He-y, Come On Ou-t!

by Shinichi Hoshi
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Why is the title of the story "He-y, Come on Ou-t"?

The title of the story is "He-y, Come on Ou-t" because that exclamation is the catalyst of the narrative’s action. After a man shouts this sentence into a seemingly bottomless hole, the villagers turn the hole into a convenient, lucrative waste disposal site. The village becomes a prosperous city. Later, however, this exclamation echoes from the sky, foreshadowing the polluters’ just fate, that all their garbage will "come out" of the sky and revisit them.

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In “He-y, Come on Ou-t,” a mysterious hole opens in the ground of a village after a storm. Curious onlookers try to discern more about the hole—its size, depth, function, and so on. Thinking that it is a foxhole, a young man shouts down into it, “He—y, come on ou—t!”

His exclamation—and the title of the story—is significant because it sets off a chain of events demonstrating man’s cavalier attitude toward Earth. By the end of the story, writer Hoshi reveals that man’s greedy, irresponsible, selfish nature will be punished. The later echo of this titular sentence foreshadows the people’s deserved fate. Garbage that they carelessly discarded will return to them; poisonous waste and human refuse will literally “come out” of the sky and rain on them.

Initially, everyone wonders how deep the hole is and if it has a bottom. When he does not hear an echo after calling into the hole, the man tosses in a pebble. Then the falling pebble makes no sound, leading onlookers to conclude that the hole is unfathomably deep and bottomless.

This titular exclamation unleashes a curse on the villagers. At first, though, the people believe that they are lucky. The hole becomes a lucrative attraction for the village because it makes the perfect disposal site for nuclear waste.

The people of the village were a bit worried about this, but they consented when it was explained that there would be absolutely no above-ground contamination for several thousand years and that they would share in the profits. Into the bargain, very shortly a magnificent road was built from the city to the village.

Very quickly, though, the hole is transformed into a site for disposing anything unwanted—classified documents, corpses of test animals for contagious disease experiments, emotional debris, incriminating evidence, and more. The people grow into wasteful profligates:

They concentrated solely on producing one thing after another. ... Whatever one wished to discard, the hole accepted it all. The hole cleansed the city of its filth; the sea and sky seemed to have become a bit clearer than before.

They dump anything unwanted into the hole, all in the name of money and convenience. By the end, however, their utopia is in jeopardy. Despite seeming to clean up their environment and ridding themselves of dirt, they will be punished.

One day amidst the shiny new construction of skyscrapers, a worker suddenly hears from above,

“He—y, come on ou—t!”

Unable to hear the source of this call in the blue sky, he turns back to work. However,

from the direction where the voice had come, a small pebble skimmed by him and fell on past.

The man, however, was gazing in idle reverie at the city’s skyline growing ever more beautiful, and he failed to notice.

This ominous ending portends the return of all the detritus. The oblivious people are too wrapped up in signs of their material gains and will be buried in an avalanche of their own waste.

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