Hell Box

Please allow me to tell you a story my grandfather told me. He works in construction in the Kansai area, and he knows a wealth of associates there. Perhaps because he’s so sociable, he buys a lot of strange things from people. He likes to show off, so he has a Japanese sword, a tiger statue, things like that. To speak somewhat ill of him for a moment, he buys a lot of crap.

He likes to chat once he starts drinking, and so he told me about a certain box he’d gotten. He no longer has it, but apparently it had an interesting, if somewhat shady, history behind it. Apparently it was really old, but strangely seemed brand new. Even though pieces of it had come off, overall it had been well kept and was covered in a black lacquer.

It had originally come from a temple in Korea or China, but that temple was now gone and somehow it made its way to Japan. One of his friends had gotten a hold of it, and then my grandfather got it from him.

His friend told him that he absolutely must not look inside the box. If he did, something terrible would happen. Over and over he told him, drilling the point home. You must not look inside. His friend wasn’t the type of person who liked to tell jokes, so my grandfather said he was pretty scared. But, being the easygoing guy he was, he didn’t take him so seriously either.

The box wasn’t that cheap either, and he paid roughly three times the normal price for it. According to my grandfather, his friend was in a tough spot, so the money was somewhat like aid for him as well. He wasn’t sure what to do with the box, so in the end he put it in a container at work and left it there.

A short while later, my grandfather started to suffer from an increasing number of injuries. Being the summer holidays, I went to visit him at work a lot as well. I happened to be present when he cut his finger once with the electric saw. He laughed about it, but I still remember how everyone else stepped back, clearly afraid.

Accidents continued amongst the workers, and my grandfather was at his wit’s end. Then my grandmother, who worked in accounting at the office, suddenly said something. “I haven’t seen any animals around here recently.” There were containers all around the place, and usually they were surrounded by nature and various animals, sometimes even wild boars. Of course, we still saw birds though.

Everyone soon realised how strange it was that no animals were around. But nobody knew about the box, so they were creeped about by this unexplainable phenomenon. Then, suddenly, my grandfather remembered it.

He ran over to the container housing the box and found a pile of dead rats, pigeons, and insects. Realising this was bad, he put the box in a nylon bag and and went to visit a friend he thought could help. My grandmother was a regular customer of this friend and they knew a lot about the supernatural. I always remembered her going on about how amazing he was. I heard about him from both my mother and grandmother, but I didn’t believe them and thought they were being fooled.

In the end, it was a massive disaster. That friend still suffers from mysterious headaches, even now, and his assistant was involved in an even worse accident, leaving them in an unstable condition. My grandfather only handed him the box, so it’s likely that he opened or at least tried to open it. The box soon came back.

He couldn’t throw it away, so he took it home and left it there. You might say that it couldn’t be left in the one spot for a long time, and although we only learnt this later, apparently that was a good thing.

But still, strange things continued happening. First, they started hearing voices. It was a low groaning sound that seemed to multiple. Sometimes they heard it in the hall, sometimes right by their ears. My grandfather did his best to bear it. My grandmother said she saw a naked young woman at the house. She ran past her in the lounge room, and then suddenly again behind her. My grandmother said the area felt hot, like it was filled with hot air at the time.

They also came across small fires started in the living room, they suffered from bad nightmares, and they could hear the cries of a cat somewhere. My grandmother also felt something touching her head as she slept. After they removed the box from the house this continued for a short while, but then as more time passed it all stopped.

This went on for about a month until my grandfather’s friend claimed to have finally found someone who may have been able to help.

He ended up meeting a regular young couple. According to my grandfather, they looked like anyone you might see around the neighbourhood. Apparently they were married and they worked as farmers. Every year they grew delicious vegetables which they gave away to some friends.

My grandfather had the box in his car, but apparently the man was deathly afraid of it. He claimed the car was surrounded by numerous figures, and none of them looked well. They were dark red in colour, and all of them twisted and warped. After gaining their approval, my grandfather brought the box over to them. The man threw up. “Hell is inside that box,” he said. He claimed to have once visited a place that was full of evil spirits, but it was nothing like this. The box itself was Hell, and it was something that shouldn’t exist.

It corrupted the earth, it corrupted people, it corrupted the sky and anything else it touched. It’s mere existence was something that had to be denied. Even for someone like my grandfather, who was so easygoing, it wasn’t something that he could keep for a long time.

The man asked his wife if she was okay, and she nodded. Then they placed the box in a room and spent the night with it.

He later told my grandfather about what he saw in a dream. It was set long, long ago, perhaps the very beginning of the Chinese Empire, and the box was already an object of worship then. Someone tried to open it out of interest, but they went made and burnt the temple down. A monk jumped into the fire and grabbed the box while on fire. Then, he died. But the box was still open.

The gathered onlookers then went mad. One woman ran around naked and laughing as she killed everyone. This then spread to the nearby town, and continued until a powerful monk was able to seal the box again. This was all just a dream, but my grandfather was certain that it was the truth behind the box.

“I don’t think we can help you,” the woman said. The box was slightly cracked. My grandfather later heard from his friend that the woman had been possessed by a powerful yokai. She hadn’t been harmed, but apparently the yokai that possessed her was rather aggressive.

The man was able to see things, but he had no power to exorcise them. The woman wasn’t able to see things, but she was able to exorcise them. When someone wished to be purified or have something else purified, they would see them. However, in order to do so, they had to attack the whole person. As such, they only dealt with dangerous places or objects.

And of course, the friend who introduced people to them also received a small fee for his troubles.

To me, the man who was able to see things really seemed like a holy person. Apparently yokai had no effect on him whatsoever, and his wife claimed that he was the only person like that she’d ever met. He truly was special.

Even if he had ulterior motives, he considered anything possessed as a danger that had to be taken care of. Apparently this trait had been passed on by his parents, and the thing possessing his wife destroyed everything around them.

She deliberately let something from the box attack her, and then they attacked it. They knew something was wrong when she felt fine afterwards. Normally possession left her feeling tired and worn out, but this left her feeling better than ever. This only happened with something extremely powerful. Once the being exhausted itself, it seemed to separate from her. Her health continued just fine for the next six months, so she was quite pleased. She even gave birth to a child, and they’re now happily living their lives together.

After that, the strange things happening around the box stopped for a while. My grandfather’s friend found someone in China who collected such strange pieces and he was able to sell it for several times what he paid for it. Although they were somewhat worried about whether the box would be misused or not.

To be honest, I opened that box while it was in the container. Inside was full of thin, dried up baby hands. I wonder what would have happened if I touched them?

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