Like a punch to the skull, everything suddenly went black. As my office eMac groaned like a distant, dying whale, my desk fan offered a final, plaintive pitter. Even the scuttle of the Blattaria B-52s ceased, and with them I stood utterly still.
Wailuku power failures are nothing new at the MauiTime office, but this was my first in the dead of night. Alone. Even the glow of my cell phone seemed smothered and weak and the next nearest light came through the window, amber pinpricks from far across the isthmus. Eyes straining against the pure pitch, my ears labored even harder for the creak of the serial killer I was certain would charge through the door at any moment. Yes, my imagination is active—and I blame the movies.
In as quick a moment as the lights had gone out, my mind flashed every cinematic cliche. Masked accomplices snipped wires with hedge cutters while a deranged humanoid, more scar tissue than skin, lurked in the hallway ready to pounce. I’d put up an epic fight—my samurai training put finally to good use—but she’d inevitably slurp out my organs and make a cape out of my flesh. In the ink of early dawn, she’d carefully craft a mobile (showing her sensitive side) out of my bones, which she’d picked clean between her filed-sharp teeth.
Why? Not because tired journalists in need of a shower are particularly tasty, but because she was my secret, long lost, conjoined twin! We’d been separated at birth—me being the less ugly of the two—the doctors discarding her out of superstition (this was the ‘80s, after all). Raised in the injection well underworld by mutant monk seals, she learned of ancient black magic that would restore her place in humanity (eating me, of course).
At least in death, I would both save the world and have the last laugh—because everyone knows if you eat someone with leukemia you’ll get blood cancer and die too. Her one weakness is that MauiTime does not have circ in the injection wells, or she would have read all my yammer about cancer. Boo-yah!
But seriously… Once my mental movie had played through, there was still my real-life situation. I know I am not alone in being highly incompetent in and afraid of the dark, but the degree of my ineptness is prize-winning.
What to do? My first thought shot toward my two swords leaning up against the bookshelf. I actually ambled toward them, thinking of a waza set in darkness, where you extend the tip of the blade out to the far side of you, tap gently to mislead your opponent with sound and strike fast with a keisa cut to the jugular. My evil conjoined twin may not exist, but airplane-sized cockroaches do.
In attempting to creep quietly toward my wooden bokken blades, I discovered I am crap at cerebral cartography. Tripping all over myself in a space I should know well, I made enough ruckus to sound as if I were being attacked—and any notion of samurai suave swiftly evaporated.
I opted instead for the worst cliché of all: calling my boyfriend.
He was in the midst of working on a real story about injection wells for our island’s daily pub, and while sympathetic to me being scared, was slightly annoyed that I was sputtering about imaginary serial killers while he was on hard deadline. But with someone on the phone I had the courage to work my way to the hall (admittedly flaring my nostrils for the slightest stench of rotting flesh).
Just then, the electricity came back on and my fan sputtered to life. The eMac beeped like a baby dolphin who’d been struck in the head by a boat. Though no more than a few minutes had passed, I was a flood lamp of joy. Again there was light, and it was good.
Grabbing my bag, I rushed to set the office alarm and escape as quickly as possible. There was still work to be done, but a beer and the boob tube were in order. Maybe there’d be a good scary movie on.
Anu Yagi welcomes comments, and will be hanging out at www.mauifeed.com/kulakid You can also follow her on Twitter at