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TEEN: Eaten Dreams of a Viridian World (Halloween one-shot)

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Hi everyone - this is my entry for the Halloween one-shot event. It is based on and takes place in the Pokémon world, but isn't necessarily meant to adhere to any specific canon. The main character, Mina, can be thought of as the female protagonist from the FRLG games (it is one of the names you can choose in those games, and without spoiling too much, I felt like it fits thematically). This story chronicles her experiences with the supernatural and attempting to uncover the true nature of her world. Another character that might not be obvious in this story is Sird.

The rating is teen for some fairly nondescript mentions of death and violence
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Eaten Dreams of a Viridian World​


Why did these traditions still exist? They aren’t harmful, but would anything be lost if we got rid of them? The people who propagate them can’t cope with their own mortality, so they throw a party for a fictional afterlife. Comfort in self-delusion. Or maybe it was just an easy way to express one’s real or ideal self.


That was how Mina felt about Viridian City’s annual Halloween festival. She wasn’t planning on attending, but was passing through on an errand and couldn’t help but get caught up in it.


“Um, hello. I like your costume. I’m guessing you’re supposed to be a kogal? That’s cute,” a soft voice said.


Mina replied, trying to hide her annoyance. “No, sorry. I’m just passing through here on an errand actually. I haven’t taken part in this festival since I was much younger.”


“Aww, I see then. I was hoping you could show me around maybe. But if you have to be somewhere, I don’t want to be a bother. I’ll be going now. Maybe you can stop by on your way back.”


The girl faded into the crowd without saying anything else. She seemed a little absent-minded, but nice enough. Mina reasoned she was dressed as either a shrine maiden or a mori girl for the festival, although she wouldn’t have been surprised to see her dressed like that all the time. Mina parsed the relatively docile crowd and continued onward.


Mina was heading to Viridian Forest, which perhaps should have been renamed Viridian Shrubland. The soft rains that were supposed to come never did. The world was at peace, but it didn’t deserve to be. Peace as a side effect of exhaustion. Malaise consumed the society, but it probably didn’t notice.


The thick shrubs of Viridian Forest still proved difficult to navigate. Thorny weeds taking back what used to matter to someone else. It always seemed like it would be dark soon. Pokémon still inhabited the forest, most of which were poisonous. Mina’s Clefairy was immune though and didn’t mind. It was resilient, like a doll. Whatever happened, it would still be there. Somewhere. Reciting its strange chants and captivating the soul of anyone who happened to find it. Clefairy were thought to have come from the moon in the distant past, but it wasn’t clear why. It must have been an accident. Surely if given the choice, they would have gone back by now.


Mina wandered deeper into the silent forest until she came to a brief clearing. What rapidly became less clear to her though, was why she had come there. Was something supposed to be there? It didn’t seem like it. Mina couldn’t recall anticipating anything, but still felt an eerie sense of disappointment at the meadow’s emptiness. She wasn’t normally the forgetful type, nor would she have come here without a good reason. She decided to rest.


“So you couldn’t find it either,” a familiar voice said. It was the girl she had met at the festival, but this time she seemed less aloof.


“I-I’m not really looking for anything,”Mina replied. “Besides, what are you doing here? I thought you were a tourist coming to see our Halloween festival.”


“Oh, nevermind then. There’s enough truth to your statement. I’m here because of the festival, but there’s also supposed to be a rare flower that grows only here. I wanted to see it. By the way, I’m Erika - leader of the Celadon City gym, and a florist myself. I hope we can be friends,” she said with a gentle smile.


“I’ve lived in this area for a long time and I hadn’t heard about that, actually. That does sound interesting though. I’m sorry about leaving in such a rush earlier. I just wanted to get away from the crowds of the festival and decided to take a walk out here. We can go back if you’d like,” Mina said.


“That sounds nice. Like a story I would make up. Let’s go,”Erika replied. The two returned to the Viridian City festival.


Clouds of dread concealed the stars that peopled the dark sky. Shimmers of hope that would have been ignored by most people anyway. Perhaps it was a convenient setting. The festival was mostly a costume party. Common people masquerading as creatures and figures that at one time represented something significant. There was also a story-telling event. A pale, thin man in a shadowy hooded cloak rose to the makeshift stage and began to speak:


“Prophecy of self
Prophecy that propagates
Self propagation”


The audience was silent. His cryptic haiku wasn't the scary story they were hoping for. "Sorry, that's all I can say for now. Actually, I may have said too much already," he muttered.


As he walked off the stage, he fell to the ground, dead. He seemed relieved.


Mina felt guilty, but she didn't know why. The crowd didn't panic, but languorously evacuated. The festival was over. Erika was frozen in terror. “I need to go - now. This place isn’t safe for me. Come visit me in Celadon City sometime. There's a lot going on that I should explain to you," Erika said, as her normally calm demeanor shattered like ice. She rushed off into the distance, and Mina was left all alone in the fading crowd, but she felt drawn to the area for reasons yet unclear.


In addition to the dead man, one other person was there. She was dressed as a vampire. Mina figured she must have arrived late and not seen what had just happened. "Hello, Mina," The cold voice said.


“Do I know you?” Mina asked hesitantly.


“No. No one does, really. But that doesn’t matter right now. I need you to do something for me. It’s very important, and it’s not just for me. I could explain, but that would just waste time, and you wouldn’t believe me anyway. Besides, I suspect you’ll figure it out on your own soon enough,” the condescending woman said.


“I still have no idea what you’re talking about… or who you are. And what happens if I refuse?” Mina wasn’t the confrontational type, but she would stand up for herself when necessary.


“Come and I’ll show you.” The woman walked over to the man lying on the ground, effortlessly lifted his lifeless body, closed her eyes, and gently bit into his neck. A few moments later, she carelessly dropped him back to the ground, and flashed Mina a sinister smile. Blood dripped from her mouth, which she quickly wiped away. “I don’t like doing this, but I don’t have a choice. Besides, he would’ve done the same to me given the chance. And don’t worry, he’s not dead. He’s just being reborn as mine. I’m his master now.”


“Y-you’re a murderer!” Mina cried out in disgust, reaching for her phone.


“Heh. You’re going to call the police and tell them you just witnessed a vampire kill another vampire? I’m sure that’ll go well. Even if they cared about petty crimes like that, they couldn’t do anything to me. Just do what you’re told, and I won’t hurt you. It’s for your own good. My name's Sird, by the way.”


“Fine. Erika told me to come visit her anyway. What does she have that you need so badly? And why can’t you get it yourself?” Mina asked.


“Ask her about a flower called the viridis poppy. It’s a rare plant that’s only known to grow in Viridian Forest. She came here to steal it, and it could be very dangerous if it gets in the wrong hands - which it already has. Erika isn’t who you think she is. It’s true she’s a gym leader, but behind that she’s also somewhat of a fanatic - a cultist. She’s a member of a group that calls itself the Children of Gaia. They think they can achieve immortality through harmony with nature. Deep ecology, they call it. Of course, it’s actually quite shallow. They think the viridis poppy holds the secret to eternal life due to some fuzzy interpretation of an ancient text. In reality, it contains a potent neurotoxin that slowly drives the victim insane and ultimately kills them. That could be a problem once they start selling it. The Children of Gaia only survive because of the casino that operates in the area. The entire thing is a scam.”


“That doesn’t explain why I need to get involved,” Mina responded.


“Erika has connections. And those connections and I have a history. If I were to get involved any more, it would only spread conflict. I tried to get you to stop her earlier, but I failed,” Sird said.


“What do you mean?” Mina asked.


“I tried to hypnotize you. I sent you to the forest to stop Erika. I knew she was coming here. But hypnotism isn’t a power of mine. My Pokémon can do it, but they’re worthless,” Sird muttered.


“But why me?” Mina asked skeptically.


“You’re the only one left here with enough of a brain to manipulate. You’re special, Mina,” Sird said with a hint of sarcasm.


“That sounds like an interesting story, but I still don’t know why I should believe you.” Mina contended.


“Because you’ve seen what happens if you don’t.” Sird glanced at the lifeless man on the ground.


“Who is that, anyway…” Mina asked, trying to hide her discomfort. “Now that I think about it, he seemed like he was trying to send out a warning. Before you did - that to him.”


“He’s a psychic vampire. He sustains himself by feeding on the mental energy of others. I wanted him to teach me how to do it, but he kept refusing. He teaches it to other peoples’ Pokémon so they can use it in battle, but that’s it. He says he’s reformed now and doesn’t use his powers to cause harm. People from our world aren’t like that though. There’s always an ulterior motive. I don’t know what his was, but it doesn’t matter anymore. He’s mine now,” Sird explained.


“Your world? And why did you want him to teach you that? Don’t you sustain yourself easily enough as it is?” Mina asked, suddenly curious.


Sird replied: “No. I hate this life, but you can’t just stop. It’s impossible to explain to someone who hasn’t experienced it. Maybe the poppy people in Celadon would understand. Let’s not make this about me though. Just find Erika as quickly as possible and get her to dispose of the flower. The fastest route would be to go through Diglett’s cave then head northwest. That way you can avoid those lunatics who worship the moon. And the ghosts - they can be a pain too.” Sird paid little attention to Mina’s Clefairy or her own Banette. “I’ll be watching over you, like a guardian angel. Isn’t that ironic.”


Mina went home, exhausted, but not frightened. Normally, Mina wouldn’t have believed anything Sird had told her, but she had witnessed the supernatural firsthand. Despite her excitement, Mina was calmed by her exhaustion and welcomed the night. She quickly fell into a deep sleep. Mina’s dreams that night were more vivid than usual. She dreamt of a different world - a better world. A world that looked as she’d imagined Viridian Forest had in the past. A world with no strife. A world where it didn’t need to rain. Erika was there too, tending to a garden. Was this the world Sird spoke of earlier?



No. Mina’s dream was shattered. She awoke with a shackling feeling of hopelessness, which was rapidly accompanied by the physical sensation of being shackled to her bed. She tried to cry out, but couldn’t make a sound. All she could do was lie and watch as nothing happened. A few moments passed, and it was over. Mina regained control of her body and felt relieved that nothing had actually happened. The dark presence she had felt was gone, and all that remained was a desire to return to the world she saw in her dreams. Sird’s world.


Wide awake, Mina dreamt of going back to sleep. She finally did, but there was nothing. She awoke early in the afternoon the next day - much later than normal. Before she could forget, Mina opened her bedside drawer and pulled out a book. Mina had been trying to make a habit of recording her dreams. However most of the pages were empty; or filled with scribbles that failed to formulate anything meaningful. Today though, she jotted down some notes about a perfect world from the forgotten past that needed to be restored.


Despite her late awakening, Mina decided to embark on her journey to Celadon City to find Erika. She wasn’t sure what to expect, but she wanted there to be something. Even if it were just a dream, the excitement of learning more about this lost world she saw was enough to draw her out of the dreary Viridian City. Just as Mina crossed over the city's edge, she was met by a familiar ghostly-looking person. It was the man Sird had attacked the night before.


"Mina, I presume?" The man's speech seemed as if he had been completely reinvigorated compared to the night before. Sird must have been telling the truth about not killing him.


"Yes. Do you know Sird?" was the first thing Mina asked.


"She's the most dreadful type of person," the old man declared. "She feeds on human life with no purpose other than to consume. Once people stop being useful to her, she throws them away and forgets about them. That's where her Banette came from too. It was originally a doll. A memento of a place once dear to her. Once it was clear that place was never coming back, she threw the doll away. But it kept coming back, haunting her. Over time, it consumed her soul, gradually pushing her outside the bounds of sanity. The same will happen to you if you get involved with her."


"What do you mean?" Mina asked curiously.


"Either Sird will throw you away, or you'll be consumed. There's no way out," the man said with a cynical laugh.


Mina stared blankly for a few moments, then conjured up a couple questions. "Why should I trust you? And what's this place that was so dear to her?"


"A fictional world Sird thinks she came from. An idealized world of the past that one envisions when lamenting over all that is wrong with this one. I don't know how it started, but when you obsess over something for centuries, it stops mattering. All that matters is the obsession," the man said.


"Centuries?" Mina asked.


"Yes," the man replied.


"And what about you? How long have you been around? What are you?" Mina asked again.


"I'm reformed," the man said, ignoring the question about his age. "Sird probably told you I'm a psychic vampire. That's not wrong. I feed off dreams, but only to keep people bound in reality. I don't hurt anyone. It's a technique I could teach your Clefairy if you'd like. It might come in handy someday.”


"I'm not really into Pokémon battling, but sure," Mina replied. The man closed his eyes, pointed towards Mina's Clefairy, and briefly transferred an eerie aura from the tip of his finger to Clefairy. "Thanks," Mina said shyly, although she didn't think much of it at the time. “And what about my other questions? How old are you really? And why should I trust you?” Mina asked again.


“I’ve been around for a long time. That’s why you should trust me,” the man said with a slight laugh. “I’ll be on my way now though. Wherever you’re going, just stay away from Sird.” The man faded into thin air and disappeared. Mina wasn’t as surprised by this as she normally would have been.


Mina wasn’t sure what to think anymore about her meetings with Sird or the strange old man. It seemed like they had known each other for a long time. Like they had some sort of rivalry, but it wasn’t clear what they were fighting over. Mina figured it would be best not to take sides. For now, she would make the primary purpose of her trip to Celadon City a visit to Erika. It sounded like Sird knew her, too. Maybe Erika would be able to tell her more about what was happening. That seemed like the rational thing to do.


Mina made her way through Diglett’s cave. The cave was dark, but she didn’t mind. In fact, she found it comforting. It reminded her of the good dream she had the night before. After a brief hike, she arrived at Vermillion City. The city where the sun seemed like it was always setting. The city where year after year, nothing happened. Mina’s late awakening led to a late arrival, so she decided she would stay the night at Vermillion and visit Erika early the next day. She checked into the Pokémon center and readily fell into a deep sleep.


Mina dreamt again of the vivid world from the night before. This time though, she maintained consciousness. Mina had been trying to experience lucid dreaming purely out of curiosity, but had never been able to. She had read that recording a log of her dreams could help with that, but she never remembered them until now. In this dream, Mina walked on an enchanted, moonlit path from Vermillion to Celadon City, past the modern ziggurat that must have been Saffron City. The path was rich with sturdy trees, vibrant flowers, and soft grass providing a habitat for timid Pokémon. Mina approached the gates to the city of rainbow dreams. The city of wondrous gardens reminiscent of the ancient world.


Mina was greeted by a polite security guard upon entering the city. “Welcome to Celadon City,” the guard said with a soft smile. “Can I help you find anything?”


Surprised at the phenomenon of hearing sound in a dream, Mina responded: “Um, hi. I’m looking for someone named Erika. The gym leader of this city.”


“Leader Erika? Yes, of course. People come from all over the world to learn from her. She’s become incredibly wise over her many years as leader. People worship her here. She’s not quite a god, but somewhat of an icon.”


Mina paused before responding. “Over how many years, exactly?”


“More than anyone here would know. She created this place afterall. The nature-loving princess brought this place back from the ashes,” the guard said fondly.


Mina paused again before speaking. “This might be a strange question, but what year is it now? I’ve, um, been traveling for a while and lost track of time,” Mina asked, trying to feign absentmindedness.


“I’m sorry, I can’t help you with that,” the guard replied. “Only the higher-ups have access to information like that, and they’re too secretive to be seen by common people like us.”


“Would Erika know?” Mina asked.


“I think so,” the guard replied. “But I hope you’re not here expecting to interrogate her.”


“No, no, it’s not like that. She invited me to visit here a few days ago, and I’m just so confused,” Mina sighed.


“I’m confused now too,” the guard said. “Erika wouldn’t have left here. I don’t think she’d be able to anymore. This is just between you and I, but if you’re interested in history, archaeology, stuff like that - I’d head to Lavender Town to the east of here. You’d be surprised how much you can learn from reading old gravestones. And the ghosts, if you’re not scared of them.”


“I’m really not,” Mina said with a slight laugh. “Thanks for the advice, I think I’ll head there at once. I’m Mina, by the way. It was nice to meet you.”


Still awake in her dream, Mina made the short, pleasant walk to Lavender Town. Upon her arrival, Mina was met by a vast cemetery adorned with elegant flowers and regal monuments. An array of peaceful death in a sea of eternal life. Most of the tombstones weren’t particularly noteworthy to Mina, until she miraculously stumbled upon one. It read:


“Here lies Mina
An example to those who defy orders
Who would have otherwise been forgotten”


In that instant, Mina awoke from her dream. The fake world was shattered once again. This time, there was no sleep paralysis. Only tears of emptiness and fear as Mina dreaded the worlds of both her dreams and waking.


Unable to return to sleep, Mina decided to leave for Celadon City immediately. Before leaving though, Mina took a quick walk around the port of Vermillion. It was peaceful at night, and gave her a sense of hope. The thought of getting on a ship and traveling to a far away place sounded nice. Somewhere, there must have been a good place to live a better life. There had to be more to the world than this spent country. But for now, Mina had a mission to fulfill.


Mina made her way along the route to Celadon City. It looked exactly as it had in her dream the night before, but Mina didn’t let that traumatize her. She didn’t believe in fate and she was still alive. She was following orders.


Mina arrived at Celadon City just as the sun was beginning to rise. She was initially stunned by the natural beauty that filled the city. It was like the city she saw in her dream, but slightly different. It felt more natural and less like a garden. There was no guard at the gate, and Mina entered this enchanting realm effortlessly. As Mina walked through the city, she saw no other people. She initially attributed this to the early morning - most people would still be asleep at this time. But something wasn’t right here.


Deeper into the city, things started looking less natural, and more overgrown. But maybe that’s what nature was. A constant struggle to grow for no reason, until there was nothing left to grow on. Unruly vines covered decrepit buildings. It was as if this place had been completely forgotten about. Would Erika even be there if Mina found her Gym? There was only one way to find out. Mina was just following orders, afterall.


After cutting through some thick grass, Mina managed to find the gym, quietly hidden not far away from what looked to have been a luxury hotel in the past. The gym resembled a nursery. At one time, it probably housed vibrant flowers from all over the world, but now, it was nothing but weeds. Mina entered the empty gym hoping - but not expecting - to find Erika.


To her surprise though, it looked like someone was there, sitting peacefully on a sort of throne in the middle of the chaotic jungle. Mina let out a sigh of relief, and cried out to Erika.


But the response wasn’t what she was expecting. “It’s over. We’ve won,” Erika muttered in a monotone voice, nodding down towards her feet. What Mina saw, beneath Erika’s flowing robe, was completely horrifying.


It looked as if her legs had been transformed into plant stalks and dug into the ground. Thorny vines creeped around her body, constricting her. What little human skin remained was ghostly pale. Mina wasn’t sure if this thing was human anymore. Terrified, Mina tried to run away as quickly as possible. Before she could though, she was stopped by another person. It was Sird.


“You were too slow, Mina,” Sird said with a cold tone. “This was what Erika had planned all along. The viridis poppy was the key to Erika’s final transformation.”


Mina confronted Sird: “What are you talking about? You did this to her, didn’t you? You’re evil!”


Sird replied: “No, Mina. She did this to herself. Or rather, this is what she always was. Erika was a nymph. A nature spirit. She hasn’t been human in centuries. That poppy provides her with the spiritual energy to achieve complete union with the natural world.” Sird paused for a second, before speaking again. “It sounds stupid to me too, but this world isn’t what you think it is. If we don’t destroy her now, this uncontrollable growth could consume the entire island.”


Mina stared for a moment, but before she could say anything, Sird rushed up to Erika, and sunk her fangs deep into her neck for several long seconds. Mina watched in terror until Erika reached a truly vegetative state. Sird spit a white, saplike liquid to the ground and coughed. “Disgusting,” she lamented.


“You’re a murderer!” Mina shrieked.


“I didn’t want it to end like this,” Sird responded, calmly. “We were too late. There was nothing else we could do. There’s nothing else to do now.” Sird began to walk away.


Before Sird left the gym, Mina mustered the strength to speak: “Wait… don’t leave yet. I just want to know what’s going on. Who are you really?”


“Fine. I guess I owe you a bit of a history lesson. The history that’s been all but erased from this world. I’ll start with myself. Back when I was human. Officially, I was an archaeologist. In reality, I was mostly just looking for artifacts to sell on the black market. My primary site of interest was an island off the coast of here. Tanoby Ruins, they called it. Don’t ask how I did it, but I released the most wretched of Pokémon upon this land. The brilliant scientists of the time didn’t know what they were, so they called them Unown. The Unown swarmed this land like flies and spread their curse. People were transformed into horrific creatures. Vampires like me, or nymphs like Erika, for example. This country was consumed by conflict, and of course, the outside world noticed eventually. They decided their course of action would be containment, which really meant eradication. The world came to an agreement, and this entire country was nearly destroyed. It was eventually repopulated by people from the outside world, and a new history was manufactured. Some of us survived though.”


Mina stared blankly at Sird, unsure what to think. “So what now then?” Mina finally asked. “Something tells me you aren’t done yet. Like Erika was just an obstacle. You must have something planned.”


Sird laughed. “Of course I do. I’m going to release the Unown again. It’s the only way we can survive in this decaying world.”


“Aren’t they incredibly dangerous? Mina asked. “And aren’t you immortal anyway?”


“It isn’t about me,” Sird replied. “And I think the Unown can be controlled. We just need the right person. You remember that weird old man - the psychic vampire? He was hit by the Unown’s curse harder than I was. Harder than anyone I know who survived actually. The thing is, he’s perfectly fine and I don’t understand why. It’s almost as if he’s become one with them. A personification of the Unown, hogging all their power and feasting on people’s dreams as our world slowly fades away.”


“He warned me about you,” Mina said.


“Of course he did,” Sird replied. Those with power aren’t usually too keen on parting with it. I tried to kill him, but as I expected, he just recovered the next day as if nothing unordinary had happened.”


Mina tensed up. “I thought you said you didn’t kill him before.”


“Let’s not get caught up in the details,” Sird replied with a slight laugh. “I suspect it won’t really matter in the end.” Sird paused for a few seconds, then turned to Mina. “So, Mina, what will you do now?”


“You mean I’m free to go? Just like that? I don’t even know if I’m supposed to stop you or support you,” Mina said.


“What do you mean? You’re not supposed to do anything. You don’t have a purpose and neither does anyone else. Your life is yours for the taking, and there’s nothing more to it than that. Of course you’re free. Free to return to your life as a lowly Pokémon trainer. See how that works out. Someday I think you’re going to be someone,” Sird said, trying to hide a laugh. “I’ve told you everything worth knowing about myself. Maybe we’ll meet again someday, maybe we won’t.”


Before Mina could say anything, Sird snapped her finger and disappeared.


Mina wasn’t sure what to think. Sird said something about releasing an ancient Pokémon called Unown, but Mina didn’t really comprehend what that meant. There was a part of her that wanted to follow Sird, but she didn’t know how to. Mina decided she would return home, taking Sird’s sarcastic words to heart. As Mina left Celadon City, she could already notice the vicious plants retreating - most likely a result of Erika’s death. Maybe Sird was right. Maybe she could be trusted. The complete lack of people in Celadon troubled Mina, but she was able to convince herself they would return soon once they knew it was safe.


In no hurry to return home, but eager to wander, Mina opted to visit the nearby Lavender Town. Near the town there was a large cemetery. Rows of gravestones stood resilient like an army, led by an eerie tower that looked like a ladder to another world. The setting was haunting and at the same time intimidating - definitely not inviting at all. Still, Mina was drawn to it.


In the center of the town there was a quaint cottage. “Mr. Fuji’s house,” a sign read. Mina had read of this man before. In the present day, he ran a shelter for abandoned Pokémon. Less popularized was his past. A long time ago, he was a scientist who worked on a secret project that went horribly wrong. A project to clone a rare Pokémon to save it from extinction. The project was started with good intentions, but Mina was wise enough to know what kind of roads those paved. She figured Mr. Fuji would be able to provide her with valuable information.


Mina entered the cottage and was greeted by the kind old man: “Hello, and welcome. What brings you here? We haven’t had many visitors lately. It's nice to meet you,” he said with a warm smile.


“Well, I sort of just wandered here, actually,” Mina said. “Now that I’m here though, I was wondering if you knew anything about a Pokémon called Unown?”


Mr Fuji’s kind demeanor briefly turned to one of shock before he regained his calmness and responded. “I swore an oath a long time ago. I pledged that I would care for any Pokémon, no matter what. But not that one. If it’s even accurate to call it one. What piqued your interest in it though? I thought it had been all but forgotten by now.”


“A friend mentioned it to me,” Mina answered.


“A friend?” Mr Fuji seemed concerned.


“Sorry, I must’ve misspoke. Not a friend. Someone I’ve been following.


“I see how it is,” Mr. Fuji said smiling. “It’s none of my business, but does this person have a name?”


“Sird,” Mina replied. “And it’s not like that at all.”


Mr. Fuji’s expression changed once again to one of cold concern. “You really don’t want to get involved with that type of person. She’s cursed, and you’ll end up like her if you do. That Clefairy you have with you - it’s cursed too.”


Mina froze for a moment and stared at her Clefairy, then spoke: “But Sird’s nice to me. I don’t think she did anything to my Clefairy. Um, actually, there was this strange old man. He offered to teach my Clefairy a move called dream eater, and I accepted. He said it might prove helpful someday. Sird said the man was a psychic vampire.”


“Of course Sird was nice to you. That’s how you make your way in this world,” Mr. Fuji said, ending his facade. “I used to play God at one point too. I know what it’s like. But that doesn’t matter now. This man you mentioned - what was his name?”


“I don’t know,” Mina responded. “I never thought to ask.”


“This isn’t good. You could be in serious danger, and it might end up being my fault,” Mr. Fuji said, panicking.


“What do you mean?” Mina asked. “And what more can you tell me about Sird?” Mina seemed indifferent to the man’s panic.


“This ‘man’ you speak of might actually be a Pokémon I created that can disguise itself as a human. A Pokémon called Mewtwo. We were trying to preserve a rare Pokémon and learn more about evolution. At least that’s what I was told by the group that employed me. We wanted to build a better world. The result though was a monster - an experiment gone horribly wrong. It lives in agony and constantly seeks revenge on humans, but it does so subtly. Passive-aggressively, so to say. I guess it’s a lot like Sird when you think about it,” Mr. Fuji said.


“How do you know Sird, Mr. Fuji?” Mina asked, not overly impressed by the talk of Mewtwo.


“Dr. Fuji,” he replied smugly. The man’s youthful arrogance seemed to have returned. “Anyway - Sird was part of the organization that employed me. Or at least she pretended to be. Her true allegiance is to a figure less familiar to me. Someone based in a region to the north of here called Sinnoh.”


“Do you think I could find Sird there?” Mina asked.


“Probably, but I’d strongly advise against looking for her,” Dr. Fuji replied.


“But I have nothing here,” Mina said with a sigh. “I live alone in a town of lethargic zombies where nothing happens. I just want to do something. I want something to work for. Someone to aspire to be like.”


“Well then, it seems you don't value stability very highly. I might have a fitting task for you,” Dr. Fuji said.


“What is it?” Mina asked.


Dr. Fuji hesitated for a moment before answering: “I want you to kill Sird. She’s a threat to the survival of our species and needs to be stopped.”


Realizing this as an opportunity to get closer to Sird, Mina was able to contain her gut reaction and agreed to the task.


“But remember before you go - your Clefairy is cursed. If you don’t do something about that, you will certainly fail. Luckily there’s a group of mystics who live in this town’s tower. They’ve spent most of their existence studying the occult. They could probably save you.” Dr. Fuji paused before speaking again: “I used to not believe in nonsense like that, but it turns out it’s all real. This world isn’t the only one. The supernatural world - the same world where the Unown come from - can do things we probably won’t ever understand. Be careful.”


“Yes, of course, I’ll look into that,” Mina answered, indifferent to whether Dr. Fuji believed her or not. “How do I get to this Sinnoh region? And how would I go about finding Sird once I get there?”


“There’s a ferry from Vermillion City to Sunnyshore, the Sinnoh region’s port city. Sird probably went to a place called Solaceon Ruins. There’s supposedly a portal to the Unown dimension there. I’ve never been to Sinnoh though, so I can’t help you with directions beyond that. Just remember to stop by the tower here and talk to those mystics before you leave. I don’t have it in me to tell you what’s going to happen if you don’t,” Dr. Fuji said.


“Okay. I’ll go,” Mina responded. “Then I’ll leave tomorrow morning by boat for Sinnoh. Thanks for the help, but I have one more question.”


“Yes?” Dr. Fuji was listening.


“When you said you would care for all Pokémon but Unown - do you still care for Mewtwo?” Mina asked.


Dr Fuji hesitated for a moment, then answered: “I - yes. Deep down, Mewtwo is still dear to me. I think it still has a heart and can be saved. Through some sort of psychic connection with the Unown, I think Mewtwo became corrupted. But if Sird succeeds in releasing the Unown again, there won’t be any hope. She’ll do anything for power.”


“I’ll be on my way then,” Mina said, and ran out of the front door.


Of course, Mina ignored the advice about the curse and made her way straight to Vermillion City, where she again spent the night. This time, Mina dreamt of her trip to Sinnoh. An adventure at sea.


The sea in this dream was clear and pristine, starkly contrasting the murky, threatening sea of the real world. In her dream, Mina traveled to Sinnoh on a luxurious cruise ship filled with many tourists. To Mina’s surprise, Erika and the strange old man from Viridian City were there. Mina decided to travel with them. She wasn’t sure if they knew each other, and it didn’t seem like they recognized her.


“Um, hello, it’s nice to meet you. I’m Mina,” she said to the two. “Where are you two headed?”


Erika responded first: “I’m Erika, nice to meet you. We’re heading back to the homeland, along with most of the people on this ship I’d imagine.”

“Sinnoh? That’s where I’m headed too!” Mina said excitedly.


Erika answered again: “Well, sort of. There’s a portal there we can take. We’re heading back to the Unown dimension. We heard news that this world was in trouble and came to see if we could save it, but sadly, it’s too late. Greed and strife have consumed your society beyond the point of no return. We tried our best to save it, but there’s nothing we could do. So we’re going back to live our lives in peace. Back to the promised land.”


“I… I see,” Mina responded. “And what’s your name?” Mina asked, glancing at the strange old man.


“I’m… no one in particular,” he answered. “I’m merely a messenger, I suppose. A reflection of this society. An ignored warning taking this vessel to a better world. Because there’s nothing left here.”


“Mewtwo!” Mina blurted out. At that moment, her dream rapidly began to change. The ship’s passengers wisped into thin air, as if they were being deleted from existence. Or, as if they were never real to begin with. The sky outside darkened and the stormy sea seemed as if it were attacking the ship. Fire spread throughout the ship’s interior and Mina ran outside. Seeing no way of escape, she threw herself over the edge into the sea, and woke up in a cold sweat.


Mina awoke with a crushing headache. What concerned her more though, was her Clefairy sitting at the foot of her bed, staring her down with glowing red eyes. As Clefairy noticed Mina awaken, it returned to normal. Mina then realized what had happened - Clefairy had been using dream eater on her. Dr. Fuji’s warning about the curse - he was right. Mina had been close to her Clefairy, and couldn’t bear the thought of it turning against her like this. Mina decided she would return to the mystics in Lavender town before leaving for Sinnoh.


But it was too late. As Mina walked outside in the middle of the night, she saw in the distance an eerie column of smoke coming from the direction of Lavender Town. She reluctantly went back inside and turned on the TV. The news showed footage of the tower in Lavender Town set ablaze. Mina collapsed to the ground and tried to cry, but couldn’t force herself to. She was filled with a feeling of the most draining kind of guilt, although she couldn’t really understand why. There was nowhere else to go now though, so she devised a plan. There was a daycare center not far to the north. Mina would leave her Clefairy there, then leave for Sinnoh.


Mina followed through with her plan. She left Clefairy at the daycare. “If Clefairy tries to learn any new moves while you raise it, please make it forget - nevermind. Let it forget whatever it knows now,” Mina told the old man who worked there before leaving. “I’ll be back soon, hopefully.” Mina rushed out of the door and made her way back to Vermillion City to catch the ferry to Sinnoh. Realizing what was happening to herself, she didn’t want to think about what would happen to this poor old man she was leaving Clefairy with. But did it really matter if she likely wasn’t going to make it back anyway? Or if she spent one person to save many? That was one way to rationalize it.


Mina boarded the ferry to Sunnyshore City without looking back. Mina didn’t want to think about the land she was leaving behind for now. She was embarking on a journey to something new in Sinnoh. There, she could find Sird, and everything would make sense. The trip was pleasant, like at the beginning of her dream, but remained uneventful. Mina felt relieved to arrive at Sunnyshore City, although its similar mood to Vermillion disturbed her. This place probably used to be a bustling port, but it wasn’t anymore. It was just a convenient point of entry.


Mina’s nightmares had caused her to grow afraid of sleeping, but she needed to rest before looking for Sird. Mina decided to stay the night at a lakeside resort not far to the west. It was somewhat run down, but still functioning. She figured this would be a good place to learn more about the Sinnoh region. That night though, Mina didn’t have any dreams. She awoke the next morning feeling as if she had lost something. A sort of withdrawal caused by her inability to access the dreamworld. The perfect world she had now come so close to finding. Sird would lead her there, surely.


Mina sluggishly made her way to the lobby and found a map of the Sinnoh region. She located Solaceon Ruins and began her trek. Sinnoh seemed similar to Kanto to Mina. The environment was somewhat depressing, but at the same time resilient. The people were polite, but a bit suspicious.


Mina followed her map and made her way northward to Solaceon Ruins. The route harbored two structures that enticed Mina. One was a small tower - or maybe a large grave. Mina could sense a strange energy emanating from it, but there was nothing there. Upon disturbing the grave, she was anticipating to unleash some dreadful curse, but in the end, it was just a rock. Likewise, a ghostly tower similar to the one in Lavender Town rose ominously over the mundane landscape. But there were no ghosts, and no mystics. Just a lot of empty space. Mina’s newfound fascination with the spiritual world may have biased her, but all these ruins and monuments seemed to lead nowhere. Where was everybody?


Solaceon Town was equally unimpressive - essentially a rundown farm. The daycare reminded Mina of the one in Kanto and filled her with a sense of guilt. Or, it reminded her that she was supposed to feel guilty. She didn’t actually feel anything. Mina entered the ruins, looking forward to finding Sird.


As Mina made her descent, she noticed a stone tablet with a message written in what she presumed to be the Unown alphabet. Something about friendship and lives touching each other. It must have been written in a different era. Mina continued downward until she came across a pitch black chasm that felt as if it had some sort of otherworldly energy radiating from it. This must’ve been the portal to the Unown dimension. Mina felt reassured that it wouldn’t be long now until everyone was saved. As she approached the highway to the abyss, Mina was startled to see someone there. Not Sird, but a man.


Before she could speak, he did: “Welcome, Mina. Why did you come here?”


Mina wasn’t sure what to say. Should she tell him she came to kill Sird like she was told, or to find Sird? Or to release the Unown? And how did this man know her name?


“I just did,” Mina responded hesitantly.


“Good. It’s working as intended,” the man replied coldly.


“What is?” And who are you?” Mina asked, beginning to feel uncomfortable.


“The Unown’s curse. And my name’s Cyrus,” the man replied. “It consumes victims with its allure of power, until it finally breaks them. Take Sird for example.”


“Where is she?” Mina asked uneasily.


“At the bottom of this hole. You were too slow to save her,” Cyrus said indifferently. “A world without emotion sounds nice now, doesn’t it?”


Mina was frozen. She couldn’t speak, so Cyrus spoke for her: “I didn’t do anything to her. She did this to herself. She led herself to believe that opening this portal back up would bring back the past she so longed for. But it doesn’t work like that. The Unown shape the very nature of spacetime seemingly at random. No one can control them. What happened in the past happened, but it won’t be the same this time.”


“I know a Pokémon that can control them,” Mina said, mustering a hint of courage.


“My Pokémon - Mewtwo,” Cyrus replied sternly.


Mina felt defeated again. “You mean Mewtwo and Sird - both of them work for you? They always seemed like they were rivals,” she said, confused.


“Rivaling for power under me,” Cyrus said. “It’s a good way to keep your subordinates in line.”


“I don’t understand what you’re trying to do at all,” Mina said. “But it sounds incredibly dangerous.”


“It’s simple, really,” Cyrus replied. One arm to release the Unown, and another to keep them under control. That way, I can build a perfect world. My perfect world. The only problem is, one of the arms is gone and I need a replacement.”


“What are you saying?” Mina said with a hint of anger.


“Despite all the terrible things you've done, you're still human, Mina," Cyrus replied. "To bring back the Unown, they need a new host. A human host."


"No," Mina replied. "I'm not falling for this."


Cyrus sighed. "End your life as a permanent liminal. Stop looking for nothing and fall asleep forever. Return to that world of your dreams for good. You could be like Sird. You could be with Sird."


"I know enough now. This world isn't what I thought it was, but releasing the Unown won't fix it. I'm leaving this place and never coming back. We have a real world to build," Mina declared with a newfound burst of confidence.


"It won't work," Cyrus replied with a surprising indifference. "You have nothing to build with. Just a society feasting away at its own dreams. Always longing for sleep, but never willing to wake up. You could stop this, but you won't. I will."


“Stop what, exactly?” Mina protested. “Nothing happens here.”


“Exactly,” Cyrus replied. “You could stop this slow, painful decay. Replace this fading curse with a new one. The people are running out of dreams to eat. The emotionless world I dreamt of in my youth is starving us.”


“Us?” Mina asked.


“The people who matter,” Cyrus said, surprising Mina with a slight laugh. “The people who determine what happens to this world.”


“Why can’t you release them yourself, then? And why couldn’t Sird? What makes me so special?” Mina asked.


“I could,” Cyrus replied. “But is that really what you want? A world where Mewtwo, the only thing that can control the Unown, doesn’t have a master? Like I said before, Sird couldn’t do it because they need a host. She was already consumed by them. A leech can’t feed off a skeleton.”


There was silence before Cyrus spoke again: “Everywhere she wandered, disaster followed. It was never her intention, but she brought terror to everyone who crossed her path. It seems to me like you’re following in her footsteps already. I think you’d make the perfect replacement.”


“You’re wrong,” Mina began to confront Cyrus. “I was sent here to stop Sird by someone who told me Mewtwo still has a heart. But it looks like I’m going to have to stop you instead.”


“Do it, then,” Cyrus replied calmly, walking to the edge of the chasm. “Push me into this eternal tomb. Sacrifice me to the Unown, and let them feed on your vengeance. I’m sure you’ll build a wonderful future like that.”


Much to the surprise of Cyrus, Mina rushed towards him and shoved him into the chasm.





By the time Mina realized what she had done, she was already filled with disappointment. Deep down, she was expecting something to happen, but there was nothing. Eventually, disappointment turned into relief, then relief turned into confusion. Mina thought about returning to Dr. Fuji to tie up loose ends, and hoped to meet Mewtwo again someday. For now though, the thought of returning to Kanto filled her with a sense of guilt she didn’t want to face.


Mina decided she would continue wandering. She didn’t know where she was going and wasn’t looking for anything, but maybe there would be something to look for eventually. Whatever happened wouldn’t happen to her, she thought.


Mina didn’t think much of her Clefairy she left behind - thrown away like an outgrown doll. Or Sird. Or the world she used to dream of. She didn't think much of the fact that she just murdered Cyrus - it was just something that happened to her. Her transformation was complete.


As Mina walked through Solaceon Town, she noticed it too had a halloween festival like the one in Viridian City. People dressed as fantastic creatures like ghosts and vampires. Why did these traditions still exist? She wondered again. Maybe because they were all that was left.
 
Hi there! I'm checking out the oneshot stories, and I definitely didn't expect to see PokeSpe characters and existential despair here, but it was a welcome addition.

Right away the broad strokes of this story to me were ones about significance and purpose--heavy themes for sure, but I love seeing people's different takes on them in fiction. Viridian's introductory Halloween festival sets up a spooky atmosphere, albeit not in the traditional way--there's no gore or violence, but there's a lingering feeling of dread and despair. Things are calm and happy, but there's an overwhelming sense that they aren't supposed to be, that something isn't right ("The soft rains that were supposed to come never did. The world was at peace, but it didn't deserve to be."). And, more interestingly, it seems like most people are both indifferent to and unaffected by this ("Mina's Clefairy was immune though and didn't mind [...] Whatever happened, it would still be there." / "The crowd didn't panic, but languorously evacuated [after watching a man die suddenly]").

There's also the transition from "self-delusion" to the festival itself, especially in the context of Halloween and dressing up. There are people in the intro scene in costume, sure, but they're relegated to the background, and we quickly learn that most people in this world are bored, indifferent, and ignorant ("Common people masquerading as creatures and figures that at one time represented something significant."). And more notably, the named characters (Mina and Erika) both think the other is in costume, and only later realize that's not the case.

And into this world stumbles Mina. Of the major characters in this world, she's the only one who doesn't seem to want anything, and she's also left asking questions of "why" to everyone else--her answer to this overarching sense of significance and purpose is that she has none. It's haunting in a very empty sense, because the established world appears drawn into two categories: the background people who behave as a uniform mass while thoughtlessly going through the motions, and the shakers of the world with their own deep-rooted but hidden plans and aspirations (Mewtwo, Erika, and Sird). The narration keeps drawing attention to the faceless masses who just do what they're told and are blind to the significance/beauty of the world they lost, but as the story progresses it becomes clear that Mina's not too far off from that ("Mina was just following orders, after all." / "Mina collapsed to the ground and tried to cry, but couldn't force herself to."). I sort of interpreted this as player agency vs player character--in a sense the player character is puppeted by someone else, so they have to go through all the motions of following the adventure hooks, but do they themselves ever get to feel non-scripted emotions? Mina spends most of the story as a sponge for a lot of exposition, and rarely reacts or internalizes to the increasingly more horrible things that are happening to her. Her reaction to Mr. Fuji's warning that Sird is probably bad news (and Sird's general position as holder of highest body count to date) is simply that "Sird's nice to me"--Mina's morality feels more or less centered on how things impact her directly.

The prose is pretty disjoint in both the waking and dreaming sequences, with physical descriptions and philosophical tangents interspersed freely with one another. Background characters are unimportant, the main character has no goals and motivation, and the major supporting characters take turns dying emotionlessly while someone speaks of the greater good. The result is the feeling of a world that's surreal, but also pretty empty--which I thought was a pretty effective way of building up the horror and also the climax of the story.

A world that looked as she’d imagined Viridian Forest had in the past. A world with no strife. A world where it didn’t need to rain. Erika was there too, tending to a garden. Was this the world Sird spoke of earlier?

On second read I finally realized why the phrase "perfect world" kept sticking out to me, haha, rip, I am such a shitty detective. I really liked how these lines all converged: Mina's emotionless/non-reactive, largely passive/following orders, and only vaguely guilty about it--but it's because she's being drawn into the service of a greater world that's free of emotion and strife. I also liked how Cyrus flips the script on its head a little: up until the reveal, Mina spends most of her time wandering around various Characters With Plans and ends up asking them why they're doing what they're doing; when Cyrus meets her, the very first thing he asks her is why she came here--and she doesn't know.

I also really liked the recurring motifs of past actions/the past world vs everyone's different ideas of the future. We don't ever get to see how lovely this idyllic past was, nor do we see the perfect future. What we see instead are dark recurrences from people's pasts--Dr. Fuji's haunted by his a creation he made out of hubris, Sird can't escape the place she left behind (metaphorically, but also literally in the sense that Banette keeps coming back), Mewtwo's cursed, Erika's plan is doomed to fail because it's relying on an in incorrectly-interpreted ancient text. In the end we return to the festival traditions that we saw in the beginning, and the narration reflects that they're forgotten and devoid of meaning, but everyone still does them because they don't feel like there's any other option, no other role to play. So it's sad but fitting, in the end, that Mina's the only one who succeeds at resetting things, because she's the only one who never wanted things in the first place.

-

I do feel like the story got a bit exposition-heavy in the middle. It's tricky because to me it felt like Mina's lack of purpose is more or less The Point, and in that regard I think you succeeded--but it's also hard to pilot a story where the main character's motives are introduced by supporting characters telling her what to do. Tying back into the ideas of forgotten knowledge and nihilism/intent--I think it might've worked better for me if Mina at least knew a bit more about what was happening around her. It's an interesting cross between two types of stories: a character who has strong motivations to uncover secrets about the world tends, and a nihilistic character who thinks they know/knows everything there is to know about the world. But the version where the protagonist both lacks investment in the world and knowledge about it, is hard to follow, since the result is a lot of going from supporting character to supporting character, getting a lot of information, not really reacting to it, and then being told where the next piece of the puzzle is. I liked the payoff and I definitely see why Mina not feeling much about the world is central to this story functioning the way that it does, but simultaneously there's just a ton of lore to process--there are vampires in the world, there are also nymphs, Erika is working with the Rocket Casino to get everyone to take apocalypse drugs, this world got cut off after a disastrous otherworldly nightmare force got unleashed, most of the people in this world are zombies (in a non-literal? sense), Mewtwo is here too and can control Unown but also eats dreams--it's hard to keep track of everything because there's a ton of information being revealed at once, but Mina has no investment in it, and I think it makes some aspects of the story feel more convoluted than revelatory.

This story is a lot to digest! I had to read it a few times to really get a handle on it, and it's definitely one of those where I think I could've gone entirely off the rails from what the author was intending--if that's the case, I'm super sorry, I'm known to be quite bad at this, but do know that after rereading a few times I enjoyed the version I more or less walked myself through above. I really love picking through stories with interesting prose and themes. I also really liked it as a take for a Halloween prompt. There's costumes, deception, and loads of existential horror--not at all what I was expecting for a prompt fill but one that I found really creative. Thank you for sharing!

I flagged a few typos as I was reading in the spoiler below, if you're interested:
“That sounds nice. Like a story I would make up. Let’s go,”Erika replied.
dropped space between "Let's go," and "Erika"
“Sorry, I must’ve misspoke. Not a friend. Someone I’ve been following.
dropped quotation from the end of this dialogue
“It’s simple, really,” Cyrus replied. One arm to release the Unown, and another to keep them under control.
dropped quotation from the beginning of this dialogue
"Hello, Mina," The cold voice said.
"Hello, Mina," the cold voice said.
“Heh. You’re going to call the police and tell them you just witnessed a vampire kill another vampire? I’m sure that’ll go well. Even if they cared about petty crimes like that, they couldn’t do anything to me. Just do what you’re told, and I won’t hurt you. It’s for your own good. My name's Sird, by the way.”


“Fine. Erika told me to come visit her anyway. What does she have that you need so badly? And why can’t you get it yourself?” Mina asked.
It feels like some dialogue got dropped here--Sird never mentions Erika, nor that she [Sird] wants Mina to go to Celadon, so Mina's response didn't track to me
Mina was just following orders, afterall.
after all
“What is?” And who are you?”
extra quotation mark after "what is?"
 
^ This was great, thanks for the feedback :)

I kind of wrote this in 'bursts' where I would write a lot over the course of a day or 2, then spend 1-2 weeks brainstorming so that probably shows with some things being all over the place. I also started more with themes and motifs I wanted to touch on (and I guess it's my style to try to keep things somewhat subtle), then developed the plot around that, so I think I ended up with a story where not much actually happens :p
 
Hii Aozora, thanks for making an entry here!

First off, I didn't expect that to happen at the end, omg!!!

But I guess it'd maybe make sense? Something like, Mina's way of moving on from all the events that had happened to her, maybe.

I also didn't expect the old man to drop dead at first too, also! But because of all the things I didn't expect, you kept me guessing throughout reading this, and that's a super good thing.

Great work!! Sorry if my review wasn't super extensive, I'm trying to get small ones of all the entries in! But thank you for entering!!
 
this took quite a twist, and im all for it.

im seeing this as mina just wants to do her own thing and is stuck having to deal with the consequences that power brings. i guess thats just what power does.

really well written. as mentioned above, this was quite a lot to take in, but overall enjoyed the direction it went. the nightmare scenes mixing in the way they did baited me for a bit into thinking thats exactly what happened xd
 
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