We’re gonna have to pray soon

This story happened about ten years ago when I was a Buddhist priest in training. I was unable to find a full-time job after graduating university (at the time it was a so-called employment ice age) so I survived on what I could. My grandfather worked as the chief priest of a Buddhist temple, so my father asked me if I wanted to try my hand at being a priest instead. I was worried about the future, but I figured if it didn’t work out I could just return to what I was previously doing, so in desperation I agreed and went to N Prefecture to begin my training.

At first it was rather difficult, but humans can scarily adapt to any situation. After six months I had unexpectedly adapted to the lifestyle and it became my normal routine. There was another priest who had been there for longer than me called T. Unlike myself, he could see ghosts. He was quite a big guy with a girlfriend and many years of service at the temple and liked to make fun of me for being a virgin…

One day while we were doing our morning cleaning rounds, T-sempai pointed towards the main gate.

“There’s a black shadow squatting over there. We’re gonna have to do some prayers later I reckon,” he said without hesitation.

Shocked, I tried to see what he could, but there was nothing there. He also said it with the same tone he took during everyday conversations, so unsure if he was joking or not, I just ignored him. By dinner time I’d completely forgotten about it. Then the order came down from above.

“We need to say a prayer tonight, so you guys come along.”

I remembered what T-sempai said earlier in the day and got chills. T-sempai, on the other hand, was cool and composed. There was also one more incident after that that went down the exact same way.

People often say that black shadows are like a god of death, right? But, I don’t know about that. I don’t think they’re evil. I mean, I don’t have any proof of that or anything though.

Oh yeah, I’m still a priest, even now.

So about that other incident. This happened a little while after the above events. There were a bunch of crows gathering around that same temple gate. I couldn’t see anything there that looked like food though. Of course the sight of it was rather creepy, so I was wondering what was going on.

“Ah, there’s gonna be more prayers tonight,” T-sempai said.

Sure enough, a few hours later we got the call that one of the parishioners had passed away.

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