A Simple Survey:Volume1 File09
File 09: Even Matters of Hell are Decided with Cash?
Using the various functions of a modern smartphone, I brought a beautiful ghost girl out of a 3D ghost video and into the light of the sun (in response to a request to make her identity more visible, you could gain a lot of points by stripping away various things within a limited amount of time). As I was doing this, a high school girl called out to me from nearby.
However, the angle her voice came from was a bit odd.
Specifically, it came from diagonally up.
“Wait, I think I just figured out the trick to Level 4. I see! If you remove that guy on the side of the group photograph, you can see the yukata-wearing ghost girl’s thigh!!”
“Hey!!” shouted someone who was floating.
Hmm. I had assumed she would panic a bit more, so I had downloaded an app to kill some time, but she had recovered surprisingly quickly.
Even I was impressed she had accepted that explanation so quickly.
“I get that I’m a ghost.”
She sat cross-legged while floating 180 degrees upside down. Because she was so high up, I could not see her panties at all. Come to think of it, sailor uniforms never seemed to die out. And yet PE uniforms and swimsuits went through model changes fairly easily.
“But where am I? Heaven? Hell? This seems like a Buddhist temple to me.”
That might have been because I was wearing a Buddhist monk’s outfit.
However, this was not a temple.
“This is a funeral hall. Or more accurately, a former one. It’s a commonplace institution that handles commonplace deaths for a commonplace city. Somewhere that met that condition was necessary.”
“For a privately-operated hell.”
I gave a simple response.
However, it may have been too simple. The girl’s eyebrows moved in puzzlement while she continued to float upside down.
“Basically, so many people are bad these days that hell is full. Before the system completely ground to a halt, the work had to be split up to lower the burden. This was accomplished using privately-operated hells that are cut off from the human world. …Just think of it like a prison that has been outsourced to the private sector like they have in other countries.
The girl reacted nervously to the words “hell” and “prison”.
Good. That was exactly what I had expected.
“You’re saying my soul was meant to go to hell!? I never did anything bad!!”
“Buddhism is not a religion that endorses suicide. The whole idea of seppuku can often make people think it does, though. Also, you are a minor. Are you familiar with the Sai no Kawara? That is where children who died early and made their parents cry are beaten by oni.”
“…What am I supposed to do here?”
“I’ll explain about the punishments later, but for now just possess a yorishiro. Privately-operated hells may be cut off from the human world, but they are still a part of it. It would not be good for an exposed soul to stay here for long.”
“Yorishiro? Can you explain this using modern 21st century terms?”
“A Japanese doll has been prepared based on the information on your body from when you were alive. Just slip right into it.”
The girl shouted as if all the hair on her body had stood on end.
“No!! A Japanese doll combined with a beautiful ghost sounds like something out of a horror movie! I get the feeling my hair will grow really long!!”
“Don’t brazenly call yourself beautiful. But if you refuse to use the doll, your only other option is the Dutch wife in the closet…”
“Damn yoooooooouuuuu, you worldly monk!! Aaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!”
Still screaming, the girl dove into the Japanese doll. She then seemed to successfully latch onto it. The Japanese doll did not move itself. Instead, the girl’s physical body regenerated around the doll. The Japanese doll functioned as the core of her physical body. She was now essentially a ghost you could touch.
Once the process was complete, she looked just like a life-sized girl wearing a sailor uniform.
That was why it didn’t particularly matter if she had chosen the Japanese doll or the Dutch wife.
“Okay!! I’m in!! What am I supposed to do in this privately-operated hell?”
“Just think of it like a homestay that runs on a point system. Just because it’s called a hell doesn’t mean you’re going to be dropped into a lake of blood.”
Looking puzzled, the girl asked, “What are these points?”
“Your punishment will come by email each day. There are a few different cards. With a combination of those, you must reach your quota of points for the day. If you work through the months and years you are sentenced here for, you will gain the right to be reborn. Then you will gain life once more as a baby in the human world.”
“I can’t go to heaven?”
“Going directly there from hell is a Buddha-level miracle. Don’t expect that from some random monk. If you want to go to heaven, live properly during your next life.”
“Hmm. Well, there are a lot of things I still want to try out, so being reincarnated is fine. Anyway, what kind of things do I have to do to meet this daily quota?”
I pointed to the screen of a laptop and the girl froze in place when she looked at it.
30 Points (of a 5000 point quota).
“To. Hell. With. Thaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaatttttttttttttt!!”
“Ha ha ha. Are you forgetting that this is hell? Well, a privately-operated one. And I take the place of the evil oni that would torment you. You could say I am invincible when it comes to spirits. If you try to attack me physically, you will just hit an invisible wall which makes you flip over so I can see your panties.”
The girl frantically held down her skirt. Of course, the clothes were part of her spiritual body as well, so she didn’t really need to use her hands to do it.
“Dammit! Dammit!! Don’t underestimate a teenage girl!! We have hearts so sensitive we could very well die if we are confessing and a soccer ball flies in and ruins the mood!!”
The girl used the physical body she had finally obtained to punch at the tatami mats.
“In that case, you’ll have to sit in the seiza-style and have heavy rocks placed on your legs.”
“Both options are too extreme!! Isn’t there something more on the level of standing out in the hallway while holding buckets full of water!?”
“…Unfortunately, if you do not meet your quota, a real oni from hell will come here. The penalty then would be something you could never even imagine. After all, they stab with swords and burn with flames with reckless abandon. Surely you’ve seen a folding screen painting of hell in a history textbook or something.”
“Well, it’s all about karma. That’s the basis for everything. I’d say you have things pretty good since you can choose the punishment for your sins. If you understand, then stick out your ass.”
The girl glared at me and said, “Can I ask you one thing?”
“Decide for yourself. And that goes both for whether you can ask and how many things you can ask.”
“Why are you running something as horrible as a privately-operated hell?”
Was that really something to be curious about?
It seemed to me that there was only one possible answer.
“I have no real talents. I cannot cleanse the dead of their sins by setting up a barrier and shouting ‘Begone, evil spirits!’, so I have to earn my points in a more unorthodox method to get into heaven.”
“I thought you would naturally go to heaven if you lived a pure and just life? If you have to rely on a method like this, you must be some untrustworthy person who bears some great sin who is only dressed like priest! And I’ve been imprisoned by you! Wow, it sucks to be me!!”
“In Buddhism, you’re not allowed to eat meat or even fish. And all romance is forbidden. There’s such a fine line dividing heaven from hell that you end up way on the other side without even realizing it. Just living a normal life in modern society means you have small sins accumulating daily. It’s just that most people don’t even realize it.”
Hearing that, the girl had no choice but to fall silent.
From what I had seen in the data on her life, her favorite food had been giant burgers.
Also, she must have wanted to try out love. And teenage girls likely thought about such things in more vivid terms than my vague thoughts.
“Anyway, after working through a mild version of the tortures of hell, you get to head on to the reincarnation route. And I get to work through the debt I have built up. It’s win-win for us.”
“Oh, don’t worry. Just touching your ass will not add to my sexual sins.”
“That just pisses me off further!!”
If we didn’t start moving on, we would never get anywhere.
The girl seemed to realize that as well. She slowly started to get down on all fours, but then…
“Ah!! Wait a second!!”
“What is it now?”
“You said I committed suicide, right? But I have no memory of that!!”
“Well, humans have a tendency to subconsciously alter their memories. Death is when you exceed the limits of biology. A memory of that would just destroy your personality.”
The girl’s expression made it clear she was not convinced.
She folded her arms and said, “So how and why did I die?”
“You jumped from a waterfall famous for suicides. The reason was something about love not turning out well. Do you know Yamada-kun from your class? The hot guy from the soccer team. You confessed to him and he rejected you.”
“Wait, wait. I may not remember the moment I died, but I remember my times at school. And I have no idea who this Yamada is!!”
“Ah?” I said in confusion.
The girl started shouting in desperation.
“I don’t know any Yamadas!! I don’t exchange email addresses with everyone in my class. Even if this Yamada really was in my class, I certainly couldn’t have fallen for him!!”
“…What is going on?”
My question only got more questions in return.
“Hey, wait a second. Did I really commit suicide? Where did you get this information on my motive? If it was from a suicide note, are you sure I wrote it? If you heard it from those around me, does it really have any more value than idle gossip?”
“Don’t avert your gaze!! Th-this is getting more and more suspicious. If this was a murder and not a suicide, what am I doing here? The poor victim was about to be spanked for some baseless sins!”
“W-well, that was the judgment you got, so why not just work through all this…right?”
“Go look into this.”
“Go look into this!! If it turns out you beat a falsely-accused pure soul, you won’t exactly be building up points to get to heaven, now will you!? So go get to the bottom of this!!”
“Yeah, but there’s that punishment quota to fill and you’re my very first prisoner. If I don’t show that my privately-operated hell can run smoothly, I might lose the right to run it…”
“Go. Look. In. To. Thiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiisssssssssssssssssssssssssssss!!”
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