March 23rd, I wake up from a dream 12 hours long, after a night of 7 hours. Day after day I remember dreams far, far too long. A week later, my dreams took a month but I was back by morning. In time, years seemed to go by.
Soon I was gone for longer and longer, I sought council- doctors, shaman and mystics, but the dreams pulled longer. They weighed on me, pulling my sleep down, down through my bed, breaking into the earths core.
Years of cramming for a test, flying through glass doors, when I came back it felt like decades but they talked to me like it hadn’t been two days. You fear of course, dreams that grow to centuries, millennia in vortex and reading though life in subtext.
You can’t live a million years and come back, the horror of real life.
Spotted in space. Earliest sighting around satellites, shocked an astronomer, intrigued his colleague. Closer and closer, black were the eyes that looked back at them. Eyes empty on closer examination, skin decayed, perhaps mummified. Larger than an average man, face contorted and caught in a scream. The horror of decay, the intrigue of how it went there, how it stayed there all gone when they saw it’s mouth move. Astronomers swear they heard their names.
Junji Ito is both brilliant and disgusting. I’d had meant to write about this a while back but between my personal computer dying with a frightening knock sound and long awaited exams (only delayed by a month) I had to put it off.
While my friends were faced with the horrors of parroting behaviorists who were convinced the mind didn’t really exist (you’d be inclined to agree after reading their mindless ideas) I was enjoying Ito’s work. I no longer have access to those chapters but I think simply recounting his stories should work well enough.
Ito writes short horror manga that’s unlike anything else out there. It’s not particularity scary and the body horror isn’t enough to make you turn away. Most people I’ve convinced to read him end up giving me a look of concern and get to repressing the stories from conscious memory.
Ito’s Japanese background might help, there’s an Asian sensibility that I’m never able to put my finger on. But what really makes his work click is that uncanny sense of familiarity. There’s something about his stories that seems to echo an almost conversational recollection of horrors, ghosts and monstrosities. Relatable cultural taboos, settings and moralistic implications that I could see coming from so many people I know. He writes horror simple, weird and relatable.
There’s one story that features a demon that seduces houses. Another has a time traveling bird demon that feeds lost mountaineers but then never decides to stop helping, visiting them everyday for a force-fed meal of human flesh. One has a fortune teller behead an unfaithful boyfriend with a single strand of hair. He won’t die till he lets his head drop of course, so she forces cockroaches down the gap to get him to let go. My favorite involves a man who develops a fetish for living- yes living- secretly inside peoples chairs.
The most wholesome I’ve seen him is a story where it turns out half the people in it are actually dead and one where a abused social worker comes back as a vengeful spirit and helps a neurotic young girl overcome her anxiety by killing her ex boyfriend.
If you’ve got the stomach and a little time for some weird, uncomfortable horror try starting with the Enigma of Agigara Fault- .
It was cold like a night under storm clouds, near farmland and distant houses you could hear over crickets. But this was far from home, far from the insect life and green walls.
The bus stations was not a place to find populated at so late an hour. She was not at fault here. It was the hooded figure who had decided to ruin all calculations, to make it’s presence felt. Mist seemed to rise off the signboard at the bus stop. It advertised some trifling vulgarity punctuate with a smile. She offered it no thought but wondered at the figure who leant on it- hoping to slip through into serendipity perhaps.
While the figure consumed the advertising, she wondered at every breeze that rushed past. The breeze carried no zooming swish of wind, no passengers in a hurry. Why would empty breeze carry itself so quickly? Does a city seep into the the air so easily?
Of course no bus would arrive at this hour. Both of them knew that. They were boxed in close- city lights in every direction. Lights that suggested the world wasn’t dead, but showed no signs of life itself. The city grows sinister in its stillness, its emptiness, keeps you on the edge waiting for movement taunting you with none. She found it reassuring at least that there was a waiting companion, heading the same way into nowhere.
Mist rose out of her breath till it blinded her. Enveloped like the figure at the sign board she tried calling out to it. Her words dissolved like mist, she stays still, and her sight and form did obscure into silence.
I awoke and remembered nothing. Not even who I was. Next to me I saw an old man, grinning.
He laughed and asked what my last wish was. I moved away afraid of his cruel and menacing smile; his teeth yellow and sharp. He explained that my second wish was to forget everything I knew about myself.
Unsure of what to do but afraid of missing my chance I made my last wish. I asked to know everything about myself.
His smile growing deeper he said “Funny. That’s exactly what your first wish was.”
Sleeping beauty was laid to rest and around her they built a palace. A great wealth of treasures, servants and luxuries filled the palace. They waited on her and for the prince.
They grew old and weary, but the prince never came.The walls and gems had been ravaged by age and the servants were dead.
The kingdom fell without heirs and was invaded. Their language forgotten, their people scattered. Forests grew around the palace till it was history, then legend and finally myth. The world went on while beauty still slept.
One day when the finally cut down the forests to build a new new city they found the palace. The carried away the now crumbling walls and dusty loot but nothing was greater than the marvelous woman who never grew old or died.
She slept and slept, never eating, never aging, never awaking. A marvel unexplained by science. Still time passed and she was forgotten, just another museum piece after a thousand years of research had revealed nothing.
When she was eventually forgotten she was stolen. Again they tried to understand her. They dissected her, cut her into pieces and auctioned her off. A arm here, a finger there, a heart a continent away. The head was still mostly intact and studied by a scientist of poor fortune. Once while drunk the scientist couldn’t help but admire the face he held and kissed it.
The head awoke and screamed a terrible shriek. Her eyes went wild and her howl carried across the air, her blood flowed once again. And then she withered away and was dead.