Mobile phones must be the bane of authors trying to create a suspenseful situation. Trapped in a dark, dank cellar? Abandoned on a deserted road in the middle of nowhere? Vampire hunting you? Run out of chocolate? All the protagonist has to do is pick up their mobile and help is on the way. Mobile phones are the number one buzz kill of this decade. So I started wondering what authors could do to solve this tricky problem.
Now don’t expect me to offer you sensible advice and suggest things like poor network coverage, a dead battery or phone damage as that would be an affront to my sense of whimsy. Instead I offer you some highly impractical but never before seen solutions (probably for a very good reason).
The barter system
I imagine the internal monologue would go something like this: “Oh drat, I could have totally used my flashlight app on my iPhone to temporarily blind the evil Dr X if I hadn’t already traded it for this genuine Rolex watch which for some reason has stopped working. Oh well, I guess I’ll have to sit through his highly improbable plan for world destruction instead. Maybe if I’m lucky, he’ll feed me to his pet panther rather than his pack of wolves. I like cats more than dogs.”
A random bear stole it
Seriously those bears steal anything food-like out of cars. Phones aren’t food-like but if you take the stereotypical poor hygiene of teenagers, there are bound to be some grease stains left on their precious Android which could in the right situation attract a hungry bear. The only downside with this one is that you need to have a zoo in the area which a bear could escape from, be in the wilderness or have someone who has a predilection for dressing up as a bear and mimicking their food stealing habits. Bears also tend to hibernate so you’d also need to ensure that you set your novel in warmer weather, just make sure it isn’t too warm as then they might get heat stroke (I don’t condone animal cruelty).
The protagonist’s dog peed on it
Depending on the size of the dog, it probably wouldn’t be enough to make the phone stop working but it would definitely make you unwilling to touch it. This would have to happen right before the psycho killer came crashing through your window otherwise your protagonist might have time to talk someone else into cleaning it.
Zombie flash mob
The zombie horde has “Thriller” on infinite loop and is too busy dancing to let you alert the authorities to the apocalypse. It could totally happen, right?