The Truth Behind My Family’s Eccentricities

This is a true story that I still can’t believe happened to me.

When I was still in the third grade of junior high, I lived with my parents and younger brother (he was still in the lower grades of elementary school). We watched Kohaku Uta Gassen, and then I wondered if I might have a good New Year’s dream… I went to bed and everything was fine, but then I had a bad dream in the middle of the night (I don’t remember what happened in it), and suddenly I woke up.

My heart was beating so loudly that I could almost hear it, and I was covered head to toe in a greasy sweat. It was like someone had poured cold water down my back, and I froze as I bolted upright in bed.

‘A nightmare to kick off the new year… well, this sucks,’ I thought. I couldn’t get back to sleep and my throat was parched, so I went into the living room where the fridge was and found my family all sitting in front of the TV (I didn’t look at the clock, but I think it was probably around 2 a.m.). The TV was still on, and even though it was late night and nothing was supposed to be airing, the news or something was playing.

But it was silent… And on top of that, all the windows were open, making the inside just as cold as outside. Something was clearly wrong. A chill ran down my spine.

“What are you doing? Have you gone nuts?” I yelled, half-angry, half-scared and trembling.

“Well… ah…” my little brother said, his voice too quiet to hear, and then he burst into tears. My parents watched the whole thing silently, no expression on their faces, and then they got up and closed all the windows, turned the TV off, and said to my crying brother, “It’s time for bed now,” and took him off to bed.

The New Year had started off on the worst, creepiest foot and I didn’t feel like sleeping any further, so I sat in my room and read comics until the sun rose.

“What were you doing last night?” I asked my parents the next morning, but they just looked at me like, “Huh?” Their dubious faces looked nothing like the expressionless ones I’d seen the night before, and their suspicious looks at me made me panic. ‘Did I see a ghost?’ I wondered.

Well, my friends wouldn’t believe me even if I told them, and my girlfriend broke up with me in December, so I was probably just mentally exhausted and seeing things, I decided. A short while after that, I had another nightmare that woke me up in the middle of the night.

This time I vaguely remembered what happened. A stranger had hit me in the back of the head. For some reason, the back of my head continued to hurt even after I woke up. And for some reason I couldn’t explain, I had the thought that if I’d been at the convenience store, then I would have been safe.

I couldn’t stop thinking that a ghost had attacked me, and in a panic I ran into the living room. Nobody was there, and a smoky smell lingered in the air, perhaps from the meat we had for dinner. I remembered the creepy events that had happened in the living room on New Year’s and once again I couldn’t sleep for the rest of the night.

Around the start of February, my body started to strangely itch. At first I thought my skin was just dry, but my back and my head especially started to feel like they’d been burnt and I couldn’t stop scratching them.

The itching showed no signs of getting better, so I went to the doctor and got some cream for it. I was putting some on after I got out of the bath and my younger brother came over. “Let me do it!” he said, so I turned my back to him and next thing I knew, he slapped me full force. It hurt so much that I screamed, “What the hell are you doing?”

He always cried whenever I got angry at him, so his eyes soon filled with tears. ‘Ah, here he goes,’ I thought, and tears silently rolled down his cheeks. Strangely, his face got paler and paler, and then finally it was like he was crying emotionlessly…

Creeped out, I turned to look at my parents, and they were also crying, their faces emotionless. It was like they weren’t there at all… Looking closer, their mouths were slightly twitching, but I couldn’t work out what they were saying. All I could hear was something that sounds like “ho…t…”

At that very moment, everything around me started to turn red, then gradually faded to sepia. ‘I’m losing consciousness…’ I thought, and then the scenery around me suddenly changed. It looked somewhat familiar… It was my cousin’s house. My uncle stared at me with a serious look on his face.

“Eh… Why am I here?” I couldn’t grasp the situation I was in. Before long, everyone crowded around me. At first I thought I was dreaming again, but I was really in my uncle’s house. I had no idea what was going on, but for some reason my grandparents were there too, and I was covered in bandages, so I panicked…

“Wouldn’t it be better if he doesn’t remember?” I heard my grandfather say.

“We have to tell him what happened,” my uncle said. “They still haven’t caught the guy who did it, and the police will no doubt be back before the week is out.”

My uncle then told me everything. Apparently someone had set fire to our house and my entire family on New Year’s day. I happened to be at the convenience store at the time, so I’d been saved, but because I’d apparently seen the person who did it on my way back, they hit me on the back of the head, then took a bat to my entire body, beating the living daylights out of me until I passed out. I didn’t remember any of it.

Apparently I’d been stuck in a state between life and death at the hospital, but once I recovered they sent me to stay at my uncle’s place. It was March… meaning I’d lost two month’s worth of memories, and after two months of rehab, my memories had only just come back now.

I bawled my eyes out. I’d lost everything important to me in an instant, and learning that it had all happened two months earlier, I couldn’t keep it in any longer. My grandparents and uncle watched over me as I cried. My uncle quietly looked away, and then my grandparents cried with me as I bawled.

My body was covered in bruises, and I had so many bandages on that I looked like a mummy. A sharp pain ran throughout my joints when they bent.

Why all the windows were open in the middle of the night in winter… Why my family were emotionless like that… Why I had the dream of the stranger hitting me, and then everything turning red… it was like a jigsaw puzzle suddenly all came together.

In the end, they never caught the man who did it. And when they took the bandages off my bruised back, they found a clear handprint the same size as my brother’s there… Five years have passed since the incident, and as the bruises faded, so did his handprint…

I’m sorry this was so long and not written very well. For me, it was an unforgettable incident. The story may not have been scary, but when I think about how the criminal hasn’t been caught yet, I find that the most terrifying thing of all.

Thank you for reading.

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