Midnight Encounter

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9

One night, as the party at the campus’s hostel was slowly losing its vigor, I decided that it was time for me to call it a night. It was late, and I was lucky to be able to catch the last tram home. This was my second year studying abroad in Germany. And I’m enjoying every minute of my time here.

Things feel somewhat safer here compared to my hometown, Kuala Lumpur. Partly because I was staying in a suburban neighborhood, where the residents were mostly pensioners and elderly people. The community was amiable and welcoming.

The walk from the tram station to my house took five-minute on foot. I was walking alone; ears plugged to my favorite playlist on my iPhone. Halfway home, I noticed a dark figure about 500 meters away in front of me, walking in my direction. Naturally, I was alarmed.

Underneath the bright night sky, slowly I made out the outline of the man ahead of me. He was clad in an all-black outfit and had part of his long hair tied up into a small man-bun on top of his head. He looked young, probably in his mid-20s.

As we moved closer towards each other, bit by bit, I noticed the details on him. His loose and flowy outfit was actually a full-set kimono, like the kind that a samurai wears. And peeking from behind his shoulder, I can make out the outline of something that looks unmistakably like a long sword...a katana! My eyes almost fell out of their sockets!

I quickly ran all of the possibilities in my head. Is today Halloween? Definitely not, it’s the middle of June. Should I run for my life or just act cool? Should I say ‘hi’ and make small chat to disarm him or scream my lungs out for help?

As I was having this intense internal debate with both my feet staying rooted to the ground, the samurai did the most unexpected thing - he stopped in his track, brought his palms together, and bowed his head down in my direction. It was as if he could sense my fear and anxiousness.

But what was that supposed to mean? Was he trying to pay his final respect before disemboweling me? Or was that a sign that he intended no harm towards me? I didn’t want to be the headline of tomorrow’s news!

I figured that there was no time to find out further. I turned around and bolted, circling the entire neighborhood’s block to get to my house. I didn’t dare to turn back to see if the samurai was following me. Even when my feet almost gave up, I pushed myself to keep on running.

It felt like forever, but I finally reached my house, out of breath and sweating under my sweater. My roommate made a remark that I looked as if I had seen a ghost. I corrected her - not a ghost, but a samurai. She reminded me that we are in Germany, not in Japan. Exactly, I retorted.

I never found out who or why the samurai was roaming the street that night. I wonder if that was a setup for a YouTube prank. A cruel prank, yes, but I’ve seen worse. I remember one involving a clown holding a chainsaw, scaring off pedestrians in the middle of the night. Whatever it was, I was just glad I escaped the situation alive and in one piece.

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