Day 1: Human Nature

She Just Wanted to Be Heard
Day 1: Human Nature
Part of Story Arc 1: Counterclockwise
A "The Ring/Ringu" Fanfic
by Laurel (Sailorhathor)

Chapters: 1 of 100
Rating: Sup13+ (some elements might be too intense or scary for those under 13; includes bad language)
Dates: Begun September 2006. Some material is based on previously written stories from 2003-2005.
Word Count: 4,568
Summary: Samara receives a little help in escaping the well. Three unknowing victims watch her tape, and begin the cycle all over again. What will their next seven days be like?
Warning: Has a little bad language, including the F word. Contains spoilers for the entire Ringu and The Ring series.
Beta Thanks: Thanks to KaijaWest, Meredevachon, and Hada de Sorna for their betas of this chapter.
Fanfic Challenges: Fits [info]50_darkfics Prompt #1 Ravished and [info]coclaim100 Prompt #1 Beginnings.
Notes: Notes are included at the end of the story.

March 2004

        In a dimension washed out by overexposed whiteness, like a world made of negatives, a stone well stood in the middle of a clearing. The trees surrounded it, but not too close, as if they were afraid to get too near. The well currently had a cement cap on it. A round barrier to her special brand of death.

        It had been a while since anyone had died at the hands of that evil, chilling little girl. Some people went on with their lives. They thought it was all over. That there was, finally, peace.

        But eons away, a daemon was starving. He took steps to see her freed. To see them all free.

        A girl, in her teens, with long black hair, shambled barefoot through the field to the side of the well. Her hair obscured most of her face. Although it took a lot of effort, she managed to push the cement cap off the well about a foot and a half, so there was an opening, a crescent-shaped black hole, through which she could enter the well.

        Or, maybe, through which something else could get out.

        After several long seconds, the silence was broken by the sound of something scaling the side of the well. Crawling. Nails scraping over rough stone. Soon, Samara's hand appeared over the edge and groped for a hold. It was small, marked with decay. The teenage girl grasped the hand and pulled her up. Samara's head popped out of the crescent opening.

        She looked at the other girl through strands of wet, black hair. Recognition came into Samara's eyes. "Charlotte? Is that really you?"

        Charlotte's face could not be glimpsed behind her hair, but it was obvious she was looking down at Samara because her eyes were aimed toward the little girl. She moved slowly. "Hi Samara." Charlotte paused. "Didn't I say I would always look after you?"

        Lifetimes away, on a small rock called Earth, in the town of Astoria, Oregon, Rachel Keller shuddered violently in her bed, as if someone had just walked over her grave.


        It all began again on the other side of the country, near Boston, Massachusetts.

        Quinn Kirkland led what could be called a charmed life. He had just currently rolled off his girlfriend and lay beside her in bed while they both tried to catch their breath, looking satisfied and thoroughly ravished. Both were sweaty and naked under the covers. Quinn looked at her, chuckled, and reached for the cigarettes on the bedside table.

        "That is such a cliché, smoking after sex," she said. She was Svetlana Van Curen, and technically, there had been no declaration of eternal love or request to go "steady." She fell under the label of girlfriend simply because she was the girl Quinn had spent the most time with since the fall semester. He was just twenty, after all, twenty and healthy, not to mention good-looking, with a head of blond curls. But Svetlana was the only romantic entanglement with a key to his apartment, and that had to count for something.

        "It's the perfect time to enjoy one," Quinn replied with another chuckle. He invited her to cuddle in close, her head on his shoulder, while he lit up the cigarette and began to smoke. Svetlana accepted the invitation with a grin.

        The cigarette held between two fingers, Quinn retrieved the remote from the bedside table and switched on the television at the end of his bed. The small Sylvania brand TV sat atop a brown chest of drawers. The light from the television cut through the darkness around them.

        "Just like a man. Sex, then TV."

        Quinn scoffed and shook his head, surfing the channels for the sports news. "I believe the cliché is that guys are supposed to drop right off to sleep after sex."

        "You will do that next." Her Dutch accent colored every sentence she spoke, as did a little broken English here and there.

        Someone knocked at his door. "Hey Quinny, you up?"

        "Not anymore," Svetlana quipped just for the two of them.

        Quinn snickered, and called, "Yeah, I'm awake."

        The person who had knocked started to open the door, but Svetlana squealed, "Hold on, I'm not decent!"

        "You never are."

        She gave Quinn a less than amused look while she crawled to the end of the bed to get her discarded shirt. Quinn admired the view he currently had of her nude backside. Once she had the shirt pulled on over her head, Svetlana got back under the covers and rested her head on her hand, her elbow bent into the pillow. "Okay, you come in."

        The mother of Quinn's roommate entered his room. Jolene Searling, one of those "fun" mothers who hadn't stopped being hot despite being in her upper thirties, who had always been more of a friend to her daughter than her mother. Jolene also had a key to the apartment. She smirked at the scene before her in Quinn's big bed with the masculine cherry wood headboard and footboard. So, he was with that Dutch exchange student again; what was her name, Slutlana Van Tart? Jolene had marveled at the idea that they still had exchange students in college when Jodie told her whom Quinn was sleeping with now over Starbucks coffee at the beginning of the fall semester. A blonde Dutch girl, a tulip catalog model back home, even. The boy had some of the oddest girlfriends, but always the most beautiful.

        "Hi, you two, how's it hanging?" Jolene switched on the light.

        Quinn shielded his eyes. "Hey, Ms. Searling."

        "Hi, Ms. Searling," Svetlana echoed. She knew Jodie's mother was kind of trampy, but hoo boy, some of the things she wore around her daughter's friends! A halter-top and a leather jacket over low cut jeans! Some people, no matter how good they still looked, needed to dress their age, she thought. But wasn't Jolene Searling some kind of biker mama? This was the standard uniform, then.

        Always perky around Jodie's friends, Jolene leaned on the doorjamb and scolded, "Now what have I told you? Call me Jolene. Stop with that Ms. Searling crap."

        "Yes, ma'am," replied Quinn, taking another drag off his cigarette. He had a smirk in his eyes; he knew calling her "ma'am" was just as bad as calling her Ms. Searling.

        She glared at him playfully. "I oughta snatch you baldheaded."

        Snickering impishly, Quinn said, "I'm sorry, but Jodie's not here. She's on a study date."

        "Oh, that's okay, I just came by to check up on things and shoot the shit. I'll catch her tomorrow. I have some bad news for you, though."


        Jolene put on a sad expression. "Your mailbox is dead."

        Quinn, looking perplexed, made a, "Huh?" sound.

        Jolene explained. "I went by your mailbox just to be courteous, you know. Here's your mail, by the way." She held up a pile of letters, magazines, ad circulars, and a small package. "And someone had pried the mailbox open. I don't know what they got, but there was still quite a bit of mail in there. Do you guys ever check it?"

        Quinn seemed angry; he made a disapproving cluck sound with his tongue. "Man! I've been really careful to avoid that identity theft bullshit. I can't believe someone would want to be me that badly. My credit's been kinda shitty since the motorcycle wreck and all the medical bills."

        "They probably don't know that." Jolene, grinning, held up the package. "I don't think it has anything to do with identity theft, though. I think they broke in to give you this."

        Eyeing the fat, padded envelope in her hands, he asked, "What makes you think that?"

        Jolene showed him the front of the tan-colored package. "Because there's no address on it. No postage, nothing. Just your name."

        Indeed, his name had been written across the front of the envelope with a black Sharpie. "QUINN." The anonymous delivery person had underlined it with a curving line, like an elongated infinity sign. It definitely had not been mailed to him. "What the fuck? Why couldn't they just leave it by my doorstep?"

        Jolene shrugged. "If you ever find out who did it, you can ask them." She tossed the package onto his chest. "Open it."

        Quinn was almost afraid to. Probably from some old girlfriend who couldn't stand to let go. He'd had a couple of those over the years - psycho ex's. His least favorite kind. "What if it's, like, a mail bomb?"

        Both women had a good laugh at his expense. "Are you retarded?" Svetlana chortled.

        "It could have anthrax in it or something."

        "Oh please. Quit being such a drama queen and just open it already. I'm dying of curiosity!" Jolene rubbed her hands together and bounced on the balls of her booted feet.

        Since there was no way to know what it was until he opened it, Quinn apprehensively tore the edge off the envelope and slid its contents out. It was a single black videotape. No label, no markings, no identification whatsoever. The person who had placed it in Quinn's mailbox had taped a piece of notebook paper around it, so he carefully ripped the edge with the tape, opened the note up, and read it. "PLAY ME," Quinn said. He looked at Jolene, then at Svetlana. "It's a videotape."

        "Thank you, Captain Obvious," quipped Jolene.

        Quinn turned the tape over in his hands. "That's the weirdest thing that's ever happened to me."

        Jolene got in another sarcastic comment. "Besides being born?" she asked, and chuckled at her own joke.

        Svetlana snickered too.

        "I wonder what's on it," Quinn mused to himself. Someone had gone to a lot of trouble to make sure he got this tape. But they'd also broken into his mailbox to do it, something that seemed like a symbol of anger. He figured he would either really like the message they'd made for him, or really hate it.

        Jolene mirrored his thoughts. "I think some chick either made you a porno or a 'fuck off and die' tape. Any suspects?"

        "I won't know 'til I see what's on it." Quinn wasn't sure he wanted either woman to see the contents; what if they were embarrassing? But he felt he didn't have any choice at this point. They both would hound him until they saw what was on the tape. It was human nature. Besides, his ego was getting the better of him. Some girl had carried out an elaborate scene to make sure he got this tape, which had to have something very tantalizing on it, to be delivered in such a way, and Quinn secretly wanted other people to see it. To show the tape off.

        Quinn's assumptions about their curiosity were right. "Well?" Jolene held her hand out.

        With a long-suffering sigh, Quinn slapped the tape into her outstretched hand. "Fine. But if I tell you, you have to stop the tape immediately, okay? It could be something really embarrassing."

        "It's probably just the porno." Jolene chortled her way to the TV and popped the videotape into the VCR below it. "Where's your remote?"

        "Uh..." Quinn looked around for the VCR remote.

        "Why do you need it? You there next to the damn thing. Push the button," Svetlana said with a roll of her eyes.

        "Uh, yeah, no duh, but your lazy lump of a boy toy hasn't set anything on it. The blue screen is asking us if we want English, Spanish, or Portuguese language." Jolene knelt by the bed and searched through the pile of TV magazines and other junk there that Quinn was trying to pick through.

        "I do too set it; we just lost power during a storm last week."

        "See what I mean? It takes you a week to reset it." During her search, Jolene not only found two remotes, but a small digital camera. She grinned mischievously to herself. "Is it this one?"

        Quinn nodded. "Yeah, that's it."

        Jolene picked up the remote and the camera. She sprang up, put the camera to her eye, and cried, "Smile!" before snapping off a surprise picture of Quinn and Svetlana in bed.

        "Hey!" squealed Svetlana. She worked to smooth down her hair. "I wasn't ready!"

        Jolene looked at the preview picture on the little digital screen and smirked. "Wow, you can really tell."

        Snatching it out of her hand, Quinn put the camera on the bed at his side. "Would you just play the tape already?"

        "Yeah, sure. And fuck you, rugrat."

        "As long as you agree to blow me, Ms. Searling."

        Svetlana gaped; she couldn't believe he spoke to anyone's mother that way. But Jolene had taken a surprise picture of them where Svet probably didn't look very good, so she was more than okay with Quinn being lewd to her.

        That smirk stayed on Jolene's face as she chose a language for the VCR and took care of a couple other necessary settings to get the blue screen off the TV. Then she finally pressed 'Play.'

        After about five seconds, static came on the screen. The screen alternated between quick shots of blackness and the static.

        Jolene lamented, "Aww, don't be broken." She was more than a little curious what some girl could have thought was so important as to deliver the message so dramatically.

        Suddenly, the image of a lit circle came on the screen. It was quite hard to tell exactly what it was, but it seemed to be moving, like sunlight passing through a crack. In the background were strange sound effects.

        They all watched, wondering what this was about. "Doesn't look like porno," commented Svetlana.

        There was more static before an image of churning water, obviously tinged with blood, came on the TV. Quinn made a face and rolled his eyes. A thought passed through his mind that this was some sort of artsy-fartsy threat against him from that psycho ex he'd just been considering. But the image quickly changed to that of a single little chair, straight on, just sitting there in a lonely room by itself.

        "Umm..." was Quinn's comment. "I don't get it."

        The tape went further into things that meant nothing to Quinn, nor anyone else in the room. A hairbrush passed through dark hair.

        "Ooh, that was neat shot," Svetlana said.

        The woman brushing her hair could now be seen in an oval mirror with a braided silver frame. Nothing else of the woman could be seen, only her reflection in the glass. Suddenly, she looked up a little, as if someone else had come into the room. The mirror shook, and seemed to migrate to the other side of the wall. It now reflected what appeared to be a girl with dark hair that had been brushed over her face. This girl walked away from the mirror, back into the darkness. The mirror switched back to its original position, showing the woman looking to her left at where the mirror had reflected the child. A little girl's voice sang a song very faintly in the background, words they could not make out, though Quinn thought he heard something like, "...the world is spinning, when it stops..."

        "That was... kinda interesting..." Quinn mumbled. What was any of this shit supposed to mean to him?

        Many of the scenes on the tape were quite artistically shot, including one that came up of the side of a white house with striped shutters, a man standing in the window. Shots like that started a train of thought Quinn figured he would share once the tape was over.

        They were all perplexed by an image of an unfamiliar cliff overlooking the ocean, with a slim tree that bowed in the wind, and disgusted by a shot of a weird humanlike creature with what looked like its intestines being pulled from its mouth.

        "Ew," Quinn said, not for the last time. He wondered why, when the shot of the cliff had been shown, there had been a fly crawling around in the corner, like it had been on the lens. But, the fly could be seen from the top, not the underside, like the viewer should have seen it. Whoever had made this tape had gone to the trouble of special effects. What the hell...

        Several cryptic images went by. Something struggled around inside black material, possibly a garbage bag. A round object of light was being slowly eclipsed; it was obviously related to the first image of the lit circle.

        "Is that the sun?" Svetlana asked, suggesting more than questioning.

        "I don't know; what's all that stuff along the sides?" Quinn wondered, referring to light around the circumference of the circle reflecting off unidentifiable matter.

        They saw a burning tree on the tape for the first time, an image that would recur. Someone pushing their fingertip down on a nail, impaling the digit and ripping up their fingernail, followed.

        "Ew!" cried Quinn.

        Svetlana whimpered and hid her face in his shoulder for a moment. "That was gross."

        "Gnarly," Jolene added.

        If they disliked that image, they enjoyed the next one even less. The entire screen was filled with writhing maggots. Svetlana gasped and cried, "Grooooss!" Quinn made a face and Jolene laughed at them both. The maggots suddenly changed into a pile of writhing people, hundreds of them, climbing all over each other, each trying to get to some unknown destination.

        "I think that was supposed to be symbolic," Quinn guessed.

        A chair next to a table strangely moved on its own, though no one sat in it - then an extremely large centipede crawled out from under the table, revealing that it had nudged the chair. A glass of water sat on the table.

        "Pffft, now you're just filming random things," commented Jolene.

        "But did you see the bug?! It was huge!" Svetlana cried.

        Quinn couldn't help but laugh. "Svet, it was probably a miniature table and chair, filmed with a regular size centipede."

        She was embarrassed by her own gullibility. "Oh."

        A lamb with only three legs limped about in a barn doorway. More random images followed: A horse's eye, the circle being eclipsed, and then another sickening image, that of seven severed fingers in a wooden box, still wiggling.

        For the first time since the tape had come on, Svetlana looked scared in reaction to that image.

        Quinn stuck out his tongue. "Bleeeeeh…"

        "If this came from one of your girlfriends, kid, you are one sick puppy to have dated her," joked Jolene.

        There followed a much longer shot of the burning tree, eventually interrupted by the struggling being in the black bag, all overshadowed by a high-pitched whine that soon sounded like somebody screaming. Everything fell silent as the mother figure came on the screen again, fixing her hair in the mirror that had been seen previously. She removed a pin from her hair and turned to look at the camera, as if she could see the viewer right through their TV screen.

        Quinn shuddered hard. "Fuckin' creepy!" Svetlana seemed to agree; her expression was fearful.

        Jolene laughed at them again. "Kids."

        Random images. The side of the house, no one in the window this time. The little chair, upside down and spinning. A very tall ladder leaning against a wall. Two dead horses lying in the surf on a rocky beach, water lapping at their carcasses.

        Jolene shook her head. "Lovely. They better have a message at the end of this about no animals being harmed during the making of this motion picture."

        Quinn couldn't help it; he cracked up laughing at that, and the comment lightened the mood. He wiggled his eyebrows at Svetlana, who was obviously still a bit upset at the tape's more unpleasant images.

        The woman who had been seen fixing her hair in the mirror was now standing on the cliff overlooking the ocean from earlier in the tape. She stretched out her arms and fell gracefully over the side.

        Grinning impishly, Quinn looked at Jolene and said, "She forgot her water wings."

        Jolene burst out with a hearty laugh. "There ya go."

        "I don't think it's funny," mumbled Svetlana. She had reached the point of totally creeped out and was not going back.

        The tall ladder that had been seen before began to fall down. The image was interrupted by a shot of the circle finally being fully eclipsed. Then the ladder hit the ground with an echoing thud.

        The last shot on the tape was almost silent. Just the image of a well in a quiet forest clearing.

        Then, static.

        The three viewers were quiet themselves for a few seconds. Then Quinn broke the silence with, "Well, that was weird."

        The phone in the apartment began to ring. Svetlana cried out in surprise.

        At the same time, Jolene's cell phone also started to play her ringtone to let her know she had a call.

        They looked at each other like this was the most bizarre thing they had ever encountered, both laughing nervously. "What are the odds..."

        "Yeah." Quinn reached over and grabbed the phone off its cradle. "Do you know what time it is?!" he jokingly snapped at the late caller.

        A young female voice whispered two words to him. "Seven days."

        Quinn paused out of confusion. "Huh? For what?"

        The line went dead.

        He looked at Jolene, whose phone was still ringing. Quinn's eyes challenged her to answer it. "Whoever's on the line will say 'seven days.' Just answer it and see."

        Furrowing her brow at him, Jolene answered the call. "Hello?" Her face registered confusion and, for a brief second, fear, before she hung up. "You were right."

        "They said 'seven days'?"

        She simply nodded. "This is fucking weird."

        "How come Svet didn't...?" Quinn looked at Svetlana.

        She shuddered against him. "I have my ringer off."

        Svetlana's cell phone sat on the bedside table. It now played "shave and a haircut, two bits," the little song she had set to let her know she had received a voicemail. The girl swallowed hard.

        Jolene picked up the phone. She daringly held it out to Svetlana. "Check it," she said.

        Svetlana did not take the phone. Her eyes were big and childlike with fear. Quinn took it instead. "How do I...?"

        She showed him how to check the voicemail on her phone. Quinn held it out so they could all hear.

        "Seven days..." the voice whispered.

        They were all silent for a few long moments. Then Quinn and Jolene burst into nervous giggles. "What the hell is this?!" he asked the ceiling.

        "I have no fucking clue!"

        Svetlana was just plain scared. "Quinn, what's going on? How did little girl on the phone know we watched that tape? What will happen in seven days?"

        Seeing the fear in her eyes, he pulled her close and kissed her forehead. "Oh Svet, don't worry. There's a logical explanation for all this. There has to be."

        "Then what is it?"

        Jolene knew he had no answer for that. None of them did. To save him, she interrupted, "So what do you think we have seven days to do?"

        Wanting to lighten the mood, Quinn suggested a few things. "To bake a cake? To study for a test? To stop masturbating?"

        "If it's the last one, you're gonna lose, kid."

        Even Svetlana couldn't resist giggling at that.

        "You think that woman on the tape really jumped off the cliff and splattered on the rocks below?" Jolene put on an evil expression, knowing she was probably scaring Svetlana, but that was the point. "Like some twisted piñata full of guts instead of candy?" She made a mock face of death, sticking out her tongue.

        "Mm, Jolly Ranchers and entrails!" Quinn snatched up his digital camera and quickly snapped off a picture of Jolene without warning her. "Ha! Got you back! You looked so fuckin' funny," he laughed.

        If she'd had something in her hands, she would have thrown it at him. Lucky for him, she'd put down the rest of the mail several minutes ago. "Quinny, you jerk! You are not saving that."

        Still grinning, he looked at the preview window at the photo he had just taken. Jolene's face was warped, obscured by some sort of strange photographic effect, as if the picture had been taken of her underwater. Her face rippled across the screen. Svetlana looked at it and gasped.

        This just got stranger and stranger. Quinn tried to play it off. "Hey, Ugly, you broke my camera." He showed her the photo.

        Jolene looked at it for a long time. "Let me take a picture of you two."

        They did. Their faces were also warped.

        "The camera was working fine before. Look, here's the photo you took of us first." Quinn scanned back through the pictures to show her the one she had taken before they watched the videotape. It was not distorted. "What the fuck?"

        Jolene gave it some thought, and finally shook her head. "This is familiar. I've heard this somewhere before." She put down the camera. "It'll come to me."

        "Anytime soon?" Quinn asked with a smirk.

        Jolene picked his boxer shorts up off the floor and tossed them in his face. "I need a beer to loosen my brain. You guys coming? I'll make you some popcorn."

        Dragging the underwear off his head, Quinn replied, "When you put it that way..."

it won't stop

The Ringu series is (c) 1998 The Ring/The Spiral Production Group. It is based on the novels by Koji Suzuki.
The motion picture The Ring is (c) 2002 DreamWorks Pictures. The title "She Just Wanted to Be Heard" comes from a line of dialogue spoken by Rachel Keller in this movie.
The motion picture The Ring Two is (c) 2005 DreamWorks Pictures.
I do not know if the prequel, The Ring 3, will have any bearing on this story or not until I see it.
Everything else is (c) Demented Stuff.


Author's Notes: Several of the scenes that will occupy Quinn, Svetlana, and Jolene's seven days were originally written out in a played-by-email role-playing game from 2003-2005. Those scenes were written using completely different characters. Some of the characters in this new fic are based on those characters of mine. Those of you who know SOPI (the rpg) will recognize aspects of them in several characters, especially Quinn, Svet, Danica, Jodie, Misty, Professor McNeal, and Charlotte. Although some have been just about unchanged from who they were in SOPI, you'll see a big makeover in many of the others. Anyway, since I will be using a few of the ideas we wrote out in that storyline, I must acknowledge my role-play partner K-kitty here, who has granted her permission for what she brought to the story to be used. Each contribution she made will be detailed as I get to them in the story. I must also acknowledge my friend Kaye, who originally played the girlfriend part in this first scene. Her character was also replaced by a new character and completely rewritten by me.

For the sake of atmosphere, instead of using the term "Chapter," I've used the word "Day" to express each portion of the story. My plans are for this to go from "Day 1" to "Day 100," since there needs to be 100 chapters to fulfill all of my fanfic challenge prompts. The number of Days simply corresponds to how many chapters there are, not how many days have gone by in the story.

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there really is a tape