawn as Annie O'Brien
- Nancy Wood as The Receptionist
- Griffith Brewer as The Phone Company Manager (credited as Phone Clerk)
- Richard Jutras as The Pizza Delivery Guy
- Erik Rutherford (uncredited) as Officer John White
The night begins, with Gary fixing up the campfire. Frank asks who’s up tonight? Sam says that Tucker is. Kiki asks where he is? Annoyed Tucker's not here yet, or running late, Frank says he knew he was going to be trouble. Gary smiles and assures them all that he’ll be there. Suddenly out of the blue a telephone rings. Surprising everyone, Sam confused asks what‘s going on? Gary tells Tucker on the phone that they're all set and Sam and Betty Ann both smile in intrigue.
Gary goes over to the storyteller's chair and he set's up a portable telephone to a telephone speaker. How it works is unknown. Possibly it's battery powered or power charged and works from a nearby distance. Gary turns on the speaker and everyone can now hear Tucker's voice coming from the speaker loud and clear.
Tucker tells them that he‘s telling his story this way because when you think about it a telephone is one of the most scariest thing in your house. Frank in disbelief says "Say what!?" Tucker then explains that you might feel safe with your doors and windows locked. But all that someone has to do is dial your phone number and when your answer your phone, Bingo! they're inside.
Sam in disbelief or confusion says but it's just their voice. Tucker then explains even though it's just their voice, when the phone is answered a connection is made, and it might to a place you don't want to be connected to. Gary throws in the dust to intensify the fire, and Tucker submits his approval for The Midnight Society, calling his story "The Tale of the Phone Police".
From the telephone speaker, Tucker, tells the story. The story takes place at a small house, late one evening with two boys around 13-years-old. Their named Jake O'Brien and Chris (his best friend). They're making prank phone calls. Chris is nervous and a bit scared and doesn't do a very good one. On the other hand Jake has been making prank phone calls for a while and has lots of experience. Calm and confident he shows him how it's done. Then it seems as though someone or something slowly closes in on them.
Jake calls a random number and a woman answers. He tricks her into thinking he's a DJ from a radio station, and if she can correctly answer the question she will win an all expense dream vacation. The question is in centimeters how wide is Antarctica? She has 10 seconds. Once again it seems as though someone or something is closing in on them.
Chris tries to tell him it's not funny, even though obviously they both seem to be enjoying it. The woman sounds nervous and she says she doesn't really know. Chris begins the countdown from 4 to 1, Then suddenly a hand from behind him grabs the phone away and stops him. The person is Jake's older sister Annie and she looks really mad. Then she snaps at him for making prank phone calls again. He lies to her saying he was trying to call their Mom & Dad whom are away on a trip but she doesn't believe him. She tells them if they keep up their bad behavior they're going to get caught by "The Phone Police".
Curious what Annie means they both follow her to the kitchen and ask her what The Phone Police is. Annie tells them that, The telephone has certain rules, don't let it ring for too long, don't leave it off the hook and certainly don’t make any prank phone calls. Because The Phone Police will eventually find you and arrest you. They‘re a vigilante secret police force. They enforce the rules of the telephone. Annie then tells them she heard that many years ago, Billy Baxter a troublemaking boy fooled around and made a lot of prank phone calls. The Phone Police caught him and he was never seen or heard from again. Annie warns them if they keep it up then they'll end up just like him.
Chris goes home for the night seeming to somewhat believe her. Jake on the other hand thinks it's a joke and doesn't believe it. Later that night he looks through the phone book to see if the number is actually there. To Jake's very surprise the phone number is there and it stand outs a bit a bigger than the other names and numbers. Also it’s in bold and his number only has six numbers instead of the usual seven.
Thinking it isn’t going to work he dials the number, and he gets a crackling static like response. Now a creepy, deep old voice calls to him through the phone. I asks him: "Help me! someone please help me!". Terrified Jake closes the phone book and hangs up the phone. Later that night when he is sleeping his phones rings again. Through the crackling static the voice tells him this time "Hey kid I know you can hear me.. You gotta help me!". Jake slams the phones back down. The phone keeps ringing over and over and over again. This begins to get on Jake's nerves and drives him crazy; so he unplugs it. However even unplugged, his phone keeps on ringing, and the voice keeps saying "You've gotta help me please!".
The next day, Jake and Chris are out for a walk. Chris thinks it might have been Annie playing a joke on him. Then suddenly as they pass by a payphone, and suddenly it begins to rings. Chris answers it and seems confused. So he asks Jake if the voice he heard last night sounded just like the one on the phone right now. How the person knew Jake would be there is unknown; possibly a lucky guess. Jake has had enough and decides to get some answers from the phone company.
Jake and Chris make their way to the second floor of the phone company. Then they head over to the front desk, where they are greeted by the cold and impatient Receptionist. They show her the 6 digit phone number and ask her whose phone number it is, suspecting it might be a foreign number. The Receptionist rudely tells them that the number isn’t foreign it's just old and discontinued.
Hearing this, Jake tells her that it can't be because they just called it and got someone. The Receptionist asks if they really did? Jake say it was more like static but someone was there and started calling him back. The Receptionist now seems a slight bit shocked. She tells them that people in the records department can help them. On their way to the basement she presses a button under her desk.
When they get to the basement Jake rings the bell on the desk for service. The Phone Company Manager greets them. He’s an elderly man with many years of experience. Jake gives him the phone number and asks him whose phone number it is. He looks at the paper with the phone number on it with surprise and smiles. He tells Jake they don't get very many of these anymore. Then he asks Jake come on back behind the desk.
Jake comes over and the manager speaks to him up close. He starts getting mad at Jake now and tells him "So using the telephone to make a few jokes huh?" Jake backs away like he can't believe it and says what! Next a couple guards quickly approach Jake. Then one show him a badge saying John White and it has a phone symbol on it. They tell him "Jake O'Brien! Phone police" then they arrest him. Chris sitting down hiding behind the desk overhears Jake being grabbed and taken away. Next Jake is places into a old, dark, small jail cell. The Manager opens the eye slot on the door and tells he's in jail now and laughs.
Jake is terrified and upset now, so he desperately cries for help. Suddenly the phone in his cell rings. He answers it. The voice is that creepy voice from before. He tells Jake not to bother shouting because no one can hear him. Since he has tried so he should already know. Jake asks who he is. and reveals to Jake that he’s none other than Billy Baxter, and tells him he never should have fooled around with the telephone, because now they've got him to. Jake says he'll call his parents, or his sister for help. Billy reveals to him he can't because the phone in the cell can only take incoming calls. However somehow it can call back a person who calls it first like when Jake phoned Billy. Then Billy tells him that maybe someday he'll be lucky enough for somebody to call him. Then he laughs "ha ha ha" and hangs up on him.
Chris escapes and runs over to Jake's house to get help from Annie. Chris (out of breath and with panic) explains to her that they caught Jake just like she said they would. They were at the phone company and The Phone Police caught Jake. Annie stares at him, as if to say huh? She asks him in a very hostile tone who he is and how he knows her name? He tells her he is Chris her brother's Jake's friend. She tells him she doesn't know what he is talking about and threatens to call the police if he won't leave. He tells her again he is Chris her brother Jake's friend. She tells him she doesn't know who she is. Also that she's never had a brother. So now she is about to hit him with a big flower plant. This makes Chris realize she isn't kidding. Chris tries to prove Jake is her brother by showing her his bedroom. When he gets there his bedroom has been turned into a home office. Annie tells him for the final time to leave or she will call the police. He asks her that speaking of the police, she recently told them the story of The Phone Police and how they caught a kid named Billy Baxter? Annie says she knows the story: but the way she heard it was the boy that caught was named Jake O'Brien.
Chris runs down the street, and he goes over to the nearby payphone they were at earlier. He looks through the phone book and sees that Jack's name is already in the phone book. It’s complete with his own six digit number. In a bold and bigger text than the other names and numbers. He realizes that somehow the phone police not only put Jake in jail, but also removed him from existence. So now it seems as if he were never born. So now he’s nothing but an urban legend. However, Chris was somehow not affected. This was probably because he was in the building when it happened. Or the Phone Police were planning on capturing him to, but he got away. Now Chris calls Jake's number and Jake tells him he's scared. So he begs him to get his parents or his sister to help him. Chris says he's scared to, and he can't get his parents or his sister to come help. But he has an idea on how to help him escape.
Chris visits the second floor of the phone company once again. Then he phones Jake's number from the phone on the wall. Now he puts a rubber band around the switch-hook. This is so can sneak around building, while the phone call he made to Jake's phone will not disconnect. Now nobody will notice that phone is off the hook. He pretends he's taking the elevator going up to distract The Receptionist. Then Chris quietly sneaks downstairs to the basement. In the basement Jake's phone is ringing over and over again. The Manager shouts at him to answer the phone. Then after a few times of not listening he opens the thick cast iron prison door and head over to Jake's cell. Chris quietly follows the manager on his way. The phone rings over and over and he shouts at him to answer the phone, and tells him if he thinks he has it bad now to just wait. Then the manager gets fed up and heads over to Jake's cell to possibly take him to solitary confinement or the hole. But Jake is bent over on the floor and Chris pushes him in from behind and trips over Jake. Now Jake runs out and they lock the cell with the Manager in it.
They begin to run off and The Manager screams to them that no one escapes from the phone police! Now everywhere they turn there are phone police guards waiting to apprehend them. Soon The Manager gets back out and leads a division of guards right to them. They almost feel trapped when they find a dead end, with a wall of bars. They lock the door on the side but putting a broom handle through it. Then they smash a big window and walk through it. They run down a tunnel and climb up and exit a manhole and make out it to the streets. Now the phone police are chasing after them in their phone police cruisers. They finally make it back to Jake's house, Then Chris tells Annie that he is Jake her brother and she's got to remember him now. She almost laughs, saying "yes I remember Jake's he's my brother even though I want to forget him sometimes:. Chris asks her is she really knows who he is? She asks: "Jake okay where do you he meets people like these"? Chris then goes over to see that Jake's bedroom is back to normal. It would seem like when they escaped Jake re-entered his existence again. So everything for him is back to normal again.
Suddenly the doorbell rings and Jake and Chris panic. So they and beg and plead for Annie not to answer it claiming it’s the phone police. Annie not believing tells them that that she just made it up. Jake tells her it's true because they caught him. Annie thinking they're acting like they're paranoid and crazy. So she answers the door anyways. All it turns out to be is just a pizza delivery man. He’s from a place called "Mouse Pizza" with a funny mouse like hat. He has one jumbo pizza with extra cheese all dressed with no anchovies. Annie asks them if they ordered pizza? In a shock and disbelief, they shake their heads to say no. The pizza delivery guy then realizes he's at the wrong house and leaves. Annie laughs at them calling them gullible and tells them she can't believe they fell for that story about the phone police. Jake is exhausted and goes to lie down. With Annie claiming it was something she made up, since the phone police didn't answer the door. Now Chris asks Jake if what they went through really did happen? or was it all in their imaginations?
However, as the pizza delivery guy is about to leave, he takes his sign off vehicle. We see it reveals a phone police symbol; Hinting to the viewers that it really did. As the pizza delivery guy leaves, Jake's phone begins ringing again and Billy's sinister laughing can be hearing in the background. Chances might be that with a 1 out of 10,000 chances Annie made up a story which just happened to be entirely true though she didn't know it. Or she knows it does exists, but she's denying it because she doesn't want to scare her brother and Chris.
As the story ends, from the speaker phone Tucker explains that "Jake and Chris never made a prank call again, Because they were never really sure if The Phone Police were actually real". Tucker comes on talking on a phone as he says "Or if they could believe anything else they ever saw again" he tiptoes up to behind Frank and puts down the phone and yells "The End!" startling Frank making the others all laugh. Everyone but Frank tells him his story was excellent. Gary declares their meeting officially closed. Suddenly a phone rings and everyone but Gary and Tucker all say they'll get it and run over to answer it. Gary and Tucker high five and Gary puts out the fire.
- The Phone Police were inspired by the Thought Police from George Orwell's novel "Nineteen-Eighty-Four", who would remove all traces of a person's existence (though not others' memories of the person). As a reference to the book, the protagonist had the last name of the novel's antagonist, O'Brien.
- This was the only episode where a storyteller was not at the campfire with those listening (Tucker told his story through a telephone, somewhere further back in the woods).
- This episode was the basis for the 'Weird Al' Yankovic song "Phony Calls", a parody of TLC's "Waterfalls".
- Griffith Brewer who portrayed The Phone Company Manager, previously appeared in the show before. He first appeared in the episode "The Tale of the Captured Souls" as The Old Peter. The third time he portrayed Captain Abraham Westchester in "The Tale of the Water Demons". The fourth time he made an uncredited appearance as The Old Nathaniel in the episode "The Tale of the Forever Game" in the series revival
- Richard Jutras who portrayed The Pizza Delivery Guy, reappeared a few years later in the episode "The Tale of Vampire Town" as Stanley, in the series revival.
- Creator D.J. Machale has said that he felt that the finished episode didn't do the script justice.