The Lost Journals of Nelly Bly:
Clash of the Kaiju
An Enigmatic Arrival Who Bears Strange News
Plans to Travel Halfway Around the World
Far Fetched Ideas Met With a Skeptic's Mind
My time in the company of Howard Phillips Lovecraft began with an odd telegram I received on the 31st of August, 1921. A Wednesday, one occupied with the following day's deadline. The offices of the New York World run a tight ship, so we ink-stained sailors must labor with urgency. Mildly annoyed by the interruption, I nevertheless read the telegram, a short missive from a place in Massachusetts called Innsmouth. I admit, I had never heard of it, but once I reviewed my atlas, I learned it is a small sea town. The telegram read:
URGENT NEED MEET STOP TRAVELS JAPAN 1872 STOP STOLEN ARTIFACT STOP DANGER STOP VERANESE LITTLE ITALY 09 02 9AM STOP
I sent a reply straightaway, agreeing to the meeting even on such short notice. Regardless whether it would bear fruit, I have fond memories of my travels around the world and enjoy talking about them in strange company. I had no idea who this Lovecraft actually was. I learned from a mail clerk that he wrote novels, pulp fiction in the science fiction and fantasy genres. I found a dime copy of one of his works in a small bookstore and opened its yellowed pages. I read one lurid tale, “The Doom of Sarnath”. It's a fantastic story of an evil entity that destroys an imaginary city. A bizarre subject, but well written.
My thoughts did not often ruminate on this young writer in the days before our meeting. I looked forward to a well crafted doppio espresso and canoli instead. And in this regard, the Cafe Veranese did not disappoint.
“Welcome, Ms. Bly,” Lovecraft spoke as I approached his table. I did not recognize the man when I entered, but he recognized me. I placed my order with a server and it was brought promptly.
“The pleasure is mine, Mr. Lovecraft.” I shook his hand. He gave the grip of a cold fish. His face had slightly pointed ears, thin lips and a high brow. His eyes were piercing and cold, but they shone with a bright intelligence. He wore a simple gray suit with a vest and black tie.
I was surprised he had recognized me. Most of my published portraits were taken in my younger days. Now my hair is gray, my body stout. On that day, I wore braids pulled tight above my head. My dress was black and simple, old-fashioned in the style of a Victorian matron. When I look in the mirror now, my face is old and weary, but I can still see the determined grit of the plucky reporter I once was, not even half my age. Nostalgia is an addictive drug, one I rarely indulge. But when Lovecraft recognized the woman I am now, it reminded me of the woman I used to be. And how I had changed inside and out.
“I followed your war correspondence. Thrilling to say the least. But the horrors you saw. Dreadful. Do they still plague you?” he asked.
“More so when they become the topic of conversation,” I replied with an acid tone.
“Very well, I apologize. And have you read any of my work? I don't expect you have.” With these words, I detected the barest smile. I suspected it was a writer's pride.
I chuckled. “Barely. “The Doom of Sarnath” only. I picked it up in dime store two days ago. A strange tale. One I didn't much understand. But you have a skill, that is certain. One far away in style from my own.”
Lovecraft's eyes widened. “Strange that you chose that one out of so many others.”
“Strange? Why?” I asked.
“Well, that relates to the matter I bring to you today. You see, Bokrug, the monster in that story, was introduced to me in a dream. I transform this kind of terrible vision into my work. Not only as a way to cope with the fright, but also to earn my bread. And I suspect you'll think me mad when I tell you this,” he said in a low tone. His eyes scanned left to right to make sure no one was eavesdropping. “But I am convinced that some of these monsters have leapt from my dreams into this world. I have seen them when I stare into the Atlantic from the docks of Innsmouth. I have felt their terror penetrate my heart even in my waking life. I've pissed myself at their sight, if you'll excuse my rough language. And I now fear one has set its sights upon you.”
I laughed for well over half a minute. “Oh, Mr. Lovecraft,” I said with tears in the corners of my eyes. “You are very amusing. Yes, this is a clever trick you've played to meet me.”
“No, it is no trick!” he seethed. “Look,” Lovecraft opened a sketchpad he'd brought in a small briefcase and turned it my way. “This is the sigil of the water god Suijin. Do you recognize it?”
I brought my hand to my chest, and felt the stone beneath my collar. “Yes, I recognize it,” I told him, my blood chilled. “It was given, not stolen. This stone was a gift from Minami, a woman whose hostel welcomed me on my travels now nearly fifty years past. She told me it was for luck, and after surviving so many close calls on my return home, I vowed to wear it day and night. And with few exceptions, I have.”
“I've seen this sigil in my dreams borne by your astral body. Minami may have given it to you, but she must have stolen it from someone else. It has become a beacon to Bokrug. He has minions in this city, members of a cult. Ones you must escape if you wish to live. That stone needs to be returned to its homeland. If not, the cultists will take it from you, and murder you if you resist. Maybe even if you don't,” Lovecraft shuddered at these words. “I've seen them do much worse. Come with me to Japan, and I will prove it to you. I don't have the resources to make this journey on my own, even if you were to give the stone to me.”
“Hmph.” I thought for a moment. “Let me secure finances from Mr. Pultizer. He is still well fond of me, and accommodates even my boldest whims.”
“Very well,” he told me. “Time is of the essence.” Lovecraft began to sweat, and I detected the scent of fear upon him. It had become very familiar to me during the war. I felt my nails dig into my palm.
Lovecraft told me the name of the hotel he was staying in during his time in New York. A modest one, but he assured me it had a telegraph. And so two days later, I let him know Mr. Pulitzer had consented to my travels. The pitch being a “before and after” examination of Japan after almost fifty years since my past visit. And the consequences of their victories from the war. I knew if nothing came of Lovecraft's dark warnings, at least I could write this topic in my dispatch.
And so on September 15th, we boarded the great ship Victoria. Our journey had begun.
BLY AND LOVECRAFT ARRIVE IN TOKYO
THE AMBASSADOR AND THE WARRIOR
BEST LAID PLANS
A trip halfway around the world is no longer the grand undertaking it once was. What used to feel like unending adventure, going from port to port, steamship to steamship, is now merely an interminable wait on an oceanic cruiser. Nevertheless. On October 16th we finally arrived in the port of Tokyo. A pair of hard-working stevedores unloaded our trunks and brought them to the curb. Then we gripped our luggage, and kept our eyes peeled for suitable transport.
This metropolis tells a story of modernity carved from the ancient past. Vast gray skyscrapers tower to the heavens as stone and tile pagodas stand in their shadows. So much has changed. Gone are the laborers and merchants hauling wares in bamboo baskets. Instead, dock workers and factory men crowd the streets as cars and trucks blare their horns and rush past.
“These yellow devils are thick as fleas,” Howard remarked. His skin had lost its green pallor—the seas had not been kind to him.
“Don't underestimate them,” I cautioned. “Their armies defeated the Russians in a land war almost twenty years ago, and now they've wrested much of the Pacific from the Germans. It's taken them four decades to industrialize, while it took our own Republic a century and a half. They're clever and scrupulous. You would be wise to respect them.”
“Hmph,” Howard scoffed. “The white man carried them out of their straw huts, into an age of science and industry. But still they are like children following in our footsteps. Only the negroids lag behind the Asiatics in their primitiveness.”
“You, sir, are no Kipling—and I would know. So drop your 'white man's burden'.” Cheeks hot and red, I grabbed Lovecraft by his collar and threw him into a taxi like a mother would her disobedient child. “I'll have no more of these words from you,” I seethed. “I've known men as black as the night who shed their blood against the Hun while you scribbled words for pennies. So keep those hateful thoughts to yourself. I'll not say such again, but my fists will do the talking.”
Howard cowered for a moment, but then flattened his lapels and straightened his tie. His eyes flashed red hatred, but then looked away.
Satisfied by my rebuke, I thrust my passport into the face of our driver. “American embassy,” I instructed, pointing to an address I'd had typed into the document before we'd left the states.
“Hai,” he spoke with a curt nod. The roads stretched out like a cobweb that curved around the port. Our driver knew them well. In a quarter of an hour, he pulled in front of a white columned building that stood before us like a misplaced Parthenon.
“Arigato-Gozaimasu,” I thanked him with a phrase remembered from my travels. I tipped him in silver dollars, hoping an exchange for yen would work in his favor.
He helped us unload our trunks, and we walked to the entrance. An American soldier in a stiff khaki uniform greeted us .
“Ma'am, how can I help you?” His blue eyes twinkled in the sun, and I noted how handsome he was. In the blossom of my youth, he would have stirred my passions. Those days are long past, but I can still feel a slight pull from the young nymph now trapped inside me.
“I am here to see ambassador Yamamoto,” I told him. “We sent him a postcard from New York to expect our arrival.”
“Shinzo Yamamoto, yes ma'am. You're Ms. Bly?” he asked. “And you must be Mr. Lovecraft then.”
“The very same,” Lovecraft replied. “I am Ms. Bly's escort.”
“You are no such thing!” The words leapt from my mouth before I could catch them. “Very well, Private...Hanks, is it? Could you please be so kind?”
“Ah, yes. Pardon my manners, Miss. Well, come inside.” He held the door open for us and we entered. Hanks kept at his post, but we were greeted from inside the lobby.
“Ms. Bly!” a gray haired American in a blue suit stood up and waved. “Oh my, I've been reading your work since I was a little boy. My name is Harold Reams and it's a pleasure to meet you. Mr. Lovecraft, I'm not as familiar with your work, but it's good to see you as well. And this is our Japanese ambassador, Mr. Shinzo Yamamoto. And his...bodyguard. Takeshi, I believe his name is.” Reams spoke with a Texan accent and wore a bolo tie. 'Oil man!' his demeanor practically screamed. I've met dozens. Usually their wit is no match for their ego, but Reams seemed kind enough at least.
Lovecraft nodded politely and shook Reams' hand. Then Yamamoto looked at us both and bowed. “Oh, right,” Reams muttered to himself and returned the bow. This led to Lovecraft following suit, as awkward as ever. I smiled and bowed gracefully, remembering my lessons from the geisha.
“Mr. Lovecraft, Ms. Bly, welcome to Tokyo,” Yamamoto greeted us. He wore a black suit and tie, stood only a few inches over five feet, and had close-cropped salt and pepper hair. His face was gentle, if made slightly more severe by his thinness. He wore rimless black glasses that magnified his dark eyes.
Takeshi gave us no such welcome. His face was a grim mask, lips tight, eyes squinted. A scar ran from above his right eye to the corner of his dimpled chin. Nearly six feet tall, he even towered over Reams, and was a giant among his kin. He wore a military uniform, but not as neat and crisp as one would expect inside an embassy. On his left hip, he wore a holstered pistol, but his right hand never left the hilt of his blade.
“It's our pleasure,” Lovecraft spoke, words honeyed, eyes full of vinegar.
“It's a city I've remembered fondly. So much has changed,” I spoke.
“Well, I'll let y'all get to business,” Reams brought us to his office and opened the door. “Mr. Yamamoto tells me this is a subject of ancient Japanese culture and history. So while I'd love to stay and chat, I got a fella in from British Petroleum I gotta meet. Ol' Uncle Sam's rollin' up his sleeves, but I'm the one that gets his hands dirty,” he chuckled. “Anyway, y'all can use my office for your meeting. And if y'all need anything, my secretary has a number where I can be reached. Sayonara!”
The door clicked shut behind him. Yamamoto gestured for us to sit in a pair of chairs in front of Reams' desk. He took Reams' seat for his own while Takeshi stood silently behind him.
“Sake?” Yamamoto asked. He pulled a small clay bottle from a drawer in Reams' desk and began pouring some into a few small clay cups.
“I've heard of this,” Lovecraft remarked, and picked one up for himself. He took a small sip, winced, and drank the rest.
“Arigato,” I spoke and drank my own.
Yamamoto smiled and gulped his own portion. He poured three more drinks and then passed the bottle to Takeshi. Takeshi drank straight from the bottle, and once satisfied, placed it back on the desk. He wiped some that had trickled down his chin but then grumbled a contented sigh. He'd still not spoken, but at least now I knew that he could.
“Mr. Lovecraft, please explain why we're here,” I requested, pulling the stone charm from beneath my collar and placing it on the desk.
“Very well. Mr. Yomomato, you are familiar with the deity Suijin, I presume?” Lovecraft asked.
“Please, call me Shinzo. And may I call you Howard?” he asked.
“Of course,” Lovecraft told him. As a journalist, I stubbornly cling to the surname.
“Howard, if I recall, Suijin is the Shinto deity of water. And this charm bears his symbol, correct?” Yomomato held it in his hands for a moment and gave it to Takeshi to examine.
“Correct,” Lovecraft told him.
Takeshi closed one eye and squinted at the stone charm. He spoke a few sentences in Japanese. Yomomato translated. “He says this stone was carved by a master sculptor and priestess in his hometown, Kochi.”
My eyes widened. “What a strange coincidence...”
“More like destiny,” Lovecraft muttered. Then he continued. ”Now Shinzo, Takeshi, I don't expect you to believe me. But this charm is cursed. It was stolen and given to Ms. Bly on her journey around the world now forty years past. A vile cult of merciless extremists is in hot pursuit of it. They will kill to retrieve this talisman.”
Yomomato translated for Takeshi and then asked. “Cult? Which cult?”
“Now this will certainly strain your suspension of disbelief. But whether or not it's actually true, I believe Mr. Lovecraft believes it is true. And since I can not doubt his sanity, I would at least ask you to listen with an open mind. If nothing else, it's an entertaining idea,” I explained.
“Yes, thank you, Ms. Bly. Now there is a cult from the town of Innsmouth, Massachussets. A few dozen miles from Boston. It is the cult of Bokrug. Now Bokrug is a very ancient deity. An Old One. I dreamt of Bokrug, and turned my nightmare into a story, “The Doom of Sarnath”. Now, I once believed my dreams were just that. Dreams. But now I'm convinced they are visions of a threat that is all too real. If this cult is able to take Ms. Bly's charm and offer it to Bokrug, that evil deity would consume some of Suijin's strength and allow him to destroy our world. Bokrug would have dominion over the seas. Two thirds of our Earth. Tidal waves. Typhoons. Tsunamis. Japan would be reduced to a few short mountains poking out of the Pacific. So now you see our threat. This stone charm must be returned to the Temple of Suijin before it's taken by the Cult of Bokrug and given to their dark god. Feel free to ridicule or ignore me. I will see this mission through to its end. But with your help, we will have more than a sliver of a chance.” Lovecraft folded his fingers together. Despite his disdain for the Asiatic, he seemed to respect Takeshi and Mr. Yomomato at least. I was relieved.
Yomomato translated once more. A condensed version of Lovecraft's words, it seemed. Takeshi made a broad smile and chuckled. He said a few words to Yomomato. Then the ambassador turned to us with a grin.
“Takeshi and I agree that a visit to his hometown would be amenable. And I will present this to my superiors as a diplomatic mission on behalf of American cultural exchange. We'll take you to Kochi and show you this temple. You may return the charm if it would bring you relief. And Ms. Bly, you may write about whatever stokes your curiosity. Are we agreed?”
“Agreed.” Lovecraft said immediately. “We must depart this very night.”
“Howard, be reasonable,” I pleaded.
“Eager, I like that. Why not? I know a train that travels from Tokyo to Kochi, and as an ambassador, I'll make sure we ride in luxury. Sleeping cars, cigars, champagne. All of the best of that Western decadence may offer. Meet us at Tokyo Station at 6:00 P.M. Until then, there is an excellent restaurant two blocks away. They serve American and Japanese cuisine, so I'm confident you'll find something that suits your tastes. I must make arrangements. But Takeshi can protect you in the meantime,” Yomomato told us.
“Protect us? From what?” I asked.
“Why these evil cultists who are hot on your trail,” Yomomato said with a wink.
Lovecraft sighed but said nothing.
“Very well. I have a taste for sushi that's not been sated for decades. Howard, let us go. Takeshi,” I bowed to them both. I allowed Lovecraft to take my arm as we walked down the street. Takeshi followed behind us. We dined at a charming restaurant named Sakura. I highly recommend it in case you ever find yourself in Tokyo's government district.
THE TEMPLE OF SUIJIN
A BLOODY SHOOT OUT!
VERY BAD KAIJU
The train ride from Tokyo was splendid. We slept through the night, and woke to a breakfast of eggs, sausage, toast, orange juice and bloody Mary's. But soon after we left the station, we found ourselves lost on the streets of Kochi.
“I thought Takeshi knew where we were going,” Lovecraft complained.
Takeshi spoke a few angry words to Yomomato as he looked in H.P.'s direction. The brute must not have understood his words, but their meaning was clear enough. Yomomato nodded and explained, “Takeshi says the city has changed so much in the last few years, the streets make little sense to him anymore. The landmarks are different and there are many new roads.”
Then Takeshi called out to another man his age, a short postman burdened with envelopes and packages. They appeared to be old friends.
Lovecraft and I waited patiently through a few minutes of conversation we did not understand. We could not ask Yomomato to translate, because Takeshi had introduced him to his friend and invited him to join.
As we waited, the hairs on the back of my neck began to rise.
I turned to Lovecraft, but before I could speak he said, “I know. We're being watched.” Then he turned his head sharply to his right.
“Did you see something?” I asked.
“Only a darting shadow. Here, take this,” he passed an object to me that he'd hidden inside his suit jacket. It was wrapped in a silk handkerchief and felt like a small metal tool.
I unwrapped it and stuffed it into my pocketbook. It was a small Derringer pistol. I'd carried one for many years, but had never needed to fire it. “Mr. Lovecraft, this is hardly necessary. Certainly Takeshi has provided adequate security.”
“So far,” Lovecraft responded. “But he can't protect you from everything.”
“Come!” Yomomato called. “Our friend is going to lead us to the Temple of Suijin. We'll be there in a few minutes.
“Very well. Please tell Takeshi that Mr. Lovecraft suspects we're being followed,” I asked.
Yomomato spoke a few words and Takeshi chuckled. Then he turned back to look at Lovecraft and pulled his sword halfway out of its scabbard. A katana, I would eventually learn. Like an officer's saber, but we'd soon learn how well Takeshi could wield it.
The temple itself was humble. A small red Torii gate marked its entrance. It looked like the mathematical symbol pi built into an archway. Then we found an ancient wooden building with a small stone statue in front of it. It resembled the engraving on my charm.
The postman left us, and we entered the temple. We found ourselves in a wooden room lit only by candles. We removed our shoes, a custom I'd remembered. The smell of incense permeated everything. Bronze statues of gods, dragons and spirits surrounded us. There were half a dozen scrolls and tapestries hung up. On one wall, I saw a painting with a creature that looked like a blend of human, fish and turtle. Lovecraft gave it a queer look. I knew it must be an image of the water deity Suijin. It too resembled the carving on my charm.
“Welcome,” an elder priestess spoke to us. “I am Nobuko.”
Takeshi and Yomomato bowed on their knees. Lovecraft and I followed suit.
“You speak English?” I asked.
“I do,” Nobuko explained. “My grandfather was a diplomat to the Americans and he taught me the language at his knee. After Commodore Perry came to our shores, there was a great need to educate a generation of English speakers. I've been lucky enough to continue speaking it. It's become more and more necessary.” She said these last words with a look of suspicion in her eyes.
“I expected a priest,” I told her. “Not a priestess. That's not to say I'm disappointed. Only surprised.”
“This is a temple to a water deity. As the moon and tides go, so do we,” she explained, with more than a hint of annoyance.
“Ms. Bly, the charm,” Lovecraft reminded me.
“Yes! Of course,” I took the chain off my neck and offered it to Nobuko.
Her eyes widened. “Where did you get this?” she demanded angrily.
“A woman, Minami, gave it to me,” I explained. “Many years ago. She hosted me in her hostel.”
“Her brothel, you mean,” Nobuko scowled. She had a round face with squinted eyes and a dimpled chin. Her hair was snow-white, pulled into a tight bun wrapped around a kanzashi, or hair stick. Her robes were white and pale blue.
“What are you implying?” I asked sharply.
Yomomato intervened. “Please, there's no need for harsh words. Saishu Nobuko, Ms. Bly received this pendant as a gift. Mr. Lovecraft believes it was stolen, but not with her knowledge. She's traveled thousands of miles to return it to your temple. Please, forgive her for her sin.”
Nobuko stared at me with cold hatred. In moments, she softened into weary resignation. “Very well. You were a young and stupid girl back then. I read about you in smuggled Hong Kong newspapers. I admired you. And still do. But the more Americans and Europeans that come to Japan, the more I fear them. They take and do not give. But by fire and steel, you shall never subjugate us.”
Yomomato translated for Takeshi and the soldier laughed. Nobuko spoke to him in Japanese and he laughed even harder. Yomomato joined in.
“I fear they're making a joke at our expense,” Lovecraft complained.
“No need for fear, it's certain,” I told him.
In the midst of their laughter, we heard screams coming from the temple courtyard. Takeshi turned, and in a moment his katana flashed in the candlelight. Lovecraft pulled a revolver from a shoulder holster and even Yomomato carried a small gun Takeshi handed to him. Only Nobuko remained unarmed. I gripped my Derringer from inside my pocketbook, ready to fire through it if need be.
The screams ended. Then five figures came inside, all wearing black cloaks, faces hidden. Two carried curved knives, two carried their own pistols, and one had a Tommy gun, just like an American gangster. Before he could fire, Takeshi killed him with a single shot between the eyes.
Then all hell broke loose. Nobuko was injured immediately, shot through her shoulder. Yomomato dragged her behind one of the bronze statues and began firing from behind cover. Lovecraft shot blindly but managed to wound one in his knee.
These were the cultists of Bokrug, I realized immediately. The ones I'd been warned about. I cowered behind a stone pillar and gripped my Derringer like a vice. I took it out of my bag, and despite my sheer terror, admired the beauty of its pearl handle. The gun was so old fashioned I wondered if it was an heirloom. It looked to be in excellent shape, pearl and silver with a single bullet inside. I hoped one would be enough.
I peered around the column. Takeshi was a whirlwind of movement. He swung his katana as fast a propeller. An arm and then a head came clean off a pair of cultists. Two were dead from gunshot wounds, and the amputee was dying from blood loss. The last man fled, but I could see my chain wrapped around his hand.
“He has the pendant!” I roared, somehow suddenly concerned with its fate. Lovecraft's horror story had become all too real.
Takeshi sped after him. The amputee whimpered in agony. Lovecraft shot him through the head.
“Was that necessary?” I asked. “He could have been saved.”
“It was mercy,” Lovecraft replied. “Much more than he deserved.” He crouched down and pulled an ebony pendant from the man's neck. Its chain snapped into pieces. “Look!” he shoved the pendant into my face. “It's the seal of Bokrug. I was right.”
He walked toward Nobuko, and threw the pendant in the priestess's lap. “Do you recognize it?”
“Kaiju,” Nobuko whispered. Her face was pale and beaded in sweat.
“Yes, kaiju. Very, very bad kaiju,” Lovecraft said.
“What is kaiju?” I asked.
“Monster,” Yomomato answered.
Takeshi came back with the pendant. His clothes were bloody, and a bullet had grazed his cheek. Blood streaked down his face, but he was otherwise unharmed. Of our entire party, only Nobuko had been seriously wounded. Yomomato had torn a sleeve off his shirt and wrapped it around the priestess's shoulder as a tourniquet. She would survive. A pair of young acolytes soon entered and began to tend to her as she lay on the ground.
I rushed to Takeshi to wipe his cheek with my handkerchief. I could tell the warrior was not happy about it, but he indulged me. Soon the blood stopped flowing, but I knew Takeshi would have a new scar. He threw the pendant into Nobuko's lap. Now Nobuko had both, one to Suijin and one to Bokrug.
“Ito's too late,” Nobuko whimpered. “Even for an initiate, Suijin's pendant and a short prayer would be sufficient for Bokrug to take enough energy to rise from the sea. And sap some of Suijin's own strength.”
“Then we are doomed?” Lovecraft asked.
“Not yet,” Nobuko assured him. “We have Suijin's pendant back, and can restore his power. I must begin the rites immediately.”
“And what shall we do?” I asked.
“Pray to your God.”
THE BATTLE OF SUIJIN TEMPLE
CLASH OF THE KAIJU
A deadly silence pervaded the next two weeks. There were no more attacks on Suijin Temple. Nobuko chanted day and night with her priestesses and alcolytes. I didn't know what could fuel her zealotry. As the days passed, her color returned and her shoulder began to heal. Her eyes were white whenever I walked by, rolled back into her skull. We stayed on the temple grounds, in a guest house. It wasn't made for Westerners, so we slept on tatami maps, and the only privacy we had was granted by sliding paper doors and folding wooden panels. Takeshi went to the courtyard every morning to train with his katana. He labored, stroke by stroke, bare-chested beneath the rising sun until sweat beaded his forehead. I admit, my eyes lingered longer than they should have. All this excitement was stirring feelings I hadn't felt in more than a decade. I could only relieve these feelings in private.
“Why do they hesitate?” I asked Lovecraft. “Why have there been no more attacks?”
“The cultists already have what they want. Now they conduct their own dark rituals. Their most terrible ritual will culminate on Samhain when Bokrug rises from the sea to destroy Kochi. Unless Suijin rises to stop him,” he explained.
“Samhain?” I asked.
“It's always Samhain,” he muttered.
“Yes, but what is Samhain?” I demanded to know.
“Ah, yes. All Hollow's Eve, Hallowe'en as the children call it now. The veil is thinnest on this night, and so it is often a time of great evil. We must protect ourselves,” he told me.
Yomomato returned. He'd spent much of his time in a nearby hotel, telegraphing Tokyo, and speaking to the mayor of Kochi on the telephone. I had no idea what he was doing, but I had the feeling it was important.
“What news?” Lovecraft asked.
“We've made progress,” he told us. Takeshi, as always, stood silently behind him. “The mayor has prepared for an evacuation. If kaiju rise from the sea, the sirens will blare and that will tell the citizens it's time to flee. The Prime Minister has dispatched a fleet from Tokyo that will arrive in two days. Aerial support has already come. Two dozen aeroplanes are ready to fly from an aerodrome on the outskirts of the city. Takeshi has organized a small defense force that will likely be powerless except to aid in the evacuation. The army is dispatched, but I fear they will arrive too late to be of any help. The rest is in the hands of priestesses and gods.”
We stood silent for a short time. “Mother of God,” I spoke in a hush. “May Michael the Archangel come to defend us from the wicked.” I'm agnostic, like to hedge my bets.
“We should rest,” Yomomato told us. “Our defenses will be strongest on October 31st, per Mr. Lovecraft's recommendations. Some citizens have already decided to evacuate. The rest are prepared to leave at a moment's notice.”
Takeshi grunted and muttered something in Yomomato's ear. Yomomato nodded, and Takeshi took his leave.
“Come H.P., I have a thirst,” I told Mr. Lovecraft.
“Madam, it isn't even noon,” he reminded me.
“Then we have more time to drink,” I said. I turned on my heel and half an hour later, we drowned our sorrows in beer and smothered them in okonomiyaki, a fried egg dish, somewhat like an omelet. That night, we slept soundly, and chased away our hangover with sake. After that day, we were sober, in mind and body.
The days passed slowly, like a cherry blossom shedding its flowers in the spring. Eventually, the calendar turned to October 31st, and it became twilight, almost Hollowe'en night. The city was on high alert. So was the temple. Nobuko led her priestesses into a crescendo of chanting. Lovecraft told us that a dark version of this ritual was taking place for the sake of Bokrug. I fingered the trigger of my Derringer. I asked Takeshi for my own blade, and he gave me a wakizashi, a Japanese short sword. He showed me how to wield it, and despite my years, I knew I could still run a man through. He also gave me a pistol, a Luger he'd taken off the body of a German officer during the Great War. He showed me how to load, aim and shoot it. I became a crack shot in one afternoon, shooting beer bottles from twenty feet away. They shattered like an explosion of glittering diamonds, sending a thrill down my spine each and every time.
That evening, I felt the Luger in a holster on my belt, the wakizashi tied to my hip and my Derringer hidden quite literally up my sleeve. Takeshi had fashioned a very clever holster and showed me how to use it. No longer in my matronly gown, I now wore the uniform of an Imperial soldier. I filled it quite nicely. Lovecraft stayed in his dark suit, explaining that in the black of night he would be suitably camouflaged.
The four of us stood together, our eyes on the setting son from a balcony on the temple's pagoda. We sipped green tea and chatted about nothing, trying in vain to soothe our nerves. The moon was high in the sky, as round and fat as a baby's face. A slight breeze brought an Autumn chill. All around us, the leaves burned bright. If not for our impending doom, the scene was as pleasant as one could ask for.
Then the sun finally dipped below the horizon and I gripped my Luger in its holster. My sword was a comforting weight on my hip. Takeshi even wore his liberated Tommy gun from a strap that hung from his chest. We were nothing if not well-armed.
H.P.'s eyes stared into the darkness as if he were looking a thousand yards away. Then his eyes widened.
“It's begun,” he whispered.
Sirens blared in the night. Searchlights lit one by one. Takeshi peered into the sea with his binoculars. We heard the crashing of waves grow louder and louder. Takeshi passed the binoculars to Yomomato who acted unsurprised by what he saw. He gave the binoculars to Lovecraft who stared the longest. “It's as if he crawled out of my nightmares,” he told us, and then it was my turn to peer into the darkness.
At first, I thought I was looking at an unfamiliar mountain, one hidden by the morning fog. Then I saw that it was getting bigger. No, it was getting closer. It looked like an enormous hybrid of a fish and alligator, its back spined and mouth fanged. I could see the water ripple as it swam closer. When it reached shallow waters, the damned beast stood on its hind legs.
Then it made the most dreadful roar. It was a horrible sound, the worst that ever filled my ears. I can hear it even now. It was like a howling typhoon, a roaring lion, and the sound of artillery shells falling on the trenches. It made tears roll down my face.
Takeshi spoke a harsh word, and pointed to the temple's torii gate. More cultists. He let them enter the court-yard, then fired his Tommy gun. Yomomato fired a vintage rifle, but then the cultists returned fire and we had to escape inside the temple.
“We must protect Nobuko and her priestesses!” I ordered them, and found myself leading the charge down into the interior. The alcolytes were outmatched, fighting as they were with bamboo poles, fists and feet. Remarkably, they were holding their own.
I could hear Nobuko chanting, her words rising louder and louder. From outside, Bokrug's roars intensified, and drowned out even the sound of the evacuation sirens. The wooden temple vibrated. Before I could get my bearings, one of those curved knives flew out toward me. When I say curved, I don't mean like a pirate's scimitar. No, it curved like a soundwave, as if the metal itself oscillated from the hilt. I fired my Luger, but the cultist slapped it out of my hand with his dagger. I pulled my wakizashi from its scabbard and our blades sparked in the candlelight. I cut into his shoulder and thigh, but could not reach his innards. I had taken a scratch upon my belly, but my heft saved me from a mortal wound. My fat bled through my shirt, but the wound did not slow me.
In the next moment, I fell pinned beneath him. The cultist bore his dagger down on me. Moment by moment, it crept closer to my heart. I looked into the cultist's face. It was vaguely fish-like, with thin lips and soulless eyes. He hissed, and his teeth were sharp like the fiercest tribes of South America. Then I remembered my Derringer and fired. The bullet sped through him, and I felt his weight collapse on top of me. I threw him off and shuddered. I'd made my first kill, and hoped it would be my last.
All around me was carnage. Acolytes with their intestines pooled onto the floor. More headless cultists. Takeshi was covered in blood and gore like a newborn baby. Lovecraft was bloodied too, but by the way he moved, I could tell the blood wasn't his own. Yomomato walked through the temple and shot the mortally wounded, cultist and acolyte alike. Then I saw the flash of steel behind him.
“Look out!” I cried, but it was too late. By the time Yomomato turned, the blade had already entered his belly. He shot the cultist who'd stricken him, but it was in vain. Once the fighting ended, only Takeshi, Lovecraft, Nobuko, Yomomato and one remaining acolyte were still alive. Yomomato howled in pain. Takeshi did what he could, and I saw him jab Yomomato's shoulder with a syringe. Opium, I realized. That calmed the man, but he was already pale as a sheet.
Then the chanting stopped with a deafening silence. Again I heard the waves crash even harder. A new cry began, but this one had the voice of Metatron. So loud, but divine. Suijin, I realized. Their deity had finally come to save us.
“The ritual is over!” Nobuko cried. Then she collapsed. Dead or unconscious, I could not yet tell. Her alcolyte poured some strange potion into her lips but most pooled out of the priestess's mouth.
I rushed to Yomomato. He was praying, I could tell. Takeshi pushed me away from him. Lovecraft peered out the temple door, revolver in hand. He'd reloaded and spun the barrel. It clicked back into place. Then he pulled another revolver from his hip and wielded both at once. These weren't the snub noses of a Brooklyn alley, but the hand-cannons of the O.K. Corral. I doubted he had the strength to wield them, but from the cultists bleeding on the temple floor, some with wounds the size of plums, I knew that somehow he could.
Yomomato finished speaking and a look of peace spread over him. Somehow, he rose to his knees and knelt before Takeshi. The soldier put the sword before his face, gripped in both hands, its edge pointed at Yomomato. In an instant, the blade flashed and Yomomato's head rolled onto the floor. I saw a geyser of blood, and then his body collapsed.
“The coast is clear,” Lovecraft spoke. “It's now or never.” Then he led us outside, and I heard three gunshots. A sniper fell from the temple walls, its body cloaked in a black robe. When we walked past, I could see she was a woman, one young enough to still be a maid. I could not help but close her eyes. I took her rifle too, just in case. I'd fired one in Austria, target practice with a young private. Like riding a bike, I hoped.
We finally exited the temple grounds. The streets were pandemonium. Cars and crowds rushed past us, people carrying suitcases, trunks, children and babes. We struggled in the opposite direction, like salmon swimming upstream. Takeshi led us down a deserted alley so we gained speed.
I looked up and could finally see Suijin. He looked just like his statue, a fish, turtle god-man, nearly as tall as Bokrug. His gentle face was twisted in fury. He stood before the coastline like a colossus. Bokrug stared back back at him. Dumbfounded, the three of us stood still and watched, jaws slack. Then the beasts lunged at each other, and I heard a noise as loud as two locomotives colliding. I heard windows shatter, and a thirty foot wave crashed into the coast, sending the pier and fishing boats up and down with its mighty force. They grappled for a moment and Suijin fell backward, exploding the pier into toothpicks. I saw a family crushed beneath him and brought my knuckles to my mouth. Bokrug fell on top of them, and they rolled into the surf.
Takeshi began to run toward them, but I tugged his arm. “No!” I screamed. “We need to run the other way!”
He gave me a look of utter disdain and cursed me in a manner most foul. I did not understand his words, but once again, their meaning was clear. Then he rushed to the beasts.
Lovecraft took me a few blocks away from the pier. We climbed up an abandoned fire escape onto the roof of a brick apartment building. He took out Yomomato's binoculars. He'd picked them up before we left the temple. “Look through your scope,” he instructed. “Its lens is likely more powerful than these.”
“Of course,” I remembered. I looked through the scope and it was if I was a hundred yards closer. Bokrug was scaled, colored black and incandescent blue from the flames now burning in the city. Suijin must have crushed a gas line. Now I could see him even closer. His skin was mottled green, black and white like a frog. I could see what looked like a turtle shell on his back.
“Gods, no...” Lovecraft shuddered. Bokrug pushed Suijin back into the city. With every step, buildings crushed beneath their weight. The dust of concrete choked the air, and with every movement we heard a deafening crack. Bokrug spun and slapped Suijin with his tale. Suijin stuttered backward, and hit back with his right fist. Bokrug's head turned sideways and I could see what looked like black blood escape his lips.
Then we heard the drone of propellers. Biplanes dove at the monsters like bats from the moonlit sky. Through the searchlights, I could see the red disk of the rising sun emblazoned on their wings. The steady ratatatatatat of machine guns hammered into Bokrug, but his scales seemed to deflect them like raindrops upon a mountain. They did seem to distract him, and in that moment, Suijin roared blue fire into Bokrug's face. Unfortunately, one of the planes incinerated too. Friendly fire. I remembered that phrase from the war.
We heard a scream, and Bokrug fell backward into the sea. Suijin meant to jump on top of him, but Bokrug kicked him off with both feet. He flew back into the city and fell into a tall building that collapsed on top of him. Bokrug ran back in from the sea and breathed his own orange fire into the rubble. From the smoldering wreckage, we could see nothing, not even a stirring.
“Look,” Lovecraft pointed. “Upon the rubble!”
“Takeshi!” I exclaimed. I could see Takeshi through my scope, bounding up the burning ruins. He emptied his Tommy gun into the beast's face, but Bokrug swatted the bullets like so many annoying gnats. Suijin finally stirred, but not in time to help Takeshi.
Then the soldier jumped onto Bokrug's flank. He landed just above the kaiju's thigh, using his katana like a climber would use an ice pick. Then with his wakazashi too, he scrambled up the beast, climbing with his legs as he did. They were close enough, we could now watch the action with our naked eyes.
“Mad man,” he spoke in a hush. Then I heard the roar of gunshots from behind and turned to see two more cultists fall backward from the fire escape. Smoke poured from Lovecraft's twin guns, and he holstered them once more. “They tried to get the drop on us. No matter. But we should back away from the edge of this roof to stay hidden.”
Finding his advice most prudent, I did so. I rested my rifle on an exhaust fan and peered through the scope once more. Suijin was slowly rising, now on his knees. Then I found Takeshi. The scene was grim. Bokrug had him in his hand and was about to plop him into his mouth like an hors d'ouvre. Then Takeshi dropped a belt of grenades into the beast's mouth, pins pulled like rings upon his fingers. There was a terrible explosion, and I saw smoke come out of Bokrug's nose. He dropped Takeshi, but the soldier slid to a stop with his swords sliced into the softer scales upon Bokrug's belly. But he'd had enough and flew from the kaiju, hoping to escape now that he'd given Suijin a chance to recover.
Some mad notion made me pull my trigger without even thinking. Bullseye. Bokrug's right eye now leaked a spot of black blood, and his right hand rose to cover it. Suijin tackled the beast and they made their way once more into the sea. Now the fleet had arrived, and a battleship nearly capsized. It fired a full volley into Bokrug's rear flank. A few shells landed in the city, destroying buildings I now hoped were abandoned.
By this time, the bullets from the aeroplanes, the volleys of the ship's guns, Suijin's relentless flames, claws and teeth drove Bokrug further and further back. Finally, the beast faded away, deeper and deeper into the Pacific. Suijin followed him, but not for very long. He came back to the coastline, and bowed to Kochi. Then the deity sank into the ocean himself.
Around us the city burned. Even the sea was on fire from the slick oil of sunken ships. Lovecraft gripped my shoulder. “It's over. Thank you, Ms. Bly.”
Thus concluded the excitement of our adventures.
I know these words may never find an ink press. But I thank you, dear reader, whoever you are. Sleep tight this night, and pray that the Old Ones sleep too.
My name is Cynthia Lovegood. I'm a doctoral student at Miskatonic University. I've a B.A. in Journalism, an M.A. in Women's Studies, and will soon have a Ph. D. in English Rhetoric. Therefore, I'm an expert in both Nelly Bly, born Emily Jane Cochran, and Howard Phillipps Lovecraft, better known as H.P. Lovecraft. The previous document was well-hidden in the archives of our library. I found it while researching early twentieth century Japanese history, part of an analysis focused on Imperial Japanese pre-World War II propaganda. These papers were filed as apocrypha. I've concluded that these articles were never published in the New York World, nor did they likely cross the desk of Joseph Pulitzer. They were probably once part of H.P. Lovecraft's private collection of letters, this document inherited from Ms. Bly herself upon her death.
I've yet to prove that these papers could not be a clever fraud. However, I have proven that the individuals detailed in these papers all existed, even minor players like Harold Reams. For example, this diplomat eventually become part of Exxon's board of directors in 1926. I even found a Private John Hanks who'd been stationed in Tokyo at the American Embassy in 1921. He rose to the rank of Colonel in the 33rd Battalion of the American infantry, serving in Europe from 1944-45. There were no other Hanks at the rank of Private stationed at the American Embassy in 1921, so I've concluded the pair are one in the same.
Now for the principal actors. A simple Google search will tell you the histories of Ms. Bly and Mr. Lovecraft. So I will spare you those details.
The events covered in this document were tecorded by the Japanese, American and Chinese press as a tsunami whose epicenter was created by an earthquake off the coast of Kochi on October 31st, 1921. However, its localization to Kochi and no other city is completely anomalous, a detail confirmed by Miskatonic meteorology professor Dr. James Sturm. Also, photographs of Kochi's destruction and rebuilding are more consistent with naval bombardment than a natural disaster. I have no conclusions, but plenty of suspicions.
As for the typeface, the font is one favored by Ms. Bly, one that became almost extinct by the mid 1930s. This is further evidence that the document is genuine. A chemical analysis will be able to pinpoint the kind of ink used and its approximate age. Now this can't eliminate the possibility of a fraudster using a very old typewriter with some very old paper and ink, but what would be the purpose of such a sophisticated forgery that was never revealed?
Now for the other parties in Ms. Bly's account. Shinzo Yomomato was indeed a Japanese diplomat to the Americans from 1914 until his death in 1921. Officially, he died in the Kochi Tsunami and his body was never recovered.
Mugen Takeshi survived both world wars and distinguished himself as an incredible fighter. He failed in his assassination attempt against Hideki Tojo in 1944 and surrendered himself to the Americans. In 1945, he was instrumental in the formation of the Self Defense Forces. He was immortalized in manga and anime, and his fictional characterization continues to endure.
Saishu Nobuko is more of an enigma. Saishu is simply an honorific for a temple's supreme priestess. It's certain that there is a Suijin Temple in Kochi. It was destroyed in World War II, and rebuilt. Unfortunately, its paper records were lost at that time. However, scribes in other towns and cities do refer to a Nobuko who was a significant Shinto priestess active in the Kochi region. Other details are hazy. If this document is a true account, then Ms. Bly's writings are the best history we have of this woman.
Certainly, some kind of cover-up must have occurred to prevent the truth of the Kochi Tsunami from ever being revealed. Graham Hancock believes that the existence of kaiju is accepted but not acknowledged by most world governments. He suspects the Japanese and American governments of the 1920s wished to sweep this incident under the rug in hopes of preserving the fragile peace formed by the Treaty of Versailles. Hancock also suspects the existence of kaiju may have led to their development as super-weapons, a strategy he believes could have led to Earth's destruction, even the galaxy's. There is evidence that in the 1970s, the Soviets and Americans collaborated in awakening an even more powerful kaiju than Suijin, one known as Gojira, to repel an extra-terrestrial invasion. That idea steps so far out into the fringe that even I hesitate to entertain its plausibility.
I will not weigh in on these heady, metaphysical topics. I will merely acknowledge that some truths about the Kochi Tsunami, if such a tsunami did occur, have been hidden. I am unable to pass judgment on the validity of these writings until a proper chemical analysis can be conducted on its paper and ink. Until then, these documents have been scanned and digitized. The physical documents have been preserved indefinitely.
Going forward, the subject of my doctoral thesis will focus on Ms. Nelly Bly's 1921 travels to Tokyo and Kochi, Japan. I am reluctant to speculate on the nature of her death in 1922, but at only 57 years of age, contributing factors may have been her experiences during the Great War and her witness of Kochi's destruction. She and Lovecraft remained friends, and he even attended her funeral.
I have made digital and physical copies of these notes and documents in case of any academic or government interference. In case of my untimely death, copies of these documents will be sent to all paranormal and mainstream media outlets.
As my last word, I will follow the advice of Ms. Nelly Bly and pray for the continued sleep of the Old Ones.