The School at Night is a scary Japanese urban legend about schools that are supposed to be haunted because they were built on top of old cemeteries. They call it “Gakkou no kaidan” or “School ghost stories”. These urban legends are also sometimes known as the “Seven Wonders of the School.”
Years ago, in Japan, there was an urgent need for new schools. There were rumors that the government needed to find cheap land on which they could build the schools, so they bulit them on the sites of old cemeteries. This gave rise to rumors and gossip among kids that their schools were haunted.
They say that if you go to your school at midnight, you will see and hear many strange things, like a candle floating across the school grounds, disembodied footsteps echoing down the halls and statues with eyes that follow you as you pass by. In the science room, the anatomical skeleton comes alive, you hear the sound of an invisible ball bouncing in the gym and you might even see a ghostly severed head flying around the classrooms.
If you walk across the school yard, ghostly hands will emerge from below and try to drag you down. If you dig on the school grounds, you will unearth headstones and tombs. If you go swimming in the pool, ghostly hands will grab your legs and try to drown you. Old buildings appear on the school grounds and there are staircases that lead to nowhere. If you walk up them, you will disappear. They say that one stall in the toilets is haunted and if you enter it, a rope will fall from the ceiling in the shape of a noose.
In one small town in Japan, there was a group of teenage boys who had heard rumors about their school. According to the legend, if you went to the school at midnight on the 15th day of the month, strange things would happen.
There was a statue that stood on the path leading up to the school and its eyes would supposedly follow you as you passed by. If you walked up the main stairs, the number of steps would be different when you walked back down. If you turned on the taps in the science laboratory, blood would come flowing out instead of water. And if anyone dared to enter the last stall in the toilet on the ground floor, that person would never be seen alive again.
The boys decided to go to the school at night to test if the legends were true or if they were just stories. On the 15th day of the month, they sneaked out of their houses and met up at exactly midnight. There were four of them altogether: Shinichi, Mikio, Takashi and Hiro.
As they walked through the school gates and up the path, the boys stared at the statue, waiting for something to happen. The eyes of the statue were looking to the left and even as the boys passed by, the eyes did not move an inch.
“So much for that stupid legend,” one of the boys chuckled.
They entered the school building and cautiously walked up the stairs, counting each step. One, two, three… There were thirteen steps in total. When they walked back down, there were still thirteen steps.
“Another old wives’ tale,” said one of the boys.
They made their way down the corridor to the science laboratory and turned on all the taps. Instead of blood, all that came gushing out was water. They let out a disappointed sigh.
“I knew it,” said one of the boys. “We came here in vain.”
They decided to test out one more legend before they went home and went to the toilets on the ground floor. However, when they came to the door of the toilets, a few of the boys lost their nerve. Although they had talked excitedly about it, none of them seemed in any hurry to enter the haunted stall.
Finally, one boy, Shinichi, stepped forward and told the others he was not afraid of anything. He pushed open the door and went into the toilet, while his friends waited outside. The boys looked at the clock. It was exactly 1:00 AM.
A minute later, Shinichi came out of the toilet with a grin on his face.
“Nothing!” he said. “It’s all just a bunch of kids stories and fairy tales!”
The boys all laughed and walked away. When they came out of the school, they walked back down the path. Before leaving, they took one last look at the statue, but its eyes were still looking to the left.
“What a let-down,” one of the boys whispered contemptuously and they all went home.
The next morning, each of the boys received a worried phonecall from Shinichi’s mother.
“Was Shinichi with you last night?” she demanded. “He wasn’t there when I checked his room this morning. He sneaked out and he still hasn’t come home. Where is he?”
The boys felt something was wrong. In the end, they decided to tell their parents about the little trip they had taken the night before. Their parents contacted the school principal and soon, the adults, the kids and the principal were gathering outside the school.
“What are you saying?” the school principal asked. “You’re talking the statue outside the school? The eyes of that statue have always looked to the right.”
“But when we were here last night, they were looking to the left!” one of the boys exclaimed.
Entering the gate, they were all shocked to see that the eyes of the statue were indeed looking to the right.
“But what about the steps on the main staircase?” one of the boys cried.
They all quickly ran to the staircase and counted the steps.
“One, two, three… TWELVE?!”
“Yes,” said the school principal. “The staircase has always had twelve steps. When it was being built, the architects made a mistake in the design. It was supposed to have thirteen steps.”
“That’s impossible!” one of the boys shouted. “But what about the taps in the lab?”
Entering the science laboratory, they all looked at the sinks. Each one was caked with a dark red stain. The boys were numb with fear.
“But… but… what about Shinichi?” one of the boys mumbled. “He went into the toilet…”
“Let’s go and see,” said the school principal in a grave voice.
They all gathered outside the toilets. The boys and their parents looked at each other nervously. The principal took a deep breath, reached out and pushed the door open.
Shinichi’s mother let out a blood-curdling scream and fainted. The others recoiled in horror and some of them could not help vomiting all over the floor.
The dead body of their friend Shinichi was hanging from the celing with a rope wrapped around his neck. His face was deathly pale and his eyes were wide open, frozen in a look of horror. His throat had been cut from ear to ear and all the blood had drained out of his body, covering the floor in a pool of dark red. His internal organs and intestines had been removed. They were sitting in a neat pile in the toilet.
One of the boys was in a daze. He was staring, unblinking, at the watch on Shinichi’s wrist. It had stopped at exactly 1:00 AM.