Tag Archives: island

Banzai

Toshi dove face first into the mud, narrowly dodging the hail of machine gun fire flying from out the dense brush of the jungle. As the rounds splattered into the ground, chunks of displaced clay and grass flew up into his face. A hand from above grabbed Toshi by the collar of his uniform, dragging him up and over a nearby crater.

“We need to get out of here!” His savior screamed.

Toshi took a moment to wipe the mud from his face. At first he could not concentrate on anything other than the hissing of hot lead zipping over the crater wall. The man yelling at him was his friend. Yukio Kitano.

“Why are you still sitting there?!”

Toshi took a deep breath and tried to push the noise to the back of his trembling mind. Bullets crackled from all sides, shrapnel shredded through the trees, planes raced above them menacingly. The Americans were finally here.

Yukio shouldered his rifle and loaded a clip of rounds into the breech. He gave Toshi a quick nod, signalling that it was time to go. Toshi gripped his weapon tight, looking for any comfort it could provide. He shuttered out an anxious exhale as he ran his finger down the cool steel barrel.

The pair burst into action. Leaping out of the crater and sprinting with shoulders hunched through the tall grass. Shots crackled past their ears, but they kept running.

“This way! Follow me!” Yukio exclaimed.

He led Toshi down a game trail to a narrow creek. They splashed through the water, slipping on the algae covered river rocks. They kept trudging their way against the flow until the gunfire was reduced to gentle knocks in the distance. Yukio pointed at a cement staircase and they scrambled up the steps. Back into the lush jungle foliage.

“Stop! I need to stop for a moment!” Toshi shouted.

As he gasped for breath, Yukio drank greedily from his canteen.

“You know.” Toshi labored. “I never wanted any of this.”

Yukio grunted in agreement as he capped his canteen. He cocked his head to the side.

“You know the only reason I enlisted was-“

A single shot reverberated close by. The pair flinched, throwing their hands protectively over their faces.

“What the hell are you doing?” An imperial officer climbed out from the brush, a hand on the hilt of his sword. He holstered his smoking handgun, awaiting a reply.

Surprised, Toshi tried to formulate an excuse. But could only seem to muster a collection of broken syllables.

“If we didn’t need men, I would cut you down where you stand.” The officer continued.

With a gloved hand he reached into his satchel to reveal a pair of white strips of cloth. A red dot bled through the center so as to resemble the Japanese flag.

“Here. Take these.”

Yukio looked over at Toshi nervously as they folded and tied the flags over their foreheads. The officer directed them to a clearing where a large group of almost fifty men stood at attention silently. All of them with headbands knotted around their heads. An unspoken tension built as the popping of machine gun fire inched closer. The officer cleared his throat with the same mechanical tempo.

“It has been a great honor to lead you up to this point. I have asked a lot of you, and now I will ask even more.” The officer drew his sword and held it above his head. “Defend the homeland at all costs!

The soldiers around Toshi and Yokio echoed his sentiment with fanatical cheers. The two friends swapped worried looks as the officer charged through the jungle, pointing his sword in the direction of certain death.

TENNO HAIKA! BANZAI!!

*Long live the Emperor! Ten thousand ages!*

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Sound

Our ship lapped against the waves. Evening light shimmered against the broken ripples. I stood at the bow and looked out at the spit of land ahead of us. A haunting sound wafted over the water, admired by myself as well as the growing crowd of enraptured shipmen. Although the noise was certainly tempting me towards it, I had enough willpower to resist the tug.

The noise had started when the sun began to touch the horizon one month ago. Weak men living in the coastal towns stopped in their daily tasks and headed out to sea. Those without boats began walking into the water. They did not stop until they had disappeared under the deep blue tides. It was not long before the lords of Saltonport rallied their soldiers to silence the threat.

As we neared the island, I began to notice several small fishing crafts dotting the coves and beaches. No doubt citizens trying to get closer to the source of the heavenly sound.

“Alright men! Keep yer wits about you!”

We scrambled the rowboats and inched toward shore.

I stepped onto the sand with a heavily armored boot, and immediately began sinking into the tidal sediments. I drew my sword and held my shield close as I followed the captain into the dense brush standing like a wall at the edge of the beach. He used his heavy steel axe to hack away at the vegetation, joined by others to form a path into the jungle. We were not scared of what we might find. The sublime sound enticed us further.

As we made our way forward, we began encountering strange objects scattered on the tropical floor. I spied a shiny metal fragment in the grass, and flipped in with my sword. On the other side, a pattern of tiny cubes spotted the metal like boils. A feeling of dread began to rise in the pit of my stomach. Something about the pattern unsettling in how deeply unfamiliar it was.

We reached a clearing, and our marching pace increased. Several other soldiers had discovered strange objects and were visibly nervous as they advanced. However, our captain was unfazed. He led us onward with a dutiful vigor. Closer to the epicenter of the beautiful sound. Curiously though, it never seemed to get louder as we neared its location. It had a constant, everlasting quality.

At last light we came upon a collection of massive grey rocks standing imposingly above the grass. The crickets were chirping frantically as if to warn us about what we would find.

Our formation broke as we made our way through the thin crevices between the boulders. My armor scraped against the rocks as I scooted past. The noise did of steel on stone did not bother me, the pleasant music seemed to echo to a powerful effect between the rocks. I breathed a sigh of relief when I wriggled free from their clutches. Only to find myself dumbfounded by what I saw.

A metal cube with shining green lights lay half sunk into the earth. Burn marks and deep gouges into its side looked recent. The colored lights pulsed to the sound of the heavenly noise. Bearded men frolicked naked around it, paying me and my comrades no mind as we shuffled closer. I could sense the uneasiness among the troops. It was not long before the captain had scrambled through the towering rocks.

“Good God!” The captain looked over the thing with amazement. “This is truly a marvelous relic!”

We shoved the naked men aside so that he could move forward.

“This material,” He ran his fingers along the smooth side of the cube. “I have seen nothing like it in all my years!”

At his touch, the melody stopped. The naked men screamed in anguish, covering their ears as if they had heard something blasphemous.

“MAKE IT STOP!” They wailed with bloodcurdling desperation.

I pitied these men for a moment, thinking them mad. But then I began to hear it too. A faint screeching that compounded quickly into a cacophony of pain. I clawed at my ears. The sound was torture.

“TAKE OFF YOUR CLOTHES FOR THE LOVE OF GOD!!” The naked men commanded. A singleminded fear shook in their eyes and they plugged their ears.

We did not hesitate to strip down to the nude. Not even the captain protested.

Shortly after the last soldier had dropped his trousers the noise ceased. Replaced again by the pleasant sound.

“You’ll learn to love it.” An unkempt man stated bluntly. “Don’t try to escape, or it will do that again.”

 

I was surprised at how quickly my spirit was broken. It seemed that on the island, the divine sound was present at all times of the day, not longer confined to the evening. After a couple weeks I found myself dancing around the sunken cube. It was precious to me, my sole source of pleasure in the world. We still hungered, but we soon found that the cube provided. Every day, more people would squeeze through the rocks. We let the strong men join us. The weak, women and children were felled with our swords and axes. We required their corpses for sustenance.

The people coming seemed to get more and more exotic as the months went on, it appeared that the cube was now drawing in people from all corners of the world.

It made me unexplainably happy to think of all the people who could hear the sound. That angelic, glorious sound.

I would see them soon.

Twilight

I used to shatter the armies of my enemies. Now only the waves break in front of me as I look out from my island prison.

I found myself gazing out my window at dusk, hoping to catch that final glimpse before the light dipped below the seemingly infinite waters of the Mediterranean. As I stared I became even more infatuated with the sun.

It doesn’t attempt to fight its fall from the heavens, instead it descents below the edge of the earth with grace. Knowing that it will rise to the same heights tomorrow.

I often imagined what would happen if the sun left and never came back. How long would it take for people to forget it had ever existed?

When the monarchies of Europe finally subdued me they made sure to keep me alive. They understood that legends did not vanish, they fade.

Since then I was drawn to the twilight. Because at that time I reflected on my failures. And planned for tomorrow.

I will never suffer through another damned sunset when I retake my throne.

Vive la France.