Phoners are zombie-like creatures that feature in the Stephen King book Cell and its movie adaptation. They are, however, different to zombies in that they are still technically alive and can be killed like a normal human. They were originally humans but after the apocalyptic phenomenon that was later named The Pulse they turned into Phoners. The Pulse was a signal that transformed every cellphone into a form of converter. Anyone who listened to a cell phone turned into a Phoner. They were later named Phoners because they became these creatures after listening to a cellphone.


A drawing of the Raggedy Man/Prince of Harvard that was the pseudonym of the American Overflock.

On the first day of the Pulse, Phoners were chaotic, animalistic creatures. They killed anyone they could, including other Phoners with anything they could lay their hands on: knives, pens, umbrellas, even hands and even teeth. Many of them also commited suicide. But after the original few days of the Pulse they began to calm and evolve. They stopped killing other Phoners, they only came out during the day and they began to form flocks of Phoners.


As mentioned above, Phoners began to group together and form flocks, ranging in size of a dozen to 1000 Phoners. Members of flocks stopped killing each other and began to think in a singular mind, much like flocks of birds when in migration. Each flock found a "roosting ground" which they never strayed from during their daily activities (killing "normies" (non-Phoners) that were stupid enough to still travel during the day instead of during the night, finding food, securing their area) and they slept at their roosting places during the night. Roosting places could be anything from empty football fields to malls to graveyards.

Phoners are incapable of normal sleep, and so they pack themselves into a roosting spot and go enter a comatose state during the night. They cannot achieve their substitute of sleep without music, however odd that may sound. Every flock gathers as many stereos and boomboxes as they can lay their hands on along with one CD and play that CD incredibly loudly all night. None of the stereos are connected by cords though, so they connect with them using their telepathic abilities, which is explained in the next section.

Telepathy and other supernatural powers

As odd as it may sound, Phoners have telepathic powers that originally only manifested if a whole flock was working together, like the stereos. But as the Phoners evolved they individually developed their own supernatural powers, like telekinesis. As more time passed since being human, many Phoners could levitate for short periods of time before losing control and crashing down to earth and their deaths. They also started to be able to communicate with mind speech. Their greatest power is part of the overflocks though (see next section).


Overflocks are a collection of individual flocks that work together and cover a vast area, such as North America. Every overflock has a pseudonym, or a leader, that represents the will of the overflock. The pseudonym of the North American overflock (they only overflock mentioned in the story, although the characters suspect there has to be more scattered across the planet) was a Phoner in his late twenties, wearing a Harvard sweatshirt and was named the Raggedy Man/ The Prince of Harvard (see image above).

Overflocks have a very substantial power. The pseudonym can send dreams to normies to try and convince them what they will. For example the Raggedy Man sent dreams to all normies proclaiming that they would be spared if they helped the Phoners,so many normies began guarding the roosting places of flocks, when they were in their comatose state and couldn't defend themselves from flock killers. Later in the story the Raggedy Man sent dreams to normies convincing them to go to a specific location and once they got there, they converted them into Phoners.