The Steve Martin Report: Part 2

The following day, after our return to Tokyo, Dr. Yamane gathered politicians and press alike for a conference to disclose his incredible findings. The following is a transcription this presentation:

“It can safely be assumed that two million years ago, this Brontosaurus and other ancient reptiles roamed the earth. It was known as the Jurassic age. During this period, there was another species which we may call the intermediary animal; a cross between the land-living and the sea-living animals. Let us call this creature Godzilla, according to the legend of Odo Island. And judging from this photograph, this creature is over 400 feet tall. Of course, the question we are asking ourselves is how this animal happened to reappear after all these centuries, and so near to the coast of Japan. One answer could be that some rare phenomenon of nature allowed this breed of the Jurassic age to reproduce itself, and for a long span of time, it had no reason to reappear to the world. But now that analysis of radioactivity of the creature’s footprint shows the existence of strontium 90 – a product of the H-bomb – it is my belief that Godzilla was resurrected due to the repeated experiments of H-bombs.”

This revelation was met with an unexpected eruption of chaos within the walls of the conference chamber. What exactly caused this reaction I have never found out, but if I were to venture a guess, I would say that it had something to do with the delicate nature of the subject of atomic bombs and radiation in Japan. That being the case, I never pursued a definitive answer, believing that, should my assumption be right, it was a sensitive subject best avoided in the present situation.

There was much to focus on instead, including the question of just what to do about the monster, now officially dubbed Godzilla. It was ultimately decided that a depth bombing mission would be undertaken by the Japanese Self Defense Forces in an attempt to kill the beast before he appeared again, or took any more innocent lives. A few days before the operation was to take place, I finally was able to make contact with my boss in Chicago via the telephone, to inform him of new developments in the story. When asked what was happening with my so called “monster story,” my response was that the entire ordeal was much the same as the monster itself: “big and terrible… more frightening than I ever thought possible.” I was then informed that my story was making front pages all over the USA, and that the public was anxious to know what was to be done about the advent of Godzilla. I delivered an answer in the form of what was sure to be United World News’ newest headline: “Security Decides to Use Depth Bomb on Godzilla.” I then explained the logistics of the operation, voicing my faith in the Japanese Navy’s ability to find the beast, if not kill it. I ended the call with assurances to my boss that I would stay on the case, and keep him informed of any developments.

Before I could leave the desk, an officer appeared to my right with a slip of paper in his hand. I was happy to see the name on the message; my friend, Dr. Serizawa, had finally made an attempt to contact me, and I gladly picked up the phone to return his call. After several rings, I smiled as I heard the voice of my old college comrade at last. Serizawa revealed that he had finally finished the experiment that had detained him for so long, and politely declined my offer of dinner that night, citing an “important” visit from Emiko that afternoon as his reason. We made plans to discuss a dinner meeting on the following day, and we bid farewell.

I realized that an “important” visit to Serizawa from Emiko could mean only one thing: that she was coming with the intention to break their long-standing engagement. The marriage between Emiko and Dr. Serizawa had been arranged when they were both children. And while Emiko wasn’t in love with the great scientist, she had great respect and admiration for him. It had proved understandably difficult for her to tell him she was going to marry Ogata. However, it appeared that the time had come at last, and as I left the press room, I felt conflicted as to how I should feel about the situation. I was torn between wanting happiness for my friend, and that old-fashioned desire to see true love conquer all. I decided to consider the mater another time, as I had much work to do in the days leading up to the depth bombing operation. It was, after all, far from my business, and this very personal ordeal seemed far from relevant to the unfolding tale of Godzilla. It wouldn’t be long, however, before I was proven wrong.

The next few days passed uneventfully, with the biggest news being the expected locating of Godzilla beneath the sea. Less than 24 hours later, the depth bombing operation was carried out, and I, along with the hopeful people of an entire nation, watched the live coverage of the bombing on the television. Homes, restaurants and other establishments fortunate enough to possess a TV were crowded with relieved citizens, and by the end of the day, it was generally assumed that the underwater demolition had ended the short but terrible reign of Godzilla.

There was a feeling of relief throughout Tokyo, even celebration. But both the hope and celebration were short-lived. That very evening, the situation drastically changed from resolution to more urgent than it had ever been, as the captain of a luxury cruse ship a mere ten miles from Tokyo reported witnessing a terrifying monster rise from the sea and pass his ship by before slipping back into the depths. Within minutes, the city was aware that Godzilla was inside Tokyo Harbor. Among the people, a state of panic replaced the jubilation that had existed mere minutes earlier. What was to have been a night of revelry had suddenly become one of terror and fear.

The night passed without incident, but it was certain that the creature was still in the harbor. The city remained paralyzed with fear, frozen in a seemingly eternal moment of indecision: were the people to run, or to hide, or to ignore the threat altogether? If the people were indecisive, the Japanese government was anything but. They were prepared for the worst to happen, and as the day wore on, the sound of army boots on pavement and heavy tanks rolling down city streets could be heard. The military used every man and machine available in an effort to stem the oncoming terror. If Godzilla rose again, they would be waiting for him.

As night fell, the feeling of mass uncertainty was more palpable than ever. Restlessness had driven me from my hotel room and onto the streets. The events of the past few days swirled in my head in a mixture of terrifying images and sounds; the howling wind of the Odo Island storm, the screams of the islanders on the hill, the music from the ceremony that had failed to protect the island from the monster’s wrath. All these reverberated in my ears as if they were happening around me again. And then, a new sound… the deep, pounding footfalls of the monster. The memory of the terrible sound caused me to close my eyes, as if shutting out the world could save me from reliving the trauma of the past. When I opened them again, I immediately became aware of two things. Firstly, my restless wandering had taken me to within a few hundred feet of the Tokyo Bay docks. And secondly, the relentless pounding was no longer inside my head, but all around me, shaking the Earth beneath my feet. It was no longer a memory.

Realizing what was happening, I quickly rounded the corner in front of me, hoping to find someone else with whom I could seek refuge. I was relieved to see a group of civilians being ushered up a hill by the military, and I gladly joined them. As I made my way up the hill, the thought occurred to me that history was repeating itself. Again, I was running up a hill to the horrific beat of monstrous footfalls. As the memories of running on Odo Island began to return vividly in my mind, I again felt the sudden urge to turn, to see what was compelling me to flee. And once I had secured a place at the top of the hill, I did turn. And as before, I found myself gazing upon the shadowy form of a giant.

It stood roughly three miles away from our hill, but even at that distance the beast loomed impossibly large over the docks and the groups of people fleeing from his massive feet. Before our terrified eyes, I and my fellow onlookers witnessed the creature wade through the gigantic machinery as if it didn’t exist. We watched helplessly as the creature crushed a commuter train under his feet, bending over to lift one of the train cars skyward in his powerful jaws, only to fling it back down to the ground and crush it – and its passengers – into oblivion. The monster continued to amble through the docks, eventually reaching a large bridge which it tore from its foundations and shattered like a child’s toy. It now had its back turned to us, showing off its rows of bony spines as it appeared to be making its way back to the sea. With unblinking eyes and a feeling of illness in my stomach, I watched in stunned silence as Godzilla waded back into the harbor and disappeared beneath the water, leaving destruction and terror in his wake.

When the sun rose the next morning, the severity of the situation became crystal clear. The damage had been severe, but fortunately confined to the dock section of the city. Godzilla was still in Tokyo Bay, and there was every reason to believe he would return unless some means was found to stop him. And time was running out, as it was decided that a solution had to be found before sundown, when it was believed that the likelihood of the creature’s return would be greater. After departing the latest security meeting a few minutes early, I returned to the news office to finish my latest report, hoping to get the finished story sent to the paper for imminent publication. After several minutes of typing, I was surprised to see Tomo heading in my direction. He quickly informed me that my early departure from the meeting had caused me to miss an important development: the finalization of the military’s last big effort to stop the monster.

When I asked what this last effort was, Tomo beckoned me to the office’s window. He gestured to a series of immense towers that seemed to encircle the city, informing me that they were in fact “high-tension electrical towers.” “To get to the heart of the city,” Tomo told me, “Godzilla would have to break through 300,000 volts of electricity.” He then informed me that the officials hoped to have everything ready by nightfall, should Godzilla emerge again. Tomo then turned to me and revealed that the time had come for him to report back to his station. It hadn’t occurred to me until that moment that Tomo had quite literally dropped everything to give his aid to those affected by Godzilla, and to me, of course. From the moment I had arrived in Tokyo, Tomo had been my loyal companion, translator, and friend. Although I felt certain that I would see him again, the thought of continuing on in this strange story without him by my side was an unusual, and perhaps even sad one. However, I realized that we both had jobs to do, and responsibilities that no longer required each other’s companionship, and I reluctantly but acceptingly bid “sayonara” and thanks to my friend as he left the room.

As the hours ticked by, more and more measures were being taken to ensure the safety of Tokyo and its citizens. The security officials ordered a general evacuation of all nonessential personnel surrounding the high-tension towers. It was a monumental job, but a job which had to be done. The operation was stunningly swift and efficient, and by nightfall, everyone was off the streets. Only tanks on patrol and police cars could be heard moving between the buildings, and the rest of Tokyo – even the inner sections that had not been evacuated – had become eerily silent. The tension felt on the previous night had magnified tenfold, and the air was thick with anticipation. No one knew for sure if anything would happen or when, and everyone remaining in the city – civilian and military personnel alike – was on a watch-and-wait basis.

The wait was not a long one.

The news office where I was stationed for the night commanded a good view of Tokyo, and was receiving all reports directly from security headquarters. And when the report came in that the massive form of Godzilla had finally risen from the harbor, I made preparations to carry out a plan that I had been formulating for most of the day. Lifting a large tape recorder from the floor to a nearby desk, I began a recording that would go on to document the horrific event that I was about to witness. As that recording is the best account I could possibly hope to give of what happened in Tokyo that terrible night, I have included a transcript of the complete recording here.

The following is that transcription:

This tape recording is for George Lawrence, United World News, Chicago, U.S.A. The date is August 27, 1956. This is Steve Martin, reporting from Tokyo, Japan. George, here in Tokyo, time has been turned back two million years. This is my report as it happens. A prehistoric monster the Japanese call Godzilla has just walked out of Tokyo Bay. He’s as tall as a 30-story building. And now he’s making his way toward the city’s main line of defense: 300,000 volts of electricity strung around the city as a barrier… a barrier against Godzilla. We can only hope that it holds him off.

He’s stopping in front of the wires now. We have no way of knowing if the electricity is activated or not, but if it isn’t, the brave men on the ground have but a few seconds to arm these towers. He’s moving forward again, and… yes, the electricity is working! Can you hear that roar, George? We here in Japan are hoping that it is the sound of pain, the sound of victory for mankind. Godzilla is tearing down the towers now, but the electricity is still flowing, still flowing into the monster’s body. […………] I can hardly believe what has just happened. Now it seems Tokyo has no defense. The beast has just expelled some kind of gas into the air. I’m not sure what kind of power it holds, but it appears to have been hot enough to literally melt the metal towers like ice in summertime. It will now fall to the brave men of the Japanese military to keep this behemoth from entering the city. They’re moving an entire tank corps to point-blank firing range. I’m saying a prayer, George… a prayer for the whole world. […………] George, the tanks have been wiped out by a wall of flames. Neither man nor his machines are able to stop this creature.

Godzilla is now moving further into Tokyo. The path behind him is one of total destruction. Massive fires are spreading. There are still people in these buildings, George. Men, women, and children. Dying in a holocaust of flame. The creature continues to move, pushing over buildings and spreading a strange mist across the city. […………] Godzilla has turned the heart of Tokyo into a sea of fire. Beneath the flames, thousands lie dead or dying. I wish I could deny it, George. I wish I could refuse acceptance of what is happening before me. But my eyes tell me the horrific truth: it is all real, all happening, and too terrible for words. […………] Nothing can save the city now. […………] The flames are drawing closer to this building. The monster will soon reach my block. Already my fellow reporters are preparing to flee… […………] This is it, George. Steve Martin signing off from Tokyo, Japan.

The monster had appeared above me, its terrifying face leaning over the building across the street and seeming, for all the world, to look directly at me. To look directly into me. By this time, I was alone in the room, and although I had moved away from the window with the intent of fleeing through the door, I had known since seeing the face of Godzilla rise into view that I would not be escaping. Within seconds, the room began to cave in around me, and the last thing I remember before a falling beam knocked me unconscious was the terrible roar of the creature ringing in my ears, and the sickening thought that, after everything I had been through, this would be the final sound I would hear in this life.

My next memory was of briefly waking, buried in wreckage and stiff from the cold of the night. At first, I moved slowly, attempting to recover my bearings and focus my eyes. The first vision that met my gaze was one of horrific destruction: laid out before me was a city in ruin, still smoking from the fires that had raged in the wake of Godzilla’s rampage. Turning my head, I suddenly became aware that I was not alone in the wreckage. To my right was a man in a uniform, also buried under the weight of the collapsed office building. The sight of the uniform suddenly seemed worryingly familiar to me, and with every ounce of strength I could muster, I twisted my body to the right, praying that my fears would be unfounded. But when I had finally moved close enough to the buried man to see his face and grab his arm, I was hit with two tragic revelations at once. As I had feared, the man beside me was Tomo. And he was dead. I was too exhausted for tears, too in shock and in pain to do little more than drop his limp arm back into the rubble and move away from his broken body. I could feel a darkness enveloping me, and in one final burst of strength I attempted to pull myself free of the wood and concrete that entombed my lower half. It would prove useless, as my final memory of that horrible night was of my strength failing me, and of the ground rushing toward me as I slipped, once again, into unconsciousness.

I don’t know how many hours went by before an auxiliary hospital unit found me. When I finally began to come to, I could feel the sensation of moving forward, of being carried. I knew it was daylight. I was surprised to be alive. The odor of scorched flesh permeated the air, and I fought to find the strength to open my eyes. When I finally did, I turned my head to see a most heartbreaking sight. All around me were men, women and children in various states of dishevelment. Many were obviously injured, some were sitting quietly in shock, and all of them were despairing. The sight of all the helpless human wreckage snapped me back to stark reality. I would later learn that emergency hospitals all over Tokyo were overflowing with the maimed and the dead. For the living, the horror of the previous night was over. The only thought left was the paralyzing fear that it could happen again that day or the next. For some of the victims, there would be hope. For others, there would be no tomorrow.

It was all too much to take in. As my stretcher was carried between rows of victims, I became aware that those who had survived without serious injury were all helping, in whatever way they could, to repair the human wreckage. Moments before I was finally set down in a corner of the hospital, I was relieved to recognize Emiko among those aiding the wounded. When the doctors moved away, I called out to her, praying that she would hear me. Fortunately, she did, and quickly rushed to my side to see if I was badly hurt. At that moment, I wasn’t actually sure how badly injured I was, and told Emiko that I was simply grateful – and lucky – to be alive. Her response spoke greatly to what must have been the state of mind of every survivor that morning: “I guess we’re all living on borrowed time.” These words held a terrifying truthfulness that made them seem an inevitability, and as I looked into Emiko’s concerned eyes, I could sense that she felt the same. She had undoubtedly witnessed tragedy after unspeakable tragedy within the previous few hours, seen more human carnage and death than any young woman should ever have to see. Yet Emiko remained strong, resolute in her mission to aid anyone she could. But still, her eyes betrayed a slight but definite hint of fear behind the strength. “Oh, Steve,” she said as she continued to look down on me. “What brought this upon us?”

It was an poignant question, and one for which I could not provide an answer. Even after all my investigation, attending all those meetings and seeing the monster with my own eyes multiple times, I had discovered nothing of significance, no clue as to what had stirred Godzilla’s rage. Dr. Yamane had provided an explanation for the monster’s past, a possible answer to the question of “where.” But as I laid on the hospital floor, covered in blankets and still stiff from unknown injuries, I began to wonder if the question of “why” would ever be answered.

The memories of Yamane’s speech on Godzilla’s Jurassic origins prompted me to ask Emiko if the eminent paleontologist had also survived the night, to which she replied that he had. I breathed a deep sigh of relief, but this moment of reassurance was swiftly followed by a surge of pain that nearly caused me to black out once again. Emiko told me not to move, and quickly left my side to find a doctor. The following hours passed in a series of brief awakenings and long stretches of restless sleep. I have no memory of a doctor finally coming to my aid, but I can only assume that someone with medical expertise did eventually arrive as, upon regaining consciousness sometime after Emiko’s departure, I discovered that most of the left side of my face – and a sizable portion of my chest – had been covered in thick bandages.  Moments later, and the blackness that had greeted my left eye upon awakening consumed my right eye as well, and another round of tortured, often interrupted sleep began. If the screams that echoed down the halls of the hospital did not wake me, then the memories of the previous night that invaded my dreams would do the job.

At a certain point later in the day, a passerby’s accidental bump jarred me awake and revealed that I had visitors. Next to me kneeled both Emiko and Ogata, who both looked as though they had lived through a thousand hells in a single afternoon. Ogata’s face was frozen in a state of perpetual concern, and the resolve that I had seen in Emiko’s eyes a few hours earlier had now been replaced entirely by heart-wrenching grief. I asked the couple if anything new had developed. Little did I know that my inquiry would prompt a profound moment in the story of Godzilla, and reveal a shocking truth that would tie the monster’s story with those of Emiko, Ogata, and my friend Serizawa in a way that I could never have imagined.

On the verge of tears, Emiko revealed that she had been keeping a “terrible secret,” one which she now believed could prove to be the only way of destroying Godzilla. However, revealing this secret would require breaking a promise. A promise she’d made to the man who had shown her this secret: Dr. Serizawa. As my mind reeled at the implications of what Emiko was saying, I began to put two and two together. Serizawa’s absence from the airport, his important “field experiments,” his research that had prevented me from meeting with him… Could these things be related to the secret Emiko was keeping?

I realized the terrible burden that must have been weighing the poor girl down. There she stood, bearing a secret that could lead to the salvation of her country, yet unable to speak a word of it to anyone. However, in the present situation, I realized that there was only one choice that she could make. Leaning in closer to her, I said, “Emiko… last night Tokyo was destroyed. Tomorrow it might be Osaka or Yokohama. If you can help, you must.” These words did the trick, and Emiko began to tell us a strange and terrifying story. To the best of my memory, these were her words to Ogata and I:

“When I went to see Dr. Serizawa, I had intended to tell him about Ogata and me, but there was something he wanted to show me first. He led me downstairs into his laboratory, and placed a small object into a large tank filled with fish. He told me to stand back, and I observed as the tank suddenly filled with bubbles. As I watched, the fish in the tank suddenly turned into bones, and then into nothing. It was terrifying to see, and I asked him to explain what he had just done. Dr. Serizawa had been experimenting with oxygen when he came upon a terrible chemical discovery: a way to destroy all oxygen in water, thereby disintegrating all living matter. An amount no larger than a baseball could turn Tokyo Bay into a graveyard. Serizawa had found a terrible destructive power, and until he could find a counteracting good that would come from this discovery, he didn’t want the world to know his secret. He made me promise never to tell what I had seen.”

As Emiko finished her strange story, Ogata and I sat in stunned silence. This revelation had the potential to change everything, but the path forward from there would not be an easy one. Not only had Emiko just betrayed the trust of the man who was still technically her fiancé, but now, in order to secure his help, she would have to reveal that betrayal to Serizawa himself. In a brief moment, the fate of the world had become the most personal thing imaginable. The salvation or extinction of mankind, reduced to a broken promise and, as I mentioned before, a romantic triangle of burdened souls. However, as hard as it would be, the path forward was clear.

A moment later, Ogata spoke up, voicing the opinion that was also my own: there was no other way to defeat the monster than to seek Serizawa’s help. I wished I could aid the two in their mission, to speak to Serizawa myself and convince him of the necessity of his cooperation. However, Emiko assured me that she and Ogata would leave to see him immediately, hoping against hope that he might change his mind and allow his oxygen-destroying device to be used. Before they departed, I left Emiko with these words: “Whatever you do, you mustn’t fail.”

The following day was spent in agonizing anticipation. I knew that Emiko and Ogata had no doubt delivered their request to Serizawa, that he had discovered Emiko’s betrayal, and that he was now faced with a terrible choice. After so many days of following the story and securing a front-row seat to almost every major development in the ongoing tale of Godzilla, I found it frustrating and crippling to now be waiting, injured and helpless, for the news to come to me. Fortunately, my wait would be a short one, as news quickly reached me that the Japanese government had begun preparations for a final stand against Godzilla. One last operation made possible by “the announcement of a new weapon containing terrifying power.” This so called “weapon” could be only one thing, and its deployment was conformation that Emiko and Ogata had been successful in their mission. Serizawa had yielded. Mankind had just found its second chance.

The next few days passed in a blur of car rides, radio announcements, phone conversations, medical checkups, and preparations. The boat, finding the location of Godzilla, the Oxygen Destroyer… before I knew it, all these had been accomplished, and I found myself standing on the deck on a research vessel as the operation to finally destroy the monster that slumbered below us was put into effect. The plan was a simple one: a diver in a pressurized suit would descend into the waters of Tokyo Bay with Serizawa’s Oxygen Destroyer in hand, and upon reaching the bottom, the device would be detonated as close to Godzilla as possible, hopefully disintegrating the creature and killing it forever. Ogata had volunteered for the dive, and Serizawa had insisted upon helping him place the weapon. Together, the men were lowered into the sea and began their decent, with rising bubbles and two lifelines – a safety rope and an air hose – the only indicators of their position. On the deck, men unwound the two lines while Dr. Yamane and Emiko looked on in concern. It was obvious that they feared for the men’s lives, but I found myself wondering what Emiko in particular was feeling in that moment, as she watched both the man she loved and the man she was arranged to marry disappear into the watery lair of a ravenous beast.

For the next few minutes, everything was quiet. The only announcement that came was confirmation that Ogata and Serizawa had reached the bottom, but following this, the silence returned. It seemed that every eye on the ship was trained upon the two patches of sea where bubbles rose and burst into the air, including my own. There was no way of knowing just what was happening below the waters. Had the men encountered Godzilla yet? Had they been forced to retreat? Had the device malfunctioned? These questions raced through my mind as I continued to focus on the bubbles breaking on the surface, the only indication that the brave men below were still alive.

Suddenly, one of the bubble patches was replaced by the rising form of a diving helmet. Ogata had surfaced, but as he was helped aboard the ship, Serizawa failed to materialize. The seconds ticked by, and as I watched it became clear that something was wrong. Ogata had removed his helmet and was now attempting to communicate with Serizawa via a small radio. The young man screamed Serizawa’s name again and again, but it appeared that no response was coming. As Ogata continued to attempt contact, I and the surrounding observers became aware that the sea in front of us had suddenly grown restless, with countless bubbles suddenly rising and churning the water with such force that the boat began to list to its port side. The sudden change could mean only one thing: Dr. Serizawa was alive, and he had activated his weapon. However, my jubilation was short-lived. The commotion at sea had distracted me from the drama on the deck, and I turned around to see two men furiously pulling Serizawa’s line and air hose up in a desperate attempt to recover him.

Seconds later, and a sickening sight met my eyes: the severed ends of both the safety line and the air hose whipped from the still-bubbling sea, and came to rest in the hands of the stunned and heartbroken men who had tried so hard to save their friend. The implication was clear: the lines had been cut on purpose. Serizawa had never intended to return to the surface. Instead, he had chosen the path of self-sacrifice.

As I would later learn, my old college friend had been terrified of the Oxygen Destroyer. The power it contained, as well as its potential to initiate a new arms race in a world already threatened by unspeakably devastating weapons, had been enough to drive the poor man to the brink of insanity with worry. It was for this reason that he had been reluctant to reveal the existence of his invention to the world. However, the words of Ogata and Emiko had finally persuaded him to let the device be used… but only once. I would soon find out that Serizawa had left no record of his research, no notes or drawings, no evidence that the Oxygen Destroyer had existed at all. Everything had been burned, and on the day of mankind’s final stand against Godzilla, the only existing Oxygen Destroyer – and the man whose brilliant mind still held the secret of its creation – met their end in the depths of Tokyo Bay.

Fortunately, Serizawa would not die in vain, nor would he die alone.

Moments after the discovery of Serizawa’s suicide, the ocean erupted into a violent explosion of water and hot air. It was as if the sea had begun to boil over, and from the center of the frothing cacophony rose the hideous visage of Godzilla. But this time, something was different. It was obvious that the beast was in pain, and as it roared one final, defiant bellow into the air and raised its arms to the Heavens, its massive body began to fall to the side. Seconds later, it was over. Godzilla had disappeared beneath the waves for the final time, and I felt the ship rumble with the shock of the creature’s body colliding with the ocean floor. A few more moments passed, and the sea calmed. The effects of the Oxygen Destroyer were wearing off, and soon the sea stood hauntingly still, betraying no evidence of the violence that had just occurred beneath the surface.

For what felt like several minutes, the observers aboard the boat were silent. But suddenly the silence was broken by the voice of a reporter on a deck above me: “People of the world, Godzilla is dead. Give us strength to rebuild our beloved land.” The words were appropriate, and better than anything I could have said in that moment. The sheer magnitude of what I had just witnessed had rendered me speechless, and I could do little more than continue to stare at the sea. However, as I began to perceive voices around me breaking the silence, one sound stood out and caused me to turn toward its source. On the deck below me, Emiko and Ogata kneeled in tears, distraught over the death of their friend.

It was then that I learned of one final piece to the story, one final element to the tragedy of Serizawa’s death. As I looked on, Ogata turned with tears in his eyes to face Emiko and quietly spoke these words: “He said, ‘be happy together.'”

I felt the weight of the entire tragic affair came crashing down on me. The day had been won by the sacrifice of a man who wished to spare the world from destruction. Not just at the hands of Godzilla, but from the unleashing of an invention too dangerous to exist, and too likely – given the nature of mankind – to fall into the wrong hands. But his suicide ran deeper still than this. He had known about Emiko and Ogata. Somehow, he had known. And in his final moments, he had chosen the happiness of the women he loved at the expense of any happiness for himself. His death had removed him from the equation, creating a straight line out of a triangle. Selflessness for the sake of not just the entirety of humanity, but for two lives that he valued over his own. I found myself humbled in the face of such grand poignancy. The nature of this victory – if one could indeed call it a victory – had been boiled down to its essence. And that essence was, in fact, the concept of humanity itself.

In the end, as the scientists, reporters, sailors, and civilians aboard the ship removed their hats and bowed their heads in reverent gratitude to Dr. Serizawa, I was reminded of just how “human” this entire story truly was. If Yamane had been right in his theory about atomic testing releasing Godzilla, then his rampage had been our fault. At the end of the day, it was possible that mankind had no one to blame but himself. But in the face of this threat, the Japanese people had fought back, and had triumphed. But there had been a heavy toll to pay, and the fact that the monster’s death came at the hands of a weapon with the potential to be far worse than any atomic weapon was not lost on me. Perhaps the conclusion of this story is a warning to mankind. Perhaps, as Emiko said to me on the morning after Tokyo burned, we truly are all living on borrowed time.

In the weeks since leaving Japan and returning to the States, I have had much time to reflect on these tragic events, and to find a kind of morbid thankfulness in having been a part of them. In the end, my mind cannot seem to fully grasp the profound nature of what I witnessed. Perhaps no man has the ability to truly absorb profoundness on this scale. Perhaps Godzilla was a sacred messenger, a supernatural being sent by the gods to deliver a warning to civilization. Or perhaps, there is nothing profound to be seen at all, and the entire affair was nothing more than a freak accident, a terrifying example of science gone awry and doors opened that should have remained closed. Perhaps it is nothing more than that: an opened door. In the end, however, it is not my job to find these answers, or to muse on the potential deeper meanings of tragic events for the amusement of my readership. I am a reporter, honor bound to record and relate the facts as they happen. As a reporter, I have done my job in telling the facts of this strange and horrific tale. But as a man, I must confess it will be hard to ever fully abandon the lingering feeling that I was chosen, perhaps by fate, to witness something profound, something important. But that is my burden to bear.

As I stood against the rail of the research vessel, staring out into the sea that now served as a grave for both man and monster, these words – intended to be the last in my report on Godzilla – echoed in my mind: The menace was gone. So was a great man. But the whole world could wake up and live again.

I pray that this was not naiveté. For once a door forbidden to be opened is opened, can it ever truly be closed? Time will tell.

Until then, the King of the Monsters is dead.

Long live the King of the Monsters.

— S.M.

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