Posts Tagged ‘Sunday Funday’

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.

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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-

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.

The War Begins

The rowdy wave of deadly Pokémon washes over Eterna City like a blood-fuelled flood.
The flame Pokémon begin the first attack, as arcs of fire spout across the cold tarmac. The Pokémon centre catches fire, the inhabitants screaming and trying to escape as a Rapidash wait at the front door. It gives a mighty kick with its powerful hind legs, a hoof disappearing into an old man’s face.
The fire spreads and Eterna Forest lights up with the burning orange hues of hate.
Everywhere I look there is carnage.
A Buneary brings a fleeing woman to the ground with a kick. It begins stamping on her head. As the poor woman’s face is crushed into the ground, the Buneary becomes so happy it evolves into Lopbunny. It giggles and runs off to murder more people.
A host of screaming people barricade themselves inside a multi-storey building. The Pokémon gather outside, jeering and laughing.
The crowd of hate parts for a Machamp and a Golem. The two carry a Geodude between them. They swing it back and forth a few times, before hurling it with all their combined might.
The Geodude strikes the building in a corner right at the base. It shatters the building with enough force to cripple the entire structure. The Pokémon run back as the building begins to crumble and lean.
I can see the people in the windows, looking out in horror. The building pitches off at an angle, beginning its fall to the ground. It shudders for a second, just long enough to tip a young man out through a window.
The glass explodes around him as he falls through, landing in a crumpled heap amongst sharp debris and rocks.
Before he can move, the rest of the building comes down on top of him.
The Pokémon howl with delight and begin making their way through the wreckage, pulling out survivors and brutally murdering them.
I make my way to edge of the City, trying to slip off unnoticed into the shadows of the night.
A Pikachu, blood all over its face, smiles serenely up at me. It charges up some electrical current and summons a huge bolt of lightening from the sky, before flinging it out to the power grid, cutting off the City completely.
A dog-like Houndoom chases after a woman as she runs, pushing her baby in a pram as fast as she can. It catches her, biting a bloody gash out of her ankle. She falls, screaming. The Houndoom opens its mouth and spits a geyser of fire directly into her face. She writhes and struggles and screams but soon it’s over and she lies still.
The Houndoom moves around to the front of the pram and observes the screaming baby. It pushes its dark head into the pram and begins eating.
In the midst of the chaos, I slip away into the shadows.

Thickening

I am tired beyond sleep. Exhausted beyond repair. Broken beyond mending.
I am marching in line behind a Bonsly, a heavily-muscled Machoke at my back.
I am wearing a Mr Mime costume and wearing the face of a dead Mr Mime over my own face.
It is the dead of night and we are marching into Mount Coronet.
I am so scared I want to piss myself, but it I do they will know and they will kill me.
Perhaps one of them will wear my face when I am dead.
Inside Mount Coronet, the mountain is claustrophobic and the passages cramped.
We are heading down. I have no idea if this section is even marked on our maps.
We pass several huge boulders, the size of which only a Pokémon could move. They must have opened up some hidden tunnels.
We keep walking down, getting deeper and deeper by the second.
Eventually the path levels out. I wonder how far down we are.
We keep walking until the tiny tunnel ends and we are–
Inside a massive cavern, hollowed out the in the centre of the mountain. Waterfalls trickle and cleverly placed fire Pokémon – Infernapes, Flareons, Ponytas, Rapidashes, etc – keep the place illuminated for the sight before me:
Thousands – tens of thousands – of Pokémon fill the chamber floor, gathering before a ledge built into the rock about ten feet up on the very far side of the cavern. Overhead flap the multitude of wings of the flying creatures, Wingulls, Pelippers, Starlys, Staravias, Swablus, Altarias, Togetics, Togekisses, even the bobbing balloons of Drifloons and Drifblims as they all circle the cave. Massive monstrous heads of Onixes and Steelixes emerge from holes carved into the rock cavern. Zubats, Golbats, Crobats, Gligars and Gliscors hang from the ceiling.
The noise is thunderous. The squabbling sounds of Pokémon grunts, murmurs and the sounds of the own languages echo around the cavern.
I keep following the Bonsly in front of me. It seems to know where it’s going as our line marches into the enormous gathering of Pokémon stretched out before us.
We keep walking deep inside the crush. We finally stop in near the middle.
The Bonsly turns and looks at me excitedly, jabbering away in some strange language. All I can hear is it saying its own name repeatedly. I nod and grunt. It turns back to face the ledge with the rest of the Pokémon.
I turn back. The trickle of Pokémon entering the cavern is dying. We seem to be all here.
The sound of the huge boulders, miles above and away, reverberate around the cavern as they are pushed back into place.
We’re all shut in.
The noises die away, silence consuming their places.
The only sound I can hear is my breath rasping through the hole where Mr Mime’s mouth once was.
The glow of the lights seems to fade slightly.
A Monferno climbs the ledge and illuminates it with the flame on its tail. A cave entrance is barely visible in the rock behind the ledge.
The collective breaths of thousands of Pokémon are held.
They walk out of the cave, onto the ‘stage’; fifteen humans, hands bound behind them, bags on their heads, adults and children, lead and followed closely by Scythers and Scizors.
The humans are forced to their knees, facing out over the vastness of the crowd. Even at my great distance, I can see they are all shaking with fear and that most of them have pissed themselves.
One more creature emerges from the black tunnel:
A Psyduck.
As it walks on stage, a ripple surges through the crowd.
The Pokémon bow down on one knee before the Psyduck.
I join them, hoping I don’t go too fast or too slow.
The Psyduck points at one of the humans.
The Scizor standing behind it rips the bag off its head.
I recognise him! Professor Rowan! The man who gave me the Pokédex at the start of this whole affair!
My gasp is drowned out among the collective growling that begins to echo around the chamber as the Pokémon get a look at the man.
He blinks in the light, his face bruised, a bloody wound to his temple.
‘What the hell is going on?’ His voice echoes around the cave, the projection perfectly clear across the whole ensemble.
The Psyduck points to another human in the row. The Scyther whips the bag off and her black hair falls down past her terrifyingly pale cheeks. I recognise her as well – Sandy. She worked with Rowan in the lab, developing new ways to catalogue the Pokémon.
The Psyduck’s eyes glow bright blue, the same colour that illuminates from the assistant’s eyes.
Sandy’s mouth opens and a deep, slow-speaking, unnatural voice comes out of it.
‘Speak when you are spoken to, Professor. We have all night to answer each other’s questions.’
Rowan shoots horrified glances between Sandy and the Psyduck. ‘What is she saying? Are you making her say that?’
The Psyduck nods.
The Scyther steps in behind one of the other people in the row. It extends a single bladed arm across the front of him. It slashes sharply across his throat. The man collapses, thrashing, his hands bound behind him, his blood spilling across the ledge, spilling down into the Pokémon at the front, sending them into a frenzy. The crowd roars with delight and Rowan tries to move towards the man. The Scizor behind Rowan cracks him over the head with a pincer, stopping his struggle.
The man kicks weakly, his death inevitable. The Scyther picks him up and hurls his dying body out into the crowd. The Pokémon that grab him rip him to shreds, pulling every piece of flesh they can grab in all directions at once. I swallow back some bile.
As the man’s pieces vanish into the crowd, the noise dies down. Sandy begins speaking again.
‘I take it that you understand now the seriousness of this congregation, Professor?’
Rowan shakes with fear.
‘You can answer me now, Professor.’
‘I… I understand.’
‘Excellent. We have brought you and everyone else from Sandgem Town here because we have some rather pressing questions that I’m afraid only you can answer. Our questions concern the Pokédex, the device by which you humans attempt to corral and catalogue our kind. Are you paying attention?’
Rowan nods slowly.
A bead of sweat makes its way down the back of my neck. I pray the Machoke behind is too busy watching the stage to notice my terror. Sandy’s booming voice echoes around the chamber again.
‘We want to know how it works, Professor, and how we can acquire one of our own.’
There is a pause. It feels longer than eternity. I can almost hear Rowan trying to think his way out of the problem. Finally he finds his voice. ‘It works by cataloguing the individual Pokémon’s DNA and analysing specific wavelengths within it. That’s how it can create a complex list of all types of… of… you.’
‘And how do we get one of our own?’
Rowan shakes his head. The Scyther steps in behind another bagged human.
‘No, no! What I mean is, there are only three in the whole of Sinnoh. I developed them all myself and gave them to three young explorers. They have the only ones in the region.’
The Scyther steps back. The Psyduck seems to be deep in thought.
‘Is it possible for you to recalibrate the Pokédex?’
Rowan sounds unsteady. ‘How do you mean?’
‘Say you want to catalogue something other than Pokémon. Can you change it?’
Rowan bows his head. He seems to already know the answer. ‘What are you thinking of cataloguing?’
A harsh, braying laugh comes out of Sandy’s throat. ‘Surely you already know the answer to that, Professor! There are four hundred and sixty two Pokémon in the world and over six billion people! You tell me which is the species that requires cataloguing!’
The jeers and laughter of the Pokémon in the chamber echo like thunder.
The Psyduck motions for quiet before continuing. ‘If we bring you the Pokédexes, can you change them?’
Rowan nods, painfully slowly.
The Scizor steps forward, clutching sheets of paper carefully in its pincer. It brings them close to the flaming tail of the Monferno.
‘Study these faces and learn them!’ bellows the evil voice from within little Sandy. ‘These three hold the key to our salvation!’
Scizor holds up the paper and the burning flame shines through them, projecting the images onto the walls of the cavern. There, at least twenty feet high, is my face, staring back down at me. My breath catches in my throat as the growling and hissing of angry Pokémon fills the air.
‘This one is particularly difficult,’ intoned the voice. ‘We’ve been after him for some time. He’s sent many of your brothers and sisters to early graves.’ A nearby Piloswine bellows in rage.
The sheet changes to the next face. Grinning moronically back at the collective is the young face of my Rival. The Machoke behind me beats its chest and roars.
The final sheet is raised up to the light. The sweet smile of Dawn, my love interest, shines down from above. Bonsly thumps its feet against the floor.
‘My friends!’ The Psyduck roars above the din of the bellowing, braying, roaring beasts. ‘Tonight our long-awaited plan shall begin! Any humans that resist may be slain according to your own desires, but we must have the three Pokédexes and their owners brought here immediately!’
The roaring of the Pokémon becomes a slow, steady chant. A wave of aggression passes through the crowd. They are all insane with bloodlust.
‘BRING ME THE POKÉDEXES! SLAY ALL WHO STAND IN OUR WAY!’
The chant becomes a scream, a tribal war cry. I join in stamping my feet on the ground, yelling out against the din.
‘NOW GO, COMPLETE THIS GLORIOUS MISSION!’
With one final bellow, the Pokémon begin charging for the exit. I run with them. The only words in my head are, oh my god, oh my god, oh my god, oh my god.

Enemies

The knife swings just past my face, clanging loudly against the wall. Mr Mime slashes for me again, this time missing wilder as I fall back further into my prison.
He’s pushing me back. He’s got the advantage on me. He knows it. I know it.
He lunges for me again and I manage to duck aside.
We’re both in the cell now. I’m being slowly backed into a corner.
The look of furious victory on his face tells the story – he knows he’s won.
He keeps pushing me back until I’m in the corner.
He twirls the knife around and smiles.
‘Why?’ I shout.
He stops, tilts his head at me quizzically.
‘Why are you all doing this? Why me?’
He points the knife at my chest.
He shifts the weight on his feet.
Darts forward.
I step to one side and try to dodge.
The corner has me pinned.
I spin around and try and crash into him.
The knife catches me in the shoulder.
Glances off, tearing skin.
I scream.
He laughs.
But I’m in close and he can’t get me again.
I punch him in the face and claw at his eyes.
He staggers, tries to push back away from me
I dig my thumb in his eye socket.
He trips over and we fall down. The rattle of his knife echoes as falls to the floor and bounces away. His head cracks onto the solid stone floor and the momentum pushes my thumb deep into his eye.
I twist my thumb and pop his eye out. It hangs down his cheek loosely.
Black gunk washes over my hand as he screams. He thrashes wildly with his arms and tries to get at my face.
I club him with both of my hands.
In the chest.
Club. Club. Club.
Something cracks inside him.
He gurgles and spits black gunk at my face.
It hits my cheek.
It burns.
He writhes in agony on the floor.
I go for the knife.
As I take my weight off him, he pounces back onto his feet and rushes for me.
He tackles me down to the floor, hard. Tries to club me back.
I have my arms ready and block his attacks. I reach out to something and grab hold of the door frame.
He brings his hands up again for another blow. I punch him in the chin. He unbalances.
I pull myself towards the door. He grabs my foot, the two of us crawling pathetically around after each other. Him with his eye still drooling goo.
I get to the door and try and use it to stand. If I can lock him in..!
He knows what I’m going to do and grabs the knife, trying to stand.
He gets to his feet first and rushes towards me.
I manage to stand up and swing the door shut as hard as I can.
His hand gets in the way.
A sickening snap and his wrist is bent the wrong way.
The knife falls to the floor.
I open the door a little wider.
He tries to follow his arm through.
I shut it on him again, crushing him against the door frame.
He falls to the ground, half in and half out.
I slam the door.
Again.
And again.
And again and again.
He screams and screams and I hear things cracking and snapping inside him as he thrashes around and claws at the floor as the black mess flows freely from his body.
Eventually he stops moving, stops screaming, stops gushing that black gunk.
I slide down the wall.
Sweet darkness.

I wake.
It is dark again.
The body is long since cold on the floor.
Nurse Joy still lies upon the floor, frozen in beautiful desperation.
My head is thumping.
Footsteps outside.
I climb gently to my feet and look out the window.
There they are.
Pokémon.
A small army, walking quietly, orderly, in a row, heading away from the houses, out into the night.
I need to follow them… but how?
I won’t get close enough as I am, they’ll find me and kill me.
If only I was a Pokémon…
I look at Mr Mime’s broken body.
White gloves, pink foamy-looking body, big shoes. They sell those as costumes.
But the face? Where can I get one of those?
The knife on the floor glints in the moonlight, the tip pointing at my fallen enemy.
I pick it up, bend over the clown’s dead face, and begin cutting.

Fifteen later, and I’m pulling the skin away from the corpse’s face.
I hold it up and look at it in the moonlight.
It’s perfect. The light shines through the thin flesh, but it will fit me just fine.
Mr Mime’s skinned face is a mess of rotting muscles and broken tissue. The black gunk oozes through every available pore. He doesn’t have a skull; it seems to be more of a hardened shell.
A quick glance out the window–
The trail of Pokémon has slowed down, but they are still walking in a line into the night.
I step over the fallen Nurse Joy and root around in the boxes and boxes of various supplies.
I find my name written on one box. I open it up to find all my world possessions: the Pokédex and my lighter. I pocket them both and keep rooting.
I find one box labelled, ‘costumes’. Sure enough, it contains various Pokémon outfits, Happiny, Chansey, Pikachu and Mr Mime. I pull on the Mr Mime suit.
I stand by the door, looking like a ridiculous fucking clown with a broken hand hidden by a white glove with black, bloodshot eyes and bruises over most of my skin.
Luckily, my new face will hide all that away.
I stretch Mr Mime’s face over my own.
It fits.
The black gunk still inside the skin burns like hell but it seems to fix the dead face over my own just right. I check the mirror, wipe away the visible ooze and step outside.
The air is warm, the night deadly quiet.
The only sound is the Pokémon’s footsteps as they leave the village.
I don’t even know where we are.
In the distance, the silhouette of Mount Coronet fills the sky, blotting out stars and a chunk of the moon with its vastness.
I walk towards the Pokémon.
A Machoke sees me.
It stops.
Grunts.
Smells the air.
The other Pokémon behind it look curiously at me.
It grunts at me again.
It seems to be asking me something.
I nod and grunt.
It seems satisfied. It motions for me to get in front of it.
I hurry into the line and start walking after the others.
We march onwards.