Story time – A Boy and His Monster

N.B.: I am a big fan of big monster movies. I have more of a note about this after the story.

**
A Boy and His Monster

Toshi wondered why third dates were such a big deal. He knew why they were for him – he probably hadn’t had one since college.

He’d pretty much written off any romantic attachments. After all, the truth of his existence was so weird, he wasn’t sure he had room for it in his life.

But then he met Mason in line for doughnuts, of all places. He was cute and charming, and hey, he liked the same fancy ass doughnuts he did. Their first date wasn’t technically a proper date – they just met for coffee, and to make sure the other person wasn’t a complete lunatic. Their second date was the first proper date, as they hit a food truck festival, and Mason, clearly a foodie, introduced him to all of these places. He knew who had the best breakfast sandwich, the best dim sum, the best tacos. Toshi was kind of amazed to be around someone who knew this sort of thing, and his passion was infectious.

For the third date, Toshi realized he had to do something differently. His college boyfriend, Eric, had broken up with him because he knew he was hiding something from him. Eric thought it was a side piece, but the truth was so bizarre, he couldn’t tell him. Now he was in the terrible position of trying to keep his secret even better this time, or risk it all and show him the truth, and see where the chips fell.

He opted for the latter. After a nice dinner of Thai food, he brought Mason back to his home, which instantly impressed him.

Toshi lived in a sprawling ranch house on a significant piece of property, that gave him all the privacy in the world. His nearest neighbor was two miles away. Mason let out a low whistle, and said, “I didn’t know you were loaded.”

“I’m not, really. It’s kind of hard to explain.”

“Was this your Aunt and Uncle’s place?” Mason already knew his parents had died when he was young, and he was raised by his Aunt and Uncle. He’d skipped over the most troublesome detail, at least for now.

“No, but this where we lived once we moved to the States.”

He nodded. “It’s wild. I thought all the property up here was government owned.”

“It is, more or less.”

Mason gazed at him with furrowed brows. “You bought it from the government?”

“Kind of. Come on, I’ll show you.”

Now Mason was beginning to get suspicious, and he didn’t blame him. Especially when they walked around the house, and into the gracious spread of land Toshi called the “back yard”, and Mason gasped upon seeing its most obvious feature – a half mile long airport hangar, painted white to reflect the heat back into the sky. “Don’t tell me you have your own private airport.” Mason was only half joking.

“No, that’s simply the roof.”

“The roof?”

Toshi put his hand on the smart lock, and once it scanned his fingerprints and confirmed his identity, the hangar door popped open with a pneumatic sigh. Mason stared at the high tech lock with trepidation, perhaps thinking that Toshi was leading him into his murder shack. He didn’t blame him, but that was actually kind of mild considering what was about to happen.

Lights flicked on automatically as he entered the hangar, which had several crates of supplies pushed off to the outer walls, and a very unassuming elevator. Upon seeing it, Mason did a slight double take. “Why is there an elevator in here?”

“As I said, this is only the the roof. Things get more interesting downstairs. And no, this isn’t my murder shack.”

Mason laughed nervously. “I wasn’t thinking that.”

“I like you, Mason. Which is why I have to be perfectly honest with you. If you want to beg out now, I don’t blame you. But let me show you this before you make up your mind, okay?”

He seemed even more nervous now. But he nodded.

Toshi stepped into the elevator, and waited for Mason to join him. As soon as he did, Toshi hit the door close button, and they started sinking downward. “So, do you remember that thing that happened in Japan in ’96?”

Mason had to think about it a moment. “Oh, you mean that nuclear meltdown that was covered by that ridiculous story? Yeah.”

“Funny thing – the nuclear meltdown? That was the cover story. The ridiculous story was the true one, but authorities figured no one would believe it. They were correct.”

Mason stared at him in disbelief, as the elevator came to a smooth stop. “What? Wasn’t the story some bullshit about a giant monster?”

Toshi nodded, leading the way out. He led Mason into a low lit, cavernous room, that smelled faintly of salt water. The water feature was in one of the connected rooms, but you could always smell it. “Correct. A gigantic lizard wreaked havoc on the outskirts of Tokyo, and at a U.S. Military base. Stupid, right? It’s why the nuclear story was so much easier to believe.” There was a couple of megaphones lined up against the near wall, and Toshi picked one up and said, “C’mon Jerry.” Toshi then put the megaphone back, and continued. “My Aunt and Uncle were childless, and didn’t really want any kids, so I was having a difficult time settling in. And one day, on the pier, I saw the most extraordinary thing.”

The ground started shaking in bursts. Relatively faint to start with, but growing louder. Mason grabbed the wall as the shaking continued. “Is this an earthquake?”

“No, it’s my friend.” The shadows at the far end of the room shifted, and Mason screamed.

The shaking was Jerry galloping towards him like a happy puppy. A three ton, three hundred foot tall puppy, with dark green scales, glowing red eyes, and a mouth about half the size of a blue whale, full of jagged ivory teeth. Toshi pushed a button on the wall, and with a metallic grinding noise, a slot opened, and a hay bale sized chunk of marshmallow plopped onto the floor. Jerry came to a stop, and a pinkish-gray tongue the size of a stretch limo darted out, and picked it up with a surprising amount of grace. The marshmallow was a mere nugget to Jerry, but as much as she wanted sugar, she could only have so much of it per day.

Jerry lowered her head, and Toshi petted the only smooth part of her, the top of her muzzle. She made a rumbling noise that could be construed as a kind of purr, only it sounded like a beater car in desperate need of a muffler, and you could feel it in your chest. Up close, it was clear he and five other people could fit comfortably in her mouth, and there’d be room for more, but he wasn’t scared of her. He was probably the only one who wasn’t. “You don’t have to be scared, Mason. She won’t harm you.”

Mason was sitting on the floor, back to the wall, eyes bulging in what seemed to be permanent shock. His mouth was opening and closing, but no sound was coming out.

Toshi nodded, still petting Jerry. “I know. It’s weird, right? Monsters exist. Monsters exist, and I live with one, because the government thinks it’s best.”

Finally, Mason spoke. “What?”

“As I said, I was on a pier, and I saw this monster appear out of the ocean. Everybody was running away and screaming, but … I don’t know. I was a kid, and I was lonely and miserable, and maybe I had a death wish and didn’t realize it. But when Jerry started towards the dock, I just held out my cotton candy, She actually sniffed it and ate it, and didn’t eat me. According to the scientists, who really scratched their heads over this, Jerry and I bonded, but she bonded only to me. She let me climb on her head and ride on her as she stomped along the countryside. I thought I might fall, but she never let me. She looks after me, like I’m her kid. When she attacked, the military really poured it on, and tried to kill her. They used every missile and bomb in the toy box, and they couldn’t make a lasting dent in her. But when I asked her to stop, she did. They don’t know what she is, where she came from, or how to stop her. What they did know was I could. So, in the end, I helped them capture her, and the U.S. Military retrofitted this place to hold her, and moved me and my family here. This used to be some sort of underground nuclear bunker, but they made it a mile long monster habitat just for her.” Toshi knew from experience she’d let him pet her for hours, and of course, no one else could. But he patted her on the muzzle and kept his hand there. “I think, in the beginning, they were just holding her here until they could figure out how to kill her. But she turned out to be a gold mine. It turns out her dropping are a kind of super-fertilizer. It can make seeds that take weeks to germinate start to grow in two days. Her shed skin is harder and more bullet resistant than kevlar. The shed sheathes of her talons are some kind of new molecular composition entirely, one that scientists have been working on replicating for years. She has an amazing ability for regeneration they’re also investigating, in hopes of being able to share it with humans someday. And now that she’s a source of advancement and profit, they don’t want to kill her. Capitalism triumphs over safety concerns every time. Not that I’m saying I’d be happier if they were working on killing her, ‘cause hell no. Jerry’s probably the best friend I’ve ever had, And yes, I know how pathetic that sounds. But it’s still true.”

Even with his hand simply resting on her muzzle, Jerry continued to purr. Sometimes he slept down here, because it was comforting to her, and he didn’t want her to get too lonely. Toshi honestly had no idea why a monster bonded with him. He liked to think it was simply the cotton candy, but it was made clear pretty quickly that anyone else trying to feed her sugar ended up getting eaten as well. She only responded to Toshi. He did wonder sometimes if they ended up attached to each other by mutual loneliness. She had no one, and he had no one. If they didn’t band together, who would? The scientists had studied him almost as much as they studied Jerry, trying to find a reason. The best they had ever been able to do was surmise that maybe she had recognized him as a baby of his particular species, and decided not to kill him. But that attributed a lot of sentience to her that it wasn’t clear she had. Although he did read books aloud to her sometimes, and he would swear she had some understanding of what she was saying. Also, she really liked horror novels.

Toshi scratched the side of her jaw, which she also liked. Her non-smooth skin felt a little like tree bark crossed with stone. Rough, yes, but not unpleasantly so. It was easy to tell why this was bullet proof, though, and mostly resistant to damage.

Toshi fell silent, and at least a minute passed before Mason asked, in a hushed whisper, “They don’t know what she is?”

“No. They thought maybe she was a dinosaur, frozen in arctic ice that had now melted, thanks to global warming, but she doesn’t fit the known physiology of any known or even speculated terrestrial dinosaur. They thought maybe she was simply a kind unknown, but now they don’t think so. Now they’re speculating she’s of a non-terrestrial origin, maybe caught a ride here on a meteor or something.”

It seemed to take a minute for Mason to understand what he was saying. “They think she’s an alien?”

“I know, right? Ridiculous. But that might explain why she’s so unknown to any physical laws we know, and why she has nuclear breath.”

“Nuclear breath?”

“Yes. When she wants to, she can breathe fire. Like a dragon, but so much worse, because her fire is so hot it rapidly super heats the air. The flame doesn’t need to hit a target for combustion to start. And she is fireproof, so it doesn’t bother her. She can also live underwater for months if she has to. Her adaptation abilities are amazing, and they gave up studying it, because she could adapt to anything they threw at her. Vacuum, pressure, lava, radiation, ice … you name it, and it means absolutely dick to her. One day, the sun will go supernova, and burn up planet Earth, and she will be the only thing alive on it. It actually makes me sad if I think about it.” Yes, she was a monster way too big to share the space with the rest of them, but she wasn’t evil. Evil had intent, a desire to destroy, and that wasn’t her. People started shooting at her, and she retaliated. She only took out the military base after they shot missiles at her. It was misunderstanding turned self-defense. People reacted violently to her because she was humongous and strange. Humans really didn’t care for finding out they weren’t the top of the food chain anymore, but hey, life was a bitch.

Mason finally stood up. He didn’t move away from the wall, but it was a kind of progress. “She really is bonded to you, isn’t she? Is that what they mean by imprinting on something?”

“Maybe. As I said, they stopped studying me a long time ago. I was a dead end.” They tried to find if there was something special about him, like if he had ESP or something, but no – he was just a regular, chubby Japanese boy. And she was probably a regular, also chubby, three hundred foot monster, but there was no baseline for her development. Maybe she was special amongst her kind. They would probably never know.

“But you must be special. I mean, she likes you, right? That makes you special.”

“I guess so. But only she knows why, and she’s not telling.” She continued purring, and looked at him with half-lidded red eyes. Her running registered seismically as little earthquakes, which is why it behooved him to be so far from neighbors, and on government land. The locals still picked it up, and he’d seen the online conspiracies about it, from fracking to some kind of underground development, but it was kind of funny nobody ever guessed at the real source. Then again, giant monster sounded bananas. You’d even be laughed off Reddit for suggesting such a thing.

“Should you be telling me this? I mean, the government probably doesn’t want this to get out, right?”

“Actually, they don’t really care. I was free to tell anyone I wanted, because they’d knew as soon as I said the words “giant monster”, everyone would think I was crazy. As for monitoring my comings and goings,  what’s the point? It’s not like I can take her out for a walk.”

Mason took a steady breath, and moved one step closer. Only the one, but again, it was a start. “Am I the first person you’ve brought down to see her?”

“Yes. Although, before we got the new security features, a couple of trespassers managed to get around the security on the perimeter and broke into here. We only know about this because their tennis shoes were found in Jerry’s stool. So the lock is really to protect people from their own curiosity.” And about a week later, they’d heard a couple of “guerrilla press” from a far right extremist site were declared missing in the area, so it was easy to put two and two together. They wanted to see what the government was up to, and Jerry found them first. And if she didn’t know you, and Toshi didn’t introduce you to her, you would be eaten. It wasn’t personal, but Toshi was, for whatever reason, the only mammal she didn’t view as food. He bet, if those guys were looking for aliens that the government was hiding, they didn’t expect it to be so big, or so carnivorous. Not that he could ask. At least it would have been over fast.

“Oh wow. Yeah, I can see that.” He took a step closer. “Not that I want to, but you’re the only one who can touch her, right?”

“Yeah. Other people can if I’m around to calm her, but that’s about it.”

“Wow. And here I thought your big secret was a kink or something. I never imagined giant alien monster.”

“No one ever does. Which is why she’s such a surprisingly easy secret to keep.” All humans knew that some things were simply too ridiculous, and giant, city destroying monsters were number one on the list. “Which is also why, if you ever tell anyone about this …”

He chuckled faintly. “I’m a crazy person. Yeah, I get that. I mean, I may have pissed myself, but thanks for trusting me this much.”

“There’s spare sweatpants upstairs. We keep a crate up there of multiple sizes, for obvious reasons. We haven’t had a new soldier here in a while, but when they first see her … it’s a messy day at headquarters, I can tell you that much.”

Mason laughed, and Toshi felt some tension releasing. If he could laugh about this, then they were okay. He could move beyond this. And that was good. Maybe he could have something resembling a normal life. Him, his boyfriend, and his three hundred foot monster.

Not a normal family unit, no. But still better than most.

**

So, I love kaiju films, and I have since I was a kid. (Ask me about my Mothra t-shirt!) Why? To be honest, I’m not sure. But if you watch a lot of big monster films, especially older ones, a certain trope springs up a lot. Namely, the monster has some kind of quasi-bond with a child. Why? Probably to re-contextualize the monster, make it somewhat human, but that wasn’t really something I thought about a lot. After a while it’s repetitive and annoying, a cliché. But then I started to wonder – what happens to that kid? A lot of times, the monster is killed, or wanders away to live its life elsewhere, meaning the kid is left behind. But what if it didn’t? What if the monster is still here, and the kid is still here? What happens next? This story is my way of extrapolating what might happen. And, while writing this, I realized there might be a much bigger story here. Next novel? I don’t know. Maybe. I do know I want to know more about what happens to Toshi and Jerry … and what happens if some of her “family” find her.

 

And if you liked this story, and will support an endeavor to write a much longer version of this, let me know.

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

In Absentia © 2019 All Rights Reserved. | Login