DISCLAIMER: I don't own "Ju-On," "The Grudge", or any of the characters contained within said films. Feedback is appreciated, and criticisms are welcome as long as they're polite and constructive, as I would do the same. One more note - this takes place in the Japanese or "Ju-On" universe, which is slightly different from the American films.
"Ju-On: The curse of one who dies while in the grip of a powerful rage. It gathers and takes effect in the places where that person was alive. Those who encounter it die, and a new curse is born."
"This is it," Tim said, pointing ahead to the house that, to Kristen's eyes, looked completely and utterly nondescript.
So this is the big momentous event? Kristen played out the events of the last several hours in her own mind. Just before they had enjoyed yet another lunch consisting of noodles and rice at one of the local eateries, Mr. Sauer had agreed to part ways with them for the rest of the day. He had also made them promise to call with a status update each and every hour, as the alone time had NOT been approved by the rulemeisters at Chester Donovan Public High School.
Tim had promised them that all would be well; that he would be the one to make all of the phone calls to Mr. Sauer, that nobody back home in New York City would ever be the wiser about where they had really been, and that this would NOT be the ever-present stain on any of his friends' precious high school records. Because, for some reason, Tim Orlock, who at this moment wore one of his patented shirts adorning the virtues of Michael Myers, positively had to see this house.
Kristen looked around at her friends; surprisingly, none of them felt as exasperated as she did, and she even detected the faintest amounts of genuine interest in many of their faces. Carly, in particular, had been extremely stoked to see this house; as per usual, she wanted an impressive story to tell her multitudes of friends back home. Of course, not wanting to fall behind in the "daily Carly sex allotment" department, Evan played along with Carly's whims.
While the two high-ranking members of the Chester Donovan social elite were among her friends, Kristen felt the smallest twinge of jealousy looking at the pair, hanging off of each other's clothes and fumbling around in front of the house's main gate. No doubt, both would be successful in life based on nothing more than name value; Carly Smith's father was one of the city's high-ranking public officials, the assistant director of public transportation. In New York City, it was well-known that this was a fairly big deal; after all, if the maze of subway tunnels that lined the caves beneath the city streets were to stop working, it would mean certain disaster for the city's work force as a whole. Mr. Smith knew people, which, in turn, meant that Carly knew people. She would be taken care of as long as she lived.
Directly behind her – not really behind her, more like directly on top of her – stood her boyfriend Evan Daniels. His muscular physique stood out against his two-sizes-too-small polo shirt and blue jeans, meshing extraordinarily well with his girlfriend's equally trendy short, revealing outfit. Much like Carly, Evan had also been born with a set of traits that lent themselves well to being able to fit in with society. For as long as Kristen had known Evan, he had been the shining star on whatever athletic endeavor he had taken on, and was presently in the midst of a long courtship between Auburn University and Maryland for the use of his football skills.
Standing next to Kristen, staring straight ahead at one of the rotted wooden windows on the supposedly "cursed" house, stood Jen Young, her best friend. On paper, she and Jen could not be any different; Jen enjoyed the raucous parties that took place nearly every weekend, depending on just whose parents had to be away on some urgent business, while Kristen preferred to stay home, doing little else besides watching movies and passing the time reading sociological and psychological literature. While she had been childhood friends with Jen, and one might have expected the two to drift apart as the years went on, they had managed to remain close over the years, to the point that they had spent the majority of the time on the very walk to this site either poking fun at the lovebirds Evan and Carly or dorky Tim.
At the very rear of the group stood Derrick Martin, a tall, imposing 18-year-old who had barely spoken a word all afternoon. While not a regular member of their circle of friends, Derrick got along fairly well with Evan. He better, Kristen thought; if not for Derrick, Evan wouldn't have those gaping holes to run through in all the football games that Friday nights at Chester Donovan hinged on. Thus, not having any other groups to cling to, Derrick had spent the majority of the time on this field trip hanging with their group.
And leading the way, standing on top of the bottom rung on the gate that separated the house from the rest of the tiny, residential Japanese streets that they had spent the better part of three hours wandering, stood Tim. A person like Tim seemed tailor-made for the usual batch of beatings and other social torment that seemed to befall the other kids like him; he had realized early on in life that he wasn't built for athletic endeavor, and had spent the majority of his middle school years cultivating his vices. X-Men comics, Star Trek fandom, and most recently, horror movie fanaticism. But while Tim could be annoying, there was also a fascinating funny streak to him that could be both endearing and self-evascing; it seemed that whenever a member of their friendship group was having a bad day, Tim would come along, make fun of himself, and all would be well. To outsiders, while Tim stood out like a sore thumb, he was, in a way, the center of the group.
Which brought Kristen back to herself. Kristen Ng, 17 years old, graduating high school in a scant two months. Vietnamese father, American mother, hardworking student hoping to major at psychology at NYU in the fall. While she had not been very confident about her essay, apparently, the suits who were in charge of things didn't feel the same way; her National Honor Society status had earned her the trip to Japan that the high school awarded its best and brightest. Of course, Evan had been able to go due to his athletic achievements, while Carly had (of course) been invited based on the fact that if she hadn't, it would have meant catching hell from her powerful father. Tim had won a few writing awards from the local New York colleges, and one of his essays on the entertainment industry had appeared in the New York Post.
But me? I'm just a boring old National Honor Society student, and that's just the way I like it. And here we are – just another random group of typical high school students on a field trip, looking at a no doubt falsely-theorized "haunted" house.
Admittedly, it had been a pretty fascinating trip. The high school chose a different international site every year, and Kristen had been very excited when the HAIC's at Chester had bestowed Japan the honorary country of choice for this year's honor trip.
Japan had so much history, so much culture, and so much in the way of both fascinating people and places that she and her small group of friends would most assuredly not be bored. Thus far, her personal favorite part of the trip had been the Kabuki play. Very different from the plays of the United States, Kabuki theater required a lot of theorizing and thought on the part of each individual audience member to interpret the actions of the living puppets on the stage, and Kristen had loved every minute of it.
Throughout the course of the trip, they had also been sprung at one of the fancier hotels directly in the middle of Tokyo, and the nighttime cityscape of Tokyo was truly a sight to behold. Very different from New York City, every corner of the city seemed to come alive and blink at night. And while the crowds were unimaginable at times, amazingly, a person never found themselves rushed, at least as long as one did not mind the constant cries of "gai-jin" followed by a greeting from passer-bys on the street.
Going on the high school trip had long been a goal of Kristen's; it meant not only that she would be close to accomplishing one of her goals, it also meant that she was one step closer to the one thing that was more important to her than anything, as well as the thing that haunted her mind at this very moment. Getting away from home, which is what awaited her after this dream trip was over.
Kristen's mind snapped back to reality, and the five people standing around her. When Mr. Sauer, the older, stodgy-but-fair English teacher who had been entrusted with the international trip at Chester Donovan for the past several years, had given his students the green light to explore the city on their own, he had most assuredly not known that Tim Orlock had planned this moment out for a long time.
Tim had first told them about all of the different types of Japanese ghosts; when they had first hopped on the bus bound from the center of Tokyo to the outskirts of the city, and the smaller residential housing districts, he had spent the better part of forty-five minutes rattling off facts culled from the countless websites that he frequented, showing off his encyclopedic knowledge of death, the beyond, and the occult. Kristen had known that Japanese people were very spiritual people; they not only feared the dead, but they respected them.
He had known that they would be going to Japan, and thus, he dug deep on his websites; he said that he had found a house that he had to see, and if he didn't, he would consider the trip a failure. Everyone was free to come, or free to remain in the heart of Tokyo, surrounded by the marauding hordes of natives. But after a week of the crowds, not surprisingly, Kristen along with the rest of her friends were more than happy to find some shoulder time in the residential slum that they now found themselves in.
The bus ride had taken them outside of the city and dropped them off in the beautiful Japanese countryside, where Tim had dug out the map he had printed from of all places, and Evan had enjoyed more than a few chiding jokes at Tim's expense. Tim Orlock was nothing if not persistent, and after spending an hour walking through the countryside, they had found the residential villa. One more hour later, they had navigated the maze of twisting streets that actually bared a slight resemblance to the suburban houses outside of New York City that many of Kristen's classmates called home – and then they had found it. The house.
Tim continued to stare at the house, proud that he had not only validated his precious find on yahoo, but also that he had showed off his staunch bravery to Jen. It was not a secret, to Kristen or to Jen – Tim harbored more than friendly feelings for her, and this little sidebar into haunted house urban legend was no doubt part of some greater plan to impress her on some level.
From the outside, the house did not look especially menacing. The front door was visible from the street where they now stood, and a gate surrounded the entire building. It was two levels, there were bars on several of the windows. Apparently, it had been unoccupied for some time. The entire house, while normal and unassuming, no doubt had the slightly Japanese look and influence that differentiated it from the houses she was used to seeing. The sides of the house were tightly bunched together with the gate, and a walkway led from the front gate to the door.
"So this is the big cursed house, huh?" Jen said, finally speaking up and breaking Tim from his proud reverie.
"Yeah," Tim said, looking back at Jen, pushing up his glasses with one arm and balancing his weight on the gate with the other. He jumped down. "So, who wants to go in?"
"You wanna go in there?" Evan suddenly said, tightening his grip around Carly.
"I won't be able to leave until I do," he said.
"Why would you wanna do that?" Evan said.
"Because," Tim replied, walking slowly toward Evan. "I've spent the last two years of my life watching horror movie after horror movie. Never seen where a real one happened. Not this close, anyway."
"So what exactly do you plan to accomplish in there?" Kristen said.
"Just to be in there. This is supposed to be one of the most haunted places in all of Tokyo."
"Where did you read that?" Kristen asked.
"The shadowlands website," he said matter-of-factly. "Couple ghost hunters on their message boards say that they got really high EMF readings on here. Like, we're talking seven, eight range."
"Tim," Kristen said, laughing to herself. "I'm sorry, but that doesn't mean much to us."
"Well, rest assured, it's high," Tim said. "I just need at least one of you guys to come in there with me."
"What for?" Evan said.
"I'm not going in there alone."
"If you really want to go in there that badly, you would," Evan said.
"There is no way I'm going in there alone. Not after what happened in there."
"What?" Evan said, releasing his grip on Carly and walking toward the front gate of the house, looking at the front door. "What happened in there?"
"Tell you what, Evan, if you go in there with me, I'll tell you."
There was a pause then, and Kristen studied Evan's face. She had gotten used to reading the emotions and intentions of people's faces; it had been a skill culled from reading the psychology books that she spent the vast majority of her weekend time with while the other high school students – and some of her own friends – were partaking in not-so-wholesome activities.
Evan's curiosity was no doubt piqued. And Kristen did not like it one bit.
"Alright, man," Evan finally said. "I'm going in. Carly, you are, too."
"Whatever," she said, obediently walking to the front gate to stand with Tim and Evan.
Tim turned back, scanning his three remaining friends. Not surprisingly, he turned to Jen first. "Jen? Come on, we only graduate once. This will make one hell of a story for everybody back home, huh?"
Much to her surprise, Jen's face seemed very intrigued by the offer. Jen did like Tim a great deal as a friend. Tim had even managed to work up the guts to ask her out on several different occasions, and she had turned him down every time. However, she enjoyed his company enough that she did not care to do so in a way that would ruin her relationship with Tim entirely. Right now, Jen wore the "what a goofball" look that she had perfected when dealing with Tim.
"Okay, Tim," she said, walking forward and slapping Tim's outstretched hand. "I'll do it."
"Alright," Tim said, smiling a Cheshire cat smile. "What about you, Kristen? You don't want to stay out there in the boring street, do you?"
Kristen had hoped that more of her friends would say no to the offer, and right now, her only options were to remain with her close friends, or remain in the street with Derrick, who seemed nice enough, but he was someone she barely knew.
"Yeah, sure," she said, purely by default, and walking forward.
As she reached the gate, standing next to Jen once again, she looked back at Derrick. He still had not spoken a word since arriving at this site. His face, while showing no fear, showed apprehension.
"You're sure about this, Tim?" he said, in a gruff, no-nonsense tone.
Everything about him is gruff, Kristen thought, from his voice to his frame to his all-black long-sleeve shirt and athletic pants ensemble.
"Come on, man," Tim said. "This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity."
"This could be illegal," Derrick responded, taking a step forward, but stopping there, still looking at the front door of the house. "Since we're foreigners, they might be hard on us if they catch us."
"There aren't any signs posted here, Derrick, we've got nothing to worry about."
"It's trespassing," he said. "I can't be doing that."
Tim walked away from his group of friends, and put an arm around Derrick. "Derrick, we're from an affluent New York City high school. And it's not like we're going in there to smoke weed or have sex or anything. This isn't one of those cheesy '80s slasher flicks, and we're not dime-a-dozen stock characters. Nobody's going to die here, man. Like I told Jen, you'll have something to tell the friends back home, huh?"
And while Derrick still did not look like he approved of the idea, he walked forward, joining the people that were his friends more out of circumstance than by sheer choice.