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The wind jerked at my hair, tangling it more with every second. I never bothered wearing anything to cover my hair, but I always had my goggles tight over my long bangs and that satisfied me just fine.
I clutched the feathers on the back of my Pidgeot. “I’ve got everything,” I said, making sure that all 5 of my Pokéballs were secure in my bag. Nestled inside the mysterious balls were Gligar, Ledyba, Wingull, and my precious Noctowl, which I had received from the Sprout Tower as a child when he was a Hoothoot, making him my very first Pokémon.
“Say goodbye, Pidgeot,” I said, looking back on Violet City.
This day was special for one reason: I was leaving home forever. It was the day I had finally beat Falkner, one of the many sources of my inspiration to become a flying Pokémon trainer. Another being the monks at Sprout Tower. Another being that the sun and sky are two of the only things I can truly see.
“Pidgeooo!” it rang out as if to say, “Yes, Azure, I was born ready!” It spread its wings for a long flight. The wind filled the spaces between his wings and we were off on our adventure.
* * *
“Noooct,” my Noctowl cried. It was late into the evening and he was expecting his breakfast.
I searched through my bag. “There’s not much left, I’m sorry.” From my sitting position on a boulder, I strained to reach my bag and pulled out the few pellets of Pokémon food I had. Noctowl quickly started pecking at it and swallowing. I smiled gently and pet his beautiful feathers and glanced up at the moon. “Okay, Noctowl.” I stood then rolled out my sleeping bag. “Return.” The red light pulled him back into his Pokéball as he cooed. “Tomorrow we’ll make it to Azalea Town and see Mom and Dad,” I said, placing the ball on my belt and changing into my night clothes.
I must have been nearly 3 in the morning when I woke to the sound of a Pokémon call. I was unsure as to what it was but, pulling from my bag the Poke’dex I received upon my graduation, I waited until the call came again.
Static. “Brrrzzzzzztttttt, the flbzzzying Po—bbbzzzzmon. Known for bzzzzting and being ultra rare.”
“A flying Poke’mon? Ultra rare,” I repeated clearly to myself.
Being one for adventure, I pulled my goggles from my bag and over my eyes. They came from the Pokémon Lab on Cinnabar Island as a gift from a professor who had heard of my disability (deuteranopia, which only allows for yellows and blues to be clearly seen). The forest became slightly clearer to me and the shades of green were more evident. “Come out, Noctowl.” I released him from his Pokéball. He was always very helpful to me when it came to the dark. My rare form of color-blindness disables me from getting too far without him. I shrugged my bag onto my shoulders and tucked my Poke’dex into my pocket.
I put a hand on Noctowl’s tall shoulder as he led me into the darkness. Step by branch-cracking step, I itched to discover the identity of this mysterious Pokémon.
I heard the creature’s call again. It was unclear, much like the distinct static of my Poke’dex, as if the device was earlier trying to replay the call back to me to clarify. It wasn’t the name of the Pokémon, which wasn’t too unusual considering not every Pokémon simply repeats its name continuously.
After walking for about 6 minutes, Noctowl cooed and I hushed him. His features perked up as if he were listening to something I could not hear. “Toooowllll…” it let out softly, but not toward me. Rather, his call was aimed to a rock wall about 30 feet ahead.
“What is it, Noctowl? A bird Pokémon?”
He simply looked on. After a few seconds, he took a step. At that instant, I heard it.
“We are displeased.”
My heart leapt into my throat. I released Noctowl’s shoulder and clenched both fists. “Who’s there?” Minutes passed. I was frozen with sheer terror. I shook it off. How could I have let a whisper in the darkness have me so uneasy? “Let’s turn back, Noctowl.” I turned for him, but he was gone…
“Noctowl?” I circled the small clearing in which I was standing. I took out his Pokéball. “Noctowl, return.” I pointed toward the darkness, hoping he’d come running, or perhaps that it would sense him and pull him back inside. But it was to no avail. I put away the Pokéball. I had to find him.
I continued on in the darkness by my lonesome, taking small steps, hands out in front of me all the way. The lonlieness made me uncomfortable. “Come out, Pidgeot.” I released the mighty Pokémon from his ball and he too led me through the darkness. Though his eyes weren’t as useful as Noctowl’s in this situation, they were better than mine.
“Dgeo.” We arrived at the rock wall. “Dgeoo.” Pidgeot pulled me toward a few bushes, behind which was an entrance to a cave.
“We are displeased.”
I let out a whimper, but this time I dared not let go of my Pokémon. “Do you think Noctowl is in there?” I questioned, looking to his face. But Pidgeot only looked forward. I frowned and walked into the mouth of the cave. I heard a scrape against the rocks. “Noctowl, “I thought to myself. The darkness horrified me.
“Ledyba, go,” I said, releasing my bug Pokémon. “Use flash.” The light shone from Ledyba’s eyes, swallowing up the darkness a few feet at a time as her head surveyed the room. The cave was deep and damp and the light could not pierce its entirety.
And when its eyes went what seemed like halfway across the cave’s mouth, I saw him.
Two slim, piercing eyes with pupils so small, I was unsure if my goggles were fogged. It seemed human, or at least humanoid in shape. Its face was pale, but with deep, dark purple shades under the eyes. The mouth was like a large, psychotic smile, but was upside down, in a morbidly over-exaggerated frown. Its body was frail and torn and obviously starved. His breast was showing and was bare (with much of the flesh torn from obvious picking at the skin in irritation).
My mind screamed at the sight, but I dared not make a sound or a move; not until Ledyba’s flash continued across the cave. “Ledyba, come here.” She flew slowly backwards toward me, her eyes still flooded with light, blind to her surroundings. “Are… are you oka—”
“We are displeased.”
The voice rang in my head.
“Because you are hurt?” I called into the darkness. “I have some food here.”
As the words left my lips, I heard the most horrific sound my ears had ever been cursed with: oh, that moaning. Tens of voices, moaning. Moaning and wailing and sobbing and growling, but all from human voices: voices that were getting louder and nearer.
“It is futile.” The voice called to me, raspy and seemingly disappointed.
The moaning continued. “Ledyba, brighter!” The light shown all about the cave. It seemed as though the figure I had seen earlier multiplied by a few dozen, but with different attire and different hair on every new being that crawled slowly toward me. All the faces were the same menacing frown as before, with eyes so slim, but so sad and full of pain.
“What is this??” I cried out.
“They deserved it.” And then it came. It drifted into the light of Ledyba’s eyes, floating there in all its horror. A Pokémon so mortifying, I never could have imagined a more mangled creature I my darkest nightmares. It was small, about the size of a Gengar, and equally as dark purple, or at least from what my bad eyes could tell, but its shape was the most defying feature.
The beast had no eyes or nose at all, but still had very defined cheekbones. It distinctively had a separate head and body, unlike a Gengar, mostly because its head was slightly tearing away from its neck. The edge of the right side of the neck was gashed open and its bone was clear to me. Its mouth was the same as the moaning people, but neither in a frown nor a smile. One shoulder was broken, its bone sticking slightly out and forward. Its hands were clenched, but it had claws that were so long that they pierced straight through its own flesh and through the top of the hands. Its ribs were sticking out in random places, and it looked as though it had a tail at some point.
“What are you?” I gagged,
“I was once a Pokémon, but I forget my name,” it said without moving its mouth.
“A psychic Pokémon… but my Poke’dex said flying.”
“It says what it needs to for you to come here. My powers know your desires.”
“What did these people do to deserve this??” I lashed out, hurting my dazed Pidgeot with my grip.
“They captured us,” it instantly replied in my mind. “I was beautiful once. I had a family, I had a home… but the humans came and captured me. What gives you the right to pry me from my glory? To expose my innocence and conduct me as a puppet in your battles? …No. I am far too glorious for that: far too powerful. After realizing my powers, I got rid of that fool of a ‘trainer’ and found solitude here, waiting for other pathetic humans to come along, desperate for any ‘ultra rare’ challenge they could chase after. Until they meet their fate. Until they live in captivity, in a horrifyingly dark place, scared of their futures, never knowing if they’ll see sunlight again. This, human, is my Pokéball. Welcome.”
“No, my Poke’mon love me and I love them! Not everyone is the same! You’re—” and as I opened my mouth to remark on the sick-mindedness of this creature, Noctowl appeared before me. “Noctowl! Attack!”
But he gave no response.
“This Pokémon has no idea who you are anymore. I have released him from the pain that I was put through.”
“Noctowl…” I reached out, but he flew away toward the moonlight and over the treetops.
I gritted my teeth and opened my bag. “Gligar, Wingull, Pidgeot : attack!” I hurled the unopened Pokéballs toward the mangled beast. My companions came out, but did nothing. Even Pidgeot, of whom I had finally let go, didn’t make a move. “Please…” I touched his shoulder again, and he turned and bit my hand. The powerful beak easily snapped my bone and I bled unlike I ever have before. I screamed at the pain and squeezed it with my other hand.
And then, just like Noctowl, they had flown away, for they had forgotten me.
“You’ll live longer than most of them considering you have food. Welcome to the way you expect us to live.” Ledyba’s eyes closed and I heard her flutter away in the darkness just as the others had. “Welcome to the life of the displeased.”