13 August, Shinzō Mitsuda

文字数 3,920文字

The Detached Room at My Friend’s House


When I was in my first year of junior high, I made a friend named Ōno. His house was in a somewhat rural area, so he always biked to school.
  One Sunday, I rode my bike over to his place to hang out. His room was in the yard, detached from the main house. Apparently his great grandmother, grandmother, and uncle had all died there. The space had been used as storage for a long time, but when he started junior high school, he decided to make it his room.
  It doesn’t freak you out? I asked without thinking.
  I do get sleep paralysis pretty often. He gave this outrageous answer with a straight face. As I continued listening, he told me about all sorts of other weird things that had happened there.
  He would get home from school, and it would feel as though someone else had been in his room until just a moment ago. But if he asked his family, no one had gone into the detached space. The sliding door to the closet he was sure he had closed would, at some point, be slightly open. The old TV his uncle had bought would suddenly turn on in the middle of the night, and the volume would creep up over time.
  The whole afternoon passed as I listened to his experiences.
  What do you guys think you’re doing?! Ōno’s high-schooler brother abruptly yelled at us.
  What are you talking about?
  Don’t play dumb. Are you messing with me?!
  He had been looking for something in his room on the ground floor of the main house. Suddenly he felt someone staring at him, and when he turned around, he saw someone looking at him from a window of the detached room.
  

My

brother.

.

.

?

he thought, but the figure was looking out from the illuminated detached room into the darkening yard, so they were little more than a shadow. And the person was peering through their hands cupped around their eyes, which made it even harder to see their face.
  Ōno’s brother raised a hand to wave, but the figure just kept watching him without changing position.

Its

either

my

brother

or

his

friend

teasing

me,

he thought. That’s why he had yelled in our direction. Is what he said.
  When Ōno told his brother it wasn’t us, his brother looked at the window in question for a few moments before crankily leaving.

  That summer, I went to sleep over at Ōno’s house.
  In the evening, when we went back to the detached room after taking our baths, someone was in the yard. It was Ōno’s classmate from elementary school, Takasaki.
  Ōno introduced me and then said, You could have gone in and waited like you usually do.
  I was going to, but. . . .
  Takasaki was acting weird, so Ōno said, What?
  Someone was looking at me from the window. I was sure it was you, but when I went inside, no one was there. . . .
  Ōno asked, What kind of person was it?
  I could only see their silhouette, but they were staring at me like this, with their hands around their eyes.
  At the end of that summer break, Ōno and I drifted apart naturally.
  I wonder if he still lives in that detached room.


Translated by Emily Balistrieri/Arranged by TranNet KK

Shinzō Mitsuda
Horror-mystery writer. Made his literary debut in 2001 with

Horā

sakka

no

sumu

ie

(The house the horror writer lives in), republished in paperback as

Ikan

(House of mourning). Won the 10th Honkaku Mystery Award in 2010 for

Mizuchi

no

gotoki

shizumu

mono

(A drowning in the rain dance).

Nozokime

(Peeking in) was adapted for film in 2016. His main works include the Tōjō Genya series, the Ie (House) series, the Shisō-gaku tantei (Mortality studies detective) series, the Yūrei yashiki (Ghost house) series, and the Motoroi Hayata series, among others. His most recent work is

Soko

ni

nai

ie

ni

yobareru

(Called to a house that doesn’t exist), published by Chuokoron-Shinsha.

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