Chapter 19: Grovyle
That shameless chap Jake is a right drunkard. To be quite frank, I strongly believe it is people like him who are responsible for the filth and misdoings of which the Earth is fraught. What in heavens’ name could he possibly have been thinking, unheeding his duty in exchange of momentary pleasure? On second thought, however, it is perhaps not righteous to criticize the young tippler, as his actions have allowed us, apparently, to eschew a whole mission regarding the stolen Devon goods. Or so Shupster assumes.
After a rather energy-consuming series of battles with bric-a-brac trainers along our search for a Gym-containing city which seemed to have yet no confirmed destination, I caught sight of, from the Pokeball interior, a distant, mauve-tinted outline of a city ahead. “Let us take our chances at that city,” I said to Shupster.
“Oh my GOSH, I can’t understand how you can be so PRIM AND PROPER even after we’ve searched for over an hour for a city,” muttered Shupster. “Show some enthusiasm. Hey, guys,” he said, in a brighter and significantly less annoyed tone of voice, “I think we have ourselves a city.”
I ignored, habitually, his comment on my apparently over-scholarly speech. In almost no time at all, the prodigious city in all its grand, violet-hued glory was in clear view. The name of the city, gaudily engraved on a framed fluorescent yellow board supported by a rod impaled into the dusty concrete, read “Mauville City” – perfectly explaining the more-or-less uniform colours of the buildings and the outline I had discerned from far away. And anon, I discerned something, or rather someone, who appeared to be familiar. The light, grass-green hair, small, slightly slumping frame, and pale, whitish face – ah yes, it was Wally, the child who had referred to me as “scary”. I do not easily dismiss a grudge.
Clearly, Wally did not either; for the second he noticed us, his face was overcome with childish fury, complete with a slight trembling that I did not know whether it was anger or sorrow of which it consisted. In this fury he strode to us and stood stoutly, even tossing his hair a tad, in front of Butch.
“Hello, MISTER,” said Wally sarcastically, crossing his arms in an inauthentic show of courage.
“Aw, hey, it’s that Wally kid,” said Butch amiably, unaware of it not being mutual. “Fancy meeting you here. Look, kid, I’ve been wanting to apologize for the Ralts thing, I suggest we just forget about it and call a truce, no?” He held out his hand. Wally’s hands remained crossed as he returned the sentence with a cold glare.
“No thank you, mister,” Wally replied. “In fact, you’ll find that I do not easily dismiss a grudge.” I blinked at this particular selection of words. Wally stood up tall. “I would like to battle you, for REVENGE, with a Pokemon I caught myself,” he stated. “Although of course it’s not as rare as a Ralts, no thanks to YOU.” He pouted defiantly and somewhat melodramatically.
“Battle for REVENGE, eh? BRING IT ON, BIEEEETCH,” jeered Shupster. Wally cast him an irate glare.
“Yeah, I will,” he declared, and for an ephemeral second he resembled uncannily the typical Pokemon-Master-on-a-mission trainer as he hurled his red Pokeball determinedly to summon a petite, attractive Grass Pokemon, with two flowering roses in place of hands and the hear partially enveloped with a delicate, leafy crown. “It’s a Roselia,” said Wally triumphantly. “Isn’t it pretty?”
“You’d be surprised to hear this,” said Cassidy. “This dummy over here – ” she gestured to Butch – “didn’t actually KILL that Ralts. In fact, it had only fainted, and guess what? We trained it and made it turn into something…” She casually tossed a ball and summoned the newly-evolved Kirlia, the latter who performed an elegant mini-pirouette before descending into battle temperament. “…just as pretty,” Cassidy concluded proudly.
Wally gazed at Kirlia in awe and enthralled wonder. “She’s beeeaaaautiful,” he sighed emphatically. He regarded Kirlia, who appeared to enjoy the attention, intently, his eyes filled with admiration for the Pokemon, and soon his mind seemed to have completely drifted away from his intense wish for revenge. My trainers, however, did not let him off that easily.
“Confusion on the Roselia, Kirlia,” commanded Cassidy. Kirlia’s Confusion was considerably more potent than what her pre-evolution could muster. The ultraviolet mindwaves slammed fully into Roselia’s narrow figure, badly damaging the poor flower and leaving it shuddering.
“No fair,” whined Wally. “Roselia, Magical Leaf!” Roselia lifted her flowery hands and a series of sharp-edged, coloured leaves fluttered at Kirlia, ruthlessly lacerating her face. Kirlia, however, was not weakened significantly.
“Hey, I think Kirlia has that attack herself,” said Butch thoughtfully. “Kirlia, Magical Leaf!”
“NO!!!!” screamed Shupster. “YOU STUPID FREAKIN’ FLIPPIN’ ****IN’ – ” His vulgar rant was curtailed, however, by the sight of the sharp coloured foliage speeding towards the enemy and slicing one of the rose blossoms clean off. The severed bloom twitched helplessly, and Wally’s lips assumed the same motion. Then his face finally collapsed and he started bawling uncontrollably again, the distraught sobs racking his body.
“WAAAAAAAHHHHHHH! ROSELIA!” wailed Wally. “Wahh….WAHHHHHHH!!!” He picked up the flower and desperately tried to reattach it to the Pokemon. “No… NO!!!!!! Get back on, you… WAAAAHHHHH!!!” Then he turned around, his face filled with a blazing, hysterical ferocity. “Bad guys,” he said weakly. “BAD GUYS! YOU’RE ALL BAD GUYS! Wahhhhahahhahhhhhh!” And with that, he retrieved the Roselia and dashed off into the distance.
“Extra grudge for you,” said Shupster. “Oh hey look, there’s the gym. It was just behind Wally.”
“Ooooh, goody, let’s go,” said Cassidy.
Due to our yet undefeated 2-0 victory, my trainers had all but forgotten their tendency to fear a humiliating loss at a gym. And so without the usual hesitation, they strode over to the gym. Without the usual hesitation, they dramatically flung open the doors. And with horror – not usual at all – they, and I, looked in.
Four trainers, presumably the employed trainers of the gym, lay dead on the spacious, neon yellow gym floor. Their bodies were fixed in skewed, unnatural, torturous positions. Their eyes and mouths were partially open, an unfinished, muted cry of excruciating pain. Infixed in all four of their lifeless faces was the expression of true, genuine fear. There were obvious signs of futile struggle, and yet no blood was visible, nor of any of the aftermath that ordinarily followed a murder. There was something strangely, chillingly awry about the four pale, still forms strewn across the room...
“Dude, what the in the name of heck happened here?” said Butch quietly.
“I know, right… it’s freakin’ creepy,” whispered Cassidy, biting her lip. “Maybe we should take a look around…”
As they stepped vigilantly about the deathly silent room, another dreadful sight met my eyes. A Magnemite, lying inert in a corner, was dented and torn grotesquely, the broken metal split open in shards and the magnets shattered to bits. I cast my eyes around and found, to my horror, that broken, utterly destroyed Pokemon lined the walls and corners. A Voltorb was ruptured along its equator from the apparent impact it had suffered and an Electrike lay in a pool of green blood that dripped from a deep wound in its head. It appeared as if unimaginable force had hurled them and lethally smashed them against the building. Suddenly a weak, strenuous voice penetrated the bleak silence, a straggly, despondent scrap of sound forced painfully into the despair that surrounded us.
“Get out,” croaked the voice hoarsely. “Get out… Take a badge from the suitcase and… get out. Call the police… but get out.” The speaker took a last, labored breath and the voice was gone.
My trainers dashed to the source of the voice. We cast our gaze downwards at a withered, bearded man in a brown jacket, now lifeless like the others. “Must’ve been the gym leader,” said Butch. “Let’s get a badge, get out of here and call the police.”
“We can’t call the police, idiot, they’re looking for US,” snapped Cassidy. “Damn. I don’t want to know what’s happened in here. But we’d better blow this place.” In an abrupt, deft motion she seized a lustrous yellow badge from the suitcase that lay solemnly next to the gym leader. Then they turned to go.
It was only then that I took, ever since we had entered the gym, my first look at Shupster, who was hovering in place by himself at the edge of the room. His frozen, traumatized face contained a sort of disbelieving, aghast horror – the usual optimism and life in his eyes had been completely replaced by a dazed, almost fearful look, and the droll smile I had never seen him without was now a panic-stricken slit, silently trembling, as if attempting and failing to deny what he believed this had resulted from. The room was once again quiet save for his shaken, rapid breathing, and I realized that he, talkative apparition like he was, hadn’t spoken once upon our entrance.
“Hey, Shupster, time to go,” said Cassidy.
Shupster followed mindlessly, his expression unaltered. We exited the gym hastily with the badge, and yet I couldn’t help thinking…
“Holy…. crap. That’s the creepiest thing I’ve seen for weeks,” murmured Cassidy, shuddering. “What the hell… all those people. Dead. Just… and the Pokemon. Do you think we should… find out about it? What happened… I mean, I don’t want to but – we can’t just – ”
Shupster’s constant gibbering became unusually audible, almost like a reply to Cassidy’s comment. “I should’ve,” he mumbled. “I should’ve been… I should’ve done… my fault… I should’ve done…” The terror was still apparent on his face.
“Dude, what could YOU have done?” asked Butch. “How could you have done anything? It’s not your fault, you’re not as awesome as you think you are, alright?”
At this, Shupster suddenly exploded into an abrupt, furious rant. “You don’t understand,” he yelled. “None of you understand. So don’t ****ing try to,” he fumed. “Okay? You don’t understand.” He turned away. “It’s me,” he said bitterly. “It’s all…I should’ve…”
Shupster did not speak to us when we checked in to the closest motel, located at an agreeable spot on the edge of Mauville Lake, and he insisted on sleeping alone.