There’s this mountain in the village where my grandma lives, and in that mountain there’s this amazingly beautiful, emerald green pond. It’s so green it’s almost blue, it feels like a transparent pastel colour, whatever you want to call it, it’s really beautiful. However the children of the village are told never to go near it.
Whenever I asked why the answer was always the same. “Children don’t need to know. Just don’t go there.”
But kids will be kids so of course I wanted to know more. I asked my grandma and adults from the village about the special features of the pond. If it was really that beautiful I wanted to see it for myself.
The other kids in the village felt the same, and whenever I went to visit the village we’d start talking about going to see it. But if the adults were warning that strongly about it, well rumours started amongst the kids that “If you go to that pond you’ll never come back.”
“I heard that it’s bottomless so if you fall in it you’ll die,” people would say, so we never put our words into action.
But when I entered junior high school and returned to the village, the kids I used to play with when I was a child (as follows: Taro, Jiro, Hanako. Taro and Hanako were twins. Jiro was their cousin), they were like “if you really can’t return from there, how come everyone knows what the pond looks like?”
“If there really was a bottomless pond these days they would fill it in.” They started to say things that were more realistic, and I agreed.
In the end we came to the conclusion that “Is there really even a pond? It’s not just some story they made up?”
With that we decided. “Let’s go check it out!”
The four of us met up early in the morning and made for the mountain. The mountain itself was only small, so even if we got lost we figured we’d be able to find our way out by nightfall and didn’t take the situation very seriously.
Especially because myself, Taro and Hanako were now junior high school students, and Jiro was a second grader who did judo, so he said if worst came to worst and a bear or some wild dog attacked he would do some overhead throw and defeat them, haha. It made us feel better, even though we knew it was impossible.
While we were talking about these things and tired after walking around for close to three hours we found a strange place where the trees grew really densely. I can’t explain it very well, but in just that spot the trees were really numerous, like they’d been forcibly planted there. There weren’t even any animal trails.
“It’s absolutely here, just looking at it it’s suspicious,” Hanako said from the front of the line. She was a tomboy and although us three boys were trembling she went straight through a gap in the trees ahead of us.
There was nothing we could do so we followed her. Then, just as we thought, there was the pond.
Centre of the Earth? Whatever that movie is called, it was just like a scene out of that. In reality it was clearer than I ever imagined, it was so beautiful.
But thanks to the trees it was kinda gloomy, and a small cabin? beside the pond spoiled the view.
At first everyone was real excited, and we collected water from the pond in bottles that Hanako had prepared.
But that little cabin continued to make us feel uneasy.
Rather than calling it a little cabin it was long, like a small hut had been lengthened out. Just looking at it, it was dirty and creepy. Like a mountain witch or something lived there.
Then Jiro was like, “If there’s a mountain witch in there I’m just gonna overhead throw her~” and went inside. We went to follow him but then out of nowhere Taro spit out “No way, I’m not going. I’ll stay here.”
Hanako was sick of him acting like a weakling, but Taro stubbornly refused to concede.
“If you wanna go, then just you and Jiro-chan can go. Ume-chan (myself) and I will just wait here. Yeah?”
For some reason I was the only one held back. Despite being scared I actually wanted to go inside the small cabin, but if something bad happened to Taro, even though he was a scaredy-cat too frightened to actually put his plans into actions, well that would be awful so I decided to stay. I waved the two off as they entered the cabin and sat by the green of the pond to talk with Taro.
“Why don’t you wanna go in there, are you scared?”
“I don’t like it. It’s scary.”
“Well then why is it okay for Hanako and Jiro-chan to go in?”
To which Taro replied,
“Hana-chan is always mean to me, I hate her. Jiro-chan always acts tough but it’s all just words so I hate him too. So whatever. If they die I don’t care.”
“Hana-chan is always acting so big and mighty, and she treats me like dirt. Jiro-chan always hits me. I hate both of them. They should die, I just wish they’d die. That’s why I came here, to have Magagami-sama kill them for me.”
Amongst his string of abuse there was a word I’d never heard before, so I repeated it.
“Magagami-sama? What’s that?”
“None of the village kids know about her. Hanako and Jiro don’t know either, because they’re idiots. But I know. Magagami-sama lives here. Old lady Kichizu told me about her, because I’m smart.”
“Yeah but what is Magagami-sama!?”
“Ume-chan, you’re kind to me so I’ll help you. But I can’t do anything for Hanako and Jiro. They’re idiots, they act tough, they’re stupid, they should die. Magagami-sama will kill them for me.”
It started to sound less like a string of abuse and more like a curse. At some point he stopped calling them by their nicknames as well.
Taro kept going, spit flying from his mouth, and before long he let out a strange laugh.
“Hyoa hyoa hyoa hyoa hyoa hyoa hyoa hyoa hyoa hyoa hyoa hyoa hyoa hyoa hyoa hyoa hyoa hyoa hyoa hyoa hyoa hyoa hyoa hyoa hyoa.”
“Hyoa hyoa hyoa hyoa hyoa hyoa hyoa hyoa hyoa hyoa hyoa hyoa hyoahine hyoa hyoa hyoahine hyoa hyoa hyoahine hyoa hyoa hyoahine hyoa hyoa hyoa.”
It was disturbing. While sitting there with his arms around his knees just his face turned to look at me as he laughed. All I could see was that he’d gone crazy.
Then I realised that Hanako and Jiro had been gone for a long time. I wanted to get away from Taro as well so I headed towards the cabin.
“Stay here! Don’t go looking for those two!”
Taro called out.
“It’s already too late~”
His face made me sick to my stomach, but I ignored him and went inside. It was pitch black and there was a strange smell.
It smelt like something burning, or something rotting. The further I went in the more sick I became, then from the room at the end of the cabin I heard a strange laugh.
“Hyoa hyoa hyoa hyoa hyoa hyoa hyoa hyoa.”
Reluctantly I went in, and Hanako and Jiro were sitting on the floor.
“Hyoa hyoa hyoa hyoa hyoa hyoa hyoa hyoa hyoa hyoa.”
“Hyoa hyoa hyoa hyoa hyoahinuhinuhinu hyoa hyoa hyoa hyoa hyoa hyoa.”
They were laughing the same way as Taro. It freaked me the hell out.
I had to go call someone at once. I turned around. Then, right in front of me…
… a pair of white eyes was floating before me.
White eyes, like someone who’s gone blind, like a white membrane covering the pupil of the eyes.
I let out a terrible scream and drew back towards the wall. As I did I felt it was sticky. I touched it again and the entire wall was sticky.
Gross gross gross gross! I wanted to get out immediately, but I couldn’t move because of the white eyes, if I moved they’d chase me so I was scared.
The white eyes continue to stare at me. Am I going to be cursed and die? I thought. I didn’t want to look at them anymore so I turned my face to the right. When I did,
“I told ya it was too late~”
Taro’s face was hanging half inside the window.
Taro’s eyes were exactly the same as the white eyes floating before me.
“Hyoa hyoa hyoa hyoa hyoa hyoa hyoa hyoa hyoa hyoa hyoa hyoa hyoa hyoa hyoa hyoa hyoa hyoa hyoa hyoa hyoa hyoa hihihihihihi hyahahahahahahahahaha hyahahahahahahaha hyoa hyoa hyoa.”
Taro laughed. Hanako and Jiro also laughed. The white eyes remained floating. I couldn’t stand it any more.
Half-crazed, I ran from the cabin and down the mountain. From behind I could constantly hear “hyoa hyoa hyoa hyoa.” With tears and a runny nose flying everywhere I fled.
When I reached the bottom of the mountain it was still midday. I thought it would have been night long ago.
After descending the mountain and entering the village the first person I saw was Taro and Hanako’s grandfather.
“Ume! What’s wrong, you… you! Youuuu!!!!”
Their usually always kind grandfather came running at me with incredible speed, flecks of spittle running from his mouth.
“You went there?! You went there?!”
With a perilous look on his face he shook me, and I told him everything…
We went up the mountain and saw the pond and cabin. Taro’s story. The white eyes and sticky wall. The three of them going crazy. They were still up there.
I bit my tongue several times as I spoke. You need to save the three of them. What were those white eyes? Have I been cursed too? What is that up there? I yelled. Their grandfather hugged me and said “It’s alright, it’s alright. Just you, Ume, you’re okay. You were saved, you’re okay.”
Just me? What about Taro? His grandchild was Taro, not me, why wasn’t he worried?
I started to panic, but then I realised I didn’t want to get the sticky stuff on their grandfather so I pulled away from him.
Then I saw what was on my own body.
It looked a lot like mayonnaise, but it was spotted with black and red. It felt like the texture of mayonnaise too. Plus, it stank. The smell pierced my nostrils.
In any case, my memories of the incident end around there. Next thing I knew I was lying on the floor of my grandma’s house surrounded by adults.
My parents were crying their eyes out. They sat nearby but didn’t try to talk to me. Everyone else did the same.
Taro’s parents were there too, but they were just silently crying while looking at me. Then I realised I couldn’t move. I wasn’t bound or anything, but for some reason I couldn’t move.
I couldn’t speak either, all I could do was open my eyes. What’s this, I thought, starting to panic, when Taro’s grandmother came over to speak to me.
“Umebon, take a look at my right eye, would ya.”
Taro’s grandmother lost her right eye in an accident long ago, so she had an artificial eye. I already knew that, what good would looking at it do? I thought, but I did as she said and looked.
“What? It’s the same as usual. The focus is a little strange, but it’s your eye.”
Suddenly I could speak.
The adults all let out a cheer. ‘I’m so glad.’ ‘He’s been saved.’ They all cried and hugged each other.
My parents hugged me while crying, even Taro’s parents cried. “We’re so glad, Ume-chan. So glad.”
But I was just creeped out. Even though your own child has probably gone crazy, why are you happy and not saying angry things towards me, I thought.
“What about the other three? What happened to them?”
I asked, but the adults just replied:
“What are you saying? They’ve been at home all morning. Ume-chan, if you learn anything from this, it’s not to go up that mountain alone again.”
Ah, so that’s what it was, huh?
It had become “he went up the mountain alone.” Taro and the others were probably locked away in their grandmother’s storehouse or something because they’d gone mad.
Understanding that, I said nothing.
Two or three days later it was time to go back home with my parents. I never saw Taro or the other after that.
Even amongst all the people who came to see us off, Taro and the others weren’t there.
My grandmother is still healthy even now as I’m in my 20s and I go to visit her with the change of the seasons. The village people are still kind, Taro’s parents still act the same, and Taro and the others are still nowhere to be seen. When I asked about them I heard that Hanako got married and moved Tohoku, Taro and Jiro both started working at the same company, and both of them moved overseas.
When they were in high school the three of them supposedly went to school in Tokyo. Whether that was true or not, since that incident I never saw them again.
I didn’t know what the white eyes and sticky substance were. What Magagami-sama was. Where Taro and the others were. The ‘old lady Kichizu’ that Taro spoke of didn’t exist in the village and I still don’t know who she was. In all the years since that incident nothing has happened to me, there haven’t been any changes.
I haven’t seen the white eyes or sticky substance since either. I asked my parents and the villagers about it further, but they just said: “It was probably just a dream. You went up into the mountain alone and came down suffering from heat stroke.” “Pond? I don’t know anything about that, first time I’ve heard of it.”
When I asked the kids who used to talk about rumours of the pond the same questions, they just calmly answered, “I don’t know anything about a pond.”
** Translator’s note: “Magagami” translates directly as “evil god/dess” **