A Fresh Starter
Fate can be cruel. But who are any of us to say what’s fair. In a world full of opinion, where every right is someone else’s wrong. Where what is a criminal act to one person is a merciful act in the mind of another. A world where surviving traumatic, life changing experiences can be the very reason you are now living the lavish life a few years later. A world where everyone is convinced they have the answer based on a gut feeling that has been wrong countless times before. It is this world I live in that is governed by such a fate. A relentless fate acting upon some form of will.
But to what end?
I didn’t need to open my eyes. I didn’t even need my ears. Neither was necessary for me to know I was in a hospital. The pain everywhere told me enough. Reminded me of the attack. I thought crazy thoughts when I was left alone within my mind. I enjoyed the time to contemplate life and judge everything in the entire universe. My thoughts were too much to tell most anyone. It was hard to put these thoughts that flowed like water in my head into words. The water turned to ice and got caught in my throat. I also knew I wasn’t alone in my room. And even though I had yet to open my eyes, I knew that the living thing a few feet away from me was my Mankey. It had to be.
It wasn’t long before my exhausted body caved in again, and I fell asleep.
My Charmander looked up at me. “You’re a failure,” it sneered.
“Huh?” My mouth hung open, my eyes wide in shock.“I could tell from the moment I saw you. You’re pathetic. A total idiot.”
“Hey, wait a –”
“You’re not a Pokemon Trainer. Just a weak kid associated with losers and quitters.”
“Why are you -?”
“Your weakling of a sister. Your failure of a dad. A chump and a wimp. And now, you. A perfect combination of both. Dare I say a... chimp?” Charmander chuckled sinisterly. “I bet you made your mother proud failing this fast at life.”
I threw myself at Charmander in anger.
My eyes shot open right before I grabbed it by the throat and I hit the floor.
It had been a dream.
My head was throbbing hard. That collision would’ve hurt by itself, but the fact that my entire body was in aching pain already, made a bad situation, worse. Moaning on the floor, I looked around me.
Indeed, I was in some sort of hospital room. It actually looked very peasant and welcoming. A TV was hanging a little ways from my bed. Flowers sat in a blue vase on a table with a note in them, all wrapped in plastic. And another bed...
I stood up and hobbled over to get a better look, but there was no doubt about it.
A Mankey. My Mankey. Looking worse than I remembered. He was covered in purple and black bruises everywhere. It didn’t even look like a Mankey anymore. Just a bulging, pulsating entity hooked by cords to a couple of differing large, beeping machines.
“Mankey,” I whispered.
The door opened suddenly and I saw her.
Nurse Joy. An incredibly beautiful nurse known throughout the entire Pokemon world. Were they more famous for their beauty? Or for the odd trait that every Nurse Joy is not only related, but each and every one of them looks exactly alike and were all named Joy? Probably the latter. But their beauty was not to be counted out. It had been a secret dream of mine to meet a Nurse Joy. She was, after all, extraordinarily gorgeous.
Even in my most memorable trips with my parents, we never did visit a Pokemon Center or meet a Nurse Joy. My dad had a lot of Pokemon, but he always kept them with him and knew how to care for them himself, so he didn’t often bother visiting the nurses.
Funny what has to occur for our dreams to come true. And how worse of a time. I couldn’t truly enjoy this moment. I just stood there with my mouth hanging open like a dope, a funny though lovely feeling filling up the limited space in my chest.
“Gary?” Nurse Joy asked. “What do you think you’re doing out of bed?” She sternly walked over to me and gently escorted me back to my bed.
It was then that I noticed her classic Pokemon companion, Chansey. Every Pokemon Center not only had a Nurse Joy, but a Nurse Joy accompanied by a Chansey. The classic duo. Chansey were any Nurse Joy’s help. They were natural born healers and a great aid. If there wasn’t a Chansey, it was only because there was a Blissey, Chansey’s ever helpful evolved form. Both of them wore a white nurse’s cap with a red cross on it.
“Wait…” I whispered. “Mankey…”
“You lay down, do you understand?” Nurse Joy was known as much for her kind heart as she was for her sternness. She cared for people and Pokemon beyond comprehension, but when she was trying to help you medically, it was best you do what she says, or things can get nasty.
Same rule applied when it came to listening to her partner, Chansey. Chansey had a Double Slap attack that could knock out some of the most unruly of Pokemon.
“Please. Miss Nurse Joy…”
She smiled at me. “Take it easy, Gary. I am glad you’re awake now. You’ve been in bed for about a day. Your mom was very worried.”
“My mom…?” I mumbled weakly.
“Yes. Your mom.” Her smile could soothe a rampant Charizard. Her eyes burned through to my soul and gripped tighter than a Kingler on its prey.
I could feel myself start to relax. Melt to her will.
“Chansey!” Chansey cried out and walked over to my Mankey.
“Chansey will take care of Mankey,” Nurse Joy said warmly. Her face was flawless. Smooth. Who could resist such a gaze? So gentle. Friendly. Did she know she could control the entire planet with eyes so alluring? She said to relax and let Chansey handle everything.
Who was I to say no? I relaxed and stared back at her, smiling. I was smitten. She had stolen my heart completely. I’d have done anything in the world for her.
She glanced over at Chansey for a moment and then looked back to me. “Just relax now, Gary, okay?”
I saw the needle in her hand, but I didn’t care. What a beauty she was. Incredible. Just incredible. I felt the prick, but it only lasted a moment. I guess the drug was taking over because I could’ve sworn she was leaning in closer to my face.
“Don’t worry, Gary. I promise everything will be okay.”
Were her lips puckering towards mine? Or were the drugs making me loopy? I didn’t care. I closed my eyes and puckered my lips out to her, hoping to connect. I don’t remember what happened the following second.
“Do you, Nurse Joy, take Gary to be your lawfully wedded husband? To marry forever? To love and cherish. For better or for worse? For rich or for poor? Through happiness and sadness? Til death do you part?”
My eyes opened.
Nurse Joy stood before me in a beautiful white wedding gown, staring back at me with wide, teary eyes, her head lowered shyly. Her smile was bright and cushioned, like a cloud made of whipped cream. Her face was dark red with flustered delight.
I looked down at myself. No. This couldn’t be me. Not in a black tuxedo! My arms rose as I moved around in shock before turning back to Nurse Joy.
It was then that I noticed the pastor who staring at me oddly.
Within the next couple of seconds, I was stunned to realize that I was standing in a church!
And... my family was here! My mom. Sister Melissa. My dad. Distant family I hadn’t seen in years!
Prof. Oak and Prof. Sketchit!
Mrs. Tot, Ms. Say, and Mr. and Mrs. Butters!
Also, there were tons of Nurse Joys lining the wall! Not just that, but there were just as many Officer Jennys, as well!
I didn’t get the chance to appreciate Officer Jenny’s body in her sexy police uniform when I met her in Viridian City after the Mankey attack, but she was arguably even more gorgeous than Nurse Joy! And they have the same story as Nurse Joy. Same name, all related by blood, and they all look alike! But they tend to carry the faithful Puppy Pokemon, Growlithe, with them. However, many Officer Jennys have been seen with other Pokemon accompanying them instead.
Everyone was sitting in chairs, many in the crowd, including my mom, crying joyfully with smiles. Others were gleefully whispering to each other. Others simply beamed their approval.
“Do you, Gary, take Nurse Joy to be your lawfully wedded wife? To marry forever? To love and cherish. For better or for worse? For rich or for poor? Through happiness and sadness? Til death do you part?”
In shock, my eyes shot at the pastor. “Huh???”
Everyone in the audience gasped.
The pastor looked at me in shock.
The Nurse Joy before me covered her cheeks with her hands and looked close to tears.
I did damage control as fast as I could. “Uh-of course I do?? Is that really a question?” I laughed it off.
Soon, everyone was laughing. Even the pastor. And thankfully, even Nurse Joy.
Still chuckling, the pastor shook his head and said, “I now pronounce you man and wife. You may now kiss the bride.”
I reached out for Nurse Joy and she embraced me. Her soft lips pressed against mine. I held her face gently like the rarest of glasses and stayed there for what seemed like forever. When finally we pulled apart, I stared deep into her eyes.
Not Nurse Joy’s eyes. Not even… human eyes!
I kissed a…
“Chanseyyyyyyy!!” Chansey wailed with excitement, reaching out for my face as everyone cheered.
“AAAAAHHHHH!!!!” I sat up fast. I was awake. “Aaaaahhh!!” The pain from my body sunk in again, snapping me back to where I was and why.
In the hospital.
Heavy footsteps approached the room and the door flew open.
“Gary?” Nurse Joy was in the doorway.
I could see her Chansey behind her and… “Mom?”
“Gary!” She pushed past Nurse Joy and ran up to me.
“MOM! NOOOO!!!” I screamed as she reached out for me.
But my mom ran forward and hugged me tight.
The scream that came from my mouth as she wrapped her arms around me was unlike any scream I’d ever heard.
The attack I had survived from the gang of Mankey was pretty bad. It wasn’t until another week before I was able to walk decent enough.
Mankey’s health remained stable, but never improved enough to release it.
My mom had been in the hospital since the night I came in and never left to go back home.
I didn’t even know Pokemon Centers catered to humans. After all, we do have human hospitals. Apparently Pokemon Centers can assist in helping people, especially in incidents involving Pokemon attacks.
Since the Poke Ball I caught my Mankey in was now gone, Mankey wasn’t technically mine anymore. I could just leave it here and continue on my Pokemon journey. But how could I just leave it behind without at least knowing it pulled through? I couldn’t do that.
My mom was allowing me to continue my travels even though I know in her heart she was scared more than ever.
During a free moment in my head, a question came. “Does Prof. Oak know I’m here?”
“Yes,” my mom replied. “He had enormous faith you would be just fine. He said you’re a strong boy and always have been. He believed you and your little Pokemon would pull through.”
I was happy to know that he had said that. Grateful he cared about my Mankey I had only just caught. I sighed.
My mom’s arm around my shoulder tightened. “What’s wrong, baby?”
“Did he ask about my Charmander?”She didn’t say anything for a moment. Then, finally, “No.”
I stayed quiet. My focus was my Mankey again. Not that accursed red menace. That traitor. That disgusting... That vile, evil… I took a deep breath. I needed to focus on my Mankey. No matter how much longer it took, I wasn’t leaving until Mankey got better. And if not… I took a deep breath again. Very slowly. The pain from the Mankey attack was still with me, but it was far more bearable. My body always stung and pulsated, and the scars were there, too. Looking in the mirror, you could see it was me, but I looked like what had happened. Like I had my behind handed to me in a fight with a bunch of rabid animals. But I’d be fine.
But my Mankey…
As much as I just wanted to forget Charmander, that slithering, spineless lizard was the reason me and Mankey were in this predicament in the first place. I’d never forget this. No matter what. Charmander sold us out to the Mankey. Then, after we got away with barely an inch of our lives, the creature deserted us again. It truly didn’t care.
Well, who needs it, anyway? Good thing I chose it instead of Butters, Aly, or Kiwi. Good thing I took this pain for them. Then a new thought came to mind. If Charmander had stuck with us, would we still be in this pain? Would Charmander be in the hospital, too? I wouldn’t want that for Charmander. But after seeing its disloyalty to us... My teeth gritted in anger.
“Gary,” my mom said, holding me tighter, “it’s gonna be okay, baby.”
I let her hold me, but I was getting mad. “No, it isn’t,” I mumbled.
“What was that, Gary?”
“No, it’s not!” I yelled at her.
We were in the lobby of the Pokemon Center. Not only were Pokemon Trainers and their Pokemon there, but so were tourists from other lands. They all turned to me and my mom.
None of it mattered to me, though. “Nobody can say everything is okay until my Mankey is out of here! I don’t want promises from those who can’t keep them! Are you in the emergency room caring on my Mankey? What if Mankey dies? Then what will you say? ‘Sorry?’ I don’t want a stinking sorry! I want my Pokemon!”
There was silence in the Pokemon Center.
Nurse Joy and Chansey were watching me from behind the front desk.
I felt extremely uncomfortable with all the attention on me, my eyes burning hot with tears as I glared at my mom.
All she could do was gaze back at me silently with a calm look on her face.
The calm stare made me sick and I wished I could just wipe it off with my hand until concern and tears and everything I felt inside of me was shown instead. I didn’t realize I was shaking until a hand landed on my shoulder, causing me to whip around. “Prof. Oak!”
“It’s okay, son.” He extended his arms.
“I’m not your son!” I was yelling at everyone now, and I didn’t really know why. “My dad is dead! Dead! He died because he was a greedy failure! He-!”
“He cared too much,” Prof. Oak interrupted.
The new silence somehow became a deafening noise.
Prof. Oak put his arm around me and walked me outside of the Pokemon Center.
I didn’t fight against him. I just followed him through the doors and into the bright, beautiful daylight of an outside world I hadn’t been a part of for far too long. Inhaling sharply and holding my breath, my gaze stayed down on the grass.
It looked healthy and vibrant in the sun’s glow.
My mom didn’t follow us. It was just me and Prof. Oak walking.
The Pokemon expert stopped in a grassless clearing in the middle of Viridian City. “Gary,” Prof. Oak started. “He loved you. And he cared a great deal for his family.”
I kept my eyes trained to the ground as he talked, listening.
“I don’t know exactly what he was after, but he was out there for you. For your mother. For your sister. He loved you all with all of his heart. I know he left for a good reason. And I know if he could do it again, he would, and he would try harder to make it back home next time. This wasn’t a trip for money and power. This was for his family’s well-being.”
“But we were living just fine,” I spoke softly, my eyes beginning to fill up, but holding the tears back.
“Like I said, I don’t know why he left. But, Gary, believe me that he was a good man who wouldn’t have just left so you could live a fancy lifestyle. He wasn’t into material things like that. He wouldn’t have wanted you to be raised that way. Even your mother doesn’t knows why he left, I think. But he was a great man. Everybody in Pallet Town knows that. Trust that, Gary.”
I looked him in his eyes, hardening my stare to keep in the tears.
“As for Mankey, you have to be there for it. You have to believe in it. You have to support it. No one can guarantee it will survive, but you have to stick through these difficult times. Pokemon die, and you never know when. Nothing lives forever. That is the rule of life itself. It ends. The rest of us have to move on and either make something or ruin everything. We have the choice. And not everyone chooses the same path. That is life, Gary. The creation of, or the destruction of. Remember that, my boy.” Prof. Oak stared back at me just as hard.
I just nodded and looked away. After a few minutes, my arms bent and stretched behind me before reaching far above my head and I uttered a big groan. It hurt to move like this, but I withstood it as much as I could before my arms dropped and I straightened up.
Without another word, we walked back to the Pokemon Center.
I stepped through the doors as they opened for me and saw everyone turn to me. That wasn’t my concern.
My mom was looking at me from the other side of the room.
Quickly, I walked over to her and sat down. “I’m sorry, mommy.”
She didn’t speak.
“I was thinking I’d quit being a Pokemon Trainer,” I told her.
“What?” my mom in shock.
I wasn’t sure why she was shocked. Was she surprised I was thinking of no longer being a Trainer because she thought I was going to just continue? Or was she happy I was thinking of quitting?
“But, I can’t, mom,” I finished.
Silence from her.
“I have a journey to fulfill. A promise,” I explained. “I am going to capture every Pokemon in existence. Defeat every Trainer who I meet. I will become a Pokemon Master, mom. I will succeed what my dad started and my sister continued. I will not return until I’ve fulfilled my promises. That is what I promise to you, right here, right now, mom. I’ll become a true Pokemon Master!”
Her eyes filled with tears and she looked away from me, to the floor.
“I have to finish what has been started, mom. I-”
A light ping noise came from the doors at the back of the Pokemon Center. The light above the doors, showing a large needle with a red backlight, went out, and Nurse Joy and her Chansey came out with stern faces, looking around.
They spotted me and we locked eyes.
There was another terrible silence in the room for what seemed to be too long to bare. It was killing me. I was about to stand up and shout something when a smile swiftly moved across Nurse Joy’s gorgeous lips and Chansey’s face.
They stepped away from each other and a second and third Chansey came out from the back, rolling a stretcher by the sides.
On it was my Mankey!
Although it looked like it had been in some kind of a scuffle, it looked great considering how it had looked the last time I saw it.
I ran up to it immediately. “Mankey?”
It was laying still on its back, eyes closed.
“He needs some rest for another day or two, but he is finally showing some real improvement,” Nurse Joy said reassuringly.
I couldn’t control myself. I hugged all three Chansey and Nurse Joy, in turn. “I love you! All four of you! Everyone else involved! Thank you so much!” I cried against the nurse and she even hugged me back. I felt her Chansey put their hands on me and the Pokemon Center was filled with claps.
One hand landed on either of my shoulders. One heavy, one lighter.
It was my mom with the lighter hand and Prof. Oak with the heavier landing hand, smiling at me.
I let go of Nurse Joy and hugged both my mom and Prof. Oak and cried even more.
It was four days later.
When Nurse Joy was one hundred percent certain everything was okay with Mankey, he was finally free to be released. They wheeled Mankey out of the doors he had been behind for so long.
Mankey saw me and at once hopped up and down excitedly.
I smiled wider than I had done since my Pokemon adventure began.
Mankey leaped high into the air with a screech and landed right in my arms as I reached out for him, nearly killing me as he chose to hang from my neck! It was okay, though. He had recognized me and was happy to see me!
I couldn’t believe it! “Mankey, how do you feel?”
Mankey grunted and screeched and climbed all over me, taking my cap and wearing it forwards. It looked kind of cool on him, too.
I laughed at my silly friend.
Mankey looked healthy. Not a fully scar free Pokemon, but just about. You could barely see any of the scuffs and bruises.
I hugged Mankey tightly and he hugged me back urgently, which actually hurt a little. My wounds were getting better, and I could take the pain for a hug like that any day.
“My, what a fine specimen of a Pokemon that is,” Prof. Oak said, eyeing my Mankey. “Hi, Mankey. My name is Prof. Oak. Would you like a banana?” The professor reached in his coat pocket and pulled out the fruit.
Mankey sniffed it several times happily before screeching in joy.
Prof. Oak peeled the banana for Mankey and then handed it to him, explaining, “You see, Mankey don’t often have the capabilities to peel a banana. But once given a helping hand, they go… bananas! Ha ha ha ha ha!”
Everyone in the Pokemon Center smiled weakly at the poor joke.
“This moment calls for a poem,” Prof Oak. insisted.
Not this... I thought, my shoulders slumping.
“For Mankey, peeling the banana, is not as important as eating the banana.”
This guy gets paid for writing this stuff? I wondered.
A banana peel hit Prof. Oak in the face.
Mankey began screeching excitedly in my arms.
Prof. Oak removed the peel. “Guess he wasn’t a fan?” Prof. Oak joked.
Everyone in the building laughed.
The tone of the room was so much different and better now than it had been not too long ago.
“Hey… Um… Mankey?” I began.
Mankey relaxed and stared up at me.
“Well, you don’t have to stick with me anymore you know… The Poke Ball is destroyed and I don’t have any Pokemon anymore to battle you with in a fair battle, so if you wanted to leave…”
Mankey screeched at me, leaping from my arms and landing on the floor where he proceeded to jump repeatedly.
“Hey, hey! Relax!” I cried, raising my arms in surprise and confusion. “What’s wrong?”
He stopped and crawled effortlessly around my body again, then flipped my cap backwards and clung from my neck by his legs, hanging happily.
“Aaaaacccccckkk!!” In reaction to his weight, I held his body up in my hands to save my neck.
“I’d say Mankey wants to be your new Pokemon. Again, ha ha ha,” Prof. Oak guessed.
“You think?” I asked, surprised.
“Only one way to find out,” Prof. Oak smiled.
I nodded and pulled out a Poke Ball. “Mankey! You’re welcome to join up with me again!” I tossed the Poke Ball in the air and Mankey happily jumped after it, relieving my neck.
Mankey hit the Poke Ball, it opened, and he was sucked inside by the red beam. The ball landed in my hands and shook for a few moments before the ping sound was heard. The red light vanished, and with that, Mankey was caught!
“YES! I caught Mankey!” Me and Mankey from now on. I felt excited, as if I had just received my first Pokemon. My Starter. Mankey. I was excited to continue my journey. After thanking Nurse Joy again, but in my heart, sad to be leaving the beauty behind, I left the Pokemon Center.
“So, Gary, where to next?” Prof. Oak asked.
“I’m going through the Viridian Forest and on to Pewter City,” I answered. “That’s where I think I will be heading for my first Badge, I guess.”
My mom and Prof. Oak smiled.
It wasn’t long before I was biding them goodbye. I told them to be careful on their trek back through Route 1, and they wished me luck and to be careful as well.
My mom gave me an especially long hug and several kisses before leaving back to Pallet Town with Prof. Oak.
I looked back to my Mankey, who was now hanging from my back with his arms around my neck. “So, what do you say we head to the Poke Mart? I think it’s located somewhere in the Pokemon Center. I think you just have to ask where it is or something. We could maybe get some more Poke Balls and food and stuff, and then really get this journey started!”
Mankey grunted in agreement and sniffed me.
I laughed. “Good! We’re off, buddy!”
Off to the Viridian Forest.
Off to Pewter City.
Off on a brand new adventure with my first official Pokemon.