Archive for the ‘Sunday Funday’ Category

Escape

The rain begins to come down harder, the skies a dull grey. The sound of the rain slashing down all around fills our ears, making it impossible to hear anything other than the water pounding on the ground and the foliage with an angry thumping.
We’re moving quickly but cautiously, unable to see or hear any creatures that might be laying in wait. We’re following the route to Canalave City, but keeping off the road itself, hoping there are no sentries posted anywhere. So far, we haven’t seen a single monster since we escaped from the swamp.
Dawn follows me, that same cloudy look in her eyes. I’m beginning to wonder if I’ll ever snap her out of this. She’s barely said two words in the past four hours, even though I’ve tried to talk to her. I don’t blame her. There’s nothing really to talk about. We didn’t know each other before this and I doubt anything will change that. We’ll both spend the rest of our goddamn lives in therapy, assuming we get to a boat and leave here alive. I just want her to know that I don’t hate her for what she did to me. If things were the other way around, I don’t think I would have had it in me to save her life.
‘I’m thirsty.’
I barely hear Dawn’s plea over the pounding of the rain. I stop and duck down beneath the line of sight of the road.
I hand Dawn the backpack and she hunts through it for one of the bottles of water we scavenged. She takes a few gulps and puts it back in the bag, then looks at me blankly.
‘You feeling okay?’ I ask; frightened by how pale and out of it she looks.
She nods and stands back up. ‘We need to get out of here.’
I try to place a hand on her shoulder, to calm her down, assure her that everything will be okay, but the arm I extend to her is missing its hand. She looks away from, her face unreadable.
I reshoulder the pack and start walking again, pushing through the overhanging branches and the foot-long grass.
I can see something on the horizon, but I’m not entirely sure what. It’s mixing with the grey sky and the rain-
‘Smoke!’ Dawn’s voice rises above the thunderous downpour this time and I hear her clearly, my own heart stopping in sheer terror in my chest.
We start running, the branches and leaves whipping viciously at us, leaping over the fallen stumps of trees and the pools of water that threaten to suck our feet in and trip us up.
The world blurs past in a green flash, the rain falling on our faces in a stinging dance. I wipe them from my eyes before the water blinds me completely.
Dawn’s footsteps crash down behind me and we’re drawing closer to the column of smoke-
Oh, please don’t let it be-
Don’t let it be coming from-
Canalave-
We come to the top of a hill and gaze down at what was once the port town of Canalave City.
Fire burns in the destroyed Pokémon Centre, unimpeded by the harsh rain. The buildings are crumbling, surrounded by dozens of vicious monsters that repeatedly batter them. People run wildly, trying desperately to escape the carnage, but are easily caught. I can see people being torn apart by the monsters, trampled, eaten alive, crushed, burned, shocked and beaten. There’s so much violence and carnage it’s hard to take it all in.
People are running for a boat, a ship, the last vessel out of Saigon. The ship has already left the harbour, people clinging to the sides, the decks are rammed solid, the anchor being hauled up with people holding on to the chain for dear life.
‘No,’ Dawn whispers, her voice breaking.
I grab her hand and hold it tightly in mine, afraid that she might suddenly run down there for whatever reason. It’s pointless, though. She’s frozen to the spot too, knowing that the horror unfolding bellow will continue regardless.
The ship starts powering up its engines, pushing itself further away from the carnage on the shore when a huge wave erupts from the water.
The enormous head of a Wailord lifts above the waves, its whale song sounding louder than all the chaos. It slowly looks at the fleeing ship. It brings its tail above the sea, water cascading off its rubbery skin.
The tail comes down on the bow of the ship with the force of a meteor. Water launches into the air as though a bomb has detonated underneath it. The ripple sends torrents of water crashing towards the shores, the waves swallowing up all the people standing on the edge. Hundreds of people are sucked from the shore, becoming small, thrashing black dots in the water. If I could hear over the rain, I know I’d hear screams of terror.
The ship tilts lazily in the water, the bow crushed into oblivion, the hull slipping rapidly below the waves. As it glides beneath the water, the dark shape of the steel vanishes in the inky darkness of the sea.
Red pools begin to spread out across the waves, the dots sinking below the surface.
There are hundreds of people in the sea. I try to think about all the different sea creatures that might be swimming towards them. Carvanha. Sharpedo. Walimer. Wailord. Barboach. Whiscash. Feebas. Milotic. Spheal. Sealeo. Walrein. Clamperl. Huntail. Gorebyss. All those teeth and poisonous edges.
I turn my back on the destruction, hoping that Dawn won’t see me cry.
She still stares out at the carnage, unmoving, unblinking, unreadable.
She lets go of my hand and turns away.
We are trapped here.

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New Light

We sit in the broken house, the last remains of our warm fire dwindling to nothingness. The grey light of dawn breathes gently over the morning air and outside the morning fog begins to lift over the smashed houses that we’ve been hiding in for the past few days.
We’ve washed ourselves clean in the many downpours that threatened to drown the buildings. We’ve clothed ourselves in whatever we could acquire from the wardrobes and cupboards of the homeowners. In spite of everything, I feel at least vaguely refreshed.
Dawn hasn’t been the same since I found her. I wasn’t expecting her to be the same girl – happy, smiley, faintly flirtatious and bubbling. After all, this is a different world now. The animals we once raised as our friends and allies have become bloodthirsty killers, demented murderers one and all. She’s been attacked and had all her worldly possessions destroyed. On top of that, she’s managed to cut off my infected hand and cauterise the wound. It’s not surprising she’s changed.
It’s the look in her eyes that scares me the most. The light that once shone behind them is dimmed and dulled, like a light bulb that has lost its power. She is quieter, like she’s always deep in thought. I don’t know if there’s any way I can shake her out of this funk.
‘We need to go,’ I say, my breath fogging.
‘Where?’ Dawn asks. She sounds like she’s given up already and the sound of it terrifies me.
‘We should go to the coast. Maybe we can get a boat out of here,’ I reply.
She shrugs. ‘What if there are Pokémon there?’ Her voice cracks slightly as she says the word ‘Pokémon’. Christ, I need her to be strong right now. I don’t have the energy for all of this.
‘We’ll get past them,’ I say, trying to sound as determined as possible, as though we could put up an actual fight, instead of my real plan, which involved lots of hiding.
I stand up slowly, fearing that I should fall down and lose all her confidence.
It has begun to drizzle softly. I take a couple of coats the homeowners left behind in the chaos of the first night and put one on. I throw the other at Dawn’s feet and collect the backpack of supplies we’ve assembled from the remnants of the houses.
‘Come on,’ I say as I walk out into the morning light and look up at the rising fog.
Far away, a dim rainbow hangs in the morning air. I smile grimly, knowing that it’s hovering in the direction I’m planning to go. Pots of gold…
Dawn puts a hand on my shoulder, shaking me out of my thoughts. I turn to meet her.
We look at each other, two figures shrouded in morning mist, light rain flecks covering our clothes.
She drops her gaze and says nothing. There’s nothing to say. I smile at her as warmly as I can and take her hand.
We set off, heading west to the port city of Canalave. There must be a way to escape this nightmare…

Poisoned

The blue lights dance before my eyes.
Hello, say they. Hello and welcome.
But where am I, say I to them, and what is this place?
You are in the centre of the universe, says one blue light.
We are dancing on a sun, says the other.
I stand up and look around at the mass of frozen orange fire. It’s big. It doesn’t feel warm.
Why am I here? I ask the blue lights as they dance above me.
This is where you go to die, say the blue lights, chuckling.
The sun flickers like a dim light, everything turns grey and cold and I can hear a woman shouting something but I can’t quite-
The sun glows ever brighter and more brilliant.
Am I dead? Say I to them.
The lights swoop and glow brighter as their dance grows more joyful. You are almost dead, say they. We’re just waiting for you to finally give up and come and join us.
What happens then? I ask.
The blue lights giggle but don’t respond. They each take one of my hands and together we begin flying out of the sun.
All around me is a vast, empty space. I can hear whispering in all directions but I can’t understand any of it. I can see stars, planets, shapes, galaxies, everything.
Would you like to stay here? Ask the blue lights as they pull me through this fantastic netherworld.
Suddenly the vast emptiness ahead parts like a torn curtain and all I can see is a cracked grey ceiling in a house and a moving shadow projected against it-
Where would you like to go? Asks one blue light.
We can take you anywhere, says the other.
We soar above the heavens and the stars and all the cosmos and all I can see is infinity.
My whole life plays before me like a film in just a few seconds.
The blue lights giggle and let go of me, entwining with each other and dancing again, twirling in all directions around me.
I float there in the void for a moment, weightless, suspended by nothing, breathing nothing, feeling nothing.
The whispering grows slightly louder, but I still can’t hear it.
Suddenly, a crash – I whirl around to see where it came from and catch a glimpse of steel glinting in the light-
It is gone and the blue lights dance in my face. Is it just my imagination or are they growing larger?
The blue fairies spin me around and flip me over and over, giggling all the while.
We’re going to have such fun, says one fairy.
We’re already having fun, says the other.
What are we going to do? Ask I of them.
We’re going to play and dance and have fun forever, giggles one fairy.
It’s always such fun, giggles the other.
The blue lights are now the size of a small child, still spinning me, still dancing.
The cold grey ceiling returns, a silhouette in my face, clutching something that glints in the light, saying something I can’t quite catch, long lair falling down onto my face-
But when I touch my face there’s nothing there.
The blue children shoot off ahead of me, into the distant suns. I try to fly after them but I can’t move.
I feel like I’m swimming in treacle.
I look around to see what’s holding me.
I look to my arm and see it lying stretched out ahead of me, on the cold grey floor, somebody kneeling on it, the steel thing glinting as it hovers above my arm and I can see my veins and arteries standing out under my skin, bright red as though infected-
A warm hand touches my shoulder and I turn to see a beautiful woman floating before me. Like the children, she too is blue and shines light and elegance.
She takes my hand and holds it to her heart.
Do you want to stay here with me? She asks.
I nod, speechless.
The light billows around her like a wedding dress.
We can be together forever, says she.
I nod again.
Hold me, says she.
I hold her.
I feel a pressure on my arm, I can feel all the nerves and veins inflamed and burning-
What’s wrong? She asks.
I shake my head.
Are you scared? She asks.
I nod.
Don’t be. Kiss me. We will always be together, says she.
She leans into me and strokes my face.
Her soft blue lips are only inches away from mine.
Her eyes close in peace.
I close mine.
‘Dawn,’ I murmur.
Thunder rumbles and the blue woman screams, winds billows and I’m deafened by the noise of rage.
I COULD HAVE LOVED YOU, she screams, becoming taller, grander, as big as the infinite canvas behind her.
She strikes forward like a snake and stabs my arm.

I’m screaming up at Dawn who kneels on my infected arm as she brings the bloodied knife up again-

YOU COULD HAVE HAD HAPPINESS AND EVERLASTING LOVE, screams the blue woman again.
She stabs me again in the arm.

There’s blood all over the floor and Dawn is screaming and crying and I’m screaming and crying and there’s a wedge carved out of my arm and I can only move two fingers and there’s black gunk mixed in with the blood pouring out of the infection-

YOU WILL NEVER KNOW HAPPINESS, bellows the woman as she flies towards me, face filled with hate and pain and she plunges straight into my arm.

Dawn hammers down the knife one final time and I’m not moving any more fingers on that hand ever again. The sounds stop once more and the world goes dark again.

The flame burns my arm and it hurts so bad I wake up screaming. She takes the flame away and kneels over my face again; blood, tears and sweat running freely down her face.
‘I’m so sorry,’ she whispers into my ear.
She leans down onto my chest and sobs until she can only breathe in great gulps.
I move my arm to pat her on the back and tell her it’s alright, it’s okay, we’ll be fine-
My arm ends just below the elbow. A blackened stump is all I have left now.
The veins are no longer burning or red.
She sobs into my chest until she falls asleep, laying on me.
I can hear the wind and the rain.
I’m alive.

Circle of Survival

Its pincers slice through the air, coming up to tear out a piece of my leg. I move backwards, stepping around it.
The dance of death.
I rush around, trying to outmanoeuvre it. The Skorupi scuttles into my way, lightening fast, blocking my access to the prone figure of Dawn.
The dance of death.
It snaps the air in front of it, warning me that another rush will cost me a chunk of flesh. My arm feels heavy, the fingers unresponsive.
The dance of death.
I look around for a weapon. There are no sticks lying on the ground, nothing I can use at a distance. The Skorupi rears up its tail again for one more sting.
The dance of death.
It lunges in towards me again, the stinger poised for attack. I jump up, the stinger driving into the dirt below. I land back down on the Skorupi’s tail.
The dance of death.
It snaps under my feet and the Skorupi begins to scream loudly. I keep one foot on top of its broken tail and stamp the other one down on its head.
The dance of death.
The pincers reach up to slice through my leg but I move my feet and stamp down hard on its arms. I can hear bones snap and muscles tear and its hideous black goo leaks out of its torn skin.
The dance of death.
It raises is smashed face towards me, one half crushed in beneath its thickened shell. I bring my foot down hard onto its other half. The shell cracks and crunches underneath my feet, the goo oozing out of every available crevice.
The dance of death.
The Skorupi falls to the ground. It looks up me one last time. I don’t know if it can even see me through its mangled face. It manages one final short, sharp laugh. It falls down on its face and moves no longer.
The dance of death.

I run over to Dawn and shake her with one working arm. The other hangs limply, feeling fat and bloated. I shake her again. Again. Nothing.
She murmurs.
I breathe a huge sigh of relief, whispering desperately into her ear, ‘Dawn, it’s me, wake up, wake up!’
Her eyes slowly open.
She screams.
I put a hand over her mouth to keep her quiet, realising that the first thing she woke up to is the sight of a mad man covered in mud and water and blood and sweat with his remaining clothing in tatters.
‘It’s okay, it’s me, you remember me?’
Recognition in her eyes. She nods.
‘Good, okay, I’m going to take my hand away now, but you have to be quiet, okay?’
Nods again.
I take my hand away from her mouth.
‘What the hell happened?’ The question burns through me as viciously as the look in her eyes.
I shake my head. ‘I’m not sure. The Pokémon around here… they’re killers, Dawn. They want us… and our Pokédexes.’
Remembering the Pokédex, I rush over to her torn and tattered backpack, sifting through the remains with my one working hand.
‘What happened to my bag?’
I show her the torn fragments. ‘They want the Pokédexes. I’m not sure why, but they’re hunting us down. You, me and Rival.’
‘Why?’
I shake my head.
The bushes rustle. Loud, pounding footsteps getting nearer.
‘Lie down! Quick!’ I whisper to her. ‘Pretend you’re still out cold.’
She nods, terrified, and falls back on the ground where she was. I spot a small clearing in a bush and climb into it, the mud making me practically invisible.
The hide of the Kangaskhan crashes through the bushes, sniffing the air, looking around at the scene. I know it heard her scream, maybe even the Skorupi too.
It spots the ruined carcass of the Skorupi and growls.
It walks nears Dawn, still not seeing me, the baby still fast asleep in its pouch.
I look around for something, anything.
A small rock.
That’ll do.
It sniffs the hair of Dawn. Can she stay still?
The Kangaskhan sniffs the air around Dawn’s head. It strokes her hair, ever so gently.
Her foot twitches.
The Kangaskhan smells something in the air.
Something in my direction.
The colossal beast begins lumbering towards me.
I hide, lost in the shadows of leaves and bushes.
It stops so close to me I can touch it if I reach out.
I balance the rock between my finger and thumb.
I flick the rock off into the bushes.
The Kangaskhan hears, snaps its head in that direction.
I reach out while it’s not looking.
Grab the hand of the sleeping child.
Pull it out of the pouch.
The baby cries. The Kangaskhan snaps back around, roaring in rage. I hold the baby close to me, trying to look threatening.
The Kangaskhan rears back, readying a charge.
‘STOP!’
The beast and I turn to see Dawn standing, doing her best to look intimidating.
‘We have your baby! Don’t you fucking move!’ She’s screaming and I’m hoping against hope that there aren’t many more monsters waiting out there in the darkness.
The Kangaskhan never takes its eyes off me as it steps backwards.
I walk out of the bushes, carrying the tiny screaming baby.
The powerful arm of the Kangaskhan twitches slightly and for a moment I can visualise it punching straight through my skull. But it dare not hurt its child, so the movement is just a twitch.
‘We’re going to walk out of here. And you’re going to let us, understand?’ I wonder if whatever knock on the head she took has just pissed her off because she looks like she’s going to kill something and the Pokémon glaring at us seems to think she could too, for it nods slowly.
‘I want my Pokédex, too!’ She balls her hands into fists at the thought of her personal possessions being ripped through and torn apart.
The Kangaskhan growls and raises a massive fist in protest. I pull the crying baby closer to me, hoping I look like I could kill it, not like I’m about to pass out from holding a heavy fat bastard baby with only one working hand.
‘The Pokédex!’
The Kangaskhan relents and barks three times into the night sky.
Silence. The seconds feel like hours. I can feel the sweat running down my head, mud slowly dripping down my face. I arm is going numb holding this fucking baby. My other arm hangs like a dead weight.
A rustle in the bushes.
The Quagsire steps out, holding the Pokédex in its wobbling blue flippers.
The Kangaskhan growls at it, nodding at Dawn and myself. I step over to Dawn.
The Quagsire looks at the Pokédex in its hand and over to us.
It growls back at the Kangaskhan, apparently disagreeing with the-
The Kangaskhan’s massive fists swing down at the Quagsire’s head and with a soft ‘pop’ its head is gone and that black gunk covers the ground like an exploded water balloon.
The carcass falls to the ground.
The Kangaskhan gently picks up the Pokédex and holds it out to us. It throws it on the ground in front of us.
Dawn snaps it up and pockets it.
‘We give you the baby, we walk right out of here, got it?’ Dawn shoots the Kangaskhan a look that could kill.
The Pokémon nods slowly, eyes on the baby.
I walk forward a few feet and gently place the baby on the ground. I quickly dart back to Dawn, waiting to be crushed to the floor and stamped on.
It doesn’t come.
Dawn looks at me, fire blazing in her eyes. ‘RUN!’
We start back through the swamp, pushing past leaves and bushes and running as fast as the water will allow us to.
I risk a look back over my shoulder.
The Kangaskhan whimpers softly, cradling the weeping baby in its arms. A mother and her child.

We emerge from the marshlands in the cold grey light of the sun’s slow ascent.
‘Where do we go?’ Dawn asks me.
I open my mouth to reply but only drool and gurgling sounds come out.
I fall to the ground in the ruined city of Pastoria.
I can hear Dawn’s voice, so far away.
I’m lifted up.
I’m-

Circle of Death

Posted: November 22, 2009 in Sunday Funday
Tags: , , ,

Circle of Death

The water ripples gently around my waist as I wade through the swamp.
I can see my target ahead. The blue wobbly flesh of the Wooper with its back turned to me.
My fist tightens on the stick in my hand. The cool mud dries on my face. I am invisible. I am a killer. I will slay every single beast in the swamp if I have to.
The head of the Wooper bobs above the water as it scans the bushes ahead. Stop, letting the water ripples die well before they reach it.
I move closer.
It does not turn.
I aim the deadly sharp end of the stick forwards.
I lunge.
The beast turns around at the last moment. Instead of piercing the back of the creature’s head, the stick smashes through its eye.
That thick black slime pulses out of the gaping hole in its face, pouring out of its skull, merging with the dark water below.
It opens its mouth to scream its last but this time I’m ready. I shove my fist down its throat and its final cry dies against my wet, muddy knuckles.
It falls back into the water and bobs to the surface. I yank the stick out of its eye socket and push the corpse underneath a tree that hangs over the water. Satisfied that nobody will accidentally find the body of the beast, I move on.

I move closer to the centre of the waterlogged maze, drawing ever nearer to the frail, fallen figure of Dawn as she lies upon an embankment, a trickle of blood still seeping from her head wound.
Something shakes the bushes nearby. I stop, ducking as low into the mud as I dare without submerging completely.
The thick brown hide of a Kangaskhan rumbles past me again, the infant still sleeping in its mother’s pouch. It scans the surrounding foliage, determined to find the cause of trouble, unaware that a mud-splattered face just two feet away is what has been murdering its fellow beasts.
The rumbling footsteps of the beast churn the water as it moves on, getting further away. I wait until I can no longer see the ripples before I move again.
I head to a clump of branches that hang over the dark and murky water.
I part the branches-
I fall backwards, losing my footing, my head slipping under the water, the stick falling from my hand, my face on fire and my senses screaming.
A hand pushes down on my head, forcing me deeper into the black depths.
I regain my footing, get a firm hold on the floor beneath and push back up.
The Croagunk lets go of my head as I surface and ducks around my wild punch. Its yellow eyes are burning with a fiery hate as the red poison sacs on its cheek begin to swell. It adopts a fighting stance, bringing its hard fists up, reminding my rapidly swelling face how hard this bastard hits.
It spits a glob of black gunk out at me. I manage to step to one side to avoid it. I hear it sizzle slightly as it hits the water, but by then I’ve stepped too far and I’m reeling again, clutching at my broken nose, blood flowing down me and I’m wondering how much more fucking blood I can lose before I just fall down and stop moving.
It moves in again, aiming another blow for my face and this time I’m there, shoving this fist to one side but I’m exposed and another two cracks to my side and my insides are screaming out to just stop all this, just stop all the fighting but I can’t and it lunges in again, spitting poisonous gunk and swinging its fist in expertly thrown punches and if I don’t get hit then I’ll be blinded by all the horrible crap it’s shooting at me and it hits me again and this time I go down-
Down into the darkness of the water-
Unable to see-
To breath-
Live-
Its foot comes down on my chest, holding me under the water.
It pins me there.
I feel all its weight crushing me, keeping me held to the floor and I know it’s got me beat. I can’t take it, not in a fair fight.
A fair fight.
I spin around, managing to slip out from under its foot and I grab the foot and I dive into it with all the breath I have left in me and I feel the leg give and the body above it tumble.
I break the surface and take a deep breath, oxygen filling my lungs, filling my being and the creature before me is in pain and it’s growling and it’s lunging for me and I let it get as close as it needs and when it’s close enough I grab it and I take a deep breath and I go under the water, pulling it with me and I know that it doesn’t have lungs as big as mine and this time I’m going to come out on top.
I can feel its poison seeping through the water as it releases everything its got left to try and hurt me but the water takes most of it away, save for a little that merely heats up my skin.
I hold it there under the water. I focus on holding my breath. I begin to count in my head. I wait.

I wade through the mud again, my breath ragged in my chest, my head spinning. I can see Dawn ahead of me. She looks so peaceful, like she’s sleeping. I move slowly towards her, the world beginning to blur and spin before my eyes. I place my hands on the bank and start hauling my broken body up-
A icicle of pain sears through my hand-
The tail of the Skorupi raises again for another strike-
I roll out of the way, onto the bank-
The deadly scorpion-like Pokémon snaps its pincers and strikes a battle pose before me, getting its body between myself and Dawn.
I can feel my arm going numb.
I’ve been poisoned.

Heart of Darkness

The rain comes down harsh and cold. It wakes me up, my tired eyes embracing the moisture as if it were a long-forgotten lover.
The scream comes again. Terrible, feminine, pained, far off.
My feet sink into the stinking swamp water. The thick, tar-like sludge fills my shoes and weighs my legs down, as though my feet were replaced by concrete blocks.
A rustling in the leaves above me. I stop and listen.
Hoot-hoot… Hoot-hoot…
An owl-like Pokémon is sitting right above me. I risk a look up. It looks around feverishly, like a sentry on guard.
I stay quiet, hidden.
I stick my hand into the cold, black mud of the swamp and drag the slime across my face. I need to get out of the tattered remains of the Mr Mime costume, but first…
I’m completely hidden from view by the undergrowth. I try to imitate the noise of the creature above me.
Hoot-hoot… Hoot-hoot…
I can hear it moving on the branch above, looking around to find its injured friend.
Hoot-hoot?
It takes off from the branch and flies low over the bushes.
Hoot-hoot?
It flies down lower, circling very nearly right above me.
Hoot-hoot?
I reach up and grab it firmly with both hands as it glides past me. I drag it into the bushes with me.
Hoot-hoot!
It starts screaming, loudly. I jam my fingers into its beak. It bites down. Hard.
Blood starts seeping through the stupid white gloves of the costume. I bite down on my lip to keep from screaming. With one hand in its beak and the other keeping it from flying away, I fall forwards, hoping to smash it on the floor.
Its wings flap everywhere, in my face, rustling leaves, making a huge noise. I can hear growling from deeper in the swamp.
We fall into the swamp water together, the disgusting water blinding us both. I manage to find my footing and stand up first, holding the little fucker under the muddy surface. Now it won’t let go of my fingers, trying as hard as it can to severe them completely.
I groan with the pain, desperately trying to keep as silent as possible. Over the thrashing water, I can hear bigger monsters approaching, trying to find the source of the noise.
The churning in the water subsides. The grip on my fingers relaxes. I lift my hand out of the water and take a look at the bite. It’s deep. The gore flows down my hand, soaking into the disgusting costume, mixing with the black water.
The owl lifts its head out of the water and screams into the night sky.
I grab it, both hands around its spindly little neck.
Snap.
It stops screaming.
I move, quickly. The approaching monsters are getting louder, closer, more angered by the noise.
I wade through the mud as fast as I can, finding another spot to hide in the undergrowth.
I wait a moment.
In the spot where I murdered the owl just seconds before, the hulking brown hide of a Kangaskhan appears, the baby sleeping inside its pouch. A Quagsire and a Skorupi accompany the beast, examining the remains of the dead creature. The Kangaskhan roars into the night sky. They move on, wanting blood.
I take a moment to collect myself and start removing the horrible costume of a Pokémon I killed and skinned an eternity ago in a police station cell. I rip some cloth away from it, a makeshift bandage for my hand. Christ, I hope my fingers don’t get infected in this water.
I remove all the costume I can get to. I leave the enormous shoes on in case I stand on anything in the water. Then I cover my torso in mud, making my skin as invisible as possible in the murkiness of the swamp.
I start moving again, slowly, making as little noise as I can.
I move towards where I think the centre is; where that terrible scream came from.
Up ahead I see a clearing. Movement in it. Shadows dart back and forth.
In the centre I see a few Pokémon gathered around and in the centre-
A human-
A woman-
Dawn!
She lies on the ground, not moving, barely breathing, a gash on her head.
The creatures are rooting through her bag, tearing it apart.
A Quagsire pulls away from the bag with a bark of triumph.
It holds aloft the Pokédex.
The creatures let out their harsh, braying laughs.
I pull a fallen branch away from a nearby tree, the severed end sharpened to a fine point.
They think they’ve won.
Not yet they haven’t.

Marshlands

Pastoria City emerges from the darkness and the gloom, an orange glow silhouetting it against the night sky. I stumble towards it, beaten, exhausted, dead on my feet.
The night air is quiet, the only sound the wind through the leaves. The occasional scream far off shatters the still silence.
As I get closer, I can see that the city has already been destroyed. The monsters have brought most of the buildings to ruin, with several others ablaze. The flames crackle loudly in the night, the screams of humans long since silenced.
I stop just inside the city limits to take stock of the damage. From what I can see in the flicking firelight, the attack began from the marshes Pastoria is built on top of. The Pokémon must have left the safety of the swamps and swept through the city, cleansing all traces of life as they went. The ground is dotted with footprints of all sizes, some small – possibly Woopers – some massive, the crushing feet of Tropius.
I search around for any clues at all that might lead me to Dawn.
A human hand pokes out of the ruins of a house. I shift some of the rubble aside to see the remains of the Move Tutor. His head has been caved in, but not before a Carnivine choked him, leaving thick red welts across his throat.
I lay his body back down in the ruins, praying that he died quickly, at least.
A scream, close. Off towards the marsh. Someone is still alive!
I have to save them!
I plunge into the marshes, heading towards the sounds.