Over Mount Fuji – Chapter 36 –

An Epic NovelDecember 21 —

Three weeks after the calamity in Okinawa, Nobuko stiffened as thick fog besieged all her surroundings and the smell of sulfur thickened. The gods could be upset, she thought, making their presence felt as the city air became dank and nauseating, as if tainted by an odor of rotten eggs mixed with the stench of excreta. She cringed when the cacophony of howling dogs mingled with the relentless drone of crickets added to the presence of a preternatural world.

Before ten in the morning, when Nobuko battered her way through the piles of snow in the Marunouchi’s business district, the most cabbalistic day of the month crept on. Debris flew through the air, accompanied by vibrations from the ground as people and salarimen yelled and dashed amok in the central district.

Amidst tolling temple bells, Nobuko grimaced at the gray clouds racing across the sky. She listened, but the whirling intonation disappeared when the hum grew louder. With blood pulsing in her temples, she became dizzy with a sense of foreboding: flocks of screaming birds fleeing west for the continent and kettles of vultures hovered and circled the sky. She froze, imagining herself a dying chick, whirling around before one of those scavengers consumed her. Nobuko shook her head to banish the vision.

Just before noon, the gale turned stronger. The motion intensified her dizziness; she remained nauseous. With four airline tickets in her hand, she quickened her pace to her father’s lab. Only when she entered the elevator of the Daiichi Building did her dizziness ease. Soon the normality of traveling up the eighty floors helped her to regain her composure.

“We must get out of here, quick!” Nobuko handed the tickets to her father at the seismograph machine.

“Those are useless now,” Yoshino said.

Byron approached Nobuko and clasped her waist. “The Narita Airport has closed.”

Nobuko snatched the remote control from the coffee table and switched on the telecast. The effects of storm flashed one after another from every news channel: clouds swirled like whirlwinds; wind howled and windows rattled. The gods must be angry, whipping up the wind and sea. “Ships are tossing around like flotsam,” she said. “How can we leave?”

Byron looked at her in agony. “We’ll get out.”

She turned to him. “Please don’t make promises you can’t keep.”

How could he promise? Nobuko squirmed, feeling distressed as TV footage showed the tsunami arrived, the waves crashing in from the sea, roaring up the coast. When they retreated, the shorelines looked like dry valleys. Rushing back and forth, these waves wrenched away everything along their path.

Bo-o-om!

Leaving his laptop behind, Wulfstein rushed to the window. “Damn it all!” As the building shook, Nobuko shuddered in disbelief. Mount Fuji had blast off its top. Bursts of volcanic activity and frantic eruption mingled with gusting winds.

Stunned, she draped her arms around Byron. On another channel, just outside of Tokyo Bay, at Yokosuka, waves crashed over seaside settlements. Their velocity crushed buildings, hurled ships against coastal structures, and dashed those further inland.

“The waves look like demons,” Nobuko said. Her body trembled. What’s happening? Why this? She gasped as the telecast captured the awful destruction: buildings collapsed in succession. When the waves rose higher, they threw workmen from breakwaters. It was as if the gods were roaming in the sea and wind, calling out one to another. Even the mountains were blowing off the top end of their heads.

“The Goddess Amaterasu-Omikami is angry,” Nobuko said.

“In the trench, it was the monsters battering anything and everything,” Byron said, “but here, the evangelicals say this is the Four Horsemen riding with a vengeance.”

“Planet Earth is raging in wrath,” Wulfstein said. “And in the Last Days, it speaks of a Leviathan rising from the deep.”

For a few seconds, piercing lightning and body-shaking thunder became more intense.

“If there is such a monster,” Byron replied, “it’s the Devil incarnate.”

“Don’t give me that fatuous answer, Byron,” Wulfstein said. “You claim to seek the truth, yet you negate it by spiritualizing it away.”

“I don’t. Only theologians do.”

“They’re the ecclesiastical authority, but behaving with no less stupidity than those of the scientific community.”

Nobuko sighed. Another argument, as though the disaster outside wasn’t bad enough. “This chitchatting is ridiculous,” she said. “We should be thinking of a way to escape.”

BYRON HELD HER TIGHT, feeling an awkward silence descend between them. “It’s too late to get out by air or sea now.”

“We’re going through hell.” Nobuko pushed him away, “and you said there’s a way of escape.”

“Just another ten minutes,” Wulfstein said, then turned his attention to Byron. “Those ancient scripts are there to convey sublime truths.”

Byron shook his head: to believe in such ancient scripts as evidence took faith, not science. “Your terrific imagination may bring a fresh perspective, but the establishment sees that as backward.”

“Not backward, Byron, but in a circle. People who consider themselves experts have invented murky jargon to confuse others.”

“Are we going to perish here as sacrifices or as martyrs?” Nobuko said.

“Sorry about the torture, Nobuko. It won’t be too long, I promise,” Wulfstein said to her before she went to her father, who had been examining the plotting sheets of seismographs.

Wulfstein opened his laptop, then turned to Byron. “Let me explain. What I’m saying isn’t ephemeral schlock. Bear in mind the Leviathan is mentioned in the book of Job.”

Wulfstein tapped a few commands into his laptop, and the Septuagint texts appeared on the computer screen. He zoomed onto a section in Job. “Out of his mouth proceed as it were burning lamps, and as it were hearths of fire are cast abroad. Out of his nostrils proceeds smoke of a furnace burning with fire of coal. If this doesn’t describe a dragon,
what does?”

Byron leaned forward but shook his head, confused whether to take him seriously. He’d always taken science seriously, and the Bible was only for the religious.

Wulfstein traced his fingers across the verse. “At his sneezing a light shines, and his eyes are as the appearance of the morning star.”

Byron’s brow rose. “That’s incredible, if one reads it literally.”

“Chinese legends attested to a red light seen from afar around the Ma-no Umi which turned night into day. And when he turns, he is a terror . . . .”

Wulfstein slumped back against the chair. “Isn’t this what we experienced in the Mariana Trench?”

Byron stood, trying to remain composed.

“And why do you think every eyewitness to the crash of TWA Flight 800 reported seeing a bright object ‘streaking’ toward the 747 before it exploded?” He stared at Byron. “Do you think these witnesses were all hallucinating?”

Byron remembered the incident. During an evening in July 1996, a plane took off from JFK airport on its way to Paris. But just off the coast of Long Island, it exploded, killing all 230 passengers onboard. The authorities later concluded the crash was due to a frayed wire in the center fuel tank, but such conclusion contradicted eyewitnesses who watched  he incident unfolded from the shoreline.

“Does that puzzle you, Byron? That a streaking object altered its course, both horizontally and vertically, before hitting the Boeing?”

“That’s an electrifying thought.”

Wulfstein leaned forward, releasing another sigh. “Think again. You don’t need to be a Rabbi to understand what such a powerful statement says. And all the ships come together would not be able to bear the mere skin of his tail.”

Seeing a possible connection, Byron froze, feeling disarranged. He now realized how formidable such a Leviathan could be, yet skepticism remained. “I might have my biases, but could a tail of a beast inflict such damage to a ship?”

“Think around the equation, Byron. I’m a bird that doesn’t fly with any flock, but have you noticed a common odd similarity in all the ships?”

“Like what?”

“That all the sunken ships have the same peculiar damage to their hulls; that all are dented on the starboard side.” Wulfstein watched Byron intently. “Like any creature, these beasts have their unique characteristics.”

“And that’s how those massive ships sank in the Ma-no Umi,” Byron cried, impressed yet troubled, still unable to believe what new possibilities might bring. “The beast must have a peculiar way of trailing astern, to starboard. Then its tail would swing, hit the starboard bow and sink it instantly.”

“My critics had already considered me a crackpot, but why should anyone be so surprised by disappearances in the Ma-no Umi?”

The puzzle might have fallen into place, Byron thought. It may not be the ultimate truth. Still, it’s a stimulating alternative. He wished to have more time to reflect on these ancient texts. But whenever he caught sight of Nobuko, she responded with her brow puckered and he felt torn as to how to comfort her.

“We’re dealing with something new.” The Professor stood up and grasped Byron’s shoulder. “I know it is a giant task ahead, but we’ve established its co-ordinates, and the field of the unknowns has narrowed.”

“It might possibly explain why the ships were always dented on the same side.”

“We may not have answers to all these questions, Byron. But at least we know they exhibit certain characteristics.”

Heady and fluttered in thought, Byron didn’t know what to make of Wulfstein’s statements. Now it could be a possible breakthrough, and if so, it would make the Leviathan something less unthinkable?

Through the window, Byron stared at the chaos, weighing the possibilities. Ash, rock and gases bellowed into the atmosphere and darkened the sky. Strong gales gusted. He felt perplexed as lightning flashed, turning the environs white. A double-edged sword! He knew what Wulfstein was driving at, even though he questioned his reasoning.

“Whatever is troubling you will have to wait, Byron.”

“Next time, when we’re safe.”

“You must face the issue when the time comes,” Wulfstein said. “The scientific community has considered me a schlock. And you may be a new element that could upset the equilibrium.”

Nobuko scowled whenever she glanced at the gaijin. “Spare me this ordeal, Professor,” she said. “Have you all gone insane?”

Staring at his laptop, then at his student, Wulfstein didn’t seem to hear Nobuko.

Before Byron could reply, the mountains emitted more roars. Ash and gases surged into the sky, drowning the atmosphere.

Wulfstein’s gallant attitude turned less combative, as though he now sensed the reality of annihilation before intellectual correctness. Byron strode over to Nobuko; they embraced, and he could feel her pounding heart.

Bursts of volcanic eruptions cast an eerie atmosphere. More booms followed.

“Byron,” Nobuko cried, desperation tainting her voice. “Why are you discussing philosophy when the world is crumbling?”

Her outburst told Byron to flee, yet instinct told him to be true to their mission. Everywhere in turmoil, where could they flee anyway? Gales battled the blinds. Heaps of debris blew around as the wind gusted. One window exploded, sending glass shards shattering into the lab. Lightning!

At high noon, the lab shook beneath Byron’s feet.

©) Joel Huan, author of Over Mount Fuji (available from Amazon and Barnes&Noble)

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~ by Joel on December 7, 2009.

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