Day 18: The Calling

She Just Wanted to Be Heard
Day 18: The Calling
Part of Story Arc 1: Counterclockwise
A "The Ring/Ringu" Fanfic
by Laurel (Sailorhathor)

Chapters: 18 of 100
Rating: Overall 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: 3,076
Summary: Darcy goes to see the people at St. Jerome's Catholic Church to ask for their help with the evil spirit haunting her roommate, Svetlana. That evil spirit is Samara Morgan.
Warning: Contains spoilers for the entire Ringu and The Ring series. This chapter also contains spoilers for the Miracles episode "The Ferguson Syndrome."
Fanfic Challenges: Fits [info]50_darkfics Prompt #18 Conquer and [info]Coclaim100 Prompt #18 Phoenix.
Author's Notes: Darcy's last name comes from Binflaggle, one of the many crazy people who volunteered to let me use their name for a character.
Cross-over with the tv show Miracles. The only Miracles character who is in this chapter is Father Calero, but Paul Callan is mentioned at length. I don't know what the actual name of Father Calero's church was - it was never mentioned on the show, but it can be assumed it's something close to St. Jerome Emiliani's since that was the name of the orphanage attached to the church. Yes, I am aware that St. Jerome and St. Jerome Emiliani are two different saints. :D


        It wasn't that Todd Varo had never come to work and found Father Calero waiting for him in his office before. That wasn't it. The surprising thing was that Father Calero had a college-age person waiting with him, a girl with dark hair and glasses.

        "Todd, I want you to meet Darcy Villiers. She's one of our parishioners. Darcy, this is Todd Varo. He's an assistant counselor, among other things." Father Calero looked at Todd with a wry grin.

        "Hi," Darcy said, and shook his hand.

        "Can I speak to you in the hall for a moment, Todd? Darcy, we'll be right back."

        Darcy nodded politely and watched them step out into the hall, knowing that Father Calero was going to tell the other man what she was there for. The fact that he was passing her off to someone below him in the church chain of command had already made her feel a little put off, but she wasn't going to give up. Not until they listened. She had faith in the people of St. Jerome's of Boston.

        Darcy busied her mind by studying the mural of a dove flying in front of the sun that had been painted on the wall behind Todd's desk. The sun's rays had coincidentally been arranged to form a red, orange, and yellow tail for the dove; Darcy thought it looked like a glorious Phoenix rising from the ashes.

        Todd spent most of his time doing his actual job for the church, which was investigating the authenticity of miracles. Not the usual thing one expected to see on a resume, but there it was. Todd had taken over about eight months after the last guy left. To this day, he still lived in Paul Callan's shadow.

        In many ways, Todd was better suited for this job than Paul Callan had been. Paul had been very good at separating the real miracles from the hoaxes, the honest mistakes, the people who just wanted nothing more than to believe; his skills and knowledge had not been the problem. What Paul Callan hadn't been prepared for was how fast the cases with a mundane explanation would pile up against the nonexistent pile of actual miracles.

        Paul had been looking for meaning in his career. He wanted it to prove the existence of God. A sign. That's all he asked for.

        When the job had actually delivered a miracle, one very close to Paul's heart, the church asked for more proof. Paul needed no more proof than the fact that he was alive, and the boy who had healed his broken body had paid for that gift with his own life. When the Archdiocese would not accept his report that this miracle was authentic, Paul had quit.

        Todd heard about Paul's record all the time. It didn't bother him anymore; he thought he was better suited for the job emotionally. He did not need to find actual miracles in his investigations because he had already gotten the sign from God that most future priests received -- they referred to it as The Calling.

        Perplexed, Todd often wondered why Paul had not received this sign. He'd asked him about it once when they passed each other in the hall, but Paul had never seen any angels or the Blessed Mother telling him his destiny. So, why become a priest? Paul had shaken his head and sighed, replying that it just felt right.

        Todd thought he knew. Paul was one of St. Jerome Emiliani's kids. The orphanage attached to St. Jerome's of Boston had turned out many people who had lost their parents at a young age, most of them lifetime Catholics who attended Father Calero's sermons religiously. Every Sunday, they were there. It was not just because of faith. Most of them showed such loyalty to this church because Father Calero had been their "Poppi."

        That is what he told the orphans to call him: Poppi. The man was tireless in his devotion to the kids, spending as much time with each of them as his boundless energy would allow. If Paul Callan had any father figure in his life, it was Father Calero, a man he still referred to by the endeared nickname even in polite conversation. Of course, Paul often corrected himself, but Todd still understood exactly what motivated Paul Callan when he talked about his "Poppi, uh, I mean, Father Calero."

        Becoming a priest had been for Paul his thank you to Father Calero for raising him in an environment of love and warmth, something often lacking for a boy whose birth father had never claimed him and mother had died of cancer when he was just shy of five.

        But something had broken inside of Paul when the one miracle he had experienced was spit upon by men above Poppi's head. Maybe he was never meant to be a priest after all, never meant to carry on the "family business." Perhaps they'd never know.

        Todd knew that the life was meant for him, and so he could press on until the day he took his vows. In many ways, he could handle the disappointment on people's faces better than Paul had been able to, mostly because he looked at it differently. Todd believed he was doing the church, and the world, a service by exposing these events as not being performed by God's hands. People needed to know the difference between real miracles and the mundane. It only hurt God, Todd believed, for people to think that the stain on the screen door was a sign from the Virgin Mary. Not that God wasn't strong enough to take a little knock here and there, but it definitely damaged the reputation of the church he worked for when people thought there were angels in the photograph when it was really just a camera defect. Such beliefs led to the elderly sending all their food money to charlatans, hoping to receive salvation in return, and Todd wanted things like that to end for good. People needed to know the difference. They would be disappointed to have their "miracle" taken from them for a while, but over time, they'd come to realize that only the truth brought them closer to God.

        Father Calero started putting on his coat before he even closed the door to Todd's office. "Todd, I have to go out of town through the weekend, so I'd like you to handle this one for me. If I don't leave in the next ten minutes, I won't make my plane."

        "What's going on with the little lady?"

        "Darcy's one of our regulars. You know her parents, yes?"

        "Yes," Todd replied.

        Father Calero continued. "She's in college, so we don't see her every Sunday, but her parents still get her to come a couple times a month. Darcy's worried about her roommate." He paused for effect, raising his eyebrows. "Thinks the girl is possessed."

        Todd resisted rolling his eyes. "Too many viewings of The Exorcist?"

        "Maybe. I'd appreciate it if you counseled her and evaluated the situation for further action on our part. The least we can do is help the roommate for whatever's making her act out." Father Calero checked his watch.

        "Of course. Is the roommate a parishioner here?"

        "No. She's an exchange student from Holland."

        Considering that, Todd nodded, already forming scenarios of what could be going on here in his head. Young girl, far from home, begins feeling homesick and isolated... the possibilities for mental problems could be easily surmised there. "Alright, I'll talk to her. Her name is Darcy?"

        "Yes."

        "You go now, don't miss your plane." Todd patted Father Calero on the arm. "She's in capable hands."

*****

        Darcy had to admit that she liked Todd Varo on sight. He wasn't as attentive and sympathetic as Paul Callan had been, with his soft, non-threatening features and brown eyes, but Todd did have something in common with Darcy that Paul did not -- round-rimmed John Lennon glasses. Darcy wanted to like anyone who wore the same glasses as her hero. Todd didn't have Paul's innocently handsome face, but he was fairly good-looking in his own right.

        Todd sat on the edge of his desk and apologized for Father Calero having to rush off to catch a plane. "What is your reason for seeking our help, Darcy?"

        Darcy wondered if he really hadn't been filled in or if he just wanted to hear the story directly from her. "Before I just launch into this, can I ask you some questions?"

        "Shoot."

        She pointed to the mural of the dove. "Who painted that?"

        Todd glanced back at it before speaking of the mural. "One of the kids from the orphanage, many years ago. He did the basic design and then the younger kids came in and painted in the lines."

        "It's very nice," Darcy said. "I remember seeing it when I was in here before. It was a few years ago when my parents were considering divorce and I needed someone to talk to."

        "Ah. What happened?"

        "They decided to stay together." She smiled to herself. "Father Calero was responsible for that. He's a miracle worker."

        "Father Calero is a very persuasive man. Always knows what to say. But he's not the one who did the real work. That was your parents, with His help," he reminded her, pointing at the ceiling.

        Darcy had to agree. "Still, he did a pretty amazing job getting them to remember why they got married in the first place. Anyway, I saw Paul Callan then. He counseled me while Father Calero dealt with my parents. You took over Paul's position, didn't you?"

        "That I did," Todd nodded.

        "What happened to Paul?"

        "Well..." He folded his hands together in his lap, considering how to word it all. "...he still volunteers often at the church and the orphanage. And he's still a parishioner here. But he ultimately decided not to continue in his position with the church."

        "Is it true that Paul was investigating a boy in the Southwest somewhere who could really heal the sick, but only at the cost of his own health, and Paul got hurt really bad somehow and the boy healed him and it killed him? And the church said Paul was lying? 'Cause that's what I heard," Darcy said, picking at her nails and fidgeting in her chair, as if saying something so confrontational made her feel insecure.

        "Yes and no," Todd answered. He shifted on the desk, shifting things around in his mind at the same time to try to figure out how to best word his reply. "Paul Callan did investigate a boy in the Southwest, but no one from the church sent him there. It's still not known who called Paul and told him to go. The boy's parents did claim that the boy could heal the sick and the boy did die. But he was a very sick little boy. Paul experienced something there that he thought was an authentic miracle. The church looked at his report and deemed that there wasn't enough proof of an actual miraculous event."

        "And that's why he quit?"

        Shrugging, Todd said, "I'm not sure if that was the cause of his departure; you would have to ask him." Truthfully, Todd knew it was the reason Paul quit, but he couldn't say that to her. May God forgive him for that little lie.

        Darcy looked up from her nails and asked, "What do you think happened with that investigation?"

        "Did Paul Callan experience an actual miracle? I cannot say." Todd ran a hand through his light brown hair. "I wasn't there."

        Looking disappointed, she pressed, "But do you believe miracles are possible?"

        He smiled at her. "I most certainly do."

        "What about evil spirits? Do they exist?"

        Ah, she was finally loosening up and getting to the reason why she was here. "It's possible."

        "Have you ever heard of a spirit named Samara?"

        Todd gave it some thought. "Not that I know of."

        "Well, my roommate is being haunted by a spirit named Samara. She may even be possessed." Darcy refused to look up, playing with her nails again.

        "What makes you think that?" He kept the tone of his voice as even as possible. To sound skeptical or dubious would only make the girl stop talking.

        "First, we were trying to sleep in our dorm room, and we heard scratching in the walls." Darcy finally looked up at Todd with a defiant gaze. "That's a sign of demonic possession. I read about it."

        "It can be..." It could also be a sign that the dorm had rats.

        "Svetlana became nearly hysterical. That's my roommate, Svetlana. She addressed a corner of the room as 'Samara,' telling her to go away, leave her alone. I couldn't see anything, but I could hear the scratching.

        "After that, we weren't staying in that room anymore, so we went over to Svetlana's boyfriend's apartment and spent the night. Quinn, that's her boyfriend. Quinn's got a roommate, Jodie, and I got the whole story out of her. She said Svet and Quinn had watched a videotape a few days ago that has a curse on it. Anyone who watches this tape gets cursed by this spirit, Samara. She terrorizes you for seven days and then... well, it's not clear what happens next." Darcy had stopped picking at her nails and now looked up at Todd with intensity. "Some say you die."

        Todd's skepticism had kicked in full force when Darcy got to the part about the videotape with a curse on it. Sounded like some sort of ridiculous urban legend, like the one about the woman whose internal organs were cooked by too many visits to the tanning salon. "Really?"

        "Yeah. I know it sounds crazy, but you should have seen how hysterical Svetlana got. I mean, she was really crying hard. The weird thing is, Jodie watched the same tape later, but she's not being stalked by Samara hardly at all. And then we all had the same dream this morning." The more she discussed this, the more desperate Darcy's voice became; she really needed someone outside the situation to believe it.

        "The same dream?"

        "Yes! We were all at Quinn's funeral. And there were evil spirits there! I could see them and feel their evil around me. It was like I was doing battle with this thing that's trying to claim Svetlana's soul." Tears came to Darcy's eyes, but she held them back. "I could really feel it."

        Standing up, Todd leaned over and put a hand on Darcy's shoulder. He met her eyes. "What can I do to help?"

        "Help me conquer this thing. Help me save my friends."

        "It would help if I could talk to Svetlana and Quinn." There were all sorts of rational explanations for what was happening to these kids. Todd imagined he could get to the bottom of it by just seeing them, if not chatting with them. His first guess would be drugs.

        "Quinn's family is throwing a party on Thursday night. His sister is coming home from England for Spring Break. Can you come?" asked Darcy hopefully.

        Ultimately, Todd would prefer they come into the office, but observing them in their own environment would be a good idea too. "Yes, I can come. I'll speak to them there, and we can figure out a plan of action."

        "To ward off the demon?"

        Todd didn't want to commit to labeling this problem as a demon; his response was a bit evasive. "Yes, to ward off any demons plaguing your friends, even if they turn out to be inner demons. Tell me, has Svetlana been depressed since she came over here from Holland?"

        "Not really, not the majority of the time. But there are times when she gets a bit homesick," Darcy replied. "Anybody would."

        "Hm." Todd, sitting on the desk again, reached over and patted Darcy's knee. "Don't worry about them. I'll talk with them, and we'll figure this out. You did the right thing."

        Darcy smiled gratefully. "That's good to hear. I just know that they can't do this alone. Svetlana is beside herself with fear."

        "Well she's got a lot of people on her side now who are going to offer her the help she needs. Ultimately, it's up to her and her boyfriend to do what's necessary to escape this evil, but with God on their side, they can conquer all." Todd smiled right along with her. "Pray for them, Darcy. God will listen."

        "Oh, can we all form a prayer circle for them at the party?" Darcy bounced excitedly in her chair. "The more people we have, the stronger we'll be."

        "We can do that. But remember Darcy, God hears even the smallest voice." Getting a pad of paper and a pen, Todd asked, "Now, where and when is this party?"

        After she'd given him all the information, Darcy grinned and added, "Oh, by the way..."

        He looked at her expectantly.

        "Cool glasses," she finished, pointing to her own. "Are you a Beatles fan?"

        Todd grinned back. "I get by with a little help from my friends," he said, and looked up to the sky.


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.
Miracles is (c) 2003 Spyglass Entertainment & Touchstone Television.
Everything else is (c) Demented Stuff.


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there really is a tape