Over Mount Fuji – Chapter 25 –

An Epic NovelEileen remained seated while the audience streamed back into the hall. During the lecture, she had been thinking of all the information that Wulfstein had gathered, especially the bloop moving around the Pacific. Why didn’t he talk about such stuff?

Reporters clustered before the podium, having verified that a 7.9 quake had struck the Izu Peninsula. The floor broke into raucous applause when Wulfstein stood up for the question and answer session.

“If dragons exist today,” Tom Campbell began, “where’s your proof?  If you can’t come up with something concrete, then it’s just your imagination.”

“It depends on what kind of proof you want,” Wulfstein said. “I don’t think I’ve succeeded in conveying to you its wonders: its incredible consistency through history, its remarkable elegance in our arts, and its magnificent beauty when viewed by various cultures.”

“No, you haven’t,” Tom said. “And we’re not here for a literary exercise. It’s a big mistake to theorize before you have evidence. Now, what about the dragon as a physical creature?”

“Are you accusing me of being a charlatan?” Wulfstein pounded on the lectern. “Look here! I can only tell you the balance of probability, but that doesn’t make it guesswork.”

“Such a proposition doesn’t prove a thing,” Tom said. “Just show us some credible proofs.”

“This is an obvious way of limiting our field of inquiry. By studying historical records, we broaden our scope of knowledge, and by making shrewd extrapolations, we can accurately gauge what could have existed, although science has yet to catch up.”

“Still, it’s an error to base your arguments on ancient records,” Tom said. “You’re twisting facts to suit your theory—”

“You’re partly right.” Wulfstein leaped toward the edge of the stage. “If the greatest minds and technology can’t identify the monster in the tiny Loch Ness, how much more difficult would it be for us to find an equivalent in the vast Pacific?”

A man in a three-piece suit, sitting in a wheelchair three rows back, shouted, “Double talk, Wulfstein.” All eyes turned to the speaker. “Double talk.”

A cascade of voices ensued. The man seemed to have appeared from nowhere. As he struggled to get to his feet, Eileen couldn’t take her eyes from the man’s prominent features, his unblinking eyes like two gray stones. His well-equipped wheelchair had a bank of electronic gadgets and a screen.

Her pulse quickened. Professor Blackmore!

“That certainly would pose problems,” the man yelled, raising his hand. “That’s because there is no monster in Loch Ness. If you can provide solid evidence, the mystery wouldn’t exist anymore.”

“There are no guidebooks to the unknown,” Wulfstein said, locking eyes with him. “The physiologist L.J. Henderson once said, ‘That discovery can only be known through an effort of imagination’.”

“If that’s true, it’s certainly marvelous,” Blackmore said. “If that isn’t the case, you’ll be the chief of fabulous quacks.”

Wulfstein returned to the podium. “Okay. I see there’s no alternative but to put the theory to the test. We are planning a trip into the Mariana Trench.”

“That place is so deep, so outlandish, nothing could survive there,” Blackmore said. “Oceanographers call them ‘dead zones’. The idea is preposterous.”

“Nothing is conclusive until established,” Wulfstein shot back. “When explorer Robert Ballard searched for the Bismarck, he said in the first year that he couldn’t find it. He told National Geographic he had spent all their money and failed. Nevertheless, he was optimistic – he knew where the Bismarck was not.”

“That’s an absurd analogy,” Blackmore said. “Ballard was searching for something that was known to exist. You’re looking for something that no one believes exists. Would you think me impertinent if I were to put your theory to a more severe test?”

“What do you mean—a more severe test?”

“To provide concrete proof,” Blackmore said. “A euphemism for incomplete knowledge. You know or you don’t.”

“Ballard’s team returned and found the Bismarck the second time. The absence of evidence shouldn’t be taken as evidence of absence.”

“Your speculation is ludicrous. Substantiate or go to hell.” Blackmore pumped his fist in the air and laughed.

“Absurdly positive.” Wulfstein laughed along, and then stopped. “Just because science is silent, are you concluding there is no such thing?”

The audience burst into laughter as Wulfstein returned to his seat. The challenge was on. Further questions arose, each above the din of the others.

Heat bubbled through her veins as the drama unfold. Eileen craved tranquility, and she knew Wulfstein had moved to Japan to avoid the media and other confrontation, but now his combative attitude surprised her. Wulfstein’s wild hypothesis would naturally garner ridicule—how could he expect any less? By poring over ancient manuscripts and
tracking a weird sound around the Pacific Ocean, she thought the fervent scientist had a peculiar way of substantiating cryptozoology. Of course, his theory would be controversial, but Blackmore had now put his theory on notice. Over the next few days, she knew the media would portray Wulfstein as a wolf worthy for the slaughter.

Yet Eileen understood the rationale. Wulfstein had become more of a philosopher than a scientist, and he had presented his lecture to a community that looked at him as a predator. To her, it could be proven true in the end, and she had offered him moral support. While on the plane to Stockholm, she’d contemplated his theory and cautioned him not to commit himself too far, unless he was absolutely sure. But she realized that the Professor had been more specific in his theory. And now, acting like a crusading warrior in his most important speech, he had publicly said dragons exist.

Wulfstein rose, but hesitated, seemingly torn between fueling the issue further and leaving the stage. Finally, he came to the podium, as if to make his last statement. “You who are prepared to listen, before three months are up, the archipelago will experience a . . . giant quake – a magnitude of category ten.”

A short uneasy silence followed.

“10? What do you mean?” Blackmore asked, chuckling. “Ten Leviathans? Ten elephants? Or ten monkeys?”

The floor burst into laughter. Wulfstein had raised the stakes and squeezed himself into a tight corner.

“Okay,” Blackmore said. “You’ve predicted something three months hence, yet you didn’t even predict this one. Your Prediction Center has collapsed. I’ve had to spend over ten thousand dollars for this ten dollar lecture.”

Wulfstein sighed. “The scientific community knew about the existence of forty supervolcanoes around the world. The last one erupted 74,000 years ago at Lake Toba, in Sumatra, and the furthest from us is Lake Taupo, on the North Island of New Zealand. But by far the most dangerous lies beneath Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming. This time bomb has erupted three times—2.1 million years ago, 1.3 million years ago and 640,000 years ago—a cycle that suggests the next eruption is due.

“The Mt. Fuji eruption may cause great excitement, but nobody realizes the chain of supervolcanoes lying along the Japanese archipelago is about to explode. An ant to an elephant would serve this comparison. Running from the Hokkaido, of the twenty volcanoes—Shikotsu, Akan, Kutcharo, Mashu—are caldera volcanoes. In Honshu, of the forty-six volcanoes—Hijiori, Narugo and Towada—are potential explosive supervolcanoes. In Kyushu and down to the Ryukyu chain, of the seventeen volcanoes—Aso, Ibusuki and the Kikai—are calderas. When this chain erupts, it will hurl the whole archipelago into the atmosphere and collapse into its own emptied space.”

Stupefied, Eileen fluttered at the thought of a mega eruption. She had dreamed of it before; now the image came rushing back. She shook her head.

Wulfstein’s red face burned with mystical fire, giving Blackmore a sardonic stare. “Regardless,” he said, “before that fateful day, a great lava flow will stream out. The sea will boil; the mountains will collapse, followed by a deluge of fire. Hurricanes and massive floods will scour the earth. When one event could trigger another, heaven knows how it will spread, or how it will end, but it could be a million times more deadly than the Mt. St. Helens eruption of 1980.”

“You’re like a soothsayer predicting Armageddon,” Blackmore yelled. “A figment of an astronomical imagination that must have convinced you to believe the sinking of islands in Revelation should be taken literally.”

“I’m astronomically serious. An evacuation of all the islands is only the first step. We still don’t know what effect this catastrophe could have on a global scale,” Wulfstein insisted. “Prior to Mt. St. Helen’s explosion, scientists issued a similar warning to evacuate. But Mt. St. Helen is just a tidbit.”

“You have no sympathy for the one hundred and twenty million souls living in Japan.”

“The opposite, my friend,” Wulfstein said. “Truth be told, this colossal cataclysm includes the more than a billion living all around the Pacific Ring. Call it Apocalypse. Call it Mass Extinction. Our earth is not as solid as you think. One major event in Japan could trigger another. Our human survival is at stake even if you live at the opposite end of the planet.”

“Not for a thousand years,” Blackmore huffed and puffed. “Not for a thousand thousand years!”

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

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~ by Joel on December 18, 2009.

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