January Shorts

What’s the Matter?

Our sun and all the planets, all the stars and all the galaxies, every speck of dust in the universe, every thing that is made of solid matter for as far as we can see through telescopes and beyond, reaching back in time to the Big Bang, is but 5% of the calculated mass of the universe.  5%!  This, scientists call baryonic matter.  There is also an invisible world of Dark Matter that we cannot see and have not been able to detect other than the fact that it exerts gravity on the things that we can see.  However, without the presence of the unseen mass of Dark Matter, the movement, the cohesion of our galaxy and other galaxies would not make sense.  Dark Matter makes up another 25% of the mass of the universe.  The remaining 70% of the mass-energy of the universe is called Dark Energy and it is a force that is propelling the galaxies away from each other at a faster and faster pace except for the Andromeda Galaxy, our neighbor,  that destined to eventually collide with our own Milky Way galaxy.  And no one has any idea what this is so or how it acts.  So–everything that we can touch, see, taste, hear is but a tiny fraction of what makes up our universe, just 5%.  All around us, and maybe through us, is Dark Matter—5 times more massive than our detectable, visible universe—that we cannot see or touch but that exerts the pull of gravity on our regular matter.


The “Outward Bound” group of older teens and instructors was two days into their weeklong experience, and camped in a Rocky Mountain national forest in Colorado.  It was an early August dawn, and it would be another glorious, clear, hot day.  The campers were just rousing. 

“How can a smart guy like you even begin to believe in ghosts?” asked one of the older teens named David, of his tent mate, Tim.  David was entering a “highly selective” college in the fall. 

“I didn’t say I believe in them.  I only said that I couldn’t explain what I saw and felt.  Don’t put words in my mouth,” retorted Tim, hotly, defensively.  Tim was two years younger and would be a high school junior in September.  They had not known each other before assembling as a group.

“Things that go bump in the night, the Loch Ness monster, the ‘here thyre be tygers’ on old maps, what next?” needled David smugly.

“The only reason I told you was because I was so—so surprised by what I saw that I had to tell somebody.  Look, I know what I saw and felt.  I can’t explain it.  I don’t expect you to explain it, but I don’t expect you to mock me either.”

“Okay, okay, don’t get upset.  At least you didn’t see a flying saucer.”

“Huh!” snorted Tim.

The lead instructor, Olivia, who had been quietly listening up till now, asked, “Could you describe again what you saw and felt?”  Olivia had graduated herself from the Outward Bound program  three years before and was now working part-time while going to college.

“Not if you’re going to make fun of me too.”

“No, I won’t, I promise.  Start from the beginning.”

“Okay.  I woke up because I had to pee.  Everyone else was still asleep and the sky was just getting brighter with a long orange streak on the horizon.  The crescent moon was beautiful just above it.”

“Go on.”

“I took my flashlight but I didn’t turn it on because I didn’t want to wake up anyone else.    And anyway it was bright enough for me to see.  I walked down the trail towards the latrine.  The first thing I noticed was the cold.  It was chilly when I woke up, when suddenly it became a lot colder but there was no wind blowing.”

“Where did you feel that?  Was it by the big old ponderosa that’s scarred by lightning?”

“Yes!  How did you know that?”

“Just a guess.  Please go on.”

“Even though I didn’t know why, I felt the hair on my neck start to rise.  And that’s when I saw it.    The air seemed to get kind of shimmery and then sort of gelled into this figure standing by the tree.  But you could see through it.  Kind of blurry.”

“Sure sounds like a ghost story to me,” said David with a laugh.

“Go on, Tim,” said the instructor, ignoring David.  “What did it look like?”

“I couldn’t really tell, but it looked like a person.”

“Anyone that you recognized?”

Tim hesitated before answering, glancing at David who had a smirk on his face, “If it was anyone, it could have looked like my Uncle Tommy when he was young, but that’s impossible.”

“I knew it, a ghost story!” crowed David.

“David, could you just let Tim tell his story,” said the instructor.  Then turning back to Tim, “Why is that impossible, Tim?”

“Because I just went to his funeral two weeks before I came here, and that was back in Chicago.”

“Was he very close to you?”

“My favorite uncle, Dad’s youngest brother, and it was so sudden.  An accident.”

“I think you were having a waking dream, still half asleep,”  said David.  “Learned about that in an AP psych course I took at our Community college.  You were still mourning his loss, thinking about him and only half awake.  Think so, Olivia?”

“I think that’s certainly possible, David,” said Olivia. 

“But how did you know about the ponderosa pine?” asked Tim.

“There’ve been a few-ah-incidents reported by other groups over the years, around that pine.”

“What kind of incidents?”

“Somewhat similar to yours, Tim, figures seen, briefly.  But what happened next? What did you do?”

“I froze when I saw it.  But then the figure got blurry again after maybe three or four seconds and it faded away and so did the shimmering air and coldness.”

“The haunted ponderosa,” said David with a laugh.

“Maybe or maybe not,” said Olivia.  “Read a book this year for a cosmology course I took, called “The Universe in Your Hand.”  You might want to take a look at it, both of you.  It talks about how far out, how unbelievable, our universe really is.”

“What’s that got to do with what I saw?”

“It explains that the universe as we know it is only 5% of the actual universe.  That there has to be a Dark Matter universe that coexists with ours that we cannot see or touch.”

“And you think Tim’s ghost is part of that?”  asked David.

“I just wonder if occasionally we overlap and then we experience things that we cannot explain.”

“Wait a minute!  You’re not suggesting that our souls go to this other universe?” exclaimed David.

“No, I’m not suggesting that.  No way to know.  But what might happen is that our minds interpret what we experience or see in terms that we can understand,” said Olivia.

“Far out.  So maybe what I saw was not really Uncle Tommy but something that my mind turned into him,” said Tim, relieved that someone else was taking him seriously.  “But you said others—and by the pine too?”

“When you’ve been out a while in this vast quiet land, you get to thinking, said Olivia.  “The Native Americans have sacred sites in this country.  I’m not saying their beliefs are true, but perhaps there are places where the worlds of Dark Matter and ours rub against each other once in a while.  Where our photons and Dark photons collide and we get a glimpse into that world, and maybe they into ours.”

“Wow,” said Tim.

“You sure you didn’t try out some of that peyote, Tim?” said David.

“The camp’s stirring.  We’d better join the others for breakfast,” said Olivia.  “But I’ll put this into my report later.”

Mui Tsai, part 2

Mui Tsai, Part two

“How come you took so long?” asked her mistress.  “Are you seeing some boy?  Better not be.  Give me the money and then you clean up the kitchen.”  She counted out the coins on the kitchen table, then scolded, “You paid too much again.” 

Yuk Fah didn’t answer as she unwrapped the fish.  Her mistress insisted on checking their eyes before putting them next to the slowly melting 100-pound block of ice that cooled the wooden icebox.  At least Mistress Lee didn’t complain that the fish was not fresh enough. 

She got out a straw broom and swept the kitchen.   Then she filled a bucket one third full  with water and sloshed it on the cement floor before using a rag mop on it.

Mistress Lee inspected afterwards.  “You do such a careless job.  There are still some dirty spots by the stove.”

“The floor’s always been a different color there,” protested Yuk Fah.

  “Then you didn’t do a good job before.  Mop the floor again.  We saved you from starving and you don’t act at all grateful.“

It was time to prepare lunch when she finished mopping.  Master Lee ate at the store so she served Mistress Lee who sat regally alone at the dining table. 

After lunch Mistress Lee said, “My friends are coming to play mah jong at two.  I want you to set up the table with refreshments and serve us tea.  Then stay out of sight and what ever work you have to do, do it quietly.”

That was washing the laundry by hand and then hanging it up to dry.

Yuk Fah had an hour to herself before she prepared dinner and she went to her small room that had been the pantry, next to the kitchen.  A narrow iron bed with straw mattress and cotton batting pillow, two pictures of Chinese scenery, cut from old calendars and tacked to the wall, a small pile of her clothes on a wood plank held off the floor by bricks, were the furnishings.  She sat on the bed and slowly read yesterday’s Honolulu Star-Bulletin by the light of the small window set high on the wall, practicing the skill she had been taught in school.  The words she did not know she laboriously looked up in a dictionary she had bought.  She remembered how Mistress Lee hooted when she saw it, “What do you need that for?  You waste your money.” 

I wish I had been taught to read and write Chinese too, she thought.  Maybe someday if—no–when—I get out of here, I can have my own home or business and then I will need to know how to write and do arithmetic.

But soon it was time to fix dinner and she put away her studies.  She boiled the daikon in chicken broth, stir fried the bitter melon with fermented black bean sauce, and poached the mullet.  She served the family before getting a bowl of rice for herself and went back to the kitchen to eat alone at a small table next to the stove.  Her mistress always checked to make sure she wasn’t taking too much rice for herself.  Cold leftover tofu and meat on chicken bones left from the soup went with the rice.  And a little Tahitian salted fish from the Lee’s breakfast that she had stashed away in the back of the icebox. 

As she ate, she faintly heard Master and Mistress Lee talking in the adjacent dining room.  Master Lee had always been fair to Yuk Fah ever since he had bought her to help his wife, though he wasn’t around much, being busy seven days a week with the store.  But now it sounded like they were talking about her.  She laid her chopsticks down to listen intently.  Trying to catch every word.

“She is seventeen now, and I think it is time,” Master Lee was saying.  “A man approached me at the store this afternoon who wants to marry her.  He offered a dowry of one hundred fifty dollars plus a roast pig and wedding cakes, and will pay for any other wedding costs.”

“He actually wants to marry her, not just have her live with him?  Very strange.  Is he a Christian?” asked the Mistress.  “But I still will need somebody to help me.  I taught her how to cook and keep a nice house.  She is healthy and not bad looking.  So why only one-fifty?  She should be worth a lot more.”

A hundred and fifty dollars, Yuk Fah thought.  At least I’m worth more than when I was eight–three times as much.  And now she thinks I’m ‘not bad looking’ – ha. 

“Well, he said he wants to marry her.  That’s his business.  Anyway I only paid fifty dollars for her plus ten dollars to the broker and she has worked for us for nine years,” said Master Lee.  “So we will make money.  Besides, if we wait too long, we don’t know who else might want to marry her and when.  I think we should take the offer.”

“As long as you get me someone else to replace her.  She is getting to an age when she will be thinking about men, and who knows what will happen then.  And I’ve seen how you’ve been looking at her recently when you didn’t think I was watching,” Mistress Lee added in an accusatory tone.  “So, yes this is a good time.  But don’t you dare think of having first rights to her before the wedding.”

“No, no, you know I wouldn’t do that.  He’s willing to pay all this because she’s a virgin.”

“Well, you’d better not forget.”

I was lucky up to now, she thought.  I’ve sensed him eyeing me.  I’ve heard of other girls forced to go to bed with their masters.  Their mistresses took hard revenge on them afterwards even if the girls hadn’t wanted to.

“Yuk Fah, come here,” she heard him call.  She entered the dining room keeping her expression blank, eyes averted, pretending she had heard nothing.

“Yuk Fah, there’s a man who wants to marry you,” he said without a preamble. 

Her heart leaped.  She had heard right!  An actual marriage, a husband.  To become a wife and not a concubine.  She could really escape this life!  She could have a home of her own.  And maybe a family!  The hope and joy that suddenly flooded her entire being rushed to her cheeks.

Master Lee thought she blushed from modesty and he said kindly, “ I leave it up to you.  He is thiry-six years old and you are only seventeen.  He said his wife died and he has two children.  I have heard he is a hard worker, so you will always have enough to eat.  One more thing, he is not Punti but Sai Yup.  I told your father when you left, that I would try to marry you to another Punti.   But his is the first offer.  I don’t know when there might be another.”

Yuk Fah was surprised by Master Lee’s generosity when he said, “You want some time to think it over?  I don’t need to tell him until the day after tomorrow.”

Her thoughts tumbled across each other.  Thirty-six years old.  And he has children.  But if I don’t take this chance, who knows how long it will be before I get another?  Suppose it never comes?  Or suppose the next offer is from a sixty-year old, toothless lecher?  Wai Fat noticed me today.  But he only wants to fool around and he drinks and gambles.  He’s not going to settle down.  No use dreaming.  Athough he is really handsome.  Never mind.  Better be smart and take freedom when I can.  To actually be married.  And to a Christian, whatever that means.  Thirty-six.  Twice as old as me.  And what’s he look like?  Probably no Wai Fat.  But he cares enough to want to marry me.  And Master Lee said he is a hard worker.   So I won’t have to eat table scraps anymore. 

“No need to wait,” she said decisively.  “Tell him, yes, I will marry him.”

Mui Tsai

Part one of a story about a mui tsai, an indentured servant girl, in Hawaii in the early part of the 20th century.

Also some additional episodes to the novel.

Mui Tsai, Part One

“Don’t hit me any more.  I won’t forget.  Next time I’ll come straight home from school,” She tried to roll herself into a ball so that the blows landed on her back and not her arms or legs. Whack.  Yuk Fah bit her tongue; I won’t let her hear me cry she thought, even though she was only ten.

“I’ll make sure you remember this so, you won’t ever forget,” Mistress Lee said as she took aim and whipped the thin bamboo rod down on Yuk Fah’s upper arm.  Whack.  “All you servant girls are like gongs.  You must be hit to work properly.  You’re lucky the law says we have to send you to school.  We didn’t save you from famine so you could play.”  Whack.  “Now get to work.”

Yuk Fah slowly got to her feet, wiped her eyes with the backs of her hands, and glared at her mistress.   

“And don’t you dare give me that look unless you want more!”

She had cried though, when she was bought and taken from her mother two years before.   Although the money would keep her parents and two brothers from starving, at least for a while.

“Mama, Papa, please don’t send me away.“  She clung to her mother’s black trousers.

“Oh Yuk Fah, I wish we could stay together, but there is no food, no money.  We are starving.  You will be going to the Islands of the “Fragrant Mountains” with Master Lee.  There you will have food to eat, if you work diligently for his wife.”  Her mother gently pried her fingers loose.

Mr. Lee had bought fake papers stating she was the daughter of a non-existent wife in China and that, he hoped, would get her into Hawaii.  “She will be taken care of,” he said to her parents.  “As long as she works hard.”

“When she is old enough to marry, please marry her to another Punti,” her father asked.

“I will try to do it,” said Mr. Lee.  “But she is still too young to worry about that.  Now we must go.  The boat will not wait.  Say goodbye to your parents, girl.”

She hung back and he had to pull her out the door. 

“Mama, no, Mama, no – – -,” her voice trailed behind, becoming ever fainter to her family, as she was tugged along the muddy path, past the flooded paddies with another ruined harvest, away from their cottage and out of their lives.

On the steamship carrying her far from China forever, she wept for days, and would not eat.  Master Lee worried that she would sicken before they docked in Honolulu.  After all, he had gone through a lot of trouble to obtain her, spending hard-earned silver, and in Honolulu would run the risk of taking her through immigration with false documents.  He had to threaten her before she would swallow some rice and pickled vegetables.

She was seventeen now, older than when she’d arrived in Honolulu to serve the Lee family.  Therefore she was no longer beaten.  But Mistress Lee’s tongue was as sharp as a sword and she was quick to slash when displeased.

It was six-thirty on a routine morning for her as she walked to City Market on Kekaulike St.  She moved quickly, glancing neither right nor left, ignoring the thin, deeply tanned porters in soiled white undershirts and baggy pants who called out to her, as they crouched with their wooden carrying poles beside cages crammed with chickens and woven baskets heavy with vegetables, “Hey pretty miss, look over here.”  The rancid-sweet smell of rotting fruit and vegetables thrown carelessly into the street was familiar.  She stepped over and around the moldering heaps, making her way over the uneven cobblestone pavement, still wet and slippery from an earlier rain.  Stray dogs wandered among the shoppers, sniffing for scraps, and she watched carefully for their feces.  That would be hard to wash out of the slippers she had sewn for herself out of denim cloth scraps.

  Her mistress’ instructions were explicit as what vegetables and fish to buy for the family dinner.  The daikon was to be small, not old and tough, the bitter melon of medium size, fish — but only mullet or uhu.  And be sure to press the eyes to check for freshness.  If they weren’t fresh, then don’t buy; they’d do without fish.

Yuk Fah, she thought, as she neared the market.  “Jade Flower.”  What a pretty name her mother had given her.  So full of hope for a prosperous future.   That was before poor harvests forced her parents to sell her when she was eight as a mui tsai, practically a slave girl, for fifty silver dollars.  I was worth less than ten dollars for each year of age.  They wouldn’t think of selling one of my brothers. 

At seventeen she had grown into a flower.  Sleek, shiny black hair, a smooth oval face, even arcs of eyebrows above large eyes.  Tall for a woman, and slim.  Her hips had become more womanly; able to some day bear children for some man.  But how could she, a mui tsai with no family, no talent for anything except being a servant, ever find a husband?  And where was the Yuk—the precious jade, the prosperity—promised by her name? 

She was careful not to let her mistress see her stealing glances at herself in the hall mirror, since she would get a sarcastic sneer if that happened.  “What are you looking at?  Do you think you’re good looking?  You’re just a mui tsai.” 

“You looking at your eyes again?  You think they’re beautiful?  They’re so big you must be a mixed breed.”

Well, she had peeked at pictures of her Mistress as a young woman, dressed up in a formal Chinese gown, and Mistress Lee had not been as pretty as she.  And certainly wasn’t today, since she had grown pudgy with middle age.

Yuk Fah had felt Master Lee’s eyes on her recently.  Should I encourage him; get him in bed? she wondered.  That would show the Mistress!  But what if she had a baby?  Who would want to marry her then?  She would be forever a mui tsai with the Lees.  Or worse, thrown into the streets by Mistress Lee.  No, better not.  It was not worth the risk just to spite her Mistress.  Besides Master Lee was old as his wife.  Not to her taste.  Yuk Fah became careful to avoid being alone with the Master, to avoid looking directly at him.                   

At the market, she headed to her favorite vegetable stall.  A Babel of loud voices mixed in the air.  Different Chinese dialects—Punti, Hakka, Sai Yup–and Hawaiian and pidgin.  She pushed her way through the crowd, using her straw basket as a wedge.  The cement floor was still wet in places from an early washing before the market opened.  There was the smell of fresh fish from iced tubs on the end aisle mingling with that of ripe bananas from produce stalls.

A Chinese man with a receding hairline stood behind a green wooden stand piled with vegetables and he smiled when he saw her.  “Ah Yuk Fah.  You like one fresh flower in this place.  You even smell good.  What you like today?”  He was a little shorter than she.

“Good morning Mr. Wong,” she said, pleased that he had noticed.  She fingered the small wooden capsule on a black cord that she wore around her neck holding fragrant bak lan blossoms she had picked from the Lee’s garden.  “You get good daikon and small kind bitter melon?”  They used pidgin since they spoke different Chinese dialects.  She thought he was kind and friendly with a nice smile but old, certainly in his thirties.  Still, he probably provided well for his children since his vegetable stall was always busy.

“For you, daikon too tough.  But bitter melon good.  Come this morning.”

Fingering the long, wrinkled melons, she picked six that were a fresh light green, the right size, and nice and firm.  “How much?”

She handed him the coins that her mistress had given her, and put the change back into the drawstring denim pouch hanging from her waist.  Her mistress would count the coins carefully on her return.

“How your kids?” she asked.  She had seen the girl and boy helping their father when school was out during her other visits. 

“Oh my son Moses, him stay third grade, study hard.  Grace, my daughter, she real good student.  Maybe two years more, she go McKinley High School.”

“How come she no come work with you?”  Yuk Fah was surprised and a little envious.  A girl!  And her father was sending her on to more school instead of working?  The Lees had been taken her out of school as soon as she turned twelve and was no longer was required by law to go to school.

“More better she go school.  She can be teacher, nurse.  More better than sell vegetables.”

“Your daughter lucky she get father, think like that.  I hear Dr. Sun Yat-sen say in new China, women should go school too.”  Master Lee had raised money to support Dr. Sun’s revolution, but didn’t agree with him that women should be educated—at least not her, she thought.  “I see you next time, Mr. Wong.  Thank you, ah?”

“See you again soon, Yuk Fah.”

She checked through daikon at several other stands before finding the ones she needed. 

Then it was over to the tubs and trays of fish on ice.  She glanced sideways at Wai Fat, the young fish monger.  So good looking and well built.  What thick black hair.  But she’d heard from some of the other servant girls that he was a womanizer and that he liked to drink and gamble besides.  She picked the mullet up out of the ice to sniff and pressed their eyes.

“No need to do that,” said Wai Fat.  “For good looking girl like you, I only sell fresh kind fish.”  The fishmonger wrapped the two she picked in sheets of the Sun Chung Kwock Bo or New China News.  “You get time off, you come see me,” he said, voice lowered. “No just come here for fish.”   

She hurried off without replying  He had noticed her!  She was at a loss to know what to say, but flattered by his attention.   

Besides she had to get the fish home before they warmed up too much.  It was five long blocks to the Lee’s home on School St. and the sun was up and getting hotter by the minute.

To be continued

Month: January 2018


“This old Godzilla movie is better than I expected, Dad”

“Considering that in 1954 special effects were a man in a rubber monster suit, miniature city buildings, and toy-sized cars.  But it’s still fun to watch, though it does also have a serious theme.  Of course the other Japanese monster movies that followed it were more for fun.”

“Yeah, we’ve come a long way since then.  Must have taken a lot of imagination to come up with the idea of a mutant dinosaur awakened by the hydrogen bomb tests and rising out of Tokyo Bay to destroy the city.”

“People were deathly afraid of atomic war in 1954, Johnny.  Especially in Japan with the destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the end of World War II.  And Godzilla was a reaction to that fear.  And a warning.”

“Guess they were right to be afraid of nuclear weapons in Japan after they were atom bombed.  Although it did turn out that the peaceful use of atomic power could be pretty dangerous too.  I mean look at that Fukushima reactor disaster they had so many years ago that they’re still trying to deal with.”


“That octopus is amazing,” Dr. Kelly.  It’s figured out how to unscrew the top of the jar to get at the crab inside.”

“Octopi and their relatives the squids are among the most intelligent of animals.  Some scientists feel that they can learn by observation just like dogs and apes.  And they even use tools.”

“Who would have thought?  And they don’t even have backbones.”

But they do have very well developed nervous systems.  And huge eyes.  Down in the deepest, darkest depths where the giant ones live, they are active sight hunters.”


“Maybe it’s a good thing they have short lives.  Octopi live a few years at best.  Smaller squids live one to two.  Even the giant squids are estimated to perhaps live only five years.  If they lived longer, who knows what they might learn to do and how large they might become?” 

“I’m glad you brought us to the aquarium for the class science field trip, Dr. Kelly.  The giant ones must really grow fast to reach the size they do in such a short time.”

“Yes.  They must eat a lot of prey in order to do that.  Maybe it’s lucky that giant squids are the favorite food of sperm whales.  Keeps their numbers in check.”

“I thought that sometimes the squids won and ate the whales.”

“No, it’s pretty one-sided for the whales.”

NHK News Tokyo:  It was announced today that, after many years and enormous expenses for the clean up efforts, radiation in the countryside surrounding the site of the Fukushima Daiichi reactor disaster has now decreased to levels deemed safe enough for the construction of a memorial park.  However, to insure public safety, rules about limits on the duration of visits to the park as well as age limits for children, are still being formulated.  The actual reactor site, and area immediately adjacent, will continue to be still strictly off limits

CNN News:  Scientists at the University of Washington announced that they have discovered a gene in mice that they speculate might be what governs the life span of not only mice, but possibly all living creatures to a range specific for each species.  They state that it is still too early to say whether or not manipulation of the gene could prolong life.  The study was reported in the journal Nature and is being called the “death gene” by the media. 

JNN News Network:  Fishermen report seeing more pods of dolphin close to shore and in bays and harbors than usual.  The cause of this phenomenon is unknown.

JNN News Network:  The long line trawler Subaru Maru home ported in Shimoda was reported overdue today.  It had an experienced captain and the weather has been calm.  There has been no radio contact for two days and search drones have been dispatched to its last known position.

Perhaps it was it the radiation that leaked into the seawater off Japan.  There was no way of knowing.  A fluke.  A tiny change in the DNA.  A mutation that turned off the “death gene” in the ova of one female giant squid.   And squids lay thousands of eggs.

The blue marlin rocketed out of the dark, blue water off the Kona coast of Hawaii and skated along the surface, too big to get more than half way out of the water, shaking its head furiously before plunging back, stripping out line again.

“Look at that fish, Mr. Cox!” shouted Kawika, the captain of the charter boat.  “It’s huge!  Over a thousand pounds, I’d say.  Terrific luck for the first day of the tournament.”

Jerry Cox settled back in the fighting chair, braced for a long, hard battle, muscles straining against the pull of the giant fish.  “Yeah,” he grunted as he pumped and reeled.

“It’s coming back up,” said Matt, the deckhand.

There was a flurry of frenzied splashing and then the taut line snapped, flying back towards the ship as the severely bent rod whipped straight, vibrating.

“Damn!  Gone!”

“What the hell happened?  Did you see that?” exclaimed Kawika. 

“See what?  The damn line snapped,” said Jerry, disgusted. 

“Something big and red in all that splashing, just before we lost the fish,” said Matt.

“A shark or orca?” asked Jerry.

“Sharks and orcas aren’t red.”

The huge eyes, nearly the size of manhole covers, watched the diving sperm whale.  The squid had seen how sperm whales attacked smaller versions of itself and it knew what to do.  It decoyed the whale within range by hovering motionless, moving its tentacles to attract the whale.  As the whale opened its jaws to attack, the giant squid suddenly jetted out of the way like a matador avoiding the charge of a bull.  Its two tentacles and eight arms seized the whale and held it firmly.  This squid was far larger than what the whale was used to dining on and could not be shaken off.  The squid’s powerful beak tore at the whale’s tail flukes, disabling it so that it could not rise.  As the squid waited for the whale to drown, it warned off other squids attracted to the commotion by flashing out a display on its body and tentacles saying, “Mine.  I fight you.  Get own whale.” 

One of slightly smaller squids flashed back, “Help you catch next whale.  Eat after you?”

“Wait.  I finish, you have.  You help me next whale,” the squid replied even as it began to feed.

ABC News:  Jessica Turner was found drifting earlier today, in a disabled fifty-foot sailboat off San Diego by the Coast Guard, responding to a distress call.  Authorities said Ms Turner was in near-shock when rescued and told an incredible tale of being attacked by some kind of giant squid or octopus.  According to Ms. Turner it pulled her male companion out of the boat.  The animal seemed to stare at her before it sank, clutching the man’s body, but it did not touch her.  The creature was huge, she said.  “And those eyes,” she kept repeating, “Those horrible, gigantic eyes.”  

The Coast Guard and police are investigating what is being called “Squidzilla.”

ABC News:  As a follow up to the story we broadcast two days ago about a couple in a sailboat attacked by a giant octopus or squid, the police have cleared Jessica Turner of any involvement in the presumed death of her companion.  His name has not yet been released pending notification of his family in Hong Kong.

Sears Institute marine biologist Dr. Wilhelm Octavian gave his opinion that from the description given by Ms. Turner, the attacker was most likely a giant squid and not an octopus.  If she was correct in her estimation of the size of the creature’s eyes, he said, it would be far larger than the largest known giant squid.  Dr. Octavian stated that, although a popular subject of fiction and folklore, there have been no documented cases of unprovoked attacks on ships or people by these creatures previously.