Hell Phone - William Sleator
All Nick wanted was a cell phone so he could talk to his girlfriend, Jen, in the evenings. What he got was a nightmare he would have never imagined.

Nick's mother, who works hard everyday, usually from daylight to sometime in the night, doesn't earn enough money to keep much food in the house, much less afford to keep the phone turned on. Nick works almost everyday in the hospital cafeteria after school and has saved up money to buy a cell phone.

After school one day, before he headed to work, Nick rode his bike to a store that was advertised used cell phones on a flyer he received in the mail. Once he walked in, Nick noticed that there weren't many phones on display that looked like they'd be cheap enough for him to buy. He only had fifty dollars for the phone and the minutes. When he told the salesperson how much he had to spend, there was only one phone that he would sell at that price. It surprised Nick that it looked pretty cool and considered himself pretty lucky, even with the drawbacks. The drawbacks were that the Caller ID had been disabled and there were no returns or refunds. So, once he bought the phone he was stuck with it or just out the money. In the end, Nick decided to take the phone and paid for one-hundred and fifty minutes and left the store.

When Nick arrived home after work, his mother still wasn't home from her job so he used the time to make his first call to Jen. As soon as he turned it on, it rang with an annoying mewing sound. He answered it, thinking he'd just have to tell the caller that the previous owner didn't own the phone anymore. Instead, what he hears on the other end of the line was a nasty, threatening voice asking who he was, what he was doing with the phone, and where he lived. Frightened, Nick hung up and quickly called Jen only to have Call Waiting constantly beep in on their conversation. Disappointed with the first use of the cell phone Nick turned it off for the night so it wouldn't ring and wake up his mother once she got home from work.

What follows is a nightmare for Nick. He is asked to gather supplies in order to help the persistent caller. The only way to get the supplies is to steal them, something he has never done before in his life. Having the cell phone leads him to lie to Jen, which is something else he has never done. He knows the phone isn't good for him, but he feels compelled to keep it, thinking he can save someone involved in this horrible mystery. In the end, his life unravels completely, leaving him in jail, sentenced to be executed, and eventually landing in hell. However, with lessons he learned while he had the phone, Nick leads himself to a better place.

William Sleator has written a faced paced horror novel that requires the reader to suspend disbelief and accept the story for what it is – a thrilling read, not to be picked up right before bed.