6 July, Kamo Asō

文字数 4,912文字

On the Other Side of the Wall


The road that stretched from the forest ended abruptly just on the other side of a long, narrow suspension bridge over a big river. This was because there was a wall on the other side of the bridge.
  Decades and decades ago, some elderly people who had run away from a scary sickness had built a giant wall around their village so they would never again see anyone who had caught the sickness.
  Niki stood there in front of the wall and quietly looked up at the sky.
  The wall was so high it seemed to go up forever, disappearing into the clouds. Even the birds flying out of the forest could not get over the wall. They would change their direction just before it and head back into the forest.
  The wall blocked out the sun for almost half the day, so they had poor harvests, but the elderly said that this was better than having the sickness spread.
  On the other side of the wall, there’s nothing now but a ravaged world. Everyone has turned into monsters because of the sickness. So, don’t even think about going to the other side.
  The elderly of the village would say that at every opportunity, but still, every few years there was a young person who recklessly tried to get over the wall. But nobody knew what happened to them afterwards. Did they manage to get down to the other side? Or did they—?
  It was hidden in the weeds that grew as they pleased around it, but Niki knew that at the base of the wall the numbers 2020 were stamped. And she also knew that next to that stamp was a big crack.
  She’d found the crack just after she turned seven, and since then, every time Niki came here, she would stick a metal rod deep into the crack, slowly making it bigger. At first the crack was barely big enough for her to stick her finger in, but now, she could stick her whole arm in and still not reach the end. Now that she was thirteen, she was rather tall for a girl and her arms were even pretty long, but still, she couldn’t touch the back of the crack, so she guessed she must have dug pretty deep.
  This crack was a secret that only Niki knew, one that she obviously didn’t tell the adults about or even her friends at school. If somebody found out, the adults who were so afraid of the disease getting in would try to fill in the crack.
  Scratch. Scratch. The metal rod made a different sound than usual as it hit the back of the crack this time. What was that? Niki quickly pulled the rod out and peeked in the crack. On the other side of the dark, black hole, she thought she could see a faint light.
  Maybe I reached the other side. Niki suddenly felt afraid. What if the sickness got in through this hole? What if she got sick? What if the monsters came? Without thinking, Niki took a step back from the crack.
  Ah! Suddenly, a metal rod jumped out of the crack. What’s happening? Is . . . is there . . . someone on the other side digging too?
  Niki grabbed the rod and wiggled it up and down. For a moment the rod stopped moving, then eventually it shook up and down.
  I was right. Niki peeked into the crack again.
  Hey, is somebody there? Can you hear me? The voice came to her from far away. It was the voice of a girl. And she sounded like she was about Niki’s age, too.
  I hear you, Niki said.
  Oh, awesome. Awesome. So there really are people on the other side of the wall. She sounded impressed.
  Yeah, there are, Niki shouted back.
  But is everyone on that side of the wall sick? the girl asked.
  Nope. Nobody’s sick. That’s why they built this wall, so the sickness wouldn’t get in.
  Really?
  Yeah.
  But nobody’s sick on this side, the girl said, sounding puzzled.
  Niki’s eyes widened. The other side of the wall was a terrifying place where monsters lived. That’s what she’d always been told. But there are girls like me over there.
  In that case, I’d like to come over there.
  Come on! I’ll come over to play, too.
  Well, then, we’ve got to make a bigger hole.
  Should we tell the grown-ups?
  Not yet. Let’s keep it our secret for now.
  Totally.
  Right now, she thought, is the start of a new world. Niki quietly let herself jump for joy.


Translated by Morgan Giles/Arranged by TranNet KK

Kamo Asō
Born in Hyōgo Prefecture, 1971. Works as an author and advertising writer. He first drew attention while working at the NHK. Upon opening and managing the official NHK advertising account (@NHK_PR), the relaxed tweets from said account led to a surge of interest in the person behind the account. After leaving the NHK in 2014, he now works full-time as a freelance writer, writing for advertising and television. His works include

Naka

no

hito

nado

inai

(There is no person behind the account),

Bansōsha

(Companion),

Neko-tachi

no

iromegane

(The cats’ colored-glasses),

Dokodemo

nai

basho

(A place that isn’t anywhere).

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