"Mark! My office, please." From the annoyed tone in the older woman's voice, Mark Allbon could tell that his boss, Mrs. Appleby, wasn't pleased with him. As the youngish-looking man got up from his desk, he heaved a sigh and brushed almond-colored hair from over his eyes, anticipating the worst. He could remember the same tone used just last week, just before one of his co-workers was "relieved of their position as office secretary. Poor girl had tears running down her cheeks as she gathered her things, muttering that it "wasn't right." Whatever "it" was, no one spoke about it when "Rotten A." was around...And now, as Mark slowly pushed the stained wooden door to Mrs. Appleby's office open and walked inside, he wondered how the girl might have felt. He also wondered if it wasn't too late to find another job, instead of the one he held at here, at Saffron City Public Library.
Mrs. Appleby's office was as it usually was: piles of books stacked in towers around her unkempt, mahogany desk, unopened for years and fated to remain that way for all eternity...or, at least, until someone decided to inventory them. The pictures of her in her younger years as a Pokemon coordinator, a cheerful, slender young woman with sparkling eyes and a healthy looking Delcatty and Granbull, were off to the side, hanging drunkenly next to yellowed "Outstanding Librarian" awards. And, of course, there was the stench. To put it into words, one might imagine a Koffing attempting to mate with a mentally deranged Skuntank...then pause to run to the restroom to, well, erase the image from their mind.
Mrs. Appleby herself wasn't much to look at, either. Most women in their early seventies at least attempt to keep their appearance looking youthful; the head librarian, however, was an exception to the rule. Her wrinkled, pasty face was curled into a frown as Mark took a seat in one of the flimsy chairs kept for "visitors." "I hope you don't mind if I speak to you about last Friday afternoon?" she asked, her voice raspy from what must have been lack of sleep. She didn't wait for an answer. "I found two brats tearing up the basketball court with their pokemon. They SAID that they were 'battling,' and YOU had given them permission to do so." Mrs. Appleby pointed a crooked finger at Mark to emphasis the horror of this heinous crime. "I do believe I've told you, on multiple occasions, that FIGHTING will NOT be permitted in or around this institution of LEARNING. Whether that means between PEOPLE...or POKEMON." The librarian leaned back in her easy chair, a smirk upon her cracked lips. "Tell me at LEAST that you understand what the rules are as to these sorts of matters."
Despite what Mrs. Appleby was accusing him of, Mark just folded his arms and shrugged slightly. "If those 'kids' were Toji and Shimi, I've told them dozens of times that they can't fight there. Pure and simple. And they don't listen. It's not my fault that they don't understand what I'm telling them." He paused to adjust his seat. "If you don't mind, I have census rolls that I need to go ov-"
Mark shrugged again and slid back into his seat. He wasn't about to be intimidated by someone who looked like a massive prune, but he didn't want to give Mrs. Appleby any reason to fire him, either. Not yet.
"I don't believe you're capable of being a library assistant here, Mark. You have less sense than that slowpoke you carry around."
Mark leaned forward to give the librarian a piece of his mind, but he bit his tongue. He had to. Tanoshi was his best friend, and the only pokemon Mrs. Appleby permitted to do the rounds with him. All he could do was let out a grunt as he dipped a hand to pat the two pokeballs he kept clipped to his belt. One was for Tanoshi, the other...the other had been a gift. From someone close to him.
The head librarian leaned in, a predatory glint in her cloudy green eyes. "If you don't get it together, and soon, you're going to be-"
The ear-shattering explosion that ripped through her coordinator pictures - and the wall on which they were hung - finished the sentence for her, sending her and Mark to the floor with overwhelming force.
Mark's ears were ringing like crazy when he finally came to. Smoke and burned debris now held court in Mrs. Appleby's office, accented by crackles and pops from the raging fire that seemed to envelop the immediate area. The young man could barely stand on both legs, and his clothes were ripped in so many places, but it didn't matter. He was alive...and the pokeball was still clipped to his side, slightly tarnished but intact.
Sirens blared from somewhere, and the battered young man could barely make out human-like shapes moving around in the smoke...Then one little one, running around aimlessly, crying out in pain...
Mark didn't think as he clambered towards the shape, ignoring the bloody, lifeless fingers extending out from underneath a piece of drywall nearby. If there was still a fire, he had to rescue whoever that was and get out, otherwise they'd both perish from smoke inhalation. The cries sounded child-like, leading him to think of the children at the preschool that met for Story Time at the library...No, couldn't be...And then the shape stopped just before the elevator, shivering, whimpering...That was when Mark realized it wasn't a child. It was a pokemon.
Someone had dropped a pokedex nearby, which was droning on in a matter-of-fact, informative manner despite the chaos happening around it. "Machop, the Superpower Pokemon. Its whole body is covered with muscles, so it can raise bulges anywhere. It can throw a hundred adults...Machop exercises by hefting around a Graveler as if it were a barbell. There are some Machop that travel the world in a quest to master all kinds of martial arts." Mark decided to snatch the pokedex and end its lesson prematurely, slamming it shut as he looked at the Machop.
Mark hadn't had any formal training about how to deal with wild pokemon, as he and Tanoshi had always just gotten together just fine...but...
The Machop looked up at him with fear in its eyes, backing up towards the elevator, its fists balled up tightly in preparation for a fight. It didn't appear to be any fighting condition, not now, not with all those bruises on its arms. All it wanted, Mark thought, was to escape.
"Um, hi," Mark said hurriedly. "Look, the elevator's out. You can't GO that way." (How do you talk to a pokemon anyway? Mark thought.) "I know the way OUT. I can HELP. No time, we need to LEAVE. FIRE."
The Machop uncurled its fists only after taking the time to look at him, carefully, and frowned. It didn't seem to like the mention of fire. "MaCHOP!" It cried, rushing at him...and doing a flip up and over his head, latching on to his shoulders. "Maaaachop, Machop!" The pokemon jabbed at Mark's sides, perhaps to emphasize their need to move.
Mark didn't need any more motivation to go. He barreled down the stairs, barely missing an Officer Jenny and firefighters who were just about to make their way up the stairwell. He didn't look back, not until he'd run nearly to the Silph Co. building...
It was exhaustion that finally forced him to stop, causing the man to kneel down and pant as passerbys stared at him in curiosity. Strangely enough, the Machop was still with him, at his side, fists balled up and jabbing away at anyone who tried to get too close to the man's body.
As Mark reached down to pull out his phone and call his parents, he realized that he was clutching the empty pokeball...Without thinking, Mark threw the ball at the machop, not sure why he was doing so. The Machop didn't seem to mind, strangely enough, as it disappeared into the ball's confines. Maybe it'd belonged to someone else. Maybe...
Thump. Thump. Ding.
Whatever the Machop's story, it wanted to be in there. It wanted to try a new life with him, one of the most unlikely trainers in all of Kanto.
Target: 5-10k characters
Count: 6,527 characters (no spaces)
Ready to Grade.