It was completely dark inside the room. A blue penlight’s glow was moving around. A light too weak to illuminate the entire room. The blue light shone on the floating silhouette of the girl holding the penlight.
It’s raining outside. The voice of the little girl is sweeping somewhere throughout the lonely sounds of the falling rain.
“…This is a story I heard from my uncle.
One summer my uncle went to the mountain with a friend. They walked, aiming to see the summit of that mountain.”
She paused for a moment.
“…And you know, the weather was nice, but they lost their way, even though they had been there before.
They should have arrived to the top in about three hours, but no matter how much they walked, they couldn’t reach it.
Strange as it may seem, they kept on walking, and then a completely unknown mountain ridge appeared above them and they couldn’t understand where they were anymore. Anyway, under these circumstances they decided to return and took the way from which they came, but after they walked for a while the same place appeared before them.
No matter how many times they walked that way, they always came to the same ridge. Eventually it got dark and they had no choice, but to camp at that place.”
No one was able to open their mouths now.
“Night came. They sat by the camp-fire, chatting, when they heard a man’s voice. A voice asking for help. The two of them looked around for the voice’s owner, but couldn’t see anyone. Trying to call for him didn’t give a result either.
And just when they thought that it was just their imagination, they heard the voice again. This time it was closer than before, they searched again, but still there was no one around.
The same thing happened many times again, and the voice was steadily closing in to them. At the end the voice got so close
to them that it was coming from the campfire. Someone’s breath, footsteps and even clothes’ rubbing sound could be heard, but still they couldn’t see anyone there. As anyone would, they got a very bad feeling about that, so my uncle’s friend began chanting a “namuamidabutsu” prayer. All the sounds started to tone down.
The two of them couldn’t sleep that night at all and waited for the dawn. In the morning they realized that near the camp there was a cairn.”
“Yeah. When a man died in the mountain, they piled up some stones at that place instead of a grave. That’s called a cairn.
――You see, that cairn was about an average man’s height. It was impossible to miss it. Still they didn’t notice it the day before.
The dead person probably felt lonely and tried to invite them…or something like that.”
I still wonder what could have happened if my uncle’s friend didn’t do the “namuamidabutsu” prayer.
Yuuri finished her story, leaving the rain’s sound to be the only sign of activity around us.
She quietly turned off the penlight.
Another two lights remained inside the room.
“Next is Mai.”
Keiko suggests from the darkness.
As the expert, I started my story.
“…It’s a story I heard when I was a grade student.
On a street at night there was a woman going back home. That was in the Autumn, so her body got cold midway and she felt she needed to go to the toilet. She was just passing near a park and thought she could use the public toilet there.
A public bathroom at night doesn’t feel right, does it? Because it’s dark and all…
Although she didn’t want to, she went into the restroom.