The traffic sign reads, ‘Kyoto 3, Nagasaki 603’. The car turns onto the Kyoto offramp. The sight of skyscrapers greets us as we approach the megacity.

We reach another crossroads, take a right turn and crawl down a steep hill. We go down for a long time until we reach the entrance to a straight driveway that leads up to a hall. The clock on the dashboard reads 12.45am.

Nqo has been fast asleep but she opens her eyes now, as the minivan comes to a halt at the gate. There I see guards holding rifles. We are ordered to get out of the minivan.

“Into the hall!” a guard directs us, gesturing with the barrel of his gun.

To my surprise, the hall is packed with Japanese teenagers. They are all dressed in black and standing in a big circle. There are white teenagers inside the circle. The white teenagers – three girls, five boys – express absolute fear on their faces. It is obvious to me that they have been crying for a long time. They have their bags clutched close to their bodies. The girls are hiding behind the boys.

A man appears from the darkness of a corner in the hall. There is evil in his eyes. I glance at them, and get the feeling that he buried his conscience and any sympathy a long time ago. He wears gold rings on all his fingers. He relaxes his mouth and I see that all his teeth too, are crowned with gold.

He steadily approaches the circle, and claps his hands forcefully, once. Everyone’s attention is instantly on him. He flashes his golden smile, all the while keeping his eyes on one of the men who had brought us to this place.

“Well done!” says the man with the gold teeth. “Give them a round of applause!”

I’m in panic and shock. Surely I am dreaming a bad dream, I tell myself. The noisy round of applause from the Japanese teenagers in the hall startles me back to reality.

Now I realize that there are many more men standing in the shadows, lining the walls of the hall. They are dead still. Rifles – the same make as those of the guards outside – are strapped on their shoulders.

The Japanese men did say that this place is called The Blood Stain Temple. So these guns are the reason blood is splashed on the walls and the ceiling.

I should be shocked into action, but I have gone into a state of numbness.


Tell us: What do you think is happening with the foreign teenagers?