Katsu’s Hitchhiker
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Katsu’s Hitchhiker

Story from the Mayumi Chronicles Universe

Katsu’s Hitchhiker

Katsu Kita and his wife, Yugiri Kita, were heading for another adventure in the mountains in their truck near Mount Kita in Japan. Katsu, an Herbalist, and his wife, a folklorist, specialized in Yokai mythology. They also like camping in the forest. Katsu received an email yesterday about a new herb found in the area could heal almost anything. So, they went to find it.

On their way was a young woman with a backpack on her shoulders holding her thumb out. Katsu stopped to see if he could help. Katsu said, "Do you need a ride?"

The woman smiled and said, "Yes I do. I'm heading home to my village. It's 15 minutes from here by car in that direction."

Katsu thought her accent was a little peculiar. The woman almost sounded like a cat because of the way she rolled her R's and O's.

Katsu answered "Sure we can give you a ride. Jump into the backseat."

The woman got in the back seat and placed her backpack next to her.

Aki replied cheerily, "Thank you so much. It would take me an hour or two to get there. My name is Aki Nakano."

Katsu replied, "My name is Katsu Kita, and this is my wife, Yugiri Kita."

Yugiri said, "It is nice to meet you, Aki."

They pulled onto the road again. As they drove Yugiri asked, "So, Aki what do you for a living?"

Aki replied, "I am a Special Forces medic based in Osaka. Before that, I was a healer, for my village of Akino."

Katsu inquired, "That's funny I never heard of that village. I lived near here as a child and never heard of Akino."

Aki replied, "It is a small village, and there's only one way in and out. It is blocked half the year by snow. I would love to show you. Take the next right. It will take us almost the whole way. What brings you this far out in the wilderness?"

Katsu took the road, which led toward Mount Kita.

He said, "I am an herbalist, and I got an email about a new herb discovered in this area. So, I wanted to investigate.

Aki replied, "Interesting, I'm sure my mom could help you out. She knows a lot about the herbs of this area."

Katsu replied, "That would be great. Thank You."

His wife spoke up, "So Aki what do you know about this area? I hear there are a lot of legends of Yokai in this area."

Aki laughed as she said, "They're more than legends to me, I have seen Yokai growing up and as my time as a healer in my village."

Katsu could see Yugiri's mouth dropped. She finally said, "You're telling me that you have seen Yokai? You have to be joking."

Aki replied, "Nope, not at all. I would not joke about that. They live in my village. Katsu takes a right. The village is on the other side of the ridge."

Katsu followed her instructions. He liked Aki; she was one of a few people who could make Yugiri speechless. They traveled for a mile.

They crossed over the ridge, and the village came into view. It was an old village that had ancient Japanese homes in it. They were well maintained, so they looked new.

Aki said, "Welcome to Akino. There is one thing I need you to know before you go into the village. So, will you stop here a moment?"

Katsu complied and stopped but he wondered why Aki said that.

Aki continued, "I need to confess something. I'm the one who sent the email about the herb. I am a Bakeneko Yokai, and we invite you to be a part of our village to learn about us and our ways as healers. We have watched you for a while, and we believe you two could help us bring our knowledge to the world."

Aki pulled off the scarf, and two cat ears appeared, and she was surrounded in green light as her skin changed to fur.

Yugiri replied first in excitement, "I knew Yokai were real. I just knew it."

Aki replied, "Yes we're real, and you two have been selected to be the first scientists to know about us because of your open-minded nature. Would you like to continue on the adventure?"

Katsu was speechless and Yugiri excitedly answered for them both, "Yes."

Aki Smiled and said, "Welcome to the Yokai village of Akino.

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