The blinds were shut in Mildred’s bedroom, though daylight crept in through the disheveled slats and cast the room in a dusky din.
Huddled on the floor beside the rampart of her bed, the young woman made herself as small as possible as the feeling of falling, of the world spiraling out of control and of everything going wrong thrashed her in a thousand directions as she laid there, stiff with fear, her arms wrapped around her Pokémon.
“I’m so sorry Quagsire. I’m so sorry.” Mildred said through a painfully clenched, dry, throat.
Quagsire mewled in response. She and her Trainer both were shivering.
A car was approaching. A black car was approaching.
Mildred sprung up from behind her barricade and scrambled over the bed to the window, cracking a slat of the venetian blinds just enough so she could see a slice of the world beyond the four walls of the house.
She scanned her sliver of visibility for the nearing vehicle. Target sighted. The car was coming. This was it. Was this it?
“Keep going, keep going, keep going. Please keep going.” she prayed repeatedly as the car drew nearer still, faster than her tongue could keep up with.
It rolled to a standstill in front of her driveway.
“No no no, please go away please go away, please keep going. My god, my god.” Mildred pleaded mentally.
The car’s window had just started to roll down when the girl dove beneath her bed groping with one arm amongst dust and old sneakers for a jar her grandpa had given her, which rattled with gigantic silver dollars as she unearthed it from the darkness.
Mildred heard somewhere that they could be paid off. She had no chance of fighting them off; Quagsire was her only Pokémon, and Mildred knew she wasn’t much of a Trainer.
Mildred never wanted to become powerful or win badges, she only wanted a friend; a companion she could trust, and be trusted by, and make her smile every once in a while.
And now they were coming to take her away.
The girl bounded back over to the window and peeked through the cracked blinds again. The black car was driving off. It picked up speed and disappeared around the bend, gone in the blink of an eye. On the lawn near where the car stopped was a newspaper.
“It was the paperboy.”
It was a miracle, it was only the paperboy. It was a slap in the face. Her heart just skipped several beats over the delivery of the Saturday Post. It was hope. Her dear Pokémon would be safe for just a while longer.
It was was an icy hand throttling her soul, she knew they still coming, and there was nothing she could do.
Mildred sank to the floor again, her back against the side of the bed. Quagsire snuggled up to Mildred and rested her head upon her Trainer’s lap as she often did, in happy times, and in sad times like these, though neither had ever known such fear or heartache as this. Mildred had turned her neck so quickly before to see out the window that she actually injured it, and the muscles in her neck were searing with pain.
As she stroked her Pokémon’s smooth, cool skin, things flicked in and out of her mind; rumors she had heard, conjecture she had read, it was all coming true now, and it was too late for her to stop it.
Quagsire was looking up to Mildred, who had never seen a Pokémon so distraught or shattered in her life, and shut her eyes, forcing welled up tears down her own face.
She saw flashes of those crazy conspiracy theory websites she had perused with sardonic amusement when her friends linked to them in emails, their paranoid claims making her chuckle as Quagsire sat beneath the computer desk, warming her feet as she browsed.
The process, the site claimed, could turn a single Pokémon into fifty or more barrels of clean burning liquid fuel with the press of a button, producing thousands in effortless profit for each Pokémon sacrificed.
They said Pokémon from outside the region, the Outlanders, would be harvested first. They warned trainers flee the region, even as the Pokémon League’s Directioner assured the public that the rumors were unfounded and that their newly formed security force was meant to protect trainers from Pokémon hunters and groups that wanted to frighten people into distrusting the authorities.
Mildred didn’t believe any of it, until she got her letter. It was the exact same form letter she had seen on that nut-job website a year earlier that Trainers were allegedly receiving.
Dear Pokémon Trainer.
Our Pokémon Registration Act records show that you are presently raising a Pokémon from outside the local region.
As part of the League’s effort to protect the local ecosystem from invasive species and encourage the raising and training of native regional Pokémon, representatives of the Pokémon League’s security forces will visit this Saturday to oversee the voluntary hand-in of your Outlander Pokémon so that they can be re-located to a sanctuary where they will be well cared for, protected, happy, and safe.
Thank you in advance for your cooperation.
Shaw Barnstaple Sheraga, Pokémon League Directioner
Mildred squeezed Quagsire like she were trying to push the water Pokémon inside her body and hide her from the rest of the world forever.
They were coming for her Pokémon, but there was still some hope. The site had scanned copies of the form letter online, but there was no concrete proof of the existence of the machine they called the “Extricator”, which turned Pokémon into inexpensive liquid fuel to be sold for easy profit.
“I’ll never let them hurt you Quagsire, I’ll never let them take you from me. I’m so sorry Quagsire, I’m so sorry...”
Quagsire wrapped her arms around Mildred’s torso and Mildred did the same, and they held on to each other like they were on a tiny boat in the midst of a typhoon with nothing else to cling to.
For now, for however much longer they had left, Mildred and Quagsire still
belonged to each other, and though they shivered and wept, they savored it all, and wished, and prayed.
Time passed, whether a minute or several hours, every second was more sweet and precious than the last.
Mildred held Quagsire’s paw in her hand, and looking about her room, daydreamed about tomorrow.
There came a heavy knock at the front door. They had come.
The telephone was at arm’s reach, its orange light-up buttons glowing in the artificial night of the room.
Even now, Mildred’s reaction was to call the police.
But it was meaningless. Team Patriot were the police now, and all along the uniformed Trainers knocked repeatedly, and were tired of asking politely for entrance.
One of their Pokémon, a large and powerful one, rammed the front door; it splintered, rattling the house, but would withstand several more blows before giving way completely.
Another uniformed Trainer ordered his Pokémon to smash through the glass patio door at the rear of the little house. The pane shattered into cubes that danced across the kitchen floor like sharp little dice, and the Team Patriot grunts poured in.
Mildred clutched her poor Quagsire, who in her fear had just wet the carpet, and she screamed.