Our Inner Kaiju
by Andrew Farkas
I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but when the monsters came…
What’s that now? When the first behemoth stood before us, were we filled with awe? Were we terrified? Having often thought of ourselves as greater than, did we finally think of ourselves as less than? Even much less than? Did we gaze upon the titan and equate humanity, in the grand scheme of things, with ants? Or not quite ants, maybe grubs? Did we tacitly decide definitely not amoebae because amoebae can seriously mess your shit up, and us, well, confronted by the embodiment of our existential dread, did we lose the capacity to think we could mess your shit up anymore? Could it be, listening to the roar of the colossal creature, that we mentally ceded our place at the top of the food chain, bowing before the sublimity of this leviathan?
I’m gonna go with sure? Maybe some of us did? Momentarily?
But then the moment passed and we blew that motherfucker away.
I’d like to say the monster collapsed majestically to the ground. Only it didn’t. What was left rained down in a series of plops and splats. Whole thing took maybe a minute from the first sighting.
Huh? When we saw the second one, did we immediately think the first was just a test? That now the real monsters were on their way sent by whatever alien masterminds were running the show somewhere in the vast universe? That soon we would be overrun by instantaneously generated gargantua that were designed specifically to pulverize our puny defenses, since we’d stupidly shown them all of our cards during the initial wave? That the earth and our lives on it would never be the same again because now the humongous horrors would rule, unchallenged, forever?
No. Just no. Because the second was no tougher than the first. Easier, maybe, since it was kinda old hat by then.
The third one, though, certainly there were problems with the third one, connected maybe to hubris, since by this time we couldn’t possibly pass up trying to put it in a zoo or a preserve of some sort, a zoo or a preserve perilously close to a city, and then…
Sorry. That’s not what happened.
But the fourth!
By the fifth we were completely bored.
Ah-ha! And so…
And so we blew that motherfucker away too, and every single one since, except nobody pays attention. You can still see the videos on YouTube, constantly updated, but they’re not even as popular as cat videos or people taking shots to the genitals.
What you have to understand is, well, the monsters were, or actually, they are big, dumb animals. After vaporizing the first handful of them, we let some lumber around. No, they didn’t make a beeline for Tokyo or New York. But sure, we could see how, if we lived in a world where we didn’t have the technology we have, they might be terrifying. Only, we don’t live in that world. We live in this one, where our weaponry is more than a match for Godzilla’s slow siblings that can’t shoot big lasers out of their mouths and that aren’t nigh-invulnerable. Honestly, even if we could handicap ourselves a bit, like a kid who’s way too good at a video game, even if we could give the monsters some of the things we always expected them to have… Damn… It’d still be too easy.
And no, before you ask: I don’t work for some munitions manufacturer. And no, we didn’t have to nuke the monsters. There’s no fallout. There’s no nuclear winter. There are no lessons to be learned about Pyrrhic victories or the terrible vengeance of Mother Nature or anything, really.
What? Oh, alright. I figured you’d get to that too. Even though people like to think heat-seeking missiles would be ineffective against a gigantic lizard, sorry. That’s not really how guidance systems work. So we had no problem hitting our targets. None at all. Look, I’m disappointed, too.
I long for that moment when I thought everything would change.
But that moment was fleeting. And it’s not coming back.
Now, when I think about the monsters, instead of thinking of giant robots or post-apocalyptic enclaves or worlds completely different from the one we live in, I think about space. I think about how, once upon a time, we dreamed of voyages through the galaxy, through the universe even, voyages that’d bring us into contact with bizarre alien races who we would learn from and who would learn from us, voyages that’d introduce us to stellar configurations and scientific entities we couldn’t have predicted, voyages that’d make our lives richer, fuller, and, honestly, weirder than they’d ever been before. But after we made it to the moon, we realized just how big space is, how full of wonders, yes, but also how full of nothing. So much nothing. We realized how dangerous and improbable space travel really was. We accepted the unlikelihood of meeting a spacefaring species, let alone an entire federation of them. And we understood that it would not be us traversing the final frontier. Maybe we’d build the artificial intelligence that’d do our exploring for us. But we’d be stuck here, watching movies sent from other planets, other galaxies, while wondering if we should’ve just saved ourselves the trouble and made them in Hollywood.
Having abandoned the final frontier, we dreamed of monsters and either robots or superheroes to fight the monsters.
Then the actual monsters came…
And so, what I have to say to you is, when the monsters came, they weren’t especially impressive. As we destroy one after another with no problem whatsoever, I’m here to report that actually, the monsters are pretty lame.
But if you aren’t busy, after I tell you all of this likely in a text message made up mostly of emojis, maybe we could meet up, you looking ravishing in that outfit the like of which I’ve never seen before, me apparently having stepped out of some other century (though what century, past or future, is unclear), both of us hip, cool, ironically detached without being annoying, Tokyo our backdrop, sipping our coffee, cocktails, kombucha, sparkling water, soda pops, wine, juices, craft beer, sake, bitter liqueurs, an unparalleled number of beverages that all, for reasons we aren’t able to explain, sit before us, having already shut our phones off so we wouldn’t be interrupted by TikTok vids of some weak sauce Rodan or slow-motion Mothra getting blown to bits, and we could talk about how the aliens really are in it for the long game, as we reach across the table, trying as best we can not to spill any of the vast array of drinks, because the interstellar antagonists aren’t fools, our hands touching with a shock, so the behemoths they’ve been sending aren’t their best, we stand up, bend over the table, move toward each other, their best is on the way, our lips meet just as the liquids begin to shake, our passionate kiss punctuated by an all-too-familiar, though unearthly shriek …
Listen: at the end of Godzilla 2000 (1999), Yuji Shinoda, founder of the Godzilla Protection Network, intimates that maybe there’s a little bit of Godzilla in all of us. And as our own leviathan begins to tear the city apart, as the beast proves too much for the earthly defenses, as our foreplay heightens, as we tell each other what it’d be like to live in some other universe, one where our clash with the titans really would be epic, one where our lives would be richer thanks to all of the galactic aliens we’d regularly interact with, one where we’d go boldly to places no one has ever gone before, I like to think that that’s true.
And maybe someday, we’ll get good enough at tapping into our intimate kaiju, at unleashing these gargantua upon the world, at presenting them to others with such awe we’ll almost think it’s all real. Maybe. Someday.
Andrew Farkas is the author of The Great Indoorsman: Essays, The Big Red Herring, Sunsphere, Self-Titled Debut, and the forthcoming Are You Now, or Have You Ever Been? He is Associate Professor of Creative Writing at Washburn University and an editor at Always Crashing. You can find him at thegreatindoorsman.org.