"You have reached the Random Number Hotline. Your random number is…twenty seven. Have a pleasant day."
The familiar feeling hit me, as soon as I had placed my phone back into its receiver on the wall. It was a feeling that I had felt too often in this place, a feeling which was quite difficult to explain in vivid detail.
It was a feeling which I could only describe as pure, unadulterated happiness. There was no other way to put it. That wave of euphoria was the only thing that motivated me to get out of my bed in the morning. Without it, it just wasn't worth the effort.
I strode into my living room, a cup of strong coffee in one hand, and the television remote in the other. My face was the picture of joy as I slumped comfortably into my chair and turned the TV on. I drank from my cup, still sporting a smile, as advertisements plastered the screen at every possible moment.
With this being such a small town, having a population of just over 1000 people in total, the townspeople ran their own station, exhibiting local news rather than national stories. Not many people in this town cared about that sort of thing anymore anyway. Advertising was also strictly for local businesses and services only; it helped keep the town's industries alive.
As an advertisement for Nathan's Fish Palace came to an end, I took another sip of coffee. Shortly after, another started to play. It was much more simplistic compared to the others made by the townspeople for their businesses. But then again, it didn't need to be very complicated to hook you in.
I could almost recite the entire thing off by heart by now. It's another creature comfort of mine. It helped me settle in to this place. It still helps now.
"Have you ever felt depressed, lonely, or helpless? Is small town life getting more and more difficult for you in times of crisis, financial hardship or relationship disputes? Well now, fine people of Coldbank, you can say goodbye to all your troubles!
"The Random Number Hotline is a breakthrough in subliminal emotional alteration technology, which you can utilize twenty four hours a day, seven days a week. Simply dial 337-756-8303 and listen to your number, randomly chosen by our database and make the most of your life! You won't regret it.
"Also available now, 'The Random Number Guide', an easy to use booklet of all the possible numbers available from the Random Number Hotline. Buy it now for only $22!"
A doorbell chime somewhere interrupted my train of thought. It took me an additional second to realize it was someone ringing my doorbell. I wondered who it could possibly be, as it was a Saturday and usually the majority of the townspeople would be at home or working. And since the only friends I had in this place were all working today, it couldn't possibly be anyone I know.
I placed my half-empty cup of coffee down and headed over to my front door. I briefly hesitated before opening the door, but quickly grasped the doorknob and slowly opened it.
Before me stood a young man, in his early to mid-twenties, about six foot two, with a kind face, and grasping a small package in his hand.
"Are you Mr Thomas Bryant?" he asked me kindly. I nodded, still smiling from the effects of the Hotline.
"Oh good, I was hoping I hadn't got the wrong address this time. Not that it would really matter, you are all getting the same thing," he added. The man reached into his coat pocket and produced a piece of paper and a pen.
"Just sign here thanks."
I took the pen and paper from his hand and scrawled my loopy signature onto the dotted line he has pointed out for me. After, he retrieved them, farewelled me and left, placing the package into my hands before he departed.
The door had barely even closed before I started tearing open my package. Once it was completely unwrapped, I grinned. I didn't even have to fully open it to figure out what it was. It had finally arrived. Although the effects of the Hotline had mostly worn off by now, I could barely contain my happiness that my copy of 'The Random Number Guide' had arrived. I was ecstatic.
I returned to my lounge, discarding the wrapping paper and carefully opening the book, being careful not to crease the pages of my new treasure. I flipped quickly through the pages, viewing several entries, such as the number twenty five, which according to the guide, increased the alertness of the individual.
Or the number fifty nine, which induced a state of calmness in the caller. I could see why that would be desirable in this town; everyone always seemed so…agitated.
And the crowd favorite, the number seventy one, which assisted with rational decision making. According to the guide, it was very popular with business owners in town.
By the time I had reached the final page of the guide, I could feel the happiness brought on by the Hotline subsiding. I continued to descend from the cheerful mood I was in not ten seconds ago into a state of pure indifference. I was used to it by now. And there was only one remedy.
I reached over across from me and plucked my phone from the wall. I pressed redial and brought the phone up to my ear. I waited patiently for the response.
"You have reached the Random Number Hotline. Your random number is…three. Have a pleasant day."
An abrupt wave of energy shot through my limbs at the conclusion of the call. It was as if every cell in my body had awoken and wanted to move. It was impossible to stand still after hearing that number. I placed the phone back on the wall and opened the guide to the number three.
"Number three," I read quietly to myself, "Energized – Gives the caller an energy boost. Useful for athletes or inactive individuals. Sweet."
I had never actually been granted this number before. It was just what I needed to get out of the apartment and go for a walk. Maybe even a run.
Before I knew it, I had my coat and old joggers on, and was out the door on the street, running with the guide in one hand and my cellular phone in the other, towards the shopping district.