“...and upwards of 10,000 have died in a Goliath attack in Chicago. Exact numbers will be posted soon, as--” The newscaster put her hand to her ear. “This just in! Famous star, Jordan Culler, was recently convicted of peddling drugs across the border, and…”
Jon had stopped paying attention. He wasn’t quite sure when, but it was probably after the news about yet another Goliath attack. As he rubbed the crust out of his eyes, he glanced at the time on his decrepit CRT television. It read 7:23 AM, which meant it was just about time for him to leave for work. Rising from his lone mattress on the floor, he ambled out the door of his studio apartment.
Upon exiting, Jon ignored the rows of homeless individuals glaring at him. He could tell a few of them were eying his apartment, now unoccupied and ripe for the taking. He made it obvious that he locked his door and left for work. He couldn’t blame them for staring, though; many of them came from cities, which were now synonymous with mass graveyards. New York City was the worse offender, which was, of course, where Jon lived. He couldn’t complain, though; housing prices were basically nothing in cities, and nothing was all he could afford.
Among the usual dilapidated buildings and rubble in the streets, a lone, tan lump laid hidden amongst the usual wreckage. Jon paid it no mind until he almost stepped on it. Up close, what the lump was was obvious; it was a body. There were no apparent signs of death; none that Jon could tell, anyway. He peeked around the corpse, lifting it up to check underneath. It was obvious the body was effectively bare, having been stripped of its valuables; its wallet, shoes, socks, shirt, and pants were the most notable missing articles.
As such, Jon stepped over it and continued on his way without a second thought.
He could see his office complex off in the distance; it would have been difficult not to, as it was by far the tallest building in the city. Although they were advised against, it was hard to argue with the spatial efficiency of a skyscraper. Arriving at the front door, Jon was met with a familiar face. Donned in his usual, impossible-to-ignore crimson red attire, and sporting a black eye that wasn’t there yesterday, was the poor representative of the Goliath Relief Fund.
“Excuse me sir, but would you like to donate to the Goliath--” the man began, as Jon walked right past him. Although rude, it was the only way to escape a 20-minute long sermon about the recently demolished locales around the world. “Tens of thousands are killed daily, and thousands more are displaced--” Jon found it hard to believe the GRF could do anything to diminish the impact of the Goliaths, especially since, no matter how much anyone donated, nothing substantial ever seemed to occur. “Our estimates indicate that upwards of 122,000,000 have been killed in these past few--” Jon continued to ignore the man, who had followed him inside. Jon cut him off by entering the elevator.
Upon exiting on the 49th floor, Jon was greeted by the clacks of keyboards rather than by his co-workers. He meandered towards his cubicle, unsurprised by the milquetoast reception of his entrance. He couldn’t blame anyone, though, as one individual amongst hundreds was hard to notice, and Jon hadn’t exactly tried to get to know anyone there. Once he had clocked in, Jon began yet another day of work.
Jon wasn’t sure how much time had passed; accounting was great at nulling any sense of self. So much so that Jon didn’t hear the incredibly obvious alarm echoing across the empty streets. Jon also didn’t realize that the sound he accidentally ignored was the Goliath alarm. Jon also didn’t notice the gaping, warbling hole to another reality right outside his window. In fact, it took until Jon noticed the monstrous, scale-plated beast immediately to his right before he realized what was happening. And even then, the horror of the situation hadn’t set in yet; a situation Jon never quite thought would happen.
A Goliath had appeared.
Jon could scarcely believe what was directly in front of him. The behemoth was too immense to see anything other than a section of its armored torso. The beast shifted, revealing that what Jon saw had actually not been its torso, but its arm; a fact that made his stomach knot up. He was face-to-immensely-oversized-arm with a real-life killer of 122,000,000 people; people, he quickly realized, that were just like him. The Goliath didn’t appear to be on the hunt yet, so Jon rose slowly from his seat, his eyes fixated upon the creature’s pulsating blue veins. Memories of anti-Goliath training and procedure left alongside Jon’s courage. Much like the rest of his co-workers, he crept towards the nearest stairwell, assuming it was the right action. His legs trembled with such ferocity that he was scared they may alert the Goliath. And yet, with one agonizing step at a time, he skulked his way closer to salvation, no matter how worthless it may end up being. And then the monster screamed, and any semblance of stillness shattered.
Windows exploded, raining glass onto the streets below. Without those barriers, the sirens’ sounds reverberated around the office. Jon didn’t notice, too busy wracking his brain around the situation to pay attention to inconsequential stimuli. The Goliath started moving, its every step rattling the skyscraper; a structure not built to take the quakes of a monster just as large as it. Jon’s legs failed him as they involuntarily dropped him to the ever-shifting floor.
Flailing about on the ground in a blind panic, Jon cursed many people; the Goliaths (for having the gall to exist), society (for not doing anything to stop them), and the so-called “Goliath Historians” who did a whole lot of research to figure out they had no idea where the Goliaths came from. They also kept tallies on how many people the Goliaths killed over the years. Jon, now more than ever, wished they hadn’t wasted their time focusing on information that made his odds of survival seem much lower, and instead centered their attention on how to stop the beasts.
Through the dust and rubble, Jon saw the gradual tint of blue from the beast’s veins grow more and more vibrant. Soon, a wall of other-worldly light broke through the dust barrier. Jon realized he had seen the Goliaths do this before on the news; the monster was charging up energy, priming to attack. While the color of the Goliath’s energy from the video was different, the results would still be the same; complete demolition in a perfect line. Jon never thought he’d get to see a Goliath’s laser blast in person. He really wished he was right about that. He prayed to whoever was listening that the monster was facing away from the office skyscraper. Jon closed his eyes as the Goliath fired its beam.
Once the light emanating from the beast died down, Jon lifted his head, realizing he was alive. He silently celebrated his survival. The moment was short-lived, though, as Jon hadn’t noticed the abject destruction before him until seconds later; a perfectly cylindrical column that had been carved out of the city. Water poured from newly demolished pipes. Ruined furniture, kitchen appliances, and worn-down toys dropped pitifully from what were once homes. What was left of buildings collapsed, their exteriors scorched from the heat of the blast. The smoke rising from the wreckage blew towards Jon, enveloping the office building.
His vision obscured, Jon blindly groped around, hoping to find the stairwell to the floors below. Were it not for the chain of his co-workers that stayed behind to guide the stragglers, he would have been completely lost. Once indoctrinated, Jon instinctually found himself joining in, guiding his even more unlucky colleagues towards the exit. Jon read the terror on people’s faces; it was hard not to, after all. But this also allowed Jon to notice something he hadn’t before; every person there was distinct. Although the looks of abject fear were common amongst them all, every face was different. One had freckles that seemed to cover her entire, oval face. One had curls that wrapped around his strikingly blue eyes. And one had a scar stretched across his cheek.
This was something Jon never quite realized; something that may have changed a few things, Jon thought.
Unfortunately, that newfound realization and camaraderie was cut short by the Goliath’s tail crashing through the office building. By the time Jon knew what hit him, he and everyone else still on the floor had become a red paste. In fact, he could hardly believe he was dead. Or that everyone else had died as well. Or that this had even happened to begin with.
Mostly that last one, though.
* * *
“...A Goliath attack recently rattled the residents of New York City. Since we apparently haven’t stressed it enough, it is recommended that citizens avoid tall structures whenever possible, and...”
Richard had stopped paying attention. He wasn’t quite sure when, but it was probably after the news about yet another Goliath attack.
James Koehler Jr. is a third-year creative writing major at Bowling Green State University, and is currently unpublished anywhere but here. In addition to writing YouTube videos and (working on) writing and directing a video game, James writes and illustrates webcomics. Links to these creative endeavors, alongside ways to reach him, can be found at https://linktr.ee/jameskoehlerjr. He can also be contacted at email@example.com. James recommends Fight Colorectal Cancer.