It had been several hours since the sun, still difficult to discern behind the thick wall of smog, had disappeared from the sky. It had been a quiet day, largely uneventful and entirely devoid of the tragedy that had become sickeningly common during the previous few weeks. Now, night had fallen, and with the darkness came an almost peaceful feeling. A feeling of calmness. A feeling of silence.
But it was not to last.
Through the dark waters of Suruga Bay sliced the form of something even darker, a silhouette blacker than the blackest night. As always, it moved with purpose, its piercing red eyes scanning the dim city before it. It had been looking for something, something more. The thickly polluted waters of the sea no longer satisfied its hunger, no longer filled it with the power it craved. And so it had followed the unending trail of slime back to its source. It had followed the stench of smog in the air.
And now, at last, it had arrived.
This was where it would feed. This was where it would grow in power.
And as the crashing of sludge-filled seawater against the nearby pier heralded its arrival, the Hedorah knew that this was where it belonged.
Yukio was a mess. An overstimulated, paranoid mess. But even so, he was having the time of his life.
The young man was sitting at a table with a glass top, a beer-filled glass clutched in his right hand. On his left sat a plate of untouched dinner, to his right a tray full of used cigarettes. But Yukio hadn’t spared a thought for either object in quite some time. His mind was in another world, yet somehow firmly locked into the club he was sitting in. It was as if two entirely different universes had melded in his mind. He wasn’t even entirely sure if what he thought he saw around him was real or not. But this wasn’t the time to question reality.
This was the time for fun.
The club was a dazzling cavalcade of lights and sounds. The reflective dome on the ceiling seemed to illuminate the room while simultaneously reflecting everything in it. A huge screen projected images of pulsating colors; paint splatters with the heartbeats of living, slimy things. The floor was filled with writhing bodies, all young and energetic forms dancing about and trying to find the space to move and be free.
But Yukio wasn’t looking at any of that. His attention was focused entirely on the hypnotic form of his girlfriend, who stood atop his table as she danced.
Miki had always thrived in the spotlight. Ever since he’d first met her, Yukio had been captivated by her ability to command any room she entered. Wherever she went, however she moved, eyes were sure to follow. Part of this was surely due to her beauty, but there was something else at play. Something magnetic that couldn’t be denied…
This magnetism was currently on full display in the club. Miki wasn’t just dancing. She was performing. This was her song. This was her table. And in that moment, this was her club.
The young woman continued to dance as guitars wildly blasted through the thick air of the club. Her appearance was untamed, almost otherworldly. Dressed in a skintight bodysuit decorated only with images of sea life, one could’ve easily mistaken her for being entirely nude with only well-applied body paint to guard her from prying eyes. Even her face was decorated, painted with shapes and patterns of various descriptions.
Unsurprisingly, Yukio found himself unable to tear his eyes away from her. He couldn’t have if he’d tried. The wall behind Miki’s well-defined body was covered in reflective domes, each casting her reflection right back into Yukio’s eyes. While most of the room only saw one Miki, Yukio saw dozens. Maybe hundreds. All dancing in his mind, all beautiful and not of this world.
Perhaps it was the music. Perhaps it was her graceful, alluring performance. Perhaps it was the latest dose of sweet, mind-freeing chemicals rushing to his brain. Whatever the reason or reasons may have been, all Yukio knew was that he was captivated beyond any form of rationality. The club slowly began to melt away. Soon, the only thing left in the universe was the beautiful girl before him, dancing amidst a sea of bright, pulsating lights.
And as Yukio continued to stare, Miki began to sing:
Islands, fish… where have you gone?
Dragonflies, butterflies… where have you gone?
Mercury, cobalt, cadmium, lead, sulfuric-acid, oxidants
Cyanogen, manganese, vanadium, chromium, potassium, strontium
Filthy polluted oceans, filthy polluted air
Living things will no longer exist
Fields and mountains become silent…
On the Earth there is nobody
Nobody anywhere who will cry…
The water level had begun to rise near the coast. A sewage drain, once a full five meters from the ocean’s surface, was now almost completely submerged. Something was moving under the water. Something alive…
Suddenly, the dark form leapt from the water with a sickening ease. As it traveled through the air and over the pier, globules of black slime flew in all directions, covering nearby lamp posts and fishing ships.
The dark form finally hit the ground, and for a few moments, silence returned to Suruga Bay.
But no amount of silence could distract from the presence of the abhorrent, oozing thing that now rose above the concrete of the pier.
At long last, the Hedorah had made landfall.
Officer Omae was well and truly at his wit’s end.
For the last several weeks, he’d heard nothing but “Hedorah this” and Hedorah that” from practically everyone he’d talked to. He’d been briefed on the situation early on, and had been told to keep his eyes on the bay and watch for anything unusual. In the beginning, he’d taken the situation seriously. To an extent, he still did. But after so much Hedorah talk with no real payoff, he’d had just about enough.
His superior officers had talked his ears off about the monster. The coast guard had done the same thing. And the military. And the local fishermen. And random citizens. It was getting to be ridiculous. As far as he was concerned, there was nothing to be afraid of as long as he, and everyone else, stayed on dry land. After all, how could…
The familiar ring of his telephone snapped him out of his thoughts. It was the first call to come in since he’d started his shift. With any luck, it was just another teenager being brought in to ride out his LSD trip in a cell.
The officer quickly swiped the phone off its hook and lifted it to his ear.
The voice on the other end of the line began to speak. Omae could feel his eyes begin to roll back into his head.
“Hedorah? On land?”
He didn’t even give the speaker the chance to continue.
“Don’t be ridiculous. Hedorah can only exist in the sea!”
And with that, the officer slammed the phone back down on the desk.
Unbelievable, he thought to himself as he shook his head. A water monster on land? What will these damn kids think of next?
The stench of decay and death filled the air around Suruga Bay. But its source, although decidedly unnatural, was very much alive.
Alive and hungry.
Despite retaining its striking red eyes and overall form, the Hedorah was no longer the same beast that had attacked swimmers and sunk tankers in the bay. The creature now stood on four lizard-like legs, its back permanently arched in an attempt to lift its bulbous head. It had also grown in size, now measuring a full 30 meters from its misshapen cranium to its shortened tail.
These physical changes had been necessary. With the sea no longer meeting its requirements for sustenance, adapting to land had been the only way to follow its instincts. The land held the promise of more food, of more power.
Slowly, the monster began to raise its head to the sky, focusing on a thick cloud of pollutants rising from the smokestacks of a nearby factory. Its red eyes grew wider, surging with an otherworldly energy.
Finally, it was time to feed.
The Hedorah began its slow crawl to the base of the building, its engorged body leaving behind a slimy trail as its newly formed legs dragged it forward. The beast then rose, for a brief moment, onto its hind legs, and then allowed itself to fall forward onto the lowest level of the factory. With every ounce of strength it could muster, the Hedorah pulled its way upward, growing closer and closer to the smokestacks.
With one final burst of power, the Hedorah hauled itself to the summit of the factory. It could feel the power of the thick smoke as it drew nearer to its source…
Rearing up once again, the beast reached out with the long, finger-like appendages on its forearms and grabbed the two smokestacks, pulling its body close to their smog-spewing tops. Slowly, the Hedorah moved its head over the stacks. The constant stream of brown smoke that had flooded the skies for so long suddenly disappeared, and the sickly sound of massive, inhaling lungs filled the air.
The Hedorah settled into its position, tilting its head higher to better draw the smoke into its body. With each deep breath, the creature could feel its power growing. It could feel its craving subside.
It could feel its body expanding.
As the Hedorah fed, patches of slimy skin across its back began to bulge and engorge. At first, the growth was slow, almost unnoticeable. But each inhalation seemed to double the speed at which the monster’s back was ballooning. Within only a few minutes of reaching the top of the factory, a full 10 meters of extra width had been added to the Hedorah’s overall size.
The night wore on, but for the Hedorah, time seemed to stand still. This was the power it craved. This was the strength it needed. And this was only the beginning. It would need more. Much more.
But as the creature continued its feast, it knew that finding more would be an easy task. It could feel the presence of more waste and decay all around it. The power it craved was everywhere, just waiting to be consumed.
But that was for another night. For the moment, the Hedorah was satisfied. The fiery glow of the beast’s eyes subsided, and its eyelids began to slowly draw closed. It had found what it had been looking for. And for the moment, there was nothing to do but feed, grow, and…
Suddenly, the piercing shriek of a distant roar filled the night.
The Hedorah’s bright red eyes shot open, and the beast turned its massive head to the sea.
Far in the distance, it could see a bright blue stream of light erupt from an unknown source and strike the slime-covered ocean. The resulting fireball briefly revealed the darkened form of an approaching giant…
Slowly, the Hedorah turned away from the smokestacks. Its feast had been interrupted by something of immense power. Something that seemed to know of the Hedorah’s presence. Something that, at that very moment, was growing closer and closer to the pier…
A few moments later, the massive body of a mountainous beast exploded from the bay and into the moonlight. A second roar erupted from its mouth, splitting the quiet night like a lightning strike. As the giant stepped out of the sea and onto the pier, the Hedorah’s red eyes once again grew wider.
The giant was staring right back, meeting the Hedorah’s gaze with an almost venomous intensity. Even from a distance, its eyes were focused. Focused and enraged.
The Hedorah felt its grip on the smokestacks loosen. This giant was no mere animal of the sea; this was a challenger. This was a threat, a beast looking for a fight to the death.
And although it meant cutting its meal short, the Hedorah was prepared to meet that challenge head on.
If this giant had come looking for a fight, it was about to find one.
Chapter 6 Coming Soon