What is now and what it once was
“Old loves they die hard…old lies they die harder…” The sound of a ring tone interrupted Ash as he had been singing along with the CD. With one hand on the wheel and one searching for the car’s phone which he just threw somewhere after the last call and both eyes looking at the road and back on the car occasionally he continued to sing along as his free hand searched the car’s floor for the phone. After he found it he answered and a girl’s voice began to shout into the phone.
“Where the hell are you? You were supposed to have been here an hour ago!” The girl gasped loudly and then said in a dramatic tone, “You took the car again! And you’re driving through the beach.” Ash raised an eyebrow and looked to his left; the beach was certainly a very beautiful scene especially around sunset. He chuckled and finally spoke up.
“For your information I have permission to take the car whenever I feel like it…and…how the hell did you know I was taking the beach route?”
“Hey, we’ve been partners for a year now. I know a thing or two about you, honey!”
“Yeah, well, it’s creeping me out. Stop doing that. It’s like you stalk me or something.” The girl on the other line than began to laugh wildly as she said in between laughs, “Oh, don’t flatter yourself. Just get your ass over here this instant. I can’t handle all these newbies and idiots by myself!”
“Whatever…” Ash hung up and tossed the phone to the backseat. He had no intention of picking it up again or calling anyone for the remainder of the trip back to H.Q. Ash just sat back and enjoyed the ride.
For some reason the beach always seemed to calm him down. Every time he came back from a meeting in Liberty Gardens City he always took the beach route back to Stone River City where the newest H.Q. had been built. As he drove through the road he lowered the rooftop since the car was a convertible. The salty wind brushed his hair gently and the sound of waves crashing over the soft brown sand was far better than the music on the radio.
The beach was also one of the only places where he could mellow out and truly be at peace seeing as how for two years he had been going through more problems than he had ever anticipated. As soon as it all fell back into place Ash couldn’t help but revisit the past as he so often did. Ash did this in order to remember at the very least what he was and what he is now. Deep inside he knew what he did was wrong but he could not help it. Ever since Pikachu had been lost to the cons who stole his best friend it seemed like he had been at war with the entire world.
When Ash gave the dreaded news to Brock, May and Max they all felt his pain as they knew how close Ash and Pikachu were. His friends even tried to help look for Pikachu but after several months they slowly began to give up and Ash was not about to do so. Ash also took in consideration that May had her own journey to continue and Brock’s goal to become a great Breeder. He did not have the heart to ask them to put their own journeys on hold until they found Pikachu once more so he decided to look for Pikachu on his own.
He had left in the middle of the night but left them a note explaining that he had to find Pikachu no matter what. Over the months Ash had to blend in with unscrupulous characters, had to cheat and lie and not to mention socialize with what he knew of as scum. For an entire year Ash and another trainer he had met who was in the same situation he was in went undercover and walked amongst society’s dirt. The entire thing made Ash sick and it got worse since every time he believed he was getting closer to finding the people who stole Pikachu he got more and more involved with the likes of them.
A certain memory he so badly tried to erase was one that took place not too long ago back in a distant city he had traveled to on his quest to find Pikachu. Ash had a solid lead on the thieves but in order to get close he had to pretend he wanted to join a ring of con artists who were also bent on Pokémon trafficking. Like every band of thieves Ash had to prove himself in order to join. Unfortunately they had asked him to steal from a certain Pokémon trainer they had a grudge against.
Ash remembered the name perfectly well. The name was Mac Roves. A talented coordinator who also helped out the local police with the scum running loose in the city. No good deed ever came without a price, especially in that city. Ash was told that Mac had a very powerful Exploud in his house so his instructions were to steal the Exploud in order to gain their trust and gain entry into the ring.
Around midnight that same night Ash snuck into the property. This night proved all ready to be a long one since to his surprise he managed to look inside the house through a window located in the living room. There he saw Mac sitting down eating something and what appeared to be reading a book. Ash sighed heavily as he hid amongst the shadows of the tall bushes on the side of the house.
As he stood still he looked into the house and felt very strange. He was about to do what had been done to him a year ago. Under normal circumstances this would have made Ash sick enough to stop and quit while he was ahead but he did not. For an entire year he dwelled in a shell full of hate, anger, despair and depression. In his quest for finding his best friend he had changed in so many ways. Ash did not care about his own journey any longer, he had become less and less social and he cared very or not at all for anyone else.
Ash knew he had changed but he did not know just how much, unfortunately he was about to. Ash blocked whatever feelings he had pondering in his mind and slowly walked towards the house.
“Oh, goodness, 12:30 all ready? I should be off to bed.” Mac stood up and stretched his arms and legs as far as he could. He gently set the book on the coffee table and walked towards the back of the house. Mac walked past the kitchen and past a door leading to the basement. He opened a door at the back of the house and as soon as the doorknob and frame met once more a door right in front of the room Mac had just walked into opened.
Ash hid in the broom closet to avoid confrontation. He looked around since he had no idea where Mac had his Pokemon. Ash quietly snuck into the kitchen and once past it he walked into the living room. The living room was very simple. There was a fireplace facing the window which Ash looked through as he waited for the right moment to break in, there on top of the fireplace was a wooden box. For some odd reason Ash seemed drawn to it and before he knew it he was opening it and inside was a lone Pokeball.
On it was the word “Whisper”, Ash assumed it was the infamous Exploud he was after. Ash grabbed it and as he held it he looked at it and scoffed at the irony of its name given to it by its trainer.
Suddenly a deep voice said, “Who the hell are you and why are you in my house?” Ash quickly turned and came face to face with Mac. A sudden wave of fear and anxiety over came Ash and his mind suddenly shut down. He had been caught red-handed and doing something he knew was beyond painful for any Pokemon trainer. Ash stared at Mac with a mixture of emotions running up and down his spine. Ash had not prepared himself in case this situation would occur.
“I said, ‘What are you doing here?’” Mac asked in a rather angry tone. Mac knew why Ash was there since he saw the box open and Ash facing it but he preferred to frighten Ash first before calling the police. Mac was getting tired of playing games so he said, “Put that Pokeball down this instant!”
In his fear Ash did not reply and just stood there looking at Mac straight in the eyes. Ash knew it was over, his career as a Pokemon trainer was as of that moment breathing its last breath. Ash began to breathe heavily and kept staring at Mac with empty eyes.
Mac walked away towards the kitchen as he said, “That’s it, I’m calling the cops!”
At that very instant something deep within Ash snapped. A fragile string known as innocence had snapped in half; cut by a rusty knife known as rage. Rage for the fact that if the cops came he would surely not be able to ever find Pikachu and his life would be over as a Pokémon trainer.
Mac reached for the phone and as he was about to dial he felt a stinging blow to the back of his head. Mac hit the ground hard face first and before he could turn around another devastating blow was felt in his back. After a brief and painful moment Mac tried to get back up on his two feet but found it rather difficult to do so. Mac groaned painfully and dragged his body with his arms towards the phone he had dropped on the floor just a few feet in front of him.
As Mac crawled across the floor it felt like an eternity since he was afraid if he would receive another blow. Finally he got a tight gripe on the phone but before he could dial again Ash stomped on the man’s arm causing Mac to let go of the phone and groan loudly. Ash had in his hands a bloody fire poker with which he swung back and forth in a taunting way right in Mac’s face.
Mac could barely look up but he knew it was the same boy who he found in his living room trying to steal his most priced Pokémon. Ash looked down on the man in the coldest way anyone could. He took the bloody fire poker and with both hands raised it up high above his head like a golfer would to strike a golf ball across a green field of grass and into its destination. Seconds before Ash could swing the fire poker Mac was able to look up and saw Ash’s eyes. There was something in them that was not there before. A set of cold stone eyes deprived all of all sorts of human feelings yet it was replaced by energy, energy only found in that which drives a man mad and commits him to the darkest corner of the human mind. Ash swung the fire poker and stroke Mac on the side of his head.
That same night Ash had run back to the ring of thieves and cons that had set up the assault and handed them the Exploud they so badly coveted. The following morning Ash was devastated to learn that the perpetrators in question had moved on the night of the assault and he once again lost track of them. That was not the end of the line, several weeks later Ash learned that Mac, the man he had assaulted, had been in the hospital for several weeks but the doctors determined that he would never walk again nor would he have full use of his brain.
“Alice, please step into my office.” The voice of a woman spoke through the PA system. Alice was in the gym with several new Team Rocket members and was training with them so that they would not mess up as they often did. She rolled her eyes and groaned softly but to her surprise the same woman said, “Don’t roll your eyes at me young lady and get in here…now!”
Alice in her shock reacted and quickly ran towards Sandra’s office, the woman who paged her. Alice ran out of the gym and was once again outside in the parking lot. Alice groaned from the sunlight hitting her eyes so she reached into her pockets and got out a set of sunglasses and put them on. She began to walk towards the main building to have a talk with Sandra and see what she wanted.
The main building was not very grand but it was not that small either. Two tall buildings aligned next to each other with an identical structure stood before Alice. The buildings were made of a thick glass with a dark tinted and thin paper that made it possible for people inside of the building to look outside but those on the outside could not look inside.
Alice walked on and stood right in front of the electronic door. She stood perfectly still and waited. Several seconds later a thin neon red line shot out at her right eye and then it disappeared just as an electronic voice said, “Walker, Alice. Access granted. Please enter your identification code.”
A small thin keyboard slid out of the wall and Alice typed in several numbers. The keyboard slid back into the wall and the front door opened up. Alice walked inside of the building and headed towards Sandra’s office at the end of the main hallway. At the end of the main hallway there was a glass door with the words Sandra Roget in black, bold letters. Alice opened the door and walked inside.
The office seemed cozy enough. The desk was at the end of the room with a computer on the left side and a printer on the opposite side of the desk. Behind the desk there was a huge window overlooking a beautiful river that flowed through and was used a lot for Pokemon battles consisting of Water and Ice types. The walls were a soft beige color and the roof was white. There were no pictures on the wall nor were there any extra decorations in the office.
Alice sat down in front of the desk and from behind the computer screen popped out a woman with red hair twirled up high and tied with a blue ribbon to match her blue tank top. Sandra bent down without saying a word and seconds later put a couple of files right in the middle of her desk.
Alice backed away a bit and raised an eyebrow in question. Sandra looked away from the computer screen and crossed her hands on top of the desk and said, “So…how are we today Alice?”
“Pretty good I guess. Why did you call me here?”
Sandra sighed deeply and said as she fixed her glasses, “Just checking to see how you are with your partner. Seeing if you’re still alive.”
“We’ve been partners for a year and still people ask if I’m all right. What is that all about? I’ve never had this happen with other partners.”
“Yeah, well, take a look at this.” Sandra opened the first file on the desk and said as she handed the picture to Alice, “That right there was Ash’s first partner. Sally got on his case about his being too anti-social so he—well take a look for yourself.”
Alice looked at the picture and saw a young girl around her age in a hospital bed. Her face looked like a swollen plum. This girl obviously received a nasty beating. Alice could not believe Ash had done that. She knew he had a very short temper and was prone to blow up over any stupid little thing and she knew he had a history of extreme violence but she never knew it reached that level.
“What?” That was the only word that slipped through her lips as she looked at the picture. She was in shock and Sandra could tell but unfortunately for Alice that was only the beginning. Sandra handed her another file.
“We decided to partner him up with a guy seeing as how he cared not if who ever he attacked was male or female and we thought Robert would tough it out but…he didn’t.”
Alice opened the file up and saw several pictures of some serious stab wounds on Robert’s face, arms, legs, stomach and back. Alice closed the file abruptly and handed it back to Sandra who said. “300 stitches in total and this one--”
“Please! No more, I-I-I get the picture. Literally!” Alice put her hands over her eyes and thought about the pictures she saw. Never before had she ever feared Ash nor had she ever taken his short temper seriously but now she thanked the heavens she was somehow alive. Sandra thought for a minute that showing her the pictures might have been a mistake but she was only preventing another disaster.
“Alice? Are you all right?”
Alice remained quiet for several seconds but then said as she looked at Sandra in surprise, “You let them pair me up with a total psychopath! And why the hell have you put up with him after all of this?” After she said that Alice scolded herself since that was only meant to be an inner thought. Sandra immediately rose up and jumped at Ash’s defense since after all, Ash and her got along just fine.
“Ash is not a psychopath! He’s had some problems in the past and has been trying to work them out. Now I suggest you settle yourself and think before saying anything to him. Watch what you say and for the love of all that is sane do not piss him off. Is that understood? And as for your other question, the boss sees him as the best of the best and he is not about to let him go over a thing like this.”
“Yes, it’s just that…what if something like this happens to me?”
“It won’t. He’s in anger management and has made good progress. That’s why you’re here today. To make sure you are not in some ditch across I-95 festering in a murder scene.”
Alice kept quiet and thought carefully about her partnership with Ash. She even gave switching partners a thorough thought. Whatever her decision would be she would have to be careful as to not end up another victim of Ash’s rage.
Hours after speaking with Sandra Alice dove more and more into the thought of changing partners but part of her was afraid that Ash might find it offensive and try to hurt her. Alice had known Ash for a year and both of them seemed to get along just fine. Like any kind of relationship they had their bitter arguments as they had good times.
Alice stared into the river as she thought things through. The river had always been a hideout for her whenever she needed a time out from the real world. She sat on the grass looking into her own reflection created by the water. The soothing cool wind blowing her hair in all sorts of directions seemed to entertain her as well. Alice was deep into her train of thought when suddenly the water she starred at in a hypnotizing way burst into a wild dance of ripples.
“Why the heck are you out here?”
An all too familiar voice and one she had hoped to avoid for several more hours now. Ash sat down beside her and held a pebble in his hand and tossed it once more into the water creating more ripples. Alice remained quiet and avoided direct contact with her partner but then Ash said something that shocked her.
“So…Sandy showed you the pictures, huh? And now you’re freaking out.”
“Huh? How did you know?”
Ash scoffed and said, “Please, Sandy and I talk all the time. She tells me everything and I have a feeling you want to change partners, correct?”