The Art of Darkness

Unspooky Saturday

November 26th, 2011 by Cobwebs

And the last entry in this month’s Saturday tale-telling nonsense is a popular Japanese ghost story, which I didn’t realize until looking up the details isn’t actually about a ghost at all. This thing is even sillier than I’d thought it was.

—————

this story starts right out with a major spoiler
in that it is narrated by the protagonist in the past tense
which means that
no matter how horrifying the events described may be
we already know the dude lives through them
inasmuch as he is here to describe them
this is a good way to reduce stress
I approve

so there’s this lonely road
that is very spooky after dark
and people go out of their way to avoid it
because it is reputedly haunted by a Mujina
and Mujina-avoidance sounds like a very prudent measure
until you find out that a Mujina is not
as one might suspect
one of those special ultra-freaky
demonic ghost monsters with extra squick on top and a side order of fangs
that the Japanese seem to excel in being haunted by
no
a Mujina is a magical shape-shifting badger
that likes to play pranks
and being afraid of badgers
shape-shifting or otherwise
is just kind of sad

although pranky the magical badger
would be an excellent saturday morning cartoon

so this merchant is hurrying down the spooky dark road
and he sees a young woman crouching by a moat
hiding her face in her sleeves
and sobbing loudly
which as you will see in a minute
would be harder than it sounds

and because he is a very kind man
the merchant approaches and asks what is wrong
but she ignores him and continues to cry
so he goes nearer
and asks if he can help her
and she stands up
but keeps her back to him
and continues to sob and moan and carry on

and this merchant has clearly never seen any Japanese horror movies
because instead of deciding that this whole scenario is way too creepy
and running like the wind
he goes up and touches her on the shoulder
and she whips around and drops her sleeves
to reveal a decided abundance of facelessness
with the front of her head as smooth as an egg
so you see how sobbing loudly could be a challenge

this would be the Mujina
pretending to be a crying woman
and repaying a kindly stranger’s offer of help
by scaring the shit out of him so hard
that his intestines unroll like a party streamer
so you can bet that the next crying woman
that the merchant comes across
will have to just keep on crying
thanks to the Mujina being a dick

so the merchant screams
and runs away down the road
afraid to look behind him
although I would be tempted to look
because if there was an eldritch horror somewhere behind me
I might be interested to know how close it was
and also would want to know
how it was following me if it didn’t have any eyes

but the merchant finally sees a light in the distance
and runs toward it
to find a noodle-seller who has set up a stand by the roadside
although a pitch-black road in the middle of nowhere
is perhaps not prime real estate for such an establishment

so the merchant runs up to the noodle-seller
who has his back to him
and here I am detecting a theme
and yells that he’s just seen something horrible

and the noodle-seller asks
was it something like this?
and turns around
to show that he also is entirely faceless
and then the lantern goes out
boogety-boogety

and that is where the story ends
with the protagonist in the dark with a faceless noodle-seller
which sounds like a bad place to be
for one thing he can’t taste his own cooking so the noodles are probably terrible
but
we know that the protagonist somehow manages to escape
because he is the one telling the story
so anticlimaxes all around

the moral of this story is that badgers are assholes.

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