• Hey Trainers! Be sure to check out Corsola Beach, our newest section on the forums, in partnership with our friends at Corsola Cove! At the Beach, you can discuss the competitive side of the games, post your favorite Pokemon memes, and connect with other Pokemon creators!
  • Due to the recent changes with Twitter's API, it is no longer possible for Bulbagarden forum users to login via their Twitter account. If you signed up to Bulbagarden via Twitter and do not have another way to login, please contact us here with your Twitter username so that we can get you sorted.

EVERYONE: The Promise (Autumn 2023 one-shot)

Joined
Jul 16, 2021
Messages
1,632
Reaction score
1,678
Pronouns
  1. They/Them
CW: mentions of death



The Promise

She promised herself she would not cry. Yet, her eyes were wet, and the sleeves of her dress sodden with tears.

It was hard not to get overtaken by emotions during a cemetery visit on this day of the year when one was surrounded by people reminiscing about their deceased loved ones there. Although the majority of today's visitors had left already since it was nearing midnight, it felt as if their sorrow remained in the air. It made her feel lonely and small and helpless as she sat there on the cold granite kerb of her parents' grave. Another muffled sob escaped her mouth, shaking her petite child frame.

It was rare for her to get sad about her parents' passing. It had happened a long time ago, and she saw no reason for missing someone she did not know at all. But since it was a special day, she buried her face in the fabric of her dress to shut out the world around her and cried, until the tears were not coming out anymore.

After a while, she was completely numb to her grief. It was enough sadness for today. She lifted her head. The sun had already set. The cemetery was big, located too far away from where she lived to get there before it turned completely dark. Would it matter if she did not come home tonight, or ever? She doubted Aunt would be worried either way...

The idea of spending the whole night here was somewhat compelling to her. Darkness and cemetery, neither was she afraid of and she could use some excitement in her mostly cheerless life. A smile spread across her face and she instantly felt guilty for allowing that to happen, but it was impossible for her not to be happy as she made the decision.

After a while, the granite got colder. She stood up and shivered. It was not just the stone – the air became freezing as well. That put her on alert; a temperature drop this sudden was not normal for early November, or ever. It was completely dark already, the fog that had appeared a few moments ago was becoming thicker, obscuring the countless little lights of candles placed on each grave. She turned around to take the candle she had brought to her parent's grave to keep its comforting warm glow close to her, but the fog was too heavy at this point to see anything, leaving her hopelessly disoriented.

A pair of large crimson eyes blinked at her from the fog out of nowhere. A scream left her mouth as she tumbled backwards in panic, landing in sparse wet grass, unable to believe what she was seeing.

Around the eyes, fog began to thicken and change colour, until it formed a body of a creature. It was deep purple and rounded with short arms and legs, two big spikes with numerous smaller ones between them jutting out of its head. A big mischievous grin was plastered across the monster's face.

It extended its arm towards her. She just watched, petrified by shock. Both of them remained still for a couple of seconds. The creature blinked, as if in confusion, then twitched its mouth in an attempt to smile warmly and produced a soft giggle.

She laughed. It was a desperate laughter. The whole situation seemed too absurd, too terrifying to her. Despite the monster not giving off an impression of being malicious, she was scared of it. Was its intention to hurt her if she accepted the offered hand? Would it get angry and hurt her if she did not?

The fear she felt at that instant was too strong, leaving her with only two options: to ignore it, or to let it smother her to death.

She decided. Her fingers wrapped around the creature's hand and then everything happened so fast she was unable to tell whether its body was solid or not: its ruby eyes shone as it began to pull her up on her feet, into the thick fog that was also its body and she stumbled forward with a scream, shutting her eyes closed. With a muffled thud, her body made an impact with a cold smooth stone flooring.

***

The light purple aster flowers growing on rocky hillsides of mountains surrounding a little town overseen by a stone tower were bathing in sunlight. A breeze carrying the scent of the sea from the southeast ruffled a girl's hair as she walked down the street.

She had promised herself to visit the tower every day. Yet, she had not done so yesterday, unsure why. Or, that was what she chose to believe over admitting the reason was her fear of going to the place she had suddenly unexpectedly found herself at, exactly two years and a day ago as of today.

A boy called her by name, wishing her a good day. With a smile, she politely replied. It was not that common for other children to use her name. They usually referred to her as "The Ghost Girl" for allegedly coming out of nowhere and also for spending a lot of time in the tower which served as a cemetery – not for people but for strange creatures inhabiting this world.

The creatures lived peacefully alongside humans despite possessing abilities that made them powerful opponents in combat. Thankfully, they mostly fought among themselves, sometimes in cooperation with people who trained them for matches. These battle matches held a great cultural significance – some even made a career out of it! While she found these fights cruel at first, it was the best way for both the creatures and people to work off their natural aggression, making them less violent, thus able to coexist in this society as a result.

Even though the majority of the people who trained these creatures just passed through this town as it did not have any facility for battling, she became well familiar with them. They were nice people – like almost everyone she knew here – as if by living together with them, these mysterious beings shared their positive traits that humans lacked from nature.

She entered the tower and made her way upstairs. The aroma of burning incense sticks and the distinctive smell of the stone the edifice was built of were ever so familiar to her. While spending time there made many feel uneasy, she found pleasure in doing so. Places like this made her feel connected to something greater than this world, something more important than life or death, something that was incomprehensible to moral beings like herself – something eternal, indivisible from the very essence of existence.

Something disturbing, yet so comforting.

After an hour and a half devoted to cleaning the graves no one had touched in some time, a strange presence caught her attention. There were a lot of rumours about eerie occurrences happening in the tower but she had never witnessed any heretofore, except for one.

The air got cooler and a thin fog appeared. The sound of her quickened heartbeat filled her ears. The fog was nothing unusual on the higher floors, but the sudden temperature drop was something she had experienced only once in her life before.

Trying to calm herself down, she backed against a marble pillar with a statue on top of it. No matter how hard she had tried, she could never tell what kind of creature the sculpture was supposed to portray.

Her hand reached into a pocket in the skirt of her dress and she let out a sigh of relief as her fingers touched a smooth round object. It was a gift from one boy she met – he would not stop talking about the creatures, how fun it was battling with them and catching them, and insisted on her taking this from him, so she could catch and raise some of her own, even though she had repeatedly told him she did not want to. Looking at the half-red-half-white ball nestled in her palm, she was ineffably grateful to him now and regretted her words – the truth was, it was secretly her wish to be a Traineress, to also experience the connection between one of the monsters and herself. However, the fear of in her eyes unavoidable failure made her keep postponing the start of her journey to this day.

The fog kept getting thicker and thicker, until became the body of a creature with spikes on its head who she instantly recognised: it was a Gengar, a creature of the Ghost and Poison element, shadow type. Its closed eyes opened, revealing their ruby colour. Smiling as affably as possible, it extended its short arm towards her.

With the knowledge it was useless, she shook her head and remained in place.

The Gengar waved at her with slight impatience.

"No!"

Her voice was full of despair.

Happiness. Peace. Dreams. All of that was about to be taken away from her, forever. She wanted to run away, avert this dreadful fate, but could not muster the strength to move owing to the fear and coldness shaking her whole body.

The Shadow creature frowned and made a step forward.

She let out another scream of disapproval and forcefully threw the half-red-half-white sphere, and then everything happened so fast she was unable to tell whether she hit or missed. Her eyes were firmly shut when she heard the clattering sound of the ball making an impact with the stone flooring, followed by rattling and ominous silence.

She dared to take a look.

Seeing the ball lying motionlessly on the ground, she released the held breath. A wide foolish grin stretched across her still half horror-struck paled face as she triumphantly picked the sphere up.

She could not resist letting out an excited squeak.

With the first creature caught, her journey to become the best Traineress began. Making it to the top with her partner Gengar was a promise!
 
Waves! So! I'd been meaning to write a review on this fic for a while now, as it was actually one of my favorites from the one-shot contest. Correct me if I'm wrong, Hydro, but I believe you mentioned that english is not your first language, so I'd like to start off by saying your grasp of english and grammar is stunning, and the way you write really shines with that. Mega props for that alone!

So, when I was reading this fic for judging, I actually had to read it a couple times to truly get a grasp of what I believe are all the intended motifs and emotions. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, as I was reading it I was getting the feeling a lot of what transpires here, as in, what the effects are of what transpires here were purposefully left up to viewer interpretation. It feels like you can take several emotions/points away from this by design, and that's really clever writing, to be honest.

I will start off by saying I love your prose, it's not overly wordy or flowery, but still comes off concise in a gentle manner that has a professional/well-read touch to it. I think the intentional 'vagueness' of the pieces of the plot add to this feeling strongly. I like the lack of detail about the girl's past with the Gengar, as in that sense it 'plays out' like a muddy childhood memory, just giving the piece a really nice vibe. What I mean by this is mostly here:

She laughed. It was a desperate laughter. The whole situation seemed too absurd, too terrifying to her. Despite the monster not giving off an impression of being malicious, she was scared of it. Was its intention to hurt her if she accepted the offered hand? Would it get angry and hurt her if she did not?

The fear she felt at that instant was too strong, leaving her with only two options: to ignore it, or to let it smother her to death.

She decided. Her fingers wrapped around the creature's hand and then everything happened so fast she was unable to tell whether its body was solid or not: its ruby eyes shone as it began to pull her up on her feet, into the thick fog that was also its body and she stumbled forward with a scream, shutting her eyes closed. With a muffled thud, her body made an impact with a cold smooth stone flooring.
It feels like the scene gets intentionally hard to comprehend because our main character here is serving as something of an unreliable narrator, she's afraid, and because of her fear we are left without clarify on what truly happens to her when she falls to the ground. Is she injured? Was Gengar just playing a prank? Perhaps Gengar was trying to befriend her the only way it knew how, which, probably didn't translate that well to a scared child. It feels like it's up to us to figure that out, which kept me reading looking for context clues at the second portion.

And then you piece together parts of her world and character in a way that I just can't help but think "yup, this girl is totally built to be a ghost-type trainer" because of her subtle 'loner'-like existence-- even being called a ghost girl by others!

And when she sees Gengar again is when things get a bit more difficult to parse, and intriguing all the same. We hear a bit about how our main character has no desire to become a trainer, but gets entrusted with a Pokeball anyway-- should she choose to do so. This time it's clear Gengar is friendly, but she's still quite terrified of it. Whether she is because she's afraid of her destiny (becoming a Trainer) or childhood trauma from her first encounter, is a bit difficult to say, but the story does wrap up with her seemingly excited about her new friend. It makes me wonder if the hesitance/fear she felt the first time was also tinged with excitement for jumping into the unknown deep down?

Much to think about!

This was a very cute little read and I could vividly imagine it all in my head. I will say though that while I enjoyed the emotions of the fic being left up to the reader, I feel your fic could have been stronger with some supplemental context. We get a glimpse of the girl's views on owning a Pokemon and why she has no desire to herself, but why does she feel so strongly about it? Is it because she views Ghost-types as 'something other' compared to most Pokemon, so she feels different about them as a whole (hence her acceptance of Gengar)? I get the feeling here is she wouldn't mind being a trainer, but she was just waiting for 'the right partner' and I think this would be good to emphasize.

Who was the boy who gave her a Pokeball, and how did he ultimately convince her to take it? I would've loved a small 'flashback' scene here of this scenario, so we can get a proper read on our main character finding her resolve to face her fears and catch Gengar.

That said, I still love the double symbolism you have going on here, of her fear of Gengar almost equating to her fear of the unknown, the fear of adventure, the fear of change, and catching Gengar, who was so amicably offering its friendship much like the world waiting for her to explore it-- allowed her to face that fear. You did a fantastic job with this fic, Hydro, and should you ever expand on this, I'd love to read more! It sounds like the start to the journey of an outcast trainer with her outcast Pokemon, something I can totally get behind. :)

I give you my applause!
 
Hiya, Hydro! My always amazing subway master of a sister gave a really great review for you, much better than I think I'll do, so please forgive me in advance for the downgrade in quality LOL.

I thought this was a cute little story! Your word choice really stood out to me the most — everything just felt super picturesque, which is a hard thing to do when writing! (even more so when english isn't your first language, i'd imagine!??) It's certainly something I know I need to work on, but the storybook quality of it all was very at home.

Given that I thought this was a pretty solid story, I don't have too much in the way of criticism! I would have maybe liked a bit more explanation and exposition of the main character, her past, and that kind of thing, just to have it all feel a bit more fleshed out. That being said, I also kind of wonder if you kept those details of the story vague so as to contrast with your descriptive painting of your setting and world? If that was the case (and even if it wasn't LOL) I do think that was pretty neat of you!

It must have been scary to be Taken (snatched, if you will....? hehe) by a creature like in the story, but I hope the girl is happy about it now! She'll do great as a Trainer(ess)...

Great job, Hydro! Hopefully we'll see more from you in the future, I thought this was cute!!
 
  • Thread starter
  • Staff
  • #4
Ah, I've been meaning to reply here and provide some clarification sooner but.... various reasons. Sorry for getting to this only now!

First things first! Blanc, Lisia, thank you for the reviews!! They sure made me consider some viewpoints I haven't before and pointed out some flaws (gently enough not to hurt my ego >_< lol). I'm glad both of you enjoyed this fic : )

It feels like the scene gets intentionally hard to comprehend because our main character here is serving as something of an unreliable narrator
Forget unreliable narrator, I'm an unreliable writer- What I was going for was a... certain level of closeness between the reader and the heroine, if that makes sense? The "writing style" was a bit of an experiment - to be honest, right after I was done with it I seriously considered rewriting the whole thing as I was worried I was trying something too ambitious for my standards... I'm happy to hear it somehow worked!!

More than anything else, I was trying to focus on the overall atmosphere of the story and the emotions of the main character. All my vagueness was intentional (well, more or less; I think it could use more detailed descriptions of environments but I have some experience falling into the description trap and wanted to prevent that from happening).

Actually, there were parts I considered too detailed/specific but had no idea how to convey what I wanted in a different way!!

Your word choice really stood out to me the most — everything just felt super picturesque, which is a hard thing to do when writing! (even more so when english isn't your first language, i'd imagine!??)
Googling "synonyms for ....", ".... definition" and "how is .... called" sure is fun :confused: I'm very happy these "*topic* terminology" pdf documents are freely available! LOL

Hydro, and should you ever expand on this, I'd love to read more! It sounds like the start to the journey of an outcast trainer with her outcast Pokemon, something I can totally get behind.
I'd love to write more about the heroine as, given my intentions with this fic, she has grown on me, lol! So, maybe one day...

Oh, not too long and detailed of a "clarification" but this fic shall never lose its vagueness :tentacruel:

Again, thank you, Lisia, Blanc :bulbaLove: :bulbaLove:
 
Honestly, I didn't expect this to go the way it did.

The emotion behind each action the trainer does is well conveyed and gives a good idea of what this experience meant to her. This theme is carried throughout the chapter, and with her backstory set in place very early on, or at least elements of it, we, the reader get to see some of her motivations. Furthermore, her nickname, "Ghost Girl" is neither described as being negative or positive, which I suppose leaves the whole situation up to the reader to interpret. Working in such a place would certainly leave a mark, especially at night - pokémon around you or not. A lot of people would find it very unnerving. Regardless, I like how she is portrayed and able to use her knowledge and home ground to catch the pokémon.

A nice little read.
 
Back
Top Bottom