Plagued

Discussion in 'Pokemon Fan Fiction' started by Pikamaster, Feb 12, 2014.

8 league13 468 60
  1. Pikamaster

    Pikamaster Active Member

    Hello everyone~

    It's been a while, hasn't it? A couple years back, Luc EX ran a fan fiction contest, if anyone remembers, or even reads this. My first round entry, Plagued, won the round and I had assumed it would just be that, a one-shot. Well, it's a small chapter story now and has been growing slowly over these two years. Figured I might as well post it here, because why not? Constructive reviews would be helpful if given.

    Anyway, I'll spread this out somewhat, depending on when I get around to posting it. Enjoy~

    Chapter 1- This post
    Chapter 2- This post
    Chapter 3- Post #2
    Chapter 4- Post #3
    Chapter 5- Post #4
    Chapter 6- Post #4
    Chapter 7 (last chapter)- Post #5

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Plagued

    The harsh wind bit at his exposed skin, cold as his heart. Why had he let his fear get in the way? The snow had piled up around him, threatening to rise over his knees, but he did not care. He had come here to this Arceus-forsaken mountain with the hope that throwing himself into near-constant battle with its territorial wild Pokémon would take his mind off of her; that or it would kill him. Disappointingly, neither had happened so far. She still entered his every thought, ghostly images of her lurked in every shadow; her laughter was an eternal burden on his heart. And then there was the other question...

    He knew that he had loved her then, and that fire had not quite been snuffed yet. His heart had started fluttering at the sight of her just after that fateful encounter with Celebi, when her true gender had finally been revealed to him. Other people had told him that it was silly- stupid, even- to say that he was in love with a twelve-year-old girl when he was only fourteen himself, but he had ignored them. Their opinions meant nothing to him; he knew what he felt better than they did.

    Every moment spent in her presence from then on had brought a smile to his face and delight into his heart. She had been the light in his otherwise gray and routine life, and he had told her as such; the words had made her hide her face and blush. The color faded from his world when she was not with him, only to flare back into existence all the more vibrant when he got to spend time with her again. Together they had kept this a secret from everyone else for years, not wanting their fragile love to be shattered by the harsh truth of reality, subconsciously realizing that it would be if exposed.

    I shielded her from everything. Is that partly why she left? Because I was so over-protective, then I didn’t do it?


    With great care, the fact that they were together was kept in silence, although their attraction for each other shone through to the world; that was an impossible secret to keep. Waves of calamity in the form of power-hungry villains had tried to sweep them into oblivion, mercilessly breaking on them both, threatening to drag them into the void. But they had always overcome their obstacles, sometimes with the help of others. Others who understood what they had together. The same others who did not understand why he let her go. He was still wondering that himself.

    How could I have been so stupid?

    Their late teen years had been paradise- peaceful and pure, utter bliss with a twist of ecstasy. Then there had been their early twenties. She had been leaving hints that she wanted to be more than what they were. He had, like a fool, shushed her every time, saying that they had all the time in the world. Hindsight allowed him to see that while he had had all the time in the world, she had not. He had acted content, but the reality had been that the thought of progressing paralyzed him. He, the champion of the Pokémon League, the conqueror of Team Rocket, the “fearless battler”, had become petrified as the stone he had once been when confronted with four little words.

    Why did he torture himself like this, standing in the freezing cold, remembering the story he so desperately wanted to forget? Was there still some false hope that she would come back to him, despite everything? Or was he punishing himself for what he had failed to do?

    Tears gushed freely from his eyes as he reached the next memory, as they always did at the recollection; he could always wipe them away later, if he felt like it.

    She had not been at any of her usual haunts that day, and no one he asked had seen her. That had been a little strange, but not overly much so. It was when he had returned home that he realized that she was gone. The Pokédex he had given her, his old one, was sitting on the doorstep, a note sticking out from the case. Tears he had shed had almost rendered the note illegible, but not before he had read what he needed.

    “Waited too long. With someone else. Stay away for a while.” Cursed words that I will never forget.

    There had been no anger at this mysterious stranger who had taken his girlfriend- his entire life- away. He had no one to blame but himself for the hole that had formed in his chest, wrenching his heart in two. Nothing was as painful as the sheer agony he had faced then, no amount of physical pain ever could be. Tempting as it had been to find her and try to win her back, he had decided against it. He would have done anything for her, anything except for proposing, and rather she see him as a coward and a fool than an obsessed ex.

    He had spent one last sleepless night at home, and then taken to wandering. Walking, flying, riding, it was all the same. He just wanted to escape her; he just wanted to be alone with the excruciating pain that stabbed through him. His Pokémon had tried to help him, to comfort him, but they could not fathom why he could not just find another girl. Intelligent as they were, Pokémon could only understand part of his loss. They could grow attached to a particular mate, but anything could happen in their world. Whether by trading or natural predators, Pokémon had the ability to accept loss ingrained into their very being. But he was not a Pokémon, even though he had wished he was at the time. Not that they had not helped, but solitude was all he had wanted, all he still wanted.

    Solitude… Is that really what I wanted? What I want now doesn’t matter; I can’t ever have what I want again. But would it have been different if I had sought others?


    And then had come the rather inevitable wedding a couple years later: the final bullet in his heart. Proof that he would never get back together with her, extinguishing his faint hope like a smoldering coal dropped into an ocean of tears. He had taken to hiding as soon as he found out, not wanting to be invited. But, despite that, he had half hoped that she would try to find him to invite him anyway. He never found out if she did invite him, he gave little chance for an invitation to find him. That did not stop him from knowing the exact time of the wedding, however, and the approximate time of when he would die inside. Again.

    The wedding had been, of course, in Viridian City, and he could not help passing through on his way to the place he would call home for the next ten years: Mt. Silver. He had even caught a glimpse of her-though she did not see him- dressed in white and looking like the angel she had been to him. He had stood there for a moment, half wanting to call out to her one last time. Then a trainer had recognized him, even in his unkempt and self-starved state. A hasty exit had been pivotal, then. He had not wanted to ruin the happiest day of her life, even if it was not him sharing it with her. Then he had moved on- but he never really moved on. He had run to Mt. Silver, but his heart still remained in the quagmire of lost love called Viridian City.

    He thought that hole which had opened up inside of him a long time ago had been filled by the wandering and battling, but that was not so. The sight of her had re-opened it, bottomless as ever, and brought bile to his throat. Nothing he had done could fill the hole; nothing he could ever do would fill it. It would be there for eternity, serving as a reminder as to what he had lost, fresh and raw as when it had first appeared. Food had been like sludge and water like acid to his mouth. Necessity had forced him to eat, even though he had not wanted to. His eyes had held oceans of tears, now cried down to mere puddles.

    Here his memory faded. Years of barely surviving- mostly starving- on the mountainside had blurred together, ignoring the boundaries of time. And finally, back to the one, final question that plagued his every thought, just as much as she did.

    Why not step off? What else is there for you now, other than ghosts and sorrow?


    He looked down into the abyss, white and seemingly bottomless. It would be so easy to release his Pokémon, then take the plunge. Why not? He could not think of a reason to keep going on. He wallowed in his pit of misery every waking moment, beyond even hating himself for it, beyond caring about anything other than his Pokémon not starving.

    Taking Pika’s Poké Ball in his hand, Red prepared to toss it over his shoulder and drop his other Poké Balls to the ground with the other hand. Pika could release the other five once he was gone.

    “Red! I’ve finally found you!”

    For a second, his spirits soared, but then they plummeted again. The voice was a young boy’s: not anyone he knew or had known before he had started hiding. It was of no matter to him, then. The kid had to be tough, to have made it up to this point. Witnessing this probably would not shake him too badly for too long. But how could he be sure of that?

    I’m already messed up, but can I really make someone else witness something that will haunt him forever?

    “Red!” the boy called again. “I challenge you to a Pokémon battle!”

    Haven’t heard that one in a while... I win, it’s over. I lose, I live.

    Without turning around, Red expertly tossed Pika’s Poke Ball over his shoulder, giving the faintest shadow of a smile when he heard Pika’s battle cry retaliate to the fearsome roar of an Aggron. The deciding battle had begun.




    Chapter 2



    Haunted

    He watched Aero fall from the sky. He watched the mound of snow plume into the air to join the other flakes as Aero crashed onto the ground. He watched the other trainer’s face light up as the battle ended. He would live.

    But what would he live for? Yellow was still gone-- the world was still gone. No, as the snow encrusted his long, ragged hair in a clear, icy sheath, he realized that, again, he was a fool. The battle changed nothing, he still wanted to die. And now there was a trainer to take his Pokemon for him.

    The frigid wind howled the mournful cry of his heart, screaming through the stony crevices, embracing Red as it danced into the sky. The blizzard would soon bury his body, and after that not even a Piloswine could find it. A frozen grave for a heart turned colder than every day of the ten years Red had stood on his perch.

    It’s for the best, I can’t even battle anymore. Ten years without real practice, ten years of wasting away.


    Red recalled Aero and clipped its Pokeball to his tattered, ragged belt. Then he slowly removed his belt and held it to his face, looking at his companions one last time. When the wind threatened to rip the belt from his hands, Red threw it at the other trainer, watching it land at the confused victor’s feet. With a small wave, Red turned around and waded through the waist-high snow-- waded towards his end. He could not feel the cold, and his ears were deaf to the symphony the blizzard created for his mission. Nothing mattered, save this final task. After it was complete, there would finally be nothing. He finally would have peace.

    Behind Red, his opponent’s eyes grew wide, and he reached for his belt with a muttered curse.

    Goodbye, Yellow. I still love you.


    Red stepped off the edge. The wind rushed around him, cradling the falling trainer in its snowy hands, howling lament in his ears to mix with the broken cry from the plateau he had just left. Gray, white, gray, tumbling, spinning, a mix of color, never ending, but ending fast-- a flash of memories of when his emotions were the same as the world around him. Every last regret filled his stomach and tore the remaining shreds of his heart into confetti-- celebration of the end.

    Time slowed to a crawl, as every accomplishment, every failure he had ever made soared through Red’s mind. Once again, tears cascaded from his eyes, sharp drops of pain as they froze instantly in the air-- the only beauty he created in a long time, a sparkling trail of misery.

    Surprising, no rescue attempt. He did have a Dragonite. Did I make it faint? I don’t remember... Better this way, though.


    Red hit the snow on the ground with a resounding thump and several ear-splitting cracks. As the trainer lay in the snow, quickly turning it the color of his namesake, he saw the wings of a Pokemon over him. But it had come too late. With a grim smile, he welcomed the pain that blossomed from every inch of his body-- finally something to wash away the waves of desolation that radiated from him every moment he lived. Sound quickly faded away, and his vision turned to black. Red did not see the Dragonite land next to him, nor did he see the trainer who jumped off, shouting his name at deaf ears. The sweet release of oblivion finally opened its arms, and Red leapt into them without a second thought.

    * * *​

    “Where is he?”

    She rushed into the lobby, her dress flying behind her, trying to catch up. The golden-haired, amber-eyed trainer who had captured Red’s heart so many years ago, frantic to see him again. The click of boots on linoleum crashed throughout the room as she ran to the receptionist; a steady flow of tears splashed from her eyes. A stumble, then a crash as she tripped and fell.

    “I’m fine... just a little tired is all,” she said, ignoring the hands offered by worried nurses, jumping up and ready to run again. “I need to see Red.”

    “But he’s in critical care, you can’t see him right now, you need to wai-” But she already was gone. A swinging pair of doors with "restricted access, employees only" stencilled across them were the only thing she left—that and the overwhelming feeling of bittersweet hope her presence invoked.

    A few doors down, she found him, unconscious in a bed as white as the snow that had nearly ended his life. IV tubes were visible through the small window, trailing into his arms, their precious fluid flowing life back into his ravaged body. An armed guard stood outside the door, a fierce Arcanine was stationed beside its muscular trainer.

    “No one may go in there except for the head surgeon. Not the champion, not the head of the Pokemon League, not the Viridian Gym Leader, not even you. Please do not argue.”

    “I understand,” came the wistful response as she stared through the glass pane. The soft, incessant beep of the heart monitor was barely audible, nearly drowned by the thumping of her own heart.

    * * *​

    As she sat, waiting outside of his door, she cast her mind back to that day. Turmoil had hidden in every corner of her body, torturing her at every opportunity. Writing the note, her hands screamed at her to stop, walking away her legs rebelled against her, buckling multiple times. A trail in the dirt, formed by her tears, showed which way she had gone before finally calling out her Butterfree and flying away. Memories reached up for her as she passed over Viridian city to ensnare her heart and pull her back, but as they pulled her in, they also pushed her away. He was in every part of the city, and she was fleeing him.

    Why? Why did I leave? I should’ve been more direct... Stupid! He always made me shy...

    The flight to Vermillion to catch the ferry had been nerve-wracking. She had expected him to find her, to talk her out of leaving-- she had wanted that more than anything. But he had not, and she had made her journey uninterrupted. To Green’s house, on the Sevii islands, she would keep a secret and provide shelter. Her heart, torn to shreds by her own actions, was nearly spirited away on the high-speed ferry. The salty spray misted her face, hiding her unstemmed tears.

    “Get there and it’ll be ok”. My mantra, my lie. What’s the use of being in-tune with Pokemon’s emotions? I can’t get my own straight...

    Green had been as caring as expected, listening calmly as she bawled her eyes out. Regret struck as a late lunch was served, joining forces with her lack of appetite to render the food tasteless. After being shown her room, she had collapsed on the bed, wailing into the pillow. She wanted to take it back, but it was too late. She had already decided, and her pride wouldn’t let her return.

    Of all the stupid reasons. The stupid, selfish... I don’t even know what. It was the stupidest thing I’ve ever done.

    The cycle had continued all that week, with an attempt to call him after that-- but he had not picked up. Green didn’t leave her side, always being understanding, comforting, but to no avail. She had made her choice, but it had ripped her heart from her chest. After another week passed, she was defeated. It was time to call him and beg him to take her back, she couldn’t bear life without him.

    But he couldn’t be found. Nothing had changed, nothing was missing, except for him and the six Pokemon he had with him. A search party was formed, the strongest trainers who could be found to go everywhere, flyers were posted, and soon it seemed that the world knew about the Champion’s disappearance. But time went on, and he was never found. She knew that it was her fault, and that nearly killed her.

    Her days melded together, turned into a ritual of eating and sleeping and the time in-between. After many months of care, from her Pokemon and her friends, she finally started to live again. The days turned less bleak, her hours weren’t spent wishing for oblivion. She even met a man who she began to love, although it could never rival her affection for him, which she never let die.

    Gradually, the searches for him died down, with the conclusion that if he did not want to be found, nobody would find him. He could fend for himself, he wasn’t the strongest trainer alive for nothing. She still longed for his return, but she assumed that he had probably moved on, just as she had been trying to.

    Another year and a half later, the proposal came. Her love had wilted like a flower, withering away, but she said yes anyway. She refused to break another heart, to hurt another man how she was sure she hurt him. All too quickly, after a blizzard of planning, that day came, and she was left frozen in a dress symbolizing more purity than she felt. On the streets of Viridian again, her hometown, her prison, the place of her marriage. She was only hours away from what was supposed to be the happiest moment of her life. Except it was with the wrong man.

    She forced a smile for her friends, faking a happiness greater than theirs as they congratulated her. Tears flowed from their eyes, oh-so different from the tears that flowed from her own-- tears cried for an emotion she wished she had. A commotion from behind drew her attention, and she turned just in time to see an Aerodactyl fly off, a figure crouched on its back. Later some said it was bedraggled and weather-worn. Her heart had flown away with the giant Pokemon, and she had wondered how she could go through with a pledge for the rest of her life.

    Thank goodness he was better than me... that he noticed that day, telling me that he wouldn’t force me into anything-- that he let me go.

    Once again, departure from Viridian had been imminent. He had been on that Aerodactyl, he had moved on, yet she had not-- she couldn’t. Ten long years of faking smiles, moments of true happiness splashed across the pages, she never forgot. Wishful memories of what they could have been danced through her mind every day, scene after scene playing out before her.

    And then today came, made of dreams turned reality, distorted almost beyond recognition. He was found-- Red was home. She had dreamed it would be a happy occasion, but darkness plagued the event. As soon as the news had reached her, she had traveled by any means available from Vermillion to Viridian-- she could almost see the legendary Giratina over the hospital, waiting to receive the soul of the man who met his violent end.

    But then it appeared, or maybe it was a he. Strife-bringer, versatile, healed, vanished, Deoxys. With a simple motion, it, he, had invited her to commune with it. Reaching out a hand, Yellow read the Pokemon’s thoughts, its presence filling her mind once again-- familiarity filled her, as well as longing for the happier time. And then Deoxys spoke.

    “As he protected and saved me, so I have protected and saved my kin for many years. My debt is paid, I depart leaving him with you.”

    Tears flooded her cheeks, cascading streams of agony as the psychic Pokemon’s memories were shared-- a vigilant guard who had captured every moment of pain Red had endured in its mind. Responsibility crushed her as it slammed her heart to the ground. The overwhelming feeling of guilt conquered every other emotion, extinguishing every shred of happiness as it consumed her.

    Paralyzed, she had almost missed her chance. A final request, as a boon to her. Simply that Deoxys find Entei and beg him to come and heal Red on Yellow’s behalf. One nod, and then the Pokemon vanished, as did she. Away to the hospital, to finally see him again-- to what end remained shrouded by doubt and uncertainty.

    * * *​

    The pure agony told Red he was alive when he awoke. Pounding through his veins, it coursed through him with a torrid heat, but he did not flinch. Physical pain was nothing compared to the mental anguish of failure, reinforced by every beat of his heart, every noise the heart monitor made. While the bed was warm, he felt nothing but the cold shard of failure lodged in his mind. He failed at love, he failed at battling, and then he failed at the simple task of dying.

    That has to be a new record, I failed at life, then I failed at death...


    A doctor entered the room, immediately asking questions-- pointless things for those destined to live. He stayed as silent as the rock he jumped from, as cold as the snow he landed in. At the push of a button an IV fed a clear liquid into Red’s arm, which banished the physical pain, but the mental aspect continued to war against him.

    The pointless words continued to flow out of the doctor’s mouth, ignored as every other was. Red did not reply, maybe after so many years he could not, but the end result was the same-- silence. Finally, the doctor ceased his babble and concentrated solely on the examination. He quickly finished his work and stepped out the door, pausing only to speak to someone on his way out. And then that someone stepped into the room.

    Rapid beeping replaced the placid pattern that had filled the room before. The woman in the doorway looked down, as shy as she had been as a little girl as Red stared at her. Tension filled the air as she slowly walked in, smothering, palpable, strangling. He, covered in bandages and wires, she, tall, elegant, just as he knew she would be, only different. Her face, once youthful and vibrant was drawn and slightly hollowed. Haunted.

    “Red... I...” she stuttered quietly. She paced around the room, a nervous animal ready to bolt. “I was wrong, I should never have left you...” She halted, her speech slow and deliberate. Every word stumbled off of her tongue, every syllable an effort. “I’m sorry will never reconcile us, I’m sure, but I am so deeply sorry. No excuses from me, no ‘well, this happened later’. My actions... my actions were my own, with no excuse for what I did. I can only beg your forgiveness...”

    Tears trailing down her cheeks, Yellow took a breath, and then added something else. “And Red...? I... I still love you.”

    Silence fell on the room, thick as the sorrow held within the two. Long minutes passed, pregnant with the innumerable possibilities Red could respond with. Yellow stared at her boots, hands clutched behind her back, more tears than she realized she had spilling out onto the floor. Then slowly, haltingly, using words for the first time since he had put them away long ago, Red spoke.

    “F-for so... long. I... I hid. Thought you mo-moved on,” he said, bitterness singing a duet with sorrow. As he spoke, memories flooded back, a flood after being locked away for so long. “I n-never did. It’s... cruel. To offer me a way b-back, but I have no p-place.... here or... anywhere anymore. No g-good at anything, now.”

    “But Red...”

    “No. Please. I... I need to go think. Away from people. I need to go back to where I was.”

    Yellow stiffened, terror, suspicion, apprehension, they all screamed at her: no no no no NO! Her heart had accelerated, but she tried to keep a calm exterior as she spoke. “Red, you can’t go back there alone. You know why.”

    “I need to... just to think things over.”

    She started to protest again, but he stopped her.

    “I’ll be back, I promise.”
     
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2015
  2. Pikamaster

    Pikamaster Active Member

    Nexus

    White lies. Just little things, nothing actually harmful, that was her rule. Or at least, it had been her rule. The bitter cave air caressed her exposed arms; a harsh, stale air that tasted as unforgiving as her parents would be. Streams of sweat had been running down her legs for over an hour now, and her saturated jeans protested absorbing much more. Pools had already begun to form in the heels of her brown-leather boots, and there was still so much farther to go. One step more, and then the honey-haired girl collapsed onto the nearest rock, her slender frame heaving with exertion-- a build corrupted by the fattest lie yet, steadily swelling outward to display itself in prominence to the entire world.

    Five minutes, no more. I have to make it, or else I really am nothing. If my father could do it, so can I.

    Stalactites rhythmically deposited their icy droplets throughout the dim, dank tunnel, echoing into a cacophony of splashing. Their volume was unchanged by the addition of tears splashing to the floor in their midst. Weeping finished, the teen bent over to her bag and rummaged through the ill-prepared supplies to retrieve a single item: a faded wooden comb, once yellow, but time had stolen away most of the pigment and left the only clue to the original color in the form of intricate carvings that resembled a Pikachu. Mechanically, she combed her hair, yanking out the tangles, relishing the pain brought with each pull.

    Why did I bring this with me? That time is gone, now, I’ve almost guaranteed that.

    But still, not even ravaging her scalp could hold back the flood of memories that holding her comb evoked, especially her earliest memory. She had risen before the sun, excitement a more powerful drug than any caffeine to fuel her every desire. Her parents had groaned when she jumped into their bed, silly, sluggish people. After all, it was her birthday! A haunted smile accompanied the fresh cascade of tears as she recalled that morning, her eyes’ liquid troops doubling their strength as the events continued to march past, unrelenting, unchanging.

    “Good morning, Orange, sweetheart,” her father had said, yawning as he ran his hand through his permanent bedhead. “Just let me poke mommy awake and you can have one of your presents early. Good thing I put it right next to the bed, huh?”

    She had just grinned, a smile containing her every joy on the best day of the year. The sheets had shortly afterward been torn off, a successful attempt to shorten the waking up process executed by the birthday girl. At this point, the sun had finally caught up to the rest of the 5-year-old world, capturing the comb in her mother’s hand in a halo of sparkles as she combed her hair back into a long ponytail.

    “Comb my hair next, mommy! Please?”

    “No, Orange, not today,” she had replied, smiling at her father. “And here’s the reason why,” she had continued as she pulled a small, wrapped object off of the end table. Happy birthday, darling.”

    The best present that she no longer deserved. Well, she stopped deserving it about four months ago, now. The urge to vomit pounced on her, lack of warning nearly drenching her pants in the bile that came up. The absence of substance reminded her how long it had been since she had last eaten, so she finished combing her hair back into a long ponytail and grabbed a protein bar from her bag. Even if she did not deserve to live, her companion had done nothing to deserve death, so self-care was forced and necessary, unfortunately.

    A Golbat swooped down and caught a Poliwag from the nearby lake, quickly draining it of all life as its helpless squeals penetrated the rhythmic placidity of the cave, sending her hand to the Poke Balls on her belt. The automatic choice had already been made, but the trainer stopped herself before the Pokemon was released. She hauled herself to her feet and groaned under the unfamiliar weight, but still she forced herself to move. The hard soles of her riding boots crashed down on the stoney path, sending rocks skittering to the blackest of recesses where none dared enter. Each footstep was a reminder of her Rapidash, waiting to be called out and ridden, but the rule, her rule- her father’s rule- was no Pokemon. She had to succeed, no exceptions.

    Funny... I hated it at first, wanted nothing more than to be rid of such a girly Pokemon, but now I couldn’t travel without her...

    The tunnel opened onto a precipice, a boulder-strewn ledge not wider than a few yards. A solitary, broken trail wrapping around the mountainside into the next tunnel, a treacherous snake of a path which would stop an ameature cold. A half-circle of glowing silver purity hung low in the sky, ready to begin its ascent into a sea of shimmering gemstones. A bitter reminder amidst the damp night air, the altitude’s icy touch gave it a frigidity the teen had rarely experienced before, whether in temperature or affection. Even when her parents had probably guessed she had not liked her second Pokemon, there was always love and acceptance, but never again. How could they love her after this? And it had all started with one little white lie...

    “Now this is a present, but it’s also a big responsibility! You have to take care of her, ok?” her mother had gently reminded her, hands covering the ecstatic ten-year old’s face. And who could blame her? The sky was clear and the sun wrapped her entire body in a cocoon of warmth against the brisk autumn day. Her daddy was waiting with the surprise, but she had already figured out what it was. Puppy! What else could it be? What else had she asked for in the last two years?

    The grass had been freshly cut. The intoxicating aroma mingled with the scent of her mother’s garden and filled her lungs, evoking a sigh of contentment. What could be more perfect? Her boots swished a path through the yard, nearly bursting into a run over the ground she had spent hours crawling over, jumping over the ditch she knew was in front of her. Her mother did not jump, and instead stumbled, losing her hold over her child’s eyes.

    It was not a puppy.

    She had frozen. Her heart fell, shattering when it hit the floor, but she forced herself to look up and smile. Maybe she would like a Ponyta better than a puppy? Probably not, but daddy looked so happy, and mommy was laughing behind her, everything was so... perfect. Tainted perfection, even at that young age its sour presence permeated her very being, shooting a hole in her stomach that would not be filled. Sun shining, laughter pealing through the air, cloudless cerulean sky.

    “Thank you! I love her!”


    The teen chuckled, a joyless sound, slapping against the rock as she pulled out a powerful flashlight. Of all the memories she had of lying, that was the one she wished to forget, and they got no better after that. A bitter spasm of regret tore at her heart, fueled by the small lump in her stomach. Grinding her teeth, the teen viciously poured her self-hate into her foot and smashed a rock down the tunnel. She shone her light after it, trying to track the projectile, and she managed to glimpse it smacking into something brown and furry.

    Oh...

    A homicidal roar exploded into existence, murder promised with every reverberation as it slaughtered the peace of the night. Panic enshrouded the trainer before snapping her in an icy grip, paralyzing her in the seemingly endless sound. But when the Ursaring charged, white claws extended, instinct took over and she flicked a Poke Ball off of her belt.

    “Pika!”

    The familiar cry challenged the enraged bear, defiant despite the difference in size, ample power a steadfast ally. Electricity arched around the rodent, crackling as it whipped through the air, preparing to strike. Undaunted, the Ursaring continued to charge, claws beginning to glow in a Slash attack. Heart pounding in her ears, the trainer’s stance changed as her heartrate dropped, ready to move around the imagined battlefield if needed. Adrenaline flowed freely, honing her every sense; every sound, every twitch from her Pokemon and the opponent, it was all processed and entered into the ever-changing strategy. This is what she was born to do, this is where she belonged.

    No, this is wrong. I can’t use Pichu, if I fail now, there is no redemption. If he could do it, so can I.

    Reluctance hindered her actions, trying to advocate the battle which could not happen. Shaking her head to clear the exhilaration, the trainer let the lashing of her ponytail in her eyes whip her back into reality, raising a leaden arm. Body and mind screaming at her to stop, heart thundering yes, she recalled her Pikachu. She knew she was her father’s daughter, stubborn as a herd of Tauros and just as strong, but was she her mother’s, too? Despite that they both could do nothing less than hate her for it, she was sure, and that it must irritate them to no end to have a daughter such as her, the teen hoped for one more resemblance to stain the family name.

    “I would have no problem with you killing me, believe me, I’ve thought about it,” she said as she dropped the flashlight’s beam to the floor, calm as she could masquerade. Confronted with unfamiliar territory, her heart began to pound, an explosion in her chest, constricting her breathing. Nerves sharp as poison-laced daggers stabbed at her speech, invoking lethargic pauses between the words which could execute her in a quick ivory guillotine. “But I’m not the only one who would suffer, and I’ve already decided I won’t do that myself. I am truly sorry that I hurt you, please forgive me.”

    Her last words, possibly her final words, came out fast as her racing pulse. The very water droplets in the air before her, frozen to visibility with each short, ragged breath seemed to be suspended in time as well as the Ursaring crawled forward still. Why had she thought this was a good idea? Fear primed her body to sprint, washing away the complaints of her aching muscles as the foreseeable future would remove those protests in a more permanent, less desirable way.

    I just wish I could tell them that, despite all my lies, I...

    Finally, it was there, howling its premeditated intent to the world, claws gouging furrows into the narrow tunnel walls. And then, spitting on the ground between the wide-eyed, honey-haired girl’s boots, the savage turned and walked away, quickly vanishing from sight in the murk of the passage. Frozen in astonishment, the girl’s senses slowly returned to normal. How had that even worked? Exhaustion finally set in, erasing all traces of energy from before. Bending over, the teen fished through her bag and recovered an insulated sleeping bag, yet another present, bittersweet memories woven into the fabric. Noises of movement not far off reminded her that, despite having successfully weathered one Pokemon, hundreds more would be eager to make an easy meal of a drained human. Hurriedly, she swept her flashlight around wearily, searching for one of the hidden grottos her father had told her about on one of their many family camping trips in Viridian Forest so many years ago...

    She had asked her question while basking in the warmth of the campfire Cream, her Ponyta, had helped start. Begrudgingly, even at the age of ten, she had to admit that it had its uses. Rustling bushes accompanied the crackling flames that fought back the absolute night, and the mesmerizing sparks that flew towards the heavens were the only stars visible underneath the dense canopy. Her mother had retreated into the tent, leaving only herself and her father to gingerly cradle mugs of steaming hot chocolate in their scorched palms. Only in his mid-forties, already her father had streaks of gray hair. To her, this had only confirmed the stories she had heard for the last couple of weeks.

    “Daddy, there are some stories I’ve been hearing at school,” she had said, quietly, as though saying it louder would bring about a stern look of disapproval. It was that look she hated the most, as he had never spanked her, or even raised his voice. It was that look he gave when he caught her lying, even though she only did it to make him and mommy happy...

    “What kind of stories?” he had asked in reply, running a hand through his tousled hair. He looked as though he knew exactly the reply she was going to give. In hindsight, he probably had.

    “Well, they’re saying... they’re saying that you’re crazy. That you lived all alone on a mountain and ate nothing but Rattata droppings!”

    It had all come out in a rush- she had just wanted to get it over with so he would look at and be disappointed with her. Although the look she had expected had not come, the quiet sigh had been just as bad. He had looked up at her with a smile, but she could see the hurt in his eyes. Why had she even mentioned it? The truth always brought more pain than it was worth.

    “I can tell you for a fact, kiddo, that I’m not crazy, and I most certainly did not eat Rattata droppings,” he had said, dropping his gaze into his cocoa. “But yeah, I did live on Mt. Silver for a long time, and it was just me and my Pokemon. I’ll tell you the story later, but for now it’s time for good little trainers to go to sleep. C’mere, you!”


    And that story had come later, although she had waited four years for it. Almost five years had passed since then, but still that time was happier than the bitter pit she wallowed in now. Near anything would be better than her life as it now stood. The pain of cumulative years of guilt had finally caught her in its unrelenting jaws, now that she had lied past the point of no return.

    Finally, she found the crevice she had been looking for, at least she hoped. After that incident with the Ursaring, nothing was certain, least of all what to do in the morning. Maybe this was a task too difficult for her- maybe her father had been crazy to even attempt it, let alone succeed.

    With all these thoughts rattling around in her head- combined with the self-doubt that interlaced itself with every iota of her being- the teen unfolded and crawled into her sleeping bag, not even bothering to remove her boots. If she died before morning, what did it matter? At least the tough leather might preserve some part of her to ship back to Pallet Town, if her parents even wanted it.

    * * *​

    Dawn had passed without incident, and the trainer had awoken unscathed. After packing up she had set out at a brisk pace, ignoring her shrieking muscles and sour bruises. And now, just as the sun began to defer to the moon’s superior reign over the night’s celestial inhabitants, she reached her destination: the ledge where her father had stood vigil over the void of sorrow for years. Upon seeing it herself, she could understand why. The raging elements tore at her clothes, and as she trudged through the deep drifts of snow and out onto the narrow ledge, braced against the savage winds, she felt a sense of accomplishment. She had managed what only her father before her had achieved. Fortified against the harsh, biting wind and primordial cold, she realized that those children had been right what seemed now like a lifetime ago. Yes, her father was completely insane to complete such a task, but so was she.

    She laughed briefly, allowing herself one emotional portal direct from her heart. It was a harsh outburst of joy, loathing, and contempt to challenge the world with; it was her in the rawest form. Sure, self-hate flowed as blood through her veins and regret shadowed her every action, but this one act proved that she was not entirely worthless. For a moment, she could be happy again.

    “Like father like daughter, eh?”

    ...for the love of Mew, of all things. Why?

    At the sound of his voice, all joy she had felt evaporated and her heart sank into her boots, and then tried to burrow lower. The roaring winds no longer sounded like a victory fanfare, instantly transforming into a funeral march.

    “Hey dad, fancy meeting you here,” she replied, shallow repartee masking an ocean of nerves as she slowly shuffled around to stare at a point just below his face. A quick glance up revealed an unreadable face. His expression was free of judgement, of approval, and most importantly, of disappointment. “It’s been three days, how did you find me?”

    “Where else would a stubborn, foolish trainer come to think?” he asked, an understanding tone slipping into his voice. “Just tell me, did he mean anything to you?”

    Tears welled up in her eyes, threatening to break and shower the pure white snow below her with the curse of her guilt. Tremors shot her voice to fragments as she responded, turning her to a naughty child instead of a nearly grown woman. “I... I thought... he... at one point... please don’t hate me, daddy...”

    “Oh, Orange,” he replied, tone softening ever so slightly. “I don’t hate you, and your mother doesn’t, either. There are going to be some... repercussions... because of this, but we can talk about it. It’s time to come home.”

    Sniffing back tears, the girl nodded, a quick dose of temporary relief shot into her system. With a flash of light, a battle-scarred Aerodactyl appeared next to her, and she mechanically climbed on, muscle memory of a thousand flights aiding her actions. Her father leapt on, and a hurricane erupted. Snow fled in all directions as the massive dinosaur launched into the air, quickly distancing itself and its cargo from the mountain as it headed back to Kanto.

    Do they really not hate me? Or was that a white lie?
     
  3. Pikamaster

    Pikamaster Active Member

    Catalyst

    Heartache. Joy, confusion, hurt, lingering wounds from days of old. Emotion bled through him, driven by the concussive beat of flight. Relief was one emotion identifiable amidst the cataclysmic sea beneath his chest, lingering throughout the tsunamis of tangled thoughts his heart pounded out. Once again, howling winds echoed in his ears, screaming words of torment to dog his every crystalline breath. Mt. Silver, where all who were once golden come to tarnish away in solitude.

    She’s safe now, but she’ll never be again, now that the world has had its way.

    Orange, now safe at home with her mother, plagued Red’s mind as Yellow once had a few decades ago. It had been a ride through eternity back to Pallet Town, elements ignored by the silent passengers aboard the prehistoric Pokemon. A lump had formed in his throat, stoppering the mass of unidentifiable feelings pressing on his heart, swiftly killing any words that dared to form before they matured. Why had this happened to him? Or more importantly, why had this happened to Orange?

    The eternal blizzard shrieked its cry through every crevice, seeking all those who hid from its terrible song of agony-- Red’s heart reflected in the world once more. Maybe that is why he was drawn to this wretched place. Not for the fierce battles, or the lack of certainty that tomorrow would come, but that the ambiance of the mountaintop was one of pain. Here, the biting winds tore at every inch of exposed flesh, splinters of ice ripped through any semblance of warmth, and the mournful gale wept an unending dirge. Only those regrets labeled most bitter could reign in this paradise of sorrow, wed in monarchy with their spouse of grief.

    Why am I so stupid? Did I seriously make the same mistake twice?

    Tears froze on his cheeks, stopped dead by the same cold that evoked years of memories in an instant. As the images began to explode forth, the jurors of doubt and guilt assembled to leave scathing judgement on every seemingly happy time that had passed. When had the lies started? And why? He had tried to protect his daughter, his precious jewel, shield her from reality’s bitter embrace without destroying her life. And what payment is his reward? That she has gone and torn through the fabric of his reality, leaving pieces to dance through the wind around him.

    Depression. He thought he had experienced every aspect of that word before, standing in the footprints of memories past. Yet along with echoes of the time before came reverberations of events yet to come. Already his relationships had faltered, his circle of friends culled to a narrow selection of choice companions he did not deserve. He had strived to reclaim his title as Battler, to be the best in all that he set out to do. He had done well, too, having regained his old title of League Champion, conquering all who had stood in his path. Yet what was it all for? Who was he trying to fool? He was no better than any other, and skill faltered before the ironclad grip of reality as it froze his very being to the core.

    Black fog swallowed the scattered fragments of moonlight that had escaped the storm’s absolute victory over the sky as clouds swelled, rolling giants of ashen fury destined to annihilate all life on the mountainside.

    Storm’s getting worse... when it reaches a crescendo, that will be my next step, whatever it may be. Mew knows what would happen if I froze here now, after all that’s happened.

    Little time left, yet so many thoughts to scrape one by one out from his heart and into the void. However, only one occupied his mind- haunting, plaguing- as it had ever before. Yellow. One more worry in a hurricane of doubt, but with enough force to level his entire self. Recently, things had begun to gradually decline. He had been her confidant, sharing almost everything between them. Husband and wife aside, friends closer there had rarely been. Until she had stopped. And others had become her help. And he was left alone.

    And now where will be after this? We still care deeply for each other, but will it end? I haven’t told her this-- I cannot tell her. What good would it do anyway? Make her feel guilty?

    But could he afford to make anything about him? The greatest things he treasured in life were how Yellow and Orange felt. So why could he not be happy that Yellow had anyone to confide in? And then Orange, his beloved treasure. Pregnancy... his daughter was pregnant by some hotshot who thought he was worth more than a pile of Rattata droppings. And the worst part, that this pile of dung most probably knowingly did so because of Orange’s status as Champion’s daughter.

    As the chill wind gnawed at his skin, Red could feel tears gathering in his eyes. Four visits to the top of Mt. Silver, each with a different emotion attached. The first had been depression, a whirlpool of thoughts to capture his broken heart, only to be rescued by the second visit, full of hope and longing. Desperation was the third, calmed slightly by his anonymous vigil over his daughter. Finally, the fourth, whose emotional torment danced just out of reach, painful and enigmatic.

    Who do I even have anymore? My friends all have a family of their own to look after, as well as plenty of other duties to keep them busy. Pika and the others, well, even they don’t understand this torment. And my own family is falling apart...


    Burying his emotions into a pit in his stomach, Red tossed out a Poke Ball, pulling himself onto Aero’s back as he materialized. With a sigh, he nodded at his mount, signaling the return to Pallet Town. Shuddering-- whether from the cold or the force of takeoff into a blizzard, he was not sure-- Red felt some of his pent up feelings escape to form a lump in his throat. Looking over his shoulder as Aero quickly put distance between the peak and its deadly winds, the champion watched the mountain grow smaller until it was just a single form among in its range, set apart from the others.

    The label for his latest trip sprang to mind. He rolled it around in his head before he finally spoke the word aloud, as if saying it would seal the emotions inside of him until they fused into his very being. Surrounded by friends, family, none of which he could talk to, not willing to risk breaking them further, or to burden them any longer.

    “Desolation.”

    * * *​

    Silence, pure as the land and sky in the town of Pallet, untainted by the raging emotional maelstrom contained within the returning trainer. Accelerating into a steep dive, Aero pulled up just before crashing into the earth, scattering loose dirt into the imperfect blackness of Red’s back yard. Red jumped off of his mount, his perfect landing broken by a traitorous buckling of his legs. Was Mt. Silver really the best place to think? Recovery after Lorelei’s ice tomb had been slow, and then the next two trips to the frigid peak had done him no favors. However, it was the sole place he could watch the world orchestrate his inner turmoil in swirling oceans of white, black, and gray.

    Gah... I should probably not tell Yellow about this. Not that I’ve told her about anything for awhile, she’s already worried about too much.

    With skill garnered from returning late at night on a regular basis, Red deftly unlocked the back door and slipped into the living room. After a quick trip to the bathroom, he returned to the sofa, having navigated the various furniture flawlessly, despite the lack of light. The slight squeak of the springs momentarily joined the slow, pulsing beats of his burdened heart when he sat, almost masking the footsteps that sounded behind him. Light filled the room, momentarily blinding Red, immediately followed by the smell of cocoa as a cup was extended from over his shoulder.

    Wordlessly, he gingerly accepted the warm mug, flinching as the lukewarm ceramic seared his icy fingers. Long, golden strands of hair dangled over his shoulders, preemptive of the soft, robed hug and gentle kiss on the head that followed.

    “It’s good to have you home, sweetheart,” Yellow whispered, breaking the embrace and sliding down a couple cushions when Red started to pull away.

    “You didn’t have to wait up for me,” he replied, hunching over his drink with the occasional glance at his wife, who was still dressed in her normal clothes. “Please just go get some sleep.”

    Yellow’s misty smile evaporated, a wisp of steam swirling away into the air, droplets of water to hide the ones that could not, should not come right now. Her hands started pulling a loose strand of hair, grasping as if for words that her voice could not find. “But... I wanted to wait up for you. I thought maybe we could go outside for a walk, if you weren’t too tired. But at least I wanted you to come to bed with me... it’s been so long.”

    “I’ve been getting home late for a while,” came the response, bringing the cold of Mt. Silver into the room. Yellow’s hair-pulling stopped, frozen by the lack of warmth in his voice, instead nervously rocking back and forth on the heels of her boots.

    And you know this, you know I go to the couch. Why insult me with your pretend efforts to reach out?

    Slow, quiet sips, drowned by the silence that invaded the room, slipping between the cracks until the air was saturated by the void. Brown and white swirls, gradually depleting until only the dregs littered the bottom of the cup, the broken battlefield of pure versus contaminate in which neither was the victor. As Red set his mug on the table, he looked up at Yellow, silence unabated.

    “Please, Red,” his companion pleaded, a waver shattering her even tone. “Please just come to bed with me? Orange is here at home, you’re home, I just want things to be the way they were...”

    As the battered trainer dropped his gaze, he threw a pillow onto the end of the couch. “Things aren’t the way they were, and probably never will be again.”

    With a final glance, Yellow swept off around the couch and towards the stairs. As her signature purple boots-- even those had changed, with the heels growing taller over the passing years-- tapped on the hardwood floor, Red contemplated her final words.

    But when was the last time there had been happiness in how things used to be?
     
  4. Pikamaster

    Pikamaster Active Member

    Turmoil​


    Restless, vexed, a spinning ballerina under the covers desperately seeking the temporary cool oblivion that sleep would bring. Each new position seemed to bring relief and the promise of slumber, only to reveal a fatal discomfort that pushed respite back towards the ever-coming sunrise. Dejected, useless, disappointment that she was could only hear the words of self-deprecation swirl around in the haze of fatigue.

    Darkness engulfed her as it smothered her body in its overly warm blanket, which she knew would only turn frigid the moment she turned down the heat. Miniature soldiers of red, glowing light paraded around the clock face, digital heralds of her insomnia’s victory. She had known that life with Red would not be easy, nor having a child, so why was she so underprepared for the consequences of her inadequacy? There could be no doubt that the discrepancies in her abilities were to blame, everything bad was contingent on the qualities that she lacked.

    Would Orange have lied if she had been more emotionally stable? Would Red have shut her out if she had been more understanding? Surely there was something she could have done in both cases that would have them both still talking to her, or at the very least being honest on the rare occasion that they did. The sheer fact that she had disappointed both of the people who she cared about most tore at her heart, shredding and burying the pieces into a pit in her stomach.

    Green. A person who would have handled so many things in ways infinitely better than herself. Charismatic, clever, perceptive, such a girl would never have let her family fall into such a cataclysmic disarray. Such a girl would not disappoint her family and her friends. If she could just pretend that she was Green for the day, maybe she could fix things? But no, the courage, the ability to perform in the ways she needed turned to mist in her hands, escaping her grasp only to tauntingly reform before her again.

    Eyes sprung open of their own accord, staring into the darkness of the room, seeing nothing but the possible end of everything she held dear. Bitterness surged to fill her mouth, muscling its way past the mound of despair in her throat. Why should this happen to her? She had always been the good girl, helping others as often as she could. Words of gratitude were but a passing memory when disaster sprung its ambush. And for all the friends that she had, none of them could help when the problem was that she was weak. She had been stronger before, so why could she not reach that again? Return to the time when she could move on past anything with a smile on her face, even if sometimes it was a mask to wear.

    The door opened, unoiled hinges screaming protest into the void. Faint light from the hall silhouetted the girl who stood in the passage back through Yellow’s memory, bringing back countless nights of nightmares, monsters, and even some bed wettings. Although she had since shed her innocence, the familiar sight could not help but bring a ghost of a smile to Yellow’s face as she sat up in bed. Maybe Orange would need her, just like all those many years ago. Mew, she needed her to need her one last time. How despicable.

    “Mom...? I can’t sleep. I can hear dad downstairs, pacing,” came the tearful whisper, melting Yellow’s smile as the words reached her ears. “He hates me, doesn’t he?”

    Automatically, Yellow rolled out of bed and walked towards her daughter, a blanket in hand. More memories flooded through her head. So many nights where she had been needed, and Mew help her she wanted something to be wrong-- to be needed again. The mother wrapped her daughter in the blanket, hands softly passing over the small bump in the pregnant girl’s stomach before leading the her to the bed.

    “No, sweetheart, he doesn’t hate you,” she replied as she sat them both down on the edge of the bed. “Yes, he’s upset that you’ve lied to us for so long. He’s worried about you being a single mother, especially since you haven’t explored your potential yet. And he’s also probably wondering how best to track down that, oh how would he put it?” A look of mock contemplation sprang to Yellow’s face and she turned to look at the wet-faced teen. “Oh yes, that ‘sack of worthless Snorlax droppings and make him wish that he had castrated himself’ because he hurt you.”

    Orange pictured her father, somewhat gaunt and haggard, but backed by determination and his near-invincible team looming over her one-night stand. The image evoked a small chuckle, a brave warrior of joy quickly extinguished by the bitter truth of reality as she asked her mother one more question.

    “And what about you? I know you said you still love me when we talked earlier, and that you’re disappointed...” The words hung in the air, slowly expiring as they dissipated into the night’s embrace. As Orange slowly kicked her feet against the baseboard-- drumming soldiers, marching towards a suicide mission-- Yellow’s mind raced to complete her daughter’s thought. She had to help her, just like when she was little. Things would be like they used to once more, if only for a moment before time ate it away again, reducing the feeling to nothing more than what it actually was, a memory.

    Several breaths, quiet and deep, barely whispering through the room, and Orange started again. “Maybe dad went to Mt. Silver because that’s the place where this family goes to realize their stupid mistakes, and I had a lot to realize,” she said, tears once again freely cascading down her cheeks. “So, do you even still like me after all of this?”

    Puzzle pieces locking into place, a match for every piece as the entire picture glowed in harmony. Words flowed without thought, straight from her heart to her mouth, healing elixir for the wounded soul before her.

    “Orange, you may have made mistakes, but so have I. So has your father,” Yellow replied softly, her heart swelling up in her chest. She knew what to say, she knew how to fix this shattered wreck of emotions before her, or at least patch it up well. This is what made her happy, doubled by the fact that this was someone she loved. But how could she be happy that it was because someone else was hurting? Her every care poured out into her voice, capturing her love in her tone, neglecting to communicate the rotten spoils of disgust. Why did she want this?

    “Yes, you’ll have to deal with the consequences, but we will both be here to deal with them with you. We love you more than words can describe, and though you may have tarnished a little you have your whole life to be polished up. I forgave you the moment you came home, and your father will once he calms down a bit. If you want to get through this on your own, we won’t stop you. But we will always be here for you, whenever you need us.”

    For now, Yellow could be happy as she pulled her daughter into a tight hug. She knew Orange had grown independent a long time ago, and come morning she would be unneeded again. But as the mother sat softly stroking her child’s hair, she could pretend that nothing had changed. That she sat holding her baby girl, her turmoil. And she hated herself for it.

    * * *​

    Shimmering golden arrows pierced the horizon, heralding morning’s swift approach. Clockwork, mechanical and monotonous came the morning routine. Leave the empty bed, pull on a robe and head down into the empty kitchen to make breakfast for one. Red would have already left, a day full of challengers to meet, and Orange would stay in bed for another few hours. She almost enjoyed this time to herself, if not for the thoughts that battled in her head. Why was she so weak?

    As she checked her messages from the previous night, a lump re-emerged in her throat; a solid mass, formed from her own inadequacy. Green and Crystal were having breakfast in Viridian, and she was invited. But how could she face her friends now? They would be understanding, sympathetic, even though they could not relate. But how could she tell Green that she yearned to be more like her? To cast off every remnant of her pathetic self and become stronger, more likable? Perceptive as always, Green would probably guess that her distress ran deeper than just Orange. And though Green would tell her not to worry, to be who she was, that was to be who she could not be.

    Yet, that is exactly what she wanted to hear. Conflict tore within her, unsettling the peace of the silent morning. Outside, Pidgey sang their songs, and the hardiest of flowers were poking out of the early Spring snow. Serenity draped its cloak over the untainted beauty of Pallet Town, blissfully unaware of the internal struggle one of its inhabitants faced almost daily. Waves lapped at the shore, a steady rhythm to accompany the birdsong.

    All these things around me, why can’t I be them? Happy, calm, beautiful. But I’m not.

    Coffee brewed, a waterfall of caffeinated happy pouring into a pot. One day. Could she go one day as the old Yellow? The strong Yellow, the Yellow who could set her own emotions aside for others. The Yellow that everyone liked. Yes? Maybe. With the mundane regimen she faced down every morning, the thought of changing from a mundane, boring, riskless person seemed near impossible. After all, if she could change so readily, why was she not already as good as Green?

    I have to try. Come on, Yellow, you can do this. Stop being pathetic and do something right.


    * * *​

    9 AM, Viridian City, the epicenter of the cataclysmic moment. She stood shaking, a magnitude 8.7 earthquake coursing through her lonely body that threw every other emotion into the growing pit in her stomach. Why so apprehensive? Two friends, surely socializing with them, changing in front of them, nothing could be simpler. Except for running away. Like every other time. They had grown so different, yet stayed the same, a complex froth of seething contradictory statements swirling through her head.

    Go. Walk. Yellow forced herself through the door of the cafe, tiny bell singing her entrance to the adversaries that surrounded her. Two women waved her over, golden bands flashing in the morning sun to blind Yellow of all but pure jealousy for a brief moment at the reminders of a happy, untorn household. But she did not let it show, never let it show. Always happy, serve your friends, and everyone will like you even though you should die alone.

    “Green, Crys! It’s been too long,” the golden-haired masquerader spun, joy shielding desperation and fear’s lethal grip from sight. “How have you both been?”

    As words poured from her companions’ mouths, the world around Yellow turned into a land of flats and sharps, substitutes for what should be to create something a half-step off. She sat, a smile on her face, stormclouds in her heart. Green and Crystal, back and forth like the two close friends they were, and she used to be. Smiles full of pity were thrown her way when she attempted to join and inevitably misstepped. Tears behind her happy mask as her two closest friends grew more distant than ever before, and she was left alone to endure her turmoil.






    Compromised​


    Morning. Harsh leaden tendrils of gray light snaked their way through the curtains and assaulted the teen’s puffy eyes, proof of a hard-won battle late the night before. She moaned and twisted away, hiding from the reality which threatened her precarious state of being. Returning to the uncertain relief of temporary oblivion, dogged by nightmares which proved to be just as bad as the truth she wished to escape from, would be impossible. Already she could hear her mother in the kitchen below, going about her routine. If she knew that Orange was awake she might come and talk to her. She might be hurt again.

    Stupid, weak. I just had to break. I just had to be reckless. Everything has unraveled now.

    Orange sat up, inwardly cursing the dawn. Consciousness, another day, another chance to look at all she had killed with her desperate attempts to make them happy. Guilt ate at her stomach, coalescing in her throat to the point of gagging. Angry tears formed in the corners of her eyes, demanding to be released from their swollen prison, quickly escaping onto the blanket below. Five months ago her life had been perfect, albeit strained. But everyone else had been happy, and the beautiful, normal, problem-free Orange had been accepted among peers.

    Slowly the gray light turned golden, an alchemist’s stone miracle not unlike how a girl full of fear, self-loathing, and problems had for years transformed herself into a facade of happy and acceptable. But now, now was the time for the stress, the lies, the problems to melt her happiness as the truth rose for all to witness, burning the same people she had striven to try to please behind her mask. Disappointment joined guilt in the fray, forcing ever more tears out to cascade down an already red face. Below, a door slammed, shattering the rhythm of gentle sobbing as Orange jerked her head up, gently peeling back the curtains next to her bed to see who had left.

    Daughter watched mother storm down the front path, and she cracked her window open to hear what the latter was saying to herself in the lonely morning air. Pieces of Orange’s heart fell with every word she heard float through the still, quiet air into her bedroom. Weak, pathetic, do it right, disjointed criticisms that could only be directed at one person.

    Last night... she lied to me so I’d feel better. Guess I’m more like mom than I thought.

    “Hide away behind a mask, projected happiness, force yourself to be ok.” Words by which Orange lived, words by which she had succeeded in catching everyone in her lies, even herself. Words which failed her now, as she wailed into her pillow, watching every piece of her forged identity shatter, willing the fallen pieces to rise so she would not have to look upon herself-- so others would not have to look upon her. Broken deceiver, tried to fix patch the world with woven words of cornsilk-spun gold, frightened to hurt her friends, her family. Walls which crashed down, revealing everything she deserved. Scared, alone, hurt. Compromised.

    * * *​

    Self-loathing, bitter and abundant, filled her mouth when she finally rose to prepare for a day of dance, intricate steps to avoid further annihilation. Each step towards the bathroom was charged with memories, a childhood where she was liked instead of the pathetic figure she now cut. Raging emotions knotted in her chest, tearing her heart in an infinite number of directions, each path lonelier and more painful than the last.

    Slow, wandering steps became a desperate dash for the toilet as a flood of stomach acid burned its way up her throat, a malicious reminder of her current state, and lack of dinner the night before. Food, it seemed so much less important, less appealing, than ever before. Nothing had gone as planned, and morning sickness threatened to last long into the afternoon, reducing her meals to another retching trip to heave up her innards.

    The cool tile kissed her hands and legs, sending relief to aid her trembling frame. From out in the hall, the large grandfather clock sang out the hour, pulsing pain wracking the girl’s bowed head upon every note, shots of salt rubbed in the wound. Finally landing in the 7th, 8th, 9th circle of Hell, time audibly counted down the moments she lay paralyzed on the floor, recovering from the assault, blankly staring at the ceiling above. Bright white, spattered with repulsive spots of mold which would eventually infect the pure white walls around it, destroying them slowly.

    Get up, flush, rinse, leave. Tile to hardwood to carpet, shut the door, focus on the corporeal and maybe forget about the future for a few seconds. Leaden eyes dragged along with listless actions-- get dressed, make the bed, check email. Nothing, but she was used to it. All she had accomplished was coming to a point, and what did she have? Friends who disappeared after a month, progress on worthless tasks, little skill in most important areas. Her skill in battling came from a father who hated her, not even her mother would be honest to her.

    Mom and dad had saved the world multiple times before they were 18. I’ve done nothing.

    The dull ache in her heart intensified, but only slightly. Pain was for those who had lost something, or were fighting an illness. She did not deserve pain, she had surrendered long ago, opting to hide, to deceive pain, and herself. Unworthy tears sprang to her eyes, blurring the crumbled world around her, a dreamlike quality for the nightmare she lived.

    I really am worthless. How can anyone love someone who can’t do anything right?


    Lazy voices started to announce the slow morning of a small town on the weekend, a calm environment to surround a seething storm with memories of bittersweet comfort. Pathetic, crying, diamonds twinkling to the floor as Orange pulled on her boots, hurriedly attempting to escape the relentless waves of sorrow-- the only thing she deserved in her insufficient attempt at life. But why run? Hounding agony to catch the fox, escape had one route.

    Burst out through the garden, into the realm of happy memories which only served to worsen the pain. Quiet whispers of all that had been, joy now moved on without her. Her chest felt void of all but pain-- no heart for those who have no delight, simply an ever-devouring void. She flinched away from the sunlight, seeking refuge in the bitter shade, longingly staring at the warmth before her, warmth which rejected her, every single one of them. Weak, pathetic, do not let it show.

    Left with the writhing tendrils of the shadows, Orange looked out onto what she wanted, what cast her out, and she wept on the inside, greeting the new day with an outward smile. Time to break.
     
  5. Pikamaster

    Pikamaster Active Member

    Cataclysm​


    Shimmering, crackling lightning split through the air, cutting through the swirling flames to embrace the Ninetales on the other side. The fox cried shrilly in agony, electricity coursing through its slender flame, raw power forcing it to collapse to the forlorn calls of its trainer. Red recalled Pika to his ball, thoughts too preoccupied to extend any form of courtesy to his downcast opponent. Bright noon sun fought back the bitter breezes that danced over his skin, much to Red’s displeasure. Cold air had always helped him to think, to focus internally, escape the harsh conditions to contemplate the eternal Hell he carried inside of him.

    What am I going to say to Orange? Comfort, reassurance, how do I say these things when she’s pulled away from me, just like everyone else?


    Doubts trickled down Red’s brain, straight to his chest, dripping discontent with every plummeting drop that landed on his heart. The next battle started, a minor distraction from the trainer’s ponderance. For the next 5 minutes he could forget his problems, lose himself in whatever slight challenge his opponent temporarily offered before a certain defeat. Over-eager children, all of them. All without a clue of the tempest behind his mask of apathy, oblivious to the crushing problems they would face in the world beyond their beginning journey.

    Another derisive victory buried beneath indifference, a chipper farewell from the cream of some town’s crop he missed the name of, and the line ended for a lunch break. Red snorted as he rifled through his bag, grabbing the uneaten half of yesterday’s sandwich, lovingly packed by Yellow. Soon these children would learn, learn to hate, to loathe, to despise the people they would become; they would feel the sorrow of realizing they were not good enough for any of their friends, their family, and they would inwardly weep while concealing everything, just as he had. Only then would they see the world as a place to withdraw from, wishing someone would reach out through the lies of contentment to save you, watching as nobody did.

    Apathy hazed over Red’s eyes as he gazed longingly at Mt. Silver’s peak, an overwhelming, unheeded desire to return to the isolation of its frozen sanctuary pacing in his chest. An icy void spread through his chest in the mountain’s stead, a cumulative absence of every loved one who had pulled away from him. Could they not see that he needed them? Once again, he was left with only his Pokemon as willing companions; once again he had no place amongst even his own family.

    No, he must not cry. Not now, not for this. Alone, pathetic, worthless, his sole task to simply hold back the tears as despair crushed slowly crushed the will to live from every fiber of his being. There were others around, others who might not react the best if he did, as ever on edge from knowing his problems. Silently, he cursed himself, hating that he had ever let his weakness show. If he had just been strong, for Yellow, for Orange, for all those he cared about, maybe they would still be closer-- maybe he could have avoided his inevitable lonesome death, forgotten in all but an instant.

    Pain deadened him to the world, rending an unnoticed gash through his body. His perception dimmed as he closed his eyes, trying simply to bring some order to his maddening thoughts. Mocking voices raced endlessly against him, flickering in and out of existence, striking as lightning to leave another scorch mark on his shattered self. Alone, but never truly alone, for years upon Mt. Silver and now again, now that he was held at an arm’s length. Be careful not to upset the disturbed one, stay away from that topic, you might break him further. Kind intentions, yet the resulting isolation served only to grind the broken pieces into a powder, and soon they would simply blow away and vanish.

    Red set down his sandwich, no longer able to force food past the mass in his throat. No matter, what might a few lost pounds be when your world is fragmenting before your eyes? Maybe death would come, a welcome companion to walk with, down the road away from suffrage. But no, while his existence caused sorrow, it would cause more to leave. Time wearily dragged on; broken soldiers, tired of war, left to gaze towards the unending conflict inside the shattered trainer. Surely he was better than this; surely he was better than broken. Had he not bent down to collect his shattered pieces long before? Temporary happiness was all that work had loaned, and now he was alone to repay the full sum with interest.

    The trainer sighed, forcing his gaze from the distant peak as the crushing waves ebbed to leave only apathy, simply a tactical withdrawal to strike another time. Like him, happiness did not belong anywhere. It would come and go, trying to fit into places, times, groups, but it would never belong. A misfit, seeking his niche in the world, yet finding time and time again that, even in his closest relationships, he simply did not belong. Rolling waves of unfeeling washed over him, relieving his torment, yet bringing only nothing. Another crisis survived, time to reform and move on. Smile to show the world an unbroken person-- smile so others will smile and not be concerned.

    * * *​

    Liquid smile, pouring into a darkened scowl whenever there was a moment’s privacy. If he let the truth slip out in small segments, maybe the chasm would be hidden and only cracks to be seen. Pretend happiness, fake happiness, borrowed from the cheerful ambiance. Respite was short, allowing only time for a lightning strike of depression. He was no longer himself, even. He had broken under the incessant force of his trivial problems, and the presented image held only a glimpse of the person he used to be, albeit a person who was still no better than the current state.

    Yet the expectations of daily life droned on, and he had to meet the role of which he had been assigned. No respite for the weary, simply an unending wish for relief which never came. Wandering through every day, pain filling his hollow core-- a disease that could not be cured. It was almost enough for him to break that which had been shattered, save the influx of sorrow which taps would proclaim as that sun vanished. Wish as he might, the new moon would continue to rise and wax, never leading to the unending eclipse.

    A cry of distress shot out, snapping Red back to full attention from his mired thoughts. His careless selfishness had allowed Pika to suffer, a broken bone from a hit which could have been avoided, given the proper attention on the trainer’s part. A lapse in his defenses which should have been contained, yet managed to spill out to inflict torment on all it stained. Analyze, command, execute. Five seconds and the match was over, a plan completed to perfection. Yet there was still hurt, an infection which would linger long past the selfishness ended-- the burst was nothing compared to the slow process of healing.

    Guilt joined the fellowship inside of him, blending perfectly into the tangle to contribute its own share to the party. After this, how could he face his companions? Strength drained from his limbs, leaving him unable to do more than return Pika to his ball. This, this was his problem entirely. Yet it was a problem that could not be shared, for how could he even begin to explain how his own stupidity without judgement? The knowledge that his fragile state could be shattered so easily was already burden enough, a fact which changed his forecast from overcast to a chance of showers. Depression is dying while you’re still alive.

    “Be more careful! This is a practice battle, you’re supposed to hold back so injuries like this don’t happen,” Red snarled as his defeated opponent drew close. “Or can you not control your Pokemon?”

    “I could say the same for you,” the trainer snapped back, surprising Red with the venom laced in his voice. “I used to idolize you, you were my hero. But I’ve been watching you, and now I realize that you’re just a jerk. I thought maybe if I battled you, I’d see that I was wrong, that I didn’t waste my childhood looking up to you. I wasn’t wrong, though.”

    Red flinched as the tirade continued, each word hammering home that which he already knew, that which he knew others had held back. Pain took control of his body, paralyzing him more efficiently than any spinal injury as he clenched his hands and waited for the never coming end. Despite knowing the truths which poured from the other’s mouth, hearing them solidified their meaning, only adding to the tremors which quietly wracked his body.

    “I’ve seen how you battle others, the disinterest you display,” he continued, unrelenting frustration spiking his voice. “Yes, we get it, you can beat us with your eyes closed. But do us the courtesy of at least looking us in the eye when you tear us to pieces, ok? It’s no wonder people say that even your friends can’t talk to you, because no matter how hard anyone tries you just treat them like dirt!” Pivoting on one foot, the disgruntled trainer huffed away, muttering what Red could only assume was a long string of obscenities directed at him.

    Was he really so closed, so screwed up that nothing could pierce through the density of his turmoil? Red looked around, but saw not but the blistered ground where Pika had unleashed his distress. Apparently his next challenger was late, a small blessing for him. He allowed memories of the recent past to flow through him-- an art in which he was quite skilled-- and examined each one carefully, with a fresh perspective. That he had the problem, that he was pushing others away. Every reflection hardened this new truth, fastening it in place to root out the old.

    Bitter tears rolled down his cheeks, unabashed at his earlier statements. Surrounding him were kind, loving, wonderful friends, family, even strangers. Yet one by one, they had all eventually succumbed to his own pig-headed assertions. He had hardened them, driven them to the point of despair as they could do naught but watch helplessly as he destroyed himself piece by piece. Anguish tore through his chest, chasing after the tiniest shard of hope which had supplanted a fragment of the darkness. Maybe, maybe things could change-- maybe he could change. It might not be too late, to apologize for his blindness and let himself be helped. To let Yellow and Orange in, and share the love they once had before.

    This, this I can fix. Tonight, I’ll tell them both, and we can work things out as a family.


    New resolve filling him, Red swiped at the tears on his cheeks. A true, bittersweet smile illuminated his face for the first time in months, turning the tears to shimmering diamonds in their earthward journey. Finally, he could think clearly again with the toxic mists clearing from his mind. Recovery would be a long, dark path through to the end, but now he could see the way to begin his first, faltering steps.He owed that trainer a deep gratitude which could never be repaid, for finally treating him not as cracked glass, but an actual person who had not changed-- something Red hoped to prove him wrong on.

    Silence enveloped the area, sealing away birdsong and movement with a dead grip. Ten seconds, thirty, sixty, not a sound emanated from the world around him, save his own rhythmic breaths to count the frozen minuet of time. A minute slipped away into ten, untraceable in the motionless scene, broken only by the pacing of the trainer within. Finally, wing beats broke the unnatural quiet, rapidly drawing closer from behind. Late he may be, the next challenger would receive nothing but a warm welcome.

    “Red, thank Mew you’re here,” a familiar voice called out. Red frowned as he turned to see Green disembark from his Charizard. Panic began to well up inside of him as Green spoke again, his voice hollow and shaking. “We’ve been trying to call you. You need to come, now. It’s Orange.”

    * * *​

    Noises. Machine hums, wheels on linoleum, hurried footsteps, frantic whispers. Deaf ears received them as Red rushed his way into the hall, the sight of gathered friends and family only furthering the indescribable agony which had taken control of his every action. Yellow, sitting by the door, softly weeping, a tear stained letter clutched in an iron grip. He sat down next to her, unable to react as the void in his chest expanded, invading every fiber of his being, rendering him helpless to even so much as lift his head. Green had told him, but the shock had prevented such intense misery to war against him. And now, sitting, helpless, he fell the back from the short ledge he had climbed to, back to the gray maw which painted life so bleak. Only this time, he had nobody to blame, nobody turn his hatred towards; he was one target among many affected by the fallout of agony.

    He pulled Yellow close, tears streaming into her hair as she hid her face. Something. There must have been something he could have done, something he could have said. The burden stitched itself to his chest, permanently embedded in his consciousness. Useless. He should have been around more, he should have been there-- he should have stopped her. Regret come too late, things never said, transformed to the salt filled rivers he created. The world lost all color, all meaning, and he was now but a shell to carry through the motions.

    Yellow turned and gasped him tightly, removing the breath from his empty lungs.

    Intensive care. Critical condition. This was never supposed to have happened. She was supposed to be around, for graduation, for happiness, for everything. Losing her had never felt real, and now the truth would launch its final strike.

    The relentless drone of oxygen forcing its way through to its destination pierced the air, a focal point to heighten the torture.

    Others held each other, some weeping, some standing stoic, gargoyles to watch over the broken wreckage that lay before them. Rocks among the rapids, dispensing what empty comforts they could, knowing all the while that only lies could brighten the grim shadow of that hallway.

    Panic gripped him as a doctor emerged, wiping sweat from his brow, defeated. Horror joined the mix as Red heard the verdict passed down to him, further petrifying with every syllable.

    “I’m sorry, there was nothing we could do,” the doctor sighed wearily, as if he had passed this information to the wails of loved ones too many times before. “However, we can still save the infant. Your daughter has no brain activity, but we can keep her body functioning long enough for a cesarean section.”

    He paused, banshee wails from a distraught mother drowning his words completely. His weary gaze showed only compassion as Red tried to comfort Yellow to any extent, failing until her throat gave out, unable to convey her sorrow. Calmly, the doctor continued, running a gloved hand through his hair. “The surgery could not be for another few weeks, and there might be severe consequences for the child, but we cannot operate sooner without it becoming a fatality. I’ll give you some time to think about this, you can come in if you would like. I am so sorry for your loss.”

    Slowly, traveling on leaden legs, both parents followed the doctor back through the doors, beyond the last barrier of denial that this was real. Murmured condolences passed them as the room emptied to leave them alone with only the incessant beeping of machines for company. On the bed, deflated, drained. A wax figure to the energetic figure from before, only a shade of the violent past to meet the forlorn gazes. Reach out, hold once more, break. Never again to hear that voice, the laugh, to feel the embrace. Vanished, to rip out the branches so intertwined in the lives of all those who continued, making spaces which could not be filled.

    Heaving sobs continued, devoid of tears that had all escaped in the exodus prior. Stale air filled their lungs, leaving death heavy to run in their blood, clogging every vessel. A final decision lay before them, a bullet loaded with confusion and self-doubt. This is how their child had ended, flame extinguished by an errant breeze. To raise another, knowing what their shortcomings had caused, fearing every day for its safety. Never knowing what had been done wrong, where they had set their daughter on this path, and if they would do it again. Could they kill another?

    The clock ticked forward, the sun shone through the window.

    The oxygen hissed, ever waiting.

    ***************
    And there we have it, the last chapter. Hope everyone who read through enjoyed~
     

Share This Page