“Yaaaawwwn....” Magnemite woke up slowly and groggily one day. He had had one of the strangest dreams the night before. The whole place was hazy and he could barely see somebody and hear them talking to him. The voice was loud but muffled, like a speaker run through a distortion pedal, the picture so grainy he couldn’t even make out the human’s gender. The voice sounded feminine, and the figure was dressed in white and green, wearing something red upon its chest. Its hair was long and green, its eyes colored hazel, and it seemed to be calling to him. This wasn’t a rare instance, though, especially not for him, so he shrugged it off, stretching his arms and bumping his head on a low shelf.
At that point, he realized that something was extremely wrong. “Wait up! I have arms!? And a head!?” He looked himself over again and again. He desperately searched for a shiny object in which to see his reflection. But, in fact, as he would later admit, it was true, he was human, a teenager, to be exact. He was covered with dust, his black hair in an evident mess, his clothing bashed up quite thoroughly, wearing a beat-up shirt with cracks all over the logo and a pair blue jeans with a hole in the knee large enough to put an arm through. In fact, the only thing on him which wasn’t too destroyed-looking was the snow cap on his head, which was just about as dirty as the rest of him.
“Mommy, there’s a hobo in the alley again.” a young child said in the distance, no doubt referring to him.
“Don’t look, son, you’ll only get his attention.” his mother replied.
“Hey,” Magnemite asked, “Do either of you know where I am?”
The woman held her son close and ran off. Magnemite was just plain confused. Nobody at Pokémon square was ever this hostile. He asked around, trying to find out where he was with responses alternating expletives and accusations of drinking. Drinking what, he’d never know. He gave up and walked through the place time and time again. The streets were quite a sight, alarming to say the least. People in sunglasses the size of license plates wearing their pants as anklets, precious metals crammed into the least convenient places, vehicles with more smoke coming out of the windows than the exhaust pipes jumping up and down like they were fueled by caffeine and rattling like cell phones as they blared a series of low bass drones that shattered windows and set off alarms, and people on the streets, in a far worse state than him, asking one-word questions about the strangest things.
More than once, he had heard a loud bang, preceded by cries of “JUSTICE FOR OSCAR GRANT!!!” What was making the sound, he really didn’t want to know. So, he looked around, finding a good place to sit down. He found a small art gallery and sat at its stoop, as he figured it was a place that nobody was willing to approach. He figured he was safe here.
The hours passed and passed, as did the people, all sorts, dressed in all the latest fashions, including a goth chick who gave him the finger for being a poser, even though he wasn’t posing for anything, a loud gang of foulmouthed children, carrying radios that Magnemite was surprised they could even lift, even a group of people in funny clothing who stumbled all over the place, eventually setting down the huge drums, horns, guitars, and much more that they had upon their heads and playing tunes. Soon, as day turned to night, others followed suit, carrying all sorts of things, from gigantic machines to whatever they just cooked. There were people all over the place, but the people he liked the most were the group with the drums. They were playing improvised tribal music, just like the kind of stuff he heard at Pokémon square. He felt right at home here, but he wouldn’t be here too long.
Meanwhile, three teenagers were coming up the corner, arguing about something, as teenagers often do.
“Are you sure you know where she knows where we’re going?”
“She knows, right?”
“Si j’savais pas, nous ne quitterions pas chez nous. J’sais bien ce que je fais.”
“She knows where we are, or else we wouldn’t be here.”
Magnemite looked on as three teenage kids turned the corner and approached the porch he sat on. A boy with hair that was bleached from red to blond, wearing a shirt with an army fatigue pattern and a pair of baggy pants stood side by side with a short, black-haired kid in schoolboy clothes and glasses. But one thing stood out more than ever. It was the girl who was leading them both.
The first thing he noticed was her face. She was a pale girl with brown eyes and green hair that stopped at her shoulders, with bangs that covered her eyebrows. She wore a white short-sleeved shirt with a red heart hand-stitched on the front, with a green jacket over it. Even her gloves were green. She wore white denim pants, and a pair of green shoes. She took off her jacket, folding it over one arm. Magnemite could clearly see another heart stitched on the back of it. Was this the figure from his dreams?
“That’s what we were here for?” the boy in the army gear asked.
“Oui. J’ai cherché c’mec-ci.” the girl replied. She kneeled over and began talking to Magnemite. “Toi, tu es Magnéti, non?”
Magnemite couldn’t understand the girl too well, but it was pretty clear she was asking for his name. “I’m sorry... you three have the wrong person.”
“Alors, comment t’appelles-tu?”
The schoolboy, after looking at Magnemite’s baffled face and waiting a little while, translated for Magnemite’s sake. “She just asked for your name.”
“Oh.” replied the bashed-up, baffled boy. “It’s, um... Magnemite...”
The girl turned to the two. “Oui, c’est lui.” She then returned to Magnemite. “Est-ce que tu peux aller avec nous?”
The boy in the fatigues knew what she meant. “You’re coming with us.”
“Uh... thanks. I mean, I got no place to go, I just woke up this morning, and pow, I’m a human in the bad part of an even worse city. Where am I, actually?”
“JUSTICE FOR OSCAR GRANT!!!” *BANG*
“Yep, we’re in Oakland, all right.” the school kid replied, after a long pause.
“Where are the oaks?”
“Well, there’s a canyon live oak in the town square, but other than that...”
“Then why call it Oakland?”
“I’ve always been curious of that as well.” said the boy in the fatigues. “I mean, I can think of a lot of other names for this town, but they’d all be bad for tourism.”
“Maybe that’s why.” replied the schoolboy. “Anyway,” he continued. “We’re headed back to our place. You can come with.”
“All right, then. Thanks, really. I’m really struggling to adjust here, and I could really use the help.”
“Ne nous remercie pas.” replied the girl. “Il ne faut qu’arrêter de me zieuter et nous suivre.”
“She says you’re welcome, but advises you quit staring at her and follow our lead.” the schoolboy translated.
Magnemite turned bright red. Was he really staring? He stood up and followed their lead, going past the winos, the druggies, and the armed murderers. The girl who was their ringleader was incredibly protective, raising a fist to everything she perceived as a threat. And this was the ghetto, so everything that moved, even some things that didn’t, was a viable threat. Eventually, they finally made it to a large house. The schoolboy unlocked the place, unveiling that it was an apartment complex. They went up three flights of stairs. “The elevator doesn’t reach our place.” the kid in the fatigues explained. Why not was pretty evident when they scaled the fourth flight of stairs. Well, it wasn’t as much a flight of stairs as a ladder to a trapdoor. The schoolboy had to hand the keys to the kid in the fatigues, who hacked away at a deadbolt which in itself had been bolted in.
“Grr... which one of these is the key!?”
“It’s the longer one, Sarge, remember that.”
“Oh.” replied Sarge. “Thanks, Edd.”
“Any time.” Edd said in response. In a few seconds, Sarge had undone the lock and all four came in, Sarge first, Magnemite last. Turns out, the three lived in the attic. The place was incredibly dusty, with squares of linoleum here, portions of carpeting there, but besides that, the floor was bare, nothing but plywood, lots and lots of plywood. The rafters weren’t even covered up. It was evident that the contractor wanted it to be another apartment, but jettisoned it partway through. The three sat in the center of the apartment, the mysterious girl clearing a space for Magnemite.
“Well, this is our place.” said Sarge. “It ain’t much, but we got what we need. We got light,” he said, signaling towards a big window, “we got electricity,” pointing out a single pair of outlets, one supplying power to a TV, another powering a hot plate, “we got water,” motioning towards a sink with the pipes still sticking out and some plates and glasses still in it, “we got a bathroom,” here referring to an area that was curtained off, “we got someplace to sleep,” directing attention to four cots, “And we got food.” he said, moving a hand towards the thick wall of Top Ramen that encompassed a portion of the place. “And we have each other, which, in all honesty, is all we need to stay sane.”
The ringleader continued with a rather foul-mouthed response. “Oui, c’est un bled mal foutu, mais c’est notre bled mal foutu, et ça, c’est ce qui comte.” Edd decided not to translate that.
“Anyway,” Sarge continued. “We all go by nicknames hear Call me Sarge. I’m the muscle of the team. He goes by Edd,” he said. Edd raised his hand. “He’s the brains of this outfit, and he speaks French. More than I do, that is, and that’s good, ‘cause our ringleader doesn’t speak English. She understands it, but can’t speak it. I tried studying under her for a while, but I never got more than the basics.”
“Bonjour,” the ringleader spoke up. “Je m’apppelle Gardevoir. Je suis le caïd de ce bande.”
Magnemite was taken aback. “That explains everything...” Gardevoir decided not to ask what he meant right that instant. “Hi,” he continued. “I’m Magnemite. I was a Pokémon originally, then, after having a series of odd dreams, I wound up here, as a human.”
Sarge and Edd just bust out laughing, but Gardevoir seemed to understand. “Je te comprends. Je suis dans la même situation.”
Edd spoke up, this time in French for privacy’s sake. “Attends. Il n’est pas fou?”
“Aie du confiance en moi, Edd,” responded Gardevoir, “j’y ai été aussi long à identifier des lofoques. Tu penses qui je lui inviterais chez nous s’il était zinzin?”
“You do have a point there.” replied Edd, reverting to English because French was no longer necessary. “Magnemite,” he continued, “your story is cleared. We believe you.” Magnemite breathed a sigh of relief. “Now, you should really get some rest, this must have been really eventful for you.”
“Et il faut que tu te laves.” Gardevoir continued. “Je pouvais te piffer de trois mètres.”
“On second thought,” replied Edd after hearing Gardevoir’s response. “You really should wash up. You’re practically covered in dust.”
Edd was right. Magnemite was really dirty. He went over to the curtained section of the attic, which had a toilet, a sink, and a bathtub, which in itself was curtained off. He set the water on warm and took a bath, just to clear his head. The whole day had been such a blur to him, he could barely come up with a response to it. All he could do was try to shrug it off. He took a towel from a pile of four and toweled himself off, shaking the dust off all his clothing before getting dressed and going to bed. He fell right asleep, even in that raggedy old cot. He was just that exhausted.