Cliffhangers, Part 7
A suspension of Cliffhanger Week
Last time on Cliffhangers....
IJD: Some people just have a high tolerance for pain and bodily damage, I guess.
Zeke: That doesn't prove anything. We could be in a taxicab.
Marc: That's because you're still hiding under the seat.
IJD: What an offal way to die.
Derek: No, that's Boris Karloff from The Mummy in 1932.
Kira: It wasn't much of a scare. We're surrounded on three sides by stock footage of attacking monsters, but the way back towards the police car is still wide open.
Marc: A situation easily remedied.
5MV Staff: AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!
And now, the conclusion....
Derek: There's no escape! We're doomed!
IJD: Wait, I just had a thought. Everybody remember Star Trek II?
Kira: Of course. They made that remake just recently, after all.
Kira: Star Trek: Nemesis.
Zeke: Ziing! The extra I means extra zing!
IJD: Look, Wrath of Khan, First Contact, "The Loss," it doesn't matter. The point is that humans think in two-dimensional terms. But in real life you can't be surrounded on only four sides.
Marc: You're expecting us to move along the z-axis?
IJD: It's easy! Just think happy thoughts!
Zeke: Or throw yourself at the ground and miss!
Derek: Or be from another planet and jump really hard!
Sa'ar Chasm: Yeah! If you're falling off a cliff, you might as well try to fly!
Sa'ar Chasm: I'll go now.
Kira: I guess it's worth a shot. Let's do it.
(The five staffers manage to elevate themselves by one means or another. Moments later, the four monster footages crash together and instantly disappear.)
Derek: What was that about?
Marc: Destructive interference of light waves. That's also why the sky is blue.
(The staffers land with varying degrees of success.)
IJD: There's something else weird, though. Did anyone else notice how slowly those monsters were going?
Kira: Yeah, they took like three weeks to reach us. We had time for a whole debate.
Zeke: Naturally. Back in the old days, moviemakers understood that horror isn't about gore and violence. It's about the slow burn, the building up of terror. They weren't willing to trade genuine fear for cheap startle shots. Now modern directors, with their Freddies and their Jasons, they don't get....
(Kira suddenly perks up. As Zeke continues his rant, she beckons the other three and starts whispering something. One by one, they nod. Kira grins evilly.)
Zeke: ...I mean come on, if you just take a step back and realize you're making a horror film about the Tooth Fairy, how can you live with yourself? Okay, I'm done. ....Guys?
(Zeke looks around, but he can't see anyone else. Everything has gone dark. Then, without warning, he finds himself tied to a chair in front of a TV set, on which strange black-and-white images start to appear.)
Zeke: Oh no. NO! Get me out of here!
(Zeke squirms desperately, but can't escape. The images continue, ending with a decrepit-looking stone well in the middle of a field. The TV goes into static and then turns off.)
Zeke: Great. Just great. You can untie me now, the damage is done.
(The other four Cliffhangers return. The lights go on, revealing the location to be a cabin somewhere in the woods. IJD unties Zeke, who immediately turns to Kira.)
Zeke: This was definitely your idea.
Kira: Yep. By the way, phone's for you.
(Kira hands Zeke the phone, which he takes with a sigh.)
Samara: (over the phone) SEVEN DAYS.
Zeke: Hmm, no subtitle. So it was Samara, not Sadako.
IJD: What's the difference?
Zeke: Samara has better special effects.
IJD: That doesn't make Sadako any lower in quality!
Zeke: Anyway, congratulations, guys. You've successfully gotten me cursed to die in seven days. And you know what? Lenny Bruce is not afraid.
Zeke: I feel fine.
(Smiling all of a sudden, Zeke ejects the tape from the VCR and leaves the cabin.)
Kira: Oh crap. He's right.
Marc: About what?
Kira: The Ring was sort of a detective story. The characters spent most of it trying to figure out how the curse worked and whether you could break it. But Zeke already knows that stuff. He can just get himself un-cursed right away.
Derek: How do you get un-cursed, anyway? I remember something about copying the tape....
Kira: And showing the copy to someone else, yeah. That's how the curse spreads.
Marc: I doubt we can stop him from doing that. You can get a tape copied in any number of ways.
IJD: Not necessarily. This is our fantasy, isn't it?
(A while later, Zeke returns.)
Zeke: Funny story. I'm going to town to get a tape copied, right? And when I get there, I discover that there aren't any stores anywhere.
Zeke: So I figure I can just go to a university or a school or any place with an A/V lab and get it copied there. But I can't find any of those either, and no one can give me directions to one.
Zeke: I'll say. Made me wonder if there were some mysterious forces working against me. But if so, the joke's on them.
Zeke: Yep. I just got myself a blank tape, a microscope, and a really precise magnet, and copied every inch of the video by hand. It took nine hours, but it was worth it. Now I just need to show someone this video and I'm home free.
(Zeke walks out the door again. The other four exchange glances.)
IJD: Right. Forgot he was nuts.
Marc: No worries. I've watched enough Twilight Zone to know how to handle this. Right, Kira?
Kira: I was thinking X-Files, but yes indeed.
(A short while later, Zeke returns.)
Zeke: Well, that was interesting. It turns out there are no people anywhere in the world.
Marc: You don't say.
Zeke: Yep. Guess I have no way of escaping the curse. So much for me.
Kira: You're taking this well.
(At the sound of the word "well," Zeke finally loses it. He starts running around the room in circles, knocking things over and screaming. Finally he huddles under a chair.)
Zeke: I'm gonna die! I'm gonna die! It's not fair! I know exactly what to do, but there's no one I can show the video to! NO ONE!
(Zeke suddenly pauses. Slowly, he turns his head to look at the other four Cliffhangers.)
Derek: Uh oh.
Zeke: No one... except you guys.
IJD: C'mon. You don't want to do that. We're your friends.
Zeke: (getting up) A man with his neck in the guillotine has no friends.
Marc: Now calm down, Zeke. Let's be ratioFIRE IN THE HOLE!
(Marc suddenly dives, whips out two guns, and pumps twelve bullets into the television set.)
IJD: You still have those?
Kira: Ha! Smart move, Marc. Now he can't make us watch the video.
Zeke: True. Of course, I don't need to.
Zeke: Didn't I ever tell you about the revelations in the Japanese sequel, Rasen? Where it became clear that the Ring Virus could be communicated in more than one way? You don't need to watch the video to get cursed. You just need to know the story -- who Samara/Sadako was, how she died, how her curse works. As soon as you hear it, or read or watch or whatever, you're hosed.
IJD: You're making that up.
Zeke: Am I?
Derek: And didn't you say we were in the American version?
Zeke: Yes. But maybe I was lying. Or maybe the Japanese rules apply here too. Can you afford to take the chance?
Zeke: Once upon a time there was a little girl named Samara Morgan....
Kira, IJD, Marc, and Derek: AAAAAA!
(The four Cliffhangers take off in different directions, covering their ears.)
Zeke: Not a problem. I have seven days left to find one of them. They can run, but they can't hide....
Zeke: Okay, maybe they can hide. I need a better plan. Hey, I know! Computer?
Zeke: I want you to analyze all the sounds you're currently detecting. Tune out everything that comes from normal operations, and play back what's left at a higher volume.
Computer: Acknowledged... wait. This cabin isn't computerized.
Zeke: Just go with it.
(From the cabin's speakers (?) comes what sounds at first like a heartbeat. The sound slowly changes until it becomes clear that there are in fact two heartbeats slipping in and out of phase.)
Zeke: I knew it! Now I just need to check the cabin for my stowaway. Where's --
Derek: (behind Zeke) BOO!
(Zeke and Derek stare.)
Nan: I'll go now.
Derek: Well, that spoiled my shock attempt. How did you know I was here, anyway?
Zeke: This fantasy was partially constructed by IJD. It had to be susceptible to the "Court Martial" trick. Here's one for you: why hide in the very cabin I was in?
Derek: It was the last place you'd look.
Zeke: But I did look here. This was the first place I looked.
Zeke: True. Which reminds me, want to hear the details of Samara Morgan's disturbed life? There were these horses and --
(Derek clubs Zeke over the head with his FBI bazooka and takes off.)
Zeke: If IJD's anywhere, he'll be here. And if he's here, he'll be here.
(Zeke is standing at the entrance of Canada's Wonderland. A poster outside says "SPECIAL PROMOTION: Free Roller Coaster Rides Today For All Floridans! © 2005, This Is Not A Fake Poster Productions.")
Zeke: Between this and all those flyers I had This Is Not A Fake Flyer Productions send out, IJD is sure to show up. Now I just need to go in and wait for him.
Ticket Guy: Can I help you?
Zeke: One, please. Physical adult, mental toddler.
Ticket Guy: Sure. Hang on a minute, I need to look up the conversion rate.
(While waiting, Zeke takes a look around. He suddenly spots someone a few ticket booths away wearing an oversized hoodie that conceals his entire face. On the back is the motto "Zelda Hyrules.")
(Shortly thereafter, Zeke is in the theme park, tracking the hoodied man. As he follows at a distance, he picks up a sheet of paper and starts jotting something down.)
Carnie: Hey! That was MY sheet of paper! I'm making a list of how many suckers are born each minute!
Zeke: Tell me about it. Do you have any idea how many are born in five?
(Ten minutes later, the hoodied man is in line for the Mighty Canadian Minebuster, and Zeke has finished writing. He sticks the sheet of paper on the man's back and hides behind a nearby tree.)
Guy Behind Hoodied Man In Line: Oo! Permission! (KICK)
Hoodied Man: What the --? What was that for?
Guy Behind Hoodied Man In Line: Sign on your back, dude.
Hoodied Man: What sign on... (reaches behind self and yanks off the sign) -- Hey! Who stuck this here?
Scooter: Who, indeed!
Scooter: Well, I'm not going anywhere.
Hoodied Man: (examining the sign) "KICK ME. ALSO, ZELDA LINKS." Is that supposed to be a pun on "stinks"?
(Zeke mutters, "I knew that needed work.")
Hoodied Man: Wait, there's a whole other section here in small print. "Disturbed by the death of her niece Katie under mysterious circumstances, Rachel Keller began to investigate a strange rumour about a videotape with the power to kill. After finding and viewing the tape herself, Keller was quickly convinced that she had only seven days to --" Wait just a freaking minute here!
IJD GAF: (pulling hood back) Zeke! I know you're here somewhere!
Zeke: (stepping out) And I knew you'd be here. You could never resist the lure of a wooden roller coaster!
IJD: It's wooden?
Zeke: Yep. Like cedar.
Zeke: Well, I figured...
IJD: I just like roller coasters.
Zeke: Whatever. Now finish reading!
IJD: Hey, that's a good idea. I think I'll -- So long, sucker!
(IJD, having now reached the front of the line, hands his ticket to the park employee and dashes through the gate. The employee closes it.)
Zeke: Wait! Open up! I have to cause that guy's death!
Employee: Sorry, you'll have to wait for the next ride.
(Zeke shakes his fists at the sky.)
Guy Behind Hoodied Man In Line: Uh, can't you just wait for him at the exit?
Zeke: That would be impossible.
Kira: This dark alley sure is dark.
Marc: It's atmospheric. Any news?
Kira: Derek and IJD have both reported encounters with Zeke. IJD added that he's starting to get subtle.
Marc: Really? We may actually have something to worry about here.
Kira: But probably not.
Marc: Yeah. Remind me again why we don't just make it Day 7?
Marc: Which in this particular situation mean...
Kira: It's more fun this way.
(Out of the corner of her eye, Kira notices something moving on the wall. She spins around, and is relieved to see only --)
Kira: Shadow puppets! Cool. I didn't know you could do those, Marc.
Marc: I can't. I thought it was you.
(They watch for a moment.)
Marc: That one looked like an eagle.
Kira: Yeah. I think the one before was a wolf.
Marc: And the one we're seeing now looks like a little girl getting pushed into a well from behind.
Kira: Wow, it does, doesn't it? Very -- HEY! Okay, Zeke, where are you?
Zeke: (in the window of one of the buildings, holding a flashlight) Dammit!
Zeke: Hey, wait a minute! There were PEOPLE at Canada's Wonderland! I can just go back and show one of THEM the tape!
(He does, only to find --)
Zeke: "Park closed due to no longer being dramatically necessary." Figures.
(Zeke stares for a moment at the enormous Ferris wheel in the distance.)
Zeke: Just like a ring. One day left. What am I going to do?
Scooter: (muttering) How can you hide something that big in a city this small?
Zeke: Hide what?
Scooter: The transmitter. The Nestene Consciousness is controlling every single piece of plastic, so it needs a transmitter to boost the signal.
Zeke: What's it look like?
Scooter: Like a transmitter. Round and massive, somewhere slam-bang in the middle of Toronto. A huge, metal, circular structure... like a dish, like a wheel. Right close to where we're standing. It must be completely invisible!
(Zeke stares. From his angle, the Ferris wheel is right behind Scooter's head.)
(Zeke nods at the Ferris wheel.)
Scooter: (turns to look, turns back) What?
(Zeke nods again.)
Scooter: (turns to look, turns back) What is it? What?
(Zeke tries one more time.)
Scooter: (turns to look... then stares for a good long moment) Oh! Fantastic!
Zeke: Yeah, whatever. Tell me, have you ever heard the name Samara Morgan?
Scooter: Doesn't ring a bell.
Zeke: Heh heh. Ring, indeed... Let me tell you, then. There's this place called Moesko Island --
(Suddenly someone grabs Scooter by the arm.)
(He pulls the confused Scooter along and the two of them run off into the distance. Zeke sighs with frustration.)
Zeke: Must everyone make a dummy out of me?
(The daylight is fading. Out in a field in the middle of nowhere, far from TVs and anything else with screens, Zeke is writing something in a notebook.)
Zeke: "To whoever finds this notebook... If you are reading this, I am dead. My killer is a hideous undead monster who spreads her curse of death through a videotape. You who read this have only one way to save yourself: kill anyone, friend or enemy, who offers you a tape of any kind."
(Zeke pauses, thinking.)
Zeke: "It might also be prudent to firebomb your local Blockbuster Video."
(Unnoticed by Zeke, something is slowly creeping up behind him. It stops at a distance of about twenty feet.)
Zeke: Huh? (turns around) HOLY CRAP!
(The voice has, naturally, come from a well. Old and mouldy-looking, it sits nondescriptly in the field.)
Zeke: That was NOT here before! Who put it here?
Voice: Who do you think?
(A moment of silence passes... and then, slowly, something starts to emerge from the well. Something with long black hair. Zeke is too terrified even to --)
Samara: That's right. I'm coming for you. I'M COMING....
(Now fully out of the well, Samara shambles towards Zeke, stopping right in front of him. Her hair begins to part....)
(....revealing a cold, merciless eye....)
(....that does nothing whatsoever.)
Zeke: Whoa! I'm still alive?
Samara: (looking behind her) IJD, hammer.
Zeke: Waaaaaait a minute here....
(IJD emerges from the well and hands Samara the Hammer of Smiting, which she brings around smoothly into the side of Zeke's head.)
Samara: Heh heh. That was fun.
Zeke: I'm going to go out on a limb here and guess that I'm not actually about to die.
IJD: Nope. We've had our kicks now.
Zeke: (to Samara) I can't believe I didn't recognize you, Kira. The black hair's an interesting look.
Kira: What are you talking about?
(Kira has just emerged from the well. Zeke looks back and forth from her to Samara.)
Zeke: What the... oh. A cameo? Celeste, maybe?
Samara: This is our fantasy, remember? We can change things. Observe.
(Samara gradually shifts into --)
Zeke: (eyes go wide) ....Right. I vote we put this behind us.
Derek: Agreed. It's time to move on. After all, we only have another year to think of the next adventure theme. It's gonna be tight.
IJD: What time is it, anyway?
Kira: (checks watch) 5:58. Or 7:58 to you guys, I guess.
Derek: ....Oh NO.
Marc: What's the matter? Didn't you say earlier that there was nothing wrong with that?
Derek: That was 7:57, you fool! There IS something wrong with 7:58!
Zeke: Like what?
Derek: What time do you think you watched the video?
(A moment of silence passes. Slowly, everyone turns around to look at the well.)
Kira: That looks like....
Marc: Stone. It was a cardboard prop before.
(Everyone suddenly leaps back as a pair of ghastly arms reaches over the lip of the well.)
IJD: We've gotta get out of here!
Kira: Another fantasy! Quick!
Derek: Can we do that? There haven't been two in a row by the same person so far. That only leaves....
Marc: Zeke! Think of something!
(Samara is now out of the well, struggling to her feet.)
Kira: (shaking Zeke by the shirt) We don't have time for "soon"! We need another cliffhanger NOW!
Zeke: Okay! Here goes!
Derek: Well, it's a cliffhanger.
Kira: You think?
(The staffers are all hanging onto a rope, tied to a tree at the top of a cliff. The drop is at least five hundred feet.)
Zeke: Samara's gone. That's what really matters.
IJD: Maybe. On the other hand, we are all dangling from a cliff.
Derek: And none of us have any climbing experience.
Kira: And we don't have parachutes.
Marc: And the rope is fraying up here at the top.
Zeke: Ehh, we'll be fine. We just need to keep level heads and, above all, not look down.
(Everyone, including Zeke, immediately looks down.)
Zeke, Kira, Marc, IJD, and Derek: AAAAAAAAAAAAA!
TO BE CONTINUED....
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DISCLAIMER: Will we still dare to use copyrighted material? Will we get sued? Tune in next week for these answers and more!
All material © 2005, Colin Hayman.