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Thread: [One-Shot] Wake-Up Call

  1. #1
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    Default [One-Shot] Wake-Up Call

    Disclaimer: Standard fanfiction not-owner-of-this franchise fare.

    Rating: PG, I guess, for one swear word used exactly twice. Since this forum screens those out, though, I guess that would make it G.

    Author's Notes: I'm afraid this is more a conceit than an actual story; it wouldn't quit bugging me until I got it down, though. I hope you like it anyway.

    Wake-Up Call

    Derek was awoken by the happy screech of some little kid running by on the street behind the house. For a blurred second, he lay where he was, cursing all children and the sunlight that had by now made its presence known, before his less petty brain functions caught up with him.

    Wait, kid? Shouldn’t be any kids running around at this—aww, ****! A loud rustle of blankets as he turned over, one squinted eye fixing on the face of his alarm clock. Disbelief gave way to horror as he realized that those solid red numbers couldn’t be lying, that it must actually be eleven-thirty…

    Roaring another curse, Derek struggled free of his tangled covers and stumbled, half-falling over his laptop in the process, towards his dresser. Presentation was a lost cause now, he decided as he threw on the first things that came to hand. So long as it was passably clean, it was kosher. He couldn’t believe he’d slept in, must’ve forgotten to set the stupid alarm, couldn’t believe it, and especially today of all days—

    Wait, today? Today was…

    For a moment all Derek’s energy vanished into a pit of bleak realization; he was left with both arms raised above his head but leaning in the air like puppets cut free of their strings and his shirt only half pulled on. Oh, God. Oh, ****.

    And then it was back into action again, even more frantic than before. Forget the teeth, forget the hair, he thought, raking his fingers through it until it hung in less a mat than a limp tangle around his head. Not that it really mattered much at this point if he was just a little more late, but the compulsion to get out of the house was strong.

    Derek thundered down the stairs, grabbing the wobbly old post on the bottom step to swing himself around towards the kitchen before his feet even touched the floor. By now he couldn’t ignore the smell of toast that his panicking brain had been too wired to notice earlier. He skidded out onto the linoleum and made a grab at a piece as he went past the table.

    “Derek!”

    He’d already started stuffing the toast in his mouth when he turned to find his mother standing at the sink, an apron over her clothes and a scowl on her face.

    “Mom, I’m late!” Derek protested, spraying crumbs everywhere before cramming practically half the piece of toast into his mouth and chewing furiously.

    “That’s no excuse for barging in here and wolfing down the first thing you see. That toast was for Sarah!”

    Sarah—oh yeah. Eleven-thirty. She’d be home for lunch pretty soon.

    “Sorry! Fine! I’ve got to get out of here anyway!” His words were already slurred by his mouthful of burnt bread, but he crammed the rest of the piece of toast down the hatch anyway, then turned to leave.

    “Oh no, you don’t! Sit down and eat like a civilized human being!” His garbled protests were overridden by a sharp, “You’re already late, so a few more minutes won’t hurt. You need your strength. Eat something.”

    Derek espied a jar of peanut butter sitting expectantly on the table and started slathering the next slice of toast with a gooey layer of peanut by-product. “Why didn’t you wake me up, mom?”

    “I’m not responsible for you. You’re practically an adult, Derek. You should be able to take care of yourself.” His mother was clattering around in the cupboard, looking for the toaster. “You need to learn to accept the consequences of your actions.”

    “But today, mom? Don’t you remember what today is?” His eyes were all accusation as he trained them on his mother’s back. She turned to him with a sigh.

    “Yes, Derek. But just think about it: If you can’t even get yourself out of bed on time, do you really think you’re ready for such a big responsibility?”

    “Of course I’m ready!” He came dangerously close to yelling, though he didn’t realize it until he saw the dangerous glint in his mother’s eye. Shoving the last of the toast in his mouth, he pushed back his chair and dashed from the kitchen before she could stop him. He pretended that the slap of the screen door slamming drowned out the sound of her goodbye.

    The way to the lab was a blur; the next Derek was conscious, he was standing before Professor Oak himself with the uncomfortable impression that he’d been yelling again.

    The old professor’s eyes were sympathetic, but his voice was nevertheless stern. “I’m sorry, Derek. The trainers came for their pokémon hours ago. They were here on time, and they deserved what they got.”

    Derek found himself unable to bear the professor’s gaze and dropped his eyes to the floor tiles, muttering that he was sorry, and that it was his own fault, and that it wouldn’t happen again. Half of him wanted to punch the professor, but the other half thought this only made him more disgusting—wanting to punch the man for something that was entirely his fault.

    “There’s always next year, Derek,” the professor said, and Derek shook his head, eyes still on the floor. It didn’t work that way. Next year would only be the opportunity to screw things up again.

    “Here,” the professor said, putting a hand on Derek’s shoulder. “Why don’t you come and look at the starters we’ll be giving away next year? We need to start prepping them for life with a trainer, and we might as well get started.”

    Derek nodded and allowed himself to be led along. He was fascinated by how different the lab looked when reduced to an expanse of tile and a low strip of wall on either side of his vision. It was soothing; much more soothing than it would have been to encounter it at proper eye level.

    When the tile turned to grass and the walls dropped away to nothing Derek couldn’t help but raise his head. The lab had an expansive reserve rolling out behind it, long grass stretching over low, gentle hills. The pokémon they’d come to see weren’t far, though, huddled together near the lab’s open back door and engaged in conversation. All three looked up as the humans approached, going silent at once. Derek had to smile at that, but the expression was almost painful to attempt.

    The professor was standing behind him, saying something, probably important, as he knelt down. The bulbasaur grunted and sniffed at his hand as he held it out, then allowed him to rub its head. A bulbasaur just like this, that’s what they’d given away this morning. The trainers would’ve piled in, humming with excitement and eyeing one another all through Professor Oak’s speech, wondering what the others were going to pick. And then Alex—yes, it would have been Alex, he’d be the next in line—would have told them to line up, get their pokedexes, pick their pokémon.

    But he’d have done it all wrong. He wouldn’t know that the charmander hated to be picked up, or that the bulbasaur was deadly afraid of spiders. He wouldn’t know that the squirtle’s favorite fruit was pineapple, or the best way to calm the charmander down after someone, for example, decided to pick her up. Alex didn’t know anything about them, and he would have just given them away without letting the trainers know, without telling the kids what they were really like. The pokémon would have been nervous, too, eyeing each other all through Professor Oak’s speech and wondering who was going to pick them. He hadn’t been there to tell them that everything was going to be all right, that they were going on a great adventure and the next time he’d see them they’d all be strong and grown up. Certainly Alex hadn’t told them any such thing.

    He hadn’t been there to give the bulbasaur a little rap on the bulb when he started to annoy the squirtle with his vines. He hadn’t been there to tell the trainers to be careful around the charmander, because she’d bite if she didn’t like someone. He hadn’t been there to tell them everything, to warn the trainers and the pokémon and make sure that they were right for one another.

    “When you’re done out here, I’m going to need you to come and help me round up the furret again. They got loose last night, and I can’t for the life of me find them,” Professor Oak was saying at a distance. Derek knew without turning around that the man had left and sat for a long while with the starters, pretending that the sound of the back door shutting drowned out the goodbye he hadn’t had the chance to say.
    Last edited by Negrek; 21st October 2008 at 2:05 AM.

  2. #2
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    Heh.

    Okay, so I refreshed the fanfic forum at seven in the morning in my five minutes of free time before leaving for school. "Oh, hey, Negrek wrote something. Let's see how long it is." And since it looked short enough to read in those five minutes, I decided I might as well read over it and review later.

    My first thought at the beginning was that it was made to look like he was waking up to get a starter but he was really waking up for something else; when he ended up going to Oak's lab and be told the starters had already been given away, I figured it was some sort of a parody of waking-up-late trainers. In the last few paragraphs you had managed to completely confuse me with this random Alex person and why he would suddenly be giving out the starters and why Derek seemed to know everything about the starters' personal issues and preferences. And then I went to brush my teeth, and a few minutes later when my brain had started up a bit better, I thought, "Oh, wait. Right."

    So yeah, I found it a amusing how it is possible to read through the whole thing without getting it, as long as you misunderstand a couple of 'he's to be referring to Professor Oak instead of Derek (which, of course, does not help the general nonsensicalness of that interpretation). At least if you're sleepy and in a hurry.

    (Once I had gotten it, actually, it really reminded me of a one-shot by Crystylla - have you read it, by any chance? It was a very similar basic idea - a scene with a girl being nervous because the final battle of the Pokémon League was about to start, how this was her great chance, and finally when she walks into the arena it is revealed that she is the referee rather than one of the battlers.)

    In any case I enjoyed the way you wrote this, from the description of his waking up and frantic preparation, which I felt set the mood of the scene very nicely, to the paragraph about the starters' quirks and Derek's concern for their wellbeing with their unprepared trainers. I couldn't help thinking, though, that Derek generally came across as older than fourteen, and got the impression you might have originally planned to have him a couple of years older (particularly with his mom remarking that he was "practically an adult" and the very fact he is working for Professor Oak, but also in the general feeling I got for his character from the narrative) but then changed the age so that the understanding of him as a starting trainer was more believable up until the end. Then again it might just be an extrapolation of how early kids appear to be reasonably independent in the Pokémon world, but as I said I was very surprised when the off-hand mention of him being fourteen came along, because I had been picturing him as at least sixteen.

    But yeah, fun idea and nicely written.

    The Final Stretch - Chapter 74: Unraveling
    The story of an ordinary boy on an impossible quest in a world that isn't as black and white as he always thought it was.
    (rough draft of the remaining chapters finished for NaNoWriMo; to be edited and posted)

    Morphic
    (completed, plus silly extras)
    A few scientists get drunk and start fiddling with gene splicing. Ten years later, they're taking care of eight half-Pokémon kids, each freakier than the next, while a religious fanatic plots to murder them all.

    Lengthy fanfiction reviewing guide / A more condensed version
    Read and I will be very happy for a large number of reasons.

  3. #3
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    That was different. It was well written, and it was original. I rather enjoyed the sudden twist from typical journey fic starting to a completely different idea. But, like Dragonfree said, I did picture him being older than fourteen, but if a ten year old can wander around all alone in the big bad world of Pokemon then it works for me.

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    Derek was awoken by the happy screech of some little kid running by on the street behind the house.
    Right off the bat this sentence struck me as odd. I probably would have written “Derek woke up to the…” not “Derek was awoken.”

    He couldn’t believe he’d slept in, must’ve forgotten to set the stupid alarm, couldn’t believe it, and especially today of all days—
    This should be broken up into two pieces not one long run-on sentence. Use some semi-colons or something. Like this:

    "He couldn’t believe he’d slept in; must’ve forgotten to set the stupid alarm. He just couldn’t believe it, and especially today of all days—"

    The old professor’s eyes were sympathetic, but his voice was nevertheless stern. “I’m sorry, Derek. The trainers came for their pokémon hours ago. They were here on time, and they deserved what they got
    Immediately I jumped to thinking: this has already been done. But as I read on, trying to make sense of it, I figured out that he wasn’t actually going to receive a pokemon! Boy I feel just a little bit stupid.

    But he’d have done it all wrong. He wouldn’t know that the charmander hated to be picked up, or that the bulbasaur was deadly afraid of spiders. He wouldn’t know that the squirtle’s favorite fruit was pineapple, or the best way to calm the charmander down after someone, for example, decided to pick her up. Alex didn’t know anything about them, and he would have just given them away without letting the trainers know, without telling the kids what they were really like.
    Be careful where you throw those “he”s. I was starting to get confused.

    Oh yeah, and I kind of agree with dragonfree about him being older.
    as a side note: Derek's mom is mean! :P
    These are my favorite Pokemon:

  5. #5
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    Dragonfree

    I'm glad to hear you enjoyed this; and I have in fact read that 'fic by Crystylla and was thinking of it after I wrote this. I thought that it was old enough to be from the IFree days, but then I couldn't find it on the old forum and was pretty disappointed until I realized it was up on her site. But yeah, I do like that 'fic, and it's very similar in format to this one.

    About the "he" thing, though; was that me not doing pronouns very well again, or were you just sleepy? I've had issues with them in the past.

    The age thing... I think I'm just going to take that out, as it isn't really necessary. When I first wrote this I felt that Derek was about sixteen, but then when I looked over it later I decided he acted younger than that, so I lowered it a little. I didn't really worry that people would realize he wasn't a starting trainer from the fact that he was sixteen, given the prevalence of trainers who start at that age in fanfic. However, I did think that people who are fairly familiar with the way that I write would realize that meant that he couldn't be a starting trainer (at least, not a very normal one) at that age and would start to key into what was going on earlier. It was really just a "heads-up, everything's not as it seems" moment, but it really doesn't need to be in there.

    Thanks for the review!

    otaku-dono

    Thanks for reviewing. The age thing shouldn't be an issue any more, since I'm going to take that out.

    Morgie04086

    Right off the bat this sentence struck me as odd. I probably would have written “Derek woke up to the…” not “Derek was awoken.”
    Thing is, the kid yelling was actually what woke him up; when someone "wakes up to something," there's that "something" going on as they awake, but it's not necessarily true that that's what actually woke them up. Therefore, I feel that I wrote it is more appropriate in this instance.

    This should be broken up into two pieces not one long run-on sentence. Use some semi-colons or something. Like this:
    It's supposed to be this way. The sentence is supposed to rush and run together without any large breaks from periods in order to reflect how rushed and incoherent Derek's thoughts are, as the narration is sliding towards his POV in that section.

    Be careful where you throw those “he”s. I was starting to get confused.
    Hmm, not really sure what to do there, since all the "he"'s refer to the same character there. What about their placement confused you, exactly?

    Again, age issue should be resolved by excision. And yeah, Derek's mom is a little unyielding for my taste. In any case, thanks a lot for reviewing.

  6. #6
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    Either that was the first time that I've ever read a piece of Pokémon fiction about (what I'm guessing was) a professor's aide or I can't remember when the last time was that I read about one. Either way, I thought it was pretty cool to see things from that angle. ^^

    Another thing I enjoyed was the amount of personality given to the starters that were given away that day. I liked the way that the human characters were handled, too, for that matter. I found Derek's mother to be particularly entertaining--she was just such a mom about things, dangit! XD

    Oh, and I also really liked the way that the last line sort of echoed a line that occurred earlier in the story. I thought that was neat. ^^

    So yeah, that was nicely done and an enjoyable read, I'd say. ^^

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