It was like every other stupid weekday. I lay on my side on the bed, toying around with my DSi, thinking about nothing in particular. It was a balmy nintey-five degrees outiside, natural for a mid-spring day in southern California, and I broke out in a sweat everytime the oscillating fan turned away from me for a second.
Pokemon Black. My latest addition to my growing Pokemon collection. It had currently become my "main" game, where I store all of my best Pokemon. If only I knew where my Heartgold, I could start shipping my guys there onto here. Someday...
Suddenly as I cycled through Undella Town ingame, I had the strangest urge to break out my old Gameboy and play one of my older Pokemon games. I quickly saved my Black and tucked the DSi safely under my pillow like the paranoid little bugger I am, and reached for the ancient system in the drawer next to my bed.
I went ahead and took out the Hamtaro game that inside it already and browsed over which game I should play. Emerald, Sapphire, and Fire Red were the only ones I had, so I went with Emerald, it being the first Pokemon game I ever had.
I angled my lamp toward the screen to see it better and turned the system on. The familiar intro played to life through my earphones, and I let the whole thing play through for the heck of it. Hearing the "old-timey" game music sent a thrill of nostalgia through my veins, and I went into the main menu.
There were only two things, New Game and Options. I've reset this game countless times out of boredom, and not a single time have I made it through the Elite Four, save for the first time I played this game when I was nine.
I went for New Game, and waiting for that professor guy to fade onto my screen with his speech that I've unintentionally memorized from playing this part over and over.
Hi, welcome to the world of Pokemon! Blah blah blah...
We work together...blah blah blah...
Boy or Girl?
I picked girl, obviously, and typed my name in as KAT, as I did with all my games. The professor went on and on...and finally I watched the full female sprite shrink into the black screen, to the size of the regular sprite. The beginning came as usual, with me placed "safely" in the back of a moving van with all our virtual crap.
I leapt out of the van once it stopped, questioning again where the roads in this weensy little town were. I tapped through Virtual Mom's speech, but for some reason I didn't get the same feel from it as usual. Like...it was a tiny bit off?
"Hi honey! We're here! This is LITTLEROOT."
Nothing different there.
"It has a quaint feel, doesn't it? It's even a bit creepy..."
But I had already reflexively tapped through her speech, and now she led my sprite through the door of the tiny one-bedroom-no-bathroom-house.
I could have sworn the text was different that time. I'd clicked past it too fast to confirm, but I was almost really, positively sure it was different. A chill went up my spine, and I forced myself to calm down. I freaked out over anything wierd in games, like the time I got really creeped out over getting a Critical Capture in Black for the first time and not knowing what it was first.
I'm going to just go with the fact I imagined it.
So to speed things along, I went ahead and set the clock in my room, missed my virtual dad on TV, and was now on my way to introduce myself to BRENDAN's mom.
Same crap. Yeah, the wierdness earlier must have been my imagination.
So like the considerate little pixelated neighbor I am, I went up into BRENDAN's room and touched the Pokeball laying unguarded on his floor. The same old text rolled, but the same feeling that it was off was back...
"Oh you're KAT from next door!"
"...I've been helping my dad with research..."
Good for you, sockhead.
"Do you want me to catch you a POKEMON?"
I got it covered dude. But now this is when it got wierd...
"It's hard raising POKEMON though. And sometimes bad things happen...well, I promised to help my dad with his research. Some other time, okay?" Then I left.
Now I definately saw that. That was definately not in the usual script. What the heck? Could it be a glitch of some sorts or what? I tried to review all the possibilities. At some point I found myself retracting the same steps toward the nearest route, where my thoughts were interrupted by panicky words in a text box.
Though...was it in all caps last I played...?
My sprite found the professor running around, chased by a Zigzagoon. I picked my usual--Mudkip--and went into battle. I remembered my Linoone from my very first team on this game with a jolt. Ziggy, that was the name my nine-year-old creativity came up with for her? Yep...I rememebered them all. Drippy the Swampert, Starfire the Swellow, Incie the Beautifly, Flutter the Flygon and Ziggy the Linoone.
After I saved the professor's butt, I was invited back to his lab. And again...
"As thanks for saving me, I'd like you to have that MUDKIP!"
KAT revceived the MUDKIP!
"...I hope you can take care of this one..."
There it was.
Well...I went on ahead with the game, my uneasiness lingering within me. I battled and won against BRENDAN, met WALLY and helped him get his Ralts, and so on...
Nothing weird happened until much, much later when I had finally arrived in Lilycove with an assembled a team of five, consisting of my Swampert, Altaria, Vulpix, Absol, and Manetric. There was the sprite of a girl I don't remember being there before. It was just the standard "lass" sprite, standing randomly on the beach. Some Team Aqua schmuck had his Wailmers blocking the way out of the cove, and I assumed this was just a sprite complaining about it or whatever. I went ahead and talked to her,
"Wait for me. Please."
Hello again, goosebumps.
I didn't understand what the heck that meant. Wait for who? I tapped her again,
"Please. I'm so sorry."
"I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I'm sorry."
Now this was really getting creepy. I felt the hairs on the back of my neck stand up and the chills running up and down my spine. Regretfully, I tapped her again.
"Sorry. I can't save you. Sorry..."
Save me from what, pray tell?! I tapped the creepy chatty mystery girl again.
"Didn't you love them enough? So they could die in peace?"
Okay...I know since Pokemon is starting to lean on the namby-pamby side that they don't make many refrences to death and dying in the newer games. Fire Red is the only game I have that does, but not in Emerald, surely...
Feeling numb with fright, I tapped her again,
"I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I'm sorry."
By this point she just started regurgiatating all the phrases so far. So I began to leave the town, immensely creeped out. Surprisingly, BRENDAN stopped me on my way out. Once again, WEIRDNESS!
"Hey KAT! I just thought we could have a battle while we're here!" was all he said before the battle sequence started.
I wiped out his team with little difficulty, and no weirdness. It was after the battle when it got strange.
"You know KAT. I saw someone in MT. PYRE as I was passing by. Just thought you should know." Then the dude bicycled away.
Okay then...I hadn't been to Mt. Pyre yet, I had stopped by Lilycove to heal, so naturally I went there.
Things easily went from wierd to creepy...
The first step I took inside the cemetary, I could have sword I heard a Beautifly's cry through my headphones, very faintly. Huh...
And here's what else. The usual mourners were gone. The place was empty except for the strange placement of pixelated tombstones. The music sounded quieter than usual too. Before I went outside though, I went through all the floors, seeing how each one was also void of trainers and regular joes. And each time I stepped onto the floor, I heard another cry. Second floor, a Swampert cry, but it sounded like the lower-pitch tone it used when its HP was down.
Then third floor, a low-pitch Flygon.
Fourth floor, a cry that I couldn't identify at first, but it sounded like a slightly slowed, deeper Swellow cry.
Fifth floor, a deep, drawn-out cry of a Linoone. Did I notice these were all Pokemon on my first-ever team? Of course, I'm not an idiot.
But knowing they belonged to my former team made it all the more unnerving. This was definately not supposed to be happening.
Sixth floor. This one had people here. The old couple who keep the Orbs, to be specific. This time the music was gone completely. In fact, now that I recall, the music grew softer with each floor I advanced.
I was very close to just dropping the game and leaving, but a grim curiosity drove me to talk to the elders. They were standing side-by-side, in front of that tombstone that appeared shinier than the others. I tapped on them, and the text came agonizingly slow.
"Do you see now...how easy it is to forget?"
"Haven't you noticed something about yourself?"
Huh? I tapped him again, but he just said the same thing.
Noticed something about myself? I looked at my normal-looking sprite, then pulled up my Pokemon teams' summaries.
I could almost feel the blood drain out of my face.
I stared numbly at the disfigured sprite of Swampert. His eyes were blank black dots with a speck of red in their dead centers, with streams of what looked like blood running down his face, his blue skin washed in grayscale...In fact, pretty much all of my team looked like that. All shades of gray, with hollow, bleeding eyes that stared at nothing. Their mouths seemed to be angled into scared frowns, and I could swear their cries were the tiniest bit distorted, higher pitched, as if in desperation.
I closed that page, and suddenly beheld an entirely new scene...
The floor I was on was covered in that haze that appeared on the exterior of the mountain, and all of the tombstones were gone except for the shiny one. My sprite now had the same gray and bloody-eyed appearance as my Pokemon. The old couple was still there. And suprisingly enough, that wierd girl from Lilycove. I tried to move my sprite, but it didn't respond. In fact, the entire screen seemed to be frozen. For a moment, I thought it was. I was frankly relieved this morbid scene was over.
So I thought. A hideous screech ripped through my earphone speakers, making me tear them out of the system, and my ears, in a haste. My heart was in a full panicked gallop. I watched as the girl simply seemed to melt through the floor, like a fainted Pokemon did in battle, only in slow motion. When she was gone, the screen flashed white, emitting a high squeal from the speakers for barely a second before it went back to normal.
The old man went on,
"You see now...what has become you? Become your team? It's sad...I'm sorry."
The screen blipped again. The old man looked a bit grayer, his eyes gaining that red speck, along with his wife,
"SORRY SORRY SORRY SORRY SORRY SORRY"
The text was filled with bold letters, and with each click of the A button, it brought on more "sorrys." Finally he stopped, and simpy disappeared with the old lady. My sprite was left motionless in the middle of this.
For a while, my sprite didn't move, and now I was convinced the game had frozen. I moved to turn off the system, when my sprite moved up to the tombstone by itself. I watched, the feeling of cold dread overflowing.
Another screech ripped from the speakers, briefer this time. Now the screen had gone black. Images of Pokemon scrolled across the screen with the same morbid appearance. A Swampert rolled across the screen. Then a Swellow, then Linoone, then Flygon, then Beautifly...all of them gray and bloodied and sad-looking. It was my old team. Drippy, Incie, Starfire, Ziggy, and Flutter...they all stood like they were being viewed in the Hall of Fame. It faded out slowly... Suddenly Mt. Pyre's music started, but slowly, so slowly...
The screen had switched to my bedroom in Littleroot. It was darkly tinted, as if it was night. My sprite was completely normal-looking now, but when I pulled up the menu, there was no "Pokemon" option. I had no Pokemon now? I guided my sprite out the door.
Another loud screech made me jump, and the screen blinked from black to red. I was staring at a red screen for a moment, before it shrunk into a pair of glowing pinpoints on the black screen. Another screech from the speakers, forming a distorted word:
The screen turned completely black, and I switched off the Gameboy, tore out the game and threw it back among the others, shuddering. My legs were weak from fear, and I found my hands were shaking. Oh, my god...what the hell just happened? I stared at the green game cartridge where I threw it into my drawer. I picked it up gingerly, and flicked it outside my door. Stupid thing...
I lost myself in Pokemon Black for a few more hours before bedtime. The trembly feeling had gone, and my heart was back down to normal. Jeez, talk about an adrenaline rush? Supernatural Pokemon games...sheesh...wierd right? Hahaha...
My night was full of my former teams' images, tearing across my mind's eye at sickening speeds, ugly screeches echoing in my ears, I jolted awake in a cold sweat. It was still dark out, and I was supposed to go to school...I wanted to go back to sleep, but a sick feeling had settled on my stomach. I lay down, trying to ignore it, but I was practically curled up in a tight ball of pain. I stood up, feeling weak, and made my way toward the door. As I opened it, something small hit me right between the eyes, making me wince. I looked down,
And I saw Pokemon Emerald, laying at my feet like an innocent child. Glaring, I kicked the cartridge out of the way and made my way into the bathroom, only sticking my head in and toying with the broken light switch with the end of a toothbrush until it came on.
My face appeared in the mirror, and I stifiled a scream as I saw a stream of blood trickling down from where I was hit. It didn't hurt, but when I touched it, blood came off on my fingers.
The light switched off.
Yes, the stupid faulty light switch always liked to flick itself off from time to time, escpecially at night. I flicked it back on...
...Man...I hoped I was imagining that huge black shadow behind the door.
...And those piercing red pinpoints in my eyes...