Progression, In Theory
The clear path from moments ago was gone, now nothing but trees surrounding June and I.
The two of us seemed more distant that ever lately, but that wasn’t my concern. I had pretty much been ignoring her since yesterday after our brief teatime with Gene.
June had continuously questioned me about Gene’s spooky sentence to me: “Remember me in the gray area.”
I had no idea what that meant, and I didn’t feel like talking about it. That made it easier to think on. I shot June a very mean look, and she hadn’t asked me about it since.
She even walked a further distance apart from me, several feet behind me right now.
I didn’t feel regret about anything. I was in a bad mood, thinking about everything Gene had told me.
“You have no idea of how much power you have.”
Most of our conversation was bizarre and made absolutely no sense. A couple of things she had said did make sense, though. A few things she told me stuck in my head and I dwelled on them more than anything else.
“You, are not the cause of her death.”
“It wasn’t possible for you to save her!”
“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.”
I inhaled deeply and held my breath, but didn’t stop moving. A robin caught my eye, staring at me motionlessly. My feet came to a stop and my eyes closed. I started to mentally will peace from my brain throughout my body. Pleading for it. Trying to ease the pain in my heart. My breath finally came out and I looked up at the late morning sky.
It was a clear blue, not a cloud visible.
A strong wind began to blow into me just as I began walking. I pushed forward, my hands deep in my jacket pockets. My eyes pressed tight to hold in the water forming around them from the sharp breeze, and I wiped at them with my arm, shaking my head and sniffling. I wondered if June was watching me, thinking I was crying again. Sadness wasn’t within me at this time. There was anger, instead.
I’m headed to Dark City, now, I thought. To face the Dark Gym Leader. Cleopatra. And I’ll beat her. I’ll beat her, and then I’ll beat the next Gym. And finally, the next and final Gym… My heart began to beat extra hard as it began to sink in just who my final Gym battle was going to be against…
I hadn’t thought about her in such a long time. It was still fresh in my mind how easily she beat my Pokemon all three times we battled. I never stood a chance every single battle.
Graveler had been taken down, but even with that, her Kabutops was unstoppable.
No! I shouted to myself in my head. No Pokemon is unstoppable! I will return to Pewter City and she will be my eighth Gym Badge. The next time we meet, her Badge will be in my case. I promised I’d be back to win her Badge, and I intended to keep that promise. My heart was pounding harder than ever. With a tough swallow down a tight throat, I took a deep breath and shakily released it.
Kabutops didn’t leave my head, easily defeating my Primeape both times they fought with a single swipe from its deadly scythe.
My eyes furrowed with impatient rage as my teeth tightened against each other. I’ll beat her next time. I’ll beat her, and the Pokemon League, and the Elite Four, and the Pokemon Champion of Kanto, and all the other regions. I’ll do it for me. I’ll do it... A sharp, painful breath escaped my nostrils. I’ll do it for Aly... I inhaled strongly, holding back tears. Robin will pursue the same thing. For Aly. Kiwi will… My breathing came to a halt.
Robin and Kiwi…
Does Robin know about what happened to Aly, yet? I wondered. Does Kiwi know? Where is Kiwi, anyway? I suddenly felt drained of energy and came to an exhausted stop. This entire journey was life changing. As long as I had known this, now felt like the first time I was truly... getting it! Taking the time to look back and relive what I’d been through so far, something I’d done countless times before, it was like I was just hit by an epiphany.
Nothing was the same any longer.
“Gary?” June called softly.
I had just barely heard her. I was kind of glad, in a sense, that she had called out to me. She had pulled me out of my flurry of thoughts.
She was standing several feet from a white wooden fence which surrounded a house!
It was a short, one story white house with a black roof. Two windows sat at the front, black curtains closed over it. The fence guarded a nearly bare garden, only containing some weeds and dead vegetables.
I had walked right by it, not even noticing it. “What is it, June?” I asked emptily, devoid of energy.
June turned to the house. “It’s nice. I just thought…” June sighed and lowered her eyes to the ground. “Nothing. Never mind. I’m sorry.”
I looked back at the house. “It is nice, June,” I muttered. “No need to be sorry.”
June looked up at me and then back to the house. “I just thought I’d point it out. You’d walked right by it...”
“Yeah…” I turned to continued walking.
A thundering “BARK!” immediately stopped me in my footsteps.
My eyes shot open wide and I whipped around.
June gasped and looked around in a panic.
From the back of the house, I saw the huge beast come thundering through the garden at us.
“RUUUUN!!!” June screamed, though I had already began running, screaming at the top of my lungs. “It’s a dooog!!”
“A Granbull to be exact!” I corrected.
“Really don’t care what it’s called right now, Gary!” June was right behind me.
“GRRRRANBULL!!!!” Granbull growled viciously, giving chase.
“Stop that right now!” someone called from far away.
I kept running, June starting to catch up to me and eventually actually running past me! “AAAHH!!” I screamed as something tackled me from behind, forcing me to the ground, my face in the dirt as I slid to a stop.
“GRRRRRR!” I heard the beast growl in my ear.
“I said STOP IT, SAPPHIRE!” the voice demanded. “Get off of him right now or you’re gonna get it!!”
The dog immediately hopped off of my back and I rolled around in fear, facing my attacker.
A young man was running up to us urgently, his open gray hoodie blowing in the wind, revealing a white T-shirt. He wore furry black pajama pants and fuzzy black slippers that covered his entire feet. I could see white socks sticking up from inside the slippers, around his ankles. His long dark hair was a mess as he reached Granbull, panting, frowning. “What have I told you about that?” he snapped. He raised a hand and hit Granbull by its nose. “Bad!”
Granbull wimpered and backed up, lowering its head.
The man turned to me and shook his head, the anger faded from his face. “I am so sorry about that, kid.” He extended a hand and helped me up. “I apologize to you both.” He was now looking at June.
“That thing is yours?” I panted, eyeing Granbull warily.
“Yes” He turned to Granbull. “And sometimes I regret that.”
“It’s okay,” June finally spoke up. “Maybe she was just being protective of you. I don’t think she meant any true harm.”
“I know that,” the man laughed. “And I love her.” He walked over to her and kneeled down, petting Granbull’s head.
Granbull made some sort of a happy grunt and nuzzled her head against the man’s hand.
“But sometimes, she’s really a pain,” the man sighed. “But I do love her so much.” He reached out and Granbull leaped into his arms, licking his face. The man laughed and rubbed her head eagerly.
Granbull. The Fairy Pokemon and the evolved form of Snubbull. This Pokemon is very gentle and kindhearted, attacking only when attacked. Most enemies run away from Granbull once it has opened its intimidating jaws.
“Well, this data must be wrong.” I kept cautious eyes on Sapphire.
The man laughed, standing up and patting Sapphire. “She’s very protective of the house and me and Kangaskhan.”
“You have a Kangaskhan?” I asked.
“Yes! I’m kind of doing some secretive work on my Kangaskhan.”
“What do you mean?” June asked, stepping up to the man.
The man hesitated, staring at June uncertainly. “Well…”
“Would you tell us? Please?” June urged.
The man smiled. “It’d be better if I showed you, I think. This is very exciting and very secretive work, though. Under normal circumstances, I’d never consider this, but my Granbull did just chase you down, and you both seem like bright kids. Plus, you have a Pokedex. Could that be from the great Prof. Oak?”
“Yeah!” I nodded. “He’s my neighbor in Pallet Town, and gave me this when I began my journey.”
“Prof. Oak!” June exclaimed with excitement, clasping her hands together and bouncing in place, an enormous smile on her face.
The man and I turned to June, my eyebrows furrowing in confusion, before me and the guy turned to face each other.
“Well, such a friend of Prof. Oak must be good company,” the man nodded at us.
June and I exchanged glances.
His face went serious. “But you can’t tell anybody. ANYBODY! Understood?” he said sternly, pointing at us sharply.
June and I nodded immediately.
“I won’t say a word,” I promised.
“Me, neither. Honest!” June added.
“This work is so very important,” the man explained. “I’d hate for it to leak out and for others to make a claim on what I’m so close to understanding about Kangaskhan.”
“What exactly?” June asked eagerly, right before I was about to ask the same question.
“Like I said, it’s best I show you…” the man said mysteriously, straightening up.
I turned to June, who looked back, a bit of what looked like fear in her eyes.
“I’m Antonio,” the man offered his hand to me.
“Gary.” I shook it firmly as he gripped me back.
Antonio turned to June and extended his hand.
“Nice to meet you. My name’s June!” June introduced herself, shaking his hand, taken by surprise instantly as Antonio shook her hand firmly, rocking her entire arm and body before letting go.
“It’s a pleasure to meet you both,” Antonia said with a broad smile. “Follow us, please.”
Antonio and Sapphire turned and led the way to their house.
June and I looked at each other, June rubbing her arm, and we followed the two.
“Excuse the yard,” Antonio chuckled. “I never did have a green thumb, even in nice weather.”
“A green thumb…?” I asked.
“It means he isn’t good at agriculture,” June said, looking at me as if I were dumb.
“Oh... Right...” I grumbled, glaring back at her, and then turned back to Antonio as he looked back at me, opening the door.
“I’m surprised you know what agriculture is, seeing as you didn’t know the term ‘green thumb,’” Antonia chuckled with a warm smile, leading the way inside.
“Yeah…” I muttered, getting ticked off at everybody’s sudden condescending words, as I stepped inside. My eyes widened at the mess!
Papers where strewn everywhere; all over the floor, tables, on his open laptop, covering an external keyboard. Clothes lay on the couch in bunches. A plate containing a couple of slices of half eaten pizza sat on the table next to a glass of what looked like cloudy water. A TV sat against the wall, on the floor, a male news reporter speaking about something, but the volume was off. A child’s photo was on the upper right hand side of the screen, next to the man’s head, before growing in size and taking over the entire screen. A young child with curly black hair and braces was smiling, the words MISSING underneath his picture, a phone number to call if he was seen posted underneath. A dirty pair of jeans lay sprawled on top of the TV. Two doors to the far end of the room were closed, as were three more doors on the opposite side of the room. One of the room doors had a roll of tape hanging from the doorknob.
The silence in the room as June and I looked around in shock at the messy house was broken by Antonio saying, “I guess I don’t have any kind of thumb for taking care of things.” He laughed, and June and I forced smiles.
“I can offer you some food!” Antonio suggested. “Though I may have to wash some dishes out…”
“No!” June and I cried out at once.
“I ate,” I said quickly.
“Me, too!” June said loudly.
Antonio laughed loudly. “Okay, okay, I get it,” he said understandingly. “Anyway, come with me.”
June, Sapphire, and I followed Antonio to the left side of the house, where the two doors stood. He opened one and Sapphire walked in. Antonio turned around sharply and looked at me and June coldly, blocking the entrance.
I could just barely make out the room behind him.
“I am serious right now, kids,” he spoke coldly. “You cannot tell a soul what is behind this door!”
“I won’t,” I told him, my heart warning me to leave, intimidated by what could be inside of that room, but curiosity outweighing the fear. “We won’t!”
“Yeah, we wouldn’t do that, sir,” June spoke shakily. “You can trust us both.”
Antonio nodded and opened the door wider. He walked inside, and June and I followed.
The white room was mostly empty. Everything inside of the room sat on one side, to the right. A large desktop computer sat on a large desk, multiple cords attached to its sides, extending and connecting onto… Something else…
June cried out.
I gasped and raised my hands to my mouth.
Antonio walked over to the creature that stood silently in the room, staring at us.
Sapphire was calmly sitting next to it.
Antonio rubbed the creature’s head and smiled. “Hey there, Kangaskhan.”
“Kang… WHAT?” I screeched. I yanked my Pokedex out immediately.
Kangaskhan. The Parent Pokemon. Kangaskhan are very protective of their young and will do anything to keep them safe. Encountering a baby Kangaskhan in the wild, alone, is rare, but beware; the parent is always nearby. If the baby is threatened, the results can be deadly.
I stared at the Kangaskhan in my Pokedex, and then back to the Kangaskhan next to Antonio.
The one next to Antonio did resemble the one in my Pokedex, but…
“That…” June managed to utter. “What…?”
Antonio’s smile faded. “This is the secret.”
“Is that really a Kangaskhan?” June asked.
Antonio nodded. “Yes.”Nobody said anything for a while, June and I waiting for an explanation.
Antonio turned to the creature. “Igglybuff, Pichu, Togepi. Tyrogue, Azurill, Riolu, Happiny, Wynaut, and many more,” Antonio started. “Baby Pokemon. Kangaskhan is not on the list. It has no classified baby form. Why? Clearly, when most Kangaskhan mothers are seen, it is with her baby. What Pokemon is this baby? Why has one never been seen evolving into a Kangaskhan? Kangaskhan are just too dangerous and too powerful. They won’t let people get close enough to see their babies and study them, so the question has remained unsolved as to what this Pokemon is exactly.”
I stared intently at Antonio, captivated by his words, dying to know more.
It was true. Nobody knew what Pokemon that was in a Kangaskhan’s pouch, and nobody had ever seen the baby evolve. What was it exactly?
“In my travels, I met a sweet female Kangaskhan that I befriended. I’m not sure if she ever would have let me study her baby or not, but she unfortunately passed away while giving birth, and I took in her baby,” Antonio continued. “This child, her son, has been in my care ever since. I studied him carefully, and took care of him better than I did myself. My messy house is the result of that.” He chuckled a little bit. “He has grown into this. It isn’t a new form, nor is it an evolution. It’s… something entirely different that may have never been witnessed before in the Pokemon world. Something no other Pokemon may ever even go through.”
“But what is... he?” June asked.
“That’s what I’m studying,” Antonio replied. He turned to the strange Kangaskhan and smiled.
The Pokemon turned to Antonio and smiled back. “Kangaskhan!” he spoke out in a young voice.
“Oh, my gosh,” I whispered, my mouth hanging open at what I just heard. My eyes could have popped at any second from how they were bulging. What I was seeing was completely incredible and otherwise unbelievable! It was like witnessing an extraterrestrial being.
This Kangaskhan didn’t quite look like a normal Kangaskhan. He was smaller, and just didn’t look as well developed. Like a pre evolved form of a Pokemon. But he definitely looked more advanced than the baby that sits in a Kangaskhan’s pouch. His body was purple, a little darker than baby Kangaskhan are.
“This is incredible!” June whispered, walking over to the Kangaskhan.
Kangaskhan eyed her carefully as she got closer.
“June,” I said in a low, cautious voice.
June crept even closer, staring at Kangaskhan with a slight smile creeping over her.
The Pokemon watched her uncertainly, cocking his head slightly, slowly...
“Hello, Kangas-” June greeted him.
“KHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAANNNN!!!” Kangaskhan roared, backing away from June. “Kangas Kangas Kangas!!!” Kangaskhan began to freak out and thrash around frantically, several cords removing themselves from his body.
“Aaaahhh!” June backed up in fear.
I backed up too, my eyes wide with terror.
Sapphire stood up and kept her eyes on Kangaskhan, barking.
“Kangaskhan, easy, please!” Antonio pleaded. He grabbed Kangaskhan by the shoulders and tried to get him to relax.
Kangaskhan roared even louder and tossed Antonio off of him.
Antonio yelled out as he hit the floor, but he got right back up.
Sapphire began barking ferociously at Kangaskhan, taking cautious steps towards him.
“What have I done?” June whined.
“He’s just shy!” Antonio called out over Kangaskhan’s yells. “Me and Sapphire are the only company he’s ever had! You have to understand that!” Antonio ran up to Kangaskhan and stopped in front of him.
Kangaskhan stomped around in place, roaring and crying and making a fuss.
“Kangaskhan, come here,” Antonio said gently, extending his arms.
Kangaskhan paid him no attention and continued to cause chaos, swinging his little tail around in a flurry.
“Could you two wait for me in the living room, please?” Antonio insisted. “I think this may work better if it’s just us three!”
“Right,” I agreed, and turned to the door, June swiftly walking behind me.
“Better yet, let’s talk outside!” Antonio suggested. “Just in case he picks up your scent!”
June and I left the room, slamming the door shut, and quickly left the entire house.
I fell to the ground, leaning against the wall, gulping and breathing heavily.
June fell to her knees next to me, gasping loudly.
“Your special Pokemon reading powers didn’t warn you that thing would go berserk?” I snapped.
“Oh, why don’t you just shut up?!” June retorted nastily.
I rested my head against the wall of the house, still hearing the roars from the Kangaskhan inside.
Neither of us spoke for the longest time.
When my heart finally calmed down and began to beat normally, I turned to June.
She was now sitting, looking down, seeming to focus on something. Or maybe thinking.
There was only a weed from what I could see. I turned away from her and looked up at the bright, blue afternoon sky, listening to the silence.
“I did learn one thing about that Kangaskhan,” June finally spoke up.
I turned to her, but didn’t say anything.
The front door swung open suddenly and June and I turned with a start, leaping to our feet.
Antonio turned to June, a big smile on his face. “I’m so glad you’re both here!” Antonio exclaimed. “I thought maybe you were scared off. I felt so bad! I still do. I’m so sorry about what happened there.”
“That’s a Kangaskhan!” June burst out.
Antonio and I looked at June blankly.
She’s totally lost it, I thought. She’s completely retarded now.
“Yes…” Antonio replied, squinting at June in confusion, nodding slowly. “Indeed, he is a Kangaskhan, June.”
“No, no, no!” June shouted, shaking her head hard. “I mean, like, it doesn’t evolve! It won’t evolve! It, like… GROWS!”
“June… do you need some rest?” I asked cautiously, truly concerned now.
“NO!” June shouted angrily at me before turning back to Antonio. “Kangaskhan don’t evolve! If a Trainer, like Gary, scans a Kangaskhan in their Pokedex and it has a baby, the Pokedex won’t scan the Kangaskhan and then the baby as two separate Pokemon because they’re the same Pokemon! I don’t think the baby evolves at all! It just grows up! It’s still a Kangaskhan! And probably always will be! But, the baby just grows up! Some Pokemon do that! Surely you’ve seen a really young, um, like, a Vulpix! Some are born with only one tail! Then, as they mature, the tail splits! But it’s not an evolution. They’re just maturing and growing! Or like, Bulbasaur! They’re born without the bulb on their backs. It’s planted right at birth! Cubone are rarely seen without their mother’s skull over their heads, but they aren’t born that way. I think Kangaskhan does something similar! Just more drastic! It matures and grows as opposed to evolving! At least… that’s what I saw in Kangaskhan when I looked at him…”
“What you… saw?” Antonio repeated.
“Yes. You see, I can kind of read Pokemon,” June explained shyly, her eyes fluttering as she lowered them, smirking. “And, when I looked into your Kangaskhan’s eyes, that’s kind of what I saw in them.”
Antonio looked at June in shock, and then he turned to me.
I nodded, giving a shrug. “I believe what she’s saying, Antonio. She really does have a gift of seeing things in Pokemon the rest of us don’t.”
Antonio looked back at June thoughtfully. “That’s a very interesting thing for you to say, June. It took me years of my research to think that up, and here you come, glance at my Kangaskhan for three seconds, and you pick that up.”
June gasped. “You think I’m right?”
Antonio nodded. “I’ve suspected that myself. I’ve raised this Kangaskhan for over a year now, and only months ago did I began to suspect exactly what you said. I watched him grow and change before my eyes. I have that room filmed at all hours. He’s growing up, June! I’m so… proud. Happy. Enamored. This truly must be how a father feels for his child. I… love him!”
June smiled at Antonio.
Antonio raised his hands to his eyes and kept them there for a moment, finally wiping his wet eyes. “There’s still much work to be done, but thank you so much, June. You really make me feel like, maybe, I’m getting closer to something now.”
June’s eyes almost seemed to twinkle with delight at Antonio’s compliment. “Thank you, Antonio! This has been such an incredible experience for me, personally. Thank you!” June reached out and hugged Antonio. “Thank you!”
Antonio hugged her and patted her back.
June let go of him and turned to me, still smiling.
Antonio extended his hand towards me.
I took it and shook it strongly, giving him a smile. “Thank you for that. That was really memorable. Something I’ll take with me.”
“Hopefully, it won’t be much longer before you can say something about this to other people, Gary,” Antonio winked.
Antonio’s smile broadened. “Thanks, you two.”
“Charmeleon, Primeape, Hoothoot, Kingdra, Baltoy, and Weepinbell,” I said to my six Pokemon I sat by.
June had left to be with her own Pokemon yet again.
I decided now was an opportune moment to work on things with my own Pokemon, as Gene had suggested yesterday. “As your Trainer. As your friend... I can see that something’s wrong with guys. It’s obvious to me that you all have been down lately. You haven’t been eating much. You don’t train with each other or play around or anything, and it hurts me to see you guys so sad, especially since I fear it may be because you all can sense my own depression lately.”
None of my Pokemon said anything, Baltoy not even spinning around in circles. They all just listened, their mournful eyes on me.
I sighed, trying to find the right words. “When I was three years old, I met a girl named Aly,” I told them. Aly… I thought, pausing as my eyes watered uncontrollably. I didn’t really want the tears to stop. All of this pain needed to come out now.
Charmeleon looked me in the eyes, seeming to acknowledge Aly.
“Aly was my first friend I ever really had,” I continued. “She was friends with another friend of mine named Robin, and both of them were friends with Kiwi.” I stopped again. Thinking about Kiwi was getting harder, not knowing where she was or how she was doing. It felt wrong. It felt familiar.
Where was my sister? Melissa.
I inhaled deeply, struggling to focus my thoughts. My emotions. “We all became fast friends,” I pressed on. “They were all my closest of friends, and still are. And they always will be.” I swallowed the lump in my throat before continuing. “Aly. Aly…” Breaking down would have been so easy. Just collapsing upon myself and exploding into tears that were flowing too slowly from my eyes, my body filled to the brim and ready to pop from the pressure within. But I had to keep going, even now, when I wasn’t sure how I could possibly do that. When I wasn’t sure how I had gotten as far as I had so far.
Seeing my tears, my Pokemon crept closer to me, surrounding me, feeling my sorrow.
“Aly died,” I whispered, choking out the words. The tears seemed to be burning hot now, sliding painfully down my cheeks. “Aly died, killed by a group of evil people.”
Charmeleon sat down by my left side, his eyes dripping, digging his face into my shoulder.
Baltoy spun slowly and moved forward, stopping at my feet and falling over like a top on my legs, making a sad cry of its name.
Hoothoot flew into my lap, looking up at me and flapping his wings, crying out, tears filling his eyes.
Weepinbell hopped over to me and reached out his long vine, resting it comfortingly on my shoulder.
Primeape sat near Baltoy, looking at me with wide eyes that never stopped flowing with tears that disappeared into his furry body.
Kingdra hopped over to my right side and leaned against me, wailing out in a low voice.
I wrapped my arms around Kingdra and Charmeleon and pulled them close.
Charmeleon wrapped his arms around me in response.
My other Pokemon snuggled up closer to me.
“Aly lives on through you, Charmeleon,” I said tearfully, rubbing my hand down his warm back.
“Char?” Charmeleon said, looking up at me.
“And you, too, Kingdra,” I continued.
“Doo?” Kingdra looked at me in shocked sadness.
“And you, Hoothoot,” I stated. “Aly lives through you, Primeape. Baltoy, too. And through you as well, Weepinbell.”
My Pokemon all continued to cry with me.
“Aly lives on through all of us,” I whimpered. “Forever. We’ll be stronger. We’ll be better than ever. For Aly. Like Aly would want us to be. Like Aly would be if she were alive. Because she lives through us. So, we have to be strong. We will be strong. We are strong!”
I closed my eyes, holding my six Pokemon.
Without knowing it, this was how I fell asleep.
With my six Pokemon.
I woke up the next morning, my Pokemon in my arms.
After my Pokemon and I had breakfast, June and her Pokemon having eaten before me and my Pokemon had even woken up.
June and I got our things.
We took one step forward.