“CREEPY PHONE NUMBERS” and “THE WORLDWIDE HUM” #WeirdDarkness

CREEPY PHONE NUMBERS” and “THE WORLDWIDE HUM” #WeirdDarkness

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Listen to ““CREEPY PHONE NUMBERS” and “THE WORLDWIDE HUM” #WeirdDarkness” on Spreaker.

IN THIS EPISODE: Shortly after Glen MacPherson started hearing a strange humming noise, he created the World Hum and Database Project so people around the world could document their own experiences. And he received a lot of stories from people hearing a strange humming sound in their towns. (Cracking The Mystery of the ‘Worldwide Hum’) *** Plus, we’ll dial a few freaky, creepy, haunted, and cursed phone numbers and listen in to what some people say scared them half to death. (Creepy Phone Numbers)
SOURCES AND ESSENTIAL WEB LINKS…
“Cracking The Mystery of the Worldwide Hum” by Glen MacPherson for GetPocket.com:https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/kr8bwypn
“Creepy Telephone Numbers” by Lucia for TheGhostInMyMachine.com: https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/3cppn9hs,https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/jhefym
VIDEO of Wrinkles the Clown doing his thing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n-pHcveHILw
Audio for 786-519-3708 from YouTuber Cursed Creepy Numbers: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pQLdtbTuHDM
Audio for 978-435-0163 from YouTuber Cursed Creepy Numbers: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i8aHQvAo0Gc
Audio for 408-634-2806 from YouTuber MKP Studios:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8IRyJQTcNhk
Audio for 858-651-5050 from YouTuber Retro Fan:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3GP61BZzjz4
Audio for 978-435-0163 from YouTuber Cursed Creepy Numbers:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i8aHQvAo0Gc
Audio for 801-820-0263 from Ghost Machine:
https://soundcloud.com/user-417570064/801-820-0263a/s-xG0J2
Audio for 630-296-7536 from Ghost Machine:
https://soundcloud.com/user-417570064/630-296-7536a/s-BGmtr
Audio for 786-519-3708 from YouTuber Cursed Creepy Numbers:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pQLdtbTuHDM
Audio for 701-347-1936 from YouTuber Cursed Creepy Numbers: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gf7UyHxQf4s
Audio for 207-301-5797 from YouTuber Cluttered Agenda: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9geQwZdBJfA
Audio for 828-756-0109 from YouTuber Phreak Show:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JGUlpevJj_I
Audio for 407-734-0254 from Cursed Creepy Numbers:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zUpsauNk6mw
Audio for 512-937-2346 from Ghost Machine:
https://soundcloud.com/user-417570064/512-937-2346a/s-Dm0f53RKNxJ
Audio for 508-690-6143 from Ghost Machine:
https://soundcloud.com/user-417570064/508-690-6143a/s-m6xeS1iu2M5
Audio for 618-625-8313 from Ghost Machine:
https://soundcloud.com/user-417570064/baumans-number/s-ZuLz5
Audio for 646-868-1844 from Ghost Machine:
https://soundcloud.com/user-417570064/646-868-1844a/s-B34csyQ10Lg
Audio for 1-877-772-7337 from Ghost Machine:
https://soundcloud.com/user-417570064/1-877-772-7337a/s-gvx4715k4KB
Audio for 951-572-2602 from Ghost Machine:
https://soundcloud.com/user-417570064/951-572-2602a/s-J5hS7
Audio for 909-390-0003, from YouTuber bigburger boi2005:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RuISjziWbhE
Audio for 408-634-2806 from YouTuber Cursed Creepy Numbers:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iY493Gijd2w
Audio for Calling Carrie from YouTuber Adorabot: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N5GtWYzDD9c
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PARTIAL TRANSCRIPT…..

Fact: I hate the telephone. I have trouble talking to people when I can’t see who I’m talking to; outside of my podcast that is. Personally, I’d much rather either speak face-to-face or use texting or messaging if I’m having a conversation. But I’m willing to make an exception for… shall we say, special cases: I am more than willing to call creepy phone numbers that actually work. It helps, of course, that most of these creepy phone numbers don’t require that you actually speak with anyone; when you dial them, you almost always reach a voicemail box set to play a spooky recording to anyone who rings. Still, though — I will happily set aside my phone phobia in pursuit of freaky fun.

Novelty hotlines are nothing new; indeed, I would argue that their heyday occurred during the ‘80s and ‘90s, at which time you could call everyone from Freddy Krueger to the Ninja Turtles. Their popularity began to wane during the 2000s — but interestingly, we’ve seen them evolve in the years since, too. Thanks to free, online tools like Google Voice, pretty much anyone with internet access can set up a weird novelty number with ease. What’s more, the draw of a novelty phone number might even be stronger than ever — possibly because we so rarely use our phones these days to actually, y’know, make calls. Distance makes the heart grow fonder and all.

Sadly, a good deal of formerly wonderful creepy phone numbers are no longer in service – which means you can no longer call Carrie White – which sounded like this:

(AUDIO CLIP)

You may not be able to call that number any longer, but I can attest to the fact that, as of this moment, March 9th 2021, most of the numbers I’ll tell you about are in working order. I know, because I called every single one of them myself. I am also, you might note, still alive and well, so it’s… shall we say, unlikely that any of these numbers is actually “cursed,” “haunted,” or otherwise dangerous to call. They are, however, all based in the United States, so you might want to be wary of long-distance charges if you’re calling from somewhere else. Phone bills can quickly become one of the most frightening things of all.

So, if you’re feeling brave, try giving these numbers a ring. Who knows? Maybe you’ll get lucky. Maybe one of them will call you back.

I’m Darren Marlar and this is Weird Darkness.

SHOW OPEN==========

Welcome, Weirdos – I’m Darren Marlar and this is Weird Darkness. Here you’ll find stories of the paranormal, supernatural, legends, lore, the strange and bizarre, crime, conspiracy, mysterious, macabre, unsolved and unexplained.

Coming up in this episode…

Shortly after Glen MacPherson started hearing a strange humming noise, he created the World Hum and Database Project so people around the world could document their own experiences. And he received a lot of stories from people hearing a strange humming sound in their towns. (Cracking The Mystery of the ‘Worldwide Hum’)

Plus, we’ll dial a few freaky, creepy, haunted, and cursed phone numbers and listen in to what some people say scared them half to death. (Creepy Phone Numbers)

If you’re new here, welcome to the show! While you’re listening, be sure to check out WeirdDarkness.com for merchandise, my newsletter, enter contests, to connect with me on social media, plus, you can visit the Hope in the Darkness page if you’re struggling with depression or dark thoughts. You can find all of that and more at WeirdDarkness.com.

Now.. bolt your doors, lock your windows, turn off your lights, and come with me into the Weird Darkness!

 

STORY: CRACKING THE MYSTERY OF THE WORLDWIDE HUM==========

In the spring of 2012, when I was living near the coastal village of Sechelt, on British Columbia’s picturesque Sunshine Coast, I began hearing a humming sound, which I thought were float planes.

The noise usually started later at night, between 10 and 11 p.m. My first clue that something unusual was happening came with the realization that the sound didn’t fade away, like plane noises typically do. And the slightest ambient noise – exhaling audibly, even turning my head quickly – caused it to momentarily stop. One night after the sound started I stepped outside the house. Nothing.

I was the only person in the house who could hear it; my family said they didn’t know what I was talking about.

Naturally, I assumed something in the house was the culprit, and I searched for the source in vain. I even ended up cutting the power to the entire house. The sound got louder.

While I couldn’t hear the sound outdoors, I could still hear it in my car at night with the windows closed and the ignition off. I drove for miles in every direction, and it was still there in the background when I stopped the car. I was able to rule out obvious sources: industrial activity, marine traffic, electric substations and highway noise.

When I searched on the internet for “unusual low-frequency humming noise,” I soon realized that others had conducted the same search. I was part of the small fraction of people who can hear what is called the “Worldwide Hum” or, simply, the “Hum.”

The questions motivating me and thousands of others were the same: “What’s causing this? Can it be stopped?”

The classic description of the Hum is that it sounds like a truck engine idling. For some, it’s a distant rumbling or droning noise. It can start and stop suddenly or wax and wane over time. For others, the Hum is loud, relentless and life-altering.

I eventually came across one of the few serious papers on the topic. It was written in 2004 by geoscientist David Deming (who’s also a Hum hearer).

Deming began by describing the standard history: The Hum was first documented in the late 1960s, around Bristol, England. It first appeared in the United States in the late 1980s, in Taos, New Mexico.

He then examined the competing hypotheses for the source of the Hum. Many have pointed to the electric grid or cellphone towers. But this theory is dismissed on two grounds: cellphones didn’t exist in the 1960s, and the frequency emitted by both cell towers and the electric grid can be easily blocked by metal enclosures.

He wondered whether mass hysteria was to blame, a psychological phenomenon in which rumor and “collective delusions” lead to the appearance of physical ailments for which there’s no medical explanation. The fact that so many people have researched the Hum on their own, using a search engine – rather than hearing about it from some other person – moves the conversation away from delusion and hysteria spread by word of mouth.

Deming looked at the High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program (HAARP), an isolated military compound in Alaska that uses radio waves to study outer space and for testing advanced communication techniques – and a favorite focus of conspiracy theorists, who have accused the facility of acts ranging from mind control to weather control. He studied the possibility of otoacoustic emissions, which are naturally occurring sounds caused by the vibration of hair cells in the ear.

Deming eventually fingered Very Low Frequency (VLF) radio waves  (between 3 kHz and 30 kHz) as the most likely culprit. The world’s military powers use massive land-based and airborne transmitters on these frequencies in order to communicate with submerged submarines. Radio waves at these frequencies can penetrate up to a solid inch of aluminum.

In the paper, Deming proposes a simple and elegant experiment for testing this hypothesis. Hum hearers randomly enter three identical-looking boxes. The first box blocks VLF radio signals, the second box is an anechoic (soundproof) chamber and the third box is the control.

He left the experiment for others to pursue, and while there are some practical difficulties with the design, Deming’s overall concept has motivated the experiments I am currently conducting.

A plethora of pseudoscience and wild conspiracy theories has the potential to drown out the serious work in this area. I’ve encountered seemingly serious people who have argued that the Hum is caused by tunneling under the earth, the electronic targeting of specific individuals, aliens and mating fish.

Given the need for disciplined inquiry into the phenomenon, in late 2012 I started The World Hum Map and Database Project. The database gathers, documents and maps detailed and anonymous information from people who can hear the Hum. It provides raw data for research in a strictly moderated and serious forum for research and commentary, while providing a sense of community for people whose lives have been negatively affected by the Hum.

Most people have some experience with how disruptive some types of noises can be, which is why there are often noise ordinances in many cities and towns, especially at night. There are many sufferers who dread the nighttime because of how loud and relentless the Hum can be. The Hum database is replete with descriptions of desperate people who have been tormented by the noise for years. The phrase “driving me crazy” is all too common. (I feel fortunate that, in my case, the Hum is more of a curiosity than it is an irritant.)

The project also aims to validate and normalize the phenomenon by discussing it alongside other widely reported auditory phenomena, such as tinnitus, a relatively common medical condition that causes people to hear high-pitched squealing tones. Those who experience tinnitus and also the Hum report the two as being completely different in character.

The update of the Hum Map from June 6, 2016 presents roughly 10,000 map and data points, and we’ve already made some notable findings.

For example, we’ve found that the mean and median age of Hum hearers is 40.5 years, and 55 percent of hearers are men. This goes against the widely repeated theory that the Hum mainly affects middle-aged and older women.

Interestingly, there are eight times as many ambidextrous people among hearers as there are in the general population. As more data are collected from Hum hearers, I hope that specialists in demographics and inferential statistics will be able to generate more detailed results.

The historical record of the Hum is crucial, because if the current version as narrated by Deming is correct, many theories can immediately be ruled out. After all, cellphones and HAARP didn’t exist until decades after the Worldwide Hum was first documented in England in the late 1960s. I currently have a researcher digging into the Times of London digital archive to search for mentions of the Hum going back to the 18th and 19th centuries. If convincing examples are found, then the direction of my research will shift dramatically because all modern technologies could be ruled out.

In my view, there are currently four hypotheses for the source of the world Hum that survive the most superficial scrutiny.

The first hypothesis – argued by Deming and the one I’m currently pursuing – is that the Hum is rooted in Very Low Frequency (VLF) radio transmissions. It’s increasingly accepted now that the human body will sometimes experience electromagnetic (EM) energy and interpret it in a way that creates sounds. This was established for high-frequency EM energy by the American neuroscientist Alan Frey in his infamous “microwave hearing” experiments, which showed that certain radio frequencies can actually be heard as sounds.

Today, there are biophysical models that predict and explain the impact VLF EM energy has on living tissue. I have designed and built a VLF radio blocking box that should be able to test whether VLF radio frequencies are a prerequisite for generating the Hum.

The second hypothesis is that the Hum is the grand accumulation of low-frequency sound and human-generated infrasound (sounds with audio frequencies below roughly 20 Hz and which can be felt more than they can be heard). This includes everything from highway noise to all manner of industrial activity.

The third is that the Hum is a terrestrial or geological phenomenon that generates low-frequency sounds or perceptions of those sounds. For example, there is a well-documented history of animals predicting earthquakes and taking action to save themselves. From a survivor perspective, there may be survival value in having members of a population highly sensitive to some types of vibrations. When it comes to the Hum, some humans may have a similar physiological mechanism in place.

The fourth is that the Hum is an internally generated phenomenon, perhaps rooted in a particular anatomical variation, genetic predisposition or the result of toxicity and medication.

The Hum is now the subject of serious media coverage and, increasingly, scientific scrutiny. The overall goal of my project and the people who contribute to it is to find the source of the Hum and, if possible, stop it.

If the Hum is man-made, then my task is to raise public awareness and advocate turning away from the technologies that are causing it. If the source is exogenous and natural, there’s the possibility that there may be no escape from it, apart from masking it with background sounds.

Of course there is the remote possibility that one of the more exotic explanations will prove to be correct. But, as in all science, it seems best to start with what we know and is plausible, as opposed to what we don’t know and is implausible.

 

BREAK==========

Up next… the telephone is a strange and wondrous thing, when you really stop to think about it. By pushing a few buttons and holding a small device to your head, you can speak to anyone, anywhere in the world. But not all phone numbers are benign; in fact, some phone numbers are creepy, spooky, or downright frightening. And what happens if you actually call these creepy, spooky phone numbers? Well, some believe that, after listening to whatever strange and disturbing messages that wait for you on the other end of the line, you may end up haunted, cursed… or worse. Creepy phone numbers – when Weird Darkness returns!

<COMMERCIAL BREAK>

 

STORY: CREEPY PHONE NUMBERS – NO LONGER WORKING==========

Of course, creepy, spooky, “haunted,” and “cursed” phone numbers are usually not actually haunted or cursed. They’re just fun little Easter eggs easily set up by everyday humans using services like Google Voice. They do, however, provide a unique storytelling experience: They allow us to have a brush with the kinds of situations that we might otherwise only encounter in, say, horror movies, or books, or other forms of media.

And, apparently, we just can’t get enough of them. Before we get to the phone numbers you can still call – the ones still working – let’s give a listen to a handful that are no longer connected, but creepy nonetheless.

*** 408-634-2806 

lot of rumors surround this number, the freakiest of which insists that it’s a so-called “red room number” — a number which can allegedly be used to track down the physical location of people who either call the number themselves or answer calls they receive from it, after which they are kidnapped, brought to a “red room,” and tortured, killed, or both. These alleged torture sessions/murders are said to be broadcast live over the deep web.

I can assure you, however, that 408-634-2806 is not a red room number. As far as I know, red room numbers don’t even exist; they’re just an urban legend — a legend which, notably, forms the premise of the of the video game series Indeed, it’s not even totally clear how the number 408-634-2806 gained a reputation for being a red room number in the first place; the clearest link I’ve been able to find is still tenuous: YouTube channel MKP Studios’ video on 408-634-2806 starts out by likening it to an alleged red room number they had previously called, but fails to actually connect the two numbers in any meaningful way.

If you had called the number while it was still connected, this is what you would have heard: (AUDIO CLIP)

So: If 408-634-2806 was not a red room number, what the heck was it? Because it’s still really weird-sounding; when you called it, you heard a recording of demonic voices, someone saying “All’s well that ends well,” and a spooky music box. It had to be connected to something, right?

The answer is yes. It was connected to the iOS game Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP, which was released by Capybara Games in 2011. At the end of the game, you’re given a number that turns out to be this phone number. It may have been part of an ARG attached to the game that never quite took off, or it may not have been; I don’t know that the meaning of the message you heard when calling the number has ever been “solved.”

Then again, maybe it doesn’t have to be. Also, it’s worth noting that the message reportedly changed a few times. But that was the only recording I could find.

*** 407-734-0254

If you called this number you’d reach a clown named Wrinkles who lives in Naples, Fla. and will (or at least used to), according to the Washington Post, “make an appearance at your party or gathering, prank your friend, or even scare your misbehaving kid straight” for the low, low price of a few hundred bucks. Here is the phone number’s recording: (AUDIO CLIP) Very little is known about the man behind Wrinkles; at the time of the voicemail recording he was in his 60s, retired, and originally from Rhode Island, but that’s all he would say to reporters. He’ definitely had the evil clown market cornered, though. I also found a video of Wrinkles the Clown doing his thing – crawling out from under a kid’s bed in the middle of the night. I’ll link to the video in the Essential Web Links section of the show notes.

*** 786-519-3708 

I’ll confess that I’m not a gamer – so I don’t know diddlysquat about the actual gameplay of Hotline Miami; I’m a sucker for interesting marketing though, and, well… this phone number and the message that was placed on its answering machine in advance of the release of Hotline Miami 2 definitely ticked that box. The voicemail message is short, but it’s still pretty freaky to listen to. Bonus points for the fact that the number is actually a Miami number. (AUDIO CLIP) The 786-519-3708 phone number wasn’t new for Hotline Miami 2; indeed, the Hotline Miami Twitter account had been tweeting the number since 2012, prior to the original game’s release in October of that year. But in February of 2015, the number appeared with some new context on the series’ Twitter feed: This time, it included an extension number. What’s more, when fans dialed the number, they found that a new message had been recorded—the message you just heard. When properly analyzed, the message combined with the extension number (10) provided a full title and release date for the second game in the series: Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number, to be released on March 10, 2015. And that’s exactly what happened.

*** 858-651-5050

“Fishing in a mountain stream is my idea of a good time.” “There was water in the cellar after the heavy rain.” “Smoke poured out of every crack.” “Those words were the cue for the actor to leave.”

These are the kinds of sentences you’ll hear if you dial 858-651-5050. They’re spoken by two people — one with a male-sounding voice and one with a female-sounding voice — who just sit there, intoning these poetic yet meaningless messages for as long as you choose to stay on the line. Here’s just a few minutes of the freakiness. (AUDIO CLIP) There’s a perfectly rational explanation behind this number: It’s a phone testing tool. The sentences, known as Harvard sentences, were chosen for their phonetic balance — that is, “the frequency of sounds in these lists [match] that of natural language,” as Sarah Zhang put it at Gizmodo in 2015; they “hit all the noises a person would typically hear in a conversation.” According to Ernie Smith writing at Motherboard, calling this number would have allowed phone companies to “ensure the signal quality is strong” — that is, it’s the “can you hear me now?” of phone tests. It’s still weird, though. It’s the lack of context that makes what you hear when you call the number kind of unsettling.

*** 701-347-1936 

Like several other numbers on this list, this one was a video game tie-in — this time for the infamous Five Nights At Freddy’s series. It’s not clear whether the number is canon or whether it’s fan made; either way, though, it’s pretty unmistakably FNaf-related to those familiar with the games: (AUDIO CLIP) The voice we hear seems to be a garbled version of Phone Guy, and about 32 seconds in, the aria “Votre toast, je peux vous le render” from the opera Carmen — colloquially known as the Toreador Song — which signifies the approach of the Freddy Fazbear animatronic in the game kicks in. It is not, as some YouTube videos featuring the phone number have suggested, a “cursed phone number” that will make you behave erratically and/or kill you “within 24 hours of calling it.” Whether or not you know the source material, though, it’s still pretty spooky to listen to.

*** 978-435-0163

Perhaps the only number on this list that’s more cryptic than the one featuring binary code (which I’ll get to later when covering numbers that are still connected) is this one. If you called 978-435-0163, you would hear a looped message of a man sobbing. He sounds like he’s maybe in a cave or a sewer; there’s a lot of echo and reverb, and it sounds kind of like something’s dripping somewhere in the background. Oh, and periodically, you’ll hear something screech — something that sounds decidedly not human. Here’s a sample. (AUDIO CLIP) It’s a Massachusetts number — but other than that, I know nothing about the number — not who owned it, not what the bigger story might be, not even exactly what’s going on in it. And that, I think, is the creepiest thing of all.

BREAK==========

Now that we’ve covered a few numbers that are no longer working – let’s take a look at some that still are. Numbers that you can call yourself – if you dare. We’ll begin with 877-77-CREEP. This phone number was created… <phone ringing> Oh, hey — my phone is ringing. Even though I’m, uh… not actually expecting any calls. It’s probably fine. Right? Right. I should take a break here anyway. Hang tight, okay? I’ll be right back. …I hope.

<COMMERCIAL BREAK>

STORY: CREEPY PHONE NUMBERS – STILL WORKING==========
So there have been a lot of creepy phone numbers that eventually stopped working – to the disappointment of most fans of the strange and macabre. But now we move to the phone numbers that do still work.

As of this moment, March 9th 2021, these phone numbers still work; as long as you’re based in the United States (or making the calls using the proper international codes to dial the U.S. from a different country). You can still connect with these phone numbers and hear the messages. But if you don’t have pen and paper handy to write them down, don’t worry – because I’m going to play the voicemail messages for you. That way if anybody does get cursed or haunted by these phone numbers, it will all come down on MY head – not yours.

*** 1-877-77-CREEP

1-877-77-CREEP — or, 1-877-772-7377, for easy dialing — is perhaps the least mysterious of this crop of spooky phone numbers, mostly because we know exactly who created it and why – but first, let’s give it a listen. (AUDIO CLIP) This phone number belongs to horror-themed apparel and merch company Creepy Co., and they made it just for fun. It apes the format of the many, many horror hotlines that proliferated in the 1980s — the kind where you could dial a 1-900 number and listen to, say, Freddy Krueger read you a bedtime story. Unlike the 1-900 numbers of yore, though, Creepy Co.’s hotline is 100 percent free to call; what’s more, it gives you a few options to explore once you do dial in. If you’re in the mood to hear a good, old-fashioned urban legend, 1-877-77-CREEP can help you out with that. Same goes if you want to hear some spooky music. And if you’re looking for some groan-worthy dad jokes? Let’s just say you’ve come to the right place. The recording I’ve made here goes as far as the menu options you reach right at the beginning of your call. From there? Well, you’ll have to find out what each choice reveals for yourself.

*** 646-868-1844

The area code for the number 646-868-1844 is based in White Plains, New York— but that doesn’t really mean much, because it’s a VOIP (meaning its owner could be based anywhere). And while it’s true that the initial message you’ll hear upon dialing is weird — it starts with odd, bell-like tones, leads into garbled, unintelligible words, and then ends with an answerphone tone — the really weird thing about this one doesn’t happen during the call itself. It happens after you hang up: (AUDIO CLIP) After calling this number and hanging up, within seconds, you’ll receive a text message containing a jumbled mix of words. They’re arranged to look like sentences, but they aren’t sentences — they’re just nonsense. They read things like, “Surprise steepest recurred landlord Mr. wandered amounted of. Continuing Devonshire but considered its. Rose past oh shew roof is song neat,” and “Chapter too parties its letter no. Cheerful but whatever ladyship disposed yet judgement. Lasted answer oppose to ye months no esteem.”

Here’s what I can tell you about the texts: They were likely generated using Markov chains or other, similar processes; furthermore, a quick Google search for each chunk of text reveals them both to function more or less like lorem ipsum texts — that is, they’re placeholder texts used to test out and demonstrate the visual appearance of a document or typeface in a draft or trial run before the design is finalized. Furthermore, the text you’ll receive might not always be the same from call to call: I first dialed the number in March of 2019 and received the “Surprise steepest recurred” message; but when I called it several more times in preparation for this episode, I received the “Chapter too parties” text message. I haven’t been able to figure out much beyond that. This one remains a mystery — for now, at least.

*** 618-625-8313

If you’re a Stranger Things fan, you probably recognize the number 618-625-8313: It’s Murray Bauman’s phone number — that is, it belongs to the Netflix series’ resident conspiracy theorist, played by Brett Gelman. Calling it presents you with Bauman’s answerphone recording, which seems to offer a few hints about what might be in store for us whenever Season Four finally drops. (AUDIO CLIP) It isn’t super creepy in and of itself; however, it’s a fun Easter egg for fans — and I think it also functioned as a trailhead for the larger ARG that emerged from Stranger Things’ third season.

What’s notable about the Bauman number, I think, is that it’s still operational now, despite having been put into service in this capacity several years ago. That’s unusual for horror pop culture tie-in numbers: Carrie White’s phone number, set up in 2012 for the Carrie remake starring Chloe Grace Moretz, which I played for you at the beginning of this episode – hasn’t worked for years. There’s no guarantee that the Stranger Things team will keep it up in perpetuity, but at least we can enjoy it for the time being.

*** 508-690-6143

It isn’t at all clear what’s going on when you call 508-690-6143. Initially, there’s a loud, repetitive honking noise some have likened to a car horn and others a buzzing sound before a minute or two of clanging takes the stage — like someone is repeatedly smashing a hard, solid object against a tabletop or something. An ear-splitting burst of static eventually breaks in; then, lastly, a “We’re sorry, but the number you have dialed is no longer in service” message plays, but not cleanly or easily — it’s interspersed with more static and interference. It finishes off with a classic answerphone beep before falling silent. (AUDIO CLIP) I have no idea what any of that means. I don’t know if it’s connected to something bigger — an ARG, an abandoned art project or marketing push, a podcast, or something of the like — or if it’s just a spooky, standalone piece of weirdness. It sure is unsettling, though.

*** 909-390-0003

Legends surrounding so-called “doppelganger numbers” — phone numbers which, when dialed, allow you to converse with your own doppelganger — are popular in Japan; there, it’s said that calling one, such as 073-499-9999 or 090- 2048-1972, might result in anything from an unsettling experience to a potential death curse. But although these kinds of numbers are well-known in Japan, they’re not limited to Japan: You see, 909-390-0003 is a doppelganger number you can call within the United States. Here’s what happened when YouTuber “bigburger boi2005” decided to give it a try. (AUDIO CLIP) There’s nothing sinister going on here. These kind of numbers are just test lines — phone numbers which allow you to test the audio quality of your phone through something called an echo test. There are two main kinds of echo tests: One of them lets you record a message, then plays it back to you — not unlike how, say, test calls work on Skype — while the other echoes your voice back to you, live and in real time as you speak. This 909 number here performs the second kind of echo test — that is, if you call it, you aren’t speaking with your doppelganger; you’re simply hearing your own voice all over again. …Or are you?

*** 951-572-2602

You might know this particular phone number as “the SCP number”: When you dial it, you hear a voicemail recording informing you that you’ve reached the Southern California, Division 19 branch of the SCP Foundation and instructing you to leave the date, time, location, and description of any “incidents” you may have witnessed which you believe require the organization’s intervention. Essentially, it sounds like a tip line of sorts. (AUDIO CLIP) The SCP Foundation is, of course, the (made-up) organization at the center of the long-standing collaborative fiction project of the same name. The project saw its beginnings on 4chan way back in 2007, when the infamous entry now known as SCP-173 was posted to /x/ paranormal board. The first incarnation of the project in the wiki format went live on EditThis in January of 2008; then, in July of that same year, it moved over to Wikidot. And in the years since, it has grown exponentially, with users all over the world contributing artifacts, reports, and other stories to the mix, building out an enormously entertaining universe that’s part X-Files, part Warehouse 13, and all fun. The number, which is a VOIP number based in Banning, California in Riverside County, just south of the San Bernardino National Forest, has existed at least since 2015SCP Foundation user genesplicer has claimed to be its creator several times in the wiki’s forums; according to one post from this user dated 2017, it’s a repurposed Google voice number. Some folks who have actually left messages in the number’s voicemail box over the years have said that there’s a chance you might receive a call or a text back; I’ve never done this, so I can’t verify it independently (and besides, the number has existed for so long that it’s a distinct possibility its creator doesn’t monitor it all that closely anymore) — but if you’re feeling daring, you can always give it a shot.

*** 512-937-2346

This one is actually a second SCP number, although it serves quite a difference purpose than the previous one. (AUDIO CLIP) This is the hotline number for Foundation After Midnight Radio, a podcast set within the world of the SCP Foundation designed to sound like an in-universe radio show. (If you’re a fan of Welcome To Night Vale, you’ll probably dig Foundation After Midnight Radio.) The 512 number actually is used for call-ins from time to time; the podcast’s creator, toadking07 (aka Eric J. Stover), has put out calls on the SCP forums for listeners to dial in and leave messages for inclusion in several holiday episodes, for example. Right now, though, the podcast seems to be on hiatus — the most recent episode as of this writing was uploaded in March of 2020 — so whether or not the line is currently monitored remains to be seen. You can still call it to hear an entertaining message, though: The voicemail box greets callers by informing them, “Our site is currently experiencing a site-wide lockdown due to a containment breach,” before asking them to either stay on the line or leave a message after the tone. “Stay safe!” it chirps at the end. How… optimistic.

*** 828-756-0109 (The Binary Number)

[NOTE: If you try this one, make sure you dial it correctly. A common misdial for this one goes to a real person’s phone number. If you hear anything other than the message I’m about to play for you, you’ve misdialed. Don’t bug the person, and don’t be rude or obscene. But, again, ideally, check to make sure you’ve entered the number correctly BEFORE you hit the “call” button so as to avoid that whole situation in the first place.] (AUDIO CLIP) Ah, yes: The biggest mystery of the bunch. This number is now widely known as “the binary number,” due to the fact that its main feature is a panicked-sounding person spouting a bunch of ones and zeroes which convert to the word “death” in English. It’s a North Carolina number, for the curious — my phone identifies it as being based out of Marion, which is in McDowell County about 85 miles west and slightly north of Charlotte — but it’s also a VOIP number set up through Google Voice, so who knows where its owner actually lives. Alas, nothing new has emerged about this number for quite a while. It’s just as mysterious now as it was then — and unless someone steps forward to reveal who they are and why they set the number up, it will likely remain as such.

*** 270-301-5797

Superbrothers isn’t the only video game to have had a telephone-based tie-in; Kentucky Route Zero, a magical realist point-and-click adventure game released episodically between 2013 and 2020 has one, too. Called Here and There Along the Echo, it’s one of a number of auxiliary experiences that Kentucky Route Zero developers Jake Elliott and Tamas Kemenczy released between episodes — and it is delightful. (AUDIO CLIP) What you get when you dial 207-301-5797 is a phone tree — that is, format-wise, it’s a lot like the 1-877-77-CREEP hotline set up by the Creepy Company. But it’s an entirely different experience than 1-877-77-CREEP, claiming instead to be “a guide to the Echo River for drifters and pilgrims” presented by “the Bureau of Secret Tourism.” “It’s weird and surreal, yet also wonderfully serene — and there’s plenty to explore as you dial your way through the various menus to which it gives you access.” What’s more, as a Metafilter user put it in 2016, “You don’t have to know anything about the game to appreciate the sheer oddity and scope of what there is to listen to on this phone number.”

*** 630-296-7536

Remember Boothworld Industries? This is the number paired with the 2013 r/NoSleep story by Christopher Bloodworth that kicked off that whole universe. It still works now; if you call it, you’ll hear a pleasant voice telling you… (AUDIO CLIP) “You have reached Boothworld Industries. Your number has been logged and traced. A service representative will be with you shortly for remodeling. We at Boothworld Industries say thanks. You have a marvelous day.” You may or may not actually receive a call back. Some have; in fact, Bloodworth noted in a 2014 interview with Bubblebeam Magazine, “Sometimes I call back. The reactions are usually fun.” Even if you don’t, though, there’s still some fun to be gotten out of leaving a message for Boothworld.

*** 801-820-0263

Lastly, this one is the second Boothworld number, although at first listen, the connection isn’t necessarily clear. A little digging, though, revealed the truth. (AUDIO CLIP)

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