The slight creak of the floorboards beneath his lightweight steps. The wind's sharp whistle through the twisted, broken and bare trees. The darkness clouding his sight.
It all made a chill run up his spine. Goosebumps rise to his pale white skin. He could feel each bead of sweat roll down his forehead, taking a curved path down his cheeks and toward his chin.
He was frightened to his very core in this place, and it was quite understandable why.
His name was Michael. Michael Bridges. Fourteen years old, and on his first trek through the Indigo Plateau. A brave lad, some of the folks here in Lavender Town had called him. Some had called him a hero.
Others called him stupid.
"...Katie Jacobs?" he said in a low, slightly shaking whisper.
He could barely see past a couple of inches in front of his face, pupils dilated massively in an attempt to compensate, but to no avail. His hands, covered by black gloves, were shaking like it was thirty below outside--yet, it was a hot night, coming in at about sixty-seven degrees, he remembered from his quick search online before he had left the Center just...
God, how long had it been?
He didn't even have an estimate.
"I'm a friend. Your momma and papa sent me to come and get you. Where are you? Are you lost? S-...scared?"
He could see why she would be. This was the Glaven Estate, an old abandoned home owned by the long-dead royal line: the folks who had ruled Lavender Town back in the days when it was still a royal province along with the rest of Kanto.
Nowadays? It sat on a hill high above the rest of Lavender Town, looming over it. Where supposedly, the watchful eye of One-Eyed Rick Glaven looked down upon the town, and occasionally came forth... in his form of a Gengar... and kidnapped a child every couple years or so.
And the odd thing? The thing that made this particular Pokemon trainer so terrified of this place? Every couple of years in Lavender Town, a child went missing.
The newest addition to this record book was Katie Jacobs. Seven years old, last seen playing around the Pokemon Center. Michael had seen her himself, sitting in a corner and talking to one of the Nurse's assistants, blabbering away about some sort of new video game she had gotten.
Cute kid, he had thought to himself. Never quite expected to deal with her more than that, though.
The Glaven Estate was also quite dangerous to be navigating for other reasons. Namely, it had been hit by a tornado several years ago, and nobody rebuilt. Not worth it, the Indigo Government had said simply, to rebuild an abandoned home. They had simply crossed it with safety tape and had gone about their day.
So now Michael was trudging through the place at nine o'clock at night, having been searching for three hours now. And he was about ready to give up.
Carefully, he stepped over a small hole in the floor, and pushed on. The last room, he believed, that he hadn't already searched head-to-toe. He could at least come back to the Jacobs family sure that he hadn't done a half-assed job.
His hand curled around the doorknob, and for a moment, he hesitated. Then the image of a small child, quivering in a corner, hit his minds eye, and he opened the door.
Michael froze. This room in particular was different from the rest. It was pretty well furnished, but dirty--the floor littered with trays and old candy bar wrappers. A light fixture hung in the center of the ceiling, working just fine, casting a dull glow over the face that sat beneath it.
"I... should ask you the same question," Michael said. He forced his posture to straighten. He didn't want to seem like a coward, especially right at this moment. "And I should also ask you, where's K-Katie Jacobs?"
The face sitting beneath the light was caked with dirt, and the body that sat beneath that gave off a foul odor, that caused Michael's face to slightly scrunch up.
"Katie Jacobs. She's here somewhere, right?" Michael's hand lowered itself, slowly but surely, down toward his waistline. Gripping one of the Pokeballs resting there tightly.
The man stood up, sliding his hands into the pockets of his ragged, perhaps once fashionable suit. His eyes narrowed, and Michael felt the rage in his stare.
"I don't know who Katie Jacobs is, boy. But I'd recommend you leave now, before someone gets hurt."
"Then explain who you are," Michael demanded. He reached up with one free hand, wiping the sweat from his brow.
"I am no one of importance. Not to you. Young children... should stay out of grownup affairs, don't you agree?"
"What are you up to?"
"Inquisitive, aren't we? I'm afraid I can't answer your questions. I can only tell you to leave, and forget you ever saw me. Promise me you'll do that."
"...What are you up to?"
"...I see." The man raised one hand, and snapped his fingers. Above his palms, another source of illumination appeared, this one being a bright blue contrast to the dull glow of the light fixture, about the size and shape of a baseball. "If you're not going to leave, and you're going to keep asking questions, I'm going to have to make sure you leave this place unable to speak."
Michael's body froze.
"I'm truly sorry, boy. I never have liked having to take care of children... but sometimes, it proves a necessity. Goodbye."
The bright blue ball short forward at such speeds that Michael couldn't even track it, before he hit the ground with a resounding thud. Feeling the blood begin to pool beneath his chest.
"...And now I'm going to have to move. I'm honestly surprised it took this fourteen years for someone to find me," he heard the man muse to himself.
Then, things went black.
"A visitor to the town was found..."
"Why are we watching the news again?"
The girl raised her brow, turning to face her older brother, who wore an expression of equal uncertainty. Then, the two of them bust out laughing.
"...Thought never crossed my mind. C'mon. Let's turn it to something more interesting than the adventures of a tourist, eh, Mary?"
"Yep. Let's try Comedy Central."
It was about nine o'clock in the morning, and on a weekday. Mary wasn't really expecting much: the formula was tried and true. Weekday television before 6:00 p.m. was complete and utter crap.
But, at least she would be watching it with her brother.
Twelve year old Mary Hunter was glad to see him, as she hadn't in about six months. Fifteen year old James Hunter was a big name in the news that they had just laughed over nowadays, a major contender for the Indigo League Championship under the Kanto set of badges. So logically, he hadn't been at home for quite some time, and Mary missed him dearly.
He had come home for two reasons: the League wasn't scheduled for another go for about another two months. And home, Viridian City, sat right at the foot of Victory Road, so it was a pretty short walk away. And the other reason?
Mary hadn't been twelve but for... what, two hours now? It was her birthday, and according to James himself, he had made especially sure not to come home until now.
No one else in the house was there, off to nearby Pewter City for a trip to the mall, or something to that extent. They had sort of been vague when telling this to Mary, thus she was a tad bit unsure. Supposedly they would be gone for another two or three hours. So for now, the two siblings were sitting around and waiting for them to get home, and decided to pass the time by watching some TV.
The girl had her head on her brother's shoulder, her brown hair getting slightly messy from the occasional stirring, her small frame overcome with a slight warmth from relaxation... overall, it was a pleasant moment.
That was, until she was startled out of her skin by the door swinging open behind them, slamming against the wall with a loud bang.
"Okay! So, who wants the first dose of papalovin'? The birthday girl, or the new guy in town?!"
Mary hopped up, bare feet hitting the blue rug beneath with a slight muffled thud, folding her arms over her chest and pressing her white t-shirt against it--showing her rather erratic side when annoyed by then sliding her hands into the pockets of her jeans, repeating the process a couple of times as she made her way toward the door.
"...You scared the livin' daylights out of me," she stated bluntly, eyes narrowed.
Her father stood at a towering six foot five, a tower of finely built muscle dressed by casual attire, and of course, a plethora of chest hair visible from the open buttons of his blue polo.
And the obligatory goofy smile, for such a quirky man. "So the birthday girl first, eh? I'm shocked! James should be running for me the moment he sees me, after such a long time gone!"
But alas, John Hunter leaned forward and scooped Mary into his arms, hugging her so tightly she could barely feel the breath escaping her in a large, forceful gust, then setting her down on the floor. She used this opportunity to catch her breath for a moment, before extending her leg in front of her father as he ran toward James, causing him to fall flat on his face.
Following shortly behind her father was her mother, striding along with but one shopping bag in her hand. She wore a smile of mild amusement, but a kind enough one anyway. Her free hand rose up, brushing a few loose strands of reddish orange hair out of her face.
"...John, dear, it's too early to take a nap, you know," she said, walking past him and offering a brief, courteous smile toward Mary and James. "How will we celebrate your daughter's birthday with you asleep?"
"Aha! Quite the good point, love," he responded, pushing himself up to his feet and brushing himself off. "Especially if we deny her the opportunity to have her family present her with her gift!"
"...Say. What happened to being gone 'til twelve anyway?" Mary asked, cocking her head to the side.
"Oh, short lines, trains coming early and all that whatnot," Patricia Hunter said, setting the single shopping bag down on the counter, "and of course, considering we didn't even go to Pewter..."
Now Mary was even more confused.
Her father walked over to the counter, reaching into the shopping bag carefully--pulling out a cake. Yet, she could have sworn she heard a soft thud, as if something else was rolling around in the bottom of the bag.
"Eh? Where'd you go, then?"
James spoke up for the first time in a while, and she turned to face him. He sat with his knees on the couch, elbows propped up on the top and his head resting in his upturned palms. He was grinning.
"They went and fetched the gift I made sure you were gonna get," he said. "Y'can think the Professor, for this one."
Of course, James was talking about the man who he obtained his first Pokemon from... Professor Samuel Oak of Pallet Town, the Indigo Continent's number one star next to Lance, the current running Champion of the League.
"The Professor? So... wait..."
Her mother approached her, placing a hand on her shoulder. "James introduced the idea, and me and your father agreed one-hundred percent: it's about time we started teaching you some responsibilities. You're twelve... just six more years and you'll be eighteen and out on your own, doing as you please anyway. Even if you don't choose to follow your brother's path, your gift today should help you learn for when that day comes."
Her father appeared the most eager: sliding his hand into the bag, and clenching it around the awaited present. A small sphere, with a red top and white bottom, and a silver button in the center.
"The Professor's grandson even went out and caught this thing for you. His granddaughter made the cake. Should really remember to thank the Oaks," James said with a slight chuckle. "Dad, why don'tcha give the lil' guy to Mary and let her meet him?"
Her father approached her, handing her the Pokeball. Mary wasn't quite sure what to think of this one: her eyes were widened quite a bit, and she shivered at the cold feeling of the steel sphere in her hand.
She drew in a deep breath. Now or never, huh? Time to meet her first Pokemon. Even if she didn't choose to become a trainer, something she wasn't quite sure about, this thing would be a partner for life, if all the movies and afterschool specials were accurate. This was a big moment and she forced herself to acknowledge that.
Closing her eyes, she pressed her thumb down on the button, and opened them again, watching as a bright flash of light burst forward.
And it was then that she saw Hyde for the first time.
Author's Note: Leaving you folks off on a suspenseful note! ^^
Wrote this all pretty much in one sitting last night; the most I've written since November, to be brutally honest. Glad to be back into the swing of things, excited to get this done.