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Old July 28th, 2011, 05:31 AM
icomeanon6's Avatar
icomeanon6
It's "I Come Anon"
 
Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: Northern Virginia
Age: 20
Gender: Male
This is my entry for the 2011 Pokecommunity Get-Together Small Writing Contest. The prompt was "Cast aside."

Left by the Roadside

“First things first, kid: You don’t look far enough ahead, and it takes you longer than most trainers your age to recognize that you’re falling into a bad pattern and need to change your strategy. It shouldn’t have taken you more than two tries with your Nidorino’s Tackle to tell that my Raichu’s too fast for it. You did catch on eventually, of course, but to be frank it was a little painful to watch for a while.

“Speaking of that Nidorino, I can tell that you and he have some pretty good chemistry, but I can’t say the same for you and the rest of your Pokémon. That Beedrill was obviously disinterested right from the get-go and your Rattata just doesn’t seem to like you much. It’s really not comfortable with taking your orders, and its motivation for fighting was mostly self-defense, I could tell. I suspect you’ve been playing favorites with that Nidorino, which won’t help you win in the long run.

“You’re not terrible, but I wasn’t impressed by any particular aspect of your performance. Your strategy needs work, you need to think on your feet better, and you have to establish a better emotional connection with most of your Pokémon. Going by what I saw, I can’t picture you getting far in a league tournament.

“But hey, you still beat me, and that’s never a bad thing. Here’s your badge, kid.”

After Lt. Surge slapped the gold pin into his outstretched hand, Jason couldn’t help but stare in uncomfortable disbelief for a few seconds before saying, “Thank you, sir.” Brock and Misty had been far less wordy and nowhere near as frank with him when he had visited their gyms. He turned around and walked to the exit, where his friends were waiting. Some of Surge’s words were still loud and clear in his head, particularly ‘painful to watch’ and ‘doesn’t seem to like you much.’

As Jason reached the door, Surge laughed and gave some parting words to him and his two companions. “You kids be careful out there! The later gyms won’t go so easy on you!”

The door slid open, and the three young trainers walked out into the streets of Vermillion city. As they started toward the Pokémon Center one of Jason’s friends, whose name was Travis, began to speak. “Looks like you gave Surge a lot to say. What was he going on about?”

Jason, who had been mulling over Surge’s speech, snapped back to reality. “Not much; just some advice.”

Travis sneered. “He was telling you how bad you suck, right?”

“No!”

It was here that Jason’s other friend and travelling companion, Krissy, stepped in. “Travis, stop it. You’re being obnoxious.”

Travis was unfazed. “And he’s being dishonest. Look at him!. It’s all over his face!”

Sure enough, Jason’s face was growing rather red. On any other day he would have met these accusations from his best friend in the whole world with some personal attacks of his own, but today it was as if Surge had punched his usual confidence square in the solar plexus.

Krissy once again tried to diffuse the situation. “And so what if he is? It’s none of your business and you’re making him embarrassed.”

Though she hadn’t meant to, Krissy had just followed Surge’s punch to the plexus with a roundhouse kick to the face. The last thing Jason wanted was this newest friend of his—a girl, no less—to feel the need to play as his emotional shield against Travis. He figured the only way to save face was to come clean and wrap up the conversation on his own terms. “No, he’s right. Surge was sickened by my battling, and he let me know.”

As Jason felt his chest get tight and his eyes dampen, Travis laughed and said, “Big deal, he told me I suck, too.”

Jason, caught off guard, laughed in kind, and the oncoming tears were gone. Krissy, who in all honesty had received nothing but praise from Surge, felt it best not to say anything. In short order, the three reached the Pokécenter. What followed was routine: They dropped their Pokéballs at the front desk, found some seats, and started waiting for the fifteen minutes to pass. During this time, Jason’s recently acquired apathy and humor toward Surge’s comments faded away, and the speech weighed down on his mind again.

He found himself scouring his memories for mistakes he had made on this journey but had not recognized as such at the time. He had always used Spike, his Nidorino, more often than the rest of his Pokémon, but surely that was only natural? Spike was his first Pokémon; his father had gotten him up early one morning five years ago so they could catch him. And only a few hours after that had taken place—

“Hey new kid, what’s your name?”

“My name’s Jason.”


“Why do you talk funny?”


“We just moved here. Why’s your face funny?”


“Ha ha! That’s a good one! Can I use it later?”


He had met Travis: his first friend in Pallet Town, and his first friend away from Ecruteak for that matter.

“Sure.”

“Do they have Pokémon where you come from?”


“Yeah.”


“Wanna see mine?”


“Bet mine’s better.”


“Oh yeah?”


They did everything together. They shared insults, shared jokes, went exploring, and shared even more insults. And finally, two months before the present date, they had started their—

“Paging Dr. Clueless!”

“Jason? The nurse is calling us to the front desk.”

Krissy and Travis’ voices brought Jason back to the Pokécenter. The fifteen minutes had passed, and his thoughts had been thoroughly sidetracked, leaving him no closer to figuring out where he had gone so wrong. He walked up to the front desk with his two friends and they picked up their Pokéballs. The nurse expressed her hope that she would see them again, and they exited the building. Travis stretched his arms and looked at the sun. “What do you guys say we head to the bay? Cool off a bit?”

Krissy replied, “Sounds fun, but we ought to do some shopping while we’re in town.”

“We can do that later. There aren’t a lot of cities that are right on the water.”

“Yeah, I guess. What do you think, Jason?”

Jason shrugged and said, “Sure, fine.”

Travis clapped his hands and began to lead the way. “My brother told me about a beach a little ways from the city, away from all the tourists. Let’s go!”

Jason and Krissy followed Travis down the street and eventually out of the city. As it turned out, “a little ways” was more along the lines of a mile, but they were hardly pressed for time. And besides, there was hardly a cloud in the sky and the wind off the bay was calm and just salty enough. It would be a crime to hurry oneself on so perfect a day. Half an hour later they reached a rocky and vacant beach, as promised. “All right!” cried Travis, who wasted no time in dropping his bag and taking off his shirt.

Krissy looked up and down the shoreline. “This looks like a fine place to let some of the Pokémon out for a bit.” She unclipped one of the balls from her belt and pressed the button in the center. After a brief and familiar flash of red light, a small and slightly porcine simian appeared: Krissy’s Mankey, named Jane. Going by habit, Jason almost took out Spike’s Pokéball, but he stopped himself when he recalled Surge’s words: ‘playing favorites.’ Feeling frustrated with himself, he took out Rattata’s ball instead.

With the same click and flash as with the opening of any Pokéball, Rattata was sitting upright on the sand, looking from side to side. Krissy looked at Rattata, and then at Jason. “Something’s still bugging you, isn’t it?”

Jason looked over and saw that Travis was already at the water’s edge, releasing Wyvern (which, Travis admitted, was a deceptively menacing name for his little Horsea) from her ball. When Jason was sure that Travis was far enough out of earshot, he answered Krissy. “Yeah. It’s what Surge said.”

Krissy stooped down and let Jane climb up on her back. “Do you want to talk about it?”

On any other day and with any other person, Jason probably would have balked at the notion of conversing about anyone’s stupid, wussy feelings, especially his own. Something about Krissy, however, made him feel as if he could speak more freely without compromising his pride. “I could see all his talk about my lousy strategy coming, but it’s what he said about me and my Pokémon that got to me.”

“Yeah?”

“Well, he pretty much said that I don’t have a good relationship with any of them except Spike. And I really don’t want to be that kind of trainer, you know?”

Krissy sighed. “It must hurt to hear that from a gym leader. But at least you know what you have to do now.”

Travis, who was standing knee deep in the water, turned around and called out to the two. “Hey, lovebirds! Come on in, the water’s great!”

Jason replied to Travis in what they both considered to be appropriate and expected fashion. “Stick it up your butt, dirt-bag!” He then replied to Krissy, who was frowning at his language. “The thing is, though, I thought I was already paying attention to my whole team instead of just Spike pretty well. I mean, sure, I use Spike a little more often, but you guys use your starters more often too and your teams seem fine.”

Rattata was scurrying among the rocks, apparently anxious about something. Krissy looked down at it, and asked Jason, “That reminds me: Have you thought of a name for him?”

Jason frowned and shook his head. “No. I don’t really have a good picture of his personality yet.” It was then that the point he had been missing hit him like a freight train. He clapped his hand to his forehead and slid it down over his eyes. “Of course. I’ve been using him in battle, but I’ve never so much as let him out just to have fun like this. How could I forget to do that? I’m such an idiot!”

Jason squatted and looked at Rattata. Now he could tell why the little guy seemed so anxious: He was expecting a battle with another Pokémon. As for Jason, the thought of Rattata being paranoid non-stop about fighting made the gravity of his shortcomings as a trainer sink in. For the second time that day he felt his eyes water, but then he heard Krissy speak. “You’re not an idiot. You’re just new; we all are.”

Jason stretched out his hand to try and pet Rattata, but the small, purple rodent shied away and turned to scurry somewhere else. Jason sighed. ‘I should have seen this coming,’ he thought. He had long known that this was what happens when a trainer leaves his Pokémon by the roadside. Krissy continued speaking. “Don’t let it get to you. It’s just going to take some time, that’s all.”

Jason nodded. “Yeah, you’re right.”

Travis was out chest-deep, enjoying the waves and splashing around with Wyvern when he yelled, “Hey! Get your lips off each other and come get in the water!”

Jason took notice of how much lighter, more openly jesting Travis’s tone was in comparison to normal. Travis had always seemed to be more at peace, in his element around the sea. Krissy, however, did not find the jest particularly good-spirited. She grinded her teeth and looked as if she wanted to swear, though she never actually would. “All right, we’re coming!”

She stood up and said to Jason, “I’m going over there to change. Don’t wait up.”

Jason nodded and took off his backpack. As he was rummaging for his trunks, he heard Wyvern making a series of loud squeals. This was obviously an indication that Travis was taking his roughhousing too far. ‘Figures,’ thought Jason. ‘The two of us really know how to treat our Pokémon right.’ He looked up to see what exactly Travis was doing.

He couldn’t see Travis.

This caught him off guard, but he didn’t jump to conclusions until ten seconds later when he still had no sight of Travis, but could see Wyvern surfacing without him and continuing to squeal. Jason started to panic, and called out, “Travis? Travis!” Wyvern dived below the surface again, and Jason threw down his bag and ran for the water. His quick steps kicked salt water into his eyes, and as he reached waist-deep his shorts and shirt grew heavy. A wave slapped him right in the face, but in his feverish panic he barely noticed. After a few seconds that passed like a few minutes, Jason found Travis. He was curled in a ball beneath the water, and wasn’t moving a muscle. Jason reached down and grabbed him, while Wyvern was still squealing for all she was worth. With a good heave, Travis was on two feet, gasping for breath. But all of a sudden, he ceased gasping, and let out a weak groaning noise. His eyes watered, and as his knees buckled his head fell again under the water.

By this time, Krissy had noticed what was happening and had reached the boys. She and Jason pulled Travis up on his feet again, and got under his arms to help him back to the sand. When the water was barely at their ankles, they all sat down. Jason and Krissy were breathing rapidly; while Travis had his mouth open but was breathing little. With her normally calm voice replaced by one of worry, Krissy spoke. “My God! What happened?”

Jason wiped some sweat from his brow. “I don’t know! Travis, say something!”

Travis, practically crying, managed a protracted and high-pitched ‘ow.’ Krissy then said, “Let’s lay him down.”

They cleared away all the rocks they could and eased Travis to the wet sand, but when his back hit the ground it arched and he cried out louder than before. He turned on to his side, at which point Jason and Krissy noticed the seven massive, purple welts running from the small of his back up to just beneath his shoulder blades.

“Oh man,” said Jason. “Tentacool. Must have been huge, and a bunch of them.”

Krissy and Jason helped Travis sit up. Cringing at the sight of the sores, she asked, “Is he poisoned?”

Jason looked at the sting marks, and asked, “How can you tell?” Moments later, Jason gathered that one could tell that poison was present if the skin around the welts was rapidly starting to grow purple as well. This was happening to Travis, who was also starting to twitch. “Go get an antidote!”

Krissy stood and ran over to the bags. She grabbed hers and Jason’s, and started looking through her own while she ran back. While she was looking, Jason tried to be encouraging for Travis. “You’re gonna be fine. Just hang in there.”

Travis doubled over and groaned, and Jason could see that his face was starting to turn red, too. Jason then looked over to Krissy, wondering what was taking so long with that antidote. The sight of her startled him. He had never seen anyone’s face literally turn white, but hers was awfully close. “Krissy?”

“I feel so, so, so stupid right now.” Her voice was apologetic and frantic, which scared the living daylights out of Jason.

“Krissy, no. No, you can’t tell me—”

“I just remembered why I wanted to go to the store earlier. It’s because we don’t have any antidotes.”

It was at this point that Travis uttered his first actual word since the attack. This word also happened to be the worst swear word he had ever said in his life. “Sh*t!”

Jason rubbed his eyes and said, “We have to get him to a hospital or something. Think you can walk, Travis?”

Travis’s weak tone and expression did not suggest the same thing that his answer did. “Maybe.”

Jason and Krissy got their shoulders under Travis’s arms, and stood him upright with significant wincing on his part. With their help, he managed the first few steps fine, but once they got to the edge of the dirt road he had to take a knee and grasp his side, which was starting to appear slightly purple as well. “Gaaah!”

Krissy looked down the road. “It’s no good. One of us is going to have to run into town and buy an antidote.”

Jason, with lip quivering, immediately said, “I’ll go.” He began to run toward Vermillion, but then realized that his money was in his bag. He turned on his heels and ran back to the edge of the water to grab it. As he did so, he slipped on the sand and fell on his knees. The rocks made some small cuts on his shins, but he didn’t heed them. With clothes still drenched and with legs still covered in sand, he slung his pack over his shoulder and ran back to the road.

It was in this manner that Jason left his best friend by the roadside. The very phrase flashed in his mind as he ran, ‘left by the roadside,’ along with his few memories of what he had been told about Tentacool poisonings. He couldn’t remember how bad they were supposed to get, or how long it was safe to leave them without proper treatment. He couldn’t even remember if it was possible that the victim might—no, he could not think of such a thing. But he already had. Die. He didn’t know if Travis might die. The thought should have been too horrible to imagine, but it was right there in his head as he kept running.

But just then, Jason heard a small thing squeak. It darted in front of him, and then dashed away to his right. He looked over his shoulder, slowed down, and saw that the thing was his Rattata. It was soon apparent to him that his Rattata was running away; off the trail and away from his trainer. “Oh god, no!”

Jason hesitated for a moment and looked down the road that lead to Vermillion, and then to his Rattata which was nearly out of his sight thanks to the bushes. “Crap!” He departed from his previous course, and began to chase after Rattata. Travis was badly poisoned, maybe dying, and now his third Pokémon was trying to leave him. As he cursed himself, he couldn’t blame the little thing for trying to escape. His own negligence was now coming back to delay him when he was in most need of haste. He felt himself a failure as a trainer and a failure as a friend. For the first time that day, he actually did shed a few tears.

Three dozen yards later, Rattata stopped running. Jason caught up to him, and removed the vacant Pokéball from his belt. But just as he was about to press the button to recall it, he stopped. Perhaps he stayed his hand at first because in the back of his mind he knew that Rattata spent far too much time in that ball, but after a few moments Jason became keenly aware that he was missing something. He looked down at Rattata. Rattata looked up and right back at him. The little thing ran in a circle, and then looked in his eyes again. Jason could see that there was a sense of urgency about him, but it wasn’t directed against trainer or Pokéball. At that moment something clicked in Jason’s head, and he returned the Pokéball to his belt. He dropped to his knees and looked behind Rattata. In an instant, all the doubt and worry in his mind was washed away, and he felt that he knew what Rattata’s name was.

“Tracker, you are amazing.”

Jason picked up the antidote that someone had dropped in the tall grass. He patted Tracker on the head, got back on his feet, and hurried toward where Travis and Krissy were waiting as Tracker followed him. As he ran, he couldn’t help but laugh out loud.

At first Krissy was confused and worried at how Jason was returning so early, but when she saw his smile and the little glass container he was holding, her heart jumped. Jason was practically ecstatic when he stopped running and took the plastic protector off of the antidote’s needle. “Rattata—Tracker found it off the side of the road! I couldn’t believe it!”

Travis, though glad of the fact, was physically disinclined to show it. He was now twitching more frequently, and the purple hue on his back was still spreading. With listless voice he said, “Nice…to see…you’re feeling so…good,” and then he coughed.

“Oh, shut up, you killjoy. Bend over. This might sting a bit.”

Just as Krissy was asking, “How much of a dose are you supposed to use on a kid?” Jason did as he would do with a Pokémon. He lined up the needle with one of the welts, stuck it in, and pressed the switch. Travis was not immediately thrilled.

“OW! God damn that stuff burns! Christ!”

More than anything, Jason was glad to hear the usual vigor that was already returning to Travis’s voice. He pulled out the needle, and waited to see what happened. While Travis continued to curse antidotes, his luck, and above all else Tentacool—“I hate those dumb things!”—the purple hue left his skin over the course of a few minutes.

When all the signs of poison were gone, leaving only some unsightly, red bumps, Krissy at last relaxed a little. “How are you feeling?”

Travis took a few deep breaths. “Better. Yeah, better. Less like I’m dying. Now it just stings like nothing else.” He then propped his hands against the ground, and with a little deliberation he stood up. He gritted his teeth and said, “Alright, let’s head back to town; get that shopping done.”

Jason saw that Krissy had gathered up the bags and returned the other Pokémon to their balls while he was gone. He squatted down and gave Tracker another pat on the head, saying, “Good job, little guy. You really saved our butts today.” Before he took out the Pokéball to recall him, he could see that Tracker, though not bursting with happiness, was a little satisfied, and maybe a little more comfortable around his trainer. Once the proverbial Rat of the Hour was back in his ball, Jason picked up Travis’s bag. “I’ll carry this.”

“Knock yourself out,” said Travis as he put on his shoes and started to walk. Before he got far, however, Krissy spoke up.

“Hold on a moment.” She was rooting through her bag, and soon pulled out a potion.

Jason was puzzled. “What are you doing?”

Krissy tossed the potion a few feet away from the beaten path. “We got good luck when we really needed some, so it only seems right to return the favor; let someone else be lucky later. We’ve got more than enough potions, and it might be just what whoever finds it needed.”

Travis scoffed. “More likely it’ll be someone who’s got plenty of potions and sees a free one.”

Krissy shrugged. “Yeah, but you never know.”

Travis snorted and resumed walking down the path. Jason and Krissy tarried for a while, however. “I think you might be on to something,” said Jason.

Krissy nodded. “I think so too. Sometimes it’s the little things that really make a difference, right?”

Jason thought back to that moment’s hesitation which kept him from recalling Tracker. “Yeah, true.”

He and Krissy then started following Travis, leaving the potion by the roadside. ‘Left by the roadside.’ That phrasing had come across Jason’s mind several times that day. On each occasion, though, the Who, How, and Why of the phrase had been quite different, as had been the emotions that had accompanied it. Jason thought about this, and even considered sharing his thoughts with Krissy. He decided against it, however, because he didn’t want Travis to overhear and laugh at him for being such a pansy; for they both knew that only girls talked about their feelings and other crap like that. Instead, Jason said something that was more in line with his image.

“But man, those Tentacool really suck, huh?”

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 - 7th chapter out now!

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)


A proud member of the
FFL ship/orgy/whatever.
Family (kind of?): Strange person who calls me strange names

If the pen is mightier than the sword, the keyboard is mightier than the ICBM.

Last edited by icomeanon6; 3 Weeks Ago at 10:35 PM. Reason: New swear filter
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  #2    
Old July 28th, 2011, 10:15 AM
IanDonyer's Avatar
IanDonyer
Time to kick ass? Definitely.
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: Remember? Yeah, I live at that place! At the time, with the thing! =D
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I love this story. Everything flows perfectly, the character development and consistency are spot-on, it's got a perfect balance of humor and seriousness, the plot is unique, grammar is flawless, Tracker is an amazing name for a Rattata that I'm jealous I didn't think of first and it's a Pokemon-based slice of life story, which is my favorite genre of fiction.


Overall, it's amazing, and I can see how it won first place. Great job, man.
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Old July 28th, 2011, 11:58 AM
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Daydream
Spider-Man
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Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: That thar Kingdom. The United one.
Age: 20
Gender: Male
Nature: Quirky
I completely understand why this story won the Small Writing competition. The characterisation is very good, because I found myself empathising with Jason quite quickly. I felt genuinely panicked when Travis was poisoned! I can't pick anything out that was wrong or bad really, because the writing is that good.

I did find a tiny typo, however;

Quote:
Look at him!. It’s all over his face!”
The period after the first exclamation mark.

I really enjoyed the story, it was just overall brilliant. Also, Wyvern is a fantastic name for a Horsea.
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Old July 28th, 2011, 12:11 PM
icomeanon6's Avatar
icomeanon6
It's "I Come Anon"
 
Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: Northern Virginia
Age: 20
Gender: Male
Ian:

I hadn't really thought of it as "slice of life" before, but now that you mention it I guess it fits. I'm also glad to hear you liked Tracker's name so much. I was actually wracking my brains/agonizing over what name to give him because I wanted the giving of the name to be important, so you've really put my mind at ease. xD

DayDream:

Genuine panic? Just what I was aiming for! :) And good eye with that typo; I totally missed it. I'm not going to edit in the fix, though, because I like to keep official entries as-is.

Thank you both so much for reading and for your kind words. I happen to hold you both in high regard as story tellers, so this means a lot to me. I'm going to get to your entries soon!
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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 - 7th chapter out now!

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)


A proud member of the
FFL ship/orgy/whatever.
Family (kind of?): Strange person who calls me strange names

If the pen is mightier than the sword, the keyboard is mightier than the ICBM.

Last edited by icomeanon6; July 28th, 2011 at 12:41 PM.
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  #5    
Old July 28th, 2011, 03:29 PM
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Nam
Mime Jr.
 
Join Date: Apr 2011
Location: Dominican Republic
Age: 20
Gender: Male
Nature: Quiet
Wow, this was GREAT! I can't believe I was actually considering to enter the competition with writers like this... O.o
I better improve my writing so I can compete on par with you guys. This story was phenomenal. I was totally grabbed in. Good job.
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  #6    
Old July 29th, 2011, 07:12 PM
Mizan de la Plume Kuro's Avatar
Mizan de la Plume Kuro
Bass, Bass Everywhere!
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
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So technically, I've read all the posted SWC entries, even that one in the thread, but I've yet to review them. I'll start with yours because I haven't properly congratulated you yet.

So overall, I'm going with Ian on this one: the characterization, the writing, the plot, the naming of Ratata. Everything is phenomenal. In a bit more detail, I've told you how I love these three trainers and their various adventures and, like previous years, this was no exception. I mean, you don't even need to read through your previous oneshots to fully understand their personalities. All of them blend seamlessly, without support from each other, into what you might call the 'life' that you've managed to breathe into your characters. Sure the three oneshots reveal the various other facets of this intrepid trio's personalities, but they do so without conflict, and you can read each one individually, without reference to the others, and still come up with a pretty good idea of how Jason, Travis, and Krissy are like. That, my good sir, is an amazing feat of literary excellent in itself --managing to expand on the personalities of three characters in as little words as possible. Btw, There's Always Tomorrow still makes me tear up a bit.

Anyway, enough about that, let's get to the story. I've said your main characters were amazing, but the plot and your narration is superb too. That whole exchange with the friends going from being all depressed, to possibly getting insulted, and then the sudden reversal, and being cheered up again. Wow. I never saw that coming. Truly a heartfelt moment for me in this particular story. Besides that, I also loved the part with Krissy and Jason. Not because of the dialouge per-se, rather it was the actual execution which I enjoyed. It was how you managed to portray Jason as a deep character, without making him come off as completely emo, and also how you managed to avoid excluding Travis from the story without comepletely derailing the conversation. That bit with the 'stick it up your butt-hole', priceless. Also, it helped in making him seem like a very natural kind of kid you know?

Finally, the use of the prompt itself. It's almost a literal interpretation of 'cast aside' but damn if it isn't effective, which just goes to show why you have my respect as, not only a superb story-teller, but also a flexible one. I mean from comedy to tragedy to slice-of-life. Sir, you are good. But anyway, on the actual use of the prompt itself, which involves me going on a bit about stuff, I have to say that the story took a bit of liberties with Jason's priorities. That is to say, I was a bit iffy with Jason choosing to go after his Ratata
, without much hesitation and with only a nod to his previous mistake, while his best friend lay dying on the beach. That, I believe, you could've handled a bit more gracefully, but I do accept that it's part of the excellent story-telling process, and it could be due to juvenile decisions, so I'll let that one pass.

Despite all my negative critique, I can't help but say that: it was one hell of a good story. You deserve that first place. Spectacular achievement.
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