Day 22: You will Drink Coke...

She Just Wanted to Be Heard
Day 22: You will Drink Coke and Die in Seven Days
Part of Story Arc 1: Counterclockwise
A "The Ring/Ringu" Fanfic
by Laurel (Sailorhathor)

Chapters: 22 of 100
Rating: Overall Rating Sup13+ (adult theme; horror elements that might be too much for children under 13; bad language)
Dates: Begun September 2006. Some material is based on previously written stories from 2003-2005. This chapter was written in December 2007-January 2008.
Word Count: 3,346
Summary: Jodie and Professor McNeal discover something shocking about Samara's videotape. Beckett tries to find out why Stacy is cutting herself again.
Warning: Contains spoilers for the entire Ringu and The Ring series. This chapter contains references to self-harm and light sexual content.
Fanfic Challenges: Fits [info]50_darkfics Prompt #22 Leash and [info]Coclaim100 Prompt #22 Too Much.
Author's Notes: Thanks to Moosie for giving me her impressions on how subliminal messages work. I needed to make sure that my perceptions were correct, and she acted as my Q&A guinea pig.


        After two straight hours of going through every frame on Samara's videotape, Jodie couldn't help but let out a mighty yawn.

        Professor McNeal chuckled at her. "We aren't boring you with our bone-chilling terror, are we?"

        "Sorry." Jodie scrubbed at her eyes. "It's only boring when you look at it frame-by-frame. But we're done, aren't we?"

        The professor sighed as if something disturbed him. "Yes, we are. Jodie, you had a very good theory. I would have thought subliminal messages were the most likely explanation, but..." He gave her a small, apologetic smile. "...there are no subliminal messages on this tape."

        The expression on her face showed both disappointment and surprise, as if she had been partially expecting things to turn out this way but, at the same time, realized the alternate explanation was impossible. How could this not be the reason? "How do you know that?"

        "Because if there were any subliminal messages on the tape, we would have seen them in the frame-by-frame."

        "Am I missing something here? I thought these kinds of messages were indiscernible by the conscious mind."

        "When the tape is played at normal speed, yes, you don't even know they're there. But when you view each frame... look, here's how it works." He turned sideways in his chair to face Jodie. "If you want to put a subliminal message on a videotape, you have to splice in a few frames with the message on them. You repeat this just enough times to keep it below the radar but still make an impression on the subconscious mind. The viewer doesn't see the message while they're watching the tape, but their subconscious perceives it."

        "You can't implant a subliminal message through all those weird pictures of mirrors and horses and stuff?" Jodie asked.

        "No, the images cannot convey the message on their own; they don't illustrate any instructions. There would have to be at least one frame that instructed the viewer what to do in a one-word or very brief phrase," Professor McNeal explained. "If we're talking about Samara's tape, a good example would be a message saying, 'Hallucinate.' The creepy images surrounding this message would serve as a perfectly good suggestion of what to hallucinate. Another message might be, 'Have nightmares' or 'Do not sleep.' Or 'Draw.' All would cause the odd symptoms your friends are having."

        "So, another message might be, 'You will die in seven days'?"

        "Right. And that implants the countdown clock in the viewer's head. People naturally fear death, which starts them on a spiral of terror that lasts the whole week."

        Jodie's face reflected her clear astonishment at just how much power over the human mind could be wielded with this method. "Has anyone ever really done anything like this before?"

        "Like your theory? Not that I know of. But there have been experiments done with subliminal messages. Mostly involving advertising," the professor replied.

        "So, 'You will drink Coke and die in seven days'?"

        He laughed. "Pretty much."

        Jodie looked at the monitor screen of the A/V equipment, which still showed the paused image of the well in the clearing. "If my theory makes so much sense, then why doesn't the tape go along with it? There should be subliminal messages on this tape."

        Professor McNeal sighed and turned back to the console. "Yes, that would be the most logical explanation. But it doesn't cover everything, does it? Your friends were dreaming about details of Samara Morgan's life before they even knew them, things that weren't alluded to on the tape. And we've now looked over every frame and not found a single message."

        "Is it possible Akemi missed some?"

        "No. She used a computer program that takes the stills for you, and even ran it twice. There's little margin for error."

        Picking up her headphones, Jodie said, "What about audio messages? I know we've listened to the soundtrack forwards at more than one speed, but what about backwards?"

        The professor put his headphones back on, too. "No time like the present."

        Listening to the tape backwards at normal and slow speeds yielded a clearly spoken phrase in a deep, watery, male voice. "Frolic in brine, goblins be thine," it said.

        Jodie bounced in her chair, an excited light in her eyes. "Did you hear it? A subliminal message!"

        Stopping the tape, Professor McNeal shook his head. "It's backwards masking, but it's not a subliminal message. There's nothing instructional about it. Have your friends been doing any frolicking in the ocean?"

        "No..."

        "Have they been taking baths in pickle juice?" he joked.

        Jodie giggled as she said, "No," again, and then continued, "It said, 'Frolic in brine, goblins be thine.' What does that mean?"

        "A warning?" He again shook his head, uncertain. "Perhaps it refers to the deaths of the horses."

        Jodie, nodding, added, "They ran to the ocean."

        "Yes."

        When they had gone through the entire tape, she sighed in disappointment. "There are no subliminal messages," Jodie said, bewildered.

        "No," the professor confirmed.

        "Professor McNeal, how can that be? If it's not done by subliminal messages, then how does the tape work?"

        Unsure what sort of beliefs the girl held, Professor McNeal proceeded with some tentativeness. "The only other explanation that I can come up with that comes close to clarifying all that's happened is the contents of the videotape are supernatural in origin."

        Jodie, blinking, glared at the professor in silence for a few seconds. "Super... what?" She let out a small, nervous laugh. "Are you saying that we're all going to die?"

        "No, no," Professor McNeal replied, shaking his head. "The people from this message board watched the same tape and they are still alive. I'm not worried about that. What I'm saying is that whoever made this tape has some abilities of mind control. They put something like an invisible subliminal message on the tape. Because that is not a normal human ability, we call it supernatural."

        "Do you really believe that people can do things like that?"

        Raising an eyebrow at her, the professor said, "You did see the plaque on my office door? Jodie, I'm a demonologist. Believing in some aspects of the supernatural comes with the territory."

        "So we're still dealing with a form of subliminal message?" she asked.

        He nodded. "Yes. A form of hypnosis attacking the subliminal mind."

        With another pause, Jodie shook her head. "I don't know. I mean, I believe in ghosts. I think I saw one once. But proof that a dead girl could have this kind of control over the living through technology..."

        "Why not? Because it's too modern? Because we expect everything concerning ghosts to be antique?"

        "Exactly," she immediately replied.

        "Well, perhaps this ghost finds the convenience of modern technology to be an excellent way to spread her message. As the world changes, so does the world of the dead, maybe?" Professor McNeal shrugged. "Or maybe we're dealing with someone who knew Samara and felt sorry for her."

        Sighing, Jodie rubbed her eyes. "This is crazy. I thought I believed in this kind of stuff, but people who can put curses on videotapes...? It's too much to accept."

        "Maybe calling it a curse is going too far. I prefer to call it mind control. It sounds more believable," he laughed.

        "But, it's like you just said - you're a demonologist. You're being almost as skeptical as I am."

        Professor McNeal gave her a small grin. "Jodie, most 'possessions' involve people with mental problems. I've seen very few authentic cases of demonic possession. A great deal of my job involves research, study, and the writing of manuscripts based on what I find. There is something out there, but it comes after us much more infrequently than movies and television would have you believe.

        "I know a lot of people who disagree with me, who think we are literally under attack by supernatural forces. I haven't seen as much action as they have, so I don't know. Perhaps we have to see it for ourselves before we will believe." He finished with a light shrug.

        At the time, it was too much for Jodie to believe, and she was tired from the lack of sleep the night before. She didn't want to think about how the tape worked anymore; she just wanted to go home and take a nap. "I guess. I've got to go now. I'll keep you up-to-date on - "

        Professor McNeal interrupted her when he saw Akemi walk by the window, head down, clutching her books to her chest. "Akemi!"

        Akemi kept walking.

        Being that Jodie's chair was on wheels, she rolled it to the window and knocked on the glass. "Akemi!"

        Startled, Akemi looked up with a surprised expression. Both Jodie and Professor McNeal saw the dark circles under her eyes and the haggard appearance of her face. She hadn't been sleeping.

        Akemi opened the door. "Hello, McNeal-sensei. Jodie-san."

        "Akemi, I haven't seen you since you made the stills." The professor gestured to the monitor. "Are you alright?"

        She sighed. Akemi tried not to sound annoyed as she spoke, but it was obvious she felt put out by what was happening to her, although all of her anger seemed to be directed at Samara... and herself. "Your American Sadako has been making her presence known. My sleep has been disturbed."

        "Oh, Akemi, I'm sorry."

        "It's not your fault, Sensei. I knew the legend. I shouldn't have watched the tape." She shrugged, trying to smile. "I could have made the stills without watching it. The computer does all the work."

        "I'm still sorry," the professor said with sympathy.

        "No, it was my own curiosity that got me." Akemi put her books down. "The last two days, Samara-san has been in my dreams. There doesn't seem to be anything that I can do to stop the nightmares. And there is something I was wrong about, Sensei."

        "What's that?" he asked, apprehensive.

        Akemi pushed up her sleeve to show them the burns on her wrist in the shape of small, slender fingers. "Her hands do generate heat."

*****

        When Jodie finally got home, Quinn was in the kitchen cooking something and Svetlana was on the couch, staring at the TV with a blank expression.

        The sounds in the room seemed louder as the two girls now stared at each other. Jodie closing the door behind her. The drone of the TV newscaster. Quinn stirring something in a pot. As soon as she saw that look on Svetlana's face, Jodie remembered the dream, and realized that it had been another shared vision.

        "We're never going to be friends, are we?"

        "I don't think so."


        They said nothing to each other. Jodie and Svetlana had already done all their talking in the dream. Things they had been unable to say when they were awake had been said while they were asleep, through these strange visions Samara was inducing. It was enough.

        Svetlana swallowed hard.

        "She wants your boyfriend. What if you die and he lives? Do you think they'll get back together?"

        Through the looks they gave each other, they came to an understanding.

        So that was how it was going to be.

*****

        With the cool night air blowing across her face and the stars above her head, Stacy could almost believe that everything was okay. She wanted nothing more than to just lie here on Beckett's blanket, draped across the hood of his car, and stare up at the sky for the rest of her life.

        "Here you go."

        Beckett climbed up on the car, a black cherry wine cooler in each hand. His girlfriend lay with her arm under her head and her legs crossed; she looked over at him and the moonlight hit her eyes and shined off her hair in such a beautiful way that he just had to kiss her. Beckett leaned over; Stacy tilted her head to receive his lips on hers. Then she took the wine cooler with a grin and said, "Thanks, baby."

        Lying back, Beckett opened his wine cooler, taking a swig, and pulled her close. Stacy laid her head on his shoulder. "What color should we wear to the prom?" she asked.

        He grinned and chuckled. "I thought we'd already decided on this."

        "Yeah, but I was thinking... emerald green."

        "Ooh, that'd look great on you."

        "And you with an emerald cummerbund? We'd look scrumptious." Stacy traced aimless lines across his chest and stomach with her finger. "I could even have a corsage with green flowers."

        "Is there such a thing as a green flower? I always thought the stems and leaves were the green part."

        She smacked his chest. "Of course there are green..." Leaning up a little, Stacy looked at him. "Is there such a thing as a green flower?"

        They both giggled and chuckled and it was so nice to focus on light, ridiculous things like the colors of flowers.

        "How much later can we stay out?" Beckett asked. "Did your mom give you a curfew?"

        "Ten o'clock on a school night."

        "Ah..." He looked at his watch. "Then we've got two hours. I think this should be our last wine cooler, then."

        "Yeah, I can't have my mom smelling alcohol on my breath again." As if to make it a joke, Stacy took a sip. "She likes you. I don't want to screw it up."

        "Mm."

        They were quiet for a minute, staring up at the stars. Then Stacy snaked her hand down to his thigh.

        Beckett smiled to himself. "Why Miss Ballard, I do declare, you are manhandling my person."

        She kissed his neck and the curve of his ear. Make it go away, make it all just fucking go away, push it all down and forget it was ever there. The land of make-believe doesn't exist, only this is real. "Make love to me," she whispered.

        Within a minute, they were in the back of his car, Stacy on his lap, straddling him, and Beckett working her clothes off between kisses. The car filled with the sounds of heavy breathing and the windows began to steam up. Beckett knew his suspicions were true when he got her shirt unbuttoned and she stopped him before he could remove it completely. Before he could expose her arms.

        "Nuh-mm, this is fine," Stacy muttered, moving her arms so he couldn't slide the shirt off her shoulders. She cupped his face in her hands and tried to go on kissing him, but he slowly pulled away, obviously troubled. "What's the matter?"

        His tone became cross. "I guess you won't be wearing any sleeveless dresses to the prom."

        "What, why?"

        Beckett paused just to look at her. "You're cutting again, aren't you?"

        At first, Stacy made a face like she was insulted and shocked that he could even think such a thing. "What? No. Of course. Of course I'm not..." She paused under the realization that this was the worst opportunity to lie she'd dealt with in the last week. All he had to do was lift her sleeve and he'd see the truth. Lines of Band-Aids and red marks, all up and down her forearms. No point in even trying to hide this one. "Okay, yes, I've been cutting."

        With a frustrated sigh, he said, "Why? Why? What's going on? Is your mom's boyfriend hassling you again?"

        "No, she's not dating him anymore. I just... sometimes things get stressful, you know, and... sometimes I have relapses." While she spoke, Stacy avoided looking in Beckett's eyes.

        But he understood that this was a hard thing for her to admit. Cutting yourself was one of the most shameful ways a girl could choose to deal with stress in this modern society. Everyone thought there was something deeply wrong with you when they found out. But Beckett understood that it had more to do with Stacy's home life than any choice she had made to pick up a razorblade and take it to her arms. He wished there was something he could do to help, but he knew there was only so much.

        It was just the way she coped. Sort of like an addiction. Like smoking. For a while, Stacy could stop, she could quit, but something would happen and she'd pick up that hidden pack of cigarettes.

        Only, it wasn't a pack of cigarettes.

        "What's been happening? I want to be there for you," Beckett said, brushing her hair away from her face.

        Stacy shook her head. "You'd never believe me if I told you." An almost hysterical laugh escaped her. "Trust me."

        "Try me." When she wouldn't look at him, Beckett touched her cheek. Stacy pulled away a bit and shook her head again. "You have this big fight with Jasmine, you're cutting again, and you - " He stopped himself; it might be too much for her to find out that he knew about the graffiti incident right now. What she had done... what she had written... Beckett wanted to know so bad what she meant by those things. Please stop me before they make me kill again. What the hell did that mean? Was it just some sort of overdramatic playacting thing?

        In the end, he decided not to mention it... yet. "I... I just want to know what's going on with you."

        Stacy, still looking away, wondered if her boyfriend had the slightest clue what he was asking. "Beckett... I just can't talk about it right now, okay? It's too... it's too complicated." You'd never believe me. It's insane. The only reason Jasmine believes me is because she was there when they came. I don't even know where to start so it sounds even remotely possible. "Let's talk about it later."

        "When?"

        "Becks, I don't know, I..." Stacy felt like smacking him for making such a big deal out of this. He just had no idea how hard it was to explain. "You've got that psychometry thing. Can't you just touch me and see what happened?"

        "You know I don't do that unless I'm invited. It's intruding," Beckett reminded her.

        "Oh come on, you know you do it without being asked. Anybody would if they could do that."

        "Stace, are you asking me to - "

        "I thought I just did!"

        "Okay, geez." Placing a hand on her shoulder, Beckett braced for a bad vision involving Stacy's family. She rarely got along with her mother's boyfriends. In fact, one of them made passes at Stacy behind her mother's back.

        What he saw did not involve her family. He couldn't tell whom it involved at all.

        Stacy, looking about to cry, stepped out of her car and hesitated there with the door open. She held onto the door tightly. There was a screwdriver in her hand. Suddenly, out of nowhere, she screamed, "Why are you making me do this?!"

        Faulken sometimes used text over the visions, like words projected onto a wall with an overhead projector. The text over Stacy labeled her, DOG ON A LEASH.

        Beckett removed his hand from her shoulder. That told him nothing, nothing he could make sense of until he learned more.

        Jasmine. He had to talk to Jasmine. She knew something.

        "What did you see?" Stacy asked.

        He couldn't stand the desperation in her eyes. Beckett stroked her cheek. "Nothing, baby. It was too hazy."

        Stacy laid her head on his shoulder. "Make it all go away. Just for a little while."

        In the only way he knew how, Beckett tried to fulfill her request by resuming what they had started. He kissed her with all the passion he could muster, hoping he could make her feel beautiful and relaxed and normal for just one night.

        It was the last good moment they shared before everything went to hell.


it won't stop

The Ringu film series is (c) 1998 The Ring/The Spiral Production Group. It is based on the novels by Koji Suzuki. My fanfic is more based on ideas presented in the films, which were created by director Hideo Nakata and screenwriter Hiroshi Takahashi.
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.


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there really is a tape