Ghosts Next Door

Ghosts Next Door
by Lopaka Kapanui

Jul 26, 2017

100 Ghost Stories Counting Down To Halloween 2017! #98

Onmyo


Every weekend parishioners of the temple come on their own time to help clean the grounds and maintain the grass and do general upkeep. One of the families who always drove in from Kahalu’u had a very beautiful daughter who was part Japanese on her father's side. She was all of sixteen years old and very kind and filled with an inherent grace that only served to make her countenance even more appealing. In our phone conversation, the head monk said that on one Saturday, she and her family sat with the monks having lunch and that the girl had excused herself to use the bathroom. An hour had passed, and the girl's mother went to check up on her and found her daughter on the
bathroom floor dead. She’d choked on a small piece of kampyo maki sushi. “That was a month ago,” the monk then said that the ‘feeling’ began shortly thereafter. Now, it’s a month later and he begins to notice a strange shift within the confines of the temple grounds during a particular hour in the deep night, every night. The 'feeling' which permeated the holy sanctuary was so odd that there were no words to give it a fitting description, except to say that the hair on his skin would stand on end, and the hackles on the back of his neck would raise up. Even the natural function of the wind rustling the dried leaves across the empty parking lot sounded as if vile, unholy hands were performing a task intended by nature.

“Everything that is natural and organic in this place suddenly becomes unnatural. It’s the only way I can explain it.” From the monk's tone of voice it was obvious that even as he explained the strange phenomenon, he was still trying to understand it himself.

One late night while deep in meditation, the monk noticed that the moon was absent from the evening sky and that no natural or man-made light illuminated the temple grounds. Suddenly, from across the compound, he noticed an odd glowing light shaped like an oblong egg. It floated silently to the opposite end of the temple and disappeared once it entered the berthing area reserved only for the apprentice monks. This took place for several nights and each night the monk took it upon himself to follow the oddly shaped light at a distance, and each night it appeared at the same location and traveled the same path. And each night, it disappeared as it always did once it reached the berthing area. During the same time, while this strange light would manifest, the head monk noticed that the unexplained unnatural 'feeling' had gone away. A few nights later, the Mahealani moon lay its light upon the temple grounds as if it were day, but the oddly shaped light did not appear. Instead, it was the ghost of the dead girl. The head monk was so mortified at the sight of the apparition that he nearly hid in his room for fear that it would see him. However, he swallowed his fear and followed at a careful distance as she went to the entrance of the berthing area but this time she did not dissolve into thin air. She walked down a long aisle way past the private room of the apprentice monks and stopped at the last room at the very end. That room was occupied by a young boy that the monks had found homeless and destitute. They took him in at the temple where he helped with the cleaning, cooking and other kinds of maintenance.

 The girl vanished right then and a second later the head monk could see a light slowly illuminating from beneath the young boy’s door. The monk thought to open the door right away but he paused for a moment because where there should have been horrific screams and wailing, there was only dead silence. With every measure of a saint-like patience, the head of the temple turned the knob to the door and inched it open very slowly. The tableau before him stole his breath away, there were no words to frame the sight in front of him. The boy lay on his back in his bed while the rotting corpse of what was once the beautiful sixteen-year-old girl sat on his waist and slowly rocked her hips back and forth. Bits of her flesh fell away from her bones and clumps of her hair came to rest on the floor next to the bed. The putrid smell was overwhelming and he could no longer contain his disgust, in the next moment he wretched and threw up on the floor. It was only then that the corpse of the girl and the young boy saw him standing at the door. The ghost let out a high shrill scream and dissolved into nothing. The young boy jumped to his feet and quickly dressed but the monk could not go near him, the horrid smell on the boy was too overwhelming. The commotion woke the apprentice monks and caused them to empty their rooms and gather in the hallway when they saw the head monk walking their way.

The next morning the head monk and the apprentices charged the young boy to cleanse himself in the stream just below the temple because they would not allow him to bathe anywhere on temple grounds. He was now defiled, and while he bathed in the running water, the other monks simultaneously prepared his belongings in a suitcase and filled his wallet with some money that they had all collected between them. They had no choice but to cast him back to the streets from whence he came. That is the moment when he confessed that whenever the girl and her family came to the temple on Saturdays for cleaning, he and the girl would have their clandestine meetings where they would secretly have sex. Sometimes in a closet, sometimes in his room, sometimes in the kitchen, or somewhere on the grounds, but always quickly and very carefully. On the day that the girl had excused herself to use the bathroom, she was still chewing on a bit of kampyo maki sushi when the boy without warning appeared and took her from behind. The girl was so startled that the piece of sushi lodged in her throat and she choked to death. The boy had no idea what had happened until the girl was already dead.

He adeptly left the area and hid in his room where none would be the wiser. However, there was a madness within the boy that made him seek out some of the older sutras and scriptures in our temple archives. He claimed that he’d come across something that had to do with resurrection but because I knew that his Japanese was limited, I also knew that he must have misread a large portion of those scriptures. He had confused the resurrections skills of a famous Onmyoji of ancient Japan named Abe no Seimei with that of another man named Minamoto no Morofusa.

The resurrection of a corpse as it once was, whole and human would have to take place immediately after its death, but the young boy tarried too long. When he used the convoluted Onmyo ceremonies, he had unknowingly brought back a rotting corpse that had control over his mind. It was able to give him the illusion that it was still that young beautiful girl.

At the conclusion of his confession, the ‘feeling’ suddenly came back, the wind that blew the tall grass around the stream appeared as if it were a giant invisible hand moving it back and forth, the trickling sound of the stream suddenly became that of a human tongue mimicking the water as it passed around the rocks and pebbles. Even the broad daylight of the sun seemed unnatural and manufactured.

“I finally realized what that ‘feeling’ was after all this time.” Was the monk's voice filled with the light of realization or was it resignation?

I was almost hesitant to ask, but then where would the natural conclusion of this story take us if there were no end? “What was it?” I asked.

“It was Death,” the monk seemed to confirm that fact more for himself than me. “It was Death all along that roamed the grounds of our temple in search of the thief who took what was rightfully his. He’d come to collect. In misreading the scriptures, the young boy failed to know that when you go to take a body that has become the property of Death, you must ask his permission first and foremost. Ignorant of this, the boy simply took without asking. Death snatched the life from that boy then and there and he fell dead into the stream. Afterward, all were cleansed and holy as they were before.”

After a long pause, I asked the head monk as to what I was supposed to do with this story that he had just shared with me? “Tell it,” he said in a very frank tone of voice. “But don’t say what temple it is, I don’t want curiosity seekers coming here to take pictures and audio recordings and bothering my apprentices.”

“Of course, I won’t say which temple it is,” I gave my word. “Can I at least say that you and your apprentices are martially prepared to greet trespassers and curiosity seekers?”

“If you say that, then that would mean that you broke your promise and gave away our location.” That head monk could be really smug when he wanted to, but a promise is a promise.


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