The Pocket Monster Diaries, Part 5
I’m not gonna lie, I was pretty broken up about BugJuice. For a while I thought about giving up the trainer gig altogether. But then I would be letting Mr. Suds ravage the countryside unchecked, and I’m pretty sure that’s a disaster waiting to happen. Also, Chuckles was at a confusing and emotional stage in his life. What would he do without me to act as a good influence on him? He would lose all sense of direction and identity, and probably he would run off to the city and join a Mankey gang that loiters under streetlamps and uses Leer on random passers-by. Next he would start engaging in risky behavior, objectifying female Mankeys, and taking all kinds of dangerous Mankey drugs like X Attack, Dire Hit, and PCP. As a trainer, I could not allow that to happen.
So, I decided it was high time to get back in the saddle. I needed to go get another Caterpie, but this time I wanted one with some bite (well technically they don’t have teeth, but you know what I mean). It seemed to me that the most logical place to find a dangerous bug was in a dangerous habitat. And so it was with no small amount of reluctance I entered the foreboding Viridan forest.
Compared to Route 1, which was alive with the noise of Pidgey feuds and Rattata turf wars, this place was eerily quiet. I knew there were Pokémon out there, but only because I could see glimpses of them in the distance. As I walked through the forest, it seemed like there were Caterpie in every single tree, watching me, staring silently with their huge black eyes. It was pretty unsettling, and I tried to remind myself that I would really only be in danger if I was some type of foliage.
I suppose I could have nabbed one of those Caterpie and been done with it, but I wanted to get a special one. After the untimely demise of poor BugJuice, I was not eager to send any more placid, inexperienced Pokémon to their deaths. This time, I wanted somebody who was definitely up to the challenge, a natural born fighter. Or at least, as close to “natural born fighter” as you could get with a species that spends 90% of their free time eating leaves and the other 10% staring at leaves and wondering if they should eat them (Hint: the answer is almost always yes).
So you can understand my surprise when a Caterpie flew out of nowhere and started clinging to my face like some kind of homicidal windshield decal.
I immediately did what any sensible person would do and started spewing an unflagging stream of obscenities. Unfortunately a Caterpie was currently interposing itself between my larynx and the outside world, so it ended up being more like a stream of “Mfff mmf MFFF” and other, related sounds. Mr. Suds seemed to get the idea though, because shortly thereafter I felt a Bubble impact the side of my head, which was much more painful than I would have thought that any encounter with a bubble had a right to be. Thankfully it managed to knock the Caterpie off of my face, at which point I fell to my hands and knees, gasping in lungfuls of air while groping at my belt for an empty Pokéball.
Even hitting this thing with a Pokéball was proving to be a challenge. I’m not even sure how it was physically possible, but the Caterpie was darting to and fro all over the place in a zigzag pattern as I tried to take aim. It was as if someone had taken footage of a Caterpie moving and played it back in fast motion. If BugJuice inched along the ground like this: zhoop…zhoop…zhoop… then this thing just booked it right across the forest floor like zhoopzhoopzhoopzhoop. It was crazy, it was ridiculous, it was Goddamned unnatural looking. But it was also a really annoying target.
“Alright Mr. Suds,” I glanced back at my Squirtle, who was waiting in the wings for once, “see if you can slow this thing down.” He nodded and stepped forward to do his work. “But gently-” WHAM! His shoulder charge knocked the bug reeling, but it quickly rolled to its feet(?) and resumed its hit-and-run stringshot attack on Mr. Suds, albeit with less gusto than before. That hit seemed to have taken some of the wind out of its sails. I chucked another Pokéball, and this time I managed to land a hit that sucked the little bugger inside the spheroid.
“Alright Mr. Suds, looks like this bug wants to play hardball. We’re moving to DEFCON 2. You are authorized to inflict as much harm as possible onto the target short of causing it to faint.” Was that a smile? It was hard to tell as Mr. Suds charged into action, eager to do some damage. The Caterpie gave him a run for his money, though. It scooted out of the way fast enough to avoid his first sliding tackle, and it managed to foil his subsequent attacks by aiming stringshots at his eyes, distracting him long enough to zhoop its way to safety. By now his face was covered in sticky Caterpie silk, but the little of it I could see through the multitude of obscuring fibers looked quite angry. At that moment, I knew that things would not turn out well for our plucky bug friend.
The next time the Caterpie tried to pull off its blinding trick, Mr. Suds quickly withdrew his head into his shell, causing the string to pass harmlessly through the empty air where his face had been. When his face reemerged, it was wearing a truly frightening expression of…anticipation, perhaps? It was rather creepy, I have to say. The Caterpie must have noticed, too, because it started zhoop-zhooping away for dear life as Mr. Suds raised his foot up in the air, but not quite fast enough to escape from beneath the slowly embiggening shadow. *Stomp*
At first I was worried that he had knocked the thing out cold, but then I saw it struggling weakly to escape from underneath his foot. Zhooop…zhooooop…zhoooooooop… Mr. Suds, panting, looked over at me pointedly, as if to say, I got you your damn bug, now are you gonna catch it or not? I obliged him and chucked my third and last Pokéball.