Chapter 26 - Dinner
I woke up with a tightened chest, struggling for breath. Sitting upright the strain on my lungs became even more apparent as they begged for oxygen, their pathways blocked by some unknown piece of bodily goop. Going with what I was taught to do, I beat my chest with my fist as hard as I could in the hope that the blockage would be dislodged. The first time had no effect so I beat it again and again and again until finally, the blockage came up and I was able to spit it out and take a very deep breath.
Once I was able to breathe normally again, it took me a while to notice that I wasn't in the same place as I'd fallen asleep. Deceived by my own memory, I couldn't remember getting here. The last thing I remembered I was on the grassy hill, talking to Slowking, and now I'd woken up there.
Deciding to explore a bit to jog my memory back into place, I found myself walking in a dark and misty area, a place where the purple mist was thick and clouded my vision. My footsteps echoed as I tried to wade through the darkness, brushing the mist out of the way with my hands while although I couldn't actually feel it on my skin, I could sense it around me.
Looking downwards, all I could see was darkness, endless darkness. I jumped backwards, falling over out of fright; I was standing on nothing - walking on nothing. I carefully reached out my foot and swung it in a full 360 degree circle against the 'floor' and it was stable on all angles.
This was definitely not normal.
"H-hello?" I called out, looking for a friend, an answer, any form of life. "Guys!?"
I felt afraid, genuinely afraid and not able to understand or comprehend what was happening around me. My hands began to tremble as I rose to my feet with my legs feeling like jelly. Taking one step at a time, testing the ground before allowing all my weight onto the space between spaces that I was walking on, I endeavoured forwards.
After walking for a while my view still remained the same in all directions, almost as if I was smack bang in the middle of a desert - there was nothing there.
I stood still for a moment, trying to retrace my steps. It seemed like the most logical approach to the situation. I remembered playing with my Pokémon, Chinchou's Shock Wave, staring at the sky and speaking to Slowking but then all of a sudden I'm here. I couldn't remember going to sleep, or walking anywhere or anything; it was just blank, nothing there. Why could I not remember getting there?
As I stood there, I didn't notice that the mist began to slowly swirl around my feet. Then, out of the blue, a voice came from behind me.
I span around to see April, in her torn and tattered clothes from where she's taken a Razor Leaf attack, surrounded by mist, shrouded in the darkness.
"April! Oh am I glad to see you - Where are we?"
I looked closer and she was weeping with her head bowed, her cries echoing into the space around us.
"April? What's wrong?" I asked, attempting to approach her. As I walked nearer she seemed to drift away without moving, still keeping the exact same distance between us.
"It hurts... It hurts so much." She sniffed, not attempting to wipe away her tears. Instead letting them fall into the mist. "Why didn't you help? Why didn't you stop them?"
"I-I couldn't." I stammered. "I wasn't there, remember?"
"But you could've. Now I’m stuck... stuck like this."
"Like what, the scratch? It'll fade won't it? You won't even feel it soon." I said, trying to advance again only for the same thing to happen.
"But it hurts..." She whimpered, turning around to show her bandaged back, her head still lowered.
Confused, I couldn't work out what she wanted from me, or what was happening. She was making me feel guilty for something that I had no part in and I had no idea why.
April then whispered something, but it was too quiet for me to hear properly, so I asked her to repeat it.
"...Help me." She said quietly.
"I'm trying to but I can't-"
"-Help me." She said again, more sternly.
Suddenly her bandage began to stick to her back and then I worked out why as a red smudge appeared. The smudge spread, wider and wider, making the bandage thicker and thicker with blood.
"Help me...Help me... Help me." She repeated.
I stuck my arm out to try and reach her but I just couldn't.
She kept repeating those two words, faster and faster, not even stopping for breath until she suddenly froze.
The only thing I could hear was the sound of my own breath, intermittent and afraid.
With one solid motion, April raised her head and bent her neck to the left and then to the right, clicking it so loudly that it sounded like bones breaking, before centering it again.
Then in an incredibly deep, almost demonic voice she said the words, "Help...meeee." As she turned to face me, giving me the fright of my life.
Her pupils had turned white and the rest of her eyes were a blood red colour, veins and arteries pulsated around her face, bulging out of her skin. Her teeth had turned jagged and she was panting heavily, her hair frizzy and unkempt.
Scared for my own safety I turned to run away only to be met by someone standing directly in my path, surrounded by mist. I stepped back to find that the someone was someone I recognised.
"Adam?!" I cried in shock.
"Why didn't you protect her Alex?" He said angrily, advancing towards me.
I backed away, keeping an eye on the distance between that thing and me. "I couldn't! - I wasn't there!"
"And why weren't you there?!" He demanded to know.
"I-I dunno! I can't remember!"
"Then get remembering!!" He yelled.
"I can't!" I cried, buckling over my own feet and falling to the floor.
"Remember!!" He yelled again, brandishing his razor sharp teeth into my face as his became like April's.
Terrified I shut my eyes as tightly as I could, either in an effort to remember or an effort to pretend he wasn't there. I like to think it was the former. Suddenly I could feel the mist culminating around me, I didn't want to open my eyes but I had to as I was shot up into the air by a pillar of mist.
I screamed, not knowing how to control it as I flew up and away from the demonic siblings like I was on a magic carpet and landed in an even darker space where the mist was black instead of purple, leaving the landscape looking truly barren.
"...Hello?" I called out reluctantly. "Naoko?"
There was no one here, that was until I heard the sound of a twig snap from behind me. I turned around but couldn't see anything. But I couldn't have heard that - there aren't any trees in this place. Then the sound of a coin dropping onto concrete came from the right of me.
Then I could hear the sound of something rolling towards me, something big. I turned to face the noise, ready to face it and then, out of the darkness, a small, scaly round thing, no bigger than a football rolled out. It circled me before stopping in front of me, uncurling itself to reveal itself as Sandshrew.
I was stunned, not sure what to think. The Pokémon in front of me was an exact replica of the the Sandshrew I used to travel with. My Sandshrew. The one that...
The mist swirled in front of me, creating a familiar large mansion, exactly as it looked like on that night in Cerulean. Then figures began to form; a terrified Courtney, clutching onto Robin; a battered up version of Bill crouching next to them, holding his arm; Domino standing tall with her arms folded and a sadistic grin painted across her face and Petrel, with wide eyes and an open mouth, issuing an order in slow motion.
The last to form out of the dark was Sneasel, running towards us brandishing its razor-sharp claws, ready to make the kill. Realising that this must be a part of me remembering I somehow knew to cry out into the air, "Stop it - this is too early!" Not wanting to have to live through that part of my life ever again.
I was again shot upwards into the air on a column of mist just as the mansion exploded, the red light of the fire being drowned out by the darkness. Looking down from my position I could see my life, laid out like a movie, scrolling through different scenes to get to the one we wanted, everything that happened since we were in Cerulean.
Directly below us was the SS Anne with plumes of smoke coming from within. Recognising it I declared that we had gone too far and I suddenly felt like I was being pulled backwards by the collar of my shirt. Everything was happening in reverse, like someone had pressed the rewind switch.
Upon seeing the Pokémon centre I shouted, "There!" and the mist sent me crashing into the scene, rolling across the floor.
When I got up, the room began to form from the mist. I saw that I was in the exam room, the past me standing in front of a videophone.
"Someone's popular." I heard, walking to the videophone. "Who's it from this time?" Ivy asked through the phone.
"Unknown..." The past me answered, opening the message.
The image was grainy and the sound was muffled, it looked like an old video that someone had taped over. There was a woman with black hair wearing a red hair band across her forehead, dressed in a full-length kimono of the same colour.
The memory started flooding back to me of the video message; the message from a woman I didn't recognise saying April and Adam's names. It was the reason I ran to the dock to find her that night.
"I remember!" I shouted into the air. "I remember!"
Suddenly the Pokémon Centre dissipated into mist and it began to attach itself to me, covering me from head to toe until I could see anything at all. I felt like it had lifted me into the air and spun me from side to side before throwing me to the floor.
I hit the floor and suddenly felt free, sitting upright as fast as I could, finding myself back on the hillside, sweating and panting heavily.
It was still night and everyone else remained asleep. Rubbing my head I remembered what had just happened, figuring it must have been a dream... A very vivid dream - then I noticed.
Sat directly in front of me, shrouded by the night was a small gold Pokémon that looked like a bi-pedal fox. I'd never seen it before but I somehow recognised it immediately as an Abra.
"What do you want?" I asked.
The Pokémon had its eyes shut but I knew it could still see me. Abra held out it's 3-fingered hand and floating on it was a small sphere of light, no bigger than a pea. I looked at it, unsure of what the Pokémon wanted and then sat back down.
The ball began to levitate higher and then sped in my direction, hitting my forehead and absorbing into it before I had a chance to move. Then suddenly, I remembered:
The night before, Slowking and I were having a conversation and I was having trouble remembering something... something important. But the conversation diverted so I didn't mention it again. Then, about an hour or so later, Slowking sensed something nearby and called out for it to show itself; that was when Abra teleported from the forest. Slowking said that it had been watching me all night and knew that I had forgotten something and wanted to help. Abra could only help if I was to dream so it could rummage through my mind. I didn't trust this Pokémon and asked if Slowking could do it instead, but he explained that different psychic Pokémon can do different things and he couldn't do what Abra could, so I would have to decide to either take his offer, or leave it.
On Slowking's advice I decided to go ahead with it, so he temporarily took my memories of meeting him so I wouldn't realise that I was in a dream and wake up before I needed to.
"So I remembered all because of you?" I asked Abra, still sat in front of me.
The small psychic fox smiled and then teleported away.
"Wait!" I cried, but it was too late. "...Why did you help me?"
Well, whatever the case, it had worked. I remembered the message and would show April as soon as she woke up.
I laid back in an attempt to go to sleep but the dream had left me far too hot to drift off so easily so I decided to read up on Abra, the Pokémon that offered its help so willingly during the night. After reading through various pages I eventually ended up at a passage that was quite interesting:
'Using its psychic power is such a strain on its brain that it needs to sleep for 18 hours a day and so it has adapted a method of feeding that it can use, even when asleep; it feeds on the dreams of others.'
Great… So I was dinner.