Seven Days: Koji Suzuki’s novel Ring and Nakata’s Ringu

brittawrites

[Largely spoiler-free, beyond public knowledge of the tropes of Ringu and knock-offs]

An urban legend. Your friends challenge you to watch a cursed video — they claim that after you watch it, you will die in seven days. Ghastly imagery. Unexplained deaths. ‘A friend of a friend knew someone who …”. Seeing reflections in mirrors that aren’t there. The confirmation phone call: “Seven days”. Distorted photographs. Pirate broadcasts. Static TV stations. A ghostly hand reaching from the TV, and a girl with long black hair and a white dress crawls from the video into your living room. Seven days.

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Before it was a trope, an icon, a phenomenon, a defining moment in horror, or even a movie, Ring was a book, a novel by Koji Suzuki. Published in 1991, Ring was not translated into English until 2003. Far from a straight-forward horror author, Suzuki specializes in works that bend the nature of…

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Contours

An eight year-old from the neighborhood is the first to find me. The two-inch-tall grass around my eyes compels me to look straight up into the sky overhead, so I feel him before I see him. The boy shifts his weight from foot to foot, pushing dirt down around each of my kneecaps in turn. Had I buried myself deeper, his load would be less, but the sod cutter only allows for two-and-a-half inches of earth between me and the surface.

I think I might be showing. Perhaps there’s a fault between the two belts of turf I pulled into place overhead. Maybe the boy has studied this spot as I have, has learned its contours, was drawn by the addition of my presence. Stepping onto my chest, the boy looms into view, blocking my view of the sky. I try not to cry as my ribs flex.

The boy looks down into my eyes. I make promises to my future self. Next time I will not cut a hole for my eyes. Next time I will be a tree. Tomorrow I’ll hollow out a tree and wear it as a carapace. Pleaching the plant around my form, I’ll become a part of the landscape that no one will walk on.

Now the boy lies down and looks into my eyes. I shut them tight against his hungry gaze.

Stretched across the ground, his weight is negligible. I wonder what he wants, how long he intends to stay. The grass conducts his heat into the cool earth above me. I imagine myself as a tree and realize that no one ever really hugs a tree.

I open my eyes. He is still up there looking at me. Maybe the tree can wait.

from Philip K. Dick’s Galactic Pot-Healer

BIG OTHER

“[T]here are no small matters. Just as there is no small life. The life of an insect, a spider, his life is as large as yours, and yours is as large as mine. Life is life. You wish to live as much as I do; you have spent seven months of hell, waiting day after day for what you needed . . . the way a spider waits. Think about the spider, Joe Fernwright. He makes his web. Then he makes a little silk cave at the end of the web to sit in. He holds strands that lead to every part of the web, so that he will know when something to eat, something he must have to live, arrives. He waits. A day goes by. Two days. A week. He waits on; there is nothing he can do but wait. The little fisherman of the night . …

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