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My name is Henry Himura. I work for a large law firm situated near downtown Los Angeles. We’ve handled some of the biggest, most controversial cases in the last two decades and have built quite a name for ourselves. I am using a pseudonym, because, as you will hear, this story is almost fantastical, nearly too frightening to believe real. I don’t want to ruin a career I have spent so much time and effort building just because some people don’t want to believe the truth of what’s out there. First, I just want to issue warning; never, ever play kokkuri-san. No matter how innocent the internet or books may make it sound, don’t do it. This is the story of how my life changed forever, and how I lost something so dear.
Spirit boards come in all shapes and sizes, and various names as well. In the US, the most common one is a Ouija board. They are intended as children’s games, when really, you can unleash something so powerful and evil that it may never be bottled. Spirit boards are just a portal to the other side, a way for spirits to communicate directly with the living, and that spirit can be good or a total evil menace. According to my research, you can use just about anything as your spirit board.
In my native country of Japan, we played a game called kokkuri-san. With this game, you question the spirits about your future, and they will sometimes answer, maybe not with the answer you are seeking. We would take a coin, place it on paper with some words and numbers written on it, and the coin would slide across to answer your question. After you were finished, you were supposed to tell kokkuri-san to go home and slid the coin to the red torii symbol at the top of the paper, and then tear the paper into forty-eight pieces or burn it.
Almost thirty years ago, my siblings and I, started playing kokkuri-san, and did so a dozen or so times before moving to America without much more than a few funny responses from the fox spirit. The last time we played kokkuri-san, my brother asked the spirit,
“Kokkuri-san, kokkuri-san, will you move this coin?”
The coin slid across the paper in repeated circles for a few seconds, then stopped.
“Kokkuri-san, when will I become rich and famous?” he asked.
The coin slide slowly across the paper, the coin was pressing so hard against the paper that I thought it would tear, but we were barely pressing on it — something else was doing it. It spelled out:
Then a pause.
From behind us, somewhere in the dark, came a deep guttural growl, like that of a hungry dog; we didn’t own a dog. We knew this was not kokkuri-san. It was never described to act like this or to be threatening; something else had come through the game! My brother panicked, running across the room to grab father’s lighter from his desk door. He set the paper on fire and dropped it into the sink to burn, then turned on the tap to drown out the flames. I realize his mistake now, something that I wish he would’ve done, and maybe it could’ve prevented everything that would come. He forgot to tell the kokkuri-san to go home before destroying the paper; he left it trapped in our world.
A few weeks later, our father transferred his job with a car manufacturer to the US and we moved to Seattle. At first, adjusting to the culture shock was overwhelming but we had all taken English language classes in school and that made it easier. I can remember a day that we went into a toy store and we were shocked to see that there was a popular, widely sold board game that was like kokkuri-san; the Ouija board. Our mother forbade us from buying it, saying it would only invite trouble, and she was unaware that we had already played kokkuri-san numerous times by then.
My brother and I managed to sneak over to the store and bought the Ouija board later that week. Katsuro was the most eager to buy it, which was obvious. I asked him why.
“Every night since the last time we played kokkuri-san, I’ve had these nightmares. They’re too real, sometimes I think they actually happen to me. In those dreams, I’m lying in bed and from the corner of my eye, I can see a dark shadow beside me. I can hear it taking deep, gasping breaths and the dripping of saliva, like it is starving. It speaks to me in a growl, demanding that I feed it.”
I asked him, “Did you ask what it wants?”
He paused for a moment, deep in thought, as we walked down the sidewalk back home, “No, I always wake up and I can’t move for a long time. Sometimes, I swear it really is standing beside the bed, like it is waiting for me to feed it… or to feed on me.” I could see the fear in his eyes and his voice. I had no doubt he was telling the truth.
“Maybe you are just dreaming, Katsuro. Dreams sometimes seem like they’re real but they’re not, they’re—.”
“Dreams don’t breathe into your ear while you’re lying on your back and unable to scream, or yell, or do anything!”
I could only hang my head in shame because I felt terrible for doubting my brother. I wanted to believe him, but who could really believe something so outrageous without seeing it yourself? Katsuro was never one to lie and would practically break his neck to tell the truth. “Okay, so what do you want to do with the Ouija board?”
“I want to speak to it, banish it back to hell, then burn that board. This time, we’ll play by the rules; this time, it won’t follow us!” he was dead serious and had the bravery of someone far older than twelve. Tears were streaming down his cheeks as he clinched his fists, his stride becoming faster and faster. That happened on a Monday.
Our parents would be out the following Friday to a dinner with some of father’s executives to welcome him to the USA, and they said they would be out for hours. I was in charge because I was the oldest at fifteen and so I had to keep an eye on my siblings. Michiko was fourteen at the time and she was too preoccupied with the wonderment of American television, so Katsuro and I decided to leave her out of the plan, and we also felt like it was favor to our only sister to leave her out of any chaos that might happen.
I could read English well, but my siblings weren’t so great. The Ouija board was in English, of course, so I would have to translate because Katsuro couldn’t. We unboxed the ‘game’, reading the rules out loud.
‘Never play alone.’ Check.
‘Never play in a graveyard.’ Check. It made me double think if any were nearby, but I didn’t believe there were.
‘Never burn it.’ This one Katsuro became frustrated over.
“Why not?!” he cried bemoaning.
“I don’t know, Katsuro. It doesn’t say. They’re just the rules, I don’t think it’d be a good idea to question them.”
Never leave the planchette on the board. “Why not?” he asked.
“I don’t know? I suppose it would leave the doorway open? Stop questioning the rules and just listen!”
‘Never ask when you will die.’
And the last rule: ‘Don’t forget to say goodbye.’
“That’s the one we forgot with kokkuri-san!” Katsuro reminded me.
Thunder was rolling outside, and it sounded very close to the house. Then lightning crashed, casting the whole house in a bright light like a camera flash.
“Yes, Katsuro, and let’s not do that again,” I put the rules back into the box and slammed my palms on the table. “If you so much as try to break any of these rules, I will not be to blame if something gets you!”
“Good. Now, let’s hurry before—”
That was when the lights shut off. Katsuro flipped the light switch several times with no effect. I remember groaning with indignation at the annoyance. What I hadn’t noticed then, and what I wish I would have, was that Michiko never asked what happened, or even made a sound about the power going out. We would see why later.
“No! It shut off the lights! It’s onto our plan!” the fear was growing in his voice.
“Shut up, Katsuro! It’s probably the storm! Go get those candles that mother keeps for emergencies! Hurry!”
Katsuro fetched the candles with an eagerness I rarely saw in him. He was at a running pace, and I couldn’t see him, but I heard him rummaging through cabinets at a frantic pace, followed by the patting of his feet coming back down the hallway.
“Okay. I hope you didn’t break anything,” I said as I leered at him, “Anyway, let’s light them around the table so we can see the board better.”
“I wish the power was working,” his voice was quaking.
“I do too but we’ll have to wait for the power company to fix it.”
I struck a match, but it went out with an abrupt hiss. I thought that the match was just a dud, so I struck another, and the same thing happened. My annoyance was building at this point. I struck another, and another, and another; all of them snuffed out within a second of being struck. My brother found a stick lighter and tried that as well, but it did the same thing. There was no gust or blowing of the air conditioner that could cause that since the power was out. Finally, after several attempts, the spirit allowed us to light our candles, as if it were mocking us.
We began to play kokkuri-san on the Ouija board. Katsuro went to the window by the dining room table and opened it. The ozone smell of the thunderstorm flooded the inside of the house and the loud rumbling of thunder filled the house. We removed the planchette from the box and placed it at the bottom. After a few moments of hesitation, we both placed our hands on the planchette and started the game.
“Kokkuri-san, Kokkuri-san, if you’re here, please move this… planchette,” my brother said, unsure if he was saying the word correctly. He pronounced it more like ‘blanket’ but I just shrugged and laughed. In case you haven’t seen a Ouija board, the planchette is the triangular piece that players but the hands on and is used by the spirits to point to letters and numbers.
Within an instant, it began spelling out:
“What does it say, Henry?”
“It says it is hungry,” I replied, almost crying in my fear. I wasn’t sure why I was afraid, but something about the way it jumped straight to its demand was blood-chilling. “Did you move it? Did you?”
“No! I’d never do that, Henry! I didn’t!” I believed him, and I could feel the tightening grip of fear in my stomach.
To the point, Katsuro asked, “What do you want to eat?”
The planchette moved, it moved with such force that I remember having trouble keeping my fingers on it, almost just letting go to see if it’d just move on its own.
I nearly flung my hands off the planchette and ran out of the room, but I reminded myself that I was the older one and I had to be strong for my little brother. I also wasn’t sure what’d happen if to us if I did let go.
“I will find you something,” Katsuro answered, nearly jumping from his chair. He was dashing toward the fridge.
“No! Don’t give it what it wants! You’ll make it—” that was all I got out before a sheering pain went down my back, a pain so strong that I found it hard to breath. I fell to the floor, writhing in the sudden, screaming pain. Gasping, I moved my hand under my shirt. I winced as it touched the pained area and saw blood when I looked at it.
“Katsuro! Look at my back! Please!” he was digging through the refrigerator by then, almost ignoring me entirely, as he looked desperately for something to offer.
He casually looked over his shoulder, “I’ll be right there!”, he said as he shut the fridge and came running over to me, his little arms carrying wrapped ground beef that he sat on the table. He looked at my back, and gasped.
“Henry! There are three long scratches going all the way down your back! What happened!?”
“It was that spirit! It did that when I told you not to feed it! You’re just going to make it stronger, Katsuro!”
We both made eye contact with the ground beef, but the packages were empty. There was no sign that the packaging had been cut, torn, broken in to whatsoever – just empty packages. The planchette moved again, this time without us touching it. It moved with a jerky motion, like something didn’t quite know what it was doing, or like the jerky movement of computer lag.
Then it slid to a blank area and back onto the board.
Katsuro grabbed the planchette and threw it out the window as hard as his little arms could. When we turned back around, it was back on the table on the word NO.
Then it began to spell out.
I moved the planchette to the word NO and then to GOODBYE, but then it moved on its own back to the word NO and spelled the next word so fast that I could barely tell that is said:
Michiko gave out a terrifying scream so loud that somebody would’ve called the police if they could’ve heard her over the storm. Katsuro and I rushed down the hallway to her room at the far right of the hallway. She was lying on her side under the blankets, facing the wall, still screaming. I rolled her over to examine her; her eyes were shut, as if she were in a deep sleep, but her mouth was shrieking in bloody terror. I shook her hard several times, calling her name, trying my best to wake her, but she just kept screaming. Her arm flopped from under the blanket over the side of the bed as I was shaking her, and I saw that her wrist was slowly dripping blood onto the carpet. It wasn’t slit on the artery or anything life threatening, but pricked, like with a small knife, and was only bleeding a few drops at a time. I knew First Aid, so I wrapped the wound with one of her clean socks from her dresser and told Katsuro we had to end this now.
As we were leaving Michiko’s room, the temperature in the entire house plummeted, which was unexplainable since it was late summer, and the air conditioning wasn’t working due to the power outage. I noticed that my breath coming out in a cloud. The lights began to flicker then, and I saw something standing at the end of the hallway; a pitch-black figure about seven-feet-tall, nearly as high as the ceiling! It looked like a man, but I it had long, skinny claws instead of hands, and a smile filled with pointed teeth. It was gone once the flickering stopped a few moments later. It was showing us what it was, and I knew that it was warning us to continue… or else.
Katsuro and I sat down at the table, placed our hands at the board.
“What can we do to make you go away?”
The planchette moved to NO, then GOODBYE.
My brother sighed, but then gave out a shriek of terror as he was jerked to the floor and dragged down the hallway by some invisible force. I jumped up, grabbing his hands, pulling with everything I had but couldn’t budge him. It was going straight into his closet. He kept screaming, “No! Please no! Stop! Just stop!” as he was being forced down the hallway and inside his bedroom closed. From within the closet, I saw yellow eyes and a wide smile staring back at me. I grabbed onto Katsuro’s hands, trying my best to stop it, but it was no use; the closet snapped shut with a hard and powerful slam and Katsuro went inside.
Out of panic and desperation, I tried to open the closet doors. After multiple attempts, the doors finally opened. My brother was not inside. Inside, there were piles of Styrofoam meat trays, all appeared to have been opened recently. I realized later that Katsuro had been spending his allowance on various kinds of meats for this thing. I also found another kokkuri-san paper under some of the trays. I tore it into 48 pieces, along with the Ouija board, burned them, and threw the ashes into the wind, thinking maybe that that it’d summon him back. It didn’t.
He did not.
It has been nearly twenty years since he went missing and we filed that missing persons report. My parents assumed that he ran away to go back to Japan. The move had been hard on him and he expressed his dislike of the move often. As for the meat trays, well, my parents and the police didn’t mention that detail or ask about it, almost if they just didn’t notice them. For weeks, I searched for my brother, finding no trace of him. Sometimes I’d sit in his closet, begging for an answer, but I’d get nothing. My parents grieved a long time, and their marriage dissolved as a result. Mother went back to Japan, while she allowed father to keep us in America, where I finished school and later became a lawyer. My father once convinced me to pay a private investigator to find Katsuro, but as you may guess, they found no trace of him either.
After I write this, there is a Ouija board on my dining room table. On the table, I also have some cheap ground beef, my brother’s favorite toy, and something I have that I didn’t thirty years ago; a vast knowledge on how to kill a demon.