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As Alba opened his eyes, deep darkness surrounded him. For a moment he had no idea where he was and why he had fallen asleep, but as he slowly sat up and made out the large palm tree above him, the massive leaves rustling eerily in the nightwind, he remembered. He had spent his day with Neo. They had eaten Malasadas, shared some berry juice and played with Neo’s Grimer. Alba liked Neo’s Grimer. It was a very friendly Pokémon, even though it didn’t seem like it. It was pretty much the only Pokémon that hadn’t ever attacked him before. He seemed to be a walking magnet when it came to aggressive pocket monsters, looking for trouble.

Mankey and Primeape, fighting about their food and coincidentally noticing Alba walking down the street, just to rush up to him and beat him up together. A Rockruff, woken up by a Pikipek and attacking the next best thing out of pure shock – which happened to be Alba’s leg. A Meowth, trying to protect it’s territory from the stranger with outrageously azure-pink hair. A Rattata with the urge to sharpen it’s teeth. Alba simply had bad luck with them all.

Slowly, he remembered that he hadn’t fallen asleep, but had eaten a big portion of Grimer’s slime. A while ago, Neo had found out about it’s ‘exciting‘ effect, and ever since they had consumed the slime in small portions. There were days when he and Alba met, only to eat this secretion together. Alba couldn’t remember why and when he had started doing it. He especially didn’t understand why they didn’t just stop.

There were many things that Alba didn’t know or understand, at least not anymore. His memory was almost like a stone. He very often wondered how he could still remember his own name and where he lived.

The teen got up from his uncomfortable position and looked around the area. At night, like now, he did not remember where he lived. He would have to search for a house that reminded him of his own. Also he would finally have to remember what his surroundings looked like at night, in case he would lose his consciousness more often. Or maybe he could simply stop eating that slime.

Why had Neo left him behind in the first place?
He didn’t want to keep thinking about it and started moving instead. Neo often left him by himself. He seemed to have more important things to attend to. But it didn’t change the fact that he was Alba’s best friend. Well, He was everything but a good person, but he was the only one who accepted Alba the way he was, or at least pretended to.

Neo was the kind of person to kick Meowth and Rattata out of his way. He was the kind to attack wild Pokémon, knock them out and leave them behind. But he was good to Grimer, and to Alba. And that alone was enough for the teen to cope with his friend. He just needed someone to be nice to him.

Alba’s life had been so different, not long ago. He had wanted to become a trainer and take the island challenge, or maybe he could even have studied Pokémon medicine, since his grades had always been quite good and it had been easier to get along with the pocket monsters. He had had many more friends. But since he and Neo had started eating Grimer’s slime, Alba had changed drastically. His memory had decreased severely, he had grown much weaker and slower, and sometimes he even had trouble speaking. Many of his friends had left him behind by himself, not knowing how to handle him. The few that didn’t mean to leave had no idea how to cope with Neo. They called him a bad influence and wanted Alba to leave. But after all, he was Alba’s best friend. He didn’t want to reduce the contact or even let him go. For the rest of his friends, this was an official farewell. But eventually, Alba would forget about all of this. Eventually, when he woke up underneath that palm tree again, overstuffed on slime, in the darkness, he wouldn’t remember any of his friends. And he wouldn’t remember himself anymore.

Alba recognized one of the houses as his own. It was the ugliest around, the smallest, the most damaged. It was very cheap and even he by himself could afford it. He had an external hotplate, a couch and a bunch of books he never read. He didn’t think he’d need any more. Electricity and water were a different story. Sometimes he was lucky enough to receive some light or something to drink when he needed it, sometimes he didn’t get to pay it and he had to rely on candles and the well a few meters away. He didn’t mind his lifestyle. He was happy to have a roof above his head to call his own.

Today, the lights went on, and the young man was very happy about it. He slowly sank down to the mentioned couch and looked at the floor. It was very dusty, and he’d have to clean it soon. Alba loved cleaning, he was happy to get around it again.

He now raised his head and looked into the mirror on the wall. He didn’t mind the big crack going from one of the corners to the middle, it didn’t change his reflection too much. He looked like he always did. White hat, bright blue and pink hair going down his shoulders, freckles all over his body, yellowish brown eyes. Alba liked himself, and he wondered if he’d still like himself without the freckles or damaged hair. Probably not half as much.

Suddenly, he found it very sad not to own a Pokémon. He would gladly had someone to accompany him, or simply someone to come home to every day and pet while they were asleep on the couch. That would only work with a small monster, though. A Machoke would take away too much room, and he’d have to sit on the floor if he wanted to pet it. Alba liked Machoke. They seemed sympathetic. He also liked Persian, although he respected them. Alba wished for a Persian and smiled at the thought of being greeted by the loud purring of a round-headed, soft-furred being, running around and meowing between his legs as it waited for food.

It took him a while to notice the noise outside his window. He had realized something had been wrong, but not what exactly it had been. Someone was talking in front of his window. Not about him or his house, but someone was talking. Alba tried to make out who it was. He saw the shadows of a young woman and a young man, probably not much older than him. Judging by their speech, they even seemed much younger.

„That sucks!“, he heard the male voice say. It sounded like he was trying to rap, and Alba kind of liked how talented he was.

„My head can’t take it! That nasty ragamuffin!“

„You think this will help us out?“, the female voice answered with a similar way of speaking. Alba was fascinated by their haircolours. The man had blue hair, slightly darker than his own, and the female had the same pink shade as him. He would have loved to tell them, but the window was between them. Alba decided to go outside and tell them. Maybe they were nice, if he ignored the odd movements and the wannabe-rapping. Maybe they were in pain and tried to shake it off. Maybe they had cramps or seizures. Or maybe they thought of themselves as the hottest and hardest gangsters around and didn’t quite manage to master the art of rap yet. As Alba got up from his couch and put his shoes back on again, he unwillingly listened to what they had to say.

„We should have gotten us a good ass strategy, but no, fine Mr. I’msogood has to storm off by himself!“

„Right through the wall, like always! It won't get in my head why it didn’t work!“

„The wall was too big for your dumbskull!“

„Who got their skull focussed on a brat and wanted to attack it out of nowhere? Gotta shake your head to that!“

„What numbskull agreed to it?“

„The numbskull who believed the dumbskull had used their useless skull for once!“

„Do you really think a pretty head like mine has strategies to beating dumbskull children in there all day?“

Alba decided they might have a skull fetish. He opened the door and went outside, smiling brightly. The strangers flinched and stopped talking immediately. Their skulls must have been somewhere else.

„Yo, how much have you heard?!“

„I think I heard seven skulls in eight sentences“, Alba answered truthfully. The male seemed to be surprised about his answer, but after a few seconds of letting it sink in, he stepped closer. He tried to appear scary and buff, but looked rather awkward instead.

„Listen you, you, you skull counter! We’re Team Skull, and we grind you down if you tell someone we were here, get that in your head!“

„I think my head has enough room for that“, Alba answered after thinking about it for a moment. He was pretty sure he wouldn’t remember the gangsters by tomorrow. Team Skull, as they called themselves. The Skullteam. Pretty funny.

„Your haircolours are great.“

The girl chuckled quietly.

„That guy’s nuts“, she giggled, and Alba could only imagine she was referring tot he skullguy.

„Yo, don’t you understand who we are? Homie?“

„You’re the skullteam“, Alba answered. He thought he had remembered their names correctly. She began to giggle again.

„Yeah, we are! And you are complimenting our haircolours? You have no idea who we are, do you?“

„You’re the skullteam“, Alba repeated slowly. He felt like he had missed something once again.

„No, we’re your worst nightmare, you numbskull!“, the guy growled and grabbed the young man’s collar. Alba was too tall to be picked up, but he felt very uncomfortable. He wasn’t used to being treated so aggressively.

„Don’t you dare lose a word about what happened here! I’ll rip your skull off and take a good dump into your throat, got it?!“

„I’m afraid I got it“, Alba answered hoarsely, before the skullguy let him go and grumbled something that was probably meant for his partner. Why where these two so aggressive? Alba remained sitting for a while, until they had vanished into the night. He had expected them to be nicer, and he found it horrible how much he had messed it up. Maybe they could have become good friends if he hadn’t acted the way he had. Slowly, he got up, and started brushing the dirt off his clothing. His collar was lose and his skull was giving him a bad time.

His skull.

Alba bit his lower lip and decided not to talk to strangers anymore tonight. No people in the darkness. Everybody was much nicer during the daytime. He had bigger chances to meet someone who didn’t mean to rip his skull off.

His skull.

Alba was angered about his skull related thoughts and went back inside his house to end the day for good.