Attack of the Giant Beast
George made the mistake of thinking that because the thing was huge—a giant—it would move in slow motion, that its skyscraper legs would come down to the earth in slow, separate earthquakes. Driveway puddles rippling, falling calm, then rippling again. He’d thought the Gigantor would be easy to outrun and outthink, that he could lose the thing somewhere in the mess of the city. But now he understood the thing was like a normal person, a really fast person, regular-size. Faster. Faster than a Mexican dad running in a field, playing soccer ‘till his Adidas shirt gets dark and silvery with sweat and then playing until someone else wanted to quit.
George thought: this beast is hearing the wind in its ears, hearing a blown-out speaker of wind screaming. He remembered being a kid and trying to impress his sisters’ friends (gathered like adults beneath the tree by Ms. Teasley’s tinted windows) by dropping his bookbag to the dirt and unnecessarily bolting across the grass, past the newish playground of upside-down elbow kids, towards where the momcars were still coming and going—the wind rumbling in his ears—and then walking back towards the girl-cluster to listen for some kind of reaction.
In his late-father’s precious ’57 Chevy, blasting down the road, away from the beast and suddenly towards the beast again, its silver bumper scraping and sparking against a road that shuffled in place while the whole city quaked under the monster’s every step.
George’s eyes had dried to styrofoam packing curls in the wind of the road.
The beast was toying with him—behind him one second and then in front of him the next, and it didn’t matter how hard he bullied the gas pedal. The car, ruby red with corners of chrome, screamed behind the teeth of its busted grill. George screamed too but he couldn’t hear himself. His father was a footprint now at the corner of 5th and Madison, a berry smashed by your toe, and the man’s precious car was already changed forever, melted and fused out of its perfect condition. It sparked and squealed through the streets. It made a hot blue smell.
A giant blue monster that moved like a Mexican dad playing against his three little kids and wanting to win—the horizon was the field. The beastie cut across another five city blocks to cut George off once again. It smeared a businessman across the pavement at a crosswalk. His jelly-trail became like a commercial for whatever brand his briefcase was. Sturdy stuff!
Popped, thought delirious George. He used to pretend to be a giant with his matchbox cars. He used to pretend to pick little ant-sized businessmen out of the rust-smelling cars and then gently squeeze their heads flat and they’d go limp like strings, wonderfully dead and limp, flea men, hanging with their business suits out from his thumb. He would lie to his ears, pretend there’d been the faintest pop.
He saw a turn-off and yanked the wheel to the right. The fender sprayed sparks as the tires wailed. The car lost its footing for a moment and a tin garbage can crashed through a coffeeshop window. The car steadied and found the road. Almost a wipeout, but at least the Gigantor wasn’t ahead anymore.
George didn’t know he’d urinated in his pants twice so far. Or that he’d been screaming the whole time, eyes wide and hollow. His whole body was hot, hot chocolate blood and some kind of corrosive energy that had to be shock or actual real-time dying of fright, so he didn’t know he’d peed his pants. Twice even!
The beast was only a kid Gigantor, plain to see. It moved fast and heavy, careless, off-balance. And, like a kid Gigantor, it abruptly grew bored. It bolted again from eight miles behind George to a hundred feet in front of him in exactly holy-f-ck-seconds.
George screamed more and slammed the brake all the way down. The car screeched to a stop and took the opportunity to die for good.
If he had had full possession of his wits he would have known he’d blindly jumped a few curbs and smashed through a peach-painted metal fence and had now ended up at the goat-crap-smelling Keansburg Zoo. Would have remembered he’d been here once before, when he was forth-grader on a class trip. Towards the end of the tour young George had been standing a clear fifty feet away from a leopard in the cage, and then the leopard raised its hind leg and shot a laser-thin stream of pee right by Ms. Teasley’s face, nailed Tommy Capaldo in the shoulder and some of the spray misted on George too. That’s the only thing he learned that day: that leopards can pee like lasers, the pee undaunted by distance.
The Gigantor was a simple-looking thing. It was solid blue and shiny, looked inflated and squeaky. It had jet-black button eyes, though one of them showed just a little bit of white, like on a lazy-eyed hot actress who you secretly think isn’t hot. It either didn’t have any teeth or it was like a cartoon character and it only suddenly had teeth if the moment specifically called for them. George had a maybe-memory of the blue beast toothlessly sucking on a person like they were two toothpicks, legs sticking out, limp like the invisible thumbsmash people—then the beast, perhaps as an experiment, blew into the person while keeping him or her tight between its lips. George didn’t know what the beastie was trying to accomplish and had an idea the beastie didn’t know either. Then, finally, it spit the weird torso out. George thought he’d never seen anything in his life deader than that person.
The Gigantor: it had a simple toy-like appearance but its face was expressive as all hell. The smoothness of its head seemed to generate convincing bumps and creases whenever the thing wanted to perform an emotion. It was a showboat, a drama queen. Or maybe a champion idiot. Through its entire city rampage it had maintained a look of utter exhilaration just like a kid who didn’t care about people knowing how hopelessly happy he was.
Now the thing made a mean-guy face, stared down at George in his dead, smoking car. It was a mean face. Not evil, just sadly mean.
“Get away from me you blue monster!” screamed George in an old lady way, and he repeated it again and again. “Get away from me you blue monster.” He said this without knowing he was saying anything, just instinct-screaming. He was too afraid to leave the familiarity of his dad’s car. All he could do was scoot up and slide back a little, like a mom about to face the first drop of a rollercoaster.
The blue beast came in real close; it was curious, outrageously so. It studied George for a few seconds. This was its first opportunity to get a really good hard look at one of the little fun-things. It studied George good and proper, bump-brow furrowed in doctoral thesis concentration, in house-shifting hurricane illogic, tea-kettle screaming, tainted brainpower.
Then George saw that the beast had gotten its fill and was now going back to mean face. Torture face. George lifted himself up and backwards as high as he could go without falling over into the back seat where there was a chipped Dressle .22 rifle with no bullets.
That’s when the Gigantor made a final, fateful observation. As George slid up and backwards in the seat, the scholarly beast saw the pee stain in George’s khaki slacks.
The Gigantor: completely grossed out. It winced, scrunched its face muscles. Sour face. Wildly disgusted. The thing looked like it was about to walk away and simply leave George there, unmolested, leave him screaming all by himself into the night or until his sanity came back.
But no. Suddenly the monster cooked up a whole new emotion. Another extreme expression: now its face hosted a look of hysterical illumination—a very, very bright idea! Bright but sad. It seemed proud of itself but it also looked a little sad for future-George, like it knew its latest glory would come at poor George’s expense.
It reached down and THWOPP (wigglewobble)! It whipped out its sex, and the thing had the girth of those white slinky tube tunnels they use to get between the white tents if there’s an Ebola outbreak. The beast took a big, big breath, cheeks full of air—two hot air balloons—and then it hell-hosed George’s dad’s convertible with the pressure of maybe seven screaming firehoses all laid over each other to create a unified, metal pipe of pee.
Inside the car George was weightless, his legs and butt were above his head and then below, he didn’t know where the sky was. Hot. The force of the pee-hose didn’t catch him directly (if it did it would have knocked his head off), it had been aimed at the empty passenger seat, melted a hole there like snow. The car squealed backwards but still put up enough resistance to make the pee angry. Steam blanket. So George was merely in its violent frothcurrent, its spinning force, and then the wave, the turmoil of urine firmly lifted him up and out of the car and spilled him out onto the sliding concrete like a busted above-ground pool and a kid. George fainted somewhere there in the concrete tumble.
He woke up when a black duck, slick and wet, poked his eyebrow (it could have blinded him) with its beak. The blue monster was long gone, probably across the state line, but the distant perma-earthquake of its soccer-player speed kept the pee-puddle steadily rippling. Then, over the horizon, the giant sang a song that was a little like elephants trying to harmonize.