It was just a nightmare.
A nightmare, nothing more.
I turn for an instant –and only for an instant– as I see the shadows of formless black prowl behind me with the sadistic desire to lunge and dig away at my vulnerable and weakened corporal form. I felt the dark hallways on either side shifting, turning as the shadows began to sink within their walls.
I had to run, flee from this morbid realm of darkness that never ceased to end: passages without exits, doors without ways out. There was no light to secure my beaten steps, no hope to incite me to move on and no exit to end all this madness and torment.
Every step I took demanded my breath, my life. I was blindly running away from a fiend that surrounded me, overwhelmed me as the fatigue viciously drained me of strength. My frenetic steps upon the creaking wood beneath my feet fed there insatiable hunger for my certain defeat. But my resolve denied to: even though the advantage favored my opposition, even though all odds were against me, it didn’t mean I would fall.
Even so, I knew at the back of my mind it seemed I was only delaying the inevitable…
Before me, a small, pale corona imposed itself distances ahead -- hope at last. The infinite passages further had now ended: a herald of freedom. I leaped towards it, eyes bright and filled with genuine anticipation. I could feel the shadows being pushed back from wherever they came for those few slow seconds. Salvation at long last.
Then, it all happened…
The pulsating glow of faint white died away into nothing more, and my fingers slipped through its ghostly nature. My entire body –in mid-air– plunged onto the soiled floorboards below. At one impulsive instance, I felt the darkness grip my feet. Its cold grasp upon the surface of my flesh sent my heart twinging in fear. I reached out, trying to get hold of something, anything that could prolong my existence.
I dug my nails into the dusty, wooden boards -- only to find my frantic attempt served pointless as the shadows pull me even further. I could feel finger-like extremities creeping over my skin. I shudder to respond against it. The physical manifestation of grief surged smoothly onto the surface of my cheeks — tears of agony and prime instances of fear.
I let out a scream. Nothing was heard. No words came out. The option of death danced painfully on the edge of my mind.
My eyes unwillingly flicked open, fastening my desperate stare upon the murky passage beyond. My gaze had met the gaze of another. At the far extent stood a vaguely memorable figure: behind it, no light could penetrate its thick, smothering darkness, and before it shone a vibrant blaze of emerald green.
An ominous shade of black and violet paced behind the dark outline, reaching out to me with its outstretched appendage. I felt oblivion beckoning me as the shadow enveloped what was left of my physical form. This was it, then: darkness faded into dimness.The skies had darkened into an abyss of fierce thunderclouds and fog.
I found myself laying there, in its complex, staring impassively into the heavens tinted in dismal white while my body was unable to execute the actions I would array. I shuddered, the numbing cold dousing the scorching sensation coursing through me.
My senses began to drift far afield. The sky became an endless ocean of blazing red and rubble-laden ruins. Urban residences were toppled and sent ablaze. Shadows emerged – viciously slaying multitudes of the unarmed with fluid grace. Their crimson eyes gleamed against the fire; the forlorn cries of their victims generate their sadistic growls and laughs; their weapons of butchery were stained with blood and hunger for more. The ghoulish clatter of gunfire against them was distant, frequent, and mingled with the harsh shrieks of fear and affliction.
Desperate cries of the innocent…
I closed my eyes -- shut them firmly -- only to see further sights of which I feared: beneath the havoc and death, surfaced immense behemoths exchanging earth-shattering blows, one to the other;raw embodiments of nature’s wrath. Colossal, rolling walls of water and spheres of bright vivid red pound heavily against each other, turning what was once everything into nothing in their wake.
The once rich, luscious fields of annual emerald and scarlet had turned into a dark, barren and dying earth. Towering trees and thick succulent foliage once sown were now stripped bare, violently hauled from there perpetual pose of wisdom. Mountains were cleaved; cities, towns and structures were brought beneath their own foundations which once supported them in a panorama of authority and victory. Fires raged across the ruins while waves raced towards the mainland. The sky was set ablaze, torrential rainfall and fiery meteors showered above as an acknowledgment for their beholders…
But then I had realized there was more, much too more behind this apocalyptic chaos…
Formless, dark figures lay athwart and strewn amongst the scarred landscape: they were corpses, both of human and Pokémon alike — fatalities of the horrific butchery before my eyes.
Why was this happening?
Nausea had struck without a moment’s notice, and misery began to fill every fiber of my body. I could see their torn, decomposing facades flicker and stir against the bright fires that still envelop the smoldering wreckage. The shadows fed on their decaying bodies in a revoltingly content manner. At that dark moment, sheer and utter fear clasped me with its cold, and iron grip as I subsisted to comprehend the occurrence before me—
My stomach churned, and my eyes began to water. I struggled violently, trying to free myself from the shadows that gripped my body and poisoned my mind with sour, abysmal imagery.
I was running out of precious time. I had to draw my arms free for only one brief moment – but only for one brief moment –before all the lights weakened before me. It would mean everything, everything in the very end.
But all the indistinct, pale lights faded before my eyes—
Darkness has triumphed.
The horrific illusions before me were all gone, and soon, all the lights went out with them.
I hear shrill wails of pain and grief…
Only to realize, they were my own…
The sting of blades and ammunition rave across my body…
I fall towards the blood-stained earth in demise and defeat…
The faces of my allies and partners were now succumbed to the burning light of the Necropolis…
And now, fragmented memories are all that I possess…
A nightmare is all that it is.
I could have woken up from this gruesome nightmare. I could have seen the brighter future ahead of me and the dreams that spurred me to move on. But no, I was succumbed to the darkness even before they were totally realized. My memories were all but shattered, lost within the deepest confines of my mind. Why was this happening to me?
It was that world in where death and destruction held no sway…
I gasped desperately for breath as the faceless beasts began lurking behind me once more. Nothing more seemed so essential than to live in the light of pure, genuine salvation. Those warped shadows of shapeless black were around me now. I was losing the strength to resist, but I couldn’t give in, not now, not ever. But how long would I suffer this dreadful ordeal?
I was, for that dark moment, the epitome of survival.
Dimness…and absolute silence. I had no thought of what exactly would occur or where I actually was. Just when it seemed my horrid nightmares would haunt me out of the deepest depths of anguish yet again, the light of cracking dawn shone down upon me — atrue hope and luminance. I felt its warm rays caress the surface of my facade and somehow most, but not all, of the physical and emotional pain diminished.
I slowly opened my now tear-filled eyes, hoping it was all but a nightmare. The warm luster stung my eyes after those extended periods in blinding darkness; the indistinct white ceiling was immediately visible as it contrasted the early morning radiance…
It was a nightmare and nothing more — never had I been so relieved that true light awakened me out of the ominous realm of shadows.
I had soon realized I was over a long, supple stretcher, tucked beneath thick, white sheets. The pure light of dawn filtered through my window which was adjacent to the bed, altering the unlit corridors of emergent darkness into secure, insipid quarters of an infirmary. Meanwhile, my right arm was covered in white dressing and hooked to a small, hanging bag sealed with transparent fluid. Somehow, all these gave me comfort and reassurance beyond comprehension.
Still, I had no thought of what exactly happened to me or where I currently was. I could see nothing beyond this moment. My past was nebulous, vague and indistinct. And it struck me to why they aren’t known to me. What I had seen before seemed so undoubtedly authentic: endlessly running within pitch-black hallways with my most melancholic nightmares stalking me with relentless tenacity… Nevertheless, as with all things, there had to be a reason.
I tried to sit up. However, my entire body ached tremendously, as if it underwent strenuous activity without pause. My limbs were unspeakably sore, and the pain intense. It was like I had been struggling desperately against an entity I could never conquer. Thoughts of the dark nightmare still lingered, and somehow, the deep terror of not being physically-competent to save my allies resurfaced. Apart from that, I knew I was now secure.
I steadily ran my left hand (which wasn’t bonded by the white dressings, unlike my right) through my long, jade-colored hair. But doing this, I caught something else in the corner of my eye, one that almost made me stifle of such surprise: traces of small lesions, lacerations and bruises around the length of my left arm. All of which seemed treated.
This made me consider the position I was currently in.
At my near left was the large, clear rectangular window with white curtains hanging between its sides and warm light filtering through. I eagerly peered through it, hoping I would find one or any straight answer to all these. Nothing but one intimation written in great inscription: I was merely confined at a customary sanatorium, though it was one I knew to be one of the best in the whole region.
Petalburg Hospital for the Chronically Ill.
What was I doing in Petalburg City? Despite the thought of this hanging over my head, it didn’t really matter. Nothing appeared more essential than to know what had ensued that my memories served futile to illustrate.
At this moment, the echoing sound of footsteps was heard in the hall beyond.
Answers at last.
The door at my far right began to creak open, and a man in his late thirties slowly appeared. He had long, grey hair, and his dark, slit-like eyes immediately locked onto mine once he stepped onto the threshold. A dark formal coat with two violet, lightning-like symbols, adjacent at both ends, was at once noticeable and his slacks contrasting to his coat. Two iron rings at either side of his arms gleamed instantly and was quite an odd article of his attire.
He didn’t dress like standard medical personnel which made me doubt his presence here.
“So, you’ve finally awoken, Matthew Versil.” The man spoke with his deep voice at the same time reassuring then bowed earnestly before me. “Is the first-class treatment enough?”
“Who are you, and how do you know my name?” I asked firmly, ignoring the question and leaning back. “Where did you take my partners?”
“Oh, goodness me, my manners! I’m Steven Stone, president of the Devon Corporation,” the man replied with a comfortable smile on his face, “You’re a high-rank official of the Inquisition. It would be extremely difficult to not miss your name in the database.”
A thousand different thoughts fluttered through my mind at one spontaneous instant. Thoroughly confused, I looked at him as he responded. How did he know my name, and what did he mean by that unusual remark?
“You must’ve had quite an experience my friend.”
“I am fine,” I responded adamantly, disliking his inclination towards me.
“Well, I can clearly see that.” The man smiled. “I’m here to personally explain almost everything since the treatment center mentioned you may or may not recall the past events to a short term extent.”
“But you’re clearly not a doctor,” I strongly remarked, my innate suspicion kicking in. “How would you know what happened?”
Under normal circumstances, I would’ve forced this strange man into fearful compliance and questioning. But I was not in the situation to do so. I was wounded and powerless to do anything otherwise. In addition, my partners weren’t here with me and probably the stranger had more Pokémon at his disposal.
And at those few seconds, my mind began to whirl in confusion and suspicion as well. I had felt an immediate uncertainty to him the moment he had entered. I had really no idea how this person I had never heard of or seen knew what came about when the medical staff did not. Still, I forced myself to keep in vigilant silence, knowing he probably knew the answers to my questions.
“True, I know nothing about medicine and that entire sort, though I do know what happened to you.”
“Keep it short.” I gave him a sharp gesture, still wary.
“You’re a very cautious boy aren’t you?” He grinned, analyzing my expression. “Very well, then. You seem prepared in any case for that point, let me take this slowly then. And your partners — they’re in good hands and under the careful supervision of the local Center.”
“A few locals of Whales Island found you unconscious and badly wounded by its shores after the explosion,” Steven continued, “any other normal fifteen-year old wouldn’t have survived, but because you’re so unique, you surprisingly endured this ordeal. You were covered with scrapes, bruises and cuts along with small debris. Various parts of the wreck—“
“A wreck?” I abruptly interrupted him.
He disclosed this explicit information with certain fluency, and it seemed he was ready to willingly share intelligence to someone such as myself; perhaps selective disinformation to an extent? But what advantage could that even serve for a captor? It appeared he wasn’t concealing the truth from me, and this wasn’t preferred notion. Nonetheless, it relieved me beyond conception that my partners are alright and this information was what I needed at the moment, providing it is –and was– the genuine truth.
“Yes, a plane wreck in point of fact,” he continued with a short sigh. His positive expression moments ago began to fade steadily into sincere importance, reasonably what I was not expecting. “The local coast guard spotted a plane explode and then crash in flames a fourth of a mile from where you were. Recovery and rescue teams made an extensive grid search around the entire radius for more possible survivors, but…you and two others were the only ones.
“Whales lacks the medical equipment to tend your serious injuries along with those of your companions, so they brought you to the nearest contemporary infirmary for treatment, which is Sootopolis. After two days, they flew you here to conduct a variety of tests. Any more and you would have died…
“You’ve been in comatose for a few days until now.”
“But…I don’t understand.” I glanced at him, bewildered, yet I spoke my words with utmost caution. “What was I doing on a plane over Whales Island?”
I detested the position I was in: a position of feebleness and vulnerability — that and the fact that he had this much knowledge. Regardless, he had information –which maybe permissible– and I, on the other hand, did not.
“That plane left Ever Grande three hours after its departure and was bound for Fortree’s airport,” he softly replied before he sat steadily on a white, monoblock beside my bed. “Eight people were on the plane in catalog including you and the pilot. Three bodies were found according to the mortality index taken by the recovery teams, three of which were high-ranking League officials and two were regarded battle analysts. One of each had survived like you, though with injuries less grave.”
“That could only mean-” I spoke and I could feel my voice tremble with the unwanted response taking hold of its quarry.
“Yes, two more bodies were missing, and as I said earlier, the recovery team searched within a five-mile radius without finding anything.” Steven’s face was solemn with a bit of uncertainty strewn with his expression.
“…And?” I hesitantly asked, slowly tilting my head. I had heard there were eight on the plane in passing reference.I was the eighth, and he had mentioned six. “Let me ask you, what are the names of all seven aboard the flight?”
The room was silent. Neither of us moved. Neither of us spoke a word.
“Robert Myres…Ishiro Sigimori…Mike Andrews…John Daniels…Ken Saitou.” Steven broke the few minutes of deathly silence, pausing with each interval. A mix of concern and hesitation manifested itself upon his facial features. “The pilot’s identity remains unknown…”
Silence abounded yet again: they were signs of faltering. He turned away for a moment and slowly placed his hand on my shoulder. The force upon it was as heavy to bear -- I knew somewhat that I wasn’t entirely ready for the response I was soon going to get.
“…and Brendan Birch was the seventh passenger aboard the flight.”
At those words, the forbidding memories flashed rapidly before my eyes: what was once lost was now found. It greeted an unwanted sentiment that flared within me for those few unbearable moments. This solitary emotion crept within my body, clutching it with its entire agonizing embodiment and imparting onto me the affliction I would have to bear throughout time.