Attack of the Giant Beast
George had made the mistake of thinking that because the thing was huge it would move in slow motion, its skyscraper legs would rattle the earth in slow, separate earthquakes. Driveway puddles rippling, falling calm, rippling again. He’d thought the Gigantor would be easy to outrun and outthink and, if so, he could therefore lose it somewhere in the mess of the city grid. But now he understood that the beast was just like a normal person, only upscaled and blue and naked and fast as hell. Faster. Faster than a Mexican dad running in a field, playing soccer until his Adidas shirt gets dark and silvery with sweat and never stopping for water until everyone else said it was time for tacos.
George watched the beast in the rearview mirror and thought: This beast is hearing the wind in its ears, hearing a blown-out speaker of wind screaming at too-loud volumes.
He remembered being a kid and trying to impress his sisters’ friends (gathered like adults beneath the tree by the tinted windows of Ms. Teasley’s classroom) by dropping his blue bookbag to the dirt and bolting unnecessarily 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 the whole time, and then, done, 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 towards the beast and away from the beast, the car’s 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, in front the next, and it didn’t matter how hard George bullied the gas pedal. The car, ruby red with corners of chrome, screamed inside the teeth of its busted grill. George screamed too. His father was a footprint now at the corner of 5th and Madison, a berry smashed by your toe, and the poor guy’s car, his love, already changed forever, melted and fused out of shiny squeaky condition. It sparked and squealed through the streets. It made a hot blue smell.
The Gigantor. A giant blue monster that moved like a Mexican dad playing against his three little kids and really wanting to win even though they were only kids—the entire city was the playground.
The beast danced across another five city blocks to cut George off once again. On the way 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, dangling dead from from his pinched fingers, their business suits pink with blood. For the head-squeezing he would pretend he heard a faint pop.
He saw a turnoff and yanked the wheel to the right. The fender sprayed sparks as the tires wailed and threw some rubber. The car lost its grip on the road for a moment and—twaangg!—a tin garbage can crashed through a coffeeshop window. The car steadied and found the road. Almost a wipeout, but at least the Gigantor was again in the rear view.
George didn’t realize he’d urinated in his pants twice so far. Or that he’d been screaming the whole time, eyes wide and unfocused. His whole body heafed afire with hot-chocolate blood, with some kind of corrosive energy that had to be either shock, or actual real-time dying of fright. So no, he didn’t know he’d peed his pants two times and a half.
The beast was only a kid Gigantor, plain to see. It moved fast and heavy, careless, off-balance. And, just like a kid, it grew bored without warning. It leaped from eight miles behind George to a hundred feet in front in exactly holy-f-ck-seconds.
George screamed more and slammed the brake pedal to the floor. The car careened 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 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 a cage, and then the leopard raised its hind leg and shot a laser-thin stream of pee right past Ms. Teasley’s face, nailed Tommy Capaldo in the shoulder and some of the spray even misted 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 you see on a lazy-eyed hot actress who you secretly think isn’t hot. The beast either didn’t have 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. At the time, George didn’t know what the beast was trying to accomplish and had an idea the beast didn’t know either. Then, finally, the beast spit the weird torso out. George thought he’d never in his life seen anything deader than that person.
The Gigantor: it had a simple toy-like appearance but its face was expressive as hell. The smoothness of its head seemed to generate convincing bumps and creases whenever the beast wanted to manufacture 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 beast 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 the fun-thing it had been playing with this whole time. It studied George good and proper, 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 of concentrating and was now switch back to crude 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 beast 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 rubbing-alcohol-smelling 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 directed at the empty passenger seat behind him, where it had quickly melted a hole into the metal floor, like when you pee in snow. The pee bullied the car. The car squealed backwards but still put up enough resistance brake-wise 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 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.