Yes, she has held a Pokeball. Yes, she has pointed and called Pokemon in and out. She knows Trainers catch Pokemon but the actual means to do so is lost to her. The hiker isn’t helping, but instead chooses to watch and keep his distance, as his motive appears to be. He would have to be immoral to the core to abandon her after this. And if he does leave her behind, she may have to give Cubone up to save herself. The thought of going through all the trouble just for nothing bothers her enough to stay and try. How about pointing the ball at it? Nothing. She says its name, saying ‘return’, but it fails. Puzzled, she takes a quick look back where the hiker was standing but he had apparently moved on. Bastard.
“Did ya’ forget to pack your brain today?”
His calm, questioning voice causes April to jump and shriek, startling the nearby Pokemon that were watching from high in the trees. Somehow the hiker got behind her without her knowing. He must have run but from that distance in such a short amount of time is physically impossible. This can’t be real. No human can move like that.
“It’s real easy. First, press the button to expand the ball. Then say a prayer to your Pokemon God. It has to be a good one or it won’t work. They know too. Lastly, do a cool fighting style pose and finish by rolling the Pokeball along the floor, like a bowling ball, at the Pokemon.”
She isn’t sure whether he is joking or serious. His dialogue has been all over the place, it’s hard to tell what emotion he’s using and how serious he is about it. Hers, however, has been easy to figure out. She’s upset, tired, and very demanding. She’s not having fun, which the hiker has been increasingly noticing since they met.
“Can’t you give me a straight answer? A Pokemon is hurt and all you’re doing is making jokes. Cubone isn’t laughing.”
The hiker’s face remains motionless. Not a smirk, a frown nor a smile. He looks away for a second, unappreciative that she was staring at him so coldly. A snappy comeback pops into his head but he passes the opportunity to use it. He scratches the side of his stomach and nonchalantly says, “All you have to do is make contact with the Pokeball and the Pokemon. Either by throwing or simply pressing it to the body.”
Her face burns red with fury mixed together with the rage-like anger Cubone had been displaying. What a jerk! She taps the Pokeball on Cubone and nothing. It doesn’t work. No red beam, no opening. Nothing. Dunsparce looks up at her, shrugging in confusion. She turns back around to hear the hiker’s echo from afar. He had vanished again.
“Hey, let’s go. Time’s wasting.”
“No, w-wait a moment.” She frantically switches Pokeballs and recalls Dunsparce.
“Dunnn...” he sadly murmurs before being recalled.
She drops her two Pokeballs- one full, one empty- in her jacket pocket, grabs her satchel and scooter, and hurries in the direction the hiker’s voice came from. A couple minutes away she finds him standing with Stantler, again, impatiently waiting.
“We have to go back. It didn’t work.”
“The Pokeball. It could be broken.”
“Not likely. Takes a lot of force to pop one of those.” He continues his pace. “If you wanted it so badly, you could have carried it the rest of the way.”
That’s a good idea. Pokemon don’t need to be caught with a Pokeball. “Ok, let’s go back..”
can go if you want. I’m not wasting any more of my time with this.”
“Why’s this such a big deal?”
“It’s a disgrace. Up to now, every single Pokemon I have caught for myself was done by me. No help. None. If I were to accept someone’s help, that would disgrace my honor as a Trainer. Some things just need to be done on your own. What’s more impressive: 30 Trainers fighting Ho-oh, or 1? It would be like buying Pokemon that other, hard working Trainers caught. I’d rather brag that every single Pokemon I caught was through my hard work and dedication.” He holds his dirty hands up. “I want to constantly challenge these hands with the weight of a battle. To hold a trophy up high and say ‘I truly earned this.’ A Pokemon’s strength isn’t what it can do for you, it’s what you, as the Trainer, did to get it. Isn’t that what you signed up to do: challenge the world with your individual strength? That was your battle, your chance, and your failure. What happened, happened because you weren’t strong enough. Now it’s time to move on and hope you’re ready next time.”
“So you’re just going to leave a Pokemon injured in the forest?”
The hiker pauses to take a breath before moving on. “I have to. You wouldn’t understand.”
April takes a look back, really pondering the words of the hiker. Maybe it’s for the best. Does she really need another Pokemon? Needless to say, she worries that Cubone will make it through the night. Great speech and all, but his philosophy has a few holes in it. She mumbles to herself, “Leave a helpless Pokemon behind.... and that isn’t a disgrace?”
The pair continue hiking, this time at a slower pace and together. The silence allows her to think about the battle and how hurt Dunsparce became. The pain on his face while it battled showed her just how horrible fighting is. She doesn’t want to lose Dunsparce. Why do Trainers do this? Do they get some sort of satisfaction watching animals hurt themselves for their personal gain? Pokemon can get seriously hurt or even die.
She begins to wonder why Dunsparce even fought in the first place. It was obvious that she wanted him to stop, yet he continued anyway. Why is this?
As they walk up a rock aligned hill, April grabs her leg, remembering she got it cut sliding down the hill. She endures the pain, continuing on. She wants to slow the pace to lessen the pain but the hiker keeps looking back at her, waving his arm to hurry up. She has to get her mind off the pain.
“You never told me your name.”
He doesn’t respond quickly, preferring to keep it silent. “It’s not important.”
“Yes it is. I’ve given you mine. It’s proper to respond with your own.”
“After tomorrow we’ll never see each other again, so it’d be pointless. You can call me anything you want. Lockhart Mcgee for all I care. I’ve already forgotten yours.”
Ooo, ouch. “It’s April. Like the month.”
“Uh huh...” he says, pretending not to listen.
This hiker has social issues. Nonstop he’s been firing rude comments at her, walking all over her as if she didn’t exist. Like a bully. She’ll be glad once they get to the lodge so she can get away from him. She doesn’t want to say anything more to him. On the other hand, the curious detective inside her heart overrules her brain.
“What is your problem?” she says, looking at him.
“What do you mean?” he says, not even looking at her.
“You know.... your bad attitude.”
“Pffftt. Let’s just hurry, ok? Your limping isn’t helping us get there any faster.”
She’s surprised he even noticed. “See, that’s what I mean.”
“Huh?” He takes a moment to see her unhappy look. “Oh, that. Just keeping myself entertained.”
“At MY expense.”
“Well, I’m not doing it at mine.” He laughs shortly. “Maybe you should lighten up.”
Is he serious? April is lost, tired, injured, and with Pokemon barely able to stand at the moment. What is there to be happy about? The only positive thing she’s had on the journey so far was running into the hiker, someone that would help her, and unfortunately that turned out to be negative too. Even the future is bleak. Where is she going... what will she do when she gets there? Can this guy even be trusted? The fear of the unknown is what scares her. A smile isn’t going to clear these dark clouds.
They stop at a tall cliff. It’s 90 degrees and unclimbable without proper gear. The hiker and April look up.
He bows slightly, lower his arms in a waving motion at the cliff. “Ladies first.”
“You’re kidding, right?” She isn’t amused at his attempted humor. The only remaining thought she has is of the pain in her leg.
The hiker appears hurt by her words but he was hoping for that response. “If you insist!” He points a Pokeball at Stantler and recalls her. He taps his Abra backpack and points up the cliff, then looks at April. “Meet you at the top!”
, she thinks. It’s a pure 90degree drop about two stories tall. There aren’t any ledges or foot holes to grab. Not even any rope dangling from above to help pull him up. Unknown to her, if they walk the path a little more there’s a section to more easily climb up. Nope. Instead, he runs wildly at the wall, jumps and clings to it with bare hands. His shoes, not even hiking material, surprisingly don’t slip. He begins crawling at the wall like a dog paddling in the water. What... how is he doing this?
, April ponders. First the phasing and now climbing. This guy is defying the very laws of physics. She walks up to the cliff, looking up for some sort of trick. Aha! He isn’t even touching the rocks, just barely a few inches away. It’s then that she notices his body surrounded by a faint glowing blue fuzz. Abra! That has to be it. She concludes that Abra must be controlling him somehow. She’s never witnessed such power from a Pokemon before and wonders if her own Dunsparce can do the same.
The hiker reaches the top, pretending to wipe the sweat away from his brow. He looks down, “I win.”
“You are one of the weirdest persons I’ve ever met.”
“Oh, a compliment rather than yelling at me. How kind of you.”
She lightens her mood, but remains unsure about her own means to climb. “How am I supposed to get up?”
He dodges the question, choosing to imitate April’s voice. “Save me, save me!”
He turns 180degrees to face the girl version of himself, changing his voice to a man version of himself. “Oh, I can’t do that. I have attitude problems. Find your own way up.” Turns again, “Don’t be like that.” One more time. “Too bad. Right Abra?”
Abra doesn’t respond.
April cracks a smile, holding a laugh through her nose. She was not expecting him to make fun of himself, even if she was a part of it. “I really hope we never see each other after this. You are unbearable.” The best part is she says it cheerfully, momentarily forgetting how horrible everything has been.
“That’s the spirit!” He laughs, pleased with the outcome. He taps Abra and he goes to work.
The blue aura surrounds April, slowly lifting her off the floor. “Hey, what’s going on...” She tries to move but she can’t. Her legs run through the air but her effort to get away fails. “Wait... Stop!”
“Stay still. It’s alright.”
There’s nowhere to run and nothing she can do to get away. She isn’t in control of her body. This feeling. She doesn’t like it. Her arms wave wildly at the air trying to break free, to no avail. She feels weak and powerless. The world around her turns to darkness, trapped in her nightmares that won’t let her go. Two beady eyes appear at the top of the cliff, focusing their psychopathic gaze at her. A twisted mouth you would normally see on a jack-o-lantern appears beneath them. The sharp teeth get a taste of her fear, chewing the air with satisfaction.
Run, little girl, run.
All around her is darkness. Nothing. Not a soul.
“PUT ME DOWN!”
She screams out of fear. Her feet touch the cold ground forcing her to weakly collapses on it, exhausted in thought. Even way out in the middle of nowhere, the eyes of her attackers continue to haunt her. How far must she run to get away?
Her body drops a few degrees in temperature feeling a breeze of air roll along the surface. Her face tightens to guard against it. Her leg, once covered by her pants, feels the breath of cold air grabbing at her like fingers of death. For some reason, her pant leg was rolled up. Cold fingers begin to gently prod her, sending a chill down to her other leg. Then a soft cloth touches her, protecting against the air. Cotton? No, not soft enough. Whatever it is, the cold fingers move around her leg, holding the cloth in place as it wraps around her. Her mind races back to that moment ten years ago, trapped in her house being bound by those treacherous faces. Someone is tying her up. They found her! She focuses back to reality, determined to clear the darkness around her.
“Noooo!!!” April screams. The echo reverberates around the mountains sounding like a deafening boom.
She strongly grabs the hand by her leg, stopping it’s movement. She traces the arm up to the face. A pair of soft blue-green eyes meet her gaze, intently staring back at her. It’s the hiker. Without his glasses on, his face opens up making him look a lot sweeter than before. There’s something about his eyes that speaks ‘everything will be okay’. Confused, she looks down at her leg. A first aid kit sat by it. Her cut was wrapped up with gauze. Realizing she is safe, she lets go of his hand, allowing him to finish.
Afterward, the hiker stands up, sliding his shades into his coat. He looks up, noticing all the dark clouds gathering through the trees. A drop of water manages to dodge the leaves and branches on the way down, splashing onto his cheek. “Not much further to go.”
He extends his hand to her, helping her off the cold dirt. She’s speechless. He’s displaying a complete reversal of his previous attitude, offering her help without a snide remark. She’s not complaining; no, far from it. Maybe it is some trick of his. She decides to test the water.
“Thank you. It feels better.”
He takes a moment to let the words sink into his brain. “That’s good to hear.”
Again, nothing. No snap back. No stern, annoyed voice. This is the kindness she’d been hoping for all along. Granted his change of heart is late and won’t be enough to forgive him for earlier, but it’s much appreciated.
Out of the forest, they come to a path lined with old wooden poles and rope. The first thing she notices are the various shoe prints on the path. All the rocks and boulders are kicked off to the side, only leaving needles and leaves cluttering the path. They head right, down a slow hill. April hears a voice in the distance. They’re getting closer to civilization. What a relief! She needs some rest and food after all this exercise.
In a moment, the dirt path switched to stone brick. The old wood and rope change to dark metal poles with lights on top. To the left and right and spread all around are log cabins, single story and similar in size and shape to one another. There has to be at least twenty of them lined equally in rows and columns. They are made with wood shingles, log walls, thick glass windows and a stone fireplace; typical of how a log cabin should look.
This is the first moment when she realizes how late it is. The contrast between the darkening sky and the lit path to the cabins became easily noticeable. Or... was it really late at all? She notices the hiker’s coat had a few water drops on it. Is it raining?
She takes her beret off, feeling that it is slightly wet, and looks up. A light raindrop perfectly hits her eyelid causing her to look away. After she wipes it off, a peculiar site further down the lane attracts her eyes. It looks like a house once stood in a plot of land but all that remained now were burnt, twisted logs and destroyed memories.
“Hey, come here.” April approaches the hiker standing in the front of the cabins. “If you go straight from here... straight, okay? One foot in front of the other. See that big building over there. The one not like any other. You can’t miss it.”
April frowns being insulted again.
“That’s the visitor center. Ask for help there. So, good luck and all that.” He walks away to his cabin.
The visitor center is a two story tall building and similarly made of wood like the cabins. She enters the enclosed porch, reading a sign hanging above the door. Michelle’s Lodge, it read. This was the place the hiker was talking about. From what she can tell by the surrounding cabins, it must be some sort of camp. Though, the lack of roads and visible cars makes her wonder why anyone would set up in nowhere land. It starts to rain as she walks in, moving some bells above the door. As cool as it was outside, inside is remarkably warm. She may have to take off her wool jacket if it gets any hotter.
Inside, the log theme continues. Even most of the furniture is made of woods, stumps and sticks, save for the cushions and pillows. To the right of her is a very hotel-like reception desk that appeared to have never been used. It’s covered with papers stacked high and a sign in book with the lodge’s name embroidered in gold. To the left, some couches and sofas. Possibly a waiting area. Straight ahead, a bar. A few tables and booths are set up for around thirty people to sit and eat. A holler comes from one of the back booths on the right where a couple guys sit and drink. A guy at the bar raises his glass to the booth, cheering and taking a sip from his mug. On the left side, a lone guy sits at a table watching the only tv in the room. It flickered a bit, unable to get the full signal this high in the mountains. At the bar, an older lady stands behind the counter.
But first, a bathroom break. Sponsored by Charmin.
Later, after cleaning up. She takes a couple steps toward the counter. The guys at the booth hush quietly, watching her. One of them whistles, causing the other one to laugh. They were obviously the shouts of older, drunk men. Obnoxious. That’s not to say she isn’t flattered. In fact, if ever the need, she knows it would be easy to tease them into getting what she wants. She ignores them, for now, and sits on a stool.
On the other side of the counter is the older lady, whom must be the only person working tonight. She has a huge head of hair. We’re talking 60's huge. Not fro-like, but in the same family. To make it worse, it’s dyed rainbow red. To match her hair are these obviously fake, long red nails. If anyone ever needed a back scratcher, just go to her. They’re so tacky and ugly, April cringes at the sight of them. The lady is taller than her, perhaps mid six foot, and sleek for her age, with a huge rack of boobs; certainly big enough for her to be jealous. Her face tells her real age, with age spots, wrinkles and crows feet naturally showing. It’s like, she doesn’t even try to hide them when they’re easy to cover up. She has to be at least fifty, but she wouldn’t be surprised if she was older than that. Even her younger, more hip clothes throw off the trail of someone too old to party. This includes large, round, silver earrings someone could hula-hoop with. With the white apron on, it’s like she’s trying to fulfill an old dream of wanting to become a bartender. To be honest, she looks in great shape but horribly mismatched.
On the wall are the usual array of glasses and bottles, but also a collection of pictures of the older woman, only younger and very beautiful. Boobs still the same size. Most pictures consist of her standing with someone else, a different Pokemon, and a trophy held in her arms. One of the photos is so old, it’s in black and white.