I am staying with an exchange family in Japan. Something very wrong is happening here - Chap 6
The grandparents’ room has been drawn on for a reason, and I’m not entering it, not unless I’m armed. I quickly scour the empty rooms along the corridor, but find only the small shrines and candles. As I am about to leave Hina’s room, I see a lifeline. Through her small window stands a low hanging tree. I hoist myself up, and with some struggle manage to pull off a sturdy branch. This one is even more solid than my last. Despite the pain of my fingers, I hold a tight grip. I leave her room, and sit down against the walkway’s door. I stare down the long, candlelit corridor; waiting for something to happen.
It’s been over an hour, no sound. I’ve tried the walkway door a few times, and try it again once more as I decide to move towards the grandparents’ room, but no luck. I walk down the corridor, and reach their room. Holding the branch high, ready to swing, I quietly slide the door open. Candles are lined down the stairs, and I can tell from the dim glow that there are many more on the floor below. I tread down the stairs carefully; alert.
At the bottom of the staircase, candles are lined up along the walls, highlighting the two doors I have faced before. The door on the left has a large red X drawn on it, whilst the door on the right has a red O. What kind of sick game is this? I move toward the door on the left; the room I’m more familiar with. I press my ear against its frame and listen. Upon hearing nothing, I slide it open.
Inside, the same symbol I had seen in Hina and the parents’ room; the horn like figure in the centre of a circle. The symbol is everywhere; drawn in red all over the walls, the floors, the ceiling. At the end of the room, a small table holds a book. I cautiously approach it, opening the book, which reads from right to left.
The book has drawings, two per page.
Page 1 – The village. It is the village square, although much more old-fashioned. People are smiling, children playing. The characters are all drawn wearing traditional Japanese clothing. The next drawing is of an old woman, who appears to be in the woods, watching the village square from afar. She looks normal and wears a white kimono. I flick onto the next page.
Page 2 – The woman is now in the village square, conversing with the children. The next image, they are following her into the woods. I turn the page.
Page 3 – Villagers are on their knees, pleading to the old woman. No children are in sight. The old woman is smiling, her lips now red. The next drawing is identical, except the villagers bow to her instead. They are worshipping her.
Page 4 – The next page; people feasting at a long table. They look young, although they aren’t children. The old lady is watching from afar, smiling. The next drawing is of the same people, but they appear to be much fatter after the apparent feast.
Page 5 – I turn the page. This page has one, larger picture. The drawing is of the old woman biting into one of the people from the feast. Behind her, the children she had taken. Scratched into their chests, the symbol. They look sad, frightened.
I jolt away from the book as I hear a child laugh behind me. A quick, innocent giggle breaks the silence. Almost as if the sound were the cause, the candles around me all distinguish at once. I plunge into darkness. Shaking, I stare across the room and out toward the staircase. I hold my branch high, ready once more to swing. I slowly walk towards the room’s exit, and see a child quickly run into my view before disappearing up the staircase ahead. I edge out the room, my eyes slowly adjusting to the sudden dark. I am at the bottom of the staircase now, and turn my head to see where the child has gone.
Standing tall in the darkness, at the top of the staircase, the grandmother. The creature that had chased me into the woods, now looking right at me. Behind her cowers a child wearing a white kimono, his chest exposed. Scratched into his chest, the symbol. He looks frightened, hiding behind the tall legs of the grandmother as he looks at me.
The grandmother appears to be eating something. She is holding something up to her mouth, although I can’t see it beyond her large hands. She chews excitedly, the wet sounds of her food meeting her lips ring through the otherwise silent house. She stares at me as she eats. The sound of her quick chewing soon stops, and she drops her meal. It tumbles down the stairs, violently bouncing off of each one on the way down. As it lands by my feet, it lets out a weak cry. It’s a baby. Carved into its tiny chest, the symbol.
I look back up at the grandmother in terror. Her hands no longer cover her blood-soaked mouth, and instead stroke the hair of the young boy by her side. I take a step back. To my side, more people; young men and women, children, all looking at me. They look sad, frightened, and each have the symbol engraved into their chests. I back away from them as they begin to close in on me. I feel a door behind me and slide it open; it’s the door with the red O.
I shut it behind me and turn to see the Nomura family. They wear traditional white kimonos and are spaced around the walls of the wooden room. The candles in here are lit, two by each family member’s feet. Their grandfather stands at the far end of the room, staring at me, wide eyed. His lips are red; the remnants of blood. I’m unable to speak as I scan the family members; each looking at me, lips red. Saeko holds a plate with small cuts of meat on it. The meat looks to be drizzled with blood. They begin to quietly chant; the same chant I have heard throughout my visit.
Saeko steps toward me.
With a rush of adrenaline, I hit her as hard as I can with the branch. It splinters upon impact with the side of her head. She falls fast, the plate of meat clatters against the floor. As I open the door to run, I notice the rest of the family quickly moving to pick the meat up from the floor, ignoring Saeko.
I turn to run, but grandmother stands tall in front of me. She puts her cold hand on my head, her large fingers wrap around my skull. She whispers something, and I fall unconscious.
I wake, drowsy. I lie naked on the wooden floor, resting in the centre of a room. It is the same room I had hit Saeko with the branch in. Father Nomura, Ren, Hina, and the grandfather stand around me. They whisper the chant. I am weak; almost completely unable to move.
Father Nomura kneels by side, and draws a short, sharp knife. With a swift, expert-like movement, he grabs some of my excess fat, and cuts it from my stomach. I briefly thrash but he has already done it. I lie on the ground, disorientated, weak, in agonizing pain. I am unable to properly move my body; my movement after the cut was brief. Father Nomura stands, clutching the cut of flesh, and Hina hands him a large Japanese chalice. He holds the meat above the chalice and squeezes it. My blood drips from the flesh and into the cup, some oozing down Father Nomura’s arm. The chanting continues throughout.
He takes a sip from the chalice before passing it to Ren, who does the same. She then passes it to the grandfather, who calmly drinks before moving to kneel by side. He lifts my head and presses the chalice against my lips, pouring my own blood into my mouth. Too weak to resist his grasp, my desperate coughs are not enough to stop some of the blood pouring down my throat. He then stands, and passes it to Hina who drinks. They continue to chant. Father Nomura wraps the flesh he had cut from me with a cloth and hands it to Hina. Hina leaves the room with the chalice of my blood, and the cut of my flesh.
The family stop chanting. Almost as soon as this happens, I feel able to move. Adrenaline hits as Father Nomura kneels by my side to speak to me, his face close to mine.
“Finn-”, his voice gruff.
I whip my elbow into his nose as hard as I can. He keels back, but not before I grab the knife. I quickly sit up, screaming in pain as the pressure pounds on my wound, and I thrust the knife towards whoever is closest to me. It cuts through the back of the grandfather’s knee, who screams and collapses backwards. I stand up, holding out the knife, threatening to cut whoever moves next. The family stare at me in silence, even the grandfather chokes back his cries of pain. I leave the room and run upstairs, clutching my stomach to slow the bleeding.
The candles are all lit up here. In my state of panic, I grab one and set alight the shrines that are placed throughout the rooms. I don’t know if they’re connected to all this; but if this family worships them, I definitely don’t. In each shrine, a small cannister of oil that I was not aware of. This helps the fire, and it quickly spreads onto the wooden floors. I run to the walkway door; smoke fills the corridor behind me.
“Finn!”, I hear Ren scream from below, “she needs young life! Please!”
I ignore her, and barge through the door which, thankfully, is no longer jammed shut. I cross the walkway, knife in hand. It is still night. I enter the main area.
Saeko and Hina are by the table, and look up at me in surprise. Saeko is bleeding and badly cut from where I had hit her. I can tell she has drank from the chalice, her lips red. I say nothing, holding the knife up towards them. I notice Saeko is holding my flesh in her hand. She holds it above a pot and flame. She’s going to fucking cook it. My eyes don’t leave either of them and I move toward the shrine in this room, the largest one in the house. I quickly set it alight.
As I reach the front door, Hina notices the flames from across the walkway. She shouts something at her mother, and they both run to help their family.
I burst through the front door and run into the trees.