A depressing, seemingly never-ending rain falls from the gray sky like rice – it was that kind of scenery I gazed at during every dawn of the rainy season. I had just started my guard shift by seeing off the first train of the morning with a tired gaze. Sighing, I sluggishly made my way back to the guard post along with my superior, Yoshimura. It was just then that the rainy season’s Eastern sky started to lighten, as if white pigment was dissolving in diluted ink, and for a long time I could not help but stare at the moisture that the sky had left on the inside of the guardroom’s glass door. The wall phone called out ring, ring, ring, snapping me back to reality. Yoshimura, who was next to the phone, picked it up.
“Hm? What? A junk, eh? Hmm, where? Yes… understood. We’re going,” he said, then hung up the receiver with a clank.
“Hey, they said there’s been a junk. The guard said he just found the body. Seems like he was done in by the last train of the day yesterday,” he said with a rotten face. This word, this junk, this was how we in the railroad business referred to those who were killed by being run over. I had just graduated from school last year, immediately took, and blessedly passed, the railroad company exam. In the end, I was hired rather quickly and started working in the fall. And now, with the advent of the rainy season, only half a year had passed since I started. Nevertheless, there had already been about three or four junks on my section of track. The worst was definitely when I saw a young girl get hit – at that moment, it felt as though my motivation to do my job plunged to my feet. It was a terribly vivid sight. The train ran her over at the neck and right between her thighs and her buttocks. All that connected her legs to her thighs was a thin strip of skin. I could not stop seeing images of it dangling there meaninglessly, and images of her trying to keep down the hem of her kimono right until the awful moment it happened. The images were especially bad when I would be at my guard shift alone. For two or three days afterwards I could not eat and it felt as if there was a stinging pain at the base of my tongue. The pain was so bad that I could do nothing but spit constantly.
–On another occasion–although I only heard about it secondhand–there was a junk of an eighteen or nineteen year old girl. For the autopsy they had to collect the scattered pieces of her body, but she lost her right hand in the accident. No matter how much or how long my colleagues searched the area, the hand was nowhere to be found. Various possibilities were investigated, such as looking for a stray dog that could have run off with the hand, but nothing turned up. Too late, the train involved in the accident was thoroughly looked at and it wasn’t until my colleagues rotated the train’s wheels that they found it. Her hand, which seemed oddly more like a glove, was found grasping one of the train’s wheels tightly.
–Truly, it sounded like a terrifying sight. The Chief Inspector first thought that it was a work glove that someone had left there. When they tried to remove it, the joints completely disconnected from the rest of the hand. What hung out from the blood covered stump was a pure white tendon of about two or three inches in length. As for why the hand ended where it did, they suggested that she, in a panic and in excruciating pain from the impact, probably thought it best to grasp tightly to the train’s wheels. The hand was eventually removed, carefully, finger by finger. The Inspectors treated the hand with the utmost reverence. All in all, a terrifying story.