The Joy of a Child
The boy sobbed as he watched his beloved blonde locks fall to the ground in tune with the sound of the razor. The metallic scrape of blade on blade going over his head was unbearable. It kept ripping his hair off his head, and he couldn’t help but be put off by how different his head felt without all of the hair it was accustomed to.
After the horrific buzz of the razor came to a stop, he saw the sea of blonde around him. He could feel his hair was all but gone, and with it, his last hope of freedom. He was appalled at the look of success the Barber and his Mother shared. They told him this would let him be a gentleman, but that wasn’t what he wanted. That was the last thing that he wanted.
Sam awoke to the sound of a particularly impatient sounding alarm. After glancing over at the alarm clock, He realized the reason for its impatience. His alarm has been going off for several hours now, and he was just waking up now. Obviously, his mother wasn’t around, because she would have had a fit and told him about how gentlemen don’t sleep in.
Sam crawled out of bed, slamming his fist down on the innocent snooze button. He stumbled over towards his dresser, opened the top drawer, and tore out his favorite outfit and began to put it on. After getting his comfort clothes on, the full wall-covering mirror by his door was the next stop. The mirror showed off his expensive clothing, specifically his designer pants and shoes. These were the only articles of clothing Sam could even stand from his wardrobe. His pants were black, and designer. His black leather shoes shone, like always; the leather was the best money could buy. His shirt was the plainest thing in his entire life. It was a simple black shirt with one solid white line across it. Sam liked to think of that line as his freedom and his final connection with his long gone father.
After one last scowl for his pampered lifestyle, Sam ran his hand through his now flourishing hair and finally decided to leave the safety of his room. He made sure to take notice of how his hair always grew back especially quickly, and his Mother would never be able to mold this expression of freedom into her idealistic views. It was his favorite trait, his one secret rebellion. He held on to every single little thing that irritated his mother.
The light flooded Sam’s eyes as his door opened. When he finally adjusted to his newly brightened surroundings, he took the familiar features into notice. His house was so tranquil and beautiful when not clustered with the superficial scum of the Earth, his mother’s friends. The light colors of brown, white, and amber mixed flawlessly. Sam’s house was what people would call “aesthetically pleasing.”
Sam marched over to the refrigerator and began his plunder for the most beloved treasure of all: his fluffernutter. Upon finding his prize, he left the now demolished fridge to sit in its remaining shambles. Today was a special day and he didn’t care about his mother’s rules. Today was the day he would finally achieve his freedom. He would go out and become a Pokemon Trainer. The kind of trainer he had seen countless times on television. The kind of trainer that was worshipped and glorified by the masses. The kind of trainer who was filled with pride, honor, and most importantly: Freedom.
Sam felt his adrenaline pumping; he was actually going to do it. He had planned his daring escape for quite sometime now, but he never realized that everything would go exactly as he planned. Something always went wrong, but this time his mother was happily enjoying herself at a church gathering, whilst his plan unveiled itself. Sam couldn’t contain his excitement; he just kept shaking and letting out contented sighs. Life was slowly becoming fun and exciting.
Sam quickly gathered his things, namely his trainer manuals and some spare articles of clothing. He shoved his future resources into his bag and began his final food and hygiene preparations. When everything was together, and amazingly all held in his one backpack, He picked up the house phone and called ahead just to make sure his account at the trainer’s association was registered and his starter pokemon and pokegear would be arriving without complication. The secretary gladly confirmed that things were going smoothly and that hiss order would be arriving shortly.
True to her words, the doorbell rang several minutes after the Sam hung up the phone. At the door was a postman with a package labeled for Sam. He gave the postman a smile and waved as he closed the door. As soon as the door was fully closed he didn’t hide his anger any longer. The postman hadn’t taken proper care of the package. Sam could see small rips and indents in the packaging. He decided to put the insolence of common folk behind him and to return to the future that was now in his hands.
Sam eagerly opened his package as carefully as he could, as he didn’t want to leave a trace for his mother to find. His get away had to be flawless. Now fully uncovered, the sight before him was magnificent. His new pokegear sat on the table gleaming in the sunlight. Next to it sat the part that Sam couldn’t wait for; the pokeball that held his new lifelong partner. His powerful rare pokemon that he had paid extra for was waiting for him. Beckoning for release.
Sam grabbed the still untouched sphere and popped it up in the air, releasing its contents. Emerging from the beam came a peculiar bell shaped pokemon. It was yellowish color with a shiny luster about it. It had tiny round limbs coming off of its body; these limbs were the same yellowish color. Emerging from its back were two red and white tassels that appeared to be wings of some sort. That was the only explanation Sam could come up with as to why it was floating.
This foreign pokemon wasn’t recognizable to Sam. He hadn’t seen it in any of the battles he had secretly watched on television while his mother was away. He immediately grabbed his pokegear and switched on its built-in pokedex so he could find out as much as he could about the mysterious bell that was floating in front of him. The pokedex told him everything he needed to know; from the name and type, to the moves it knows and the high frequency waves it releases with each bounce.
Unhappy with what appeared to be a weak pokemon that he paid extra for, Sam stormed off to make sure he hadn’t forgotten anything. The Chingling seemed perplexed as to where it was and why this person was furious shoveling expensive clothing into a giant duffle bag. When he finally realized that he hadn’t properly introduced himself, or even acknowledged the Chingling’s existence, he went over and decided to give the Chingling a chance. He extended his hand to the creature, like he had been taught throughout his years at the Briarwood Academy, but in return he was tackled by the Chingling who began to rub its face against his. This was completely unexpected and Sam wasn’t entirely sure of what was happening, it took a couple of minutes before he finally managed to piece together that this was a display of affection.
Sam blushed, not entirely sure of how to handle the current situation. Regaining his train of though he scrambled away quickly. He wasn’t going to punish the Chingling for something that he kind of enjoyed, but he didn’t want it to become a habit. He had a reputation after all. So he quickly finished his introduction and returned the Chingling to its pokeball. Now was not the time to be feeling emotional. He could do that later when he was out on the open road, enjoying the fact that he could make decisions on his own.
Sam grabbed his things, put his running shoes on, and set off towards the nearest pokemon center so he could dump off some of his bag’s contents into storage through his account. He looked around the house one last time just to make sure he had everything he needed. Suddenly, he remembered the most important thing in the world to him: his father’s old gym badge case that was left for him when he came of age. He quickly darted to his mother’s closet, grabbed the small oak case, retrieved his bag, and darted off towards his first step on his new road to take after his father. He never looked back once.
Upon arrival at the pokemon center, he unloaded all of the unnecessary contents of his bag into his personal storage. He then approached Nurse Joy and asked for any advice as to how he could use his Chingling to its best efficiency. She told him about certain strategies she had seen used with it, the best being one used with its evolution and a Starmie. Sam thanked her for the advice and immediately looked up Starmie and looked for locations where he could find them. His search came up unfruitful; no area was a known breeding ground for Starmie. Confused he asked a fellow trainer in the center. The trainer told him about how he would have better luck finding a Staryu and that he needed a water stone to evolve it into a Stamie.
Sam searched again, this time for a Staryu, and he found an area relatively nearby that was extremely well know for not only having an abundant population of Staryu, but also for being a primary source of water stone. That could only spell out good luck for Sam, so he decided to take it as an omen that he was destined to get the legendary pairing he had just been told about. He couldn’t help but to fantasize about how his team would bring him to the top.
Sam’s daydreaming was cut short by a high-pitched voice. It was a girl, roughly Sam’s age. She was about three inches shorter than him, so roughly five four. She had short blonde hair pulled back into a ponytail with a baseball cap on her head. Her eyes glistened light blue with hope and happiness. Her clothing was just common street clothing: blue jeans and a tank top. She wasn’t the best looking girl, but there was just something about her that attracted Sam. Perhaps it was the gleam of true happiness or just the fact that she appeared to stand for everything he ever wanted, but he wanted to be with her immediately.
When he finally realized she was talking to him, he immediately stood at attention hanging on every word. Too bad he had realized it too late. Sam only managed to understand the second half of her rant. Something about wanting to battle, or maybe wanting to trade? Who knew? He didn’t care; he only cared about seeing her more. After a few moments of silence, she finally caught on to the fact that he hadn’t heard a word she just said. She made sure to ream him out for that.
After the thorough reaming, Sam finally managed to figure out what the girl had wanted. She wanted to battle him. She had heard him ask Nurse Joy for advice, so she figured he was a novice and she could help him out by giving him his first battle. Sam accepted immediately. He wanted to get some experience, and he wanted to become closer to this girl.
They both assumed positions at opposite ends of the outside patio. The girl released a small dog-like pokemon. It was coated in blue fur, except for patches of black on its legs, torso, face, and ears. The black patch around its eyes formed what appeared to be a mask. The creature’s eyes contrasted the black beautifully with a dark crimson. Indented in its forepaws were what appeared to be round metal stumps. It hopped around back and forth on the ball of its feet, ready to strike quickly and precisely.
Sam couldn’t help but marvel at this truly rare pokemon. He had seen its evolution countless times in big tournaments. His pokegear brought him back to the fight at hand. It chimed in with its pokedex function, spouting random trivia about the dog in front of him. This pokemon is known as a Riolu and it is incredibly rare. Sam wondered why the Riolu was giving him such an odd look, and then his pokegear answered with its knowledge of Riolu’s aura seeing abilities. Sam was even more excited than he thought he ever could’ve been. He reached into his pocket and found the sphere that held his partner. He launched the ball into the air, releasing Chingling onto the patio in front of him. Riolu immediately started to size up the challenger that was now at the ready to face it.
Riolu finished its observations and decided on its best course of action. It leapt into the air and bellowed an earsplitting screech. The air between Chingling and Riolu began to distort. Chingling felt the immediate repercussions of the screech as its whole body began to shake and it mentally spaced out, leaving itself wide open for an attack. Riolu took no hesitation in pummeling the opening with a well-placed palm attack. Just as the palm connected, a large green beam sent Chingling flying backwards.
As Chingling tried to rise again, it stumbled from the paralysis that the blast had caused. Angry because of the effect of the blast, Chingling started to bounce around and cry out. The uproar that followed sent shockwaves flying, but the paralysis stopped Chingling short of causing any real damage. Chingling grew even more frustrated and was about to try again, but Sam broke through its agitation, before it caused any real structural damages to the surrounding area.
Riolu quickly picked up on how the uproar started, and immediately copied it. Screaming and stomping its feet around, shockwaves now were coming at Chingling and it had no idea how to stop them. The shockwaves fully formed and began to shake the surrounding landscape, hitting Chingling especially hard. Chingling could still feel the weakness brought on by the earlier screech, and the pounding of these shockwaves was not helping it recover.
Chingling had little to nothing left to do to counter the shockwaves, but thinking quickly, Sam ordered it to wrap its tail around the feet of Riolu and make it fall on its back. Chingling happily obliged and it stopped Riolu’s uproar dead in its tracks. Next, Sam told Chingling to give Riolu a taste of his confusion. Chingling followed direction and its eyes began to glow purple. Riolu was subsequently coated in a purple aura and lifted off the ground. Chingling controlled Riolu to the best of his kinetic abilities, but the most he could pull off was to lift Riolu off the ground and then drop him. This seemed to have a deeper effect than just a physical drop though.
Riolu was dizzy and couldn’t tell where it was, but the girl from earlier called out its name and it broke free from its state. This was the first time she had made a noise since the start of the battle. She finally realized that Sam was a threat and he was learning how to battle very quickly. She commanded Riolu to give Chingling the quickest attack he could muster. And that it did. Riolu moved faster than anything Sam had seen, it was literally a blur. If it had not been for the trail of white light, Sam probably would not have known where it was. Riolu found its target no matter how much Chingling attempted to dodge it.
The blow knocked Chingling around a bit. It was now feeling the full burden of its first battle. It knew that this next attack would decide things, and it also knew that another quick attack like that would be impossible to dodge. All it could do was focus everything it had on using its telekinetic abilities so that this opponent would fall before it could perform another one of its attacks. Its eyes began to glow purple as it readied its attack. This did not go unnoticed by the opposing Riolu or its trainer.
The girl immediately called out for her Riolu to finish Chingling with one last quick attack. Riolu looked confident, ready to finish this with one last move. It started off, faster than ever, zigzagging all over the place so that Chingling wouldn’t be able to get a hold of it with confusion. This was a full proof plan, well except for one thing; the one thing that Sam had thought of.
As Riolu was inches from finishing the match, Sam called out to Chingling, urging him to let out his fiercest growl. This was a risky maneuver, because Sam was still unsure of how much time it would take to let out the growl, but it ended up working out with no time to spare. Chingling released a loud piercing shriek that distorted the air around it. This distortion caused an uncertainty in Riolu’s attack, an uncertainty that caused it to hesitate and lose the power it had built up. Chingling took the blow, but was able to hang on because of this trick.
As the attack connected, for a brief moment, Riolu was paused mid air. Chingling found the opening and brought the Riolu down to earth with its most powerful confusion attack. Dust shot up from the crater that was now in the patio. As the dust settled, Riolu was revealed to be lying in the center, unconscious. This meant victory for Sam; his first victory in the pokemon world.
The girl returned Riolu to its pokeball and proceeded to walk up to Sam and offer him a handshake. Sam happily accepted the hand and thanked her for a wonderful battle. The girl then handed over Sam’s prize money and some potions for his journey to Staryu spring. He questioned her about the prize money, but the girl just laughed and told him that it was what happens when you win a match. She also went on to teach him about battling etiquette.
Soon enough the girl realized how much time had passed and she realized that she had to go. Sam quickly asked her name, but she seemed to not hear him. As she began to run off, Sam attempted calling out to her one more time. This time he did get a reply; a mere “Cynthia!” was her reply. And with that, his new crush had vanished without a trace. He figured if she had known so much about the Staryu breeding grounds that she was heading there as well. A lake, at night, impressing her with his pokemon catching abilities, and a full moon: things were really starting to look like they were meant to be together.
Sam eagerly grabbed his bag and set off into the forest. He had a brief idea of where this spring was, but other than that, it was completely up to him to find a suitable path to reach the spring. It was his duty. His ultimate task so that he could be with the one he loved. Sam knew that some greater power would lead him in the right direction and he would be granted with happiness as his reward.
Sam had gotten completely lost. He was in some dark corner of the world where only insects and trees had made their homes. The sun had set just an hour ago, and the journey had gotten progressively worse and worse. Sam’s stomach was growling, his eyes were heavy, and his legs were ready to collapse at any moment. The only thing left driving him was his ideal image of spending the night by the lake with Cynthia. Boy did it keep him going.
The forest was shrouded in a thick veil of night. If he hadn’t packed a flashlight, he would have had run into several trees by now. The darkness surrounding Sam blocked any sort of visibility, apart from the small beam in front of him. The occasional moonlight would pierce through the overhanging foliage. Sam followed these miniscule bursts of light, as if they were some trail being formed in front of his eyes by an omnipotent being.
Sam finally arrived at the entrance to the spring and boy was he tired. He got too far ahead of himself, and was now paying the price. He decided to sit down and let himself recover. As he relaxed he noticed thousands of little bug eyes peering at him from throughout the surrounding forest. They started to approach Sam inch by inch making him feel a little uncomfortable. He decided now would be a good time for some high frequency waves.
Sam released Chingling and commanded him to hop around and let out an audible grow. That would be sure to drive those bug pokemon away. True to his thoughts, the bugs all left the pair alone. Vanishing as silently as they had appeared. It was an eerie occurrence, but as he tried to ponder it, sleep overcame his body and he fell tranquil on the soft grass floor.
Sam awoke to a frightened shriek from not to far away. He quickly bolted up and searched for the cause, following only what seemed natural to him. The shriek replayed repeatedly in his head, as if beckoning to him. He couldn’t quite figure out what the draw the sound put on his body, but all he could do was search and play the sound over in his head.
It then struck him. That wasn’t any ordinary scream; it was Cynthia’s voice that had screamed. And it was a scream like none he had ever heard. It wasn’t the regularly angered one his Mother belted at him; it was one of fear and uncertainty. This only drove Sam further into a hectic scramble, trying to find her.
The next thing he knew, Sam had seen her figure. She was a little ways off in a clearing down from the cliff he was on. She was in trouble, her Riolu was out in front of her and it seemed to be badly injured. It was facing off against three Staryu, all of which were as fierce as Sam had ever seen. He had to get down there and help her.
As he began his descent down the cliff edge, he kept a close eye on the battle at hand, nearly stumbling off the cliff as a result of not paying attention to where he placed his feet. He watched in horror as one of the Staryu sent a jet of powerful water spiraling at the injured Riolu. To his relief the pokemon began to glow, and grabbed a good portion of the blast out of the air and forced it away, taking in only as much of the blast as it could handle. Then to the even further amazement of Sam, Riolu had begun to glow orange and repelled the blast that had connected, right back at the Staryu blowing it across the dirt, knocking it out.
Sam was roughly halfway down the rock path down the cliff, nearing his goal of saving his love. Still transfixed on the battle, he lost some of his original speed. He was watching a true Pokemon Trainer overtake the odds, and it amazed him. He watched as Riolu was commanded to give the next Staryu everything it had in a full powered Reversal. The Staryu went flying into the brush, and it didn’t come back out. This left one Staryu and Riolu had a smirk on its face, as it knew that this display had taken the final Staryu off guard.
Sam had now cleared nearly the entire path, but had lost plenty of his speed. He wanted to see the end of this battle, before trying to run between the trees to the savior of his love. And boy was it a finish. Cynthia commanded Riolu to let out a powerful screech to throw the final Staryu even further off of its game. And boy was it a screech. The sheer magnitude of the sound had blown the grass back, and it had caused several sections of the rock path to weaken. The sad part was that one of the sections that had weakened, was the part Sam was now standing on.
Sam struggled to regain his footing from the powerful howl of wind that had just knocked him off balance. Unfortunately, when his foot came into contact with the weakened rock, it collapsed beneath him and he plunged into the brush at the bottom of the cliff. He had wanted to see the end, but now was not the time to worry about that. Now was the time to act and help out his love. He sprinted through the woods towards the site of the battle, tripping over what appeared to be a cluster of blue rocks. He heard the most unsettling noise he could have ever imagined. It wasn’t the sound of fear, or pride; it was the sound of pain, but not from any human voice. He quickly recomposed himself and ran free into the clearing.
The sight before him was not what Sam had expected. Instead of the triumphant smile he expected Cynthia to have on her face, she had a scared look. It wasn’t for a few seconds until Sam could see exactly what had happened. Cynthia was on her knees, balling her eyes out, and she was coated in blood. Her Riolu was unconscious to her side. One of the Staryus from earlier were lying passed out about twenty feet away, and next to it was a pokeball that signaled it was now occupied. In front of Cynthia was a Starmie, the source of the pained noise. It was what had coated Cynthia in blood. It had a deep cut in its side that kept pouring out blood. Discarded to the side of the Starmie, was a metallic object that glinted a red reflection of the moon.
Cynthia appeared to have heard Sam’s footsteps, because she looked up immediately. Never stopping her sobs, her eyes filled with fear. She quickly grabbed Riolu into her arms and ran off into the woods. Sam was prepared to chase after her, but then he heard the noise the Starmie was emitting. He couldn’t bring himself to abandon it. He walked over to it and wrapped his arms around it. Now fully taking in his surroundings, he realized he had reached Staryu Springs, and in front of him was a beautiful spring that was glowing with moonlight. No place would be more fitting for this pokemon’s final resting place, than this.
Sam carried the dying Starmie into the spring and let it float on top of the water, its wound being cleansed by the water. As it released a few more pain filled moans, a large number of Staryus emerged from a nearby cave and circled around it. They all seemed to be giving it their final farewells. As a cloud passed in front of the moon, its final moans were heard. When light returned to the spring, the Starmie floated on top of the water, unmoving.
The gathered Staryus carried the Starmie over to the cave they had appeared from, and they disappeared into the depths, not to be seen from again. Sam looked over the spring, thinking about how this was where he wanted to reach, but how differently he had imagined it. He had thought of it as a place of romance and happiness, but now it was filled with gloom and sadness. This was not the freedom he had searched for. This was darkness and despair; the same kind his mother had warned him of. He washed his shirt in the spring, and got himself ready to leave.
Sam wandered back over to the spot that had changed everything. He went to investigate what the red glint he had seen earlier was. He found it lying on the ground exactly where it had been. It was a switchblade, coated in blood. He couldn’t believe his eyes. He fell to his knees and thought about Cynthia. He thought about his love for her. He thought about how she could never be capable of such a crime.
His mental image of her sweet and innocent smile quickly changed into that of a malevolent cackling being. His chest hurt and he couldn’t breath. The world started spinning around him. Sam sat there for a while, under the light of the full moon. He contemplated the day’s events; letting the consequences of all of his actions finally sink in.
Sam felt the blade over with his hands. The blood on it was no longer warm; all of the life it had once held had dissipated into the cool night air. And just as quickly, so did Sam’s innocence. Sam came to the conclusion that this evening’s events were all sick way for God to show him that he was wrong for straying from his path. He was meant to be safe, he was meant to be a businessman.
Sam gathered up his things, and took one last look around him. He walked over to the spring and rinsed his shirt of the Starmie’s blood. He wrung it out as best as he could and then walked towards the lights of town, letting his shirt dry as he walked. A single tear slowly made its way down his face, and as Sam attempted to wipe it off before it could finish its journey, he noticed that something was different with his shirt. It was now completely black, that one sole stripe.
Suddenly, Sam was struck by realization. He pulled a U-Turn and quick made his way back to the spring. He searched the ground around where everything had taken place, and he found what he was looking for. The pokeball was still sitting there, still occupied. Sam quickly snatched it up and returned on his journey back into town.
Sam had put his shirt on by the time he got into town. He really wasn’t in the mood to care, but he figured the less people who noticed him, the better. He started on his way to find a taxi, when a young boy stopped him and asked him for directions. The young boy had the same glint in his eyes that Sam had seen in his own eyes earlier that day. He still had his innocence.
This boy had stopped to ask for directions. He had just won his first badge back home, but had no idea where anything was in this monster of a city. Sam immediately took a liking to this kid. He saw promise and talent just emanating from the kid’s smile. Sam felt comfortable passing on his aspirations to him. He was a complete stranger, and yet he now carried all of Sam’s childhood hopes and dreams.
The boy stared in amazement as Sam handed him two pokeballs and told him that to take care of them for him. With that, Sam pointed him off towards the pokemon center and warned the kid about the treachery that was the female race. He then returned on his journey home, ready for whatever his mother had ready as punishment for being out so late. He shuddered at the thought, as he disappeared into the darkness of the night.
Sam sat silently as he watched his untamed blonde locks fall to the ground in tune with the sound of the razor. The metal of the razor cleansing his head of his youthfulness was a relief to say the least; he was now a man and would act as such. No more childish dream hunting, he was ready to face the world and set in to his fate. The blade continued its track across his head, shaving it down nice and easy. The freedom that his head felt from the weight loss was some sort of surreal form of compensation for the freedom he had lost by choosing to follow the path of business. Sam really wasn’t sure why, but a smile spread across his face for a reason even unknown to him.
After the relaxing hum of the razor came to a stop, he saw the piles of blonde around him. He could feel his hair was all but gone, and with it, his last strands of insecurity and naivety. He was pleasantly surprised by how his hair had turned out; he looked mature. He shared the same look of success that the Barber and his Mother shared. They told him this would let him be a gentleman, and that was exactly what he wanted. That was everything his life was going to be, and everything he could ever ask for.