Chapter 12: Haunted
The phone ringing was the beginning of what was a series of terrible events. The rain outside hadn’t let up all evening, cascading down the shuttered windows in torrents of water as if a mass of water Pokemon were all simultaneously calling forth Waterfall attacks. There was a bit of thunder and lightning cropping up on occasion, but to the man dressed in sweats and a tight fitted tee, it had little effect. After all, cuddled on his couch with his faithful companion Umbreon and a thick woolen blanket while watching a ridiculous television drama that Misty would most likely be chatting his ear off about tomorrow, Gary Oak had little to concern himself with.
Until the phone call.
The grandfather clock struck nine times, in correspondence with the concluding credits of the show, when the blaring buzz of the Viridian Gym leader’s Pokegear started going off. Scrambling from within the warmth he’d been enveloped in, Gary hopped forth and grabbed the miniature device with nimble fingers, desperate to answer. If any problems were to arise, the youngest Oak was certain he’d be at the tail end of any reprimand for not answering the Pokemon League.
“Hello?” he asked the receiver when it was beside his ear, expecting the chairman or someone equally as important on the line.
“Gary! Where are you right now?!” was the rushed reply. This voice was the throaty tone of Brock Slate, his fellow gym leader from Pewter and a sort-of-friend that Gary had made associations with via Misty. He certainly wasn’t expecting to be rung by the tanned rock type trainer.
“Uh, hey Brock. I’m at home, duh. Where else would I be on a night like this?” Taking a glance out the window, it seemed the weather turned even fouler if that were possible. The sky was almost pitch black, the quick paced dark clouds rushing across his vision and the rain droplets huge and unforgiving. A round of flashing lightning caused Umbreon to yip in surprise at her master, but he shushed her softly and listened to his fellow gym leader speak.
“The hospital of course! Can you honestly tell me you don’t know?” the man on the line asked, desperate from his tone of voice. It sounded as if he were running, from the intermittent huffs that were interspaced in his speech. Well obviously, Gary’s mind pieced together, if someone was in the hospital and the squinty eyed man was on his way there, it would probably be at a fast pace.
“Why are you at the hospital? Brock, I’ve been home all night because of the weather warnings, as should you be.” The green eyed male didn’t mean for the comment to come out snidely, but that clearly was the last thing on his telephone companion’s mind as he moaned loudly.
“Arceus, I hate that I have to be the one to tell you this Gary, but Misty’s been in an accident.”
In that few seconds after the words slipped from his mouth, the leader of Viridian City’s gym halted breathing, seeing, thinking. Every single event in time stopped. It was nothingness.
And then his brain was catching up as he ran for the door, sliding a pair of sturdy combat boots onto his feet and a waterproof windbreaker, a matching set to Misty’s he unconsciously thought, onto his body. Umbreon, frantically bounded after her master and his abrupt, erratic behavior, and started barking at him in her Pokemon chatter. But as soon as his Pokemon belt was on, he recalled her without a word of explanation. He didn’t have time for this; Misty was at the hospital.
“Brock, which hospital?! What happened?! When?!” the frantic brunette shouted as he exited his home through the back, not even bothering to lock the door. The rain beat down on him like a Rockslide attack, but the green eyed trainer merely tucked his head into his chest and kept the Pokegear close to his face. At the same time, he was sprinting towards his parked bright red convertible, which he thanked Mew had the roof pulled up to protect it from the monsoon-like weather.
After climbing into his vehicle with rapid pacing and tossing the now on-speakerphone Pokegear into the seat next to him, Gary repeated his questions because he didn’t hear them through the unaccommodating weather.
“Celadon General, the one near-”
“The Silph Company, I know it. I’m actually all too familiar with that place.” A shudder coursed through the cinnamon haired trainer’s spine, but he chose not to focus on his personal feelings right now. He needed to get to Celadon as soon as humanly possible. Revving his engine, barely audible through the rain’s thumping, Gary zoomed away quite unsafely down the unlit slick roads of Viridian, headed east for his destination. “You have to tell me though, what the hell happened? And why didn’t they call me?!” Anyone who knew of Misty or himself was acquainted with their relationship, so why wasn’t he contacted? As much as he hated the fame that came with being an Oak and his past research, Gary would have hoped it would conjure familiarity and aid in a time such as this one.
“I don’t know, honestly,” the tanned man’s voice came scratchily over the other line. It was apparent that Mother Nature had plans on interfering with the Pokegear’s reception. “The only reason I got called was because Nurse Joy had been visiting the hospital to inform an injured trainer that his Pokemon were fine and recognized Misty as she was being admitted. Said she remembered me traveling with her in our younger years so the hospital called me up. I honestly thought you’d be the first one they called.”
Yeah so did I, he thought darkly, trying to process the fuzz-filled information being related to him. Brock’s voice was becoming nothing more that an echoey whisper across the line. It shouldn’t surprise the brunette, though, seeing as he was passing through the dense foliage that founded Viridian Forest. He was positive he’d lose the other male’s signal before he reached Route 16.
“Did they at least tell you if she was okay? Or what injures she has?” The youngest Oak was trying to control the alarm budding in his chest. He needed facts, details; things that would steady his emotional overdrive and prohibit him from crashing into a tree as he swerved and sped through this unMewly weather. But the only reply coming through to him now was half words and static.
“Brock? Brock!” he shouted, knowing that the connection was lost and it was a fool’s effort. Still, he attempted if only for the sake of sanity. When he heard the buzz that signaled what he already knew, Gary actually started panicking. He couldn’t think straight, couldn’t breathe without shuddering. Frantic thoughts about his ginger haired girlfriend rolled through him. What happened to her? Did she get attacked by wild Pokemon? Or did a trainer challenge her to a battle in which the water expert gladly took seeing the advantageous weather? Did she take a fall somewhere on the way to Celadon and need to be rescued? Mew forbid, did someone kidnap her and rape her?
An unseen pothole sent the former researcher’s crimson convertible skidding around in circles, but being in the mood he was, instinct caused Gary to press hard on his brake pedal. For a few seconds the Viridian Gym leader spun faster than his accelerated heart, giving out a terrified shout and shutting his eyes as he only had one name block out all his nervous musings.
And then there was a thump. A hard hitting, jabbing-shoulder-into-door thump, but nothing as if he’d impacted a tree. Blinked out of his frozen state immediately, Gary could make out a bluish shape amongst the blurry glass. And reason held him fast.
What the hell had he been thinking? He could barely see with the windshield wipers, how was he driving so recklessly? He shouldn’t be on the road at all! And what had stopped his crazed driving session without killing him? It certainly wouldn’t be a person. Was that blob standing beside his driver’s door a Pokemon?
His natural inquisitiveness taking over, Gary unbuckled his seatbelt, something he gratefully recognized saved him from knocking his head into anything damaging, and carefully opened his door to slip out into the disagreeable rain. And what a sight was before him.
Standing beside his convertible was a wolf-like Pokemon, its flowing purple mane almost wispy and translucent. He could tell through the pounding on his eyelids that the Pokemon’s red orbs were watching him steadily, as if sizing him up and the former researcher could only stare back quietly. Somewhere in his brain it clicked that this was a legendary Pokemon gazing intently at him, but his thoughts that would normally have him jumping in excitement were dulled by the same though that helped him focus in the car.
“Misty.” The man with cinnamon colored spikes didn’t realize he’d said her name aloud, but the blue colored dog certainly did, and responded to the cue. Taking large steps, the red eyed Pokemon, Suicune his educated mind helpfully provided, now stood hunching over to be nose to nose with him. The poor weather that festered seemed to have no effect on the creature as he watched Gary closely, examining him with a look that almost asked ‘What about Misty?’
And whatever compelled the youngest Oak to speak, he didn’t comprehend, but he’d said it anyway. “I need to see her. She’s . . . not okay.” Somehow, this vague statement registered with the massive water type Pokemon and he stood his full height before motioning to his back with his elegant head. An invitation to ride.
Under normal circumstance, which this evening obviously was not turning out to be, Gary would be on a researcher’s high and recording data and taking notes and doing all the things he’d used to when an opportunity to study something interesting came up. Yet this situation was too focused on the one person that meant more to Gary than his life. So he didn’t question anything as he hopped onto the Legendary’s slick back nor did he speak when the Pokemon set off at gale speed towards Celadon City. Or so Gary hoped.
There were blurred trees and muddied roadways around them but the rain was more gentle as they streamlined down a path only known to his transportation. It was as if a bubble buffered the weather surrounding Suicune and, in turn, himself. This experience allowed the green eyed male to think about how foolish his behavior had been and how grateful he should be that fate placed this Legendary before him to assist in his endeavour.
Without realizing it, the landscape altered from shades of green and brown to the more monochromatic grays and blacks that made up a city. And when the aurora Pokemon he’d wrapped his hands around stopped moving and was glancing back at him in expectation, Gary was caught in a odd state of mechanical motion as he slipped down Suicune’s blue back and into a slump onto the dirty alley floor.
He was in the city of his destination, but the quick arrival threw the youngest Oak for a loop. It was still grossly unpleasant outside so the streets were empty and ominous, and had he not thought of his reason for coming here to begin with, Gary might not have found the strength to lift himself up and turn to stare at his aide. But his girlfriend’s name echoed quietly in his mind so the leader of Viridian City’s gym did just that.
The blue dog Pokemon watched him once more, steadily observing the emotional turmoil filling the brunette as their eyes locked. There was a message running between them telepathically. Misty. A hoarse thanks exited the trainer’s mouth before he bolted from his transportation’s personal space and ducked out into the horrendous weather.
A quick left had Gary promptly in front of Celadon’s city hospital, but the verdant eyed male brushed any logical questioning thoughts away from him. He needed nothing more than to confirm Brock’s phone call so he jammed his sopping windbreaker-clad arm into the door and tumbled inside the heated hospital foyer. Rushing to the counter while dripping puddles from the amount of water he’d accumulated outdoors, Gary nearly yelled the words out at the flustered looking nurse ready to chastise his disruptive entrance into the healthcare building.
“The emergency room! Where is it?” His words melded together, but were coherent enough for the nurse to purse her lips and give him a superficial smile.
“Sir, we don’t let people just waltz in here demanding information unless they have a medical emergency.” She motioned to the people perched in the waiting room chairs, all in different orders of disarray. “Please take a seat and we’ll have a look at you as soon as we can.”
“No, I’m not ill! Misty Waterflower, my-” Gary paused for a millisecond to register that he’d need an irrefutable reason to be helped so he continued with a pained face, “fiancée, was admitted and I just arrived after being informed!” Using his charismatic talent, the brunette let his eyes plead with the receptionist as her features lost the sneer and she nodded passively. She also let her eyes linger on his a moment too long, as if even in his terribly soggy state there was something worth noticing. And when her eyes bulged in realization, a hand flew to her mouth as the other stopped typing.
“You’re- you’re Gary Oak!” she shakily spoke, apparently in awe and admiration. Nodding back quickly in the hopes that she would now be more cooperative, the former researcher added a tiny smirk at the flustered nurse to prove his point.
“Yes, now can you please help me?” he kindly questioned, taking a half a glance behind him to the awaiting people in the hospital’s gray armchairs and hoping no one was eavesdropping. He certainly didn’t need any overexcited fans of any sort standing in his way. The receptionist got to work immediately, typing text and organizing files that was beyond the worn and waterlogged trainer. When she gasped out an ‘ah ha’ with a gleeful tone, the man with cinnamon colored spike leaned over the counter to listen in closely.
“Ms. Waterflower is in the intensive care unit, Mr. Oak. Very serious condition. Take the elevator over there up three floors, and bear right until you hit the ICU.” She pointed to the closed metallic doors opposite the seating area and simultaneously handed him a visitor's pass that would assist him in his venture. Her forlorn smile did little to stop the ache in the Oak’s chest when he heard about the intensive care unit, but he graciously nodded his head and leapt towards his destination.
It didn’t take half as long as he’d assumed it would to reach the ICU, especially when through the intercom of said department his fellow gym leader Brock had heard his voice and demanded the nurses let him inside without hesitation. He was ushered in with a flourish. Brock was there waiting with a grim face and steady hand to grasp Gary’s arm, who hadn’t realized his limbs were quivering all over like windblown leaves.
“Where is she?” he spoke hurriedly over the elder gym leader, not bothering with niceties and decorum. Despite his shaking, his voice was concurrently demanding and desperate, ready to act out on a whim just as he had been all night. Brock, who was always exceptional at reading others, spoke not a word and lead Gary into a curtained area from which much beeping and buzzing could be heard.
When the flap exposed the view, the Viridian Gym leader almost wished it hadn’t. Lying upon the blindingly white sheets was a bloodily, bandaged Misty, complexion ghostly pale and tubes inserted everywhere imaginable. Her normally vivid hair had matted blood darkening it, while her pixie lips sported splits in three different places. Her athletic build was hidden away under splotches of ugly colors and there were lesions tarnishing most of her visible skin. Not a patch of ivory was unmarred by bruise or cut or fluid-filled IV, leaving his normally indomitable spitfire to look no stronger than a sheet of glass; the slightest touch and she would shatter into more pieces than she already was in.
An uncharacteristic sound escaped the brunette’s lips at the sight, a twisted mix of a sob, a bark and hiccup. He was instantly by her side, carefully taking her bandaged hand and bringing his face to her bluish purple one to brush his lips against her ear. At some point, his eyelashes became wet with unnoticed tears as he took in her lemony chlorine scent underneath the sterility that plagued hospitals. His shoulders slumped and shook with silent sobs at the redhead’s condition, but there was a singular thought trying to get him not to shut down completely. She was alive, no matter how bruised and broken. She would heal and all that mattered was that she hadn’t left him alone in the world. Misty would get better, be the crazy girl he fell in love with and together they would joke about this incident in the future. He was sure of it.
So sure that when some of the many colorful monitors started erratically going off, Gary was certain it was his mind playing foul tricks of him. Only when he heard Brock’s muffled voice calling for nurses and feeling his shoulders being pulled away from the only person who mattered to the former researcher that a problem was registered. He was being coaxed away from the girl he’d literally risked his life to see this evening and sure as Bulbasaurs were green, he wasn’t going to let anyone tear him away from his lover.
“Misty! What the hell is going on? Misty!” Gary Oak wasn’t a stupid individual though. He knew exactly what the increasing spikes on the heart monitor meant, he knew what the warning beeps were suggesting, but he felt the need to ask anyway if only to shake off the hands dragging him away.
“Gary, stop! Let’s wait outside and let the nurses handle this!” the throaty voice of of his fellow trainer called out next to his ear. “It’s not the first coding she’s done, let’s just-”
“No! Let me fucking go Brock!” he snapped viciously, straining to get back into his previous position that a doctor and three nurses now occupied in his vacancy. “Let me be with her, Mew damn it! Those doctors and nurses, I need to see what they’re doing to her!” There was a feverish chatter between the nurses as one pulled out a syringe from a cart that was sitting in the corner and another was doing chest compressions. It was suddenly chaos in the small room. It was a combination of loud machinery, frantic staff and the struggling Gary trying to land ribs strikes to Brock in order to return to the pandemonium of Misty’s bedside.
“Gary, calm down!” The tanned brunette said through gritted teeth, using a rush of adrenaline to combat the Viridian Gym leader’s retaliation.
“No Misty! Misty!” he screamed, putting his own rush of adrenaline to use in attempt to free himself from the grip restraining him severely. “Mew fucking damn it, let me go! Misty!” He thrashed left and right, forcing the elder of the two boys to lift the youngest Oak off the floor to prevent him from kicking and shoving effectively. The hospital staff were now shouting in a panic as the line on the heart monitor faded to a steady line despite their ministrations, the worst sign possible. Misty had no heart rate. She was dead.
“Misty!” his enraged voice yelled. “ MISTY!!”
It wasn’t the hospital suddenly. It was dark and torrents of water were cascading down the shuttered windows, but Gary was definitely not within the sterile confines of the hospital room where his beloved girlfriend had just passed away. Though blanketed in darkness, the youngest Oak was familiar with the outlines that made up his room, and carefully brought up a hand to brush the cold sweat trickling down his temples like a river.
It was a nightmare.
A grumble from his left and the brunette’s eyes quickly looked in that direction to discover a bundled person digging herself deeper into the pillow she’d clutched to her tightly. The messy strands of orange were unmistakable; Misty was tucked beside him in bed as he watched her deep, steady breaths come and go.
It was nothing but a terrible nightmare.
Misty was okay, -alive and well- beside him dreaming of who knew what. She wasn’t bloodied and broken, letting the last traces of her life fade out, no. She was here beside him, just as she was every night dressed in her oversized t-shirt she stole from him and her cotton boyshorts, sleeping through the raging storm outside in obliviousness. She was unharmed.
Releasing the breath he hadn’t noticed he held in, Gary couldn’t control himself as his shaking fingers delicately reached out and stroked her cheek. She was soft and real and alive. The terrifying thought of her not existing with him slowly vanished, logic reasoning with him that that terrible scene he’d lived through was nothing more than his subconscious toying with his overly devoted feelings to the petite girl resting beside him. Nothing more than a hauntingly terrifying creation of his mind.
Taking another long, deep inhalation before releasing the air back out, the brunette then tucked himself back underneath the sheets, smoothing his hands slowly around Misty’s waist and through her vice-like grip on her pillow to cuddle the girl to his chest. She’d instinctively replaced her hold around his toned body and sighed in content quietly, the hot puffs of air signaling her breath traveling over his collarbone and mingling into the air behind him.
Gary squeezed the redhead in his arms minutely, not wishing to rouse her, and kissed her crown softly. He whispered her name and silently promised never to let harm come to his lover if he could help it. The pain of losing her would be too much.
“I love you,” were his barely audible words, feeling comforted and ready to return to dreamland so long as Misty was with him, just like this.
“I love you,” he said again.