He-y, Come On Ou-t!

by Shinichi Hoshi
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“He-y, Come On Ou-t!” Summary

He-y, Come On Ou-t!” is a 1971 short story by Japanese science fiction writer Shinichi Hoshi.

  • After a typhoon, a group of villagers discover an apparently bottomless hole where an old shrine had stood. One man calls, “He-y, come on ou-t!” and throws a pebble into the hole.
  • A businessman turns the hole into a disposal site, and nuclear waste, garbage, and all sorts of unwanted things from the nearby city are thrown in.
  • One day a workman in the now-pristine city hears a voice from above calling, “He-y, come on ou-t!” A pebble then falls from the sky.

Summary

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Last Updated on June 14, 2021, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 726

In the aftermath of a typhoon, the inhabitants of a small village are surveying the damage that has been sustained. A landslide has caused an old shrine to be swept away. The villagers debate how long the shrine has existed; nobody can remember when it was built, and there is some argument about where exactly it was located. It is suggested that the shrine should be rebuilt immediately. 

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While the arguments about the shrine are ongoing, one of the villagers notices a hole about a meter wide. The hole appears to be enormously deep and is completely dark inside. One young man leans into the hole and shouts, "He-y, come on ou-t!" but there is no echo to be heard. He then throws a pebble into the hole, despite the warnings of another man who protests that a curse might result.

Unsure what to do, the villagers build a fence around the hole out of some trees and then return to their village. Some people suggest that they should simply rebuild the shrine to cover the hole again, but they cannot reach any agreement on the matter. Meanwhile, news of the very deep hole has spread, and the next day a car arrives from the local newspaper, carrying a scientist with it. Concessionaires and policemen also turn up to look at the hole and to prevent those who are simply curious from falling in.

A reporter lowers a weight into the hole on the end of a rope. The rope goes quite a long way into the hole but eventually runs out, and the reporter is then unable to pull it back out of the hole. 

Next, the scientist sends for an extremely powerful bullhorn with the intention of checking what sort of echo it makes. However, although he tries all the options on his bullhorn, he is unable to produce an echo, despite turning the horn up to its highest possible volume. It is as if the sound is simply consumed by the hole.

This leaves the scientist baffled, but, unwilling to betray his confusion, he simply says that the hole should be filled in. A waiting concessionaire tells the mayor that he will take on the task of filling in the hole. In response to the mayor's comment that they need to build a new shrine over the hole, the concessionaire says that he will build a new shrine, with a meeting hall attached, and will position it more conveniently close to the village.

The villagers are in favor of this idea, so the concessionaire is allowed to begin filling the hole. He has the shrine and meeting hall built for the villagers and then solicits permission from the government to offer the hole as a disposal opportunity. Nuclear power plants bid for the right to dispose of their waste in the hole: the villagers are initially apprehensive about this but capitulate when it becomes clear that they will be offered a share in the profits. There is also a new road built between the village and the hole.

Next, other things begin to be thrown into the hole, such as classified documents from the Foreign Ministry, but there is no sign that the hole is actually being filled. More and more things are thrown into the hole, such as animals who have been experimented upon with diseases, and rubbish which would otherwise have been thrown into the ocean.

City-dwellers begin to think of the hole as a way of getting rid of things without having to think about the consequences of their actions. The hole can solve all their problems: criminals throw evidence into the hole, while the police can use the hole to dispose of counterfeit money. The hole gradually takes away all of the "filth" from the city, leaving it more beautiful than it has ever been before.

One day, a workman is sitting at the top of a new building which is in the process of being built. He hears out of the sky the sound of a voice shouting, "He-y, come on ou-t!" 

Unable to see the source of the voice, the workman decides that he must have imagined it. A pebble then falls out of the sky and passes him, but he is enraptured by the beauty of the city before him and does not notice the pebble.

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