The Pocket Monster Diaries, Part 12
Without any leads on where G’yorp disappeared to, I headed back to the Pokemon center. While I was waiting to get my Pokemon back, I overheard two guys, perhaps a little older than me, talking over coffee at one of the tables scattered around the waiting room.
“-there was this crashing noise loud enough to wake the dead, and all the time this hooting and shouting was going on. All of a sudden this kid bursts out of the door followed by a whole herd of Pokemon, with this huge plume of smoke billowing out behind him.”
“Are you serious?”
“Oh, yeah. And let me tell you, this was not a normal looking kid. His clothes were all dirty and tattered, and I think he had leaves in his hair.”
“Maybe he was a runaway. Did you ask him where he was from?”
“Are you kidding? I didn’t get anywhere near him. He could have had rabies! That, and he smelled like an outhou-”
I slammed my hands down on the table, causing coffee to slosh dangerously. “Where? Where did you see him?” The trainer who had been talking stared at me, his eyes huge over the rim of his mug. He slurped quietly.
I decided that it might be wise to dial back the crazy a couple of notches.
“I mean, that’s…that’s a pretty incredible story.” I leaned back from the table in what I considered a particularly non-psychotic fashion. The two trainers slowly seemed to relax.
“Well, I was training up North on Cerulean Cape, when I saw all this crazy stuff at Bill’s house.”
“Bill’s house? Was he alright?” I had never met this Bill fellow, but all the same I hoped that he hadn’t become G’yorp’s first victim.
“I have no idea, I ran all the way back here. If it was something Bill was mixed up in, then I want no part of it. Guy’s a creep. Plus, I had to hurry up and get back to town before six. I didn’t want to get caught at the bridge by those nugget assholes-”
But I was already halfway out the door. If Bill was in danger because of G’yorp, I felt obligated to help him out. And it was also pretty suspicious that my nemesis just happened to turn up at the house of an eccentric Pokemon researcher, especially when it was so far off the beaten path. If something in Bill’s lab had attracted G’yorp’s attention, then I might be able to gain some insight into his motivations.
After leaving the Pokemon Center, I went back to the bridge upon which I had my fateful encounter. Only this time, it was lined on either side with trainers. As I tried to cross, the nearest trainer stepped away from the railing and barred my progress.
“Maybe some other time.” I tried to slip past, but the bug catcher moved to the other side of the bridge.
“Not so fast! The Nugget Gang will not be pushed aside so easily! If you win, fabulous riches will be yours, and you will have earned the right to cross this bridge!”
My exasperation was growing by the minute. “Are you seriously not going to let me cross the bridge until I beat you? Isn’t that like, a fire hazard or something?”
But the Bug Catcher was clearly lost in his own little fantasy world. “So! You wish to do battle after all, eh? Then have at you!”
Wearily, I let Mr. Suds out of his Pokeball. Nothing could ever be simple around here, could it? Everything was Pokemon battles with these people. Trying to cross a bridge? Whoop, time to battle. Meet a creepy fossil guy? Battle, obviously. Somebody cuts you in the lunch line, or tracks mud on the carpet, or eats the last ho-ho, or you get a parking ticket, shit man do you even have to ask? Battle, battle, battle…fuckin’ battle. It was kind of starting to get on my nerves.
Whatever. Let’s just get this over with. At least it will give me a chance to test out Mr. Suds’ new form in a low-stress environment. His once nearly featureless blue skull had sprouted a pair of winglike ears, and his tail had grown much longer. Both were covered in luxurious, downy fur. He had grown larger and more powerful looking. The top of his head almost reached my shoulder, now. This fight was nothing but a nuisance, but at the same time I was a little curious to observe how evolution would affect Mr. Suds’ combat abilities.
If any of his opponents lasted long enough, that is.
Urgh, cleaning Caterpie gunk out of that tail fur was going to be a nightmare. That must have made Mr. Suds mad, because he bared his fangs (are those new? I mean, I never really took the time to closely examine his teeth when he was a Squirtle, but I probably would have noticed if he had fangs), and retaliated by flattening the Caterpie with a full body tackle that may have been a little excessive. It’s not like I could blame him, though.
He had more Pokemon, but I elected to switch out for SupaFly. She could use the practice, and, if he had another Caterpie that knew String Shot, the humility.
As soon as the Kakuna went down, SupaFly darted towards it, hoping for a meal. I knew I was taking a risk by using her against Bug Pokemon. But I also wasn’t stupid. I pulled out a spray bottle I had purchased from the Cerulean Pokemart and spritzed her with a beakful of water.
“SupaFly! Bad! Down!” It was nowhere near as powerful as Mr. Suds’ Water Gun, but something in her primitive avian brain had associated wetness with being slammed into a wall by a jet of water, and so she desisted long enough for me to return her to the Pokeball.
“Alright, I beat you fair and square. Can I cross now?”
“Ah, you’ve done well, indeed.” The Bug Catcher said as he recalled his fainted Kakuna. “However, I am but the least of our group! Now you must face the other four. I wish you good fortune in the battles ahead!”
I walked past him, only to be confronted by another challenger, this time a young girl.
“Halt! We are the infamous Nugget-”
“Yeah, Nugget Gang, obstructing a public thoroughfare for no good reason, I got the gist from the Bug guy.” I was already unclipping a Pokeball from my belt, muttering under my breath.
“There’s no way this can be legal…”
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At the end of sitar solo, please pause music.
I approached the last trainer on the bridge. He must have seen me administer the antidote to SupaFly.
“Your Pidgeotto doesn’t look so hot.”
“You don’t have to beat us all in a row. You can go to the PokeCenter if you want.”
“Yeah…I knew that! Obviously! I just don’t feel like it!”
“I’ll wait right here. My shift doesn’t even end for another four hours-”
“It’s…the principle of the thing!”
“What principle? That doesn’t make any sense.”
“Perhaps not, but all I know is I gotta PUSH IT TO THE LIMIT!!”
Resume music triumphantly!
At last! I did it.
I pushed it to the limit.
I stepped off the bridge and relished the sweet freedom of being on the other side. As soon as I set foot back on the road, a strange man came up to greet me. The first impression I got of him was that of a camp counselor who is just a little too friendly.
“We’re a group of professional criminals specializing in Pokemon!”
“Thaaaaat sounds lame as hell.”
“Oh, well aren’t you just a precious little smartass. I’ll have you know that Team Rocket is respected and feared throughout the criminal underworld!”
“Why don’t you just rob banks or something? That seems like it would be a lot more lucrative in the long run.”
“Well…you know…there’s just all these Pokemon around, so it seemed like-”
“What do you even steal?“
“Pokemon…stuff…” he answered, shuffling his feet and staring at the ground. This conversation was clearly not going according to plan.
“Jesus, you people are pathetic. Name one thing you’ve ever successfully stolen. Then, maybe I’ll consider joining.”
“Well…we heard there were some pretty valuable fossils uncovered in Mt. Moon…”
“Yeah? How did that go?”
“We sent a bunch of guys down there, but they were gone already. We figured somebody else got to the fossils first, so we searched the area a little bit, but…nobody looked particularly suspicious or anything, so…we just kind of left after a while.”
“Wow, that’s cold. Really brutal. I mean how do you even sleep at night.”
“Okay, I’ve had about enough of your backsass! Do you want to join or not?”
“Not if my life depended on it, which, based on your track record, I am guessing it does not.”
“Fine, have it your way.” He started to rip his clothes off.
“AAAAAAHH what are you doing?” To my relief, he was wearing one of those dorky Team Rocket jumpsuits underneath.
But then he started to reach into his pocket. He looked really mad now.
“I’m going to make you an offer you can’t refuse!”
Oh shit, I thought to myself. He’s going to kill me. I pissed him off and now he’s just going to shoot me. They’ll probably dump my body straight into the river. I bet that’s why they set up this operation on the bridge.
I cringed away from the imminent gunshot, and then…
“A Pokemon battle?! Is this a joke? Don’t you guys have guns or knives or something?“
The Grunt looked taken aback at the suggestion.
“Are you crazy? Those things are dangerous!”
“That’s the point, you nincompoop! I swear, I could run a better criminal organization than you with nothing but Zubats and Ratattas!”
“Well, we use Ekans too, sometimes-”
“AAARGH! I can’t stand to listen to this anymore! Fine. Let’s have it your way. See, look, I’ll even use Zubat.”
Even if its trainer was dumber than a sack of Bidoofs, this Ekans was pretty crafty. It managed to dodge Vamp’s diving bite attack and wrap its body around him, squeezing him with its sinuous coils.
My Zubat struggled, but the Ekans was just too strong.
“Vamp! Try to confuse it!”
He opened his large, large mouth and waves of invisible sound pulsed out, just barely perceptible to my ears as a ringing shriek. The Ekans began to look distracted, and Vamp slipped free as it tried to bite its own tail.
When the Ekans regained its senses, Vamp was nowhere to be found. As it scanned upwards for its flying opponent, Vamp burst out of a nearby tuft of tall grass and flew directly at the Ekans’ face, flapping its wings and screeching.
The Rocket Grunt was starting to sweat now. “Okay, how about this!“
I looked at the Rocket’s newly summoned Zubat with skepticism.
“Don’t even waste time on this guy, Vamp. Supersonic.”
The enemy Zubat flew at Vamp with his fangs bared, but my Pokemon emitted a powerful soundwave directly into his opponent’s path. With no means of perceiving its surroundings other than echolocation, the Rocket’s Zubat promptly veered ninety degrees to the left and smashed into a tree with a quiet “thunk”.
I turned to the Rocket Grunt.
“I beat you.”
“This time, perhaps, but-
“With. A. ZUBAT.” He opened his mouth to speak, but I cut him off.
“Just one Zubat!”
“Go away. Now.”
“Uh, if you ever feel like joining Team Rocket, maybe, just get in touch with-”
“GET OUT OF MY SIGHT!” He stooped awkwardly to collect his discarded civilian clothes from the ground, and ran off.
“Hah…finally. Maybe I really should hit up the Pokemon Center before I go any further.”
I turned around to see a huge throng of people gathered on the other side of the river. I saw the Nurse Joy from the Pokemon Center, the guy who ran the Pokemart, that weird old berry dude, and dozens of other people I had noticed while walking around town. We stared at each other in silence for a second, and then they all began to cheer in unison and storm across the bridge.
For a moment I stood frozen to the ground, but as I snapped out of my shock and realized that I was about to be swamped by a wave of people, I turned and started to run from the oncoming mob out of pure instinct.
It was no use. Before I got two steps away, I was swept up by the crowd. I found myself being hugged by one of the kids I heard talking at the Pokemon Center earlier.
“Dude, you did it! When you stormed out of there with that crazy look in your eye, I just knew you were going to challenge the Nugget Gang, but I never in a million years thought you would actually win!“
“Uh, thanks, I guess-”
The Nurse Joy spun me around and grabbed me by the shoulders.
“That was a very brave thing you did, young man!”
“Um, actually I just wanted to cross the-”
“Yeah,” said the owner of the Pokemart. “We all suspected that the Nugget Gang was a front for the Rockets, but after that break-in back in town, everyone was too scared to do anything about it.” The owner of the Bike Shop stepped up next to him, pushing through the crowd.
“But not you, bro! You totally ruled out there! You made those guys look like complete morons!” I shrugged.
“Well, to be fair, that’s not really saying a great deal.”
“In recognition of your bravery, I’m going to give you free service at the Pokemon Center from now on!” said the Joy.
“But…it’s already free…”
“Oh, of course, how silly of me!” There was general laughter. “Still,” she continued, “we are very grateful for what you did.”
“Well, I could use a few potions.”
“I’d love to give you a discount, but, well…” the Pokemart owner rubbed his forehead. “…our insurance rates went up a lot after the burglary…”
“Then, a bike would be really nice?” The Bike Shop guy averted his gaze quickly.
“I think we still have some promotional water bottles from when Cycling Road opened, if you’re interested, little bro…”
“Oh, well.” I sighed. “It’s not a big deal. I really just wanted to cross the bridge, anyway-”
Suddenly, I found myself pulled up onto someone’s shoulders. I flailed helplessly.
“Excuse me, my personal space is very-”
“LET’S HEAR IT FOR WINSTON, THE HERO OF CERULEAN BRIDGE!” A roaring cheer went up from the crowd, and they started to bear me back into the city in a kind of impromptu procession.
“Thanks, but…I was trying…to get…to Bill’s house…” My protestations were swallowed whole by the sounds of jubilation, and at last I sighed, leaning back into the mass of people supporting me. I might as well let them have their fun.
I just hoped that whatever had happened to Bill could wait a little bit longer.