The GNP Presents:
From an original story by Shigeru Kayama
Screenplay by Takeo Murata and Ishiro Honda
Novelization by Daniel DiManna
To the cherished memories of Tomoyuki Tanaka, Ishiro Honda, Eiji Tsuburaya, Akira Ifukube, Shigeru Kayama, Haruo Nakajima, Akira Takarada, Akihiko Hirata, Momoko Kochi, Takashi Shimura, and all those dearly departed men and women on both sides of the camera who worked to send a message, create a film, and birth a legacy, do I dedicate this novel.
A monster movie CAN change the world.
“Today… pride must be tempered by a profound concern. If atomic bombs are to be added as new weapons to the arsenals of a warring world, or to the arsenals of the nations preparing for war, then the time will come when mankind will curse the names of Los Alamos and Hiroshima…”
-Robert Oppenheimer (November 16th, 1945)
“Now I am become Death, the Mighty Destroyer of the World, and I am out to destroy…”
-Vishnu, Eighth Avatar of Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-Gita, Chapter 11, Verse 32
AUGUST 13th, 1954
THE SEA OF JAPAN
The white and foamy wake stretched out behind the fishing trawler for what seemed to be an eternity, the only disturbance in an otherwise calm, still, and beautiful sea. From above, the long and choppy trail, carved into the serene waters off the coast of Japan, would surely have seemed to resemble a long scar etched elegantly into a smooth canvas. Such a perspective, however, was not afforded to the men whose livelihoods relied upon the waters through which they sailed.
The Eiko-Maru #5 was a medium-sized trawler, roughly 28 meters in length, 7,500 tons, and often home for two dozen or so men for weeks at a time. She was an older ship, but still very much sea worthy and capable of hauling home the fish that would go on to feed a nation. The Nankai Shipping Company prided itself on the dependability of its fishing fleet, and the Eiko-Maru was surely one of its most reliable vessels.
Over the last five months, the ship and her crew had become all too accustomed to hearing the word “reliable.” With the number of edible catches taking a dramatic dive since March, Nankai had been heaping on the pressure to extend deployment times and send ships even further out to sea in search of uncontaminated fish. Being a “reliable” Japanese fisherman, it seemed, meant practically living at sea, leaving family for long stretches, and hoping that, in the end, it had all been worth it. Even after nearly a year since the last test and with the number of contaminated fish caught seemingly – albeit slightly – dropping, there was never any guarantee that a voyage would yield a catch that could be sold, much less eaten.
The entire debacle remained ever present in the minds of the men who sat on the deck of the ship that afternoon. As she continued to slice through the blue stillness before her, the Eiko-Maru felt to those who sailed with her to be as much a prison as she was a home and workplace. Whether the fish came or not, they remained alone, captives of the sea until the warden radioed in the news of their liberation. Until then, they had nothing to do but wait, and fend off boredom by making merry in their own modest ways.
As the afternoon carried on, the men took to the comforts of music as the ship continued on its way. One man, sitting upon the deck, strummed a tune on his guitar, and to his left, a compatriot played along with his harmonica. Lacking instruments, two fishermen to the harmonica player’s left began tapping a beat upon the wood of the deck. At the far end of the ship, another two sailors sat locked in a game of Mahjong. The remaining men observed or found their own entertainment, content with watching their friends perform or losing themselves in dreams of home or a well-cooked meal. All the while, the sea was silent.
And then, something changed.
In an instant, the low light of the afternoon sun was replaced by a flash of light so immediate and intense that the sailors, distracted from their music and their dreams, looked up expecting to find that the sun had fallen from the sky. In seconds, many of the men had rushed to starboard, hands clasped against the railing, staring out into the sea, seeking the source of the light. For a few brief moments, they saw nothing. And then, in another instant, the once calm and silent sea erupted. The water’s surface became a bubbling cauldron of froth and foam, steam rising and bursting through the surface. Ripples from the epicenter rapidly evolved into waves, and it seemed to the men that, with neither warning nor provocation, the world had transformed from serenity to chaos. It was as if the once blue sea had exploded into white fire.
A moment later, the light emanating from the sea suddenly and horrifically grew in its intensity. The deck of the Eiko-Maru was flooded in a blinding flash that sent men crashing backwards, screaming and covering their eyes with their hands and arms. Bodies crashed against wooden crates and into each other. The Mahjong board was flung to the ground, its pieces scattered and rolling across the deck. One sailor landed next to his crewmate’s guitar, his body rolling over the now crumpled and strewn music sheets. He could not see where his body was moving, for the brilliant light behind him had robbed him of his sight. Had he covered his eyes in time, he might have looked up to see the deck of the ship strewn with the bodies of other blinded men, and to see the strange mist-like smoke that suddenly billowed down upon them, or even to look up and gaze upon the mighty thing that had brought the forces of Hell down upon him and his friends. Instead, the blinded man could do nothing as the smoke came down upon him, scorching his flesh and erupting the entire ship into flames.
Another instant passed, and the sea had suddenly calmed, leaving only the burning ship to disturb its surface. Aboard, two of her crew, spared the blinding light and eruption of flame outside, found their way to the radio. Within moments, they were broadcasting a distress signal. Several seconds later, and the last surviving crewmembers of the Eiko-Maru had been rewarded for their valiance with a quick death. The ocean had quickly found the path of least resistance within the damaged ship, flooding through the portholes of the radio room and quickly dragging the craft downward with horrifying efficiency. Less than a minute after first encountering the strange light, the still-flaming trawler disappeared beneath the surface of the Sea of Japan. Any evidence that a ship, or its crew of hard-working men, had existed above the water less than sixty seconds earlier was gone, swallowed by the sea.
The first sacrifices had been offered.