The Space Alien

Chapter 8

The Green Hand

Ever since the disappearance of the National Museum director, Detective Kogoro Akechi had been working around the clock. As an outside consultant to the police, he dedicated all of his time and energy to the investigation.

Because of the similar incidents in Japan and the United States related to the flying saucers, FBI agents from the United States flew to Tokyo, and officers from the National Police Agency traveled to the United States. They coordinated investigations and discussed how best to capture this monster from outer space.

Summoned to police headquarters on a regular basis to share his opinions on the case, Detective Akechi rarely made it into the office.

One day, he said to his young assistant, Yoshio Kobayashi, “I don’t have much free time these days because of the investigation at the museum. But I’ve become increasingly concerned about Ichiro Hirano and his sister. The sister is reputed to be a virtuoso on the violin, as attractive as she is talented. I’d like you to keep a close eye on them. Stop by Ichiro’s house every day and make sure nothing unusual is going on. For the time being, I think that should suffice.”

Yoshio consequently arranged to visit Ichiro on a regular basis. Ichiro liked Yoshio as well. When he got home from school, he eagerly awaited Yoshio’s arrival. They enjoyed talking together and doing experiments with Ichiro’s chemistry set. Kitamura-san occasionally dropped by as well and shared fascinating stories with them. After all, Kitamura-san had spent a month inside the Tanzawa flying saucer. Their conversation often turned to the subject of the space alien. Hearts pounding with excitement, the two boys listened entranced to Kitamura-san’s stories.

Yurika, Ichiro’s older sister, would soon graduate from the music academy. Her school was currently on break. Since she was home nearly every day, when Yoshio came over, she often invited him and her brother to her room for an impromptu recital. That’s how Yoshio became friends with Yurika as well.

Ichiro was a handsome young man, to be sure, but his sister was the prettiest girl Yoshio had ever seen. She had a face so comely as to almost appear radiant. When Yurika played the violin, Yoshio felt himself being swept away, as if in a dream. It was like floating to heaven on rainbow-colored clouds.

Those pleasant days continued for a week. Then one evening, Yoshio witnessed an altogether frightening sight. In the hazy twilight, a devil appeared with its sights set on that precious beauty.

One evening, after listening to Yurika and dining on some delicious confections, Yoshio said goodbye to Ichiro and left via the front gate.

Dusk was falling, the gray time of day between daylight and nighttime. Large residences lined the block. Hedges and concrete walls on either side of the road continued into the distance. Empty of pedestrian traffic, the street was as still as the bottom of the ocean.

As Yoshio passed through the gate, he noticed a man standing against the wall around Ichiro’s house. The man was practically clinging to the wall like a gecko.

“Well, there’s an odd one,” Yoshio thought, and took a closer look.

The man noticed Yoshio as well, let go of the wall, and started walking the other way. More like making a run for it. Without a doubt, a dodgy character. Yoshio waited a moment and then followed him. The deepening dusk made it difficult even to tell the two of them apart from their surroundings, so the man he was following shouldn’t be able to pick up the tail.

He was wearing a long gray overcoat and a gray felt hat. Whether or not he noticed Yoshio behind him, he didn’t look back but hurried along at a quick pace. A little further on, the wall on one side of the street came to an end. A large field opened up. In the middle of the field was an old evergreen oak, its branches reaching into the sky. Yoshio didn’t realize it at the time, but several nights before, dressed in a brown suit, the lizard man sat on a high branch in this same evergreen oak.

The man in the gray overcoat strode toward the tree. But then Yoshio blinked and the man was gone. Thinking he might be hiding behind the big trunk of the tree, Yoshio crept closer.

The street light in the corner of the field dimly illuminated the thick moss-covered tree trunk. Yoshio stopped in front of the tree. Thinking the man he’d been trailing was hiding on the other side, with stealthy steps he circled the tree and peeked around the trunk.

As if in a game of hide-and-seek and waiting for Yoshio to spy him out, the man had pinned himself against the tree. He abruptly turned his face towards Yoshio.

Ah, that face.

Yoshio could have sworn his hair stood straight up on his head.

The silver face. The black eyeholes. The grinning crescent-shaped mouth. And from that mouth spilled strangely articulated human words. “I know who you are, Yoshio Kobayashi. You are Detective Akechi’s pupil.”

At that moment, Yoshio was too startled to make a sound, like his tongue was stuck in his throat.

“I also know what Kitamura told Akechi. I know everything. I am a hundred times more intelligent than any of the people on this planet. And yet you are afraid.”

The creature suddenly reached out with its right hand and touched Ichiro’s cheek.

Ah, that hand. Cold and slippery, exuding a foul fishy smell, the green webbed hand, a thousand times bigger than a frog’s appendage.

“You are trembling. Are you frightened? There’s nothing to be frightened about. I will do nothing to you. Goodbye. Farewell.”

The monster planted its foot on a knot in the trunk and climbed the tree and disappeared into the foliage. A few moment later, a rustling sound came from the treetops. A fierce wind gusted down. Having shed its overcoat, it must be beating its unfurled bat wings.

Yoshio finally got a grip of his senses, backed away from the tree trunk, and looked up at the dark sky. The space alien flew through the air, wings spread wide, that curious whooshing sound trailing behind. As Yoshio watched, the creature grew smaller and smaller until it melted away into the night.

For a level-headed kid like Yoshio Kobayashi, this was the first time he had been so scared. No matter how evil, human beings did not frighten him. But this creature was no human. It was a hundred times smarter and able to fly through the air to wherever it pleased.

Almost despite himself, Yoshio squatted down and breathed a sigh of relief. Maybe even Detective Kogoro Akechi was no match for this creature. Yoshio honestly felt himself at his wit’s end.

Yet another alarming incident took place two days after Yoshio followed the creature to the evergreen oak. Again, it was the end of the day and the sun was setting. That afternoon, Ichiro and Yoshio played catch in the yard. Ichiro left his mitt behind and went back to get it. The yard was pitch-dark, but searching around with his hands, he picked up the mitt and hurried to the porch.

He glanced across the yard and noticed the vague black outline of a hunched over figure. A dark shadow crouched beneath his sister’s window.

“That’s odd,” he thought, approaching it. “I haven’t seen a big dog like that around these parts.”

Though the window was closed and the curtains drawn, beautiful sounds wafted through the evening air. Yurika was playing the violin. The squatting black silhouette craned its head forward, as if listening intently to the music of the violin.

Not a dog but a person had climbed over the wall into the yard. Likely a thief. Quailing a bit, Ichiro stood there and studied this suspicious fellow from a safe distance.

The crouching silhouette abruptly came to its feet. With an awkward robotic gait, it tottered towards Ichiro. Like prey caught in the gaze of a predator, Ichiro could only stand there like a stone, his eyes opening wide.

Step by step, the suspicious creature advanced through the darkness, growing larger as it grew ever closer. A flash of light gleamed from its face.

Ichiro felt an icy shiver run down his spine. The space alien. The space alien had crept into the yard and now was standing like a roadblock right in front of him.

“You are Ichiro Hirano. Your sister is Yurika Hirano. She plays beautiful music. I come here every evening to listen.”

This monster had not only shown up this night but had camped outside his sister’s room many times before. What intentions did the lizard man harbor toward his sister? In a flash, Ichiro’s concerns switched from himself to his sister. Those thoughts on his mind, an uncommon courage welled up in his heart.

Almost instinctively, he rose to the challenge. “What do you want with my sister?” he said, in tones that demanded an answer.

“I shall take her to my home planet and share the music of Earth with my people,” said the monster, its lips curling into a smile behind the crescent-shaped mouth. “Someday soon, I will surely take her with me. Tell your sister that. My world is beautiful. You want to go too, don’t you? Heh, heh, heh. Goodbye. Goodbye.”

Having delivered the message, it spun around, rushed to the back of the yard and into a grove of trees. A few moments later, Ichiro heard the same sound of whooshing air that came whenever the creature soared into the sky.

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