Day 8: Final Project

She Just Wanted to Be Heard
Day 8: Final Project
Part of Story Arc 1: Counterclockwise
A "The Ring/Ringu" Fanfic
by Laurel (Sailorhathor)

Chapters: 8 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: 3,321
Summary: Jodie discusses using the cursed tape as her final project with her Film professor. Poor Jolene thinks she's made it through a curse-free day until she experiences a hallucination of Samara, her father, and a lamb named Phil.
Warning: Contains spoilers for the entire Ringu and The Ring series.
Beta Thanks: Beta'ed by Meredevachon.
Fanfic Challenges: Fits [info]50_darkfics Prompt #8 Animal and [info]Coclaim100 Prompt #8 Temper.
Author's Notes: The blond with the shotgun is Dean Winchester, a character from the show Supernatural.


        Rushing down the hallways of her college, already late for a meeting, Jodie nearly slammed into the doorjamb of Professor McNeal's office; instead, she caught herself and stood there holding onto it, panting. Her hand slapping down on the paneling made a loud noise, which gave the professor a start. "Oh!" He glanced at her. "Jodie! You're a little late."

        "I'm sorry, Professor McNeal." She immediately began rifling through the schoolbag slung over her shoulder and neck like a sling. "I'm here now."

        "That you are. Well, you're still within my weekend office hours, so I'll see you." He winked to show he was kidding as he turned to face the doorway. "Now, on the phone, you said something about photographic evidence of an urban legend?"

        Nodding enthusiastically, Jodie closed the door to his office, on which there was a plaque that read, PROFESSOR LASSITER MCNEAL. FILM STUDIES. OCCULT HISTORY.

        She really liked the man. He was almost like a father figure and a college crush rolled into one, far more worldly than most people she knew. Best thing was, he treated her like she was smart. Professor McNeal made her feel she really belonged there, in such a prestigious college.

        Jodie went to the VCR/DVD combo machine attached to the television in his office, the TV being on a shelf up near the ceiling. She then took out the copy she had made of Quinn's tape, which he had begrudgingly given her, and launched into the story of how her roommate had gotten it, and what she thought it was. It was the infamous "cursed" videotape whispered about in every junior high and high school around, right after the story of the phantom hitchhiker or the mental patient with a hook for a hand. Jodie's eyes were wide and excited; her hands shook a little with the buzz that was running through her.

        Professor McNeal grinned at her enthusiasm. "Slow down now, Jodie. Sounds like you have a lot to tell me."

        Beginning with the night Quinn received the tape, she described how someone had broken into their mailbox and left it there.

        "I wonder if the infinity sign means something, or if that's just the way they sign things," Professor McNeal mused. "Your friend Quinn has some enemies, huh?"

        "Either that, or a friend who wanted to scare him."

        "Right. Whoever did it, they had to know what the tape could do; otherwise, why would they give it to him?"

        Jodie nodded, and giggled. "They probably thought it'd be really funny to sit back and watch Quinn squirm."

        Narrowing his eyes, Professor McNeal gave her a long look and asked, "Did you give him the videotape, Jodie?"

        She shook her head with a smirk. "Quinn thought the same thing. I wish I had been the one. This would be a lot more fun if I had."

        Jodie continued by describing the dreams and hallucinations experienced by Quinn, Svetlana, and her mother. She went into as much detail as she could remember. "Everyone's marked with the handprints now, Professor McNeal. I just watched it last night, so it hasn't happened to me yet."

        "Did you have any dreams last night?" he asked.

        "Yeah, one." Her facial expression grew confused and a little troubled. "I was standing in the parking lot of a hospital, and the blond guy with the shotgun that Quinn and Svet dreamed about came up to me with this really sad look on his face."

        "Did he say anything to you?"

        "Yes. He touched my shoulder and said... oh, how did he say it... 'I'm sorry I couldn't save them for you. But you need to be strong. Your mother would want you to be strong.'" Jodie shuddered, and tried to smile, to shrug it off.

        "That's fairly eerie. Next time we meet, would you bring me some of the drawings Svetlana did of this stranger?" Professor McNeal requested.

        "Sure, Professor."

        "These dreams are quite threatening, from what you've been telling me. Some threats are fairly plain, like the man with the shotgun telling Svetlana he couldn't help her because she'd already be dead when he even found out she was in danger. Some are more subtle. Such as Quinn's family members crying and wearing black, like a funeral is taking place. Svetlana sees someone from home sobbing into his hands - did she tell you any more about that, by the way? Who this man is?"

        Jodie had to shrug. "No, she wouldn't talk about it. She just said it was strange for him to be here, in America. It would be weird. Her family is all back home in Holland."

        Professor McNeal, nodding, leaned back in his chair before he went on. "Hm. Did Quinn explain why his sister was saying, 'Get the boy'?"

        Laughing lightly, Jodie replied, "He's got two sisters, the only boy in the family. So they used to torture him when they were kids by going, 'Get the boy!' and chasing him around the house." She laughed harder at the thought. "When they caught him, they'd hold him down and put make-up on him or something like that."

        Professor McNeal chuckled too. "I see. Well, whoever made the tape definitely wants the people who watch it to be afraid of what will happen once their seven days are up. But we know nothing happens because of the people on this message board you spoke of. They all watched the tape and they're still alive, right?"

        "Right."

        "But obviously, the tape does something. Do you have any theories on how this is accomplished, Jodie?" Professor McNeal prompted.

        Jodie excitedly launched into her theory about subliminal messages and the power of the mind. "...and the handprints can be explained by the power of the mind over the body. People produce the wounds of Christ on their own bodies through stigmata - many think that's done by the power of the mind. Why not this? People have these nightmares, Samara grabs them, and the hypnotic suggestions tell them they are actually touched by this girl, who has some sort of power to brand her victims. Next thing they know, a welt appears on their skin. That's how I explained it to Quinn, anyway. Do you think it's possible?"

        "Very possible, Jodie. Good work."

        Jodie beamed proudly over the smile of approval he gave her.

        "Some careful analysis of the videotape will yield the answer. I should probably watch it now. Why don't you put it in the machine?"

        With a little squeal, Jodie hopped in place before scrambling to the VCR and pushing the tape in. Professor McNeal chuckled, then sat back to watch. He mostly remained quiet while watching it, although he made the occasional comment, his hands folded across his chest.

        He reacted to the image of the hairbrush passing through Anna Morgan's hair. "Very nice."

        Professor McNeal commented again when the exchange with the mirrors played out. He liked that too. "Whoever made this knows a bit about movie-making. These are some lovely shots. Quite artistic."

        Anna came on the screen again, fixing her hair in the previously seen mirror. When she turned to look at the viewer, Professor McNeal made a "hm" sound. "She just broke the fourth wall."

        Being his student, Jodie knew exactly what he meant. "That's supposed to be Anna Morgan. She's looking at us, ooooh."

        "Like she sees us through the screen," he added in the same sarcastic, mocking tone of voice, and grinned back at Jodie. "They did some make-up effects to the actress. She looks older here. Sort of tired." Professor McNeal gestured to his face. "She looked happy and youthful before."

        "She looks just like Mrs. Morgan, too. I brought a few articles..."

        "We can look at those after the feature presentation." At this time, the scene of Anna Morgan's suicide played out on the screen. Professor McNeal liked this also. "It looks like a Buñuel film."

        "Or a Calvin Klein commercial," commented Jodie.

        He looked at her for a moment and then chuckled to himself.

        The final scene. The well in the quiet glade. After a few seconds, the tape went to static.

        11:46 AM.

        "Huh," the professor grunted.

        The phone in his office began to ring. "Excuse me a moment."

        As he picked up the receiver, Jodie stared at him and the phone with giddy excitement on her face. He received the call too!

        He listened, said, "What? Hello?" and then hung up.

        "What did they say?" Jodie asked, although she could guess.

        "It was a female voice. She said, 'Seven days.' Then there was a soft click." Professor McNeal gave it some thought, nibbling on his thumbnail. "Everyone who has watched this tape has gotten one of these calls."

        She just nodded. "Isn't it cool?"

        Rubbing his chin, Professor McNeal replied, "It's very odd. Very odd indeed. Everything else has fit in with your theory of subliminal messages... except this. This is... how did they know I had just watched the video?"

        "Quinn had this whacked out theory about a computer chip being in the tape that would sense when it had been played, and then would scan the room for cell phones and stuff so the person who made the tape would have all the information they needed," Jodie explained in a skeptical tone of voice.

        "But you didn't bring Quinn's tape. You brought a copy." Professor McNeal scooted his chair over to his video equipment and popped a videotape into the second VCR. "Do you have time to stay for a while? I'm going to run off a copy of the tape for my T.A., Akemi, so she can help us gather information on it."

        "We're going to trace the tape back to the person who made it?" Jodie asked.

        "We're going to try." He pushed the other chair near his desk over to Jodie, to offer her a seat. "It can be your final project."

        At the time that he spoke those words, Professor McNeal had no idea what powers of prophecy they might have when the next week was up for the both of them.

*****

        Jolene thought her luck might be changing when she made it through the workday without any hallucinations. She worked the occasional Saturday when her caseload got heavy, and she had gotten to five o'clock without seeing anything. With a sense of satisfaction, Jolene strode out of her office and almost walked right into a ladder.

        She gasped in surprise and backed up. "Who left this here?" Jolene snapped, looking around. The ladder led up to a breezeway on the second floor that linked several offices. This breezeway was open on both sides, with a set of railings to keep people from falling over the edge.

        A secretary passing by glanced her way. "Left what there?"

        "This - " Jolene realized before the words left her mouth that this ladder looked just like the one from the videotape. She visibly slumped and cussed under her breath. "Nothing," she finally replied to the secretary.

        As Jolene reluctantly raised her eyes to the top of the ladder, the environment around her changed. The office building dissolved, replaced by a barn fragrant with the smells of hay and live animals. At the top of this very tall ladder was a small room, built into the arch of the roof. The front part of the room was open to the barn, and Jolene could see that the light was on up there - what was this, a clubhouse? How cute! Maybe this hallucination wouldn't be so bad after all.

        Jolene figured she was supposed to climb the ladder. Might as well get it over with. Whoever was causing the hallucinations, probably Samara, seemed happier and would end them quicker if Jolene just gave her the reaction she wanted. So she began to climb.

        The secretary walked through the foyer area again and saw Dr. Searling climbing the stairs to the second floor. She thought nothing of it, except that the doctor had a strange look on her face, almost like she was in a trance.

        Jolene reached the top of the ladder. Here was a child's room. It was complete with a little bed dressed in feminine frills, toys, books, a television, wallpaper with horses on it, and the chair from the videotape. The chair that had followed Jolene around the night before. Samara laid on the bed, facing the wall, her hair obscuring most of her face. While Jolene watched, the chair floated up into the air by itself and turned upside down. She gasped, grasping the ladder harder to keep from falling backwards off of it. The chair began to spin in the air, like an invisible force was turning it around and around.

        Samara was doing it. Jolene wasn't sure how she knew, but she knew that Samara was causing that chair to float.

        Someone began to climb the ladder after her. Jolene quickly swung her foot over the floor of this little room and stepped onto it, getting off the ladder. How could someone allow a child to play up here? The front was wide open, and there was nothing there but a ladder to get up and down. There was way too much chance of Samara falling to let her be up here alone.

        Samara's father, Richard Morgan, came up the ladder. When he saw the spinning chair, he didn't react like it was something he had never seen before. Instead, he shifted around with discomfort and loudly cleared his throat. "Samara?"

        The chair went on spinning. "Yes?" she replied in a slow, depressed tone.

        "Could you stop that? It's very unnerving."

        She knew he was talking about the chair. It went on spinning. "You killed Phil."

        Richard let out a quiet sigh. He still did not step up onto the floor of Samara's room. "The lamb had lost its leg, Samara. He wasn't doing so well." He eyed the spinning chair carefully.

        Jolene reached over and waved her hand in front of Richard Morgan's face. No reaction. She was just an observer.

        It took longer than was normal for Samara to reply. She seemed lost in her own little world. "Phil was my pet. You said I could keep him."

        Oh, the three-legged lamb from the videotape. They were talking about that lamb. They had to be.

        "I know, sweetheart, but his feed was costing us too much money. We've lost so many horses in the past six months..." He punctuated this last sentence accusingly. "...that money is very tight around here. I won't feed an animal that can't pull its weight on the ranch."

        The chair started to spin faster. Richard watched it uneasily.

        "You shouldn't go back on a promise to me," Samara said with slight venom in her voice. "Phil was mine."

        "Samara, watch your temper," Richard commanded in a voice that tried to be fatherly and authoritative. But even Jolene could hear the fear in the undertone.

        "I've never had anything of my own," the child declared. "Except my lamb. The horses are yours. The figurines are Mommy's. Phil was mine."

        "Samara - "

        "You didn't even talk to me before you did it."

        Suddenly, the chair spun out of control, making an arc through the air, and almost struck Richard Morgan in the head. His fingers tightened on the top of the ladder as he squeezed his eyes shut and did what could only be called hoping for the best. Jolene observed how lucky he was that the ladder was nailed to the floor of the room, because his flinching shook the ladder mightily; she could hear the nails squealing in the wood. He tried not to make any noise - that would show weakness - but he couldn't help but groan a little. The chair returned to the original position in which it had been when it started its flight.

        "I don't care if she is some kind of psychic badass. Spank the little brat," Jolene said.

        But Richard couldn't hear her. "Samara, stop it."

        "I'm not forgiving you for slaughtering my lamb." The little girl seemed to be trying to end the conversation.

        He took the hint. "Maybe you'll feel like talking in the morning. You can go to bed without any dinner."

        "I wouldn't want any anyway."

        As Richard started to climb back down the ladder, Samara suddenly asked, "Can I sleep in the house tonight?" Her tone of voice had completely changed. It was pleading and small.

        "No," was Richard's curt response as he just kept going.

        Jolene reeled at this last exchange. He made Samara sleep out here? As bratty as she had acted with the chair, there wasn't any heat out here, and even Jolene could feel the chill. There were certain things you just didn't do to a child. Jolene found herself passing back and forth between dislike for Samara and sympathy for her. "At least bring her a space heater," she mumbled.

        Once Richard was gone, the chair abruptly stopped spinning. It hung there for several moments before simply clattering loudly to the floor.

        Richard Morgan was right. That was unsettling.

        "Doctor Searling!"

        Jolene looked down. The secretary she'd spoken to before was standing at the bottom of the ladder. "Dr. Searling! What are you doing up there?!"

        The environment around her abruptly switched back to that of the office building. Jolene found herself standing in the breezeway on the second floor, but not on the floor.

        She was standing up on the railing.

        At some point, Jolene had climbed up and was maintaining a very careful balance as she observed this latest hallucination. The realization of where she was upset that balance. "Oh, fuck!" Her arms pinwheeling, Jolene tried to stay up on the rail, but she fell backward and landed on the floor of the breezeway hard, hitting her head on the opposite railing on the way down. "OW!"

        "Dr. Searling!" The secretary ran up the stairs and knelt beside Jolene. "Are you alright? What were you doing up there?"

        Jolene had no idea how to answer that question. She rubbed her head and grumbled to herself, "Goddamn little brat. I wish she'd show her face so I could punch it."


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.
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