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The setup: Detective's office phone gets broken, so she goes out to get a new one. The one she gets will ring randomly sometimes, and she can hear events that she should not be able to hear, i.e,

  • The chaos on the bridge of the Titanic, just when they've discovered they're about to hit the iceberg

  • The final moments of MH370

  • The murder of her partner in the police force, which hasn't happened yet

  • A conversation in Hell itself, where two demons discuss a plot to overthrow Satan (full disclosure, not sure if I'll use this last one, but I thought I'd jot down anyway)

What reason could demonic entities have for doing this in general? I thought of just "For fun" but that seems like a cop out. I've generally written demonic things as after some concrete goal, such as a person's soul, death to increase despair, etc...

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  • $\begingroup$ What is your demon's fundamental motivation? How does it tie in to the phone? $\endgroup$ – Separatrix Feb 11 at 14:14
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    $\begingroup$ This doesn't seem like a world-building question so much as a story-building one. $\endgroup$ – Starfish Prime Feb 11 at 14:15
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    $\begingroup$ Demons want to people know that everything is known, everything is designed, there is nothing they can do to save their souls, God have a plan. So just sin away and come down there as a legend. $\endgroup$ – SZCZERZO KŁY Feb 11 at 14:22
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    $\begingroup$ Or just to screw with people to break the monotony of immortality/eternal existence. $\endgroup$ – Hyfnae Feb 11 at 14:25
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    $\begingroup$ The demons need to collect personal information to help provide a targeted temptation experience. $\endgroup$ – notovny Feb 11 at 14:55
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Why do you assume you must be able to understand demonic goals, mortal? They are not cut from the same cloth as thee, nor do they yearn for earthly riches.

This ‘telephone’ as you call it is but a small step in a much grander plan that your mere four dimensional mind cannot even begin to comprehend. Even attempting to explain it would cause your spongelike fleshy brain to turn in upon itself as if Azorthragal himself has squeezed it. It is but one piece of a plan devised by one of the Greater demons.

Lower demons, those close to the mortal plane, they are the ones that crave ‘souls’ and ‘despair’. These things are easily understood by mortals, though they are yet abstract. These demons are to the Greater Lords of Hell as a beetle is to a mighty king. And you are lesser yet.

There will be no explanation given for this telephone. There shall be no understanding. No morsel of peace for thee, mortal.

It is not for ye to ken.

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Because its her phone. She is a demon thats either deep undercover or trying to escape hell and as part of her disguise she has removed her memories of being a demon. The phone is just an oversight she forgot to take care of.

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Corruption of the Detective. Police in the U.S. have to follow certain rules of evidence collection and these rules will often hurt the cop's investigation, not help it. A good cop realizes that they need to build their case so they can put the crook away, not arrest people who they think are up to no good. If the cop is getting conversations she shouldn't have, the temptation to act on those conversations will be too great and she might violate a suspect's rights (in U.S. law, the phrase "God Given Rights" is often thrown around... seems like something a Demon would love to trample all over.).

In a secular read of classical liberal philosophy, God-Given Rights is synonymous with Natural Rights... the basic idea is that these rights exist in every person in a state of non-government or nature. If you are alone on a desert island, you can still do these things. Thus in classical liberalism, the government exists to protect these rights from abuse by others and do not grant people these rights as it's beyond the government's power to give or take these rights away.

A good story element and a way to twist the story like a Twiglight Zone episode ending would be to make the conversation before her partners death be misheard. Set up the situation to look like a dirty cop is gonna kill her partner... but in actuality the same conversation when she actually sees it happen would reveal that it's the partner who is a dirtbag cop... the cop who drops him is Internal Affairs or reporting to Internal Affairs about some suspicious behavior that would implicate the partner in the corruption. Had she acted without thinking it through, she would have killed an innocent man and caused the suffering of many other people who are victims of her partner's dirty dealing.

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Use her against her will, to do his evil doing.

Your demon has a plan but doesn't want to write a contract that she could refuse, so he gives her a "special" phone.

The first events that she hears should be easily confirmable (such as the Titanic or a event coming in the near future).

But for her partner, the information should be cryptic enough that she couldn't save him, maybe just come in time to see him die.

She will become frustrated or crazy that she couldn't save him.

After that the demon can start to send false messages. Like the fact that someone else close to her will die in a church and the pastor will kill him. So she tries to prevent it and kill the pastor, but the pastor was the keeper of a hell gate or was killed inside a pentagram or something else.

So the demon has accomplished is task without being noticed. Who would think a phone could be haunted, and without needing a contract with a mortal?

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Her cell phone has the same number as the demon's phone.

Connecting with the demon's phone is a glitch. The demon does not know this is happening. It is a malevolent time traveler but is not super tech savvy. She can overhear conversations the demon is having and perhaps get occasional texts.

The things on the other end can hear her too so she has learned to answer with phone on mute.

It is a fine premise for a story. After she lurks for a while it would be tempting to establish contact with a demon, especially if she needed help.

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