Halloween One-Shot Anthology 2020 Edition!!

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spoooookyyy~

enbygonetimes

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Thanks to Zephyr_Iphis for the banner!

Welcome one and all to another impulsive idea from writechat, who could have seen this coming another Halloween Oneshot Anthology! This is the spiritual successor to the one from last year which was run by the lovely Paine.

This isn't an official event or anything, and you can put as much or as little effort into it as you please. We welcome written media, visual media, or really however you want to present your Halloween oneshot! All we ask is that it be relatively short or small, limited to one installment and of course, the content should be based on or inspired by Nuzlocke gameplay.

This thread will be open until October 31st. If you'd like to submit an entry, all you need to do is post it in this thread! We have a sign-up form right here where you can opt in to such neat things as reminders before the deadline and betas to help edit your content before you post it! Signing up isn't necessary, of course, but if you want reminders, that's how to get them!

The reminders can either be a PM on the forums, or, if you happen to end up on the new Writer's Lounge discord server, there's a temporary role for this event you can get and receive your reminder pings that way!

The lovely @SilverDoe and I can answer any questions you might have, so good luck and make that good spooky content!​
 
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Whozawhatcha

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There's been chat around discord about Whoza's legendary Strange House chapter from Ghost in the Machine. And it's gearing up for Halloween, so why not share this spooktacular event?

RATING: T+/M (violence, language, horror, visceral descriptions of bodies. If you are easily squeamish, DO NOT READ.

All you need to know is Josey works as a mortician, and the premise is, she's sent to the Strange House to collect some rich kid's dead jolteon so he can cremate it. Set in the 1920s era so there's some very outdated slang. It's a hefty near-10k, so make sure you have time to sit and read in the dark. (It IS split halfway for ease of reading.)

Pokemon:
Golem - a golett (and our star)
Seraph - a sigilyph (remember that pic of a sigilyph with a mouth on it's tummy? yeah, and cross that with eldritch, eye-covered angels)
Lazarus - a yamask
Magnets - a magnemite
Boulder - a boldore

“If there’s something strange in your neighborhood
Who you gonna call? (Ghostbusters!)
If there’s something weird and it don’t look good
Who you gonna call? (Ghostbusters!)

I ain’t afraid of no ghost”

Ghostbusters __ Ray Parker Jr.



The guy who flies me out to Lentimas Town is too chatty. He tells me all about the horrors of the “Strange House” that I’m about to go into. They have some urban legend about a monster of complete darkness that steals away children in the night. Apparently there used to be a family that lived in the house, and their daughter fell into an endless slumber of nightmares. The parents tried to find the legendary Cresslia who’s got some feather that keeps away the bad dreams. Long story short, the feather doesn’t work, the little girl slowly withers away from the thing feeding on her dreams, and she dies. The parents move out. The house is deserted. They say to the local kids if you go near the house, the little girl’s ghost will warn you away, and if you don’t listen, the big bad boogieman gets you.

Bunch of blitzle shit. They’re lucky I don’t believe in ghost stories.

So I’m hiking from Lentimas Town, dodging trainers when I can and being pressured into battles when I can’t. I fight three trainers: one with Golem, one with Magnets, and one with Boulder. Golem and Magnets get beat up pretty good, but Boulder takes it like a champ. The one’s an asshole who tried to skip out without even handing me some winnings, but the one I beat with Golem was nice enough to both pay me AND provide me with a basic potion when I said I didn’t have one for Golem.

It’s a white lie since I have a single potion in my pocket, but come on. That asshole made me battle, he should be the one to heal my pokemon.

Reversal Mountain towers above me. The way out here is craggy and jagged, like cracked concrete on a hot summer’s day. Sprouts of thick, lush grasses from the volcanic soil pop up here and there, but the clay is mostly rich red. Lentimas Town is tiny, but this is what they thrive off of. Almost everyone in the town makes handmade porcelain and pottery in the one single factory at the mountain base, and that’s how Lentimas Town makes its money. That, and they make the most elaborate stained glass and the brightest red dye in the entire world. (I hear a lot of the rich as shit Arceus churches out in Sinnoh ship their stained glass from here.)

Basically, anything that’s made and bought from here costs more than my yearly paycheck. It’s funny, because Lentimas Town is so rich, but they’re old-fashioned as shit. They live in clay buildings, have one tiny power plant, grow their own food, and have a bunch of skiddo, mareep, and ponyta. From what I hear, they sit on a stack of cash for when Reversal Mountain may eventually spew lava on them so they can rebuild, but they mostly donate to people that need it. Far as I know, Lentimas Town is full of decent people unlike the cash cow Undella Town on the other side of the mountain.

Gravel slides under my boots as I hike out to the Strange House. It’s less than a mile out, and I’m only halfway when I start getting nervous. The wilds out here are stronger than the ones out by Nimbasa. Probably something to do with this unforgiving countryside. I tiredly consider crybaby Lazarus and scardy-cat Golem. Neither would be good for this hike. Magnets is spunky and ready to fight, but he’s hurt from our other battle. Boulder is too damn slow to keep up, which leaves me with—

Fuck.

But as I climb rock formations and slide into lower valleys where the heat has scorched the spindly trees, I realize I can’t keep hiking out here without protection. I can hear the ekans and skorupi beneath low outcroppings, and I’ve seen the vibrava and skarmory overhead. This is not friendly territory, so I resign myself to my fate and release Seraph from its shiny Silph Co. pokeball.

Seraph immediately swings around and heads back to town. And I realize my mistake right after I release it.

“You fucking IDIOT,” I groan, and I fling my hands out at the patrolling sigilyph. “This is NOT fucking Relic Castle! Get back here!” No dice. Seraph continues on, and I briefly wonder how far it’d go before I return it. Fine. Golem it is. I release him and cock an eyebrow. “Okay buddy. You and me. Let’s go.”

He’s timid on this route, but he keeps up with me and helps deter the wilds, which is all I need. Reversal Mountain blocks the morning sun, which doesn’t help my exhaustion, but I resign myself to my fate. I think the guy who flew me here said there’s a route to the house through the mountain, but I’m not stupid enough to hike through there. The upper levels are boiling hot water because the lower levels are full of lava. I’m not risking getting lost in there. So I struggle outside the mountain, getting nicked by dead tree branches, pricked by cacti, and using my busted shovel as a walking stick until I see the god forsaken house in the distance.

The Strange House looks like a really bad horror house made out of clay. It’s cracked and crumbling after so many years of disuse, and it’s complete with spindly, leggy trees stretched and twisted like modern dancers. The beautiful stained glass windows are shattered and opaque with dust and years of weathering. The winds howls through this lower bit of the valley, tossing dust and tumbleweeds. I can see why the teenagers like this place. I bet they all come out here at night for a good scare.

Golem whines. He presses close behind me, and I roll my eyes. “Chill out, Golem. It’s just an abandoned building. Come on.” He stays rooted to the ground when I walk toward the house, so I’m forced to return and haul him forward by his hand. He knocks nervously the entire time, like his heartbeat is a drum banging on the inside of his chest. I open the door, and it scrapes inward on its hinges with a perilous shriek.

It’s dark inside even though it’s daytime since we’re in the shadow of the mountain. I stop for a moment and let my eyes adjust in the doorway, and I grab my flashlight. The light illuminates a rather large foyer since this house is almost mansion sized. Dust particles make the beam glitter, and I can hear the wind whistling through the cracks and broken windows.

I turn and grin at Golem. “You think there’s ghosts in here?” Golem squeals, and it’s only because I’m holding his hand that I keep him from running off. “Oh, stop it, Golem! Ghosts aren’t real! I mean—you! Ghost like YOU, numb nut! Pokemon!”

He’s still shivering. Golem whines again and hides behind me, peeking into the house. I roll my eyes. “Whatever. Come on. The house isn’t even that big. We’ll grab the dead jolteon and get out, okay? Look, I’ll even leave the door open.”

Golem nods as fast as he can. I step into the house, consider kicking the door shut just to give Golem a good scare, and I decide against it. I’m gonna be dragging him through this shitty job anyways. Might as well not make it worse.

The furniture is old and ugly and tossed about the foyer by whatever teens had their way with the place. To the far left and right, I can see two stairwells going downstairs and the main one is directly ahead, going upstairs. I decide not to push my luck with Golem just yet and I tug him into the house. He sounds like his internal mechanisms are hiccuping. I begin searching the four first level rooms from left to right. The first is a bathroom. Wallpaper peeling. Porcelain cracked and tarnished. Tiles missing. And it smells. There’s no jolteon.

I pull Golem along as he simpers about everything in sight. I mutter and tug him into the second room. I know why he’s freaked out. The house still has everything inside it, like it’s lived in, but it’s deserted. There’s dust coating every inch of the place, and the air is stale. The house creaks and groans like a living fossil. When Golem jumps again, I snap, “Golem, STOP. It’s just the house settling.” I don’t ask myself how a clay house is settling like a wooden house. Maybe clay creaks and snaps like wood as well. It’s certainly old enough. Hell, if I was this old, I’d be settling for whatever I could get too.

This room is a living den. There’s beat up couches and leaning bookshelves with their insides strewn across the floor. I step over the fallen books and go deeper into the place, checking behind the couches for the body, but I don’t see the jolteon. A soft whisper sifts through the air, and Golem beelines it to me with a squeal and his arms lock around my waist like vice grips.

“GOLEM!” This. Idiot. Ghost. I take one deep breath. I can’t freak him out further or god knows I’ll never get through this. I turn around and smoosh his face between my hands. I lift an eyebrow. “Listen to me, Golem. There is NOTHING in this house. You hear me?” He whimpers pitifully. “Golem. We are the ONLY ONES—”

This time, I hear thumps above us. On the second floor. I look up to the flaking ceiling, and the footsteps fade. I can feel Golem shaking in my hands. “Huh,” I mutter. I smirk at Golem. “Well, looks like we’re not alone.” His whine becomes a squeal. “TEENAGERS, Golem. This is a hot spot for scares. Bet it’s some local kid. Come on, let’s scare the pants off him.”

I tug Golem along and flick off my flashlight. When Golem protests, I shush him and head up the side staircase. The stairs groan like I’m stepping on old bones, and I hope the noise doesn’t give us away. I peer across the top floor. I fucking hate houses like this—the first floor was open and wonderful. However, upstairs goes back to that awful Victorian style home where it’s all narrow hallways and nooks and crannies. I don’t see anyone, so that means this kid’s gotta be creeping around in one of the rooms . . .

I think of where the footsteps had to lead, and I push the door open to the first room ever so slowly. There’s a kid with a darumaka by his heels, and yup, he’s a teen. I wink at Golem, and I creep forward. The boy’s flashlight is shaking, and his breath is labored. He’s looking deeper into the room, at the open closet, whispering, “J-Jameson? Jameson, wh-where—”

“BOO!”

“AAIIIGHH!!”

I howl with laughter when he screams like a little girl. The darumaka squeals and bolts beneath the bed, and I can’t fucking help it. I’m doubled over with laughter while the kid stammers, “W-What th-the hell! Wh—What’s WRONG with y-y-you! S-Stop it! That’s n-not f-funny!”

Tears spark in my eyes, and I can barely breathe I’m laughing so hard. “Oh, it’s pretty funny from over here!” and I snort into a second round of laughter when he not-so-subtly wipes the tears from his eyes.

“Shut up!” he repeats again, but now the venom is almost sucked from his voice. He’s all yellow bellied again and grabbing his darumaka like it’s the stuffed animal he had as a kid when the nightmares scared him. I flick on my flashlight again as Golem comes up behind me and takes my hand. “There is seriously something WRONG in this house,” the kid whispers. He looks wildly around the room again, and he hisses, “Have you seen anyone else in here?”

“Nope.”

He swears under his breath. “I—I’ve lost my friend. J-Jameson, I can’t find him anywhere.”

I give him the most dubious look I can. “And you were looking in the closet?”

“You’re not taking this seriously!” With the harsh light of my flashlight on him, I can see the kid is pouring sweat, and it’s not from the heat of his darumaka that’s pulled in all its limbs so it looks like a giant red turd. This kid is freaked out. I’m surprised he hasn’t pissed himself. “There is something WRONG in here! J-Jameson—” and he drops his voice to a harsh whisper—”Jameson disappeared. I—I heard him scream, a-a-and I haven’t been able to find him since.”

It’s deathly quiet in the house. That’s why when something scratches in the closet it sounds LOUD and CLOSE and sends the kid, his darumaka, and Golem all squealing behind me like I’m their bodyguard. I roll my eyes to the heavens for help. I turn my flashlight on the open closet.

Okay. So let me be real. It’s a LITTLE bit scary. Mostly because these three idiots are blowing it out of proportion and we’re in an abandoned building, in the dark, snooping in hallmark horror movie spots for scratching noises, but I’m no fool. It’s probably a ghost type pokemon trying to scare us. Abandoned buildings like these are breeding spots for the pranking ghosts.

I walk forward. No, that’s a lie, I’m going a lot slower than I thought I would be, I’m creeping up to this closet like something’s going to jump out at me. That’s why, when I’m within arm’s reach of the closet, I roll my eyes at myself, stick my shovel in and sweep away the clothes.

Nothing.

I ignore the feeling of relief and relish in being right. I turn on my gaggle of lily livered companions and say, “See? It’s fine.”

My spine tingles. I can FEEL something looking at me, but I know it’s just my mind telling me, Oh, you said what they say in horror movies right before something drags you into the closet and kills you. I ignore the feeling and walk forward. I’m absolutely not picking up my feet quicker to avoid something snapping at my heels. “Let’s go, idiots. We’re getting you out of here, kid.”

“Wh-WHAT. You can’t!” I’m already out of the door of the room, and I turn back down the stairwell. For all his bellyaching, he doesn’t stray from me. “I have to find Jameson!”

“You’re too scared to be any use other than a drag and complete paranoia,” I tell him. We’re back in the main hall, the one that’s decently lit. I squint at the room and feel a weird sense of deja vu. Am I missing something here? The room seems . . . Oh fuck, that kid’s getting to me. Nothing about this room is off! I point to the door. “There’s the door. Scram.”

“B-But—!”

“I’ll find the other idiot teen around here,” I say. I might as well. I still have to find the jolteon, and I’ve barely started checking the house. “Now get the fuck out and stop wasting my time. I’ve got a job to do.”

I walk across the foyer with Golem by the hand. I turn towards the next room when I hear the door slam and the boy screech, “NO! No no no no—!”

If creatures in this house don’t kill him, I’ll kill him myself.

I turn around and see the scared-as-Luigi-in-the-haunted-mansion boy pulling and yanking on the door with all his might. Another howl of wind tears through the valley, and it whistles through the cracks in the house. The hairs on the back of my neck rise. “Just open it,” I tell him.

“I’m TRYING! I’m trying, I swear to Arceus, I’m trying, it just swung shut on its own!”

I don’t get paid enough for this.

“That’s because it’s windy as shit and the wind blew it shut, pally. Get out of my way.” He whirls from the door, shining his flashlight for things in the dark while I pull on the door. Huh. So it won’t budge. I fiddle with the locks. They won’t unlock. Stupid rusted shit.

“We’re gonna die, we’re gonna die, we’re gonna die . . .”

“Oh would you SHUT UP.” He’s freaking Golem out too. I take a step back and kick the door. It rattles on its hinges with a deafening BANG! and still doesn’t open. Luigi-boy yelps and grabs my arm when I start to do it again.

“Don’t do that! You’ll get us killed for sure!”

I whirl and put my hands together like I’m praying. “Look,” I say to Luigi-boy’s splotchy, sweaty face. “The only types of ghosts that are real are pokemon, like Golem here. The only thing that might be messing with you in here are the ghost types. Okay? Ghosts are notorious for pulling creepy pranks. The door here? Probably an arena trap of some sort. Maybe a Mean Look.” I knock on the door. “It’s wood. You’ve got a darumaka. Just burn it.”

He’s gulping and shaking like a madman. But he nods and says, “O-okay . . . U-Use Incinerate!”

The fire splatters ineffectively on the wood, like water over a waterproofed boat. I grunt in surprise. Okay, that I wasn’t expecting. “Guess something’s blocking the door,” I say as Luigi-boy whimpers. I grin at Golem. “Wanna go on a ghost hunt?”

Golem shakes his head.

“Sorry, you don’t actually have a vote. Let’s go.”

We check the last two rooms downstairs for the jolteon and Jameson. Both are empty, and I’m stuck with the three stooges behind me, all jumping at the slightest creak in the old house or the wind screaming above. It’s hard to keep a level head like this. Their paranoia brushes off on me, and the more time we spend in this creepy ass house the more unnerved I get. I choose to go upstairs to the narrow hallways first instead of downstairs. It’s not because my heart is beating too fast in my chest. Nope. Basements are bad ideas.

It’s only when we start hearing skittering in the walls that I’m CONVINCED that there are ghost types dicking around with us. My gaggle of flat tires all cluster up next to me. I elbow Luigi-boy off and bat with mild annoyance at Golem. We inch up the stairwell. “Hello?”

Luigi-boy chokes on a rubber duck. “Don’t talk to them!”

I roll my eyes. They’re going to get stuck in the back of my head at this rate. I still my quaking heart and shine my flashlight down an empty hallway. Nothing. I give Luigi-boy my best bored look and push into the nearest door. It’s a bedroom. Looks like the guest bedroom too. Luigi-boy, his darumaka, and Golem all pile in behind me, and they quickly shut the door on the darkness and focus on the room we’re in. We don’t split up. No, I begin combing the room, checking under the bed and in the closet for bodies while Huey, Dewy and Lewie here treat me like their personal fire extinguisher.

I don’t find any bodies, but there’s a dresser drawer open that makes my skin crawl. The lowest one with darkness shifting ever so slightly in it. I tug on Golem and gesture. “Shadow Punch.”

He looks up at me like I’ve asked him to dig up my mother’s grave. “Oh for pete’s sake, Golem, I know what a ghost type looks like! SHADOW PUNCH.”

Golem bolsters himself as best he can, shines bright as a night light, and he goes careening into the dresser. Luigi-boy flinches with a loud cry, and I think Golem catches more wood than he does pokemon. But, for all my trouble, up from the darkness springs a banette, all sharp clothed edges and slitted pink eyes. The zipper mouth pulls back, and it screeches a noise like nails on a chalkboard. I clap my hands to my ears and shout, “Shadow Punch again!” while Luigi-boy screams in unadulterated fear.

Golem’s chest bangs shrilly, like a dropped gong on concrete, and he leaps forward. His fist, cloaked in ghostly energies, plows the banette into the ground, and it hisses, writhing and twisting before it fades into the floor. I jump—we can’t lose the thing—! And then the coalescing shadows zip around Golem and rise up behind him. My mouth opens with a warning when the banette’s Shadow Sneak tears into Golem’s back like hot irons in water. Steam pours out. Golem shrieks in pain and twists, and even in this darkness, I can see the gashes in him.

“Stay calm and overpower it!” I tell him. “Shadow Punch!”

With another bull rush, Golem gets into the banette’s space and hauls off with a right hook that makes me proud. The banette snarls and spits, but this time, it’s retreating. The thing’s frayed, coming apart at the seams, and its baleful pink eyes hiss at Golem. Golem shrinks, and then pitifully shakes his fist at it. The ghost slinks back into the darkness, disappearing somewhere deeper in the house.

My fists are clenched knucklebone white around the flashlight and the shovel. Everything feels tight in my chest, like I’ve seized up in defense of an attack. My muscles are tense and my lungs are squished by my rapidly beating heart. But I rasp, “Attaboy, Golem,” and he gives me the tiniest thumbs up.

I drag in a deep breath. I spare Luigi-boy the briefest of smirks. “See? A ghost POKEMON. Dumbass.”

He giggles weakly. “Y-Yeah,” he says. “A pokemon.” He’s squeezing his darumaka so tight I’m surprised the thing’s legs haven’t popped back out.

I roll my eyes at him. With one of the ghosts flushed out, I feel more in charge of the situation. Get rid of the ghosts, find his buddy, find the jolteon. I have a game plan now. “C’mon, kid,” I say as we exit the room. “I told you it was the ghost typ—OH FUCKING—mother of fuck!”

There, down at the end of the hallway is a little girl that makes me jump right out of my skin. I slap my hand to my chest to calm myself. Golem whines and Luigi-boy starts rasping air between his teeth. I think he’s stammering, but I’m more concerned with this little girl standing like a creepy doll at the end of this dark as fuck hallway. The only reason I even saw her is because of my flashlight.

“Kid!” I call to her. My voice does NOT break. “What are you doing here?” No kid that young needs to be traipsing around a deserted house all on her own. I grip my shovel. These tight hallways are making me claustrophobic, and no one likes little girls in pretty dresses in infamous haunted houses. The whole house creaks again like a ship at sea. The girl turns and walks into the room to her right.

“Hey—!”

I get one step before Luigi-boy grabs me. And the teen’s hyperventilating like he’s run a race now, stuttering, “Th-th-th-that’s her! Th-That’s the g-g-ghost o-of the h-h-house! W-We have to l-leave! NOW. W-We have t-t-t—”

“Oh for crying out loud!” I shrug the kid off. He’s making me paranoid as shit! I try my best, but I can’t get my heart to calm down now, and my fear translates into aggression. “There are no such thing as ghosts! If you want to get out, then be my guest! Go chase yourself! You deal with the door, and I’ll deal with the canceled stamp.”

My heart feels like it’s about to explode at this point, and I can’t tell if it’s my own genuine fear anymore or if it’s the annoyance of Luigi-boy who has no balls to his name. Clearly he doesn’t fancy going back down the stairs by himself because he tails me and Golem to go deal with this mysterious girl. The door she went into is cracked. I put my shovel in front of me and push it open.

It creaks with a sharp squeal on its hinges. The sound damn near echoes in this hollow house, and we enter a little girl’s room. There’s a frilly, dusty bed center stage and a dresser with little girl clothes vomited from it. And—Oh for FUCK’S SAKE. There’s even those old-school dolls with the porcelain faces staring out at us. It’s the picture of creepy. I can’t even make this up. I step inside, literally dragging Golem’s scardy-cat ass with me, but Luigi stands in the hallway, shaking his head.

“Whatever,” I mutter to myself. I need to talk or something. The house is too damn quiet. Aspertia City was pretty quiet as a country bumpkin town, but it DID gain that “city” title for a reason. Aspertia had been growing. And especially in Nimbasa with all the noise? This deathly quiet is unnerving as shit for me. Golem is at least reassuring with his arms wrapped around my waist.

I poke around the room that’s strewn with toys. I peek under the bed. Nothing. I ignore my queasy stomach and check the closet. Nothing there. I step on a dollhouse bed and swear. My eyes follow the stream of toys on the floor all the way to a closed toy box.

My heart turns into a thin-blooded acrobat about to lose consciousness. I shuffle forward with Golem to the toy box. There’s a lip just big enough for me to slip the edge of my shovel into. I’m shaking.

Please don’t let Jameson be in here, please don’t let Jameson be in here, PLEASE don’t let Jameson be in here—

I flip the lid open.

“Oh fuck—” I turn away before I pace back and look at this kid stuffed into this toy box. Jameson is dead. Deader than a fucking doornail. His limbs are all contorted in unnatural angles to make him fit. The skin around his face is pulled tight like a face stretcher, like those old dames trying to look young. His eyes have damn near sunk into liquid goo in his skull, and there’s blood oozing from his ears. Golem muffles a wail in the small of my back.

A chill goes up my spine. While logically I know it could have easily been a pokemon that killed him, for the first time, I can’t shake that Luigi-boy might be right.

“Kid—” I can barely get a rasp out of my throat looking at this corpse. “Kid,” I call louder, and I turn, “I think I found—”

The breath snags in my lungs. I jerk backwards and half collapse into the toy box with Jameson because right there in front of me is that little girl. Her face is the same, stretched too tight, watery and mushy eyes, blood seeping from her ears. She stares at me, and she shakes her head.

“An endless dream,” she whispers. She’s pale as the dead. Her form isn’t corporeal. My ass sits froze on top of this teenager’s body that’s stuffed away like a snack, and for all my fucking bluster. I can’t. Fucking. MOVE. I can’t even fucking breathe. The little ghost girl shakes her head. “An endless, dark dream . . .”

Her head snaps to the corner of the room. I look too, but there’s nothing there. She looks around the room. My flashlight flickers. “He’s coming,” she whispers. She looks right at me with those pulpy eyes. “Run,” she whispers. “He’s coming. He’s coming, RUN!”

She disappears like a wisp of smoke blown away by the wind. For one second, I’m petrified. The breath seesaws in and out of me with audible rasps. My hands are clammy, and my heart feels like it’s going to explode.

Then, I hear footsteps down the hall.

I bolt to my feet. Fuck Jameson, fuck the jolteon, and fuck Luigi-boy, he’s on his own! I run to the door, and like the most fucking predictable horror movie, the door slams shut with a resounding BANG! and I leap for the handle. It jiggles, locked, and I fumble with the flashlight and the shovel as I yank and pull on the fucking thing. I step back and kick it. My flashlight flickers, and I KNOW it’s not running out of juice, I just replaced the batteries! I smack it a couple times, and then, it flickers out completely, leaving me in the pitch black room with Golem. He glows like the faintest night light, and I leap back to him as he whimpers. His core flickers wildly, like it’s about to go out like my flashlight.

Someone rattles the door. The shadows coalesce over there, and I don’t fucking care whether it’s paranoia or not, whatever is beyond there is NOT Luigi-boy. Luigi-boy got snatched. Me and Golem are all that’s left in this fucking terrible house, and I squeak, “Shadow Punch! Shadow Punch!”

I can sense it now. Just like the closet, I can FEEL that thing in the room. It’s all around us, and it’s too fucking dark to see it. We cluster in the center of the room, Golem pressed up against me with two hesitant Shadow Punches flickering around his fists, but he’s stuttering like a broken lawn mower. He’s twitching to all sides of the room, and my eyes are whipping back and forth like the second I look to one spot, that thing in the dark will be there in another spot.

The bed rattles. We both bolt away like we’ve been burned, Golem with a squeal and me without any breath left to scream. We can’t see it. But I hear something in the walls, and I hear a dark, inhuman cackle echo from the shadows. I grab Golem as the thing closes in. I can’t see it in the dark but I KNOW it’s there, I can feel it in the room, I can feel it closing in, the shadows are playing tricks on my eyes—

And I scream, “Golem, MAGNITUDE!”

Golem shrieks too, stomps out with one foot, and the attack unleashes in the house. The earth shakes beneath us violently enough to vibrate my bones and crack the clay ceiling. Something caterwauls from the dark. The wood splinters beneath us. Golem and I scream as we fall, and we crash through one more level before I hit the ground hard and I fall into the black.





Exit light
Enter night
Take my hand
We’re off to never neverland”

Enter Sandman __ Metallica



I fall into black and I wake up in the black.

Pain races up my body. I groan, tired and groggy and disoriented with stabbing pain in the back of my head. I feel like I’ve woken up from a bad hangover where I was drunk enough to hop in one of those new tumble washing machines. I hiss as I sit upright and peel my eyes open again.

It’s pitch black. My breath stops when it all rushes back to me, and I whip my head around. Fuck. FUCK. Where’s Golem?

My mouth catches on his name. I can’t call for him. That thing might come back. And then I think of Golem, scared little ghost type Golem in a haunted house full of ghosts that can do him a lot of damage, and my heart stutters.

Fucking . . . Fuck!

I scramble on the floor for my flashlight. I pat around in the dark, my heart racing so fast it should have exploded at this point. After a long minute of panicked scrabbling, my hand knocks the flashlight further away. I manage to find it again, and I toggle its switch. It lights up, like it’s fine with working now that the monster’s gone.

I’m in a new room. This one is like a library, lines upon lines of bookshelves with a carpet of books and papers strewn throughout. It’s pitch dark, musky, stale, and cold. It occurs to me that I’m in the basement.

I glance at the nearest bookshelf. What’s left on the shelf is religious and demonic texts. I shake that off because GOLEM isn’t here. I’m not about to lose that ghost for anything, haunted house with undead demons in it or not. That is MY ghost. He’s the last link I’ve got to my father and I will NOT lose him in here.

I wince to my feet and rasp, “Golem?” My voice echoes down the apparently large room. “Golem?”

A voice mimics me. I freeze. I don’t recognize that voice. It’s squeaky and too friendly. The high-pitched voice yips out again, but this time in song. I grab my forgotten shovel on the ground, and I wield it with one hand like a knight creeping in to slay a dragon. I creep between the bookshelves, peering my eyes forward. “Golem?”

It’s a jaunty song. It doesn’t sound human, but it’s too friendly to be the monster. So that leaves me with a ghost pokemon. Hopefully. The house has been suspiciously empty of ghost types even though I can hear them in the walls. My lead feet drag forward, and the hairs on the back of my neck raise as I stalk between the bookshelves. The house sways ominously around me, like the shadows play tricks or like Golem’s Magnitude compromised the foundation.

There’s a faint light ahead. My sweaty hands re-grip my adventure items. How the FUCK am I breathing so god damn loud? I’m not sneaking around if I sound like a punctured tire! I stifle my breathing until I feel light headed, and I turn off my flashlight. I approach the faint light.

I exit the bookshelves. There, on top of a table, is a small litwick. The oozing candle is dancing around a single book on the table—the entire basement has been filled with strewn papers and books like a tornado tore through the area, but not there. On the table, it’s just the ghost and the book. I stand frozen at the edge of the bookcase, watching the little litwick dance around the book like it’s completing its own personal seance. I wet my dry lips. My head is fuzzy from more than falling two stories—I haven’t eaten today, much less drank enough. But my stomach is cramping so hard at the unnerving sight of this ghost that I can’t fathom trying to eat now. My numb fingers try and fail to grab the pokeballs in my pocket.

The litwick comes to a stop with a grand flourish. It turns to me. I stare at it. It bows, and the flame on the top of its head twinkles.

I’m in a haunted house with a dancing candle pokemon. I would be out of my mind if I didn’t bow to the thing and rasp, “G-Great show, Lumiere.” My voice is too damn LOUD in this eerie as fuck house.

The litwick brightens. It chirps at me, and it whirls around that book again. And I’m not stupid. Sure, I’m broke as hell and ornery as fuck, but I ain’t stupid. I know an invitation when I see one. And I don’t know why I do it, but I turn on my flashlight to double check that we’re alone, and I walk up to the table.

It’s a journal. Worn, leather binding and frayed pages leaf out of it, and I drag the thing to me. Lumiere stares at me. Unblinking. Fuck. FUCK. I reach for the pokeball with the strongest pokemon I have, and I release it. Seraph begins to fly away even now, but I grab its tail to get its attention.

“This isn’t Relic Castle,” I rasp to it, hoping for once that it will understand. I think of the Champion and her Haxorus, and I think of Seraph posted between us. I whisper, “Patrol me,” and its feathers rustle. Seraph floats in place, hesitant. Here and now, I need this abomination by my side because it’s more threatening than anything this fucking house can dish out at me, so I order it, “Patrol. ME.”

A guttural chirp emits from Seraph. The sigiliph begins circling me the way it did when Iris threatened me. Only then do I grab the journal and leaf through it.

Its full of scribbles about dreams and demons, ghosts and creatures and pokemon. Dreams specifically. I flip to the back of the journal for a name, and Jeff Fennel is there in faded ink. I turn back to a chunk in the front of the book, and it reads, “Amanita still won’t wake up. She’s even weaker than before. The doctors can’t do anything. Something in this house is killing her, and I must find out what it is so I can save her.”

I turn to hurried notes. They detail pokemon like haunter, hypno, drowzee, duskull, and drifloon. Their abilities. Things like forewarn, aftermath, and behavior tendencies like stealing away children.

Seraph swings back and forth around me like a pendulum. The litwick on the table croons, and its flame flickers. I bend over the table with my flashlight. It has to be the father’s diary. Amanita is the ghost girl. I turn forward to where the spine of the diary naturally unfolds.

There is a pokemon called Darkrai in the far Sinnoh region. To protect itself, it drives people and pokemon away with terrible nightmares. I know this is what is killing Amanita. Darkrai is a malevolent creature in their myth. Amanita is still suffering her nightmares, but she doesn’t scream anymore. She’s gaunt and weak. I have to find the cure. I have to find it. I won’t lose her.

I turn the page. The date is less than a week later.

There is a pokemon called Cressslia in the far Sinnoh region. They say its wings shine like the crescent moon and keep the nightmares away. Darkrai is a creature of the new moon; Cresslia is a creature of the full moon. I must find it. Summon it. Somehow. It is the only hope for Amanita.

My hands are cold and clammy. Goosebumps are chasing up my skin, but Seraph hasn’t sounded any alarm, so everything must be fine. I peek around the room myself, find nothing other than Lumiere in front of me, and I turn the page again. Jeff’s handwriting is jagged. It’s barely legible.

Dahlia is pregnant again. She wants to leave this house and leave Amanita. Gods help us.

A rattle yanks my head up from the journal. Lumiere squeaks, and his light dims, dims to a very tiny fleck. Seraph snarls, and its feathers frizz. I slap the journal shut and shove it in the pocket by my knee. I whirl around to the bookcases where Seraph faces, and I point my flashlight down there, lighting Seraph’s way.

My mouth hurts. I’ve been grinding my teeth. I unlock my jaw and lift my shovel. “Where is it?” I whisper to the sigilyph.

Seraph growls, a low, ethereal sound that echoes the undead lurking these halls. The flashlight shakes in my hand. I grip it hard, praying it doesn’t go out, and I check out rear.

The girl is there. Blood and viscous liquid oozes from her ears and eyes, but she’s a victim. She’s not my enemy, no matter how she makes my heart rate spike and blood pressure boil with fear. Amanita wheezes, “In the dark dream . . . I heard my father’s voice . . . Forget about the Lunar Wing . . . It didn’t work . . . Please stay here with me . . .” Her head lifts past me. Seraph’s spitting grows fierce. The flashlight rattles, and the bulb swells like a pus filled cyst before exploding. Darkness cloaks the room, and I hear Amanita’s cold breath hiss in my ear,

“Run.”

I bolt to the one light source in the room, little Lumiere on the table, and I snatch the litwick up with my bare hands and run into the darkness. The litwick whines and shivers in my palm, cold and sticky, and Seraph screeches in the darkness. A blast ripples the air behind me, and my knee smacks hard into a metal chair, but I don’t waste time screaming. I lunge through the darkness, tripping over open books with a pinprick of light from Lumiere lighting my way until I crash into a banister. The stairs!

Seraph yowls in the brownout like a thing possessed, and I hear it—the monster. It rattles and screeches in likeness, and papers fly in the room. Scrambling and sweat slicking my grip on my shovel, I bolt up the stairs, taking them two by two until I reach the first, dim floor, and for once my eyes can see in this lighting. The faint sun of afternoon filters from above, even in the shadow of the mountain.

I go crashing over a couch with a shriek. I look up, and my blood thins and I feel a dizzy spell make the room swim. This house is WRONG. The place IS rearranging itself, this was NOT how the furniture was the first time, and it’s not how it was the second time. I look to the door. There’s poor Luigi-boy, flat on his back, staring listlessly at the ceiling. Blood trickles from his ears. His eyes are pools of soup in his skull.

The furniture rattles.

I shriek when the couches, chairs, and bookshelves go flying across the room. They pile against the door, and I know there’s no leaving. We’re going to fucking die here, that thing is going to tear through Seraph, it’s too powerful, and Golem—

FUCK! Fucking anyone but him—

I open my mouth, and I SCREAM.

“GOLEM!” I race up the center stairwell into the upper halls again, toting Lumiere like a sticky flashlight as his little wick brightens with panic. The ghost is just as scared, if not even more scared than I am. “GOLEM! Golem where the fuck are you! Golem!”

That is MY pokemon! He’s MINE! My father gave him to me, and no fucking monster in the dark got him! I fly through the upper halls, shouldering open doors and tearing through the bedrooms with Lumiere wailing in my hands like a banshee. I can’t find him. Sweat pours down my back. I feel hot and dizzy, like the oxygen is sucking from the house. He’s not here. He’s not. FUCKING. HERE. And I shriek, “Golem! GOLEM! Where are you! Fuck, fuck, FUCK, GOLEM!” and I check the girl’s room again, I check the closets, I toss back the bedspreads, I tear the house apart from top to bottom, but I can’t find MY ghost, MY Golem, it’s like he’s completely disappeared, and I can’t reconcile that, he was HERE WITH ME, he’s not gone—!

I shoulder into locked doors so hard the wood splinters around the brass handles, and a bruise stains my skin. My body hurtles into a giant music hall, and I stop in the doorway, shuddering.

The stench of rotting, decaying DEATH hits my nose, and I see the swelled body of the jolteon in the far corner. This room is faintly lit by the day’s sun filtering through the patchy roof. Leaves and dusts swirl in the room as another wind howls through the house with a creaking groan. There, in the center of the room, is a small skeleton on dark stained wood, and tons of gray feathers, like a pillow fight gone bad.

It’s not a human skeleton. I ignore the instruments and shelves of music, and I walk in because that larger feather in the center of the skeleton is sparkling faintly even under the dust. I reach into the ring of ribs and pick the feather up. It’s bright green and yellow and curved like a crescent.

Bile pitches in my throat. I sweep my foot through the gray feathers. They dust up, pale blue, yellow, and pink.

Lumiere pitches from my hand with a squeak. I whirl, and before I can do anything, I’m caught. A shining ring glows, swinging back and forth, and my eyes are attached to it like it’s a lighthouse signal and I’m drowning at sea.

The fear leaves. It leeches out of my body like the blood leeched from Luigi-boy’s ears, and I feel tranquil as I watch the pendulum swing back and forth, back and forth. I know I should be afraid when I see a yellow furred humanoid step from the shadows. A hypno is serious shit. And it’s battered and furious, but I can’t control myself. I drop my shovel. My arms go limp. My eyelids feel heavy, and I feel like I’m falling through the house again, falling into a deep, yawning abyss.

The abyss has electric blue eyes. It stares back, rising up behind the hypno.

For some reason, the color makes me think of Golem.

***​

My dreams are vivid.

Bright.

Dark.

Bloody.

I see Amanita. She laughs with an abra and strays far too deep in the mountains from her home. Someone beckons her, and she follows. The figure shifts just beyond my sight, dark and hidden. A hand reaches out to Amanita. She takes it.

She falls limp in bed. I’m trying so hard to communicate with her, but she can’t hear me. She looks like a doll in her plastic house, just like one of her toys. I can’t protect her.

The monster is too fast.

The darkness screams. Daughter. Mother. Father. Two have living nightmares. The other cannot understand me, lost in her dreams.

This is my fault.

It’s all my fault.

Heavenly squalling peals through the house. They think I’ve done this. I can’t tell them what the monster is, and now, I see her. Cresslia. The father is gaunt, shagged with unkept hair, and the mother as thin and waifish as her daughter. They drag the legendary to the center of the room, and Cresslia is blindfolded, chained, and weak from the struggle.

“It will work. We need all of the feathers. If the Lunar Wing doesn’t work, we’ll take them all! This will work!”

An axe rises.

An axe falls.

Blood splatters.

The butcher’s axe hacks into the creature. The first blow doesn’t kill it. Cresslia wails. Amanita screams. The axe tears deep into her. The full moon wanes. Bloody feathers fall like rain around me, and pain rips into me with every blow he delivers to her body. And I scream, and the blood fills my lungs, and I see baleful blue eyes like glinting cyan stones BURN. And the darkness rises. And rises. And it crashes over me.


***​

Seraph is howling.

I choke awake, coughing on blood. I’m cold and clammy, and sweat drenches my skin. I hunch over, hacking up globs of viscous blood and eyes crying waterfalls. I can’t see, but sharp pain stabs my brain with every heave of my body, with every pound of my heart.

My head is splitting. I’m blinded by a haze of tears and eyes that won’t focus. Seraph is wailing like an alarm, and there are blasts all around me, but it’s muffled. It sounds like I’m underwater and the hubbub is muted. I grab my throbbing skull and push across the floor, heaving and vulnerable.

My ears clear first. I hear a gong, loud and clear, and it brings my head up. I KNOW that sound. And it feels like I’ve got a film of plastic wrap pulled against my eyes, but I blink and blink and wash away the involuntary tears until my eyes focus in on the disarray around me.

Seraph wings around me, back and forth and around, and its eyes are all peeled in different directions, rolling around like a madman. And there’s Golem, internal mechanisms banging, and Shadow Punches primed as he postures in front of me. I see he’s got a new wound. It looks like a massive force collided with his front, and now his body is cracked like glass from that point. Mist seeps from him with every step, following his movement like morning fog on a lake.

The hypno stands before us, but it’s hunched and defensive. It licks around its mouth and bulbous nose, panting with hunger and eyes locked on me. And it suddenly occurs to me why we barely saw any other ghosts in this house. They were there. They were in the walls. They all scratched and hid and fled except for the powerful banette and little Lumiere who gave me the hint. Of course the weaker ghosts would flee when something as powerful as a hypno stalks the halls.

The hypno screeches and lunges. It’s eyes glow bright, and Seraph reacts in kind, eyes flashing with power as a Light Screen wraps around us. An invisible force blasts my hell bird out of the sky and into the grand piano. The lid falls closed over it. Golem rushes the hypno, and I reach for him, screaming, “Golem, NO!”

The pendulum yanks straight in the hypno’s hand. It swings, and Golem’s charge slows. He stumbles, swings wide, and collapses in a sleeping heap when the hypno hypnotizes him.

I grab one of the apricorns in my pocket, and I don’t give a shit who it is. I scrub my eyes, leap to my feet, and suddenly the fear doesn’t matter because it’s all hot rage in the back of my head as I twist the knob and release my pokemon. The hypno’s eyes glow. It takes too long for Lazarus to form.

The yellow psychic twitches. It looks straight at me, and my shadow lengthens before me, claws outstretched. A sickening, lurid, and SMUG smile stretches over the hypno’s face as pure darkness rises up from my shadow and into the air. The hypno winks out of sight just as a powerful Dark Pulse emits from the murky form. Splinters fly from the wooden floor. The inky ghost grunts, a low, husky, frustrated sound and the shadow seeps through the floor.

Lazarus whines and sinks back to my ankles. My heart hammers in my chest, my ears, my head.

It keeps getting away with it because it can Teleport.

It senses the big one coming with Forewarn, and it has its getaway panned. I scramble to find my note inside Lazarus’ pokeball. Will O Wisp, Night Shade, Hex, and—

I scoop up my tiny new friend, if I can call the ghost a friend after knowing it for less than 24 hours. “We can’t let it get away,” I say. There’s another ghost in this house, and one with Dark Pulse. That’s strong enough to really HURT that hypno, if not kill it outright. “The second you see that hypno come back, you have to Disable its Teleport! Got it? We can do this—”

More smoke pours from Golem. I stare in abject horror as a knot of darkness slithers about his skull like a hoard of electric eels, zapping him and sucking on his life force.

Nightmare.

“Golem!” I bolt across the room with Lazarus. I fall on my knees and yank the potion from my pocket and spray it on him, and I KNOW that hypno is healing, but I have to stabilize Golem first. I WON’T lose him, I refuse to fucking lose him—!

The second I’ve emptied the entire potion on him, I return him. Seraph yowls in the dim room, and I hear the piano break with a grisly, discordant squeal of keys and snapping wood. It zooms to me, zapping psybeams at it comes, like a laser-filled dreidel. Its feathers are askew. Its mouth is open, drooling with exhaustion and frothing with anger.

The hypno reappears feet in front of us. We all scream, Lazarus and I with terror and Seraph in blind anger. Psybeam blasts against Psychic. The hypno stumbles back but Seraph hits the dirt behind us. The hypno extends its pendulum again, and I cover Lazarus’ eyes and try to close mine, but . . . It’s just . . . So . . .

The hypno jerks back, and my body lurches forward like an internal string yanks against my ribs. I stumble and almost drop Lazarus. I sense the presence of that powerful ghost behind me, and I see the hypno curling back with a seething leer—

“Lazarus, NOW!”

A white wisp pops in the hypno’s face just as it attempts to disappear. Its body flickers and stays rooted in front of us. Wild terror fills its eyes, and it looks up above me. Black coils pummel into the pokemon.

The hypno eats dirt, and I flinch, wincing back and falling on my ass. Lazarus cuddles into my stomach, hiding behind his face. I gape as this creature of the night surges up, and I realize grimly that that is NOT a ghost.

The Darkrai lunges over the fallen hypno. The jagged, teeth-like rim of red circles its head, and white smoke tousles from the top of it like it burns inside. The hypno bats weakly at the dark type, but the Darkrai collects inky pitch in its claws, reaches down, and smothers the hypno in the substance. The hypno struggles. It falls limp.

My palms sweat as I watch in horrified awe as the Darkrai surges up like a smoky black cloud, cyan eyes burning, and it plunges through the hypno. The body convulses and then rests.

Silence falls.

It’s just me and Lazarus and Seraph. I stare at the hypno, breaths labored and body weak. I feel sick. My head is whirling, my blood is hot, and I’ve got a headache the size of Mt. Coronet, but I stare at that hypno. It’s dead. I can tell. It looks untouched by the darkrai, but it’s too still. The body is stiff, like it’s already seized up with rigor mortis within seconds after dying, something that shouldn’t happen until nearly four hours later.

I find my shovel. Pick it up. I slip Lazarus into my pocket since he’s scared, and Seraph begins patrolling around me again. It doesn’t sense a threat from the hypno anymore. I reach forward and touch it. The corpse is cold and rigid, like it’s body has accelerated into death because of the darkrai.

I look around the silent music room. There are still no ghosts coming out of the walls. I think of the Darkrai, a greater threat to the ghosts living here. It’s powerful. Even more powerful than the hypno. That thing is a minor god. And I suspect that the hypno’s only defense against them was its Forewarn and Teleport. Otherwise, it would’ve been mincemeat a lot time ago.

“Seraph,” I rasp. I sound too loud. My voice is too rough. I sound like I’ve smoked a pack of cigarettes. “Where is it?”

My sigilyph rustles in agitation. It swings back and forth, searching. I don’t know why I asked. A psychic type won’t be able to sense a dark type. I don’t know if any pokemon could.

I check my watch. It’s frozen, like the hypno decided to fucking short out the battery like it fucked up my flashlight. I look up. There’s still light filtering through the patchy ceiling, but it’s slanted. After going unconscious twice in this god forsaken house, we have to be pushing late afternoon. Evening. I sit on the ground, rub my face and try to gather myself.

I hurt. I fucking hurt all over, and most of all my brain. That hypno had to be leeching my fucking brain when I dreamed about good ol’ Jeff butchering a minor god for his daughter. How the fuck did he even get it. Why the fuck do these things happen to me.

There’s not much to do in the house now except get the hell away. I go back downstairs with Seraph and Lazarus, searching for my pack. It’s by the entrance to the basement, where I toppled over that couch. I pick it up, take my coffee mug, and I take a big drink. The coffee is cold and gross, and it tastes so strong that it could probably get up and walk. I can’t eat. I’m nauseous as hell, and I know it’s from more than just getting my brain slurped by a hypno.

I find the body bag in my pack and head up the stairs with a limp. I don’t remember what I ran into in the basement, but my right shin is throbbing something fierce. I bag up the dead jolteon and head down the main stairwell again, jolteon corpse thumping on ever step.

Seraph uses its psychic powers to clear the doorway for me. I leave Luigi-boy at the threshold, and I leave Jameson stuffed in the toy box. That’s not my job. And I’m too weak to carry extra bodies through this fucking wasteland. I know it’ll slow me down, but I return Seraph since it’s tired and weak, and I release Boulder. I heft the jolteon on him, and he’s so dumb he’s fine with being my pack mule. I steady his load with my hand, and we begin the long trek back to the Pokemon Center.

Jeff Fennel’s journal and the Lunar Wing sit like lead weights in my pant pockets. My mind and body sink gratefully into numb shock about it all, and I’m dead tired. My legs feel like they’re in splints as I stumble around Reversal Mountain’s base, and I just want to get back to Lentimas Town. I want to sleep, but there’s still enough dread lingering in my bones to fuel my nightmares. I just want to rest. My body needs food, water, and rest, and I can’t give it to myself as much as I want or need.

My shadow feels heavy, like I’m dragging the dead along with me.
 
Last edited:

SayleeK

Johto League Champion
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Dex 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
Pronouns
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Jul 1, 2019
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Y'know I was gonna post this closer to Hallowe'en but I keep poking at it and fretting about it so y'know what I'm gonna just up and post this. Whoza's excellent chapter looks so lonely here. Happy Spookmas, folks!

First-person suicide, poison, vomit

Big thanks to @Zephyr_Iphis for reading this, settling my anxiety braingoblins about it, giving me some great ideas for expanding it, and suggesting the title!

Zephyr_Iphis said:
okay so consider: Kahu ʻUnihipili

kahu means "guardian" and specifically has the connotation of having a a more intimate relationship with whatever they are protecting than kahuna, which implies a more professional relationship

ʻunihipili is the spirit of a deceased person, usually thought to reside in their bones. thus the bones were cherished, well kept, and prayed to/consulted for help

Death is not the end, that’s what my mother always says. Not with that attitude.

People are often surprised to see Marowak mothers with their children. It’s that urban legend that our skulls are from our mothers, who die when laying an egg. Wouldn’t last long as a species, would we, if we all died after one baby? But it is true that when a Marowak dies, they leave their body to the clan, and a Marowak skull is excellent protection for a young Cubone. Mine was my great-grandmother’s. She’s long dead, but she can still protect her descendants. I like that. My club is from her arm. Even long dead, she can still beat the shit out of people. As I understand it, she’d like that.

I think the urban legend comes from an old story we tell. Back in the beginning, these islands were bare volcanoes, and there were no plants, so the Pokémon here had nothing to eat but each other. One Pokémon—everybody tells it different, but my mum often tells it as a Snorlax, because they get so hungry—got desperate enough to kill and eat a Marowak mother who was guarding her egg, and then, once he’d picked the meat clean from her bones, he turned to eat her egg, too. This so enraged the mother that she returned from the stars as the first Gastly and smothered her killer. He fell dead by her egg, which she continued to guard until it hatched. Her child was small and fragile and alone, so the mother evolved into a Haunter so that she could have hands and placed her own skull on his head as a helmet. But her child couldn’t recognize the ghost, and he ran away in fear, crying and crying for his mother. He cried so much that he washed the whole island with his tears, softening the soil and allowing berry trees to grow, so that we all had plenty to eat. He was cared for by a Kangaskhan who’d lost her baby and grew to be a great warrior, but that’s another story.

Anyway, that’s why we leave our bones to our clan when we die, why our children wear the skulls of our ancestors, why we honour the Gastly line who were the first to transcend death, why we keep friends with the Kangaskhan, and why we care for and protect berry trees.

I think about this story while I’m picking the berries. I don’t want to think about the specific berries that I’m picking, the one that grow high up, where little ones can’t reach them and eat them by mistake. Just one will make you feel ill, but the number I’m picking…

If you want to be a parent, you have to care for an egg, which looks boring and stressful. If you want to be a great fighter, you have to train hard, which is exhausting. If you want to travel and be a League Champion, you have to put up with a human and a pokéball, which looks annoying. The point is, if you know what you want to be, you’re going to have to do some things that aren’t fun to get where you want to go. And where I want to go is the top of the volcano, with the Immortal Guardians.

Immortal might not be the right word, since they did die already, but it’s what we call them. It fits in a twisty way, as such epithets sometimes do. They have already died, so they are now undying. They take little ones up to the volcano crater to see the stars and tell them ancient stories, the histories they have lived through, the names of our ancestors. On the right nights, they perform the dances and sing the songs that make things right with the world, and when they’re not among our people they are deep in the volcano, where it’s too hot for living flesh to tread, protecting ancient secrets that they will not talk about, no matter how many times you ask.

I’m one of the best fighters in my clan, nearly ready to evolve, but I don’t want to go to the Pokémon League. I want to protect my people. I want to tell our stories and perform our dances and guard those who cannot protect themselves, forever. There’s one way to do that, and it’s not fun.

I just need to focus. I have to do this alone, and that’s a little scary, but nobody should have to see this, and I think my mother would try to stop me, anyway, keep me from putting myself through this, as mothers will. I think that’s why, traditionally, this is done alone. Here, in the cave where lave flows long ago carved a small, secret space, where all those who went before me sat. Even though the volcano is alive, this chamber is oddly cool. There are stains on the floor that tell me what’s going to happen, but I’m trying not to look at them. I look at my great-grandmother’s skull as I put it on the shelf of rock where it’ll be safe, and my club with it. Whatever happens next, they’ll be safe to protect future children.

I sit down with the berries cupped in my paws, but I don’t look at them. I look at the skullhelm. I have to focus on what I want. I want to stay. I want to protect my people. I have to want that, more than anything, no matter what. Pain is temporary, and death is not the end. Not with the right attitude.

I start eating the berries before I can think too hard about it. I swallow them whole, knowing that they’ll burn my mouth if I bite them. I think about how I want to stay, but I don’t want to be a Gastly. I want to be a part of my people forever. I want to protect them forever. I want—

The burning has started in my stomach. The skin of the berries has split and the poison is burning into my stomach—no, I need to not think of that. I need to focus, focus on staying, on my people. A hundred years from now, I’ll be taking little Cubone up to the volcano’s peak to show them the stars and tell them the stories of each one. I think of that, hold it in my mind—

I fall forwards as I start to vomit, and it burns, oh by Lele, it burns!

Don’t think of the pain, don’t focus on the pain, oh Lele, the pain, no, think of the flames that I’ll make dance, the hidden caves of the volcano that I can finally see when I can—oh Lele, Lele help me, it hurts—no, I don’t need help, I don’t need saved, I need to get through this and on the other side—oh Lele it burns IT BURNS IT BURNS

Blood, so much blood, I’m dying, dying hurts, I don’t want to hurt anymore—

I want to stay, focus, I want to stay—

I want the pain to stop, more than I’ve ever wanted anything, it hurts so much, I want it to STOP—

I w-want, I want to b-b-b-be, I, I, I…


I…



And then it’s gone.

The burning, the rich taste of blood, the pain. It’s all gone. Looking down, I can see the blood and vomit soaking a new stain into the floor. My body looks so small and sad, slumped there, going still, going cold.

I have paws. That’s good. Gastly don’t. And they’re shadow-dark, which is the right colour. I can put them through the wall, and it feels… like nothing, really. Shadow swirls like mist when I put my paw through the wall, and I know it’s still there. I don’t feel cold or pain.

No. Not mist. My skin is smoke now, and my soul is flames.

I breathe in, though I no longer have lungs, and taste embers and ash. I can feel the flow of heat in the air around me now, feel the shapes of the tunnels and passages in the volcano that I cannot see, the path of ancient lava flows and pools and bubbles. I know them now, the hidden places, the secret places, the heart.

I can see them around me now, drawing in, encircling my body but looking at me, and they are fire too, the other Undying, the fire in each of them in sync with each other, with the fire in me, and it beats in time with the deep heart of the volcano.

I can feel it, now. Lele is a god for the living. There is another god, in the volcano—no. The god is the volcano, and the volcano is god. Heat and life and fertile ash and burning death. This god is vast, and hot, and slumbering, and I do not need the others to tell me that She is lulled to sleep by the lullabies that we dance and sing.

The volcano is my god now. It is She who I must protect, and it is She who I must protect my people from.

Forever.
 

localhoney

the smooth jazz of bastards
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Saylee "bapped" my brain and told it to post this, so I shall.

rats, human bones, non-human bones, sewers and all the lovely things that come with them, slow descent into madness
The warmth of the sewers is the first thing that swallows me when I step inside. The stench is the second. A constant drip of water somewhere deeper in accompanies me as I take steps deeper in, like the sound after a storm that reminds you the worst has passed.

Here, the worst remains.

It isn’t the vampiric bats that flit and flutter overhead, nor is it the sentient pools of sludge that elicit a slight sizzle from the cracked concrete. No, Castelia’s underside is known for something far worse.

It is difficult not to think of it as I walk deeper in, even when steadied by the stalwart presence of my Empoleon, Jameson. Not even the murky waters gurgling in the gutter below are able to change his demeanor, and I wish I could say the same.

The tales from my youth are difficult to forget. Purple turned black, teeth turned fangs, warmth turned cold.

A pause in the dripping water catches my attention and extricates me from my own thoughts, a Nimbasa subway train loose on the tracks. I keep one hand pressed to the damp wall, careful not to get lost in the labyrinth of sewage and rusted iron bars. My other hand guides the flashlight, the tremors only exacerbated by the distance the light travels.

The light cuts out the moment a pair of rats scurry past.

They are washed away by a stream of bubbles… at least I hope. The dripping water returns, the only constant in the humid darkness. I focus on that, rather than the far-too-near skittering and squeaking of rodents. I shake the flashlight violently, the clattering of the battery the only response. I holster it on my hip and turn around, hoping to get a replacement light before travelling deeper into the sewers.

I take a step forward and walk face forward into a wall. A wall that I am certain was not there before. Had it been there, it would be impossible for me to be here. How is it possible that I’ve already lost my way? I was so careful to keep my hand as a guide, following the curves of the tunnels and gutters. If I press my ear to this new wall, I’d swear that I could hear the same sludge oozing. Though in this darkness, that sludge could be anywhere.

I could be anywhere.

I order Jameson to claw a marking into the wall. At the very least, if I somehow stumble my way back this way again, I will know where I am. To supplement the new carving in the wall, I have Jameson dig out a small cavity to set the flashlight into. A cloud of dust erupts from the wall, immediately assaulting my lungs and eyes. When the coughing fit ceases, I slot the handle of the flashlight in.

We continue our trek deeper, careful not to take any unnecessary deviations from the main tunnel. Jameson leaves a thin claw mark across the wall as we go, the harsh, dissonant scrape of metal reverberating throughout. The dripping water is just as constant as it was at the entrance, and I wonder where the source of it might be.

Far too often, my feet come into brief contact with rats, and each time I tense up at the thought of the swarm coming to engulf me, leaving me but a pile of bones in the darkness. But I kick myself each time as well, knowing that fear to be merely a symptom of being a gullible child. One who would listen and believe everything told to him. One who still believed he could find what he was looking for down here.

We come to a fork in the tunnels, the sludge splitting off towards the left and cleaner water towards the right. Were it up to Jameson, I am sure that we would be bearing right and not willingly subjecting ourselves to the stench of society’s refuse. Unfortunately, we do not have a choice in the matter. My mother was not sent down here to watch blue waters rush past.

As soon as I feel the tunnel straighten out, I trip over a pack of rats and practically eat concrete. I hear the clink of teeth on metal and a muffled splash right after, and breathe a sigh of relief. That is, until I stand and my hand runs over an X-shape in the wall, and the cool plastic of a flashlight directly below it.

My eyes grow wide with fear, and Jameson can sense it. I hear him shuffle around on the concrete, seeking out the source of my discomfort. My hands trace the curves of the X, hoping that maybe some other lost adventurer had left their mark and flashlight in these walls. An unlikely hope, but anything seems likely when it appears that the walls in Castelia’s sewers move of their own volition.

A pack of rats rush between my legs and up the wall, disappearing into some elevated pipe or railing. I stumble backwards and am lucky that only one of my hands plunges deep into the sewage. When I pull it back out, my hand is coated in some thick, mucousy membrane that stinks to the heights of Zekrom’s domain. I fight back the morning’s breakfast, inching its way up my esophagus, and slather the X. I know in the depths of my soul that somehow, the walls are moving. And that the grooves and flashlight in the wall were placed there by us. But to believe that, to internalize it, is to tumble headfirst into the tales of my childhood.

I won’t.

After a rather one-sided discussion, I convince Jameson to get in the water. He keeps his beak aloft as I climb aboard, and we soldier on. We travel much faster in the sewer itself, even if the water is thicker and more repugnant than usual. The occasional shiver travels up my spine when I hear the gnashing of teeth or the scratching of claws against concrete. I am silently thankful rats cannot swim. After some time, the tunnel starts to curve towards the right and I almost think I can see a flickering light at the end of the water. I dig my heels in, urging Jameson to swim faster, thinking that perhaps we had reached our final destination.

As I step back onto dry land, my foot makes contact with something hard that goes clattering across the floor until it hits the wall. The light flickers for a moment and I realize it’s a flashlight. My flashlight. My heart beats quicker, the walls seeming to close in on us. I close my eyes and tell myself it is merely a bout of panic, and it will pass. I press my hand to the cool concrete and try to relax.

A fruitless endeavor when I feel the bricks literally move underneath my touch. The flashlight refuses to cooperate, flashing at odd intervals, and by the time the light is fully on, the wall has changed from being in front of me, to being behind me. And Jameson is on the other side.

I shine the light on sewage, but the wall has gone across the entire tunnel, blocking me in. I pound against the wall, receiving a burst of dust and debris in return.

“Jameson!”

I press my ear to the wall, hoping to hear the rush of water or clang of metal wearing down the barrier. All I can hear is dripping water. My hands skim the surface of the wall, looking for a single loose brick or a noticeable crack, and find nothing. I can’t even differentiate between individual bricks, save for the slight change in texture that travels up and down the wall.

I file away the thoughts rising up in the back of my mind next to the most recent Castelia Gazette article: “STUDIO CASTELIA OWNER DISAPPEARS IN CITY SEWERS.” It’s illogical. I can’t reconcile the world I know with the tunnels that seem hellbent on driving me insane. I don’t want to imagine my mother on her own, trying to outrun the walls around her, circling until all that was left was the darkness and the dripping water.

My body takes over. My lungs fill with air, my hands guide the flashlight, and my legs move forward. It feels like some poorly produced avant-garde virtual reality film, but I am not in the comfort of a padded recliner in an air-conditioned movie theatre. It is hot and humid and I am living it. I think of Jameson for a moment, but if the data on NinjAsk holds true, there’s no creature down here that could hurt him. Believing that is the only way I can press onwards.

The sewers show no visible sign of changing, but I know something is different when a cool breeze picks up. I want to stop to enjoy it but who knows what sinister plots may be brewing in the ground beneath? I strip my sweat-soaked jacket off and toss it aside. If the sewers’ patterns hold, I’ll find it at my feet soon enough.

A swath of light pouring in ahead catches my attention. It can’t be my flashlight this time. It’s in my hand and the light is too wide. I speed up, a walk turning to a jog then turning to an all-out sprint. The sound of dripping water falls into obscurity as my steps dominate the atmosphere, a constant rhythm of plastic soles hitting concrete.

I approach the light and nearly burst into joyful tears. I’ve found the entrance to the sewers, a blessedly illuminated portal to freedom. I can smell the salty sea air, the fried street food, the puffs of gasoline from the city’s yellow taxis. I can hear car horns, ship horns, screaming children. I put all that I have into my next few strides, straining against exhaustion.

Then the ground shifts beneath my feet. For the first time, I can see the tunnel moving in the light.

The bricks are not bricks. I watch dumbfounded as the black walls segregate and subdivided into individual black masses. The floor does the same and the movement of it beneath me knocks me to the floor. The combined masses surge towards the exit and for a moment it feels as though the sewer might pour out into the world. But then they take a sharp upwards turn and I feel my soul crumble as the light begins to dissipate.

In the natural light’s final moments, I thrust my hand deep into the throng of shadows. I need to know what the sewer truly is. I pull back and for a moment, stare deep into the eyes of a black, petrified Rattata. I cast it aside, the disgust causing my limbs to convulse for a moment.

The last thing I see before the sun disappears is the whirlpool of rats forming below me, an even blacker hole in its center. Darkness retakes its throne and I feel the tug of gravity until I’m in freefall.

For a moment, I’m overtaken by an odd sense of bliss. It is dark enough that I can no longer make out the individual rats, and their squeaking has silenced. I am floating, the subtle flutter of my hair the only reminder that I am still falling.

The second reminder is the searing pain that consumes my whole body when I make contact with the floor. A floor that I will not soon forget is an amalgamation of dead rats that can somehow move.

I fight back a shudder and stand up. I am reticent to steady myself with the walls and instead stumble forwards. The tunnel has calmed now, the contours of matted fur and curled tails disappearing into a smooth black monolith. The dripping water is the loudest it has been in my time down here. Every slight flicker of shadow calls my attention, expecting another flood of rodents to send me deeper into the earth.

I limp on, far too aware that fear dogs my footsteps and will take me over if I stop. So I don’t. I drag my left leg along, looking for some sign of exit. I even try to gouge the rats out from the wall, anything to reclaim some sense of direction, of agency.

Instead, I am subject to the whims of the sewers.

Fatigue wins out and I’m forced to stop and rest. I close my eyes and say a silent prayer to Zekrom for safe passage home. Almost instantly, I hear a rumble from somewhere. If the nightmares from childhood have proved real, then so too must the dreams. I stand and shuffle deeper in, seeking the source of the rumbling. It sounds like it’s coming from above me.

The ceiling above me ruptures into halves, then thirds, then infinite fragments, which then turn into rats that skitter away, reforming the tunnel elsewhere. A torrential downpour comes in, and I allow myself to stand in Zekrom’s waters. I close my eyes as their cool touch refreshes me. I always loved the rain.

Which is why my eyes fly open when its characteristic smell is missing. I aim my flashlight upwards and light up the space above me, and watch as the walls pulsate and form sharp edges. Almost as if the sewers were… breathing?

Not breathing. Chewing.

As if to illustrate its point, the sewers rumble in a swallow and the entire contents of the world’s oceans follow. I can’t even begin to run when it flattens me and I go unconscious.

When I awake, I’m still floating in the sewers’ saliva. I reach out to anything to steady myself. I grab hold of a long stick, unwilling to float with the stream. When I stand, the waters are knee-height but seem cleaner than the wretched sludge I nearly fell into. The flashlight is broken but I still try to examine the stick in the darkness. It must be at least half of my height, with oddly-shaped grooves down its entire length and a slight curve at the top. I use it as a makeshift cane to wade forwards.

Eventually, I reach the point where the water can travel no further. The tunnel ends in a circular alcove, a sliver of light shifting around its circumference. I never thought I’d be relieved to see a dead end. I kick some nearby stones and twigs that bounce into the light’s path. When I look at them closely, they’re not grey or brown but instead bear an off-white hue. Nearly the color of…

I retch at the thought but something pulls at me until I bring my cane into the light.

The flashes of light are brief but long enough to confirm my unfortunate suspicions. This is no stick. I’ve been supporting myself on some poor creature’s spine.

My efforts to keep my breakfast down are futile. I recover quickly and examine all the other pieces. They don’t appear to be rat bones, and for that I am thankful. They’re all misshapen and bereft of any decomposing flesh. It’s likely they have been floating down here for years. I wonder where Jameson is in this living labyrinth, and I see the light gleam off of something metallic standing against the wall.

I run my hands over it and notice three spikes towards the bottom. I think of Jameson and freeze. I think of the rumbling, the chewing, the swallowing of the sewers. What was it eating?

I toss the bones and metal plate aside and head back towards the water. If I think any longer, I will die down here, strewn amongst other bones. It will not be me. It’s only been three days, and my mother is far stronger than I could ever hope to be. If I am alive, then so is she.

The tunnel curves downwards and I am met with the sewers’ breath, sickening and warm. I pull my shirt over my nose and continue on. The water begins to saturate the tunnel and it becomes easier to walk. The dripping water is almost deafening now. It feels almost sacrilegious when I find its source.

A pipe of some sort hangs in the center of another circular alcove, its contents blocked by something round but hollow, so that all that can escape is the occasional droplet. I steel myself and pull the obstruction out. Water surges out, taking advantage of its newfound freedom until realizing that is its new reality. The sewer holds its breath.

I grasp at the object in my hand with the other. I cannot seem to figure out what it is. It’s mostly round but parts of it are jagged, as if it had been pulled off its hinges. I clutch it closely, for a reason I cannot explain, and let myself fall to the ground. My drive and motivation, replaced by fear and anguish.

I let my tears combine with the waters as I lay floating lightly. A seething roar escapes my lungs.

“Just fucking take me too!”

The sewers respond. Something shifts and the waters slosh in multiple directions before pouring towards the walls. G-forces drag me along with them and I do all I can to avoid slamming my jaw into the ceiling. Or what was the ceiling. At some point it became the floor.

The floor-turned-ceiling opens up, jagged spikes mirroring each other and I see sunlight. At some point, I may have felt delight or freedom. Now I just watch as the floor beneath me disassembles into rats that climb upwards, bringing me with them. Is this how it ends? The sewers choose to spit me out?

The floor climbs smoothly towards the sky and I can clearly see the jagged pieces of the ceiling. The sewers rumble again and I stop, mere meters from reclaiming my life. I take a moment to look at the thing in my hand.

It’s a human skull.

Instinct takes over and I’m looking for any handhold or foothold I can find. The sewers submit to my demands, petrified rats jutting out as I climb skyward. I don’t think about why, or about the dead rats. I think only about escape. I’m nearly out. I’m dangling from one of the spikes.

Then the sewer gnashes its teeth.
 

Clockenstein

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Dex Entry Fatal kernel error: 'DEX_BASIC' not found.
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39
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Jun 12, 2019
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674
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Adamant
when asked "trick or treat", my first instinct is to do anything but treat, so it goes.

Just a short vignette about some of the characters of seasonchild.

People:
  • Merrick: Nature spirit. Our protagonist. His powers change with the seasons. Might be in a rebellious teenager phase.
  • Chester: One of Merrick's childhood friends. An earnest, studious kid.
  • Valerie: A close friend of Chester and Merrick. Her parents run a bakery.
  • Chris, Cillian, and Charlie: Triplets who run the Trifolio, a trendy café in the center of Wildspruce, where Merrick works part-time. Irish-Canadians.
"Merrick," Charlie asks. "D'you know how to make pumpkin spice?"

I did, actually.

"Nope," I say. "No, I don't."

I can tell this doesn't matter. I saw Charlie come back inside. He's already written "pumpkin spice lattes" on the menu board outside the Trifolio. Now serving. No takebacks.

Where I learned to make one -- Chester. Last year I think he came by an ad for it in the newspaper, from the rack at the Tim Hortons. Out here in Wildspruce the promotional things always reach our store two or three weeks late. So a Tim's in Sudbury would have been selling them by then, but he must have seen it and then Cody who always runs the counter would have told him they didn't have pumpkin spice yet.

We went straight to the source. Mr. Hargreaves next door to Val had had a pumpkin patch for Halloween the next week, and we got Val to ask him for us. And we said, sure, she could have some when I'd finished making it. So we snuck off a fresh batch of bread from the Cardinals' bakery as a gift and to our surprise Mr. Hargreaves said yes. Help yourself. Take one of the good ones, and if you make a pumpkin pie just box me a slice.

"Oh, and mind the pumpkaboos," he said.

There were pumpkaboos. But Mr. Hargreaves didn't tell us he also happened to have a trevenant in his backyard. Chester guessed it must have been to scare off the murkrows.

"How old," he said, out of breath, as we ran out of there, "is Mr. Hargreaves, anyway?"

I guessed forty-six. Val said fifty-three. We later found out, sixty. But no, he hadn't forgotten about the trevenant, it turned out. Trick or treat.

All this so Chester could wrinkle his nose. "Yikes," he said, when I finally served him a cup of the latte. "Tastes like smoke."

---

What I mean to say: who asked for pumpkin spice?

Charlie shrugs. "Don't look at me."

In a corner of the café, I see Cillian climb a stepladder. He hangs woobat decorations on the wall and adds fake cobwebs for garnish.

---

I don't mean that autumn is some sort of bad season, though. Even if hockey always starts around this time and I have to watch the Leafs drop six games in a row again. But something about summer turns this place into a do-nothing town -- even though there are tourists passing through, always a lot of them, and a lot of things to be done. Somehow -- I find Chester by the lake every other day instead. And we just skip stones, a hundred times or until a basculin jumps out at us angry, and we have to kick it back into the water.

When the leaves start to turn, people around here start to move about. I guess like us they're wondering where the summer went and what the hell they did with it.

Not that I get Halloween. It brings out something odd. Chris phones me the next day, the one after Charlie asks me about pumpkin spice lattes. Could I come to work in a costume? I say no problem.

---

So I kind of feel bad, then, for that couple, the one from New Brunswick, the only tourists who passed by the town on Halloween night. Of course they didn't pack a costume, so I guess the Trifolio would have looked a real sorry sight.

But the lady smiled, put on an easy laugh. She said, oh, it's Halloween -- and, how do you feel about the soup of the day? And that my zombie getup wasn't shabby either.

"Really nice makeup," her husband added.

What makeup?

---

So, see. If you can turn yourself into a zombie, even sort of, for a day, you wouldn't ever really have any trouble with costumes. As for other people -- Chester sews his own. And Chris, this year he tells me he's going with the Loch Ness monster, or something like that. "It'll fit," he says.

"That's Scottish," I reply. "Not Irish."

But he does it anyway. And I think that's sort of the thing about Halloween, the thing I don't get. People get carried away by ideas. And even here in a town where everyone likes to think they have common sense, even we don't seem to stop and think if what we have is a good idea.

---

Who am I to judge? Chester walked in, maybe ten minutes before my break. He showed up as Victor Frankenstein this year. He said order me something, anything, whatever you feel like. Trick or treat.

So I brewed him a pumpkin spice latte.
 

JavierE64

Masks are so 2016!!! But don´t forget to wear one
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Dex Entry The Master of both Light and Darkness; who loves the Violent and Dramatic, and the Fun and Adorable.
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Jul 1, 2019
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You´re in for a threat tonight, as I make a story out of the scariest game to Nuzlocke: Ultra Sun.

Minor mentions of death, heavy allegories to terrorist groups and corrupt goverments, implied violence against children/teenagers.

September 1st, 1989.​

Dear Diary: My name is Kendall Jr; Son of Kendall, grandson of another Kendall, and the possible father of yet another Kendall in the foreseeable future. My family is pretty weird.​

But disregarding that, I’m writing this journal to record every single detail of my very own Island Challenge; this is an important tradition in our home region of Alola, every cool kid has taken on the challenge at some point in their lives, and only the best come out on top. As for the ones who failed, they refuse to show their faces in public ever again, for what I heard; but I'm pretty sure that´s a only rumor, there´s nothing for me to worry about.​

I´ve been waiting for years, but now I have a chance to be the very best, like no one ever was.​


Today I made my first step in the challenge, by taking on the very first trial: Verdant Cavern. But before I can tell you about it, I first need to introduce my Pokémon team: Marty McFly, my loving Popplio; Lus the Abra, who is clearly NOT named after a certain blond girl I have a crush on if that's what you’re wondering; Mario, the Jumping Makuhita; Tommy, the mandatory Zubat; Veronica, a Murkrow that followed me home; and Sarah the Grubbin; my very first catch. And with a team like this, nothing will stop us, absolutely nothing.​

...​

We stood in front of the Caverns entrance; It was early in the morning, the trial captain just gave us permission to proceed. Everything made it look like a piece of cake, this was the starting point after all; but once we entered the place, we realized our mistake.​

The place was dark, almost pitch-black; and there were only two spots where sunlight could enter this cavern of darkness: the main entrance, and the gate leading to the trial. - Your main task is to make your way into the cavern to reach the exit, where a special someone will be waiting for you. - Is that it? Sounds easy enough. - By the way, this place is crawling with angry Yungoos, who won´t hesitate to attack you on the spot. So be careful. - Spoke too soon. ​

- Also, be careful of those Team Skull runts; they´ve been causing quite the ruckus on Alola recently, and they are hunting for potential dropouts. So watch yourself, and DON´T lose. -​

I swear to the Tapus, if there wasn't such a high pressure on me to complete the challenge, I would´ve bailed on the spot. Ever since my family´s Meowth brought a dead Rattata to our front door, I´m very scared of the so-called regional rodents, even though some of them are not even rodents; but, isn't that the purpose of the trials? to overcome our fears, and become stronger? I´ll just have to endure it, no matter what happens to me afterwards.​

Tommy helped me traverse the cavern, as Zubats have plenty of experience with dark environments; and just to be sure, Mario stood next to me, to fight against those Yungoos. I mean, they are probably not that to…​

- Yungoos. - I heard a voice behind my back; but when I turned around, nobody was there. ​
- Yungoos … Yungoos. - The same voice was coming from the west, and from the east, we were surrounded by the normal types, and they were gonna attack us at any moment; I couldn't see anything, Tommy was unable to track anything, and Mario was helpless against such a vast number of enemies. If we don't do anything now, we'll be toast.​

- Tommy, Supersonic Now!!! - Out of desperation, I ordered my Zubat to cause some noise all round the room. And for the love of anything sacred, the waves were strong enough to stun every single foe nearby, blowing up their cover. - Mario, Force Palm them all!! - Makuhita´s attacks were able to knock out the stunned Yungoos with the blink of an eye.​

However, those foes were only the welcoming committee, as an army of them were coming our way; screw fighting, we had to run, as long as nobody was watching. We were focusing so much on escaping, we couldn't appreciate the rest of the cavern; the only thing I could remember was a large gap-hole-cliff thing between the exit, and our current location; and the only thing connecting the two sides was a large plank of wood. I´m pretty sure that's illegal. ​

At least the Yungoos were too scared to cross the bridge, and we managed to lose them; just need to reach the other side of the exit, and our trial will be complete.​

…​

What lied under the exit, was a path to a small arena, and the light seems to have returned to us all. - Congrats on reaching this far. - The trial captain could be seen on a balcony far away from the arena, how on earth did he get in there? - And for the final test, you must defeat my Ace Pokémon. - From an Ultra Ball, the normal type specialist sent a Gumshoos; and this Pokémon, it looked like … any other particular Gumshoos, no standing up feature at all.​

To make things more awkward, the Gumshoos wasn't even that strong; With only a Brick Break from Mario, the so-called Ace Pokémon fell down faster than my interest for this trial at this point. - Is that it? - I had to ask, because how could this be the end; but instead of answering me, the captain just gave me a sinister grin. - On the contrary you young fool, the real fun is about to start. - He was holding a white object, I think it was a crystal, and threw it straight at the Gumshoos; and by act of magic, the normal type not only fully recovered, but also began to grow to a tremendous size, almost as big as the Arena.​

- Behold young trial-goers!!! - The Captain lost his marbles, he was screaming like a mad man. - My greatest creation, and your final opponent: Totem Gumshoos!!! -​

-Don´t get me wrong, you truly seem like a guy who could be on something. - You know what I'm referring to. - But WHY did you have to use it on your own Pokémon!!! -​

- Wait, is not what you´re thinking about. - The captain was shocked at my statement. - That's the Normalium Z, and its powers are making my Gumshoos gigantic. Defeat the totem, you pass the trial, and the crystal is your for the taking. -​

Nope, we're not gonna fight that 3 foot tall, detective-looking Pokémon that can, and will, kill all of my Pokémon with just one Tail Whip. Passing the island challenge is not worth it, I´m outta here; but as soon as I returned my friends into their Pokémon, and headed towards the exit, the Totem Gumshoos blocked our path, and was about to attack me.​

- Other kids had to go through the same path as you, and I didn´t see them complaining about it. - This guy is a complete psychopath. - Unless, you are nothing more … than a chicken!!! -​

- Nobody … and I mean Nobody … calls me a chicken. - I was fine with being called a Wimpod, or an Abra, even a Wishiwashi, but he just had to use the word chicken. - Marty, how about we teach them all, how much of a chicken we truly are. -​

And from the classic red Pokéball, I pulled out my Iconic starter, and prepared for battle.​

- Baby-Doll Eyes!!! - The Gumshoos can still kill us in one hit, we had to lower its attack ASAP; and with Popplio´s adorable stare, the same one that convinced me to choose him as my very first Pokémon, when the other two starters were already taken, the normal type began to hesitate into attacking us with all its might.​

- That move is child's play, I thought you two were men. - The Captain was pissed. - If you resort to cheap tactics, then so do I. Yungoos, I require your assistance!!! - He sent yet another Pokémon to aid the already overpowered totem Gumshoos. - Don´t look at me like that. - He knew there's no way two against one wasn't fair, not even in the slightest - Ok fine, you can also use more than one Pokémon in the battle, happy now! - ​

- I guess. - I responded. - Mario, Veronica, Sarah, Go and assist your friend!!! - With the power of four regular Pokémon, against a gigantic Pokémon and its minion, we don't have much of a chance, unless we all work together and have a solid strategy. ​

- Everyone, keep your eyes on the enemies. - I came up with a plan, but I'm not quite sure if it’s gonna work or not. - Veronica, use Haze!!! - My Murkrow then covered the entire arena with as much dark Mist as possible, not even the captain was able to see anything at all. - Now’s our chance, attack now !!! - Sarah had her eyes on the Yungoos, and the vicious little Gurbbin didn't hesitate to attack it with a Bug Bite; meanwhile, Marty and Mario both teamed up to take on the Gumshoos at the same time; Marty used Water Gun like crazy, while Mario strikes the head once again with Brick Break; but no matter how many attacks the Gumshoos receives, and were a lot, it refused to go down. Nothing could hurt it in the slightest.​

In less than a minute, the Haze cleared off, and the Totem Pokémon didn't hesitate to retaliate against most of my team with one brutal tackle; Mario, Marty, and even Sarah, they all crashed straight into a wall, and the foe set its sights into me. - I always knew you were gonna be a disappointment, from the moment I lay my eyes on you. - The Captain had a sinister grin on his face. - But since we don´t want you to join those delinquents of Team Skull, it is better if the Gumshoos get rid of you once and for all. -​

Maybe I should've seen that action coming, since what else would a douche like that captain do to a rebel trainer in a dark place with no witnesses, or a way to escape. But before the Totem Pokémon could do something to me, it started to shrink back to its original size, and fainted right in front of our eyes. - Wait, how's this possible? - The captain asked the same question as I; but upon looking at the fallen foes, we discovered the absence of a crystal embedded into the Gumshoos. ​

Veronica, she wasn't present during this whole ordeal; and then, she flew towards me, holding the Normalium Z on her beak. The Murkrow must´ve stolen it while we were about to get killed, she always had a knack for stealing shiny stuff, and her bad habit just saved our lives. - That's not fair, you were cheating on the trial! - The Captain was furious yet again.​

- And you were about to kill for not beating it, so we're even. - We had enough of this trial, and enough of this murdered. Forget the exit, we are teleporting outta here.​

- Fine, go run away with that crystal. - The Captain already admitted defeat, there's nothing he can use against us anymore. - But if you try to forfeit the island challenge, or report us to the authorities, the Captains and Kahunas will stop at nothing to take you down. Farewell, you future Team Skull Scumbag. - I then called on Lus, to teleport us out of the cavern.​

…​

We ended up near a Pokémon Center, it was pretty late in the afternoon; I made sure my friends had a checkup, while I made a check myself about the whole Team Skull situation. ​

I don't like watching the news, they are always so sad and violent, like if the channels are fishing for a certain audience; but after today's events, I just had to do it. Team Skull is a gang of outlaws rebelling against the traditions of Alola, which makes them public enemy number one. Most of their forces consist of both dropouts and children who fail on the trials; and the rumors were indeed true, those tend to disappear from the public eye, and now I know why. So my options were to participate in the trials to prove my loyalty to Alola, and get my Pokémon injured or worse in the process, or be dealt with for being a failure.​

Is not fair: I just wanted to have fun, to earn some respect, not to fight to live another day.​

But, what other choice do I have now? Is not like I could leave all of this behind, move in with my relatives in Kalos, and live happily ever after with my Pokémon; that´s just, impossible. No, I had to complete the challenge, it’s the only way to escape from this.​

After they finished healing up my team, we left the Pokémon Center, to head to our next trial.​

We have to finish this, now.​

This is based on a Run of Ultra Sun; and without getting too much into spoiler territory, the battle with Totem Gumshoos is the only one in the entire game where things went down without any kind of hitch.

The story itself takes place in the 80s, and is set in the same universe as last year's Halloween story; the whole Team Skull and the Captains situation is based on Peru's situation during the decade, where the CAI was in full effect, they were truly terrifying times.

Also, can you spot all the referrences.

Thanks as always for reading, and I wish you all a happy halloween.
 

glancesherlock

Consulting Detective
Badges
Pronouns
she/they
Dex Entry Just wants to stay home and solve crimes.
Pronouns
she/they
Pokédex No.
32
Caught
Jun 10, 2019
Messages
752
Location
221B Baker Street
Nature
Lonely
Heya, spooks and ghouls and creatures of indeterminate being! I've got a two-for-one show for ya tonight. This first oneshot is about Agatha from my storylocke Looking Backward. If you haven't read it, no worries! This takes place long before any of the events in the run and works as a standalone thing. Just couldn't let another Halloween pass me by without paying special respects to my ghost queen.

TW: allusions to infant death, poison, possession, implied child peril

Lavender Town, 1929

Henry Kenoulty stormed through town, fists balled and eager to connect to Frederick Culverton’s head. His friends from the bar followed at his heels, pleading.

“Come off it, Henry!”

“You wanna get us all screwed out of our pay?”

“Yeah, don’t piss off the plant owner, nimrod!”

Kenoulty whirled around, eyes burning with drunken rage. He shouted, “I don’t care if he’s the fuckin’ king of Kalos! His damned daughter did something to my boy, and he ain’t been the same since!”

There was no swaying him. The man held his resolve as he marched onto the grounds of the Culverton manor and pounded his fist on the door. It was Hettie the housekeeper who answered and was abruptly brushed past as Kenoutly forced himself in.

“Culverton!” he bellowed into the large, ornate entry way. “Dammit! Where’s that sour, gold-pinchin’ face of yours—”

“I’m right here, Mr. Kenoulty.”

Frederick Culverton appeared from the dim parlor as though he’d materialized from the shadows. He stood tall with his hands poised firmly behind his back, his clothes just as pressed and neat as they were when he dressed that morning. His dark blue eyes fixed themselves on the angry intruder. While his gaze was cold, his voice was cordial. “What brings you to my home this evening?”

“Oh, you know damn well what!” Kenoulty got in his face, nearly spitting with beer-laced breath. “My Roger’s been bed-ridden for the last two days, tossin’ his sick more times than I can count! He can’t eat, can’t sleep, can barely speak! An’ he says that witch daughter of yours cursed him!”

At this, Culverton smirked. “Did he now?”

Kenoulty puffed his chest. “Uh-huh. Shoulda known it’d happen sooner or later, the way your girl talks to the dead. It ain’t natural!”

The others who had followed the drunken man sprang forward, pulling their friend away and placing themselves before their benefactor.

“He didn’t mean it, sir,” one said with a fake laugh.

“Just hit the bottle too hard, s’all.”

But Kenoulty would hear none of it. He pushed them aside and seized Culverton by the coat. “My head’s clear enough. She’s a witch! Everyone in town knows it! And she’s gonna fix whatever she did to my boy!”

Unmoved, Culverton’s face grew hard. “Is that all, Mr. Kenoutly?”

“Don’t give me that bull—”

“It sounds like your son ate a couple holly berries. They grow wild near the woods. Roger and his friends play there often, hm? What he needs is a doctor and some rest, nothing more.”

Kenoulty spluttered a retort but was overshadowed by Culverton’s voice, which grew in volume. “And if I find you at my door spitting accusations about my daughter again, I will reserve you a position in the unemployment line, is that clear?”

The others held their breath as they feared a punch might land and spill blood. Somewhere in the house, a grandfather clocked struck eight. The deep, echoing bells seemed to simmer the confrontation, and Kenoulty surrendered with a scoff. Red-faced, he released Culverton and shoved his way to the door, grumbling. His friends followed, tossing back unintelligible apologies.

When the door closed, Culverton’s eyes darted to the top of the staircase in time to see the hem of a skirt and two small feet flee the scene. He sighed, letting his shoulders fall, and ascended the old mahogany steps.

The corridor at the top of the stairs was decorated with an emerald floral wallpaper, which acted as the backdrop to a myriad of paintings and artifacts secured from around the globe. Images depicting old castles and foggy landscapes paid homage to the family’s Galarian roots. Culverton brushed past them all in his haste, pausing only for a moment to glance into a nursery. In the candle-lit room he could see the black veil which had yet to be removed from the wooden crib. His wife was in her self-ordained spot in a rocking chair, clutching a blanket to her chest as she hummed. Her eyes were glossy and distant.

He’d see to her later.

His daughter’s room was neat and populated with at least a dozen dolls situated on every piece of furniture. Little Agatha, age six, sat innocently in front of her dollhouse, arranging the curls of her favorite plaything. It resembled herself to a staggering degree—same blonde locks, same blue eyes, same black ribbon in their hair. She’d even begged her mother to sew them matching dresses. The dollhouse was a handmade replica of the Culverton manor, complete with miniature versions of the house’s decor.

With a soft rap on the door, Culverton entered the room and cleared his throat. “Aggie, you were eavesdropping.”

She blinked up at him, eyes as wide as she could make them. “No I wasn’t,” she replied.

Frowning, Culverton settled himself in a chair from his daughter’s tea table. He watched her for a moment before asking, “Did you feed Roger Kenoulty holly berries?”

“No,” came the answer. “I cursed him.”

“Aggie, tell me the truth.”

Agatha shifted so she could look straight up at her father. “Fine. It was Mortdecai. He did it.”

“Your ghost friend,” he said flatly.

“I’m training him,” she explained with a proud smile. “I think he’s almost ready for a real battle.”

He sigh with exasperation. “Ghosts aren’t Pokemon, Aggie.”

The grip on her doll tightened, her temper flaring. “Great-Uncle Leopold thought they were.”

His voice rose to overshadow hers. “Your uncle was mad and a murderer, and if it weren’t for him, our family wouldn’t have fled to this god-forsaken region.”

“Yeah, but—”

He stood, cutting her off. “Which is why you need to stop all this ghost nonsense! No more going to the cemetary, no more talking to the air. Do you even hear what people say in town? How am I supposed to uphold any dignity managing the coal plant if everyone on the street is spreading all these witch rumors?”

“What if I am a witch?” Agatha shot to her feet, matching her father’s stance. “I like it! And Roger deserved to get cursed! He was—”

“I don’t care what happened,” Culverton snapped. “But first thing in the morning, you are going straight to the Kenoulty house to give that boy a proper apology for feeding him holly berries—not one word of a curse better come out of your mouth. You’re going to show the town you’re a normal child with some goddamn humility and courtesy.”

“But Mortdecai was the one—”

“And for the last time, you have got to stop blaming everything on this thing you call Mortdecai!”

Tears biting her eyes, Agatha readied another retort, but something caught her eye. The air around her dollhouse shifted and swirled ever so slightly. She couldn’t hold back the gasp, but she tried to save face by lowering her head and scuffing her shoes in defeat.

“I’m sorry, Father,” she said quietly. “I’ll stop lying, and I’ll apologize to Roger tomorrow, promise.”

Culverton loosened and patted her head. His voice shrank to a near whisper. “Thank you, Aggie. I’m sorry too. It hasn’t been easy since Forrest… I know you’re still trying to cope.”

“I am, yes,” she lied.

“Maybe tomorrow after you visit Roger, you can spend time with your mother. She would like that.”

“Alright,” said his daughter with a sweet smile. “I will.”

When they had said their goodnights and she was left alone, Agatha’s facade of a cheerful face slipped away. She spoke to her dollhouse. “You can’t jump on people so fast. It doesn’t matter how upset he makes me, you can’t ever curse Father, okay?”

The air within the tiny rooms shifted and swayed, coming together in a near-translucent mass. Looking through it distorted the dollhouse like the hot surface of blacktop tar. A pair of gleaming eyes peered out of the mass, barely visible. The ghost made no show he understood the girl’s words, but Agatha assumed her message came through.

Her attention fell on the closet door, which she gingerly opened to reveal a nest of blankets and pillows. Blood seeped through one of the sheets—that would be difficult to explain to Hettie. Lifting the sheet revealed a small, slender Ekans, half asleep and breathing heavily. The bandage around its tail was soaked through.

“You’re still not better?” she asked, reaching to pet its head. It made no response to her touch. “Roger hurt you so much, but I’m going to fix you, okay? And then you can stay here, and your name will be Roylott. I’ll… I’ll talk to Father about it later.” She went to work removing the blood-stained sheet and replacing the bandages. Readying a bottle of rubbing alcohol, she turned to the gaseous cloud floating near her shoulder. “Mortdecai, please put my patient to sleep for me.”

The ghost obeyed, sending hypnotic currents at the Ekans’ head until it drifted into a deep slumber. Agatha then soaked a cotton swab with the rubbing alcohol and administered it to as many cuts as she could see. She tried to copy Hettie’s method of wrapping bandages, but alas, it was a messy job in the end. Still, she spotted no new blood seeping through.

Satisfied, she pet the snake’s head again and hummed a melody almost too eerie to be a lullaby. “As soon as Father goes to bed, I’ll sneak downstairs and find you some food. I think there are some eggs in the ice box you could have.” Turning to Mortdecai, she added, “You need food too; you’re really faded from casting that curse. Tomorrow I’ll take you outside, alright? You should eat some of the black smog from Father’s plant, not just candle smoke. I want to be able to see you.”

Mortdecai swayed silently in some show of thanks before disappearing into the dollhouse for the night.

Later, as Agatha crawled into bed, she held her doppelganger doll close her, unable to hold back a fit of giggles.

She was giggling, because she loved the thought of being a witch.

*****

Agatha found her mother in the nursery. Pale and open-mouthed, Regina Culverton sat in her creaking rocking chair, moving it in the same, slow rhythm she did every day. Her long hair lay uncombed, tumbling down her shoulders in ratty locks. A book of Galarian fairy tales rested in her lap, opened to a story about a boy who was taken from his mother by the fae folk. She wasn’t reading it.

The crib was still cloaked in the black veil.

Taking a brief pause between each step, Agatha gradually approached her and carefully placed her doll in her mother’s arms.

“He was about this size, I remember,” she said softly. “Try reading to her, and when I get back, could you read to me?”

Mrs. Culverton lowered her head just enough to see the thing in her arms. She stared at the doll with eyes so cold and colorless, eyes that had not looked at her daughter in months.

Agatha touched her hand, only for it to flinch away. “Mother?”

A tense silence lay between them, one more akin to a grave site visit than a child speaking to her parent. Mrs. Culverton ceased her rocking. With a shaking hand, she brushed her fingers against an illustration of the stolen boy.

Her voice was a croaking rasp. “Demon child that you are… Why wasn’t it you?”

Dispassionate, Agatha left the room, and the rhythmic creak of the rocking chair sounded once more.

*****

The apology to Roger was quick an insincere. Kenoulty merely snorted and shuffled off to chop firewood. Roger, who appeared to have fully recovered, spat at Agatha’s feet.

“Like hell you just gave me some dumb berries,” he said with a sneer. “I saw what you did, clear as day, but I’ll shut up about it if you promise to never come near me again.”

She did so cheerfully.

The air around Lavender Town was always thick and putrid; her father’s coal plant saw to that. Due to the number of unfortunately accidents, both in the plant and the local mine, ghost sightings were not an uncommon thing. Local legend suggested those souls who were not prepared to leave this realm clung to the smoke and soot in the air and now resided in limbo as gaseous spirits. The rare visitor laughed at such stories, but the superstitious town still had an attention rapt by spiritualism and a library of ghost stories.

And Agatha felt right at home in such an atmosphere.

Wishing to avoid as many people as possible, she took a path that circled around town, which coincidentally took her past the cemetery. Or, the birthplace of her friends, as she liked to regard it. Between the morning episode with her mother and seeing Roger’s punch-worthy face again, the temptation to spend the rest of the day among the kind dead was difficult to resist. However, her father’s hair would turn stark white if he learned she disobeyed him so soon after her promise. She pressed on.

The coal plant was about a mile outside of town, and wind currents carried much of the air pollutants across a narrow river. It was there Agatha stopped.

“We’re here, Mortdecai. Eat up.”

Underneath her feet, her shadow shifted, and the ghost rose from the ground. He’d tagged along like that all morning. It was a neat little trick, one perfect for hiding her friend while she was out and about. Silently, Mortdecai ran his gaseous body through her hair in thanks, causing a cold wave of goosebumps to shoot across her body. She laughed, shivering.

“You’re welcome,” she said. “Now go eat!”

The ghost obliged, floating high and soaking in as much of the dark smoke as he pleased. He gradually became more and more visible until at last he came back down, a fully-fledged specter. His large eyes were now striking against his black body, and a mouth-like opening beamed in a way some would call sinister.

“There, now don’t you look better?” Agatha grinned and motioned to her shadow. “Get in, then. We ought to go home.”

Mortdecai obeyed, and the two were back down the path. The journey to town remained uneventful until three boys came up the hill and planted themselves in front of the girl. They were tamers, it seemed. Each had a ’mon at their side: a Sandshrew, a Poliwag, and a Spearow.

“You off to the cemetery then, witch?” the tallest boy asked.

“Actually, I’m going home.” She spoke with her head held high in the same manner her father used. “Looks like you want a battle, though.”

The second boy held up his hands and said, “Oh, don’t mind us. We’re just guarding ourselves. Don’t want you cursing us like you did to Roger.”

“I didn’t curse him, I fed him holly berries,” she insisted, holding to the fiction. “If you’ll excuse me.”

With a loud clearing of her throat, they parted for her to pass. She strode ahead, intent on ignoring them and continuing her way without incident.

Then one of the boys snickered. “That’s prolly the same lie she told her parents after she killed her brother.”

Seized by those words, Agatha stopped in her tracks. Her blood ran cold, and she slowly, unnaturally, turned her head to face the boy who spoke.

“What did you say?”

The other two tried to shush their friend, but he continued with a shrug. “It’s what my mom says. You didn’t like not being the only spoiled rich kid in town, so you cursed your own baby brother, and now your mother’s a nutcase ’cause she’s got a murderous witch for a daughter.”

Every syllable he uttered was a dagger in her heart and a piece of coal on her temper’s fire. Emotions flared before an ounce of self-control could take over. Face hot, fists clenched, she could almost feel her shadow creep up her back and grow into a monstrous cloud of smoke behind her. His body rolling with a rage to match the girl’s, Mortdecai fixed his eyes on the boys. They screamed, reaching for each other, their feet frozen in place by fear.

“That’s right, I am a witch,” Agatha hissed, the first tear streaming down her face. “You really want to know what I did to Roger? Then watch!” Feeling the ghost’s power at her back, she gave the command—demon child that she was. “Curse their ’mon. All of them.”

Like a wave on the ocean, Mortdecai reared up and crashed down upon the closest creature, the Sandshrew. Spreading himself thin, he entered the thing’s body through the mouth, the nose, the ears, the eyes. The Sandshrew squealed and contorted, shaking violently as the ghost possessed it. It flailed about in agony until Mortdecai finally left its body and moved on to the Spearow. Flapping wildly, the poor thing tried to escape through flight, but was caught in the dark, gaseous cloud. It crashed to the ground, its wings bending in ways they were never meant to. Hideous squawking filled the air, mixing in with the boys cries as they watched their ’mon overcome by the ghost one by one.

While inside the Poliwag, Mortdecai went the extra mile and took control of the tadpole’s motor functions, shooting a steady jet of water at the boys until they at last found their presence of mind to scramble away. As they retreated, Mortdecai released his final victim. He was more transparent than before, having lost the poison and pollutants he’d left inside them. The three ’mon were wailing and writhing, their wild eyes searching desperately for a way to escape the ghost.

At the sight of them clawing and limping away in pain, Agatha’s senses returned to her. A loud wail erupted from her mouth, and she fell to the ground, sobbing. Tears for what she’d done, tears for what they said, tears for the family who would hate her when she returned home.

Wiping her face, she whimpered, “Maybe it should’ve been me. Maybe Mother would be happy if…” Stronger sobs took over the words.

Mortdecai floated to her, observing her as she cried. One might think there was empathy on the specter’s face. He brushed through her hair and rested on her head like a ghastly halo. The act brought out one small laugh from the girl.

“Y-you’ll stay with me, right?” Agatha asked with a sniff. “When everyone else is gone because I’m a witch, you’ll still be here?”

As if in answer, the ghost, which had appeared to her at her brother’s funeral, now disappeared into her shadow. His eyes blinked up at her from the ground, and a grin stretched across the pebbled path. The message was clear: they were one.

The gesture brought out one happy tear. “Thank you, Mortdecai. I promise I’ll take you everywhere, always, and we’ll scare everybody else away. Roylott can help too, when he gets better.”

This arrangement seemed to please the ghost, and the two of them—girl and shadow—walked together back to Lavender Town and home.

She was a witch, and she was a child, and everyone was going to leave her alone.

This second one contains spoilers for the Crown Tundra DLC. Y'all been warned.

The morning storm left the afternoon at peace and gave the ground a fresh, glistening white blanket. A gentle wind picked up the snowflakes in wispy strings and shifted them like the desert sands. Now that the sky was quiet, the tundra came alive. Frosmoth steadied their glassy wings to keep close to their Snom children as they fed. Beartic hunted, Whiscash swam, and Litwick quieted their lights. Somewhere, in a more grassy bed, Grimmsnarl fought Nidoking for territory. Elsewhere, a Drakloak searched the fog for a Dreepy to care for and fill the hole in its heart.

It was through this brimming, snow-covered valley that a Mudsdale and her rider trekked through. Their pace was a leisure one, as their scouting task was far behind them, and ahead lay home. Yet the rider, Devland, could not help but to take in all that was around him with a light heart.

“What a land it is, ah Jinny?” He patted his steed’s neck. “Not a life of ease on the body, but a feast for the soul.”

Jinny nickered as if in agreement. One would suspect her understanding of human speech was as clear as the icicles on the trees. At times during their rides through the wilderness, she was the one to nip and pull at her two-legged friend to urge him homeward. So in love he was with the rolling hills and snowy caverns, he’d allow his mind to forget the cozy, family-filled hut waiting for him back home.

Today, however, both rider and steed were of one mind to reach a soft bed and a warm meal. Their hopes of spotting the glow from the town diminished as a sudden gust of wind kicked up the snow and whipped it in a continuous flurry.

Devland gripped the reins as he retreated into himself. “What mountainous curse is this? No storm comes from clear skies!”

He was wrong—about one thing, at least. The sky was not clear. It had covered itself quiet suddenly with thick, dark clouds that saw fit to ravage the tundra with a wrath so bitterly freezing even the icy creatures of the land ran for shelter.

Sensing her rider’s distress, Jinny lowered her head and pushed through the wind. Her steps grew heavy, but she did not let up on her stride as she trudged forward. Devland guided her as best he could through the flying snow. It grew so thick, it nearly blinded them both. And just when Devland’s wariness turned to fear, his eyes laid upon a sight that gave him a rush of hope.

Sitting in a large tree before them was a large, lilac-colored bird, the likes of which no one from Devland’s town had ever seen. Against the wind, it was steadfast, its wings crossed neatly in front like a regal sovereign. Its long, violet tail oscillated back and forth in a wave as if to further protest the storm’s power. Yet it was not the bird’s stance nor tail that so captured Devland’s attention. It was the eyes. Those iridescent blue eyes which pierced through a mask of black feathers. Their gripping glow eclipsed all thoughts of misery and icy woe. They were the eyes of a guardian, perhaps a savior.

“Who are you?” Devland breathed the words so softly they were lost to the wind. Then the bird unfolded its magnificent wings and glided effortlessly toward a mountain’s slope, one people in our time refer to as the Crown.

With those eyes out of sight, Devland felt overcome by an unfamiliar desperation. As the creature flew away it took with it a piece of his soul and everything that made life a wonder. He signaled Jinny forward, begging her to hurry. The Mudsdale did not understand the sudden distress in her rider’s voice, and it was her love and concern for him that drove her forward. If she ran quickly, she thought, he would not suffer so.

And run she did, hooves thundering up the mountain with a ferocity to match the raging storm. Her efforts brought them in pace with the great bird, and soon they were side by side, climbing higher up the mountain in the freezing wind.

Devland gazed in awe at the lilac creature. Sitting as high as he could, he let go of the reins and threw out his arms, mimicking the bird’s graceful wings. The movement rocked him like gentle waves, a comfort he had not felt since he was a babe. He stared in a trance, wanting nothing more than to ride along like this until the end of days.

The bird let out a melodic cry that echoed across the land and shook Devland to his bones. In his mind, voice—a wish—called to him. One of unity and forever.

“Yes,” he said, reaching to the bird. “Wherever you go, take me there with you.”

He was shaken from his bliss by a sudden jolt. Jinny had ceased her charge and stood unmoving in the snow, bleating concerned whinnies. Devland watched in despair as the bird continued on, disappearing into the snowstorm.

“What are you doing?” he demanded, kicking her sides. “Keep going!”

She did not budge, and when she did move it was to turn around and go back down the slope. Devland leapt off her back angrily and tugged her reins. He berated her with wild blue eyes that were not his own.

“Come on! Come now, you great, stupid beast!”

His harsh words did not deter her. Home was where he belonged, and home is where he would get better. When she tugged his sleeve with her teeth, he retaliated with a blow to her muzzle. The act caught her off guard enough that she did not protest as he dragged her forward in pursuit of the bird who captured his heart and mind.

She forgot, tragically, why she had stopped until the moment Devland collapsed and the snow gave way under her foot. Her hooves kicked and flailed in search of solid ground, but it was left behind them. The two tumbled, crashing and falling down the cliff, the one Jinny tried to warn her rider of. The one Articuno had led them to.

Their screams and neighs were carried across the tundra by the wind and were cut off long before the ground sprung up to meet rider and steed. They lay in an unmoving heap at the foot of the Crown, a feast fit for the local scavengers.

As the wind whipped about the snow and began to cover the unfortunate scouts, there was a shift under the Mudsdale’s body. Whether through love or guilt or sheer force of will, something inside the creature refused to leave this world. In a dark mass, her shadow lifted itself from the ground and took life. Though in its haste to approach the human, things did not form the way they should, and its hooves remained detached from its body. Taking cue from Jinny’s memory, the specter nudged the human’s hand and nibbled his hair in a way that used to make him laugh. He did not stir.

A dull sorrow took hold of the specter, and a recollection of devotion swayed it to stay with the human until he might rise. Though as these thoughts were being pondered, a newcomer appeared.

The creature was small with a long, creamy-white face and a green head which took up most of its body. Its legs dangled below itself and were skinny enough to be considered unnecessary. It floated in place, observing the scene with a distant expression.

“That ache you feel is loss,” the creature explained, reaching to the specter with a voice made of energy. “You have lost your place in the human world.” It descended upon the Mudsdale and gingerly removed the reins. They’d been quite damaged by the fall. Taking a strand from the body’s mane, the large-headed creature fashioned a repaired set and offered it to the specter. “I observed you in your life. Your former self was this creature’s steed. If you would allow me to be your new rider, perhaps together we could concoct a cure for our sorrows.”

The specter considered the offer, and after a time of contemplation, stepped forward and followed the creature back up the mountain.

And at the edge of the forest, perched in a tree with wings crossed, was Articuno. Through the wind and the subsiding storm it watched, dutifully observing its king with hypnotizing and icy blue eyes.

Happy Halloween, my dudes!
 

Zephyr_Iphis

cryptid
Badges
Pronouns
she/they
Dex Entry It protects itself from the cold by wrapping up in blankets. It loves food and cooks constantly.
Pronouns
she/they
Pokédex No.
101
Caught
Jun 18, 2019
Messages
275
Location
Surrounded by animals
Nature
Quiet
I really wanted to do this last year, but I was swamped and didn't really have any ideas. But this year I was ready!

TW: Death, blood, PTSD, and grief. Nothing super graphic, but they're not passing references either. It's baked in there.
Wind whispered through dry grass, and moonlight stretched the shadows of the barren trees across the glowing ground. In the pitch black beneath the lee of a great stone slab, Kusha floated in absolute silence. They watched the shadows dance and shudder. This far from the glow of Hammerlocke and smog of Circhester, there were many more stars in the sky, but they shed no light upon the ground. When a cloud drew across the moon, the sparse landscape disappeared.

A quiet rumble sounded like distant thunder, and Kusha tensed. Time trickled by sluggishly until the cloud passed. Kusha’s gaze caught the red flash of a Tyranitar’s eye as it lumbered out of a cave. Its shadowy bulk dwarfed the dark of the entrance as it rose to its full height. Kusha thought they could hear a huff as its head swung back and forth, and they shuttered. It was a good distance and they were downwind but…

A month ago, Kusha would not have been frightened. A month ago, they could have taken on anything, together.

Now they were cracked and alone.

“May I have another cup?”

Silence fell again and lingered as Kusha searched for what to say, what to do.

“It’s just that I’m cold again.”

They both knew that wasn’t the only reason. Kusha could hear them rolling the empty metal camp mug between their hands.

“I donno, Darach. It’s dangerous.”

They didn’t argue or insist, just murmured a quiet acknowledgment and shifted with a rustle of cloth.

“Why don’t you hold me in your lap? I can warm you up that way.”

“Thank you,” Darach murmured as Kusha floated into their space, brushing up against their chest. They circled their arms around Kusha, hoodie sleeves wrapping porcelain until all but the lid atop Kusha’s head was enveloped in soft fabric. Kusha warmed the tea that made up their body to near boiling since they needn’t worry about burning skin through the layers.

It was sort of nice—even in the wilderness with a Tyranitar hunting nearby—nicer than Kusha had ever thought it could be. They were a ghost, after all. Of course they could feel, but they didn’t have a body the same way other pokemon did. And their teapot was fragile. Kusha had hardly let the others touch it.

Now Kusha would never know the feeling.

The loss struck them like the phantom blade of a Night Slash, shattering them from the inside out. It shouldn’t hurt so much. It shouldn’t hurt each time like the first. They tried not to rattle in Darach’s arms. Kusha was lucky to be made of liquid so that their tears were easily concealed.

Lucky. The others had pitied Kusha at first, but they had always felt lucky for what they were. Other ghosts were haunted—had past lives and memories and pain. But Kusha was born from a soul brimming with power, poured into a new vessel and a new life. Kusha carried nothing—no scars, no baggage, no gender—just existence in all its sweetness. Then they had a trainer who took care of them, and friends, and a new vessel, and adventure!

Now a chasm dwelled inside them, yawning wide as the maw of the unfathomable beast that had taken it all from them. Now they were somehow less than empty, and they didn’t know how to go back. How could anything hope to fill a boundless void? One may as well tip their efforts to the sky and let it splash across the empty heavens.

Just as suddenly as Kusha had been cut adrift, they felt a tug. Darach slumped over them, body slowly relaxing into the warmth they shared. They had this. In spite of everything, they had each other.

“Darach, shouldn’t we train the newbie? That’s why we came out here, isn’t it?”

They squeezed Kusha tighter for another moment. “Mm.”

Vivid red light illuminated their little nook of darkness for a moment as Darach released the Yamask from her ball. As the flash faded, her body melted seamlessly into the shadows save for her eyes that wept beads of glowing lavender without end.

“Freya, would ya like to battle tonight?” Darach’s voice was soft as it ever was, but far more sure and easy than when they’d first met. “Kusha and I will be right here at your back no matter what. Promise.”

The Yamask blinked at them and dipped her head.

“Then let’s find a match for ya.”

They wandered out into the wind and moonlight, up the slope towards the jutting rock pillars and away from the hunting Tyranitar.

It wasn’t difficult to find a few wilds up for the challenge, and the Yamask threw her all into the fights. All was well until a deep gong echoed through the air, close and powerful enough to rattle Kasha’s teapot and set their insides swirling. But a Bronzong would still be fine. Kusha had the advantage.

Not a Bronzong, but a towering Golurk came into view, moonlight gleaming off its armor more brightly than the red rock of the pillars. Two steps brought it under the great stone arch with them. It barely cleared the top and seemed to fill space, backing them to the end. With its body melting into shadow, there was something far more grievously wrong than its size. The light shed by its runes and eyes, which should have been a warm, steady yellow, was instead a pulsing, lurid red.

“The seal,” Darach breathed. A crack that threatened to split its chest clean open was spilling out its core in shuttering convulsions. “We have to—”

The behemoth groaned a swung a huge fist at them.

Fear and practice made Kusha quick. They formed and focused dark energy in their core without a thought, compressing until it burst from them in a wave. It stopped the Golurk a breath away and sent its arm swinging back.

The ghost magic still lashed Kusha even if the fist hadn’t made contact. They felt their defenses shredding, but that always made the magic easier to call on. Before the colossus could regain its unsteady balance, Kusha reached out with plant magic and drained its vitality.

Whatever substance made up its core bubbled up and splattered across the ground. It was worse than blood. The color was all wrong—and the way it glimmered and then guttered out into patches of impenetrable darkness. Or was it really that different from the pools of blood scattered across the cobblestone? Hadn’t they shone all wrong in that neon magenta light and whirling blackness?

No! No! No!

They aren’t atop that crumbling tower anymore!

They survived. They were alive. But they might not be if they couldn’t get a grip! They—they had to—

A flash. Then a wind that sends Kusha tumbling back into something soft—warm arms cradling their brittle body, keeping them from shattering.

A stone tablet slams on the ground in front of them and tendrils of shade caught another swing. Armor ground against stone and stone against earth as the Runerigus slid back towards them.

“Kusha! Kusha are you alright?” They hadn’t realized Darach was yelling.

“Fine!”

If Darach said anything else it was carried away by the howling wind. Sand and grit blasted them, swallowing what was left of the moonlight. There was gonging and scraping and then a crack just above them as their guardian was driven into the pillar—the slope of was the only thing that prevented them from being crushed

“Freya!”

Kusha slipped from Darach’s arms and darted back into the full strength of the sandstorm. The grit ground away at Kasha’s pot and they were blind, but they had already massed their energy. Kusha loosed their Shadow Ball into the roiling dark.

The Golurk must have been at point blank range, still pinning their teammate to the wall, because it was blasted back. Its core bled into the screen of sand like the sparks of a campfire carried on the wind. And while that smudge was visible, Kusha drained it again. The Golurk groaned and guttered, core gushing up and then out like some horrible mockery of a fountain as the Golurk’s armor crashed to earth. It convulsed—screaming now—limbs flailing—until, finally, too much of its essence had leaked out and sand began to slowly bury it.

Kusha felt sick with relief or horror or—or maybe something else. They looked down at themselves to and found their pale pot spattered with ichor. Some of it was still glowing, other drops were fading. They tried to wipe it away but it wasn’t just on Kusha, it was inside them too. They’d sucked it out, felt it whelm inside them—blind rage and surging power!

No! They had to check on Freya—get Darach out of this storm.

The bright red lines of the painting across Freya’s slab were lit as if she was charging an attack. Which let Kusha see clearly that the curling shape from her fragment was but the tail tip of a great skeletal serpent with a crown of spikes… Eternatus.

And Darach was frozen before it.

Kusha rushed to them. “It’s alright! It’s not—“

But that wasn’t the problem. Darach’s hand was resting on the painting and its light was leaking from their eyes just as it was dripping from Freya’s. Darach wasn’t trapped in their own memory like Kusha had been. Both he and Freya had been drawn into the painting’s.

There was nothing more nightmarish than seeing that day again, that sky, that monster. But Kusha couldn’t let them face it alone—couldn’t be alone anymore. They slid a tendril of tea over Darach’s, seeped between fingers until they met light and stone.

Then everything was black. There was nothing but wind, screams, crashing thunder, rumbling earth, and roars too deep to be from anything other than dynamaxing.

Kusha didn’t want to see them, didn’t want to know where they were. It didn’t matter anyway. It was the first Darkest Day. There was no safe haven.

Kusha looked up into the blackened sky and lightning streaking across the clouds.

And there it was: a gap leaking light—a nexus of overwhelming energy—a tear in the fabric of things grabbing them and pulling them away! It was crushing them—piercing them—inside them. They were losing themselves to it! They didn’t want to become a beast! It hurt and hurt and hurt but they had to hold it in! They didn’t want to die. Everyone else was gone—dead—empty vessels rent asunder.

Everyone—except Darach. Their lifeline holding them and pulling them back from the brink, filling them with love and gentleness enough to push the claws out. No amount should have been enough to free them from that monster’s grip, but for one fleeting moment it was enough. Because they loved Darach back and they had to protect them.

Darach.

Darach!

They were there. Kusha could feel it.

Memories were strange to them. They’d never had them before. But Kusha knew ghost magic. They were born of it. They’d honed it to mastery in battle after battle. They’d used it fell pokemon stronger than their wildest imaginings.

So they reached out to Darach and let their magic pour out. They were alive and safe. This was an illusion. Kusha covered it with their own. They covered the shaking, violent earth with gentle rolling hills. They pushed back the storm winds with a breeze perfumed by wildflowers. They tore open the clouds and splashed stars across the sky. Everywhere was life and peace and twinkling light. They wished everyone could be there to see it.

Darach’s hand slipped from Freya’s slab and Kusha’s with it. They were back in the shadow of the Great Arch, sobbing into a still, clear night.

“Are you alright?” someone rumbled.

Kusha looked up to find a dark, jagged outline against the brightness of the setting moon. The Tyranitar. The sandstorm had been hers.

“I’m sorry I couldn’t reach you sooner. I’m a ranger. Or I used to be. I won’t harm you.”

Kusha realized they were still crying.

“Let your trainer know, alright? I’ll take you to a Center.”

Darach was wiping their eyes on their sleeve, sobs quieting.

“It’s alright—”

“I’m sorry! I’m sorry!” Freya wailed.

“No, no.” Darach grabbed at her shadowy fingers, knitting theirs together even as she made to pull away. “You saved us, Freya. You saved us. I’m so proud.” The Runerigus shook and more gleaming tears fell from her eye, but Darach drew her hand to their cheek. “I’m not afraid of you, see? Thank you. Thank you for protecting me.”

“You were so brave,” Kusha added. “I’m sorry I froze. I should have had your back.”

“You did,” Freya gurgled. “You both kept your promise.”

Something squeezed inside Kusha, and they floated over to touch Freya—to let her touch them. Her stone was cold, but her fingers were gentle.

“I can’t promise something like this won’t happen again,” said Darach. “We can never know what will happen, and—and Kusha and I have a lot inside us we need to face. But I think that will help us understand each other.”

“We’re a team, so we’ll always have each other. And it will be good sometimes. I’m sure enough to promise that.”

Freya’s grip around them both tightened.

When they finally turned around, the Tyranitar opened her arms to them. They embraced her too, though more briefly, and then she picked up Darach. Freya returned herself to her ball while Darach got comfortable in the Tyranitar’s arms. Then they reached for Kusha, who nestled atop their chest.

Their rescuer lumbered uphill towards the distant glow of the city, and Kusha looked up again at the clear sky.

“I looks so empty sometimes,” Darach mumbled. “But when we pointed our strongest telescope at the darkest spot we could find and left it to look awhile, we found out it was full of stars and galaxies. It isn’t empty at all.”
This is from a Galar run that I very nearly wiped. I was spared by affection at the very last moment, which was very touching and powerful even though I was devastated from watching the rest of my team go down one by one. So instead of leaving it there, I decided to play the DLC as a ghost-only run in memory of the fallen. And this is how I started, training my one remaining legal catch in the wild area.
 

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