Day 32: The Past is Always There

She Just Wanted to Be Heard
Day 32: The Past is Always There
Part of Story Arc 1: Counterclockwise
A "The Ring/Ringu" Fanfic
by Laurel (Sailorhathor)

Chapters: 32 of 100
Rating: Overall Rating Sup13+ (adult theme; horror elements that might be too scary 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 April-May 2009.
Word Count: 4,075
Summary: Sam/Jess. Sam finds out that Jessica isn't as perfect as he originally assumed. He tries to forget about it by throwing himself into the task of saving those who have been cursed by the Daughters of Heptamera, including a girl he doesn't know at Stanford. Professor McNeal's runaway daughter may have been found in California, but not under good circumstances.
Warning: Contains spoilers for the entire Ringu and The Ring series.
Beta Thanks: Thanks to Sammie for beta'ing this chapter!
Fanfic Challenges: Fits [info]50_darkfics Prompt #32 Past and [info]Coclaim100 Prompt #32 Sunlight.
Author's Notes: The scene with the coins falling from the ceiling was inspired by a similar scene from the movie Poltergeist, where ghosts made jewelry and watches fall out of a spiritual portal in the ceiling.
I'm always looking for interesting places to get character names from. The last name Carroll comes from a friend of mine. :)
For this chapter, I used some real life details about Stanford to make it a little more realistic, but some other details may be incorrect (I don't know if there are really arched doorways in Branner Hall or even a TV room on the bottom floor, for instance).
X-over with the TV series Supernatural. Set pre-series, during Sam's years at Stanford.


        Tell your father and brother not to come to Boston.

        Boston. Something big was going down in Boston in about three days, and most of those countdowns Sam had seen on the television in Bloodworth's vault ended in about that amount of time. It was a great place for him to continue his search.

        Before he had headed down to the library, Sam had checked out the things Katherine Sawyer said in the dream. A chapter on Alexandra Baptiste's sculpture... well, the woman hadn't been lying. In the book that was only about her art, there was a chapter about Baptiste's brief foray into sculpture, casting several statues of the various daughters of Heptamera. They were all depicted in their dark, after death states, with hair in their stone faces and a wet look to their clothes. Sam could tell by the way the dresses hung. He wondered how Baptiste had created the statues, when the paintings had been accomplished with Heptamera's help. These works had been cast in bronze, then chemically treated to give them a dark blue marble-look patina. The casting process was not a short one, with multiple steps; was Alexandra in contact with Heptamera throughout each part of this process?

        Katherine was right. The statue of Charlotte had been posed with just a little of her eyes showing through her hair. They did seem to stare right into you.

        A few other works depicted different subjects, such as a woman in a long dress floating on a column of fire, her eyes closed and hair flowing, arms hanging limp. This one was called Head on a Pike. The title was perplexing; maybe it would make sense in time. All Sam knew was that she didn't seem to be one of the Daughters, and looking at the statue made the space between his eyes tingle.

        He got a completely different feeling when he saw the work that Katherine had described as "the monolith." A cold, involuntary chill swept up his back at the sight of the eight foot tall stone structure. This one wasn't made of bronze, but of rock, like it had been carved from a slab taken off a cliff. Some sort of dark gray, earthy material. The slab had been carved and smoothed into a rectangular shape, eight feet tall, four feet wide, and about a foot deep. Except at two spots, where distinctive reliefs had been carved out.

        The bottom half of the monolith was dominated by a three to four foot tall top section of a well, only the part of it that would be above ground, blended at the back into the towering rectangle. The tracks of cement that would be between each brick of the well had been carved out to make it look more realistic; there was even a large crack running down from the rim to give it a weathered look. Overhead shots revealed that the inside of this mock well had been hollowed out down to a stone floor, flush with the bottom of the monolith.

        Another relief jutted out from the top half, that of a human face with its mouth open in a scream, forever frozen in rock.

        Sam understood why this thing gave Katherine Sawyer the creeps. Even through simple pictures in a book, he could feel the darkness that radiated from the piece of art. But it wasn't just a piece of art, was it? It had some sort of function; Sam just knew it did. He thought the title was especially telling.

        The monolith had been named Gateway to the Fortress.

        This is why he now found himself in the college library, chewing on a pencil while he looked through the latest edition of The Boston Herald. Lucky for him, Stanford got many of the major papers for student use. It hadn't been long enough for this edition to be archived, so Sam had to paw carefully through every page, looking for any reports of an injured (or dead) woman named Jolene or teenager named Jasmine while the sunlight progressively waned outside the library's windows.

        Sam had tried to get their phone numbers. Unfortunately, every avenue he utilized required that he have a last name as well in order to search for them, or at least the first letter. The woman at directory assistance attempted to be as polite as possible when she refused to look for Jolene Something under every letter of the alphabet. Sam apologized, embarrassed, for trying her patience. Then he decided he would conduct this search himself, once he was done with the newspaper.

        That wasn't going to be a fun undertaking. The Internet White Pages required the first two letters of the last name to do a search. That meant Sam would have to use every letter of the alphabet and every possible second letter combination before his search would even be possible. Jolene Aa, Jolene Ab, Jolene Ac... by the time he finished, the woman would be dead, for pete's sake. If she wasn't already.

        No, the bullet hadn't done any damage. Sam had seen it for himself. No blood, no bullet wound. Perhaps he was concentrating on the wrong person, and should -

        A pair of feminine hands closed over his eyes. Sam grinned.

        "Guess who."

        He took one hand and brought it down to his mouth, growling and nibbling playfully on a finger. Jessica squealed. Turning in his seat, Sam smiled up at her. "Hey you."

        "Hi Sam." Grinning too, Jessica sat down in the seat next to his. She glanced at the notes he'd made. "What are you up to?"

        Sam, trying to seem casual, put his elbow on his notepad and slid it under the newspaper as he leaned closer to her. He didn't want her to see such cryptic notes as Jolene, shot by one of the hunters? and Girl lying on a column of fire, dead or unconscious; how would he ever explain them? "Just reading the paper," he replied.

        "From Boston?" Jessica remarked. "Now that's keeping up with the news."

        "It's one of the best papers in the country," Sam added. That sounded like a good save.

        She made an agreeable "Mmm," sound before launching into an important piece of gossip she'd heard. "Sam, you know how we were talking about those Bloodworth people and their Nazi grandfather?"

        "Uh huh...?"

        "Well, I still had that book on my desk yesterday morning, before I gave it to you, and - um, someone saw it sitting there. They told me a few things about the case that I know you'll find very interesting." Jessica raised her eyebrows and smiled playfully.

        She was still treating this whole thing like it was all just a goof, a mystery to be unfolded. Sam had no idea how to get her to stop researching this thing for him without telling her the truth and, in her eyes, making himself look insane. He sighed, putting a hand alongside her knee. "I thought you weren't going to be my research assistant anymore."

        Rolling her eyes, Jessica replied, "Oh Sam, you're so silly. Come on, let me tell you what I've heard."

        He sighed once more. "Okay. Whatcha got?"

        A satisfied grin spread across her face. She was so eager and happy to have something juicy to tell him; Sam was at a complete loss to figure out how he was going to get her out of this thing for good. He only hoped the information Jessica had uncovered wouldn't provoke Alexandra's rage. "Well, you know how the book said that Hitler encouraged Suzette to make cursed films?"

        "Yeah, I remember."

        "It seems that she actually made one."

        Although Sam got a tingle of surprise up his spine, it really wasn't an unexpected bit of news. What was surprising was that the knowledge came from Jessica. "How do you know that?"

        "My friend told me," she replied. Her eyes shifted back and forth briefly when she said it, like she was avoiding looking him in the eye.

        Sam paused for a moment of thought before asking, "It's Craig, isn't it?"

        Jessica jumped a little in her skin, her eyes widening for a second, then she settled down with a sigh. "Um, yeah. Craig's the one who told me."

        Dread crawled through Sam's stomach like a tightening wire. "How does he know?"

        "He heard a rumor about it that's going around campus. Some girl watched the film a few days ago, and since then, all these weird things have been happening when she's around. Some of the freshman in Branner Hall have been blabbing about it all week."

        A few days ago... so he still had time. "How do they know it's Suzette's cursed film?"

        "I don't know; it's just one of those stories that goes around. Someone said that a History professor had seen it and confirmed what it was." Jessica shrugged with a small laugh. "But who knows if any of it is true. You know how these stories are. An urban legend or something."

        "A History professor? A professor here?" Sam asked. His mind swam with the sinister possibilities. Did this professor know what the film could do? Had he shown his copy to this girl on purpose? Or was it all a horrible coincidence?

        Jessica just shrugged again.

        With a pause of trepidation, Sam added, "You didn't watch this film, did you?"

        "No," she replied, shaking her head. Jessica sounded disappointed. "I'm really curious, though. I mean, what could be on it, you know? If it's supposed to kill you," she finished with a snicker.

        Sam, taking her hand, spoke with the most sincere and deadly serious tone he could muster. "Jess, I want you to promise me that if you're given the chance to view this film that you won't watch it. Alright?"

        She laughed, "Why? Sam, you really believe in this curse, don't you? I was just teasing you before, but you really are that superstitious."

        "Yes. Yes, I admit it - I'm just that superstitious."

        Jessica started to laugh again, but something about the innocent, pleading puppy dog look on his face gave her pause. As he put his other hand over hers, enveloping her palm in both of his, she rolled her eyes and sighed. "I can't believe you're this serious. But if it means that much to you, then I promise I won't watch the film."

        A relieved smile touched the corners of Sam's mouth. "Even if Craig wants you to?"

        Putting up her other hand like a Girl Scout taking an oath, she said, "Even if Craig tries to show me the film, I promise I won't watch it. Happy?"

        Now he did sigh with relief. "Yes."

        "You know you're killing me, right? I'm really curious now."

        "Actually, I may be saving you."

        Jessica took her hand back. "Oh, right." She smacked his arm. "You're being ridiculous, you know."

        Sam played along. "I know. But it still makes me feel better to have that promise."

        Once again, she rolled her eyes.

        Sam wondered if it was just a coincidence that Craig knew so many things about this film, at a time when Sam was researching it. And the film being here at Stanford, was that a coincidence? Or was it fate? Had this situation been engineered, just when Sam needed to know more about how the curse worked?

        He had to find this student. "Jess, what's the girl's name?"

        "The one who watched the cursed film? Uh, Meredith, I think."

        "What's her last name?"

        "I dunno."

        "Would Craig know?"

        Shrugging, Jess said, "I don't think so. He didn't seem to know it when he told me the story." She narrowed her eyes at him, suspicious. "Why? What are you going to do, go looking for her?"

        "Well..."

        "I could help you. Some of the guys would be more likely to talk to me than you."

        Sam tried not to wince where she'd notice. "Jess... I'd rather do this by myself, okay? I just... I don't want..."

        "You'd rather spend time with me doing other things, I know," she finished for him, sighing in disappointment. "You're driving me nuts, keeping me out of this thing."

        "I know, I know. But I told you..." Pausing to shake his head, Sam sighed and changed the subject. "Why don't we go to a movie tonight instead?

        "I, um... I can't." That eye shift again. "I'm sorry, I have plans."

        No one had to hit him over the head with the truth. Sam replied, "Craig?"

        Jessica nodded sheepishly. "When I told you I wanted to break up with him, I meant it. But it's not something you can just do when... we, um... we've been together since high school, Sam."

        That was something he hadn't expected. "So it's been years."

        She nodded again. "And we, uh, we... live together." Wincing, Jessica briefly touched Sam's hand, hoping the things she was telling him wouldn't scare him away.

        Leaning back, he put a little distance between them. "Are you sure I'm not just the rebound guy?" Sam said with a small, bitter laugh.

        "That's impossible." Jessica, swallowing hard, braced for another negative reaction. "Tim was the rebound guy." She paused before quickly adding, "But that's over. It was at least six months ago."

        "You cheated on your boyfriend?"

        "Sam, it's been over between Craig and I for a long time. Problem is, I'm the only one who knows it." Shrugging, Jessica looked at the floor. "I understand that you'd rather I break up with him before we go much further. But you have to understand that these things take time." She leaned over and softly kissed his lips. Sam didn't move, didn't react. "Everything that I've said about you and me and how I feel about you is the truth."

        Unsure how to digest everything that she'd just told him, Sam didn't meet her eyes. "Well, you guys do have history. I guess you need time to talk." He suddenly grabbed his backpack and stood up. "I completely forgot, I can read this paper online. I think I'm gonna..." Sam pointed to the library's front doors.

        "You're upset, aren't you?"

        He shook his head. "No. I just need some time to take it all in. I mean, you guys have been together for years. I don't really know what that's like, but I can imagine."

        Jessica nervously jumped up and followed him across the library as he made his way toward the exit. "Call me tomorrow, okay?"

        "Okay." Forcing a small grin for her, Sam put the Boston paper back in its slot and walked out.

        Jessica nibbled on her bottom lip. She feared he may never speak to her again.

        Outside, the sun had completely descended below the horizon.

*****

        Lassiter McNeal knew there was something wrong as soon as he entered his home and looked up from the table just inside the door.

        Tutoring and meetings with his students had run long. He didn't get home until nearly seven. As soon as he'd come in the door that led out to the garage and put his keys in the bowl on the table, Lassiter began to talk to his teenage son, whom he spotted getting up from the couch out of the corner of his eye. "The lawn's getting a little ragged, Trace. Do you think you could mow it by..."

        The look on Tracy's face told him everything. The boy was naturally pale, and his long black hair against his face usually made him appear even paler by comparison, but tonight, he looked unnaturally white, with wide blue eyes and a shocked expression on his face. His hands fidgeted nervously, the black-painted nails scratching at his denim jeans. "Dad?"

        Lassiter's hand stilled on the keys he'd just dropped. His first guess would have been trouble at school, but the shell-shocked look on Tracy's face... "What happened?"

        "Dad, the Los Angeles police called. They found the bodies of two teenage girls in a dumpster in the downtown area."

        A chill ran up Lassiter's back, quickly replaced by numbness. He looked at the framed photographs lined up on the skinny table behind the couch. A family picture from five years ago, the way his family once was; a photo of his dead wife; and individual school pictures of each of his two kids. His eyes lingered on the photo of his daughter, Adrianna. She'd be fourteen now.

        Tracy continued. "One of the girls has been identified. It's Crystal Stern."

        Crystal. One of the kids Adrianna had taken off with just about a year ago. They, along with Jamie and C.J. Blacksmith, had stolen Mrs. Blacksmith's car and run away, each for their own variety of reasons. Lassiter hadn't see his daughter since.

        There had been reports over the last year, reports from all across the country. The car had been found in Chicago. Probably abandoned. The kids didn't seem to be going to any particular place, just further and further away from home.

        This was the first time that any of those reports had panned out. Unfortunately, when they actually found one of the runaway kids, she was dead.

        "The police want you to fly out there and, uh... take a look at the other body." Tracy swallowed hard, rubbing his hands on his jeans. His voice shook. "Since she was with Crystal, they think she might... the body is really decomposed, and... they just want to be sure."

        Lassiter knew exactly what the police wanted him to do. If the other body was Adrianna, they wanted him to identify her.

        It wasn't like it couldn't be true. He remembered the argument he'd had with his daughter two weeks before she ran away, when he walked in on her and Crystal kissing in Adrianna's room, neither one wearing a top. The girl had tried to keep the focus of the argument on the fact that he'd walked in without knocking, that she'd thought he wouldn't even be home that early, and it had taken him a while to get the topic back to what the teen girls had been doing. Adrianna declared that Crystal was her girlfriend, which opened up a whole new can of worms.

        It wasn't that Lassiter didn't want a gay daughter; it was her age that bothered him. He tried to explain that kids often thought they knew what they were feeling, but were too young to understand the complexities of life.

        That hadn't gone over very well.

        He doubted that the fight was the sole reason Adrianna had run away, but it probably didn't help.

        So, the idea that the body found with Crystal Stern was Adrianna made a great deal of sense. Yes, it certainly could be true.

        The entire way over on the plane, Lassiter would be praying it wasn't. "I'll leave right away."

        He received his first call from Jodie on the way to the airport. Lassiter let it go to voicemail.

        "Professor McNeal, this is Jodie. Jodie Searling. Things over here are just getting weirder and weirder, with the videotape thing. Could you give me a call? Please? I don't know what to do."

        He could hear that she was trying very hard to stay calm, but there was hysteria in her voice, clawing to get out. Lassiter really wanted to call her back. He did. But Jodie's problems were small compared to what he faced in Los Angeles.

        Lassiter, now sitting on the airplane and staring out the window at the dark, did not return her call.

*****

        Waiting in the common area on the bottom floor of Branner Hall, Sam stared at the screen of his laptop. He'd spent the last three hours desperately trying to appear casual as he asked every student he could find if they knew Meredith, a girl he didn't even know himself. He couldn't even describe her.

        "Gee, no, man, I don't know anybody named Meredith. What's she look like?" most of them would say. And Sam had no idea. It was awkward.

        Finally, an hour ago, two girls said they did know a Meredith who lived in this dorm. Long brown hair; pretty; no, she didn't wear glasses; yes, she had been complaining of not being able to sleep; and yes, several people who lived on the same floor had been saying that Meredith woke up screaming three times in the last five days, that she had been telling everyone that her dorm room was haunted. The girls told Sam that if he waited in the TV room, he could catch Meredith when she came home from her job at the bookstore. He gave them another innocent, boyish smile and thanked them, attempting to be as non-threatening as possible. Either these girls hadn't bought into all the safety lectures the campus police had given them at orientation, or Sam had been successful at minimizing his size and accentuating his charm. It was obvious that he knew nothing more about this girl than her first name. Meredith's friends had still told him everything, even that her full name was Meredith Carroll.

        While waiting for her, Sam opened his laptop computer and began searching the Boston paper again. He found the article about Jasmine Fuller and, as he read, his body went numb.

        Something about what happened to Jasmine baffled the police. Someone had been chasing her, had run the girl out in front of the police car, but they had escaped silently into the woods. The police were leaving something out; Sam could read between the lines. Something about what had happened to Jasmine was bizarre and unexplainable.

        Sam stared at her picture in the middle of the article. She was real. The girl he'd chased through the forest hallucination last night was a real, living, breathing girl. And she was now in a coma at Massachusetts General Hospital.

        At least she wasn't dead. For the second time since this whole thing had started, Sam wanted to call his father. Or, at least Dean. At the end of the week, a lot of people could die, and Sam wasn't sure there was anything he could do to stop it.

        He thought again of Meredith. She was here, not unreachable in Boston, but here. If he could just save this one, there would be sunlight at the end of the tunnel concerning saving the rest.

        It was because of his shock over finding at least some of the information he'd been searching for that he didn't realize the freshman had come into the room.

        "You were asking about Meredith?"

        Sam jumped, making his computer bobble in his lap. Looking at her for a moment, sitting on the couch perpendicular to the one on which he sat, Sam blurted, "God, you startled me." He noticed the tense, frightened look on her face, the way she was tightly wringing her hands. "Are you - "

        "Shhh!" She glanced at an arched doorway nearby. "If we're quiet, maybe she won't notice us."

        Following her eyes, Sam saw the little girl standing in the doorway. He gasped. It was one of the Metternich twins. Clad in a white dress, a pink bow tying her black hair back from her face, she crossed the room. Her face was sad, with deep circles under her eyes. She didn't look well. When she began to walk toward them, the freshman whimpered.

        Sophie was the sickly one. Isn't that what the book said?

        The child had her hands up, cupped together in front of her. As she got closer, Sam realized she was holding a pile of coins. "Sophie?" he nearly whispered.

        She spared him one dismissive glance before turning to the girl. The freshman hissed and groaned as she pushed up on the back of the couch, prepared to just about climb over it in an effort to escape. But Sophie was already right in front of her. The little girl slowly dumped the coins into the freshman's lap, letting them run between her fingers. They made a jingling noise as they cascaded down and spread over the girl's thighs and the couch cushions. The freshman let out short, fearful groans.

        A coin plinked off Sam's head. He looked up and saw a ring of icy blue electricity sparking above their heads, near the ceiling. Coins of all sizes were falling out of midair onto him and the freshman girl. Sam caught a few in his hand, looking at them in shock. They were all old, tarnished and nicked. One of the silver coins in his hand had an eagle and a Nazi swastika on it.

        The Nazis manufactured their own money, Sam's mind doled out to him. It was all it could think of to do as the rest of his brain was frozen in disbelief. The ceiling was raining coins.

        The freshman looked from the child standing before her to the sparking circle on the ceiling, her hands open to catch the coins too. One almost fell in her open mouth as they rained down upon her. "What the hell is this?" she cried. "What do you want from me?!"

        Sophie said nothing. She gave the freshman one last sorrowful look and turned and walked from the room.

        Before the ring of electricity disappeared, Sam realized that it resembled a phantom opening into a well. Perhaps Sophie's well.

        The coins stopped falling, but they did not vaporize like the ring. The room smelled of a burned out circuit.

        As soon as it stopped, the freshman jumped up and frantically brushed the coins from her body, squealing in horror as if she was covered in roaches. Sam examined several of the ones in his lap. They were all German coins. That shouldn't be surprising.

        Once she got her breath, the freshman asked, "You saw her too, right? You knew her name."

        Nodding, Sam stated what was now obvious to him. "You're Meredith, aren't you?"

        "Yeah." She sat back down on the couch and leaned toward him. "Who are you?"

        "I'm Sam."

        Before he could explain, she said, "Did Professor Keaner show you the film too?"

        He lied. "Yeah. Yeah, he did." So, it was some History professor named Keaner. "When did he show it to you?"

        Meredith's eyes teared up. "Almost a week ago. I have about two days left." She swallowed back her tears. "That's what they said to me. Sieben Tage. It's - "

        "Seven days," Sam finished, and sighed. "Seven days in German."


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. 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. This fanfic is heavily inspired by ideas presented in the American movies, which were directed by Gore Verbinski and Hideo Nakata and written by Ehren Kruger.
I do not know if the prequel, The Ring 3, will have any bearing on this story or not until I see it.
Supernatural is (c) 2005 Kripke Enterprises, Wonderland, & Warner Brothers/The CW Television.
Everything else is (c) Demented Stuff.


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there really is a tape