Misguided Ghosts (Rated M for violence and language)
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    The Hyacinth Girl Alaskapigeon's Avatar
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    Aug 2009
    Santa Barbara, California
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    Default Misguided Ghosts (Rated M for violence and language)

    Pokemon Capture: Drifloon
    Needed Characters: 30k
    Actual Characters: 31050

    AN: This is the most close to heart of all my stories and I'll be editing it up until someone claims it. So be aware of that. Basically, the length might change, but I'm one of those people who adds more during revision, so it won't be getting any shorter. :b Anyways, I hope you enjoy it.

    Misguided ghosts
    Travelin' endlessly
    The ones we trusted the most
    Pushed us far away
    And there's no one road
    We should not be the same
    But I'm just a ghost
    And still they echo me
    They echo me in circles
    -Misguided Ghosts by Paramore

    Nothing is ever as it seems. Behind everything you see, everyone you know, there is a secret. Each secret a single thread in a spider’s web, a web built to ensnare those who gaze too deeply into its depths. And when you gaze long into the abyss the abyss also gazes into you. But if you ignore the abyss, does it go away? I don’t think it does. If you ignore the abyss, it only grows hungrier.

    Raindrops keep fallin’ on my head, and just like the guy whose feet are too big for his bed, nothin’ seems to fit. Those raindrops are fallin’ on my head, they keep fallin’.’ The radio played as I stared out the window, watching raindrops race each other down the glass. I watched silently as a spider web was washed away in the storm, the threads unraveling from each other and drifting away.

    “You should go see her.” The voice wasn’t accusing. It never was, but that didn’t make it any better.

    “I don’t ever want to go back there,” I said simply. It was a fair response. Anyone would agree with me.

    “Neither do I, but I still have to.” I clenched my fists by my side, making sure to dig my nails into my palms. Tiny little pinpricks of pain, better than the aching hole in my chest. I turned to face my old friend (I called him such, but we had never been very close; too many little misunderstandings and words out of place). He had a coat on that he wouldn’t have been caught dead wearing five years ago. It looked nice, but the wrong kind of nice. The kind you wore to a business meeting or a cocktail party. The thought of him going to something like that was alien. Somehow, I couldn’t look at him. Just his fucking coat. Weird how after all this time he still had a key to my apartment. I hadn’t even heard him open the door. “Are you ignoring me?” he sounded very annoyed. Another reason we hadn’t gotten along: he was quick to anger.

    I got up out of my chair and collapsed; hadn’t seen that coming.

    “Jesus Christ, are you alright?” Alex ran forward to help me off my knees. I flinched when he took my hand.

    Did you get your nails done?

    “Er…” He looked away, embarrassed, and shoved his hands in his coat pockets. Fucking coat.

    I sighed. “You’re not going to let me out of this, are you?”

    My old not-quite-friend smiled sadly. “I don’t think I could live with myself if I did.”

    I could already feel myself giving in. I did miss her. “Fine. But you’re driving. It’s fucking awful out.”

    “Oh, Emma….” Alex moved as if to hug me, but I took a step back. He stopped mid hug and stood there awkwardly for a second, before dropping his hands to his sides. Without a word, I opened the door and stepped out into the pouring rain.

    Raindrops keep falling on my head, but that doesn’t mean my eyes will soon be turnin’ red. Cryin’s not for me, ‘cause I’m never gonna stop the rain from complainin’, because I’m free. Nothing’s worr-‘ The sound of the radio was cut out as Alex slammed the door and led me to his car, a silver Prius. I shivered as I got in. Maybe I should’ve grabbed a jacket. Eh.

    The entire ride over, Alex kept shooting me nervous glances, which I ignored; instead choosing to stare out at the storm. Once in a while, he would open his mouth as if to say something, then hastily shut it. I felt a twinge of guilt, but quickly snuffed it out. It was his own damn fault for making me do this. Finally, I gave in. “So where do they live now?”

    “Not too far, just outside Celadon.” He paused for a moment, letting the silence return. Then he had to go and wreck it. “So how have you been?”

    I glared at him and he winced. “Shitty.”

    “Sorry….” I just wanted him to get angry with me, but he wouldn’t. What had happened to him? Normally he would’ve snapped at me, would’ve accused me of being a bitch (which would have been correct), would’ve done something.

    I sighed. “Don’t be sorry.” I pinched the bridge of my nose with two fingers. “Please don’t be sorry.”

    We spent the rest of the ride in silence.

    There is nothing to fear, but fear itself. That and old memories; memories that hang around like ghosts in a condemned house, staying there out of spite and a lack of a better place to go. I had plenty of ghosts to be afraid of.

    Alex had driven us into some god awful gated neighborhood. Each of the houses here looked exactly like the others; perfect matches for each other. As we pulled up to the curb, I began to shake. There were a ton of other cars outside of the house.

    “Nobody else is here, right?” I asked quietly.

    “No, she only invited me and you, if I could convince you to come.” For the first time that night, I looked him straight in the eyes. His eyes had been full of life once, but not anymore. Now the whites of them were yellow and bloodshot. He looked like he hadn’t slept in weeks. The blue of his irises seemed dull. Something had gone out of him. I almost lost it right then, but I managed to compose myself. It was just so hard to see him this way and deep down, I knew he was a reflection of myself. I couldn’t bear to see us like this. We were gone. I forced myself to get out of the car.

    “Ready?” Alex asked. Somehow he had appeared next to me. I couldn’t take it. I reached over and grabbed him, pulling him tight against me. It was embarrassing; like I said, we had never been close, but I couldn’t stand to go in there alone.

    The house was worse than I had imagined. It was packed with people in dresses and suits, each one looking like a boardroom executive or maybe a stay at home mom with a kid in preschool. Alex stayed by me the entire time as we searched the house for our old teammate. Every room of her house looked like a picture in a magazine. Martha Stewart would’ve felt right at home. The whole place reeked of air freshener and scented candles. I felt nauseous.

    “We don’t have to stay long,” Alex whispered to me. “Just long enough for you to talk to her at least. She really misses you.”

    I tried to say something, but only a whimper came out.

    Then I saw her. She was talking to a couple of other women, but she stood out to me right away. I knew it was her, even though she had dyed her hair an unnatural blonde. It was hideous, but I would know her anywhere. Suddenly, she looked over and saw me. Her mouth fell open a little, then turned into a wide grin. She rushed over.

    “Emma!” she shrieked in a voice that wasn’t hers. “How have you been?”

    But I couldn’t answer her. I couldn’t look at her face, because I was too busy looking at the ominous bulge of her belly under her dress.


    I forced myself to look at her. Her smile had turned into a worried frown. I willed the corners of my mouth to turn up and they did, though it felt more like a grimace of pain than anything else. “I haven’t seen you in a long time,” I said through a tight throat.

    Her smile returned, though it was smaller this time. “I’ve missed you.”

    She wrapped her arms around me, but I couldn’t make myself do the same. She stopped after a minute and took a step back. I felt my gaze return to her stomach. “So you’ve noticed….” she said. I didn’t respond. “It’s a girl,” she said softly.

    I looked back up at her face again and the world seemed to go blurry. My entire body was racked with sobs and I turned my face into the dark of Alex’s coat. I didn’t want to see anymore. I didn’t look up until I felt cool night air on my skin. “I’m so sorry,” I told him. “I’m such a fucking wreck.”

    “Shh…You don’t have to say sorry. You gave me a good excuse to get the fuck out of there.” I giggled then sobbed again.

    “How could she fucking do that, Alex?”

    “I don’t know.”

    I can’t remember the rest of that night.

    ‘So, so you think you can tell heaven from hell, blue skies from pain. Can you tell a green field from a cold steel rail? A smile from a veil? So you think you can tell.’ I groaned as I rolled out of bed, woken by my clock radio. I felt pretty good for about forty five seconds. Then I remembered the night before. I shuddered and my hand automatically went to my stomach. She had been….My old traveling partner, one of my best friends was….I couldn’t think the word. My mind wouldn’t allow it. Poor Alex…somehow he had gotten me home in one piece. The memory threatened to overtake me and I made myself start moving.

    I threw on a pair of jeans and an oversized t-shirt. I couldn’t be bothered to find anything better. I went into the cramped kitchen of my apartment and grabbed a box of generic Pokemon food. I poured some into a couple bowls and left them out for my Munna. I never could adjust to living without any Pokemon.

    As I hit the streets of Saffron, I had no idea where I was going. It was my day off; I could go wherever the fuck I wanted. The rain had stopped, but the sky was still gloomy and overcast. The tops of Saffron’s skyscrapers were hidden by clouds. Not for the first time, I felt trapped in this cage of a city. I was surrounded by steel bars and concrete and I had nowhere to go. There was no escape.

    I wandered the streets for a while, not paying attention to where I was. I let my feet find a path by themselves, without the aid of my eyes or my mind. My eyes might as well have been closed and my mind might as well have been gone. It was busy fighting against the ghosts.

    At some point, I looked up and found myself in front of an office building; one I knew well. If my feet had lead me here….There was no question. I walked inside.

    “Can I help you?” A blonde air head in a low cut shirt sat behind the front desk. Helena must not have been the one who hired her.

    “I’m here to see Dr. Warren.”

    The girl looked at me incredulously. I realized I wasn’t dressed very scholarly. I scowled at her and was about to say something when I heard a voice that instantly relaxed me.

    “Is there a problem?”

    “Dr. Warren!” The girl said in surprise.

    The woman who was walking out of the back office was about twenty nine going on fifty. It wasn’t that she looked old; she just carried herself with the dignity and pride of someone much older. She was dressed even odder than me. She was wearing black pants and a huge, black overcoat that I had never once seen her without. As soon as she saw me, she grinned, an expression that looked almost vulpine on her. “Hello, Emma.”

    I smiled despite myself. “Hey, Helena. Anything new with your research?”

    The secretary was staring at us both, an odd look on her face.

    “Just a few things,” Helena answered. “Come into my office so we can speak in private.” She shot a nasty look at the blonde girl and walked back towards her office. I made sure to smirk at the secretary before entering Helena’s office.

    “Where did you find a charmer like her?” I asked with some amusement as I flopped down into a huge armchair. Helena’s office was a mess; loose papers were scattered everywhere and books bigger than my head were piled up by the wall. In one corner, an ancient cobweb was beginning to fall apart. It was somehow comforting.

    “Henry asked me to hire her. You know how he is, trying to save every lost soul,” Helena said as she sat in her own chair and glanced through a file, “Apparently she’s a recovering cocaine addict.”

    “No kidding,” I said, trying to earn a smile. It didn’t work.

    Helena looked up at me, her icy blue eyes staring back into mine, analyzing my every move. “I know you didn’t come down here just to ask me about my work. You only show up about once every few months. What’s wrong?”

    She knew me too well. “Well, Alex snuck into my house last night.”

    She nodded as if this was something she expected, still flipping through her files.

    “He made me go out to see Allison.” She stopped nodding and took a drink of coffee from a filthy looking mug. “When we got to her house she was…” I took a deep breath, forcing the words out of my mouth, “She was pregnant.”

    Helena’s cheeks flushed red and she quickly gulped her coffee, gasping, “What!?”

    I had to look away. The image of the seemingly innocent bump under her dress once again popped up in my head. I felt my eyes growing damp and quickly wiped them. Helena pretended not to notice. “I don’t know. I just…I couldn’t stand seeing her that way. I feel awful, because she’s happy. I should be happy that she’s happy, but I’m not. It just seems…wrong.”

    Helena sighed. “You really never moved on, Emma.”

    “No. I really didn’t. How the hell could I move on?”

    “Everyone else seems to have.”

    My mouth hung open and I tried to search for words. “But…they…I….What about Wyatt?”

    Helena looked up at me for a moment. “Wyatt moved on. He just moved on to the night scene.”

    I laughed bitterly. “So I’m the crazy one. I’m the one that could never make anything of themselves.”

    “Oh quit being melodramatic. It’s fine to be upset, but you shouldn’t throw your life away just because she’s gone.”

    She was right. She was right and she knew it, but I couldn’t accept that. “I’m not throwing my life away.”

    “Really?” she raised an eyebrow. “When was the last time you had a job for more than a week?”

    I was silent.


    It was the truth, the absolute fucking truth. How had I let things go so wrong? Maybe if I had done something differently. Maybe if I had saved her….Fuck. I would not cry again. As always, Helena knew what was going on before it happened.

    “Come here, Emma.”

    I reluctantly got to my feet and walked over to her. She stared at me and I felt like a little kid in the principal’s office.

    “Emma, there was nothing you could do. There was nothing any of us could do.” Helena put a hand on my shoulder, a rare sign of affection. “You need to stop blaming yourself and stop getting upset with everyone else because they’ve gotten past it.”

    The first tears started running down my cheeks. “You don’t understand. I was with her. I could’ve done something.”

    “What could you have done?”

    “I…I…Anything. I could’ve done anything, but I did nothing.” I wasn’t crying like I had when I found out Alison was pregnant. That has been a mixture of anger and fear. This was nothing but remorse, cold and bitter.

    “You need to let go.” It was no longer just Helena’s voice. It was five voices; they had been telling me a long time. I just hadn’t been listening.

    “I can’t just let go, Helena. I don’t know how.”

    “When was the last time you went out to visit her?”

    “The funeral,” I said in barely more than a whisper.

    “I think you need to go.” With that she turned away from me, back to her papers. I watched her for a moment, but she didn’t seem to have anything else to say. It never did me any good not to listen to her, so I left. When I stepped outside, it was raining again. I barely noticed.

    He thrusts his fists against the posts and still insists he sees the ghosts, he thrusts his fists against the posts and still insists he sees the ghosts. I saw the ghosts. The ghosts were everywhere now. All around me, flitting about like black sparrows, buzzing around my head like flies.

    The cemetery was beautiful in its own way. Wildflowers grew around the gravestones naturally, blooming in every color of the rainbow. The contrast of vibrant colors against the grey sky was surreal. Everything felt fuzzy and unreal, as if I was inside a dream. I walked past rows and rows of headstones, looking for the one with her name on it. Finally, I found it. It didn’t look like anyone had been here in a while. I sat down next to the gravestone on a patch of grass and wiped a spider web off its surface, breaking the web into a million pieces. I noticed some daisies growing nearby, each one with a yellow center like a tiny sun.

    “Hi, Nikki,” I said and bit my lip, trying to hold myself together. It didn’t work. “I’m so sorry, Nikki, I’m so sorry.”

    The ghosts had finally caught up with me.

    There is another sky, ever serene and fair, and there is another sunshine, though it be darkness there. We had left Alex, Wyatt, Helena, and Allison at the Pokecenter. They were still sleeping and we wanted to get in some extra training before challenging the Viridian gym leader, so we walked out to Route 22. That’s when it started to go wrong.

    “We should let out the Pokemon we want to train so they can walk with us,” Nikki suggested. She was only a year younger than me, but a full foot shorter. I watched her pull out a Pokeball and press the button in the center. In a flash of red light, a small, yellow duck-like Pokemon appeared by her feet. The Psyduck made a surprised quacking sound and looked up at her curiously. She covered her mouth with one hand as she giggled. Her black hair fell forward like a veil, hiding her face for a moment. She flipped it back, one quick movement that was characteristic of her. I had never really paid attention to it before, but in my memories, I noticed she did it all the time.

    She stared at me expectantly with big eyes, like a child watching a magic trick. I pulled out one of my own Pokeballs and released my Pidgeotto. The brown hawk-like Pokemon stared at the Psyduck disdainfully for a moment, before turning away, as if it had better things to look at.

    “Psy-Psyduck,” Nikki’s Psyduck said with some annoyance, before squirting my Pidgeotto with a small jet of water. My Pokemon jumped in the air, cawing loudly. Nikki and I started laughing loudly, clutching our stomachs. We had no idea of the danger coming as we walked up the road, looking for wild Pokemon and other trainers.

    Suddenly, I felt something cold pressed to the back of my neck.

    “Drop to your knees and take everything out of your pockets,” said a gruff voice. I did what I was told and saw Nikki out of the corner of my eye, doing the same. I dropped the rest of my Pokeballs, my trainer card, and some money on the ground, wishing I had been paying more attention. I heard a loud screech and a gunshot. Then I saw my Pidgeotto fall to the ground in front of me, a slowly growing red stain in the center of its chest. I stared at it stupidly, unable to believe what had just happened.

    “Please don’t take my Pokemon!” Nikki said.

    “Shut up,” said the man behind her. I had a closer look at him now; he was wearing black pants and a black shirt with a bright red ‘R’ in the center. He had the look of some predatory bird. A scar ran from the side of his face down to his neck.

    “No, please,” Nikki begged.

    The man smiled grimly and raised the gun. He shot her Psyduck between the eyes. Brain matter and blood shot out the back of its head. I felt a wave of nausea and nearly vomited. Then the worst thing possible could’ve happened. Nikki turned around and punched the man hard in the stomach. A mixture of fury and surprise shone in his eyes. He took the gun and aimed it at Nikki and pressed down on the trigger.

    They say that when you die your life flashes before your eyes. I saw Nikki’s eyes as she fell, a ragged hole appearing in her shirt, and they flashed with recognition before I lose sight of them. The man seemed shocked at what he had done and took off running. His partner went with him. I sat for a moment and looked at my friend and our Pokemon lying in the dirt.

    “Nikki,” I said almost to myself. Then I realized what had happened. “Nikki!” I half crawled, half stumbled over to her and looked at her. She was very still, but her chest was still rising and falling. Barely. “Nikki, I’m gonna go get help, okay? Okay?” She didn’t answer. She just stared at me and tried to form words, but she couldn’t. A trickle of blood ran from her mouth. Then her chest stopped moving. I stood for a moment and then I began to scream.

    An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. I think that later on the two men were caught when a Team Rocket warehouse was discovered. One was shot and killed while trying to escape. I don’t know which one. It didn’t matter.

    I must’ve passed out at some point. I remember waking up in the Pokemon Center, being surrounded by my friends and having to look at them while they stared at me, horror struck.

    “Oh my God, Emma, are you alright?” Of course it was Allison who asked. She was the oldest, almost 18, and she felt responsible for all of us. She meant well, she really did.

    I didn’t answer. I couldn’t. I couldn’t open my mouth and form the words, couldn’t even begin to think about what I would say.

    “Where’s Nikki?” Wyatt asked.

    I stared at him. Didn’t he know? The rest looked at me, the same question burning in their eyes. Where was Nikki? What room was she in so they could go see her too? Why wasn’t she here? All million dollar questions.

    “I….” I couldn’t tell them what happened. So I told them the truth. “I don’t know where Nikki is.” They all stared at me and I felt myself falling back asleep. They all looked confused, except for Helena, who merely looked thoughtful, her eyes unfocused and gazing at something no one else could see. Already, the first ghosts were appearing.

    After that, we all went home. No one could even consider trying to keep going. Back to Saffron City we went. Our home became our prison. Helena said that I was the only one who hadn’t moved on, but that wasn’t true. None of us had ever moved on, I was just the only one who didn’t have to pretend. Alex had gone to work for Silph, working himself half to death; Allison got married six months after we got back, trying to raise a family to make up for the one she had let fall apart; Wyatt formed some kind of band and took up drinking; even Helena had a cover. She worked for Professor Beech, Kanto’s lead professor, trying to make new medication and technology using Pokemon. None of us had ever really left that day. We all relived it in our heads. How do you not? How do you ever leave behind the ghosts? You don’t. They follow you until the day you die, living off of you like parasites.

    I didn’t leave the cemetery until eleven that night. I had lost track of time. I walked back into town, once again letting my feet take me where they wanted. I wouldn’t be sleeping tonight. At some point, I stumbled into the downtown area, not the best place to be after dark.

    “Hey there,” I felt someone wrap their arm around me and I jumped.

    “Get the fuck off of me,” I said, trying to sound more furious than terrified. I still couldn’t see the person holding me, but he smelled like whiskey and old socks.

    “Is that anyway to talk to an old friend?” he slurred.

    “What?” I turned and saw someone who looked incredibly familiar wearing a dirty Pink Floyd t-shirt and sweat pants. “Wyatt? Is that you?

    “Could it be anybody else?” He tried to wink and succeeded in looking like he had a twitch.

    “Oh, Wyatt.” I hugged him.

    “Jesus, you’re affectionate tonight. I don’t remember you being a late night person. Where are you going?

    “I have no idea,” I said honestly.

    He laughed, somewhat hysterically. “Well then where are you coming from?”

    “Er….The cemetery.”

    He gave me an odd look. “Well you always have been morbid.”

    I didn’t try to explain to him. I didn’t need a crying drunk guy falling all over me in the middle of the sidewalk. “I actually have to go, Wyatt.”

    “You need to get to your unspecified destination really quickly then?” Damn. I forgot he was still smart when he was drunk.

    “Well…no, not really.”

    I allowed him to lead me over to a bench and sat down.

    “So what were you doing at the cemetery?”

    “I went to see Nikki,” I said and looked away.

    “Oh.” We sat in silence for a moment.

    “Do you still think about her?” I asked.

    “Yes. Yes I do.”

    I felt an odd sense of relief and calm. Somebody else was willing to admit it. Someone else could see the ghosts. Somebody else could feel them. I wasn’t the only one bearing their torment. And if I wasn’t the only one left….

    “Wyatt, where do you think we go when we die?”

    He seemed surprised. “If I knew, I would tell you. I guess maybe we just go somewhere else. You know how you always see little figurines of guardian angels and everyone says that the people you lost are still there with you? I think that’s fucking stupid. She’s not here, Emma. She’s gone. Into the great beyond. Elsewhere. I don’t feel her watching us or following us or anything. She’s just fucking gone. It’s just kind of fucking awful. She was just a little girl. She was just fourteen and she got shot. Who the hell gets shot when they’re fourteen? I mean, you get hit by a car, or you get leukemia when you’re fourteen, but you don’t get shot for Christ’s sake.” He trailed off for a few moments. “It’s been ten years, too. I mean, she missed out on ten fucking years. And what would have happened if we had kept going? She might have been champion or something. Or one of us could have been. It’s just really fucking unfair.”

    That was it. It was everything I had ever thought and he had said it, let it go floating out into the air like a balloon lost by a careless child. I let out a deep sigh of relief. “I hope wherever Elsewhere is, it’s beautiful and I hope wherever she is, she’s happy. She deserves it.”

    “Yeah, really. I think we all deserve it. Sometimes, I think, maybe we all lost our lives that day. We lost something.”

    We sat that way for a little while and finally Wyatt got up and left without saying anything. As I watched him leave, I felt a dull ache in my heart. He had spoken to me fairly clearly, but he limped as he walked away. I wondered what would become of him. Somewhere deep inside, I longed to call out to him and beg him to come back, to let me help him. Yet, I also knew that it was too late. Just like the rest of us, he was gone. The rain started again, but I didn't seem to feel the cold. I watched disinterestedly as goosebumps rose on my arms. Every drop that hit me was like another memory; after a while, they covered me from head to toe, until not one inch of me was free from the downpour. Finally, I looked down at my watch, trying to see the time through the dirty, cracked screen. It was about three in the morning. I started walking back to my apartment.

    ‘Mama take this badge from me. I can’t use it anymore. It’s getting dark, too dark to see. Feels like I’m knockin’ on heaven’s door.’ My radio was playing when I was opened the door. I sighed. Munna must have gotten bored and turned it on again. As I locked the door behind me, she ran up to me and looked at me expectantly.

    “No, Munna, I don’t have any treats for you.” I pet my odd, pink, elephant-like Pokemon gently and walked into my room, slamming the door behind me.

    ‘Mama put my guns in the ground. I can’t shoot them anymore. That cold black cloud is comin’ down. Fells like I’m knockin’ on hea-‘ I shut off the clock radio. I reached under my bed and pulled out a large wooden box. The top was engraved with pictures of several Pokemon; a Raichu, a Persian, a Poliwrath, a Fearow, a Machamp, and an Alakazam. I opened the box. Inside were tons of pictures, probably hundreds. Each one was a little snapshot of how our lives had been and how they would never be again. In one I saw all of us hugging and smiling, ten years younger, infinitely happier. In another, I saw Allison with her Persian hanging off her lap. Finally, I found one of Nikki. In the picture she was sitting under a cherry blossom tree. She had placed one of the blossoms in her hair and she didn’t notice someone was taking a picture. Instead of looking at the camera, she was staring off into the distance at something I couldn’t see. I picked up the stack of pictures and sat them on the bed next to me. Then I opened the box’s secret compartment and pulled out what I had come for; a revolver. I picked up the gun with two hands, trying to stop shaking, and put the barrel in my mouth. I closed my eyes. Suddenly, I heard a scratching sound at the door: Munna. I took the gun out of my mouth and put it back in the box, closed the secret compartment, and carefully returned the pictures to their proper place. I shoved the box back under my bed, out of sight. I spent the rest of the night curled up on my couch with Munna.

    I must have fallen asleep at some point that night. When I woke up, the sun was just rising. I heard a rhythmic thumping sound and tried to ignore it, but it wouldn’t go away. I felt a cool breeze on my skin and sighed. It felt nice, but….All of my windows were closed. I jumped up and looked around, but couldn’t see anything. Walking to the front of my apartment, I noticed the thumping was coming from outside my door. I wondered who would be knocking this early. I opened the door and came face to face with something I only recognized from children’s books. Drifloon. The ghosts were here. The purple balloon Pokemon hovered outside my door, its beady black eyes seeming to stare right through me. It reached forward with limp, string-like arms which it then wrapped around my waist. I pulled back.

    “Hey!” I yelled. “Let go of me!”

    Relax, I heard in my mind, I want to take you with me. Then I heard an old song playing in my head. Somewhere beyond the sea, somewhere waitin’ for me, my lover stands on golden sands, and watches the ships go sailing. I heard music, a slow tinkling kind that you might hear in a music box. Come away with me, Emma, come with me. I’ll take you to a place where there is no pain, there is no sadness, there are no ghosts, no ghosts to haunt you.

    I recalled something I had read a long time ago. ‘A Pokémon formed by the spirits of people and Pokémon. It is whispered that any child who mistakes Drifloon for a balloon and holds on to it could wind up missing.’ The Drifloon had come to take me away. Did I want to go with it?

    Come with me, little one, I’ll make it better. Let me take you somewhere safe where you can rest. Let me take you elsewhere. Let me take you past the edge of the ocean, little one.

    Past the edge of the ocean, past the edge of the world; elsewhere. Did I want to go elsewhere? I laughed at myself inside. Who had just put the barrel of a gun in their mouth? What did I have to lose? I heard Munna whimpering, but she would be okay. She would be fine without me. If she could figure out how to get a radio on, she could figure out how to feed herself and let herself out the door. She would live. I on the other hand….I felt the strings tighten their grip on me.

    Relax, little sister, so I can take you away. Let me take you with me. You just have to let go.

    Let go? But I couldn’t let go, I didn’t know how. I saw the faces of my friends; Alex, Allison, Helena, Wyatt, Nikki….They were already going or gone anyways. Did I want to stay around to see them pass like Nikki? Could I live with that? I didn’t think so.

    “Goodbye, Munna,” I tried to say, but it came out as barely a whisper.

    The Drifloon started to pull and I felt myself rising, being dragged out the door of my apartment, but I didn’t do anything to stop it. I had fought the ghosts and the ghosts had won, but I wasn’t afraid. I had fought well and that was all I could do. I felt myself floating up and up until I was among the clouds and in the distance I could see the sea. We are going, beyond the second star to the right, straight on until morning, into the sunset, past the seven seas, into the heart of Elsewhere, sang the voice in my mind. I felt happy, but tired. The ghosts aren’t so bad, I thought. Not bad at all.

    And then I let go.
    Last edited by Alaskapigeon; 28th March 2011 at 11:03 PM.
    I speak four languages, help me practice please
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    Vous parlez avec moi en français, s'il vous plaît

  2. #2
    URPG Moderator Ataro's Avatar
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    Default Re: Misguided Ghosts (Rated M for violence and language)


    To start off, your intro was pretty good. I like the whole mysterious deep thing going on. Especially with the lyrics of the rain and that it was really raining at that time, it created a sort of lonely, slightly scary and mysterious, sort of feeling.

    For characters wise ... it got a 'tad bit confusing. I will first talk about the physical aspects of your character. In a story, it is almost mandatory - you have to, and you need to, describe your characters. This is especially important for your protagonist, or otherwise, your main characters. Without the descriptions, it is impossible to visualize how Emma had looked like. Was she fat or slim? Was she tall or short? Was she pretty, average, or ugly? How old was she? Was there anything special about her facial features? All of these, and more, have to be described and detailed more or less, so that the reader knows what kind of a character is she exactly.

    Not describing your characters can be a pretty bad point. In this case, the only thing that allowed me to identify which character is which is because of their names. Even so, I was actually confused over your characters as I read through the story. I read it two times in order to gain a better understanding of the story. The confusing part is not only because of the names, but included several other factors - which I will explain later. But what you could have done here was to give details and descriptions on your characters; do remember not to overdo it however. Some graders might say you have to describe every single thing for URPG stories, but I'd say to just describe about the important things. If they're not important, you only need to describe it in brief. For things like your main character, the background/setting of your story, Drifloon, etc. - they should all be described adequately.

    Another thing that you can try is to give each of your character a more defined characteristic or personality. This is especially useful for longer stories, and for the more important characters. Not only does it easily allow someone to distinguish one character from the many others, it also allows the reader to feel an empathy with the character. This is the same as describing specific features or marks on a character (eg. scars on the face) to easily distinguish a specific character. For example, in this story, was there anything specific about Emma's character? What was her personality like? Was she a very 'strong' or 'fragile' person? Did she perhaps have some sort of a weird empathy with ghosts? Could she sense those? What else could she see? All of these were not only details that I wanted to know, but they were questions that I kept asking myself as I read your story, but they weren't answered.

    I'll be honest, I found it a little confusing. If any of my assumptions are wrong, do correct me. What I understand here is that Emma could see or feel ghosts? And in the end, she gets dragged away by Drifloon; presumably Emma disappears at the end of the story. From this, I thought that the plot was not strong enough. You had many other scenes in the story that didn't quite add up in my opinion. After I read finish the first time, I found myself not understanding why certain scenes happen and kept having the 'so what?' feeling throughout.

    We will go through a brief outline of the story. In the beginning, I got introduced to the characters; Emma and Alex. As the story proceeds, it starts to reveal that Emma had a lot of ghosts to be afraid of. This was a little mysterious and it's perfectly fine. We then moved into a scene with a pregnant lady, which I started to get the 'so what?' feeling. What was the reason for it being there? Did it have a relevance to the plot? There were then a more in depth scene about the pregnant woman, Helena, Wyatt, some funeral, and some Pokemon dying, etc. I was quite confused throughout and couldn't really point out a reason for them to be there. If it was just one scene, it might be alright, but all of those happen around the middle portion of your story and that's usually where tension starts to build up and the story starts to get interesting. I'm quite sure from your experience with writing and grading, there were definitely uses for those story scenes, but I couldn't figure it out. There needs to be a better explanation of your plot, or a better connection between varying scenes and ideas so that the story would flow smoothly.

    I think that if you were able to polish your story better, or work out the confusing parts, the story might have been a lot better. I like the general skeleton of your plot now, the sort of mysterious setting and the way you ended it. However, like what I said earlier, the middle section just seems ... broken currently. Unfortunately. D:

    Your grammar is definitely more than fine, so you don't have to worry about it. I think you would have to watch out slightly more for your dialogues. I think you know this rule, but I will just briefly go through it. When writing a story, it should be important to know that dialogues can either make or kill your story for you. Some people tend to insert in too many dialogues (especially if its really just dialogues, without any narratives in the middle at all), and it looks extremely bad, since it feels like the reader is just reading a script. Some people on the other hand, tend to write all narratives instead. While nothing seriously bad, it feels a little boring with no dialogues since dialogues tend to liven up a story.

    In your case here, I would say that the ratio is still alright. However, for certain parts like this (I shortened the quote in the middle by inserting '...').

    Quote Originally Posted by Alaskapigeon View Post
    “Hey there,” I felt someone wrap their arm around me and I jumped.

    “Get the fuck off of me,” I said, trying to sound more furious than terrified. I still couldn’t see the person holding me, but he smelled like whiskey and old socks.

    ... ... ...

    “Wyatt, where do you think we go when we die?”
    If you need reference, just CTRL+F the first sentence of the quote. The entire quote was a little hard for me to follow. Other than it was dialogue back and forth, (and I did take into account of the measures that you had taken - by inserting several actions like twitching of the eye, etc.), it was essentially nothing much. I wanted to speed read through the entire thing in fact, since the dialogue wasn't anything that was extremely eye-catching or anything, but it was really just dialogues.

    I would say even with the few actions that you tried inserting into it, it still felt somewhat lacking. I wanted to see slightly more narrative. What were they doing when they were talking? Were there any other movements? This is a first-person POV, so it means that the thoughts of the character, 'I', should be well depicted. It was done quite well throughout the story, just that the dialogue felt nothing more other than exchanging of lines. Don't get me wrong, it's not the content of your dialogues that are wrong now. I simply felt that it would have been more interesting and easier to relate to, or read, if it was made more 'real-like' with actions and feelings.

    But to be fair, this section was still quite well done. Consider that advice some sort of an advice for when you're going for more difficult Pokemon, or just writing stories in the future basically.

    This section is like the most nonexistent section of a grade. I approve anyway!

    Where were the characters at when the story started? It is considered important (I think I've used this word too many times now) for you to describe the settings of your story, especially at the beginning, so that the reader would be able to understand where are your characters situated at. It also allows for tension, curiosity, and interest to build up. Imagine if your characters are in a library and Emma collapses from her chair? How is this different to when they arrive in an apartment that is so dirty and messy (insert description of apartment here), and Emma collapses from her chair? Different backgrounds and scenarios allow different feelings and emotions to develop from a story scene.

    I think it would have been more adequate if you had described the apartment a little bit more. I liked the entire scene with Emma staring out of the window and how she didn't even heard Alex opening the door. However, other than the fact that the apartment had a door and a chair, I didn't know what else were there in the apartment. Was it a small one-level apartment, or a luxurious (multi-leveled) apartment? Was the house clean or messy? Were there any smell, of perhaps perfume or morning dew in the house? Continue describing bits by bits, and the story starts to open up more. Not only does this increase the amount of details in your story, it also allows you to interact more with the personality of the character. From the cleanliness of the house, it would be possible to tell what sort of a character Emma is. Was the house serenely calm, with white furnishes around? Or was it a little dark, and there was little to no light source in the house? This would also allow us to understand Emma's personality a bit more.

    Other than that and the dialogue portion that I mentioned earlier, I think your description was rather great. You described many things using sight, and even broadened into smell a couple of times. Not only that, you had also described using colors, something that not many people will remember to do. Colors, like what they do, brighten up your story, so it's generally a good thing to use to describe with.

    However ... I will just be straight out first. I'm not sure if this is just me or that other graders might have felt this too, but you probably need to analyze this bit of critique yourself. As a writer myself, I tend to dramatize things a little bit, especially in intense scenes. Such scenes involve the battle part of a story, emotions part of a story, etc. I would generally describe more in these, and make the feelings seem more intense. In your story however, I felt it was a bit lacking. Again, I empathize, it might just be me, and I'm not sure if other graders will feel the same. But then again, the description part of a grade is often made up of the personal preference of a grader, so I would assume I'm pardoned here.

    This is what I think. I wasn't sure about the direction that you wanted to go ahead with your story. With the title of your story: 'Misguided Ghosts', it felt a little lonely and sad. There was definitely a tinge of mysteriousness going around as well. When I read your story though, I felt a tiny bit lost. Like what I said in the plot section earlier, I just didn't get why certain sections exist and what were they supposed to do. Not that they were bad, but I just failed to see the connection link. This could definitely be solved with more details and descriptions. I wasn't sure if you were intending for it to be a bit scary, but I felt that the ghosts and the cemetery were not being depicted strong enough.

    Apparently, Emma was really afraid of the ghosts. I could not see this in the story at all. To be honest, I'm not really sure which character is the ghost itself. I wasn't sure if it was actually one of the characters, or just those things that are unnamed that Emma frequently sees. I also think you didn't manage to describe the ghosts. This become quite a negative part. Since the ghosts are supposed to be scary in this story, they need to be projected that way. Same thing with the opposite. If they're supposed to be friendly, then they need to be projected that way too. With your descriptions, and especially your level of descriptions, you should be able to depict those things, but I didn't manage to see it. I think Nikki is actually a ghost, because Emma identified the character as Nikki and she was talking to the tombstone, but Nikki appeared after that and was actually visible to a Rocket member apparently, which also confused me.

    To summarize, I want to see descriptions of the ghosts. Since Emma could see so many of them, what did a few of them look like? Were the appearance of them much different from what was assumed? Did they looked morbidly scary or actually friendly? If so, how exactly? If one of the ghosts was Emma's friend, was Emma scared of it in the beginning? Especially since the ghosts are a focal point of your story (from your title), it becomes an important (I'm using this word again!) point for you to describe them.

    There wasn't a battle, AND THAT'S REALLY BAD. But I'm just kidding, of course. In your case, I thought it was perfect without a battle. Like what I said earlier again, I enjoyed the way you ended it, the entire scene and how it ended up with Drifloon pulling Emma away. But perhaps Drifloon could be introduced earlier?

    It was only until the end that Drifloon was introduced. It seemed as if you're writing a really good story, and randomly inserted a Pokemon at the end for a capture, even if that's really not the case. I get how you chose Drifloon because of the Pokedex description, but I think that was not strong enough. In this case, I could have just inserted Gengar and attributed it to Gengar's mischievous nature, or even just about any Ghost-type. The choice of Drifloon was genius, but you need to increase the amount of relevancy. If you want to maintain the sort of mysteriousness in your story, you could just do hints as the story progressed. Perhaps include scene breaks where they would feature on Drifloon as well. Was it looking for a human child to pull away? Why did it pick Emma? Increase the amount of relevancy, and make the story revolve around Emma, the ghosts, and Drifloon, instead of just the first two instead.

    Again, I'M REALLY SORRY ABOUT HOW LONG I TOOK. I would take the time to make up reasons and excuses, but I doubt that would be helpful. ^^;

    I really wanted to just pass this because you've waited way too long, counting both the date of when you finished the story and when I reserved it. Also, I really liked the general skeleton of your plot and the way it ended. However, the part about the how the plot didn't seem to connect up much was a huge negative factor. So... Drifloon not captured for now...

    I really felt bad for doing this. I wanted to pass this not only because you've waited quite long, but I liked how the story went, but the part about how the middle didn't made up was quite bad. If you feel that they were there for a reason, do feel free to explain it to me. If I feel that your explanation makes sense, I might still give the pass to you. If you feel that however, you were lacking something, feel free to add on to the portions to simply link your plot sections together, so that the story would make more sense. I would also like to see a description of how Emma looked like, and the ghosts basically. Please remember to color code your corrections in an alternate color of course.

    That's all. PM/VM/IM me for a regrade, and I'll be here in a jiffy. It will definitely not take as long as this grade for sure! So don't worry about asking for one. You're a good writer, and I hope you keep this up! On another note, I hope that this grade was as helpful to you as you had hoped for it to be. ^^;
    Last edited by Ataro; 25th June 2011 at 05:00 AM.
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  3. #3
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    Default Re: Misguided Ghosts (Rated M for violence and language)

    Paramore is pretty chill Alaska. :)

  4. #4
    URPG Moderator Ataro's Avatar
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    Default Re: Misguided Ghosts (Rated M for violence and language)


    Right ... I had a feeling it was just me lol. With your short explanation/synopsis on AIM, the story definitely did make complete sense now. I understand where you're coming from with how the characters have given up, and how Emma keeps blaming herself for her friend's death. In a way, it could be said that Emma was the worst out of the characters, since the others at least, apparently, didn't had suicide tendencies.

    I think this plot was really well thought out, and now that I understand it, the plot was arranged so that we get an introduction of the characters' life first, then a flashback of how the girl had died. It later moved onto developing Emma's negative thoughts. If this is the case, I would have to take back what I said about character development with your characters. While you still didn't describe their physical features, their back story was heavily explored, and especially in Emma's case, the character really gave me those sort of chills.

    I'm still not sure if it's just me or what, but I would advise to perhaps identify Emma's hallucinations better? Make it obvious. Like she sees something that the others don't. It becomes something eye-striking that would definitely catch the attention and readers, like a sort of an exclamation point. Nonetheless, I have to say this plot was pretty unique and well developed.

    I will definitely have to reverse the outcome. Drifloon captured! Good job, and have fun with the Ghost-type!
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