The sun was setting, its enormous form blazing a bright orange and filling the sky with light.
And into this light stepped the form of a savior.
Godzilla stood perfectly silhouetted against the sun, his towering reptilian form illuminated like a God of old. The monster let loose a mighty roar, and then another. His gaze turned downwards, and he continued on his way.
He had much work to do.
Stretched out before him was the sea, and in the distance the beast saw his opponent rapidly approaching, gliding across the surface and engulfing all before it. It crept closer and closer, bringing death and decay with it.
The blanket of sludge pressed onwards through a sea as blue as the twilight above it. As it moved, the blue disappeared, replaced by an inky blackness that enveloped the sea and its inhabitants as it continued to reach ever farther away from the hand of man. Fish, crabs, reefs… all disappeared into the wall of death, never to be seen again.
The floating sheet of refuse seemed to continue into eternity, its surface a graveyard of dead fish, garbage bags, and discarded bottles, cans, car parts, and a multitude of unknown fragments. With the sludge came the smell of rotting flesh and sewage.
There was no end in sight.
And then, the roar was heard again.
From a patch of still untainted ocean rose the upper body of Godzilla. The beast had finally come face to face with his enemy. An unbridled rage boiled in the blood of the Monster King as he surveyed the force that continued to slink towards him. For as far as Godzilla’s keen eyes could perceive, the sludge covered all, and it would soon be upon him.
But the King had no intention of letting it get that far.
The monster began to raise his head and arms, and as he did, the row of spines that ran down the length of his back began to glow a bright blue. Moments later, Godzilla fired his powerful ray, which arced from his opened mouth to the nearest sheet of pollutants. The floating garbage dump erupted into flame, the fire as bright and brilliant as the sun had been before setting behind the waves. In seconds, nothing could be seen of the sludge within the pillar of fire that continued to spread into the distance.
Godzilla turned his head and fired a second ray at the ocean, igniting another patch of sludge. And then another. And then another. The ocean was burning. The pollution was burning.
The Hedorah was dying…
Professor Yano rose to his feet, pausing only to make sure that his bandages were tightly wrapped on his head before leaving his room and venturing into the hallway towards his lab.
Yano wasn’t sure what time it was, but he did know that it was still the early morning. He had no desire to look down at his watch. Knowing what time it was wouldn’t help him to finally find sleep, or to calm his overworking mind. He had given up on trying to find such peace, and restlessness had finally forced him to abandon his cot yet again. As he made his way through the living area, he counted his blessings that Toshie had offered to vacate their room for a few nights, instead insisting on bunking with their son. Had she been in the room with the professor, he would no doubt have kept her awake for the previous few nights with his constant tossing, turning, and sudden urges to stand and leave the cot behind. In fact, he wasn’t even sure if Toshie knew that he hadn’t been sleeping, despite her repeated insistence that he stay in bed and rest.
But rest was the last thing on the professor’s mind as he entered his lab and made his way towards his desk. After days of being haunted by the horrifying face of the Hedorah, he had finally come to the realization that he needed to confront the creature again. He needed to see it, to study it. Not knowing the facts behind the creature’s origin and motivation – to say nothing of its apparent ability to reproduce and thrive in heavily polluted waters – was frustrating, even infuriating to the scientist. This lack of knowledge and solution, he hoped, was the reason his mind would not be silent, the answer to why the blackness of his closed eyes continued to run blood-red with memories of the monster’s approaching gaze.
Perhaps that was why he was afraid.
Yano was no coward, but he was man enough to admit, at least to himself, that he was most definitely frightened. More frightened, in fact, than he had ever been in his whole life. He knew that something completely inexplicable was happening, and that as long as no explanations were discovered, the fear would remain. As a scientist, he knew full well that the basis of any fear was a lack of understanding.
And so, he had resolved to understand. By knowing as much about the monster as possible, perhaps he could finally find his peace.
Yano had come to a halt upon entering his lab, but now he slowly began to walk again, making his way to his tropical fish tank. He stopped briefly in front of it, letting the sight of the peaceful creatures within calm his mind. The low hum of the filter and the sound of an occasional bubble popping upon on the water’s surface distracted Yano, albeit briefly, from the physical and mental pain that had plagued him for the previous few days. It didn’t take long, however, for the pain to creep back, and to snap Yano out of his moment of peace. The scientist blinked several times, and then turned his head away from the tank. He hadn’t come to his lab to contemplate the peaceful life of aquarium fish.
Upon turning, the first sight to meet Yano’s eyes was almost jarring. The professor’s collection of mutated fish had never unsettled him before, but the almost immediate switch in his vision from peaceful life to violent death left him with an almost dizzying feeling of brief nausea. The sensation, however, passed in mere moments, and Yano approached the collection as calmly as he had the fish tank a minute or so earlier.
Reaching out with slightly shaking hands, Yano gently removed the specimen he had come to his lab to see: the body of the tiny Hedorah brought to him by Gohei several days earlier. Steadying his hands, Yano removed the lid from the small dish containing the creature, and carefully transported the corpse to his desk. He quietly lowered himself into his chair, taking a brief moment to rest before leaning forward slightly to set the dish down in front of him.
As the dish came into contact with the desk, the shaking in Yano’s hands returned suddenly, and the edge of the dish slipped from his grasp.
What happened next was entirely unexpected.
The slight drop – only a few millimeters – occurred in the blink of an eye. But in that instant, the body of the tadpole-like monster had suddenly split. The miniscule amount of shock produced from the dish’s fall had been enough to snap the creature in two, removing its long tail from its round body.
Yano stared in shock for several long seconds before finally leaning closer to the corpse to investigate. The body appeared to be completely dried out, as if it had burned into tightly-packed charcoal. In between the severed tail and body, there appeared to be a small pile of fine, black powder. Reaching out, Yano gently grasped the tail, hoping to remove it for a better view of the strange powder. However, upon lifting the tail a few centimeters from the bottom, it began to snap between his fingers, and the larger fragments fell back down into the dish. In seconds, the pieces that remained in Yano’s hand had literally crumbled away, leaving his forefinger, middle finger, and thumb stained black.
Yano remained motionless for a few moments, attempting to digest what he had just witnessed. The creature had literally disintegrated in his hand, its brittle body snapping like thin wafers with little to no provocation. His preservation techniques should have prevented the corpse drying out at all, but no fish – or any animal, for that matter – dried out in the same manner as this one had.
And then there was the powder. As Yano rubbed his fingers together, feeling the strange substance slide against his skin, his mind raced at the improbability of the creature that lay in pieces before him. The powder wasn’t produced by the dried-out monster. It was the monster. Whatever the powder truly was, it appeared to constitute the entire body of the Hedorah; its skin, its internal structure, its horrific red eyes… the powder was its entire form, its essence. Its life.
In that moment, an idea occurred to Yano that connected the disparate dots of the mystery at last.
Reaching forward, the scientist quickly grabbed a white bottle sitting at the far end of his desk. Next, he procured a small vial from a nearby rack, and began to carefully pour the liquid from the bottle into the vial with hands far steadier than they had been a few minutes earlier. Determination had replaced his fear, and now the feeling that he was close to an answer drove him onward. If he was correct in his assumptions…
The sound of a closing door behind the professor distracted him from his thought, and a moment later, he heard the concerned voice of his wife over his shoulder.
“Oh, darling, what in the world are you doing up so late?”
Toshie stood at the entrance to Ken’s room, waiting for a response from her husband as he continued to work. Yano now held a miniscule fragment of the Hedorah’s body in a pair of small laboratory tongs, and was now carefully lifting the fragment to the lip of the vial. Yano released his grip, dropping the fragment into the murky liquid. Moments later, and the liquid began to bubble violently.
“I put some muddy water in this test tube.” Yano still hadn’t answered Toshie’s question, far too focused on his work to worry about her concerns over his health. Hearing him, she closed the door and entered the lab, arriving at the professor’s side a few seconds later.
“Stop this. You should be resting.”
But Yano didn’t stop. He couldn’t stop, not when he was so close to finally having the answers he needed. He leaned back in his seat, shaking his head as the bubbling in the vial finally ceased.
“This is the strangest thing I’ve even seen.” The scientist’s words didn’t appear to be directed at anyone in particular, but rather spoken aloud for his own benefit. Nevertheless, Toshie leaned in closer to listen. “This so-called “tadpole” is actually a mineral. Its body is made of a material similar to diamonds and other crystalized carbons.”
Yano’s musings were suddenly interrupted by the sound of the door behind him opening once again.
Ken had emerged from his dark room, his hands rubbing the sleep from his blinking eyes. Toshie quickly turned around and made her way to the boy’s side.
“Oh Ken,” she said, her voice both surprised and exasperated as she knelt down beside him to begin refastening the buttons on his pajamas. “What are you doing up? Don’t you know how late it is?”
Ken did not answer her, instead turning to address his father.
“Papa, Godzilla’s coming to save us.”
Yano had gotten up from his chair, and was now returning to the desk with a glass beaker filled with more water.
Yano spoke the words with little inflection as he focused on pouring the water into a second vial.
“Yep. He’s gonna come and kill Hedorah! I saw it happen in my dream. He will come, won’t he?
Yano didn’t answer beyond a brief “Hmm”, his gaze locked onto the second vial as he placed it into the rack on the desk.
As his father began pouring water into a third vial, Ken turned to his mother for an answer to his question. “Mama, what do you think?”
Still flustered, Toshie quickly regained her composure and looked down at her son. “If you saw it in your dream, I’m sure he’ll come.” She reached out to put her hands on his shoulders. “But now it’s time to go back to bed.”
Ken didn’t move. His eyes were fixed on his father, who had just removed two more fragments from the dead Hedorah and dropped them into the two new vials.
Bedtime would have to wait.
Breaking away from his mother, Ken rushed to his father’s side, his eyes now locked onto the fragments as they slowly sank into the vials.
Suddenly, the fragments stopped sinking.
For a moment, it appeared to Ken as if the tiny pieces were rising to the surface again. But as he continued to watch, the truth of what was happening began to dawn on him.
The fragments were swimming.
Even stranger, they appeared longer, as if they had tails. They now looked just like small tadpoles.
As Ken continued to watch, his father quickly grabbed the two vials and began to simultaneously pour their contents into a smaller dish. After replacing the vials, the professor turned his focus to the dish, and the two, small back dots that swam within it. Ken turned away from the intense face of his father, and brought his face closer to the dish.
Before the eyes of the professor and his son, the two tiny creatures began to swim toward one another. A few moments later, and they collided. In an instant, at the point where the two creatures had met, only a single, larger one could be seen swimming.
Yano stared in silence at the dish, the full weight of what he had just seen slowly making its way through his tired brain. Ken turned to look at his father, waiting for an explanation.
A smile suddenly appeared on Yano’s face.
“I understand now.” Yano gestured toward the first vial that he had filled prior to Ken’s awakening. “This is just muddy water. Hedorah comes to life in polluted water, just like you throught, Ken.”
As Ken smiled, Yano began separating another fragment of Hedorah’s dried body. Ken grabbed a magnifying glass sitting on the desk, bringing it up to his eye as he leaned over the dish to observe the tiny Hedorah swimming in the polluted liquid.
“Cool!” he exclaimed as he turned around. “Look, Mama.”
Toshie had made her way to the desk to observe her husband’s experiment, and now she leaned over to look through the magnifying glass with her son, gently grabbing and steadying Ken’s hand as they observed the creature.
As they looked, Yano prepared a new vial of polluted water, dropping another Hedorah fragment inside. Ken and Toshie quickly moved their heads away from the dish. “Now,” the professor said as he poured the water into the dish, “these fragments should join together, too.”
Sure enough, it took only a few seconds for the two fragments to begin swimming toward each other. As the family watched, the creatures merged into one.
“It’s no wonder that the monster can grow so quickly. They combine when they meet each other.”
Ken leaned in closer. “So the Hedorah I saw, and the big one that sank the tankers grew big like this?”
Yano nodded. Toshie, still holding the magnifying glass, brought it closer to the dish, and the family leaned in to take yet another look at the bizarre life-form. At first glance, the tiny Hedorah didn’t appear to be anything more than a common tadpole; the monster’s red eyes had yet to form, and its body was smooth, differing from the asymmetrical, blob-like body of the larger monster Ken and his father had seen at the bay. The creature seemed almost peaceful as it swam from one end of the dish to the other. But they knew better.
Tiny though it may have been, the creature was dangerous.
“This means,” Yano continued, “that they can reach enormous sizes.”
Ken looked up at his father. “Bigger than Godzilla?”
Yano’s face suddenly grew grim.
Ken’s eyes widened.
“As long as we keep feeding the ocean with sludge and pollutants, there may be no limit to the size it could attain. If this thing came up on land, it would be a disaster.”
Toshie finally looked away from the magnifying glass. “But would a tadpole even be able to come up on land?”
“You never know,” Yano mused, still looking at the dish. “This is a new and unusual mutation.”
The scientist finally lifted his head, staring straight ahead as his family turned their worried faces toward him.
“We have to do something… before it’s too late.”