15th January 2014, 02:22 AM #1
Under The Spotlight
Bailey, an eighteen year old up and coming idol, decides to start his pokémon journey eight years late after the sudden death of his mother causes him to lose his passion for performing. However, he unwittingly becomes involved in the unfurling of a dangerous plot and the business of a rising underground organisation. Will he be able to get the peaceful journey he had hoped for? Or will he be given a different life changing journey altogether?
15th January 2014, 02:29 AM #2
Re: Under The Spotlight
The stage was dark, all lights off. Like a sea of purple, the crowd was quiet. With the official purple lights and glow sticks held up in the air, excited murmuring filled the small stadium. It was almost time. As the seconds drew closer, the murmurs grew louder, the chatter increasing, the occasional scream sounding whenever a figure was spotted on the stage. And then finally, music blared. Erupting into a controlled madness, the crowd yelled and cheered in union. With their practiced fan chants, they called for their idol to come out onto the stage, waving their purple lights in the air somewhat in time with each other. Strobe lights flashed – pink, purple, red and blue, and a mist began to seep onto the stage.
Silence. Stillness. The music stopped. The lights stopped. The crowd drew silent. Anticipation could be felt in the hot air, tasted on the tongue. Cold ran through the stadium, a shiver running down each and everyone’s spine.
“Are you ready?” a voice beckoned through the speakers, raising the hairs on each fans skin and sending them into a roar of uncontrollable screams. “Then let us begin.”
A purple spot light beams down centre stage. Standing beneath it is a man, still disguised by the mist. The music starts, an electronic base sound. To the beat, he steps twice into a wider stance, thumbs in the back pockets of his trousers. On the third, he nods his head.
Just as the song is about to start, the mist about to clear, the man about to start the show, the image stills. Sat on a black leather sofa, Baileys stares blankly at the now paused screen, the television remote held loosely in his hand. Thumb moving back to the rewind button, he pushed down and watched as the images jumped backwards. Once at the start – the stage dark, all lights off – he pressed play. Watching and re-watching the opening of the concert had built up a ball of tension in his stomach, a tight, uncomfortable knot. But he could not stop, nor could he pass the very start of the song. Pausing, rewinding, and playing once more, his brown eyes flickered up to the ceiling and a groan escaped his lips.
This was not what he did. He did not live in the past, did not dally on sad, uncomfortable or off putting thoughts. He kept moving, barged past any problem that presented itself to him and carried on doing what he loved. But this time, this time that was not happening. Life had given him a raging river he was unable to cross, or a wall to high and thick for him to climb over or bulldoze through. It was a problem that required actual thinking, actual looking inside himself and contemplating and feeling and god Bailey did not like that.
Pause, rewind, play. Hearing someone walk into the room, Bailey looked over to the door. Leaning against the frame was another young man. Tall with a muscular build, he watched his friend on the sofa with curious eyes. A hint of amusement joined with the light blue at the blonds deer like expression, as if he was not supposed to know that was what he had been doing for the past fifteen minutes.
“Noodles are done,” Aaron said in the best nonchalant voice he could muster. A quiver of his lips, a slightly twitch upwards, however, earned him a pillow being thrown his way.
In the small kitchen, the two sat at the wooden table which could perhaps fit about four people, one on each side. Sat opposite each other, not a word was spoken as the spicy instant noodles were slurped. After a few moments the bowls were empty, and Aaron looked expectantly at the other. With a sigh, Bailey slouched back in his chair.
“Fine,” he said with a huff. “We’ve eaten now. Ask away.”
“You ran out not even half way through your own concert and vanished for over a month, what the fuck happened?”
Fast-forward, pause, play.
The smoke has cleared, the concert a few songs in. The fan chant had changed, a new one to match the song now starting, Bailey’s latest single. None of them noticed as his voice occasionally cracked, or how his usual fluid dancing was slightly rigid and jerky. They did not hear the odd slip up in lyrics or see how life was slowly draining out of him. All his love, passion, ambition for performing, his life, just leaving. They did not see any of it before their own eyes. Until that fateful line. That one line that when written, when recorded, when sung before had no deeper or other meaning. That one line which brought Bailey’s whole world, standing by the most tenuous of supports, crashing down around him.
“Oh mumma why don’t you see.”
Bailey stood frozen. The microphone slipped from his hand, falling to the floor, the thump playing from each speaker. The crowd grew silent, shocked eyes staring intently at their idol, now stood still, and staring at his hand. For once, he could not stand it. Those eyes on him, watching him, studying him, waiting for him to do something. Behind him to, from back stage the eyes were on him. Eyes everywhere, all on him, never wavering, all judging. A voice called out from the crowd.
Another joined in.
And another, and another.
“We love you!”
“You can do it!”
Bailey felt his blood run cold, his hands begin to shake. How dare they, how dare they? How do they know what he is capable of, what he can and cannot do? How can they love him when all they see is the façade he presents them with, this persona created by the company? Why does he have to stay strong when that is the very last thing he wants to do? When all he wants to do is the exact opposite, when he wants to break down and cry? How can he keep going when he no longer loves it, loves them?
“Bay?” a worried voice called out from the side of the stage.
Aaron stood there anxiously, wanting nothing more than to run over to his friend, but unsure. The site of him did not sooth Bailey, or put anything in perspective. Rather, it made everything spin even more, made it harder to grasp anything solid, anything fathomable. Through this inability, he decided on his action. Run. After a few steps back, he ran to the other side of the stage. He disappeared from the eyes of the world, leaving the audience stunned and confused, leaving everyone stunned and confused.
The image stilled. Again sat on the sofa, head in his hands, Bailey stared steadfast at the floor. With his head tilted downwards, his shoulder length blond hair flopped forwards, covering his face. Aaron sat beside him, watching him carefully.
“It all, suddenly came rushing back,” Bailey said, voice hesitant. “All became too much. Everyone watching me, yelling at me. I just…I just couldn’t take it anymore. I didn’t want to be there anymore.”
Leaning back, head resting against the back of the sofa and arms limp by his side, he stared upwards with unfocussed eyes.
“I thought going back to performing would help. That going back to normal would, well, make everything go back to normal. But it didn’t.” Tilting his head to the side, Bailey faced his friend with large, sad eyes. Eyes Aaron had never seen from him before. “Why didn’t it?”
“Because that’s not how grief works.” With a sad smile, Aaron looked away, not really sure what to do or what to say. “Your mum, her death was so sudden. You can’t just make life go back to normal right after something like that.”
“Yeah I know that now,” he muttered, voice almost bitter. “I should have listened to you and the others. You all said to just put the tour on hold, to take a break. But I just…I don’t know, I was just stupid.”
“You didn’t want to let your fans down.”
“Well I’ve certainly done that now.”
“They still love you y’know. You should check out some of the forums.” Unable to hold in the question that had been bugging him since Bailey turned up unannounced at his door that evening, he spoke again. “Where have you been though? There’s been so many rumours going around. We assumed you went back to your dads, but he said he hadn’t seen you. There was one theory going round that you had gone to Kalos to go shopping, or that you had gone to Aspertia city to become one with the mountain. There was also that recent one where some people had thought they spotted you as a trainer.”
Bailey watched as Aaron listed each theory, amusement taking over his sad expression. The older boy had always managed to cheer him up, just hearing him laugh could help ease him sometimes. Just like now.
“I’ll show you,” he said, interrupting the seemingly never ending list of rumours and theories. “Stay there.”
Walking out of the room, he knelt down in the small entrance room of the flat where he had left his duffle bag on the floor. Pulling out two items, he held them gingerly. In one hand was a pink plastic case, and the other, a pokeball. Rubbing his thumb against the shiny surface, he took a breath before standing and moving back into the room.
“Ya, stop being so mysterious about it all,” Aaron complained, slumped back on the sofa with his arms behind his head. At the sight of the pokeball, his eyes widened. “Oh fuck no.”
With a smirk and a glint in his eye, Bailey gently threw the pokeball over to the others lap. Moving his arms down, he picked up the ball in disbelief.
“You’re kidding right? You’ve never had an interest in pokémon. You didn’t bother to go on the journey when you were ten, and you didn’t even join me and the others when we did our journey late a couple of years ago for that T.V show.”
“I had a change of heart,” he replied with a shrug. Opening the case he sat back down and showed the other the three badges inside. “Mum had always wanted me to be a trainer, but she never pushed it because she knew I didn’t really have an interest in it.”
Taking the case from Bailey’s hands, Aaron simply just stared, still not fully understanding the information he had just been given. After a few moments, a thought registered in his mind.
“How are you even training though? You’re eighteen, are you just getting our arse handed to you by every ten year old you pass?” he asked, laughing at the thought.
Sheepishly, Bailey scratched the back of head. “Well, yeah basically.” With a chortle he bowed his head before continuing. “Most new trainers avoid me because they think I’m some epic trainer who’s been at this for years. I generally then get challenged by a load of the older trainers who then destroy my pokémon in a few moves.”
“You’re an idiot,” he said handing him back the two items. “But you’ve managed to get three badges already, you can’t be too bad. Which pokémon have you got?”
Holding the pokeball out in front of him, he pressed the white button and in a beam of light a drifloon appeared in front of them. As it bobbed up and down in the air, Aaron let out a loud burst of laughter, falling back on the sofa.
“You gave him to me on my sixteenth remember? I couldn’t not start with him, and it meant he was already a bit more trained than the average starter pokémon so I wasn’t completely doomed.”
“Course I remember, you squealed like a child at Christmas.” Composing himself, Aaron sat back up straight. “I was wondering what happened to this little guy, you stopped bringing him around with you so much this year. Still called Loon?”
“My schedule was becoming a lot busier, so I left him at my parents. They both loved him, mum especially.”
For a brief moment, a look of forlonging came over his face, before it was replaced with a small smile.
“Course he is, he’s named after you after all. I’ve got two others as well now: a liepard and a tranquill. The liepard’s called Missy and well, I was stuck for names with the other so he’s called Quill.”
Seemingly bored of bobbing up and down in the air, Loon floated over to his owner and deflated slightly onto his head. With a grin on his face, Bailey reached up and ran his fingers through the white fluff. At the sight, Aaron watched with slight amazement. To see his friend being caring, looking at something so lovingly, it was odd. Even before, when he practically brought the drifloon around with him everywhere, he had never seemed to close or attached with it.
For the next hour, they simply talked. Aaron giving details of what the old gang had been up to, showing off the raps and lyrics he had been working on, while Bailey gave stories of his training, battles and travels. As they talked, he noticed there was still something wrong with his friend. There was still something missing. When he spoke, that burning passion that used to fill his eyes never appeared. They were still dead. Another hour passed and the beers started to come out. Loon asleep in the corner, the pair reminisced over their past. The good and the bad memories, the hilarious and the tragic. By the time the third passed, empty bottles were lined up on the floor, and they had shifted to lying on the sofa, Bailey half on top of Aaron. With the youngers head on his chest, Aaron thoughtlessly ran his fingers through the long locks of blond hair.
“Hey,” Bailey mumbled, fingers tracing patters against the others shirt.
“Come with me.” Aaron opened his eyes, and despite how sluggish he felt, lifted his head. The pleading tone to his voice was not something he heard often.
“Bay,” he started with a sigh.
“Please, it’s, it’s lonely. Even with Loon, and the other two, it’s…lonely.” Shifting so that he straddled the older boy, he looked down at him with almost begging eyes. “Please.”
“Bay,” he said pushing himself up. “I can’t. You know I can’t. I’ve got recordings and gigs I need to go to.” Resting his forehead against Bailey’s, he sighed. “Anyway, this is something you need to do. Not completely alone - you’re not alone, you have your pokémon, and you have Loon - but definitely not with me or the others.”
“But it’s lonely,” he all but chocked out, eyes wide with a drunken haze.
“I know, but, this is for you to do. You need to find yourself. I’ll just be a reminder of your past. Make friends with the other trainers. They’ll all be like you, they’ll all be lonely.”
“They’re all ten.”
“Then be their brother.” Aaron looked at him softly, wanting nothing more than to agree and go with him. But he couldn’t. “You always said you wanted a sibling. You got me as your older brother, now’s your chance for a little brother or sister. Sure I’m not eight years older than you, but I am four. Imagine if I never came over and talked to you simply because I was older? I’d have missed out on gaining a great friend.”
“Ten,” Bailey said once more, voice dead pan.
“Oh shut up, your fault for deciding to go on your pokémon journey eight years late.” Wrapping an arm around his shoulder, Aaron pulled him back down so that they were both once again lying on the sofa. “I’m drunk and tired so go to sleep. And don’t expect pancakes in the morning.”
Threading his fingers through the blond hair once more, he shut his eyes, trying to ignore the way the others long fingers gripped at his t-shirt.
Last edited by LittleMiss; 15th January 2014 at 02:55 AM.
15th January 2014, 01:21 PM #3
Re: Under The Spotlight
I gave this a go just to see what it was all about. Honestly, not my cup of tea. However, here's some thoughts about what's there anyway, hope they're helpful.
The technical accuracy and narrative flow is good. You flip between perspectives without causing confusion, and don't push your luck describing the concert for too long. The characters look ok based on what's there - it's the first chapter so it wouldn't be fair to pass judgement on them just yet. The general idea of the story looks original to me, which may well be a draw for other readers. It'll certainly give you different ideas to pay with.
Honestly, I think there will be two points on which this story stands or falls. The first is how you deal with the theme of death and grief. It's a hard theme to pitch right, and if it doesn't feel real then I suspect Bailey as a character won't hold up. The other is pacing. I'm not sure what sub-genre you have in mind, but if this is going to be a journey fic then don't be afraid to take your time getting your characters on the road. There's a whole world to build, make it vivid!
The Long Walk
For Joshua Cook, it's a long walk away from his dull life to the Pokémon League. But does he really want to be the very best? A coming-of-age story of adventure, friendship and growing up in the world of Pokémon.
15th January 2014, 03:03 PM #4
Re: Under The Spotlight
Thank you for the comment, especially as this isn't your sort of story. I was quite worried about how I changed perspectives, I tend to write like that and not realise until afterwards, so I'm glad it came out okay. With the last two points, I'll definitely make sure to keep them in mind. With the death of his mother, it is definitely something I am not going to gloss over. I just didn't want to focus too long on it in the first chapter. With the journey side of it, I'll make sure not to skim through the travelling and world building either. Thank you again for the comment and the help!
20th January 2014, 03:45 AM #5
Reader and Writer
Re: Under The Spotlight
I did notice you switched from past to present tense once briefly in the beginning after the concert pauses. Other than that, the grammar and such is good. I think the prose were great. Elegant to read.
Moved a a little slow for me at times, but I suppose that's to be expected in the beginning while you set the scene. I like the depth of realism you use. Example: the fact that young trainers won't even battle him because of his age, and the only trainers who will are already advanced in skill. Very small but important little aspect of the character's background and personal struggles. Nice work.