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In the 70’s my uncle applied for a job teaching English in Japan. My family says he came back a physical and mental wreck. I finally got him to tell me what happened. This is his story in his words…

Back then the Japanese government was just starting to bring people over to teach English. I applied, but never heard anything back, moved on. A few months later I get a call from some guy saying he works for a Japanese recruiting agency and that they desperately need a teacher for some rural town; says he got my info from the government. I was happy as hell and accepted, the next month I’m on a plane to Japan. (By the way, I didn’t speak Japanese.)

I knew it was going to be rural, but when I got there my stomach sank. The town, or should I say village, was literally on the side of a mountain. It was named “Inaka” and maybe 500 people lived there. Forget advanced technology or salarymen, I’m talking about farmers, rice patties, dirt roads, traditional houses. Place looked like it was out of a history book.

There was one paved path, it was steep as hell and climbed from the road at the foot of the mountain up to Inaka. Driving up the path was only safe in a 4-wheel drive; in the icy winter it was completely inaccessible. I’m not gonna’ lie when you got up there the place was beautiful, in a day trip kind of way. Staying there for a year though, I wanted to cry. But I had signed a one-year contract and didn’t want to be the unreliable Gaijin. Plus, what did I have to lose? It was only one year.

Things got a little better when I met the person who would be my companion for the next year. Her name was Yuki and she saved my life. She was maybe 30 years old. I wouldn’t say a bombshell, but definitely easy on the eyes. Cute face, nice smile, friendly, and best of all, she spoke English. She showed me around, got me set up in my apartment. (And by apartment I mean a fucking stone age dwelling) and basically became my one friend. I was literally getting paid to correctly pronounce English and get the students used to being around foreign people, plus Yuki and I really hit it off, things seemed good.

Didn’t really notice anything off until she introduced me to the locals. At first I just chalked it up to the fact that we couldn’t communicate; cultural differences and all that. But was it normal for them to keep staring at me with those glassy eyed looks. Felt as is they were looking right through me. And why were they all so quiet, even with each other. I guess Yuki sensed what I was feeling “Don’t worry, they are very shy. That’s why we need you.” That was my first sign that something was off. I got my next sign a couple of days later when I started classes and met the lifeless mannequins that were Inaka’s “children”.

For months I tried to connect with these kids. Tried playing games with them, showing them pictures of the States, singing songs, everything I could think. Nothing worked, they all just sat there, catatonic. I felt like a failure, I could see it in Yuki’s eyes. This is why they had brought me here, to try and help these kids, and I was letting her and the whole town down.

Winter came and I fell into a deep depression. Didn’t feel like myself, got tired of the blank stares, stopped caring about my classes. Strange things started happening at night. I would hear strange noises outside my window. I swore it was those damn villagers fucking with me. I didn’t tell Yuki, she’s the only person I cared about, didn’t want her to think badly of me. We grew close.

More time passed, I started seeing things in the woods, shadows. Felt like the town was swallowing me alive. Went up to an old man walking by, felt like yelling at him “Talk to me!” what’s wrong with you? But he just stared; his glassy eyes couldn’t even focus on me. Yuki tried talking to me, said I was different, wasn’t talking as much, wasn’t even trying to teach anymore.

One night she broke down, told me her life story. She had been born in Inaka. Said everything was normal before. Inaka had been a happy place, sure it was rural, but the people were kind. But bad things had started to happen. Some kids had disappeared in the woods; they later found their mutilated bodies. Things like that just didn’t happen in Japan. Her parents were scared so they kept her locked up. She wanted to go and play but they never let her go out and they wouldn’t say why.

Then things got worse. Everyone started changing, there were no more smiles, no more summer festivals, it’s as if everyone had lost their soul, a black cloud had come over the town, as if everyone was just waiting to die. The rumor was that many foreigners were in the surrounding towns and they had brought evil Kami with them. Inaka shut itself in even more.

Her parents turned into shells of people, didn’t even bother to protect her anymore. But she felt strong, she felt more alive than ever before. She felt like she needed to do something for her town, her people. She was the one who gathered the money and hired the agency to bring me here, an outside person to bring life and freshness to the lives of the children. Instead I felt like I had fallen into the same grave pit.

I told her we needed to get out together, she had done everything she could for her town but if we stayed there we would both end up like the rest of them. At first she refused, but we were in love, and when my contract expired she decided to come back to America with me.

For the next few months of my life I was a fucking wreck. I couldn’t think straight, I kept getting cold sweats all day, threw up after every meal. Nights were the worst, I had to sleep with a towel wrapped around my pillow or else it would be drenched in sweat in the morning. I felt jittery and restless. When I did manage to sleep I would have nightmares. I knew the whole experience has fucked with my mind but I couldn’t believe I was reacting like this. I hadn’t felt this bad even when I was living in Inaka.

At first Yuki helped me, but then she started changing too. She had terrible mood swings, said she didn’t feel like herself. I thought it was the guilt from leaving her hometown, but it never got better, only worse. She started hurting herself, talking about what a terrible place America was. So much violence, said she couldn’t stop thinking about it. One day I came home and she was dead, her wrist slit, blood was everywhere. I couldn’t take it. I broke down. For years after that I was a shell of a man. Not knowing what had happened, what the fuck was wrong with that Village. It had killed the woman I loved, and it had destroyed my life.
Then almost a decade later, I saw it on the news. I couldn’t believe my eyes, Inaka on CNN, that shitty little village. “Reports from a small Japanese community that psychoactive chemicals have been leaking into the water supply for decades.” I finally had my explanation and it was a fucking shit-storm.

Some pharmaceutical company the next city over had apparently let some drug leak into Inaka’s water supply. The villagers had been drinking high doses of it with every glass of water for decades. Every vegetable they ate was laced with it. I felt like I was dead. The anger didn’t come until later, by then it was too late. There were only a few families left in Inaka, mostly senile old farmers. The government gave apologies and paid off the ones who had kids. The Inaka water supply was closed off and the pharmaceutical company was shut down, the Execs went to jail. What was left for me to do? Sue? I couldn’t even go through a normal day. That was 40 years ago now. I’m… I’m ok now.

When my Uncle finished his story tears welled up in his eyes. I was at a loss for words, I couldn’t believe what he had just told me… but I had one nagging question. I asked him… this drug… what were the effects of it?

“Apparently it was developed to treat psychopaths. Make them appear normal, be able to function in society. But in healthy people it just made them catatonic, unresponsive, basically zombies.”

Still something in my mind didn’t make sense… “If everyone in the town was drinking the water, why was Yuki normal?” I asked. “The way you described her made her seem bright, intelligent” I said. “Why wasn’t she a zombie?”

“You’re right, she wasn’t like the rest of them…” He said. “I don’t know why… I don’t know.”


Credits to: DanDaDestroyer

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