Phreakers
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Description: In the grand scheme of things, random calls on a phone are a dime a dozen, easily predicted as robo-callers or elaborate scams. While many people simply ignore or block them, the chance few who amuse themselves by thinking they're going to listen to the next scam call are in for something sinister. In such cases, the voice on the other side is the ghost of a dead person that has been roaming telecommunication lines, looking for a host body or phone to transfer their ephemera into. They can be dangerous, possessing the weak willed or becoming a poltergeist in the phone that answers them.

While inhabiting a phone, they will interrupt conversations with their speaking, cause static, or actively try to hop into another phone the host calls. When possessing a person, the Phreaker temporarily gains suggestibility over them, causing them to call others in their contacts thereby increasing the chance of the Phreaker hopping around. The possession lasts indefinitely, with death, exorcism, or the Phreaker leaving of its own volition being the only methods to stop them. Malevolent variants will wreak wanton havoc over telephone networks, possibly disrupting major calls or attempting to group up into one phone and create piercing cacophonies over the phone receiver. A collection of Phreakers can be utilized to "phone-bomb" or DDoS attack corporate phone lines where massive amounts of employees may unknowingly spread the spectres around, making them a nuisance.

Background: The moniker Phreaker is taken from the term for phone hackers who manipulate telecommunication lines. The Society first encountered them in 1978 when a DCC's phone line in Stockton, CA was observed to be acting strangely by clerks after receiving a late night call. The situation that unfolded pointed to supernatural origins and when reports of the phenomena in the Society were finally tracked after this first encounter, a reproducible pattern emerged from vigilant listeners. The population of modern reports indicate that Phreakers have become more widespread from the 1980s and onward, with the prevalence of wireless communication and improved telecoms infrastructure.

Location and Population: While no definitive population exists, the chance of actually picking up one on the phone is quite low. Their numbers naturally dwindle through lack of phone use, as their place in reality fades if they are unable to transfer their energy around. They normally exist anywhere there are phones or telecommunication devices, meaning mostly urban population centers.

The people that die during phone calls have their souls enter the telecom networks at the moment of death through natural or violent means. This affects the temperament of the ghost created, as violent deaths create more malignant Phreakers, while those who have died from natural causes are rather amicable, seeming confused more than anything. Drunk drivers on the phone are possibly the number one cause of spreading violent variants.

Hunting or Procurement Methods: The phone will first ring and any landline or cell phone with caller ID will display the name as a private number. Whoever picks up the phone and greets the caller with their ears touching the receiver will be met with silence at first, before mumbling, voices, or static can be heard through the ear piece. The sounds will get louder as the caller will begin to experience invasive thoughts or voices in their heads. Once these signs are identified there is still time to put the phone away and hang up because it takes only one minute of exposure before the physical phone or even body is possessed. Texts can be sent from an unknown number, but may be nonsensical in nature and cannot possess the reader or the phone through a message alone. Possession must be through an answered voice call with the listener hearing the voice directly through the phone's receiver or speaker (making speaker phone functionality dangerous to any who listen). The text is often a lure to make callers more likely to pick up.

Urbanite outfits have devised several methods to capture Phreakers and forcibly remove them from hosts or phones. The first involves attempts at communicating with the ghost and finding its goals. Utilizing a remote text to speech (and speech to text) program in a separate audio dampened room will mitigate issues of the voice possessing the listener. Deceased voices have goals that were unmet when they died and will dissipate after accomplishing their directives, moving on from the physical world. In extreme circumstances, a malevolent Phreaker requires functional destruction of the phone it inhabits, permanently "killing" the ghost, but the issue arises in identifying which phones are possessed. The only method to exorcise the spirit out of a person is through the physical body's death or through tricking the spirit into another phone or even person.

Encounter Records: The first recorded case of Phreaker possession in 1978 laid out the first procedures for identification and banishment, undertaken not by a seasoned outfit, but by thoughtful part-time clerks. The description and recording of the incident was provided via interview in 1999 by the clerk who had stayed with the Stockton DCC at that time.


Additional Notes: The interview was re-recorded 21 years after the incident due in part to digitization of the information for use in an online computer database, though the original catalog report remains intact.

The ongoing debate of whether it is ethical to destroy benevolent Phreakers has sparked hot arguments. The official stance of the Society remains to put the spirit to rest before destruction of the phone.

"Don't worry about the dead. Worry about those they still affect."

— Unknown Shaman and Warder

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