Last Saturday I woke to an alarm being sounded over the town loudspeakers. The alarm began in my sleep and still wailed as I opened my eyes to the dark morning.
Then the female Japanese voice made an announcement.
I could not even pick up a key word from my slumber.
I really thought I was dreaming. I was more convinced of it than any other tricky state of conciseness I have been in.
The announcement ended. Moments later more sirens began, car sirens in the distance.
Next, every dog in this town started barking and howling.
I laid in bed paralyzed with fear.
Currently, that is the fear that stands in the front of my danger fantasies. I thought that maybe the biggest earthquake in the history of the world had hit some part of Asia and the tremors were making it down to Shikoku.
I laid completely still and waited.
For an evacuation to begin.
For lights in homes to turn on.
For some bilingual guardian angel to call me because they would know that I could not understand the announcement.
I thought about reaching around for my cell phone and calling my neighbor Ashley, but I felt safer laying completely still.
The world was under nuclear attack and this was it.
Maybe I should try to get to a ground floor.
Some huge earthquake was sending a tsunami all the way to the middle of Shikoku.
Maybe I should get to the roof.
But other than nosies, everything was completely still. As the sun rose, I finally caught some sleep.
When I stepped outside that morning the mountains were covered in rising smoke. I drove to my school's culture day, through the smoke, wheezing and sneezing.
Nobody mentioned the fire. So I did not want to bring it up.
I got home that afternoon and emailed Ashely about it. She told me that the Ikeda dam had been opened.
It had been opened for about 3 hours. Letting out the water. Causing smoke to cover the town. And was reason for a pre-dawn wake up call.
September in Shikoku remains unscathed by natural disasters, terrorists, and political uprisings.