2012/09/09 § 2 Comments
On the theme of Godzilla
The skyscraper collapses to one side, a cloud of dust and tumbling letters overtaking the families and financiers on the streets below. Run, they cry, turning, shielding their eyes. They scramble past sports cars and climb over tanks. The ground rumbles beneath their feet. A cereal box topples and crushes three of them before they can scream.
“Not today,” says an old woman, “not now.”
“He needs you,” says her son.
“He needs his father.”
A roar echoes down the cardboard canyons and the monster appears, towering over the steel and concrete horizon. Swarms of plastic people begin to spill from the city’s buildings, necks craned and legs churning, eyes wide with disbelief and terror.
“It can’t be,” they mutter, “how is this possible?”
“It’ll only be for an hour,” says the young man.
“It’s never just an hour,” says his mother. “Not for the rest of us. You’re gone for days, and then you stagger back hollow-eyed and covered in filth.”
The old woman looks toward her grandson in the other room, the mop-topped six-year-old slamming a toy lizard against the carpet, bouncing it towards a city of building blocks and empty cardboard. The grandmother sighs.
“You can’t keep doing this,” she says. “You know that.”
“You think I should take him with me?” he says.
“You can stop.”
“You know I can’t.”
Skyscrapers glow orange as the monster belches an endless column of radioactive fire, building after building nothing but ashes at its clawed and scaly feet. The monster crashes through the walls of City Hall. The mayor scrambles through the burning cardboard raining down around him and climbs aboard his triceratops. Together, they race down the avenue.
Two pirates press against a slab of upturned sidewalk as the mayor and his dinosaur pass, smiles painted on their terrified faces. Behind them their ship lies scattered in tiny, plastic piles.
“What do we do now?” says the girl pirate.
“We run,” says the boy pirate.
“Where? Where do we go?”
“Calm down,” says the boy.
“You’re better than this,” says the woman.
“I’m not,” says the man.
“I can’t,” says the girl.
A massive explosion rocks the living room, a tower of blocks crumbling down and burying Action Man. The pirate girl watches in dismay, then falls to her knees.
“He was our only hope,” she says.
“We can do this,” says the boy.
The monster’s giant foot crashes down into the rubble atop the superhero.
“Goddamn it,” the woman says, “you can’t just give up.”
“You don’t understand. Not using is worse than using. Do you really want me here, huddled in the corner, scratching at myself? Is that what you want?”
“I never said it was going to be easy.”
The mother and son stare at one another across the table. The young man slumps, his head down.
“I need help,” he says.
“We need help,” says the girl.
“We don’t,” says the boy.
“You do,” says the woman. “But not mine. Not anymore.”
Buildings tumble into the carpet, concrete and dust filling the air. The pirates bury their faces in their arms. The sidewalk shakes as Godzilla nears.
“We have to go, now,” says the boy pirate.
The old woman leans back into her chair.
The pirate girl trips, her knees hit the cracked pavement. The boy takes her hand.
“You’re my mother,” says the man.
“You’re an addict,” says the woman.
“I’m your son.”
“We can do this,” says the boy.
“I can’t trust you,” says the woman.
“Trust me,” says the boy.
“An hour?” says the woman.
“You promise?” she says.
The alphabet rains down around them. The last of the cereal boxes is in ruins, the street is nothing but rubble. A construction worker crawls toward his truck, only to be trampled by the rampaging monster.
“I promise,” he says.
Eirik Gumeny is the author of the Exponential Apocalypse series and has a chapbook of short fiction forthcoming from Kattywompus Press. His work has been published online a lot, in print occasionally, and has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize at least once. His website is egumeny.com.