I was growing bored of my other writing so I figured I'd take a whack at serialising characters that had already been pretty well developed. This is what I've come up with; a soap-opera esque film noir ship that features in some way each of the following categories:
And something I wasn't sure how to name.
Well, that's about all I've got to say in the admin department for now, so here's chapter one.
Note: [what Ash says in the prologue is not to be taken seriously; feel free to post praise / criticisms / death threats as you see fit]
EDIT: All the cool kids were doing it, so here are direct links:
Chapter One: Come Together
Chapter Two: Scar Tissue
Chapter Three: Beginning to See the Light
Chapter Four: The Great Pretender
Chapter Five: Little Doubt Goes a Long Way
Chapter Six: Soul Saver
Chapter Seven: Come Fly With Me
Chapter Eight: Cheshire Cat
Chapter Nine: Devil's Party
Chapter Ten: The Reason a Dog
Chapter Eleven: Sharpshooter
Chapter Twelve: Rock and Roll Suicide
Chapter Thirteen: Cells + Epilogue
October 27, 11.00am
I’m going to tell you the true story of what happened last June on two conditions.
One; you don’t interrupt me. It’s a pretty complicated story and if you break my train of thought, I’ll probably leave out something important, and then you’ll complain afterwards that it doesn’t make sense. I don’t want to put up with any of your complaining.
Two; you don’t judge us based on our actions. Everybody does stupid things, especially in youth. We all make mistakes, and we all made mistakes. Some mistakes were worse than others. Just remember that you loved us before, and that shouldn’t change based on what I’m going to tell you.
Can you agree to those conditions? Good. I’ll tell you then. There are a couple of gaps in my own memory, but the others have been pretty good straightening them out. Everyone remembers things a bit differently, but I’ve put together what I think is the most accurate version of the story.
But here’s a warning, it’ll probably take me a while to tell it. You’ll just have to be patient.
There’s one thing I learned from all this, and I want to share it with you now so that you’ll remember I wasn’t always such a horrible guy.
You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you might find you get what you need.
June 10, 2:30pm
I saw him going down the stairs into the Dark Arena. Sidney was giving a demonstration down there. I was planning to go and Drake and Lance at the Dragon Arena, but since it had been so long, I figured I should go and say hi.
I caught up with him just as he reached the bottom of the stairs and we stepped to one side. He sure was a lot taller now, but I guess it had been a good six years since we travelled together.
‘What are you doing here?’ he asked, clearly surprised.
It wasn’t a particularly intelligent question; certainly he should have assumed that I would be here. I was never the kind of guy who would miss an exhibition like this.
‘Misty’s sisters couldn’t make it, so she gave their tickets to me and Tracey.’
‘Oh that’s right, you still keep in contact with Misty, don’t you?’
There was no mistaking the disapproval in his voice. I think he always wanted me to hook up with his sister, but that was never going to happen.
‘Yes, Max, I still keep in contact with Misty. And we’re still just friends,’ I added after seeing the look on his face. ‘To tell the truth, I forgot you’d be here too. Your dad’s giving his demo tomorrow, isn’t he?’
‘Sure is,’ Max boasted, lightening up considerably. ‘He’s got an exhibition match against Isabelle from Cobalt Crest. She uses poison types,’ he added. Max was as full of information as ever.
At least some things don’t change.
‘That’s great,’ I said, trying to sound enthusiastic. ‘I’ll be there for sure.’
We both knew that I probably wouldn’t be.
‘I can’t believe I forgot you’d be here,’ I said, breaking the silence after a few moments. ‘I’ll get Misty and Brock, and when today’s demos are over we can all hang out. It’ll be just like old times.’
‘Sure,’ Max said with a tolerant smile. ‘I’ll tell May.’
Another person I’d completely forgotten.
She was roughly the same age as me, and like I said before, there were more than a few people who wanted us to hook up. It wasn’t going to happen though. We had different goals. Mine to be a Pokémon master, and hers to be a top coordinator. She achieved her goal earlier this year. I meant to give her a call and congratulate her, but didn’t get around to it.
‘Okay Max, I’ll meet you outside the Water Arena at about eight, okay?’
‘Sure thing, Ash.’
Max continued down into the Dark Arena, and I headed off towards the Dragon Arena. But I wasn’t that interested in seeing Drake and Lance now. I was thinking about tonight, having to see May again.
The last time we’d seen each other I’d made a real fool of myself. It was her sixteenth birthday, and there had been tequila and karaoke involved, and without Pikachu there to stop me, I’d confessed to something that even now I wasn’t a hundred percent sure was true.
For some inexplicable reason, I told her I loved her.
And she punched me in the stomach.
We’d only spoken once since then, completely by accident. I was at Professor Oak’s lab when she rang for her fortnightly check on her Ivysaur. I’d answered the phone, and after a few awkward and jolty exchanges, I hung up again.
That was our precedent. Hopefully tonight would go more smoothly.
June 10, 7:56pm
They used to say that the ladies made me fly off the handle, and in a way they did. But nobody complained about me after Ash started taking interest in the ladies. He upstaged me every time, the lusty *******. He was a good guy and all, but he was ruled by his hormones.
The thing about Ash was that he fell hard and fast, and then took months to get back out of the grind. Take his first girlfriend, Christina. She was nothing special, really, but Ash just thought the sun shone out of her. As far as he was concerned, she was perfection, a goddess, and nobody could say a word against her.
She cheated on him eight times, and eight times he forgave her and took her back. They’d probably still be together, cheating and forgiving, if Tracey and I hadn’t run her out of town. Never gladder to see the back of someone as when she left. She moved to Johto somewhere. I can’t remember where.
The only way Ash could get over one girl was to fall for another. He was trapped in some demented cycle, never giving himself a break. That was what led to this business with May. I don’t think he ever really loved her. I think he just wanted to to get over whichever girl he had just before then.
I got there first. Ash was always late, and Misty was wrapping up a demo inside. Tracey was watching, and what happened to the other two I don’t know. In any case, Max was the next to arrive.
It was good to see him again. I don’t think I’d seen him since he became a trainer.
I’d run into May a couple of times at contests, where she was often inextricably tangled up with Drew, but Max had sort of vanished off of my radar.
‘Evening, kid,’ I said as he walked up slowly, his head still stuck in the event program.
‘Hey Brock!’ he said. He seemed glad to see me, thrusting his hand out and shaking mine. He had a pretty strong grip, considering he was only fourteen.
We shot the breeze for a while before Tracey and Misty came out of the Water Arena. More greetings were exchanged and the four of us sat down on the benches just outside the tank, talking loudly but silently wondering what had happened to Ash and May.
Surely that business hadn’t gotten them afraid of each other?
They were just kids, but I expected more than this from them.
Besides, it’s not as if May hasn’t moved on. Even if Ash is scared of her, there’s no excuse why she shouldn’t be here. Max said she was coming.
They were probably just late.
Just running late.
June 10, 8:17
I couldn’t go. How could I?
I don’t know why I’d suggested it in the first place. I knew May would be here.
I changed my pants for the millionth time and turned to Pikachu.
‘What do you think?’
‘Pika,’ said the little mouse, shaking his head at me. He hadn’t liked any of the past three pairs of pants. Maybe he was just screwing with me, the yellow *******. I wasn’t in any mood for any of his shenanigans.
I went back to my blue jeans and didn’t even ask Pikachu what he thought. If I knew Pikachu, he probably thought I was worried about seeing May again.
It disturbs me how much smarter Pikachu is than me.
I looked at my watch and realised I was more than ten minutes late. This would look bad. It’d look as if I was scared of seeing her again. I wasn’t.
I grabbed my favourite blue jacket and ducked out of the door, Pikachu at my heels. He ran up my leg and perched on my shoulder as I locked the hotel room and pocketed the key. I brought Pikachu, but I left the others behind.
I wouldn’t need them, surely. I was just meeting friends.
I whipped down the stairs out into the cool evening air. The streetlights had come on not an hour ago, and the little village was lit up beautifully. It was a nice night, there was no denying that.
I walked quickly through the throng of people towards the Water Arena. Most of them were heading out to dinner, or to the encore demonstrations. A few, the couples will small children, were heading back to the hotel.
I saw the others as I rounded the first corner.
Not all of them though.
May wasn’t there yet.
At least I wasn’t the last to arrive.
I said hi to everybody and apologised to all of them for being late. They didn’t seem to mind too much. After all, we still had to wait for May anyway. There’s not really any point in being mad at the second-to-last to arrive.
We waited for what must have been about ten minutes before May finally showed up.
She looked good, I have to admit that. She was wearing a pair of tight blue jeans and an even tighter black tank top. Her hair was down – she’d finally done it after God knows how long having that bizarre style.
She wasn’t alone.
With her was a guy about six foot six, wearing dark grey jeans, a black t-shirt and a leather jacket. His hair was pretty long, around shoulder length, and he had stubble on the whole lower half of his face. He looked like he was in his early twenties, but he was only eighteen.
‘Hey everyone, sorry I’m late,’ she said. ‘This is Dante.’
‘Dante?’ Max said immediately. ‘You mean the Point Noir Gym Leader, Dante?’
‘That’s right,’ she replied, smiling at me. It was very disconcerting. Why was she smiling at me like that?
‘Nice to meet you, Dante.’ Misty was the first to speak.
‘Misty,’ Dante said, his voice a low growl. He took her hand and kissed the back of it.
A real old fashioned gentleman. A real Humphrey Bogart.
He shook hands with Tracey, Max and Brock and before I knew it I realised that he was holding his hand out to me. I clasped it quickly and shook it, rather harder than I usually did, but I’m not sure why.
In the few moments our hands were joined he looked into my eye and knew that I was trying to crush his hand. But he didn’t apply any more pressure to mine, and waited for me to release his hand without another sound.
‘I’ve heard of you, Ash,’ he said as I pocketed my hands again. ‘I’m a bit surprised you haven’t been up to my Gym yet.’
‘Point Noir is too far away,’ I replied weakly.
‘Too far away?’ Misty said incredulously. ‘You dragged me all over Kanto and the Orange Islands looking for badges, and now Point Noir is too far away?’
‘It’s on another continent,’ I snapped. ‘It’s further than anywhere in Kanto.
She seemed slightly taken aback. Brock noticed and leapt into action.
‘Well gang, where do we want to eat?’
I was glad Brock was there.
June 10, 8:40pm
In hindsight, it may have been better for everyone if I’d left Dante out of it. It certainly would have been better for him.
I brought him so that Ash wouldn’t get any more funny ideas. I’m sick of my friends always trying to make our friendship into something more. That’s the trouble with being sixteen – any guy thinks that if you smile at him, it’s an invitation to your bed. I hadn’t thought Ash was like that, but he’d proved me wrong quickly enough.
Still, Dante was a perfect gentleman. I think he knew from the moment we arrived what was going on, but he didn’t let it show. He knew he was being used, but for some reason he didn’t seem to mind. He was talkative but modest, and best of all, he bought us drinks. I’m glad I didn’t have to settle for Coke again.
If I thought Ash was going to be the biggest problem that evening, I was corrected pretty soon.
The snooty maitre’d at the restaurant wouldn’t let us in.
‘There are no tables for seven,’ he said through his nose, saying the word ‘seven’ as though it gave off an unpleasant odour that didn’t bear thinking about.
‘Then give us a table for eight,’ Brock said, looking hopefully at a large table by the window. ‘How about that one?’
‘But you only have seven,’ the maitre’d replied, putting the same stress on ‘seven’ as before. ‘We cannot allow a chair to go unused when we are so busy.’
They didn’t seem very busy at all.
‘What do you want us to do, kick someone out?’ Misty’s temper was starting to flare up again. She must have been hungry.
‘You could add another to your party,’ the maitre’d suggested.
‘Where are we going to find an eighth person now?’ Ash demanded, joining Misty in the angry camp.
‘I could join you.’
The voice was high and cultivated, and I knew it as soon as I heard it. But boy did I hope I’d misheard it.
June 10, 8.45pm
They were surprised to see me, that much was obvious. I’d been hoping for a quiet dinner alone, but when I heard of their predicament, I decided to be charitable.
They all stared at me like stunned Barboach, and with good reason, I suppose. After all, why would the premier coordinator of Shin’ou choose to visit the Gym Heroes Exhibition?
I could see them all trying to decide whether or not to dine with me.
‘I guess that could work,’ Ash said slowly. Good old Ash. Dim as a Psyduck but always well-meaning.
His agreement meant that he didn’t know about May and I.
A secret between such close friends?
This would be fun.
We all sat down at an elegant table at the window. May’s new friend went and organised the wine for the meal. As he left the table I realised with a start that I should have gone with him. I assumed he was a Philistine, and would choose the cheapest wine on the list. But I was mistaken. He picked a rather sweet red, perfect for the unrefined palettes of most of the table.
A connoisseur, like myself. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t surprised.
So May was now dating somebody similar to myself.
May obviously wasn’t over me. I’d have been surprised if she was.
A waiter came over and told Ash to return Pikachu to his Pokeball. I watched this exchange with amusement, knowing that this would be an entertaining sight.
But Ash simply told Pikachu to return to the hotel. The little rat agreed, scampering out the door and heading off down the street.
Thankfully the night didn’t stay boring for long.
June 10, 9.00pm
I’d spent a lot of time studying Pokémon in my time. In fact, I had an idea that Professor Oak was planning to give me his laboratory when he retired. Anyway, the point I’m trying to make is that I had learned to tell when a Pokémon was hungry, tired, angry or in love by the way it was acting.
In these respects, people weren’t too different to Pokémon.
Of everybody at the table, only Brock didn’t have some emotional issue with another person there. It was like an old Mexican stand-off, except we were all sitting down. And we were unarmed. And nobody wanted to kill each other. Okay, maybe it wasn’t a Mexican stand-off.
I could tell by the way that Ash and May were constantly glancing at each other while determinedly avoiding direct conversation that something was going on between them. Something had happened between them that made this situation very uncomfortable for them. I didn’t know what it was. Nobody tells me anything.
In any case the meal itself passed without too much drama; the boys divided up the check and we left, out onto the streets.
We wandered about for a while, wondering why everybody else seemed to be crowding around outside of the Water Arena.
‘Let’s go check it out,’ Ash said after a few moments of speculation.
We pushed our way through into the crowd and saw what was happening. A man was being loaded onto a stretcher and covered by a white sheet.
Somebody had been murdered. Electrocuted, as we found out from the crowd.
‘Hey, I saw that boy send his Pikachu out of the restaurant!’ somebody called out, pointing enthusiastically at Ash.
The crowd slowly turned to face him.
‘Oh, ****,’ he breathed.
'This is going to get worse before it gets better,’ May said, shaking her head sadly.
That was the precise moment when we all became fugitives.
June 10, 11:00pm
We couldn’t stay at the Gym Heroes Exhibition any longer. We had to leave right away. People were already pointing the finger at me, and the others were likely to face accessory charges. That raised the question of where we could go to hide out. My place was out, so were Brock’s, Misty’s and Professor Oak’s Lab. We couldn’t stay in Kanto, that much we could agree on.
We couldn’t go to Drew’s place – his parents would be there and would probably have some questions to ask when eight teenagers burst in to hide for God knows how long. Plus nobody really liked him very much, and it would be harder to be mean to him in his own home. Well, not really harder, but I’d feel considerably less comfortable about it.
Dante offered us the Point Noir Gym for a hidey-hole, but that would involve flying across the ocean to the Stralis continent. No, we couldn’t go to Point Noir either.
That just left one place.
May and Max’s.
To be continued