Previously: “House Building For Dummies.”
On May 1, 2011, a curious thread started unfolding on 2ch — a thread which, really, was a story more than anything else. It’s since become known as a Japanese creepypasta titled “Help Me,” although I also tend to think of it as “the 2ch mannequin photo story.”
Like “Kisaragi Station” before it, “Help Me” was told in real time, with the originator of the thread detailing odd events going on their home right at that very moment. The events, the original poster said, had begun shortly after they had viewed a particular photograph — one depicting a group of badly burned mannequins still dressed in the remains of traditional kimono. The photo, they believed, was of a department store fire that occurred Osaka some years ago.
[Like what you read? Check out Dangerous Games To Play In The Dark, available from Chronicle Books now!]
The photo does exist; it’s the one that’s frequently said to depict the aftermath of the Sennichi department store fire — the one that’s many to believe that the Bic Camera that now stands on the department store’s former site is haunted. The photo is more likely from a different department store fire that occurred at the Taiyo department store in Kumamoto City, which is on an entirely different island than Osaka (more on that here) — but it’s a spooky image regardless.
Although “Help Me” comes to a sudden stop and a somewhat unsatisfying end, I like it for a few reasons. I like that it takes an existing artifact — and the legend that goes along with it — and builds upon it; and — perhaps even more notably — I like that it exemplifies a style of storytelling the West wouldn’t latch onto until some time later: Telling a story on the internet in real time, as has become increasingly common on YouTube, on Twitter, on Snapchat, on TikTok, and more.
Below, I’ve excerpted Okaruto’s translation; keep reading here. (Note that the original poster of the thread is stylized in bold for easier reading.) And for the curious, the original Japanese has been preserved here.
1 ：Anon：2011/05/01(Sun) 01:10:47.80 ID:RK9SjPLDO
Hey, 2-3 weeks ago there was a thread here. I’ve been really freaking out since then. Please help.
2 ： Ninpouchou【Lv=8,xxxP】 ：2011/05/01(Sun) 01:11:23.69 ID:tWKEhSYa0
What sort of thread was it (´･ω･`)?
8 ：Anon：2011/05/01(Sun) 01:14:17.95 ID:RK9SjPLDO
It had something to do with a really creepy picture. There were a bunch of burned mannequins or something, and ever since I saw the picture strange things have been happening.
10 ：Anon：2011/05/01(Sun) 01:14:28.42 ID:ItbtxGjW0
13 ：Anon：2011/05/01(Sun) 01:16:23.52 ID:RK9SjPLDO
Ever since I saw the picture, I’ve been having problems. Sleep paralysis, for example. I keep hearing things knocking on my window, and I’ve been having nightmares where I see the mannequins from the picture.
14 ：Anon：2011/05/01(Sun) 01:18:02.96 ID:OjZXKXB3O
Was anything wrong with the picture? Or the mannequins?
17 ：Anon：2011/05/01(Sun) 01:18:25.89 ID:tzyMT/t5O
Must be cursed.
20 ：Anon：2011/05/01(Sun) 01:18:50.93 ID:RK9SjPLDO
When I wake up from the dream, I hear a number. It started with 12, and each time the number decreases like something is counting down. I’ve been so scared that I refuse to go to sleep. The next time I have the dream, the countdown will reach 1.
26 ：Anon：2011/05/01(Sun) 01:21:05.46 ID:RK9SjPLDO
What happens if it gets to 0?
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[Photo via Diane Alkier/Unsplash]