My Geology final paper: Kami no Kage Niwa

For artistic creations in text format.

Moderators: KingOfDoma, NebulaQueen

Posts: 1204
Joined: Mon Apr 22, 2002 12:28 pm

My Geology final paper: Kami no Kage Niwa

Unread postby Nekogami » Thu Jan 17, 2008 12:13 am

It sucks but I got a perfect grade.

“Kami no Kage niwa...”
In the Shadow of a God

By: Amanda Troutman
Dedicated to:
Geology 110-002, 8 March 2006
My Loving Mother, Mollie

Anticipated Grade: 10

The phone rang at 5:30am at Yamanaka Ryuuma’s bedside. He rolled over and tried to ignore it. It was strange to a get a call this early unless it was an emergency but Ryuuma was never convinced that anything was worth waking up early. Thirty-nine years old, single, skeptical, and dour, Ryuuma was another worker ant at Aokigahara’s Geological Center in Shibuya, a suburb of the greater city of Tokyo.
The phone rang a fourth and final time before the answering machine picked up. “Ryuuma? Ryu-Ryuuma! Hey, I know you’re there, you never leave!” Clearly Moriyama Satoshi. He wasn’t anyone that Ryuuma would consider a best friend. They had drinks together at the local izakaya and often made time for leisurely chatting or watching a Yomiuri Giants game. More often than any of that, they scaled Mt. Fuji together, each exploiting the other’s skills. Satoshi’s talents as a photographer were unrivaled and he was in hot demand whenever a natural scene needed capturing on film. Satoshi managed to capture the majesty and maturity of the great sleeping stratovolcano at nearly every angle he was presented. Ryuuma had an inexplicable fondness for the mountain and perhaps that was why he allowed Satoshi to cling to him. Light-hearted Satoshi was somehow naturally drawn to the reserved geologist but often called on him for his opinions on his photography.
“Hellooo. It’s a fantastic day and I planned to take a few pictures of Fuji-san for a postcard company.” He always has some job lined up to do. Tourists from Japan and beyond came to Mt. Fuji in the hundreds of thousands each year. He avoided the well-walked paths out of disgust. Pollution caused by the errant hikers marred the natural beauty of the volcano. In the religion of Shinto, Japan’s native religion, the great wonders of nature are viewed as kami, or gods. If no one in the modern believed it, Ryuuma did. He revered and loved nature, dedicated his life to it. “Ryuuma?”
“Hello? Do you know what time it is?”
“5:45? Look, I know but if we go now, we can miss a lot of the rush of the tourists.” Ryuuma groaned into the phone and yawned, stretching as he did so. “Did you feel the earthquakes last night?”
“When does Japan not have earthquakes, Satoshi?” Ryuuma said in the middle of a yawn. Satoshi seemed thoughtful on the other end of the line. Ryuuma relented. “I’ll meet you at Shin-Fuji station, in an hour or so, all right?”
“Right! I’ll bring lunch this time! See you there!”
“See you… Satoshi.” Ryuuma hung up the phone and collapsed back into his bed, rubbing his face. Earthquakes were not rare in Japan, but had Fuji-san not began to smoke in recent weeks? Geologist all speculated on the dangers and of course the people responded by trying to stock up on supplies. What good would that do them?, Ryuuma though wryly. If Fuji-sama decides to explode we’re all in his shadow…Basically, all the supplies in the world wouldn’t save us.
After getting out of bed and shuffling to the bathroom to relieve himself, Yamanaka Ryuuma dressed in a simple T-shirt with bad English and torn jeans. It was still cool in April, so he grabbed a jacket as well. He had to make several connections before getting to Shin-Fuji, so he bought breakfast and a newspaper at the convenience stand at the station.
It was of course front-page news that Mt. Fuji was fuming dangerously and the recent earthquakes could cause the sleeping giant to erupt but no one was sure to what degree. The last eruption took place in 1707, creating a large crater near the summit, marring its once perfect shape, but only slightly. A cloud of ash haunted the Edo, the precursor to modern day Tokyo, but there was no loss of life.
Ryuuma took a bite of his egg and cheese sandwich then turned to sports. The train arrived shortly after. The geologist was unconcerned about reading the geological interpretations of others, he was going up there anyway, albeit without equipment, but he would rather touch the mountain and understand it before making assessments.
The train pulled in to Shin-Fuji an hour later. It was already bustling with activity. Everyone wanted to see the potentially dangerous volcano. Ryuuma scoffed. He hated people; didn’t they know that volcanoes were serious?
“Ryuuma-kun!” Satoshi called over the din of people. “Hey! Hey, over here!” He waved his paper, trying to get his friend’s attention. Ryuuma navigated the crowd and arrived beside Satoshi. The photographer truly looked liked an unkempt bachelor; his small goatee everywhere and his clothes had never seen so much as an iron since they were bought. His ratty hiking shoes were patched with duct tape. “They won’t let anyone up the mountain! They say it’s too dangerous!”
“Hmph. Well, what do you expect? If they let anyone up there and something does happen, there will be a public hissy fit about why there wasn’t more safety.” Ryuuma pulled a cigarette from his inside pocket. “Politicians spend ninety percent of their career trying to figure out how to keep the necks off the cutting block.”
Satoshi either wasn’t convinced or didn’t care. “I guess so. So what now? Its smoke is really amazing though, it’s even coming out of Uwasa Collapse…”
“Really?” Now Ryuuma was interested. “Let’s head to Aomori… I know it’s far but let’s see how likely it is that Fuji-san shall express his displeasure.” He headed to the ticket machine.
“You really talk about that mountain like it’s a person, you know. Maybe you should have become a Shinto priest.” Satoshi remarked, plucking the cigarette out of Ryuuma’s mouth. “Those are bad for your health.”
Ryuuma snatched his and Satoshi’s tickets up, frowning and his squashed cigarette lying on the concrete. “Well, if there’s an eruption, then second-hand smoke will be the least of your worries and lung cancer will be the least of mine.”
They stood squashed together on the train to Shibuya and chatted about Yomiuri’s performance last week and what it meant for their game in Osaka against the Hanshin Tigers . By the time they arrived, they were no close to determining who would win the pennant this year than any of the other years they tried.
Typical of a capital city, Tokyo was bustling almost everyday of the week, especially Saturdays. It wasn’t untypical for Ryuuma to pop in on the weekends or after geological events hit. In spite of the pervasive apathy in which he approached all things, geology was his one true passion.
“Sachiko,” he called out to a thin-framed woman five years his senior. She had her hair pulled into a tight ponytail and was going over some read-outs with an intern from Tokyo University. “What’s going on?”
“I know we had that scare about Mt. Fuji erupting a few years ago and nothing came of it but, really, Ryuuma, this is different.” She explained, shaking her head a little. “There is a lot of CO2 leaking from that crater and the magnetic fields are-“
“It’s not a false alarm, then?” It was more a statement, than a question. Ryuuma rubbed his chin back and forth. I suppose it’ll erupt from the side Uwasa is on?”
“No idea…”
“Then let’s look for a bulge…” Ryuuma sat down at his desk. “Pictures? Pictures? Where’s the website?”
Sachiko sidled over and sat on the edge of his desk. “Server crashed. We’ve been scrambling to get it fixed all day.” Ryuuma cursed under his breath. “What about Satoshi here?” She asked looking at the Nikko camera around his neck.
The young photographer quickly removed the camera and pulled the tiny memory card out. Ryuuma slipped it into his computer and began pulling up the photographs. They all looked too good to be reality, Sachiko exclaiming uncontrollably at almost every photograph. It wasn’t long until they pulled in a crowd. Satoshi rubbed the back of his neck nervously; answering whatever questions he could about his techniques.
“There…” Ryuuma point to a small rounded area on Fuji’s east side. “See that? It’s not on the other photographs from a week ago. Just like Mt. St. Helens in Washington. It’s almost the same kind of situation, the recent earthquakes have opened and closed fissures all along this southeast side.”
“Mt. St. Helens?” Sachiko knitted her eyebrows trying to recall the name and history. “OH! That one was pretty bad, you know! The pyroclastics alone were unexpectedly devastating. It’s a good thing it was surrounded by all that forest and not a city like Tokyo.” The comment created a palpable silence. “I mean…I”
Ryuuma removed the memory card and handed it back to Satoshi. “No matter what you mean, what you said is true enough. Tokyo is our nations economic heart. Hear alone we produce one-third of our nations economic force. An eruption comparable to Mt. St. Helens would not only be a tragic loss of life in the immediate but in the economic fall out, even more people will suffer.”
People shifted uncomfortably on those words and their own grim thoughts. Satoshi fiddled with his camera. “Hey, let’s not think like this. Even if Fuji did erupt we won’t be taken completely by surprise, right? We should have plenty of time to evacuate people.”
“We don’t know that! A volcano can take weeks or just hours to erupt… And where would all of Tokyo go?” Ryuuma snapped. “12 million people suddenly told to evacuate! What do you think will happen? People can barely get to work on time for the traffic. Some people don’t even have cars! The railways, the streets…” He tightened his fists to the point his knuckles turned white. Sachiko touched him lightly on his shoulder, calming him only slightly. “I’m sorry… Sometimes I just hate this place but I can’t leave because I’m in love with the one thing that can turn this city into a parking lot.”
“Forget about it, Ryuuma,” Satoshi patted his back and began to lead him to the door. “Sorry, everyone.” He bowed slightly for him and his friend. Sachiko just waved dismissively and smiled.
“Get him a drink or something, Mr. Moriyama.” Satoshi smiled and nodded, bowing once more as the door closed behind him.
As they waited at the station in silence, both of there eyes turned toward Mt. Fuji, though they couldn’t see it for all the people, buildings, and clouds. But they new it was there, turning restlessly, and when it finally decide to wake up, would it be angry with the insolent Japanese people or would it merely return to slumber without much incident.
The two arrived at Ryuuma’s home. Satoshi smiled weakly at his somber friend. “I’ll go the store and get some beer.” He turned and jogged down the streets towards the liquor store a few blocks down. As the jaded geologist climbed the stairs to this apartment, a gentle noise behind him caused him to pause.
“Excuse me…Mr. Yamanaka,” Seiko Kaede, his downstairs neighbor, said, meekly. “The mail courier came and you weren’t home so I…” She held out a package. “I signed it for you. I hope you don’t mind.”
Ryuuma looked at her then the package and back again before finally taking it. He muttered a thank you and began opening it right then. It was a copy of the Manyoshuu, an old Japanese text with over one thousand poems. He lost his old copy on the train; he had fallen asleep and when he awoke at his stop it was gone. Kaede peered at it curiously and smiled.
“I remember that day,” she began in her small voice. “You looked angrier than usual when you came in. I asked you what was wrong and you snapped at me for parking my bike next to the stairs. I was so upset, I cried.”
Ryuuma cast his eyes down and rubbed the back of his head. “Oh? Really? It was pretty mad but I didn’t have a right to do that much, Ms. Seiko.”
“Don’t worry about it. We all have bad days.”
“Tell me about it…”
He looked up and shook his head. “Nothing. Satoshi is over for a drink if you would like to join. We’ll probably just talk about baseball and a bunch of geology stuff so I don’t think you’d be interested.”
Kaede climbed past him and went to his door. “I’d love it. I want baseball and I like geology. Honestly, it’s one of the reasons I stick around. I was so happy to find that you were my new upstairs neighbor that I went out and bought all of the geology books I could.” She laughed at his expression. “One day, you’ll have to take me up Mt. Fuji with you and Mr. Moriyama.”
“Sure…I guess.” He went to his door and unlocked it, inviting his guest in side. They removed their shoes at the landing and sat down on his floor. Ryuuma clicked on the T.V. The reporters were discussing the recent steam eruptions and earthquakes. “Would you like a drink? The booze will be here soon if Satoshi would hurry up.”
“No, I’m fine. I can wait.”
Ryuuma took a seat across the small table from her. She watched the T.V. with her small chin cupped in her palms. She was probably the only person other than Satoshi that could stand to be around him more than a few minutes. He scratched his chin absently. The sound of his rough stubble against his fingertips made Kaede look at him. She blushed and looked at the grain of the table. It took Ryuuma a few seconds to realize that she may have gotten the wrong idea about his contemplative gawking.
“Ah, Ms. Seiko, you didn’t mention where you worked,” he said hurriedly.
She began to pick at her fingers. “Oh, actually its this news station. I mean the one that’s on TV right now. I’m not actually a worker but I’m a secretary for one of the producers.”
“That’s a pretty nice job,” he commented with a nod.”
“I guess,” she sighed. “It wasn’t what I wanted to do like I said but sometimes we can’t choose our fates. My cousin worked for the station and my father signed me up for it. Believe it or not, I went to college for biology. I had these grandiose dreams of doing something for humanity but I guess the closest I’ll ever get is being an OL .” Ryuuma simply nodded, not knowing how to reply. Thankfully, Satoshi chose that time to enter, with bags of snacks and liquor. He looked between Seiko and Ryuuma, grinning as he usually did when there was prospects of drinking, though Ryuuma suspected a thinly veiled hint of mischief.
“Ah, Kaede-chan . Will you be drinking with us old goats?” he asked, kicking off his shoes and nudging them by the door.
“You’re hardly much older than I am, Satoshi.”
“I guess that’s true, huh? Having a nice conversation?” He looked dead at Ryuuma as he spoke. Ryuuma responded with a cold stare. “Hey, is there a game on today?” Satoshi quickly grabbed the remote and started searching.
Kaede grabbed the bags and pulled out the various snacks setting them on the table. She distributed the beers and opened can like it were a soda, drinking it with a subtle grace. “Mr. Yamanaka, the news says that Mt. Fuji might erupt. What do you think?”
Ryuuma looked to Satoshi but his friend offered nothing in the way in help. “Well…” he said, reclining back on his arms. “I think it’s going to erupt, honestly. It’s been dormant since 1707 but before that it last erupted 10,000 years ago.” Kaede nodded.
“So geologically speaking…we really shouldn’t be expecting another eruption so soon?”
“Smart girl!” Satoshi exclaimed, popping a piece of dried squid in his mouth. “You’ve been tutoring her, eh?”
Ryuuma ignored him. “That’s right. It’s a bit sudden, isn’t it? Fuji-san is a composite volcano, actually. You see…” He pulled a notebook off of a nearby shelf and searched for a pen or pencil, which Kaede supplied from her purse. Ryuuma began drawing a diagram. “The Fuji we see today, is the actually the youngest part, underneath that is ‘Older Fuji’- almost perfectly parallel. But set back here, to the northeast is the Komitake volcano, which is the oldest and smallest. Well…” He made a small adjustment at the foot of Komitake. “There’s a volcano here as well but it’s pretty flat, so I even I wouldn’t count it.”
Satoshi grabbed the notebook and set it aside. “You’re boring her, Ryuuma. We came here to relax and drink. Not to talk about that stupid volcano some more.” Satoshi slid him another beer.
“I think it’s fascinating, Moriyama-kun. The fact is that we can’t just smile and pretend it’s going to happen. It might and if it does, it could be like a natural Hiroshima or Nagasaki, couldn’t it, Ryuuma-kun?”
Ryuuma nodded slowly. “Mt. St. Helens destroyed nearly 596 square kilometers of forest in a short time. Tokyo is 1,288 sq kilometers but Fuji-san 1226 meters taller than Mt. St. Helens, so just by that the eruption could be more devastating.”
“It’ll be terrible either way!” Kaede exclaimed glancing out the window as if she could see the impending danger barreling down towards them. “The economic ramifications… We’re just getting out of this recession too...”
Satoshi groaned and fell back on the floor. “You guys are depressing! The government will take care of things. They already closed the mountain and they’re watching this whole situation closely. They’ll probably start evacuating us outside of the danger zone soon. Start packing now! You’ll see.”
Ryuuma looked at his friend and sighed, rubbing his tired eyes, wishing he could massage his tired mind as well. Kaede put her hand on his and patted it. “You’re tired and this has been a hard day. Go to bed. Come on, Satoshi.” Reluctantly, the photographer stood at the secretary’s bidding. The cleared up and left, leaving Ryuuma in his preferred state- alone.
All night, he dreamed of pyroclasts and hot ash falling on Tokyo incinerating everything, planes flew overhead and he wondered briefly if it was World War II and the hot ash falling on him wasn’t human remains from the incendiary attack but the earth quaking beneath him averted his attention and eventually woke him up.
But the dream didn’t stop going it seemed, his small apartment was rocked severely knocking everything not nailed down to the floor, including his television and stand which fell over causing sparks to fly and land dangerously on the tatami mats . He crawled over and tried to stamp out some of the small ember with the palm of his hand. His cell phone rang but in the chaos, he couldn’t find it.
He could here Kaede’s voice outside calling out to him. Ryuuma wobbled over the window and looked out. He couldn’t hear her clearly but she was pointing to the west. He looked in that direction and lost his breath. Towering high in the sky was a massive Plinian Column of hot ash, pumice, rock and lava.
The god had awoken and made his judgment on the metropolis of Tokyo. Ryuuma ran as well as he could to the door and slipping on his sandals. He fell three times trying to get down the stairs to Kaede. “LAHARS!” He screamed grabbing her. “Lahars!”
She gripped on to him tightly. “What? What are you saying? I don’t understand.”
“Dammit! Fuji is topped with snow there will be lahars! Volcanic mudslides, Kaede.” The shaking had subsided significantly but there were still tremors beneath their feet. Ryuuma wonder for a second how much was the earth and still how much was his nerves. “Stay here!” He ran back into his room and grabbed his jacket and found his cell phone under a shattered plant. He ran back outside. People were already in the streets, screaming, looking for answers, finding them, and then looking for an escape, only to find the streets cramped, and deadlocked. Ryuuma grabbed Kaede’s hand.
“Where are we going?”
“He have to get out of here…I … don’t know where but… we need to find better shelter than our low-rise apartments. If a lahar reaches us then we’re done.” He Hot ash began to fall like a grim rain; even the sound was similar. Ryuuma tried to shoulder his way past people and protect Kaede at the same time.
For what seemed like hours they struggled with the crowded streets and frightened people when they found themselves being ushered towards an old factory building that had been standing since the war. Ryuuma held Kaede close so that they weren’t separated in the rush to be included in the safety.
“Head to the upper floors! Upper floors!” the attendant called. Another called down to the first. “We’re sorry, we can’t take anymore!” Kaede looked up at Ryuuma with terrified eyes. “Everyone else keep moving!” The attendant pushed them in, the last to be accepted.
They struggled to get to the third floor and a place to stand. Finally the two managed to find a place at a window over looking the street below them. There was another terrible rumbling but this was more sound than them shake. A hot lahar overran the street below them, picking up the cars like toys and burying the people in the way. Everyone screamed. Kaede buried her face in Ryuuma’s chest. Ryuuma was unable to turn away from the site. His entire life dedicated to a force of nature so powerful it could destroy a great city such as Tokyo and there was nothing that could be done.
A man’s body boiled up the surface then quickly disappeared under the surge. The site make Ryuuma think of Satoshi and he immediately took out his phone and checked it- text message from none other than Satoshi. It read:

Volcano! Get to safety! See you later, right! Without a doubt!

Ryuuma closed his phone his eyes welling up with inexplicable tears. And buried his face in Kaede’s hair and tried to regain his composure. The disdain he felt for humanity was washed away with the lahar raging beneath him.
The night, he and Kaede slept on the hard concrete floor next to hundreds of other refugees. Actually, it was morning by now but the ash was still clinging to the atmosphere suffocating it, shutting out the sun entirely. Ryuuma stared at the steel bars crisscrossing ceiling. He had received no other communication from Satoshi. Realizing this his heart became heavy, which made him feel even worse. He treated the jovial photographer so poorly but was never turned down for a friendly afternoon. Ryuuma tried to text his friend back but was unable to get through.
By day three, everyone in the makeshift bunker was afraid that their place of salvation would become their final place of rest. Water was running low, as was food. “Stupid,” Kaede muttered suddenly. Ryuuma leaned closer to her. “I said… stupid. That we built this city right underneath a volcano.”
Ryuuma sighed and took her hand, feeling awkward at the show of comfort. “They didn’t know. And even with all of our technology, neither did we.”
The sound of a helicopter raised heads all around. A voice came over a megaphone. “We’re going to try and evacuate you but we can only do this 5 people at a time. Sick, first, then elderly, then women and children.” A cheer rose up among the crowd, though to Ryuuma it sounded half hearted as it quickly became apparent that they would have to decide who went and who didn’t. He squeezed the small hand in his instinctively, expecting things to become ugly, rather quickly.
Indeed he was right, there were multiple fights that had to be broken up but in the end peace prevailed. No one was leaving if everyone fought and no one wanted to be here any longer than they had to. I soon became Kaede’s turn to leave. Their good-bye was surprisingly reluctant for Ryuuma. Through this entire tragedy, she had been there and he was comforted by her presence.
“Definitely.” She said cryptically.
“Definitely.” He answered. With that, she climbed out of the window into the basket that would carry her and four perfect strangers to safety.
Ryuuma turned out to be one of the last to leave. When he loaded on the basket and began to rise above the buildings, the truth of the devastation nearly knocked the breath from his lung. The one picturesque, conical Fuji was looked more like the top of a waffle cone, leaking smoke and grayish basaltic lava. Lahar had no place to go but meander through the narrow streets and subway tunnels. They landed an hour away in makeshift refugee encampment. Kaede rushed up to him and hugged him. No words were exchanged.
“Here, I’ve been trying to get you to date for three years. Mount Fuji erupts and destroys half of Tokyo and you get romantic,” came Satoshi’s rugged voice. “I wish I were that lucky.”
Ryuuma grinned, a rare event, and hugged his friend tightly. “I thought were up on the mountain when it exploded, you crazy fool! I couldn’t get through to your cell phone!”
“What cell phone? I was taking pictures and dropped the damn thing running for my life! But here I am…”
“Here you are… But how many aren’t?” He wondered out loud looking towards the devastated capital.
“Death toll…100,000, it’s the estimate. Kaede was right…it’s Hiroshima, but we won’t know for sure for some time.”
The three friends stood together silently accepting their destiny and wondering of what was in store for them in the future. The nation as rocked, the world was watching, and no one knew what the next step should be.
Kaede rubbed her arms trying to force out the cold that seemed to pervade her body since the initial eruption. “Stupid,” she uttered again.
“No one knew,” Ryuuma repeated. “No one knew then and no one knew now the ramifications of living in the shadow of one of Japan’s greatest kami.” He closed his eyes and recalled a poem from the Manyoshu:

Heaven and earth:
Since the time they parted,
Of manifest divinity,
Reaching the heights of awe,
In Suruga stands
The high peak of Fuji;
The field of heaven:
On gazing at the distant sight
The coursing sun
Light is blocked and
The shining moon
Light goes unseen;
The white clouds, too,
Shrink from passing by as
Ash falls:
From mouth to mouth will pass the word,
Traveling and speaking
Of the peak of Fuji.

( Originally by Manyoshu poet, Yamabe no Akahito (fl. 724-737). I took the liberty of changing the word ‘snow’ to ‘ash’ to reflect new nature of Mt. Fuji as a volcano and not the peaceful snow-capped mountain that has permeated the world’s view.)
Bibliography ... elens.html ... _fuji.html ... giants.htm

Return to Fanfiction and Other Writings

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest