Children Blocking the Way

When I was a child, owing to certain circumstances, I lived in the countryside of south N Prefecture with my grandmother. It was an empty place with nothing but rice fields all around. It wasn’t very convenient if you ever needed to go shopping, but I passed the time happily surrounded by the beauty of nature.

There was a road several kilometres from our house however where people often had accidents. It was a long road, but for some reason people always crashed in the same spot at night, and many people died. The road itself was well-maintained, so I found it strange that accidents always occurred in that one spot.

According to one person who crashed but survived, five children holding hands suddenly appeared, blocking the road. They crashed trying not to hit them. I heard the following from my grandmother about that road.

“My grandmother, so your great-great-grandmother, told me this story. When your great-great-grandmother was a child, several children were killed on that spot. She lived in a different area, so she was safe, but several children were killed or went missing in the area. They never found the person who did it, so perhaps those children are angry and looking for the criminal.”

I was so scared after hearing her story that my mother scolded her. “Don’t tell him such scary tales!” But she kept going.

“Listen carefully. When you get older, if you’re ever driving on that road and you see the children, you mustn’t stop. Remember, if you see them, you can drive straight through them and you’ll be fine, okay?”

I grew scared of living in the countryside after that, and shortly thereafter we moved to Osaka. I quickly became a big city kid, and my memories of my time in the countryside soon faded. As I entered my 30s, I got married and had two kids of my own.

As the kids got older, they said they wanted to visit the countryside and play in the mountains and rivers, so during the summer vacation I took some time off so we could go back to my grandmother’s house. It was the first time for me to go back there since I was a kid. My grandmother had aged, but she was still energetic and healthy, and she was looking forward to spending time with her great-grandchildren.

We set out late thanks to work, taking the highway and eventually arriving in N Prefecture. It was already pitch black around us. I drove carefully, relying on the car’s headlights to see, when slowly I came to recognise my surroundings. I was struck with nostalgia and relief, when suddenly it happened.

I saw something ahead of us. It looked like people, or at least, I thought so. It was around midnight. What on earth would anyone be doing standing on the road at this time of night?

As we got closer, the shapes became clearer. A group of children in kimonos, around four or five years old, were holding hands, blocking the road in front of us.

“There’s someone on the road! Stop the car!” my wife said, and I went to step on the brakes, but suddenly I remembered my grandmother’s words. I stepped on the accelerator and drove straight for the children.

“What are you doing?” my wife screamed, but we didn’t hit anything. We passed right through them.

“Stop the car! Let’s go back and check!” My wife’s words brought me back down to earth, and I panicked, thinking I’d just committed some horrible crime. We went back, but there was nothing there. They really must have been the kids my grandmother spoke about, I thought.

The kids were asleep, so they were fine, but both my wife and I were terrified. We were unable to enjoy our time there, and despite the heat of summer, we felt nothing but chills right until the very end.

I don’t know what happened to them at the time, but I sure hope those kids can move on sometime soon.

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