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~ Okayama – July, 1966 – The Next Day ~
Just after sunset, Rin Murakami lay on the couch, watching TV at the home she shared with her mother and twin sister. Naturally, Emiko wasn’t at home; she was at the press conference with her boss.
They’d invited Rin, too, of course, but her “adventures” the previous day had made her wrist and ankle injuries flare up again, and, honestly, she craved rest more than she wanted excitement or publicity. Oddly enough, Rika Tadaka seemed to have skipped tonight’s televised briefing as well.
Maybe she’s not totally about fame and fortune after all, Rin thought.
On the set, Dr. Shimura was talking about the strange and mysterious events of the daikaiju attack during the previous weeks, culminating in yesterday’s final battle off of Tottori.
“At this point,” Shimura said, “there remain many unanswered questions. Where did these terrible monsters come from? Why did they appear at this point in history? And how did both of them vanish so completely?”
“Do you think the daikaiju will return, Dr. Shimura?” It was the photographer, Akiko, who had spoken up. She’d come off quite well during this whole mess, Rin thought, always landing at the center of the action. And she’d taken some amazing pictures, too.
The one where Rika looked like a wet rat had made Rin laugh.
The elderly scientist shook his head at Akiko and looked grim. “Who can say?”
“He’s such a nice man, Dr. Shimura,” her mother interejected, wandering through the living room with a tray of tea and watercress sandwiches. She offered them to Rin, who took a cup and a plate of the snacks. As usual, there was more food than the two of them could eat.
“You expecting company, Ma?”
“Oh, no,” Tsuruko Murakami replied. “I just thought your sister might come back sometime soon.”
“She’s at the press conference, Ma,” Rin said around a mouthful of food. She licked off her index finger and pointed at the TV. “See? She’s right there.” Her sister was at Shimura’s elbow, as usual, with Professor Benten sitting opposite, on Shimura’s left. Captain Ken Koizume—whom Rin still had mixed feelings about—and that handsome American, Nixon, were also seated within camera range. The day after the apocalypse, none of them looked appreciably the worse for wear.
Lucky so-and-sos, Rin thought as she rubbed her aching ankle.
“Until we know more of the answers to the basic questions,” Benten said, continuing Shimura’s thought, “we can’t guess whether, or if, such an attack will happen again.”
“We’ve begun studying the possibilities already,” Emi put in. Then she blushed, like she hadn’t intended to speak up at all. “With the cooperation of the military authorities, of course. But there’s so much to learn…”
“It’s not over,” Tsuruko Murakami intoned flatly. “Such things never end, once they’ve started.”
A knot of worry twisted in Rin’s stomach, and she whipped around to look at her mother.
Tsuroko stared blank-eyed at the television—or those empty orbs just a trick of the light? Then her mother’s face brightened. “Would you like some more tea, dear?”
“Yeah, sure,” Rin said, proffering her cup.
Had her mother just spouted another real prophecy, or was she merely pulling Rin’s chain? It was so hard to tell at times. Tsuruko had spent nearly all of Rin’s life pretending to read tea leaves and cards for clients. Could her mother even discern fantasy from reality anymore?
They could be such a headache.
But least for the moment, Rin’s actual headaches—and the buzzing in her ears—had stopped.
That was all the proof the guitarist needed that the daikaiju were gone. Gone, she hoped, for good.
Rin put the teacup to her lips and took a long drink, wishing it was a beer.
Thanks to Kiff, Chris, Vicki, and Doris for beta reading.
All contents TM & © 2014 Stephen D. Sullivan. All Rights Reserved.