Over Mount Fuji – Epilogue (41) –

An Epic NovelDecember 31 —

“No, no, we just want to be left alone,” Byron said repeatedly after a helicopter hoisted them to a newly assembled dock. The news of his and Nobuko’s rescue by USS George Bush had flashed around the world. Reporters had besieged the pair by satellite telephone even before they arrived off the coast of what was once San Diego.

“Nobuko, Byron, it’s terrific to see both of you,” Carol Macleay shouted over the heads of the crowd scrambling in the crammed reception hall to meet them.

Hustling through the horde of reporters, Eileen pushed past Carol. “Byron, great to see you.”

“And what’s this?” Carol asked, pointing to a vigorous pup with a thick coat, barking and jumping around with agitation and excitement.

“His name is XiaoLun. He’s a Pekinese.” Nobuko held him up, his tail wagging. After giving his fluffy body a passionate hug, she looked into his luminous eyes and planted a kiss on his black muzzle.

“Where did you get him?” Eileen asked.

“He’s my Peke. We saved him from the sea.”

“It must have worn a life jacket,” Carol said.

“No,” Nobuko said. “He never had a life jacket or any life-saving mechanism.”

As Nobuko and Byron related how, in the middle of the night, they heard a dog howling in the turbulent sea, XiaoLun kept barking and wheezing, wagging his tail vigorously, as if he also had a story of his own ordeal to tell.

“Byron, you saved him!” Carol exclaimed.

“I did,” Byron said. Then he continued his story. On hearing the dog crying at sea, Byron unzipped the aperture of the lift-raft and, in his excitement, jumped into the sea, swam toward the dog and carried him back into the raft. Only then did Nobuko know he was her pet.

Eileen’s face lit up in a moment of positive contemplation. But after a long silence, her eyes welled with tears, her emotions deep and profound. “And Wulfstein? He must be alive somewhere.”

Byron draped his arm around her shoulders and pulled her close. “We lost him . . . ” He tried to explain, but for a long time, Eileen couldn’t speak. Her eyes wandered around expectantly; her words caught in her throat. Overwhelmed by her emotions, she turned away, inconsolable, and kept on sobbing.

When XiaoLun continued to bark, drawing much attention from strangers, Byron stepped forward to stop him. But the Pekinese bit his palm, prompting a reflective strike from Byron’s other hand to release him. XiaoLun dropped to the floor, looking shocked and incapacitated. Blood flowed from Byron’s hand.

Carol rushed to apply first aid to Byron as Nobuko pulled her pet up and hugged him, slowly bringing XiaoLun back to moaning over his shock.

Eileen led the group out and drove them to the nearest hospital, where Byron received seven stitches and further treatment. During his stay, she showed Byron her article, ‘The Doomed Archipelago,’ which the Raging Planet had published four days before Japan’s final calamity.

“It’s pseudo-science,” he said the moment he finished it.

“It’s naked science,” Eileen said. “But it is still science.”

Once discharged, they spent the next three days together in a Westin Hotel, recollecting past events, reliving past memories, exchanging news and thoughts, before each began to put their lives back into some form of normalcy.

In the weeks that followed, and despite the pollution from the falling ash and smoky air, crowds thronged around Byron wherever he went. Many who sought his autograph couldn’t know what he had gone through. In a four-page memo to the Japanese Ambassador in Washington D.C., Byron Lambeth outlined his version of events surrounding the expedition, which the ambassador readily endorsed.

Byron directed all endowments to MIT, including the setting up of a Department of Mystic Science. Chosen as head of the department at thirty-two, his interest surged in unconventional theories. “I just want to have a fresh look at how science could be better perceived,” was his reply to questions raised about his aspiration.

His asthma worsening, Professor Devonport’s decision to retire took few people by surprise. Every morning, long before sunrise, the emeritus astrophysicist would stroll down his beloved Charles River, reciting prayers with rosary beads in his hands. He would, without fail, pause before one of Welles Bosworth’s visions, a newly built fifty foot Minerva. In truth, the architect was heartbroken when no sculptor could be commissioned to mold his undying vision of the fifty-foot goddess of wisdom. Not long before Bosworth’s death in 1966, the architect still urged its installation.

Built with a ring encasement, the statue symbolized the link between sciences and the arts—a continuum of knowledge—and became the heart of a perfect symmetry to the Great Court. The final caption attested to the grandeur of MIT’s inspiration, the crowning glory of Bosworth’s dream, the stateliness of its intellectual tradition, and a fitting symbol to scientific posterity.

On his daily stroll, Devonport would make sure to read its inscription. The epitaph, carved into polished black granite, acknowledged Professor Yoshino’s last words:
      THE END

©) Joel Huan, author of Over Mount Fuji (available from Amazon and Barnes&Noble)

~ by Joel Huan on December 2, 2009.

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