Over Mount Fuji – Chapter 34 –

An Epic NovelNovember 9 —

Wulfstein and his team managed a smooth ascent from the Mariana Trench and a safe journey back to Tokyo. Spearheaded by intense media attention, they enjoyed a week of pomp and pageantry, and gave numerous interviews.

But Eileen wasn’t that lucky since the day she landed. On the way back from dinner, an owl flew over and scratched her forehead. Just a fright, but other late night commuters had worse experience. Colonies of bats attacked them by biting their nose and ears, spilling blood and causing commotion throughout the nights.

Since then, she feared going out after dark. But two days ago, a crow bit her right ear when she went out shopping. Another fright! Since then a murder of crows had being hanging around the compound, making their presence felt by their long and short eerie caws, causing her hair to stand on ends. As a result, Eileen had been reluctant to go out, and whenever she did, her trips were always short and in a rush.

After retreating to her hotel room for most of the time, she pondered over the evidence from the trip on what to write for her Raging Planet magazine. Now, over long hours in her study, she turned to her desk to read more from a bundle of newspapers and magazines that had accumulated through the weeks. Unsure what would come out of it, she frowned as sorrows weighed on her mind.

Leafing through the New Scientist, she found a series of articles on the psychic, Edgar Cayce, his dreams and mysteries of the mind. Not only were he debated intensely by geoscientists and neuroscientists but were discussed meticulously by scholars from other specialties, among whom were psychologists, historians and anthropologists. But in a concluding remark by Blackmore, he charged with a final attack: “I am not about to be converted to Wulfstein’s form of madness though he certainly has had some success. His idea is nothing more than a figment of Verne’s imagination.

“In his quack’s theory, he decks out his own apocalyptic idea of a troubled world with scientific balderdash. Like a monkey in the tranquility and solemnity of a lab, he manipulates Cayce’s dreams and taps into the Japanese sense of uncertainties that ‘the greater portion of Japan must go into the sea’.”

But why had Cayce’s dreams generated so much public interest? Eileen thought. Wasn’t he the same psychic who touted the idea that San Francisco and Los Angeles would slip into the ocean? And why would he make such a statement about the sinking of Japan?

She shook her head, knowing that the locals already had a plethora of novels, films and cartoons about such a catastrophe. Like Mrs. Yoriko, the hostess of a ryokan she met earlier while touring northern Honshu, the psyche of Japanese souls and minds had been prepared for such an epic. But none of the American had such psyche, if psyche could be classified as such.

The Times of London described how owls and whales listen, bears smell, and eagles see. Yet another about the platypus describing how its beak could detect electrical current created by its prey’s muscle movements—all written with the theme that modern equipment had yet to catch up.

Another article reported a surge of shark attack all along the beaches worldwide. Images of the insatiable marine creature in Durban, South Africa, swallowing humans drew media sensation and headlines, rushing many journalists toward the shoreline, from the swaying coconut palm beaches in Hawaii, to the Ocean Beach in San Francisco, and the sea around Chile. “As if instilled with a new instinct, sharks are attacking swimmers and scuba divers in an unprecedented scale.”

But the most prevalent of all, New Scientist reported people attacked by fire ants and stinging bees were on the rise. They often took place in temples, churches and mosques, when worshippers concentrated in prayers. A surge of violent domestic pets also added to their pain. Normally thought to be harmless and friendly, cats had attacked children in unprecedented numbers. Led by Pit Bulls and Rottweilers, dogs had begun mauling strangers and owners alike, filling hospitals with more victims.

Eileen flipped through the rest of the magazine. Tales of spirits and giants had become prevalent in Amazon tribal lore. Though scientists disputed that anyone could have such sightings, tribal people persisted with more peculiar claims: Sasquatch in Oregon, Yeti in the Himalayas, even reports from Tonga. But all along the Ryukyu Islands, fishermen had
reported strange sights and sounds rising from the sea, amidst rolling mist and fog.

Eileen wanted to investigate the islands, yet she hesitated. The Okinawan Times reported a demonstration against Americans was underway. With only one month to go before the last American left base, tensions heightened during the evacuation—every Okinawan had insisted a curfew be imposed on all servicemen on the island. Disgusted at
being treated this way, three servicemen dodged the curfew and, in a final act of defiance, raped a schoolboy. Although they were caught and charged, the locals still called for a mass demonstration against the Americans.

But in Tokyo, the long and short caws made by crows were getting louder, more eerie and persistent.

Then in the second week of November, lava spewed out of Mount Fuji suddenly.

Bo-o-om!

The sound of terror filled the air. Sirens howled; traffic rushed to and fro. From her hotel window, Eileen squinted at the sacred volcano erupting spontaneously.

Then, listening to news, she squirmed, realizing that Mount Fuji wasn’t alone. Niseko on the island of Hokkaido and Sakurajima in Kyushu had followed suit. Television and radio news were full of commentaries about whether more would erupt.

Stunned, Eileen just glued herself to her couch. During the next few days, a series of volcanoes erupted around the Ring of Fire, making it live up to its name. All around the Pacific, dormant volcanoes had stirred to life as if an unseen hand turned on a switch in the earth’s core. What was it she once read? Something about an ancient fire god who lay asleep deep within the belly of a volcano until someone called his name.

In the Philippines—Babahao and Mayon had erupted. In Java—Perbakti and Galunggung. Orang Alijeh, the mountain god the Javan believed in, had breathed smoke and fire into the heavens to show his displeasure of white men still ruling over the local inhabitants.

In New Zealand, it was Mount Ruapehu. From Chile to Ecuador—Villarrica, Cerro, Cotopaxi and Chimborazo—had lit up. In Mexico: Popocatepetl and Jocotitlan. Onward to Cascade Mountains: Mount Baker. In Alaska: Frosty and Yantarni. The Aleutian Islands: Kista and Semisopochnoi. The Kamchatka Peninsula: Zheltovsky and Kliuchevskoi. And inside the Pacific Rim: Hawaii, fresh lava streaming down to the sea from Kilauea had gathered strength, like red eyes glowing from monstrous Earth.

Broadsheets and tabloids had published a surge of stories. The Straits Times reported shortly after 10:30 A.M the day before, two minibuses screeched up to a curb in front of the American Embassy in Jakarta. Dressed like soldiers, thirty armed men jumped out and fired their automatic weapons into the embassy, killing employees, patrons and passersby. Blood spilled across the sidewalk and walls. People screamed and ran amok for safety. Other groups  similarly attacked the British and Australian embassies. Security guards fired back. Within minutes of each other, the suicide fighters had sacrificed their lives, taking hundreds with them.

On the same day, Indonesians ran amok in Yogyakarta, killing Chinese and white foreigners throughout the city. Citizens believed Orang Alijeh, their ancient god, breathed smoke and fire to display his displeasure for its inhabitants who had succumbed to outsiders, economically and politically.

Eileen scanned the next page. In Hawaii, early Sunday morning, arsonists torched three churches, burning them to the ground. Within hours, the Homeland Security, the FBI and the Pentagon had coordinated their effort and placed American security forces around other Christian buildings to protect them. The arsonists all escaped. But what had caused such carnage?

Pele, described as ‘She-Who-Shapes-The-Sacred-Land’ in ancient Hawaiian chants, had become the most revered of all the gods and goddesses. Dwelling in the craters of the Big Island’s Kilauea Volcano, her status as goddess had been denied by Christians. When the missionaries arrived two hundred years ago, they declared the local gods and goddesses were devils, cast out of heaven.

Now in retribution, Pele sent ribbons of fiery lava down the mountainside and added new land around the southeastern shore almost continuously for the last two weeks. Although legends of her rivals abounded, statements about Pele’s wrath gathered strength, roaring and sending sulfur through the mountains to regain her influence.

But on the last week of November, when Japan Times reported that animals were behaving strangely all over the national parks of Hokkaido, Eileen wanted to investigate. To avoid attacks from the watching crows outside the hotel, she donned a headscarf, then drove to the Narita Airport, and took a flight north. At Sapporo, she hired a car and drove to Daisetsuzan, a popular resort famed for its hot springs.

All along the way, as heavy snowfalls still besieged the countryside, the smell of sulfur thickened, hissed from nearby fumaroles and hot springs. Numerous sika deer greeted her with their bugles ringing through the air, alerted, their eyes constantly bulged out, searching the horizon. Next, a group of macaques with rugged fur, jumped around and
appeared restless as she passed.

Above, a flock of birds that seemed like the kites she’d seen before hovered in circles. As Eileen stopped to have a look, they landed in front of her. Only when she stared closer did she realized their heads were bald and devoid of feathers.

Vultures! She shuddered as a chill ran down her spine. Scavengers! She rushed back to her car and drove, wondering whether all the birds she had assumed as kites before were actually vultures.

When Eileen reached the resort, she felt the low rumblings from the ground, and they became more intense with each minute passed. She did more investigative inquiries around the national park.

“Just a swarm,” a volcanologist from the park said. “We literally have thousands of quakes everyday. We are confident they are not caused by magma, only continuous movements of superheated water and gasses.”

Eileen squirmed, not knowing what to make out of such statements.

Moments later, rangers reported, “More dead fish are floating around the lakes,” and “herds of deer are heading away from the region.”

After some pestering from Eileen, the resort manager took her to a ranger where he obliged her with further information. “Fewer birds are spotted and the number of injuries to tourists caused by brown bear attacks has increased.” And all around Hokkaido, increasing number of sightings of cattle being poisoned. For those who lived within a few hundred miles of the Daisetsuzan National Park, “a massive invasion of feral raccoons has been spotted, and a hundred sika deer killed.”

THE ERUPTIONS AT Mount Fuji continued. In the lab, Nobuko rushed with Byron to peer out the window over the horizon. She couldn’t believe her eyes as eerie rumblings from the mountain penetrated the sealed room from which they stood. Stunned, Nobuko ran back and surfed through the channels, but got the same sight and sound.

“The world’s crashing around us,” she said, squinting at the volcano. Billows of smoke roared from under an immense cloud pillar.

“The Pacific Plate is smashing into the mantle.”

“Legend has it that a monster lies in the bowels of planet Earth,” she said. “An earthquake is when a monster awakens and changes its position.”

“Scientists don’t want stories, Nobuko,” Byron said. “Everything must be tested methodically to establish the facts.”

“I’m no scientist,” Nobuko said. “But have scientists established the essence of ghosts or aliens? I know they exist. Didn’t we just come back from a deep-sea trip where monsters attacked our sub and chased us through a maze of caverns? We have them on videotape as testimony of what we have experienced.”

Bo-o-om! The sound kept rumbling in the distance.

Wulfstein rose from his chair and joined them at the window. “Planet Earth is breathing and belching. If only we can see it from another angle, our planet is alive.”

“Alive or not,” Byron said, “our world is coming apart at its tectonic seams.”

The wind gusted and the building wobbled. Nobuko frowned with an overwhelming sense of misery, puzzled by some crazy stuff she had read. If scientists understood how an insect in the tropics could initiate a hurricane, how much easier it was to understand a myth that creates typhoons. “This is Mothra flapping its wings,” she said.

“Mothra—a moth?” Byron asked, entranced by the fiery sky. “So I guess it’s the monstrous Mothra that is creating the butterfly effect.”

“It might be the triggering effect,” Wulfstein said to Nobuko. “One quake could trigger another at the other end of the earth.”

“Ee-eek!” The sound from EQ-Lun interrupted them. Wulfstein turned to switch his laptop on. “Blo-o-op!” replaced the eek sound. Lines of a spectrogram appeared. He tapped a few keys and the cursor moved to the center of the screen. While the cursor pulsed, an outline of the Pacific Ocean came into view, with the islands of Japan lying just at the top-left corner.

“It’s getting closer to Japan,” Wulfstein said, pointing.

“What is?” Byron asked.

“The sound. Even the beasts are sensing something.”

BYRON STARED AT the screen, not knowing what to say. The spectrogram wavered in its intensity. One possibility could be that the beast was making a move, but why? And why toward the archipelago?

“This needn’t be a total mystery,” Wulfstein said. “The works of the Ancients may have more truths than we care to acknowledge.”

“Works of the Ancients?” Byron asked. “Sources from Nostradamus? Some claim these events as signs of the Last Days.”

“Not unless you mean Judgment Day,” Wulfstein said. “According to a Chinese poet, a monster on the move could be over a thousand miles in length.”

“That’s ridiculous,” Byron protested. “Most legends were written by over-zealous scribes.” Nothing made sense. For a moment, it made him think of his astronomy class when his teacher mentioned Cohen, a comet in flight of a thousand miles in length. He felt petrified; who in his right mind could fancy such a thing?

“It’s impossible,” Byron said. “It is one thing to imagine, but to believe a monster of such length is absurd.”

“It may sound illogical or, at best, metaphorical. But think outside the box, Byron. Legend has its place.”

Byron sighed. “Maybe it refers to a living organism like the living earth. That’s more than one thousand miles in length.”

“Metaphors help us to imagine the unimaginable,” Wulfstein said. “A freak of imagination you may need. Yes, an incredible one-thousand-mile monster living at the foot of a mountain.”

“Earthquake mechanics are now better understood,” Byron said. “But nowhere are we getting closer to the truth, unless you say that Japan lies at the foot of a continent.”

“You nail the issue, Byron,” Nobuko said. “If this archipelago can breathe, isn’t it a living monster?”

“It would be more than preposterous,” Byron said. “Surely it’s gobbledygook to stretch its size from New York to Miami.”

“Nothing is more fantastic than reality,” Wulfstein said. “What else in folklore better reflects the monster’s supremacy than its size—a thousand miles?”

Absorbed in a struggle, Byron hung his head. Had he understood correctly? “So it must be metaphorical.”

Wulfstein turned. “Years of deciphering cuneiform have revealed our slow progress in catching up with the Babylonians’ astro-mythological concepts.”

“It’s a real leap!”

“It’s a giant leap, Byron. What do you think about the engineering feat of the Pyramids? What about the persistent rumble of scientific research on the lost civilization of Atlantis? And what do you say about tankers over 200,000 tons that sank?”

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

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~ by Joel on December 9, 2009.

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