[This is the first draft of a story I wrote a few weeks ago. It was based on a few prompts my friend Lucy came up with for creative exercises in June, including "An adventure worth taking," "Somewhere a human has never gone," "Horror Comedy," "Ocean Western," "Create a situation where sympathy for the monster is appropriate," and "Fog/Timeless." There was a prompt for each day, but I just did what I could and blended ideas in to start each new part of the story. I wrote what I could think of, and don't have the energy to revise it yet. Let me know if you get something out of it!]
In the horizonless cataclysm of sudden-jut mountains and bone-blended sand, Godzilla trudged forward alone. He shifted the incredible weight of his backpack without a glimmer of resentment. It reminded him of before, when creatures great and small did everything they could to bring him down. "Comfort" wasn't really in Godzilla's vocabulary; he did not speak English. He had never heard of English. He squinted directly into the sun and wished it were bright enough to hurt him.
He'd been trudging for many days. It was hard to tell exactly how many, because his stride carried him across time zones with as much regard as you give the seams in a sidewalk. When Godzilla slept, it could be for hours or centuries. He didn't feel much like sleeping in this noise. The planet roiled around him, spilling hot blood and sending scabs of soil into the clouds, where they would suffer slow degradation over milennia. Youth is sharp and daring; age sands everything softer. Even mountains. Even Godzilla.
His claw polish was peeling, particularly on the right index blade. His eyes flashed deep-ember red when he noticed. You do these things for yourself, just to feel like you're worth the effort. Even if you haven't seen another eternal beast in ages. Even if the insects had scoured themselves from the surface. You deserve to treat yourself. He'd keep an eye out for replacements.
Rummaging mightily through his backpack, Godzilla wished he had packed more snacks. He pulled the top 20 stories of a skyscraper out of the bag, held it up to the light, and yawned a little radioactive heat into the girders and glass. He saw the tiny outlines of desks and chairs burst into flame behind the windows, and he smiled at how flammable the human world had been. They don't make them like they used to, he thought, and took a big bite out of his s'morchitectural treat. They don't make anything anymore.
Godzilla sat in the dust and blinked his very large series of eyelids into the distance. When you were emerging from a fortyear of peaceful slumber beneath the waves to stomp around a human city as simultaneous punishment for and allegory of their crimes, it was easy to feel like the world was small enough to know. Back then he was liable to run into another ruinous voidbeast every few years or so, especially when humanity was really getting into its nuclear experimentation phase. But with most of the cities scraped clean off the planet, and following the massive topological restructuring of their final self-destructive act, he just didn't know where he was anymore. Nowhere knew where it was. So, he told himself, when you don't know what to do with yourself, it's a good idea to take a walk.
But that had been forever ago. It takes a long time to fill a heart as big as Godzilla's with melancholy. His head, heavier than any non-monstrous terrestrial creature's entire body, rarely drooped beneath his shoulders. Godzilla was, if you had to try and sum him up in a single English word, resilient. Every reservoir has a bottom, though. Most reservoirs didn't even let him soak up past his thighs. Again, he was big. And he was starting to feel quite lonely.
Godzilla picked at the edge of a billboard, which he had found broken off its pillar and stuck in the uncertain earth. God damn it, he thought. I just. Come on. Come on. His bulldozer nails sought fruitless purchase between the canvas and its message. Having endless time didn't give Godzilla infinite patience.
BLOW YOUR STAINS OUT was simply colorful noise to Godzilla. The image of a subscription toothbrush shaped like a handgun — SUPERSONICALLY MURDER YOUR PLAQUE — which required monthly refills shaped like ammo clips — OPEN CARRY... YOUR SMILE — with a happy-eyed person putting the bright-neon barrel into their mouth. Godzilla didn't think about what it meant. He was interested in color, and the garish billboards of humanity's end were entirely his aesthetic. He just wished the adhesive was a little easier to work with.
The sun swung low before he managed to peel the poster free, tear it into delicate fragments, and arrange them into a pleasing array. A whisper of death from his cavernous snout holes melted the glue one piece at a time. With tabletop precision, he draped them across his claws and smoothed out the bubbles. At the end he had repaired the blemishes in most of his claws, and he smiled open-mouthed as he held them up to the sighing light. Kaleidoscopic nails the size of tractor-trailers. Evaporated products and ghost-hawked services abstracted into reptilian fashion.
Godzilla chewed contentedly on the billboard's infrastructure and watched the sun give up while his nails cooled and dried.
If you walk long enough in any wasteland, you develop a strong sense that surprise, however strongly desired, has become impossible. The spindling textures of individual volcanic peaks become wallpaper patterns against the nauseating curls of smoke that staged a coup against the sky. As fascinating as a campfire can be — and Godzilla is a true connoisseur — there is an upper bound on the meditative power of an entire smoldering treeline. Freeway tangles and splatter-shot branding may have been the disgraceful coda to human colonization, but fire makes its own scalding monoculture.
If, however, you walk yet longer, you will inevitably be surprised. Nature hates to vacuum, and even still there were patches of what had come before. Godzilla caught a glitter in the distance one noxious morning, promising something besides soil and skulls. That's how he found himself walking through aisles of antiques, shopping idly among intermittent flickering lamps and glasswork. Shadowbox cases held disused remnants of the old world. He hadn't appreciated it fully before, you know? But a few standing city blocks were more than a simple playground for wreaking retribution or tussling with his buds. This stuff was beautiful.
And then there she was. Godzilla rounded a corner — plucked a gargoyle from some towering home for exploitative assholes, just to feel its texture against his scales — and saw her. Perched lightly on the golden dome of a building where the powerful dozens had made decades of decisions willfully dooming the futures of billions, Mothra raised her antennae mildly.
"oh what's up, godzilla?" Mothra sighed. She whispered catastrophe. Foundations cracked and shifted in supersonic agony before her, and Godzilla felt jagged lines re-open deep within himself.
"MOTHRAAAAAAA! HOLY SHIT I'VE BEEN LOOKING EVERYWHEEEEEERRRRRRE FOR YOU!" Godzilla said as casually as his grand canyon maw and hindenburg lungs could manage. The tattered flags on nearby buildings waved one last goodbye and evaporated into memories of poison.
"for me?" she asked, shuddering a slight rain of skeptical dust from certain spots on her wings.
"WELL! LIKE. OKAY NOT SPECIFICALLY FOR YOU, BUT YOU ARE ON THE LIST OF PEOPLE I WAS LOOKING FOR!!! I'VE BEEN WALKING FOR EVERRRRR AND HAVEN'T SEEN ANYBODY! HOW..." he shrugged and awkwardly slammed his tail into a bank. "OOPS." His little arms waved around in uneven circles. "HOW THE HECK ARE YOU!!!"
"ARE YOU STAYING AROUND HERE NOW OR...???!"
"kind of temporarily, but i guess i'm more like just squatting for the moment"
"YEAH I GET THAAAAAAT!!!"
"where are you coming from?"
"I'VE JUST BEEN WALKING THROUGH THE EXHAUSTED END OF BIOLOGICAL LIFE ON OUR ONCE-BEAUTIFUL PLANET!!! YOU KNOW! WISHING THERE WAS STILL AN OCEAN, HAHA. IT'S HARD FOR ME TO SLEEP WITHOUT FATHOMS OF PRESSURE KEEPING MY ANXIETY AT BAY, SO, YEAH. I'VE JUST BEEN TRUCKING ALONG!!!"
"yeah, i get that"
A brief pause became a long silence between them. In the distance, a fragment of the moon burned quietly through the sky until it disappeared behind a volcanic plume. Godzilla thought he could feel the gentle quiver of its arrival in the soles of his feet, and in his big weird knees. He'd been walking so long. He guessed his calves were probably looking pretty cut, but it was hard to angle his eyes to see. What absolute luck to run into somebody else after all this time.
"FUNNY THAT WE RAN INTO EACH OTHER IN THE FIRST REMNANT OF HUMAN CIVILIZATION FOR HUNDREDS OF MILES!!" he blurted.
"I MEAN THAT IS HOW WE MET!!!!"
"don't do this"
"OKAY SORRY!!! ANYWAY, LOOK DO YOU MIND IF I HANG OUT WITH YOU FOR A WHILE? OR VICE VERSA!!!"
"I JUST, YOU KNOW, I THINK I USED TO BE A MORE SELFISH PERSON!! I'M PROBABLY STILL SELFISH NOW AND EVEN ASKING THIS MAY BE A MANIFESTATION OF THAT, BUT ONE THING I'VE LEARNED IN MY ENDLESS WANDERING IS THAT BEING ALONE IS DEFINITELY WORSE THAN BEING WITH SOMEONE ELSE, YOU KNOW!!!"
Mothra turned her little (relative to her huge furry body and amazonian canopy wings) head away for a moment, and looked like she was considering just taking off. Godzilla thought about crashing into a building just to ease the tension, but waited as patiently as he could. This involved just crouching a little bit, and then standing up and waving his arms in the air like at the beginning of a Village People chorus. But he did it quietly, and finally she turned back around.
"i don't think that's a good idea, godzilla. i'm kind of looking for a place to hatch my eggs and just like, settle down for a little bit. you're not exactly 'settling down' material"
"we're not going to be a family again," she sighed, and flapped once with finality. "i hope you find something else you were looking for."
Mothra took off abruptly, like she was lifted on strings, and sailed smoothly out of the city, while Godzilla stood, mouth agape with hands spread toward the sky, shocked into stillness.
An unknowable interval later, in what was left of the moonlight, Godzilla sat with splayed legs and drooped tail on a long stretch of sand that had once been a beach. Haunted house fog huddled thick around his toes, stretching out into the futureless distance. One hand rested on his backpack at his side, empty except for a gift he forgot to give Mothra and some bottom-of-the-bag shreds of steel and asbestos. The faint shadow of an accidental tyrant stretched out before him. The mist didn’t feel like anything.
Could it really be that he’d never sleep soundly beneath the waves again? Would there never be water deep enough to pull over himself, no darkness unbroken except for his own intermittent light? What the hell?
Maybe worse: would he live long enough to see the oceans return? Godzilla understood death, and had periodically feared his might come in battle. But he’d been around for thousands of years, gorging on anything combustible and then resting while forests and cities collapsed and blossomed anew. He had witnessed and enacted catastrophes of all kinds. Never like this. He vaguely remembered dinosaurs, wondered how many times a planet could recover from mortal wounds, and whether he’d still be here.
The sun rose without fanfare or beauty. The fog began dissipating immediately, and Godzilla watched mystery succumb to desolation.
He looked down the slope across tumbleweeds of kelp and bleached coral, down across miles of steady descent that eventually wrapped around the planet's curve. Dots of dried out vegetation might have suggested an immense code to someone who cared about symbols. Godzilla didn’t deal in subtext or secrets. Formless lightning flashed in the ruined sky. He was so fucking tired. But being an adult mostly seems to mean you feel like shit but you keep moving anyway. It was also possible the deepest trenches of the ocean might yet hold water. Either way, thinking of sitting here without the rush and clamor of waves made him want to roar and flail. So he did, for a time. Then he sighed, slung his pack over his shoulder, and headed down the slope.