Mai’s Dream of the Secret Room – The Bloody Labyrinth, Part 4

This time we finish our look at Fuyumi Ono’s horror novel, The Bloody Labyrinth (小野不由美の“鲜血の迷宮”). Chapter 6 begins with another report from Madoka Mori to Shibuya’s research team. They conclude that Mr. Atsugi didn’t leave the house when he disappeared. There is some question about the house manager disappearing; I’m unclear which of the handful of personal names mentioned in this passage might be the manager in question. Mori mentions a police search party. I would recommend to any native English speaker trying to read this book to make a chart of the characters at the beginning as they come up since there are so many that it’s hard to keep them straight.

Two of the most important scenes in the novel are chapter 6 subchapters 1 and 2, and they are just as interesting to read in the book as they were portrayed in the anime. In subchapter 1, Madoka explains the history of Kaneyuki Miyama. She mentions that Kaneyuki was born in Meiji 13 (1881) and became head of the Miyama household at age 16. He built the Western-style house at age 18, and in Showa 8 (1924), he was diagnosed with a kidney disease. Madoka gets into some of his living arrangements with other family at the time and mentions his eccentric obsession with cleanliness. He had three staff members from the hospital his family was affiliated with dismissed. When Madoka finishes reviewing the details of his life, Bousan asks if Urado was Kaneyuki’s alias. Masako also connects this to the strange phrases that came up in the séance.

In chapter 6 subchapter 2, Mai wakes up in the middle of the night paralyzed. She sees Ayako and Masako sleeping in the same room with her, but two shadowy men come in and take her off of her bed and carry her out of the room since she can’t fight back. She thinks of Bousan’s protective prayer in her head over and over again. They go down a dark corridor in the cold. She eventually ends up in a room with a fireplace and a glass of red liquid on a table nearby. One of the men opens a closet door, revealing a dark hallway. Mai smells blood as they walk, though Mai realizes by then that she’s dreaming. After a few more doors and corridors, they end up in a bathroom with a bathtub and red liquid on the floor. She is pushed roughly on a hospital bed that has white paper on it. A basin is on the floor, and there is dripping blood. Mai is terrified. She thinks of the phrases from the séance: “Help me,” “I don’t want to die.” She keeps reminding herself that this is a dream. There is a lot of discussion in this section about her throat, something sharp being set up against it, and black blood on the floor. The description of what is happening is intertwined with the séance phrases, and it is slow and dramatic. The scene ends with her screaming out for someone to save her because she is being murdered.

Ayako is calling to Mai, and she wakes up. Mai explains her nightmare to a few members of the team. They wonder if her dream is prophetic and references some experience of Atsugi or Suzuki. Mai describes the room she was taken to and how her throat was cut. They are interested in the empty space on the floor plan again and want to try to break a hole in the wall to it. The team has a long discussion about the meaning of the young people’s disappearances. Then Ayako, Masako, Naru and Rin are back in their base room. Another person has disappeared in the house, the third since they have come. Ms Fukuda is around 25 and is affiliated with the Minami Research Group.

Chapter 7 begins with the researchers conferring on the circumstances of Ms. Fukuda’s disappearance. They prepare to search the house for her and talk in more depth about its construction, particularly the chimneys and fireplaces. Madoka and Yasuhara are at the window with another report. This is a constant pattern in the novel, though I missed why they had to communicate through the window and not just walk in the front door. I missed that explanation in the anime, too, though. This time the report is about the details of Kaneyuki Miyama’s adulthood, his health, and his fastidiousness. He was known to have kind of an evil temperament, and he was sick and weak in body from childhood, consulting doctors overseas for a cure. They talk about his living arrangements with his family. He constructed the maze and a confinement room, and the mention of clipping the hedges and female servants evokes Mai’s dream and upset her. She speculates that it was the female servants that called for help during the séance.

As the team discusses whether it’s possible Kaneyuki or his men were killers, the lights go out in the room, they hear a scratching sound. When the lights come back on, they see red letters written all over the wall, the same phrases that came up during the séance: “It hurts,” “Help,” “I don’t want to die,” “I’m scared,” and “Urado”. They wonder about Urado, which is the Japanese for Vlad. Madoka and Yasuhara leave again through the window. Naru asks Masako if she was up for trying to channel Urado’s spirit so they could hear straight from his spirit what all of this means. She says yes, but Mai objects, thinking of how frightening her dream of being murdered was and worrying about how Masako would be affected by it. Naru then turns to Lin to provide an alternative method, and the decide he should do an invocation of the three missing people they presume are dead.

They choose Ms. Igarashi’s séance room. Naru and Lin set up two cameras for the event, and the Shibuya team has a discussion about channeling, spirit possession and Masako’s skills at such phenomenon. They talk about doing an invocation of the dead in more depth. Bousan mentions that Lin is a Yin Yang Master who knows Chinese sorcery and incantations. Lin prepares the incantations to include the names of the dead and their dates of birth and death. The table is carefully prepared with two gold incense burners, two candlesticks with two candles, a bowl and an unfinished wooden box. They also have Suzuki’s blouse and her name written on a piece of paper. After they light the incense and candles and cut the lights, Lin calls Suzuki first. He chants, and they hear a sigh and see a shadow. Lin questions Suzuki about being dead and about Urado. At the end of the invocation, Suzuki screams though no sound comes out, and she disappears. They know for sure Ms. Suzuki is definitely dead.

The word Urado is written in blood on the wall, and John explains the word’s connection to vampires and Dracula. They speculate that if Kaneyuki’s pen name was Urado that he might also have drunk blood. Someone in the group is unfamiliar with the Dracula novel, so this section spends some time explaining that, the historical figure in Transylvanian history that the novel was based on, and even Elizabeth Bathory, the Hungarian countess who murdered poor girls and bathed in their blood. They decide that Kaneyuki probably sacrificed humans to prolong his life since doctors couldn’t help him.

Chapter 8 starts with the team at 4 AM back in their base room. The all go to the blank space on the second floor, taking along their heavy equipment with a plan to break through the walls with a pickaxe. The hole they make reveals a short, dead-end path, steps, then another narrow path. After some struggle getting into the space, Naru tells them to call the police because there’s a dead body, a young man. They talk with Oohashi in the dining room later about the body, a discussion with includes Hirjiri of the church research group since they think it may be the body of Atsugi. Dr. Davis is also revealed to be a fraud in this section, and there is some friction between Minami and Ms. Igarashi.

Everyone is considering leaving the house now that it is clearly dangerous to stay there. Naru wonders how the body got into the empty space that was walled off and speculates that Urado is no longer a normal spirit but a monster or devil that cannot be exorcised. Naru finally reveals his true identity as the Shibuya team gathers their luggage to leave. As Ayako talks with Mai about Urado’s spirit, they mention demolishing the house with a wrecking ball. Mai has an evil feeling and can’t stand to get in the bathtub, and Ayako suggests taking a shower instead. Masako becomes unpleasant and jealous, leaves the room and disappears from the corridor. The researchers form another search party, but they can’t find her anywhere.

Chapter 9 Naru is looking at the empty space in the floor plan again and thinks about exploring it further. Mai thinks Urado took Masako to his execution room as another sacrifice, but they don’t find her right away in the empty space. As she walks down a corridor that reminds her of her dream, Mai isn’t sure if she’s dreaming or not now. She stops at a door that leads to a second floor. Once beyond it, she finds Masako in the strange bathroom. The text emphasizes Masako’s doll-like appearance in this scene more than ever, and the girls talk. Mai gives her a key as some kind of talisman. Ayako wakes Mai again, and Mai explains that she contacted Masako and describes the room where she was.

They find another entrance way in the empty space, and it leads to a hallway. After following a complicated route, they find the maze and open another door. Mai finds Masako and confronts Urado in his bloody, demonic aspect, reciting Bousan’s protective prayer a few times against the spectre. Bousan and the others arrive to save her. Afterward, they speak with Oohashi about calling the police since the house can’t be exorcised. Ten days later in Tokyo, they hear about a mountain fire in Suwa on the news that explains that the house burned to the ground.

The story finishes with an epilogue which frames the novel nicely. Mai is back in the office of Shibuya Psychic Research Center in Dougenzaka, Tokyo, talking with Chiyaki and Madoka Mori. Madoka is looking for Lin and Naru, but they are out to lunch just then. Mai gets a few details out of Madoka about Naru’s parents. We learn that his father is a parapsychology researcher, and the book ends on a light note.

I’m going to wrap up this series with the observation that this is the second East Asian book that I’ve examined since I started this blog a few years ago that references the bloodthirsty Hungarian aristocrat Elizabeth Bathory, and I have to admit that I never heard of her before reading these novels. Sometimes the depth of knowledge some of the East Asians have of Western culture surprises me.

Part four of a four part series.

Next time: We return to Korea for the folkloric-inspired modern romance, My Girlfriend is a Nine-Tailed Fox!

About Lady Xiansa

Lady Xiansa is a writer, linguist, artist, and dancer. She has been a core volunteer for the Silk Screen Asian Arts Organization from 2007 to 2018 and has provided content for Pitt JCS anime events since 2011. She has taught both ESL and Beginning Korean. Her gothic horror novel, The Haunting at Ice Pine Peak, won the Bronze Award for Young Adult Fiction E-book in the 2016 Moonbeam Children's Book Awards and earned the 2018 Story Monsters Approved Seal in the Tween Category.
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