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Written Story Kalos General Gijinka A Light for the Lost [COMPLETE]

Garish Garchomp

Friendly Neighborhood Landshark
Administrator
Moderator
🌱Featurer
Writer
Pokédex No.
43
Caught
Jun 12, 2019
Messages
126
Nature
Sassy
Pronouns
He/Him
Pokémon Type
Dragon, Psychic
Pokédex Entry
he's ok i guess
I’m only a few lines in and I love some of this… idk, downbeat wit, almost?

My first step disappoints the thorns as they fail to pierce me. My second assures them they will not catch a helpless soul today. I move with them, through them, guided by my lantern to the object of my pilgrimage.
“You have suffered for a long time,” I observe.

His voice is the wind. “I have suffered for an eternity.”

They presume too much, these lost ones.
Also just… goddamn, the imagery in this first chapter is so intense, so stark. The thorns, the tempestuous spirit, the lantern, and in the midst of it all is Wisp, the dead calm in the storm who just doesn’t give a shit. It all just serves to create this wonderful atmosphere that gripped me right from the get-go.

And I mentioned Wisp being all eye-rolly at times, but then…
The reassurance in his voice discourages a retort from me. I can’t abide slashing hope. I am only here to save.
I’m a sucker for a character with, ig, a code like this. Someone who’s, if you’ll excuse the D&D parlance, basically true neutral, but they have their boundaries and whatnot set. It’s just fascinating to see where these characters draw the line and just as importantly, where they don’t, such as the not-quite-lie he tells this spirit.

I also appreciate the hell out of how you tell the story of these lost souls so succinctly, and so much of it through the dialogue and their moans and wails and every little sign pointing to the tethers binding them to this plane. Second chapter was a perfect example of this that will never make me think of the Drifloon line in the same way again.

Third chapter is just fucking sad and it really makes me start thinking about, ig, this whole process, but I honestly just love this concept of death and afterlife you’ve crafted so much, and how unique it is for those who have something left on this world. It makes me want to find some bullshit tether myself just so I can hang with Wisp for a hot minute. Let me be a bomb-ass Dragapult or something so I can meet this wonderful dude pls.

I have seen this before. Desperate souls view me as a companion. Friendship, the living call it. Though I can only be a guide, there is an urge to comply. A stroll, a conversation—an appeasing offer.

“I cannot,” I murmur. “I can only lead you home.”
This also hurts, imagining not just this conversation but how many others Wisp has come across, surely some even more despondent as they grip onto whatever they can. And Wisp is just here, unflinching (for the most part???), perplexed but unperturbed. It's charming and wrenching at the same time, seriously. And the ending to this chapter, god... again, how often has this happened? How does Wisp deal? How often has Wisp been questioned and prodded at and knifed by these spirits, and yet he persists.

I knew this was going to be good. I knew it was going to be haunting. I didn't know it was going to be this incredible, though. Goddamn, glance, you've outdone yourself.
 

glancesherlock

Consulting Detective
🌱Featurer
Writer
Team Alpha
Pokédex No.
32
Caught
Jun 10, 2019
Messages
178
Location
221B Baker Street
Nature
Lonely
Pronouns
she/her
Pokémon Type
Fairy, Ghost
Pokédex Entry
Just wants to stay home and solve crimes.
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #22
@SayleeK - I want you to know "How do you keep finding new ways to be sad?" is among the most flattering comments I've ever received, so thank you. 🖤 I'm glad people are gravitating towards this spirit's freedom of choice, especially since I've framed this as a failure on Wisp's part. As for their origins, I've decided to keep that information up for interpretation. Wisp is more fun to write as a mysterious entity with vague agency and nods to a potential past than a well-documented MC like Renny.

@Plain Yogurt - Hello, hello! Aaahh, thank you for pointing out "heartache!" Careful word choice has been a fun challenge with this run, so it's nice to know it's paying off. Wisp (yep, they) lives a thankless afterlife, so connecting their potential desires to the spirits is a tricky but interesting thing to write. Thank you!

@cyndakip - "I hope they'll be able to save themself." :''') But oh yeah, I'd definitely chalk this one up as the saddest update... aside maybe this last one.

@Second - Yay, thank you! The original idea was an anthology with a loose connection, and as I built upon Wisp's character it felt important for them to take away something from each installment and regurgitate it in the next one.

@Wwarborday - Still not over how "art house hick" Where the Crawdads Sing sounds. For the more refined redneck.

LMAO I mean if you wanna quote the whole chapter, there's literally nothing I can do to stop you. Thank you for mentioning the dialogue tags. ;;;;;;;

I just really love this and I love your style and this reminds me of one of those stories that you read in English class and then never forget, but you can't ever find it again, and it sticks with you, somewhere in your core, but you don't know how to look for it.
Can I use this for my pitch when I submit to publishers?

@Garish Garchomp - :D

Ye, I figure Wisp has been doing this long enough and has seen just about every trick in the book, that most (most) of what the spirits can dish out doesn't phase them anymore. They have an.... incorporeal constitution, if you will. But yes! Still a rule they live (or don't live) by. They're not here to be cruel or judge, as demeaning the spirits in any way would get in the way of their work. True neutral, indeed. :v

This is definitely not the first or time someone has tried to befriend Wisp or inquire about them. I've tried to make it vague just how much time occurs between each part, so it's possible there are other spirits in between the episodes I've written. So Wisp has a lot of time to reflect on these encounters. Whether or not they do so in-depth, I'll leave up to interpretation.

*steeples fingers* Welcome to the end.

Not a very long journey, at least for us. Tens or hundreds of years could have gone by for Wisp in these five short chapters, who knows?

Before I drop the final installment, I'd like to boast a bit and say A Light for the Lost has wiggled its way into the Extravaganza! I'm up for Best Writing Style, and our dear Wisp is up for Best Main Character in a Written Run! Thanks so much to everyone who thought of this little run and enjoyed it enough to nominate it. I encourage all of you to check out the runs on the voting docket this year (we have some stacked ballots, holy hell) and participate in the festivities. And give 'em a comment, however small! Spread the love~ Share the load, Mr. Frodo.

Okay, I'm done being silly. Back to sad.

Come wayward souls
And wander through the darkness
There is a light for the lost and the meek
Sorrow and fear are easily forgotten
When you submit to the soil of the earth

Grow tiny seed
You are called to the trees
Rise ‘til your leaves fill the sky
Until your sighs fill the air in the night

Lift your mighty limbs
And give praise to the fire

- "Come Wayward Souls," Over the Garden Wall

[CHAPTER REDACTED]

:)

Story Notes
For a long while, I had a vague idea I could write for a ghostlocke. It centered around wandering person who took care of ghosts haunting people or villages or what-have-you. They'd tackle the ghosts not maliciously or with violence, but with a kindness and empathy towards the spirits. Think Mushishi but with ghost Pokemon.

I'm not sure when the shift happened to make this a psychopomp anthology, but it happened. Then Wisp was born. The name is a nod to the will-o'-the-wisps found in English folklore. They're little ghostly lights reportedly sighted in the wilderness, particularly in bogs and marshes. Depending on what legend you read, they will either lead lost travelers to their salvation or to their death. Given that it's unknown what happens to the spirits Wisp sends off, the name felt very appropriate. The run title is also inspired by this. It wasn't until later I remembered "a light for the lost" was a lyric in Come Wayward Souls. Chalk that up to a coincidence. Wisp being a Litwick gijinka (or at least a Litwick-inspired character) was just the spooky cherry on top.

The story details themselves came more from my own feelings and experiences than anything related to gameplay. I had just plummeted into an especially bad bought of depression, and from start to finish, this was written during that low.

My goal was to simulate depression via ghosts. The concept of "unfinished business" tethering spirits to the mortal world shares some parallel lines with it, I think. Wanting something you can never have, trying and failing to find peace with yourself, feeling like a lonely wanderer - yeah. The projection is strong here. This is why Wisp doesn't get a happy ending. Or maybe they do? And it's just not in this story. Who's to say?


Some Gameplay Things
The spirits in order are an Aegislash (Sir Cirr), a Drifblim (Winderstonly), a Golurk (Colossington), a Haunter (Miss Chuckles), and a Phantump (Spookzilla). The first three were in the final party with Wisp (a Chandelure), plus Arnold the Gourgeist and Sparkboo the Rotom.

If any of y'all were wondering why no one but Wisp in this story has a name...

Originally I wanted to have each part be about the other final party members, but Phantump had a more interesting Dex entry to play with than Gourgeist, and I couldn't get Rotom to work within the story in a way I liked. So they were canned in favor of the others.

The Haunter (bog ghost) was a death in-game, which is why she's the one who refuses Wisp. I was sad to lose her, since I love Gengar so, so much, but for the story it helped break up the pattern and introduce this idea that Wisp doesn't always succeed. I think that's important.


Oh Lawd
Debated back and forth on if I should say something here, but fuck it: I'm getting this story published.

Or rather, I'm in the process of getting it published.

It was always the plan, diving into this project. I knew whatever I posted here would have some semblance of Pokemon fanfic, but I tried my hardest to make it as original as possible. Even as I type this, the story has already undergone massive revisions, and I've removed things that more directly relate to anything Pokemon. I can confidently say from passing this off to people outside the forum that it's not even recognizable as fanfic anymore.

Still currently in the revision phase, but I've gathered a list of potential anthologies, journals, magazines, and websites I could submit to. Additionally, I have the blessing of working under an accomplished horror writer who runs his own publishing company. He's read the story and has been invaluable as my adviser. I have an editor lined up, and hopefully they'll have my manuscript in hand by the end of the month. That's why this story is at Critique Level 0. Didn't want to take advantage of any free services if this was something I planned to pay someone to edit.

So yeah! Gonna publish a Nuzlocke. Because I can.

Hopefully.

Thank you so much to everyone who read and commented on this run, and to those who lurked. It really means a lot to me (and to Wisp).

If you ever wanna come back, we'll leave the lantern on for ya.

Byyyyye.
 

SayleeK

Conqueror of the Cinnabar Gym
Pokédex No.
260
Caught
Jul 1, 2019
Messages
91
Location
Scrivener
Nature
Careful
Pronouns
She/her
Pokémon Type
Fire, Fairy
Pokédex Entry
Between long periods of dormant slumber, this writer rises again for periods of activity that leave piles of dead fictional Pokemon in their wake
OOOOOhhhhh, the Phantump was immediately recognizable and UTTERLY HEARTBREAKING, as dead children tend to be. And don't think I don't see the nod to what happens to children caught by The Beast in OTGW...

But then, just when I think "wow, that wrapped up fast", we get more Wisp. We get Wisp thinking of the souls they led and hoping that they're happy, hoping that what they did mattered, but, cruelly, they don't know. They can't know. But maybe they will, if somebody finds them, and leads them on the way they cannot find for themselves...

I think that last part's what REALLY spoke to me, when it comes to Wisp-as-Depression. They can help others, but doing so is a substitute for not knowing how to help themselves. They are a good person and want those they helped to be happy, but they've given themselves this job to help others because if they don't, they have to focus on themself, and they don't want that. They don't know what to do. And the burden of helping others in their worst moments isn't helping them--it's dragging them down more. So is feeling that they failed to help somebody.

So they sit and wait to be helped. Because sometimes that's all you can do, is wait, and hope that somebody comes to help you.

Aw no I'm crying again

Anyway I am SO EXCITED for you getting this published, and when you do, PLEASE share the name of the magazine or anthology book or what have you that it gets into! I'm excited as hell to actually hold this story in my hands and share it with people who aren't fussed about Pokemon, because it's emotionally magnificent. Best of luck in the Ganza!
 

Dee

THIS IS MY HAPPY FACE
Writer
Team Alpha
Pokédex No.
147
Caught
Jun 26, 2019
Messages
651
Location
Zion National Park
Nature
Sassy
Pronouns
They/Them
Pokémon Type
Bug, Clever
Pokédex Entry
A regular writer of fanfics and other works, this pokemon loves puns, bugs, and the outdoors.
I'm here because I wanted to read more of your stuff and because I saw it up for awards in the ganza and because wwar raved about it all to me, so. Here I am!

I greatly enjoyed this little story. Every piece was more or less self-contained, and it all felt very quiet and melancholy, yet also somehow noble, in a sense. I definitely got a sense of respectable nobility from this.

Have you ever heard the term mono no aware? It's a Japanese concept that I feel fits this run quite well. Wikipedia, as always, can tell you more, but essentially, mono no aware (which is difficult to translate, but roughly means as "an empathy towards things") is the state of recognizing the impermanence in the world, of feeling gentle or quiet sadness for those things which fade away, and feeling a greater, noble sadness at the recognition of how pervasive such loss is. Despite this, mono no aware also celebrates things because of their impermanence. A blossom is beautiful because it will inevitably fall; lives are worth living because they will someday end.

And that's what I felt from this story. There was a sadness for each of the lost souls, a sense of tragedy for their lives and the circumstances which led Wisp to come for them, but also a sense of relief and purpose in Wisp helping (most of) them to take the next step. And Wisp finding the stump and sitting on it might be taken as their own transience creeping up on them, bringing change to the unchanging.

Your style, too, is very solid: it serves your story without being obtrusive or in-your-face, and also greatly enhances the narrative by staying as distant and cool as Wisp is themself. There's a deceptive quiet to it, a poetic simplicity that's like looking at the surface of a deep but placid lake in which you can appreciate both the stillness of the surface and the magnitude of the depths. It's very well done.

And lastly, I wish you well on your publishing endeavor! I know that you probably don't need any hints/advice given your job and mentor, but I've professionally published short fiction myself, so if you ever want advice or even just another's experience in the industry, don't be afraid to hit me up on Discord!

Best of luck, and thanks for a good read :)
 

SilverDoe

Conqueror of the Cinnabar Gym
Team Alpha
Pokédex No.
37
Caught
Jun 10, 2019
Messages
97
Location
Verdanturf Town
Nature
Timid
Pronouns
She/Her
Pokémon Type
Water, Ghost
I decided this morning that to help me get through my work shift, I would divide up the hours by reading a chapter of A Light for the Lost every so often.

That plan didn't really work out because I ended up reading it all during the first "break" because it was such a lovely story. It was sad, but also beautiful. Haunting really is a good word for it (not in the scary way but in the... well, I think you probably know what I mean).

Wist is a fascinating character, and I really enjoyed seeing their interactions with the different ghosts and how they were brought home - or not brought home, in the case of one.

I've always really loved your writing, and this story is no exception. I think you wrote a beautiful little story here and I'm glad to have read it.
 

Garish Garchomp

Friendly Neighborhood Landshark
Administrator
Moderator
🌱Featurer
Writer
Pokédex No.
43
Caught
Jun 12, 2019
Messages
126
Nature
Sassy
Pronouns
He/Him
Pokémon Type
Dragon, Psychic
Pokédex Entry
he's ok i guess
Honestly, glance, all I can really say is four simple words: just. fuck. me. up.

I knew this wasn't going to be a happy ending, but still, the sheer abruptness of it threw me for a damn loop. I can definitely see how it fits, but goddamn it was just a gut-punch how quick it turned. I might have actually wanted to see a little more in there, tbh, but the impact was def felt. Like... where do I sign up to help Wisp? Let me be a Sableye so I can go find them and give them hugs and light? Pls? You're killing me, glance, just like you killed that kid in this chapter, kinda, sorta. Shh.

I can't wait to see how you adapt this for publication, too, and I'm so proud of you for deciding on that step. You're gonna slay, for sure.
 

cyndakip

there goes my luck
🌱Featurer
Writer
Team Alpha
Pokédex No.
23
Caught
Jun 9, 2019
Messages
353
Location
Lilycove City
Nature
Hardy
Pronouns
they/she
Pokémon Type
Fire, Water
Pokédex Entry
Part Cyndaquil, part Mudkip, entirely tired.
Oh, as much as it hurts, I love the ambiguous ending, and I think it was a very effective way to finish this story. I hope Wisp is able to find happiness someday!

I really admire how you're able to write runs like this -- short, but with a big impact. I'm definitely not going to forget this story, and I can't wait until it gets published!
 

Rhema

Conqueror of the Azalea Gym
Writer
Team Delta
Pokédex No.
212
Caught
Jun 30, 2019
Messages
213
Location
Hearthome City
Nature
Careful
Pronouns
She/Her/Hers
Pokémon Type
Fire, Psychic
Pokédex Entry
She tries her best, but doesn't succeed. She gets what she wants but not what she needs.
As promised, I've read this little fic in its entirety and I'm shook.

This was a hauntingly beautiful story from start to finish. I think anyone that has ever struggled with depression can recognize this fic as an analogy for what it's like to not be able to help yourself, even if you're adept at helping others like Wisp. Each lost soul broke my heart more than the last. The last chapter was particularly impactful to me, just because of how sensitive I am to children suffering. The way you depicted the little girl going from without a care in the world, simply doing what Mommy told her to do, to having fear and anxiety set in as she realizes she's been left alone hit me like a punch to the gut. That combined with Wisp's revelation about their own existence really just cemented this fic as the saddest one I've ever come across.

I can totally see this being published outside of the forums, and I wish you the best of luck with your efforts! People need to see this!
 

glancesherlock

Consulting Detective
🌱Featurer
Writer
Team Alpha
Pokédex No.
32
Caught
Jun 10, 2019
Messages
178
Location
221B Baker Street
Nature
Lonely
Pronouns
she/her
Pokémon Type
Fairy, Ghost
Pokédex Entry
Just wants to stay home and solve crimes.
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #29
@SayleeK - “And don't think I don't see the nod to what happens to children caught by The Beast in OTGW…” *sweats* I like to think the rewrite washed this connection out of the story, but I’m p sure I only strengthened it, gdi. XD Love your analysis of this final moment. I tried to keep the depression surrounding Wisp nonspecific so it’s just the feeling, and let someone have their own take on it, so it’s nice to see that. And thank you! Hopefully this story will be accepted somewhere soon so I can share!

@Dee - I’ve never heard that phrase before, but it’s beautiful, and you’re right, it fits this run to a T! And yeah, Wisp’s decision to step away from their task for a time is a step towards personhood and recognizing their own wants and desires. Whether or not they’ll come true is up to reader interpretation, but not giving Wisp a definitive ending plays into what (at least for me) depression feels like. Accomplishing feat after feat with fleeting fulfillment and then being unsure if a change of pace will remedy anything, of if this is it. If pain is all there is. Thanks for your eloquent thoughts! (And for your advice! <3)

@SilverDoe - Thank you so much!! I’m flattered it held you for one sitting. ;;; This little story means a lot to me, and I’m forever grateful that people seem to enjoy it.

@Garish Garchomp - I’m still glad this last part is shorter and gut-punchier than the other parts, but I do agree it was lacking in some areas. I think billing it all as one piece will help in the future, plus the padding I added. And you’re more than welcome to hug Wisp, but idk if they remember what those are. Lol

@cyndakip - You’re too sweet, thank you! Ambiguous endings are hard, so I’m glad this one has paid off.

@Rhema - Thank you!! I am definitely inclined to write Sad Things, but I do try to make it sad with a point. Such as Wisp taking a little something from each spirit they help, and then projecting on this kid in the last part. And then framing it all as a depression metaphor. Thank you again for your kind words!

I'm so late on the ball, but I just want to extend my gratitude to y'all. In this Ganza season, I took home gold for Best Writing Style, and Wisp was awarded silver for Best MC in a Written Run! To be awarded anything is incredible. I can't thank you guys enough for considering this little run!!

To give you an update on the publishing front: I finished my revision and shipped it to my editor. She gave me some wonderful feedback, and now I'm officially ready to start submitting to publishers! In fact, I'm sending it to the first magazine tomorrow! Trying not to get my hopes too high, as rejection is common and it may take months before A Light for the Lost is accepted anywhere, but I'm so excited!! Being a published author is all I've wanted since age nine, so to even be at this stage of the process is surreal as hell.

Unfortunately, because I am about to submit this as an original work, I am removing this run from the forum. I wasn't going to, initially, banking on the obscurity of the forums to shield me, buuuuuut I don't want to risk this. A lot of places consider online posting to be a published work, so alas. The thread will still exist, and if I do get accepted somewhere I'll be sure to link the source here. And if I get enough rejections and want to trunk the story, I'll post the old and revised versions for anyone who wants to read or revisit. Either way, A Light for the Lost will return, albeit far from now.

However! I come bearing a peace offering. This is a fun crossover oneshot with @Wwarborday featuring his characterization of Death from his run Don't Fear the Reaper. If you haven't read it, please check it out. It's one of the funniest, sweetest damn things I've ever read, on and off the forum. War and I have had a private running joke that his Death is Wisp's boss, and we tossed around putting them in an office setting for laughs. And then we did, more or less. Enjoy!

Death has an office.

It's not a big office. Just a square room with some cubicles and one space closed off for the Big Guy. It's lit with fluorescent lighting and floored with cheap carpet. It's also very empty. The coffee maker, the printer, the 90s Macintosh computers (you know the model that came in different colors?) never used. No one has time to come into the office, not when all the souls who need reaping or saving are in the mortal realm.

You could say it's pretty dead in here.

Today, however, there are two people (people? Spirits? Beings that travel along multiple planes of existence?) in the office. They’re here for a meeting.

There isn’t a conference room. Death heard they were bad for employee morale. All meetings are held at the empty water cooler, because Death also heard employees need time to “talk around the water cooler.”

(Death got all of their office advice from a 1983 issue of Business Monthly, on a world where it’s always 1983.)

“So,” Death says, useless paper cup in their gray hands. “I think it’s time for your annual performance review.”

“Annual?” Wisp blinks slowly, eyes flicking to their lantern out of habit. The flame is still.

“Yes, why?”

“It’s been five hundred years, sir.” Half a millennium is a long time for one’s left hand to hold anything besides a soul. The empty cup is heavier by comparison.

“By who’s count?” Death sounds a little indignant, but it’s not a bad question. Who decided how long a year was, anyway? Mortals? They haven’t experienced enough time to understand how it should be measured.

That was the excuse. In reality, Haunter Resources temporarily lost track of Wisp’s file and discovered it holding up the leg of a rickety chair during the turn-of-the-century spring cleaning. Ironic, considering Wisp’s charges are the lost ones.

“By most counts, sir,” Wisp ventures.

“Well.” Death is wearing a tie over their normal dark robes. “My apologies.”

(They’re embarrassed, of course. The whole reason Wisp was hired was because Death has trouble with the ghostly side of things. Their domain is clear: the exact moment of death. Ghosts have a habit of falling through the metaphorical cracks, and here Death is, neglecting their own employee. Literally their only employee, besides HR.)

Wisp is curious, eager, starved for something. “So… how am I doing?”

Death smooths their tie. “Well. How do you think you’re doing?”

(They read asking employees to evaluate themselves was a great way to encourage them to self-reflect.

If only Death could read a room, instead.)

The living call this emotion something sad, but Wisp stands tall anyway. "Since we last spoke, my lanturn has led me to many lost souls. Over two hundred, I believe. Yes, two hundred twenty-one. And I saved…" Heartache. "Two hundred four."

One might call that failure. Another would call it an A+. Wisp only has experience with one of those.

"They were happy, the souls I saved," they elaborate, saving face. "Many were at peace when they left me..." Heartache, hunger. (One of Death's other coworkers is more familiar with these.)

“Well,” Death says. “I think you’ve done quite well, then.” It’s a lot of souls to bring peace too. They clear their throat and add, “I’m proud of you.”

...Proud? Something stirs that feels nice, but confusion pushes it down. “But the others left behind…?”

“I have left behind thousands.” Death, for once, sounds as old as they are. “That’s why you were hired. Without you, they would all be left behind.”

Wisp thinks of the lost ones. Of the sad ones, the confused, the angry, the malcontent—the ones Death could not take. “Oh.”

Death regards Wisp for a moment.

“Are you happy?” they ask.

Happy. Happy?

...Happy?

“I perform my task as instructed,” Wisp recites.

“And you do it well. But do you enjoy yourself?”

It is so perplexing. The lost ones are liable to ask such questions, but Death… Death is an instructor. What could they need to know?

Wisp ponders. There are no visions. Memories, perhaps? Of those moments with the forgotten souls and what they mean, how they feel. They are mundane, yet varied. Complex. Confusing. Though satisfying, they may not be.

The only answer they can supply is, “If I ever did take enjoyment in my work, I do not remember. I find the lost. I talk to them. I light their way home… then I am alone. There is forever wanting, and I do not know what it is for.” That should do it.

“You know,” Death says. “I was like you, once.”

They pick at their paper cup. “You’ve met the other horsemen, of course.” It was a moniker given to them from religious sects on Earth. The four of them had grown attached. “We were young, once.”

It had been… difficult. The universe was new, and so were they. There was no warning, no training period. They were not, and then they were. Suddenly, there were things like life and death and hunger and sickness. And so they Became.

“I am death.” The words do not feel like they weigh enough. Death picks their next ones more carefully. “I am the act. I am the final blow, the lack of oxygen, the last stutterings of a brain. I am the stopping of a heart, the cracking of bone, and the ripping of flesh. I am the moment.

“I am also Death. I am myself.” And that was a strange millennium, coming to terms with consciousness. “There is more to me, and to you, than performing tasks as instructed.”

More. More is unknown, perplexing. A fantasy. More is what the lost ones require. More is what never came to Wisp in the forest. More is… wanting.

What do you want, Wisp?

They want more.

“But this is all I will ever be. What else…” The words hide from them. They have to search. Unfortunately, they are lost. “What can I do?”

Death knows this feeling well. (And they feel like an idiot for not putting it together, that this is what Wisp has been going through: the paralyzing realization that one is more than their duty.) Death does not ask, “What do you want to do?” because they know wanting can feel like an impossibility when it takes all your strength to simply be.

Death asks, instead, “Have you tried taking a vacation?”

Wisp has never taken anything besides a hand and this cup. “I am not familiar with the term.”

Death (metaphorically) lights up. “Well! A vacation is when you take time away from everything.”

“...Why?”

“To come back to yourself.” Death can feel Wisp’s wary confusion; they elaborate.”It is... lowering expectations. You allow yourself to be, and don’t get upset when you do not do more. You… you relax. And you let yourself relax.”

Wisp takes every word into quiet consideration, struggling to comprehend and searching and deciding upon their next question.

“Where could I… take a vacation?” they ask. “I am not sure where to find one.”

“Well,” Death says. They feel like they’re getting on a roll, here. “That’s the fascinating thing; you can do it most anywhere. I understand that it is more a state of mind than anything else, but you can’t do it at work, because then there’s still expectations, and vacations don’t have those.”

“So I cannot take a vacation at work.” Wisp thought and thought. It is difficult to avoid work when your job requires you to travel the entire mortal realm. Though, perhaps, there is one place where there will be no expectations or pressures to lead the lost. A place where a friend may still be waiting. “I believe I know a place! It is a bog.” The excitement fades quickly. “But I do not know the way… I can only travel where the lantern takes me.”

“Have you ever tried anything else?”

“Oh. I suppose I have not.” Wisp has traveled by lantern for too long to remember anything else.

“Well! It is never too late to try something new.” Death throws their empty paper cup in the trash. (The trash is full of other, also empty, paper cups.) “As your boss, I am authorizing you for a leave of absence, for, hmmm. For as long as you need it.”

(Haunter Resources can work the post temporarily, of course. And if all else fails, well. The ghosts will still be there when Wisp is ready for them again.)

A feeling overcomes Wisp. Happy? Yes. “Then if it is alright, I am ready to go.” They gently set the paper cup with the others in the trash can. “I do not know how long I will need, but if my absence becomes a hindrance, do let me know.”

Death inclines their head. “I will contact you at once.”

The two of them leave the office. (Disclaimer: the office’s location is incomprehensible and therefore disclosing it would tear your mortal mind asunder.) Wisp puffs their chest with new resolve and purpose. With a respectful nod, they are on their way…

Death clears their throat. “Ah, mmm. That’s the wrong way.”

Wisp stops. “Oh. Hmm.”

“If you turn around, you’ll be—actually, would you like a map? I can make you a map.”

They mull it over. “A map may help, yes. I am used to following directions more than not.”

Death draws the map on dismantled paper cups.

*****​

The bog is more vast and dense than before. It is unclear how much time has passed. When one lives for eternity, there is no point in measuring time in small quantities. Less than half of the lake remains, having been consumed by the hungry mass, so it couldn’t have been longer than a century or two.

Following Death’s map proved more difficult than following the lantern. It was drawn in glittering gel pen ink and held together by staples, and the shape was very abnormal. In other words, it was precisely what Wisp assumed a map should be, having never confided in one before.

Tucking the makeshift map in the folds of their robe, they take the first silent step into the bog. It is not difficult to find their way to the center.

She is still here. Faded more than before, but still present. Still grabbing for an elusive blueberry.

“Do you remember me?” Wisp asks cautiously. A deceased mortal mind is not the more reliable.

The spirit regards them. “You are Wisp.”

“Yes.” Relief seeps in.

“And you’ve come to light my way to some place I don’t wish to go.” The words are bitterly biting.

“No, no.” It is exciting to tell a spirit something new. “Death has granted me a… they call it a vacation. It is when—”

There’s almost a laugh. “I know what a vacation is.”

“Oh. Well, if it suits you, I would like to spend my vacation here.” It is tempting to sit before the invitation is granted. “Perhaps we could explore the bog and watch it grow, like you wanted.”

Her black, black eyes stare. They stare and stare at something they’ve never beheld before. “Is that really what you want? I mean, you have the whole world to travel.”

“I have traveled for a long time, longer than your existence. I have seen the whole world,” Wisp responds. “It is… very lonely. I wanted—I want—to be in a place where I am not lonely anymore.”

Spirits cannot cry; they can only feign sobs with the memory of crying. Yet Wisp finds an urge to comfort her as the act overtakes her. Friendship, the living call it.

“When you left, I had many doubts,” she admits. “Some days I wished you would return so I could go with you, but my resolve is the same as it was. I don’t want you to lead me anywhere. I want to stay here. It’s just… I didn’t want to stay here alone.”

“Death told me my absence could last for as long as I needed,” says Wisp. “So I will stay until…” Heartache. No, this must be hope. It must be. “Until you fade. You will never be alone again, and for a time I may call a soul my friend?”

Overcome, she nods. Or rather, her gaseous form moves with the memory of nodding. “You are the first and the last to come to me. Yes. Yes, a friend would be wonderful.”

Wisp eagerly settles at her side. With great hesitation that stretches for an hour, they move to set aside the lantern. They finally resolve to set it upon the moss. Uncurling their fingers from the handle is new and a small adventure in itself. Strange. Strange and freeing.

So this is a vacation.

They sit. They talk. They walk and explore. As the bog grows and grows, Wisp watches the spirit become less and less. Even still, they agree, they have more together.





 

Wwarborday

Gradually Becoming Productive
Pokédex No.
153
Caught
Jun 28, 2019
Messages
116
Location
Gaytown
Nature
Sassy
Pronouns
He/him/his
Pokémon Type
Ground, Ice
Pokédex Entry
I'm Doing My Best
This "Death" person seems like a really good boss. You should tell this "War" guy that he's pretty funny.

DUDE YOU'RE GETTING PUBLISHED!!!! CONGRATS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! And this is only the beginning of your career! I love you. I'm so proud of you dude.
 

SayleeK

Conqueror of the Cinnabar Gym
Pokédex No.
260
Caught
Jul 1, 2019
Messages
91
Location
Scrivener
Nature
Careful
Pronouns
She/her
Pokémon Type
Fire, Fairy
Pokédex Entry
Between long periods of dormant slumber, this writer rises again for periods of activity that leave piles of dead fictional Pokemon in their wake
I just read this little oneshot with Death and Wisp and first, I fucking love the idea of Death creating an office and a water cooler to talk around solely because they read it a tatty old business magazine that that's What You Do. Second, I REALLY love these two not-people struggling with People Concepts, like maps and vacations. I was laughing for a lot of it.

Then Wisp decides to go spend their vacation with Bog Friend, for however long it takes for them to be done, just so that they're not alone and they're happy and with a friend and fuck you I'm crying now
(Then back to laughing with the choice memes, goddamn)
 

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