You’ve seen this exchange in movies and TV shows and plays and you’ve read it in books and short stories:
“Oh! Cuthbert!” Margareta exclaimed. “We need help! Quickly! Telephone the authorities!”
“Please, my dear; despite the dreadful circumstances, you must try to calm yourself. Calling the police is exactly what I was about to do.” Cuthbert picked up the handset and listened for the dial tone, but only silence greeted his eagerly waiting ear. He flicked the hook several times in rapid succession but failed utterly to establish a connection. He slowly, deliberately replaced the handset on its cradle. “The storm has knocked out the lines,” he reported grimly. “We’re completely cut off from the outside world.”
The lightning flashed and the thunder crashed as if to underscore Cuthbert’s announcement.