It is almost over.
Two more days and a savage needle will plunge into his weeping veins, cruel and cold in its indifference even as it pumps poison through his blood. And then he will die, aware and in pain as the fatal serum seeps through his flesh.
All it takes….
Aidan just wants to get this over with, to go back into his room and crush his pillow between his fingers and beat it against a wall until it bleeds fake feathers and stained shredded cloth. But now that he’s started speaking, now that he’s started talking, he wants to finish his story, to tell this doctor about the only remarkable thing he’s ever done in this life—to tell this doctor about the only remarkable thing he ever will do. After all, everyone else has his story wrong.
And so he motions for a piece of paper, just to have something to hold, something to hurt, and he begins to speak.
“Something had been ordered—specially ordered, and I never knew—” a crack, low, painful—despairing, and Cearmada cannot understand why, “—never found out what. But she had to—had to go to the… the alley. The alley behind the market, where they unload the trucks. And I—I fol… I followed.”
Doctor Cearmada watches.
Paper rips beneath the prisoner’s serrated nails—he bites them, Cearmada notes mentally as the white is torn into perfect squares, layered in a stack and cradled lovingly. The man seems unconscious of his movements as he haltingly speaks, concentrating only upon the words he spews from his faltering mouth.
When the squares are too small to tear, his fingers splay apart and they flutter to the ground, whirling snowflakes in the heat-stroke room. Dots of white splatter the ground, mournful against uncaring grey concrete. It makes him shiver.
Doctor Gerard Cearmada suddenly wants to go home and cook up a steaming drink.
“She wa—was there. Alone. Stuck in t—trap… trapped by the… the delivery truck. No way—” his hands twist into each other, tangling the fingers, “—no way out.”
Color, shuddering and granulated, flickers onto the screen. A painfully stereotypical alleyway appears, lightly shadowed by the sky-scraping office building at its side. This alleyway is worn. Half a century of partially-eaten food, moldy fruit, and wimpy teenage boy has stewed in its dumpster; half a million army battalions’-worth of luggage has sat on the damp asphalt in the form of toothpaste- and produce-filled boxes. The fire escape has been so abused by time and children, all that remains of it is a discolored outline on the moss-encrusted brickwork.
This alleyway has existed to observe everything from illicit lovers’ tryst to unsuccessful muggings and Team Rocket’s malfunctional uniforms—tears and sweat and car oil, apparent from still-fading stains on the eroded ground, has been spilt upon it. The faces of countless delivery-boys and heavy-lifters have spent hours of their precious lives here, shifting boxes and chatting carelessly.
The walls, if they could speak, would claim they have seen everything there is to see, heard everything there is to hear. The dumpster would declare complete knowledge of smell and taste, of all the foods from gourmet meals to TV dinners. The asphalt would convince you it had felt every possible droplet of liquid, every possible tire tread and shoe size or box shape and fruit quality. The alleyway has experienced it all, it would tell you.
Until it learns of murder.
“And she was there, just waiting, stari—looking up at me, tilting her head so… so… sweetly, innocently, like she didn’t see it coming—” and his voice breaks again, jagged with pain “and I needed her and I couldn’t—couldn’t wait, not any longer. So I—so I grab… pull… took a Pokéball from my pocket and I threw
it at her.”
The girl with the hair blue as a Shinx’s pelt enters the alleyway, her companions at her side. She glances around and forms a childish pout—it appears as if she is searching for a person who has neglected to be present. With a bare-footed kick at the ground, she flops onto a box… and waits.
Fingers pick at each other as the teeth bite into the lip. He bleeds. “And she got out and then—then the mongrel, the human child that always commands her attention, turned and she was scared, so, so scared and made her attack me and all I could do was defend myself and I called Tesla out, and—and—” The words flow in anguished streams of garble, pouring from his mouth with the blood.
Before the girl even realizes it, everything has gone wrong. Her Pichu is cowering behind a box and her Shinx is struggling against a Pokéball as a man advances toward them.
She is afraid—so afraid. And she, perhaps, makes the stupidest decision of her still-young life.
She calls out her Ekans and her Combee and sics them on the man with the gnarled beard and the cool eyes as he prowls towards her. Her lips form words, but the television emits only silence as the purple snake Pokémon contorts and blinks its slitted orange eyes, sliding forward through disorganizedly-stacked packaging boxes with fangs bared and glimmering with venom. They draw blood immediately, sinking deep into his flesh.
Running, she snatches her Pichu from its hiding place in time to see her Shinx emerging from its would-be prison with a twitch of the four-pointed star on its tail. Her Combee—with its three hexagonal face-dotted honey-comb sections and its paper-thin wings—bobs and buzzes. It twirls the wings, beating them so fast they blur, and releases a hissing Gust of wind.
The man falls back. He kicks savagely at her Ekans, catching it on the banded yellow stripe about its mid-section—it flies away, knotting and contorting in the air, but a chunk of flesh comes away in its teeth. Seemingly impervious to the pain, the man rolls out of the Gust’s reach—his lips open as he does so, and a mammoth furry animal striped with black materializes in a streak of red Pokeball light.
Immediately, with a swish of twin red-tipped tails, Tesla the Electivire jolts the three smiling faces of the Combee out of the sky. Shock arcs from Tesla’s dual antennae, branching into golden veins of scorching lightning. The jolt lances through the Combee, drowning the shadowed alley with an eye-searing blast of light.
The honey-comb Pokémon falls, bug-wings buzzing helplessly as they crumble to ash in the force of the blazing heat. Its body, singed and twitching, lands on blackened ground amongst multi-colored fruits.
“And then we were fighting and the Pichu was getting weak, but I didn’t want to kill it, not after the Combee—I couldn’t have a greater wedge between us, and Tesla was only trained to kill—couldn’t knock anything out, but I didn’t have another Pokémon on me—and if I killed her friends, no matter how undeserving, how ungrateful, she’d never forgive me and I couldn’t deal with that and I was shouting at Tesla, and shouting, but he nearly slipped a few times and then it was getting to be too much and….” He shudders violently, shaking the flimsy metal chair.
The girl shudders.
She hides beneath a box, shivering as her Pokémon protect her without aid. She has tried to worm through the alleyway under the truck, but it is angled badly and boxes clutter what little room there is—she can not squeeze away. She can’t reach the door, either.
So she’s stuck as a crazy man attempts to burn more of her Pokémon to a crisp. Her face cracks and tears begin to stream down her cheeks.
The man’s mouth moves constantly, screaming unheard orders at the bear-beast, whose two-pronged beard has been half shorn off and bloodied by the combined attacks of the Ekans and the cat-like Shinx. It holds its own, though, stomping over burning launching weak blasts of electricity at the two attackers and taking care to step over the Combee’s smoking carcass. This battle would have already been won, but the man’s lips keep shifting, ordering Tesla not to kill the dashing creatures.
The Pichu joins the fray in a dash of yellow-and-black rimmed with electricity; it is suddenly darting on all sides, pushing Tesla back towards the dumpster. The Electivire can do nothing against this many foes. Their attacks bite through his fur, into his skin, drawing blood and burns. His grasping wire tails dart, glowing orange at the tips, and the ordinarily yellow ball-topped antennae that sprout from his head are blackened with the sheer amount of electricity they have produced. It could all be over in a single powerful blow, but as irritating as the pests are, as much blood is staining his yellow-and-black battle-mussed coat with crimson—as terribly as he wants this to end—he must obey his master.
And so when all three lunge at him, two crackling with electric fire and the third hissing between bared fangs, Tesla closes his beady red eyes and does nothing. He is thrown backwards into the dumpster and for a moment, doesn’t rise. He just lies there, bandit-mask-striped face screwed up in irritation and genuine pain.
They think it’s over. Naďve, innocent—their faces, a bloody, burnt mash of yellow and blue and purple, light up. They are practically smiling as they run back to the girl.
And then Tesla is up with a grunt of discomfort, out of the dumpster, throwing bolts at everything from the twin antennae. His heavy-fingered paws begin to glow; they clench together, gaining a practically painful degree of brightness. Fruit is smeared everywhere, seared against walls and on the ground. Fragmented remnants of boxes cling to his feet, shuddering with flame as he marches towards the now-trembling trio.
The girl’s eyes close and her hand slips downward to the third Pokéball, her face a gnarled contortion of fear and tears. The man’s eyes flash for a moment, and then he is running towards her, drawing a knife from his pocket.
“But then the human child sent out two more Pokémon to help the Pichu, and it was all wrong because those Pokéballs should have been empty, but they weren’t and I didn’t know if the third was full and if I waited any longer, someone would come and now my darling was fighting against me, shimmering with electricity and so, so angry and I couldn’t—I couldn’t do anything, so I….” A heaving gasp.
And her head is off, completely off, rolling on the ground in a slew of blood. Tesla now grasps the Pichu in a flaming paw, crushing meaty black fingers around its face; its anguished screams are wailing sirens echoing down the alleyway as yellow fur is burnt away, revealing swiftly-boiling pink flesh. The Ekans, a purple-and-yellow dart, slithers in from behind, but the man shouts and Tesla turns in time to coil his tail around it. Electricity courses through the snake, jolting it until it shudders; the yellowed rattle tinkles on the end of its tale, smoking slightly.
Their master is dead, but still they do not stop.
The Shinx, steadying herself on four legs and lashing its tail to and fro, leaps at Tesla with a Crunch. She fastens her teeth into his free hand and scrapes viciously at him with Charged, Spark-laden paws. The gold bands glow around her fore-legs, practically over-heating with the strain of the simultaneous attacks—she is not trained for battle, but she has nothing to do but keep going.
Tesla's roar is low, pained—even the electricity hurts him now. This has been far too prolonged for him to handle. He is limping and bloody and exhausted, and has been bombarded by three Pokémon without the option of knocking them out and ceasing the fire. He is in pain. He is beginning to tumble to the ground, to just stop, because he doesn't want to take this any more.
The man has had enough. People will come soon and he has just killed a child. He needs to get out, get away—and so he lifts the body in his arms, heedless of the blood that pours over him. He throws the carcass into the dumpster and pushes it back into the darkest recesses, then calls Tesla back and hurls seven Pokéballs without caring what direction they fly in.
He flees, limping and bleeding from the ankle-wound the Ekans dealt him.
In his haste, he leaves the child’s head, wide- and glassy-eyed, lying there.
“I killed the human mongrel with my bare hands.”
Devastation has come to the alleyway of Coveplace Market and departed, leaving nothing but fragmented wreckage in its wake.
Forked scorch-marks criss-cross the brick walls—burnt moss clusters on the ground beneath them. The remnants of cardboard boxes and their contents smolder. Slimy fruit coats the asphalt with smears of yellow and orange and red and green; rolling frantically, eight Pokéballs wrestle through the mush.
And in the center of the alleyway lies a child’s head.
The self-proclaimed all-knowing walls and dumpster and asphalt of the alleyway have admitted their folly. They accept that they did not know everything, and that they do not know everything. It took much to make them accept this fact—a painful amount of persuasion. More was lost than gained. At least, though, the alleyway, if it could talk, has new stories.
And now the alleyway’s walls can tell of exactly how gasping and shocked a traumatized young child’s terrified dying breaths sound—can tell of what flesh looks like after being shorn from the bone. The dumpster can describe the smell of rotting flesh and the taste of maggots and flies as they gather to breed and feed. The asphalt can recite, with painstaking accuracy, the sensation of warm blood splattering across its surface. The alleyway may not have seen it all, but it certainly wishes to see no more.
If this is what more life has to offer, the alleyway most certainly does not want any more stories to tell.
Doctor Gerard Cearmada can honestly call this the most shocking moment of his life. Not only has a whole slew of highly acclaimed psychologists completely misanalyzed Aidan Kolbe’s motives—he will be the one to prove them wrong. His career has been handed to him on a silver platter by a deranged child-murderer. Admittedly, there are differences between the recorded evidence and the man’s claims, but that can be written off as typical eye-witness confusion…. The public exposure for simply handling this case would be enough to double his salary—but evaluating it and correcting the story circulating in the public domain will make him famous.
And a man considers himself in some twisted form of love-lust with a Pokémon.
He straightens his blue-paisley tie with a cough.
Doctor Gerard Cearmada finds that a wee bit shocking, too, but he’s not exactly interested in devoting a huge amount of thought to it. He would really rather… not go there. In fact, the concept rather “grosses him out” in the same way that female tennis players are disturbed by worms that are half dried-up and writhing on their courts. Even his inner psychologist feels a bit squicked when traversing that path of contemplation.
But hey, if he writes a research paper on the experience, he might be able to get a better job. Always look on the bright side, Cearmada, he tells himself.
“…So… you attacked the child in an attempt to get to the Shinx, which you were… in love with?”
A clipped voice; unnaturally pitched. Short, though; safe. To the point. Carefully neutral.
The silver eyes look at him oddly, as if surprised. They already know of the story everyone knows, the lies the psychologists have told... but they, the eyes, feel like feigning ignorance.
Shuffling feet over concrete prison floors, swooshing with the scrape of poorly-tailored trousers and squishing with the slide of rubber-soled shoes.
A hushed whisper as the venom begins to flow.
A grating monotone beep stretches longer than the silence.
“Aidan Thomas Kolbe. Pronounced dead August 24, 2009.”