After 14 hours or maybe more than that we finally arrived here in Tokyo, Japan. The center and the heart of this country. If we are out here for a vacation we would be very excited especially Cindy but we are not. First, we came here for village research, meaning...we are not staying here in Tokyo. Second, It's currently 3am here and we can all feel the mother of all headaches pounding our head because of a freakin' Jetlag. Third, we have to catch the earliest flight from Tokyo to Iya Valley where we are assigned to do our group research. As to why we are doing this despite the troubles and hassle are because all of us are graduating students.
Thank Goodness we don't have a problem when it comes to hotel expenses because Edward's Aunty is willing to take us in for a few days until we are done with the projects. After a few minutes, we finally met them and gave us 2 rooms and we use the remaining time to sleep.
"Run Bell!!! Ruuuun!!!"
I gasp for some air to breathe as I felt my head pound in a very painful way. I clench my chest while groaning in pain.
"What's wrong?" Juliet asks worriedly.
"You okay?" She asked again.
"Yeah, Just a bad dream," I said.
Troy knocks and opens the door to ask us to get ready. We both nod and quickly gather our things that are needed for our research.
"Juliet, Thank You," I said shyly making her broke into tiny smiles.
After a while, we proceed downstairs for some breakfast prepared by Edward's and his Auntie's husband. Naturally, It was supposed to be the woman who deals with it but on Edward's household, it's different, since they believe that it was supposed to be a reward for their hardworking wives which we found cute. We bid our short farewell after arriving at the airport. It takes almost 1 and a half hours to fly from Haneda Airport to Okayama Airpot, we then took a bus to Okayama Train station. It took another 2 hours for a train ride to Obake and a 20 minutes Taxi ride to finally arrive at the Iya Valley.
"Arigatou Gozaimasu," I said after handing him the Taxi Fee. The old taxi driver smile at me and bow, when I was about to turn my back he caught my attention again and said " Yojin Suru" which I don't understand so I just bow at him and thank him again before Running towards my friends.
"We are finally heeeeere!" Cindy said trying to sound as cheerful as she can while Troy run elsewhere. I roam my eyes around while Juliet is taking photos of almost anything. It was just a usual quiet Village with a lot of people doing their own things. Like people standing on the field, kids sitting under a tree, and some other people just standing in different places.
"Wait" I squint my eyes and eyed the people on the field but something seems wrong.
"Hey~ Is it just me or are those people are just standing frozen on the field?" I asked Juliet who is currently busy taking photos of the field.
"Look over there. Even the kids are just sitting there motionless"
I said and walk towards the kids when Troy suddenly shout.
"Hey, guys! Check this out!" He exclaimed while dancing with a scarecrow. I gave him a side smirk and check the kids but they are just scarecrows too. My brows were mashed together as I run towards the field. Upon arriving at the field my speculations are right. These are not people but scarecrows.
"What's wrong?" Juliet and Edward asked.
"Where are the people? there are no people around they are all scarecrows" I said making them check it themselves and after checking they wonder too where are the villagers. It makes me uncomfortable since no one is around but scarecrows. It somewhat gives an eerie vibe which I hate.
"Ok, first let's go to the village chief's office. Maybe there, we could interview some people for our projects." Edward instructed. Everyone agrees as we walk the dirt pathway towards the village while carrying our things. We walk and wander around but there are no people. There are houses, a small convenience store, and a village office but there are no people. So we decided to stop and rest for a while.
We are still lost when Troy places the camera stand in front of the convenience store and signals.
"We should just film this place then come back tomorrow."He explained. We all agree and start the documentation.
"We are here in Nagoro Village where there is nothing...nothing but scarecrows. It is a quiet village located at Iya Valley a few miles away from Japan's heart, Tokyo which I should be enjoying right now but..."
"Hey, can anyone change Cindy please?" Juliet said
"There are too many side comments" She answered ignoring Cindy's protest.
"And Troy, Please stop filming Cindy's boobs" Juliet exclaimed and pinch his side. When Troy suddenly runs somewhere.
"Who's that?!" Troy exclaimed and run towards the back of the convenience store. We all run and follow Troy to see what's happening but there is nothing to see.
"I saw someone running over here," He said but there is nothing but a bunch of unfinished scarecrows and a scarecrow standing on the field. So we try to look at the place for any signs of people but there are none.
"There's nothing here, Are you sure Troy?" I said. Troy nods his head and scrutinize the place again. When Edward notices something.
"There is a person here," He said while looking at the ground.
"Look there is a footprint here" We all look at the footprints engraved on the muddy soil and trace it only to find the end towards the field.
"But there is no sigh of people! It's just a damn scarecrow!" Cindy exclaimed while fanning her face. Unknowingly something is bothering me...so I walk towards the field and I saw a shadow sitting behind the scarecrow.
"Got you!" I exclaimed making the kid hiding behind the scarecrow gasp in fright.
"Who are you?! What are you doing here?!" He asked in Japanese while flapping his hands. I let him go as he hides behind the scarecrow again. I don't understand him so I better not frightened him more. Edward walk towards our direction and talk to him in Japanese.
"We are from Hong Kong and we are here to interview some people in your village. Where are they?" Edward asked and hand him a candy that we got from Tokyo. The kid cautiously gets it and finally smile at us.
"You want to come with me?" He asked again in Japanese and the kid nods and raises his hand to hold Edward's hand.
After eating the candy and chocolates Edward asked him again and continue conversing with him. Since I don't understand anything I just let them be and roam around the place once again.
After wondering I notice an open barn near the field. I walk towards it and wander around when the kid exclaimed and run towards me.
"What? Why?" I asked in confusion. Edward taps the little kid's head and translates it for me.
"Don't go there, That is a place for treasures."
"Treasure?! Then we gotta go inside!" Troy exclaimed and hurriedly run towards the barn door when we all heard a loud angry voice.
"What the hell are you doing here?! Who are you?!" We saw a man walking angrily towards us while pointing his finger accusingly. After closing the gap between us Edward steps forward and faces the angry man while bowing. He keeps saying something on the guy until he finally calms down. Then they converse some more. After a while, Edward walk towards us and introduce the man who is now smiling at us.
"Guys, He is the Village's Chief Mr. Kuichi Yamamoto. He thought we are thieves so he got angry at us but I already explained so we should apologize too. Especially you Troy" Edward said but Troy just shrug his shoulder and walk away.
"That rude brat!" Juliet exclaimed and apologize on behalf of Troy. The rest of us extend our apologies and Cindy went after Troy. Then the village Chief invites us inside the Village's workshop and there we saw the other old man and old ladies making some scarecrows.
"It's better if you do your job tomorrow since tomorrow will be the Village's Festival. It was a festival to honor the god of the field who brings us bountiful crops. We only held it once a year so your timing is really good. You'll be able to document a lot of nice tradition here in our village." The village chief's just kept on talking in Japanese while Juliet is taking the video of the interview. Since I have nothing to do, I decided to be the photographer for our group. I walk towards a bunch of old ladies sewing the scarecrows, took some photos of them and their finished product. I didn't talk to anyone and just smile at them since I don't speak their language.
Until I reached a certain room full of pictures. It was the villagers' pictures framed and display in this room. Some are hanged on the wall while someplace on the tables together with the materials used in making a scarecrow. There are even some old albums so I place the camera down and check the photographs. It was the pictures of the old but happy village. Some of the photographs even have a time and date just like this photograph dated back on July 22,1923. It was an old photograph of 3 young ladies and some foreigners. Maybe It was back when the village is still a tourist spot?
"Anatahadare?" A voice of a woman asked in alarm startling me. I drop the album on the floor making him gasp
"Anatahadare?!" She exclaimed angrily. I apologize repeatedly since I don't know how to speak in Japanese except sorry and thank you until the village chief's run inside.
"Haha Ayaka!" He exclaimed and walk towards the curtain behind the altar and there we saw a blindfold woman shivering on the corner.
"Who is he? Who is the person behind the altar?!" The old woman exclaimed. Edward steps in and tries to explain when the old lady suddenly screams in fright and grinds herself on the corner. The village Chief push Edward away and asked him to wait outside. So we decided to wait outside until the tension calms down.
"What's wrong with this place?" I asked alarmed Anxiety finally kick inside me. Juliet comfort me while Edward talks to the village chief.
"The village chief said that we should not enter that room until we are done with our job. It was their village elder named Ayaka. Haha means mother. She was blind due to old age and have an anxiety disorder so she was really startled when she felt someone unfamiliar was inside the room. She was 112 years old by the way." making us gasped
"Anyway the village chief said that he'll prepare a banquet and a place for us to stay. He said that since Haha Ayaka was sick in bed they decided to move the festival tonight after the banquet. It was good for us since after this we could leave earlier than we expect." Edward explained.
"Any way where's Troy and Cindy?" I asked but they both shrug their shoulder.
"They are probably roaming around the place so we just have to wait for them. They'll be back for sure."
Then the sun sets, the torches were lightened and the old villagers brought out their musical instrument and play with it. All of the people start to dance and sing. Edward said that he'll get the camera's spare battery on his bag and Juliet said that she'll help him. Then the village chief sits beside me I nod at him and smile then he said something. Since I don't understand him I brought out my phone and text something. It was an app where my text can be automatically translated. Why didn't I thought of this earlier?
"Where are the young folks on the photographs I saw?" I hand him the cellphone and he starts to type.
"They were gone. They left the village long ago to go to the city." He said. I nod at him. That's why there are no younger people here except that little child back on the field. Now that I thought of it where could he be?
"Where is the child that's in the field?" I hand him the phone again but he look at me questioningly.
"There is no child in here" He answered making me frown. I nod at him and excuse myself. I gotta find Edward. Upon arriving at our room. A voice stops me on my track.
"Hey talk to me" I heard Juliet's voice. I slightly open the door and peek inside. There, Juliet and Edward talking.
"I told you I want to stop now! I can't do this thing to Bell anymore." Edward said making me confused. Then Juliet suddenly hugs Edward and kissed him making Edward respond as their kiss got deeper and deeper. I fell on my knees and caught their attention then when they open the door I saw Edward's startled face together with Juliet's eyes pitying me. I run crying away from the scene.
How could they do this to me?! Why me? Why them?! Juliet was my precious friend, Edward, He's my one and only so why?!
My feet slipped on the muddy road making me stumble on the ground and hitting a tree when a voice of someone praying was heard not too far from where I am.
"I took a peek on the bushes and saw a fire lit with woods surrounded by scarecrows and Haha Ayaka was in the middle praying. What's that? I thought she was sick and the banquet is not yet started so what's this? I watch a little more as I saw 2 familiar figures.
"Let go of her!!!!"Troy exclaimed to those scarecrows dragging the unconscious Cindy.
"Let her go!!!!"Troy exclaimed again and struggle free but there are two scarecrows holding him. Who are those people?! Why are they dressed as scarecrows? Why is Cindy unconscious?
My thoughts were snapped by Cindy's cry when the scarecrows removed Cindy's clothes and raped her. I held my breath as I watch my friend being raped and Troy, a scarecrow suddenly slashes his neck. I stumbled and made a rustling sound. I saw the scarecrows going towards my direction as I crawl hurriedly out of the place when a hand helped me. It was from Edward. I hug him tightly and he calmly guided me out of the place.
"What's wrong?! Who are those people? We should tell the Village chief!"
"Are you an idiot bell?!" Juliet exclaimed making me shut up.
"Can't you see he's also a part of this crap! Look at the place around you what can you see?!" Juliet asked making me roam my eyes. It was dark and my eyes were blurry but there is one difference. The scarecrows that used to be in the village ...most of them were gone.
"Yes Bell, They are the ones who're raping Cindy and the people who killed Troy."
"But all of the people here are all old! they can't be..." I remember the village chief's word.
" They left the place long ago to went to the city."
"The younger people..." I remember the villagers' photographs with the scarecrows.
"It was them. The younger villagers did not leave the village they were the scarecrows" I said making them nod. We run towards the field as we heard the village chief's voice sending instructions to some people.
"They were searching for us" Edward explained. I gasped in fright upon hearing it as thousand of thoughts were flashing in my brain.
"Why are they doing this?!" Juliet asked. When Troy remembers something.
"The village chief said that back in 1923 something happened in the village that made them be cautious around the foreigners visiting their village. As to what it is and why they are doing this, I don't know." Then I remember the photograph I saw in the Elder's room. I left it in my pocket intending to return it after the elder calms down but lost the opportunity.
"Here," I said and hand them the picture.
"I think the youngest one here is Haha Ayaka," I said while shivering. Juliet caught our attention and urge us to come to her. And inside the barn behind the pile of hay, we saw a box. A pile of foreign cameras, flashlights, and other things. We examine the camera and it was broken but an SD card is still attached. Juliet got it and put it inside her camera as the camera revealed the most excruciating photographs. Dismembered body, Human Skeleton were being dried and other photographs revealing their crime. But there is one photograph that caught our attention.
"Isn't this professor Wang? That evil History professor that assigned us in here?" Edward said making as a gasp.
"Is...Is he part of this too?! Oh my God! He planned this! He knew about this place! He wants us dead!" I cry. Juliet's tears fall down on her face too.
"We have to bring this to the police so that all of those mother fuckers will be in jail!" Juliet exclaimed and run towards the door of the barn when A scarecrow appeared and stab her. I screamed in fright as Edward claimed the camera and throw it at me. He held the scarecrow and shout.
"Run Bell!!! Ruuuun!!!"