Over Mount Fuji – Chapter 23 –

An Epic NovelAugust 26 —

“Is Japan really going to sink?” Nobuko asked Byron the moment they came out of IMAX after watching ‘Japan Sinks’, a new blockbuster movie that had taken the public by storm.

“It’s just an entertainment,” Byron said as they mingled with the crowd. “Now, with 3-D and special effects on the big screen, they managed to make it too overwhelming.”

“But we are taking the Sinking seriously,” she said. The theme had taken hold in cartoons, comics, novels, and in cinemas. It might be pure amusement, but the public had taken the concept into a great frenzy. Even in more serious circles, politicians and academics debated the idea as well.

“Japan might have numerous earthquakes, but we still don’t know enough about the Sinking.”

“But why are the Big Ones going to hit our islands?”

“This archipelago is actually a chain of volcanic mountains,” Byron said.

“But the film says once the megalith expands to a certain size, it collapses. This, they say, is the megalith collapse.”

“There are scientific explanations for eruptions and earthquakes, but the chances of having a series of Big Ones are too remote.”

“A caldera could blow a section under the sea,” Nobuko insisted. “Why couldn’t a series of caldera blow the archipelago under the waves?”

TAKEN ABACK FOR a moment, Byron sighed. After thinking of what an unlikely cataclysm would be, he said, “Our planet resembles a cracked egg, and a couple of these tiny cracked lines run under Japan.”

“Whenever the catfish wiggles, we have earthquakes. Maybe the ideas first came from cartoon and comics, but that’s what we Japanese believe. Whenever Mothra flaps its wings, we have an upheaval.”

He squeezed her hand. “Oh, c’mon, Nobuko. Cartoons and comics don’t have the answers.”

“We also have large number of novels about Japan sinking under the waves, and that’s far easier to imagine than a cracked egg.”

“Sinking is one thing,” Byron said, “but explaining it is—”

“But namazu has already shown its claws. We believe in this.”

“Please think, Nobuko,” he said. “We’re living in the twenty-first century. Namazu the catfish?”

“Okay, okay, I’m no scientist,” she shot back, her eyes looked hurt with puzzlement. “But if men came from the apes, we shouldn’t be frightened of a cataclysm that will wipe out the human race.”

“Why?”

“Because the next human beings will evolve from apes.”

“But apes may not survive either.”

“Then we can start from the amoeba again.”

Bewildered, Byron decided not to argue. It could be a never-ending argument, or may end up with another cycle of philosophy and superstitions.

“Look at your jade bangle, Byron.”

“I might be a poor geologist, but I’m not superstitious. I’m a scientist. Earthquakes are caused by shifting of plates. The faultline theory explains this.”

“The shifting of plates? How could this explain the Sinking?”

“Okay—okay.” Byron took a ragged breath. “The Pacific plate also dives under the Eurasian plate, but in jerky motions separated sometimes in months, years, or even centuries.”

The discussion continued, but the pace slowed. With his command of geology, Byron felt pleased to convince her of the futility of the archipelago disappearing under the waves, but it came with a caveat that some major quakes might occur. But, for the moment, he welcomed the break. Gone were the demands of his lab work. Gone, too, were the frowns and dour looks of his Professor. His new passion for swimming three times a week had taken some pressure from him. And here, he didn’t want to discuss the subject with Nobuko too seriously.

“Shall we have dinner?” he asked finally.

NOBUKO RADIATED A smile. What a night! The last light had flickered across the sea, and the night sky faded to indigo. She had come with Byron to the seaside. A quiet beach, a quarter moon. Deserted? Not quite. Soon the crowd of beachgoers grew in the warm night. Nevertheless, she felt a sense of peace. Whenever she looked at her strong companion, it brought her comfort. “C’mon! I’ll race you.”

Like kids, they raced toward the water’s edge. It didn’t take much time for them to slow their pace to catch their breath. Before long they strolled under a starry sky and listened to the waves crashing on the shore.

“A friend of mine is graduating,” Nobuko said, ambling along with her hand in his.

“Who’s that?”

“Michelle. She studies at Boston University.”

“How long have you known her?”

“Since I was seven. She sent me an invitation to her graduation ceremony next month.”

“Are you going?”

“I hope so.” She nodded. He smiled back, and she felt an instant attraction to him. “I’ve always wanted to return to America. Sometimes I wish we still lived there.”

“Why?” His eyes widened.

“Things would be better if my father had stayed in America.” She paused when they found a bench. They sat and listened to the unending sound of waves breaking on the shoreline. Her mind drifted to her annual vacations with Michelle’s family at Myrtle Beach in South Carolina. She remembered years ago, the fun they’d had, building sandcastles while they chatted about their lives and dreams. She had other friends there, but only Michelle had kept in touch.

“I feel trapped,” she added. “People here are packed like sardines in a can.”

BYRON DIDN’T WANT to press further. He had enjoyed Nobuko’s company. Often, he admired how she always smiled in life and her joviality left him longing for her company. Now, he felt uncomfortable about her thought of going to where he had come from. “Is that what has been bothering you?”

“I love the beach,” Nobuko said as the waves broke over the sand, her mind seemingly lost in thought.

“I wish you could be happy here, but if you leave, I’ll miss you.” He edged closer, slid his arm around her, succumbing to a surge of desire for her. For a moment, his world held nothing but Nobuko.

“First my mom and two brothers. Now all this.” Tears gathered in her eyes which she quickly wiped away. “Byron, I’m being watched.”

“Are you sure? We’ve all had lots of shocks lately.” Byron stroked her hair, realizing that he wasn’t alone living in extreme times. A cloud passed over the moon, and the waves grew stronger, spewing white froth into the air. He wished he could think of something more comforting to say.

“Shadows haunt me. I want to leave this place.”

“I know you’re worried, but I’ll protect you. Haven’t I shown you that already?”

NOBUKO DIDN’T KNOW what to say next. Her restless spirit stirred, swamped by a wave of intense emotion as images rose in her mind—her brother’s hands severed.

“What should I do?” she said finally.

“It might be better to stay back, but I also know how you feel,” he said, caressing her arms. “Crimes are everywhere, even in Boston. It’s best to stay calm.”

She pulled a handkerchief from her purse and wiped her tears away. A huge wave crashed onto the shore, startling her. “Byron, I’m so unsure of myself at times.”

“I’m sorry,” he said, hugging her close.

Silence enveloped them for a few moments. She struggled free, grabbed her purse, rose and started running toward the water’s edge.

Byron followed her. “What’s the matter? You’re not upset with me, are you?”

The sea continued to roar and the lights from ships afar looked buoyant. The smell of salt and seaweed filled her nostrils. Nobuko selected a few smooth flat stones and threw them. They dropped into the darkish water. She threw another, and it splashed just the same.

Nobuko took another stone, ready to throw, but her arm stopped in mid-air. Her mouth agape, she looked astounded.

BYRON FOLLOWED HER gaze across the horizon. Something there . . . moving . . . watching! He squirmed as a sudden eerie feeling made him anxious. Four rowdy-looking youths, dressed in black like pirates, stood knee-deep in the water, observing them from afar.

Byron grabbed her hand.

“Look there,” Nobuko whispered. “You see what I mean?”

Her words didn’t register with Byron for a few moments, but soon he realized danger loomed before them. “They’re thugs, are they?”

“They’re watching us. Maybe they’re here for revenge.”

“Let’s get out of here.” Still clutching her arm, Byron backed away to join the crowd up the beach.

They caught their breath and mingled with other couples strolling along. The quarter moon was hidden behind clouds.

Byron pulled her arm closer to him and whispered. “Perhaps you could come to America with me when I finish my project.”

“Oh, that’s too . . . Can you finish your studies in the States?”

“I can, but I’m committed to the Mariana Trench expedition.”

“Mariana Trench?” She shuddered. “I worry about your safety.”

“You shouldn’t.”

They strolled along and talked. Everything about her was elegant and appealing: her hair, and the way it whipped in the wind; her face, her dress, and especially her voice and gestures. The night had cooled, and the beach became more isolated.

By another hundred yards, they became tired, and they found a grassy place behind a sand dune. It blocked the chilly wind and made the spot more tranquil. After making sure nobody followed them, they sat down.

The lapping waves and soft rustle of wind sounded through the marsh. Byron put his arm across her shoulders and held her tight. The allure of her dark hair and sparkling eyes drew him.

FILLED WITH WARM sensation, Nobuko responded as his mouth gently touched hers. Abruptly, she pulled away, her heart pounding. As though waking up in a dream, she was too startled to continue.

“Sorry, I’m not used to this.” Her hands and voice trembled. Intense emotion overwhelmed her. She knew her reaction must have confused him.

He slipped his arms around her waist, his cold hands drawing heat from her warm body.

When his chest touched hers, Nobuko couldn’t look him in the eye. He radiated a vitality that drew upon her innermost spirit.

Her heart leaped as she closed her eyes and tried to calm the tremors within. She ached for his touch, and the thrill of another kiss made her pulse race again. Soon, his kisses became more insistent, more possessive as the night air flushed her cheeks. Her lips quivered beneath his; the last of her samurai resistance melted in the arms of a barbarian.

Byron stroked the length of her arms. His cold hands touched her cheeks, his fingers gently slid down her hair and rubbed her shoulders, and she squirmed for a moment as he caressed her breasts. His intrusive hand slid under her dress and stroked her passionately. The cool ocean breeze caressed their bodies as gently as he caressed her.

He had broad and strong shoulders, and was persistent. He fondled the skin of her pulsating thigh. His fingers progressed down the outside of her legs then up again inside her body. She moaned when his hands touched her. In an enchanting awkwardness, he’d awoken in her a wild sensual desire.

He groaned of obvious satisfaction while gaining access to her soft, moist flesh. Hopelessly weak and without will, her eyes closed, she pressed her body against his, yielding to his desires. Everything, anything. A tortured moan escaped her lips as her breasts swelled. Incapable of resistance, she softened further, ecstatic under his gentle touches. A new experience—an excitement piercing through her—ecstatic beyond description.

“You’re so beautiful,” Byron said. His hands skimmed her neck and the milky rise of flesh under her bodice, making her gasp when he brushed his lips over her breasts. She felt as though she’d burst forth like a rose blooming under the morning sun. She could barely think. Her whole being was in a flutter. Sitting up, she laid her head against his shoulder and squeezed her eyes shut, snuggled in his embrace. A long silence followed before she whispered. “Please hold me,
Byron. Don’t leave me.”

“I won’t, but I hope you’ll never leave me either.”

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

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~ by Joel on December 20, 2009.

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