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The third chapter in volume 14 of the Horror World of Junji Ito series, The Story of the Mysterious Tunnel.

PlotEdit

Mrs. Sonobe has beaten her husband to death, and dumps his corpse into a swamp. She says that he insulted her and it's his own fault she killed him. Next to their house stand two bronze busts of the couple.

Mrs. Shirakawa and her son Susumu have just moved to Seidou City (seidou refers to bronze that has turned bluish through oxidization.) She introduces herself to the neighboring mothers in the city park. The park has two more statues of Mr. and Mrs. Sonobe; and Susumu asks who they are. The local women explain that it's the former mayor of the town and his wife, but the mayor mysteriously disappeared three years ago and it's rumored that he eloped with a new girlfriend. Mrs. Sonobe is so vain that she commissioned her statue to look like a young, beautiful woman even though she is old and ugly. She still lives next to the park, and the women believe that she is a witch and may be able to hear them gossiping about her. Their young children claim that her statue talks to them, but the women do not believe this.

Mrs. Sonobe visits Tsuchiya, a sculptor. He has just finished another statue that she commissioned of herself - a young and beautiful woman just like the one in the park. Mrs. Sonobe says it's exactly how she looked in her prime, and plans to display the statue in her mansion. She invites the local mothers, including Mrs. Shirakawa, to a party in her mansion for the unveiling of the statue. They think it's weird she would invite them but decide they'll go to the party just for free food and to snoop around her house. At the party, Mrs. Sonobe unveils the statue and introduces Tsuchiya. The neighborhood women agree the statue is beautiful, even though it looks nothing like her. Tsuchiya explains how he makes his sculptures from a wax cast of the subject. He is terminally ill from bronze splinters damaging his lungs over the years. Mrs. Sonobe leaves with him and says she'll take him home.

When she leaves, the women insult her and are angry that they're the only guests - she lied to them and said there would be men at the party. Mrs. Sonobe's voice comes from the statue and tells them that all her statues, including the one in the park, are fitted with microphones and surveillance cameras. She is angry that the women gossip about her. She uses the microphones to scare the children by pretending that the statue is alive. At this point, all the women fall unconscious because they were drugged with sedatives in the food. They wake in Tsuchiya's workshop where Mrs. Sonobe plans to kill them. She has Tsuchiya encase them in molten wax and boil it in the kiln to make a cast. He fills the cast with concrete since Mrs. Sonobe thinks it's a waste to use bronze on the women.

The following week, police question Mrs. Sonobe about the women's disappearance. She says that the women attended her party but left early and she never saw them again. She goes to Tsuchiya, who has chiseled out the concrete mold to show the women's melted corpses encased within. He thinks it's beautiful and artistic, but Mrs. Sonobe smashes it with a hammer so the police can't find it.

In the park, the women's children ask Mrs. Sonobe's statue where their mothers are. She makes the "statue" tell them that their mothers are on vacation and will be back soon. Suddenly, Mr. Sonobe's statue speaks. He tells the children to call the police because his wife killed him. Mrs. Sonobe doesn't understand how this can happen, since she didn't put any microphones inside her husband's statue. She looks for Mr. Sonobe's body in the swamp. It has washed up in the water and has turned into wax from putrefying. She orders Tsuchiya to destroy the corpse, but he chisels at the wax to form the figure of a breathtakingly handsome young man. Mrs. Sonobe is enchanted by the image and asks Tsuchiya to turn it into a bronze statue.

Mrs. Sonobe displays the man's statue in her house, next to her own. When she touches the woman's statue, it yells at her to leave them alone. The statues talk and insult Sonobe, calling her an old hag. They move from their platforms and begin to kiss passionately. Sonobe realizes the statue does not look like her husband but Tsuchiya, with whom she had an affair when they were young. She writes a note to Tsuchiya announcing that she's going to drown herself in the swamp. She wants Tsuchiya to dig up her corpse in three years' time when it's become wax, and turn it into a beautiful statue made of gold. This way, she thinks she can become the most beautiful creation on earth.

Although Tsuchiya's close to death, he complies with Mrs. Sonobe's request to retrieve her body and turn it into a golden statue. He carves out the most beautiful mold he has ever created; and goes to fill it with gold. Unfortunately, the liquid gold destroys Tsuchiya's lungs. He dies and Mrs. Sonobe (whose spirit is still conscious) remains trapped forever inside the cast he had made.

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