Black & White
My Pokemon ate together not far from where I sat on the ground, my back against a tree trunk.
June was nowhere in sight, having taken time for the past couple of hours to feed her own Pokemon.
I had watched her walk away deep into the forest for some privacy, and for a brief second, I considered asking her to stay with me. I had considered trying to convince her to send out all of her Pokemon in front of me and not hide them. For a brief second, I thought of telling her that it may help if her Pokemon met me and my Pokemon, and we could try to work together on their personal issues.
The feeling disappeared in the next instant as my thoughts returned to Aly. I didn’t care about anything else but her right now.
June would be fine. It was probably best for her to work with her own Pokemon alone, anyway, I thought. They don’t even know me. What help can I provide?
The sound of the gunshot that took my friend from me rang through my ears. It was just a memory, and yet the sound was so clear, I jumped in shock.
Aly fell to the ground on her side.
She coughed up blood everywhere, staring at me with her tear filled eyes, shivering hard.
Her arm reach up and grabbed my arm tightly, desperately.
“Gary,” her last words she choked out.
I closed my eyes tight and shoved my head into my knees, wiping my eyes on them.
“You damn coward! I’m not afraid of these bullies!” Aly had yelled at me when I had tried to calm her down, insisting it wasn’t worth it. “You have to stand for what you believe in. You can’t just cower away! How can we win if we let people like this step all over us?”
I cried silently. A rustling in the trees made me quickly wipe my eyes and look up.
Someone was coming.
June appeared several seconds later, a sad look on her face, staring down. She looked up at me and forced a smile. “Hi.”
My six Pokemon were staring at me, their food bowls about halfway filled. It seemed that they didn’t have much of an appetite since leaving Lavender Town.
I wasn’t exactly sure what was wrong with my usually hungry team. My eyes went to June and I made some kind of noise towards her, acknowledging her presence. I then stood up and walked over to my Pokemon, returning them to their Poke Balls before putting their food bowls back in my bag, pouring the food that was in them into my bag carelessly.
June and I exchanged blank glances.
“I’m ready,” she stated.
I didn’t reply, simply turning and led the way out of the woods and back on the path.
The sun was setting, the sky looking eerily beautiful, a mix of red, orange, and dark blue, looking like a painting, decorating the sky above us.
Somehow, wistfully watching this sight made me feel even sadder than I had before. Why am I here? I wondered. Why isn’t Aly on this path, or one like it, instead of me? Why didn’t I do more to stop them? Why didn’t I jump in front of the gun? Why didn’t I attack the person who shot her? Why did I just watch it all happen? My eyes fell to the ground. Tears dripped from them and disappeared from my view as I walked.
“You damn coward!” I could hear Aly’s scream.
Yes, Aly, I thought to myself. I am a coward. A damn coward. Tears flowed from my eyes even faster, and I sniffled. A damn, pathetic coward who did nothing to save you. I should be dead; not you. This is all my fault.
“Gary?” June said in shock, startling me. “Gary!” She reached out as I turned to her and grabbed me, staring into my eyes.
I shook her off of me. “Leave me alone!” I snapped.
She let go of me and clasped her hands together, keeping them close to her chest, staring at me sadly.
I kept walking ahead of her.
June’s footsteps followed along a few seconds later. “Gary, whenever you’d like to talk, please, do so,” June offered. “I’m here for you. Whenever.”
I ignored her.
“Gary…” June whispered sadly, so low, I just barely heard it.
We walked in a silence I longed for.
“Your Pokemon are sad,” June said suddenly.
I didn’t understand what she meant by that, and pretended I didn’t hear it.
“They can feel your sadness,” June continued. “They understand what’s going on. It’d be beneficial for them, and probably for you, too, if you talked with them sometime about it. They love you, Gary. They care, too. Just like me.”
It felt like my eyes were far over capacity at her words, and it was a struggle not to let the tears flow freely. Somehow, I forced space within. I looked back to June but kept on walking.
June smiled gently at me.
I turned away and looked ahead. So that’s why they’ve been acting a little weird, I thought. The sight of something small to the side of the path made me stop.
It was a little bird. It was staring at something on the ground.
The thing was an oddly shaped rock.
The bird kept its eyes focused on the rock, not moving, not blinking.
The woods were quiet, motionless.
“She’s a Natu,” June whispered.
I waited for the Natu to move, or do something, but she remained still. “Is it dead?” I asked.
“No. Natu are kind of… Well… they kind of do this, naturally.””Do what?” I asked.
“That,” June answered.
“She’s just staring at a rock.”
“They stare at rocks all day?”
“They… just stare.”
I turned to June. “Why?”
“Nobody really knows exactly.”
Natu. The Tiny Bird Pokemon. Natu are said to possess prophetic powers. They always seem to be staring intently at something, until the object moves.
“A Psychic type,” I said, looking it up on the Pokedex. “Interesting. I guess I’ll catch her. I’ll go with Baltoy!”
“Baaaaaltoy!” Baltoy sang once out of its Poke Ball, spinning in place at top speed.
“Natu?” Natu looked up at Baltoy as it slowed down and stopped spinning.
Both Pokemon stared intently at each other, not moving.
“Baltoy, use Rapid Spin!”
The instant Baltoy began to spin, Natu cried out and rapidly hopped away!
“Toy…?” Baltoy said in confusion, stopping its spinning.
“Hey!” I cried out. “Let’s get her!” I led the way, Baltoy spinning rapidly after me, June calling out for me to wait as she ran.
“Natu! Natu! Natu!” Natu rapidly hopped away from us. The little creature was pretty fast, but we were right behind her.
A minute later, still chasing Natu, I looked up to see a little cottage.
It was made of white stone, the roof made entirely of straw, a red brick chimney jutting from the top.
Natu hopped quickly up to the wooden door and hopped through a tiny entrance carved out at the bottom of it that fit her perfectly.
Baltoy and I stopped in front of the door, standing on a set of stones set in the ground in a square pattern, like a doormat.
June stopped behind us.
“I think she belongs to whoever lives here,” June deduced.
“Darn it,” I said, a bit upset. “Well, let’s keep going, then. We shouldn’t trespass.”
I turned around to leave when the wooden door slowly, almost silently, opened.
Past the door was a wooden floor, a fireplace with no burning wood inside of it, and a very large, comfy looking black chair near it. There wasn’t much more to be seen inside of the dark place from the tiny opening we’d been granted.
I turned to June and motioned that we should leave.
We turned and walked away.
“Bal?” Baltoy said curiously.
I turned to see my Baltoy spin slowly in place and enter the home. “Baltoy!” I shouted angrily.
Baltoy ignored me and entered.
I pulled out its Poke Ball and returned it to its Poke Ball. Turning back around, I walked away from the cottage.
“Don’t be mad, dear. Baltoy was only drawn by what lies inside…” a voice said from the cottage.
I gasped and turned around with a start.
June gasped as she stared at what I saw.
My mouth was hanging open in shock, my heart beating rapidly.
A very, very tall, very old woman now stood in the doorway that was empty. She was hunched over, her head just slightly above the door frame. Her face was wrinkled, as were her hands that lay by her side. Her long nose stood out, bent just at the very tip. She wore a long, black shawl, reaching down to the knees of her gray, baggy sweatpants, the legs which sagged over her feet which stood in gray sandals. She looked to be about eighty, but stood taller than literally any adult I knew in person; not to mention she was hunched over! “I welcome you to come in for some tea, children,” the old lady offered, her voice an old, tired creak.
I shook my head rapidly. “No thank you, ma’am, we have to go!” I said louder than I intended.
I grabbed June by the arm and pulled her forward.
“Whoa!” June uttered.
We walked quickly away from the woman as she continued to stare at us, a creepy smile plastered on her face. “Cleopatra will be there for your Gym battle, Gary,” the woman spoke. “No need to rush.”
I froze as my heart slammed against my chest.
June gasped and froze in place by my side.
“I encourage you to join me for some tea. Please.”
She saw my Baltoy, I figured. She knows I’m a Pokemon Trainer. The closest Gym to here is Dark City, home of the Dark type Gym run by Cleopatra. That’s how she knew that! “W-w-we really have to go,” I stammered, my voice quaking for some reason. “Thank you, really.”
I walked forward on shaky legs, pulling June who seemed frozen with fear, but at my pulling, walked with me.
“You can’t blame yourself for her death, Gary,” the woman said coldly.
It was as if an arrow made of ice had been shot at me, piercing right through my heart. I nearly stumbled over and fell flat on my face.
June turned around to the old lady. “What did you say?” June asked frantically.
I didn’t turn around, still stunned by what I’d heard, trying to find a reason for it.
“Gary, let’s get out of here. This doesn’t feel right,” June whispered.
I finally, slowly, turned around.
The old person was no longer standing by the doorway. The door still stood open.
“Gary, come on.” June pulled my arm.
To her surprise, I pulled it back. “You’re the Pokemon expert, right? Not the human one.” I slowly walked forward, towards the cottage.
“Gary, please! Something is wrong here! This could be a trap!”
I ignored her concerns and walked up to the door, unable to let what she had said, go. I pushed the door open wider and stepped inside.
There was a closed window right by the door. A kitchen stood several feet to my right, a dark, empty sink sitting by the refrigerator, cabinets above the sink. Everything looked very clean and well kept. A window was just above the sink, and a stove was on the other side of the fridge, a teapot sitting on top of one of the burners, a small fire burning underneath it. A large wooden table sat in a separate area of the cottage; what appeared to be the dining area. Large, wooden chairs sat around the table.
My eyes swept the rest of the room, seeing the large, black chair sitting near the fireplace, a bookcase a safe distance from the fireplace, a couple of doors…
“AAAHHH!!” I screamed, grabbing my chest in shock.
Natu sat on a dresser that sat a couple of feet away from me, staring at me.
The dresser held a large statue of some kind of bird. It stared at me in a creepy manner. It kind of resembled a huge Natu.
“Natu!” Natu hopped off the dresser and past my feet.
“AAHH!” I screamed again as Natu hopped over to the feet of the tall woman! “Where did you come from?” I asked her in shock.
“I live here,” she smiled. She walked away and into the kitchen, three cups sitting on the kitchen counter as the teapot began to whistle shrilly. “Gary, June, have a seat, please.” She opened a drawer and pulled out some spoons, setting them down.
Natu stood still, staring at a large piece of dirt on the floor.
I turned to June who stood behind me, her face looking pale. “How do you know our names?” she asked, trying to sound strong, but her voice showing weakness.
The woman didn’t answer. She opened a cabinet and pulled out a little paper box and an equal sized container. She opened a tiny section of the box and poured out a small amount of what looked like sugar into two of the cups. Lifting a section of the container, she used a larger spoon of the bunch to scoop out some kind of goo into one cup, leaving the spoon. She then closed them both and put them back in the cabinet before reaching up and grabbing three tiny packages and three coasters and closing the cabinet. The coasters were set down and the packages were then opened, a little bag taken out and dropped in each cup, throwing the remaining packages in a tiny trash can which sat in a cabinet underneath the sink. The woman grabbed the teapot and filled the three cups, the loud whistle from the teapot deacreasing, and then set the teapot on a different burner and turned off the previous burner. Then, removing the large spoon and dropping it into the sink, grabbed the remaining three smaller spoons, placed them each into one cup, grabbed a cup in one hand, a coaster in the other, and took it to the large wooden table, doing the same for the second and third cups and coasters. Staring at us, she sat down in front of one cup and smiled.
June and I exchanged glances before moving towards the table, June closing the front door behind her.
I reached a chair a little distance from the woman and pulled it out, wondering why there were so many chairs for somebody who seemed to live alone.
June sat in the chair right next to me, but even further from the woman.
The old lady pushed the other cups, sitting on their own coaster, towards us, and we took one, but didn’t drink as she sipped from hers. “I like my tea straight,” the old lady grinned, setting the cup down. “I know you like yours pretty sweet, with sugar and honey, Gary. And you, June, prefer just a little sugar.”
My eyes widened in surprise.
“How do you know that?” June demanded. “Who are you?”
“You may call me Gene,” the woman replied.
“Miss Gene,” June said more calmly.
“Gene,” Gene repeated.
“Okay, then... Gene. How do you know about us?”
“This has less to do about you than it does about Gary, my dear,” Gene told June. She turned slowly to me, her smile widening.
I felt scared for some reason as I noticed she had perfect teeth. They can’t be real, I thought.
They seemed to gleam with perfection.
Gene’s smile faded. “Gary,” she said, her voice getting deeper, lower. “My dear Gary.” She shook her head sadly.
I was trembling in my seat, terrified by this extremely tall woman with perfect teeth. Terrified by how she was acting right now.
“Gary, I’m so sorry for your loss,” Gene said slowly, softly.
My eyes tightened at her.
My hands immediately turned into fists and slammed down on the table with fury. The instant she said Aly’s name, I lost it and jumped up angrily.
“Natu!” I heard Natu from somewhere behind us.
June gasped. “Gary!”
“Who the hell are you? Huh?” I shouted angrily. She had no right to speak Aly’s name! Who did she think she was? “How do you know Aly? HOW?”
“I’ve never met Aly,” Gene replied calmly, almost seeming to have expected me to get so angry.
I swallowed hard. “What?”
“I know Aly, but I’ve never met the poor child,” Gene repeated.
“That doesn’t make any sense!” I screamed, walking around the table to Gene’s side, my hands balled into fists.
“Gary, what are you doing?” June spoke in fear.
I opened my fists, intending to grab the old woman and shake the answers I demanded out of her violently. But I couldn’t do that. My fists closed again. “I want answers.” I inhaled deeply. “NOW! Who are you?!”
A voice came from behind me.
With a start, I turned around, but I couldn’t see anything.
A slight wind blew through the open window by the door.
“What was that?” I asked out loud, looking around. My eyes immediately went back to the open window. The open widow that was closed when I entered this cottage… My heart beat even faster as I looked around in a panic.
The voice came again, louder. What was it saying??
Suddenly, the large statue of the bird that resembled a giant Natu, moved! It fluttered its wings and turned its head towards me.
“WHOA!” I backed up in fear.
June screamed, standing up quickly.
The large bird flew into the air, aiming at me!
I screamed and ducked, running out of the way.
June screamed as well, hiding under the table.
The enormous bird landed on the floor next to Gene, staring at me calmly.
“What is that?” I exclaimed.
“My dear friend,” Gene responded.
“That’s a Xatu, Natu’s evolved form,” June said meekly, poking her head from under the table.
“Xatu!” Xatu looked at me with that same creepy glance as Natu.
Xatu. The Mystic Pokemon. The evolved form of Natu. Xatu do not typically move and will stay still all day long. It is believed it stays still because it is watching both the past and the future at the same time.
I stared at Xatu, stunned.
“This Pokemon has been my friend for so many years,” Gene said happily. “Sometimes he opens the window because it gets too stuffy in here for him.” She chuckled and reached out, petting Xatu’s head once.
Xatu kept staring at me, and yet I somehow felt like he wasn’t looking directly at me.
“Gary, please, I encourage you to have a seat,” Gene offered.
I turned to Xatu, and then back to Gene, trying to catch my breath.
“June, please, do join us,” Gene added.
I turned to June, who stared back at me from under the table. Giving her a nod, I headed back to my seat, seeing Natu now standing by the table, staring at one of the table legs, not moving a inch.
June popped up near her seat and sat down.
“You don’t like hot tea once it’s gone cold, Gary,” Gene said with a warm smile. “You neither, June.”
Hesitantly, I grasped my cup and stirred it before slowly took a sip. My eyes widened in surprise. It was still hot. And it was delicious!
“Oh, my!” June said, having had a sip of her tea. “Wonderful!”
June and I sipped our tea some more.
Gene smiled wider, her perfect teeth showing again. She turned to me, her smile fading. “Gary.” Her eyes closed and she shook her head.
“What do you know?” I pleaded, removing my hands from my cup.
Gene opened her eyes and shot me a look of pure ice.
I began shivering from the cold feeling now flowing through my body.
“Aly’s death was an unfortunate result of crooked individuals,” Gene said harshly. Her voice was now mean.
Every word she spoke tore through me like sharp blades. My eyes began to water as she continued to speak, Xatu still staring at the place where I stood a few minutes ago, not moving.
“Aly was a strong individual. She was determined to prove a point with people who could not be argued with. She was not the cause of her death. You, are not the cause of her death. Those men were the cause of her death.”
“I should’ve done more!” I burst out, my eyes filling with tears. “I-!”
“Am a brave person!” Gene shouted back, an anger bursting from her that I didn’t know she had. “You were brave and you stood up to them! You stood by Aly’s side! You tried to protect her! You tried to hold her back and you spoke up even with the risk of being killed yourself! You didn’t see the gun until it was too late. You couldn’t have reacted any faster! If you could have, you would have! You would have been dead on the floor if it would have saved her, Gary! It wasn’t possible for you to save her! You are a hero!”
“A hero?!?!”I screeched furiously, standing up again. “I did nothing! I saved nobody! My best friend is dead! What kind of hero am I?”
“You stood up to sinister people and made an attempt to fight back,” Gene spoke sharply, glaring at me, her blue eyes almost seeming to have a glow to them now. “You are a smart young man. You-”
“I almost got my own Pokemon killed!” My face twisted in a scowl, tears dripping from my face onto the table. “They almost took my Pokemon from me! To kill them!! And there was nothing I could do about it!”
Gene’s face softened.
We stared at each other for a long time.
Silence was the only noise to be heard. A loud, noticeable, uncomfortable silence.
I was trembling too hard to stand up, finally forced to take my seat, breathing shakily.
“Gary,” Gene said softly, her voice its creaky, old, but friendly tone again. “You have no idea of how much power you have.”
“What…?” I asked shakily.
“You truly don’t know how much power you hold within you.”
I shook my head in confusion.
“I believe that, even if you had given your Pokemon to those individuals, you would’ve found a way to save them,” Gene told me. “I don’t even believe you would’ve ever given them your Pokemon.”
Tears flowed from my face as I closed my eyes and shook my head strongly. “No. No,” I replied, crying. “They would’ve been dead.”
“Not at all, Gary,” Gene disagreed. “You would’ve died to ensure saving them, Gary.”
Tears slid down my face continuously.
Gene turned to Xatu and pet his head once more.
Xatu hadn’t stopped staring at the spot I had stood in previously. It was very unsettling to see it still standing there like that.
Gene turned to me. “Xatu is my best friend,” Gene said with a smile. “I had him since he was a Natu.” Gene looked over at Natu, who was still staring at the table leg, not moving. “When that Natu’s mother died, it was very painful for Xatu, here. Xatu loved her so much. He knew her time was coming, and of course, so did she, but knowing things doesn’t always make it easier. In fact, when she died, Xatu here, almost seemed shocked somehow. It was the most horrifying thing I’d ever witnessed. To see my friend in such pain…” Gene turned to Xatu, who hadn’t moved, and then looked back to me, her eyes looking glassy. “Me and Xatu raise the daughter they had, and she’s such a good girl.” Gene smiled, looking back down at Natu, who remained motionless. Tears ran down Gene’s cheeks and she turned to me. “Xatu can read the past and the future. He tells me things all the time.” Gene chuckled.
I stared at Gene. “Is that how you know so much about me?” My eyes felt puffy from the crying I had done, the water finally slowing down significantly.
“Gary, you did everything you could possibly do that day. You and your Pokemon deserve some time alone to work out your feelings about all of this and get even closer to each other through time, dear. Don’t you give up.”
More tears found a way to the surface and out of my face. “Thank you, Gene. Thank you.”
“Gary... You cannot change the future,” Gene said solemnly. “It is set in stone. But the things you encounter along the way can influence your ultimate decisions. What will happen, will happen. The future has been finalized, the path laid out already, and always has been, but your path is only that which is laid out depending on the things you encountered, what you learn, and how you will react. Remember this, Gary. It’s all up to you.”
I nodded, a bit confused by what she just said. I wiped my teary eyes and sipped some more tea. It was getting cold, but I didn’t mind it too much, and I finished my cup in silence.
Very shortly, almost immediately, after June had finished her cup of tea, the old lady, her cup more than halfway full, smiled. “It’s time to go.”
I stared at Gene and nodded. “Thank you for your hospitality, Gene.”
June stared at me as I got up, and she stood up with me. “Thank you, Gene,” she nodded.
Gene turned to June and nodded briefly before turning back to me and smiling broadly. “Believe in your power, Gary.”
I nodded, not sure what else to do or how to take that.
After a while, nobody saying anything, I walked to the door, June following. I opened the door and turned back. “Bye Natu, Xatu.”
“It was nice meeting you two,” June added.
They both said nothing, Xatu still staring at the same spot, Natu still focused on the table leg, neither budging.
I shook my head with a smile and turned to Gene. “Goodbye, Gene.”
Gene wasn’t smiling anymore. She stared at me with hard, unfriendly eyes. Her lips parted slightly. “Remember me in the gray area.”
“Excuse me?” I asked, my heart beating quickly again.
She kept her solemn glance. “Goodbye, Gary.”
I stared back for a moment before swiftly exiting this place.
I never looked back.
June was right behind me, trying to catch up with my quick strides. “Gary!” she called. “What did she say? The gray area?”
I kept walking ahead quickly, not answering June.
Aly… I thought.
My eyes filled with tears suddenly.
I remembered Gene’s words. All of them.
And I promised myself I’d never forget.
Remember me in the gray area…