“Mother. Wouldn’t it be best to test how far the treatment has come along by allowing me to go outside?”
“Absolutely not! Don’t be ridiculous. There are still far too many unknown variables regarding the memory triggers.”
“But I’d be going out with your supervision. As long as you’re watching, you could make sure things go accordingly and we could…”
“No! AMR still requires more analysis. The memory triggers might produce adverse effects.”
“But if we don’t know what those adverse effects are, we’ll never be able to fix the treatment so I can finally get better. We have to…”
“I SAID NO!”
I stopped speaking and sat down on my bed. My mother’s red hair was done up in a tight bun as she hovered over me sending a nasty glare. Her dark brown eyes glimmered with anger as she paced back and forth in front of me. She was wearing her signature lab coat and held a vial of my blood in her left hand. A long sigh left her mouth as she once again turned to face me again.
“I realize that you want to go outside, but I know what’s best for you and until I can be certain that AMR is perfected I won’t allow it. Please, don’t ask me for permission to go outside. Would you love to see me suffer when you have an adverse reaction to some allergen while outside? Would it amuse you to see me cry over you in some emergency room?”
“Then why would you worry me with such questions, hmm? Honestly Abelino, I’m doing this for your own good.”
I stared down at my hands as I silently nodded.
“It must be frustrating to be treated like a child, but you are still my child and the only family I have left in this world. You make me feel like my work isn’t adequate enough for you at times. All this pressure isn’t good for me!”
She rubbed her forehead with her right hand and turned away from me. I looked up and sent her a small smile.
“I know mother. Sorry, my impatience isn’t very right of me. The work you’re doing is meant to help people that are just like me not just myself. I’m really too selfish aren’t I.”
“Yes, you are. I suppose there’s still a bit of your father in you after all.”
My heart lurched a bit at the comparison and my mother turned to see my wincing face. She rolled her eyes with a sigh and walked up to kneel beside me.
“Don’t look so pathetic. See, this is why I worry about you venturing outside. You are still far too sentimental about words and commentary. The world outside isn’t going to be as kind as your mother. They’ll tell you you can’t style your hair well enough for it not to look like a bird’s nest. They’ll tell you you’ve been growing a belly,” she slapped my stomach as she said that, “and they’ll tell you are weak and naïve. They’ll tell you you have horrible style and I mean, it’ll all be painfully true until you pull yourself together. You’ve got to build some backbone! Until that happens, you’re too small to be a part of that world.”
She fixed my bottle cap glasses and patted my head.
“Trust me. I know what I am doing. I’ll see you when I get back from the lab.”
She gave me one last pat before she grabbed her bag and began to make her way downstairs. I heard the front door click with a lock and stared off at the empty air for her.
“I’ll be here.”
I frowned and went over to my mirror to look at myself.
I had on a black, baggy sweater and white shorts that made my already thin arms and legs look more like twigs. My red, longish hair was a complete tousled mess and my mother would probably have to cut it sooner or later. She hated my longer hair. There were slight, dark circles under my brown eyes that glimmered under my glasses and my brown skin looked a bit flushed with sadness. Mother might be right. I don’t really look like anything close to a trainer let alone someone capable of going out on their own journey. Her eye was just behind the glass. I knew it. Wherever her glare went, I could follow it and see what was wrong. I touched the mirror gently before tossing myself back on my bed.
There’s always been this silence, this emptiness all around me that is hard to explain. It might be the sterile whiteness of my home, the nonexistent windows, or the fact that there’s no one ever around to talk to, but I think its something else. It’s like there is some skip in the beating of my heart that suddenly puts me in a panic that I might stop having blood course through my veins. It feels life threatening like if I don’t recover that missing beat, that missing thing I might drop dead. It’s an unknown fear of mine and one that is difficult to explain.
Mother says I’m imagining things, but I don’t really think she pays much attention to what I say. She never really pays me attention. But the minute I even suggests that desire to go outside for once in my life, she goes through a strange transformation. Her eyes will scan me with a laser focus like there’s something on me she is expecting to see. She looks like some mean and merciless stranger who forgot she was my mother. But as quickly as that transformation comes, another takes place where she throws her arms around me and begins sobbing huge, fat tears. She’ll whine about how dangerous it is for me to go outside and how I was being so selfish by threatening her with such a thing as leaving. She usually ends up hitting me if I persist with leaving as well but it’s her way of protecting me I suppose.
I’ve lived my whole life within these four walls as far back as I can remember and I can’t remember much. Anytime I try to close my eyes and think this enormous headache just crashes down on me and the CS device on my arm has to release the chemical AMR treatment.
I have a really horrifying disease that makes it impossible for me to go outside or really do anything that is strenuous even thinking too hard about things is dangerous. My mother works at this super big pharmaceutical company called Sinesensu if I can remember it correctly. She was part of the team of scientist who were researching how to alter the body’s memory functions using our nervous systems in the hope to cure a very serious disease like mine. The idea is that your body “forgets” a disease by changing the chemical make up of your body ever slightly. It can’t cure it so far; the AMR treatment is only a prototype but it can lessen the pain for a lot of people. That’s why despite how much I hate this house I don’t complain much. I know mother is working really hard to get the AMR fully functional to save a lot of lives.
I wasn’t lying about the whiteness of the house either. Everything was coated in a pristine white color that was routinely cleaned by automated bots to ensure there were no germs or bacteria growing that I could accidentally touch and get sick from.
The only escape from the emptiness was here in my room. Since I was the only one ever in here, it was fine to have stuff collected that my mom had screened and brought to me as a gift. As I laid on the light green sheets of my bed, I was surrounded by plushies of Pokémon that my mom knew I would like. I’ve never seen an actual Pokémon in the flesh but my mom swears that my favorite are the real intimidating and powerful kind like Salamence or Garchomp but even having their plushies I’m not very convinced that I like them. They just don’t really speak to me but my mom says all the male trainers gravitate toward Pokémon like that so I should too. I just think it's nicer to have some color in the room so I might as well have them. Like these sheets? Ugh. I hate green its such a meh color but I can’t really remember what was my favorite color. Mom says it's green but it is not green.
Everything in this room was more my mom than me. Plushies? Mom. Colors? Mom. Female Pokémon Trainer posters? Like what are those even supposed to do to make me happy mom?
I hopped off my bed and rummaged under it to get my box of secret treasures that I had to keep hidden from mom. It wasn’t anything I thought was really shameful I just knew my mom would lose it if she knew I had a knack for tech and could easily mess with all the tech she had around the house. I had a holocaster I fixed up that my mom tried tossing out but I wanted to take a look at it so she gave it to me probably thinking I was too stupid to figure out how it worked, a few used up electric starters that I took from some of the cleaner bots that I dismantled which was admittedly cruel of me, and some other bits and pieces of the cleaner bots that I had used to make a screwdriver. The holocaster was the only window I had to the outside world and the only way for me to escape all the emptiness around me. I just had to tweak the settings to run through the channel signals and find a strong connection to latch on to. But as I sat there I couldn’t help remember the way my mother described my attempts to prove myself, to show her I was not some pushover. Naïve, foolish, childish, are some of the things she’s called me before. Sometimes she says I’m an idiot if she’s particularly frustrated with work. The only reason she thinks I am weak is because of this body of mine that can’t seem to keep itself together! If I wasn’t so sick, I’d be out there competing and researching all the Pokémon and tech there was to find!
I know I’m strong! I know I’m capable! Mother just has to be able to see it and when she finishes the AMR chemical treatment she’ll with all confidence give me her blessing to go out on my own trainer adventure!
I spent a few minutes trying to control my breathing as I realized I had been so distracted with my attempt to reassure myself that I completely forgot I was supposed to be searching for channel feeds. I waited until a white noise projection began to light up and slowly turn into a crisp, clear signal from a live broadcast.
A tall woman with brown hair, pale skin, and sharp blue eyes stood beside a round desk smiling warmly at the screen.
“I’m Emily Patterson signing off for the Sinnoh Public Broadcast Network. Please, stay tuned for the exclusive live broadcast of the Sinnoh League Finals Tournament live from the Pokémon League with commentators William West and Erika Tang!”
The feed immediately cut and now a large stadium choke full of people was being shown and it was so loud I had to lower the holocaster’s volume before intently scanning the crowd. In the middle of the stadium was an empty square field with a circular symbol in the middle and two platforms were set up at the opposing ends. Spotlights of various colors were zooming across the crowd and the field and you could see the sparkling stars of the night sky over the open dome. Two large screens hung over the north and south ends of the stadium and below those screens were what appeared to be tunnel entrances where I assumed the trainers would step out. This was going to be my first time watching a league final!
Just then a man and woman appeared at the bottom right corner of the holocaster projection with microphones. A man with a sleek black suit and brown hair stood smiling beside a woman in a striking, blood-red suit and glimmering white hair. The man spoke first.
“Hello, fellow viewers! Welcome to the Sinnoh League Finals live from the Pokémon League. I’m William West here along with Erika Tang to bring you right to the heart of this most intense moment in Sinnoh League history. Former Champion Cynthia has been vying for her comeback after years out of the spotlight in this League against the now League Champion Lautaro head of the Sinesensu Pharmaceutical Company. Erika interviewed the former champion on her reasoning for pushing this comeback after years of traveling various regions outside of Sinnoh.”
Sinesensu Pharmaceutical Company? That’s the company my mom was developing the AMR chemical for! Her boss is a Pokémon trainer? She never really showed much of an interest in Pokémon and she almost seemed repulsed by them yet the company she worked for seemed totally okay with it.
“Yes William, I sat down with Cynthia yesterday to discuss her opinions on the current state of Sinnoh, including the Leagues ban on LGBTQ trainers after the Snowpoint City incident a couple of weeks prior to the beginning of the tournament, the rise of the Sinesensu Pharmaceutical Company, and what she thinks of the current champion. Take a look.”
The projection switched off the stadium broadcast to a video where Erika was sat in front of the woman I assume was Cynthia. She had long, blonde hair with warm brown eyes and a really soft smile. She was wearing a black pantsuit.
“So Cynthia everyone in Sinnoh is dying to know this, but why now? Why decide to push to reclaim the title of champion after all these years?”
“Well thank you for having me Erika and I just wanted to say that I am scared for Sinnoh’s future. I think it has become evident after the Snowpoint City incident where individuals of a radical hate group injured multiple trainers that the League is not doing what it should to protect the region and the trainers targeted by these groups. Certainly, we can agree that Champion Lautaro’s decision to ban LGBTQ trainers from the league for their ‘safety’ is just feeding into and legitimizing the groups attempts to marginalize the community. We need services and policy that directly speaks to the needs of these trainers and all this current policy accomplishes is imparting the sentiment that the League does not value their identities or their lives. I think we need a champion who will direct the League with competence and empathy now more than ever.”
My head began to ache dully and I had to shake my head to rid myself of the pain. I really liked how Cynthia was speaking and despite never having known about her I knew she was speaking truthfully about making meaningful change.
“Of course, Cynthia was referring to the decision made three weeks ago by the League to ban all queer identifying trainers from the tournament until their safety could be assured. Recent public polling found that most of Sinnohans view this policy with majority approval until the violence can be remedied with only a small minority fiercely opposing the decision. Now, let's go back to the League where the match is close to starting!”
Again, my head ached a bit more painfully and I closed my eyes to gather myself a little before looking back at the screen.
Now the view was of the stadium again, but this time the spotlights had died down and the great, heavy silence that hung over the entire crowd was so immense that even I found myself frozen in place not wanting to make a sound. Then suddenly the lights snapped on at the two opposing tunnel entrances of the stadium.
“Wellllllllllcomeeeee to the Sinnoooooh League Finaaaaaaaals!!!!”
The crowd burst into cheers and screams and I even found myself clapping and jumping along in the silent walls of my room.
“We have today for you a match to end alllll matches. Each breath held, each scream let out, and each tear shed has been leading up to this moment! Can we get hyped up?”
A booming “Yes!” echoed across the stadium.
“Oh come on! You can hype this up more can’t you?”
“One last time!”
I slapped my hand over my mouth the minute that I heard myself scream along and blushed profusely even looking around to make sure no one saw. I had seen a few Pokémon battles before on the holocaster but this one felt different somehow. There was heaviness that pumped a thrill in my blood to see who would win and despite only being told about her mere seconds ago I was already clutching my hand to my chest rooting for Cynthia to pull through.
“We have at the south entrance the current League Champion, chemist, and CEO of Sinesensu: LAUTARO!!”
The camera snapped to the southern tunnel along with the spotlights and out stepped a rather intimidating and gruff man. He was burly and almost tall enough to just stretch his hand and touch the lip of the tunnel ceiling and he wore a sleek and polished brown suit. His black hair was short and straight with piercing emerald eyes shimmering on his long, brown face. He took long steps before reaching the small, raised platforms near the field.
“And in the north entrance, we have the darling of myths, former Champion of Sinnoh, and world-class beauty: CYNTHIA!!”
The spotlight and camera swung to the north tunnel and out came Cynthia to the sound of deafening cheers. This time she had on a dark, fur coat over a shimmering white pantsuit that made her white skin sparkle under the multicolored spotlights. She gave a warm smile and waved at the crowd as she made her way to her designated platform and I even saw people in the crowd holding up neon light sticks that together spelled: WE LOVE CYNTHIA.
“Now, let's get down to business. This match will be a full, six Pokémon battle and the first trainer to have no Pokémon left standing loses. No items will be allowed so you will have to fight until a Pokémon faints or switch out. In order to decide who will go first and decide the typing of the field, we will flip a coin. As Cynthia is the challenger, she gets the right to call out first.”
The announcer came floating out to the middle of the field with a hover platform that had me captivated for a second wondering how it worked. He produced a coin and flipped it in the air.
The announcer caught the coin and opened his hand to reveal that the coin had really landed on tails.
“Tails it is. Cynthia has the right of the first turn. What field typing would you like?”
“I’d like to keep the field as is.”
The announcer floated off camera and Cynthia produced her first pokéball as did Lautaro.
“Here it is folks! Get ready! This is a match for the books! The League title is on the line! CYNTHIA VS. LAUTARO: START!!”
Cynthia and Lautaro threw their pokéballs and out of Cynthia’s came out a Togekiss while out of Lautaro’s came out a Gallade. I thought Togekiss was so adorable and Gallade were so cool! I only knew of them thanks to previous broadcasts I’d watched, but they were sooooo great!
“Togekiss use Air Slash!”
Togekiss flew up super high into the sparkling sky before nose-diving toward the Gallade.
“Gallade use Confusion.”
Just as the wing of Togekiss connected to the Gallade, the Gallade used confusion directly in front of Togekiss’s head. The Gallade went flying and got slammed right into the green turf of the field but Togekiss was struggling a bit to fly now.
“Come on Togekiss, just hang in there and finish him up with another Air Slash!”
Togekiss repeated its earlier movement, but the Gallade was now standing.
“Gallade jump up and use Low Kick.”
The Gallade jumped up and raised its leg ready to kick Togekiss, but Cynthia was quick on her feet.
“Togekiss! Dodge that and do a sharp turn back with Air Slash!”
Togekiss swerved to the left and dodged the Low Kick before swinging back and slamming the Gallade’s back with an Air Slash and sending the poor guy spinning right into the ground. His green head tried to lift itself from under the dirt it was covered in but the Gallade ultimately collapsed back to the ground. I smiled and clapped wildy.
“Gallade is unable to battle!”
Cynthia smiled and the crowd gave a cheer. I expected Lautaro to be upset about having his first Pokémon fainted but he had a strange, uneasy smile that made me furrow my eyebrows and when I looked over I saw Cynthia had a similarly puzzled expression. Togekiss was also not looking too good. It was still flying but it had begun to swerve and wobble from left to right.
Lautaro tossed out another pokéball and this time a Metagross came out.
“Metagross use bullet punch.”
The Metagross was too quick though and quickly floated over to the confused Togekiss and began launching a barrage of punches that kept smacking the poor Pokémon from left to right before the Metagross finished it off with a huge punch that slammed the Togekiss into the ground. The resounding crunch of the punches had me wincing as I looked at the fainted Togekiss.
“Togekiss is unable to battle!”
“You did well Togekiss.”
Cynthia returned Togekiss to its pokéball and brought out another that she touched to her forehead before tossing out.
“Go Garchomp use Earthqu…”
Suddenly a booming explosion rocked the entire stadium, right where the eastern seating area was. Angry red smoke began to billow out from below where a hole was now torn into the stands. Before anyone could react more explosions began to sound off and you could see large tendrils of red smoke begin to grow like vines from more gaping holes in the seating area. Screams began to burst out along with the fires The large screens above the tunnel entrances groaned before slamming into the field with a loud moan combusting into a pile of molten flames. That was when the feed turned into a haunting, gurgling static.
The gurgling was suddenly cut and I was once again looking at the face of Emily Patterson on my holocaster.
“We…regrettably must inform our audience that there appears…to have been some sort of attack at the Pokémon League. We’ve lost communication with our two colleagues William and Erika at this moment but are working to establish what exactly is going on at the…”
Right then the holocaster blacked out and I let out a groan.
“No, no, no! I need to keep following what’s going on!”
I need to get more electric starters but the cleaner bots have all gone away for the day and wouldn’t be back until the next! I had to think, think. Where the hell would there be anyway to power the holocaster? I stood and paced back and forth before rushing back to my treasure box and taking out my screwdriver. I left my room and rushed down the hall toward my mother’s room. She had to have something close to a battery for me to work with!
I pushed open her door with a very timid nudge half expecting my mother to descend upon me like a Gengar. When my heart stopped beating like a lunatic, I made my way inside with tentative steps toward the large dresser she had along the wall. I didn’t really need the screwdriver for this, but I figured since this is my mother I’m talking about, she probably has some secret safe or box where she locks up things she doesn’t want me to get a hold of, like spare bot parts and electric starters!
I gently moved shirts and scarfs around but there wasn’t really anything of note under any of her things. In fact…I gazed around the room and took notice of how empty and silent my mother’s room felt too. But unlike mine that was full of some form of warmth, hers was just as cold and vacant as the rest of the house so much so that even the fabric of her clothes felt ice cold. It didn’t feel like a home.
I shook my head and rushed over to the closet and found it full of dresses that were all black and with no real distinguishing style from one another. But beneath those dresses, was a small metal box that looked really ancient and I grabbed the cool metal square and placed it in front of me so I could inspect it.
The coat of teal paint had begun to rust around the edges of the box and when I pushed it it let out a tiny groan of agony. It wasn’t anything tech savvy like my mother had decked the house with which was strange to me since mother always spoke about progress with such reverent words. She would always point to the data on the AMR and say “Ha, progress!” while raising the dose of the chemical. When I asked her if we could attempt just walking outside as a test run for its effectiveness, she’d wave me off and say “You know nothing. Progress is progress. We’re getting there bit by bit just be patient.” But I have waited patiently for so long, I’m 20 now, and there always seems to be another step to progress in my way. One more dosage or tweak to the CS device to do. One more reason I was too dumb to push myself further.
But enough of that lets open this box.
There were screws keeping the whole thing together, rusted pretty badly, but if I was careful I could unscrew them and get into the contents of the box. There were 12 screws in total and I set to the task of undoing them. Just as I was pulling out the last screw, the whole thing collapsed and let out a huge cloud of dust that had me quickly covering my nose. Shoot! I’ll have to clean up this dust along with reassembling this box or mother would know!
I was beginning to have a serious panic attack about what mother would do if she realized I was meddling around when I felt a light tap against my thigh. I looked down and saw a really strange, small ball.
I picked it up and it had a green, black, and orange color scheme with six green circles, black space between the circles, and an orange line running through the middle with a small, orange button. It fit right into the palm of my hand.
This was all really strange. This looked like a pokéball but not one I’d ever seen. And if this was a pokéball, why would it be in this box? Why would mother have this box hidden away here? Did the pokéball have a Pokémon inside it?
I turned the ball so that the orange button was facing me and twiddled it between my fingers.
If this thing had a Garchomp like Cynthia’s, it would wreck this entire room and there’d be no way to hide what I’d done if I even lived the room collapsing on me. But my curiosity was just gnawing at me to know!
I quickly pressed my finger on the button and the ball opened and a stream of red light burst out onto the floor. The light slowly began to take the shape of a small form and I waited with held breath to see what it was. When the light faded, I titled my head in confusion. This is a Pokémon I’d never seen through the holocaster before. It had two bent ears with black tips and two faces. One of the faces was on what I would think was the head but the eyes looked like two black spots that were colored in with a craggy maker line as a mouth and two orange circles as cheeks that also looked drawn. The second face was only a pair of eyes that were where I thought the body was and it had a small, brown tail that kind of looked like a lightning bolt. Strange, shadowy tendrils oozed from the flaps at the bottom of its yellow body.
It moved, well more like slid, closer and I leaned in to look at it closer. I was right at face level when it made a soft cry, like a baby’s scream, and tapped me on the nose with a tendril that made me jump a little. I gave a small smile and I tapped its ear with a finger and it repeated the gesture by tapping my ear which made me laugh.
“Hey little guy! I have no idea how you managed to live in that ball so long, but I’m happy to have the company. I wonder what kind of Pokémon you are? I’ve never seen one like you during the tournament live feeds.”
It let out another soft scream and began to slide around a pile of pictures and papers that had also been inside the box. I grabbed the photos first to look through them.
The first photo was just one of my mom in a sun hat on some beach, but the second one had my heart stopping. I took my right hand and caressed his outline.
He was incredibly tall with dark brown skin and deep brown eyes. A dark beard covered his jaw and he was smiling at the camera while nuzzling the smaller head of a younger me. I was dressed up in small, baby blue overalls with yellow boots and right on top of my red hair was the Pokémon that sat right in front of me. The third photo was a much older me riding up on the shoulders of him.
A shadowy tendril touched the picture as well and I turned in confusion to the Pokémon beside me.
“I don’t understand…mother said dad just left us because of my illness. That he couldn’t bear to have some weak boy as a son. I don’t…I don’t get this. I don’t…ahh!”
I clutched my head and started rocking myself back and forth. It was too much to think about! I can’t get it at all! Why would my mother lie? Why would she keep this from me? What did she get by doing this? Why, why, why? AHHH! It felt like my mind was lagging behind my body. I was struggling to catch something, but I wasn’t really sure what that was. I had to remember something, but I just couldn’t.
I scrambled through the papers hoping I could find something to give my mind the answer it needed so it would stop aching in agony. My eyes tried to pry open to skim each of the documents inside. They all had the huge, ghastly font of the Sinesensu company with its logo and name on the top. Everyone was titled: PROGRESS OF SUBJECT ZERO. With my left hand still clutching my head, I began to read the one that looked the newest. It was difficult, but I managed to read the first paragraph that said:
Re: Subject Zero [Abelino]
I have read the data given by the CS device on Subject Zero and have deep cause for concern about the viability of AMR in mass use. It appears that the AMR compound has only succeeded in numbing and damaging the subject’s memory receptors but it has not altered them in any way, shape, or form. Despite three years of extensive treatment, the episodes of relapse and triggers seem to be increasing precariously and I fear that the moment the subject regains partial memory and more importantly, memory of his attraction to men, is coming soon. I know you’ve been a dedicated admin for the organization ever since the discovery that your son was inflicted by these peculiar tendencies and that AMR is your child. Your wish to rid your son of this mortifying behavior is laudable and noble. Hopefully, very soon, you might afford other mothers the means to rid their own children of this terrifying epidemic. Please, continue the monitoring of Subject Zero and maintain me informed on your progress on more directly altering the function of the memory receptors of the individual’s brain. For family, for order, for love.
With warm regards,
“You just couldn’t contain that sinful curiosity could you?”
My head was aching so badly that my vision was blurring and I hadn’t taken notice of anyone entering the house or room. But the chilling, monotone cut of the voice through the air was instantly recognizable and I curled into myself.
“Don’t mother me!”
I felt a sharp kick to my stomach and I keeled over to the side feeling a new pain blossom
along my waist with the blooming headache that was wrecking my head. Another hard jab landed on my rib cage and right after came a flurry of others.
“You…have…ruined…months of progress…months of…research.”
My hands tried to follow the hits and block them but I couldn’t! There were too many flowers of pain blooming all over. I couldn’t see. I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t, I can’t!
Then I felt the cool leather of a boot slam into my left cheek and my body slid back on the floor slightly.
“You’re a pathetic excuse for a son.”
My eyes went wide open and my heart suddenly lurched inside my chest. The blooming pain in my body and head suddenly withered away under the immensity of my heart’s aching. Warm, hot tears began trickling down my cheeks like small roots. Her words kept looping and looping around back and forth between my ear. Pathetic. Pathetic. Pathetic. She thinks I’m noting. I am nothing. I’d rather be nothing. This voice wouldn’t go away!
“I guess I’ll just have to increase the dosage of AMR in your CS device so we can start from scratch again. The Father is going to be upset the trial has hit a roadblock but I’ve nearly perfected the compound to fully…what’s this?”
I tried to follow her gaze and saw the small Pokémon from the pokéball sliding over right by my chest. It began to make a lot of small screeches as two long, shadowy claws emerged from beneath it. My mother sent it a twisted, sickly smile.
“Right. Of course, you’d take the side of him. Couldn’t expect anything less from Federico’s Mimikyu. That bastard tried protecting our poor excuse of a son right up until the end.”
Right up until the end? Did she…my father?
“What…What do you…mean? Did yo…ahhh!”
I received another kick to the face and my headache burst with a new intensity.
She threw a pokéball from her purse and a really nasty looking purple serpent that was two heads taller than her came out of it hissing angrily.
“Use Poison Jab Arbok.”
The Arbok spit out small bullets of purple liquid that slammed right into Mimikyu, sending him flying.
“NO! Sto…stop it. You…you’re hurting him.”
I fought with all my strength using my hands to push myself from the floor and managed to stand shakily on my feet. My entire body was still reeling under all the pain, but I couldn’t let my mother do this! It was fine for me to suffer but I couldn’t let anyone, even a Pokémon suffer for me.
“How amusing. Arbok use Gla…”
A huge ball of dark light slammed into both my mother and the Arbok sending them crashing through the door and into the hall. I turned my head and saw Mimikyu sliding up to me. It tapped its head to my leg and made one of those soft screams it had made when we first met. I kneeled down and gave it a small pet on the head.
“Thank…you. Sorry I…failed you there. I’m…not very…in shape am…I.”
It made another scream and I sent it a small smile.
I looked over at the small rectangle of the CS device embedded right on my wrist and touched it gently with my left hand. As long as this thing was attached to me I would continue to be under the influence of the AMR chemical and my mother could probably track me down because she surely has a way to do so. I had to take it off and it was going to suck.
I looked over at the dismantled box from earlier and picked up my screwdriver and also went over to the dresser and snatched a small scarf. I took the screwdriver in my left hand and wedged it under the CS device and with all my strength I began pushing the screwdriver up. The pain was instant. I could see my skin being torn off as it stuck to the bottom of the device and small barely noticeable tendrils of wire came with it. Most of it had been pried off my arm but one final tubing with a tipped syringe-like needle remained that was directly connected to my vein. I took a few quick breaths before again pushing the screwdriver up and the needle popped off and the whole CS went flying onto the floor. Blood began to sputter out however and I quickly used the scarf as a wrapping to stop the blood.
The headache began to numb a bit after this but my body was still burning up.
I quickly scooped up the photos, documents, and pokéball that I had uncovered along with Mimikyu which I placed on my shoulder. When I went out into the hallway, my mom’s groaning body laid under slabs of wood and her Arbok was knocked unconscious. I stepped over them and rushed towards my room. I picked up my treasure box that I had left on my bed and threw all the stuff I was carrying in there. I looked around the room to see if there was anything to take with me and I shook my head.
This place was empty. There was nothing in here that was any part of me.
I picked up the box and made my way quickly down the stairs, but just as I turned to head towards the front door I was punched again in my left cheek. The sudden attack sent me reeling to the right but I managed to balance my self and look towards where the hit came.
In front of me stood my mother, but she wasn’t really there anymore. She had transformed again like she had whenever I got her mad. Her brown eyes seemed to have this glimmering gloss and narrowness that made it seem like she was sizing you up. Her hair was splayed out on her forehead and swung back and forth across her eyes like a curtain opening and closing. She held no clear expression on her face and she simply shook her right hand a little as she stepped, with small and long strides, closer to me.
“Ah, just like Federico.”
“The little Raticate of a father you oh so resemble and take after.”
“You said fath…”
“I know what I said and you were stupid enough to believe me. After all, what can you expect of a little Clefairy like you. To think I wasted twenty years playing family in order to not arouse suspicion from the League and public, only to be rewarded with you. At least you served some purpose in the end.”
“Who are you?”
“Ha, wouldn’t you like to know. I think it would be better to die at the hands of your mother than a stranger, wouldn’t you? It’ll be more touching and poetic that way.”
She launched herself forward and I swerved away to avoid her hits. We dropped lamps, vases, and glass ornaments that shattered and scattered across the tiled floor. I tried my best to avoid the sparkling shards, but I was also trying to swerve away from her hits and it made the task more difficult.
“I don’t want to hurt you!”
“And that’s exactly the problem. You’re not even man enough to fight back. I couldn’t accept a waste of a son who would rather run off with another man. I’d rather you have died at birth so I was saved the trouble.”
I clenched my fists and gritted my teeth. She was still trying to hit me, but right then I raised my fist and slammed her right cheek with a punch. I strange emotion crawled across my skin as she stumbled backward, touching her cheek as she went before snapping towards me with a glimmering glare.
I wasn’t empty.
“So now the bitch decides to fight back.”
Mimikyu let out a scream and jumped off my shoulder to the ground. It turned towards me and I looked at it a bit surprised before I suddenly understood. My heart fluttered a bit.
He wanted me to tell it what move to use, but I didn’t know anything about moves! And to use a move on my own mother? That’s crazy! But Mimikyu thought of me as its trainer, it already wanted to stick with me. It believed in me. It knew me…Suddenly the emptiness I felt before faded, even if it was only slightly.
I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. When I opened them, I looked right at my mother and pointed my finger at her.
“I don’t know why you hate me. Why you hated me enough to make me forget myself. But I will tell you this, I am not empty! I am not weak! Whatever sick and twisted experiment you were running by me I will figure it out and make sure you never, never make the mistake of using it on someone else. I will remember. I will find myself again and when I do, I’ll make sure you know!”
“It’s all talk. You don’t have it in you!”
“Mimikyu! Break through the wall!”
Mimikyu formed a huge dark, ball and launched it in the direction of my mother. She rolled out of the way and the ball slammed into the wall in a huge explosive cloud of cement bricks and dust making it completely crumble down. A cold wind began to blow in along with white flakes of snow and for a moment I was mesmerized. I didn’t remember how the wind felt and just how open the world was, but the moonlight that flowed in like a river seemed to draw me out like the tide. It was inviting me to the beginning of my own story.
“Nice job Mimikyu! Let’s go!”
I began to make my way towards the outdoors when my hair was suddenly yanked back and I tried to pry off the thin fingers that gripped the bunch of red strands.
“You listen here brat! I WILL NOT LET YOU GO. All my work is inside you, a part of you and I need to finish this. I need to cure you and then help other poor mothers burdened with pathetic sons and daughters to cure them as we…”
I slammed my elbow into her stomach and she let go of my hair, keeling over as she clutched her stomach.
“I…m doing th…this for you! Out there…they won’t…they won’t love you. The…they’ll be disgusted…and sickened to their…stomachs. You’ll have…no one…not even a…hateful mother. You’re probably…already imagining this fairytale…ending that everyone will…just open their arms for…you. You have nothing…to offer.”
“You’re wrong! I am sure they’ll be people just like you. People who think I’m twisted. But they’ll be just as many people who will love me for who I become, for whoever I was before you tried to change me.
I’m…sorry I wasn’t the son you thought I’d be, but I won’t be sorry for the man I end up becoming.”
Just then I heard her let out an angry yell before she rushed at me with a piece of broken glass. But before she could even reach me, Mimikyu formed another shadow ball and launched it at her. It slammed into her and flung her across the living room slamming her into the wooden staircase. She remained there under splinters and pieces of wood…motionless. I looked at her one more time with a parting glance before turning my back and making my way out of the house.
“Let’s…let’s go Mimikyu.”
I picked Mimikyu up in my arms and began to leave.
When my feet hit the snowy ground, I realized that I didn’t have any kind of shoes or boots. It was the first time I really thought about the fact I didn’t have any footwear at all. I guess it was just another layer of security to make sure I wouldn’t be stupid enough to run away into the snowy forest without shoes. But I guess I am stupid enough to do this.
I glanced around but noticed that the house was just standing in the middle of a forest clearing with no clear paths or trails to follow. I didn’t even know where I was exactly. I knew this was Sinnoh because of the holocaster feeds but…I could be anywhere within the region. The holocaster was also a no go because I didn’t have an electric starter to power it and I wasn’t going back inside and risking my mother waking up to find me.
“I guess…we just start walking somewhere Mimikyu.”
Mimikyu nuzzled my chin in assurance and I gave it a small smile before I began marching east toward the pine forest.
The moon kept me company as it followed me from above, occasionally getting lost behind fluffy grey clouds and a gentle wind carried the falling snowflakes in a small dance before they hit the ground. It was all beautiful, but I couldn’t really appreciate it. At the moment my feet were soaked and freezing and my entire body was raw from the beating I had endured earlier. Not to mention I had only a scarf preventing me from bleeding to death quickly. I looked down at the black fabric and touched it noticing the sticky warmness knowing I was still bleeding underneath it. I needed to find help!
I had been walking for a long while when I saw two low lights in the distance moving further ahead and my heart nearly leaped out of my chest. I began to push myself into a run going fast enough to slightly blur the pine trees around me.
“Hello! Hello! Is anyone there? I…I really need help!”
I noticed the two lights stop and stand in place. As I kept running, the lights grew bigger and bigger until I finally reached them.
Two tall men stood before me holding lanterns. One of them was bundled up in a fuzzy, light blue sweater with fuzzy teal ear muffs that went well with his aquamarine colored hair. The other man was wearing a black trench coat with a white scarf and his hair was black with streaks of white in it. The two looked at me with eyes full of surprise and worry.
“Oh my, you must be freezing dressed up like that! What are you doing out here on Route 217 at such a time? We have to get you out of this weather! Come, come. Grimsley here will carry you.”
The man with black and white hair took off his coat so that he only wore a black turtleneck and lifted me up in one swoop, wrapping me up in his coat. I was too stunned to be interacting with someone for the first time I couldn’t actually remember to respond in any way. I wasn’t some little kid, but this man, Grimsley, just lifted me with complete ease!
“Could we get your name?”
“My name…is Abelino. Thank you…for helping.”
The man with aquamarine hair waved the thanks away with a hand.
“Don’t worry dear. I’m Wallace and this here is my boyfriend Grimsley.”
“Yeah. Pretty sure I said that already. Are you not okay with that?”
“Oh no, sorry…I just am having a hard time remembering if I maybe had one.”
“Yeah…I can’t really remember a lot.”
I frowned a bit getting a bit choked up about the incident with my mother. I guess after all the adrenaline it was finally hitting me that I didn’t have a home and my mother disowned me because she thought I was disgusting. Not to mention she seemed to be working for an evil pharmaceutical company that was planning to do something with the AMR chemical. I felt eyes on me and Grimsley was looking down at me and Wallace glanced over as well.
“Give the kid a break Wallace. Looks like he’s been through a lot.”
“Right! Sorry about that Abelino. I’m usually a bit of a chatterbox.”
“I’d say a lot more than just a bit.”
Wallace pulled Grimsely’s ear gently before clicking his tongue.
“Don’t listen to that old man. We’ll get you fixed and warmed up! Promise!”
I looked at them with wide, admiring eyes as they walked silently alongside one another. Mimikyu made a soft scream and I turned to look at him snuggled close to my neck.
“I’ll ask about the Mimikyu and what happened to you later. You should get some sleep kiddo. It’s a bit of a walk.”
I nodded my head and closed my eyes slowly choosing to listen to his suggestion.
My mother was wrong. These two strangers I met didn’t run away in disgust or hatred from me. In fact, one of them was carrying me! Whatever illness my mom thought I had Wallace and Grimsley couldn’t see it or didn’t care for it. I didn’t know why I felt safe and comfortable enough to not think twice about being held like this, but I just knew I could trust them. This was a new start for me, for me and Mimikyu now. It felt warm to know that I was free to be and do…whatever. And as I closed my eyes my mind began racing with the dreams I had thought would never come true. The blackness almost overtook me but Wallace spoke up in a whisper.
“You know its quite strange don’t you think?”
“This boy…Abelino just appearing near Snowpoint City right around where Cynthia told us she knew the attackers had run off to. He has no shoes, no jacket, he’s seriously bleeding from his right arm, and not to mention the Mimikyu. I know we promised to help Cynthia but this all seems unnerving.”
“I’m with you on that. Team Plasma in Unova were obvious power seeking maniacs and even Team Galactic here in Sinnoh were as typical villain as you can get. But whoever this new group operating here is, their motives are seriously twisted.”
“Attacking the Ice Gym in Snowpoint and seriously injuring the gym leader for her vocal support of queer trainers, the missing children from the Sunlit Hills Adoption Home in Jubilife City, and now Abelino appearing out of the blue? I know you think I’m pretty ditzy but I’m scared for us. Maybe we chewed on more than we can handle.”
“I trust your instincts Wallace, but we can’t sit on the sidelines for another apocalyptic scenario. There isn’t any kid to save us this time and even if there were, we’ve got to let them live their own life and journey on a path they choose to go on.”
“Cynthia still tried to contact Lucas and Dawn. The only reason we’re even here is because she has no idea where they could be. They just fell off the face of the planet.”
“And now it's up to us to figure this out.”
“I suppose it is.”
Lucas and Dawn? Those names felt familiar to me. I don’t quite remember where I’d heard them before, but a sudden warmth blossomed in my chest.
“Who are Lucas and Dawn?”
Wallace jumped a bit at the sound of my voice and then shook his head.
“I thought you were asleep!”
“Well, you guys started talking and I just got curious. Sorry for eavesdropping on something not meant for me.”
“No. It's fine you just…startled me.”
“Who are Lucas and Dawn?”
“World renown Pokémon trainers from Sinnoh. The two of them were responsible for taking down Team Galactic, an organization who was lead by a man named Cyrus who wanted to create a new universe by destroying ours.”
Grimsley’s voice broke my questioning and I glanced up at him.
“They must be very important.”
“They are. Cynthia was hoping to ask for their help with something urgent but she got stuck with our handsome faces instead.”
“Right! Although, I don’t know if you can call old man Maxie handsome.”
Wallace broke into hysterical giggles as Grimsley glared over at him, but I had gotten a bit distracted.
We had reached the edge of the forest and as we stood on a hill we were overlooking a snow-dusted city nestled inside a small bay. The bright lights of hundreds of houses sparkled in the dark like warm, inviting fires as smoke billowed from chimneys. Streetlights of all sorts of bright colors lit up the sidewalks that at the moment were desolate and empty save for a few people walking around. There seemed to be a glow enveloping the whole city and my eyes couldn’t stop darting around to look at the cobblestone road and sidewalks and I tried to peek through the glistening glass storefronts to see what was inside the stores. I had never seen so much life before even if there was no one around. It was empty at the moment of people, but it didn’t feel empty at all.
We had already made our way down and started to pass stores as we went along to somewhere I wasn’t sure of. Grimsley and Wallace knew where they were going though so I didn’t worry much about that. We passed Chimchar’s Chimney Bakery and inside were rows and baskets full of wonderful looking treats, Mismagius Marvels which looked to be a bookstore, and finally reached a market square where a string of colored lights was tied around a central post. Banners depicting the forms of Pokémon were hung about and they managed to cast shadows on the soft snow even with just the small illumination of the lights. I just wanted to sit a moment and bask in it.
Before I knew it though, still in the square, we reached a door to an apartment and Wallace used keys to push the door open. We stepped in and I was greeted by so many colors I had to blink a bit in order to clear my vision. The walls were painted a light orange and white lights, similar to the ones strung outside, lined the windows with white, lacey curtains. The floor was a deep, rich brown and made of wooden floorboards with two orange couches circling a large, fuzzy grey carpet. On top of the carpet was a coffee table and in front of it, a shelf was set up with a holocaster for people to view. To the right of that was a kitchen only separated by a marble island and I could see a tall man in a red sweater with deep red hair busily moving around the brown colored appliances.
“We’re home old man!”
“About time! I honestly don’t know what the two of you were expecting to find at such a late hour. It’s only logical to rest and wait for daylight before we set ourselves to the task ahead.”
“Yeah well…turns out it was a good thing that we didn’t follow logic.”
“What on earth do you mean by th…”
The man turned around and I finally got a good look at him.
Besides his furrowed eyebrows and gaping mouth staring at me in confusion, I noticed the angular black glasses he wore over his eyes. In his thin pale fingers, he held a steaming mug that read: My Man Makes My Heart Ripple with a really buff man’s flexing image on it.
Wallace beside me began to make choking sounds as the man made his way around the counter towards us. He had on baggy red sweatpants with blue anchors running along the sides and fuzzy socks that were red as well. The man’s face was still ruled over by shock.
“Who…who…whose kid is this? Did you guys kidnap someone’s child?”
“No! Who do you think we are? We found the kid wandering the forest.”
“And you think it’s fine to just pick up wandering teenagers from the forest?”
The man stopped waving his hands frantically around and he leaned in it to look at me. Grimsley cleared his throat and the man looked up at him.
“Maxie this is Abelino. Abelino this is Maxie.”
Maxie looked a little flustered at my hello and pretended to fix his glasses before stepping closer again.
“What on earth happened to you? You’ve got bruises almost everywhere I can see!”
“I’d…rather talk about it later…maybe.”
Maxie glanced at me again and his face softened slightly as he silently nodded his head. He pointed over to the couch motioned us over there.
“Lay him down there will you. I’ll go get the medical kit from the closet. The Pokémon Center is closed at the moment and I’d rather not bother Nurse Joy if we can. No need to alarm anyone just yet.”
Grimsley followed the order and laid me down on the couch with Mimikyu hopping over onto the coffee table to look over me. Grimsley left to the kitchen and Wallace disappeared as well before reappearing with some very large, fluffy looking pink blankets. He set them down beside me before sitting down on the couch.
“You must’ve been through quite a lot.”
I sat up in order to face him properly and nodded my head. He gave me a small smile.
“I wasn’t really expecting to walk out into a snowy forest. I wasn’t really expecting anything, to be honest. The day felt like any other until just moments ago.”
“What happened? I know you just told Maxie you’d rather not share, but we really would like to help.”
I bit on my lip and just then Grimsley returned with a pink mug. He handed it to me and I gratefully accepted it with a small thanks. I took a sip and realized it was hot chocolate and quickly took another small sip. I stared at the swirls inside the mug and gripped the mug close to me. I looked up and found the two staring expectantly at me with Maxie making his way back with a small red box.
They’re being so nice. I should explain myself.
“My…mother was the one who…did this to me.”
There was a moment of agonizing silence as I stared at the swirling whirls of my hot chocolate.
“Your mother? Why would she do something like this?”
“She got angry at me. I was trying to power my holocaster and went into her room to look. I found an old metal box and opened it to find…some documents and photos I didn’t…remember existing and this one,” I tapped the box in my hand, “is where I put all the stuff I ended up finding. But when my mom found me, she got really angry because I found out something she was keeping a secret.”
I felt a sharp sting on my arm and looked over to see Maxie washing the open, square wound where the CS device had been. He had a needle and thread beside him as well.
“I found out that I was…part of her project to develop a chemical. AMR was supposed to help cure me of a terrible disease my mom said I had that prevented me from going outside. It was a…lie though and the chemical was really supposed to damage specific memory receptors in my brain but she hadn’t really perfected it. She needed to keep me locked up in the house I was in to continue perfecting it for someone called The Father.”
“Yeah. It seemed like she was creating the chemical for him to use, but he wasn’t satisfied with the effects AMR were having on me and asked my mother to perfect it before they began mass use.”
“Did you ever see this Father?”
“No. And if I ever did, the AMR treatment most likely damaged my memory so much that I’m missing large parts of my past.”
“Why would she use the AMR chemical on you?”
I tried to calm my racing heart and take a minute to collect myself. Reliving the bombshells of the day just reopened the wounds that I couldn’t see. I pried my eyes away from the swirling comfort of the chocolate and looked at all three of them before speaking.
“I…apparently liked men and my mother thought that I…that I was disgusting and began the development of AMR. I’m not sure when The Father became interested in her work, but I brought the documents I found with me.”
“Grimsley, Maxie, this is the same person who left that verse scrawled along the Snowpoint City Gym after attacking Candice! The same one! It can’t be a coincidence.”
I scrunched my eyebrows.
“You’ve heard of him before?”
Wallace gave me a nod.
“Three weeks ago the gym leader of this city, Candice, was attacked after defending queer trainers who were there to challenge her in order to progress through the Pokémon League and she herself was attacked by the group responsible for the hate violence. They did it late in the night when no one was expecting it and after they almost beat her to death they left a verse scrawled along the gym something about the approaching saving grace of The Father. Cynthia…”
“You know her?”
“No…but I was watching her match on the holocaster when a huge explosion interrupted the match and I went to my mother’s room to search for an electric starter when the battery on it died.”
“Maxie were you not watching the League Finals?”
“I got a call from Archie and got distracted by his nonsense. I completely forgot to tune in to see it!”
Maxie finished sewing closed my wound and rushed over to the holocaster. After flipping it on we were greeted to Emily Patterson’s face with a scrawl that read: No Place is Safe, Hate Group Targets the League Finals.
“Good evening viewers. This is Emily Patterson coming to you live from the Sinnoh Public Broadcast Network in Jubilife City. Tragedy has struck once again as tonight the League Finals were interrupted by a series of explosive devices placed beneath the viewing stands that were intentionally placed there to deal the most casualties with the same group believed to be responsible for the attack on Gym Leader Candice of Snowpoint City claiming responsibility in a video broadcast that was displayed moments ago. Over a thousand are critically injured and were rushed to Pokémon Centers around the League and until now a hundred deaths have been confirmed.
League Champion Lautaro released the following statement saying: It is with deep condolences that I greet my fellow Sinnohans in grieving the heinous attacks laid on fellow trainers and viewers alike. The group responsible for this attack were also the villains who only three weeks ago left Gym Leader Candice critically injured in Snowpoint City. Rest assured, the League will use its full force to investigate and find the perpetrators wherever they may be hiding. Until then, the ban on LGBTQ trainers remains in effect and strengthens to include a ban on public signs of affection, public mention of ones’ gender identity and sexual orientation, and temporary leave of jobs related to service and the public sector. I will also authorize the League to close Sinnoh’s borders until we can be certain that the danger presented by this group has been completely dealt with. Anyone within the region shall not be permitted to leave and all correspondence to and from the region will be screened by the League. Please remain calm and heed the League’s laws and regulations. They are being put into place for the safety of every trainer until we can resolve this threat with complete certainty. I thank you for your understanding.
As you can see, current bans have been strengthened and new decrees have been put into motion in order to deal with this threat as swiftly as possible. Champion Lautaro was able to escape the stadium safely along with former Champion Cynthia. The two helped attendees escape the rubble and waited until League authorities arrived to assess the situation. The International Police have also sent two agents to aid in the League’s efforts to apprehend the group responsible.”
“Have you two heard anything from Cynthia? I haven’t gotten any call through my xtransceiver.”
“No! The entire walk here we didn’t get any calls.”
“Then this doesn’t bode well at all.”
Maxie began to pace again in front of the holocaster. His left hand was tapping lightly at the side of his glasses where I noticed a strange rainbow-hued gem embedded on the side.
“It’s no use fretting over this now. It’s late and we have a guest in need at the moment. Cynthia is perfectly capable of handling herself for the moment.”
As Grimsley spoke he stood and walked over to the back where I assumed the house's rooms were and came back with a…
“You’ve seen them before?”
“Well on the holocaster they’d play ads between matches and they were always promoting them. I never really saw a physical one though I know more or less how they work.”
He handed over the xtransceiver. It had bright light peach streaks along all its sides and the screen glowed with a warm glow as it came to life. I used my left hand and caressed the sides gently a bit amazed to have one.
“Now that things have really hit the fan you’re going to need to be able to keep in contact with us.”
“You mean I’m staying with you guys?”
Grimsley knelt down beside me and his blue eyes looked intently at my own.
“Look kid, I’m sure you already can tell, but this mess is quickly going from bad to worse. We’re trying to piece everything together just like you and I know we didn’t really ask you, but we do need your help. Your mother was developing this chemical, AMR, for the leader of this hate group. Sinesensu and the League might be ignorant of this, but they won’t question Lautaro’s title as champion and the International Police was called on two organizations behalf. We can’t trust anyone but ourselves and your mother is surely using all her power to find you as well.”
“But I’m not sure I’ll be helpful! I only just discovered all this myself and I still can’t really wrap my head around it. I’ve also had no training to become a trainer either. What if I’m just a huge liability?”
“No one ever does! That’s the great thing about it. Everyone has to figure out who they are as a trainer as they go along and you’ll have some of the best trainers in the world right here to give you a hand.”
He stood up and sent me a wink, Wallace gave a big smile with a thumbs up, and Maxie gave a small smirk with a nod. There was just so much warmth surrounding me that I felt like I was being overcome by it. Overcome with all this sound. Sound? What was that sound? It was so much that I began to tear up and nodded my head violently.
“If you guys will have me; I’ll be happy to help.”
“Good on you kiddo. What should our next move be then Maxie?”
“I think it would do us good to head over to the Pokémon Center to check on Candice and ask her if she remembers any of the details regarding the attack on her and the gym. After that, we should head to Sunlit Hills Adoption Home in Jubilife City and figure out what happened to all those missing kids there. If I’m sure of anything, its that those disappearances are surely connected to everything somehow.”
“You should get some rest Abelino. It's pretty late and you’ve been through quite a lot. We can give you the spare bedroom by Maxie’s.”
All four of us moved away from the couches and began to go down the hall. To the left was a door and when it opened I was greeted to warm, light peach walls with a small window on the wall opposite the door. A small bed with light blue sheets was up against the wall to the right and a closet was open and empty on the left. Next to the bed was a small lamp in the shape of a Sunflora that turned on and flooded the room with a dull, orange glow. The floor was a shiny, brown wooden floorboard with a small circular carpet sitting at the foot of the bed.
I turned and gave a huge hug to Wallace which had him step back in surprise before he returned my hug. My face was pressed into his sweater and for some reason, I could swear that I could smell the salt of the sea.
“Don’t mention it,” I let go and took a step back, “and we also have to get you a wardrobe because we can’t have you walking around Sinnoh like that!”
Maxie gently moved Wallace aside and handed me a bundle of pajamas with a bunch of Pokémon printed all over it.
“I found those in my closet and I think they should fit you fine. You can pick which one you want to wear tonight and keep the rest. I think you’d look adorable in the Piplup one, just a suggestion.”
“Now we’ll get out of your hair! We’ll wake you up in the morning when we’re ready to head out alright? Have a goodnight.”
With that, they gently closed the door and I turned around with a big smile to look over the room once again. We’d surely have to be on the constant move while we tried to figure out what was going on, but for now this really felt like a room, like something meant for someone to live in. It was nothing like the house before.
I quickly changed into the Piplup pajamas and stored the rest in the closet before jumping onto the bed and rubbing my face into the soft mound of pillows. I just closed my eyes and let myself appreciate the feeling of it all.
That isn’t strange, right? To feel the goodness from time to time. Let yourself realize you’re not as alone as you imagined yourself to be. I think that’s what I meant by sound. You get so used to never hearing anything, never hearing yourself in the thought of others that sometimes you wonder if you’re even…alive. It’s a silence. And when the warmth returns? When people smile at you and say I see you without even saying it? That’s the sound.
I turned myself over to face the window and I could see the moon’s glowing face peeking up from the slanted rooftops of the city houses. Mimikyu’s face suddenly eclipsed my view and I jumped back a bit before sending him a smile. I scratch between his ears and he gave out his signature little scream. I got lost a bit in myself while I gave him pats.
Was I really ready to do this? I know mother is still out there and she’ll surely be pissed with what I did to her. She’d no doubt want to hurt me for the things I ruined for her. And what of dad? She said dad had protected me “right up to the end.” Did she kill him? Did he die trying to protect me? Why couldn’t I remember? I know the AMR chemical is strong, but am I that weak that I can’t even remember my own father?
My head began to ache again and I closed my eyes rubbing my forehead. Mimikyu slid near and tapped his head against mine and I pecked his head before sitting up cross-legged. I placed my treasure box in front of me and opened it up, picking up the photos that I had brought with me. I gave my mother’s beach day picture one last look before I tore it up and leaned over to find a trash bin where I tossed the pieces. The last two I held in my two hands bringing them up to look at. I couldn’t tear myself away from the sight of me on my dad’s shoulders. I had to be around 12 years old in that photo. It felt so recent, but there was still this distant distance between me and him. His eyes sparkled like shallow ponds as he turned his neck to look at me with this ridiculous smile. And I stuck my tongue out squinting my eyes while waving my hand in the air like a total idiot! A laugh bubbled up in my throat as I stared and stared.
I spent this whole time thinking he hated me. I thought he had abandoned me. It just couldn’t be true. Even if I don’t remember him anymore, I can just feel it in this picture. The warmth.
“How was my dad Mimikyu? Was he a really badass trainer?”
Mimikyu tapped the photo with a dark tendril and let out a small scream, bouncing up and down on the bed. A small giggle left my lips and I shook my head.
“Ok! Ok! Haha, that badass huh.”
I placed the photos gently back into the box and touched the lid.
“I’ll remember you soon. Promise.”
I left the box on the nightstand with the lamp and flicked the light off as I pulled the covers to settle in for the night. I made some room and tapped the mattress so that Mimikyu would come snuggle in. Once we were both under the covers I pulled them over us and nuzzled in for the night. It was always so scary sleeping in my house before because my mother sometimes never even came home and the house’s already heavy silence was accompanied by this huge emptiness. I could never sleep well. But now, I don’t think that’d be a problem ever again.
I closed my eyes and just listened to my breathing and Mimikyu’s gentle snores. It was a nice lullaby to nod off to. But just as I was losing myself to sleep, this one name kept echoing in my mind.