When the phone rang, the rumpled figure on the couch stirred, before casting a glance at the heavy, corded brick phone that sat on an old, wooden coffee table in the middle of the room through a lock of dirty blonde hair. He blinked in irritation, before rolling over and burying his face back into the arm of the couch. He had always meant to move that thing to a significantly more out of the way spot, but had somehow never actually gotten around to it. At least it never rang more than once, because the phone automatically disconnected as soon as a call came through. The phone rang again. Karl Filius was on his feet in the blink of an eye, staring, bewildered and confused, at the 1980’s landline phone, almost as though it had somehow betrayed him. However, when the phone rang a third time, he finally understood that it wasn’t his landline that was ringing. Karl hurled himself over the back of the second part of the L-shaped corner couch, before running face-first into a wood-paneled wall. He rapped impatiently on it, and the wall slid away in front of him. “Thank you,” Karl muttered, somewhat sarcastically, before slipping through the now open panel into the space beyond. On the other side of the wall was a hallway, completely overcrowded with desks, shelves, and cabinets, and filled to the brim with all kinds of miscellaneous junk, both fascinating and commonplace. However, none of it was newer than approximately 1990. As the phone rang a fourth time, Karl began to toss his way through the room, looking for the source of the noise. Tucked away into the back corner of a bookshelf halfway down the hallway, buried behind a couple of hats, an old goblet, a massive stack of old parchments and maps which were more or less recent, a really old rotary phone, a box filled with spools of thread, a needle, and a ripped pillow from 19th century France, he finally found the source of the noise. Somehow, still miraculously plugged in and charged, a 1990’s Nokia brick cellphone was ringing at him. Karl stared at it for a moment, before the phone yelled at him again, ringing so loud that he nearly slapped his hands over his ears. No wonder he had been able to hear it in the other room. It took him another moment of staring, and another earsplitting ring, to finally determine what the phone was, and why he had left it plugged in. A tricky smile crossed his face, and he quickly picked it up before it could ring again. “Donald, you bastard. Aren’t you fucking dead yet?” Karl swore into the phone, a glint in his eyes belying the harshness of his words. Not that the person on the other end of the phone could tell. There was a shocked silence, broken only by a faint crackle brought about by bad reception. Karl broke the silence a moment later as he burst out laughing. “Ach, Duck, you know I’m just joking. How the bloody hell have you been?” Still the phone remained stubbornly silent, and Karl glanced it out of the corner of his eye. Was the thing broken? That would be perfect, wouldn’t it, that the thing finally gave out just as he needed it again. Finally, though, the silence was broken by a hesitant voice. A hesitant voice that was, far more importantly, unfamiliar. “Are you... Karl?” In an instant, all the humor left his voice. Instead, every syllable promised a quick and painful death should the mystery caller refuse to answer. “Who the fuck are you, and how did you get this number?” “I... I’m Donald’s son. He gave it to me.” “As if. Donald doesn’t have a son.” “No, I swear. I’m Michael, son of Donald and Denise King, born May 21, 1994...” The kid continued to ramble on, desperate to prove his identity to the angry man on the other end of the phone, but Karl had stopped listening. He had been struck by an overwhelming wave of nostalgia. Back when he and Donald had still been running together, Karl had always joked that he had no choice but to name his firstborn son Michael, to keep the Disney tradition going. He had never actually expected Duck to take his advice. “So, tell me Mouse,” Karl finally said with a resigned tone. Somehow, he hadn’t fully acknowledged exactly how out of touch he was with the real world, that he wouldn’t even know that his former best friend had given birth to a son. But, wasn’t that why he had retreated from the world a little over twenty years ago? It didn’t require him to deal with the fact that life went on without him. “How is your father?” “How did you know that na... Never mind.” There was a rush of static as Michael let out a breath. “Da’s fine. He’s as ornery, determined, and hard-headed as ever, but he settled into a working life easier than ma was expecting, after he finally came back to earth.” “That’s all good to hear, but if he’s fine why are you calling me?” Michael paused again, obviously flustered. He hesitated a further moment, either trying to find the right words, or waiting for some other kind of prompting or stimulation. But, as was always the case, he eventually spoke. “There have been rumors going around, rumors that the Holy Grail is back.” “Don’t tell me that is why you called.” “You’ve got to understand, these aren’t just regular rumors. There’s serious weight behind them.” “I wouldn’t give a fuck if God himself had given you a divine vision. The Holy Grail is the most monumental waste of time that this world has ever seen, and it brings nothing but pain and suffering. The best thing anyone can do is stay the hell away from the thing.” “But what if someone who intended no good got their hands on it?” “To get it, someone needs to bond to Excalibur. That takes care of your problem right there.” “But...” “That really is the only reason you called. Well then, sod off. If you try and call this number again, it won’t be working.” With that unceremonious goodbye, Karl hung up the phone, before hurling it down the hallway. It bounced against the far door with a soft thud but remained otherwise intact. Karl scowled. He was going to have to find some more permanent way to destroy the thing. For now, though, he’d just pull out the battery.