The doctor pressed his spectacled face up against the nose of Growlithe, staring deeply into his eyes with a strange optical device. Billy sheepishly stood in the doorway of the examination room. It had been a long tiresome week since the fire, and Billy still had doubts he could live up to what his Grandfather had said to him.
“Make them proud, kiddo.”
Billy’s parents had wanted nothing more than for him to overcome his childhood fear of Pokémon and make a name for himself in the world. He knew his grandfather was right; he knew he had to honor his parent’s wishes. However, Billy had no idea where to begin; he had never caught a Pokémon in his life – he had always been too terrified to try. What’s more, he had no Pokémon to call his own. Despite the heroics of Growlithe, the two were still far from being comfortable companions. Billy’s fear of Pokémon was a deep rooted weed that couldn’t simply be stamped out and Growlithe’s lack of respect for Billy was still very much prominent.
After a lengthy discussion, Billy and his grandfather decided that Billy should head down the mountain path on route 45 to New Bark Town. The Pokémon near the little town were renowned for being simple to catch and it was known as the first stop for almost all aspiring trainers. Billy’s grandfather had gifted him a Poké-Ball and suggested he claim Growlithe as his own, so that Billy wouldn’t face the dangers of the mountain pass alone. Almost every fibre of Billy’s being wanted to refuse, but he knew he had to do this for his parents. They passed during a time when Billy was a fearful nobody; He couldn’t let be his legacy. He wouldn’t.
However, Growlithe’s pride surfaced once more. The young pup, who had spent his whole life free of the confines of a Poké-Ball, was outraged by the idea, and refused to travel with Billy. It wasn’t until a confrontation between Growlithe and his father, Arcanine, caused the pup to reluctantly agreed to accompany Billy; on foot… not in a Poké-Ball.
There was task that needed doing before their adventure could begin; the estranged partnership was called in to the Pokémon Center by the doctor who had examined them after the fire, due to the doctor’s desire to examine the Growlithe once more in order to document the strange, fantastic pattern of the Growlithe’s eyes, and to discern a reason for the phenomenon.
Billy stood uncomfortably in the doorway watching the doctor excitedly dart around Growlithe from head to tail, frantically jotting notes onto a small pad.
“I’ve never heard of a Growlithe enduring such high temperatures! I’ve heard of brave Pokémon but this guy is something else! And these eyes! Such beautiful, vibrant jewels! What a sensational sight!”
The elation of the doctor puzzled Billy. He knew his hero’s eyes were marvellous, but surely the doctor had gone overboard?
“Why are they so special?”
“Why are they so special?! Have you not looked into the eyes of this Growlithe, kid?! Growlithe usually have a plain black iris… never such an intricate pattern or exciting colour scheme like this one!”
The doctor eagerly scampered to the phone in the corner of the room and rapidly dialled a number in.
“I need to inform the Professor!”
“The Professor?” Billy questioned, “Who’s ‘The Professor’?”
“Have you never heard of Professor Elm? He’s only the top Pokémon researcher in Johto. He also happens to be the leading expert on Pokémon breeding in the whole world! He will surely want to see this!”
The name meant nothing to Billy. But he knew the Doctor was expecting a response to his rhetorical, verbose question.
“Oh… yes of course… Professor Elm…”
The doctor judgmentally shook his head and turned back to the screen of the phone. There sat a balding man dressed in a dusty lab coat with a scruffy, creased shirt. His thick bifocals reflected the telephone screen back at the doctor and Billy. The man seemed oblivious to the telephone call, focusing on a mass of papers strewn across his desk, muttering to himself.
“Hello Professor! I’m calling from the Center in Blackthorn… I have an interesting specimen for you to examine.”
The man on the screen continued looking down intensely at the papers strewn across his desk.
“Erm… Professor… Professor Elm!”
“Oh, hello there, doctor! Sorry about that I’m reading over reports I filed years ago of the Pokémon in Mt. Silver! It still fascinates me! Did you know there are at least 20 different kinds who share the mountain as a home! Phenomenal! I really must try and see them it in the flesh… I knew someone who got through it once a long time ago, you know.”
The doctor politely nodded, desperately trying not to burst. As he was about to interject with his news, the Professor continued.
“What was his name again? Or was it a she? Ah I can’t recall. But I know Professor Oak would have known if he was still here. Never forgot a name did Sam. He took quite a shine to that trainer; some said he preferred him to his own Grandson! Did I ever tell you the story about when I disproved all the theories about how Pokémon breed? Ha! That’s a great story…”
“Professor! I’m sorry but I really do need you to see this. I have discovered a rather unique Growlithe! It survived temperatures of over one thousand degrees! Here take a look!”
A sigh of relief came from the exasperated doctor. He started typing on the computer and before long close up photos of Growlithe appeared all over the screen.
“They’re coming to you now, Professor.”
At a press of a button the photos vanished from the screen, and Professor Elm was staring straight ahead, studying the images he had received.
“Fascinating...! Those eyes… Do you know, they remind me of the research I did in the Burnt Tower when I was a young researcher. Tragic as it was there were many interesting Pokémon calling that place home long after it burnt to the ground. I saw Magby, Koffing… I’m sure I saw Suicune once! Suicune! Could you imagine doctor… now there’s another beautiful sight. Have you ever looked at sketches of Suicune … I remember when I was a boy…”
“Ahem! Excuse me, Professor?” The doctor interrupted.
“Oh! Sorry! I’m rambling again. Would it be possible for you to send the Growlithe here so I can further examine him?”
“Of course, i'm sending it at once, Professor!”
The telephone made a loud click as the screen went black. The doctor’s eyes snapped on to Billy, his face a mess of excitement and nerves.
“It appears I have a favor to ask you, kid. I need you to courier that Pokémon to the Professors lab.”
Billy chuckled first at the thought of a large van full of boxed up Pokémon but it slowly dawned on him… was that not the function of a Poké-Ball?
“You said you’re on your way to New Bark Town Right?”
“Well… yeah, but…”
“Perfect! Elm’s laboratory is there, you’ll just need to drop in and show him this Growlithe!”
Billy found it hard to argue with the big, beaming smile paired with a thick, desperate flop-sweat on the face of the excitable, edgy doctor.
“Fine,” Billy sighed.
Billy sat solemnly at the site where his house had once stood – the home he had grown into turned mausoleum that his parents would rest in. Planted in the scorched earth were two wooden markers… the only thing between Billy and the ethereal remains of his parents. Growlithe wandered slowly around the plot, gazing up at the sharp night sky, paying little attention to Billy. It had been his home too.
“I will make something of myself... I will overcome my fear and become the son you deserved… I will give you reason to be proud of me.”
Billy wiped a lonely tear from his face. The thought of what he was about to undertake petrified him more than any Pokémon had previously. He had various supplies but his bag felt bare, as though nothing in there would help protect him during this arduous journey. Then there was his companion; a guardian whom despised Billy’s cowardice and frightful nature. Billy felt hopeless… alone.
“Goodbye… I love you.”
He rose, and took the first steps on a path that would change his very life…