The Strange Young Man, Shinichi Hoshi

Here's the rest of the story. I was kind of disappointed by the end, but the more I think about it the more terrifying it seems to become. My only question is, why wait five years?

You can read the first half of the story here.

"The Strange Young Man", by Shinichi Hoshi, continued:

"Your name is...?"

"The name you had when you were alive doesn't mean anything once you're a ghost, does it?"

"Yes, you're quite right." The manager thought as he said this. The young man was certainly was a strange person. What he was saying and his way of speaking didn't seem flippant at all. So was he disturbed? If he was somehow made sane again, he'd clearly remember who he was, wouldn't he? The family could be informed, and the hospital could demand medical fees.

It was for the young man's own sake, too, and there was no doubt that the hospital's reputation would be improved as well. To start, a patient this strange was a first. He couldn't restrain his curiosity.

The manager took the young man with him to the neurologist, and informed him of the circumstances. The doctor also showed an interest, and began to question the young man again.

"So it seems that you're ghost..."

"Yea, I'm a ghost."

"I see, and about when did you become a ghost?"

"Five years ago."

"How did you become a ghost?"

"Doctor, don't you know that kind of thing? How people become ghosts?"

"You mean by dying?"

"That's right. So you know after all."

"Well, at the least your reasoning seems logical, for the moment. Let's start with a medical examination..."

The doctor took the young man's pulse. He clearly felt it. Next he took his body temperature. That was also normal. He announced the results to the young man.

"...You've got a pulse, and you have a temperature. You're not dead.  You're quite alive, wouldn't you say? You're not a ghost at all."

 "That's just the way you feel, Doctor. It's not like ghosts just lay motionless and mute. I really am a ghost."

 "That may be so, but at this point it seems ridiculous. However, I'm a neurologist. You're fine on that point. Do you understand? Your body is not in in the least any different from a healthy person's.

"If you'd just take a peek at this one part..."

"What part is that?"

"Even I don't know that. But I'm a ghost, you know. There has to be one part of me that differs from a normal human being."

"This conversation is getting strange. Alright, I understand. The idea of that "one part" is just your delusion. Let's make a detailed examination and clearly show that."

The doctor thoroughly examined the young man, charting his brain waves, even making him take a lie detector test, and asking various questions. Also, he gave him an injection of a certain medicine which temporarily controlled delusions. However, the young man continued to say, "I'm a ghost."

"What the hell do you mean?" The doctor was a bit fed up and overwhelmed. According to the diagnosis, there wasn't any abnormality to be found in the young man. Basically he was normal. The doctor took the young man to a doctor in internal medicine and said, "This paitient insists that he is a ghost. However, the results of the examination are normal.  He is not delusional. As such, it is out of my hands. I'm wondering if perhaps he really is a ghost."

"It must be serious if a specialized doctor like yourself says such a thing."

"This patient insists that, somewhere, somehow, he has one part that differs from normal human beings. I gave him a lie detector test but that remark appears to be true. You look him over for me."

"He's certainly a strange patient. I've never examined a ghost before. Shall we try to ascertain what the trouble is?"

The doctor of internal medicine tried. He took blood tests, X-rays, and even an EKG. He did various other tests besides. However, he could not find any definitive abnormality. No matter how he looked at it, the young man was a healthy human being.

It seemed like it might be a surgical problem, so to make sure they had him examined by a a doctor from that department as well.  Then they had the ophthalmology, otolaryngology, and dermatology departments perform examinations.

There was no abnormality anywhere.  The doctors had the young man lie in bed for the moment, and discussed the results.

"There's not a problem anywhere! If he's a ghost, than we're all ghosts!"

 "That's absurd. He just wrongly believes that he's a ghost. This is absolutely something that should be addressed by the neurology department."

The neurologist, hearing that, replied, "I've already sufficiently examined him! He's not delusional. I'm very concerned."

"You've got to do it more thoroughly. There's got to be something you haven't done."

"The only thing left is the truth serum. It's a drug that will allow us to know his innermost thoughts."

"We'll use that. We're doctors. We're expected to keep a patient's secrets. There shouldn't be a problem. And if he's lying we'll know it with this drug."

"Alright, let's use it.  Please, I'd like everyone to watch. To make sure I don't make a mistake in my diagnosis."

 "We'll do that. At any rate, he's an interesting patient."

They finished their discussion and  gave the young man an injection of truth serum. Soon the medicine began to take effect. They began their questions.

"Who are you?"

"I'm a ghost."

"When did you become a ghost?"

"Five years ago."

"But no matter how you look at it, you're  a healthy person."

"No, there's just this one point where I'm different from normal people."

"At what point is that?"

"I don't even know. I'm a real ghost."

The neurologist spoke to everyone.

"How's that!  Just about everything is consistent with my report, isn't it? The patient isn't lying. Mentally, he is normal. That means that the problem of his insistence that he's a ghost must lie in his body."

"It seems that you're seriously considering the fact that he could be a ghost. But he's even got legs.  There's not a thing strange about him! There's no way a ghost like that could exist. Let's try to question him from another angle. What the hell happened to him five years ago?"

They  attempted that.

"What happened to you five years ago?"


He did not answer. However,  everyone's curiosity was peaked.

"There's something I really want to get out of him. Can I ask?"

The neurologist answered, "If we give him another small injection, he might say something."

They injected him again, and started questioning him.

"Well then, what happened to your body five years ago?"

"That.... Actually..."

The young man said only that, and nothing more. It seemed as if there was some inner resistance, preventing his words. However, this wouldn't do for the doctors.  No matter what, they wanted to get the truth out of him. It looked like he would answer with just a little more.

"Give him another injection."

The moment they did, a disaster occurred. The young man's pulse began to weaken.  Was the drug too strong, or was his body simply poorly affected by it? They started him on oxygen, gave him camphor injections, and employed various other emergency measures, but the young man died. The doctors consulted one another.

 "This is bad!  If he was really sick and died in the course of medical treatment that's one thing, but that's not how it is."

"Even if we make a fuss now, we're too late. We've got to deal with this to keep it from affecting the hospital's reputation. We received an emergency patient without an address or full name. If we need a reason we can say that the diagnosis was part of the treatment. We can get away with it if we keep our mouths shut."

The discussion was had, plausible documents were drawn up, and the patient was cremated and interred in an unidentified plot. Also, the police were informed. They recorded him as a John Doe.

One way or another that was the end of it. The doctors came together to talk, relieved.

"That was one strange kid. I wonder how on earth he started believing that he was a ghost."

"Still, something bothers me," said one doctor.

"How so?"
"I can't help feeling like I've seen that kid before, somewhere."

 Someone nodded. "Now that you say it, I've got that feeling too."

 "Then where could we have met that kid?"

"He said something about it happening five years ago, didn't he?"

"Five years ago. That's right, he looked like him. If that guy was five years younger, he'd be a perfect match.  I've got a chill up my back."

"What are you on about?"

"Five years ago, a boy received treatment at this hospital.  He was grossly misdiagnosed, and was killed, wasn't he?"

"That's right. Something like that did happen. That was a shame. Because the hospital would get a bad reputation, they disposed with the issue artfully so no one complained about it."

"So it's that boy from five years ago. If you added five years he'd look like that guy, wouldn't he? His spirit probably couldn't get any peace, and it's not unlikely that it had the mind to become a ghost. Of course he'd come back from the grave. But, if that was a ghost..."

At the moment, there was a clamor from the entry way. The receptionist came into the the room where the doctors were and said, "A strange person has appeared again."

Just after that, the young man came in.  He was a spitting image of the young man who died from an overdose of truth serum. And he said: "I'm a ghost."

1 comment:

  1. What a twist!

    Haha, pretty fun story.

    But I can't help thinking about this story a little too deeply. Like the fact that they never take him to a psychiatrist, just neurologists and other physicians. I've read that psychologists/psychiatrists/therapy are not very popular or common in Japan (have you ever read "Shutting out the Sun"? It's an interesting book about hikikomori and parasite singles, among other topics), and the sort of legal issues that plague hospitals, despite the decent health care system...so I wonder, even with the sci-fi twist, this isn't some sort of comment on the whole health system in Japan...

    I'm in the middle of reading 頭がいい子 at the moment. It's sort of a similar set up and design... a character repeating the same things and asking the same questions in a loop, pushing the reader/会話の相手.