The silence was nonexistent in my head.
Nobody spoke a single word, and there wasn’t a sound in the surrounding forest, but I could hear screams of countless people, and smell the scent of death.
We had run away from Saffron City and all the now revealed evil secrets it held. Ran until our feet couldn’t take us any further and we all collapsed to the ground, gasping for air.
June managed to her feet and stumbled away, disappearing through the trees.
I didn’t ask where she was going. I knew no language to communicate with anyone anymore.
Kiwi was trembling and making a strange noise from her throat, her head to the ground, looking ready to lurch up anything within her body out of her open mouth. Her body lurched every few seconds, and it made me cringe as I waited for it. Drool started to slip from her bottom lip, extending like elastic towards the dirt. Her mouth closed and she swallowed hard, her head then lifting up carefully as she turned towards me.
The instant our eyes met...
The moment I got to see the worn out, lost, dazed... dangerous... look in my friend’s eyes; a look unlike anything I’ve seen on her face before...
She quickly stood up and walked into the woods opposite of June and disappeared.
My eyes stayed on where she left me alone for a time that could have been minutes. It could have been hours. I didn’t care in the slightest. Was it always this dark out? When did the sun set? Was it still sunny in Saffron when we escaped? Questions I didn’t care about answers to popped into my head as I found my eyes on the darkening sky above. It was a weird feeling when I found my Pokemon around me, eating from bowls of food. I had no recollection of letting them out. At the same time, the scene seemed to make sense, as if, somewhere in the back of my mind, I knew I had done it. My appetite was nothing by a myth. Better yet, a lie. It didn’t exist. I just watched the Pokemon eat.
They all were eating oddly quiet, without much noise aside from chewing, and they were eerily solemn, eating noticeably slower than normal. I had a feeling they knew what had happened, or had some idea that things weren’t right.
Even though he was only eating, Hoothoot came off to me as a little indifferent. He wasn’t turning his head in circles randomly or switching his feet as often. He seemed to be thinking.
The Pokemon would look up at me and then away once our eyes met.
Everything had changed since Saffron City.
All of the Pokemon had lost interest in their food and were now watching me.
This quickly irritated me and I returned them to their Poke Balls. The only thing on my mind was what had occurred at Saffron.
The entire city. The suburbs. The city. All illusions and zombies.
“MY WIFE!! MY WIFE IS DEAD!!” the man’s voice rang in my head from Saffron. A man’s wife had been dead for who knows how long, and he only just now found out, suddenly.
Houses and buildings that looked beautiful and intact, destroyed in the blink of an eye. Everything revealed for what it truly was.
I opened my palm and stared at the Badge in my hand.
Kadabra had held out his fist and gave me the Marsh Badge. The Badge signifying I had defeated the Gym Leader of Saffron City.
I remembered my battle with Kadabra with my Hoothoot.
I remembered Sabrina, a zombie, exploding in a cloud of dead dust as she attempted to bite me.
I remembered Kadabra’s finally memory of Sabrina.
My eyes began to tear up. Footsteps from close by made me wipe my eyes quickly and turn around to see June step into the clearing.
She kept her eyes on me, looking ready to pass out.
My eyes dropped from hers.
June never moved. She just stood there, eerily wavering in place before I heard footsteps from my other side.
Kiwi made her return, the same unfamiliar look on her face that she had when she left, only her cheeks looked red, along with her eyes, the tears in them giving her a less intimidating, human look that she was lacking when she had left. She stood staring at me, and her eyes lifted to June before looking away.
We all remained still and quiet. Not a word had been uttered since escaping Saffron.
An impatience was building up inside of my body. I needed to talk. I needed to move. I needed to do something. Anything! My sanity felt like it had been being chewed at for the longest time, and I was on the verge of cracking. Not even realizing what I was doing, I stood up and, without a planned destination, I walked forward.
June and Kiwi’s footsteps weren’t immediate, but less than a minute later did I hear them crunching dead leaves behind me.
A squirrel watched us warily from the side of a tree trunk. As we got closer, it scurried up and around the tree.
My stomach began to tighten again, impatience surging within me. Walking wasn’t enough. The silence was maddening, but every time I considered opening my mouth, I changed my mind. I wondered if Kiwi and June were going through the same thing.
From the corner of my eye, I caught June’s blank look, her feet trudging through grass and leaves. She could easily walk into a tree before she saw it.
Kiwi’s face made my entire head turn when I saw it was covered in tears.
I stopped and gently grabbed her shoulder. “Kiw-” I started.
“Don’t touch me!” Kiwi screamed, shaking herself away from me.
I backed away, inhaling sharply.“Leave me alone!” Kiwi added.
June had stopped walking and was staring at us in shock. “Huh?”
“Kiwi...” I said.
Tears flowed down her cheeks. She didn’t bother wiping them. “I wanna go home,” she whimpered. “I wanna go back to Pallet Town. I don’t wanna continue this journey anymore. That’s what I had said originally. I said I wanted to go back home! I don’t think I can do this anymore.”
None of us moved.
Kiwi continued to cry, breathing a little harder, her shoulders bobbing lightly.
I could hear the sound of wings as a bird flew overhead from a tree branch.
“Kiwi,” I said after a bit, inhaling. “I’m sorry about this.”She glared at me. “What’s that gonna do?” she snapped. “Huh?!”I stared back silently. Sadly.
“I never decided to become a Pokemon Trainer for this, Gary,” she continued. “This wasn’t a part of the deal! It wasn’t supposed to be like this! I can’t even... I can’t think straight anymore!” She grabbed the sides of her head with her hands and closed her eyes tight. Her fists went into her thick, long hair, her eyes closing tightly as tears flowed down faster than ever. Her head lowered and she fell to her knees.
“Kiwi!” June ran to her and knelt down, but Kiwi stood up and backed away from her with a pissed look. “Kiwi!”
“No! Stay away from me!! The both of you! I don’t want to be around you two! I just need time to myself! Alone! I don’t even know if I want these stupid damn Pokemon anymore!”June stared at Kiwi with eyes full of tears, her mouth hanging open.
I stared at Kiwi helplessly.
“When I left, I had gone to feed my Pokemon,” Kiwi explained. “I thought I needed time with them alone. But I couldn’t. I couldn’t even bare to send them out! I just stared at their Poke Balls. I wanted to speak to them but I didn’t know where to begin, or how to even do it. All I wanted to do was run. Drop their Poke Balls and leave them there and run away. Run and never stop until I reached Pallet Town again. I want to hug my mami and cry!” Her Spanish accent was popping up just barely, as it tends to do when she gets excited about something, good or bad, which I usually always enjoy hearing. But certainly not now. It seemed like her entire face was soaked in tears.
“Oh, Kiwi...” June said quietly. “I kind of did that same thing…”
Kiwi sniffled as we both turned to June.
June looked down to the ground and nodded. “I went into the woods to feed my Pokemon and be alone with them. I felt overwhelmed by all we had just gone through. I wanted to get my feelings across to them. I’m no good of a Trainer. The Pokemon lifestyle may just not be for me after all…”
“What are you both talking about?” I yelled. I was starting to get angry. “I don’t even understand what is going on right now!”“What don’t you get, Gary?” Kiwi snapped back. She had fire in her eyes, looking ready to attack me. “We all were nearly killed you idiot! We just barely escaped the first time, and then we went back a second time and saw the most violent, brutal Pokemon battle I’ve ever seen in my freaking life! And to top it off, my very first Pokemon was killed by that… zombie woman! Or by Haunter! Or whatever the hell that was! Don’t tell me you still want to continue traveling!”
“That isn’t what the Pokemon life is like!” I argued. “It’s not like that! That was just crazy! That isn’t a normal occurrence! It was bad, yes, but that isn’t how our journey will be!”“No, Gary. That is how the Pokemon lifestyle is!” June said loudly but more calmly than Kiwi and I were speaking. She got to her feet and moved a step closer to me. “That entire situation was about a Gym Leader who became possessed.” Her eyes narrowed, determination in her eyes so strong, it was pouring into her voice even more with every word. “And guess what possessed her? A Pokemon! That Pokemon controlled an entire city!! This is what happens in the Pokemon world, Gary! People die on this journey, Gary! Kids, adults, it just isn’t safe! This whole lifestyle is dangerous, Gary! And it’s because of Pokemon!”
I didn’t say anything, but I was instantly reminded of the group of people in Pewter City who had said almost the same thing June had just said. The three guys who had tried to bomb the Pokemon Center with an exploding Graveler. Was there some truth to what they had said? Yes. Of course. The answer to that was obvious. It didn’t give them a right to kill Pokemon or attack the Pokemon Center and those inside, but this terror involving Haunter spoke a lot about what they were warning us about.
I stood there, facing the two girls’ glares.
Their expressions finally softened after a while, just a little.
“So, what are you two going to do?” I asked.
They stared at each other, and then looked back to me. “I don’t know,” June muttered.
“I need to be alone,” Kiwi mumbled. “Think to myself. I need to think everything over. I need to head back to Pallet Town… I think. I’m just not sure…”
“Kiwi,” I said.
She looked at me.
I stared back. “Please, don’t leave.”
Her tear filled eyes squinted just a bit as she stared at me.
“Until you decide exactly what you want to do,” I continued. “Don’t just go all the way back home after all you’ve been through. We can all make it. We can do this together. You’re not alone in this. Please, Kiwi.”
Tears seemed to be flowing down her face even faster at my words. Her fists were balled tight at her sides, shaking.
“Kiwi, I’m sorry about what happened. I am. I’m really sorry. Please. Just come with me to the next city at least. Let’s find a phone and talk to Prof. Oak about everything that happened. Please, Kiwi, please!” I could feel my eyes getting watery and my vision blurred.
“Kiwi, I can empathize,” June stated.
Kiwi looked at June, her eyes wide in surprise.
At the sound of her voice, I turned, but once I had processed her words, I swallowed and looked away, my heart beating hard.
“I lost a Pokemon, too,” June told Kiwi. “I lost… my Pokemon…” June suddenly fell to her knees and covered her face, crying.
I turned my back on June, my eyes unable to hold in the tears any longer.
“I lost… my… friend…” June sobbed heavily as she said her words.
I heard Kiwi walk quickly over to June. “June, I’m sorry,” Kiwi consoled June, sadness heavy in her voice.
“I just…” June said, still sobbing very loudly. “Haven’t expressed… my feelings properly… since it happened... I mean… I did a few… times, but… I never talked about it…”“June, you can talk to me about it,” Kiwi offered.
“No, I… I just…” June stopped talking and continued to sob.
I watched as droplets of salty water my eyes were producing fell and hit the dirt below me.
“It’s okay, June,” Kiwi told her. “I understand. You don’t have to talk about it. It’s okay.”
I heard more crying from my redheaded friend as I started to think about everything I had been through on my journey so far...
The dangers I’d faced ever since my first meeting with my Charmeleon, back when he was a Charmander. My attack by the gang of Mankey. My encounters with the swarm of Beedrill. My three failed attempts of winning at the Pewter Gym and the pain my Pokemon had to go through during those battles. My encounter with the dangerous group of individuals who tried to blow up the Pokemon Center. My difficulties with the Ghost Pokemon in Obsidian City. The group of Pokemon thieves we ran into in External Cave. Our run in with the Psychic Pokemon on our way to Saffron City. The unforgettable horrors of Saffron City itself…
Maybe they’re right… I considered. Maybe we all should just head out of here and go home. Go back to school and pursue other ideals in life that won’t put us in such dangers as the life of a Pokemon Trainer does. My shoulders shifted to slip my bag off as I knelt down, and I took out the Town Map.
We left Saffron and were heading in the direction towards Cerulean City. My intentions were to go back to Celadon City and continue straight past to Fuchsia City. The faster path would’ve been just to go back through Saffron and take that mountain again with the Psychic Pokemon, but that was definitely NOT gonna happen. The path to Celadon through this route was much longer, but at the time, we were escaping Saffron and didn’t have much time to think it through. Cerulean City was the faster route to get to Pallet Town. It led to Mt. Moon, which eventually emptied out into Pewter City, and that led right to Viridian Forest, Viridian City, and a short while later, good old Pallet Town.
I sighed quietly. This was the end of my Pokemon journey after all… Robin... I thought, wondering what he was doing right now. Aly... What was she up to? It hit me that we all were having problems on our journey.
Aly with her Ivysaur.
Robin with his Squirtle.
Aly and Robin didn’t have any issues too severe compared to what happened to Kiwi and me, but we all were going through something that could effectively change our Pokemon journey. And maybe Robin and Aly were going through something similar to what me and Kiwi were. Or worse.
My heart began to pound a little faster at the thought that my closest friends could be in some serious trouble somewhere. Or maybe they had even quit being Pokemon Trainers and had gone home. Maybe they even went to Saffron City… Did they ever mention intending to go to Saffron City? I couldn’t remember.
A couple of drops of water landed on my Town Map. I blinked and more tears fell onto it. The thought that Robin and Aly might have been in Saffron City was getting to me. I was scared. I suddenly noticed I couldn’t hear any crying from June or Kiwi. My back remained facing them, my eyes still on the Town Map, not willing nor ready to turn to see what those two were doing. I took my time, breathing in through my nose slowly, deeply, and then out my mouth slowly, trying to slow down my stressed heart and calm my body. My lips held a nasty taste as my tongue slid across them, and I sputtered out the taste as I folded the map and put it away, finally standing up and turning around.
Kiwi and June were sitting in grass, right next to each other, June’s elbows on her knees, her head in her hands, Kiwi’s arms wrapped around her own knees, her head on her kneecaps. Both girls looked up at me, looking mournful and depressed, eyes red from crying.
I stared back sternly and opened my mouth to tell them what I had decided. “I’m ready to go back to Pallet Town. I’m going to release my Pokemon.” That’s what I had tried to say. But the words got caught in my throat. After all the hell these creatures had put me through, what reason did I have to keep them?
Mankey had been soaked in blood, reaching up to touch my beaten face as Officer Jenny drove us to the Pokemon Center...
Charmander battled to defend me against the Beedrill swarm in Viridian Forest...
My struggle with my Pokemon when battling and capturing Hoothoot...
Charmander struggled to continue fighting when battling Misdreavus, eventually earning the Dimensia Badge...
June, who I may never have met if I hadn’t decided to become a Pokemon Trainer, and obtaining my second Badge from her...
I even managed to touch my Beedrill, a Bug, in congratulations for all of his hard work, which resulted in my Metapod evolving and getting closer with me, as well...
Our third Badge was won in Celadon City thanks to Hoothoot’s incredible courage, strength, and determination...
My friends went through everything with me. Could I really just abandon them like that? Could I just give up on their dreams like that? Our dreams? “Everybody! Come out, now!” I shouted.
All six of my Pokemon appeared from their thrown Poke Balls. They all wore the same solemn, almost expectant, faces. As if they had been waiting for this talk all day.
I stared back seriously. “Everyone,” I began, and then stopped to take a deep breath. “Me, June, and Kiwi all just went through a horrific experience not long ago. We were all almost killed by an evil Pokemon.” I let out my breath and raised a hand to my face, rubbing it tiredly. “During my journey as a Pokemon Trainer, I’ve put some of you through absolute torture alongside myself. I’m apologize for that. I’m not sure exactly what I’m doing, but I know I don’t want to put you guys through anymore crap just for me. I was thinking of quitting my journey to become a Pokemon Master.”
Charmeleon, Primeape, Hoothoot, Beedrill, Butterfree, Dugtrio, June, and Kiwi all gasped.
Charmeleon took two steps forward to me before I continued.
“But I can’t!” I exclaimed, my eyes landing on his. “I won’t! I won’t give up so easily. This is the life I chose and I won’t back down that easily. I love you guys! All of you! But you don’t deserve to deal with what we’ve gone through together so far. You deserve much better. I want to be that better Trainer for you all. But, only if you want me to be. I admit, I’m scared. And I’ll make many, many mistakes. And I don’t want any of you guys to be put in danger because of my stupidity. I don’t know what else I will have to face ahead. It can’t be much worse than what happened in Saffron, but who knows? The point is, if I wanna explore this big, dangerous planet, I should just go travel by myself.” My eyes passed along all of my Pokemon slowly, repeatedly. “There’s no reason I should be putting you guys in danger. There’s no reason for us to continue traveling together. I’m giving you the choice to be free and happy, and to leave me to make my own stupid choices and maybe, someday I’ll learn from the mistakes I’m sure to have to go through.” I lowered my head and closed my eyes, fearing how this would end. Although I wanted my friends to be safe, I selfishly didn’t want to lose my friends, either.
Something landed heavily on my shoulder, the weight taking me down. Before I could open my eyes or crash to the ground, something jabbed me several times in the head. “Ouch!” My eyes opened, but I knew who it was. “Hoothoot!”
“Hoot! Hoooot!” Hoothoot hooted eagerly, and then pecked me again.
“Hey, come on, now!” I complained. “What’s that for? Are you mad at me? For what I put you through in Saffron? In general the-?”Hoothoot flew high into the sky and soared around for a moment before landing back on my shoulder and pecking me again.
“Ow, Hoothoot! Cut it out or it’s back in the Poke Ball for you!” I started to laugh a little. “I think I get it... You want to stay with me?”
Hoothoot hooted again with excitement.
The next thing I knew, I was holding the weight of all of my Pokemon on top of me from the ground! Licking me, hugging me, nuzzling against me, all of them showing me affection.
My eyes filled with tears. “Hoothoot! Charmeleon! Beedrill! Butterfree! Dugtrio! Primeape! All of you? You all want to stay with me?”They all let out a loud, joyous cry.
I reached out and hugged them all as best as I could. I shuddered slightly at the fuzzy feel of Beedrill and the scaly feel Butterfree had, but just closed my eyes and ignored it. “Thank you. My friends. Now, it really is a Pokemon journey. Me, and my Pokemon. Me, and my friends. Thank you. Let’s never give up on our dreams. Let’s accomplish them all. Or fail miserably. But, together. OW!” I opened my eyes and saw Hoothoot.
My Pokemon all laughed.
I laughed with them, though that beak was really hurting me now. My laughter ended once I noticed June and Kiwi, and my Pokemon also got quiet.
June was smiling, her eyes full of admiration.
Kiwi looked blankly at us, no emotion shown, her eyes showing me that she was in another world right now, lost in thought.
I stood up and walked over to Kiwi.
Kiwi seemed to snap out of her daze and she looked up at me. Her stare lowered to my Pokemon, then even further down to her belt, at her five Poke Balls. When she looked back up to stare at my six Pokemon, her eyes were full of tears again. The distraught, pained look in her eyes was heartbreaking, but it went away quickly as anger took over. She jumped up to her feet and let out a loud scream that scared the hiding animals from the darkness and cover of the trees and caused them to flutter and scamper and cry out as they fled.
Silence then took over the area.
“I’m so tired of crying,” Kiwi said in a low voice. “I just want to die. I… can’t…” She looked me straight in the eyes.
My heart froze at her glance. It was filled with so much distress and hurt. I couldn’t stand to look her in the eyes, but I couldn’t look away, either.
“I’m sorry, Gary. I think I may have to see you again another time. One day. Like, when you come back to Pallet and are a great Pokemon Master.” Kiwi forced a smile on her face, but her flowing eyes told a different story. “I’m sorry, Gary.”
I opened my mouth as she turned around. “Goodbye, June,” Kiwi said quickly before covering her face and running.
“KIWI!” June shouted, running after her.
Kiwi ran even faster, as hard as she could. “LEAVE ME ALOOOONE!”
June stopped running and stood there, watching her.
Kiwi eventually ran out of sight.
June turned to me and instantly fell to her knees, sobbing loudly.
I walked over to her and slowly started to lower myself down to her, keeping my eyes on the last spot I had seen Kiwi vanish.
June reached out quickly and took my by surprise, pulling me down hard and grabbing hard at my jacket, burying her face against it as she wailed.
I didn’t push her away. I let her cry there and wrapped my arms around her.
Lying in my sleeping bag, my eyes were on the night sky.
June was several feet away, lying in hers, fast asleep.
Oh, Kiwi, I thought with a silent sigh. Tears overflowed from my eyes, rolling down my cheeks and some ending up in my ears.
It had been a few hours since Kiwi left our group.
Me and June had walked for about an hour before deciding to rest again. We sat for a while, not talking or eating. By that point I was getting really hungry, but at the same time, the thought of eating didn’t sound good to me. We managed to snack on treats in our bags, and after a couple more hours of doing nothing, decided to try and sleep.
June left me alone for a while, and I again didn’t question it, but instead, fed my Pokemon. By the time she had come back, they were done eating and I was in my sleeping bag.
June then got inside of her sleeping bag without a word.
I was so wide awake, I didn’t think I’d fall asleep. Kiwi, I told her. I’m sorry about all of this. You have every right to go back home. This whole journey is nuts. Why am I even on this, still? Get home safe, please.
All of Kiwi’s hard work, for nothing. Her four Badges were all she had to show for it. She was halfway to her goal.
I know Kiwi had been on her way to Saffron City anyway, but I still blamed myself for what happened to her Pidgeotto. But who knows what could’ve happened if we hadn’t all gone together. Would Kadabra have appeared for Kiwi? Would Kiwi and Kadabra have been enough to stop Haunter? Would me, June, and Kadabra have been enough to stop Haunter? Were the three of us necessary? Was it all just me? Sighing, staring up at the twinkling stars on this beautiful night, my thoughts were getting deeper by the second, showing no signs of stopping.
I didn’t sleep. I’ve only thought about, well, everything I’ve been through since I met you, Gary. You are a truly amazing and utterly astounding human being and a blessing to the Pokemon world. I truly mean that, Gary. I, on the other hand, still have tons to learn about Pokemon and am a complete disappointment to everyone I come in contact with. I guess I now have one more person to add to that list. You. But you won’t be the last, I’m sure of that. I’ve never been very good at goodbyes, as you well know. You saw how I left Gringey City without a word. Now, I must do the same thing to you, I’m afraid. I don’t think I can be of any assistance to you, anyway. I think I’m only getting in your way and making you feel uncomfortable. And now, I’m just making excuses and trying to justify me leaving so rudely and abruptly, so I’ll stop it. You deserve that much from me, Gary. And much more. You truly do have my utmost respect. I can’t deny that I am terrified of anything more occurring on this journey like what happened in Saffron City. And even the other stories you’ve told me about your journey scare me. I’m just a big coward I suppose. I’m not sure where I’ll be running off to. I can’t go back to Gringey City. I can’t go back to Vermillion City. But I’ll find my own way. I promise. Don’t worry about me. I’ll find my place in this world and I’ll find… Myself. My poor, lost little self. Thank you for everything, Gary.
I reread the note at least twenty times, stunned. It had begun to rain by about the eighteenth time and I leaned over the letter to protect it and read it the final times, and then crumbled it up. I thought I was angry at first, but I soon understood that wasn’t it. I was hurt. My two friends had just abandoned me. I umcrumbled the paper and then folded it carefully before putting it in my bag.
The sky was a miserable, muggy gray, the rain pounding drip after drip against my face. I loved the rain. Something about it drew emotions out of me. Somber, calming emotions. It made me feel good, in a somber sense. But not today. The rain and I were one right now. The day was feeling miserable, and so was I. I was depressed. Releasing my Pokemon and returning to Pallet Town to hide and remain forever sounded like the best idea I’d ever come up with. But, no. My friends may have abandoned me, but I wouldn’t abandon my friends. My Pokemon. Our dreams. I couldn’t tell if I was crying. I had an umbrella, but I never liked using them unless it was raining hard, like it was now. But, screw it. I let the downpour of rain soak me through my clothes as I walked through the muddy ground, shivering cold.
I didn’t care. Apparently nobody else cared, so why should I give a damn about my own self.
I was walking along the path, unsure of exactly where I was or where I was headed.
It was raining.
I was soaked in the downpour of rain.
My face was soaked in water.
My eyes were blurred from the rain in my eyes.
But I knew.
I was crying.