Hey folks, sorry for the long wait, but to be completely honest - I hadn't decided what this chapter would cover until this morning. So here it is, a bit shorter than usual, but the trade off is that chapter four will be up quicker. Enjoy
Book of Brilliant Things
January 26, 12:30AM
‘Authorities were alarmed to discover yet another body in the Phenac City fountain earlier this morning, once again horrifically mutilated. The victim, Benjamin “Butch” Bonnie, was a prominent member of the now defunct Team Rocket organisation, and one of the Johto police’s most desired arrests. His presumed murder has robbed authorities of the chance to question him as to the location of other Team Rocket remnants. The circumstances of death are eerily similar to those of the late-’
I switched the radio off at this point, feeling completely sick to my stomach. I knew Ash was behind it, and I didn’t need, or want, to know anything more about it. Ash had changed too much in the past three years, we barely spoke anymore. In fact, everything seemed to change for everyone after Tracey’s funeral. Well, not quite everything.
I wheeled myself over to the staircase, and set about carefully heading down to the kitchen, stair by stair. Misty had just arrived and we were going to lunch, to discuss the upcoming Gym Heroes competition – namely, whether we were going to attend. We couldn’t be sure if Ash would be going, and as I would soon find out, neither of us could be sure if we wanted to see him again anyway.
Would it be so bad? I thought as I wheeled my way towards the counter. I had arranged for everything to be lowered so that I could continue cooking from my chair. The bench was now just above knee-height. I reached across it and grabbed my keys just as Misty emerged from the bathroom.
‘Ready to go?’ she asked brightly. She was doing a lot better these days. ‘Do you want me to push you?’
‘No, I’ll wheel myself, I think,’ I said, and we headed out the door into the sunshine.
January 26, 2:00PM
‘It may not be advisable, but I’m going to go anyway,’ I said, scrunching up the wrapper of my cheeseburger. ‘The Gym Heroes competition is the sweetest plum, one of the greatest perks of being a Gym Leader. I’m not going to miss out on it because of Ash. I’ve wasted a lot of my life doing or not doing things because of him.’
I could tell at once that Brock was feeling awkward so I glided over this outburst and returned to my original point.
‘I’ve been working hard this past year and I think I’ve got the best chance I’ve ever had to take the flag. Cerulean hasn’t had it in nearly twenty years.’
‘That’s all well and good, Misty, but even if Ash doesn’t come, you can guess who will.’
‘About fifty other Gym Leaders?’ I said smartly. Brock stifled a smile.
‘Dante,’ he said simply.
‘So? I’ve made peace with Dante. I thought we all had.’
‘We have, but only so far as we don’t have to see him. I’d call it more of a ceasefire than a peace.’
‘The important thing is nobody’s shooting guns.’
‘Nobody but Ash. He caught and killed Butch.’
‘From Butch and Cassidy?’ I couldn’t keep the surprise from my voice.
‘That’s right,’ he said gravely.
‘How do you know?’
‘Radio. They didn’t name Ash, obviously, but I recognise his handiwork. He’s cutting through them like a Scyther in a corn field.’
‘They deserve it,’ I said quietly.
‘Do they really?’ Brock said, sitting up straighter all of a sudden. ‘Ash is killing them. Who knows how many so far, but he is killing them. They are dying. He’s taking away their lives.’
‘I understand the concept of killing,’ I said tersely. I didn’t feel like being patronised at the moment.
‘Do you understand what all of this murdering is doing to Ash?’ he said. ‘The Ash we knew is probably completely gone now. You heard what he did to his Pokemon?’
‘He evolved them,’ I said with a shrug. ‘What’s the problem?’
‘He forced them to evolve. Cyndaquil, Bulbasaur, Totodile. They didn’t want to evolve, but Ash made them. He’s lost the very thing that made him Ash – his compassion for his Pokemon. He doesn’t encourage them, or help them anymore. He just rumbles into town with Torterra and Feraligatr and ends peoples’ lives.’
‘When he wipes out Team Rocket he’ll go back to normal,’ I said shakily. ‘He’ll remember who he was, and why he went after them.’
‘You really think so?’ Brock snarled. He was really getting worked up now. ‘There are some things you can’t ever get back once you lose them. And your mind is one of them. He may have some moments of lucidity, but he’ll never be right in the head again. And it’s not going to stop with Team Rocket. Once he’s killed them all he’ll convince himself to go after Team Galactic. Then when they’re all gone, he’ll go after Team Cipher. He will never stop now that he’s started. There’s always an enemy, and when one is gone, he’ll just convince himself of another to take its place. Ash is gone, and out of rhyme or reason, everyone’s to blame.’
‘Oh, you’re right,’ I wailed. ‘We have lost him. So what do we do if he shows up at Gym Heroes?’
‘Well that’s something you’re going to have to figure out for yourself,’ Brock said, calming down now and sounding robotic, ‘because I’m not going. This has catastrophe written all over it, and this time, I’m not willing to read.’
January 26, 11:30PM
Canalave City Library, only two sources of light. The flickering desk lamps were old and almost useless, but they did allow me to read the pages of the ten or so books in front of me, so I put up with them.
There was only one other person in the library, huddled in the corner, probably asleep, with a green-covered fiction book in his hands. I, on the other hand, was doing important research.
The research had nothing at all to do with my uni course, but I’d long ago lost interest in that. My enrolment was mostly just a ruse to get in here, anyway. There were some things I wanted to know.
I could only find two mentions of Dante on the shelves – the first simply referenced him as a Stralis Gym Leader in the 21st century, the other was a cursory glance of his birth in the early chapters of a condemning biography of Giovanni. Books didn’t really favour him, but the internet certainly did.
His entry in the Gym Heroes Hall of Fame was unsatisfactory, but it did point me in two other directions which I found much more interesting. The first thing I noted, by which I mean I read it in the “trivia” section of his biography, was that he had somehow managed to avoid facing my dad every single time he had entered, although he had come very close once or twice, but every time it looked as though he may have to battle him, something came along and thwarted him. There was something about this that struck me as odd, and I made a note of it on my crammed scribble pad which rested on my knee.
The second thing I found in Dante’s article was my own name, cited as the mother of his child. For a brief moment, my blood boiled. We had agreed not to tell anybody, and he had posted it on the internet? But my rage subsided when I remembered that the only computer he owned was for the sole function of Pokeball transfer and trade. So somebody else had added it, which still meant that he had told somebody.
But Dante wasn’t even what I was looking for, I just got sidetracked. I pulled the heavy copy of Myths of Sinnoh towards me and continued on. I was about a quarter of the way through, and still couldn’t find any reference that seemed remotely plausible.
Where was the darkness white?
The closest I had come to answering that question was something about Snowpoint City, where Regigigas was supposed to live. But that didn’t fit at all. Why would Dante have to take me to Regigigas?
Footsteps in the library now, coming up the stairs. I didn’t look up. It was probably the librarian, coming to attempt to throw me out again. He didn’t like me staying so late so often. He probably thought I was casing the library.
But it wasn’t the librarian. It was Drew.
The other person woke with a start and looked at his watch. He started to get up slowly.
‘Hey, I’ve read that,’ Drew said to him. ‘Has Snape killed Dumbledore yet?’
The other person glared at him and stomped past, clomping down the stairs as loudly as possible, probably hoping to get us thrown out in response to Drew’s spoilers.
‘That wasn’t very nice,’ I said, moving over so Drew could sit down.
‘When you look this good, you don’t have to be,’ he replied, flicking his hair back. ‘So how’s the hunting?’
‘Same as ever,’ I replied dully. ‘No new leads, at least, no plausible ones.’
‘I found something that may interest or horrify you,’ Drew said, drawing a folded piece of paper from his pocket. On it was written the code number of a book, followed by page numbers.
‘What’s this all about?’ I asked.
‘I don’t feel comfortable telling you,’ he said, standing up again and putting one hand on my shoulder. ‘Don’t work yourself too hard.’
‘Where are you going?’ I said, ‘you just got here!’
‘I only stopped in to give you that,’ he pointed at the paper in my hand. ‘Dawn’s waiting for me downstairs.’
Of course she was. She was always following him around these days.
He nodded, and continued down the stairs. I got up to search for the book amongst the shelves, now the only person left on the top floor of the Canalave Library.
I threw aside book after book – somehow I knew that I wanted to see this as soon as possible – until I finally found it, slim, shiny and new, wedged between two other biographies. I was shocked by three things on the cover. Title – The Brothers Caroso and the Battle to Live. Author – Christina Caroso. Cover image – Dante and Silver, from the looks of things at age ten or eleven, sitting together on an ornate sofa, laughing.
My mind went blank and I completely forgot the pages that Drew had specified. I glanced around the room – still nobody here – and slipped the book into my jacket pocket. Then I returned to my desk, closed my laptop, picked it up, and ran down the stairs into the street.