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July 10th, 2006 (5:35 PM). Edited July 11th, 2006 by Negrek.
Am I more than you bargained for yet?
Pokémon: Still not mine.
I’m not really very fond of this one, but meh. Figured I might as well do something with it, if I went to the trouble of writing the thing.
It was 11:59.
Jon sat propped comfortably in his bed, eyes intent upon the Game Boy Color in his hands. His bedside lamp gave off a weak golden light that washed sluggishly over his covers and created a small island of illumination around the head of his bed, while at the same time only deepening the shadows that crowded around his feet. They appeared to press in eagerly from all sides, looming around the boy in hungry expectation. Jon seemed unperturbed, however, fingers moving back and forth rapidly as he guided his character through the fields outside Mt. Silver.
He was looking for a sneasel. Had been looking for one for a couple hours, actually. Oh, he’d seen a few, but he kept on killing them by accident. Jon grimaced as yet another tangela popped up on screen, and with the angry punch of a button, his feraligatr sent the bundle of vines packing, little red shoes and all. Where were all the stupid sneasel, anyway? It was getting real late, Jon was getting tired, and his patience was running low.
It was 11:58.
There was a small noise in the hall outside his room. Jon froze, head snapping up. This time of night, the house was normally silent. The peace seemed to have returned for the moment, the only noise the thin, cheery tune piping from his Game Boy’s speakers, but Jon was still tense. If his mom had gotten up to use the bathroom or something, she’d need to pass his room to get there, and she’d see the light on. She already hated his video game habits; if she caught him playing at this hour of the night, who knew what she’d do? Jon glanced at the clock on his bedside table, praying that maybe it wasn’t too late, after all.
11:58. Wow, was it really that late already? Sure, it seemed he’d been looking for sneasel for a real long time, but not
The noise came again, louder and more distinct this time. It definitely sounded like someone shuffling groggily down the hall in pursuit of bladder relief. Jon bit his lip, reached over and turned off his lamp, hoping that maybe whoever it was hadn’t seen the light yet. He dived under the covers, pulling them up over his head. For a second, he just lay there, listening to the sound of his own quick, nervous breathing and the tinny music emanating from his Game Boy. Then, realizing that the noise might give him away, he fumbled in the dark for the volume control. His finger found the ridges of the little wheel and he shoved it up frantically. The sound died, leaving him alone with his thoughts and his breathing and the thrumming of his heart.
It was quiet. His eyes started to adjust, and he could make out the indistinct lump of his pillow and the pale curve of his arm even in the smothering dark under his blankets. He waited, anticipation spiking. It seemed like he’d been lying there forever, just waiting. There wasn’t any sound. Maybe they’d moved on. Maybe they hadn’t noticed anything.
Jon twitched the edge of the covers back and peeked at the clock again. Its glowing numerals were now the only light in the room. Still 11:58. But as he watched, the numbers changed.
It was 11:57.
For a moment, he merely stared, his heart starting to race all the faster before his brain had fully caught up to the moment.
The clock had just gone backwards? But how was that possible? Was it some sort of bizarre glitch? Was he seeing things? Was this some sort of strange dream? Perhaps he’d been mistaken, perhaps the clock had read 11:56 before. But no, he’d been staring right at it. It had said 11:58, he was sure of it. What was going on?
Now feeling all the more anxious, he lay in the darkness, mind spinning with questions and alive with fear. There was something strange going on here, he thought. No, you’re just being silly! It’s too late for you to be up; your mind’s playing tricks on you.
There was still no sound from outside in the hallway. Surely they must have gone by now. It was safe if he turned on the light for just a moment; surely they wouldn’t see, and then he could check.
Jon’s arm darted out from under the covers as he hastily flicked the light on, his head emerging from under the blankets as well and his eyes blinking owlishly in the sudden burst of illumination. He quickly pulled his Game Boy out into the open and activated his pokégear, looking up the time his game said it was.
fifty-seven? He stared with disbelief, mind temporarily numbed by incalculable panic and confusion, then he let out a great sigh of relief as he realized what it was. Oh, of course. He just hadn’t remembered to change the daylight savings time setting, that was all. His clock was right; it was eleven fifty-seven. He must have just been imagining things.
It was 11:56.
Suddenly, the noise outside in the hallway started up again. There were footsteps, almost muffled by the thick hallway carpeting, but now coming in his direction, quickly and decisively. His mom must have seen the light, and was on her way to investigate. It was too late to turn it out again and hope she hadn’t seen; he’d just have to own up.
The footsteps paused just outside his room as their creator stood in the shadows just beyond the threshold, presumably checking what he was doing. Jon could almost imagine the reproachful scowl growing on his mother’s face. The silence was thick and heavy.
“All right mom, fine. I’m up late playing Game Boy again. Yeah, I know you told me not to, but—" Jon irritably confessed, but stopped short when the late-night wanderer stepped into the room and approached his bed, coming into the light.
It was definitely not his mom. It was definitely not human. It was definitely not supposed to exist.
There is something lacking in illustrations, and even in photographs. You cannot get a true sense of what the Grand Canyon is by looking at the pictures in a
article. And, as Jon discovered in the space of two heartbeats, you cannot get the sense of what a kadabra is by looking at the cartoonish drawing of one in some game guide.
No cartoon could describe the way the light gleamed off the kadabra’s beetle-like carapace, or the faint click of its chitinous joints as it moved. There could be no illustrating the way that its ragged, unkempt mustaches drifted out faintly with its every wheezing breath, the faint nicks and dents in its armor, old battle scars long healed over, or the flecks of rust on its spoon. No picture could ever hope to capture its scent, something animal and wild and tinged with the smell of ozone, the way the air felt laced with potential in its vicinity, almost heavy and palpable, like the air before a lightning strike.
Jon stared at the kadabra with a feeling that could really only be done justice by a name all its own, but which now can most accurately be described as a riotous mix of fear, wonder, awe, shock, excitement, confusion, and apprehension.
The kadabra stared back. Jon felt a headache beginning to develop behind his eyes.
It was 11:55.
The jumble of thoughts in Jon’s head somehow managed to force their way down into his mouth, where they tangled up his tongue and made his words fall out in a confused heap.
The kadabra didn’t allow him to finish. Its gaze shifted from his face to the Game Boy in his hand. It pointed its spoon at it in an imperious fashion. Jon’s hand began to act as though it had fallen asleep, alive with tingles and at the same time strangely dead to sensation. With the kadabra’s intent at least partially clear, Jon felt it somewhat easier to order his thoughts, and managed to stammer out a response.
“You…you want to see my Game Boy?” A real kadabra in his room? Now? It was impossible! Why had it come to him, of all people? How? Had this happened to other people before? Was this some kind of crazy dream?
The kadabra shifted its gaze back to his face for a moment, appearing to ponder the question. It then nodded twice, very slowly and deliberately.
“All right, then,” Jon said, mystified but at the same time excited beyond words. He handed the Game Boy to the kadabra. It turned the device around so that it was the right way up and brought it to its face, squinting with fascination at the screen. The thumb on its spoonless hand, which sported a claw that was yellowed and had grown slightly crooked, hesitantly depressed the B button, returning the screen to a view of the overworld, with the start menu open on one side.
Fascinated, Jon peered at what the kadabra was doing. A pokémon playing a pokémon game? It was ridiculous! But why did it want his game, anyway? Maybe it had come from there? He didn’t think he’d had a kadabra.
Oh, yes, now he remembered. He’d caught an abra on this version and trained it a bit until it evolved, but as soon as he could, he’d brought over the alakazam from his blue version because it was stronger, and released the kadabra. But why would it come back to him, and in the real world, too? And why did it want to see his game now?
Jon was so wrapped up in his own thoughts and the questions that were threatening to boil over the rim of his now-aching brain that he hardly noticed the creature resetting the Game Boy, pressing a few buttons at random and twiddling the volume control, meticulously investigating every switch or button on every face of the device until it found the power button and turned the game off.
It was almost comical to watch. The kadabra was hesitant and at the same time clearly fascinated by the system as it turned the Game Boy back on and watched the opening animations. The adrenaline pulsing through his body helped Jon ignore the throbbing in his temples as he at last found his voice again and started off on a flurry of questions, his tongue almost getting tangled up with the pace of his words.
“Where did you come from? Why did you come to see me? Have you ever seen a Game Boy before? Can you even talk? Why—hey!”
The creature had made it up to the opening menu and selected “New Game.” Horror welled up in Jon’s heart as he recognized the signs of some bumbling new player making ready to save over his game, erasing his hard work.
As if the sharp word had finally made the creature aware of Jon’s presence, its head snapped up and its fierce eyes locked with his. The boy’s voice died on his lips as he gazed into the kadabra’s face, detachedly awed by the fine battle scars tracing its brown armor and wondering at its pupils, dark pits that appeared to lack irises. Before he could even think of voicing another question, the kadabra started to trying to answer his.
Jon jerked back with shock as his vision was suddenly clouded by whirling images, his mind scattered apart by a torrent of visions all flooding into his head, apparently at random. He watched a sunny field appear before his eyes, only to have it whisked away and replaced by the glimmering lights of a great city, as seen from a perch far above on a windswept mountain. More miraculous than the flitting pictures, however, were the smells, sounds, sensations that bubbled up in his mind. They didn’t always match what his eyes saw, but something was trying to organize them, sync up his perception and give him a message, let him experience something specific. What he was seeing seemed to make more sense, and words seemed to echo in his mind, halting and spoken without surety, but growing stronger as time went on.
sleep sleep safe thinking contentment sleep no-worry sleep think safe…
danger danger other-creature nidorino danger get away teleport teleport-safe danger teleport…
dark cold other-place teleport cold danger not-right teleport danger lost lost drifting lost cold dark lost scared lost teleport lost scared scared cold…
what light strange place teleport-out lost safety get-away teleport-away new place strange place can’t-stay-here teleport-out scared lost light teleport…
Jon let out a cry, hands clutching the bedspread, muscles tensing as a horrible feeling constricted his brain. There were no more words, there couldn’t be any to describe this. He tore his gaze from the kadabra, closed his eyes, but couldn’t block out the feelings it was sending to his head. It was like some terrible vise clamped onto his brain, squeezing and flattening it. It was all pain and three-dimensional existence being forced ruthlessly into two-dimensional space, of supercomputer mind being compressed onto a tiny chip. He groaned and twisted, trying to escape as the words started again.
lost scared hurt new-place not-good not-safe dark hurts-to-think pain dark lost lost scared…
can’t-move can’t-think controlled trainer trainer-human-thing battle pain always-pain fight can’t-move controlled can’t-think hurts dark then-battle then-dark pain scared…
battle battle stronger-now still-pain always-pain always-battle growing-stronger can’t-move can’t-think hate-trainer hate pain hate why? battle growing…
light energy strange strange feel-strange not-pain growin- stronger light-everywherE eVolvE gRowINg-sTroNGER EVOLVE KADABRA-NOW STILL-PAIN CAN’T-MOVE CAN’T-THINK DARK…
DARK RELEASE DARK COLD COLD NEW-COLD NO-PAIN THINKING MOVING DARK COLD LOST LOST DRIFTING TELEPORT-AGAIN TELEPORT-BACK FIND-HOME HOME HOME NO-PAIN TELEPORT TELEPORT-BACK…
HOME HOME SAFE CONTENTMENT THINKING HATE HATE-HUMAN FIND-HUMAN REST-NOW SOON-TELEPORT TELEPORT-HUMAN HATE-HUMAN FIND-HUMAN…
The horrible crushing feeling left Jon and he gasped, panting for breath, soaked with sweat. His brain felt like it had been put through a strainer, his thoughts floating around his head like loose balloons, not connected to each other and drifting aimlessly through his mind. He couldn’t even really understand what had just happened or what it meant, but fear was growing inside him. Something bad was happening, he knew now. He kept his eyes closed, trying to collect his thoughts. The kadabra seemed to have left his mind for now. As he became conscious of the situation, horror seeped into his veins.
“Sorry,” he gasped weakly. “Sorry… I didn’t mean… didn’t…”
Jon couldn’t resist the command. His eyes snapped open immediately and he found that the kadabra was now holding the Game Boy so that it faced him. Its screen was backlit with an eerie blue glow, matching the kadabra’s eyes. Its pupils seemed to have shrunk away to nothing, mere flecks of discoloration in a flat plane of radiance. The kadabra caught his eyes straying, however.
His eyes snapped back to the Game Boy. It was displaying the opening sequence for a new game. Professor Oak was delivering his classic speech, the words scrolling at a snail’s pace before his eyes although the kadabra didn’t appear to be pressing any buttons. It seemed innocuous enough, but a thrill of terror went through Jon’s body nonetheless.
He tried in vain to figure out what was going on here. The kadabra must be his old one, and it hadn’t enjoyed its experience in his game. But how had it gotten there in the first place? A teleport… gone wrong? It didn’t matter. All that mattered was that it was here now, and it was apparently very, very angry.
The kadabra entered his name when prompted, each letter appearing onscreen slowly, deliberately. The text advanced again.
“Jon, are you ready?”
The text paused, a blinking arrow appearing at its end, promising another screen after. A horrible wave of apprehension washed over Jon. Now he understood. “No,” he choked. “No, please…”
“Your very own pokémon story is…”
“Don’t do it!” Terror was bringing him coherence at last. “Please!” he sobbed. How often had he dreamt of being a real pokémon trainer? But not like this! He was going to be trapped in the game, like the kadabra had been before. This time, though, it would be controlling him, instead of the other way around.
“…about to unfold. You’ll face fun times and tough…”
“I didn’t know! How was I supposed to know? It’s supposed to be just a game. Just a game! Please! I didn’t know!”
“…challenges. A world of dreams and adventures…”
He hadn’t realized that he was crying, but his face was wet, and he could feel hot tears welling from his eyes. This was worse than a nightmare. It was one of his dearest dreams, twisted horribly and almost beyond recognition. Despair seemed to have robbed him of speech once again. He looked up into the merciless, terribly intelligent eyes. “Please…” he whispered weakly.
“…with POKéMON awaits! Let’s go!”
The arrow blinked at him. Not much time left. “No!” he shrieked. “Don’t do this to me! I didn’t know! No! Please, don’t!”
SEE HOW YOU LIKE IT, HUMAN
“I’ll be seeing you later.”
The image of the boy onscreen suddenly shrank, collapsing down to the normal size of the ingame avatar. It seemed to be taking a very long time, condensing pixel by pixel. A blue glow surrouned Jon’s body, and once again he felt that horrible feeling of compression. This time it was a thousand times worse, however, not the memory of pain shared with another, but real pain, ripping through his body as he was shrunk, forced into the tiny dimensions of the game. He screamed now, feeling himself falling, sinking, shrinking…
This time it really was his mother, worry clearly evident in her voice. The hall light went on, and the kadabra’s head snapped around. Jon felt the pressure relax somewhat as it was distracted, and he yelled out that he needed help, yes, please come, something horrible is happening, but found that the kadabra had muted him, probably something it was now wishing it had thought to do long ago. The normally silent creature was not familiar with the screechings of these humans, not having much interaction with them in all three dimensions before.
“Sweetie?” The sound of tentative, shuffling steps on the carpet, coming closer.
She was coming! Joy filled him. He thought he would never, ever be this grateful to hear his mother’s voice again. The kadabra was hesitating, the pressure easing. This was unanticipated. There was no time for it to complete the process.
Jon fell onto his stomach again as the kadabra released him from its psychic hold, his muscles, which had been rigid as pain shot through them, relaxed and left him to lie limply, his face buried in the mattress as he sobbed brokenly, more grateful than he had previously though possible, his heart hammering reassuringly in his ears, letting him know that he was still real, still in this world.
The kadabra stepped away from the bed, clutching the Game Boy, its screen now black, protectively to its chest. The footsteps outside were coming closer. Now the blue glow was surrounding the kadabra’s body instead of Jon’s, the air around it blurring and rippling as though it was the surface of a pond into which a pebble had just been tossed. Iridescent streamers of light streaked out from the kadabra’s body, multicolored glimmers floating gently through the air around it, swirling in some unseen wind.
Jon didn’t know what made him say it. Perhaps it was just another of those knee-jerk reactions. The creature was making off with his Game Boy and his favorite game (though perhaps not so much his favorite after tonight), after all. Whatever the reason, when he lifted his eyes from the mattress to see it going, he said, “Hey! Bring that back when you’re done with it, okay?”
The kadabra’s head turned slowly. It nodded once, twice.
Jon was alone once more.
It was 11:59.
Jon sat propped comfortably in his bed, his eyes intent upon the thick book in his hands. He turned a page with a resentful flick. If his parents were going to take his video games away from him because they didn’t want him up so late at night, then he was going to stay up just as late doing something else, just to show them. And all that garbage about games giving him nightmares… how stupid! He knew it hadn’t been a nightmare. His Game Boy and Silver version were missing to prove it, of course—good riddance.
Of course, his parents hadn’t believed him. Who would, really? But they didn’t have to freak out like that and take
his games away, plus his consoles and his computer games. Like that would change anything.
It was 12:00.
His watch went off somewhere from within the sea of junk spread across his floor. Jon thought absently that he could follow the beeping and actually find the stupid thing, which had been missing for almost a month, if he felt like it, but at the moment was feeling too content and lazy to do so. The watch went off every hour, after all; he’d have plenty more chances to find it.
Jon yawned. He should probably be getting to sleep now. The stupid book was boring, anyway. Tossing it carelessly aside, he reached out to flick his lamp off. As he did so, his eyes automatically went to the clock on his bedside table.
It was 11:59.
The clock was running backwards.
In which an undead trainer, a bloodthirsty super-clone, and an irascible ex-Rocket grunt set out to rescue an imprisoned Mew--if they don't end up murdering each other first.
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