The Most Dangerous Games: The Shoebox Telephone

tin can phonePreviously: One-Man Hide and Seek.

This one comes to us from FableForge, the same redditor who brought us The Three Kings. He (all redditors by default are male until proven otherwise—including yours truly, as the few times I’ve posted there, others have assumed me to be a dude) noted in his original post that although he contributed a few details to the game, The Shoebox Telephone was already being played in juvie before he arrived. The stakes are perhaps lower for this one than they are for the other games we’ve played so far, so it might be a good one for beginners to try; bear in mind, though, that there’s always danger when you toy around with stuff like this. Don’t assume you’re safe just because there’s no Midnight Man


  • 1 principal.


  • 1 “phone booth.” A closet is a good choice.
  • 1 paper cup
  • 1 shoebox
  • 1 length of thread, two to four feet in length
  • 1 needle
  • A pair of scissors
  • 1 power object. This object should have some connection to the person to whom you wish to speak.
  • 1 sheet of paper
  • 1 ink pen. Do not attempt to substitute a pencil.
  • 1 flat surface on which to write


The Outbound Call:

  1. Begin right before you go to bed. The hour itself is inconsequential; all that matters is that your day is essentially over.
  2. Keep the lights on, but turn off all other electronic devices: Cellphones, televisions, computers, etc.
  3. Wait. You’ll know when the time is right to begin in earnest.
  4. Once you arrive at the “right time,” take up your sheet of paper and your pen and begin writing a letter addressed to the person to whom you wish to speak. Explain to your person why they should call you. Do not cross out anything while writing, and do not correct any mistakes. Don’t overthink what you’re writing; just write.
  5. When you’re done writing, take up your length of thread and tie one end of it to your power object. Using a needle, thread the other end through the bottom of your paper cup. Remove the needle and tie off the thread. This will be your handset and telephone wire.
  6. Pick up the paper cup and read your letter aloud into it. Read it sincerely, mistakes and all.
  7. Place your letter and your power object in the shoebox with the telephone wire thread leading out of it. Close the lid of the box, but don’t seal it; then rest it on the floor of your phone booth. Leave the paper cup standing on top of the shoebox. Set the scissors down next to it.
  8. Wait for the telephone to ring.

The Inbound Call:

  1. The “ring” will come in the form of a dream of the person trying to call you. It might be that night; it might be a night shortly thereafter. You will wake up from the dream, likely in the middle of the night, and know that the telephone is ready to be answered.
  2. Get up from your bed and go to your phone booth. Do not turn on the light. Do not speak.
  3. Do NOT proceed if any of the following occur:
    • You find the shoebox open.
    • You find the paper cup knocked over.

    Should you encounter either or both of these incidents, do not place the headset anywhere near your ear. Keep the shoebox closed and snap the string with your hands. If you are unable to snap it, use the scissors to snip it.

  4. If the shoebox and paper cup are undisturbed, you may proceed. Get in the phone both and close the door.
  5. Sit on the floor, press the paper cup to your ear, cover your other ear with your hand, and listen. Really listen. They’re calling collect, after all. Keep movement to a minimum, try not to make any noise, and do not touch the shoebox. Do not speak, even if you are asked questions or are ordered to say something (you already had your say when you made the outbound call).

Ending the Call:

  1. When the call has finished—or if, at any time, you want to hang up—hold the shoebox lid firmly closed with one hand and pull on the thread with the other until it snaps. If you are unable to snap the string in this manner, use the scissors. Do NOT allow the shoebox to open.
  2. Remove the shoebox to a safe location and leave it there for several months. Again, do NOT allow the shoebox to open.
  3. Do not put the paper cup to your ear again. Burn it instead.

Additional Notes:

If, during steps three and four of the Outbound Call, the feeling of absolute certainty that it is time to begin does not arrive within the space of an hour, do NOT proceed. Instead, go to sleep and try again the next night. If the “right time” does not arrive several nights in a row, either try contacting a different person, or take a break for a few nights. Do NOT write in doubt. To write in doubt will result in dialing a wrong number.

Do not prepare the paper cup handset in step five of the Outbound Call in advance. Write your letter; then make the handset.

If the ring for the Inbound Call does not arrive after a maximum of four nights, it is possible that whomever you attempted to contact has nothing to say to you. You may replay the game to make contact with another person, but do not attempt to play it too often.

Concerning Wrong Numbers:

Dialing a wrong number will either result in connecting you to no one at all, or connecting you to the wrong person.

If connected to the wrong person, any of the following may occur:

  • The wrong person could pretend to be the right person.
  • The wrong person could feed you misinformation, either in the guise of the right person or as themselves.
  • The wrong person could otherwise give you a bad time.

Do NOT, under ANY circumstances, dial a wrong number.

The Shoebox Telephone: FAQ.

[Photo via]

14 thoughts on “The Most Dangerous Games: The Shoebox Telephone

    1. It might be to help dial the right number. If you and that person had something in common, or an object you both used/looked at frequently, it might be of initial value to you both, therefore, the right number will be dialed.

      That’s my conspiracy, though.

    2. Easy, you need something with their lingering energy signature. You could change it, or substitute it, but at that point you’re spellcrafting. Proceed with extreme caution. A photo might not be too far off.

  1. If you try to speak to a person who doesn’t speak your language, does astral tel translate? Or do you sit there listening to a person speak ancient Russian or something

    1. Facinating question, I don’t honestly know. I’d imagine they’re speaking in thoughts and concepts, but idhk. Please post a follow-up comment if you try!

    1. I highly doubt that the person can be alive, and the reason is that if you wanted to talk to this person if they were alive, you could find them. This is purely a means of communicating with the dead.

    2. You’re changing what you’re doing at that point. If you were, in theory, to try that, they may just answer from within the dream. And if you did make contact, you’d probably be communicating with their unconscious mind, meaning they would have no conscious memory of your conversation, yet, could tap inexplicable knowledge of anything you told them. Depends how strong their intuition is. Really, though, I would just abandon this recipe and focus on OBEs, along with your other party. That’s a way safer and more rewarding pursuit, just remember to call ask your spirit guides for assistance.

  2. Why are you not to speak if the caller asks you to? If they ask you a question isnt it quite rude to not answer them considering you called and bothered them to begin with?

  3. The fact that I would have to bury my phone if something bad happened is enough to not make me do it…..not that i was thinking about it but still, my phone is like a fourth of my life…..oh and good luck to iphone users lol ur gonna need it

    1. I think you got the wrong idea. The phone you’d be using isn’t your actual phone, but the one made out of paper cups! That’s why the string is important. (Hope you got it now).

  4. I have been doing all of these “dangerous games” these last two weeks and most have them have been AWESOME!!! Is it weird that I’m playing these often? And am I playing these too often? Also, if you mis-dialed someone and they acted like the one you wanted to talk to, how would you know you mis-dialed?

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