A forgotten flame
So I was playing my Soul Silver game that I’d had for about a year now. I had bought an Action Replay and was hacking it almost every day, getting legendaries and pokémon not able to be obtained by any means but trade, which was out of the question for me. In my team, I had a Typhlosion, a Charizard, a Raichu, a shiny Umbreon, a Nidoking, and an Ampharos. All were level 100.
Inevitably, I became bored with being able to beat every opponent I came across in the game. I decided right then that I would reset my game, and I did. I chose a Cyndaquil again, since it’s my favorite starter pokémon. Being so used to hacking, I used the codes for things such as x900 Rare Candies and leveled Cynder, the Cyndaquil I chose, up to level 13 so I could at least battle with him a few times. Soon I had him evolve after battling many Pidgeys and Rattatas.
I realized that I still hadn’t gotten the egg from Mr. Pokemon, so I went ahead and retrieved it. This was when I used the hack to fill my Pokédex. I discovered a modifier code that allowed me to choose what pokémon I encountered, so I chose a Charmander. I captured one and named it Charcoal, putting it in the second spot of my team, between the egg and Cynder, who was now a Quilava.
I figured I could use the trigger buttons to chain the Charmander so I could get a shiny. This apparently didn’t work with the version I have, so I’d done all of that for nothing. I restarted the game (after saving) and put in a new code—one that made all wild and legendary pokémon shiny permanently. I wound up with a shiny Charmander, naming it Chimni.
Obviously, I was going to get more attached to this shiny Charmander. I battled with it in almost every encounter and trainer confrontation. Soon it evolved into a Charmeleon, at level 16. By now I had in my team Cynder the Quilava, Faust the shiny Flareon, Chimni the shiny Charmeleon, an egg…and Charcoal the Charmander.
I hadn’t used Charcoal in ages. All my battles were fought by Cynder and Chimni, my most powerful pokémon. Faust had snuck in a few times, and the egg had just hatched, so I was using an Exp. Share to level the Togepi up. Charcoal remained at level 6 in the very back of my team.
I didn’t think much of it. I mean, it was just a game, right? I would just wait and level him up later, that’s all. It wasn’t a big deal.
Then came the day I turned on my game and battled the Elite Four. Cynder was a Typhlosion, Chimni was a shiny Charizard—what I had been wanting for so long. By now I’d quit using the AR in-game, so all of my battles were fair in the sense that I wasn’t using any codes.
A defeated them all, one by one. The champion came and went down with a crash. I was the new champion.
I traveled into the Kanto region to see Professor Oak. He gave me the lecture and finally I got to choose my starter for the region. I was obviously going to choose a Charmander, since I have a thing for Fire-types. When I pressed A, the little window that held the sprite popped up. The only different thing was that the sprite was missing. The cry didn’t play, either, but in its place was an odd fuzzy sound. It was sort of like a Charmander’s cry, but with a bunch of noise and toned down.
I was a bit confused. I figured it was from all my previous hacking, but nothing like this had happened before. I exited from the window and tapped on my pokémon icon. All of the names had been changed to “RMEMBRME” and the levels were all the same—at level 6.
All except Charcoal. He was completely normal, but his level was just “???”.
Now I was freaked out. I went to Charcoal’s summary and checked him out. The sprite looked the same, except he was frowning and his eyes seemed to be outlined with a dark red. I still thought it was some kind of glitch, but the more I mulled it over, the more it was drawn away from just being a mere glitch. Glitches don’t cause sprites to frown, nor do they cause names and levels to be changed so oddly.
I exited the summary and went back to my pokémon. They were all still the same. I decided to keep playing, since the situation didn’t seem too bad. Just a bit creepy.
I wandered into some tall grass and encountered a pokémon. It was just a normal Rattata. I sent out Chimni, but when he emerged from the pokéball, he didn’t cry. He didn’t even move. I noticed something even more peculiar about him, just after the shiny animation finished—his eyes were hollow and black as night. They seemed to be surrounded by crimson as well.
I forced myself on.
I tapped the “fight” option, and he apparently had lost all of his moves but Perish Song…which wasn’t a possible move for him to learn. I didn’t teach him that.
I sighed and tapped on the odd move. The only thing that happened was that the Rattata turned black and then disintegrated. I sat there for a moment as the battle ended. Now I was freaked out for real.
The odd happenings in the game so far just interested me too much. I had to keep going…
I went back and checked my pokémon again. Their names were changed yet again. This time, though, Charcoal was missing. All that were left were my Typhlosion named GOTO, my Charizard named LAV, my new Togekiss named EN, my Flareon named DER, and my freshly-evolved Ampharos named TOWN. I caught the message immediately: “GO TO LAVENDER TOWN”.
I couldn’t stop myself from going. I used LAV to fly to Lavender Town, which for some reason was already able to be flown to. When I arrived, no music played. I checked my team again in case any more messages were there. Of course, there was. GOTO was now PO; LAV was now KE; EN was now MON; and TOWN was now TOWER. Again, I caught the message: “POKEMON TOWER”.
I followed the message’s demands, entering the tower. I travelled up all of the stairs, not encountering a single ghost or anything. When I came to the end, I found a Charmander sprite. I went up to it and pressed A to talk with it, if it had anything to say.
I entered a battle with it. When the Charmander slid across the screen like any other pokémon would, I recognized it on the spot. Its name was Charcoal, and it was level ???. He looked as though his eyes had been cut out, and the blood wiped clean—hollow and black as a pit. His nose was bleeding, but he wasn’t frowning anymore; he had no mouth to frown with. All that remained was an exposed lower jawbone. His flame was even out.
The battle music didn’t play. All that appeared was the text box that usually announced what you’ve encountered. It had another message for me.
“Why did you forget me?”
I pressed A for the next message, but nothing happened. It seemed like he was taking his time.
Another message popped up.
“I loved you… Didn’t you love me, too?”
I was tempted to reply. Of course I loved him. He was my pokémon… I began to feel bad, waiting for his next message.
“You never battled with me. You never looked at me. I waited all this time…”
The sprite moved now. It had the same animation as the normal Charmander would, but the cry was all fuzzy.
“YOU LET ME ROT”
The message shocked me. I almost said something, but another message stopped me.
“IT’S YOUR FAULT I HAVE BECOME THIS”
The messages kept coming. Every one sent a shiver up my spine.
“I’VE ROTTED AWAY”
“YOU LET ME DIE”
“ARE YOU HAPPY?”
“IS THIS WHAT YOU WANTED???”
“LOOK AT ME”
“LOOK AT ME”
“LOOK AT ME!!!”
The sprite shook again, crying out the fuzzy, somewhat mournful, eerie noise.
I was almost trembling now, sweat dripping down my cheek.
There was one last message that popped up.
Then the screen went black.
I left the console alone for a few months. When I finally built enough courage to start again, I didn’t hack it. I played through all the way to Kanto with normal training.
When I got to pick my starter again, I chose a Charmander. I put him in front and began training him like the others until we beat the Elite Four together, and finally the Champion.
As our names were entered into the Hall of Fame, I felt a sort of chill go up my spine as my Charizard was shown. His name flashed across the page first.