This is the nineteenth part of a serialized giant monster story. New free episode every week!
Click here to read Episode 1. Click here to get “Daikaiju vs. Cthulhu” – a Daikaiju Attack story!
Click here to get my newest book, WHITE ZOMBIE for Kindle or here for All Formats!
19. Path of Destruction
~ Near Mihara – July, 1966 – Two PM ~
“The creature below our airplane is bigger than anything imaginable,” Nick Burr told his tape recorder. “Even cruising fifteen hundred feet above it, the enormity of the monster is almost overwhelming. Goragon is taller than a thirty-story building and more massive than the largest dinosaur ever discovered. Such prehistoric brutes are the only comparisons that spring to mind when viewing this colossal creature. This is no long-extinct reptile, though. Goragon is alive, and it’s here today, in Japan. I’m watching it now, rampaging across the wooded countryside, snapping ancient trees as though they were matchsticks.”
Akiko knew Burr was only doing his job, but this never-ending monologue was nearly driving her out of her mind. The atmosphere was tense enough in the Cessna without the American’s constant narration reminding them how dire things were. Aki clutched her Pentax, using the telephoto lens to snap pictures of the beast, trying to work around the plane’s small windows and six seats.
“According to our pilot, Professor Benten, and Dr. Shimura, Goragon is moving toward Mihara,” Burr continued. “At this point, we have two questions: Why is the monster heading for the port city, and is there any power in the world that can stop it?”
“We’ll stop it, all right,” Adam Nixon put in, leaning from his seat in the middle of the plane toward the back where Aki and Burr were sitting. “Benten’s put out the call, and the JSDF is already on the way.”
“You weren’t able to stop it from destroying X-Base, Captain Nixon,” Burr noted. “What makes you think this time will be any different?”
“The first attack took us by surprise,” the US serviceman countered. “This time, we’ve got warning, and we know where it’s headed. This time, we’ll hit that son-of-a-gun with everything we’ve got.”
“Let us hope that proves enough, Captain Nixon,” Dr. Shimura, seated in the co-pilot’s position, said.
Staring at the monster through her telephoto lens, Akiko wondered if it would be enough. Goragon seemed less a living thing than a force of nature. The cracks in its stony skin burned bright orange, like molten rock, and steam rose from the gaps between its titanic scales. She could hear the hiss and rumble of its passing even over the noise of the prop. It was as though a volcano had come alive to stalk the Hiroshima Prefecture.
What could possibly stop such a thing?
As Akiko worried, Goragon suddenly turned its massive head, and she found herself staring directly into the monster’s blast-furnace eyes.
“It’s seen us!” Aki gasped.
“Watch out for its breath!” Nixon warned.
“I’m on it,” Benten, piloting the plane, replied, swerving the Cessna away from the creature.
And not a second too soon, for the next moment, Goragon opened its mouth, and a huge gout of flame shot forth, blazing across the sky.
Benten pulled on the Cessna’s controls, banking and only narrowly avoiding the two-thousand-foot-long spray of fire.
Everyone in the plane felt the heat of the stream’s passing.
Burr mopped his head with a handkerchief. “That was close.”
“Too close,” Nixon agreed. “Prof, you better keep us further back from that thing.”
“I plan to,” Benten said. Nervous sweat dripped from the handsome professor’s brow as he took the plane up an additional thousand feet.
Aki snapped another set of pictures as the monster turned away from them once more. She silently cursed herself for not getting off a shot as it breathed.
There will be other chances, she thought, and then immediately chided herself for the notion. Each time the beast used its flame breath, there was a good chance someone would die. Yes, she was a photographer, but as a human being, she should hope that she never saw that awful weapon again.
Goragon had cleared the hills to the north of Mihara now, and was lumbering directly toward the shore. Between the monster and the Inland Sea lay the heart of the city.
Nixon moved from one side of the plane to the other, peering out the windows, craning his neck. “Come on…! Come on…! Where are those jets?”
Mihara was not a large city, but like most Japanese coastal centers, its population was densely packed between the mountains and the shoreline. The local buildings were a blend of traditional homes and modern industrial complexes. Near the city’s center, a U-shaped lake and small garden marked where a feudal castle had once stood. Now only ruins remained.
Akiko shivered. With Goragon approaching, would the town soon go the way of that castle?
“The houses of Mihara look like a child’s building blocks compared to Goragon,” Burr droned. “Streams of people and cars—mere insects in the monster’s path—are surging through the streets, trying desperately to flee the impending destruction.”
“Knock it off, would you!” Nixon barked. “Those are human beings down there!”
“I’m just doing my job, Captain,” Burr replied.
“Well, if you don’t cut it out, my job might be to punch you in the nose!” Nixon countered.
Burr looked uncomfortable, but he didn’t put his microphone down.
“Gentlemen, please!” Shimura said. “Isn’t there enough violence below to satisfy your bloodlust?”
Both Burr and Nixon hung their heads at that. And when the reporter resumed talking to his recorder, he spoke in much quieter tones.
Aki kept taking photos; as Burr had noted, reporting was their job. And what else could they do?
The monster waded into the city, buildings crumbling beneath its massive feet, fire and destruction trailing in its wake. Just the touch of Goragon’s molten hide seemed to set alight trees and brush as well as traditional wood-and-paper homes. Soon, whole neighborhoods had become flaming holocausts.
Even inside the plane and flying at three thousand feet, all of them could smell the smoke.
In the co-pilot seat, Dr. Shimura shuddered.
Aki guessed that the famous scientist must be remembering the end of the Second World War; Shimura’s family had perished in the fires of Hiroshima, barely thirty miles from here.
“Here they come!” Benten cried, pointing.
Five Japan Self-Defense Force F-86 Kyokko jets streaked in at full speed, engines screaming, cannons blazing. They passed almost within arm’s length of the monster.
The gunfire burst on Goragon’s skin, sending up sparks and puffs of black smoke.
The monster turned, more annoyed than harmed, its molten eyes blazing.
“Look out!” Nixon muttered through clenched teeth, as if the jets might hear him. “Watch it!”
Goragon’s fiery breath raked across the sky as the monster twisted its head, tracking its diminutive enemies.
The jets broke formation, splitting off in all directions. The first three Kyokkos avoided the blaze, but the final two weren’t so lucky. One caught the fireball head on and exploded in a shower of sparks and debris.
Aki winced. “Oh!” She noticed the others cringing as well—all of them thinking about the pilot who had just perished.
The final F-86 had merely caught the edge of the burst, but it was enough to set the plane on fire.
The jet spiraled toward the nearby hills, trailing black smoke. At the last instant, the pilot ejected, his white parachute billowing open and carrying him safely to the ground.
Goragon roared in triumph and continued through the city until it came to the middle of a sprawling electrical-generation complex. The monster’s titanic form dwarfed the huge smokestacks of the power plant.
The remaining three jets swung around, unleashing a barrage of missiles.
Bright orange explosions and billowing clouds of black smoke blossomed from where the missiles struck the monster’s face and shoulders. For a moment, the upper half of the beast lay hidden in clouds of debris.
Then Goragon’s fiery breath blasted forth from the smoke.
The conflagration hit another of the jets. The plane burst into flame, but the pilot ejected before the aircraft exploded. The burning wreckage rained down into the Seto Sea.
Adam Nixon pounded his fist against the Cessna’s fuselage. “What’s it gonna take to snuff this guy!”
Bravely, the remaining two planes banked around for another pass.
The spines on Goragon’s back and its enormous talons began to glow like hot lava. The beast’s claws sliced through the big smokestacks as if they were paper, and Goragon lunged into the heart of the power plant.
The building collapsed as the monster burrowed down, through the plant itself and into the bedrock below. Smoke and dust filled the air as the fighter jets unleashed another volley of missiles.
And when the smoke cleared, both Goragon and the power plant were gone—vanished into the earth, leaving behind only ruins and an enormous crater.
The people in Benten’s plane watched in awe.
Aki snapped pictures.
“I guess that answers my two questions,” Burr said grimly. “It came for the power plant, and there was nothing we could do to stop it.”
Nixon snarled in frustration and banged his fist against the fuselage again.
“There are other questions,” Aki suggested. “Where did the monster come from? And why is it attacking Japan?”
Benten furrowed his brow. “Finding the answers to those questions may be key to whether we can ever stop Goragon.”
“I just hope,” Burr said, “that Shin and the others had more luck with that sea serpent than we’ve had here.”
Aki said a silent prayer for those who had gone to Tottori—even her ex.
“What do you think, Doc?” Nixon asked Shimura. “Can we stop this thing?”
“I think it will take far more brains than I, alone, possess to solve that riddle, Captain Nixon,” the elderly scientist replied.
“What do you mean, Doctor?” Aki asked.
“He means we’ll have to pool our brain power,” Benten said. “Call on the greatest scientific minds in Japan—”
“In the world,” Shimura corrected.
Benten nodded. “—in the world … to solve this problem.”
“Yes,” Shimura said. “As the chair of the World Science Authority, I will call a meeting. We must use every resource at our disposal to rid the world of these giant monsters.”
“Before,” Burr added, “they rid the world of us!”
Thanks to Steve, Doris, Chris, and Kiff for beta-reading.
All contents, copyright 2013 Stephen D. Sullivan. All Rights Reserved.