As Tosh and Yuki stepped outside the Coco Roppongi Building, it was well after dark, but you'd never know it from the bright lights that lit up the Roppongi district. Building, bar, and restaurant signs bathed the city block in multi-colored neon, and chattering, laughing, and strolling people inundated the sidewalks and crosswalks, many of them foreigners from nearby embassies.
Some of the showy sign letters sported kanto, but Tosh had actually seen an English Coca-Cola sign as well as the familiar golden arches symbol of MacDonald's - not that Tosh and Yuki had wasted their evening meal in the latter establishment. No, instead they'd imbibed hamburgers, French fries, and hand-dipped malts in a Japanese edition of Johnny Rockets!
"Happy?" Tosh asked as he and Yuki stepped out into the sidewalk's pedestrian traffic.
"Mm-hmm," Yuki replied. "Johnny Rockets is one of my favorites. Besides, I thought it'd make you feel at home."
"Thoughtful of you."
Yuki smiled. "Of course. When am I anything else?"
"You really got into Little Richard's 'Tutti-Frutti.'"
"Hey, one of the best things about Johnny Rockets is joining in on the oldies. Everybody does it."
Yuki smiled slyly. "Well, almost everybody. You Americans usually are party-poopers." Then, maintaining the same buoyant tone, she shattered the pleasant post-supper afterglow. "Act as though I'm saying something coy, but there's a man tailing us. He followed us into Johnny Rockets and eyed us the whole time."
Tosh sighed. "Oh, great." The smell of fresh French fries that still clung to them suddenly seemed stale, but Tosh tried to hide his anxiety as he kept pace with Yuki's bouncy stride.
"Let's cross the street to the koban. Our snooper isn't likely to pull any shenanigans in such an obvious place."
The koban, or "police box," was a small police station occupied by two Roppongi cops. Over the front door, a large right light shone bright and easily visible. One of the uniformed officers stood in front of the police box, hands behind his back as he observed the passing crowds.
"Our tail is only a few meters behind us," Yuki said as she and Tosh strolled across the crosswalk. "I'll cause a distraction. Take this." She handed Tosh her cell phone. "Dr. Takashima's phone number is already entered. Just push ring. Walk several meters in front of me and call him. It's close enough to 9 PM that it shouldn't make any difference for him."
"But Yuki," Tosh said, "I can't let you take this kind of risk."
She raised an eyebrow and smiled ruefully. "I knew it was a dangerous job when I took it."
Once they were safely across the street, Tosh and Yuki strolled to the police box. Tosh walked on, as though he barely knew Yuki, while Yuki struck up a conversation with the on-duty officer in front of the koban. It sounded as though she was complaining about a stalker.
Heart thudding in his ears, Tosh trotted several meters forward. Suddenly, the many pedestrians who passed him on the right and left took on an ominous tone, and he momentarily wished he were back in Glendale, Oklahoma, reading a good book the way he usually did on Friday nights. But duty called.
He pushed "ring" on Yuki's cell phone, telling himself to ignore the people passing around him. One ring. Two rings. Three rings. Come on, come on, come on! Tosh sighed in relief when Dr. Takashima answered.
"Dr. Takashima. This is Toshiro Matthews, Ken's brother."
"Yes," a dry, paper-thin voice sounded. "I've been expecting your call."
"Can I talk to Ken?"
"I am afraid that won't be possible, Mr. Matthews."
"Because Ken escaped from the grounds half an hour ago."
Tosh's spirits plummeted. "Oh, no."
"He was in his near-Godzilla state. But earlier, I planted a homing device on his back, so we should be able to track him down."
"Thank God. When can I -- "
The tap on Tosh's shoulder sent a chill across his back. He immediately shut off the cell phone. When he turned, he wasn't surprised to find himself staring up at a well-built man in dark glasses, the same man who had been tailing him and Yuki all night; in his conservative business suit and staid striped tie, the guy was so out-of-place on the Roppongi sidewalk that he stood out like a gajin amidst the trendily-dressed Japanese citizens who passed by on both sides. Yuki stood next to the obvious government agent, her expression resolute, her posture defiant.
"Who were you calling?" Business Suit asked of Tosh.
"Is it any of your business?" Yuki asked.
"As a matter of fact, it is," the man replied, a flat statement with which Yuki did not disagree.
Tosh felt his knees wobble - now he really wished he were back in Glendale, Oklahoma.
In the subway tunnel -- dank, musty, and fetid with the stench of death -- the police opened fire. Clad in black from helmet to shoes and sheathed in Kevlar body armor, the men made a bold impression; their assault rifles pummeled the van-sized, cyclopean cancer tumor whose greenish-brown bulk covered the train tracks in front of the deserted subway train. But even though the policemen's formidable automatic weapons pumped a full auto-cyclic rate of 800 rounds per minute into the thing, it seemed to absorb the shells as though they were BBs.
"Aim for the eye!" the commanding officer yelled.
His men obeyed. But the billowing blob dripped a transparent seal over the brilliant green eye like a plate of bullet-proof glass, and none of the assault rifles' bullets could reach the glowing orb. The men cursed, all of them itching to annihilate this hateful thing that had already decimated a subway car full of civilians, the latter of whom had been reduced to tumor-ridden corpses littering the tiles next to the empty subway train.
Jittery but determined to prove his bravery to the veterans on the assault team, the youngest cop among them took two paces forward. But when he did, he stepped into something soft and mushy. Looking down, he realized he'd placed his foot into the torso of a dead man - a dead man whose chest had become a repository of burst tumors.
The young man screamed.
"Get back!" his commander yelled.
Too late. The cyclopean blob's skittering tendrils gripped the young man's ankles and knocked the cop to his back. As he was dragged towards the nightmare that straddled the subway tracks, ripe-smelling tumors the size of half dollars erupted across the horrified officer's cheeks and forehead, larger ones bloating out from his legs and torso.
"H-Help me!" he screamed. "Help me!"
His companions rallied. Two rushed forward in an attempt to pull the tendrils off their young compatriot, but in no time, black tumors grew like ugly knots across the men's chests and bellies and legs, causing the cops to double over in pain.
The young policeman's fellow officers continued to pump round after round into the thing on the tracks, two of them breaking out submachine guns, all to no avail. A slit-like mouth two meters wide parted beneath the lone green eye, and the monster's tendrils dragged the struggling young cop into the cavernous maw.
His legs kicking like a frog's hindquarters sparked by a cattle prod, the police officer's screams morphed into liquid gurgles before the slit closed over him. Then, the thing began to quiver, its color ominously changing from an aqua brown to a dark blood red.
"Get the hell out of here!" the commanding officer yelled, not wishing for any more of his men to be sacrificed to the godawful thing on the subway tracks. As his men backed away, rifles still in hand, the commanding officer radioed headquarters and told them the score. Grimly, his superiors ordered him to give his men the command he had already given them, for it was obvious that it was going to take more than high-caliber firepower to take out this hellish cyclopean kaiju.
Business Suit ushered Tosh and Yuki into Yuki's brightly-lit apartment, the door of which was unlocked. Yuki gasped, but Tosh was less than surprised to see a man with a Sumo wrestler build, round face, and bland expression sitting in one of Yuki's leather easy chairs. What did surprise Tosh was that the guy wasn't wearing dark attire, but instead sported an expensive, obviously tailored light blue suit, double-breasted, and a red silk tie that probably could have paid a week's worth of Tosh's rent back home.
Blue Suit brought the fingertips of his very large hands together. "We don't have much time to lose," he said, "so I'm going to skip the formalities."
Yuki stormed in front of the bulky man, who remained unperturbed. "Formalities? You break into my apartment, kidnap us off the streets, and you call that formalities? I call that -- "
"Ms. Shimura," Blue Suit said, his low, resonant voice calm but commanding, "perhaps I should introduce myself."
"I know who you are," Yuki replied, planting hands on hips. "Hajime Hirose. CCI's number one bully." Standing before Mr. Hirose's seated bulk, Yuki looked like an anorexic shark facing down a blue whale.
Mr. Hirose a.k.a. Blue Suit smiled blandly. "No time for this, Ms. Shimura. Lives are at stake."
That statement caused Yuki to back off, physically and otherwise. "What are you talking about?"
"Cyclops?" Tosh repeated. It seemed that Tosh had come across that name or concept only recently.
"Yes," Hirose replied. "One of the Godzilla People who has unfortunately escaped."
"Godzilla People?" Tosh said, laughing too quickly. "Who the heck are the Godzilla People?"
Supporting his considerable bulk, Hirose's leather chair creaked as he swiveled it so that he was squarely facing Tosh. "Don't insult my intelligence, Mr. Matthews, and I promise I won't insult yours. You and Ms. Shimura know all about the Godzilla People. You should." A tiny smile touched his lips. "After all, CCI sent you Ken's computer disk, Mr. Matthews."
Tosh pushed his brows down. "Why?"
"We hoped you would be able to track Ken down, or find someone who could. You didn't disappoint us."
Tosh cautiously sat on the edge of the couch. "How so?"
Hirose raised an eyebrow. "Remember what I said about insulting our intellect. Your phone has been bugged since Ken went missing off Regicide Island. That's how we knew you were coming to stay with Ms. Shimura." Hirose moved his ample chin towards Yuki. "Ms. Shimura, we've been monitoring your cell phone transmissions since this morning. We know from Mr. Matthews' call earlier this evening that Ken was at Dr. Takashima's. We also know he escaped earlier tonight."
"So," Yuki said, crossing her arms and straightening her spine, "what don't you know?"
"How we are going to stop Cyclops." Hirose's baby face turned grim. "Cyclops is the nickname the creature was given on Regicide Island. It was being transported to a secret research base in the interior of Honshu, but the transport helicopter crashed in the hills outside Tokyo. Cyclops escaped. The men inside the helicopter died."
Yuki looked puzzled. "I heard about the helicopter crash, but not about any 'Cyclops.'"
"Of course not, Ms. Shimura," Hirose replied with a trace of impatience. He swiveled his chin towards Tosh. "Mr. Matthews, as you will recall from Ken's disk diary, one of the G People who had terminal cancer literally turned into a giant tumor sans legs or arms, but sporting one eye and a ravenously hungry mouth."
"Yes," Tosh said, moving further to the edge of the couch. "I remember."
"For a while," Hirose continued, "the unfortunate creature maintained its memory and repeatedly asked to be killed. But now even that small vestige of humanity no longer exists. Now Cyclops is a deadly kaiju with only one objective: to survive at all costs."
Tosh gulped. "And that thing's here in Tokyo?"
Nodding, Hirose replied, "I'm afraid so. It's in the subway tunnels beneath Roppongi as we speak."
Yuki's eyes flew open. "What?"
Hirose smiled grimly. "It gets worse. Anyone who comes within a five meter range of Cyclops is immediately stricken with advanced cancer. We don't understand how this works, but apparently a cloud of potent carcinogens, either chemical or viral, exists in an invisible cloud around the creature. Once you invade the thing's 'personal space,' one or more tumors immediately appear on your body and metastasize at a fantastic rate. The cells' proto-oncogenes go berserk, and all brakes on halting the damaged cells' phenomenal replication rate come to a screeching halt. More tumors riddle your body, both within and without, in less than sixty seconds." Hirose chuckled bleakly. "You literally die within five to seven minutes. Less, if you're lucky."
"My God," Yuki said, taking a seat on the couch beside Tosh.
Tosh cleared his throat. "I assume you know this because -- "
Hirose's eyes grew intense. "Because people have already died. A subway car full of civilians and several police officers have been killed. And we know from eyewitness accounts that Cyclops is getting bigger."
"How does it add more mass without food?" Tosh asked.
Letting his generous chin rest on his button-down collar, Hirose's expression flattened. "Oh, it gets plenty of food."
Yuki shook her head. "You don't mean -- "
"Yes," Hirose replied. "It literally absorbs people for sustenance."
Tosh looked towards the patio's sliding glass doors; outside, Roppongi's barrage of neon lights suddenly seemed overwhelmed by the tomb-black infestation of the night, and Tosh couldn't help but think of all those carefree partiers cavorting on the streets of night time Roppongi who might soon wind up as Cyclops appetizers. He prayed that God would have mercy on the souls of the civilians and police officers the thing had already killed.
"Has the public been alerted?" Yuki asked.
"No," Hirose replied. "We think it wise not to cause a panic."
Yuki leaped off the couch. "Not to cause a -- "
"Ms. Shimura, Cyclops is impervious to automatic weapons, flamethrowers, machine guns, grenades. We've tried them all. How would it be in the public's interest for them to know that a monster the authorities cannot stop is loose in the subway beneath Roppongi?"
Yuki seethed. "They have a right to know!"
"Mr. Hirose," Tosh said, "you could at least evacuate Roppongi."
Hirose closed his eyes as though humoring two well-meaning children. "CCI projections indicate that any attempted evacuation of the Roppongi district at this point could result in more casualties than the creature itself might cause. In addition, because of the many embassies in the area, evacuation could cause an international incident, something Japan doesn't need right now."
Yuki stood her ground. "It's not right. And it wasn't right that CCI actually flew such a creature over a populated area, knowing the danger. In fact, this whole 'Godzilla People' experiment should never have -- "
"Please," Hirose said, waving her ethical concerns aside with a casual sweep of his hand, "compose your editorials on your own time. Here in the real world of right now, the only thing that may stop Cyclops is Kenji Matthews. In his near-Godzilla form, he can fire an atomic heat ray. That ray is highly radioactive. And as you know, targeted radiation can destroy tumors."
"So," Tosh said, "you want me to help you find Ken so he can stop this Cyclops?"
Hirose nodded curtly. "Yes. The sooner we find your brother and bring him here, the sooner Cyclops's menace will be terminated. Right now armed troops beneath the city streets are trying to hold the creature at bay. But they're having little luck. It appears that nothing short of a tactical nuclear weapon can kill Cyclops, and that can't be risked in such a highly populated area." Hirose leaned forward and looked directly into Tosh's eyes. "Will you help us, Mr. Matthews?"
Feeling strange, Tosh shrugged. "Of course."
Hirose bounded to his feet. "Then, as you Americans say, 'let's roll.'"
© Todd Tennant 2004