The dark was soon approaching. He had only made a small stop on his way home from school, but everything around Naoki was quickly melting into darkness. The wind had gotten more and more icy as the night had approached. Chills crept from his legs to his heart and he grew stiff with cold. He adjusted the front of his coat and ran towards his apartment building. A warm meal, made by his mother, would be waiting for him when he walked in the door.
Even though Naoki and his family lived on the top floor of the housing complex, the fifth floor, he decided to take the stairs instead of the elevator. He had been studying so much lately that he was beginning to feel out of shape. So, panting lightly, Naoki made his way up to the fifth floor. It was then that he felt it.
Naoki got goosebumps. It felt like someone had grabbed him from behind by his shoulders. He froze and took a deep breath. His heart began to make a horrible thumping sound inside of his chest. Nothing around him seemed out of the ordinary. A long and narrow hallway illuminated by the white light of unreliable florescent bulbs lay right before his eyes. A row of steel doors lay to his left. Looking to his right he could see out over the parking lot to the apartment block next door. Nothing was out of place. His chest was thumping loudly, as if trying to tell Naoki something. He looked straight towards the door at the end of the hall and took as step forward. It was then that he heard it.
With an ominous creek, the door he was looking at, opened.
“Ah!” without thinking he let slip a small cry. For some reason, the inside of the door was dark. No, not dark. It was black. It wasn’t black like the night. It was a cold, horrible, suffocating kind of black. Then suddenly, something seemed to flow from the door. He couldn’t see it. It made no smell. Naoki didn’t know what it was, but he knew that it was not something that could be understood in normal terms. It was definitely strange. For some reason the door opened outwards on it’s own, despite being made of heavy steel. It would normally close as soon as someone let go of it. But the door was opening. The deep darkness of the unknown seemed to beckon.
“Y-Y-Yuzu?” Naoki called out timidly for his little sister, trying to brighten the room with his voice. She was two years younger than him and he though she might be playing a trick.
“What are you doing, Yuzu?”. But there was no answer to his question. Instead there came a noise.
The door opened as far as it could. There was no hand pulling it and no hand pushing. It made a low creaking sound as it moved. Naoki was confused. He couldn’t comprehend what was happening.
“Yuzu…?” Naoki’s throat tightened, his husky voice spilling out from between his chattering teeth. His heart pounded like it was about to burst out if his chest. His blood turned cold, racing through his body so fast it hurt. His breathing was heavy, not from exercise, and his shoulders shook. Naoki felt like his body had turned to ice, and this strange phenomenon made him shake so much that it seemed as if his limbs were making noise. This was bad. He had to run. He had to get out of there.
Naoki awkwardly took a step back. However he kept his eye squarely on the door from which the unknown blackness had come. This was bad. Something was there. Something was coming. He knew this without really understanding why. It was not human. It was raw. It was not from the land of the living. This was bad. Naoki could no longer tell if it was heavy breathing or muffled screaming that was pouring from his throat.
That was the only sound that could be heard. It was as if this place had been moved somewhere completely different. The sound began to erode Naoki’s consciousness. He had to get out of here. His body was screaming out, it could take no more. If he didn’t get out of here soon something even worse would happen. With all the strength he could muster, Naoki tore his eyes away from the door and began to turn around. He managed to turn away.
“Where are you going?” the voice of a young child asked him. Don’t look. Naoki’s instincts screamed at him not to look. But Naoki didn’t go against the strange and childish echo in the darkness. He slowly moved the eyes he had torn away from the door and moved them down to his lower right hand side.
“Hey, pinky promise you’ll play with me”.
Naoki’s heart skipped a beat. Where did she come from? How long had she been there? There was a child standing next to him. Right under his arm. He couldn’t make out her face. The little girl had peculiar long black hair that seemed to droop down. Naoki could only see a little of her white, almost light blue skin as it peeked through her hair which covered her face like tattered curtain. She was a little girl, but her presence felt like that of something very different. That something was madness. Madness and fear. Her intensity was high, her temperature unbearably low.
The little girl was holding a small box to her chest. She looked down at the box, and it seemed to move. Naoki tried to scream, but couldn’t make a sound. He tried to take a step back but his feet gave way and he fell over. He tried to kick himself backwards, but couldn’t get a good grip on the concrete floor.
“Hey, pinky promise,” the little girl said, twisting her neck to the side and still carrying her box, “Let’s play”.
She dropped the box. On purpose. The little girl then leaned in close, right up to Naokis face as he was still on the ground.
“Give me your finger,” she said in a low, raspy voice, her colourless lips twisted into an evil smile. Naoki’s heart stopped when he felt his little finger become intertwined with her ice cold little pinky. His eyes dropped to the floor and he saw the contents of the fallen box.
It was full of torn-off little fingers, squirming around in the box like bugs.
Yuzu sat on the couch, watching TV and waiting for her brother to walk through the door. They couldn’t eat dinner until he got home. She gave in and started munching on some snacks.
“Wonder where he’s wandered off to,” she said out loud. Her mother gave no response. She was probably busy fixing dinner.
“I wonder how long he is going to be,” she said to herself, dipping her fingers into her bag of snacks. Unaware of the things squirming inside.
Original work Copyright © 2013 Ageha. All rights reserved
Original text can be found at Ageha’s home page http://1swallowtail.web.fc2.com/index.html
English translation © 2013 Hamish Smith. All rights reserved