Warning: This is going to have mild swearing and scary/disgusting images. PG13 at least.
Cries of the Dead
Author’s Note: I know I am retired. However, this is a favor to a friend of mine for helping me with my “Pokemon Bible” project. I’m still retired … really… :D Oh yeah, and this is HEAVILY inspired by Silent Hill, which I‘m currently having some sort of weird fixation about.
Chapter One: Dusk
The trees lining the road to Lavender soaked in the warm golden glow of the setting sun to the gang’s right. Ash, adjusting his sleeveless jacket so that the pikachu on his shoulder wouldn’t accidentally choke him, walked slightly faster than the others. He was nearing Lavender Town, a town well known for ghostly phenomena, especially within the Tower, and he hoped to go inside again. The Tower had been filled with a vast array of toys and ghosts … who got the drop on him (literally) and succeeded in showing him a different kind of life … the life of one in limbo. Only Brock, the eldest in their party, knew about Ash’s near-death experience.
Brock, with his well-tanned skin and narrow eyes, walked more cautiously. His best friend had nearly died in this town and although he knew Ash was walking briskly out of anticipation, he couldn’t help but feel that it was unhealthy to delve so deeply into the ghostly realm.
May, on the other hand, with her long brown hair stuffed up into her red and white bandana with hair on both sides of her face flowing gently toward her shoulders, was busy snapping pictures of pokemon with her pokedex, making quick rough mini-movies for which she provided narration, the volume of which never failed to spook some pokemon as they tried to drift off into sleep.
Finally, Max yawned. He tugged his big sister May’s biking shirt and rubbed his eyes, almost dropping his glasses. “Can we stop here tonight?” he asked plaintively. “I can’t walk another minute.”
May growled softly to herself as she accidentally deleted her newest mini-movie. She slapped his hand away. “Christ, Max! It took me an hour to get the footage for this!”
Max frowned. He, like many younger siblings, felt sometimes that he was a mere afterthought in other people’s minds. He pushed her. “You selfish dmmmmpsssofsshhht.” He jerked away from the strong hand that held his mouth closed. Turning around, his eyes grew wide as Brock tugged him away from his sister by the ear.
“Max, I know May wasn’t nice to you, but there’s no reason to swear at her.”
“Well I’m tired and I don’t want to walk anymore!” he exclaimed, trying to force Brock to let go.
Brock smiled. Having had to care for many siblings by himself after his parents left him, he was used to breaking up sibling rivalry. He knew that if family didn’t get along, no matter how painful it was, it was doomed to fail. He held on to Max’s ear tightly, enough to dissuade the child from pulling away (and for amusing revenge after all the times Max has done the same thing to Brock whenever Brock fell ga-ga over a girl) and looked up at May, who was still fiddling with her pokedex, trying to get the footage back somehow. “Apologize, May.”
May looked up and grimaced. “For what? We’ve all been walking for six hours straight. Lavender is only a couple more miles away and I’m not sleeping in a bag that hasn’t been washed since two days ago. Let the little whiner sleep here in the dark forest if he wants to, but I’m going to a Pokemon Center.”
“May.” Brock brought his voice down a register to emphasize his seriousness. “You’re right. We’re all tired. Reason enough to get along.”
“And sleep in a bed, not a mat,” May retorted.
“Pika pika!” Pikachu shouted while sitting on Ash’s shoulder. It hopped down, and ran over to a struggling Max and tugged on his shorts, using a cheerful voice, “Pika! Pi-pika-pikachu-pi!”
“Pikachu thinks it’s best to get out of the forest too,” Ash told the youngest of their group. Ash rubbed his feet together. They were surely blistered after walking for so long. “Besides, there could be lots of ghost pokemon around here. You wouldn’t want your sister to get frightened of the dark, would you?” he added, grinning.
Brock let Max go, thinking to himself Good God, here we go. He watched as May ordered Ash to take that back, while Max got a devilish grin and started to impersonate all manner of ghost pokemon as he circled around his sister. Brock sighed. If they all kept this up they’d tire themselves out and they’d camp right then and there. He decided as the arguing and teasing got louder and louder to set up a small site where the path widened out a bit. He set out a pot and made a campfire from some branches. He filled the pot halfway with water and gently dropped some aromatic leaves in, and the resulting fragrance stopped the fight cold in its tracks.
“What is that?” May asked, suddenly oblivious to her younger brother or her friend.
Brock smiled but kept his gaze on his campfire. “Some new teas I’ve been working on. I use some of your bulbasaur’s sweet scent pollen and some lavender leaves. I find it calms lots of people, especially when they’re all riled up.”
“Can we have some?” Max asked, sitting next to Brock.
Brock shook his head. “I think it’s better to inhale it than to drink it. I don’t know how sweet scent pollen would affect the body if drunk.”
As the team sat silently around the campfire, the sun began to slip past the treeline. Stars popped up here and there in the darkening sky. The aromatic tea also soothed the surrounding wild pokemon, keeping them at peace and away.
Max inhaled the aroma deeply, closing his eyes to savor the smell. However, when he re-opened his eyes, he spotted a blond-haired girl dancing through the trees, barely illuminated by the moonlight, her body cloaked in shadow. The girl seemed rather overweight, but gracefully swayed back and forth and twirled as leaves fell around her. Max couldn’t make out who it was, but he wanted to find out.
May was blushing as she stared with an empty gaze at Ash, as though she were really looking past him or through him. “So, Ash,” she began dreamily, “have you found a girlfriend yet?”
Ash twitched uncomfortably. “Uh … no, not yet.” He took a twig and poked the fire absent-mindedly.
May developed a dark grin. “Well I assumed you had someone close to your heart, since you haven’t been winning any Leagues lately,” she remarked, giggling.
Ash gave her the look of death. If she had only been teasing, Ash didn’t catch on. “And I suppose having Drew or Harley pin-up posters in your backpack is why you failed to win the contests? Maybe if you took your training more seriously instead of getting all flushed every time a guy with a rose showed up, you’d win more.”
May stood up and growled at him. “I do NOT have pin-ups of them! That’s obscene! I’m only eleven for God’s sake!”
Ash stood up to match her glare but added a cocky grin. “And I’m only a few years older than you and you want me to be married already, May!” He exhaled sharply and turned to face the dark forest. “Christ, you sound just like M-”
“-- Maybe we need to drink some tea after all?” Brock wondered aloud, spooning out several cups. “I’m sure all of us need some time to relax and get some sleep.”
May snorted. “These little get-togethers is the only way either of you are ever going to sleep with a girl.”
“HEY!” both Brock and Ash barked at once.
Max silently crept out from his space beside Brock and crawled over to Pikachu, who had been lazily walking toward the edge of the path, toward where the girl had been dancing but was now gone. He had a droll look on his face and offered Pikachu some tea and some poke blocks. They sat at the bottom of a large tree opposite the campsite and munched on poke blocks, popping them in their mouths like popcorn, and drank tea as the drama continued to unfold. As the arguing got louder again, they scooted around the tree slowly until they were no longer able to see what was going on.
But they could hear plenty.
“That’s enough,” Brock offered, with only a tinge of anger in his voice. “We all need to calm down.”
May’s voice was full of triumph. “I see. Whenever either one of you is asked about your life’s progress, you blow up and blame the messenger.”
“You’re baiting, May,” Brock replied with a tiny growl. “You’re completely out of line.”
“She still can’t get over Max asking her a simple question,” Ash offered in his most snotty little voice. “I mean, she must be the Queen Ditz if a simple question makes her lose her concentration and delete amateurish videos on her pokedex.”
Max and Pikachu stuck their heads out to peer at the fight. May’s eyes suddenly glazed over. She rushed at Ash and pinned him to the ground. “You heat my blood in this forest,” she groaned creepily. “I’ve been on a long journey and I need you to soothe me.”
Brock’s normally narrow eyes went wide with amazement that such things were coming out of his friend’s mouth, a reaction shared with Max and Pikachu.
Ash grunted under May’s weight and gasped at a sudden pain in his head. His eyes glazed over. “I have no interest in you. Be gone,” he told her in a dull voice.
May continued. “I can offer you love for the ages. My love knows no bounds.”
Ash, his voice still dull, grew irritated slightly. “Mine does. And you are not included. I merely wish to investigate the city nearby. Kindly return to your journey by yourself.”
Suddenly, both of them snapped out of their trances and May leapt up from Ash, horrified at the position she had found herself in. May shrieked, her panic-whitened hands gripping her paling cheeks. “Ohmygodohmygodohmygod! I am SO sorry! I didn’t mean what just happened Ash, I promise!”
Ash snorted as he stood up, but did not return the sentiment, staying silent. Ash was ticked off at May, ticked off that he wasn’t a Pokemon Master yet, ticked off that … Ash held his stomach as strange thoughts seemed to come to him unbidden … ticked off that no one liked him for himself, that they only liked him for his potential. As he glanced around looking for Pikachu, he kept seeing images in his head of glass shards and twisted metal and flames. He doubted the images came from him, but … still … they seemed … to fit his mood, somehow.
Brock opened a box of cookies and bit into one, trying to savor the sweetness and get over what just happened. With one bite, however, his face winced in disgust and he spat out the cookie, which landed in the fire, a black ooze dripping from inside. Inside sugar cookies.
May maintained her pale visage, her hands trembling at the rage she had felt when Ash (or was it him?) rebuke her. Finally, she noticed something. Timidly, she asked, “Where is Max and Pikachu?”
A bright light, like a supernova, answered her. All three looked up at the treeline where a visible shockwave was coming straight for them as the sky hid the stars in rolling black clouds. As the shockwave hits them at a speed that could not be escaped, sparks fly from their poke balls and pokedexes and they fly backwards and land flat on their backs on the ground. A terrible roar shivers them and they find they cannot get up. They struggle to win back control over their unresponsive muscles, but they cannot. As they fail to draw in enough air, their vision clouds and darkens, only to feel the ping-ping-ping of tiny pieces of hail strike their faces.