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The Letters of Nadja Geiszler and Hedda Gottlieb

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AP News: February 2015

Protests turned to riots on the steps of the California senate yesterday as officials passed a bill to rebuild low income government subsidized housing along the coast. The bill had been debated for three days, during which time thousands of protesters had surrounded the building. Many of these protesters were displaced by Trespasser’s attack in August 2013.

Said California native Darryl Williams, “I can’t afford to live in California, and I can’t afford to leave. I’ve been living inland with my aunt since my home was destroyed. I lost everything I owned in the attack, including my job. Putting the only housing that I can afford in a place that they know could kill me- it’s not right.”

Protests were peaceful until the bill was passed, at which point an unknown person threw a molotov cocktail through the window of the building. This quickly grew into riots and hysteria, which the short staffed police were unable to contain. Rioting continued for six hours before crowds began to settle.

Several suspects are currently in custody for inciting the riot.

April 20, 2015

Email to: nadja.geiszler@caltech.edu

From: hedda.gottlieb@cambridge.uk

Subject: Kaiju Attack

Nadja,

I normally wouldn’t email, but this is an emergency. I have alerted the World Health Organization, and now I’m telling you. A Kaiju is going to attack somewhere within the next four days. I am hoping that it does not hit California. There is so much that is uncertain. I wish that the numbers could tell me more. You need to leave Pasadena now, and stay out of harm’s way until the Kaiju is dead.

Brawler Yukon will be deployed. I have faith that it will be successful. They will be shuttling biologists to ground-K as soon as the Kaiju has been killed. There will be no nuclear assault this time, so there will be no waiting for radiation cleanup. You should pack as much as you can when you leave California. Knowing you, you’ll want to be first in line to poke at the most undisturbed, fresh Kaiju to date. There’s no telling what research on a newly dead Kaiju will entail. You might not go home for a long time.

Be safe. Try to not let your obsession get you killed and/or eaten. Write when you can.

Sincerely,

Hedda Gottlieb

April 24, 2015

New York Times

Vancouver Kaiju Destroyed by Jaeger

            In a stunning turn of events, an enormous robot destroyed the Kaiju that attacked Vancouver yesterday. Said robot, called a Jaeger, was part of the defense program proposed to the UN several months ago. The project had been shrouded in secrecy until yesterday, when the Jaeger was deployed for the first time.

            The pilots, Dr. Caitlin Lightcap and Dr. Jasper Schoenberg, also developed the technology that allowed them to control the Jaeger. Both are veteran neuroscientists who had previously worked on remote mechanical control of objects using the power of thought alone.

            According to Lightcap, “Our pons system controls the robot via our nervous system, while our Drift technology allows us to share the neural load. Essentially, when controlling something as large as a Jaeger, two heads are better than one.”

            Such technology sounds within the realm of science fiction. According to Schoenfield, the association isn’t far off.

            “I got the idea for the Jaeger program by watching my son play with his toy robots. Sometimes thinking outside of the box turns stuff of the imagination into reality.”

            According to the World Health Organization, the use of the Jaeger for defense has ensured the lowest mortality count of any Kaiju attack thus far. The use of a predicative model for discovering an approximate date for the attack also helped to evacuate much of the city several days previous. The woman who developed this model, Dr. Hedda Gottlieb, also wrote code for the Jaeger program.

 However, not all the news in Vancouver is good. According to search and rescue teams, at least 2000 people are dead and many more are injured. The destruction has mainly impacted poor communities who were unable to get out of the city in time.

[cont on page A6]

April 23, 2015- April 30, 2015

To: nadja.geiszler@caltech.edu

From: hedda.gottlieb@cambridge.uk

Date: 4/23/2015

Subject: [blank]

Nadja,

The Kaiju attacked Vancouver. Look to the news for when it will be taken down. Don’t travel until it is dead. Please.

I’m watching Brawler Yukon fight on a television screen thousands of miles away. It’s almost surreal. Several months ago I thought this moment would never come.

Seeing it on a screen makes it all seem smaller than it really is. Is that how it feels for you too?

Write soon,

Hedda Gottlieb

 

To: nadja.geiszler@caltech.edu

From: hedda.gottlieb@cambridge.uk

Date: 4/24/2015

Subject: [blank]

Nadja,

Karloff is dead. Still haven’t heard back from you. I hope you’re alright. I hope you only left for Vancouver today. From what I’ve seen on the news, it’s a terrible mess.

Reporters are banging on my door trying to get me to answer questions. I wish they would go away. This is what I get for trying to save the world: distraction from doing more to save it.

Write soon,

Hedda Gottlieb

 

To: nadja.geiszler@caltech.edu

From: hedda.gottlieb@cambridge.uk

Date: 4/25/2015

Subject: [blank]

Nadja,

I saw you on the news today. I’ve been watching it obsessively while avoiding being a part of it like the plague. I was glad to know you were safe (relatively.)

You got new hairstyle since the last picture you sent of yourself. The reporter was in an expensive suit, pursing her lips as she talked to a scientist wearing a band tee shirt and jeans with blue asymmetrical hair. I won’t lie- it gave me my first laugh in a week. Was that really necessary, Nadja?

I can’t work. Every time I go outside people want something. I have thirty missed calls. You’d think people would have better things to do.

How is your work going? Is it everything you dreamed of? What are you learning? More than me at the moment, surely.

Write soon,

Hedda Gottlieb

 

To: nadja.geiszler@caltech.edu

From: hedda.gottlieb@cambridge.uk

Date: 4/26/2015

Subject: [blank]

Nadja,

Now that the search and rescue teams are coming in, I’m finding it alarming as to how many people represent “little” collateral damage. 2000 people dead- it seems so many, and yet the news makes it sound like it’s so few. How does it feel from where you are on the ground?

Drs. Lightcap and Schoenfield are going on a press tour. My father is going with them. I am not going: they’ll want me to show up in a dress every day and talk about my work to world leaders as if it is a product. If I wanted to sell something, I would have studied business.

I long to get my hands on radioactivity data from the Kaiju but I know it will be a long while before the samples are decontaminated enough to be tested. My numbers are stuck. My machines are a commodity.

I’m not a wreck- I have never been a wreck a day in my life. The world around us is broken and it’s challenging to have to wait for it to become orderly again.

I have filled three books of Sudoku puzzles.

What is it like where you are? How does it feel to put the world back in order?

Write soon,

Hedda Gottlieb

 

To: nadja.geiszler@caltech.edu

From: hedda.gottlieb@cambridge.uk

Date: 4/27/2015

Subject: [blank]

Nadja,

I saw your team in the newspaper today. Forty of you crowded in a dim little room. You were standing in the front because of your height. Everyone looked exhausted and very serious.

Have you been sleeping? Can you?

When I close my eyes, I see ash, I hear: “I am become death, the destroyer of worlds.”

Write soon,

Hedda Gottlieb

 

May 1, 2015

To: hedda.gottlieb@cambridge.uk

From: nadja.geiszler@caltech.edu

Date: 5/1/15

Subject: Re

Dear Hedda,

            Sorry for the gap in correspondence. I did receive your emails, though I haven’t read most of them. There’s been no time. It’s just been. . .crazy since we last talked. A complete understatement, I know.

            Good work on predicting that Kaiju, by the way. When all the excitement dies down, you’ll be heading up that department for sure.

            I am currently in Vancouver. I’ve been here since April 24, along with a handful of other scientists referred to by higher ups as Cryptozoologists. I kind of like it- makes me feel like I’m working with the Loch Ness Monster. There’s not too many laughs to be found right now, so I’ll take what I can get.

            I waited until you gave the safety signal. Thanks for your concern. But I hope that you know that I am very aware of what I signed up for when I started studying the Kaiju. It’s my job to run towards danger and destruction. I will do that until either the Kaiju are gone forever or until studying them has killed me. Rock stars die young or fade into obscurity. You know,

“. . .way out in Seattle, young Kurt Cobain snuck out to the greenhouse, put a bullet in his brain . . . some things you’ll do for money and some you’ll do for fun but the things you do for love are going to come back to you one by one. . .”

            There is a profound ambivalence among the scientists (myself included) about all of the work we are doing.

            Up close, Karloff is beautiful and terrifying.

Vancouver is deserted, save for the scientists and cleanup crew. Cars left in the streets are crushed flat. Debris is everywhere. Buildings have the tops ripped off of them, surrounding the empty foundations with shards of glass and rubble.

            There is a search and rescue team, and sometimes they find people who are dead and unrecognizable.

            My research has been working on preservation of whatever body parts have not yet decayed. I spend my days clad in a hazmat suit and surrounded by ethereal blue gas- Kaiju blue. Some of the body parts still glow, bioluminescent for reasons we don’t yet understand. I had never seen still glowing samples before. I had never seen the way their blood shimmers when it’s fresh.

            The first day I was here, I didn’t sleep for 36 hours. I feel lit up, like a cigarette. My brain is amped on acrid smoke, man. Not. . .literally. The only smoke I’ve been around lately is Kaiju blue and as I’ve said I’m (mostly) protected against that.

            I got a tattoo yesterday of Karloff on my upper arm. Drove an hour up north to Abbortsford to get it. I think if I hadn’t promised her a good amount of money, the tattoo artist would have screwed it up on purpose. The UN is funding me now, though, and they’re paying me well to slowly kill myself with noxious gas. Might as well spend the money on something wild, in case none of us live long.

            I know the tattoo might make people mad, and that people might think I’m getting it to, I don’t know, piss off authority or something. But I don’t know- when I saw it completed, I felt like I had won somehow. Like if I reduced Karloff to something I wore on my skin, I could show that the only marks he left were the ones that I chose to wear.

            Or maybe I’d rather my fascination with the Kaiju seem trivial rather than the more morbid truth.

            I hear the non-cryptozoologists talking about us sometimes. They call us “Kaiju groupies” behind our backs. The end of the world has made everyone aware of the inherent morbidity in being a biologist. Before K-day you never heard anything like that about, say, microbiologists who study Ebola. They’re just as bad as we are. We’re all the same, in our slightly horrifying glee.

Bad is relative, anyway. It shows bias, a thing that should inherently be absent from science. If interest in the monsters is useful, moral relativity shouldn’t matter.

            That’s what I would tell myself to get some sleep at night, if I was still making an effort to sleep

I have to go. There’s very little time to write at the moment. My sample has finished incubating. Sorry that there’s no data in this letter. Nothing is complete yet. Next time.

Sincerely,

Newt Geiszler

May 10, 2015                                                      

~nine photographs~

1. Kaiju blood spatter on a dark brick wall. It’s dry, but still has an opalescent sheen.

Caption: 5/2/15 It’s slowly eating away at the wall and can’t be removed. I’ve named it Rebecca, because it’s ruining everyone’s day despite being dead.

2. A destroyed Vancouver apartment complex. All of the windows are blown out. Broken furniture is in the street. The top floor has been lopped off. Many walls are smashed in. The building is leaking rainwater.

Caption: 5/3/15 A block from our makeshift research facility.

3. An enormous, cleaned Kaiju skull under a bright light.

Caption: 5/4/15 Unbelievable. Only two weeks since the hunt and we’ve already eaten the entire Kaiju.

4. A blurry picture of Newt and another female scientist sitting at a booth inside a bar. Newt’s friend is staring into her colorful drink as if she is having an existential crisis. Newt’s short hair is disheveled and her makeup is smudged. There are two empty drinks in front of her. She is looking right into the camera and smiling manically.

Caption: 5/5/15 WE FOUND BOOZE

5. Newt’s arm with the sleeve rolled up. Karloff’s body, painted as if he is a Chinese dragon, takes up a large portion of her upper arm. The tattoo is raised, as though it is still fresh, but there is no inflammation or blood.

Caption: 5/6/15 Finally healed! Looking pretty rad if I do say so myself.

6. An orange hazmat suit hung up on a wall. CZO-37 is written on the chest.

Caption: 5/7/15 Stylish new work attire. They’ve given us ID numbers to take inventory in case one of us gets dissolved by acid and someone forgets to report it.

7. The inside of a dark studio apartment. There’s a computer on the coffee table, a blanket on the couch, and two full laundry baskets next to the bed. The bed looks like it has never been unmade, and the only dishes in the kitchenette sink are empty coffee cups.

Caption: 5/8/15 Home sweet home.

8. A torn scrap of notebook paper on a night stand. Written in pen: “I’ll call.”

Caption: 5/9/15 She won’t, but I didn’t expect her to.

9. A newspaper clipping of a picture of ten people in lab coats. They are standing outside in front of Karloff’s ribcage. Everyone in the picture looks solemn, including Newt herself.

Caption: K-SCIENCE!!!