This article is a web original
Marco Cian (Hyogo)
Perhaps if Midori had been aware of the local legends, she would not have chosen to go into the old, dilapidated rest station. But she was not a resident of the area, only passing through on a school nature walk. And how was she to prepare for an unexpected attack that necessitated an immediate entrance to the nearest restroom? When it came, Midori gasped slightly as she clutched her abdomen, and, quickly making her way to the teacher, Midori did her best to remain calm as she asked if there was a bathroom nearby.
“Huh? Oh, yeah, I suppose lunch was pretty spicy,” the teacher said, and Midori saw no reason to correct him. Just so long as he knew where one could seek relief in these woods.
“Let’s see…” the teacher checked his guide map, before grinning. “Aha! Yep, you’re in luck. There’s one pretty close by. Just go down that route and you can’t miss it.”
But before the teacher could tell Midori any more she had already blurted out a thank you and rushed down the path. Oh, if only she had stayed to listen! The teacher might have warned her that the rest station was located where a school had once stood, that the school had been torn down years ago because of horrible hauntings, that even if the building was no more, the ghosts in that area still remained. But Midori did not stay, and she bounded through the forest blind in her ignorance.
A tanuki statue on the side of the road stared at Midori as she waddled into the rest station, its gaze following her motion, though she hardly noticed. And wispy wails that might have been wights wafted through the woods as she finally located the toilet. But if Midori heard them, she showed no sign of it. She was on a mission, and by God she was going to complete it. If only she had known! If only she had been aware that the stall she picked was haunted by the most terrible wraith of them all. But alas, Midori did not know, and as she sat down on the toilet seat and set about her business, she did not notice the red-cloaked specter materialize above her head. Not until it was too late. Withered talons reached out towards Midori, while evil, soulless eyes glistened with terrible hunger as a crooked smile spread far wider than any human mouth could manage. And as the parched lips prepared to speak, Midori let out a scream of terror.
“No! No, no, no!” Midori howled. She had managed to get to the toilet just in time to avoid staining her skirt. But in her rush she had failed to make sure there was paper in the stall! Frantically she searched her pockets for tissues, but could not even find a handkerchief. She was without anything with which to wipe herself, and she shuddered as she considered the possibilities before her.
“Hello, my dear,” a raspy, eldritch voice cackled. And when Midori looked up, she saw the red ghost reaching out, each of his claws holding a roll of colored toilet paper. “May I be of… assistance?”
At that the ghost erupted in a furor of maniacal laughter, before Midori looked up at the phantom in relief.
“Oh, geez, you have paper? Thank you so much!” Midori could hardly believe her luck. It seemed too good to be true!
“Erm…” the ghost seemed flustered, evidently unfamiliar with this sort of reaction. But he soon regained his composure. “Ahem. Yes, yes I do have paper. But which will it be, my dear? Red paper, or blue paper?”
“I do not care,” Midori snorted as she snatched the blue paper. “Either works for me.”
“That-!” the ghost seemed almost incensed by Midori’s flippantness, but his anger showed only for the briefest of flashes. After all, Midori had taken one of his papers, and as all the locals knew, this ghost was Aka Manto, the red-cloaked phantom who offered weary passersby toilet paper. But if they took from his paper, like the food of the fae, their souls would be his to devour. Red or blue, it made no difference. By not denying his offer, Midori’s soul was now his! The phantom’s fangs glistened as his snakelike tongue licked his chops. And after putting the red paper back in his pocket, he advanced towards Midori, eager to feast.
But then, the red cloak gave pause. Midori had wiped herself clean, as all the ghost’s previous victims had. But now after standing up she was folding the paper and placing it between her legs. Did she expect a later bout of runs?
“W-wait,” the ghost mumbled. “Why are you doing that?”
“Huh?” Midori furrowed her brow, like the specter was stupid. “Because I’m on my period, idiot! Thanks for the paper, by the way. I’m all out of pads, which sucks, but maybe I can ask someone for some when I get back. God, you’re a lifesaver.”
Period!? The red cloak recoiled in horror, and as he saw the red stains, so clearly visible on the blue paper and hanging undergarments, he let loose a primordial scream.
“EEEEEEWWWWWWWWW!!!” shrieked the ghost, as he fled from that cursed stall for good. And as the other haunting hosts of the woods gazed in amazement at the fleeing figure, Midori could only stare blankly, wondering what had gotten the phantom so worked up.
Marco Cian is a second-year ALT in Hyogo Prefecture. He hopes this story made you shiver and laugh at the same time. If you’d like to read more if his stuff, you can do so at his website here.