Jaws opened wide, throwing flame against the sides of the buildings. In the sudden hellish light, a new world was revealed; a world of gutted wires and splintered wood. What it lacked in Bruegel's style it made up for in scope; what it lacked of Bosch's exuberance it made up in raw dread.
This was the hour of the beast, and the beast cried out.
And if in the singsong howl something was heard that might've been a wheeze or a groan or just someone's keys dragged across a piano wire, who could say?
The destruction of the city had only two witnesses, one of whom cocked his head to the side ever so slightly as a different sound emerged: a door creaking open.
"Ah, here we are! Heathr -- "
In the silence -- the silence that was not roaring, screaming, or a string section going quietly haywire -- a certain pressure seemed to build. It broke when a voice, strident and female and more than slightly Australian, said, "This isn't bloody Heathrow!"
"Is this an airport?" enquired a softer, egregiously prim voice.
"Ah. Not as such, no."
A fourth voice chimed in. It was the kind of voice one invariably heard at art openings and political gatherings; a sort of collected, slightly smug type of diction that you wanted to hit repeatedly with a brick. "Airports are considerably brighter than this, Nyssa."
"It could be an airport at night," the other speaker -- Nyssa -- remarked coolly.
"Where are we?" the angry voice demanded. "And what's with the lights?"
The first voice, sounding slightly muffled but then improbably growing clearer, replied, "I've just had a look at the scanners; we seem to be very slightly off-course."
"Well, give or take a few decades."
"Oh, for god's sake, Doctor -- "
"Well, 2004 is reasonably close to, ooh, 1978, isn't it?"
The voice actually cracked with rage. "1981!"
"Well, closer still, then."
"Why does that man keep telling us to be quiet?" asked the voice called Nyssa.
The beast roared, eliciting a yelp from the voice that had previously sounded smug.
"Well, judging by the look of things, I've materialized us in a cinema," the voice that might be the Doctor remarked, an undercurrent in the voice suggesting a sort of good-natured dread at the prospect of his companions resuming speech.
"What's a cinema?"
"A cinema?! You want to explain to me how you set the coordinates for Heathrow in the 1980s and end up in a bloody cinema?"
"Tegan, please keep your voice down. There's a movie on."
"Do you mean, filmed entertainment?" Nyssa asked.
"Yes . . " There was a pause, and then a delighted exclamation. "Aha! Godzilla! King of the Monsters! Oh, now that's a stroke of luck --"
"It's not real?" the other (nominally) male voice hazarded. "Then what is it?"
The other (nominally) female voice -- Tegan -- snorted. "It's someone in a rubber suit pretending to be a giant dinosaur, Adric. Of course it isn't real."
"What's a dinosaur?" asked Nyssa.
"A dinosaur, Nyssa, is -- "
The Doctor was cut off by Adric's outburst. "I know it's intended as fantasy. It only surprised me."
"Yeah, that's why you screamed right there?"
"The soundtrack's too loud!"
"Now, now; calm down. It's a bit much to see first thing stepping out of the TARDIS." The Doctor's tone brimmed with enthusiasm. "To answer both your questions, Godzilla, or rather, Gojira is that rampaging monster tearing through the power lines. This is the -- yes, 1954 version; original Japanese cut if I'm not mistaken, would hate to find Raymond Burr spliced into this -- "
"And anyway, that's not a giant dinosaur."
"What's a dinosaur?"
"A dinosaur, Nyssa, is -- " Adric condescendingly began, only to be interrupted by Tegan.
"Dinosaur, dragon, whatever. Big giant rubber monster to frighten the kiddies."
"I'm not a child."
"You whinge like one, though."
" -- hate it when they splice things into movies that weren't there originally. Rather ruins it for me." There came the sound of the Doctor exhaling slowly. "Do you know," he continued, conversationally, "I always felt a degree of sympathy for the poor old thing."
"That is Godzilla you're talking about, Doctor," sighed Tegan, irritably. "Not exactly the little lost lamb."
"I wasn't talking about you, Adric."
"Well I -- that is -- oh, this is stupid. And it's still not a proper dinosaur."
Nyssa's voice tried desperately to elbow its way into the space between their words. "What's a dinosaur?"
"A dinosaur, Nyssa, is -- "
The Doctor was instantly cut off by the little lost lamb. "A dinosaur, Nyssa, is a type of large extinct land animal that died out thousands of years -- "
"Try millions of years, genius -- "
" -- before the human race fell out of the trees, and the subsequent misconstructions made in ignorance became the basis for legends of dragons and monsters."
"What do you know about ignorance? Didn't your lot live in a bloody swamp?"
There was a moment of vicious silence. The king of the monsters -- blissfully unaware of its audience and untroubled by the nuances of interpersonal conflict and reason -- unmade a city street with its radioactive breath.
Nyssa's voice ended the silence. "And you are . . . fond of this film, Doctor?"
"Oh, yes. Well, the whole series, really." The man's voice sounded almost relieved. "Artistically, this is its apogee, but in terms of -- "
"Art? What's so artistic about some bloke in a rubber suit pretending to be a giant lizard?"
"Oh shut up, Adric; thought you said it wasn't a dinosaur."
"It isn't -- "
"It's kaiju," said the Doctor, sounding hurt. "The whole point is that it's "some bloke in a rubber suit," as you so roughly put it. Kaiju has classical antecedents in Kabuki and Noh theater, where highly-stylized and intricate movements were used by actors wearing body suits and masks, usually for great dramatic effect."
There was a flare of light from the screen.
"Was that stepping on the car highly-stylized and intricate, then?"
"Nuances," mumbled the Doctor, "nuances."
"So," Nyssa asked, her tone the aural equivalent of a furrowed brow, "this . . . this 'Godzilla' is an Earth legend?"
"In a manner of speaking, yes."
"Then, what exactly is the history behind this legend?"
"Well, the canonicity is always tricky, especially for something that's been around so long and in so many incarnations," the Doctor said reflectively.
"This is stupid."
The Doctor's tone became dreamy. "In the first stories, he was just this irritable old beast that got woken up by human meddling -- "
"If you're so bored, go back in the TARDIS. Or maybe go to the lobby and stuff your face."
"It's just as well we aren't at Heathrow. You'd make a terrible air hostess."
" -- who died, but was then replaced by another creature given the same title and many of the same characteristics -- "
"Figure I'd do all right, seeing as how I've put up with shrieking brats this far."
"You probably couldn't fit down the aisles, anyway."
" -- and actually became far less monstrous in the late Sixties, even becoming a defender of Earth and humanity during the Seventies, improbable as it may seem -- "
"Why, you sexist little -- You're a fine one to talk, the way you eat!"
"It can't be helped; I'm going through a growth spurt."
" -- routinely fighting less-than-convincing alien invaders in spangly costumes and rather dubious rubber-suited monsters -- " the Doctor continued, distantly.
"Growth spurt? What, in your rear? That's the only growth I've noticed."
"Why were you looking?"
" -- generally accepted as a hero by generations of impressionable young people with overactive imaginations, especially science-fiction enthusiasts -- "
"Size of your rear, how can I not look."
"Not as big as your mouth."
"-- though once the Eighties started, the tone got noticeably darker, especially considering that he dies numerous times --"
"Your ego's bigger still, you self-important little -- "
"No, I think your mouth is much larger."
" -- also given that his behavior starts becoming decidedly more erratic and violent -- "
"What do you know about size? You can't tell thousands from millions."
"That was a slip of the tongue."
"Thought that badge was for Mathematical Excellence?"
"It was a slip of the tongue!"
"No wonder you have trouble keeping track of how much you eat -- "
The Doctor's wistful meanderings continued unabated in the otherwise quieted theatre.
" -- and then, towards the Nineties and latter years, he's back to his old tricks. Wholesale destruction for the sake of destruction; absolute power. More than a few darker mythopoetic touches, too; implications of a much deadlier and ominous history than previously hinted. No more tedious justifications, no more alliances with the paltry military forces of Earth, no more playing special friend and protector to idiot schoolchildren . . ."
Onscreen, the beast waded imperiously through a chipboard Toyko to the strains of frenzied strings, the washed-out film improbably managing to be chiaroscuro when showing the snarling visage of the old god.
"Sometimes," the Doctor murmured, "sometimes I almost env -- "
Abruptly, there was silence. Then --
"Anyway. Shall we be off?"
"Please," muttered a voice from the first row.
There came the sounds of shuffling feet and creaking doors, with only a snippet of an observation sounding before being cut off:
"But, Doctor, it seems a bit . . . strange that this being and these films should integrate themselves so thoroughly into the popular culture of a post-imperialistic island nation -- "
And if there was an interesting bray and wheeze and groan that rattled the fabric of existence, no one would've heard it for the singing Japanese schoolchildren.
After several seconds had passed, the foremost of the two audience members --drumming his hands on the handle of his umbrella -- turned in his seat to regard his fellow. "Didn't mention the American version, did he?"
There was a sigh, delivered in a vaguely Liverpudlian fashion. "No one ever does."
Doctor Who and its accoutrements are the property of the BBC, and we obviously don't have any right to them. Any and all crossover characters belong to their respective creators. Alas no one makes any money from this site, and it's all done out of love for a cheap-looking sci-fi show. All fics are property of their individual authors. Archival at this site should not be taken to constitute automatic archive rights elsewhere, and authors should be contacted individually to arrange further archiving. Despite occasional claims otherwise, The Blessed St Lalla Ward is not officially recognised by the Catholic Church. Yet. |
Script for this archive provided by eFiction. Contact our archivists at email@example.com. Please read our Terms of Service and Submission Guidelines.