• Episode Two of The Writer's Locke season two is here! In it we continue our storylocke reads and discuss the topic of fantasy vs realism in portraying pokemon. Then, we have a very special message from a sponsor in Johto!
  • Want to support a good cause? Visit https://blacklivesmatters.carrd.co/ to see how you can help the Black Lives Matter movement, even without donating.
  • New here and still figuring out the site? Check out the New User Guide and FAQ for some help!
  • Trying to figure out how the different forums have changed? This thread is the place for you.
  • One of our new features includes receiving a message on Discord when you have alerts. Find out how, here!
  • Have you seen our Stream tab? It let's you peek in and chat with our forum streamers on-site, from both Twitch AND Picarto! You can even view multiple streams at once. You can submit your own channel via Streams > Submit Channel.
  • If you're a fan of giving and recieving constructive criticism check out this resource about Critique Level Tags!

Written Story Teen Knights of Cydonia

Thread Description
An all human, no Pokemon story, about dumbasses in the desert. Yes, it's based on playthrough of X. (And yes, we're doing super slow updates on this one.)

Wwarborday

King Writing Clown 2020
Pokédex No.
153
Caught
Jun 28, 2019
Messages
227
Location
Gaytown
Nature
Sassy
Pronouns
He/him/his
Pokémon Type
Ground, Ice
Pokédex Entry
I'm Doing My Best
Hello! Welcome to Knights of Cydonia, that Kalos run I've been teasing for forever. This is, once again, an all human, real world story. It's uh... experimental?

Here's the song, btw.

Yes, once again, (I'm sorry,) this is all human, and set IRL. (Specifically, it's set in an imaginary town in Utah.) Go in with an open mind, I guess? Don't expect, uh. Anything. This one's weird, guys. As a story, it's fine. As a Nuzlocke, I'm not sure if anything quite like this has been attempted before. No, it's not American Pie. And if you don't know what I'm talking about, good! Let that run be dead.

This story contains transphobia, homophobia, racism, (primarily in the form of micro-aggressions,) underage drinking, drugs, (mostly weed,) and discussions of suicide and self-harm. This is NOT a conclusive list. There will be specific trigger warnings for anything in individual chapters. This is NOT a story about race—no character's arc relates to their race, ethnicity, or heritage—but it DOES come up. Transphobia and homophobia play major roles in the lives of certain characters. No one, at any point, for any reason, experiences any kind of violent hate crime. Self-harm and suicide are discussed, but never explicitly shown.


Updates for this baby are gonna be about three months apart. (I'm busy, guys.) Thanks for reading!​


Warning for; smoking weed, unmitigated ADHD and all its shitty side-effects, and at the end,
body horror and bugs. That section will be spoilered.

The mountains around the small town of Juniper arch like the spines of forgotten gods.

Smoke billows from Katie’s mouth.

The back of her neck prickles.

“I see you,” she whispers into the night.

The desert’s answer is silence, so loud Katie’s ears ring.

“Fuck,” she mutters and stands up, foot on her skateboard. “I’m not scared of you,” she tells nothing, defiant, pushing off and away, wheels rattling over the asphalt of the parking lot and spraying rocks in their wake.

No sleep last night, no sleep tonight. Lying down means rolling back and forth on too-hot blankets, head buzzing with static. Falling asleep means dreaming of skittering legs and strange voices and waking with a splitting headache, and waiting around at home means looking at the dishes she still hasn’t done. (She promised Mom she would get them done today. She wrote it on her hand and everything.) Easier to get high in the school parking lot until weed paranoia kicks in and she needs to flee to safer ground.

Katie sucks down another hit, leaving a smokey trail in her wake. It’s always a pain when the desert starts watching her.

The streets are silent. Juniper’s economy runs on tourist dollars—a fun pit stop for anyone crossing the desert to visit one of Utah’s parks. People slow down for the food and sometimes stay the night, but no one drives through this early in the morning. The only people awake are doing drugs or working the world’s quietest late shifts.

Or, well.

Stephen’s probably up.

Katie stops at a stop sign and checks her phone. Nearly six.

Close enough.

She kicks off again, humming. Her eyelids sag, heavy and light all at once. Maybe she can bum a water or some snacks off of Stephen. Maybe his mom will be up. She’ll offer food if Stephen doesn’t.

For a second, Katie gets it. She sees the spools of thread that connect her to Stephen, and Stephen’s mom, and Hazel and Mac and David and everyone else in this town, sees the spiderweb of color where everyone touches, sees the spiderweb full of dewdrops from her backyard when she was a kid, sees the buildings and the water and the lines

“Whack,” Katie tells herself, sardonic, lips quirking. Oh, look at her, she’s high as a kite and thinks everything is connected. Wild. “Next Aristotle. Next Soc-ra-tes. Feed me the hemlock, babes.”

Stephen would think it was funny.

The last of the weed burns against her lips; she pulls it down anyway. Without it, her brain gets funky, looping up and down, a rollercoaster on extreme, like riding soundwaves. Sometimes something happens, right, and it’s like twisting the volume knob, and the peaks get higher and the valleys get deeper, or there’s just short, sharp bursts.

Yeah, the school counselor didn’t get it either.

Katie sees Stephen before he sees her. He stands in his backyard, squinting at his weird little weather toy. His pajama pants have planets on them. (Katie can’t sleep in this heat, can barely stand being out here in shorts and a tank; the idea of wearing full-on pants makes her face twist.) When they lock eyes, Stephen startles.

Katie waves, skidding to a stop in front of the Clark family’s chain-link fence. “Hey.”

“Hey.” Stephen clutches a notebook in one hand and a pen in the other.

Katie points at his tool on it’s tripod. “How’s the weather up there?”

Stephen makes a face. “Fine? What’s up?”

Poor Stephen. Katie swears he has that look in his eyes like she did before sophomore year. “Couldn’t sleep.” When she does, a million tiny legs skitter across her skin, and her head throbs, and the whispering makes her sweat.

Stephen looks at her the way people look at stray dogs, wary and pity, the kind of look that clings to her like a film. “Okay.”

Katie rattles the fence, trying to shake the feeling off before it can shake her. “Can I come in, or are you gonna make me stand here like a Victorian orphan?”

Stephen makes another face (a different face, a better face, an easier expression to deal with). “What?”

“Are you gonna let me in, or make me stand here like a Victorian orphan?”

What part of this makes you like a Victorian orphan?”

Katie thinks for a second; saying flat out, ‘’Cause Victorian orphans stood in front of fences’ sounds stupid, but that’s how she got here. “I’m… sad?”

“... do you wanna talk about it—”

“No.” Katie pushes her board over the fence. It drops to the rocks with a clatter. “It’s just a joke. Don’t worry about it.” She laces her fingers into the links and heaves, huffing and puffing as she hauls herself across the fence. Red-faced and out of breath, she falls inelegantly to the ground.

Katie says, “Parkour.”

Stephen closes his notebook. “You want breakfast?”

Katie clambers to her feet. “Yes. Please.”




Stephen pulled out a second notebook and consulted it before making himself eggs with spinach for breakfast. He sits across from Katie, frowning like an old man as he reads the morning paper, glasses perched on the bridge of his nose. Every now and then, he puts the paper down and carefully highlights a paragraph or headline.

Katie drizzles frosting on her toaster strudel. “Nerd.”

“Thanks.” Stephen turns the page. “You want the comics?”

“Yes, please.”

She gets them.

Mrs. Clark enters the kitchen after a bit, hair tucked up under her headwrap. She doesn’t bat an eyelash at the extra teenager at her table. “Good morning,” she says, leaning down to kiss Stephen’s cheek.

“Hi, Mom.”

Katie waves. “G’morning.”

Mrs. Clark starts making coffee. “What are we doing today?”

Stephen turns the page again. “Protesting the mall.”

“Ambitious,” Mrs. Clark says.

Katie smears the back of her hand across her mouth, trying to knock off flakes of pastry. “There’s a mall?”

“Mhmmm.” Stephen folds the newspaper up, just as neat as when it was delivered. “They’re building it on the west side of town, which is an endangered tortoise habitat. And it’s going to decimate local business, because they’re almost certainly getting rid of the ordinances against chains, but no one’s gonna listen to me until they do, and then it’ll be too late.”

Mrs. Clark kisses his forehead again and hands him a mug of coffee. “I listen.”

Stephen rubs at one eye with two fingers, under his glasses. “Thanks, Mom,” he says wearily.

Katie frowns, leg bouncing under the table. “If it’s a turtle habitat, they can’t build there, right?” Right? Where will the turtles live? Their shells, probably.

Stephen snorts. “Oh, who’s gonna enforce it? The city?” He takes a sip of his coffee and sighs. “I can’t be this stressed this early, it’s not good for me.”

“Oh my god, are you fifty?” blurts out of Katie’s mouth before she can stop it. Her cheeks flush. “Sorry.”

Before Stephen can say anything, Mrs. Clark asks, “How’s your summer reading list coming, Katie?”

Katie’s flush darkens. “Um.”

“Uh-huh,” Mrs. Clark says knowingly. “Do you have a plan to get it done?”

“... read the books?”

“Mhmmm. Have you tried breaking it down into goals? Do you want to try and set a certain word count a day?”

Katie shrinks a little under her kindness. “I can do it,” she assures her weakly. “It’s only the start of summer, I have time.” Even as Katie says the words, she can see herself scrambling to read all of 1984 and All the King’s Men on the day before school starts.

Maybe her brain will be nice and let her do something productive this year.

“... if you’re sure,” Mrs. Clark says with the same dog-pity tone Stephen used earlier.

Yay.

Mrs.Clark pats Stephen’s shaved head. “I’m gonna go get ready for work.” (During summers, Mrs. Clark worked full-time at the gas station.) “You kids have fun.”

“Bye, Mom.” Stephen grimaces and drinks more coffee. “This stuff is vile.”

Vile. Vial. You can store coffee in a vial. “Why are you drinking it?”

“I didn’t get a lot of sleep.” Stephen looks almost embarrassed. “I need to be top of my game today, so.” He holds up the mug. How come coffee is drunk from mugs but not other stuff? Mugs are just cups. Weird colored cups made of ceramic; is that—is it something about ceramic where you put, coffee with it? But coffee’s from, like, Persia or something (Bolivia? Columbia), and ceramic is from China—is it actually, or does Katie just think that? Cause of china?

“Where’s ceramic from?” No, wait. They were talking about something. Right? Uh.

Stephen, to his credit, only looks a little fazed by the rapid change in conversation. (They were talking about something, what was it? Coffee? Mugs? Katie tries to retrace her mental footsteps, following herself in circles like the Winnie the Pooh story where Pooh and Piglet hunt for Heffalumps and Woozles and just follow their own feet and don’t get anywhere.) “The earth?”

“No, like.” Katie draws a circle in the air. “Where on Earth?”

“... The ground part?”

“No, dick, like. Who invented it?” She used to know this stuff. She used weed to smoke out the buzzing in her brain because smoke makes buzzing stop—makes bees sleep—but sleepy bees don't know where coffee comes from, and now, neither does Katie.

“The Greeks?” Stephen stands up and stretches. “I dunno, I think everybody invented it.” He pulls out his phone. “Lemme look it up.”

“Thanks.” Katie’s leg is still bouncing. Oh, wait. “Shit, sorry you didn’t sleep well.” Then, “Stress?” Throw a line in the water, see if he takes the bait.

"I manage my stress with yoga," Stephen says, talking like a teacher does when you get an answer wrong. Excuse the hell out of her for not knowing Stephen was secretly a forty-year-old white mom. "I had nightmares."

Nightmares?

Stephen shows Katie his phone. "Yeah, ceramic's from everywhere. It's just a general term used for earthenware kind of stuff."

"Uh-huh," Katie says absently. "Uh, what kind of nightmares?"

Stephen shrugs, turning away to put his mug in the sink. (Katie’s supposed to do something later with sinks. Dishes! She’s supposed to do the dishes—) "Bugs,” he says grimly. “And it just sucks, because now I have a headache, and I had to take Tylenol, which is bad for your liver…”

His words float off and away. Katie absorbs none of them. “Did they—was there, like. Chanting?”

"What?"

"Like." Katie’s leg bounces up and down. “In your dreams, did they, like, was there chanting? With the bugs?”

“Uh,” Stephen says, blinking behind his glasses. “Yeah?”

“Ah.” Katie’s stomach burbles like a cauldron. “‘Cause that’s what my dreams are like.”




Stephen insists they grab sunscreen before they go protest, and Katie says, “Oh, I don’t need it,” and Stephen says, “It’s not for you, it’s for me,” and Katie doesn’t say, But you’re black, because that feels racist.

“Do you think we’re psychic?” she asks, skateboard tucked under her arm while they walk to City Hall. The rising sun bathes everything in a neutral light, makes weak shadows start to appear. (Shouldn’t shadows be at their most dark when it’s morning? ‘Cause that’s when the dark is closest? Or like—)

“No.” Stephen carries his sign over one shoulder. He filled his backpack with water and food before they left and even said Katie could have some fruit snacks.

“Why not?”

“We had dreams about weird bugs, that doesn’t make us psychic.”

Katie adjusts her beanie. “Why not?”

“Because, we’re not. Mind-reading, or something.”

“We might be.” Katie’s brain is starting to prickle with static. She got up at noon, right, but then she didn’t sleep, and now it’s... time. It’s definitely a time. Time has passed. She’s been up for… math number of hours. Like, twelve? Eighteen? How long do people normally stay up? Ten hours? That doesn’t sound right. She didn’t sleep yesterday, either. Forty-eight?

“We might be?” Stephen asks.

“What?”

“We’re—” Stephen grabs her arm before Katie walks into the street. “You’re supposed to stop for six seconds at a stop sign—”

“We’re not cars?”

“—Why do you think we might be reading someone’s mind?” Stephen asks, brushing over the cars point, even though Katie’s pretty sure she’s right.

Katie wavers her hand in the air. “Maybe we’re reading somebody’s mind, but they’re just, like. Obsessed with bugs?” (Is she supposed to be doing something today? School stuff? Probably. Reading? She doesn’t have a book. She should buy books.)

Stephen looks at her for a second, then says, “I don’t think that’s it.”

“You’re so boring!” Katie follows him across the street, moving double time to keep up with his much longer limbs. “What if it’s part of a hive mind?”

“‘Cause it’s bugs?”

“Oh.” Oh, that’s smart. “No, like. What if we’re getting assimilated?”

“I don’t think we’re getting assimilated.” Stephen knuckles his glasses up the bridge of his nose. “We wouldn’t be good choices to assimilate, anyway.”

A car drives by, clean and shiny; tourist. Katie says, “What?”

“We’re—we’re not... physically fit,” Stephen says, and Katie says, “Just say I’m fat,” and Stephen says, “No,” and then, “It’s cause you smoke weed,” and Katie says, “Hive minds don’t care about weed,” and Stephen says, “Anyway, I don’t think we’re being assimilated.”

Katie sighs heavily. “Possesed?”

“No.” Another car drives by. “Ghosts aren’t real.”

“Oh.”

Juniper City Hall is a squat, brick building with impressively new one-way glass windows. A myriad of well-manicured desert plants landscape the front of the property. Across the street sits Juniper’s only park, green in parts and brown in others. Katie watches water burble over the sidewalk; one of the sprinklers must be broken. On the opposite end, a dilapidated playground looms, with rusty swing chains and a metal slide so old it creaks.

Stephen drops his backpack at the base of the Ephraim Hopkins statue. “We can sit over here.”

“Cool.” Katie flops down under the stupid town founder. “Hey, do I look like him?”

Stephen unzips his backpack and looks at her, then looks up, then looks back. “I dunno. Maybe the nose?”

“Hell yeah.” Katie takes the offered water bottle. “Is anyone even here?”

“They will be soon.” Stephen sets his backpack next to her, and right on cue, a car pulls into the parking lot.

“Are you gonna chant?” Katie asks, interested, watching Stephen heft his sign.

“People don’t like when I chant.”

“So?”

Stephen kicks at her (not really) and Katie laughs, and up walks Kevin with his dad.

“No,” Katie says, scrambling to her feet, but Stephen’s already stepped forward. “Mr. Montoya, I’d like to talk to you today about—” oh, God, he’s following him, “—the new mall being built—” The door closes behind him, he’s following Mr. Montoya inside the building, and Kevin’s stupid camera is out, he’s recording

“Are you having weird dreams?” Katie blurts.

Kevin rounds on her, lowering the camcorder. “What?”

“Like.” Katie turns pink; he’s not going after Stephen anymore, but now she’s on the fucking hook. “Uh, bugs? You ever dream about bugs?” She leans on the statue of her many-times great-grandfather. “Like, with little top hats?”

Kevin squints at her. “Are you high?”

“Probably.”

Kevin aims the camera at her now. “What kind of bugs?”

Oh, good, great, wonderful, shit. “Uh—ants?” Ants are bugs, right? Or was there a technicality where they’re not? “With top hats. And vests. And, like, six little tap shoes for their feet.” Katie can’t look into the camcorder; cars keep driving by, and her eyes keep sliding to the road. “They—uh, High School Musical? With ants?” God, why is—why is everything so loud

“What is this,” Kevin asks, grinning, “a school for ants?!”

Katie laughs, forced. Her eyes keep going to the cars. “A school musical for ants?!”

“A high school musical for ants?!” And Kevin snaps his viewfinder closed, and Katie can breathe again.

“Hey,” she asks before Kevin and Stephen can stand in the same area and make everything terrible, “have you dreamed about bugs?”

Kevin’s mouth quirks up. He says slyly, “One time, I had a very interesting dream about a grasshopper strip tease.”

“Ew! Was she hot?”

“She was alright.”

Another car goes by.

“Does he talk to your parents?” Kevin asks, jerking his chin at where Stephen left.

“He doesn’t ignore them or anything.”

Kevin’s mouth quirks again, upper lip stubbley with a teen’s best attempt at a mustache. “Yeah—you know what I mean.” Voice with some acid, like an ant—do ants spit acid? Or does Katie just think they do?

Last year, before Katie turned into a failure, her extended family (or parts of it; she’s related to half the town by blood or by marriage) would have dinner at her uncle’s on Fridays. The Montoyas (or any city council members) would be there, sometimes. Katie and Kevin used to play Mario Kart together. She was there when he told her cousins about how Stephen—

Yeah.

“Yeah, he,” Katie says, shifting her weight from one foot to the other. “He doesn’t.” Stephen only became her friend after she fucked up, anyway. There’s no point.

Katie tries to punch the sick, failure feeling away by burying more feelings on top of it. “Hey, are you still leaving?”

Kevin takes the bait. “Six weeks,” he says ruefully, tapping his camera. “Trying to get some good shit before I leave, y’know?”

Katie nods rapidly, scrambling for something to keep talking about. “So, you—Charlie gets it?”

“Yeah, he—”

The City Hall doors bang open, and Stephen steps back out, scowling.

“Bye,” Kevin says to Katie. He doesn’t look at Stephen when they pass each other, Kevin heading inside and Stephen coming back to stand next to Katie.

“He told me not to bother, ‘cause he’s moving,” Stephen starts; oh, he’s talking about Mr. Montoya, “Like he gets out of work just cause he’s leaving—” Should Katie have asked Mr. Montoya about the dreams? “—if he’s being paid, he has to do his job

“Hey, Kevin’s not having bug dreams.”

“What?”

“He’s—” Katie yawns. “He’s not having bug dreams like we are? So he’s not being assimilated.”

Oh—

Stephen was talking about something.

Stephen was talking about something, he, shit, he makes that face when—

“Sorry,” Katie mumbles, shame tapping at the nape of her neck.

“... Just—thanks.” Stephen picks his sign back up, not looking at her, and he sounds tired, like Katie’s mom and her dad and her teachers and her whole family. “Good, he’s. Not being assimilated.”

“Sorry,” Katie says again, stupid, she’s so stupid, she, God, she’s trying, but it’s like trying to hold fucking eels, trying to keep her whole brain together and focus on everything in the world at once. How does everyone else do it? Why can’t she just put the puzzle pieces together? And no, this isn’t about her, she’s gotta try and do, something; “What—you, you wanna talk about the turtles?”

“They’re tortoises.”

The worst part about summer is that there’s no protective layer around her, no jacket to pull or hood to tug over her face or zipper to play with, and Katie just has to stand there, shame-tapping getting louder, skin starting to hum. This is so much worse than the stupid, stupid dreams.

“Sorry,” she says, again-again, and doesn’t miss the way Stephen’s jaw flexes before he says, “It’s fine.”




While the sun tracks higher in the sky, Stephen bothers each other city councilor in turn. Only a few even acknowledge him. Less acknowledge Katie, but when they do, it’s with pity, (aunts and uncles,) or worse, amusement (the few members of city council she’s not related to).

Katie, laying on the sidewalk, watching the cloudless sky, skin starting to crisp, says, “I think I wanna live in the woods.”

“Which woods?” Stephen’s still holding his ‘CONTACT YOUR REPRESENTATIVES’ sign. The front of his shirt is dark with sweat.

“Nottingham. Sherwood forest.”

“That’s not real.”

Katie turns, hair scraping against the hot concrete. “Yeah it is.”

“Really?”

“Yeah.” See, she knows some stuff.

“Oh.”

Katie’s brain pricks nails against the inside of her skull, starting to buzz, eyes wide and eyelids sticky, tired and wired all at once. Two empty water bottles sit next to her (she had to refill them both twice) and three fruit snack wrappers hide in her pockets. Her leg won’t stop bouncing. What if? her brain asks, whispers, and Katie tries to ask, What if what? And her brain just looks back at her, making the cat face, the :3c, and says, What if? What if? What if? What if?

“Shit,” Katie mutters, sitting up, ignoring the way her shoulders protest. She shakes her head like she’s trying to clear water out of her ears and scrubs at her face. Ugh.

“Did you not get any sleep?” Stephen asks. He’s concerned, he’s concerned, which is fine, that’s better than worried, worried is sticky and can’t be washed off—what does that mean, why is she doing this.

“No,” Katie mutters, rubbing her sweaty forehead. She needs caffeine, or something. Sugar? Sugar? Sugar? You are my candy girl… isn’t that new Archie show supposed to suck?

“Do you want a sandwich?”

Why is she thinking about any of this? “Yes, please.”

When she unzips the backpack, Stephen says, “Are you okay?”

Yes.” Are they doing this again? Katie glares at a water bottle. “I’m fine.”

“... Do you wanna talk—”

No, I’m just having, bug nightmares, so I feel like shit.” And she’s ignoring her summer reading list, and the piles of laundry on her floor, and why didn’t she grab an extra joint this morning; this would be so much easier if she was high. (Why is her hand smudged?) “What kind of sandwiches do you have?”

“They’re both ham and cheese. Can you not yell at me?”

Katie nearly flinches, more from the way she mentally kicks herself than anything in Stephen’s tone. “Sorry,” she mumbles. She’s so stupid. She’s so fucking stupid. He’s just trying to help her, and why is she like this.

Katie doesn’t bother trying to find a sandwich. She zips the backpack up again, stomach too full of guilt to be hungry, when music starts playing.

Katie stares very hard at the zipper—why is Stephen’s backpack making the ice cream jingle—

“Oh my God.” Salvation’s arrived. Lack of appetite forgotten, Katie scrambles to her feet. “You want anything?”

“Ice cream sandwich?”

“No problem.” Katie pats herself down, please, please—yes, she remembered her wallet, for once, good. “You want two?”

“No, thank you.”

“Okay.” She would get him four, if he asked. “You sure?”

“Yeah. I’m having ice cream later.”

Okay, weirdo. “Be right back”

Why does she feel like she’s forgetting something?

Katie walks down the street (jogging isn’t for people like her), waving madly to flag the Walker’s ice cream truck down. Dusty ice cream adverts come into view as she yells, “Dave! Davey boy! Davey Jones!” And the truck slows, good, ice cream—whoops, that’s not David.

“Hi, Katie,” Mr. Walker says. Mr. Walker’s one of those old people that looks like bread dough, soft and jiggly. His truck is the only business in town that caters to locals more than outsiders. “What can I get for you?”

“Ice cream bar.” Katie adds, “Please. And uh, five Sonic pops.” She wants to turn her tongue blue, please. “Is David driving?”

“No, he’s, I gave him the day off—Jordan! Come out here, come say hi.”

Someone—Jordan?—calls back, “Uh—how do I put this in park?”

“Put it in first, and pull the hand brake.” Mr. Walker leans toward Katie and mock whispers, “He’s from the city.”

Ah. This is one of Mr. Walker’s grandkids, then, the ones who come up for summers and never talk to anyone. (To be fair, if Katie didn’t have to talk to anyone in Juniper, she wouldn’t, either.)

“I’m from a city.” There’s the clanking sound of someone unfamiliar with stick shift. “Is it parked?”

Mr. Walker looks over toward the driver’s seat. “You’re parked. Come say hi.”

Tall, wiry Jordan Walker comes into view, soda jerk hat perched on thick, dark hair. “Hi.”

“Hi,” says short, chubby Katie Hopkins. “I’m Katie.”

“Jordan.”

“Jordan here is on his school’s track team,” Mr. Walker says proudly, clapping Jordan on the shoulder. “Jordan, tell her what, tell her about the award you got, for the, the cross-country?”

“I, Gramps, you don’t have to—”

Mr. Walker soldiers on. “Jordan placed fourth at his, his state cross-country meet!”

Katie, only vaguely aware of what those words mean, says, “Oh, congrats!”

Jordan flushes. “Thanks,” he says awkwardly. “Did you want, uh, Sonic pops?”

“Five. And an ice cream sandwich.”

“Now is that, is that for Stephen?” Mr. Walker asks, peering past Katie.

“Yes, sir. We’re protesting the mall.” Katie passes him her card, careful of the hot, metal counter.

Jordan, digging through the cooler, says, “There’s a mall?”

“There’s,” Mr. Walker fiddles with the cash register. “There’s going to be one—why has, why has Stephen decided he doesn’t like the mall?”

“Uh. Jobs?” Yeah, great job. Why didn’t she listen earlier? She thought she did. Right?

(Where’s the magic key? How can everyone else make everything work all the time?)

Mr. Walker shakes his head. “Well, you tell Stephen that this mall is gonna create jobs, not take them away.”

“He’s mad about businesses.” She thinks so, anyway.

“If he thinks chains are gonna come into town, you tell him, you tell him he doesn’t need to worry.” Yeah, thanks, Mr. Walker sounds super not patronizing. “If Stephen ever did his research, and didn’t just get, just get angry, he might know that we have, we have town laws against those kind of businesses.”

Katie flushes. “Stephen does his research.”

“Alright.” God, why are people still talking to her, like that, like they have to placate her—Stephen does do his research! “Jordan, did you get lost?”

“Uh, I can’t find the ice cream sandwich?”

“Alright; here, you come talk to Katie, and I’ll hunt it down.”

Jordan passes her five Sonic pops. Katie puts them between her fingers like Wolverine claws. Continuing to talk to Mr. Walker can only end in disaster, but her mouth before she can think, like it always does. “Hey, Mr. Walker, had any weird dreams lately? Like, bugs?”

Jordan stiffens.

Mr. Walker, turned to the cooler, says, “Bugs? No, I can’t say I have, why do you ask?”

“Uh.” Katie stares at Jordan as he swipes her card and doesn’t look at her. Is he… “I dunno; headaches, weird colors?”

Jordan rips off her receipt with too much force, then takes a deep breath. “Here’s your receipt,” he says, customer-service forced polite, carefully handing it back with her card.

Oh, shit.

“And here’s Stephen’s ice cream,” Mr. Walker adds, seemingly unaware of how weird his grandson is acting. He passes Katie a paper-wrapped ice cream sandwich, which she pockets. Kindly, brow furrowing just a little, he asks, “Are you doing okay, Katie?”

Biles rises at that tone, that stupid

“I’m fine!” Oh, God, it’s so obvious that she’s not. “Bye!” And Katie makes her stupid, shitty escape, temples throbbing, eyes burning; why did she ask? Why is she like this? Now they’re gonna think she’s going fucking crazy, again.

Is she going crazy again?

No, right? No. Stephen’s having the dreams, too. And, the brain-juicing feeling isn’t around as much, anymore, like her head’s in a hydraulic press. It shows up, sometimes, (and today, her head’s heavy and muzzy, but that’s from lack of sleep, that’s not crazy,) but she’s got a handle on it now, kind of.

Mostly.

Katie hands Stephen his ice cream and sits down to unwrap her Sonic pops. “I think Jordan’s having bug dreams.”

“Jordan?”

“Walker.” Stephen’ll put it together. He’s actually smart, not like Katie’s fake, liar brain. “I mentioned the dreams to Mr. Walker, and he—Jordan—got really weird.”

“Huh.” Stephen sits next to her, gangly limbs poking out at odd angles.

For a moment, they sit in companionable, easy silence. Cars still drive by, but they’re normal loud, and not the kind of loud that screeches inside Katie’s head like nails on a chalkboard. (Except they’re not making that sound, not really, but sometimes everything feels so much bigger and louder and more terrible than it really is, and everyone else handles it so much better than she does, she’s just broken and—)

“Wha’ are we gonna do about ‘he drea’s?” Katie asks around a frozen spike of blue Sonic hair.

Stephen takes a careful bite of his ice cream sandwich. “Take melatonin?”

Katie elbows him. “Maybe we s’ould talk to Jordan.”

Stephen’s mouth tilts to one side. “What if he thinks we’re weird?”

“We are weird.”

Stephen elbows her back. “I mean… I dunno, maybe we’re just having weird dreams.”

“Then how come he got all weird when I asked him about them?”

“Cause you talked about weird nightmares?”

Katie licks at the juice melting down her hand, thinking. “Hmmm,” she says, disappointed. “I’m gonna talk to him.”

“Now?”

“No? We’re protesting.”

"Oh," Stephen says, ears turning darker, sounding faintly pleased. "We're?"

Katie shrugs, tries to act like she isn't apologizing. "Yeah. Duh."




When she finally falls asleep, hours later, collapses on the couch after Stephen finally packs it in, Katie has the dream again.

Bugs crawl from her mouth, tiny legs twitching over her lips, and when she tries to scream, more pour out; mantises, ladybugs, cockroaches, butterflies, made of light that shimmers like heatwaves. The buzzing sounds like talking, like the highway, too loud and too much and stopstopstopSTOP, but it roars on, louder, and Katie struggles, tries to use her fingers to rip them from her throat, hot tears running down her face, gagging on carapaces and wings, and begging, pleading, wailing against her head, STOP, YOU’RE TOO CLOSE, STOP

Katie wakes up choking on air, too hot and too cold, temples throbbing in time to her heartbeat; skin spasms, where is she, what’s touching her

Couch. Couch. It’s the couch, couch texture, Katie’s just sweating, it’s not bugs, it’s just sweat that slides down her back, but she smacks herself in panic anyway. Her mouth is dry and gummy and she sticks her thumb in blindly, (so fucking dark, what time is it?) to check, to double-check, to triple-check, but no, she’s okay. She’s okay.

It’s just a mouth.

Katie takes a few deep breaths, just to feel her lungs work normally.

She’s okay.

Katie checks her pocket for her phone, but no, it’s dead. Forgot to charge it. Again.

Shit.

In the kitchen, she chugs three cups of water. Mom left a sticky-note on the fridge with a heart on it, asking Katie to do the dishes. Microwave says it’s 4:27, (nice,) so she. What? She has two hours before she has to get ready for school? School’s out, moron, you’re so stupid

Katie grinds the heel of her hand against her forehead. Shut up shut up shut up shut up shut up.

Something buzzes.

Katie freezes.

Thump, something on the window, thump, but all lowercase and small, like an exponent, [SUP]thump, [/SUP]oh. Oh, it’s just a bug. Just one bug. Probably a fly stuck behind the blinds.

Katie eyes the blinds, and sips (thump)her water, and doesn’t lo(thump)ok at the plates and forks and bowls c(thump)rusting on the counter. Wasn’t (thumpthump)she supposed to tak(thump)e care of that today? Or two days ago(thump)?

Th(thump)ree?

How long (thump) has that sticky no(thump)te been there?

(Thump.)

“God,” Katie mutters, yanking at the cord for the blinds. She doesn’t see any fly, but the thumping stops.

She’ll do the dishes in the morning, probably, if she remembers. If she can. Unlikely, for her loop-de-loop brain to decide to focus on anything useful, or let her be a person.

Katie squeezes her eyes shut and tries to breathe through a throat like a straw, tight and tiny and not big enough to get any air through. She’s trying. She’s trying, she’s trying every single day, she knows she wrote it down earlier. Nothing ever works; her brain is always so messed up, so scrambled egg, so ruined and pitted and it’s just dishes, she was just supposed to do the dishes—how could she forget something so tiny? How long has that sticky note been there?

Easier, always, to grab her board and go get high in the school parking lot and ignore herself.

Again.


"But, wait, Wwar, isn't this supposed to be a Nuzlocke?"



Number one; a huge fucking thank-you to @enbygonetimes, @Missy, and @glancesherlock for listening to me scream and rant and rave for the past, uh.... while. I love all of you deeply. Thank you for dealing with me. (And everyone thank Missy for making me make things happen in my opening chapter.)

Number two; yes, the town is called Juniper. No, this has nothing to do with Aurea Juniper. There's just a lot of juniper trees in Utah, man. Also, I named it 'Juniper' before I realized the connection, and now I'm attached.

Number three; holy fuck!! It's here!! I posted it!! Thank you so much for reading, I hope you liked it. I'll see everyone in a few months for chapter two!

Number four; I did some light editing to the overall "voice" of this about twelve hours after the initial upload, cause I realized it had some major problems. So sorry for any confusion!)

(And, uh. It's my team, they were all on my team at some point, that's it, that's the gimmick; we'll get there.)

(And, finally, how the fly thing was supposed to look, but BBC code didn't want to play nice:)



Chapter One can be found above!


 
Last edited:

RocketVulpix

So cute yet so evil.
Team Omega
Pokédex No.
1231
Caught
Dec 27, 2019
Messages
76
Location
Somewhere in Kalos
Nature
Sassy
Pronouns
she/her
Pokémon Type
Fire, Dark
Pokédex Entry
This Pokémon can often be found on Nugget Bridge begging to be allowed to join Team Rocket.
This is such a different idea for a run and I'm super intrigued! Watching!
 

SprungGeoduck

Conqueror of the Cinnabar Gym
Team Alpha
Pokédex No.
120
Caught
Jun 21, 2019
Messages
91
Nature
Timid
Pronouns
She/her
Pokémon Type
Electric, Beautiful
WAR HOLY SHIT

THIS IS WILD

I HELLA VIBE

(I've always wanted to see something weird and different like this on the forums and the writing style is incredible and it's all so good and hhhhh)
 

Aurea

Moderator
Moderator
🎇Contributor
Writer
Pokédex No.
25
Caught
Jun 9, 2019
Messages
738
Location
Sinnoh Region
Nature
Sassy
Pronouns
She/Her
Pokémon Type
Psychic, Steel
Oof, you weren't kidding when you said you were gonna be coming for my childhood with this fic. xD

The tone of this is just. Phenomenal, honestly. The opening was borderline surreal, the prose sorta leading us through the jumbled thought process of Katie coming down from her high and orienting ourselves alongside her. You're clearly in your element here, the narration remains coherent despite being a bit nonlinear, and really nails down Katie's stream of consciousness well. The dialogue is as interesting and true to life as ever in a way I feel I've never quite been able to nail down personally, it just feels... really organic. Stephen is an incredible balancer for Katie, I adore him and his mall protests and his patience and his mom is a gem, too, what little we've seen of her. Katie and Stephen feel like people I can put names to from my hometown, and I think that speaks volumes about how you're writing them. The interactions with Kevin and Jordan were interesting, too, I'm 👀 about both for different reasons.

I can already tell this story is gonna hit a little too close to home for me in some ways, but that just makes me all the more invested in Katie's story. I'm so excited to see what you have in store for us!
 

localhoney

the smooth jazz of bastards
Writer
Team Omega
Pokédex No.
2002
Caught
May 17, 2020
Messages
280
Location
Miami, FL
Nature
Adamant
Pronouns
he/him
Pokémon Type
Electric, Poison
duuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuude. this shit is crazy. i already dm'd you about the major points but, like Aurea said, the tone is perfect for what you're doing here. I wasn't around for American Pie, so this is the first fic I've read that's purely real-life, people-centric so it was wild changing my brain to really take this in.

i'm interested to see katie and stephen and jordan all interact in different ways and how those bug dreams come back around and tie them together. the narration was absolutely buckwild and took me a bit to really let it guide me through the story. excited for more!
 

SayleeK

Johto League Champion
Writer
Screenshotter
Pokédex No.
260
Caught
Jul 1, 2019
Messages
1,190
Location
Scrivener
Nature
Careful
Pronouns
She/her
Pokémon Type
Fire, Fairy
Pokédex Entry
Between long periods of dormant slumber, this writer rises again for periods of activity that leave piles of dead fictional Pokemon in their wake
“The mountains… arch like the spines of forgotten gods” starting off with a BANGER of an opening line I see

Love the weed-fuelled mental image of an iridescent spiderweb connecting all the people in her life

Stephen is so incredibly organized and put-upon compared to poor Katie XP Dreading not doing the homework until the last second but also not being able to Just Do It is a big mood, though

Man, Katie’s train of thought is fascinating and it’s one of those things that so clearly makes sense from the inside but outside, hooboy

“now it’s… time. It’s definitely a time. She’s been up for… math number of hours” either ADHD people need to stop being so relatable or I need to go to the doctor

“Hive minds don’t care about weed” is an EXCELLENT out-of-context tagline for this fic

oooft, ooft, OOFT, the conversations with Kevin and Stephen are SO tense and layered with SO much personal history and SO much self-recrimination on Katie’s part, somebody get this girl some meds that aren’t weed

Now THAT’S a body horror nightmare. So why are multiple people sharing it…?

I want to hug Katie and also get her some goddamn therapy
 

Uberle

Lur King
Writer
Screenshotter
Team Omega
Pokédex No.
209
Caught
Jun 30, 2019
Messages
1,530
Nature
Lax
Pronouns
he/him
Pokémon Type
Fire
Pokédex Entry
Stays in the distortion dimension where no one bothers him
........
You know I will be perfectly honest
Not sure how to use words to describe how I think about this
I will say that having horrific bug dreams be a crucial plot point is f*cking genius
But other than that, not sure how to word things
You have my attention and I can't wait to see how this continues
 

Thirteenth

eternally crying over the botw trilogy
Writer
Pokédex No.
14
Caught
May 20, 2019
Messages
1,802
Nature
Quiet
Pronouns
She/Her
Pokémon Type
Fairy, Ice
Pokédex Entry
The reason she guides people all the way down to the mountain's base is that she wants them to hurry up and leave.
You know that genre of shows that follow kids in the '80s dealing with weird supernatural shit in a small town? (My immediate frame of reference is Stranger Things but I'm not getting Stranger Things vibes, you know?) That's this. This is super different from anything I've seen around here other than your American Pie and I'm eager to see where you take things. 👀 The ADHD vibes are strong with Katie and I love how perceptive she is of other people, not only how they look at her and talk to her (and I'm very curious about whatever this alleged fuck-up of hers was) but with Jordan too.

She laces her fingers into the links and heaves, huffing and puffing as she hauls herself across the fence. Red-faced and out of breath, she falls inelegantly to the ground.

Katie says, “Parkour.”
She's pretty funny too.


Also, seconding Saylee,
The mountains around the small town of Juniper arch like the spines of forgotten gods.
is such a nice opening line.
 

glancesherlock

Consulting Detective
🌱Featurer
Writer
Team Alpha
Pokédex No.
32
Caught
Jun 10, 2019
Messages
747
Location
221B Baker Street
Nature
Lonely
Pronouns
she/her
Pokémon Type
Fairy, Ghost
Pokédex Entry
Just wants to stay home and solve crimes.
*inhales*

SURPRISE, BITCH

I'm so proud of you. Really. To see this go from concept to first post has been a ride, and the end result is fantastic. Katie is such a strong character to start with. Not because she's great (even though she is), but because she comes with a supposedly skewed point of view that makes you guess whether or not the dreams and the bugs are a big deal, or if it's just her making a big fuss about them. Then we get to the nightmare scene, and everything is so dangerously vivid and threatening, and it's like, yeah of course she would be worried about everyone having these dreams.

Way to take a setting and make it work for you. Love how you just drop us in the desert and then slowly explore the town. Elements like the mall, Jordan, the tension between Stephen and Kevin--it's good stuff to pepper in, and I'm hype for you to dive into it all down the road. This is a solid start, especially ending on the nightmare. The last line gives me weird chills, idk why.

Katie:
 

Dustox

pfp thanks to Bug <3
Screenshotter
Team Alpha
Pokédex No.
10
Caught
May 15, 2019
Messages
2,416
Nature
Hasty
Pronouns
He/Him
Pokémon Type
Bug, Poison
Isn’t that new Archie show supposed to suck?
How fucking dare you. Didn't the seminal performance of Jailhouse Rock move you to your soul, Wwar? Don't you know the triumps and defeats, the epic highs and lows of high school?

Ahem.

This was a really interesting read and I mean interesting for all the right reasons. Thirteenth was right; I really love how you weave Katie's ADHD (possibly?) into the text. When I was reading, I honestly was called out about how genuine the thought processes felt and I think that speaks to how much care and thought you put into those lines. I'll also echo how this gives me Stranger Things vibes and like how I watch that show, I'm ready to let things smack me in the face when things happen. I can't really speculate anything else other than teens just having the best dreams. High School Musical but with ants? Sign me up!

She sees the spools of thread that connect her to Stephen, and Stephen’s mom, and Hazel and Mac and David and everyone else in this town, sees the spiderweb of color where everyone touches, sees the spiderweb full of dewdrops from her backyard when she was a kid, sees the buildings and the water and the lines—
By the way, this? My favorite part. Just beautiful imagery right here.
 

scrimshanks

Codename: Slif
Writer
Pokédex No.
2151
Caught
Jun 23, 2020
Messages
11
Location
Jubilife City
Nature
Hasty
Pronouns
they/them
Pokémon Type
Dark, Fairy
Like I said earlier, I saw this:
unmitigated ADHD and all its shitty side-effects
And knew I had to keep reading, because BOY i love projecting onto fictional characters
The mountains around the small town of Juniper arch like the spines of forgotten gods.
What a fucking opening line, good lord. The imagery, the symbolism??? Stunning, amazing, beautiful.

“I see you,” she whispers into the night.

The desert’s answer is silence, so loud Katie’s ears ring.

“Fuck,” she mutters and stands up, foot on her skateboard. “I’m not scared of you,” she tells nothing, defiant, pushing off and away, wheels rattling over the asphalt of the parking lot and spraying rocks in their wake.
Ok I'm not gonna sit here and comment on the prose the entire time but... the PROSE??? I adore this style so much. You have such a strong grasp on the economy of words, with every one having been perfectly chosen. This opening scene with Katie is so fucking good and tells us so much about her with so little actually said, ugh. I love it.

For a second, Katie gets it. She sees the spools of thread that connect her to Stephen, and Stephen’s mom, and Hazel and Mac and David and everyone else in this town, sees the spiderweb of color where everyone touches, sees the spiderweb full of dewdrops from her backyard when she was a kid, sees the buildings and the water and the lines
Coming back from the end of the chapter to point out?? The foreshadowing??? You do an awesome job establishing all of the bug metaphors in relation to Katie and I love it.

“No.” Katie pushes her board over the fence. It drops to the rocks with a clatter. “It’s just a joke. Don’t worry about it.”
haha sure Katie, i totally believe you

Katie frowns, leg bouncing under the table. “If it’s a turtle habitat, they can’t build there, right?” Right? Where will the turtles live? Their shells, probably.
mmmm we love that leg bouncing. A big mood. Also just want to point out that you've done an amazing job of establishing Katie's personality and mannerisms with so little.

Katie shrinks a little under her kindness. “I can do it,” she assures her weakly. “It’s only the start of summer, I have time.”
Love that first line. Mrs. Clark seems like a good influence for Katie, I like that. Also, painfully relatable.

Vile. Vial. You can store coffee in a vial.
Ok you seriously didn't need to call me out like this. You do an awesome job translating this feeling into narration.

"Like." Katie’s leg bounces up and down. “In your dreams, did they, like, was there chanting? With the bugs?”

“Uh,” Stephen says, blinking behind his glasses. “Yeah?”

“Ah.” Katie’s stomach burbles like a cauldron. “‘Cause that’s what my dreams are like.”
Hnnngh don't like that one bit.

“They’re tortoises.”

The worst part about summer is that there’s no protective layer around her, no jacket to pull or hood to tug over her face or zipper to play with, and Katie just has to stand there, shame-tapping getting louder, skin starting to hum. This is so much worse than the stupid, stupid dreams.

“Sorry,” she says, again-again, and doesn’t miss the way Stephen’s jaw flexes before he says, “It’s fine.”
HEY OKAY SO this is one of the best portrayals of RSD that I've ever seen? Like I can totally understand where Stephen's frustrations come from but good god this section was almost painfully difficult to read. The way Katie focuses in on each part of his reaction and the way the things he says aren't even that bad but come across as absolutely devastating... god. I was feeling secondhand embarrassment for her while also wanting to give her a hug.

Katie nearly flinches, more from the way she mentally kicks herself than anything in Stephen’s tone. “Sorry,” she mumbles.
Oh god it got worse

“Hey, Mr. Walker, had any weird dreams lately? Like, bugs?”

Jordan stiffens.
👀

Microwave says it’s 4:27, (nice,)
Katie idk if you can nice that when you're seven minutes late
also that was absolutely terrifying but for the sake of my sanity im breezing past it

(Thump.)

“God,” Katie mutters, yanking at the cord for the blinds. She doesn’t see any fly, but the thumping stops.
I both loved and hated everything about that section. GOD.



Okay but yeah, this was fantastic! I really appreciate all of the character dynamics that have been established, as well as some of the Mysteries that have been set up (what did Katie do? It was clearly big enough that even Mr. Walker tried to be all delicate with her, so I'm really curious to see how that plays out). As for the nuzlocke aspect, I initially assumed that the bugs were in reference to Katie's pokesona but now I assume it has something to do with Viola? So theoretically we should be having something related to rocks in the future, if the theory holds? Whatever happens, I am extremely excited to see how you tie it all together!

Am absolutely looking forward to more!
 

Users Who Are Viewing This Thread (Users: 0, Guests: 1)

Top