The thing had first landed on the Chrysler Building, its dark and glistening body contrasting sharply with the gleaming deco cathedral. The structure threatened to collapse under the immense weight as large pieces of the stainless steel ornamentation peeled away and plummeted nine hundred feet to the pavement where they crashed into sidewalks and streets and cars. The thing clung to the iconic spire a moment longer and then it pushed off, scattering what was left of the beautiful steel and sending the giant antenna down like a mammoth spear thrown from the heavens. The great wings made a dull roaring with each flap as it soared heavily over the Manhattan rooftops before settling at the top of the Empire State Building, where it thrust out its tentacled head and unleashed an unworldly sound, a sound that carried the passage of dimensions and millennia.
And yet there was no chaotic exodus, no screaming tumult as New York City’s millions fled the terror that had descended upon them. An unnatural quiet had seized the city. The world seemed to have gone dark, and people drifted through it with wide and terrified eyes that saw nothing. Their faces conveyed terror, not at what was happening around them, but the terror of battles being fought within their own minds, losing battles where the stake was sanity itself. The thing lorded over them all, blasting their senses with its terrible bleating call.
The passage of time had become difficult to calculate, but soon an ethereal procession marched down Fifth Avenue and stopped at the base of the Empire State Building. The mindless throng wore hooded robes and they chanted in unison, “ia! ia! Cthulhu! ia! ia! Cthulhu!”
The thing gave no indication if it heard them or not.
For reasons unknown to the two hipsters, Venice was completely deserted.
“Too much of that Skywalker last night, bro,” one said, rubbing his eyes. “I think we smoked the world away.”
“Dude, look,” the other one said. There was an open bar near the corner of Abbot Kinney and Venice Boulevard. They walked in just as the power died again. The bartender was waxing his mustache and appeared not to even notice the outage but it came back on after a moment. The TV over the bar flickered to life, showing the tentacled creature perched atop the Empire State Building with its great wings folded around it.
“Occultists believe that the creature you see here is an ancient entity known as ...,” the reporter looked at his notes again, “... Cthulhu. They presume that the seismic activity which destroyed much of the Bermuda Islands was the rising up of the lost city of R’lyeh.”
“Bro,” one of the hipsters said, “that is not Cthulhu.”
“R’lyeh is not even in the Atlantic Ocean.”
“Says Lovecraft, bro. South Pacific. ‘In his house at R’lyeh, dead Cthulhu lies dreaming.’ Atlantic is out of the question.”
“Dude, Lovecraft was a consumptive hack with a bad case of paranoia. Not exactly hard evidence.”
The bartender put his tin of moustache wax down on the bar.
“No one,” he said, “speaks ill of H. P. Lovecraft in my presence.” He turned his mustachioed gaze to the television. “Still, it does look like Cthulhu. Hard to argue with a beard of tentacles. Now, what are we drinking?”
“PBR,” one of the hipsters said. “Draft.” The friend rolled his eyes.
“Dude, that is very two years ago. Nobody drinks PBR anymore. Definitely not draft.”
“I know, bro. That’s why I ordered it. It’s so mainstream it’s ironic again.”
“I’ll have a Narragansett,” the friend said, idly twisting his beard.
The bar tender gave a noncommittal nod and shuffled toward a cooler. The TV was now showing a giant dinosaur.
“This just in,” the newscaster said, sounding more bewildered than anything. “Santa Barbara has been destroyed by a giant ... dinosaur.” Shaky footage played of mission-style buildings being crushed beneath a huge reptilian foot before whoever was holding the phone turned and fled. “Military efforts to contain the beast have proven ineffective. If you are in the dinosaur’s sphere of influence, please take shelter.” The screen showed a graphic of the towering creature surrounded by a large red circle that now included most of Los Angeles.
“Not a dinosaur,” one of the hipsters said. “Way too big.”
“It’s Gojira,” the bartender said as he put the beers on the counter. “I took a semester of Japanese before manga was a dead scene.”
“Typical daikaiju. The Japanese often ascribe earthquakes to him, though he, or she, has never actually been seen.”
“Nuclear tests,” the other hipster offered. “That’s why we blew up all those islands in the fifties. Driving it back to the depths. I thought everybody knew that.”
A dull thud shook the bar. Little waves rippled along the surface of the PBR.
“I don’t think that was an aftershock.”
There were more impacts, and they grew stronger. Soon the glasses were falling from the shelves and crashing on the floor. A deafening roar tore the afternoon apart. The two hipsters walked outside and the bartender followed. They stepped out into the middle of Abbot Kinney and looked up at the looming monster.
“Definitely Gojira,” the bartender said.
Two jets flew by and blasted it with missiles that seemed to have no effect. The monster turned and swatted at them, whipping its gigantic tail around and leveling scores of apartment buildings. There was the loud clanking of metal treads as a cohort of tanks moved down Venice Boulevard and turned up Abbot Kinney, aiming their barrels at the enemy. They fired volley after volley, deafening the two hipsters and the bartender, but the monster paid them no mind and strode on toward downtown.