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呪怨

Ju-on:

The Curse

 

By Julian Singleton

 

 

Ju-on:

 

The curse of one who dies in the grip of a powerful rage. It gathers in the place of death, working its spell on those who encounter it…and a new curse is born.

 

TOSHIO

 

It was sunset over the Saitama Prefecture, and Shunsuke Kobayashi was returning from a long day of teaching grade school students. He couldn’t shake that one student off his mind: Toshio Saeki. He wasn’t showing up for school, and Kobayashi dreaded the thought of another home visit.

 

He was now at his apartment (Apt. 205, to be precise) and he entered to the happiness of his wife. She was cooking his favorite: Chicken Teriyaki. Manami, his wife, was 8 months pregnant and he couldn’t help but worry about her from time to time.

 

“Is it OK to move around so much?” he asked.

 

“It’s OK, I’m fine!” she said before she returned to cutting up a turnip.

 

After they finished dinner, Kobayashi continued diligently on Toshio’s file. He looked up at his wife, now eating a bowl of ice cream, and spoke.

 

“Do you remember Kawamata from our college?”

 

“Kawamata…Kayako Kawamata?”

 

“Yeah…Kayako.”

 

“She was kinda creepy, wasn’t she? Why do you ask?”

 

“Her son hasn’t been showing up for school. I might have to make a home visit.”

 

“It’s hard being a teacher, huh?”

 

“Yeah.”

***

Kobayashi was in front of the Saeki household’s front door. He knocked one. There was no answer. He knocked again, again to no answer. Fed up, he tried the door handle. It was unlocked.

 

“Hello? Is anyone here?” he asked through the crack in the door. There was, yet again, no answer.

 

I guess I’ll try the back.” He thought. As he thought this, he heard a window slide open.

 

He strolled towards the back and as he passed a rather large bush, he saw two small arms sticking out of a metal grate.

 

It was Toshio.

 

As he rushed to the little boy’s aid, asking if he was OK. Toshio said nothing as he slid backwards and into the bathroom. Kobayashi whirled around the house, in through the front door, and into the bathroom, where Toshio lay sprawled on the floor.

 

“Toshio!” Kobayashi said in alarm.

 

He picked up the limp child and carried him to the living room. By now, Toshio was fully conscious and sat himself up as Kobayashi set him on the couch. The teacher raised his hand.

 

“Let me, OK?” he said to Toshio before putting his palm to Toshio’s forehead. It was cool to the touch.

 

“No fever…” the teacher said to himself. Then he noticed the bandages.

 

Strips of band-aid packaging littered the floor. It was easy to find out where the actual bandages were: they were taped all over Toshio’s body to hide some cuts and large bruises.

 

As an icebreaker, Kobayashi pulled out Toshio’s student folder.

 

“Looks like your parents are going to be late, huh? Are they out shopping?” he questioned.

 

“Together.” Toshio muttered.

 

“Together?” Kobayashi replied.

 

“Yeah.”

 

Toshio now hung his head over his shoulders. To try and continue the discussion, Kobayashi pulled out a drawing that Toshio scrawled of his parents: Kayako and Takeo.

 

“The other teachers really liked it, Toshio.” He said with no reply from Toshio. A cat meowed outside. Kobayashi went to the window to investigate.

 

As the young teacher looked out the window, a loud meow emanated from Toshio, looking evilly at the teacher.

***

On the second floor, something watched on the scene.

 

“Kobayashi-kun…” the thing whispered as it vanished from view.

 

YUKI

 

“Will this kid ever learn fractions?!” thought Yuki Murakami.

 

She had come over today because Kanna, her cousin, was having “trouble” with her math homework the day before it was due. Besides, she wanted to see their new house. Kanna’s brother Tsuyoshi was in the other room listening to some god-awful CD.

 

At least I have taste.” She thought again, smiling to herself.

 

She looked at Kanna, who stared at her math homework like some death sentence. Yuki couldn’t help but feel pity for her. Her eyes wandered to the windowsill, where Kanna’s cat figurine collection lay. Yuki just couldn’t shake off the feeling that they were staring at her, Instantly, she turned them all around so they faced the other way. Alongside her, Kanna snickered.

 

The door knocked, causing Yuki to jump a bit.

 

“Come in.” she said to their visitor.

 

Noriko, Kanna’s mother, entered the room with a tea tray and some snacks. Yuki smiled.

 

“I need to go out for awhile and get some groceries, so eat this during your break.” The woman said in a hurry. Kanna seemed annoyed.

 

Thanks, mom.” Kanna responded.

 

A meow of a cat echoed through the window, causing Yuki to glance at the figurines again as if they were alive.

 

“There’s so many of these out here. Don’t worry, Yuki. I’ll chase it away.”

 

“Maybe it’s the one we heard yesterday.” Kanna said inquisitively.

 

Noriko got up and went to the door.

 

“Study hard with your cousin, Kanna.” She reminded in a cheerful tone.

 

Before she exited the door, she turned around to Yuki.

 

“By the way, have dinner with us tonight!”

 

“Thank you, Aunt Noriko.”

 

“Just go already.” Kanna said as she shooed her off with her hand.

 

She left the room and closed the door as Kanna started on her homework yet again. Before awhile, she glanced at Yuki.

 

“Hey Yuki…do you have one? A boyfriend?”

 

Yuki rolled her eyes.

 

“That’s got nothing to do with what we’re doing!”

 

And then, Kanna struck a deal.

 

“If I get to here,” she pointed to a question on her book. “will you tell me?”

 

“Yeah. Sure.”

 

5 minutes later, she was done and they were eating snacks off Noriko’s tea tray.

 

“So do you?”

 

Yuki paused for momentum and replied…

 

“No, I don’t, but…” her voice trailed off. She was listening to something.

 

“Do you hear that?” she asked. Kanna shook her head.

 

“Quit it, Yuki. What about your ex?”

 

She didn’t answer. She kept looking at the ceiling. Suddenly, Kanna had a burst of realization.

 

“Oh god! I have to get to school!” she said in a flurry of panic.

 

“There’s school today?” said Yuki.

 

“Nah, it’s my turn to feed the rabbits with Hisayo.”

 

“The rabbits? Kanna, you spaz!” Yuki scolded.

 

As the two girls exited into the hall and down the stairs, Kanna stopped by Tsuyoshi’s door.

 

“Mi-zu-ho!” she chimed to Tsuyoshi’s annoyance.

 

“Who’s Mizuho?”

 

“Guess what? Tsuyoshi got a girlfriend!” Kanna said to Yuki’s astonishment.

 

“How is she?”

 

“Well, she’s real cute and…” Kanna started, but was cut off by Tsuyoshi.

 

“Quit running your mouth, Kanna!” Tsuyoshi said angrily.

 

All she said was “Mi-zu-ho!” and she ran out the door.

 

Yuki wished her a safe trip and headed back up to Kanna’s room.

 

At least she finished her homework.” Yuki thought.

 

She heard that noise again, like a death rattle. It still emanated from the attic. She dismissed it as nothing and pulled out her CD player and pressed play, only to hear the CD skip again and again. When she pulled off her headphones, the croak was still there.

 

Enough is enough. I’m getting out of here.” She thought as she stuffed her CD player in her purse and exited the room.

 

She emerged into darkness. And from that darkness came a black cat. In fear, Yuki rushed to the closet and climbed inside. The cat followed her, hissing at her in an evil manner. The croaking noise seemed louder and she looked up. There was a small hole right above her. Desperately trying to escape the feline menace, she clambered through the hole to look inside.

 

The attic was dark times ten and filled with cobwebs. The croaking noise was louder now.  She pulled out her trusty silver lighter to try and at least see what was going on around her. As she clicked the lighter to life, the croaking became louder…and louder…and louder. It was then she felt a light brush on her face. Whatever it was, it was right in front of her. She raised the lighter to see a pale white face, its mouth gaping with the croaking originating from its putrid vocal cords.

 

Yuki didn’t have time to think as she was pulled out of the closet and into the unknown evil.

 

MIZUHO

 

It was late in the afternoon and Mizuho Tamura was furious. It was apparent that her boyfriend Tsuyoshi Murakami had stood her up. They were supposed to go on a date, but now it looks like he had vanished.

 

“Tsuyoshi!” she called repeatedly. She was now in the high school courtyard, and up ahead was Tsuyoshi’s bike.

Why would he be here of all places?” the schoolgirl questioned.

 

Glinting in the sunlight was a small silver cell phone. Mizuho picked it up and inspected it.

 

“It can’t be Tsuyoshi’s…Mr. Omuta took his away last Friday.” She muttered.

 

“What are you doing?” a voice croaked from behind her.

 

Mizuho turned around to see Ms. Matsubara, the student supervisor. She quickly bowed and said…

 

“Excuse me ma’am, but I’m looking for my friend Tsuyoshi Murakami. Could you page him for me?”

 

“OK, but hurry up.” She grumbled.

 

Mizuho rushed inside, taking off her shoes and stuffing them into the nearest empty cubbyhole.

 

10 minutes later, Matsubara’s voice rang through the school.

 

“Calling Tsuyoshi Murakami. Tsuyoshi Murakami, please report to the science lab immediately. That is all.” The intercom boomed.

 

In the science lab, Mizuho waited expectantly. She set her gaze upon the cell phone and decided to place a quick call to the Murakami household to see if he forgot about the date. She picked up the cell phone and dialed the number.

 

“Hello, Mrs. Murakami? It’s Mizuho. Is Tsuyoshi there? No, he’s not with me…hello? Mrs. Murakami?”

 

The line went dead in her hands.

 

Frustrated, she went back to her table and flicked a desk light on and off. On and off. Suddenly, it wouldn’t come on anymore. The room was bathed in darkness.

 

“What the—“ Mizuho murmured as she looked under the table, setting down the cell phone.

 

Her suspicions were correct: the lamp was unplugged. As she reached over to plug the cord back in, she saw two small white feet pass by her range of vision. Then the cell phone started to ring. As Mizuho slowly raised her hand, she felt her heart skip a beat. She screamed in terror when instead of a phone, she felt the ankle of a small child. She covered her ears to drown out the noise of the child jumping up and down on the table. As soon as it began…it stopped.

 

She crawled out from under the table and leapt towards the door. As soon as she opened it, it didn’t take long for her to register the inky blackness of the hall outside in her mind.

 

Through all this, the silver cell phone kept ringing. Mizuho raised her head towards the LCD screen to see the phone number as:

 

44-444-44444

Mizuho reeled back in terror and looked back towards the dark hallway. Weighing the two options she had, she picked up the cell phone and answered the call.

 

“H—hello?” Mizuho barely trembled the words off her tongue.

 

All that answered was a loud meowing. At that moment, she felt something grab her cuff. She turned around to see a little boy as white as a ghost, whining and meowing like a cat.

 

KANNA

 

In the city morgue, Dr. Mitsuo sat in the corner staring at the covered body several feet away. The white sheet that covered the body had eerie splotches of blood, a grim foreshadowing of what lay beneath.

 

The door to the right of him opened, and so entered Det. Yoshikawa and Det. Kamio.

 

“This is the corpse we found at the school?”

 

“Yes it is, Detective. I have to say…I’ve never seen such a corpse. It’s as if she was twisted and turned by some unnatural force.”

 

 “You say you found rabbit fur mixed in with the blood?”

 

“Yes, but aside from that, there’s no evidence of a second person involved…except for this.”

 

Dr. Mitsuo brought out a small tin container covered with a piece of white sheet. He lifted the fabric and showed the “evidence” to the two detectives.

 

“A jaw?”

 

“A human jaw, detective. By the way, did you identify the corpse?”

 

Det. Yoshikawa pulled out three photographs from his pocket.

 

“Ms. Matsubara said that she only saw three girls come into the school. This is Hisayo Yoshida, Mizuho Tamura, and Kanna Murakami. Ms. Tamura seems to have disappeared, while your corpse is Ms. Yoshida.”

 

“And what of Murakami?”

 

“Her body wasn’t found either.”

 

They all glanced towards the tin container, realization over their faces.

 

Noriko returned to an empty house late in the afternoon. She was looking forward to having dinner with Yuki and couldn’t wait to see Kanna’s progress on her homework.

 

“Kanna! Help me carry in the groceries!” she shouted upstairs as she opened the door. There was no answer.

 

“Tsuyoshi!” she shouted again as she walked up the stairs. She started into Tsuyoshi’s room, but he wasn’t there.

 

Probably went out with his girlfriend.” She thought. The phone rang from downstairs.

 

She ran down the stairs and answered the phone.

 

“Hello? Oh, Mizuho! No, Tsuyoshi’s not here…I thought he was with you.”

 

The front door opened and she saw a figure come in out of the corner of her eye.

 

“Hold on, Mizuho. I think he’s here now.” She said as she laid down the phone.

 

She approached the lurching figure as it came up the stairs. Noriko could pick out a school uniform amidst the darkness. It must be Kanna.

 

“Kanna, have you seen—“ but her voice stopped as she looked down on the foot of the stairs. There was blood. Lots and lots of blood.

 

“Who…are you?” Noriko murmured to the bloodstained person. It was her last words.

 

Slowly, the figure raised its blood-splattered head and turned around. Noriko screamed in utmost terror as she gazed upon Kanna, a toothy red hole where her jaw used to be.

 

TSUYOSHI

 

Tsuyoshi Murakami rode his bike into the courtyard of the local high school and waited for Mizuho. He couldn’t help but think he was a bit harsh to Kanna, so he decided to make it up to her later after his date.

 

It was then he noticed a small silver cell phone on a rock near a big tree. It was ringing. He walked silently to the phone and picked it up, looking at the LCD screen.

 

44-444-44444

 

Dismissing the coincidental number, he answered the call.

 

“Hello?”

 

All he heard was a loud meowing. He started looking around the courtyard as if expecting to see Mizuho in the bushes playing a prank. He didn’t see anyone. A large gale whipped through the trees.

 

“Where are you?” he asked.

 

“I’m standing right next to you.” Replied the voice of a little boy. Tsuyoshi suddenly felt the urge to look behind him.

 

He turned to see a pale white little boy, meowing like a cat.

 

 

HISAYO

 

“Kanna, hurry up with those rabbit pellets!” Hisayo Yoshida said as she cleaned out the rabbit cage.

 

Kanna was in a corner with the rabbits, stroking them and petting them.

 

“Yeah, Hisayo. I’m coming.” Kanna said, annoyed.

 

She rushed towards the rabbit cage, cutting herself on the metal bars in the process. A small whimper of pain escaped Kanna’s mouth.

 

“Hang on, Kanna. I’ll get you a band-aid.” Hisayo said as she exited the room.

 

The school seemed a lot creepier with nobody in it, Hisayo thought. Luckily, the first aid cabinet was right down the hall. As she came to it, she heard a faint noise down the hall…like a death rattle. She dismissed it as nothing and got a band-aid from the cabinet.

 

A scream pierced the hallway silence. Kanna!

 

Hisayo ran back to the classroom to find the rabbit slaughtered in its trashed cage. Hisayo clicked on her emergency flashlight clipped to her belt and started looking for Kanna. The noise seemed louder now.

 

She turned around to see a pale white woman on the floor in a bloody garbage bag crawling towards her. Hisayo fell to her feet and crawled backwards. She stopped in terror as she felt something behind her, dripping with blood. Hisayo felt herself take a bludgeon to the head, and her vision became blurry. Her last images were of a small boy, the crawling woman, and Kanna, missing her lower jaw.

 

A second scream pierced the hallway, followed by a silent croaking death rattle.

 

KAYAKO

 

It was now sunset, and Toshio’s parents hadn’t returned home. Kobayashi still waited at the living room window, occasionally glancing to see a sleeping Toshio on the couch. He punched in Manami’s number and waited. A voice came on the line.

 

“Hello, Kobayashi Residence.” She said.

 

“Manami? It’s Shunsuke.”

 

“Finally you call! I’ve been worried sick!”

 

“I’m sorry…I’m still at a student’s house. His parents haven’t come home yet.”

 

“I’ll give you thirty minutes. Honestly, Shunsuke…”

 

A doorbell rang on the other line. He wasn’t expecting any visitors…

 

“Someone’s at the door. I’ll call you back later. Bye!”

 

He clicked off the phone and put it in his pocket. He looked down to see a torn up photo. Rearranging the pieces like a puzzle, he derived a family portrait. Toshio and his father, Takeo, were grinning at the camera. Kayako’s face was crudely torn out. He glanced over his shoulder habitually, only to see the couch vacant.

 

“Toshio?” he said loudly. He heard voices on the second floor. One was a child’s: the other’s was…a woman’s?

 

Kobayashi slowly walked up the stairs as to catch bits of the conversation.

 

“Mother, did I do it correctly?”

 

“Yes, you did.”

 

“Will dad be coming?”

 

“Very soon.”

 

Kobayashi was now at the bedroom door where the voices were. He opened it…and Toshio was drawing on the floor. Relaxed, he glanced around the room to see drawings of cats. Lots of cats.

 

“Toshio, was someone in here with you?” he questioned.

 

“Kobayashi-kun…” It was the woman’s voice. Kobayashi, determined to find the voice, stepped out of the room and into the hall.

 

He looked over the balcony into the foyer, but there was no one there. Behind him, he heard a door creak. He turned around to see the door to the master bedroom fully open. He reluctantly entered.

 

The bedroom was strewn with papers. Kobayashi stepped through the papers and to the main desk, which had photographs on it. All the photographs featuring Kayako had her face torn out like the portrait. He wavered his glance upwards to see a journal. Inscribed on the front cover was “Kayako Kawamata”. He opened to some random pages and began to read.

 

“Today Kobayashi’s eyes met with mine…”

 

“…I saw him in a comic book store. He’s browsing, as usual…”

 

“I’m in love with a person who doesn’t acknowledge my existence…”

 

“I’m pregnant with a child. The doctor says it’s a boy…”

 

The rest of the pages were either bloody or scrawled with one word: KOBAYASHI. He dropped the journal and it landed on a torn page, revealing a poorly drawn eye. It seemed alive, staring at him.

 

“Kobayashi-kun…” the voice rang out, louder this time.

 

It was coming from the closet.

 

Kobayashi stepped wearily towards the closet, a light buzzing coming from the inside. He opened the closet to find many flies buzzing towards the open attic door. Pulling out a lighter, Kobayashi raised it up in the attic to get a better view. He wished he hadn’t.

 

Inside the attic, wrapped up in a garbage bag, was the body of Kayako Saeki.

 

He ran out of the room and picked up Toshio.

 

“Toshio, we have to leave. NOW.” He shouted.

 

They were down the stairs in a flash. Then he realized something.

 

He ran into the living room and left, gathering up his briefcase and files.

 

When he was in the foyer, his cell phone rang. He dropped the stuff he was carrying and pulled the phone out of his pocket.

 

“Hello?”

 

“This is the teacher right?”

“Who is this?”

 

“Takeo Saeki. Kayako’s husband.” His voice was bitter and cold.

 

Kobayashi’s face went pale.

 

“Look, I…”

 

“I know all about you and Kayako. That’s why we’re changing places. Up to now I’ve raised Toshio…now it’s your turn.”

 

“Changing places? What?”

 

“Mr. Teacher, your baby’s been born.”

 

Kobayashi felt time stand still.

 

“I see that it’s a girl.” He laughed.

 

The cell phone dropped as Kobayashi slid to the floor. Kobayashi didn’t hear Takeo scream in terror, followed by a croak like a death rattle. Wherever Takeo Saeki was, Kayako had got to him.

 

Still in shock, Kobayashi didn’t notice Toshio pick up his cell phone and start talking.

 

“Mom? I have him. Yes. Yes.” Toshio said as if in a trance. After he finished, he emitted a low sigh.

 

Sounds of cracks and croaks filled the air as Kobayashi looked up. Whatever it was, it was coming towards the stairs. A bloody arm came out of the darkness, then another, followed by a face. Kayako Saeki was very much alive. She came down the stairs, lunging, crushing, grabbing for Kobayashi. He backed towards the door, grabbing and feeling for the door handle. He finally grabbed ahold of it and opened the door. It wouldn’t budge, opening just a little.

 

“Kobayashi-kun…”

 

Kobayashi looked up to see Kayako’s head through the crack, lunging for him.

 

Several feet away, Toshio made the meow of a cat through Kobayashi’s silver cell phone.

 

KYOKO

 

The young and pretty Kyoko Suzuki walked towards her brother’s real estate business.

 

“What could he possibly want this time?” she muttered to herself as she walked through the sliding door. Her brother Tatsuya greeted her and offered her some sake.

 

“Tatsuya, isn’t Nobuyuki waiting for you at home?” she scolded.

 

“Fine, let’s get down to business. I need you to look at a property with me.”

 

“Why?”

 

“This house has a history. Everyone that’s lived there has died. You’re psychic, so I was wondering if there was anything…unusual there.”

 

“Fine…where is it?”

***

It was now late in the afternoon, and Tatsuya was unlocking the door to the Murakami residence. When he was finished, they stepped inside and into the foyer.

 

“I hope the buyer doesn’t mind buying the house as is…” Tatsuya said.

 

Kyoko felt a presence towards the window on the second floor. She could’ve sworn she saw a woman. She blinked…and it disappeared.

 

“Are you alright?” Tatsuya questioned.

 

“It’s not just those people who died here.” Kyoko whispered.

 

In a trance, she moved upstairs and into the master bedroom. The light inside flickered on and off.

 

“Tatsuya,” she shouted downstairs. “Get me some distilled alcohol!”

 

Tatsuya did as she requested, bringing her the bottle of sake. She took a big swig from it and spluttered. She ran towards the window to the outside and spat it out, coughing. She turned towards Tatsuya.

 

“Distilled alcohol is used in exorcism,” she said raspily. “Because it’s able to absorb large amounts of psychic energy. Leave the sake in this room. Whenever someone wants to buy the house, make them sip this sake. If they spit it out, they can’t be allowed to live here. Promise me, Tatsuya!”

 

“I don’t understand.” Was all he said.

 

“There’s nothing more I can do here.” Kyoko said quietly as she descended the stairs and out into the night sky.

 

***

“What? You sold it?!” Kyoko shouted into her cell phone.

 

“It’s alright. I made them drink the sake.” Tatsuya replied as he sat in his office.

 

Kyoko had nothing more to listen to as she shut off the phone and ran towards the Saeki house.

 

***

 

When she finally arrived, the front window was drawn open. Kyoko stood paralyzed in fear, finally realizing what the curse, the Ju-on, had become.

 

The placard that read Kitada was to her a farce. Standing at the window, looking straight at her, was none other than…

 

Kayako Saeki.

 

The End?