I was seven when they started to appear. That was in 2017. The monsters started small. Wiggling pollywogs in rock pools gradually beating up the crabs and starting in on the beaches. Animalicules the size of poodles, roaring squeakily as they tipped up un-occupied deck-chairs, and stomped through sandcastles, before being chastised by beach-umbrella wielding matrons. For a couple of glorious years, a trip to the sea-side became something between a harmless safari and a mildly scary visit to a ghost-train. I have photos of myself as a boy mock sword-fighting with a Samael Crab, and of beach-combers un-earthing the shed skeleton of a Mu-petasaur.
There was a revival in comic picture postcards along the sea-fronts of Britain. I remember some of them from my childhood.
A fat woman in a stripy costume, bends down to look at a set of dragon prints in the sand. Behind her a phallus-headed proto-kaiju possibly a Razovoric Worm rears delightedly, as if to penetrate her. The caption reads “Well I never did, I hope nothing’s up!”
A mild mannered, lank-limbed man round a corner, looks aghast at overhearing and misunderstanding a conversation between two scantily clad woman. “Our ‘Enry had his out again,” the one in the silver bikini says. The other comments: “It’s such a monster I don’t know how you handle it, on your own.” The first rejoinders: “I know it. We had to have me mam sitting on it for half an hour before it’d go down, last time.” A scarlet and gold Fleskalus Dawkinsii, peeps out from a window of the B&B behind them to make it clear that its all a harmless jape of nature.
People used to collect them, the post-cards and the bonsai monsters alike. I understand a set of the post-cards along with much else can still be seen in the Museum of Mankind on the Moon – part of our Emergency Cultural Legacy, in case the war goes as badly as it looks like doing now.
Another thing we had in my childhood was the internet, a way of connecting the computers of the world – there were far more than twelve of them in those days – and unlike the Omni-brains now they weren’t maintained solely inside mountains. The millions (billions?) of computers then were connected in all sorts of ways by phone lines and radio waves, and digital signals from satellites. Unfortunately as the Monsters got bigger we discovered they had a kind of natural internet, half migratory homing signal, half mating call, that meant that among the things they ‘liked’ stomping flat, and knocking over (if ‘liked’ isn’t too anthropomorphic) now that they’d grown beyond the sand-castle and deck-chair stage, was any building with an internet connection in it, and any broadcasting station of any kind. Cable fibre-optics seemed pretty immune, but even for people with those there was a certain nervousness, and a feeling of ‘pushing your luck’ as well as an undercurrent (typically British) that it wasn’t nice to like something that had got that pleasant family down the street squashed, even if you did have it delivered a different way.
Gradually hand written post-cards made a non-saucy comeback during my early adulthood. Theatres and steam trains too, as it turned out that digital film projection and electric power lines (and rails) also acted a beacons to the increasingly large sea-beasts.
I was twenty, when I got these two post-cards. I kept them for obvious reasons. It was July 2030.
A massive armoured figure – part Saint George, part JCB, part industrial cyborg. Fifty feet tall: standing with his right arm out and the thumb of his right hand up in a cheery salutation. In his left hand he holds one of the early LA(N)CE missile weapons. (Laser Aimed (Nuclear) Contained Explosion). The hope was that the Nuclear option would stay firmly in the brackets of a ‘contained’ area. On the back in my father’s steady hand writing: We’re got delivery of one of the new Home Guard units now, its not quite as snazzy as the posed picture on the front – its last gen surplus from the Channel Tunnel fiasco, but it still walks and punches, and we’ve got three decommissioned LANCEs in its quiver. Not Nuclear mind you, not after Birmingham, but I understand that the (Noxious) Chemical Emolument approach is working wonders. Pin down one of the great lumps in sticky gell and them bombard it with conventional fire from a navy frigate and up it goes as the napalm component in the NCE catches. Not, I hasten to say that I’m expecting to see any action. We haven’t had anything above a thirty footer along our way, and it’s still possible to walk along the beach if you take rational precautions, not that I can persuade your mum of that. She’s convinced the cliffs going to be demolished by a Monster and our house fall into the sea, one of these days..
A plain grey cardboard message stamped with official franking. The seal on the front is of the New British Caliphate – there was a propaganda implication that it was the Seal of Solomon – I recall – and that the new Government was going to defeat the Monsters with the power of Islamic prayer as well as good old fashioned British missiles. On the back in simple printing, not even hand written: I regret to inform you that your father died at approximately 17:30 on Saturday 6th July 2030. He was manning (the NBC had no truck with what in my youth, the otherside of UKIP and the sea-monsters, had been called political correctness – they placed no women on the front line, even as volunteers) an HG LA(N)CE enabled EXOFORM, when it became necessary for him to engage a Ki-Ravorrous-Ultrapede in direct combat. The creature was already at the shoreline when it was detected and without your father’s intervention, which ultimately resulted in the death of the creature, it is certain that civilian casualties in the East Bourne area would have been substantial, certainly in the hundreds and possibly in the thousands depending on the migration pattern/intent of the Kaiju. We appreciate that no words at this time can restore your father, nor can we hope to alleviate your initial sorrow, nevertheless I am authorised to award your father the merit of the Sword of Islam Class II, in the hope that when matters are less immediate, this honour, which is all it is within our power to bestow, will assist you in remembering one who was valiant in the finest traditions of the West and the East alike.
....to be continued....