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To Fight Monsters, We Created Monsters (Pacific Rim)

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2013, August 10 – 10:32 – Anchorage, Alaska, United States

It was a relatively nice day in Anchorage, which was more than people could say about the state of California. No one at the time would have thought that a Hollywood thriller was able to come to life.

    See the headlines now, on front pages of newspapers and magazines and tabloids everywhere. 2013: The Year Science Went Too Far. Yeah, that sounded just about right.

    Greyson Darcy had gotten up early on that particular Saturday to catch the brunt of the Marvel Movie Marathon on one of many cable channels. She switched to the local news when she got up to make breakfast for her father and herself.

    “…Great summer weather here in Anchorage,” the weatherman said, “with a high of 65 on Wednesday. Temperatures across the state, August 10th: 55 in McGrath, Anchorage and Juneau at 57, St. Paul Island’s there at an observed 48 degrees…” Greyson rarely watched the news; her dad was the avid news-watcher in their two-person family, keeping her up-to-date with whatever newsworthy and/or possibly apocalyptic event that was ever aired.

    From the kitchen, she heard how the Aces looked like they were getting ready for the ice hockey cup, and that ESPN was doing a beat about the upcoming San Francisco Giants and Baltimore Orioles baseball game later in the day.

    It was when Channel 11 showed the local newscasters reporting a 7.1 earthquake in California did anything attract her attention. The television practically yearned for it; wanted her to see for herself. She returned to the living room for a moment, intently watching the videos being shown.

    Earthquakes weren’t considered an anomaly in that part of the United States, she knew that much. All right, okay — admittedly this quake was particularly high on the Richter scale. She did, however, find it weird that the newscasters announced witnesses reported a sighting of something near the Golden Gate Bridge.

    Greyson took a firm hold on her remote control, and when she clicked to another channel, its feed took her by surprise; it looked to be playing out like a scene from a Godzilla movie. Upon realizing that she was tuned in to news, Greyson held the television remote a lot tighter, clicking through other channels too — just to make sure. It’s too late for April Fool’s pranks, isn’t it?

    The young teen had looked at all the news outlets she knew of and they all said the same things:  “MONSTER” SURFACES FROM PACIFIC OCEAN. GOLDEN GATE BRIDGE ATTACKED. The timestamps for the videos aired were from an hour prior.

    With furrowed brows and a weary voice, she called out warily, “…Dad?” I’m dreaming, Greyson thought unpleasantly, this has to be some kind of sick joke. She called out again for her father, louder this time. “C’mere! San Francisco was attacked!”

    William Darcy took his sweet time walking out to the brightly lit living room. His dark hair was standing up at multiple angles and his sweatshirt was askew across his broad shoulders. Sleepily, he yawned and shuffled his feet forward until he stood behind the sectional sofa.

    He smelled strongly of alcohol, but Greyson ignored it, like she always did.

   In Filipino, the father asked, “Ano ba, anak?” He blinked a few times, rubbing the sleep from his dark brown eyes, before fully turning his attention to his fourteen-year-old daughter. “What is it, Sonny?” William repeated, this time in English.

    Greyson only raised her brows, pointing to the television screen like it was so damn obvious — which she thought it was: The same video feed was being replayed, over and over again, but the news reporters and correspondents were frantically trying to update residents with the goings on of the Golden State.

    It took a few heartbeats for the situation to sink into the man. “Ano ba ‘to?” he muttered quietly, more to himself. “What is this? Monsters in California?”

    Perhaps it was the fact she was up earlier than was usual, or maybe because freaking Godzilla is real, but Greyson didn’t feel scared or disoriented until her father’s phone rang. A chill ran up her spine. Will answered.

    “Hey, Rich.” It was Mr. Becket, from next door. “Yeah, I know, I’m watching it right now.”

    Greyson tuned out her father’s conversation. For once, her attention was too focused on the news.

2013, August 11 – 11:25 – Anchorage, Alaska, United States

More coverage was sent out the next day. And what the world saw was worse than it appeared merely a day before.

    Greyson and William had both thrown on a jacket for the chilled 57 degree weather, and walked next door to the Beckets’: It was easier than calling, and then ending up talking on the phone for hours.

    Big plus: Mrs. Becket had made French toast for brunch.

    The Beckets were already in their homey kitchen when the father-daughter Darcy duo arrived. Raleigh was the first one to perk up when he spotted the new arrivals. He offered a small, kind wave. “Hey, guys,” the young boy chirped. “Morning.”

    Will and Greyson had greeted everyone in return, standing in the doorway to the kitchen. Dominique Becket, a brunette in contrast to the rest of the blond family, wiped the palms of her hands on the Kiss the Cook apron, sauntering lithely in their direction. Taking the young girl into her arms, she asked, “Comment allez-vous, cher?

    Thankfully, Greyson didn’t need any high school French classes to know Mrs. Becket had asked how she was doing. “Bon, merci,” she replied in kind.

    Yancy, the oldest of the Becket children, stood from the table, picking up his used dishes and silverware. He put them in the sink before going to their refrigerator and pulling out a carton of orange juice. “Crazy stuff, huh?” he asked absentmindedly about the latest news.

    “You’re telling me,” Greyson huffed whilst shaking her head, taking his previous seat. “To think, we were just in California two weeks ago visiting my cousins...”

    There was a smaller television set on the kitchen counter, apart from the flat screen in their living room. Richard Becket, a broad-shouldered man with a finely receding hairline, had walked over and turned up the system volume manually.

    Videos played: People screaming, people running along the streets. “GIANT CREATURE” ATTACKS. SAN FRANCISCO THREATENED. Buildings had collapsed. The National Guard and U. S. Air Force teams were called in to assist citizens and combat the threat.

    A Californian news correspondent’s commentary played over videos of a wrecked Golden Gate Bridge. “…It must be 300 feet tall. Cars were tumbling off the bridge—”

    A reporter appeared on-screen, flying over the city in a helicopter. “San Francisco has now become a war zone,” they relayed. “What are the chances of taking down this giant creature? I don’t know what is going to be left of this city.

    “The American military has so far been unable to halt the creature’s advance—”

    All of them, so entranced with the unnatural sight on the screen, had jumped out of their skins when a small voice said: “I didn’t know we rented a monster movie.”

    Jazmine, then still a thirteen-year-old with Katniss Everdeen-esque braid and clips in her blonde hair, had swiftly moved to the table, picking up a slice of still-warm French toast from the pile.

    Yancy snorted out a short laugh before tipping his cup back, downing the juice in a single run. “Right, a very high-budgeted monster movie. Like Godzilla—“

    “—Or the Leviathans from The Avengers,” insisted Raleigh, snickering.

    After finally getting over her giggle-fit, Greyson decided to join in on the fun, voicing, “Skyscraper-sized dinosaurs that breathe blue flames!”

    Sure, the kids were laughing now. From miles and miles away, the gravity of the situation hadn’t really hit them. But they knew.

    They just didn’t want to believe.

2013, August 15 – 12:48 – Anchorage, Alaska, United States

People weren't able to evacuate the vicinity quick enough; it was to be expected. If not for the haste of the National Guard, a lot less people would have gotten away from the danger zones.

    Tens of thousands of people died in the downtown areas. Prior to the big-gunned, well-paid teams arriving and being able to make somewhat of a stand, the monster had made trek of thirty-five miles inland.

    It took almost a week to kill, and every day the news made sure the world saw the chaos. Three cities were all but demolished, changed forever, and probably inhabitable for a few good years. Even the somewhat smaller, surrounding cities weren’t left untouched. San Francisco. Oakland. Hayward. San Mateo. San Jose. The damage was bound to cost millions.

    But the damage from the attack wasn't entirely the monster’s fault. Tanks were on the streets, jets were flown through the air, and missiles were shot at the huge monster. Tactical nukes were brought in when all hope of using the Hellfire missiles diminished — three, actually.

    The government knew what they were doing when those nuclear warheads were sent; it was at the expense of major California cities and everyone living in them. Public relations campaigns explained that the Bay Area wouldn't be habitable for a while, not by a long shot; too much radiation from the weapons.

    And Greyson didn’t believe it was humanly possible to move a singularly intact monster for all the gold in the world.

2013, August 20 – 08:37 – Anchorage, Alaska, United States

“Dude, did you see the news?”

    “Everyone did, idiot.” Eyes rolled. “Jake, even people without cable heard about it.”

    “Lily, I swear, that thing was gigantic!” A student’s arms spread wide, illustrating the size of the monster slain a mere few days prior.

    “I heard from my momma that they started calling it ‘Trespasser’ or something.” The girl that said it appeared bored, attention drawn to the blindingly bright Smartphone screen.

    A boy leaned back in his desk, tapping on the tabletop of Greyson Darcy behind him. “Hey, Sonny, don’t you have cousins there?”

    “Yeah, California,” she articulated, nodding somberly. “Anywhere near that attack, thank God, no.”

     Another boy, donning pink-dyed hair, had frowned. “My big brother goes to Laney.”

    “Where’s that at?” It was the Lily girl.

    “Oakland.”

    It was Greyson’s first day of school — high school, in fact. Everyone wanted to talk about the giant monster. What else was there to talk about? In every classroom or hallway, people talked about the monster referred to as ‘Trespasser’. But through all the raised voices and rushed speech, one particular boy was keeping quiet, content with his silence.

    Raleigh Becket had chosen the seat beside his best friend at the beginning of their second hour class, which was nearly over. Greyson turned in her seat, watching as Raleigh defaced public school property. His pencil was scratching back and forth on the desk. “What are you drawing?” she had asked in a low voice, watching him.

    Blowing off excess pencil lead and eraser shavings, Raleigh motioned to his masterpiece.

    Greyson leaned over, examining it. There was a crude drawing of the giant creature, Trespasser, alongside what she thought was a robot from one of the old shows they used to love so much. She chuckled under her breath, “Godzilla and, uh… a Power Rangers Megazord?”

    Raleigh frowned slightly. “It was supposed to be a Transformer.”

2013, October 2 – 20:42 – Anchorage, Alaska, United States

Greyson Darcy was sitting at her computer desk with headphones over her ears, typing out a report for her English class. But even with them on, she heard a door slam from the Becket household next door.

    Using the balls of her feet, Greyson pushed her chair to the half-open window, looking across to the neighboring backyard. Yancy was out there alone, kicking at the grass and pulling at his hair in what she assumed was anger and frustration. Greyson’s attention was averted to the window directly adjacent to hers, when Raleigh pulled it open.

    She gave a sympathetic smile to him upon reading his expression. “What’s up with Yance?” she asked in genuine curiosity, a little off put by the elder Becket. The Filipina stole another glance at Yancy. “Doesn’t seem so hot right now.”

    Raleigh stayed quiet for a few heartbeats. His arms were crossed, propped up on the windowpane, and his chin was rested against them. “We brought Mom to the hospital today…” Sighing, he continued almost reluctantly, as if admitting it out loud would make the situation even worse than it was. “She has lung cancer.” It sounded almost as if he spit the words out with venom. “Can you believe it? Fucking lung cancer.”

    Greyson knew exactly what Raleigh was feeling. She’d had enough deaths in the family from cancers and other unnecessary illnesses that the universe was able to cook up. Empathetically, she wondered, “Did they tell you what stage it’s on?”

    “Dad probably knows, I don’t know. But Mom didn’t even care — she lit up right when we left the doctor…” Raleigh was obviously furious. At the world, at his mother, at himself — she had no idea. Greyson knew whenever Raleigh turned to short answers that he was barely holding together.

    The two of them sat in a somewhat comfortable silence.

    Eventually, Greyson stood from her chair and settled herself on the windowsill seat, solemn. “Do you remember that one time in fourth grade, when I was gone for, like, a month from school?”

    “How could I forget?” Raleigh uttered. “Before you left, you would never shut up, like ever, but when you came back it was like you had your vocal cords taken out.”

    “I never told you the reason why.”

    Greyson still held back tears whenever she thought about them, even after so many years. “My mom had a younger brother named John, and we were pretty close. He had Scleroderma — died a few days before his twenty-first birthday.”

    Raleigh was quiet, listening.

    “Doctors said he wouldn’t live past sixteen, but he beat the odds until then.” She looked at him, searching his face for something — anything. “Look, I’m not saying it gets any better with time. That saying is bullshit, okay?

    “I’m saying you can move on from this, Rals. You know, after you spend as much time with your mom as possible.”

    He gave her a smile. It was a small one, but a smile nonetheless.