“Hey-y, Come on Ou-t!” (short story) by Shinichi Hoshi
From Apostolou & Greenberg’s The Best Japanese Science Fiction Stories (1989)
Originally from Shinichi Hoshi’s The Spiteful Planet and Other Stories (1978)
Later from The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, November 1978
Original: Japanese, 1971
Translated by Stanleigh Jones, 1978
“The discovery of a deep hole has extraordinary impact on life in a small town” (52)
Synopsis: A small village struck by a storm discovers a landslide which has swallowed a shrine and replaced it with a deep hole. Word spreads and reporters and scientists alike come to the scene to investigate the seemingly bottomless void. The town hands over the rights to one man who opens the pit up to anyone wanting to dispose of anything: nuclear waste, evidence, diaries, garbage, etc. Meanwhile, the cities and towns flourish.
Analysis: Initially, the villagers are worried about the bad luck resulting from the shrine’s destruction; though no one visits it anymore, they are still eager to replace the Shinto shrine. However, the discovery of a deep hole stirs their interests—at first a shout down the hole, then a thrown pebble, and a blast from a bullhorn; nothing returns, not even an echo. Deeming it a hazard, they consider putting barricading it off; rather, they hand they give control to the hole to one man who has an idea.
Having forgotten about the humble shrine, the villages—policeman and thieves alike—toss in damnable evidence. All materials deemed a nuisance are thrown into the hole, even the town’s garbage and imported nuclear waste: “Whatever one wished to discard, the hole accepted it all” (56). The magical nature of the hole, like a distant landfill, eased their fears of overproduction—and like a landfill: out of sight, out of mind.
Amid their mindless rush to produce in their commercialized society, they had forgotten the byproduct: waste. Now, the hole offers them a guiltless opportunity; yet like a landfill which grows and grows, the bottomless pit of the hole doesn’t keep receiving without eventually giving something back. As the town flourishes with the commercial success of their waste disposal, but all good things must come to an end.