The Seabottom Monster

The Seabottom Monster
Komatsu Sakyo

[This is my translation of the story 海低のおばけ, taken from the book 一宇宙人のみた太平洋戦争 (The Pacific War Seen by One Alien). As far as I know, this is the only English translation anywhere of this story. If I am wrong, or if a representative from the Komatsu Estate or the publisher finds this and is angry, I will take it down upon request. Otherwise, Two Dudes is the only place to read The Seabottom Monster until someone scrapes and plagiarizes it.]

Summer.

The children went to the sea to frolic in the sun and water. The sunlight was blindingly intense, but the black water was still cold. Nonetheless, the children were unconcerned. Unable to wait for summer vacation to come, everyone rushed to the shore when school ended. They shrieked at the cold water, whooped as the waves crashed into them, and rolled around on the red sand. The ocean and the summer are children’s best friends.
As they were playing, one of the smaller children found a strange object, sunk in the quiet waters at the bottom of a cliff. “Huh? What’s that?” Everyone gathered around and peeked over the cliff. A large, long, and slender object was tipped on its side, glowing dimly at the bottom of the black water.
“Maybe it’s a dead fish,” said one of the older children.
“But are there fish that big?” replied a girl.
“I wonder if we can grab it.”
“At that depth, I think we can,” said the oldest. “Let’s try climbing down the cliff.”
“Let it go, it’s too dangerous,” said the girl.
But the oldest children had already climbed down the cliff and jumped into the water. It wasn’t so deep.
The forms of the children gone to retrieve the object seemed to writhe like fish. At length, one child with shorter breath emerged right in front and shouted, “It’s something strange!”
“It’s not a fish?” the children on the cliff shouted back.
“No, it’s much bigger and smoother.”
Just then, the children who were still under water, just about to reach the object, kicked suddenly out of the water, startled. They rushed to the surface, struggling as though chased.
“It’s a monster!”
The children yelled in fright and hurried back up the cliff.
“There’s a monster inside!”
“You saw a monster?” the girl asked, herself frightened.
“Yes. It had windows and we could see a monster looking out. It waved at us.”
“Let’s go tell the teacher.”
No sooner had one said this then they all started running. When they reached the school, all the mouths started talking at the teacher. The teacher stretched his neck and stood up.
“I wonder what it is. Shall we go take a look?”
“We can’t, teacher,” said a child from the back. “The sea is getting rough, a storm is coming.”

The weather, quick to change in this season, soon deteriorated as the storm arrived. The storm was strong enough to blow rocks around and lasted all night. The weather finally calmed the following afternoon. The children went with the teacher to the cliff, but the mysterious object was gone.
“Hmm, the waves carried it away,” said the teacher.
“Teacher, what do you think it was?”
“Hearing the description, it sounds a little like it might some kind of transportation, like a spaceship,” said the teacher as he peered into the empty water.
“But, inside, those were definitely monsters.”
“It must have been a spaceship carrying life from another star. I’ve heard stories before about something landing here. There’s bound to be other intelligent life somewhere in this big universe.” The teacher stood as he said this. “Now, hurry straight home without stopping to play. Tests are coming soon and you need to study.”

“Hey, what kind of monsters?” the girl asked the oldest boy.
“They were really weird!”
“So what kind of weird?”
“They only had two eyes! And just two arms! And the ends of the arms were split into about five waggly things!”
Behind the oldest boy, as he waved and wriggled his hands, the twin suns of Alpha Centauri cast double shadows on the red beach sand.