8th September 2012, 05:02 AM #1
Feeling of being watched
Within a gloomy and stale office a man sat in a low armchair staring into space. There was a distant inaudible roar of voices coming from outside but besides that there was little noise save for the low humming of an air conditioner. The man had been sitting blankly doing nothing for a long time; he was opposed to doing anything anymore. No visitors, no phone calls, no talking, no contact or at least that was his desire. Even the urge to read had left him long ago and anyway, the room was so dark that it was hard to see from one wall to another. His name was Lance.
His eye caught a glint of reflected light off an object on the mantle. His Poke Ball, within which housed his Dragonite held his gaze. Dragonite was Lance’s first Pokemon and now it was his last. The Poke Ball hadn’t been opened for almost a year. Dragonite, like all of Lance’s former Pokemon no longer obeyed him, yet Dragonite alone had not disowned him. One day, perhaps, he would open it again.
Suddenly the air conditioner stopped. His eyes darted towards the ceiling where it was located and then he felt the palms of his hands for sweat. The pandemonium outside became louder and Lance tried to listen to what they were saying but he could only make out the words “smash” and “criticise”. He felt his palms again. Damp!
Instantly he began to unbutton his shirt. He was wearing a thick long sleeve shirt that formed part of his blue-grey uniform. The clothes he wore were so tight that they appeared to be glued onto his thin body. On his head he wore a hat that ne never removed even when inside. He had recently developed a skin problem on his scalp which caused his once striking, thick hair to become dull and fall out in uneven patches hence why the permanent headwear. Before he could even finish unbuttoning his shirt he could feel perspiration gathering on his brow. His stomach twisted and his bowels began to turn to water.
‘Jane Quinn?’ he yelled, ‘Jane Quinn!’
Within several seconds he could hear footsteps coming towards his office by which time he had made his way down to the carpet. The door opened and Lance’s wife Jane Quinn entered, her eyes peering around the dark room. Everyone had always called her by her full name. Upon entering, the unpleasant smell of earth and body odour struck Jane Quinn although she had become quite familiar to Lance’s conditions.
‘Lance?’ she replied in a concerned tone trying to locate him, ‘What is it?’
Her voice was mature and not feminine which made a strange contrast when compared to Lance’s speech which had become very tight.
‘The air conditioner has stopped, I’m sweating! I’m going to be sick!’ he proclaimed almost crying.
Jane Quinn finally spotted Lance lying on his back on the carpet. She turned and was about to call out to someone when she was interrupted by the whoosh of the air conditioner springing back to life and easing into a gentle hum. She turned back to Lance and hurried over to his side.
‘I knew it,’ she said as she rested Lance’s head on her lap, stroking the side of his face with a handkerchief. ‘This could be a plot cooked up by all of them.’
Lance looked up at her concerned whilst trying to catch his breath. When she was young Jane Quinn was quite good looking but now she couldn’t be described as pretty. Her skin was pasty, with slicked-back black hair that reached as far back as her collar, large eyes that were so black the iris could not be distinguished from the pupil and a crooked nose; the result of breaking it eating an apple. She still wasn’t ugly, just not attractive.
‘I told you that nurse tried to murder me,’ Jane Quinn continued, ‘I knew-‘
‘Shut up, Jane Quinn,’ Lance interrupted still panting. His wife stopped abruptly quite startled.
‘I’ve already told you,’ he continued slowly, ‘we’ve all told you a hundred times, you had an adverse reaction to the anaesthetic. She wasn’t trying to hurt you, it doesn’t even make sense. Help me back onto my chair.’
Jane Quinn heaved Lance back into his armchair. He had become so weak he couldn’t get up by himself from the floor. Once upon his feet he could stand unaided and walk but not for long periods of time. The voices outside seemed to have dimmed down.
‘Well you could tell me again,’ she responded assuredly, ‘you could tell me a thousand times. Why do you protect them? They’re all spies. I’m going to talk to Ley.’
‘Shut up!’ Lance yelled again, shaking his head, ‘Why on earth would you do that? Don’t you understand we can’t do anything? Be passive. Why won’t you listen to me?’
Jane Quinn glanced up and around the room inquisitively, pretending not to pay attention to what Lance was telling her. However, she was actually following every word carefully.
‘You’ve become intoxicated with what you think is a victory,’ Lance said irritatingly and with that Jane Quinn scoffed softly and restrained a smile.
‘Nothing could be more wrong,’ he continued, ‘everyone is treading on eggshells. I know you don’t listen to me but hear this. We must have no responsibility, make no suggestions, have no independence and therefore make no crime. Do not speak to Ley unless you absolutely must.’
Lanced paused to catch his breath and waited for a reply from his wife however she showed no further sign of registration, only looking at her watch.
‘Passive, passive and passive again is the only way to avoid being smashed to pieces,’ Lance concluded in a raised voice, ‘I don’t know how many times I have told you this. Do you not understand?’
Still Jane Quinn made no response and nor did she look at him. Lance thought he could hear her humming but perhaps it was murmurs from outside.
‘Jane Quinn!’ he yelled, and he hit his fist on the side table though it didn’t make as much noise as he would have liked.
His wife’s glance found him but she did not immediately say anything as she pondered how to respond. She relied on Lance heavily but rarely acknowledged her situation.
‘You have so many shortcomings,’ Lance said quietly, pretending to be calmed. ‘Remember that. You can leave now.’
Jane Quinn did not move. Her face was like stone and her stance imposing. She stared straight into Lance’s eyes for several seconds until he began to feel afraid.
‘You just need more psypoid,’ she said slowly and confidently, ‘and your buttons are undone.’
Lance looked upon her dumbfounded, his jaw slack.
‘Get out!’ he screamed, ‘Get out! And you will not do anything!’
With that Jane Quinn turned slowly and calmly and walked out, closing the door behind her.
‘And see to it that air conditioner doesn’t go off again!’ He added.
Safely back in his chair, Lance leaned forward and wiped his hands and face with a tissue before buttoning-up his shirt.
‘Perhaps she was right about the psypoid,’ he thought to himself.
After a while he leaned back gazing into space, listening to the air conditioner once again.
Psypoid was the name given to a drug derived from blooming Cacturne. The blossom is synthetically treated to enhance its potency and give it addictive qualities. Lance was the “Champion” behind its creation; he was once the Champion of many things.
The drug had recently been brought into popular use on Psychic Pokemon in central Johto. The Dark type traits subdued higher mental powers causing Psychic type abilities to be significantly impaired or rendered useless altogether. Lance became addicted to the drug and consequently suffered many problems. The addictive attributes are so compelling that it had been said that once use started on psypoid, it could not be stopped. Lance didn’t know if it was true or not, though as yet, there had been no successful detoxification process.
The basis of psypoid is fear, the core feature of Dark type Pokemon. Psychic Pokemon that are affected are overcome with such unfathomable fear that their mind is incapable of formulating psychic attacks. The results are similar in humans though the mental impairment is less. Lance did not think himself of dimmer wit when using psypoid but the fear, oh the terror, he became so frightened it just as well reduced him to nothing. The minor discomforts or barely noticeable irritations of everyday life were enhanced absolutely.
Chiefly Lance suffered from peculiar episodes triggered by fears of wind, light, cold, noise and above all water due to psypoid use. His strange development of a phobia to water had caused him never to bathe or directly drink and made him become ill whenever he started to sweat. The mere sight of rivers or the ocean in photos and paintings made him lightheaded and the sound of running water triggered diarrhoea.
Outside of Lance’s quarters, Jane Quinn had located the man responsible for Lance’s security and domestic duties. She didn’t know his name, having made no effort to learn it.
‘You there,’ she said upon her approach, ‘what is happening here? What type of show are you running? You say that you are here to protect my husband but still you let the air conditioning go off. You know that Lance is unwell.’
‘Jane Quinn,’ he began, ‘the power was cut, everyone’s-’
‘We have backup generators for such circumstances,’ she interrupted, ‘don’t try and conceal your mistakes.’
‘That’s right,’ he replied, ‘but the generators are selective in that they only cover the electricity demands of certain areas. The generators don’t cover the cooling unless they’re manually connected.’
‘And why didn’t you connect them?’
‘I did connect them, I went straight over. The air conditioning could not have been off for more than a minute.’
‘I doubt you went very fast,’ Jane Quinn coldly responded, ‘Because of your blunders Lance and myself have both suffered. Is this what you want? Are you trying to torture us?’
‘I’m not trying to harm anyone.’ he stated but before he could go on he was cut off again.
‘Your attitude is wrong! Stop disagreeing with everything I say. You can’t admit your mistakes.’
The man cast his eyes to the ground knowing that any debate would be useless. He quickly shot a glance to the side and could see the doors to Lance’s office. Lance would vouch for him.
‘I want to speak to Lance’ he said.
Jane Quinn’s eyes widened and she looked around in mocking amazement.
‘Lance?’ she asked rhetorically, ‘No! You can speak to me. I am Lance’s closest companion, we share everything between us. My view is his view.’
‘But-‘ he attempted.
‘Don’t say another word!’ bellowed Jane Quinn, ‘Your condescending attitude has caught you up in your own webs. You are dismissed immediately from your duties and are to stay in your compound.’
The man, unable to do anything, accepted the verdict and departed the room with his eyes still on the floor.
Jane Quinn smirked as the man departed. She looked at her watch and her smirk turned into a beaming smile. Quickly, she walked to her own quarters and into her secretary’s office. The young woman looked up at Jane Quinn nervously in anticipation.
However, there was no verbal exchange. Jane Quinn grasped a pen from the desk and scratched some words on a piece of paper. She put her finger to her mouth signalling for her secretary not to talk before showing her the page. The secretary leaned forward, “Is everything ready?” it read.
Looking back up at Jane Quinn, the secretary gave an affirmative nod but her nervousness hadn’t left her.
Last edited by 99unownoak; 14th September 2012 at 12:34 AM.
12th September 2012, 05:20 PM #2
Let's get funky!
Wow. This is really good. I can't wait to find out more about what's happened to Lance, who this Jane Quinn character is, what this plan is.
Seriously, wow. It's obvious there's a huge amount of back story here, and I can't wait to get to know what's going on. What a brilliant and intriguing Prologue!
Can't wait for me! Tag me in new chapters please!
One issue: You referred to Jane Quinn as "he" once towards the end. It was probably just a typo.
23rd September 2012, 04:05 AM #3
Feeling of being watched
Thanks a lot @G-Mama; , I fixed up that mistake.
Chapter 1: Introduction and Clair
Upon retiring as the Champion of the Pokemon League Lance returned to the Johto region. His departure from the League was a long time coming though unexpected after spending so much time as the Champion. Young Pokemon trainers had grown-up knowing no other Master, and to some the question of his departure had not even conjured itself given that Lance had been such a constant in their lives.
The Elite Four, let alone Lance, had not suffered a defeat in years and the League had become stagnant. The Four had reached their pinnacle, with unshakable ideas and ideals and had abandoned any thought of change or abstract development. Pokemon trainers continually attempted and failed as the same cronies grew older and older until it was generally accepted that only a legendary Pokemon could yield a triumph. Lance doubted this still, though he did believe that the League needed alteration and, as he’d already reached his goal, he subsequently withdrew in hopes of paving the way for more visionary less practical trainers.
Initially Lance had gone back to his home city of Blackthorn in hopes of living a normal, quiet life but problems started almost immediately. Chief among them was Clair. The cousins had not seen each other for a long time and were now estranged. Clair had become exceedingly proud, thinking herself the mightiest of the gym leaders and a queen among pawns. She was focused on perfection, neglecting all of her Pokemon but Kingdra, believing them to be deficient and unwilling to compete in battles. Kingdra itself was very old and fantastically powerful, rivalling even most of Lance’s team. At one point, she employed the use of only her Kingdra in one-on-one gym battles but was dissuaded after the League intervened due to a deficiency in trainer victories.
Upon Lance’s return, he went back to his family’s old home in the north of Blackthorn. Although received warmly as a returning hero by the townspeople there was no greeting or even communication with Clair for several weeks until Lance stumbled upon her one day by chance. He still remembered the uncomfortable conversation however unpleasant it was.
‘Hello Clair, I’ve looked forward to seeing you again,’ Lance had begun warmly.
He could see Clair had aged well with only a few wrinkles around her eyes, an athletic build and stunning blue hair. Clair had eyed Lance over carefully before responding; seeing that he also had barely changed and was still slim and handsome with fine hair himself.
‘You’ve come to be gym leader?’ Clair had asked promptly.
‘No, no,’ Lance chuckled in response, ‘my competition battling days are over. Anyway, we haven’t seen each other for such a long time. How have you been getting along?’
‘Everything was fine,’ she replied slowly then paused awkwardly.
She had a strange look on her face. Lance wondered just how much emphasis lay on the “was”.
‘Someone definitely told me that you plan to be the gym leader of the town,’ Clair had repeated.
‘Well,’ Lance smiled in response, ‘you can hear it from me that I certainly don’t.’
There was another pause.
‘You should come over to my place some time,’ Lance continued, ‘that way we could catch up and you could meet Jane Quinn. I can’t believe you two haven’t met yet.’
‘I’ve heard stories,’ Clair interjected.
‘What?’ replied Lance.
‘I’ve heard about your wife,’ she clarified.
‘Oh… good, I must introduce you, I’m sure you’ll get along fine,’ though in hindsight Lance regretted this idea.
‘I’ve got to keep going,’ said Clair dismissively as she began to leave, ‘I’m late for a gym battle. I’ve worked hard to get where I am. I’m a good gym leader and I hope you know that nothing’s going to change.’
‘Of course not,’ Lance replied agreeably, ‘you’re a great trainer. One of the best, I’m sure. We should even have a battle one day.’
Clair halted at Lance’s mention of a battle. Lance registered her peculiar response.
‘Only if you wanted to,’ he added.
‘I bet you’d want to,’ she said in a cold hoarse voice before turning again and walking off leaving Lance standing in the street.
Rumours had started to stir. Now there were two dragon masters in Blackthorn, a Pokemon League Champion and what many then comparatively perceived as a mere gym manager. The views of travelling Pokemon trainers and townspeople on Clair now quickly changed to a second best, over-confident shadow of Lance’s power. The best person wasn’t in the top job in Blackthorn City. Lance had no ambition to be gym leader of the town, he had achieved his aspirations many years earlier, but the talk lingered.
Jane Quinn had been another problem. She hated Blackthorn and complained constantly about the cold. They were, after all, closely situated to the ice caves just further north and freezing winds swept through the valleys and over the barren plains to the town. Jane Quinn feigned bad health, she always seemed to be sick or so she said. Either with headaches, stomach trouble, insomnia and the list went on. She had amassed a store of medications she regularly administered to herself. Anyone unlucky enough to be with her at a meal got a lecture on her medications as she took them and their purposes. This tablet to calm her nerves, that one to build her blood, another for her skin and so on and on. Eventually, Lance had gotten a doctor to see her but when the doctor had told Lance his opinion he wasn’t surprised.
‘There’s nothing wrong with her,’ the doctor had stated, ‘everything is normal for a person her age. I told her this but she was silent. I don’t think she believed me. It’s all in her head.’
Lance knew that his wife was fine, physically at least. Her problem was she had nothing to do. Jane Quinn suffered from chronic boredom and a lack of social interaction. Lance had been at the head of the limelight in the field of Pokemon battling for years while Jane Quinn had nothing and no one. Isolation combined with a lack of interests or hobbies and no friends spelled her fate. She just needed something to do and a person to talk to besides Lance yet both were harder to obtain than would be thought.
The main causes of trouble that lay in Lance’s situation in Blackthorn were Clair and his wife. That’s when Lance had got the idea to introduce the two. They both seemed to be as difficult as each other but the more Lance gave it thought the more similarities he saw and the more agreeable the whole thing sounded. He’d kill two birds with one stone and get the two problematic ladies together. Jane Quinn’s condition would improve and the tension between Lance and Clair would evaporate if the friendship struck.
The result was disastrous and Lance later wondered why he had talked himself into such an unlikely scheme. Jane Quinn wasn’t an easy person to get along with and Clair desired no friendship, on the contrary she sought division and conflict. They fought from the start and continued to repeatedly. Lance tried to mediate between the two at times in hopes of a desirable outcome and although progress was sometimes made the end result was always disappointment.
What had started as brief and awkward conversations soon ended altogether between Lance and Clair and Clair soon began to openly criticise her cousin.
‘Why is he even here?’ she had complained to her clique, ‘The old fool’s been booted out of the League. Now he drags himself and that mad and impotent woman to our doorstep disturbing the quiet of our town.’
‘He disgraced himself,’ sneered one of Clair’s creatures, ‘he was found out to be cheating.’
‘He’s in love with you,’ cried another, ‘I saw him looking at you. After marrying that crone he now can see what a mistake he has made and the type of woman he could of got!’
‘I doubt he’ll ever look at a girl again after this Jane Quinn experience!’ laughed Clair.
Any attempt to kindle a friendship between Clair and Jane Quinn had ended on the day that a funeral was held for a distant relative of Lance. Clair and quite a few local residents were there also. Lance saw the spectacle unfold from his seat with the rest of the attendants as Clair and Jane Quinn met by the coffin at the front of the hall.
‘I hope you can put your vendetta aside for today,’ Clair had said quietly but sternly to Jane Quinn as they were paying their respects and inspecting the coffin.
Jane Quinn scoffed and made no further response; she had stopped talking to Clair many months ago. Clair looked at the elaborate wreath placed on top of the casket by the undertakers. There was a small piece of card attached expressing a printed condolence. She took out a pen and wrote “Clair” on it. Jane Quinn noticed this and waited for Clair to move on before writing “From Lance and Jane and” before Clair’s name. However, Clair had glanced back, and caught Jane Quinn in the act. Clair quickly strolled back and examined the card, Jane Quinn stood by confidently.
‘How dare you,’ Clair begun in an angry whisper, ‘can’t you show any respect, even today. You and Lance should be ashamed of yourselves.’
Jane Quinn just smiled silently while facing Clair who was becoming increasingly agitated.
‘Move on now,’ said Jane Quinn after a moment, still smirking.
Clair was fuming. She took her pen back out and started vigorously scribbling out Jane Quinn’s comments. That’s when the scuffle began. Jane Quinn whacked Clair’s hand and the pen fell to the ground. Several people in their seats looked up at the platform. Clair glared at Jane Quinn with widened eyes, her teeth bared as Jane Quinn started to step back alarmed. Clair didn’t speak but grabbed Jane Quinn tightly by the shoulders and started to drag her to the side of the stand trying not to let the seated mourners see what was happening. Jane Quinn let out a muffled cry then dug her fingernails into Clair’s bare forearms as hard as she could.
‘You bitch!’ screamed Clair in pain.
The attendants looked to the front of the room at the ensuing fight. Lance became aware and stood up, starting to make his way towards them on the platform. Clair started to shake Jane Quinn violently and that’s when it happened. Jane Quinn grabbed a fistful of Clair’s hair and to the surprise of everyone present the hair came off to reveal a bald head! Several onlookers gasped as they tried to work out what they were seeing and Lance stopped in his tracks. Jane Quinn was frozen in astonishment as she looked at the wig in her hand then back at Clair and what a sight it was. Clair quickly snatched her wig back off Jane Quinn, pushed her over and ran off crying.
‘By gosh, you are ugly,’ Jane Quinn called out as Clair fled, ‘you are truly a hog!’
That was the end of any chance of reconciliation with Clair. Lance didn’t know what to make of the unfortunate exhibition. He was angry at his wife but at Clair even more for causing nothing but conflict since his arrival and as horribly embarrassing as the event must have been for Clair, in a way, Lance was glad it happened.
The town was divided over the scandal. Rumours still flared of Lance’s Blackthorn Gym aspirations and Lance’s life in general was unhappy. Blackthorn had been a disaster, the thorn in his side. Lance couldn’t stay there any longer. Ironically, Jane Quinn had suddenly changed her tune and now wished to stay in the city. Lance then worked out where many rumours had originated. After what she saw as her triumph over Clair at the funeral Jane Quinn now was determined to stay, leaving she thought, would be surrendering to Clair. Lance agreed that there was some truth in Jane Quinn’s stance but it had become ever clearer that he and his wife had to leave Blackthorn City. Jane Quinn protested but Lance was able to negotiate with her on his decision to leave. They would depart the city but only after, Jane Quinn insisted, Lance challenged Clair to a public Pokemon battle.
This is where Lance currently found himself. Reflecting on the recent calamitous events, wondering how to get Clair to accept a battle and then how to actually win it. Lance had to plan his challenge.
Several days later, Lance entered the Blackthorn Gym. There was a worthy Pokemon trainer who had obtained seven gym badges battling Clair. Lance peered in from the sidelines and could see several of Clair’s students and many townspeople watching on. At the battles conclusion (which Clair had won with only her Kingdra) Lance stepped forward into full view.
‘Gym Leader Clair,’ he stated in a loud, clear voice, ‘I challenge you to a battle before the city.’
All present heard the call and the eyes of many now turned to Clair awaiting her response.
‘I have long anticipated this day,’ Clair pronounced proudly, ‘so be it!’
Lance wasn’t expecting such a fast, clear response and smiled widely. Clair really had been awaiting this.
‘Tomorrow,’ she added, ‘Kingdra needs time to recharge. We’ll meet at midday by the lake to the north, one-on-one.’
‘I look forward to it, see you then,’ replied Lance as he departed the gym to plan his battle.