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I spend a lot of time in back alleys, searching for thrown out peices of technology that can use. Once I found a working Gamecube and 14 games, most of which I sold. Sometimes I’d find pieces of old handheld games and systems; a D pad from a gameboy, a random piece of wiring. It was late summer when I found it. At first I was pleased by my find. It was a Pokemon game, part of the label still on it. The Charizard on the cover was faded, only showing the lower half. His top half was gone, peeled off. I examined the small cartridge to find that the plastic was shattered on the back, as it someone had hit it with a hammer. A single piece of scotch tape held it together. I was confused at the condition of it, but pocketed it anyways and headed back towards home.
My gameboy was one of the yellow ones that came out with the pokemon games. It worked well most of the time and if it didn’t start up I had a backup. My backup had never failed me yet, an aged gameboy color. It always worked. I had a feeling the old game of red wouldn’t start as I studied it that evening. There was dried mud near the top of it. The tape was old and peeling. A faint word in pencil existed on the peeled off part of the label: forever. Somehow the simple word chilled me. I left the cart on my desk and went to bed.
A man stood, facing the raging sea. He held in one hand a pokeball. His other was on his pocket. It was Red. His hair was longer now, waving in the wind. I could smell him, a strong earthy smell. Perhaps it was just the ground itself I could smell, and not him. The sun faded behind me and it became dawn.
I woke up turned towards the desk. My cat was sniffing at an empty cup beside a stack of papers. The sun streamed into my room but the air was cold. I ate breakfast, changed into my day suit and started up the game. Outside churchbells rang, signalling the Sunday. The game started and I felt my heart sink.
The gamefreak logo froze. It appeared and just stayed. The monochrome screen flickered then the normal intro started, the pokemon did not fight at first though. Again it froze, flickering and making a static hiss before the animations started, slow and choppy. I had the normal options, but the one that caught my attention was the continue. The word was glitched. C0NT!NUE. I hit it, the game again seizing up and hissing. It black screened, I heard a small flash of battle music, then restarted. I assumed that the game was damaged. NEW GAME. The intro was jumpy, the text missing letters. My sprite was inverted, a mess of pixels that barely resembled RED. I named RED MARIA, after my character from Crystal. My rival was named ASS, a suiting name for him. The game started. I could play through the first town easily but it started to jump and slow down as I left Pallet town. The music glitched. Random pixels would appear and vanish as I came towards them. My pokemon of choice, Charmander, fought well but had almost no animations. I caught a Pidgey and tried to name it but the game glitched and didn’t name me.
As the sun went down I turned the game off and went to bed.
Red still stood there, watching the sea. The moon rose from the black waters. No stars dappled the sky. The grass was yellowed behind him, where his shadow would land. I noticed something wrong about the pokeball, but what was it?
After work the next day I picked up Oaks package. His speech jumped and flickered and I got the pokedex. I struggled through slowdowns and glitchy text. MARIA moved too slowly. Her walking speed was painfully sluggish. I made it partway through the Veridian Forest and gave up for the night.
The pokeball was cracked, that was it. REDs hair was longer, knotted. His hat was crooked. I noticed that when the wind blew his clothes, they rippled as if there was nothing in them. The moon was higher.
Another day of work. Sometimes, when I blinked, I’d catch a glimpse of the stonelike figure in my dreams. I played through the rest of Veridian Forest, but encountered a Pokemon last second. It was a Caterpie. As I prepared to EMBER it, something went weird. Charmander did not listen, but rather a glitched text box appeared. Cha(random sprite pieces)d(flower)ER u334$$d BITE. The enemy did not take damage, but rather ran away. Now the game was glitchier, slower. I reached the gym, lost, and gave up.
RED moved his hand from his pocket as the moon shimmered on the sea. It seemed wrong, but I didn’t catch everything. It was hard to see. The sky had stars now, and they spelt out a word. RELEASE.
I took on the gym again after an unpleasent day at work. The word RELEASE confused me now, and I had gotten in trouble for not listening to a customer as I thought of what the dream meant. I reached Brock and lost to him again. I trained up more, but as I did the glitches got worse. Charmander kept doing weird moves that he didn’t know, and never damaged the enemy. Sometimes he would take random damage. I managed to beat Brock, and when he gave me something strange showed up in the layers of glitch. Wa(red)h ou! FOR Cha78687))r.
RED seemed worse off now. His shirt was ragged and bloody. The grass was dry, dead. DO IT NOW. I walked towards him and he held out his hand to stop me. His fingers were gone.
Everytime I closed my eyes for longer than a blink I saw the hand, its fingers gone, skin hanging in rags, dried blood around the stump. In game the glitches got worse. Other trainers lost to me more and more. Pidgey never seemed to get any experiance but Charmander grew more and more powerful. He evolved. The missed attacks and ignorance continued. No matter what I tried to catch it would get away. Random encounters glitched constantly, ending without warning. Charmelion learned attacks that seemed to strong. In the pokedex he was too dark, even on the gameboy color. Except his eyes, which were almost white.
TOO LATE. RED was burned now, bleeding heavily. The pokeball was shattered. The moon hung in the sky, full and red. I touched him and he made a soft sound of pain.
I couldn’t concentrate on my work. When I played the game it became more obvious to me that my pokemon was attacking me. Pidgey fainted and disappeared from my party that night, outside of battle. The random blocks were larger, blurring out buildings. Charmelion got stronger, never loosing. Pokemon ran away every chance they got. Misty fell to me and in her glitched text, seemed to scream in horror about M0N$te7.
RED slowly turned to face me. The moonlight shimmered around him, making him glow. Darkness masked his face but I could see heavy scars and burns as he slowly faced me.
I played all day the next day. Halfway through I got mad and put Charmelion in the PC. He roared in rage and suddenly took damage, almost fainting. I ignored it and caught a new Pidgey, training it as high as I could. The game seemed less glitchy. In fact, I beat another gym that day without glitchy text. When I checked the PC later to grab some items, I checked Charmelion in curiosity…he had fainted.
RED was smiling. The stars flickered. YOU LISTENED. His burns were better. The moon was pale again, no longer a bloody eye.
I played only for an hour the next day. Many enemies fell to my new team, which now included a Diglet and a Nidorino. When I made it to Lavendar town the game flickered, then resumed play. The music was softer than normal. My sprite was inverted again (it had returned to normal after storing Charmelion). I went to Pokemon tower and a message appeared. CHARMELION ran away!
RED was uneasy again, but his wounds were healed. His hair was shorter. KILL HIM. The grass was greener and the sea was quiet.
Work went better. I no longer saw the ravaged body of RED when I closed my eyes. My boss gave me a raise and I ate out. Things changed quickly. When I got home and started to play again I was no longer in Lavendar town. I was back in Pallet. My data was the same at least. I expected some issues, the battery was probably shot. The first encounter I had was strange. The music was glitchy and once again my sprite was inverted. CHARMELION wants to fight! He attacked me, not my pokemon. I ran away and ended up back in the Pokemon tower.
RED was bleeding again. KILL HIM!
Work was okay. It rained and I started to catch a cold. I defeated Team Rocket in Lavendar Town and the glitches stopped as I left. My team was strong. However, Charmelion was still around…a message warned me about it. CHARMEILION EVOLVED INTO CH#@#$)DER
Now the sea raged. I could see a fire in the distance. RED smelled earthy again. He watched me, one eye gone. He spoke, but there was no words. I read his lips. RESTART BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE.
I phoned in sick and watched TV for a bit before playing more. My team was transfered onto my Crystal game and I prepared to start a new game when the screen flashed. It flickered and hummed. I popped out the cart and the back blew out, the tape burning and curling back. Foul smoke spewed out and I heard something in the electrical hissing, a soft growl. I threw the game out and ended up extinguishing my garbage can an hour later, then soaked the game in water. Sleep came only an hour later.
RED was sitting now, the moon hovering above him. The stars were gone. He spoke to me, his voice sounding almost robotic. CHARAZARD IS FOREVER. He seemed to shout, but I knew it was simply the echo in the empty dream. HE WILL NEVER DIE. BEWARE.
I played around on Crystal yesterday. All this happened only a day or two ago, or was it a month or two. Time is a blended mess. My rival, POONUT, challanged me randomly. His team was a single pokemon, a dark red Charizard with white eyes. His name was glitched and now, whenever I went into Kanto, the game gets laggy and flickery. RED is back, but will not challenge me. He is no longer in my dreams. When I speak to him, his name is MARIA. He speaks though…FOREVER.