Powerless

I’d been struggling with my column for hours, and had only managed to toss off a few brilliant bon mots when without so much as a flicker of warning the power went out.

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Illustration by Guy Junker

powerlessIt was a dark and stormy night. The rain had been almost ceaseless for weeks, and was currently smiting my Ha‘iku rooftop with Biblical ferocity. I’d been struggling with my column for hours, and had only managed to toss off a few brilliant bon mots when without so much as a flicker of warning the power went out.

I sat stock still, my mind as blank as the palette of blackness before me. Generally, I rely on Giles in such emergencies, but I had foolishly granted him the evening off to work at, I believe, a soup kitchen in Kula, where I hear folks are practically starving in droves. The darkness and the roar of rain crushed in around me, and my mind turned to chicken-skin tales of the phantoms haunting the jungle surrounding me. My unease turned to dread.

Suddenly, I felt some slimy horror ooze up my leg, and a scream caught in my throat like a putrid pupu. I had never thought night marchers would be so . . . moist. Then I caught a whiff of kibble—oh, sweet relief! It was only my precious pooch Kohu, who, like so many, had sought me out for comfort in the darkness. I stayed his kisses, though, determined to find light—and a restorative to soothe my jangled nerves. If faced with the possibility of fending off wraiths, I would need the fortification of some more tangible spirits.

With the hound at my side, I gingerly poked my way out of the study and through the living room, where I dislodged several pieces of artwork from the walls and upended a floral arrangement that was really ready to go, anyway. The dog whimpered a bit under the shower of blossoms and rank water.

“Come, Kohu!” I issued, afraid my canine companion would scuttle off to hide under the bed. “We can make it!”

Finally, I ascertained that I had arrived in the kitchen by the lingering odor of supper, which I had prepared following an old Wyoming Family receipt consisting of Wheaties liberally doused in Jack Daniels and topped with fresh fruit—an especially scrumptious (and healthy!) meal. I was momentarily nonplussed when I did not find the flashlight in its usual spot, but then remembered I’d loaned it to my dear chum Ayesha to locate a phial of powders she uses when afflicted with the vapors.

Fortunately, I knew that Giles kept a stash of candles in a nearby cupboard. I turned neatly but tripped over Kohu, lurching gracelessly into the very cabinet I required and braining myself on a hanging pot. The ensuing stream of expletives actually drew cheers from my cable-TV-deprived neighbors, and I was heartened that I could still be entertaining amid great personal pain.

I rooted around and came up with several tapers that smelt of spiced mango and Deep Woods Off, and finally managed to locate a book of matches. My terror began to lift as each tiny flame dispelled the gloom, but as I moved more confidently back to the main room to drum up a dram, a faint tapping came from the direction of the front door, and I could just make out the plaintive cry of the undead. Kohu growled menacingly, and I must admit my kidneys felt a little untrustworthy.

I advanced slowly to the foyer, heedless of my usual disdain for those rubes in horror films who always open the door even though an eerie chorus from the choir invisible can be plainly heard on the soundtrack. I heard no such terminal tune, however—nor the rain and wind, which had completely died off, leaving nary a rustle or drip. All that remained was the spooky tattoo at the door, punctuated with a high, miserable keening. I flung the door open, fully prepared to face the spectre of a long-dead and very cranky Hawaiian ali‘i, out to avenge the dissolution of his kingdom.

“Oh, thank goodness!” a soggy and windswept Giles exclaimed from the threshold, several weighty-looking bundles balanced on each arm. “My deepest apologies, but I couldn’t get to my house-key and didn’t want to disturb you! But since you haven’t yet retired, perhaps you’ll join me in a warming toddy.”

The electricity whirred back to life as Giles made his way into the house. My spirits renewed as I followed him and Kohu—my darling, devoted saviors— back to the kitchen and back to a fearless world.

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