Perhaps a trip to Japan will make up for the lackluster service aboard Yarrrr Cruises. You chart a course for Fukuoka and a chilly fog swallows the ship. Odd. It was sunny just moments ago…
You feel queasy and lightheaded, but happily the fog clears and you’re sailing down a torchlit river at night. Along the bank, there’s a large cypress tree with wide, white brush strokes that says… something in Japanese. But underneath, in English, it reads, ‘KAPPA ONSEN.’
The literal skeleton crew are on deck now and cheer their approval. Someone smashes a bottle. As you dock, they are jumping overboard, hooting and hollering their way down the path.
“Errr… enjoy the meal. Don’t come ashore,” says Captain Smellbeard as he shoves a soggy, complimentary (one assumes) ham sandwich at you and takes off.
Fat chance. You disembark. Someone has piled cucumbers and alcohol on a stone dish near the river. Beggars can’t be choosers. You grab a cucumber and begin to munch, taking a shot of sake. That’s when you notice the dark, balding man watching you from the river. He looks positively green, with a Friar Tuck sort of hairstyle. He ambles closer and you notice his skin has an oily, fishy sheen. The bald top of his head seems to be knocked in, depressed, and filled with water.
“Those are my cucumbers,” he says. It’s the last thing you hear before he tears your arm off at the elbow and drags you under the water.
For more from Mel Hattie, including the occasional tale from Japan, check out Blanket Fort, for weekly alternative short fiction and essays.