Ghosts Next Door

Ghosts Next Door
by Lopaka Kapanui

Apr 11, 2020

From The Cradle To The Cave

Three in the morning, one of the times that I have a moment to myself. Everything is quiet except for the slight tremor of cold air that comes in off the ocean. I figured I'd walk since my house is the last one on the block before the beach park.

After that, there are no street lights, and it's high grass, homeless living in their cars, and the dark open road. The night sky is beautiful, and the constellations are sobering to see. These were the same celestial bodies that guided my ancestors from place to place and across the vast blanket of the pacific ocean.

The darkness is intense, which is why I brought a backpack with four high powered flashlights in it. I don't use them while traversing this long pitch-black road. The light would make me a target for any errant homeless persons hiding in the brush or behind a grove of Kiawe, waiting to pounce on me for sport or worse. Strategically, it's the perfect place to be ambushed.

It's nearly an hour later when I come upon the gaping mouth of the cave. I had intended to walk as far as Keawaula and then perhaps call my wife or one of the kids to pick me up. Something moved me to go into the cave and sit somewhere for a little bit, and then head back home. I knew this cave well enough that I could navigate its uneven rocky floor without a problem. The beam from the high powered flashlight showed a space that wasn't littered, and neither was there the pungent smell of urine and marijuana. Save for the sound of my footsteps, the cave was tranquil. It's the kind of quiet a writer needs; too bad there's no wifi in here. With my light held in my hands and shining in no particular direction, I sat there and let my mind drift away to an ocean of mortgage payments and college tuitions. I got caught in a current of health insurance and nearly drowned in a riptide of what we'd leave behind for the kids once we're gone. I could feel my features morphing into that face my wife says I make whenever I'm worried about something.

"You can't have them,"

The voice startled me so badly that I dropped my flashlight and let out some gas. I quickly grabbed my light and aimed the beam in the direction where the voice came from. It was a middle-aged Hawaiian man dressed in plantation dungarees and military boon dockers.

"I'm sorry?" I replied.

Was I caught up so deeply in my thoughts that I neither saw or heard this man enter the cave? Or was he already here?

"You can't have my boys, theyʻre mine," he elaborated.

My mind was already prepared to tell him that there are no boys with us, only he and myself. Before I could vocalize it, boys, as old as 10 and as young as 4, materialized out of nowhere. There were at least twelve of them, and each one was bruised and battered in some form. They were a mix of Hawaiian, Caucasian, and Asian. Their expressions said that they were resigned to their condition and could do nothing about it.

"You can't have them, you can't take them,"  the Hawaiian man insisted.

His mouth wasn't moving, but I could hear him as clear as day. His voice filled the cave, but I heard it in my head too. Fucking ghosts; all I had to do was get the hell out of there in one piece. I believe I ran back home with my flashlight on. I had no care if I were going to be mugged or not. At my rate of speed, no one was going to catch me.


Two days later, I was back, but only when it was early, and there was light out. I drove this time and parked my car across the street at the small dirt acreage. Of course, the feeling and atmosphere of the cave are contrary to what it was two nights ago. Everything was calm, and the tourists hadn't arrived yet. The ghost of the middle-aged Hawaiian man and the boys felt like a long-gone memory. I scolded myself for being so foolish and that maybe my experience was stress-related. Exiting the cave, something caught my right peripheral. It was coming out from behind the large slab of rock where it is told that the shark god Nānaue lays the bodies of his victims to rot before he finally consumes the flesh. It was a tall stalky shirtless Caucasian man wearing khaki swim shorts. He carried a dive mask, a snorkel, and wore an oxygen tank.

"Whew," he exhaled. "I finally made it out of there! It got hairy, I wonʻt lie, but I had to calm myself down so I wouldnʻt panic and suffocate! My last flashlight died out just a second ago, OOO WEEE!"

"Where did you come from?" I asked, baffled, and concerned.

"Well," he heaved his dive tank off of his back and set it on the bare rock. No sound.

 "Itʻs a top-secret Navy project. They needed to know if and how all these underground lava tubes connected, just in case," he winked. "I started off on the Koʻolau side, and I found my way here!"

"Thatʻs crazy," I whispered.

"It sure is!" He smiled. "I canʻt wait to get back and get debriefed and head home!"

He hiked up the dive tank on his shoulder like it was nothing and then made his way to leave, his feet not making one sound while he walked over the gravel and large rocks. Most disturbing was the gaping, open wound on the back of his head, and the dried blood down his back.

"Hey, you uh...." I pointed to my own head.

He didnʻt hear me; the second he exited the cave, the sailor dissipated into the sunlight like he was never there. I disappeared too, from the cave that is. Screaming all the way back to my car.

1 comment:

  1. This is an amazing story and some awesome experiences you had. I would love to travel to this cave with you and see if we can experience more.