Saturday, March 24, 2012
Left to her own devices, Jane continues her research into symbolic alternatives for mercury. Neopagans seem to use aluminum, although one person makes reference to mastic gum as an edible substitute, although some people claim it makes them nauseous.
While continuing to look around her apartment in an effort to determine what has happened the past few weeks, she finds a package shoved in the back of her underwear drawer. It appears to be a rectangular prism nearly seven and a half inches long by a little over four inches wide and 1 inch thick wrapped in plain brown paper. Scrawled across the wrapper, in Shelly’s hand, is simply the message, “KEEP IT SAFE!” Jane grabs something to poke at it, noting that it makes a plastic-sounding rattle when it moves. She otherwise does not touch it.
Jane texts Tommy, letting him know about the object and asking for his assistance. He agrees to come over right away. While Jane is waiting for him, she gets some snacks together. Rupert calls, asking after Jane and making certain she is all right; she notes that Tommy is about to come over, but can they meet tomorrow? Rupert agrees.
Tommy arrives a short while later. He evidently doesn’t sense anything from the package, and feeling a bit more confident about it, Jane opens the parcel. It appears to be a black VHS cassette, with a yellowed label that has long since been torn away. As neither Jane nor Tommy owns a VCR, they don’t have any way to view it. They decide to let it go for a day or two, but Tommy soon returns to the subject, suggesting they go to a secondhand store and purchase a VCR.
A quick trip to Salvation Army, and they return and attach the device to the television. The tape is a little grainy, and is obviously raw footage complete with timecode. A label on the letterbox marks the film title as Sorority Sexposé. It is quickly revealed to be a pornographic film, depicting a woman dressed as a cheerleader engaging in sexual intercourse with two men dressed as football players. It has all the hackneyed dialogue and awkward sex one might expect of a low-budget production; judging by the hair styles, it was probably filmed in the mid-1990s. Early on, however, Tommy obliquely indicates arousal, suggesting something esoteric is about to happen. During the climax of the sex scene, the woman on-screen glows with an inner light that grows brighter and brighter until the screen is completely enveloped in white. Something about the scene is moving, almost ecstatic.
After an awkward pause, Tommy says he’ll take his leave. He doesn’t feel comfortable talking to his associates about this, but he recommends asking Tom and Shake about it. He leaves. After sitting in dumbstruck silence, Jane considers the fact that Shelly must have sent her the tape before she disappeared. She then returns to scouring the internet for information on Dr. Wakahisa, to no avail.
The next day, Jane meets Rupert for coffee at the Book Cellar around noon. He asks if she is well, and after an awkward conversation where she talks a little more broadly about her strange experiences of late, he asks if she is in danger or if drugs are involved. She doesn’t know about the former, but assures him that no drugs are involved. If only it were that easy.
He recommends that perhaps she should seek professional help, and she accepts that possibility. She asks if he has any recommendations; he says he’ll check on it when he gets home. She thanks him, and after an awkward good bye, they part company.
After Jane returns to her apartment, she prepares for work tomorrow. When Rupert texts her a name — a Dorothy T. Grunes — she thanks him and calls her office, leaving a message in the hopes that the office will return her call shortly.