Ghosts Next Door

Ghosts Next Door
by Lopaka Kapanui

Oct 12, 2022

Kaula Hao 6 2022: Pu ana.

 Abner did the smart thing by not only hiding in Tahiti but by acclimating himself to the culture and the language.

As best he could, he made it his mission to live among a people he once considered inferior because of the color of their skin. Now, by the sun and its diurnal journey throughout the day, Abner became shades darker. The only thing he could not change or hide was his eyes' color. Abner made up a story that his father was French, his mother was Hawaiian, and his father's family disinherited him. Thus with no home or land to call his own, he found a new purpose in the society islands. Abner made it a point to work himself to near exhaustion during the day so that his sleep might be dreamless. This way, the nightmares on that ship he boarded from Māmala could no longer haunt him into his waking hours. When the anchor was dropped, the boat was well off the coast of ʻOʻahu. For the whole term, it was himself, the abolitionists, and the princess guards staring him down. Nearly an hour had passed, and no one person moved toward Abner, and neither did Abner do the same. When night came, bright lanterns were lit, but the men stood stoically and stared at Abner. It was almost as if they were holding him for someone. Soon, the patience of the abolitionists began to wear thin, and harshly did, they whisper something to the princess's guards. 

"This is taking too long!" One said.

"We've come for satisfaction, and we mean to have it!" The other interjected.

"You will have it, but only when she arrives," the one guard replied.

It went back on forth like this for the whole night until dawn broke the darkness, and the sun peaked its head from 'ihi'ihilauakea. Then, assuming she had climbed up that ladder to bring herself on board, the princess appeared dressed her the best finery of that period. The guards bowed their heads while the abolitionists basked in her beauty. "Thank you for your patience, gentlemen; in a moment, you will have the satisfaction you've come for but not without the recompense I mean to have from this man first," Manu said.

"A mark or a cut will do, perhaps even a wound," the one abolitionist said. 

"But his life is ours to take," said the other.

Manu turned to her guards and nodded her head once. After that, the three overpowered the abolitionists by beating them into submission until they could bind them hand and foot. Next, the guards tied Abner up in the same way. Then, bringing out a large wooden bowl, they filled it with fresh water they had secretly stored on board. Next, they removed a powdered substance which they added to the mix. When it was ready, the guards forced the abolitionists and Abner to drink the entire contents of the bowl until it was gone. Then, a new bowl mix was made. It was 'awa, and after three whole bowls of it, the men were drunk. 

"Now for 'unihipili, Abner," Manu said. "After which you live at my behest no matter how near or far, you will have no control over what you do when I call on you. Your bones belong to me,"

Abner had no recollection of anything after he went black drunk from the ʻawa. When he awoke, he had no sense of how much time had transpired, but he was in the water swimming toward the ship. Ascending the ladder, he hoisted himself onboard and saw that the princess and her guards were gone but that one of the abolitionists was hanging from the mainmast, wholly disemboweled. The dead man's companions were completely alive but still bound hand and foot. Some primal urge overpowered Abner, and he scooped the two abolitionists up and over his shoulders without effort. Then, running toward the lee side, he cast himself and the two men overboard. Into the ocean they went, and soon blood and foam churned the water, and the deafening sounds of screams cracked the air. 

This is the nightmare that Abner always avoided, but it always found a way to crack through the seems. On those rare moments when it got through, he would hear Manu's voice in his head, calling to him; when that happened, he had no control over his body. His mind knew what had transpired, but his body belonged to someone else. Manu. The following day, a foreign sailor, a lone transplant from France near the beach, or a helpless child of a pastor would be found mangled and half-eaten. The rumors began to spread that a person was lurking who might be half shark that only devoured foreigners and not the native people. Even the sovereign Pōmare IV unofficially sent out word that should such a person be found that he was to be killed immediately and cast in an ʻumu far from the ocean. Of course, everyone was searching for a Tahitian person of dark skin, never thinking once that it was a former slave trader taking the form of a mindless man-eating shark.


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