~ Jessica? Is that you? ~
I love Pokémon. I always have, and always will. Not just the game... but the characters themselves.
When I was about six, my Dad bought me my first ever games console; a Yellow Gameboy Colour console with a copy of Pokémon Yellow.
I was overjoyed; I had been a hardcore Pokémon fan ever since I started watching the TV shows with my brother and some friends, and every time I would start trying to re-enact some Pokémon. Due to my young age and naive nature, I didn't know it was just a kids' show and a game.
My brother was with me, and his own colourless Gameboy (the see-through one that shows all of the funky machinery inside of it) had a copy of Pokémon Blue. I would have gotten Red, but they were out of stock.
My brother began his game, along with me, in the car on the way to my Grandmother's house and we were both instantly hooked. I fell in love with Pikachu instantly, and my mind being naive at a young age made me call it a weird name. Thinking of a girl who I knew who had moved recently (a very close friend of ours), I named my Pikachu 'Jessica' as a tribute to her. I got to Pewter City and I had a Butterfree and Pidgey already, similar to Ash in the cartoon. I had to turn it off and begged Dad to buy me new batteries to keep playing, but it was safe to say that I was hooked.
After time, my team grew stronger; it changed, expanding itself and now replacing Butterfree and Pidgeotto with a Sandslash and GORORO, a Dragonite traded to me from my brother. As well as the two of them, my team also added in the Charmander, Squirtle and Bulbasaur that you get during the game. However, one Pokémon never changed throughout the game.
She remained on my team throughout the game. I didn't mind that she was a little weaker than my other Pokémon because she wasn't evolved; she held a special place in my heart. Somehow, no matter how many times my brother tried convincing me to evolve her into a Raichu (which was impossible in my game) by trading her to him to let him do it, I never did. I liked Jessica the way she was, and kept training her along with my other Pokémon, hearing the cute "Pika!" as she went into battle and the little animations when I spoke to her.
In fact, she was the first Pokémon on my team to reach level one hundred; my first ever top level Pokémon, the first v I had ever gotten! My Dad told me I was too into the game, but I saw differently. I saw Jessica as more than just pixels and bytes in a video game; I saw her as a close friend, a companion and someone who would cheer me up when I was down with her "Pika Pika!" every time I pressed the A button on her.
In a sense... I began to love Jessica like a friend, as weird as it sounded.
Soon, Pokémon Gold and Silver came out. I traded my Yellow team to my Pokémon Silver version and trained on that one instead, even getting them all to level one hundred too. Jessica still remained at the head of my party, along with my Yellow team and my new Pokémon Silver team.
I remember watching the anime in Johto, and Ash saying that he valued all of his Pokémon, and treated them like family. I valued my Pokémon in the same way, and Jessica felt like the little sister I never had.
My brother had a tendency to just restart his game when he got bored; I even got Pokémon Red to try to match him and we even had races together. He and I battled occasionally, and he often won, but he could never match up to my Pokémon Yellow team.
One day however, one of our younger friends came around and messed with my game without me knowing. He didn't erase it, but he accidentally evolved Jessica into a Raichu (since it was on my new Crystal version, she couldn't refuse like she did in Yellow).
I felt gutted and a little sad that some of my past had died. To relive some nostalgic moments, I traded my team back to Yellow and began to fight some Pokémon with my team, my love for it being back. Although Jessica wasn't following me around anymore, I still treated her like the Pikachu I always had. I even spoke to my game a few times, and once or twice I thought she responded to me; if I felt happy, the Raichu's cry was normal and tough, and if I felt sad it felt slowed down and a little saddened. It might have just been me, but oh well.
When Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire came out, I was distraught that I couldn't trade Gen I and II Pokémon to them. I felt incredibly sad and finally put down my Pokémon Yellow to pick up a copy of Pokémon Ruby; so what if it was American on a British Gameboy Advance? I began to play and was instantly hooked. I made a new team, but every now and again I went back to my old games. Jessica still made me come back to Yellow, and her Pikachu on the front page sprite made me always happy to see her again.
Unfortunately, my life outside of my Video Games was becoming less fortunate. My mother was getting sick and slowly dying of cancer. The doctors tried everything they could and fought to keep her alive, but everyone knew the end was coming... except me. I was so naive that I never even understood half of what was going on. Sure, I knew Mom was ill, but then... the inevitable happened and it finally smacked me in the face.
I closed myself to reality, playing games and forcing everyone away from me. My thoughts were so misguided and far-fetched. My mind was being distorted and I was doing incredibly badly on my games, even if I was trying to use them as a fail-safe. Ruby was no fun anymore and most of my other games were just plain rubbish. Super Smash Brothers Melee kept me entertained for a while, but soon even that got dull. The only thing left for me now was Yellow.
Somehow, as a failsafe, Jessica and Yellow actually worked. She always seemed to cheer me up, even as a Raichu and her tough battle cry made me keep going forward. I met a girl online and began to fall in love with her; she helped me though several hard times and was also a great Pokémon fan. I got Pearl soon after and began to play that, getting hints and tips from this new friend (who will be known as "S" to protect her identity) and making a new team, buying Pokémon Battle Revolution soon after and battling her on it occasionally.
Everything was getting back together, until one fateful event. One event that would, to me unknowingly, set off a whole chain reaction.
I had come home from school incredibly angry. People at school had been bullying me and a friend had turned on me and seriously upset me. In a blind rage, I had stormed into my room and began to throw things around; my bag, books, drawers – anything that wasn't secure. Eventually, I calmed down and began to tidy up. Removing things from a pile I had made of heavy objects being thrown, I heard an odd crunching and cracking noise. Digging everything away, I found something that made my anger dissipate into nothing.
There, crushed at the bottom of the pile, was a yellow cartridge for a Gameboy colour game. I only had one yellow Colour game, and that was the game I started with.
I cried. I think I really cried for quite some time, just holding the smashed bits of my game to my chest. No more nostalgic battles with the Elite four, no more battles with my rival...
...No more Jessica. The Pikachu-to-Raichu I had grown to love as a good friend and almost as a sister.
I felt bad and guilty, but even still, I had other Pokémon games. I had Pearl with an amazing team on it and soon I was going to get Platinum. Would I really miss a Pokémon game that was about seven or eight years old?
I wish I'd paid more attention... I was far too blind and naive.
I began to play Pearl more frequently, challenging S to battles as well as my friends. I moved to a new school and got Platinum, but my depression kept coming back to haunt me. My brother, too, was suffering from depression from the death of our mother, and neither of us were getting any better.
Well, I was stable thanks to S, who had now become my girlfriend, but my brother was worse off; my brother wasn't even going to school anymore. He had lost interest in Pokémon and gone to other fandoms, but I stayed loyal. I still am, to this very day, the number one Pokémon fan in my school.
However, whenever I played my Pokémon games, something lingered at the back of my mind... something that I'd forgotten. Something that I couldn't quite put my finger on... whatever it was I seemed to get this feeling whenever I saw a member of the 'chu family in the anime or in the games. It was... odd...
...And a little creepy.
A year and a half later, (approximately six months ago from today), another tragedy struck. My brother, who had slowly been sinking lower and lower into depression, died in his flat suddenly. Nobody told me anything about what happened, but it was enough; my depression came back like a storm and smacked me.
A few days later, I was due to go back to school. I was rummaging through old things that would bring back memories of my brother. Digging in a box, I found a cracked object. Pulling it out, I was surprised to see it was my old Pokémon Yellow cartridge. There was a large chunk of it missing from the front and a lot of the nuts and bolts inside of it were loose and tipped all over the bottom of the box. I took all of them and attempted to find the lost piece of the cover, but to no avail. Finally giving up, I placed it back into the box and put it away. As I did, a name flashed into my mind that made me pause.
...Where had I heard that name before? I couldn't remember. I stuffed it back under my computer desk and left for school.
Things weren't going very well; after my brother's death, my mind was going wrong. I was soon hearing voices in my head and I was diagnosed with minor 'Multiple Personality Disorder'. Pokémon HeartGold, my most recent game, along with S and my two friends (known to you as P and R) were the only things keeping me sane.
Soon enough, P suggested I get the new Pokémon games, Pokémon Black and White. I decided to get Black because I liked the look of the white dragon Reshiram. He said that he would get White and we would race to see who could beat the game first, just like me and my brother would have done.
Soon, the game came and we went instantly to playing it. Within three days, I was already with seven badges and a full team. My love of Pokémon would never die, and P was left in the dust with only four badges.
Finally beating the game and getting the Transfer Machine, I borrowed P's DS and began to scroll through some Pokémon to trade from my HeartGold. I wanted to replace Lightning (my Zebstrika) and Wildfire (my Simisear) because they were far too weak. Looking through, I came across a Pikachu I had gotten from the Yellow Forest Pokewalker run. It was female, had a modest nature and knew Surf, Volt Tackle, and two other moves I can't remember.
As a tradition of mine, I always name my Pokémon. This helps me put characteristics to them, and I had done so ever since I could remember. My HeartGold file was loaded and I took the Pikachu to the Name Rater. Pikachu seemed like the only one really worthy of being on my team; I'd already decided to replace Simisear with another Unova Pokémon. As I went to nickname her, I had a discussion with the other two voices in my head to ask what to call her. As we were talking, my stylus tapped absentmindedly on the screen without me realizing it.
As I came back to focus from the conversation with my other two counterparts, I realized that my dawdling had made me press Enter. I rolled my eyes and went to look at the probably silly name I had made.
"Congratulations! From now on, this Pokémon will be known as Jessica!"
"...Jessica..." My eyes widened as I recognized the name from somewhere. Where, I didn't remember, but it seemed to fit.
Everything from there went smoothly. We decided to stick with that name and sent Jessica to my Black and played that weird capture game thing. It took me two tries to do it, but I finally got my Pokémon to Black. Jessica was shifted to the front of my party, and I began to train her. Things were going as planned; the Lucky Egg and Exp. Point Up power I was using from my C-Gear were working great. I changed her moveset a bit to be more Special-oriented (she had a Modest Nature) and kept on training.
Things started getting strange about thirty minutes after she was in the game.
I had started training Jessica without an Exp. Boost and had just gotten her to level fifty. Level fifty was the level I was planning to evolve her into a Raichu. I pressed A twice to get rid of the stats and then a third time to get rid of the winning battle message.
However, rather than the screen going back to normal, it stayed black for a few seconds. Thinking my game had crashed, I pressed the A button once or twice. A black message box appeared on the screen, as if I'd just received an item, but the text was going slowly, and what was displayed made me frown.
I blinked. I didn't know what that was. The text box vanished and the screen returned to normal. I guessed it was just some odd glitch for an event; maybe a joke they did since Pikachu was a main Pokémon in the first games. Chuckling a little at a possible gag, I went to my pack and took a Thunderstone, going to click on Jessica. However, rather than the page being replaced by Jessica evolving, a text box appeared, this time the text moving at normal speed.
"Jessica is refusing to take the stone!"
"...Refusing?" I was confused; a Pokémon had never done that to me... except once. Maybe it was a gag again back to this old Pokémon game. Sighing, I closed the bag and began to walk around a bit more, training again. Jessica raised a few more levels until she was level sixty, and I tried with the Thunderstone. Again, Jessica refused, but this time, as I closed the bag, another message appeared; black text box, slow white writing like before.
"...It's not going to work... now do you remember me...?"
This was starting to creep me out a little. I saved my game and then checked Jessica's stats.
On the status screen, her stats seemed normal; level sixty, modest nature, holding a Lucky Egg, female... but something was different. It took me a few seconds to notice what it was. The Pokémon's sprite usually moves on the status screens, but Jessica's was unmoving. The Pikachu was sat there, staring intently at the screen, and she didn't look happy like all of the other Pikachu did.
In fact... she looked... angry. Her head was crouched a little and her eyes were narrowed, her cheeks sparking occasionally. She hadn't been like that when I'd first gotten her. Worried that it could be Pokerus or some form of equivalent, I took her to a Pokémon Centre to see if that little message saying 'you have Pokerus' came up. When I spoke to Nurse Joy, she healed my Pokémon and then began to say something else, but what she said wasn't what I was expecting.
"Oh my... it seems your Jessica isn't very pleased with you. Did you do something to upset it? You should take better care of your Pokémon."
I read the screen over and over, trying to understand what I'd done wrong. Was this all a side-effect of some glitch involving Pikachu's and Thunderstones?
Alarm bells were going off in my head; my other two voices were screaming at me to be careful, but I wanted to get Jessica up to a higher level to battle the Champion and my friend; and so, I began to train again. Once she reached level sixty-five, I checked back on her sprite.
Jessica's sprite had gone back to normal, but something was different. Where-as the Pikachu sprite normally bounced, Jessica did not, and she seemed to be looking at me, her eyes locking onto mine quietly, the detailed brown eyes filled with emotion I never knew could be seen in a game; hatred, anger, resentment, sorrow... they were not happy eyes. As I closed her status page, another message flashed up.
"...You're a liar... a cruel, heartless killer..."
"K-killer...?!" I stared at the screen. Now I KNEW something was wrong. I quickly grabbed my DS and hurried upstairs in my school to find P and R, both of them in the upstairs lounge. I showed them the game, but as soon as I turned the DS to show them, the message would replace itself with Jessica's stat screen. I told them to listen to me and begged them to understand, but the two of them were both talking about something else and thought I was just going nuts and being stupid. I resigned myself to possibly thinking that too and headed back downstairs to my room, continuing to train.
As soon as I opened my DS back up, words were on the bottom screen in a slightly larger-than-normal textbox. These words were worrying, however, since it was still on the black text box... but the words themselves were blood red and in a different style of writing, much more blocky and sharp than the rounded edges of the newer writing.
"You kept me close. We were the best of friends. Then you broke me – killed me – and then discarded me. I will never die. I am too close to your heart."
Jessica's sprite appeared on the screen, but it was different again. Instead of a happy bouncy Pikachu, her arms were folded and her ears were drooping downwards, her eyes narrowed and her body had turned so it was now facing the screen directly. It was then that I really understood; she wasn't talking to the character at all.
She was talking to me.
"...J-Jessica..." I whispered, staring at her quietly. The Pikachu's sprite nodded angrily, and its mouth began to move silently as words appeared on the screen in that same blood-red, digital writing.
"I thought you cared. I thought you really cared. Wasn't I special to you, Cameron? Wasn't I your best friend?"
A Yes/No selection box appeared. I lingered, memories slowly beginning to hit my head as the other two voices in my head remained silent, probably just as shocked as I was. Fingers trembling, I selected 'yes'. Jessica nodded on-screen before her tail flicked and her mouth began to move again.
"Yes. We were partners, you and I. We took down Team Rocket together. We conquered Kanto, Johto, and even Red together... I thought you cared, but I was wrong. You let rage get the better of you and snapped me like a twig. You crushed me, as well as my heart. You killed me. You're a murderer, Cameron."
"N-no!" I cried, not realizing I was talking aloud; "Jessica, I'm sorry! I really am!" I could feel tears begin to stream down my face, "You've got it all wrong!"
There was silence from the screen, before I suddenly heard; "...Pika," from the speakers. I looked at the screen to see she had turned her back on me and had begun to walk away. I shook my head, frantically pressing the A button to try and do something, but all I got was a swish of her lightning-bolt tail as she faded out. The screen returned to normal, and Black (the character) was facing a Pikachu sprite at the top of some steps. I guessed that this was Jessica, and the little Pikachu-block looked at Black before another text box appeared.
"At the top of Celestial Tower... I will wait for you."
With that, the screen flashed black and then back to normal. Things were wrong, though. The music had stopped playing, and Black seemed to be moving slightly slower than normal. When I checked my party Pokémon, the first thing I noticed was that Jessica was no longer in my party. The first space was replaced by my starter, Wish, my Samurott. Looking over my Pokémon, I noticed some other things; their cries were not sounded, and their sprites were frozen. The sprites themselves were also only done in certain monochrome colours; yellow, red, blue or what-not, as well as done in large, blocky pixels... just like...
...just like Pokémon Yellow sprites. Everything suddenly hit me; Jessica, my old team, the nostalgia... and finally, what had happened to the cartridge.
Without another word, in real life or in game, I used my trusty Sigilyph (Hynode) to fly to Mistralton City and headed north towards Celestial tower. The music still refused to play, but I was in too much torment with myself to care. The two voices in my head were trying to reassure me that this was some kind of nightmare, but I knew it was all happening. It was all so real... and my throat was incredibly dry. My tears still ran down my face as I entered the tower; the tower of deceased Pokémon.
As soon as I entered, the atmosphere was different from outside. The room was darker than normal, and there wasn't anybody there. There was a forlorn silence, but faintly, music was playing. I began to ascend the spiral staircase and the music got louder with every floor I raised.
Each floor was how it should be, but much darker and with no Trainers or wild Pokémon. The graves were painted black, and on the final staircase, I saw "CAMERON USED RAGE! JESSICA DIED!" in block red capital letters spiraling up the stairs, one letter on each second step.
I finally reached the top, and, surprisingly, found everybody there; all of the trainers from the tower, the Gym Leaders, Elite Four, Belle, Cheren, N, Alder... they were all here, looking towards the main steps to the bell at the top of the tower. As I approached them, people stopped me. What they said was what shocked me and made my throat dry out even more and fresh tears well up in my eyes.
"Belle: Cameron... how could you do such a thing...?"
"Cheren: You... I looked up to you... how could you betray me...?"
"Alder: This... is unforgivable... but maybe, she will..."
"N: You said that you wanted people and Pokémon to live in peace... then why did you...?"
As I rose the final few steps, Belle, Cheren, N and Alder all followed, blocking the way back out. I went forward and stopped. There, standing in front of the bell, was undeniably... a Raichu sprite. The Raichu rang the bell, the sounds sounding eerie with the music, which I now recognized as the 8-bit Lavender Town music from Pokémon Yellow.
The music suddenly stopped, and another text bubble appeared; black, with white writing.
"...You came, Cameron."
"...I did..." I whispered quietly to the screen, sniffing as I stared at it. The Raichu sprite turned around and took a few steps towards Black, only stopping one or two spaces away.
"Do you know why I wanted to call you here?"
A 'yes/no' box appeared again. I pressed 'yes' with shaking thumbs and the Raichu shook its head in response.
"No, you don't. Don't lie. I called you here... so you can see what you did to me." The sprite took a final few steps towards Black, and the screen fuzzed out, the larger sprite replacing most of the screen, like when N sometimes talked. What I saw however almost made me sick.
It was a Raichu, but no Raichu I had ever seen. The creature's ears were flattened to its skull, a huge gash leading from one ear to the other across the forehead. Blood-stained fur was shown all the way down its face, past its sorrowful eyes and scratched cheeks. Its arms hung limply by its sides and its tail drooped limply over its shoulder, the lightning bolt at the tip of it having had a large chunk ripped out of it. The Raichu's mouth had dried blood around the lips, and some still dribbling from the corner of its mouth, but it was the main part of the Raichu that terrified me.
Right where the chest was, the abdomen and stomach area of the Raichu too, there was a gaping wound; inside could be seen intestines, bones, cracked ribs and with copious amounts of blood dripping from it, covering the white belly-fur and staining it red. I could see its heart, and with a sickening turn of my stomach, I saw it beating feebly within the shattered ribcage.
Panicking, I pressed A repeatedly to try to get the image away from the screen. Instead, a text-box appeared, the writing digital and red, just like the blood coming from the Raichu.
"What's wrong, Cameron? Can't stomach what you did to me? Your closest friend, the one who you so mercilessly killed?"
"I'M SORRY!" I screamed suddenly, staring at the Raichu's face; "I'M SORRY!!" With that, I crumpled over my screen and sobbed; "J-Jessica, it was an accident! I didn't mean to hurt you! I didn't mean to do ANYTHING to you! You're still my Pokémon! You're still my friend! None of this was meant to happen, Jess! Don't... d-don't hate me, it was all a stupid, stupid accident!"
I cried for a solid few minutes before finally looking at the screen. Jessica had gone, and the overworld Raichu sprite was simply standing there, looking at Black. Nothing was said for a moment, and I simply stared at the screen. Finally, a text box appeared.
"...Was it truly an accident?"
A 'yes/no' box appeared. I pressed yes, and there was another pause. The Raichu sprite turned around and walked back to the bell before another text box appeared.
"...Do you regret what you did?"
Another 'yes/no' box. I frantically pressed 'yes', more tears making their way down my face. There was another pause before Jessica finally turned around, staring back at Black.
"Jessica... believes you."
I felt a wave of relief wash over me as I saw the Raichu sprite walk back over to Black. The screen flashed up with the gruesome Raichu sprite again, but this time, the sorrowful eyes were replaced with soft ones, a small, weak smile on its face.
"Do you still love me?"
There was no 'yes/no' box, but instead, it asked if I wanted to 'record' or 'check mic options'. I knew my DS microphone was fine, so I pressed 'record', and took a deep breath.
"...J-Jessica... I'm so sorry for what I did to you... I wish I could reverse what I put you through. I should never have forgotten. You're not just a bunch of pixels and data, but a being, just like me. I'm really sorry, I promise... I'll never do it again, ever. I'll be more careful, I'll... I'll never restart a Pokémon game! Ever! All I want..." I took a soft breath, and finally let the last words out; "...Is your forgiveness for my stupidity. ...I do still love you, Jessica."
The picture of Jessica on-screen nodded, and it faded out. The overworld returned, and Jessica appeared again as a Raichu sprite. This time however, Black spun around in a circle and a small Pokeball flew from his hand. A flash of white light engulfed Jessica, and the ball closed. As Black moved forward to pick it up, a new textbox appeared.
"Thank you, Cameron... you really do remember."
I smiled at the screen and as I did, Cheren, Belle, N and Alder all walked up to Black and surrounded him. The screen faded out and Black re-appeared in front of the bell. He rang the bell, and the usual message appeared. Instead of what normally happens, however, Black walked away from the bell with the screen still focused on it. As it faded, I saw a few ghost silhouettes; a Charizard... a Blastoise... a Venusaur... a Sandslash... and a Dragonite.
All of my old Pokémon Yellow team... had been laid to rest in the Celestial Tower. Never returning... but never being forgotten.
The screen blacked out and returned me to Mistralton city. A message popped up saying that the game had been saved. I checked my Pokémon and saw Jessica in my sixth slot. Opening her page, a huge wave of nostalgia and comfort greeted me and my two other-voices as we looked at the screen.
Greeting us was a level 100 Raichu, Modest nature, female and with the nickname "Jessica", and OT as "CAM", which was my Pokémon Yellow character name. Moving to the moves section, I saw that her stats were exactly how they were left in Yellow, and her moveset was exactly the same as her old Yellow moveset; Thunderbolt, Double Team, Submission and Surf. I smiled broadly; she had forgiven me and decided to join me once again.
As I pressed B to leave the page, one final message popped up. The large Raichu picture appeared again, but this time, there were no cuts or internal organs shown. What was shown was the smiling face of a healthy Raichu beaming at the screen. A message box popped up as the Raichu's mouth moved as if it was saying the words.
"Thank you, Cameron, for taking me back... oh, and by the way..." the screen changed briefly; the picture now had one paw up, and I saw something in her paw that made my eyes widen and show that no matter how much anyone would prove otherwise, this was no joke or hack.
In her paw... sat the final, missing part to my Pokémon Yellow cartridge.
"I never truly forgot you, either."
I hope you read this and realize; to us, it may seem a game. But Jessica taught me that if you love a game too much, it becomes part of you, so much so that you can't leave it behind.
I have never, ever restarted or broken a Pokémon game since. I am careful with all my games. I don't want to upset anybody like Jessica ever again. I'm glad she was so forgiving and loving of me.
If she wasn't... it could have ended so much worse.