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Sunday, November 18, 2012


From Jim Beard

G-Fans, here's an online exclusive story to promote the upcoming Giant Monster fiction anthology of mine called MONSTER EARTH. The premise is that every country on the planet has their own kaiju, for better or for worse...

Monster Earth Coming Soon!

Atlanta, GA—James Palmer, editor and publisher of Mechanoid Press, an independent publishing imprint specializing in New Pulp, science fiction, and more, is proud to announce the upcoming release of its first anthology MONSTER EARTH.

MONSTER EARTH harkens back to the classic giant monsters of yesteryear like Godzilla, Mothra, Gamera, and King Kong, while focusing on the human element and what it would be like to live in such a world where giant monsters terrorize the Earth.

“There have been a few other giant monster anthologies over the years,” says Palmer. “But our book is going to be a bit different. It has a unifying concept, as well as a solid pulp style of storytelling.”

Developed by MONSTER EARTH co-editor Jim Beard (writer, Captain Action and the Riddle of the Glowing Men), each story in the book takes place in a different decade of the 20th century, which leads to a Cold War fought with giant monsters rather than the threat of nuclear weapons.

“I really wanted all the stories to have an underlying thread that weaves between them all the stories, and Jim really came up with a winner.”

The stories in MONSTER EARTH have a strong human angle as well.

“Focusing in on the human beings living in this world is important to me,” says Palmer. “The monsters are like forces of nature, with the humans trying to control them. But don’t worry, these aren’t just regular human interest stories with a monster thrown in for window dressing. There are plenty of great monster battles and more than enough citywide destruction to please the most discerning kaiju fan – and anyone who loves a good tale.

Palmer and Beard have assembled a great line-up of New Pulp all-stars to give us their visions of a world ruled by giant monsters. MONSTER EARTH will include stories by I.A. Watson (Sherlock Holmes, Blackthorn: Dynasty of Mars), Ed Erdelac (The Merkabah Rider), Nancy Hansen, and newcomer Jeff McGinnis. Beard and Palmer will also provide stories, and there will be a free online bonus tale by Jeff McGinnis coming out shortly before the book’s release.

MONSTER EARTH is slated for a Christmas release, and will be available in print and ebook formats.

The Impossible Dream: Liam Reilly’s Loch Ness Obsession
by Miranda Stein

Reprinted from Rock Law Magazine, May 21, 1974

The man who takes the seat across from me at the Lochend bar on that April night could be my grandfather. Hell, he could be anyone’s grandfather. Kind, giving eyes underneath a curly mane of white hair, and a smile that could take all your worries away. I’ve known him for only a few seconds, but I already like him.

He hadn’t even asked if he could join me before he sat down. He knew I was there for him — in this quaint country pub in the middle of Scotland, I know a Los Angeles-born, New York-seasoned Yank like myself sticks out like a sore thumb, anyway. “Miranda?” he asks in a posh English accent as he settles in.

I nod. “Miranda Stein, Rock Law Magazine.” I hold out my hand, which he takes and shakes vigorously.
“Liam Reilly. It’s an absolute pleasure to meet you. Sorry I’m late.” The longer I get to know Dr. Reilly, the more I learn that he is late for absolutely everything. It isn’t that he’s being inconsiderate or rude, though — at least not deliberately. It’s simply a genuine passion he has for everything in life. Everything. The man is always so focused on what he’s doing on any given moment that consideration for anything else falls by the wayside.

“Have you eaten already?” he asks as he looks around for a server.

I shake my head. “I’ve been waiting for you.”

“Oh, marvelous! Simply marvelous! You absolutely must try the Drop Scones here. They’re simple, traditional, but I swear, this place, you would think they were infused with the magic of Scotland itself. Utterly marvelous.”

I smile, the first of many that come about during my meal with Dr. Reilly. Conversation flows easily between the two of us, as I imagine it does with most anyone who meets the famous doctor face-to-face. His naturally disarming personality elbows out any intellectual objections you may have toward his life’s work. It’s easy to see how so many have fallen under his spell.

We speak of many issues during that first meeting — his background, the beautiful Scottish countryside, politics, music. In fact, so enthralling is our first conversation that I haven’t even gotten around to discuss the central issue surrounding our meeting, why I’m here to talk to him in the first place. Not until he himself asks the question.
“So, is Rock Law Magazine typically in the business of sending reporters around the globe to interview crackpots?”
I almost gag on my beverage, a laugh caught in my throat. Reilly chuckles at catching me off guard.

“I never said you were…” I respond in between coughs.

“But that’s what you’ll write,” Reilly says, a warm smile still on his face. “That’s what they all write. I understand that. Really, it makes no difference to me, any publicity is good publicity.”

“That’s not my goal,” I say in protest. “I’m not here to condemn or mock you. I am genuinely interested in why…”

I pause. He continues to smile. “Well,” he says. “Why don’t we get started with the obvious questions, then?”

“Let’s,” I respond, finally retrieving my trusty pad and paper from my bag. I regard this kind, interesting man and ask, “Why? In a world filled with so many great and powerful monsters, why spend such effort in a search for one that may not even exist?”

“Because she does,” Reilly says without a moment’s hesitation. “She exists. And, besides, you said it yourself. In a world filled with monsters, a wonderous and beautiful animal like Nessie is exactly what we need right now.”

Since the beginning of the Monster Arms Race in the 1930s, society has rapidly become accustomed to the presence of fantastical creatures as a regular fact of life. As a child I thought of Johnson — the United States’ monster du jour — not only as a protector but a close family friend. I grew up in Los Angeles, just a hop, skip and a jump away from Johnson’s storage facility in Marina del Ray. It was only in the aftermath of his third escape in the Spring of 1955 that my parents were convinced to finally take leave of the City of Angels.

Most people my age have never known a world where giant creatures were not only possible, but were the accepted norm. For those from an earlier time, when such amazing sights were the stuff of legend rather than an everyday reality, how would the idea of a monster hiding in the depths grab a young mind? What impact would such legends make?
For Dr. Liam Reilly, it has blossomed into a lifelong passion for the study and pursuit of a single creature. The Loch Ness Monster — he only ever refers to it as Nessie — has been Reilly’s muse and obsession for decades. After years teaching mathematics at Cambridge, Reilly stunned many of his colleagues with his resignation in 1962, announcing his intention to devote his time to locating and validating the existence of the monster.

“I take a crew onto the Loch at least three times a year,” Reilly says. “We search more frequently if the weather and funding permits. Nessie sightings are at their most frequent in the Spring and early Summer months, so we try to schedule each expedition concurrently with that time of year.”

Of course, Reilly has taken his makeshift crews out practically any time that he can secure the necessary money to do so, no matter what time of year. In the British Television Corporation documentary program where Reilly found international fame — “Tilting at Windmills” — he was famously depicted piloting a boat in the bleakest days of December, resulting in a dangerous trip that nearly cost the entire crew their lives.

“That was an aberration,” Reilly insists. “The funding source delivered its cash much later than expected, and I was instructed by the BTC that if an expedition didn’t hit the water by the first of the year, the documentary would never be filmed. I knew that no matter how much of a hatchet job was done in that release, it would be invaluable in publicity to garner future funding.” (The BTC vehemently denies Reilly’s version of events, insisting that Reilly took the crew out on his own accord and their staff placed no pressure on him to do so.)

Regardless, “Tilting at Windmills” fixed the image of Reilly in the public imagination as the “crackpot scientist” he references — a classification he tries to laugh off, though it’s clear it bothers him. He has no formal training in marine biology, he’s the first to admit, and cheerfully acknowledges a distinct lack of the scientific method in his research. Asked to classify his work, he falls back on the word “cryptozoologist,” though it’s clear he is not enamored of that term, either.

“It makes the whole enterprise sound so…sketchy, doesn’t it?” he asks. “I like to think of it as pioneering biology. Seeking out what is not yet known versus what is already there. You can’t garner a doctorate in what is yet unknown. We are seeking to uncover the undiscovered.”

Of course, every actual biologist will quickly point out how Reilly’s assertions are completely off base compared to the reality of how their branch of research works. There are plenty of undiscovered forms of traditional animal life in the world — mainly varieties of insect — that biologists spend a lifetime tracking down and classifying. And besides, with our ever-changing understanding of the relatively new, gigantic creatures walking among us, it seems absurd to maintain an obsession with seeking out a monster that, despite its supposedly mammoth proportions, has eluded confirmation for decades.

Reilly has heard all these objections, multiple times. And yet he still seeks his dreams. Not just for himself, he insists, but for the good of his nation. And the world.

Visiting Reilly’s home is like stepping into the world’s most sloppy museum, dedicated to a subject you definitely won’t see covered at any traditional scientific institution. Virtually every room in the house has boxes full of documents, letters, photographs, books and more, all with some information that is or once was of interest. Reilly doesn’t throw anything away, even if what he obtains is useless, or a wild goose chase.

The really crucial evidence, though, he hangs up. Every wall is lined with photos, press clippings, letters detailing sightings and more. I ask why he keeps all this evidence on ready display — wouldn’t it be more practical to keep it in a file for easy examination?

“Oh, I have copies of everything that’s up, if I need them. Besides, I’ve studied these so much that I really don’t need to examine them that often. I already know every detail.”

He takes down a photo from the wall — a black and white image of the Loch on a summer’s day, the sun slowly setting over the hillside, the rippling waves casting shadows and giving the fuzzy image a dreamlike quality. In the center of the image lies a ghost-like shadow peeking out from the waves, a shape so indistinct that it could almost be anything. But, of course, Reilly know what it is.

“Do you see her?” Reilly asks.

“Sure, but the image is so grainy it’s impossible to get any detail…” I respond.

“No, not Nessie. On the shore. Bottom right. Can you see the little girl?”

I look closer. There, among the rocks that lined the bank, stands what appears to be a young girl in a sun dress. The photo is so blurry that at first glance she blends in with the texture of the ground surrounding her. She’s facing the camera, arm extended, almost like…yes, she is waving at someone. The person who took the picture? Was it her dad?

“I believe she is about six years old,” Reilly says. “And that little girl has told me so much about Nessie, just by being there. Oh, when I first saw her, I was so thrilled! She gave me an all new point of reference. All the literature estimates Nessie at approximately 25 feet long. But look at her! Even at a distance of 34 feet — that’s what I calculate Nessie’s distance from the shore to be — the size of her head in comparison to that girl makes a 25-foot length impossible.”

Reilly shows me a page full of indecipherable — to me, at least — calculations. “If one looks at all the eyewitness accounts and claims, the generally accepted idea of her body structure, it is impossible to believe that this creature is a mere 25 feet. With this photograph and other data points accounted for, I am certain that Nessie is as much as four times the size that others argue she is.”

He grins at the photograph once more. “Do you see her smiling?”

I look closer at the blurry face on the little girl, and have to admit that I can’t decipher any facial features. Reilly doesn’t seem to notice my ambivelence.

“She is smiling and waving. A creature of Nessie’s size and power, and she isn’t afraid. That tells us so much, as well.”
After Johnson’s attack on the Japanese mainland brought an end to World War II, nations around the globe felt pressured to find their own monster. Countries were racing to claim any and all of the suddenly-plentiful beasts as their own, not only feeling the need for protection, but understanding that possessing such a beast immediately legitimized their nation’s position as a legitimate world power.

Great Britain was among the first to stake this claim with the discovery of a large griffin-like creature on the Orkney Islands off Scotland. Its improbable stature immediately made it a beloved figure and an icon of the British Isles. It was given the somewhat inelegant but tremendously appropriate name of “Her Majesty’s Giant Monster” — HMGM, for short.

Housed in a storage facility at the Chatham Stockyards in Kent, HMGM has remained largely hidden from public view since its discovery. Still, its very presence has emboldened Britain’s place on the international stage for nearly 30 years.

But to hear Dr. Reilly talk, HMGM’s positioning as Britain’s great peacekeeper is largely a mirage — wildly overstated at best and dangerously out-of-control at worst. The isles aren’t protected by the presence of the monster, he claims, but blinded by it.

“This creature — so wonderfully lovable and marketable — captured this country’s imagination so thoroughly that no one has ever asked the obvious questions,” Reilly states, a rising indignancy in his voice. “What could it do in a war zone? Could it truly defend us against ungainly beasts like Russia’s monstrousity? I don’t know. No one does!

“We fell under the spell of this creature so quickly, and the sheer thrill that Britain now had a beast to call its own, that we’ve lost sight of the fact that the whole purpose of maintaining this creature is so it may defend us — a purpose it has so far yet to prove it can fulfill.”

Its lack of combat experience is not Reilly’s only objection to HMGM’s placement as his nation’s savior. He claims to have done extensive research into the beast’s behavior in captivity, and has found numerous witnesses who have say that HMGM’s reputation as a docile and easily-controlled monster is far from the truth.

“They have to keep that thing so doped up it can’t even move,” Reilly proclaims.”Otherwise it wouldn’t even stand for confinement, to say nothing of controlling it in the field of battle. Does this sound like the kind of defense Great Britain wants to rely on in a time of crisis?”

(Royal Navy representatives, contacted via telephone, vehemently denied Reilly’s charges but declined to comment on record for this story.)

The solution, as Reilly sees it, is that his countrymen need to search for another creature — one that can not only be utilized as a cornerstone of the nation’s defense, but also stand as a symbol of Britannia in the international imagination, in way that the current pretender never could. And what could be better than harnessing the presence and power of a creature whose legend precedes the modern monster era?

Of course, Reilly’s fixation on Loch Ness long precedes that same era, as well — and often ideas we fall in love with in youth stay with us, no matter what evidence to the contrary may follow.

Although Loch Ness’s first international fame really came in the early 1930′s — just a few years before Japan’s discovery began the modern monster era in earnest — the legend of the beast that resides in its depths lived on a local level for decades before that. Reports of what is now known as the Loch Ness Monster stretch back to the beginning of the century, with some reports of odd sightings (retroactively considered official Nessie reports by experts like Reilly) coming from as early as the mid-1850′s.

Oddly, though, none of the reported sightings come from Dr. Liam Reilly himself. Born in 1899, the future mathematician-turned-monster-hunter first encountered the legend of Nessie during a childhood visit to Scotland when he was eight.
“I was standing on the bank,” Reilly says with a smile. “My parents were visiting with my aunt and I had gone down to the water to play. I was trying, and failing, to skip stones across the surface. I’ve never been particularly coordinated, as my classmates at primary school who saw my pitiful attempts to play football can attest.

“Anyway, I’m trying in vain to skip a stone when I hear this voice. ‘Be careful, you’ll wake her.’ I turn, and there’s this woman behind me. To me, from a childhood perspective, she appeared to be a million years old or so. She had a natural stoop, which when you’re eight feels more like a leering glare. I remember her eyes being so bright and vivid. They bore into me like spotlights shone into my soul.

“I acted all brave and said, ‘Whatcha mean?’ She responded, ‘The beast. You go skipping rocks and it’ll come snatch you up.’ Now, I was a child, so naturally I believed everything I was told, at least as it pertained to monsters. So, of course, I dropped the rocks in my grasp and ran screaming back to mum,” Reilly says with a chuckle.

“My parents, of course, spent the rest of the day convincing me of how there were no such things as monsters and everything was fine. But before bed that night, my auntie — Doc, such a wonderful woman — came into my room. She sat by my bed and made me promise not to share this story with my parents — but, she confided, the monster of the Loch was real. She shared the legend with me that night, tales from decades past spilled by lamplight.

“For years afterward, I thought of that weekend on the Loch and the stories my aunt had shared with me. When the first in-depth reports of Nessie began to reach the papers, I knew exactly what they were speaking of.”

Reilly was already well into his tenure at Cambridge when Nessie fever took hold in the popular imagination. Even as the years passed and the monster era began to dawn, Reilly continued to collect clippings and evidence on a beast that had long been dismissed from the scientific and (in large part) public imagination.

Reilly’s passion began to reach a fever pitch during the furor surrounding the discovery of HMGM in 1947. He became convinced of the inadequacy of the nation’s new golden beast and voiced his protest regularly, encouraging Britain’s military leaders to remain vigilant in their pursuit of alternative defense forces — but as soon as he would recommend Loch Ness, “they would sneer and reject my proposals outright,” Reilly notes.

So, the mathematics prof decided to take matters into his own hands. Since Reilly’s resignation from Cambridge, he has burned through all of his own resources and constantly attempted to raise capital in an effort to prove himself — and his dreams — right.

I arrive on the shores of Lochend at exactly 10 am, our agreed-upon meeting time, but naturally Dr. Reilly hasn’t arrived yet. The boat in front of me — a repurposed Drifter, a fishing vessel that looks like its better days were during the Roosevelt administration — seems to be exactly the kind of transportation a famous “crackpot” would choose for his research purposes — makeshift, ancient, quaint. As much as Reilly despises the way “Tilting at Windmills” colored the public’s perception of him, he does not discourage comparisons to Quixote: The Drifter is named the “Sancho Panza.”

Reilly arrives his prerequisite 15 minutes late and begins to show me around. He’s in the middle of preparations for his first excursion of the year, having just cleared a large donation from an anonymous American donor a month prior. The modest galley is already stocked with a few weeks’ provisions, as Reilly insists his makeshift crews spend every hour of every trip on the Loch — any time spent on shore is time where valuable evidence could be missed.

“I seek out experienced sea dogs, those for whom a voyage like I’m suggesting would be a cake walk,” Reilly states. “With so much unknown involved in our work, I cannot afford for the skill level of my crew to be in doubt.”

Though nowadays there’s regular turnover among Reilly crew, back in the early days he had a steady group of four who were as passionate about Nessie as he was — none more so than young Mickey Chase, a former student of Reilly’s who was among his first volunteers.

“When I would visit him in his office and see all the clippings lining his walls,” Chase says, “It was enough to inspire passion in anyone. The way he spoke of Nessie’s history and all the evidence he had — you couldn’t help but get caught up in it, really.”

By and large, Reilly now refuses to acknowledge his former student and shipmate by name. The only time he mentions Chase is during my tour of the Drifter. We come across a tiny room filled with antiquated sonar equipment, which Reilly explains he won’t allow anyone but himself to operate.

“I learned that lesson the hard way,” Reilly says, his typically jovial demeanor taking on an icy tone. “Ever since Mickey.”

BTC viewers know all about the incident he’s referring to. The events of that December voyage were the cornerstone of “Tilting at Windmills”‘s dramatic climax, a turn of events that very nearly led to tragedy.

“There were so many things wrong with that trip,” says Fuller Jackson, another former member of Reilly’s crew. “First off, the BTC. The cameras everywhere just intensified everything, brought out the worst in us. Reilly is a media hog on his best days, and the idea of a whole TV production devoted to his work only amplified his natural arrogance.

“Then there was the weather. There was no way in hell that a crew should have been going out at that time of year. Ancient, tiny boat like ours, no real heat to speak of, and thanks to the production crew there were twice as many people onboard as usual. Reilly never — never — would have done that if the cameras weren’t there.”

Unlike Reilly, though, Jackson does not blame the BTC for the decision to take the “Sancho Panza” out that December. “It’s all on Reilly. He was the boss. BTC or no, he could have said he wouldn’t do it. But he was so, so enamored of the attention the show would get us. He was adamant. ‘Think of the pounds we’ll garner once people see what we’re doing!’”

Reilly does not deny money as a major factor in his decision, though naturally he brings a different spin to the events. “We were desperate. Our coiffers were dry for the coming year. I had just garnered cash for one more trip, just one. And if we were going to make any headway, we needed to make a statement, in front of as many people as possible. Saying no to the BTC’s crew would have been suicide for our efforts. It was then or never.”

The waters of the Loch famously never freeze, even during the most dread winter months, so by and large the excursion was routine, with only a chill in the air that could snap bones setting it apart. Reilly felt no need to alter his crew’s traditional work patterns, up to and including never docking as the trip progressed. Days passed. As the usual tests and sonar sweeps turned up no sign of anything, tensions ran high.

“For all his faults, Reilly’s defining characteristic was patience,” Jackson says. “He would always lecture about how you needed to stay vigilant, that searching for even a beast the size of Nessie in waters as wide and deep as the Loch was like finding the needle in a haystack.” But with the cameras there, and the pressure to deliver something compelling mounting, it was clear to Jackson and others on the crew that patience was something that Reilly and the BTC producers were running dangerously short of. Maybe that made what followed inevitable.

On Christmas Eve, a shout came from Chase in the early hours of the morning. As crew and cameras alike came charging into his cramped space, he quickly announced a large object moving quickly just a few hundred yards from the boat’s current position. The footage in the documentary shows Reilly nearly in tears at the sight of the sizeable blip on the screen.

The ensuing pursuit took a surprisingly short amount of time, considering how large it looms in the resulting footage — the signal led the Panza and its crew toward Cherry Island, the only land mass of its kind on the Loch. Once they were within a few dozen yards of the island, the sonar trail ran cold.

“I knew she was there,” Reilly says, in a rare moment of candor about the Cherry Island event. “When the signal stopped, I truly believed that everything we ever understood about Nessie was wrong. She had heard our ship coming, she knew we were in pursuit. And when she came to Cherry, she climbed out of the water to evade us — proving she was more than capable of traveling on land. That’s why I was so driven to take us onto the island.”

Accompanied by Chase, Jackson and the BTC cameras, Reilly went ashore onto Cherry Island in the pitch black night obscured by winter fog, with only a few torches to light the way. In the footage, you can hear the crunch of each individual footprint in the snow as they silently search the densely forested island. Finally, when Reilly spies what he thinks is movement to his right, even he has to surpress the desire to shout in excitement.

The camera swings to follow the accelerated pace of the old scientist as he walks ahead of the group. He swings his flashlight wildly as he looks for something, anything, that will provide the evidence he has so long wanted, needed to be true. Finally, among the myriad sounds of men comes a noise that is alien. A series of small clicks.

“You could hear your heart stop,” Chase says. “Reilly was the first to see it. When the creature emerged from the ground, he waved frantically at us to stay back. All I saw before the attack began was this giant claw swooping toward him.”

The beast — a 15-foot crab-like creature that scientists would later give the oddly endearing name of “Crusty” after its capture — emerged from where it lie half-buried in the ground when Reilly and his crew came to disturb its sleep. Awakening to the sights and sounds of a group of men invading its territory, the monster defended itself, violently.

Its first swipe at Reilly with its mammoth claw might very well have decapitated the elderly doctor if it had not been for Mickey Chase, who tackled him out of its way. This just put the young man in the line of fire himself. A quick downward swipe neatly severed Chase’s right leg, just above the knee. The footage becomes hard to follow as panic ensues. We see several members of the party frantically dragging the injured Chase and the woosy doctor off, while the monster, still loudly clacking its claws together, stands poised to strike — but doesn’t.

“We were leaving its territory,” Fuller Jackson suggests. “We never should have been there in the first place. The beast had made its stand, and we had backed down. And it had a trophy. That was good enough, I suppose.”

Chase says he remembers nothing of the incident. “Disembarking, that’s the last thing. Until I awoke in a hospital bed two days later, I can’t recall anything else.” Asked if he’s ever watched the footage, Chase shakes his head. “Nah. I hate watching films where I already know what happens,” he says, gesturing to his stump in a moment of grim humor.

At first, most of the crew believed that the crab-creature was what had trigged the signal the Panza had followed in the minutes before landfall. Only Reilly himself remained unconvinced. The creature they discovered was far, far too small to have registered so brilliantly on their equipment, he believed. And besides, it was clear the beast had been buried in the ground when they arrived, perhaps in a form of hibernation. No, the signal they had followed was something else entirely.

It was a few days later when Reilly returned to the Panza to remove sensitive equipment for winter storage. While examining the sonar gear, he discovered the now infamous small, grey box attached underneath the desktop, a switch embedded in its side. Turned on, the silent sonar came to life with a distinct signal — one identical to the shape the crew had chased on Christmas Eve.

“We needed to find something,” Chase says. “Otherwise the BTC film would have been a bust. Figured we could follow a phantom for an hour or so, it’d give the BTC their story and give Liam the publicity he wanted so badly. I didn’t…” Mickey’s voice trails off. He pauses. “I just wanted to help him. I didn’t mean to make him out to be a fool.”

Both Chase and Reilly vehemently deny rumors that Reilly knew of the sabotage beforehand. And Reilly’s refusal to acknowledge Chase in the years since the incident indicates scars that have never healed. But what seems to gall the doctor most of all is not the hit to his reputation — in fact, because of the popularity of “Tilting at Windmills,” he has garnered more donations than ever before. Nor is it the immanent peril Chase’s actions placed himself and his crew in.

“He led us away from her,” Reilly says. “Who knows, we may have located her trail days before, if that man had focused on doing his job. His actions meant the whole trip was a wasted opportunity.”

It is an early April morning as Reilly sits on the shore of the Loch, staring out into its legendarily murky depths. This is our last meeting before I am scheduled to return to New York. He is nearly ready to begin his next excursion in just a few days — a brand new crew to command, a new chance to catch a legend by the tail. I feel a twinge of sympathetic sadness as I regard this man, who I have come to like a great deal. I do not see a con man or a deluded fool before me. I see a good, decent human being who refuses to be deterred by the winds of fate — or facts, for that matter.

“What if you never find anything?” I ask.

He pauses for a second. It’s almost as if he’s never actually considered the possibility before. He responds with a question of his own. “What do you believe in, Miranda?”

“I’m sorry?”

“Do you believe in God? A higher power?”

“Yes, of course,” I respond.

“Very well. But you have no concrete proof of His existence. You only have your beliefs and passions to guide you.”

This time, I pause. “I have the world around me. That’s evidence enough.”

Reilly smiles. He points to the murky waters. “That is my world. And I know what lies within. You ask, what happens if I never find her? It doesn’t matter. I’m not looking for me — I already know the answer. I’m looking for you. You, Great Britain, the good of the world.”

He stands and walks away from me. Reilly — shoes, socks and all — begins to wade into the waters off the shore. He’s about knee-deep when he turns back.

“This — this is happiness. This is joy. Every day I spend on this water, I am with her. I want to share that feeling with you. If only the world could feel the same way I do.”

When I wrote this story in the Spring of 1974, I had worked for Rock Law Magazine for a few years. Over a decade later, so many mindless chats with rock stars, managers, fans, critics and their ilk have passed before me. But the three days I spent in the company of Dr. Liam Reilly remain strong in the memory, long after all the others have faded. His passion — for his beliefs and many, many other facets of life — made him a turly remarkable figure, regardless of what one may have felt about the focus of his work.

Dr. Reilly passed away last week at the age of 87. Unlike Captain Ahab, it was not the great white whale of his dreams that finally claimed his life, but a pulmonary embolism. He died relatively peacefully in his apartment.

The last few years of Reilly’s life were apparently trying ones. As his fame and prominence faded, so too did his opportunities to find funding. He sold his home and numerous other valuables as he attempted to mount one last expedition, convinced that the last crucial piece of evidence was just around the corner.

I hadn’t spoken to Dr. Reilly in years. I always meant to revisit him in recent days, if for no other reason than to get his take on HMGM’s presence during the Falkland Islands incident in 1982 — a wildly successful operation that seemed a powerful rebuke to his objections to the creature. But any attempts I made to reach out to him either fell on deaf or willfully ignorant ears. The impression I got was, like the BTC before me, he had come to believe my work had done him more harm than good.

When I think of Dr. Reilly, I inevitably come back to the sight of him standing knee-deep in the waters of the Loch, proclaiming how he wanted the world to come with him. And as much as I liked the man, I can’t help but think of how I wished the same, but in reverse. He wanted humanity to see how wonderful the waters could be. I now realize I was hoping in vain that he would some day find his way onto dry land.

-Miranda Stein, June 15, 1986.

About the Author

Jeff McGinnis was born, raised and has lived all his life in Northwest Ohio. He’s been a film buff as long as he can remember, and a critic for the same length of time (not always professionally, of course). He graduated from Bowling Green State University in 2001 with a major in Journalism and Theatre. He would attend BGSU for a further two years in pursuit of a masters in Theatre –a pursuit that would prove unsuccessful for a variety of depressing reasons. He writes for the Toledo Free Press in Ohio, where his column, “Pop Goes the Culture,” appears in every Wednesday edition. He also is a regular guest on “The Morning Rush” on 92.5 KISS FM, and a panelist on the 1370 WSPD program “Eye on Your Weekend.” He currently lives in Toledo.

About Monster Earth

Monster Earth is a new giant monster anthology edited by James Palmer and Jim Beard, coming December 2012 from Mechanoid Press. For more info sign up for our newsletter here.

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