Over Mount Fuji – Chapter 31 –

An Epic NovelBehind Keiko, a few plesiosaurs swam closer. Byron counted six of them looming around before more glided out from the caverns. He shook his head, not quite believing seeing such beasts were looming around.

Gr-u-k. Gr-u-k.

Byron turned to Nobuko. Her face was like bleached paper in the prospect of certain doom.

“We’re trapped,” Kiichi said.

Blo-o-op. Blo-o-op.

Ensnared and stunned, Byron stared at the dragon, then at the plesiosaurs. The elasmosaur’s blooping roars, mixing with the voice of the namazus, echoed like the cries of a hundred beasts.

“Let’s get the hell out of here!” Nobuko screamed.

“Kiichi is trying,” Byron said, holding her shoulders. “Keep calm.”

The plesiosaurs spread across the ocean floor. A claustrophobic revulsion settled in his chest as the scene grew more surreal. One namazu, darker and larger than the rest, charged at the elasmosaur, but the legendary creature spun around with incredible agility and avoided its opponent’s jaws.

NOBUKO STARED INTO the monitor, ignoring the sweat dripping down her face. More plesiosaurs closed in, now coming from both directions. “How can we escape?” she murmured.

Four plesiosaurs swam into the path of the dragon. Their frightful claws looked huge, and their teeth serrated, like those of a Caterpillar’s. A namazu might come from behind and bite into the scaly skin of its enemy or sink its teeth into the neck.

The leader of the pack pivoted on its right forefoot, its tail whipped back and forth, then swung its massive body in a half-circle and sprang at the dragon. Its wake tossed Keiko up and down.

Holding onto Byron, Nobuko’s screams matched the sounds of wailing yells.

Blo-o-op. Blo-o-op.

Gr-u-k. Gr-u-k.
     
EILEEN SQUIRMED; SHE KNEW she had to be strong to witness such a discovery. She grimaced at the skipper—beads of sweat glistened on his forehead, but his eyes looked blank, as if he’d been hypnotized.

The dragon shot out something that resembled a jet of flare from its mouth, causing the skipper to flinch. An edgy truce ensued as the beasts regrouped for the next round. The namazus charged, but the dragon moved aside. The larger namazu keeled over, then righted itself.

It swung its heavy tail in and hurtled behind the dragon. The others charged in, snapping their jaws.

Gr-u-k. Blo-o-op. Gr-u-k. Blo-o-op.

Eileen froze, pencil poised in her trembling hand. Would the dragon be able to kill the namazus or would they crashed into the sub and destroyed them all?

The dragon retreated, turned its head with ease and snapped up a namazu by the neck. The namazu flung its tail at the dragon’s face so suddenly that the dragon loosened its jaws, allowing the namazu to spring free and swim to safety.

With furious speed, the dragon lunged forward and caught hold of the enemy’s shoulder. The namazu opened its jaws, its tail lashing. In another snap, the dragon bit through the namazu’s back. The namazu tried to wiggle out, its tail still lashing, but the dragon held on. The namazu’s body twisted back and forth.

Such attempts to free itself only whipped the dragon into a frenzy, biting its neck, vertebrae and all. Then, snarling, it wrestled the namazu to the ocean floor, creating more turbulence in the water, bobbing Keiko up and down. Filmy blood flowed freely from the beast’s severed back as a large piece of flesh fell loose. The dragon swallowed, then ripped at the carcass, slicing off more chunks.

The dragon hovered beside its fallen prey, raised its head and emitted a rumbling roar.

No one spoke. Eileen couldn’t move. Her chest heaved in a rapid rhythm; her arms glistened with cold sweat as she teetered on her wobbly legs.

Squealing like a wild boar, another namazu lunged forward in another new round of attacks. The dragon responded with great force and quick movements. This time, it coiled around the namazu and squeezed it. The trunk of this victim bristled in an armor of mighty hooks and spikes. The muck of blood and silt spread, making it impossible to distinguish one from the other.

Something banged against Keiko. Like a ship tossed in a storm, Kiichi flew and knocked his head onto a bulkhead as the sub somersaulted. Everybody else tumbled to the floor.

The struggle for supremacy raged on as Keiko’s feeble searchlights barely penetrated the opaque gloom. Eileen turned to Kiichi, who appeared stiffened. His eyes bulged as he let out a guttural gasp of alarm and then collapsed to the floor.

“What happened?” she asked.

“He fainted,” Wulfstein said, rushing over.

“He needs oxygen.” Eileen extracted a case out of the emergency cabinet and applied an oxygen mask to Kiichi’s face.

Wulfstein monitored at the console. “We have to do something.”

“You take over, Professor,” Yoshino said.

“Me?”

“You know this sub better than any of us,” the Sensei said. “How do we keep them away?”

The dragon appeared again, moving slowly toward the bow.

WULFSTEIN STOOD. HIS dream had transformed into a nightmare, yet it might be an opportunity. His body shook; he couldn’t think, confused by the change of direction that he’d to take over the submersible. Distressed, he cursed under his breath and slammed his fist on the console. How?

Blo-o-op. Blo-o-op. The dragon remained at the bow, its attention focused on the sub.

As precious seconds slipped away, Wulfstein tried to breathe deeply but couldn’t. A scientist and problem solver, now his despairs so deep, so profound, he couldn’t find a way out.

Dabbing at his temples, he tried to clear his mind. He dabbed his temples again, and again. Suddenly, he realized a creature might be frightened by one of its own sound. “Let’s have EQ-Lun play back their bloop sound through our sonar pulsars.”

Yoshino nodded and sprang into action. “Let’s do it.”

Wulfstein rewound his recording at the console. He waited until the red murky water drifted off and the environment cleared, then pushed a button. A second later, the sound magnified and boomed across the waters.

Blo-o-op. Blo-o-op. Ping . . .

The dragon hovered, looking confused. It remained still. Then, slowly, it glided away. After a few moments, it stopped and turned. It stared toward the sub, shaking its head. It blinked its eyes, then turned again and swam off.

Wulfstein put the sub into reverse. Lurching at an angle, he sped away. With the compass going berserk, he had no idea in which direction the sub was heading. Yet, he had the sub under control, guiding it smoothly away.

“Akira, Akira, this is Yoshino in Keiko . . .” the Sensei tried to contact Satsuma Maru, but received no answer.

Wulfstein checked the instruments. Although the sub was equipped with state-of-the-art technology, an inexplicable electromagnetic field had still affected its instrument. With cold sweat  drenching his face, he shook his head. After engaging Keiko in automatic mode, he strode back and pulled Eileen close to him. “Are you okay?”

“For the first time I’m feeling like the Japanese,” she said, her hands gripping his shoulders.

“What do you mean?”

“I’m feeling the process of death.”

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

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~ by Joel on December 12, 2009.

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