The Ballad of Greg Thomas
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March 3rd, 2012 (10:12 PM). Edited March 4th, 2012 by FourCartridge.
Join Date: Dec 2010
(After a huge wait, Chapter 4! Hope everyone's happy.)
The Ballad of Greg Thomas: Chapter 4: Happy Relief
A few moments had passed, and the antelope-like animals seemingly hadn't gotten up yet, as I didn't hear anything chasing me. I assumed that I had lost them, and began to slow down as the adrenaline from the chase slowly faded away, my heart rate and breathing returning to normal. Taking a breather, I took the next minute to gather thoughts about what had just happened, and trying to guess where exactly I am.
Starting from the beginning, I saw a strangely colored bird, and then was attacked by killer lions and deer. I thought that it was safer to assume that all the wildlife here was hostile in some way. It's really a pretty good explanation as to why I didn't see any humans around, even though I fired my gun five times in just a few minutes, something that should have drawn attention. But still, except for that blue animal, I hurt the creatures easily with my pistol. Maybe firearms are rare around here for some reason; Gun laws are getting pretty strict nowadays.
As to where I was, I has reached the end of the forest. The corridor where the chase happened had opened up into what looked like a walking path of some sort, made of dirt and surrounded by more tree lines like those in the clearing. It was wide enough that I could have driven my Crown Victoria on it, if I didn't crash and those three brutes didn't wreck it. Judging by the loads of footprints and a not really small width of the trail, it seemed as if it was often used. By now the sound of the forest's wildlife had returned, with various chirps and squeals of small animals, even though they sounded nothing like the fauna one would normally hear. I calmed down as the panic of the chase was gone, and I could think clearly again.
Even though it wasn't a real fork in the road, because I came into the path through woodland, it "branched" in two ways, left or right. My inner compass told me I was facing east, so I decided to go left, towards the north. It looked to be the least dangerous, as I could see that it was a straight line, while the other path turned into a corner. I really didn't want to go further in, and the straight path looked to be the fastest way towards a city or town. In the bottom of my heart I hoped that I was still in Pennsylvania, or even the United States for that matter.
While I was walking down the trail, I decided to see if all of the stuff one me still worked. First I checked my watch, being pretty sure a lot of time went by if I went from early night to midday almost in the blink of an eye. It read 7:36, apparently not being changed by the portal spitting me out into what was a different place or time of day. OK, so the watch wasn't changed, what about everything else? I went to my smartphone next. "No Service" was flashing on and off, telling me that service provider didn't have a cellphone tower for at least the next few miles. When I messed with it after a few moments, I found out that all the things that didn't need a connection still worked, like the camera, calculator, and recorder. I had luckily charged the batteries before I left the house, so I wasn't going to run dry for a day or two at least. I checked my wallet, and with relief saw that it wasn't changed too; My driver's license, debit cards, and other such things were still in their place. I even had all of my money! Everything else went the same way; connections were dead but nothing was really touched.
It took a few minutes, but the trail never took a curve, and eventually it went downhill offering a further look at where it lead to. I squinted my eyes to see ahead, and my heart jumped as I saw a city. From the first look it seemed to fairly large, not as big as Pittsburgh but still looking like it had a large amount of people. Its skyline seemed to be very short; It's tallest buildings apparently looked more medium-sized than like a real skyscraper. I guessed that the city had grown outward instead of upward, like most cities.
At the moment however, my mind did not focus on those things. I was more relieved at the fact I saw civilization, it being a large city to boot! I dashed toward the entrance, hoping I could finally get some answers as to where in the world I was, and why I couldn't get contact to the outside world. After then, finding a way back home would be easy, it only being a matter of getting a plane ticket back to Pittsburgh. I would soon be back and everything would be alright. In fact, I was fairly certain I was still in the US, and my phone just needed time to find a connection.
Then I had found that I had passed a sign when I was just a hop, skip, and a jump away from the city's buildings. The sign was colorful, and I could guess it made as a welcome sign, not being out of place on the Interstate. I had no idea where I was, so I stopped when I passed it, and went to take a closer look. It had three colors, red, blue, and green, arranged vertically, and had painted on it:
"Striaton City: Three Stand Together as One!"
My heart sank with confusion like a rock in the ocean. I was very sure that there wasn't any state or country that had a Striaton City when I did Geography back in school, but here it was, as if nobody had ever knew it existed. It didn't even look like they even tried to hide it. There was no way any person or satellite could miss a city this big. I grew wide eyed as my mind was filled with denial at the new revelation I had while it rejected the only explanation possible: I was not in Earth anymore. Instead I had found myself in an entirely new place that was far removed from home.
The realization made my mind turn to stone as it thought up of the possibilities. Maybe these guys have a completely different set of morals than us. Maybe they don't eat the same food. Maybe they have different manners and standards than us. Maybe they were even a completely different species than I was... Perhaps even those of the hostile deer and lion I meet earlier? The last one I prayed was false. If it was right than I was done for. There was only one way to really find out, as dangerous to my health as it was. With a heavy heart and mind, I walked forward to enter what was known as Striaton City.
Striaton City looked to be a fairly standard city once I actually got to take a look inside it. When I went though, I only saw walkways for the most part; actual roads for cars were very rare for some reason. To my relief, almost everyone in the city was human, or looked like it, though a few strange animals followed some around. Landmarks were few and far between for a city this size. I took back roads and alleys, mostly because I was totally lost, and found only a few: a large fountain in what looked to be a park, and a red-roofed, window-filled building that had this symbol of two half-circles, one up, one down, with a smaller complete one superimposed on them. Come to think of it, I saw that symbol pretty much everywhere I went in Striaton. Maybe it was some kind of national token. I really didn't know enough about this place to take a guess.
It was then, wandering around someplace, lost, that I then noticed what should have been the first thing I should have. Everything looked... Different. Even though I could recognize a walkway of tarmac here, a building of bricks and windows there, everything had this subtle feel to it. For example, the contrasts were more noticeable than they were back in our world, and there was very little in the way of dark or grimy colors. While a person or thing would have a variety of shades and hues, as a look at my hand showed, in here everything and everyone more or less didn't have those variations on their skin, clothing, or anything else for that matter. The biggest difference though, was in everybody else. They had larger eyes than my own, and while some of them more or less had the same clothes or hairstyle like back home, others had more exotic looks, like red and purple hair, even asymmetrical clothing. The hair didn't even look dyed. All in all, it was as if who or whatever created this world had taken a cartoon and brought it to life. Not just rotoscoping ether, it was like an actual cartoon, like
Castle in the Sky
Who Framed Roger Rabbit
when it came to me. The fact my possessions and I still looked the same as they had always been made this all the more jarring.
I had wandered aimlessly for an hour or so, and was starting to feel exhausted from all the walking I did. At this point I was more worried about finding a place to stay or somewhere to eat than finding a way home. I was starting to lose hope at that option. Eventually, grasping at straws, I found myself walking through the front doors of a random building. Luckily, I saw myself in the lobby of what looked to be a very fancy restaurant. It was decorated with red carpets, cushioned chairs, fancy curtains and chandeliers, the works really. The atmosphere was polite and I could smell good food even from the entrance. I wouldn't doubt it if a magazine back home gave this place top marks.
A waiter, wearing a name-tag with the name Maxwell, who was apparently looking over the lobby, went up to me. "Uh, sir, do you have a reservation?"
I reeled back a little. Everyone here spoke English! Or at least some magical force was translating what language they spoke to English. I wasn't really sure. Either way, I was being spoken to about if I wanted a meal. I didn't know if I would get another chance like this, so I spoke back.
"...Table for one, please."
The body language and tone of my voice apparently signaled that I wasn't feeling alright with what I had just been though, as the host eyed me like he was going to call a mental hospital. It probably had something to do with my appearance too; When you look different from everyone else in just the wrong ways, you're bound to get some attention.
"Sure, I'll check if there are any open tables."
The host went back to check on the reservations, and after a few moments called me over.
"There's a small table for you at the back. Follow me please."
The waiter motioned for me to follow as he led me through the restaurant. As I got a closer look I saw that most of the people eating were having normal food for a meal, thank goodness, although I saw several more strange animals eating food with people at more than a few tables. In fact, every now and then, there were some empty tables where people sat with a group of creatures. All of said groups looked like they were preparing for a fight. Surely someone would notice this, and send them out? I didn't want to get caught in the crossfire, and I thanked myself I still had weapons for the time being, though I had no reason at all to pull them out now. Despite all this, I simply couldn't shake the feeling that there was something more to this restaurant than this first impression, as if it had a different purpose that I didn't know about.
Eventually, I was led to an empty, small table off along a back wall as I was seated.
"The waiters will be here in a moment. Please be patient." The host seemed to walk off a little too fast, certainly off to get someone.
With that I was left to myself. My table, even though it was off in the back, was still fancy. There were the usual things you would find, like a napkin, spoons and forks, and there was a lamp overhead that gave off good lighting. I took a quick look at the menu and saw that most of it was stuff you would normally find in a restaurant, like lasagna and steak, though there was a section marked "Pokemon Delicacies" that was apparently aimed towards animals, as it was made up of things like ground berries and "natural" versions of the usual meals. The prices though were highway robbery. $3,000 for a steak? Then I noticed that the dollar sign was different. It looked like a P with an equal sign put on top of it. My money was no good here, that's for certain.
However, it only took a few seconds for my loneliness to kick in. I was nowhere near home, alongside people I did not have the slightest clue about, my money wasn't good here, I couldn't get contact with anybody I knew, and I was even attacked twice a little over an hour ago. I was certain I was never going to see my family, co-workers, or friends again. I froze in horror at the realization that I was stranded, scared, tired, and alone.
"Sir, is something wrong?" A voice spoke, coming from my right.
I looked towards the source, and found three males, probably in their late teens, all of them wearing a waiter's uniform. The one on the left had dark blue hair in a peek-a-boo style and had a reserved air about him. The middle one was a redhead with actual bright red hair, who had it shaped like flames, having an excited feel. The last one, on the right, had a light green hairdo with the front looking like a tuft of grass. The trio's eyes matched their hair, and so did the bow ties on their clothing.
"Sir?" The redhead asked, sounding like the one who had asked the question before.
I hesitated for a moment before deciding to spill my problem out. "...I'm not supposed to be here."
The blue haired waiter responded. "But sir, you just told Maxwell to give you a table. what do you mean?"
"I don't come from here, or anywhere around here."
The green waiter took his turn. "What are you saying, sir?"
"I'm not supposed to be here. Is this Earth?"
The three waiters gave me looks as if they were going to send for asylum orderlies.
"No, sir." Said the redhead. "What's Earth?"
"It's a totally different world that's far from wherever this is. You want proof?" I took my wallet and fished out my driver's license to show it to them. The blue one took it and stared at it.
"Pennsylvania Driver's License... Greg Thomas... Pittsburgh PA 15211... DOB: 3/15/1979..." He rattled off it's various details as the other two leaned to take a look at it. He gave it back to me after a few moments.
"...Well, I never thought I would see something like this in my life. Someone claiming they're from another world, but actual proof? That shouldn't happen. In that case, let us introduce ourselves. I'm Cress."
"I'm Cilan." Chimed in the green haired waiter.
"And I'm Chili." The redhead finished off.
"Greg Thomas." I replied in turn.
Cilan took a turn. "So, Greg, if that's your name... Do you have a way home? Do you know anybody here?"
"No, I don't. I don't even know how I got here. I just walked through a set of doors at random."
Chili spoke. "Do you even know where you are?"
"Straiton City. But apart from that, no."
Cress talked again. "In that case, what do you know about here?"
"Well, everyone looks weird, and so do the animals. Everything's strange. I just want to go home."
"...OK then." Cress took a moment to think before he gave out orders. "Cilan, phone Professor Juniper. Get her to come to Stiraton City right away, to Fennel's so she can explain things to Greg here. Tell her to bring starters. Get Fennel on the line too." Clian ran off. Cress then pulled out an envelope and paper, and began writing on it with a pen, speaking to me.
"Greg, we would love to help you, but as you can see, we're a bit busy right now." He pointed to the rest of the patrons.
"So to help we're writing this letter. You want to bring it to a Dr. Fennel, a researcher who can better explain things to you better than we can. She lives in this city, so it shouldn't be long before you find her." He gave me directions to where she was at as I recorded them with the smartphone. Cress finished the letter and put it in the envelope.
"Take this too. I'll show Fennel we really did send you so she doesn't mistake you for someone crazy." He pulled out a weird-looking pin, shaped like a jagged piece of corn with a red, blue, and green kernel, and gave it to me. Then, what sounded like a young boy's voice rose up.
'You can't just give someone a Gym Badge like that!" the voice exclaimed. The three of us turned to its source.
Sitting at a table next to mine, there were three kids, two girls and one boy, all of whom looked Jessie's age. One girl had green eyes and blonde hair, and wore a white pencil skirt, orange vest, a green shoulder bag, and had a large green beret. The other girl, who had blue eyes and brown hair, wore short shorts, a black vest, a baseball cap with that symbol I kept on seeing everywhere, and a pink shoulder bag. The boy, who was the one who spoke, judging by the voice and that he was standing up, wore black jeans, a blue vest, and this white undershirt with a Y pattern. He had black hair and blue eyes, covered by glasses.
Cress spoke. "There's a reason for all of this. Just let me explain." He went up toward the three and started to tell the story, no doubt of me and my plight. "You see, that man's not really a Pokemon Trainer..."
Chili returned to look at me and narrowed his eyes a bit. "Now that I can get a close look, you look starving. You sure you're not hungry?"
I remembered that I had skipped breakfast and only had a light lunch, as I needed to save for a tune up for the car. That was before it was totaled, of course.
"You know, you're right. I barely had a bite to eat all day."
"And I know that you're money is doesn't mean anything here, right?"
"Than this one's on the house. Nothing expensive, and don't tell anyone else about this."
"Do I have a reason to tell other people?"
A free meal and hope for a way home. Maybe this place isn't so bad after all...
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