Kuchisake-Onna is the legend of a Japanese woman, mutilated by her jealous samurai husband who murdered her for infidelity scarring her horribly and leaving her repulsive.
Her jealous Ghost still haunts places in Japan, usually on foggy nights, wearing a surgical mask when she will approach people and ask shyly: “Watashi kirei?” (Am I beautiful?) The person usually responds, yes.
She then pulls down her mask to reveal an ear to ear grin, cut by her jealous husband to mar her for her life. “Even like this?” she will persist. If you answer no, she will take a pair of scissors, and cut the same gruesome smile into your own face. If you answer yes, she will disappear, and the second you go home will reappear at your door and finish the job.
The only way of confusing Kuchisake-Onna is to say: You are average, which will confuse this mysterious Onryo. Or to present her with hard amber candy, or say ‘Pomade’ six times shall make her flee.
A few years ago I was spending some time with friends exploring old, supposedly haunted, places. We were at the Edisto First Presbyterian Church, where a girl named Julia Legare was buried in her family mausoleum in 1852.
People reported hearing unearthly screams time and time again, but never investigating the cause of it. Fifteen years later, when they opened the door to the mausoleum to inter the next family member who had died, finding her corpse huddled in the corner next to the door, arms outstretched as if still trying to find the exit.
Well, my friends thought it would be a funny idea to shut the giant stone door (which was originally open) behind me and pick me up in the morning. The bastards left me there… I tried and tried, using all of my strength, but I couldn’t budge it, it had taken four people to put it in place. In the dark, I resigned myself to the night ahead of me.
Now, I normally don’t frighten easily, but sitting there in the relatively small place, surrounded by a looming pressure that I couldn’t begin to explain, the darkness itself seemed to try to consume me. From all around it felt like weight was pressing against my skin, making even breathing hard. I sat in the dark for what must have been hours.
Then I heard the scratches. They were faint at first, I was sure it was my imagination, but soon they became more and more frantic as time passed. I huddled up in one of the corners farthest from the door and tried to cover my ears but nothing could stop the growing cacophony. This all may have lasted for a few minutes, but each second was an unbearable eternity.
Then, a loud scream echoed through the darkness, it was a wail of unrestrained pain and fear. The scratching stopped. For the first time I could distinctly make out the sound of a girl sobbing to herself, the pitiful gasping of one without a shred of hope left.
I felt such sorrow at the moment, such pain, and that I think I forgot how to be afraid. In my heart all her suffering seemed to resonate. Inexplicably, I found myself apologizing aloud for everything that had happened to her. Hell, a part of me wanted to reach out and feel for a body to hug, but I couldn’t bring myself to do it for fear that I truly would find one.
I don’t know whether or not she heard me or was even aware of my presence, the sobbing continued and I could again hear fingers against the stone slab that was the tomb door.
I fell asleep at some point, which I felt was a merciful gift from the fates. I’m not sure how long I was out, but I was woken by a loud and powerful thud as the door slammed against the ground outside. I could tell from the light gray outside that daybreak was near, so I must have slept for at least a few hours.
I stumbled outside and went to a small unlocked prayer house. I think previously it was a segregated mini-church, but regardless, I leaned against the door and waited nervously until my ‘friends’ arrived. I approached them as they clustered around the fallen door; two of them were kneeling next to it with faces of shock.
There were bloody streaks covering the interior of the door, some with light scratches from fingernails, and many without. I think now that she must have shrieked when they broke away from her hands, but I can’t be sure.
At first, they looked to me, then checked my hands, then nervously glanced at one another. I was rightfully pissed with them and told them every detail of what I remembered, wanting them to know what I had been put through.
Finally, after I grudgingly got into the car and we started to head back, someone spoke up. My friend said to me “We were afraid to say anything, but look at your face.”
I later found out that many times people had tried to permanently seal the entrance to the mausoleum, including enough heavy locks and chains that it would require heavy equipment to remove it, only to have it found torn open with the door lying on the ground once more. This was in the 1980s, the last attempt of many through the decades. It seemed like some force was ensuring that it was impossible to ever repeat the mistakes of the past. This is something I am understandably quite grateful for, but to this very day I am chilled to the bone when I think of what happened that night.
When I reached from the back seat and adjusted the rear-view mirror, I saw that there was blood caked on my face. Just like the streaks upon the stone slab, there were dark red lines on either side, as if someone had gently cradled my face with torn fingers as I slept that night, feeling the warmth of another for the first time in over a hundred years.
The Witches Tunnel by Nathan
Close to where I live there is a forest, which holds a dark secret; The Witches Tunnel, a cluster of trees that have intertwined, clasping hands with each other to form a dark passage. It is said deep within the forest lives an old witch with eternal knowledge.
Walking through during the day is unsettling, a walk through this tunnel at midnight in the dead of winter when the moon is full is a different experience entirely. The branches will twist and sway as if trying to grab you and you’d swear they were alive. There will be no sound except the wind whispering in your ear, telling you to turn back. What looks like a distance of a few feet will take you nearly an hour to travel, if you turn round the entrance will be barely visible, a mere speck. Turning back now, however, would be a very bad idea, you must keep walking.
Eventually you will come out the other end, only this won’t be the same forest as it is in the day. The moon will be so big you could almost touch it and where its light manages to pierce through the dense foliage you’ll see the ground is alive with insects, one big crawling mass. Grotesque, mocking shadows will surround you in a thick blanket of fear.
As you continue, the path will split in two. Look for a crow in the trees, she will indicate which path to take and serve as your guide. If you ignore her and take the other path, you will be doomed to walk it for eternity as punishment for your insolence. The correct path leads to a break in the trees overlooking a small lake, thick with fog. Remain here until the fog clears, then walk to the shore. Glancing at the deep black water you will see yourself reflected, only many years older. If you see nothing, you have already failed. You may ask your future self one question and it will answer truthfully. Ask wisely however, some things you are not supposed to know.
When you have your answer turn round and you will see the crow has reappeared, only now in her true form, a sunken-faced old hag propped up by a gnarled branch. She will turn and begin walking and you must follow her, a few yards behind. Be careful not to lose sight of her as you will become lost in these forbidden woods forever. She will stop beneath the tallest tree in the forest and her boney finger will beckon you over. Approach her, but do not look her in the face, lest what you see behind those ageless eyes drives you insane. In return for letting you into her wise woods, she will ask a favour of you. This could be anything, from reading a certain book to committing a murder. Promise her this favour and she will lead you out of the forest.
Upon leaving the forest return home immediately and go straight to bed. The next day, rise at dawn and return the witches favour. If you do not do so within twenty-four hours she will return to you that night. She won’t kill you herself, that would be too easy. No, she will whisper in your ear whilst you sleep, invading your dreams and filling your subconscious with dark suggestions. You will create your own death, tearing yourself apart both mentally and literally.
The witch does not forgive.
A Memory by alapanamo
When thinking back to my earliest memories, nothing is concrete. A string of hazy images come to mind like random snapshots out of time, each one associated with certain feelings and emotions. They are imbued with a mystical dreamlike quality, a gift born of childhood naivety. The magic of every Christmas when Santa was still real, for example, is an experience of pure joy that is lost with maturity.
Many of these snapshots are impossible to place in any sort of context. They’re just…there, sunken in the crevices of the brain without rhyme or reason: playing with my dad’s beard in a wood-paneled room, him smiling down at me – comforting. Or discovering a long row of marching ants in someone’s wooded backyard, all by myself – exciting. Some of them don’t even seem real in hindsight. Did I actually fall from that tree by the lake, only to land on my feet without a scratch? Was it really a dream?
I don’t think so. Sure, I have memories of distant dreams, but there is a clear distinction between the dreams and reality of my past. I don’t know how I can tell, I just can. And for this reason one memory has always troubled me. The experience was so surreal, and yet certain details stand out with marked clarity.
I’m not exactly sure when it happened. I couldn’t have been older than five or six. My brother and I were sleeping in our bunk bed. Because he was older, he got the top bunk. I had just woken up, but it was still nighttime. Something felt different. I remember seeing and smelling the rain, but not hearing any. The window was open and it was very cold in the room. Why was the window open? The curtains were gently flapping but there was no breeze. The quiet was so intense it buzzed through my ears. I’d been lying on my side, with one arm dangling off the edge of the bed. Gradually I became aware that it was warmer near the floor. I felt some kind of heated breeze gently strike my hand, coming and going in short bursts. Finally I recognized it as someone’s breathing.
Then the woman slid out from under my bed. The nightlight showed that she had long blondish hair and wore a white nightgown, and in the dimness I thought it was my mother. I wasn’t at all scared. It’s funny how a child’s mind works. What’s mommy doing under the bed? Must be getting something, or checking for monsters. I was too tired to say anything and remained motionless, watching. The woman was on her back, but her face stayed in the shadows. She rolled over and crawled on all fours to the far end of the bed, then glided up the ladder to the top bunk. Her every movement was silky smooth and completely silent. She reminded me of a white ribbon dancing in the wind. I closed my eyes and fell back to sleep.
I also remember my brother telling me about a weird dream the next morning. He’d dreamt of a woman who lived “under the floor” and came out at night to play in the rain. When her clothes got soaked, she went back inside and would whisper things to anyone who was sleeping. It became a recurring dream for him until our family moved out of that house.
Strange, what the brain chooses to remember.