He-y, Come On Ou-t Summary

Synopsis

Shinichi Hoshi’s science fiction short story “He-y, Come on Ou-t!” was published in The Best Japanese Science Fiction Stories (edited by Martin H. Greenberg and John L. Apostolou) in 1989.

A story of social criticism with an ecological message, Hoshi’s “He-y, Come on Ou-t!,” begins with a mysterious hole that has been created after a landslide in a typhoon. The local villagers are trying to repair a nearby shrine, but the hole must first be filled in before rebuilding can start. A young man leans over and yells “He-y, come on ou-t!” into the hole, thinking that it may be a fox hole. When no one answers or exits the hole, he throws in a pebble, which never seems to reach the bottom.

Eventually the story of the bottomless hole attracts the attention of scientists and the media. The scientists can find no bottom and no cause for the hole, and the villagers decide to have it filled in. A man asks for the hole and offers to build them a shrine elsewhere, which the mayor and townspeople agree to do. The man who gained control of the hole begins a campaign, collecting dangerous nuclear waste and other unwanted objects, which he disposes of into the hole.

The hole never fills up, and everything from old classified papers to failed experiments to corpses to criminal evidence goes into the hole. The area grows and develops into a beautiful clean city, with all of its undesirable and dangerous waste going into the hole, disappearing deep into the earth.

It appears that an easy solution for a clean and prosperous world has been found, and the city expands, building skyscrapers reaching up into the clean blue sky. One day, a workman is sitting up on top of the scaffolding of one of these skyscrapers, and he hears a voice above him call “He-y, come on ou-t!” followed by a pebble falling from the sky.

The story ends there, leaving the reader to imagine the chaos and destruction that will follow as the other contents of the hole make their way back to the people.