“Monsters are tragic beings. They are born too tall, too strong, too heavy. They are not evil by choice. That is their tragedy.”
– Ishiro Honda
Several decades ago, Godzilla dethroned humanity as the master of the world. Brought low, we watched helplessly as our mightiest weapons and machines failed to kill the beast. We fell silent when our sciences couldn’t explain his nature. With a purposeful grimace, Godzilla pulled high-tension wires down and set our greatest cities ablaze.
My name is Steve Martin. I’m a foreign correspondent for United World News. Regretfully, I must inform you that Godzilla has returned—and there’s more than one. As I write these words down, several Godzillas are attacking all over Japan. Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto, and Itsukushima are all under siege. I’m also getting mixed reports of a mysterious Godzilla sighting in Hiroshima. I don’t know how much more time, if any, we have left. But I’ve taken the liberty of collecting as many eyewitness testimonials that I can.
We can survive Godzilla’s wrath. We can and we will. These survivors are living proof of that. Let their stories be heard.
Kiryu-Goji Appears in Kyoto
Story by Patrick Galvan
At the time of the Great Kyoto Incident, I’d been living in the former capital of Japan for three years. The first two years had seen the rainy season—or tsuyu, as I’ve learned to call it—arrive predictably in the month of June. On the third year, however, the rains came early. I was stepping outside my apartment, expecting to walk into a lovely mid-May morning, only to see a mass of cumulonimbus clouds spreading throughout the skies above me. I mumbled my displeasure, realizing my trip to Arashiyama would have to wait. Arashiyama was one of the major sightseeing destinations in the western outskirts of the city, and I’d hoped to go there to track down some of the locations where Akira Kurosawa had shot his wonderful 1946 film No Regrets for Our Youth. I’d looked forward to climbing Mount Yoshida and finding the spot where, at the beginning of the film, Setsuko Hara and her admirers had stopped for a picnic and looked down on Kyoto Imperial University; I’d planned to find the banks of the stream where, at the end of the film, Hara had sat in silence and somberly remembered the naïve innocence of her past.
But the moment I saw those clouds and heard the distant tapping of rain, I knew I would have to put it off for another—much calmer—day.
Once I was done huffing my disappointment, I stood idly outside my apartment, watching the clouds before returning inside and retrieving my umbrella. Rain or no rain, I still had the entire day to myself and figured I might as well make something of it. At the very least, I could take a walk around town. Umbrella in hand, I marched off into the city. As I did, the first rumble of thunder sounded out. A very rhythmic thunder, with “claps” reminiscent of a heartbeat. Thump. Thump. Thump.
Crazy weather, I remember thinking.
After walking about aimlessly for twenty minutes, I set off in the direction of Kiyomizu-dera, one of the many Buddhist temples in Kyoto. I wasn’t sure if the temple would be open to visitors on a rainy day like this, but at the very least I could admire the beautiful infrastructure from the outside and enjoy the scenery to be found along the way. I was passing through a narrow street fringed on both sides by low-lying buildings, walking in the midst of ten or twelve other people, when I noticed those earlier mentioned “heartbeats” were still acting up. Normally, thunderclaps varied between soft rumbles to long, trebling meteorological explosions; and sometimes whole minutes passed between them, as thunder was dependent on lightning cutting through the atmosphere. But today, each clap sounded exactly the same—same pitch, same length—and occurred two or three seconds after the one before it.
It was odd from the start, but I continued to give it no particular mind.
I passed a few gift shops and rounded a street corner, at last coming within view of Kiyomizu-dera. As I continued my approach, an ambulance siren sounded off from a few blocks away. Probably an automobile accident, I told myself. The rain was becoming more intense, pouring in sheaths off the sides of my umbrella. Despite having come all this way, I was contemplating turning around.
That was when a new sound rattled the air. A blood-curdling, otherworldly screech—like the warning cry of some wild animal.
The most horrifying sound I’d ever heard.
I paused in my tracks along with everyone else and we turned toward the left side of the street, staring up over the rooftops. It was then that the “heartbeats” became so intense the ground beneath us began to tremble; loose chunks of pavement clattered near my feet. It was also then that I realized these “heartbeats” were not, in fact, a phenomenon triggered by lightning in the sky. Rather, they were being generated by something physical pounding into the ground again and again. Something huge and immense was moving toward us.
“What the…?” I said aloud.
As if in reply, the ground shook again, this time with enough force to send all of us staggering. I lost grip on my umbrella as I fell and from over the rooftops came a barrage of bricks, shingles, and shattered planks. Instinctively, I rolled onto my knees and covered my head with my hands, grimacing as tiny bits of brick pelted my back and a half-shattered chunk of shingle landed into my shoulder. When the debris stopped falling, I rose to my feet and, doing my best to ignore the pain racing through my arm, took off running with everyone else. We ran to the stone stairs leading up to the temple entrance, and I was just reaching the top when someone crashed into me and I was sent careening to the ground, the stone surface rushing up to strike my forehead.
I must have lain there for a whole minute before attempting to get up again, a throbbing sensation pulsating just to the side of my right temple. I managed to open my eyes as I regained my footing, glancing over my shoulder. And through my still clearing vision, I saw it.
Another house was violently broken apart as an enormous column of flesh and muscle crashed into it, kicking up a cloud of dust. My eye traveled upward as the dust eventually thinned at a height of about twenty meters, where that column—an enormous leg covered with thick gray scales—connected into a torso swollen with muscle. I continued to look upward, my blood running cold as I watched water cascade in sheaths off jagged plates of bone protruding from the thing’s back and saw the talons on its forearms glistening in the rain. After what seemed like forever, my eyes wandered up the thick, muscular neck, ultimately arriving (at a staggering height of fifty-five meters) at a colossal set of jaws lined with conical teeth. Behind those jaws sat the coldest eyes imaginable—eyes which calmly surveyed their surroundings, as though relishing in the panic that was ensuing bellow. I continued to stand there, watching until the monster released a guttural snarl from within its throat and then tilted its head back, parted those jaws, and that same horrifying, other-worldly screech rattled the air.
I took off running again, head throbbing as I bounded up the remainder of the stone steps and collapsed against one of the wooden posts at the temple entrance, suddenly aware of the warm feeling of blood pouring out across my forehead.
The sound of another building being torn to shreds nabbed my attention and I glanced over my shoulder again. Gouts of fire were now starting to rise from the debris at the creature’s feet, pumping thick black smoke into the sky. The monster had stopped again; now it just stood inertly in the middle of the city, the only movement coming from its elongated tail, which repeatedly rose and thudded against the ground, pulverizing what little remained of the shredded buildings behind it. Abruptly, the monster straightened its back and the jagged spines adorning its back suddenly began to cast off strobes of neon blue light.
Too afraid to watch on, I scrambled to my feet and limped inside the temple, amongst crowds of covering people, losing my balance and collapsing when the ground shook in a series of violent tremors. The unmistakable roar of an explosion sounded from outside as I let my face sink into the cold stone floor of the temple. Consciousness started to drift away as bits and pieces of rubble rattled on the roof of the temple. When I regained consciousness in a field hospital outside the city, the Incident was over.
GMK Godzilla: The Haunting of Itsukushima
By Thomas Fairchild
My name is Rumi Yamaguchi. Ever since I was a little girl, the ocean fascinated me. One of my earliest memories was visiting a beach with my family. Without waiting for permission, I chased after the receding waves like the unstoppable force I believed myself to be. My first lesson in humility came when I lost my balance and slipped face-first into the mud. Wiping away the wet sand from off my brow, I looked to my parents and grandparents with outstretched arms. I remember crying, helplessly. But the fates were unmoved; the waves rapidly returned to shore and, after scraping me against the seafloor, threatened to pull me into the ocean. I feared for my life. Thank goodness, my grandfather grabbed me in just the nick of time.
Recently, my parents visited me in my dorm. My mother joked that I was studying to be a fish. I told her being a fish and studying to be a marine biologist are two different things. But my father was unconvinced. Unlike my mother, who expressed her disapproval through non-confrontational quips, my father was blissfully more transparent about things that were on his mind. He couldn’t seem to fathom why I was studying to be a marine biologist when, well, being near the water frightened me. That conversation haunted me for months, and now I know why. It’s because he was right. Growing up, my grandfather was the only one who encouraged me to pursue my interests. But what is it about the water that made me want to stay away? It couldn’t be the animals because I could talk about marine life for hours. Not even Turritopsis dohrnii could outlive my enthusiastic ramblings. So, if I wasn’t secretly afraid of something pulling me underwater to consume me, then what was keeping me from exploring the creatures of the sea?
This past summer was unbearably humid. Every day felt like being crammed inside an oven. But when Yuki Tachibana, a classmate of mine from Hiroshima University, invited me to go jet skiing with some friends, my parents’ words, still lingering in my mind like a ghost, prompted me to take a leap of faith. Yuki’s face was priceless when I told him I’d go. I don’t think he was expecting me to say yes.
The next day we took a ferry ride to Miyajima Island. Blue skies hung over our heads as we sailed past the Itsukushima Shrine’s world-famous Torri gate. To the tourists’ dismay, the Torri gate was covered in scaffoldings in preparation for the 2020 Olympics. No worries, there’s still much to see and appreciate. According to legend, Miyajima is home to the gods. Its soil is considered to be so pure and revered neither the dead nor the dying can set foot on its shores. I come here often mainly to see and feed the deer, though I do like visiting the shrine in order to pay my respects to the ancestors—and wish for good grades. But not this time. My party had other plans. After docking at the pier, we made our way a few miles down the road to an old aquatic rental shop. I partnered up with Yuki, selected a green jet ski to ride, and then waited for the others to join us on the dock. While waiting, I saw this little boy playing down by the water’s edge, waving a Jizo statue over his head. Jizo statues honor children who have died before their parents. It’s distasteful to play with them. His mother finally realized what he was doing and pulled him away. She seemed more concerned with how others might judge her parenting than of the statue’s condition because the boy dropped it in the sand. The mother hurried off with her son in a huff, leaving the Jizo statue where it rested. I wanted to stand it back up, but it was time for us to head out onto the water. My anxiety didn’t hit until we were no longer in shallow water. Despite my pleadings for everyone to have a good time and not to worry at my expense, they stayed close to my side. I will always love them for that.
The next few hours turned out to be pleasantly fun. For the first time in my life, I was not only riding a jet ski, but I was also behind the steering wheel. The whole experience felt cathartic. There were a few close calls; our ski flipped, and I wasn’t exactly great at swimming. Years of being afraid of the water would do that to you. But Yuki helped me out, and we eventually all found ourselves racing each other near the Itsukushima Port. One of the ferries, probably the same one we traveled on earlier, was returning to the mainland. I turned to wave at the passengers waving at us.
Then I saw pale eyes staring up at me from under the water.
I could barely make out its other features. At first, I thought I was hallucinating, like my worst fears returning to haunt me one last time. Then the creature rose upright in front of one of our racing friends. It lunged at a speed that belied its massive size, gobbling them up in its foul crunching jaws. By then, I had Yuki in a vice-like grip. He swerved our jet ski around in the opposite direction, confused by my sudden frantic behavior. I cranked my neck back to see where the sea monster had gone.
For a split second, it looked like it had vanished. Then its shadow fell over us. With preternatural speed, the creature plowed through the water, kicking up massive tidal waves. We were instantly swept up in its wake. A split second before going down, I saw our other friends in their ski tumble beneath the waves. It was the last time I ever saw them. At that point, I was holding on to Yuki’s hand for dear life as we were pulled down into the cold depths. Then everything went black.
When I came to, I was gasping for air on the same beach from earlier. I felt the water lapping over my trembling legs; it felt good to breathe. Several yards away, I was relieved to see an old man fetching an unconscious Yuki from the surf. He gently rested Yuki next to me. Somehow, I found the strength to hunch over Yuki to perform CPR. While pushing down on Yuki’s chest, I kept thanking the old man—I even called him grandfather, which is strange because my grandpa passed away when I was a child. The old man politely indulged me with a knowing smile. Suddenly, Yuki coughed up water. I held him in my arms and smiled, genuinely grateful to have him in my life.
I looked for the old man to thank him for saving our lives. But he was nowhere to be seen. It honestly looked like he was never there, to begin with.
With a lump in the back of my throat, I whispered, “Arigatō, sofu.”
Yuki and I held each other close, sobbing gently on the other’s shoulder. Across the water, we saw plumes of billowing smoke drowning out the blue sky. Distant sirens blared. I could barely see the creature wading through the devastated ruins of Miyajimaguchi, its heavy stomps reverberating for miles. But then a tongue of dark smoke curled up to spare me its haunting appearance.
Somehow, I pulled away from the terrifying sight to see Yuki crawling to the fallen Jizo statue, his hands trembling as he tried lifting it. I slipped my hands over his to help the sculpture—to help us—find the strength to stand again.
Showa Godzilla: It Couldn’t Be Worse
Story by Anthony Romero
38 billion yen…
I’m not a gambling man, in fact I’ve never gambled. …or I guess I had never gambled before. Stocks never felt like gambling to me. I knew there was a risk, but investing in this company after their IPO went so well felt like a no brainer.
I had invested a lot… I had borrowed a lot. A lot was riding on this. My savings, my mortgage, my wife’s inheritance…. [long pause] Everything was riding on this. But at first it was great, I could see my investment grow quickly. I could see us paying off the house in no time, vacations wherever we wanted, being able to live it up, and all thanks to my smart investments.
Then came the scandal. CEO misconduct, misreporting of revenue and even illegal practices. The company imploded, almost overnight, and with it their stock. I had gotten the news during an extended business trip to Osaka. Or should say I couldn’t avoid the news. It was everywhere.
So I tuned it out. Locked myself away in my hotel room… and just started drinking. Trying to forget the pain, all the money I had lost, my failure, and what this meant for my family. I honestly lost myself a bit. Became derelict about my job, or even communicating with anyone in general. Spent a lot of bonding time with that hotel shower, fighting off hangovers.
[chuckles] …and I remember it clearly. I remember saying to myself as I was wallowing in my room that things couldn’t possibly get worse. Then seconds later, or maybe minutes I’m not sure, is when I heard the sirens. They were distant, I didn’t think anything of them… some emergency test I figured. But then they got louder, they got closer. I realized more sirens were going off.
Tsunami? That was my first thought. With my splitting hangover I sloppily tossed on my clothes. I opened my front door into the hotel hallway and it was empty… but what was creepy is how many doors were open. There were traces everywhere that people had left in a hurry. I then got back inside and opened my drapes and saw the large, sickening sight of the smoke in the far distance going into the air.
Was it an earthquake? I then heard helicopters flying very low overhead as they traveled in the direction of where the smoke was originating. My adrenaline was pumping, helping to wash away the pain from my headache, despite the noise from the low flying helicopters making it feel like someone was squeezing my temple. That’s when I saw them. Giant maser tanks making their way down the street. Huge vehicles, I’d honestly never seen one before. They took up both lanes of traffic as they made their slow advance toward the smoke in the distance.
I started to panic. I knew what this meant.
I wasn’t thinking straight I will admit, because if I was I probably would have turned on the TV… gotten some information on where to go or where the danger was. Instead I was grabbing a backpack with a laptop inside and really not much else, maybe some oatmeal packets or whatever else I kept in the outside pockets, and rushing out the door. Thinking straight or not, my objective was pretty clear: run in the opposite direction that the masers were going.
So I rushed down the hotel stairs, and the eerie quiet of my hotel hallway was replaced with sounds of panic at the lobby level. It was chaos. Most had already left the hotel, but a few were still making their way out to the streets where a sea of people were all fleeing in the same direction. I made my way out and joined them, being pushed around as I did.
I felt like I was swimming out there. That only made my panic worse, all the confusion and feeling trapped in that sea of people all moving in the same direction. Then we heard the explosion. Well we thought it was an explosion, but more likely a fire beam… or atomic fire or whatever the appropriate name for it is. Anyway random people started to scream after that which only made things worse as the pushing intensified. We heard more explosions, this time actual explosions. A lot of them. They were still distant, though, and eventually… they stopped.
As the panic subsided a little it got quieter, or at least as quiet as a huge group of people moving in a single direction can be. It was then that we felt the tremors. At first it was easy to ignore because we were moving, but then we heard the source: a large stomping sound. A few people started sobbing, others got more aggressive in their pushing. We all realized the danger was real…. Well “real” is a bad word, it was emainate. Much closer than we thought, much closer than I thought when I first saw that billowing cloud of smoke from my hotel window.
We then heard buildings start to crumble behind us. Some stopped and turned to see the source, but I kept running. Partially because I didn’t want to slow down, partially because I didn’t want to know anymore how close that… thing actually was to us. I then started to really panic: where the hell was I going? I really didn’t know this city that well, and no longer recognized any landmarks. I was too far from my hotel. We then heard a loud roar. I watched as glass windows in the taller buildings quivered.
Still not wanting to turn around, I figured this was it as my breathing started to get labored from a minor panic attack. That was when suddenly the building to the right of us began to collapse. I had to watch as a few people were crushed by the debris, before avoiding eye contact and fleeing as far away as possible from the falling rubble amongst the mass of people all trying to do the same. It was a sickening sight. Seeing those people crushed. It was also a haunting feeling knowing I survived simply because I happened to be running on one side of the street versus the other.
The noise, the destruction was unavoidable. It was everywhere. Left, right, straight. It wasn’t clear where safety was, especially as another ray, or fire beam, decimated a building in the distance. The cloud of smoke and dust from the debris being kicked up didn’t help either. Even if I knew the city well I wouldn’t have been able to navigate it anymore.
We were all running, full panic. You could hear our collective panting, as many were exhausted but didn’t want to stop. Didn’t want to give up. And so we didn’t… How long were we running? Felt like hours, although I’m sure it wasn’t.
Eventually we noticed the stomping, the roaring, the destruction… it had gotten more distant. This gave us a kind of second wind. Like that… that last burst of energy to run past the finish line in a marathon. And so we ran, and then a few of us, myself included, kind of collapsed.
I was sitting there, panting, feeling like a lung was going to burst. Covered in dirt, debris and sweat. I tried to decrease my panting, decrease my noise… I just wanted to listen. To confirm that the creature was in fact still moving away from us. He was.
I don’t know how long I was like that. Eventually ambulances started to arrive. They assessed those in the crowd and grabbed those who appeared the most injured. They got me in the third wave, or at least third wave that I saw. Seems I had a pretty bad gash on one of my legs, probably from when the building fell and debris was flying everywhere. My adrenaline was so high, though, I guess I hadn’t really noticed the pain. Or maybe it had mixed so much with my exhaustion it was hard to separate the two.
I was then approached by a doctor who, after tending to my wound, asked if there was anyone I needed to call. That kind of snapped me back. Up to that point it was hard not to focus on… the destruction, the need to survive, on… Godzilla.
Anyway, I told him yes and called my wife on instinct. I wanted to tell her I was okay. I was alright. When I heard her pickup the phone I had that dumb realization that it had been days, days since I talked to her. Since I locked myself up in the hotel room. What was I going to say? Thankfully she talked first, asking “honey is that you?” For a minute I felt relieved, like things were normal and I could tell her I was safe… but she immediately started talking about being declined from a withdrawal from the bank and how that was impossible, especially with the recent inheritance. She related how she spent days with them only to come to the same conclusion: the money was gone. I could tell she was confused, frustrated. I could feel that confusion starting to build into anger as, although she tried to hide it, she suspected this was all because of me. I think she was searching for me to reassure it wasn’t, this was all a misunderstanding… that we weren’t in financial ruin.
So once more I was face to face with my failure. And then, without even thinking, I just blurted it out: “at least things couldn’t be worse…”
I feel the rumblings getting closer.
If you witnessed these harrowing events, share your testimonies down below. The world must know what happened here. The human race must know monsters exist and we must be ready to defend ourselves, no matter the cost. I don’t know what Godzilla wants. I don’t even know if it’s possible for Godzilla to be reasoned with. Maybe he’s not the only one that needs reasoning. All we can do now is strive toward a better future.
This is Steve Martin signing off from Tokyo, Japan.
“You have your fear, which might become a reality, and you have Godzilla, which is reality.” – Lt. Hideto Ogata (Gojira, 1954)