On that day in 1959, Dan Hayata searched for hours without success, then bought a cup of tea from a street vendor to cool down. He watched the pedestrians walking by as he thought about his next move.
The sun was descending toward the Sea of Japan, and his stomach told him that he needed to eat. He decided that he should find Lieutenant Shimata and head back to the local hotel that had been commandeered by the Star Patrol for its staff during the investigation.
Dan started looking for his lieutenant so he could pack it in, hoping that someone had better luck than they had. They needed a break to crack this case, unless things escalated and the worm started attacking people in the middle of the day. Dan was not sanguine about that type of circumstance at all.
He found Lieutenant Takeo Shimata gazing at a poster on a wall after searching the area for some minutes. His stomach had decided to give him several more warnings in that time. He looked at the poster over his fellow Patrolman’s shoulder and groaned.
Dinner had been put on hold for him. He could see that just by looking at the poster. It was a monster drawn in yellow chalk to advertise a local boat festival.
The Star Patrolmen started looking for the artist who had designed the poster at the head of the festival. The man had given them a name and directions to a house.
Soon, the two took the car out to the house, and Dan silently noted that the park was a few miles away. He wondered how long it would take to get over to where the woman and boy had been killed.
Dan pulled the car into the long driveway leading to the traditional house on a hill. He shut off the engine, wanting to wait until daylight. He didn’t say anything. He didn’t want to hear the lecture about responsibility for the public’s welfare again. He seemed to get one of those every month and hadn’t had to suffer through one that month. He silently waited for Shimata to say, “Let’s see if this artist is at home.” It didn’t take long.
Shimata led the way up to the house’s front door, while Dan remained a step behind, hand on his service pistol. He didn’t like the looks of the place. Shimata rapped on the wooden door hard with his fist, feeling close to a resolution of this problem. He didn’t know how close he was.
“Kana!” he called out. “This is Lieutenant Shimata, Star Patrol. I’d like to talk to you, please.” He banged on the door again, harder than the first time.
Dan waited in the yard, aware that Shimata was one more knock away from kicking the door in. His ambitious friend had mellowed only slightly since being promoted from pilot to a commanding officer. Sometimes he was still impatient for results, even after the time he spent supervising operations instead of carrying them out.
“What do you want?” said a lanky man, throwing the door open. “I’m trying to sleep.”
“We have some questions about some drawings that you have done around the city,” said Shimata. “Can we come in, or do we discuss things on your front step?”
“Come in,” said the artist, frowning. “Let’s get this over with as fast as possible.”
Shimata stepped inside the house, examining the interior for possible clues, Dan following more slowly. He had met a lot of artists and art lovers, but few of them were as haughty as this one.
Dan stood in a corner in the spartan living room while Izama Kana and Shimata sat down on the floor mats to talk. Kana held his hands together in a calm but haughty pose.
“What do you use on your drawings?” the lieutenant said without preamble.
“Ordinary chalk,” said Kana. “Every drawing is done with chalk and then sprayed with a holding solution so it won’t accidentally wash away.”
“Where do you keep your chalk?” asked Shimata, looking the empty room over. “We’d like to take some for testing.”
“You want to take my chalk?” said Kana, a little suspicious. “Why do you need to test it?”
“Routine,” said Shimata. “We want to make sure it’s not the same as some we found at the scene of a murder.”
“You have to be kidding me,” said Kana. “What would my chalk be doing at the scene of a murder?”
“It’s just routine,” said Shimata. “If we have to, Officer Hayata will stay here while I get an order for you to turn over all of your supplies for testing.”
“Do you really think I will allow that?” Kana said, anger in his eyes.
“You don’t have much choice in the matter,” Shimata said, climbing to his feet. “One way or another, we will look at your equipment. The only thing that will change is whether you volunteer the things, or if we charge you and look at them anyway.”
Kana sprang to his feet. “I will not allow your interference,” he said angrily.
Shimata glared hard at the man, prepared for an assault. He had taken basic hand-to-hand combat like all of the Patrol. That was something you had to have, just like being qualified with special service pistols.
But neither he nor Dan was prepared for the explosive ripping of floorboards that sent them sprawling. A yellow slug with the diameter of a fifty gallon barrel glared at them sightlessly, with its round mouth full of teeth working noiselessly as the head orientated on the two Star Patrolmen.
“I think by the time your bodies are found,” said Kana, smiling. “I will be long gone.”
Dan drew his pistol as he lay on his back and fired into the mass groping for him. The service pistol screamed at the thing violently. Huge holes were cut into the worm by the shells. Still the monster came on.
Shimata fired at the artist but missed badly as the floor came apart under the strange beast’s charge. He tried to push himself back from the thing’s maw as it swept down on him.
Dan pulled on his friend’s collar as he backed away from the expanding creature. He fired his last few rounds into the floor in front of the thing. The boards ripped apart under the rough treatment as the Patrolmen backed toward the door. Izama Kana was the last thing on their minds as they tried to get out of the house.
“It looks like we have identified our man,” Dan said, reloading quickly as he stepped in front of Shimata.
“Are you being sarcastic?” Shimata said, getting to his feet. “Because if you are, when we get out of this, you’re on latrine duty.”
“Get us some backup,” Dan said, firing into the house. “We need some big guns.”
“Right,” said Shimata, heading for the car. One radio call would bring reinforcements from all over the island.
Dan reached into his jacket’s inner breast pocket from which he pulled a gray cylinder and held it in the air. A bright flash wrapped around him as the alien consciousness of M-78 took over. When it cleared, the hero known as Ultraman stood in his place.
The silver hero plunged into the room, swinging his right arm, but his fist bounced off Kana’s creation without leaving a dent.
“Where did the holes go?” said Dan from within his mind.
The metallic face of Ultraman did not register emotions, but he was taken aback by the fact that the wounds from Dan’s pistol had healed almost instantly.
The Ultraman and the yellow Dream Worm created by Kana squared off, shifting their balances, ready to move in any direction. The Worm plunged forward, its maw wide open. Ultraman stepped to one side, slicing along its length with the edge of one hand, amazed at the lack of effect.
The Dream Worm tried to turn to strike at its opponent before he could get his balance. Ultraman hopped over its bulk, securing a grip under its flat head. He twisted, throwing the thing through a wall. Part of the roof at the back of the place came down in a spray of wood and paper.
Kana’s Dream Worm rushed forward, seemingly unhurt by the impact. It tried to latch onto the hero’s chest. Ultraman fended it off with a forearm as its teeth ground together, then spun, flinging it to the ground. It swayed up like a snake as he crossed his arms and fired a stream of particles into it. The Worm took the blast unflinchingly.
As the two squared off again at opposite ends of the wrecked room, it became apparent that the creature was fading away. It soon vanished in a small cloud of chalk as the hero watched. Ultraman quickly checked the area before switching back into human form.
Now back to normal, Dan Hayata looked around the destroyed room, wondering why the creature had stopped. He moved to check the rest of the house.
He soon found Izama Kana under a collapsed beam; his back had been broken by the impact. His hands had clawed the floor, forestalling the conclusion he had died instantly. Dan checked the rest of the place quietly.
After a search, he found the drawing from which the creature had burst through the floor. It had been defaced by the animation of the Dream Worm and the destruction of the house. Dan tucked the drawing in his jacket. He would test it to make sure that there was nothing special about it. Then he would place it with the rest of the souvenirs he had collected over the years. Now he had to assure Shimata that the place was safe and the threat was ended.
Dan Hayata awoke in the present with a start. He had fallen asleep with the drawing in his hands. He stared at the picture, thinking that it had moved somehow since he had last looked at it.
He tossed the picture in the metal trash can by his desk, then took a lighter and set the paper on fire. He watched it catch fire, then sat back in his chair. At least he had a clue to the drawing at the school.
Only the Star Patrol knew what kind of monster had been loose in the park. Someone must have looked at the relevant files to get an idea of what the thing looked like. That was a place for him to start.
Tomorrow would find him in the file section of Star Patrol Headquarters. He didn’t relish that idea, but someone had to look into the problem before it got any bigger. And that someone could only be him.