Kamisu 66 consists of seven villages spread out over a fifty kilometer circumference. It’s separated from the rest of the world by the Holy Barrier. A thousand years from now, the barrier may not exist anymore, so I’ll briefly explain. It’s a thick straw rope hung with paper streamers1 that acts as a shield preventing impure things from entering the town.
Children are warned to never step outside the barrier. Evil spirits and monsters roamed outside and any child who ventures out alone would suffer terribly.
“But exactly what kinds of scary things are there?” I remember asking my father, albeit less fluently, one day when I was around six or seven years old.
“A lot of different kinds,” he looked up from his documents. Resting his chin on his hand, he looked at me affectionately. Those warm brown eyes are burned into my memory to this day. Never once has my father looked at me sternly and only once did he raise his voice. It was because I wasn’t paying attention to where I was going and would have fallen into a gaping hole in the ground if he hadn’t warned me.
“Saki, you already know, right? About queerats and copycats and blowdogs.”
“But mom says those are just made up.”
“The others may be, but queerats do exist,” he said so nonchalantly that I was shocked.
“They’re not lies. Queerats were recruited to help construct the town recently too.”
“I’ve never seen them.”
“We don’t let children see them.” Father didn’t say why, but I imagined that it was because queerats are too hideous to be seen.
“But if they listen to humans, then they’re not that scary, right?”
Father put down the documents he had been looking over and raised his right hand. As he chanted a spell in a low voice, a thin fiber of paper transformed, like invisible ink being revealed, into a complicated pattern woven into the paper. The seal of approval from the mayor.