The Antique Shop is a creepy story about a young couple who come across a weird metal toy while visiting a dingy little second-hand store. This is roughly translated from an old Japanese urban legend.
One Sunday, my girlfriend and I spent the day visiting antique shops and second-hand stores. We are both collectors. She likes to collect antique toys and I like to collect old video games. We went from shop to shop, but I couldn’t really find anything that I wanted.
It was beginning to grow dark when we came across a dingy little antique shop that was tucked away on a deserted side street. When we went inside, we saw that the tiny place was cluttered with all manner of junk. They seemed to be selling dusty books, tattered clothes, clocks, ornaments, toys and various other knick-knacks. There was an old Chinese man behind the counter.
We looked around for a few minutes, but there was nothing interesting. I was about to suggest we leave when my girlfriend suddenly exclaimed, “Oh! Look at this.”
She was holding up some kind of weird metal shape, about the size of a soccer ball. It had 20 sides. I think it’s called an icosahedron.
This is the point where everything started to go wrong.
“What is it?” I asked.
“I don’t know,” she replied, “but it looks amazing.”
We took the weird shape over to the counter and my girlfriend asked the old Chinese man how much it cost.
When the old man looked up and saw the shape, the expression on his face changed. He seemed astonished.
“Uh, Oh, This…” he stuttered. “This… uh… Yeah, how much this item… Well, you wait… I come…”
The old man disappeared into the back room and we overheard him arguing with his wife in Chinese. We couldn’t understand anything they were saying, but his wife seemed to be very angry. He came back a few minutes later, clutching a yellowed piece of paper.
“This unusual toy,” he said, handing the paper to my girlfriend. “Name Rinfone… You read here… tell everything…”
On the paper, there were some hand-written instructions and a few drawings. There were some strange symbols on the yellowed paper too. It showed the metal shape changing to resemble three other shapes. In one illustration, it looked like a bear, in another a bird and in yet another, a fish. It was kind of like a primitive transformer toy.
“Oh! Excellent!” said my girlfriend excitedly as she picked it up and began playing with it. “It’s like a puzzle.”
“You like?” asked the old Chinese man. “I make you special price. You give me 100 dollar.”
My girlfriend is very good at haggling, so she tried to get the old man to knock the price down.
Finally, he said, “OK, OK. You steal me, but OK. You give me 80 dollar, we make deal.”
We left the shop and my girlfriend was beaming from ear to ear, satisfied with her new purchase. On the way home, we stopped at a restaurant and had a nice dinner.
The next day was Monday. When I got home from work, my girlfriend called me. All she could talk about was her new toy.
“It’s amazing,” she said. “I really love this Rinfone puzzle. I can’t keep my hands off it. Even at work. I managed to get it to look like some animals. This toy is way more addictive than your stupid video games.”
After we hung up, she sent me a picture of her holding the shape. It had a head and two legs protruding from it and sort of looked like a bear.
I sent her a text message: “uh… great…”
The next day, when I was driving home from work, she called me again.
“Seriously, this is so awesome!” she cried. “I spent all night playing with it and barely got a wink of sleep. I managed to get it into the form of a bear finally. You have to come over and check it out.”
“Maybe tomorrow,” I said. “I’m tired. I’m just going to go home and get some sleep. You should do the same.”
“Uh… yeah… whatever,” she replied. “Next I’m gonna try and turn my Rinfone into a bird.”
On Wednesday, when I finished work, I sent my girlfriend a text message.
“Hi babe. Do you get some sleep? I was thinking about coming over to see you tonight.”
She replied, “Sorry, can’t. Busy.”
I sent her another message: “Busy with what?”
She didn’t reply until about 11 PM that night.
Her text message read: “Busy with Rinfone.”
She sent me a picture as well. It showed her with the toy. It was in the shape of an eagle with outstretched wings. It was so elaborate that it looked almost real. I was half expecting the hawk to start flapping its wings at any moment.
On Thursday night, I was taking a shower when my phone rang. It was my girlfriend.
“Yu-kun, did you call me a few minutes ago?” she asked.
“No, what’s the matter?” I asked.
“I got a call and it was just background noise, like someone walking around the city or something… and I heard a lot of voice yelling. Then they hung up. It was weird. You know how when you get a call, the person’s name will come up on your phone or it will say ‘restricted’?”
“Well this time it just said “Beyond”… It freaked me out…”
“That’s weird,” I said. “Do you want me to come over?”
“No, it’s OK,” she replied. “I’m just gonna turn off my phone and go to bed.”
“Maybe it was just a crossed line or someone dialed your number accidentally.”
“Yeah, uh, whatever,” she said. “I’m trying to make a fish now. Talk to you later.”
She hung up before I could say anything else.
On Friday, I went straight over to my girlfriend’s house after work. She was almost finished turning the Rinfone into the shape of a fish.
“I got another weird phone call at lunchtime today,” she said. “When I answered it, I heard a load of men and women’s voices screaming something. I immediately hung up.”
“Maybe someone is playing a prank on you,” I said. “Or perhaps there’s something wrong with your phone.”
She shrugged and went back to playing with her toy, twisting and turning the metal pieces. She struggled with it for hours, but she couldn’t figure out how to complete the shape. Eventually she grew tired and we went to bed.
That night, I had a very disturbing dream. I was in a dark valley floor and when I looked down, I saw hundreds of naked men and women scrambling out of a huge pit. They chased after me and I desperately tried to get away by climbing up the cliff face. I was almost at the top, almost safe, when I felt a hand grab my ankle. It was a woman and she screamed, “Take me with you!”
I woke up in a cold sweat. It was after 5 AM and I couldn’t get back to sleep. I lay awake in bed, my heart pounding, wondering what the dream could mean.
On Saturday, my girlfriend went to the mobile phone shop. They checked her phone, but there was nothing wrong with it. Then, she decided she wanted to go and see a fortune teller. There was an old woman they called “The Cat Lady” and she was famous for her divination abilities. We called her and made an appointment for the next day.
On Sunday morning, we turned up at The Cat Lady’s house. Her daughter opened the door and ushered us inside. The hallway was full of cats and, as soon as they saw us, they started screeching and growling and ran away. It was very weird.
The daughter led us to a room at the back of the house, where the Cat Lady was sitting. She was surrounded by her cats.
The old woman yelled at her daughter in a threatening voice, “Get out of here!”
It was starting to freak me out. We sat down at the table and the Cat Lady turned her attention to us.
“The reason I keep so many cats is because they are sensitive to certain things,” she croaked. “The cats sort out the bad people and the good people. They tell me whose fortune I should read. This is the first time they have ever reacted so strongly…”
We told the fortune teller all about the events of the previous week… all about the strange phone calls and the weird nightmare I had.
The old woman pointed at my girlfriend.
“Behind you, I can see something like an art object shaped like an animal,” she said softly. “Throw it away right now!”
We were confused, but the woman refused to answer any more questions.
“Now, please go away,” she said, turning her back on us. “I do not want to say any more and I do not want to see any more…”
I looked at my girlfriend. Her face was pale and she was trembling. I didn’t want to leave until we got an explanation.
“Why?” I asked the old lady. “Is it cursed? What’s wrong with it?”
I kept asking until The Cat Lady finally leaped out of her chair and turned to face us.
“It is a miniature version of hell!” she screamed. “It is the gate of hell, now throw it away! Get out of here!”
“But the money…” I said weakly.
“You don’t need it!” she screamed.
The old woman’s face was twisted in rage and fear. It was the scariest thing I had ever seen.
We ran out of the fortune teller’s house and went straight back to my girlfriend’s place. I grabbed the Rinfone and the instructions and wrapped them up in newspaper. Then, I secured it with duct tape and threw it in the garbage. Nothing strange happened after that.
A few weeks later, I went to visit my girlfriend. She was sitting in front of the TV with a pen and paper in her lap.
“It’s an anagram,” she said. “Rinfone… It’s an anagram.”
“What do you mean,” I asked.
“Change around the letters.” she said. “It spells Inferno… Hell… I wonder what would have happened if I managed to complete the final shape…”
“How can I guess had become integrated fish, when I completed”
I tried to laugh, but my throat was dry. I hoped the weird toy was sitting in a garbage dump or a landfill somewhere. I was praying that nobody else would find it.