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22. Visions of Destruction
~ July, 1966 – Okayama University Conference Room ~
Major Ifukube stood, his face reddening. “What? How can you know the monsters are returning?” he demanded. “How dare you barge in here! Who are you, young lady?”
Emiko stood and bowed, feeling her face flush. “She’s Rin, Major. Rin Murakami, my twin sister.”
“She was a witness to the Tottori attack,” Dr. Shimura added.
“Then why isn’t she sitting over there with the other witnesses?” Ifukube asked.
“She was injured in the fight with Taishen,” Captain Ken Koizume explained. “She—”
“That doesn’t matter now,” Rin said, cutting him off. “What matters is that they’re coming back, and you have to stop them!”
Emi studied her sister. Rin did not look well. Her face appeared pale and feverish. Sweat plastered her short black locks to her head. She shifted from foot to foot as she spoke, and her whole body seemed to be trembling. What had the doctors given her for her pain—and had she mixed that with anything else?
“Why don’t you sit down, Miss Murakami,” Ken Koizume said with surprising tenderness. He pulled out a chair at the conference table for Rin, and a stab of jealousy shot through Emi.
Why doesn’t he treat me with such respect?
For a moment, Emi thought Rin would refuse; her twin’s entire being seemed filled with nervous energy. Then, with a shaking nod, Rin sat.
“Miss Murakami,” Ken said, “when do you believe the daikaiju are returning?”
“Soon. Really soon. They just have to build up their energy again. Once they have, they’ll attack.”
Dr. Shimura shot his scientific colleagues, including Emi, a puzzled glance. “And why do you believe this to be so, Miss Murakami?” he asked.
Rin’s eyes darted back and forth, like a cat caught in a trap. Sweat poured down her lithe body. “Because…” she began. “Because I see things. Understand? I saw the monster, Taishen, before it attacked. I knew what it was going to do before it did it.”
“Are you saying you can predict the future?” Akiko, the photographer, blurted.
“I … No, but I … I think my mother can see things, too. I mean, she’s pretended at fortune telling for years, but now I think … I think all that hokum might be real.”
Major Ifukube stood. “I think I’ve heard just about enough—”
“Wait!” Emi put in. “My sister may be right. I saw … I saw my mother predict the fate of the rescue ship, and … and Dr. Shimura saw it, too.”
“Is that right, Doctor?” Ken asked.
Dr. Shimura took a deep breath. “Perhaps. I did not think about it much at the time, but during our ride home from the airport, Mrs. Murakami did say some things … make some predictions … She seemed to be in a trance. I assumed it was merely some form of epilepsy. It lasted only a moment, and she recovered without showing any ill effects.”
“You should listen to this girl,” Rika Tadaka added from the witness’ side of the room. “She saved my life.”
Rin looked at the starlet and blushed slightly.
Professor Barry from CalTech leaned back in his chair. “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio…”
“It can’t hurt to listen to her,” Professor Benten added. “It’s not like we have a lot of other leads to go on.”
“Won’t you continue, please, miss?” Shimura said.
Rin nodded nervously. “I was having a dream…”
“A dream!” Ifukube scoffed.
“Quiet!” Shimura insisted.
The major leaned back, crossing his arms over his barrel chest. Clearly, the military man was not prepared to believe anything, no matter what Emi’s sister said.
Captain Ken Koizume, on the other hand, seemed very receptive. “Go on, Miss Murakami,” he told Rin.
Rin took a deep breath and began again. “I was dreaming of what I’d seen at Tottori: the blood, the monster, the faces in its scales—like the images on the backs of Heike crabs—and the noise the serpent made when it moved across the sand … a sound like distant screams. And then, I was swept out to sea, part of a Mongol invasion…”
“You mean the ones that struck Japan during the thirteenth century?” the reporter, Burr, asked.
“Yeah,” Rin said, still shaking. “I think so. One of them, anyway. I was in a ship with those doomed warriors. I felt their fear—felt their anger—as the kamikaze sank their ships and dragged them down to the bottom of the sea. I saw their waterlogged faces and heard their drowned screams. They were the faces I saw and sounds I heard when the monster attacked.”
“Did any of the other witnesses see these faces?” Ifukube asked skeptically. “Did anyone else hear these ‘screams?’” He gazed around the room, almost daring anyone to speak up.
Emi wanted to defend her sister, but she couldn’t. She’d been too far away from the disaster to see or hear the same things that Rin had.
“I…” said a quiet voice from the back of the room. “I might have seen those faces … heard those screams.” It was Rika, the starlet, who’d spoken. She seemed much less sure of herself now than when she’d defended Rin a minute ago. “I can’t be sure. I thought … I thought maybe I imagined it. If Rin says that’s what happened, though, I’m sure she’s right.”
Rin looked almost annoyed to be defended by the girl.
Ifukube harrumphed. “‘I thought maybe I imagined it…!’” he repeated sarcastically.
“There’s more,” Rin said forcefully, glaring at the older soldier. “At that point in the dream, a crash of thunder woke me, and my mother was standing near my futon. Her eyes were rolled back in her head. She was in a trance.
“She told me that the monsters were coming back to destroy us all. She said they were divine wind and cleansing fire. Divine wind, like my dream. The two have to be connected, somehow—the deaths of all those invaders long ago and the monster from the sea.”
“The Mongols invasion did drown in the Sea of Japan,” Emi put in. “And the monster Taishen was first spotted there.”
“What about the fire?” the reporter Shindo asked.
“My mother talked about that, too,” Rin said. “‘Fire and vengeance.’ The way she said it … the images she described … I think she meant the war … and the fires of Hiroshima.”
Emi noticed that Dr. Shimura had gone pale. Hiroshima held such terrible memories for the old scientist.
“Mother said, ‘One craves fire, the other flesh.’ Then she went back to more stuff about vengeance and the monsters not stopping until all their enemies were dead.
“And then she walked back into her room and lay down, fast asleep, like nothing had happened at all. I couldn’t get back to sleep, but Mom didn’t stir for the rest of the night.
“This morning, she didn’t remember any of it—same old Mom, you know?—but I knew those visions were real, and I knew I had to come and tell you … before it’s too late.
“Those monsters are both coming back, and if we don’t do something, Japan is doomed—and the rest of the world, too.”
Ifukube snorted derisively again, but didn’t say anything. For a few, long moments, the entire conference room lay silent.
“Do you think it’s possible, Doctor?” Akiko the photographer finally asked. “Could these creatures be the spirits of the dead returned to wreak vengeance?”
“I’ve never been able to measure or touch a spirit,” Professor Barry said skeptically.
“Or seen one trample a building or knock jets out of the sky,” Professor Benten added.
“Fairy tales!” rumbled Ifukube.
“Please,” Rin said. “You’ve gotta believe me. I’ve seen it!”
Doctor Shimura leaned forward. “Even in the midst of legend, one can usually find a grain of truth. I do not know whether Miss Murakami or her mother can actually see the future—or visions of any kind—but it is still possible that we may gain insight through what she has said.”
“I first saw Goragon as a fiery meteor,” Akiko put in. “Then it attacked the experimental reactor at X-Base, and then the power plant at Mihara. Don’t you see? Miss Murakami is right! The monster is connected to fire … it feeds on energy!”
Emi couldn’t believe the photographer had seen the connection when the rest of them hadn’t. “And when Taishen attacked those ships and the party at Tottori,” Emi added, her excitement at the insight building, “it … it ate people. The flesh … it craves the flesh and blood of human beings.”
Rin, appearing exhausted, let her head droop into her hands. “Like I told you,” she whispered.
The airman Captain Nixon, silent until this point, rubbed his fingers through his short-cropped blond hair. “It’s like the monsters are war personified.”
“Personification be damned!” Ifukube said. “I don’t care if these daikaiju are spirit or flesh or something else entirely. What we need to know is how to defeat them!”
“If these intuitions prove true, the nature of these monsters may give us ideas how to do so, Major,” Dr. Shimura said. “At the least, what these women have said has given me some notion of how we might protect ourselves.”
The elderly scientist stood and addressed everyone in the room. “We will need the cooperation of all civil and military authorities to avoid further devastation. It may be possible to lead these monsters to their destruction—but great sacrifice and terrible risk will be required. We must stop all shipping in the Sea of Japan and clear the ocean of human activity … deprive Taishen of the food it seeks.”
“But won’t that just drive it onto land to find new prey?” Burr asked.
“Yes,” Shindo added. “We already know it can kill on land just as easily as in the water.”
“That is true,” Shimura said. “But, through careful planning, we may be able to lure the serpent ashore in a location of our choosing.”
“And then destroy it!” Ifukube said, slapping his fist into his hand.
“Just so,” Shimura continued. “The first step is to discover the present location of these monsters, and then determine their next likely point of attack. We will continue to develop our detection systems, but I believe Miss Murakami’s insights—and Akiko’s—have given us a lead as to where Goragon may strike next … unless we intervene.”
“Yes,” Benten agreed. “If the monster is seeking another source of energy—another power plant to feed upon—there’s only one place near Mihara that it would go.”
Shimura nodded grimly.
Emiko gasped at the realization. “Hiroshima!”
Thanks to David and Kiff for beta-reading.
All contents © 2013 Stephen D. Sullivan. All Rights Reserved.