TWA #8 – “Illuminating Lunatics” by Tony Southcotte

illuminating lunatics

Tired of being ignored, the Council of the New Illuminati decided that they had to come up with a new method of getting noticed. Something not even politicians, bureaucrats, and warmongers could ignore. They needed to send a message that the scientific community knew what was best for earth. So they made the first titans.

No one seemed to care that a group of scientists took a page from Greek mythology to put the world under their control.

The first of these monsters were very basic. More like moderately intelligent jelly cubes than anything else. They slithered along the great distances between major cities, stopping at coal plants, major chemical producers, and corporations that had a long track record of environmentally abusive policies.

As their craft was honed, the monsters started taking on wild new forms. Walking monsters, robotic and biological, and they left massive trails of destruction in their wake.

Safe on their moon base, the new world order of scientists and intellectuals monitored humanity’s progress toward enlightenment.

Chuck stood at his terminal, entering the last bit of account information for the feeding of Toktum. It wasn’t cheap to feed a 220 foot-tall, four-armed yeti, but his bosses cared little about upkeep costs.

The ground shook as the giant beast walked in its pen. The pen was a massive frozen wasteland illusion, an underground bunker tailored for the young kaiju. Chuck barely noticed as the shock absorbers under his workbench did their job.

“You coming, Chuck?” his friend Levi asked. “You’re about 5 minutes past drinking time.”

“You know it.” Chuck said, turning a switch. He spoke into a microphone on his panel. “Toktum, you behave this weekend. I’ll be back before you know it.” The great beast waved a hand at the voice coming from nowhere, and went back to wandering.

Stepping into the bookie’s office, the smell of stale cigars wafted over them. The walls were lined with images in motion covering the various battles of the Ultimate Kaiju Championship. A small rush of nostalgia hit Chuck as he looked at the video of Hymenoptera slamming his powerful stinger into the base of the Tri-core’s reactor.

It was a kill shot for the ages. The massive wasp, 10 bus lengths in total, had been gored, swatted, and all but torn down by the three headed bio-mechanical Apatosaurus. After its wings had been ripped off, everyone assumed that the fight was over, but that kaiju had more heart than any other monster Chuck had ever seen. It leapt into the air, wings be damned, and slammed its giant stinger into the nuclear core of the beast. The video ended in a flash of the reactor exploding and then replayed.

“Big fights tonight, eh?” Caro said. He was a short man, but built like a bulldog. His bald head glistened, and an illegal cigar hung out of his tobacco stained mouth.

“You know it.” Chuck said, shaking his hand. “Took them long enough to get that big bug flying again, but damn I’m glad he’s back.”

“You and most everyone else that’s walked through my door today. How much are you putting on him tonight?” Caro said.

“Depends, what are the odds?” Chuck said.

“Eh, I’ve been giving about 8 to 1 that he gets crushed tonight. That Sphere is no joke.” Caro said. They walked to Caro’s desk, which had a poster for the night’s fight draped over it. The giant sphere was made of an experimental smart metal that rolled over the terrain, absorbing whatever it came in contact with. It left only a trail of impacted and perfect spheres in its wake. Some of the concrete and metal spheres were on display around the town in preparation for the bout. Thankfully, they hadn’t brought any of the ones made from biological materials. It was a grizzly site the propaganda stations had been proud to display during darker times.

Chuck and Levi ran to their seats, a small mountain of overpriced snacks and beers in their laps. The arena before them spanned a three mile wide circle. It was a desolate plane of scrap metal, craters, and weeds trying to take back the land. As soon as they sat, the lights went dim and the announcer started his speech.

“Coming at you from the blue corner, the Desolation of Wisconsin itself, the great lord of the sky, Hymenoptera!”

The crowd roared, some of them making buzzing noises. A little over a decade before, the noise had struck terror into the hearts of millions. Now it was a catch phrase.

“In the red corner, hailing from the illuminati above us, direct from Luna herself, the great rolling one, death in the round, and current arena champion, Spherix!”

The crowd fell silent. The great orb had been dominating old kaiju, often rending them beyond repair or regeneration. Some believed it was simply the method of recycling old monsters under the guise of the arena. Spherix was new, and nothing had come close to penetrating its armor.

“Screw that thing.” Chuck muttered. “After what it did to Tycho, I’ll never forgive it.”

The announcer started again. “In this special untimed bout, there will be no breaks, no rules other than staying in the force field, and only one way out: to destroy their foe!”

The crowd roared again as the announcers’ platform rose from the arena floor. Chuck looked through his visor, zooming in on the suited man with the ginger hair, then to Hymenoptera. His new armor glistened gold and black, along with his many legs with their sharp talons and a golden stinger that glinted in the stadium lights. It was gaudy and far removed from the utilitarian colors Chuck had grown up seeing on the news. Chuck shivered in anticipation.

Stats and images popped up over the visor, detailing Hymenoptera’s weapons. The same went for Spherix when Chuck looked over, though the details were muddled as few knew exactly how it worked.

Giant numbers appeared on the visor in bright red. 5…4…3…2…1… Fight!

A buzzing roar took over the arena, vibrating the seats when the glistening wings took flight. Hymemoptera’s eyes went from a dull red to a warping and vibrant fiery ruby.

Spherix was completely still.

The wasp charged ahead, swinging the massive stinger below it. When it slammed into Spherix, it resonated like a gong, but did not move. The wasp tumbled in the air, shaking its head and correcting its flight.

Spherix rolled forward, and with a puttering noise, then shot several flying plates at the wasp. The triangular plates moved faster than the eye could see, and lodged themselves in the abdomen of Hymenoptera.

The crowd booed loudly.

The wasp dove to the ground, and rolled in the dirt, causing massive dust clouds. Through his screen, Chuck could see the plates rip from his abdomen and fall into the dirt.

“Optera must have watched the last fights.” Levi said. “Those plates burrowed into Tycho and ripped him apart from the inside.”

Spherix rolled toward the grounded wasp, leaving a deep imprint in its wake. It slammed into Hymenoptera’s side, and it rolled onto its back. The wasp’s armor held and its massive legs kicked the sphere into the air.

A thump rumbled the entire arena as the sphere hit the ground. The crowd cheered. The wasp scrambled over, climbing onto the sphere and using its mandibles, it bit into Spherix between the joints of its scales. The wasp pried up a dozen panels and flew into the air; a trail of clear gelatinous fluid came from the sphere.

The crowd roared, and the fight continued.

From the Lunar base above, the operator wing of the base hummed with energy. At this moment, there were 24 active Kaiju, and around 40 in reserves buried around the planet.

Suspended in a chamber, an operator named Bill Holt controlled every aspect of Hymenoptera with his consciousness. While his mind was melded with the great wasp, he shared its consciousness, its desires. It felt the need to protect its hive, which was programmed to be the earth. Right now, it understood its threat to be the massive sphere. Its hatred infected Bill in a way he wasn’t entirely comfortable with. It was primal, not entirely conscious. It was the reason why the biological kaiju were being phased out.

Down the hall, his opponent was a hot shot 24 year old fresh to the Illuminati group. His name was Derek and he chose Spherix after the last operator was deemed unfit for duty. The man Derek replaced had been a drone pilot for some time before, but seeing death up close had pushed him over the edge. He was heavily sedated and worked in maintenance now. Even moon bases needed custodians.

Bill made the wasp fly as high as the arena would allow, and he scattered the scales all over. He knew that the sphere could reassemble, but he intended to make it as hard as possible, flinging bits here and there.

Turning his attention back to that wretched sphere, he dove back in, timing it so the stinger would slam deep into Spherix in the spot he had exposed. Right as he injected the nanite venom, the entire base rumbled and the room went dark. Emergency lights turned on and his watch showed “Emergency protocol 664.”

“Comms loss? The hell happened?” He said.

He walked out of the room, and found Derek standing outside of his chamber, a panicked look on his face. Over the loud speaker, a voice declared “Complete destruction of communications caused by small meteorite. All engineers follow procedures. Estimated downtime: four hours.”

Derek’s face turned pale, even in the red emergency light. “That’s way too long. Spherix isn’t right, man. Oh god.”

Chuck and Levi jumped from their seats as the stinger dove through the armor and into Spherix. The crowd roared and stomped as Spherix seized up and convulsed.

Both of the Kaiju then went inert, and the wasp fell to the ground. The ball rolled mindlessly and came to a stop. The stadium lights went dark, and the pale blue haze of the force field that held the monsters in check crackled and failed.

The two great kaiju picked themselves off the ground, Hymenoptera shuddered and looked around. Its eyes weren’t glowing as intently. Its wings buzzed as it took to the sky again, looking unsure of what was happening.

The sphere rolled away, jerking from side to side as it went.

“Chuck, what’s happening?” Levi asked, turning on the flashlight on his goggles. The rest of the crowd was doing the same, and the only light came from thousands of headsets in the massive arena.

“I don’t know.” Chuck said, taking a nervous sip from his beer.

In the ring, the lines between Shpherix’s plates glowed red, and it was rolling toward their section of the arena. With a strange pinging noise, giant scales were launched into the crowd, slamming into the section next to them. The car sized scales flew through the seats like butter. People screamed, and the gaping hole where humans used to be sizzled.

Chuck dropped his beer and grabbed Levi by the shoulder. His feet moved before he noticed and they ran. The giant sphere towered over them, swallowing their field of view.

Jumping over seats and railings, the crowd was in chaos. Another scale shot out, blasting a hole in the path in front of Chuck. The stampeding crowd pushed from behind, forcing people into the gap, dropping them more than 50 feet to the mezzanine below.

The pressure kept building behind him, and Chuck knew there was no stopping the crowd. “We have to jump!” he said to Levi, trying to push back against the mob.

As the crowd pushed toward the 8 foot wide gap, he gritted his teeth, found footing, and leapt. His hands, grabbed onto a chair, and he started to pull himself up. Another man from the crowd tried to leap, but fell short. Chuck felt a desperate grip on his shoe, and felt his loose fitting loafer slip off. The scream echoed and was silenced with a thud. Levi had made the jump easier, and grabbed Chuck by the armpit and pulled him up. On the opposite side of the hole, there was more space, but Spherix continued to roll to the edge of the arena.

A few rows down, a child in a bumble bee outfit was crying and not moving. Chuck jumped over chairs and bodies, grabbing the kid without thinking and put him over his shoulder. His gait was awkward from only having one shoe, and it made him lumber forward. The ground rumbled again as Spherix hit the wall, bending with the stadium. Its scales turned forward, making large rings of spikes, and it churned its way through the lower deck.

Chuck and Levi ran, the stadium was being chewed up behind them. The red pulsing of the orb was still at their side, as were the revolving scales. The sound of mangled metal grew closer, and the stadium vibrated from it. When the blades were almost close enough to rend them, Chuck dived into a row of seats. He turned over, looking back at the giant sphere as it passed him. The child just wept, not looking. Levi was nowhere to be found.

When the power was turned back on in the base, the panic still lingered. People with tablets and tools ran through the halls, trying to work on what they could.

Derek and Bill waited in the command center, watching a satellite image of the monster cutting across the plains and toward the city, leaving polished spheres of debris in its wake.

“Damn meteors. Almost a trillion dollar facility and we don’t have proper shielding from a 10 foot wide meteor.” Bill said.

Derek nodded. He was sweating profusely, his knees brought up to his chest. He looked even younger than his years suggested; just a wiry kid with glasses and messy hair.

“It’s okay kid. It isn’t your fault.” Bill said. “What does that thing think about anyway?”

“It doesn’t think. It wasn’t made to.” Derek said.

“What do you mean? Hymenoptera thinks all the time. Usually about its hive, sometimes confused about why it can’t find it. It thinks about food. It also has a temper. Just this seething anger when something is acting aggressive.”

“That’s what I mean, Spherix isn’t connected to anything. It doesn’t care about the people or a hive or other kaiju. It’s just mindless and hungry. It wants flesh. It wants vehicles. It wants to grind everything up and shit it out. That’s why the last guy couldn’t handle it. It was a callous thirst; it doesn’t have empathy or pride. Being in there is like being stuck in the mind of a thoughtless psycho. And for the next four hours, I have to watch it feed.” Derek said.

Bill shuddered. The creed of the Illuminati, shamelessly ripped off as the name was, was to protect humanity from itself. He couldn’t understand why a newer model could have been designed with such blind savagery.

“Is that why it’s in the arena?” Bill asked.

“Yeah, a prototype that never panned out. It’s scary, but I think I was starting to lose control of it even before now. When it swallows something, it makes new plates. When it swallows biomass, it just gets bigger. That includes its hunger. I felt it at times. It jerked away from my control in the ring in some moments, going off of instinct rather than my demands. I just let it flow because it worked.”

“That’s a serious breach of protocol, Derek. Why didn’t you tell anyone?”

“I thought I could impart myself into it. Think about some of the other pilots. Some of the mammal class kaiju have been set free. They became noble through their masters. Spherix is just cold and dead inside. I wanted it to find some sort of life. Instead it just consumes.” Derek said.

On the massive screen in front of them, a yellow blur appeared.

Bill jumped from his chair. “Hymenoptera’s going after Spherix!” Bill shouted.

The giant wasp knew only that it needed to protect the hive; that this thing needed to die. The jagged cuts in its side oozed a brown liquid, but his life mattered little when the surrogate hive, the city, was in danger. It flew down, grabbing a massive concrete statue of a bear from the outside of the stadium, and using all of the strength in its wings, ripped it from the ground. All that remained were giant paws, longer than cement trucks on the ground.

Hymenoptera flew into the night sky, carrying the massive bear. Once it hit the clouds, it turned its body downward, letting gravity take over. When Spherix was within view, it dropped the statue.

For a very brief moment, the night was completely silent. The wasp let its wings slow it down just enough to alter its course, to let the stinger point downward, ready to drive into the terrible sphere below.

The statue of the great bear slammed into Spherix, flattening it outward with a rending crack. Red light illuminated the area, and Hymenoptera dove as hard as it could into the gelatinous pool of scales and gel. The wasp injected all of its venom into the broken sphere. Using its mandibles, it tore into the being, searching for something vital, something to tear away.

Spherix pulsed in pain, but started to reform. Whip like strands of goo slapped onto the legs and body of the wasp. It wrapped around the mandibles, allowing it to dig deeper, then pinched inward on the wasp.

Hymenoptera felt pain all over its body. It felt the gel pull at its legs, severing one, and also taking its antennas off. Every soft joint was littered with spikes. Still, the wasp dug deeper, moving its abdomen with rapid stings and clawing with the legs.

The wasps flaring eyes glowed even brighter, blasting a beam of energy into the heart of the great sphere. All around it, scales started to rebuild, started to coalesce around the form of the great wasp. It was trapped.

Before Spherix could envelope it entirely, the wasp flapped its wings with all its might. A grotesque film of gel wrapped around most of its body, and the spikes drove deeper. It started to lift the sphere into the air, but was dragged down by the sheer weight.

The Sphere closed around the wasp, its pulsing red glow ebbing through the ectoplasm inside.

In the station, Bill hung his head. The kid next to him put a hand on his shoulder but he shrugged it off.

He’d spent so much time in Hymenoptera that sometimes his own skin felt foreign. He knew that wasp better than any of his friends or even his wife. He shed all ideas of stoicism and wept.

On the screen, the great ball, slightly misshapen rolled toward the city.

Chuck ran toward the nearest security guard and handed him the bawling child. The guard was a slim young man who looked as confused and dazed as everyone else. The screams hadn’t stopped, but with the grinding metal calamity gone, Chuck could think again.

He found a fire escape, tramped down it as fast as he could and sprinted through the debris-filled parking lot to his car. When he got in, it whirred to life and rose from the ground. For only the second time in his life, he took manual control and took off, rising into the night sky. In the distance, the ball rolled toward the Illuminati tower that dominated the skyline.

At the gates of Toktum’s cage, soldiers ran in all directions. People shouted orders into handsets and set plans into motion that they knew would be in vain. Chuck ran through the chatter, and swiped his card, getting access to the employee door.

A few hundred yards away, an immense yeti with four arms sat huddled in a corner. For several years, his gigantic enclosure was a projected image of frozen wastes. It had shown the creature a polar night’s sky and mountains in the distance. Here it had been raised since it was only a few dozen feet tall.

Chuck crunched through the snow, his heart raced. “Toktum!” He shouted into his watch, which amplified his voice around the enclosure. The great beast stirred, raising its arms defensibly. “Toktum, It’s Chuck. I know your scared but I’m here.”

It raised an eyebrow and titled its head. The blue skin shown bright under the white fur, and its eyes were nearly the same color. Toktum stood from his corner, using all four of its arms to rise like an ape on its hind legs.

“Toktum!” Chuck said. “We need your help. You remember what we trained for?”

The beast nodded and grunted.

“Do you remember the monsters that used to try and hurt you? To hurt us?”

Again the beast nodded.

“They’re here. Just outside.”

Toktum slammed his fists against his chest and bellowed. The roar knocked Chuck from his feet. Toktum noticed, and looked down Chuck, who said something the beast did not know. A look of concern crossed its face.

He reached down his hand and Chuck grabbed onto the fur, and he pulled himself up. The front of finger alone was as tall as he was.

Using one of his other hands, he pointed at his head.

“No, no one can phase with you. You have to fight on your own. You have to kill it, Toktum.” Chuck said.

The beast turned its head again, and then nodded.

“Computer, open the gates. Override code 4242.” Chuck said.

Great metal doors started to separate, the sound of metal on concrete grinding. When it was open, the beast brought its enormous feet over Chuck, and it stepped into the night. On the ground in front of it, vehicles and soldiers cleared a path and watched in awe as Toktum took to the night.

Cars veered out of the way as the great yeti stomped through the streets. It could see the carnage in the distance. It could hear the screams and panic. Each huff blasted chilled air from its chest, making giant plumes of fog. Every step it took, it felt the fear fading, and something angry take over.

The great orb was getting nearer, getting bigger as it picked up debris. Its form was getting awkward, more crushed spheres dropped out of it, less uniform than the ones before.

Toktum came upon the pulsing monster and roared. It pierced the night sky with its rumbling might. Buildings all around frosted over with the intense surge of cold. The yeti then grabbed an empty bus with one hand and a mass of debris with another. It leapt at the sphere, bringing both of its hands home. Spherix spread out below him, absorbing the impact. The sphere shuddered as the impact rippled through it. It shot out several triangular scales, cutting off chunks of the yeti’s hair, but not penetrating the skin.

Standing to its full height, Toktum dwarfed the apartment complexes around the two kaiju. The yeti sounded as though it were hawking something up, its chest heaved, and a frost blasted from its mouth. The torrent smashed into Spherix, freezing all parts that it came in contact with. Great swaths of the sphere were covered in ice.

With balled fists, the yeti started smashing. All four arms ground into the sphere, punishing it with immense blows. The ectoplasm spread, scales being sheared off by the force and the cold.

Blue blood poured from the knuckles of Toktum, but the enraged beast kept swinging. Underneath the fractured shell of Spherix, it noticed the twitching body of the wasp. It plunged a massive fist into the goo, feeling the acidic digestion take hold. It roared in pain.

Spherix started to move up the arm, almost shoulder deep. The other arms smashed in, covering themselves in the ectoplasm. Toktum felt its hand find what it was looking for, and planted its feet. It ripped upward with all of its might, slime and a giant stinger in its hand.

Spherix was spread wide and all over the buildings, but still it worked to reform. Toktum looked at the exposed center of the sphere, where its core pulsed.

Toktum raised two arms above its head, stinger in hand. The yeti bellowed, and slammed the spike into the core, skewering it. All of the scales shook and reverberated. The core hummed and the great sphere started to throb in random patterns. Scales shot in all directions, breaking into buildings and into the Yeti.

With a great rip, the yeti withdrew the core, bringing it to its face. With another roar, he focused all of its frozen breath on the core. The vibrant red it pulsed earlier turned dim.

Toktum stepped out of the mess of goo and debris, and slammed the core against the road, where it shattered into thousands of pieces. The road cracked and crumbled, and left a massive crater in the ground.

The great yeti raised its four fists and pounded its chest, letting a roar into the night sky.

On the moon base, dozens of scientists and communications officers shouted in triumph. Bill sat in silence, watching as the yeti carried a piece of Hymenoptera back toward the Illuminati tower. The body of the bee lay amongst the wreckage.

Chuck sat in the debriefing room, looking at several of the bosses he had always heard of but never knew. A smile fell over his face as they, in no uncertain terms, chastised him for his irresponsibility. They did this over a bottle of champagne and a contract signaling a promotion and relocation plans for his new position on the moon base.

Even the great intelligences of the world couldn’t rid humanity of corporate doublespeak. The board in front of him knew that his quick thinking saved more lives than could be measured, but they still had liabilities to worry about.

He thought about Levi, and the night before. Life had been a haze for the past few days, images of Spherix and its churning rampage would surface, and then be suppressed by some of the best happy-making drugs for PTSD that science had to offer.

He checked his watch, which displayed an image of the sleeping yeti in an illusion of the frozen polar home it adored. Toktum would bare scars from the fight for the rest of its life, but in that moment, it rested, arms wrapped around it, as it dreamed only dreams that heroes know.

Tony Southcotte: Tony hails from the Rocky Mountains somewhere around the state of Colorado. Possibly raised by grizzly bears, this gritty denizen of the arena now spends most of his time grappling with Java updates and dysfunctional RAM. With not much fiction under his belt, it might seem tempting to bet against Mister Southcotte, but an impressive knowledge of everything from PVC pipe to psychedelic drugs makes Tony a storehouse of fiction waiting to hit the paper. Plus, you know, there’s the possibility of him ripping you apart like a grizzly bear.

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  1. I loved this story. Well, I have one complaint, but it’s the same complaint I have with the other story, which is that I wanted more. I wanted to know how the monsters went from scourge of the earth to arena entertainment, I wanted to know more about the moon base, I wanted to know more about the characters’ pasts. I think, and I’ll repeat this on the other story, that this prompt is bound to cause some of those feelings in me. I mean, how can you cram in an entire history of the arrival of kaiju and the eventual “normalizing” of them into a short story and still have room for a plot? I’m glad I didn’t have to try…

    So, yeah, this was amazing action, I’m impressed with how well thought out and intricate this world is. Each monster has depth and feels and strategy and coherence and I could have read nothing but monster stats written by Tony for pages and been happy.

    The fight scenes were great, the notion of a massive acre-sized arena was awesome, the blackout and eventual (and hoped for) carnage was also fun. And…I mean you had a four-armed yeti fighting a psychotic ball of death! And the ball took whatever it destroyed and pooped out smaller balls! I don’t even know why but that’s awesome! And it’s not just that the ideas were neat, I was genuinely rooting for and concerned for our Yeti. I mean, honestly, that’s just impressive.

    So this was just non-stop fun and at no point did I feel like I was reading a story that someone shot out in ten days. I felt like I was reading a chapter of a book that’s been worked on for years. Which, again this applies to both stories, is almost my biggest complaint. This gripped me so much that I was left feeling someone lacking that it was only a short story.

    Overall, amazing though.

  2. I’m not a fan of the assorted Godzilla movies and their ilk. I was not expecting to be hooked by either of these stories.

    This one, though. THIS one I couldn’t read without popcorn,

    I really enjoyed the scale of the action. The clean, effective way the fights were handled drew me into them and kept me reading. The backstory, alluded to in asides, made me want to know a lot more. Illuminati on the moon? Buried Kaiju waiting to be activated? Oh, heck yes!

    By the end of the story, I wanted more. And now I want to go watch Godzilla movies.

    Nicely done.

  3. You can never go wrong with giant monster fights, and the giant monster fights depicted in this story are top-notch efforts, so you’ve already got me there. And the imagination on display is quite evocative: a giant wasp and a four-armed yeti vs a giant metal sphere? Sign me up!

    I feel like the story was at its best when focused on the “Ultimate Kaiju Championship,” but dragged a bit when dealing with the Illuminati stuff. Its not easy having to build a world and having to do it in less than 5000 words while also telling a story, so I feel like there was just too much going on here distracting from the main bout. They’re all interesting ideas (especially the Illuminati on the moon), but ones that would be better serviced by a longer form.

    Otherwise, an excellent story. I’m dying to read the sequel!

  4. Ok, love the kaiju names. It’s very easy to come up with names in sci-fi/fantasy and have them either be memorable for all the right reasons, or all the very very very wrong ones.

    The combination of such B movies as Pacific Rim, Robot Jox, and Arena also snagged be. You made it look effortless with writing about a giant moth fighting a sphere with a four-armed yeti thrown in. To do that in such clean prose, and elicit excellent mental images, is a skill far beyond the inherent trappings of a short story, cos this needs a movie.

    My favorite bit, though, has to be the openings. Short story beginnings are, for me, the most important part of the story. Sometimes what gets forgotten, though, is how a gentle ease into the pool can be just as arresting as leaping from the diving board and doing a grand cannonball. You managed in about 50 words to make me go, ‘ok, got it’ when most writers (this one included) would churn out 5,000 to make the same image of the world that you create.

    The deft touch with crosscutting between Chuck, Bill and Derek, and the kaiju fight, also commendable.

    Also, liked how you brought it back to simple mundane things at the end. Chuck gets a promotion, life goes on.

    Excellent work. I’m glad I didn’t have to do this prompt.

  5. As others have said, I wish there was more of this. I could easily envision this being expanded to novella or even novel length. The interwoven plots make the story very rich, almost too rich for a short story. But I think you pull it off.

    The fight scenes are very well handled, and you made it very easy to imagine the gladiatorial culture that would arise given such kaiju fights. (Someone out there needs to make Spherix, Hymenoptera, and Taktum trading cards. It has to be done…)

    Please tell me you have more planned for this world. It’s such a fun ride!

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