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Old August 25th, 2010 (02:06 PM).
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icomeanon6 icomeanon6 is offline
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This is my entry for the 2010 Pokecommunity Get-Together Small Writing Contest. The prompt was "Challenge," and I used the same characters as in my 2009 entry, There's Always Tomorrow.

A Matter of Stubbornness

A young trainer was sitting by himself, looking skyward. Some dingy clouds were gathering overhead, which made him worry that it might rain soon. Normally, this wouldn’t bother him so much, as he kept a poncho in his bag at all times. At the moment, however, his bag was out of reach. This is because he was sitting at the bottom of a twelve foot deep, five foot wide pit while his bag was leaning against a nearby tree. His name was Jason, and he was by all accounts an ordinary beginning trainer. He was ten years old, wore a baseball cap, and had only passed one gym but showed great promise for the future. First, though, he would have to get out of this hole.

Sitting on the edge of the grass above was a small abra. Its eyes were, as usual, shut tight. “C’mon, Abra, it’s this simple,” said Jason. “You come down here, I hold on tight, and then you teleport us back to the surface.”

No response. “It’s not a hard concept, and it’s not like you’re doing anything else.”

Still nothing. In fact, Jason thought he noticed its fox-like face droop a little. That could be a sign that it was asleep. He took his electronic encyclopedia out of his pocket, and listened to the description it gave. “Abra is a psychic Pokémon. It spends most of its time asleep, but due to self-hypnosis it can still react to those around it, usually to teleport away from danger.”

Jason looked back up at the abra. “This thing says that being asleep is no excuse, so get down here!”

He heard the creature make a light snore, which was worrisome. Five minutes passed by in silence, interrupted only occasionally by further snoring. Jason then opened up his encyclopedia once again. The gratingly synthesized voice said, “Abra is still a psychic Pokémon that uses teleportation even while asleep. Checking the Pokédex’s limited database more than once will neither change this fact nor cause any new information to magically appear.”

Jason wondered slightly aloud why a nice old man like Professor Oak would program Dexter to be such a wise guy. Looking up at the sky again, he could see that the clouds were indeed growing darker. Just then, he heard some footsteps coming from behind the abra. And sure enough, after a second there was a girl of the same age as Jason kneeling next to the creature. She looked down at him, and squinted as if perplexed. “Jason, what are you doing down there?”

“Funny you should ask about that, Krissy.”

Krissy was then joined by another ten year old, this one being a boy named Travis. He and Jason had been nigh inseparable since they were small, and they were traveling together on their journey to tackle the Pokémon league. He looked down into the pit and said with a detached look on his face, “Hey, moron. What’s new?”

Jason answered back, “Hey, jerkface. Not much.”

Krissy’s eye twitched, and she thought to herself, ‘That’s just how boys talk to each other. Ignore it, ignore it, ignore it…’

Travis then asked Jason, “Is this a part of that test from Mr. Lee, or whatever his name is?”

“That’s him, and yeah.”

Krissy spoke up next. “What are you guys talking about? You never told me anything about a test.”

Travis replied but ignored her question. “Oh yeah, and why are you still following us around? Do you have a crush on Jason or something?”

Krissy turned red in the face, and Jason tightened his eyebrows. “You’re my worst best friend ever, you know that, Travis?”

Travis, wanting to demonstrate that he wasn’t quite as insensitive as most people said he was, decided to drop the subject. He looked down at his pal sitting twelve feet below and asked, “Why don’t you start from the beginning and fill us in on the situation?”

Jason picked up a stick that was resting at his feet and starting turning it in his hand. It gave him an air of absentmindedness as he talked. “You remember that guy in the Pokécenter earlier today, right? He talked about this old Pokémon master named Lee? Said he has a really good reputation as a teacher?”

Krissy thought, ‘No, I don’t remember because I was out of the room and you both left without me.' Instead of saying this, though, she simply said, “Okay. What about it?”

“I figured the old guy could help me becomes a better trainer, so when Travis went to the store I went to his house instead.”

Travis turned to Krissy. “I told him it was a dumb idea, of course.”

Krissy's response was slightly icy in tone. “Yes, I’m sure you did.”

It took Travis a minute to realize why his remark didn’t make Krissy think better of him, and in the meantime Jason continued. “So he tells me that I need to learn how to handle adversity, and he takes me to this hole. Then he tells me to climb down here, and to pass the test I have to get that abra to teleport me out.”

Travis and Krissy both stared at the abra, which was still sound asleep. Travis reached out and poked its nose, which failed to elicit a response. He turned again to Jason and said, “Sounds hard.”

“No kidding. Mr. Lee actually said that most kids just give up and climb out after they get hungry.”

Travis looked at the wall of dirt below him. “Climbing out sounds kind of hard, too.”

“Yeah, that’s why they usually wait until they’re starving, or something.”

This last statement made Krissy cringe. “How long do you think you’re going to be down there, anyway?”

Jason opened his mouth to answer, but realized that he hadn’t thought about it yet. It had been at least an hour already, and he had made no discernible progress in persuading the abra. “That’s a good question.”

Travis spoke next. “Well, make it quick. I want to tackle Mt. Moon as soon as possible.”

“Don’t worry; I’m putting my entire brain to the task at hand, so it should take about five…” Jason then made eye contact with Travis and waved his hand a certain way. The two then finished the sentence simultaneously. Jason said “minutes,” while Travis said “weeks.” Krissy stood up and shook her head. She gathered that it was some kind of inside joke, but Travis’s assertion seemed a little too plausible for it to be funny.

*****

For the next two hours the three trainers settled into a routine. Travis and Krissy started reading the books that their parents had insisted they pack, and would check on Jason every twenty minutes. Jason spent most of the time pacing in circles and contemplating his strategy. Every five minutes he would resume his efforts at persuading. He tried an authoritative tone for starters. “Get down here, Abra! That’s an order!”

Worried that he was making a poor impression, he soon changed to a more humble approach. “Please, Abra? Could you do it for me?”

After a while, he tried to appeal to the sleeping creature’s sense of reason. “Listen, Abra. We’re in the same boat here. The sooner you come down here and help me out, the sooner we both get to move on with our lives.”

Next, he decided to try reverse psychology, figuring that if it worked in children’s stories it was worth a shot. “Fine. Just leave me down here. I think I kind of like this place, actually. It’s so clear to me now: All I’ve ever really wanted in life was to be sitting at the bottom of this hole. I sure hope I never have to leave!”

And finally, he got desperate. “Wake up! Wake up! Wake up!

At this point, Travis and Krissy walked back over to the edge. Travis spoke tersely. “Okay, this is getting ridiculous. Why don’t I just shove the little guy down there for you?”

Jason scowled. “That’d be cheating. It wouldn’t count.”

Travis raised his voice to a level that was just below shouting. “Big deal! This whole test is a joke! There’s no way you’re going to convince someone else’s abra to come down and give you a lift!”

“Shut up! I’m going to do this!”

Mumbling something that sounded derogatory under his breath, Travis walked off in a huff. Krissy looked back and forth between the two, wondering why they called themselves best friends if they never seemed to get along. At short length, she tried talking to Jason. She made a strong effort to speak as calmly as possible. “I think we’re going to make dinner soon. I’ll toss you your share down when it’s ready, okay?”

This didn’t make Jason’s anger subside completely, but he didn’t answer as loudly as he did to Travis. “You can’t do that. Mr. Lee said no one’s allowed to give me anything.”

“But that’s nuts! We skipped lunch today; do you plan on going all night without eating anything?”

Jason stared at the dirt. “I’ll be fine. Besides, I’m going to get out soon. Just you watch.”

“But…”

“Forget it!”

Jason looked up, and saw Krissy turn and leave. He let out a protracted groan of frustration, and silently swore at himself for taking part in such an asinine exercise. Travis was right about the implausibility of the task, and Krissy was right about his needing to eat. For the first time, he found himself wondering if he shouldn’t just climb out. The walls weren’t quite vertical, and there were a few protruding roots that could help. Even though the pit was almost three times his height, escaping on his own was certainly possible. He pictured himself doing so, and it seemed like a simple escape from an unpleasant situation.

He then pictured the guilt that would come from quitting, and the implications it might have on the rest of his career. Mr. Lee had clearly designed this test to see how well a trainer could convince a Pokémon to do what he wanted. What if this abra was easy to influence compared to other creatures he would encounter later? What if his currently docile Nidoran and Weedle eventually evolved and grew out of control in the process? ‘No,’ he thought to himself, as if he needed convincing. ‘I’m not going to let that happen. I’m going to get that abra to do what I say and beat this stupid test.’

His thoughts were interrupted by the smell of a campfire. This made him acutely aware of how hungry he actually was. He clenched his fists and kicked the wall, angry once again at his decision to participate. But more than that, he was angry at his own inadequacies as a trainer. Even though the abra wasn’t his, it was presumably trained to listen to those who commanded it in the right way. Whatever the thing’s standards were, Jason could tell that he didn’t meet them. For the next hour, he didn’t even attempt to talk to the abra. He was trapped between recognition of futility and his own stubborn resolve.

Eventually, after dinner was finished and everything was put away, Travis came back. He had something to say, but it took several false starts for him to get anything out. “Listen. I…uh…kinda went overboard earlier…and I’m sorry.”

It was clear to Jason that Travis must have swallowed a lot of pride to say that. He guessed the particular amount of pride was about a gallon. “Hmmph,” was all he said in reply. Even on an empty stomach, Jason found a gallon of his own pride too much to consume in return.

“Look, you really gotta eat something, man. Skipping two meals when you’ve been doing a lot of walking just isn’t healthy.”

“Rules are rules. I’m not taking anything.”

Travis bit his tongue so hard that it almost bled. Once the frustration was out of his system, he spoke relatively calmly. “Fine. Whatever you say.”

Once Travis was gone, Jason swore at himself again for refusing the offer. His stomach swore at him too, in its own way. He then resumed his hopeless negotiations with the abra. With every plea and occasional empty threat, Jason felt his spirits drop lower and lower until he simply collapsed on the ground and buried his face in his hands. And at that moment, just as he was thinking that his life had reached a new low, he felt the first drop. Despite how much he had deliberately avoided thinking about the prospect, it had started to rain.

As the drizzle started growing into a downpour, Jason heard someone calling his name. He looked up, and there was Krissy with her rain jacket already on. “Jason! We’re going to go back to the Pokécenter, but you have to put this on first or you’ll catch pneumonia!”

Jason then saw his poncho clutched in Krissy’s hand. Even though every bit of his body that was exposed to the rain cried out and implored that he accept it, he wouldn’t let himself do it. Despite how he hated himself for it, he found himself saying, “I can’t…I can’t take any kind of help…”

Krissy ignored him, and threw the poncho down at his feet. Jason stared at it for a few seconds.

“Put it on,” Jason heard Krissy say. He looked up, and through the rain he could see that she was actually glaring. “Now!

And just then, upon seeing this aspect of Krissy that he didn’t know existed, Jason felt his ego depart from his body. His arms reached out to grab the poncho, and he proceeded to put it on. Krissy’s expression relaxed, and she departed. As Jason sat there with the rain growing ever stronger, he contemplated his current situation. Strictly speaking, he had already lost. An important part of the test was endurance, and he had accepted her help in that regard. Nevertheless, it didn’t feel like the end just yet.

Even though he could no longer fulfill the literal objective he set out with, Jason found that this was now secondary in his mind to the matter of Abra. It bothered him on a deeper level that he couldn’t convince the thing to follow his orders, because some other trainer like him must have done it before. And as he heard the rain hammer on his poncho, he wondered if some important clue wasn’t standing right there before him. Somehow, Krissy had convinced him to drop his stubbornness, which was no easy task, as Travis would no doubt attest to. Was it something in her voice? Or perhaps it was her face? Jason didn’t know, and he couldn’t think clearly enough to grasp it. His gut ached sharply every few seconds, and even with the poncho he was soaked and shivering.

Any possibility for Jason to fall asleep was displaced by rain and hunger. It was the longest night he had ever known, and he felt every second of it.

*****

Jason couldn’t see the early morning sun from the bottom of the pit, but the weather had cleared a few hours ago and there was enough light to see. With hands shaking, he removed the poncho from his body, and slowly rose to his feet. He looked up and saw Abra still sitting there at the edge of the grass, and it felt like a slap in the face. He knew that he wouldn’t be negotiating with the creature anymore, as any further attempts to do so would only result in more failure.

It was at this moment that Travis and Krissy came back into view. Travis was instantly taken aback by what he saw. “Holy crud, man, you look terrible.

Krissy was speechless, but it wouldn’t have mattered if she had said anything. Jason wasn’t listening to either of them at the moment. He had made up his mind, and the only thing that existed to him right now was the muddy wall before him. He approached it, and started feeling for the best place to start climbing.

“Oh thank god,” said Travis. “It’s about time you gave this up. Another night like that would have killed you for sure.”

Jason didn’t respond, and began his ascent. There were some easy roots towards the bottom, but up from there things got much more complicated. When he tried to grip the mud halfway up, he found that his fingers slipped right through. At length he took a less pleasant approach, and hugged the wall with all he could. He jammed his feet into the mud far enough that they had to hold, and made his lower body do most of the work. His legs quaked from fatigue, but somehow there was enough strength left in him to pull through.

As Jason came within the last half foot of the top, Travis knelt down and extended a hand to help him up. Jason half-grunted and half-growled a terse “No.” Travis reluctantly took back the offer, and watched Jason pull himself up to the grass with arms quivering all the while. Jason now stood bent over from exhaustion and covered with mud before his companions.

Krissy let out a sigh of relief and said, “Okay, Jason. Just sit down, and we’ll go get some food an—”

She was cut off by something entirely unexpected. In one swift motion Jason grabbed the sleeping abra with both of his arms and dove back into the pit, yelling as loud as he could and holding on tight. His two friends froze with jaws agape, and didn’t move until they heard a thud coming from the nearby trees. They ran over, and saw Abra sitting in one of the lower branches, twitching slightly but apparently still asleep. They then looked down, and saw Jason lying on his back in the grass directly below.

At some point in the night, it had dawned on Jason that Abra was just like him in one important respect. It would not listen to pleas or reason, but would only yield when the right circumstances were present. Jason needed inclement weather, and Abra needed an attacker. Even though he had probably cheated to do so, he had gotten the creature to teleport out of the pit while he was latched on. He would have liked to explain this to his woefully confused friends, but all he could manage was a very weak “Ow.”

Krissy gently helped Jason sit up, and silently thanked heaven that he hadn’t landed on his head. It took Jason a good minute or so to catch his breath, at which point he said, “I don’t think we should bother going back to Mr. Lee’s place to report on this.”

Travis spoke in complete earnest. “No kidding. That guy must be a certifiable loon, leaving kids down there for possibly days on end. I think we ought to head to the police.”

Jason shook his head. “Forget about him. We're through here, and that's that.”

Krissy handed him a bottle of water, which he started drinking from eagerly. She then said, “At any rate, you have to change out of those wet clothes. Oh, and we need to get breakfast going, too. Travis, do you think you could run back to town and buy some eggs? He ought to have something hot.”

Travis nodded. “Right. We want our headstrong hero to be back in perfect form. We’ve got one challenging hike ahead of us.”

Jason turned his head slightly upward, and realized that he could see Mt. Moon from where he was sitting. It dwarfed the neighboring hills, and he knew that it was loaded with treacherous paths, dark caves, and wild Pokémon ready to jump out of nowhere. The thought of it made him realize just how much his whole body already ached. He let out one sentence before his eyes closed and he fell back down to the grass. “You’ve got to be kidding me.”

The End
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My chapter fics:
Kanto: The Disputed Frontier - 14 chapters, indefinite hiatus. Gary Stu's Unpredictable Adventure - 8 chapters, completed. Digimon Campaign - 7 chapters, ongoing

One-shots:
There's Always Tomorrow (SWC 2009), A Matter of Stubbornness (SWC 2010), Left by the Roadside
(SWC 2011 1st place),
Giovanni Destroys the World and Everything in It (2012), By What Right? (SWC 2013 1st place), Back in the Day (SWC 2014 1st place)


Family (kind of?): Strange person who calls me strange names

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  #2    
Old September 22nd, 2010 (10:16 PM).
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Bay Alexison Bay Alexison is offline
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Hey! Decided to try to review all of the SWC stories posted here. Sorry for the lateness. Been quite busy the last couple weeks. >.> For my SWC reviews I decided to divide it into three sections, the same ones from the contest. Already showed you the individual scores for the three sections, so yeah.

Grammar/Spelling:
Not able to see any grammar/spelling mistakes here, at least I wasn’t distracted if there are indeed a few. Grammar isn’t my strongest suit, though. XD There is one part though I think while grammatically correct, is a bit awkward to me:

Quote:
He and Jason had been nigh inseparable since they were small, and they were traveling together on their journey to tackle the Pokémon league.
The “nigh” sounded odd to me and I believe it would be better if you take that word out. You don’t have to do, just a suggestion.

Writing Style:
I quite like your writing style. Simple, but effective as you did well showing Jason’s traits, especially on the stubbornness. Little slow at some places due to not much action going on, but that’s the least of my worries for a one shot like this.

Prompt/Story:
I admit, out of all the entries I read for this contest, I thought this is the most creative in terms of the “Challenge prompt.” Didn’t have the emotional impact like a couple others, but what I love about this entry is it’s different from the others in that you have this one shot be something as simple as someone trying to have a Pokemon listen to the trainer/person and that person going great lengths just to do that. Think not too many Pokemon fanfic writers realize sometimes it won’t be easy for a Pokemon to listen to you. I also thought you did Jason’s stubbornness really well and nice on the end that him and the Abra are very similar.

Have to say though I like last year’s entry better because of the more tragic stuff in there. However, not all stories have to be a tragedy to be good. I like this very much for the character development and a bit of light humor in there. Excellent work!
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