A Boy and His Monster – The Beginning

Remember A Boy and His Monster? That short about the guy who somehow made a connection with a kaiju as a kid, and grew up as its caretaker? I threatened to write a novel about it, and I decided to treat you to the flashback of the meet cute between Toshi and Jerry, the big monster he calls his best friend. It a first draft, but I wanted to prove to you I am indeed writing this thing. I mean, why not? Who else is going to write a found family kaiju story if not me? (Please don’t answer that.)

Tokyo, Japan – 2001

Toshi looked out at the ocean, and wondered if it hurt to die.

It probably depended on how you died, right? Like dying in your sleep probably didn’t hurt. But what about a car crash? You’d think that would hurt.

Aunt Hanako and Uncle Takara had told him not to think about it, but how could he not? His parents were killed, and somehow he was supposed to move on like it didn’t matter. Like it was just one of those things that happened, and the upending of his entire life was a mere hiccup.

He knew he shouldn’t think it, but he couldn’t help but imagine that everything would have been so much easier if he had been in the car with his parents the night they died. It wasn’t that his Aunt and Uncle weren’t kind, or trying their best, because they were. It’s just they had been childless by choice for obvious reasons, and they treated him kind of like a space alien they weren’t sure was civilized. It didn’t help that his new school sucked. Of course, his old one sucked too, but here, he was treated with scorn instead of pity, which was almost just as bad. He was branded the “sad kid”, which he hated. Of course, Toshi knew he was sad, he simply hated other people knowing it too. Things would be so much easier if he wasn’t here.

He felt the pier trembling beneath his feet, but didn’t think anything of it at first. But people began murmuring, and the ocean started lapping violently at the pylons. Not like a tide, though – like someone was agitating the water, almost like a washing machine. Now people were starting to run, evacuating the pier, and Toshi still wasn’t sure why. He looked out at the ocean, which had been a bluish gray, placid mirror when he first arrived, but now was riddled with choppy waves and foamy swirls that didn’t make sense. How could the ocean be acting like this?

There seemed to be a vortex forming, maybe thirty meters out, and now people were screaming, and a loudspeaker was announcing that everyone should evacuate immediately. But Toshi stood at the end of the pier, looking into the ocean, trying to figure out what was making the water behave this way.

Something started breaching the water by the vortex, and at first, Toshi thought it was a whale. Something massive and imposing. But since when did whales come so close to the shore? Was it beaching itself?

But the thing kept climbing, and climbing, too large to be a whale, or anything remotely reasonable. It took Toshi a moment to understand what he was seeing, and even then, he wasn’t sure.

It was a head. A giant, reptilian head. A dinosaur? Yes, it must have been. It was scaled and green-black, with horn like spiky protrusions making a sort of crown on the top of its massive head. It had blood red eyes, each one about the size of a car, and it was moving in such a way that Toshi finally realized that the trembling of the wooden pier was simply the effects of it walking along the sea floor.

Someone was screaming at him now specifically to run, but oddly enough, Toshi wasn’t scared. He honestly wasn’t sure why, but the dinosaur turned its head slightly, and seemed to see him, just as Toshi was looking at it.

He couldn’t explain how or why, but he felt very strongly that this dinosaur didn’t want to be here, any more than Toshi wanted to be there. In that moment, it was like he could read its mind, and it could read his. It was strange and unnerving, and yet … weirdly comforting. Someone else felt the way he did. So what if it was some kind of resurrected dinosaur/dragon thing?

Someone grabbed Toshi by the arms, a woman who’d run back to the pier. “Come on, we have to go!”

But he felt more calm than he ever had in his life. “You need to go,” he told her. “I’m fine.”

“We’re in danger!”

“No, only you are.”

Maybe it was a sign of madness. Who knew? But he was more sure of this than anything. He had finally found a friend.

Shame it wasn’t human. But you couldn’t have everything.

**

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