The Pocket Monster Diaries, Part 10
How long have I been wandering in these nightmarish caverns? It’s impossible to say. This place is built like a labyrinth, and its twisting passages seem to distort my perception of space and time. It feels like I’ve been walking for miles, but these tunnels look so similar to me that I could end up back where I started and I’d never be able to tell. Sometimes I feel like it would be pointless to go on.
No! I won’t give in to despair. I know that an exit lies hidden somewhere in these catacombs, and that knowledge will be my strength. Memories of sun, wind, and rain: these will be my lantern and my compass. And my Pokemon…I had almost forgotten. I can’t abandon them here in the black depths. I owe them my life…yes, that’s right, they’re the ones who protect me from…from something. Something bad.
I can’t think about that right now. If I can remember which way I came from, maybe I’ll find a way out. I must try to remember. I need to remember. It all seems so far away now. Everything that happened…before.
Of course! PokeDiary, you are the answer. I can see that many of your pages are filled besides the one I’m writing on now. I don’t remember recording any of these, but perhaps if I examine them closely they can offer me some clues. Writing in you is they only thing that’s allowed me to retain my sanity, PokeDiary, and now you may hold the key to my salvation as well…
Day One – Descent
Before entering the cave, I stopped at a Pokemon Center that was conveniently located just outside. It was full of other trainers who looked like they were also preparing for the long, dark journey beneath the mountain. I healed my Pokemon to full strength and began to leave, but on my way out I happened to run into this gentleman:
Hmmm…I feel like I should be remembering…something…
That’s right! There’s a pedophile on the loose! This “Magical Carp” may be just what I need to fight off any would-be child molesters.
Now that I had acquired my puissant piscatorial protector, it was time to brave Mt. Moon’s black depths.
The cave entrance opened into a wide antechamber. The light streaming in from outside made it fairly easy to see, and the floor was worn smooth by generations of tramping feet. A few other people were milling about, but it didn’t look like any of them wanted to fight. I asked around, hoping for some advice, but none were headed to the other side like I was.
Then there’s this signpost:
That gave me pause, but I’m trying not to worry too much. I’ve seen Zubats before. They’re rather puny creatures, and my own Pokemon are growing stronger every day. Surely they won’t be too much of a problem…right? A few are hanging dormant from the cavern’s ceiling, but they have yet to bother me. It’s probably far too bright up here for them to be active.
Further exploration of the cave’s top level revealed several ladders, all leading downward into darkness. None of them have any indication of where they might lead, so I suppose I’ll just have to choose one and hope for the best.
Day Two – Battle
The second level of the caves is much darker. There is some light filtering from the entrances above but I need to squint in order to make out anything more than a few yards away. As a result, the Zubats are slightly more aggressive down here, but we’ve been making short work of them so far.
The low visibility makes navigation difficult. Occasionally, I’ll see a shaft of light streaming down through a ladder-hole, but I can tell by the positioning that they all lead back to the cave entrance. The only other people I’ve seen down here are as lost as I am.
One kid got nervous and attacked me as I came around a corner.
Suspicious men, eh? I’ll keep my MurderFish close to hand.
Day Three – Time
Without the sun, there is no way to keep accurate time down here. It feels like I’ve been walking for hours, and I’ve already stopped for several meals from my pack, so I’ve marked this entry as the third day of my spelunking sojourn.
I tried making a primitive water clock by combining an empty potion bottle with an issue of PokeLife rolled into a funnel shape and having Mr. Suds fill it with water, but his Water Gun proved to be a little too powerful and it ended up just spraying all over my pants instead. He just shrugged his shoulders, apologetic.
Now I still have no idea what time it is and my pants are cold.
Day Four – Betrayal
Today my worst fear was realized. As I was walking, a large shape began to materialize out of the gloom, much too large to be another child. Before I could slip away unnoticed, it spoke to me:
Once his Pokemon were defeated, I wasted no time in ducking around him. I saw a dark shape behind him that looked like the entrance to a downward sloping tunnel. Not daring to look back, I pelted headlong into the black archway. He reached out his hand as I passed. “Hey kid, come back! Are you lost? I can show you-”
“Yeah, I know what you wanna show me! I’m not interested, you creep!”
I ran for as long as I could before collapsing against the cave wall, breathing hard. It was almost completely lightless here. Going back wasn’t an option, so I felt my way along the left hand wall and kept going forward, and further down. I’m writing this entry by the faint glow of my Pokedex, although the battery may not last much longer. I don’t know where I’m headed, but I get the feeling that I’ve been moving further and further away from the entrance. I can only hope that this is a good thing.
Day Five – Fear
This is bad. This is really bad.
I’m somewhere deep beneath the roots of the mountain. I haven’t seen another person since my last entry. I wonder if another person has ever even been to this branch of the caves.
But there are Zubats here. A lot…of Zubats. I can’t say how many exactly, I see only dim fluttering shapes against the blackness. But enough that fighting them off is becoming a serious problem.
Every hour or so, or perhaps more often, I have no idea, the swarms come for me: a walking sack of hot, delicious blood. I send out one of my Pokemon to turn them back, usually JitterBug, they’re weak to her Confusion attack. But her strength is waning. I alternate with Chuckles or Mr. Suds. Even SupaFly sometimes. It doesn’t matter what she kills down here.
The glow from my PokeDex seems to keep them at bay for a little while, but it’s growing dimmer every minute. I would kill for a road flare right about now, or anything that could illuminate this pitch black cavern. But I have nothing else that can stave off these flying beasts. Nothing but my Pokemon.
I send them out into the darkness, and wait for them to come back, never sure if they’ll return. They try so hard…they’re all trying, but the constant battle wears on them, I can tell. One day, I’ll send one of them out…and they simply won’t come back. And that will be the end for me.
I wonder if mom knows where I am.
Day Six – Darkness
i hear them.
Day ??? – Madness
No. It can’t be. A trick of the mind.
The sun, the moon, the stars: these were but words to me now. They were all foreigners in this strange black country that knows only endless night. What could have the power to pierce this stygian veil that concealed from me all that lay beyond the rough compass of my fingertips?
That’s why it had to be a hallucination. For a long time I was afraid to move, but whether it was fear of the light, or the fear that it would vanish and leave me alone in darkness once more, I could not say. Eyes closed. It was gone. Eyes open. It returned. Closed, open: they had been the same for so long. It felt strange to use the muscles again.
A green slash in the night, it tore open wider, ever wider as I crept forward. Silently I stole into the chamber, slowly, slowly. The darkness was reluctant to give me up, I was its creature now, but something about this light pulled me, inexorably, towards it. As I felt my pupils dilate, I could see that the light described walls, a ceiling, a floor, all of the things I remembered, from my life in the Before. The source of the light was blinding, but if I looked with eyes squeezed almost shut I could see that it was a green sphere, hanging amongst the boughs of darkness like some succulent, effulgent fruit. My eyes adjusted further, and I could tell that it was a…lantern?
There was something else in the room, too. Suddenly, it turned, twisting its torso around sharply. A person? It had a person’s shape, at least. Lank, greasy hair swung to and fro as it fixed its sunken eye sockets on me.
I decided to try diplomacy. I’d take all the help I could get if it would get me out of here, even from this loathsome creature.
“Uh…hello?” My throat was raw and covered with phlegm from disuse, giving my voice a raspy quality that surprised me.
“What is the nassssty creature, my love? What does it want?”
“I’m lost, and I wanted to ask-”
“NO! Don’t listen to its lies, my love! We knows what it wants, oh yes!”
He fell to the ground in supplication as his Grimer fainted, wailing. “We’re sorry, master! Please don’t hurts us! We promise to do whatever master says! It can have our birthday present!”
“Birthday present? What do you mean?”
“Our fossil excavating kit!” He gestured at a set of tiny brushes and picks spread out on the ground behind him. “A birthday present…from our parentses! They’re curators at the Pewter museumses. We used our birthday present to dig up the preciouses!” This time he pointed at two fossils that had been uncovered in the cave floor, laying side by side. “But we can share with the master! You can haves one!”
This guy’s speech patterns were really starting to get on my nerves. I was sorely tempted to have Chuckles punch him in the windpipeseses. “I don’t even give a FLYING DAMN about your fossils! You can have them both!”
“Oh, kind master-”
“And stop talking like that!”
“WE SWEARSES-oh, uh,” he cleared his throat, “…sorry. My bad.” He glanced at his watch. “Oh, geez! I gotta be at mathlete practice in like fifteen minutes!” He grabbed one of the fossils off the ground and ran for the door, strapping on a plastic helmet with a headlamp mounted on it.
“Hey!” I shouted as he receded into the darkness. “I was gonna ask you-” The beam from his headlamp disappeared around a corner and was gone. “how to…get out…damnit. What a weirdo.”
Once again, I was stranded beneath the earth. On the plus side, though, he had left his lantern. This room, at least, would be safe from the attacks of the Zubats. But I couldn’t stay here forever. I could take the lantern with me and keep exploring, but at this point I had not the faintest idea where the entrance or exit were. If I wasn’t careful, I might end up somewhere even worse. I looked around the chamber for anything that could help me, maybe something I could use to call for help, but all that remained was the lantern and the fossil he had left behind.
I examined it more closely. It appeared to be the remains of some sort of dome-shelled creature. Now that the strange kid was gone, I figured I may as well take it with me, so I rooted around in my backpack for some kind of container to put them in. I ended up wrapping my prize in a bunch of spare napkins I found stuffed in the bottom of one of my bag’s pockets. I had a nagging feeling that the million-year-old relic of life from a bygone age should be afforded slightly more care than the leftover biscuits from Bob Ekans’ Farmhouse-style restaurant, but under the circumstances I didn’t have much of a choice.
Day Final – Escape
And so I sat, and thought. Just being near a light source, even an artificial one, lifted my spirits, but I needed to think my way out of this mess if I ever wanted to see the real thing again. Something was nibbling at the back of my mind, something my subconscious wanted me to remember. I tried to snatch at it before it slipped away, but it felt like something from a very long time ago. A word, a phrase…something someone had said to me. Yes, it was shortly after I first entered the cave. It was all coming back now, an image came swimming up before my eyes, and I heard the words echo in my mind…
I jumped up like a man possessed. I was filled with newfound vigour and purpose. I brought out JitterBug, and I think she could sense it too. She had taken the brunt of the Zubat attacks on this hellish journey, and had begun to look increasingly haggard as a result. Her wingbeats had started to slow and her antennae droop, but they perked up now. The end was near.
“I know, I know you’re tired, but we’re almost through. There’s one last thing we have to do, and it’s going to take subtlety and restraint. We both know that’s your forte. I realize this might seem crazy, but you’re just going to have to trust me, JB.” Her antennae twitched up and down twice in quick succession, in what I was learning to recognize as an affirmative.
“Alright,” I said, picking the lantern up off of the cave floor. “Let’s go make friends with the devil.”
“Vamp,” I asked my newest charge as he fluttered in front of me. “This is very important. I need you to find the exit.” No response. It was hard to tell, seeing as how his head was basically just a giant mouth with ears, but if he had understood me I imagine he would have started going somewhere. “The…the bright orb! The shiny circle! Take me there, and you can go back in the ball. The nice, dark ball!” That he seemed to understand, as he started squeaking loudly and looked like he was about to fly off down the tunnel we were in. At the last second he hesitated and turned back towards me. I couldn’t read his signals very well yet, so I had to guess. “Is it…the other Zubats? Hmmm…they probably wouldn’t take kindly to a turncoat in their midst.” I sent out Mr. Suds and SupaFly.
That may have been a mistake. My Pidgey immediately dove for where Vamp was hovering, beak open wide. I wasn’t a complete moron, however. I do sometimes learn from experience.
“Mr. Suds! Stop her!” A powerful jet of water knocked SupaFly out of the air and she crashed to the ground. She stood up indignantly, feathers dripping. Mr. Suds had taken his share of punishment in this ordeal, having earned numerous scratches and fang marks, but I could still see him smirk slightly in the lantern’s pale green light.
“NO! He’s a friend! VAMP IS FRIEND! NOT FOOD!” SupaFly did not look happy about this, but neither did she try to eat my Zubat again. “The other Zubats though? They’re fair game.”
I turned to face both her and Mr. Suds. “I need you guys to run interference if we’re going to get out of here alive. We’ll move as fast as we can, but you have to protect our guide at all costs. I don’t have any more Pokeballs, so this is the only chance we’re going to get. Ready?” They nodded.
I don’t know how long we ran, minutes or hours, but the time flew by as the adrenaline coursed through my veins with every step. Always following the small, darting shape of Vamp up ahead, illuminated by the lantern swinging from my hand. Any Zubat that dared to enter the circle of its radiance was shot down by a precision-aimed, highly-pressurized water jet, smashing them into walls and ceilings. They came thick at first, and at the beginning I feared that their sheer numbers would overwhelm us, but any interlopers that Mr. Suds missed met a far more gruesome fate at the talons of my bloodthirsty Pidgey. Here, at least, I was thankful for her brutality, as after the first few of their number were torn to shreds, the rest seemed to learn a healthy fear of our little band.
On and on we ran through the blackness, shadows stretching and squashing crazily up the walls as the lantern swung back and forth, back and forth. I was panting, but I didn’t feel tired. I couldn’t allow myself to become tired. Finally, I saw it. A white circle in the distance. More robust than the faint glow of the lantern, this light was unmistakeable. The sun!
I fell to my knees. It was so beautiful. The sun. After spending so long in darkness, I had almost given up hope of seeing it again. Vamp burst from the cave’s mouth, then immediately wheeled back inside, away from the brightness. I held out his Pokeball. “Come on. You can go back inside now, little guy.” He eagerly accepted my invitation. Mr. Suds and SupaFly were both laying on the grass, fatigued. “You too. You guys earned a break.” For a few minutes I simply sat on the cave’s lip and caught my breath.
My mission came back to me suddenly. G’yorp. How much time had been wasted? Was it too late to stop him? Just how long had I been down there, anyway? Months? Years? I put my hands up to my face. No beard.
Wait, I’m ten years old. I’ve never had a beard. So I hadn’t been underground for that long, or else I was just a very late bloomer-
I saw a man walking down the path, holding a bag of groceries in his arms. “You!” I shouted, charging at him suddenly. He startled and dropped the bag. Baguettes rolled everywhere. “WHAT’S DAY?!” I screamed in his face.
“WHAT’S DAY IS DAY!” His only response was a look of confusion and horror. My voice was hoarse and I was unused to talking to anything but Pokemon and cave-dwelling freaks, so I forced myself to slow down. “What…is…day…to…today?”
“IS IT THIS FRIDAY! This Friday or next Friday!?”
“I think it’s…this Friday? Because…next Friday usually isn’t until…next week? I think? Usually?”
He seemed to recognize me suddenly. “Hey, did you just come from Mt. Moon? I think I saw you in there earlier.”
“What? Yes! Yes! Before! Me! When was…you saw?!”
“Well, I was making my weekly trip to Cerulean to get groceries, so…maybe 45 minutes ago?”
“I…what? Are you sure?”
“They don’t have this kind of bread in Pewter, so-”
“No, I mean about the time!”
“Oh. Yeah, definitely less than an hour.”
“But…it felt like I was…wait, how did you make it out of that hellhole?”
“Going through the Mt. Moon caves usually takes about 10 minutes if you’re careful not to get yourself lost.”
“But it’s like a maze in there!”
“Oh, yeah. That’s why the Mt. Moon tourism board has so many Hikers patrolling the caverns. They’re supposed to keep people from getting turned around too badly.”
A horrible thought occurred to me.
“…these Hikers. They wouldn’t happen to be big, hairy guys would they?”
“They’re real hardcore outdoorsmen, so they do look a little wild. But they’re a nice enough bunch if you get to know them.”
“…and they don’t sometimes randomly challenge people to battles with Rock Pokemon…do they?”
“Sometimes, yeah. If you look like a trainer.”
“Oh. So that guy…” Whoops. “…oh.” I repeated dumbly. I stared at the ground and shifted from foot to foot. I have to admit, I felt just a little bit silly. “Let me help you with those baguettes.” We both bent down and began to put the bread back into his grocery bag. “It’s probably still good. You know, five second rule and all that. Or the thirty second rule, as my mom used to say, ahaha.” He picked up the last loaf off of the ground. I couldn’t tell if he was annoyed or not. “I mean, I’ve even heard some people say that it’s really more like the hundred second-”
“Yes, thank you, I mean really thanks, but I must run!”
And run he did. I mean literally, he booked it as fast as possible back into the cave, leaving me to my own devices.
I tried to make the best of this experience. It had certainly been…character building. In the end, what does it matter, anyway? Forty five minutes, or forty five days, I had emerged from the bowels of Mt. Moon with my life and my Pokemon intact, and I was ready to continue my journey to Cerulean, and G’yorp.
Posted on August 26, 2011, in The Pocket Monster Diaries and tagged Butterfree, Diary, Game Boy Advance, Geodude, Gollum, Leaf Green, Let's Play, Mankey, Mt. Moon, My Precious, Near Death Experience, Nuzlocke, Onix, Pidgey, Pokemon, Screenshot, Spelunking, Squirtle, Zubat. Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.