Chapter 5: Cinnabar Island
Beautiful Cinnabar Island. Known for its culture and wide display of rare Pokemon, especially fire types. Covered in lush jungles and surrounded by sparkling blue tides, it was the ideal place for a relaxing vacation. It was also home to three volcanoes that made lovely pictures to be shown to friends.
Busy Cinnabar Island. Known for being a tourist trap in all possible ways. It had several theme parks on the island and it wasn’t the best place for privacy. It was also so crowded in the summer, it wasn’t that rare for people to be almost trampled.
“Wow!” Ed gasped. “Look at all the people!”
Leah and Ally could only nod in agreement. When Leah thought it was going to be busy on Cinnabar Island, she didn’t know how busy.
People were everywhere! On every street and in every corner, there they were. Most of them looked like tourists, some carrying cameras and such, but there were trainers too. They were the ones who carried Pokemon with them or plainly showed their Pokeball belts across their chests. The loud hum of voices and laughter surrounded the trio, but it seemed more intimidating then welcoming. Especially since there was no end to it!
“Let’s find a Pokemon Center,” Leah told them before glaring at the back of a guy who bumped into her. “I already hate this place!”
“What!” Ed said loudly as he held Ally’s hand. “I can’t hear you!”
Leah opened her mouth, but then closed it without comment. Instead she sighed and grabbed both of the kids’ free hands, pulling them through the crowd. There were buildings running parallel to each other beside them, each somehow displaying a unique look. There were no gaps between the tall buildings, so the trio was forced the walk straight ahead. As they wandered deeper into the city, they were shoved and bashed by people rushing by. Ally yelped as one person harshly pushed her into Ed and they would have tumbled to the ground if Leah hadn’t quickly pulled them back up.
“Come on!” Leah hissed as she dragged them forward. “The Pokemon Center has gotta be around here somewhere! This is insane!”
It took them another fifteen minutes to find a Pokemon Center. They had almost passed it, despite its prominent red and white colors, because it was hidden between two large structures. A rush of cold air greeted them as they entered the lobby, but it was immediately apparent that there really was no getting away from the crowds.
It was packed tight with people and hardly any of them were Pokemon trainers. Most were tired tourists with screaming children and crying babies. The people who actually were trainers looked haggard and annoyed at the noise, but it was hard to tell since as soon as Leah spotted them, she almost immediately lost sight of them.
“Damn it!” Leah cursed. The front desk was surrounded by people, all demanding to get a room. There was no way they could get to the front.
Ed noticed it as well. “I knew we should have gone to Viridian,” he moaned.
“No we shouldn’t of,” Leah immediately snarled. “Look, it’s your journey, this is stuff you’ll need to deal with all the time!”
Against her better judgment, Leah allowed Ed to pull her and Ally closer to the front desk where they heard the woman behind it try to deal with the sudden flood of people.
“Excuse me!” the woman shouted over the noise. “This is a Pokemon Center! A hospital for Pokemon and a place where trainers may stay! Not for people that aren’t registered trainers!”
None of the tourists appeared to be listening as they kept shouting and yelling for rooms, wallets and wads of cash being held up in the air.
“W-what do we do?” Ally asked pleadingly as she stayed close to Leah as she could, using her as an anchor.
Leah shrugged, but kept a groan to herself. “Dunno. Wait, I guess.”
“But for how long?” Ed questioned with a yawn. “I’m tried! How long will this take?”
That was the question, wasn’t it? They spent three hours that morning, waiting for the ferry to arrive and then used another hour sailing to Cinnabar Island. Now it looked they were going to be forced to give up even more of their time and it was only to do something that should have been easy.
“I don’t know,” Leah repeated as she eyed the rest of the lobby. There were no empty chairs; the only thing they could sit on was the ground.
“Hopefully, not that long though.”
Leah cursed herself. She just had to say ‘hopefully’, didn’t she? She pretty much set herself up to be jinxed.
It was two hours later, but most of the tourists had already left, probably going for dinner somewhere. The crowd had gradually thinned out until there were only the most stubborn of individuals present.
Luckily, they only put up a little fuss when Leah was able to get a room with three beds just by showing her worn-out trainer license. She sneered at them before herding the brats out of the lobby and to the stairwell.
They got to the second floor of the Pokemon Center and found their room, number thirteen. An unlucky number to some, but to them, it was a sign of relief. It only took a few seconds to slide the card key through the lock and to finally enter the room that they had been waiting for.
It wasn’t a big room, just enough for the beds and a small desk. Two of the beds were propped against the wall and sitting parallel to each other, while the third was under the single window. There was a door right next to the front door which seemingly led to a bathroom. The warm shades of brown and gold on the walls and bedcovers gave a welcoming feel to the room.
Ed could only moan as he let himself fall onto the bed closet to the door. He seemingly didn’t have enough energy to take off his shoes or backpack. Ally likewise sat on a bed, but at least she was not tired enough to lay down on her bag.
“Before you ask,” Leah said as she dropped her backpack on the floor. “We’re not leaving this room for the rest of the day.”
“Don’t care,” Ed mumbled.
Leah nodded, satisfied. “Good.”
“Leah?” Ally spoke up, too tired to be nervous as she continued without Leah replying. “Is it always going to be- be like this?
Ally yawned in emphasis. “Tiring and- and busy.”
“I don’t know,” Leah said, sitting down on the only unoccupied bed. “I wasn’t a trainer for that long.” A tone in her voice suggested that that was the end of the conversation, but Ally was feeling brave that day.
“What do you mean?” Ally asked curiously. “I thought you were al- always a trainer.”
Leah snorted. “No. Only for a week.”
“But- but that doesn’t make any sense. Aren’t you supposed our Mentor? I thought Mentors had to be good trainers.”
Something in Ally’s voice made Leah look up sharply. “Hey! It’s not like I wanted to be your Mentor anyways.”
Ally gulped, finally feeling the glare that Leah was sporting. “Well-”
Taking a calming breath, Leah tried to release the anger.
“Look,” Leah said. “My grandmother pulled some strings. I don’t want to be here and you don’t want me to be here. So, let’s just drop this subject before things go south, got it?”
Ally nodded, a bit fearful.
It was nice and silent as the three trainers kept to themselves. It was so quiet that Leah assumed that Ed had fallen asleep since he hadn’t moved since he had kicked off his shoes and bag off the bed. The steady rise and fall of his chest was the only thing that kept Leah from thinking that he had suddenly and mysteriously died.
The sun had started to set a little while ago, marking the end to a busy and somewhat torturous day. The only light came from the lamp at Ally’s bedside table and it illuminated the room in a dull glow. Ally was the only one using it though as she looked through her notebook. Every once in a while she turned a page, devouring the words with her eyes.
That was thankful because it meant that no one would be interrupting Leah’s peace and quiet time. After being surrounded by noise for the last two hours, the last thing she wanted hear was someone breaking the silence.
A sudden rustling sound had Leah looking up to see Ed turning over in his sleep, his back facing his roommates.
Leah sighed and glanced around the room quick enough to see Ally going back to her book, interest lost in the slumbering Ed.
Maybe she should get some sleep too? Leah thought. It would pass the time all right, but she really didn’t want to be waking in the middle of the night, wide awake. That always happened when she went to bed early and it was irritating enough the first few times it happened.
Though, it wasn’t like she had much else to do.
Leah glanced up at Ally. “Hey.”
Ally looked up, but said nothing.
“Turn it off,” Leah said as she motioned to the lamp. “I’m going to bed.”
The girl looked at the clock which showed the time plainly. “It’s only eight.”
“I’m tired. Now turn it off.”
It looked like Ally wanted to protest, but Leah gave her a weak stare.
As the light turned off, Leah shoved all the blankets off her bed except for a thin sheet, which she pulled over her shoulders once she laid down. Her head hit the pillow and in moments, she was out like a light.
The next day, anyone could tell that it was going to be nice out. The sun was shining, the Pidgey were singing and it was almost as if everything was all right with the world.
“It’s that way!”
“No, it’s not! Look, the map says to go left-”
“The map’s wrong-”
“Did you just cut me off?”
“-Because the lady at the desk said we take a right.”
“The lady at the desk,” Leah argued. “Is a stupid blond airhead. You don’t trust people over something factual like a map! We go left!”
Ed was never one to give up. “No! We go right!”
“Hah!” Leah said triumphantly, pointing at him. “You agree with me!”
“You messed it up!” Ed whined. “You’re supposed to go ‘Right!’ and then I say-”
Leah rolled her eyes and started following the trail to the left which led towards a groove between the trees. “Oh, come on. Like any of Bugs Bunny’s tricks can work on me.”
Ed ran to catch up.
“The gym’s not this way!” Ed said, but followed Leah anyway.
After they got through the groove, the trail suddenly narrowed, forcing Ed to walk behind Leah in an effort to avoid the vicious looking plants that surrounded the road. As well as the carnivorous bushes, foreign-looking trees towered over them, keeping most of the sky hidden.
They walked for several minutes without talking to each other, jumping over the off plant once and a while. Though, a lucky branch was able to snag on the hem of Ed’s pant leg and he stopped after finding that pulling on it wouldn’t do the trick.
After manually escaping from the branch’s hold, Ed looked up to see Leah still walking, having not noticed that he stopped.
Leah paused and turned to look at him. “What? Why are you back there for? Come on, I thought you wanted to go to the gym?”
Ed again ran to catch up once Leah spun back around and continued walking. He pouted as he resumed a slower pace and muttered: “If Ally was here, we could’ve convinced you to go right.”
“Well she’s not here, so too bad for you.”
“She should be here,” Ed continued, not letting the issue go. “Why did she have to stay at the Pokemon Center?”
“Because, moron, she wanted to see if something was wrong with her Voltorb.” She rolled her eyes. “Not that anything is.”
Ed tried to look at the bright side. “Well, at least she won’t get lost too…”
“We’re going to find the gym,” Leah said exasperatedly. “So stop complaining. Besides, you guys aren’t even going to challenge it today. We’re only staking it out.”
“Why can’t we?” Ed asked as they trudged down a shallow slope. “I mean, I’ve been training Paras and it knows attacks now! It’ll obey me!”
Leah rolled her eyes. “Yeah, how many attack does it know?”
Ed shrugged. “Two. Scratch and Stun Spore, and I’m really close with Poison Powder.”
“Good for you.” Sarcasm dripped through her voice. “By the way, what type of Pokemon is Paras?”
He thought. “Uh, bug and grass?”
“Yeah, that’s right. And what type of Pokemon does the Cinnabar gym leader use?”
“Oh.” Ed’s face fell. “Fire.”
Leah nodded. “Fire,” she repeated. “No bug or grass type would stand a chance, much less a bug and a grass type.”
Pushing a branch out of his way, Leah suddenly stopped as the trail came to an abrupt halt. The ground in front of them was covered with tall grass, plants and wildlife, having seemingly grown over the trail.
Leah looked at the map with a sharp eye. “Well, the map says we’re on the right track.”
Ed glared at her. “I told you the map was wrong!”
“No, no,” Leah said, waving his complaints off. “It’s not wrong, we should get to the gym if we just keep going forward.”
“But there’s no path!”
“So? We don’t need one, we just need to walk in a straight line.”
Ed solemnly looked through the dense plants and trees. “What if we get lost?”
“We’re going straight,” Leah snapped as she pushed her way through the bush. “It’s not like we’re making any turns or anything.”
Despite what Leah said, the duo did have to make a few turns, but mostly just to get around the too thick shrubs that sometimes go in their way. As soon as they got passed it, they went right back on their imaginary trail.
Hearing a low chirping, Leah looked up to the tops of the trees to see a bunch of Pidgey (or were they Spearow?) cluttering up the same branch. It was the first wild Pokemon life they had seen all day. Vaguely, Leah could tell that Ed was saying something about them, something stupid probably, but she wasn’t paying attention as something had caught her eye. At the edge of her vision and in a gap between the branches of the trees, there was a hint of gray and she turned her head to see the sky behind them clouding over rather quickly.
It was still warm out, perfect Cinnabar weather, but the dark clouds contrasted the summer picture.
“It’s going to rain soon,” Leah told Ed, still staring at the clouds.
“Really?” Ed said as he looked at them with vague disappointment. “But it was so sunny out, I didn’t think it was going to start raining.”
“I didn’t either.” It was true, too. Just that morning, before she and Ed left the Pokemon Center, she checked the weather on the internet and found out that it was going to be very sunny all day. The weather reports on that particular site were rarely wrong and Leah had to conclude that the sudden series of clouds were the result of the tropical climate or something like that.
“We should go back to the Pokemon Center,” Leah said. “I don’t want to be out when it rains.”
Ed looked at her with keen eyes, taking in her expression of discomfort and fidgeting body. His eyes lit up in sudden realization.
“I know what you’re up to.”
“Yeah?” Leah asked, eyeing the path back to the trail. “What’s that?”
“This is a scheme!”
“That’s right!” Ed said with a proud nod. “I’ve figured it out. You’ve discovered that you were wrong and we were supposed to make that right turn back there. You’re using the weather excuse to make us turn back and go back to the Pokemon Center so you won’t have to admit you’re wrong.”
Leah just stared. That wasn’t the main reason why she wanted to go back to the Pokemon Center, though it was a good secondary one.
“We should go back to the Pokemon Center,” she repeated.
Ed crossed his arms. “No, I don’t want to.”
“And why’s that?”
“’Cause we came all this way just to turn back so fast. Let’s keep going. Unless…” Ed trailed off. “Unless you want to admit you’re wrong.”
“What?” Leah said, frowning. “I’m not wrong.”
“Really? Then prove it.”
Leah glanced warily at the clouds.
“If you’re right,” Ed said, tempting her. “Then the gym can’t be too far away. We’ll get there and back before the rain comes.”
“The clouds are coming pretty fast…”
“So? If you’re right, you won’t have to worry.”
The teen tore her eyes from the sky and gave him a competitive look.
“Fine,” Leah said. “I’m not wrong.”
Her glaze drifted back to the incoming weather by their own accord.
“Fine!” Leah shouted, her hands clenched tightly in her pockets and hood obstructing her face from view. “I’m wrong, I give up!”
Ed sighed, his hair and clothing dripping with water. “Yeah, that’s for sure.”
The rain had caught up to them just five minutes ago and it came suddenly and without warning. One minute, they were arguing, the next they were taking cover under the nearest tree. Leah, fortunately, never left her house without her rain jacket and was relatively dry.
Though she didn’t act like it.
“Let’s go! You win! I want to go back to the Pokemon Center now!”
“Calm down,” Ed said, squinting through the rain. “The weather’s not that bad.”
Leah panicked. “But it will be! We need to go!”
Ed looked suspiciously at Leah. She was acting weird. It was only a little water; it never hurt anyone. He used to play in it all the time when he was little… Well, he still did, but that wasn’t the point.
He turned around and, taking a few cautious steps forward, he gained more confidence as he didn’t trip and fall flat on his face. Twigs snapped against his stride and he wiped his eyes clean of water. He felt Leah’s body heat as she came up behind him and stayed close to his back.
Together, the duo made their way back up their makeshift trail.
“I think we’re going to right way,” Ed said, but a bit of doubt made itself known in his head. They went straight, doing what Leah’s map said, but what if they stopped going straight? Neither of them could’ve known if they had started to go off a bit and just a bit made a big difference when you had been walking for ten minutes.
“We were going straight,” Leah insisted. “We have to be going to right way.”
Suddenly, there was a flash of light, but it was so short that Ed thought he had imagined it. It was only when Leah gasp that he knew that she had seen the same thing.
“Lightning!” she said softly, fear apparent in her voice. “We’re caught in a ****ing storm!”
Thunder rumbled in the distance, the loud crackle forcing a shiver up his spine. He had never been scared of storms, but then again, he had never been outside when one happened.
His breath was knocked out of him when a sudden force pushed him forwards. He stumbled and spun around.
“What was that for…” He trailed off when he saw the frenzied look in his mentor’s eye.
“Run!” Leah barked and shoved him again. This time, Ed nearly fell to the ground, but was able to catch himself by grabbing a tree. Hugging the plant around its truck, he looked up to see Leah looming over him.
“Run!” she repeated. “Don’t stop! Just run!”
Ed was about to ask why as he didn’t think that the lightning was very close to them when she glared with more intensity then he had ever seen.
Ed ran faster.
The final shout propelled him and he flew through the bushes and trees faster then he had ever run before. He didn’t look back and took no notice of the twigs and branches that slapped his skin and scratched his arms and legs.
As the storm got fiercer, the soft pitter-patter of the rain started to turn into a dull roar. Ed could feel his soaked clothes clinging to his skin and they made a sloping sound every time he moved. Another flash of lightning lit up the sky and only a few seconds later, the clap of thunder followed, louder then before.
“It’s coming closer!” Ed gasped out to Leah, who was behind him.
His eyes half-blinded by the rain, he felt his legs begin to burn from the inside out. His heart beat wildly and was begging him to stop, or at least rest, just for a moment. Just for a moment…
He didn’t know how long he had been running for, but he felt like he had been doing it for a while. The forest he had been secretly admiring as he first came through, weird looking in its design, was now just green streaks as he whizzed by it, and in some cases, through it.
With another burst of adrenaline as the sky lit up, he suddenly found himself stepping onto the trail, which he and Leah had abandoned a while ago. Despite the feeling of relief in having a route to freedom, he didn’t dare stop and kept on running.
It was only when the crossroad got into his vision did he start to slow down. He was jogging by the time he actually got there and finally came to a halt.
His legs felt like jelly and he happily let them rest by easing himself onto the ground, soaking his pants even more. He felt numb, though his body tingled weirdly as he rested it. Dazedly, he looked at the red welts and cuts that adorned his naked skin. They looked bad and when he touched one, he hissed in pain.
“Ouch,” he said dizzily.
It was still raining, as hard as ever, and the storm got steadily worse. Ed absentmindedly thought that maybe he should go back to the Pokemon Center. It would be dry there, and he could see how Ally was doing. Maybe he could even do some training; Paras was so close at knowing what Poison Powder was, it would only take a little nudging…
As thunder rolled, Ed remembered. Oh, right.
Ed really didn’t feel like moving, he was pretty comfy despite his dampness, but he had to sacrifice it. Turning his head, he looked around himself, but couldn’t see her. Weird. He thought that she had been right behind him. Glancing over at the groove between the trees, he waited. He stared at it for a while, but no Leah came running out.
Huh. He wondered where Leah was.
Ed sat there for another ten minutes.
She never came out.