Pokemon Capture: Sandile
Needed Characters: 10000
Actual Characters: 13078
The white porcelain reached up to meet my face. Or maybe it was the other way around. I could feel my stomach lurching. Everything smelled like Windex and toothpaste and there was a tinny voice over the radio declaring "Anarchy in the U.K.".
Have you ever noticed how many interesting synonyms for 'vomit' there are? Throwing up is rather plain, but common. There's also tossing your cookies, the technicolor yawn, and the ever popular classic, barfing. I was doing all of these times one hundred.
This, I thought to myself, is a lesson from God. I will never eat vodka and leftover Taco Bell for breakfast. Ever again. I groaned. Shiiiiit. Did I get Kelsie Fruit Loops when I was at the store? Bah. More puking occurred.
The porch door swung open and closed. I heard footsteps. "Holly?" My sister would be standing at the foot of the stairs. Shit. What time was it? I stood up, attempting to focus my eyes on one point and end the nausea. I looked at the clock radio. 2:45, it told me.
"I'm coming!" I yelled, then fell back towards the toilet. Okay. I'm just gonna get up now and go be a responsible adult. Sure. Then they'll send me into space and I can start a colony on the fucking moon. I got to my feet and flushed the toilet. "Don't puke, don't puke, don't puke..." I chanted to myself. Hey, if mantras were good enough for the Dalai Lama, they were good enough for me.
I tottered out of the bathroom and down the stairs. I smiled. "Hey, sis, already out of school?" I realized I was wearing the same pants as yesterday.
"Yeah, we get out at 2 now." She grinned, but there was something off. I thought I saw her backpack move out of the corner of her eye.
"Interesting," I said. "Where'd you go for 45 minutes?"
Her face went pale. She tried to casually take off her jacket and throw it onto the backpack. Right, like I'd buy that. "I, uh, well..." Her neon purple backpack (with rainbow zigzags) began to whimper slightly. I tossed the jacket off of it, zipped it open, and poured it out. Something green and vaguely mushroom shaped tumbled out. Before you could say 'Cheesy 80s' Era After School Special' the mushroom had waddled over to my sister and crouched in her arms. It hissed at me.
"Kelsie," I said, then shook my head, hoping the Pokemon was the bi-product of alcohol and Pine-sol fumes, "Kelsie, what the hell is that?"
She blushed and looked at the dirty tile floor. She muttered something.
"It's a Shroomish."
"Shroo- Shroomish," it agreed, as if her point needed to be proven.
I pinched the bridge of my news. "And it is in our house... Why?"
She seemed incredibly guilty, and began to tug at the edge of her blue t-shirt, a nervous reaction. "Well... I want to be done with school."
"Kels, you're 15!"
"But almost everyone else left when they were 12 or 13. The only ones left in my classes are the people who want to be doctors or professors. And I don't."
I ran a hand through my hair. "Well..." I sighed. "What's Sobek going to think? He's too old to fight with another Pokemon over his food."
As if on cue, the ancient, half-blind Sandile slithered out from behind one of the counters and sniffed at Kelsie's sandals. She cautiously put down the Shroomish. They circled each other, snorted, and Sobek touched his snout to its forehead. Then he closed his eyes and promptly went to sleep. The Shroomish climbed onto his back and began to hum. Kelsie giggled.
"Fine," I gave in. "How are you going to take care of it? You don't know how to battle."
She shook her head. "I don't want to be a trainer."
"Then what the hell are you planning to do with a Pokemon!?"
"Come see," she said and jogged up the stairs, like she was in the prime of her life or something.
I groaned and managed to pull myself up them just in time to see her disappear into her room. I pushed the door aside. "Oh," I said, slightly stunned. The walls were plastered with posters of coordinators and famous contest Pokemon. Fantina seemed to be a favorite. There were lots of Drifloon in here. On the edge of her neatly made bed were some stuffed Pokemon with fake ribbons around their necks. Everything was startlingly neat. The only thing left out was a pen and an open notebook (complete with a picture of a rather attractive young male coordinator on the front) on her desk. What looked like a shopping list was scribbled in there. I saw the phrase 'Shroomish, Swablu, or Spoink' before she closed it. Well, at least she didn't get a Spoink, I thought, imagining it bouncing around the house, knocking things over. I looked around her room again. It was spotless. The carpet was a pristine white color and had been recently vacuumed, her hamper was empty, even the curtains looked as though they had been dusted, which I hadn't even known was something that needed to be done to curtains. "How are you related to me?" I asked out loud. Sometimes I wondered. Unlike me, she had dark hair and her eyes were almost black. My eyes were green and my hair was dark brown. Most people could never tell we were sisters. Apparently, I took after our father. The constant need to drink was probably a give away.
She grinned. "Can I go?"
I froze. I hadn't really put that much thought into it. Go? Alone? Into Hoenn? Land of volcanoes, borderline retarded terrorist organizations, and all sorts of flesh-eating Pokemon? Nuh-uh. Then I looked at her again. Stupid puppy eyes. It wouldn't be fair to make her stay chained up here. Like Mom made me. I winced internally. No self pitying today, Holly, I reminded myself. "I can't let you go alone."
Her head drooped.
Suddenly, she was completely alert, hanging on my every word.
"I can go with you."
"YES!" She jumped into the air and twirled. God, forget being a coordinator, she could've been a ballerina. She hugged me.
"Oof. Okay, um. Maybe you should pack your stuff and I'll call the school."
"Thankyouthankyouthankyou," she screeched, shoveling clothes into a backpack.
I half-walked, half-stumbled back down the stairs and into the kitchen. Sobek was still happily sleeping while his new friend danced on his back. "Traitor," I growled. The sink was full of dirty dishes again. I picked up the phone and began to scrub at a casserole dish. When had we even used that? I shook my head in bewilderment.
The phone rang a few times, then clicked as the school secretary picked up. "Hello," she said in her best calm and collected voice, "Oldale Public High School, how can I help you?"
"Ah, yes, my name is Holly Salinas, I'm Kelsie's older sister and guardian..."
The screen door swung open, slamming into the wall. "Sorry," yelled Ray as he walked in the door. He strolled over to the fridge, opened it, pulled out a slightly moldy block of cheese, and swung it shut. He then went over to the sink and began to pick the mold off it.
I tried to mouth, "Get out," but his back was turned to me. Must've been some really good cheese. I narrowed my eyes.
"Kelsie Salinas? She's a wonderful student. If you've called for a progress report I can have one ready to mail or-"
"No, no, it's not that," I explained, "It's just that she told me today she was ready to start her Journey."
"Oh." I could imagine the elderly secretary wiping some imaginary dust off the hem of her skirt disapprovingly. "Well, then, I'll take her off the attendance lists and send you a certificate of education."
"Thank you so very much," I was trying to hold my "grown up" voice for as long as possible.
"'Olly, vish cheef ifd nafty," Ray said with a mouthful of cheese.
I glared at him. "Well, you've been very helpful," I said quickly to the secretary, "I'll just go help her pack now."
"Goodbye," she responded stiffly and hung up.
I sighed and slid down on to the floor, knees to my chest. I couldn't help noticing that it was really dirty down there. On the bright side, though, most of the nausea was gone. There was only a slight throbbing in the back of my head.
"When was the last time you cleaned out your fridge?"
I turned to look at Ray. He was leaning against the fridge in a red plaid shirt and jeans, thin as a telephone pole, holding the remainders of what had been a large hunk of cheddar. "Why does it strike you as a good idea to walk into my house while I'm on the phone and start eating my food?"
He shrugged. "I do this every Thursday. It's like a holiday now, I think."
Kelsie came running down the stairs just then, her backpack stuffed. The Shroomish made a peeping sound and scurried over to her. She picked it up in her arms. "Okay, Holly, I got my stuff!" She twirled again and saw Ray. "Hi, Ray!" She waved.
Ray stuck the rest of the cheese in his mouth, chewed twice, then swallowed. "Where ya goin' with a backpack that big?" he asked.
"Holly's taking me on an adventure. We're going to get the ribbons from all the major contests!" As she hugged the Shroomish up against her face, I could see the hint of a gleam in her eyes. That girl had ambition.
"Wait, you're going where?"
"I told her I'd take her to all the contest cities." At the mere mention of her journey, Kelsie began dancing around the room, her Shroomish humming merrily.
Ray raised an eyebrow. "You're really planning to walk all that way?"
"Hell no, I'm going to book a plane for Mauville tonight and then hike over. It's only a couple miles. Why would I walk?"
He looked away. "Um."
This could not be good. "What is it, Ray?" I questioned.
"It's just that... Er..."
I grabbed him by the shirt collar. "What. Is. It."
"Maybe you should turn on the TV...."
I let him go and ran to the TV which was in a small room adjacent to the kitchen and behind the stairs. The carpet in there hadn't been cleaned (or seen) in months. It was buried beneath a layer of magazines and food wrappers. I reached up to where the TV was balanced precariously on a bookcase, and smacked the power button. Channel 3 was on, HNBC. I knew something was up when the screen flickered to life, an emergency broadcast message flashing on the bottom. "Oh, God," I moaned. The anchor, a professional (if slightly bitchy looking) brunette, had been finishing up whatever the message was.
"...and so it is advised that anyone in the effected areas evacuates immediately. For those just joining us, there has been a terrorist attack on Sootopolis City. A mysterious organization known as Team Aqua, known for their previous attempts at flooding the entire continent despite the scientific fallacies this would involve, have struck once again. Their most recent plot has been an attempted destruction of Sootopolis."
The screen behind her changed to footage of people running around a collapsing city as other people in blue uniforms shot high powered hoses at people.
"Due to these attacks, all flights to, from, and through the Hoenn region are on lockdown. Stay tuned for more announcements..."
I shut the TV off. "DAMMIT!" I shouted and punched the wall. I immediately recoiled, my fist stinging.
Ray and Kelsie ran into the room, looking worried. Kelsie's eyes were big. "What is it, Holly?"
"Uh, it's just that..." I swallowed my words at the look on her face. Puppy eyes had to be the work of the devil. "I thought instead of taking a plane, we could walk."
Her expression became stubborn. She seemed unconvinced. "But why? You hate walking. And exercising. And moving."
"Okay, fine. I was planning on flying but it looks like those environmental freaks attacked another city."
"No, other one."
"Nope, Team Aqua," Ray added helpfully.
"But we're still going, right?" Kelsie begged.
"Yeah, of course. If you go to school too much longer you'll be smarter than me."
I tousled Kelsie's hair.
"Actually, Holly, I kind of need to talk about why I came over," Ray spoke up.
"You mean you had a reason other than stealing my food?"
He coughed. "My parents kicked me out. Can I live here?"
My head was suddenly filled with visions of my house trashed, garbage and food everywhere, and various people passed out on the furniture. "No."
"But, if I can't find a place to live, I'll have to move into an apartment. I won't be able to keep Echo."
I sighed. "She's a psychic-type. Tell her to stay invisible."
"She's not strong enough to do that for a long time!"
"Why can't Ray come with us?" Kelsie asked.
"Yeah, why can't I come with you?"
"He'll eat all of our food."
As if she was called, Echo appeared in front of me, holding her little green head. She made a cooing sound.
"You wouldn't really want her to be homeless, would you?"
She cooed at me. I was beaten once again. "Fine. Pack your stuff."
He held up a finger indicating one minute and Echo disappeared again. She reappeared with a bag levitating over her head that was bigger than she was. She dropped it at Ray's feet.
"I left it outside," he said proudly.
"You're sleeping on the couch down here," I shot back and left. I heard him and Kelsie cheering. I walked upstairs, to my bedroom, and checked the clock again. It was almost 4. Where did all the time go? I began to stuff some clothes and various other items into my old backpack. I opened a bottom pocket and what I thought was a piece of paper fell out. I picked it up. It was a picture of my mother. I could only look at it for a moment, the edge of her dark hair, her smile, and then I had to put it on the floor, face down. My throat swelled up and the tears threatened to spill over, but I held them back. Sobek slithered into the room. The orange and black alligator blinked at me slowly. I scratched the spot in-between his eyes and he closed them happily. "What have we gotten into?" I asked him.
He didn't respond. He had fallen asleep.
I continued to stroke the spot on his head and tried to force my memory back to before. Before my mom got sick, before Kelsie was born, before anything bad happened. And the funny thing was, on any normal day, I'd have a few blurry images for my effort, but today, the day I needed to let it all go the most, this was the day that I got it all back. The way her smile could make me feel safe. The way that Sobek had once been trained to become a champion's Pokemon. The way he was going to be mine. That was when I realized I could've had it all. My hand started shaking and I had to stop petting him, afraid that I'd wake him up. I made myself stop. I slowed my breathing. It was okay. It was Kelsie's chance now. I would do whatever it took to make sure that she had it all.