“Unbelievable,” said Miles the next morning. “Utterly unbelievable.” He was standing in his kitchen, wearing a beat-up t-shirt and pajama pants. It was abundantly obvious by his mannerisms that the Pastoria resident was not amused.
Hamilton laughed. “I know, right? Normally I’m the one doing all the crazy stuff!”
“Which is why you’re still here and Rodney isn’t,” offered the man, returning the cordless telephone in his hand to its proper upright position. “But even so, since when was he willing to run off in the middle of the night?” He crossed his arms and sighed deflatedly. “Maybe we should have waited another six months before letting him out?”
“Don’t talk to me, talk to Mom.” Hamilton shrugged, rather upsetting the Croagunk now clinging to his waist. Craig was always rather fond of that.
“Well, at least we know he’s alright, I guess… never got to fight Crasher Wake, though. I wonder why he decided to go backwards to Solaceon?” Of course, Miles knew precisely why he decided to go backwards to Solaceon, but to be perfectly honest he would rather not. Granted, he had brought it upon himself, but still. That didn’t mean his two children would have any reason to know about it, pfft. No way. They wouldn’t be able to handle it!
“Beats me,” said Hamilton, who had the exceptional power to totally ignore the worrying expression on his father’s face in favor of drinking some milk.
Miles nodded. They definitely wouldn’t be able to handle it.
At the same time, a few cities away, there was breakfast to be had.
“You know, I think I ought to be going back to Pastoria,” said Rodney thoughtfully. “I was supposed to be there in the first place until that… uh, thing happened.”
“Go ahead and do that,” said Mitch. “It’s not as if I’m in any position to stop you.”
“I know, but I have been doing a lot of random run-off-in-the-middle-of-the-night maneuvers lately.” Rodney paused to think about this. “Well, only two, but that’s still more than the usual amount.”
“Since when have you ever done a run-off-in-the-middle-of-the-night maneuver?”
“See?” said Mitch, waving a hand at him. “You were right. You’re doing run-off-in-the-middle-of-the-night maneuvers, kid. We can no longer stop you from going back to Pastoria, because you’ve obviously found some way to cheat with that Grumpig of yours!” He pointed now to Tristan, who had eaten earlier and was now sitting calmly in the corner. The Pokémon did not acknowledge Mitch’ existence, and decided instead to remain sitting calmly in said corner.
Rodney chuckled. “Uh-huh.” There was a beat of silence, during which both people realized the other wasn’t going to respond, and sooner or later Rodney picked up the slack again.
“So… I was thinking that I should probably get going soon.”
Mitch nodded musingly. “I suppose you should… are you going back to Pastoria?”
“I guess I am.” Rodney turned to the purple Pokémon lurking in the corner. “Thoughts?”
Tristan shook his head. “Pig.”
With that confirmation given, Rodney got out of his previous sitting position and dusted himself off. “Well, um, thanks for letting me stay the night,” he said. “See you around, I guess.” Tristan, who had realized that the end was near, came to his feet and again lurked in the same position.
Mitch eyed the Grumpig. “He sure does like corners for a claustrophobe.”
“Makes the room look bigger.” Rodney gestured to the Pokémon, who nodded and followed him out the door without another word. Mitch sat there, watching him leave with a raised eyebrow. Everyone in the family had been strange in some way or another, and this one was most certainly no different.
Anima Ardall, compared to her family in Ecruteak City, Johto, was not the sharpest knife in the drawer. No, far from it. She was intelligent enough – rather pointy in accordance with the metaphor. She was happy and wispy and couldn’t sit still, though, which put her at odds with the rest of her family. So, instead of a knife, she was more an… excessively pointy spoon. You know the kind, the one where the edges are too sharp and thin and generally painful to your six-in-the-morning gums. Technically what you’re looking for, but not all there.
Well, in any case, she was –
‘I’ was Giratina the Celestial Librarian, High Goddess and Conductor Lady of Never-Turn-Back the Interdimensional Bus Terminal. I was also suffering with a truly ferocious case of Editor’s Block.
You see, this thrilling adventure was happening in the world, oh yes it was, but there’s a big problem: these things don’t write themselves. So somewhere in an alternate dimension called Never-Turn-Back, there sits a giant magical computer that has recordings of everything even remotely interesting that goes on in the world. The Pokémon sitting at this magical computer, an extremely dashing Legendary named Giratina, has been charged with the job of writing down the best ones and putting them in Arceus’ Archives; the reasoning being that Arceus simply can’t remember all the fun stuff that happens, so he charged someone else to write it all down for him.
Well, good thing the Unown Dialect reads and sounds exactly like English, eh?
In any case, I knew what was happening. I had the file right here. It was playing out in front of me, over and over. I could see just what this hyperactive redhead was doing. But I couldn’t for the life of me find the right words… and so I ended up using stupid and confusing metaphors. This happened sometimes. It was strange. And just like everything else that’s strange, my little ‘assistant’ was there to comment on it.
“Are you still procrastinating on that stupid thing?” asked Zero, walking up to me. And yes, before we continue – that Zero. Arceus’ punishment system is a beautiful thing.
“Maybe,” I responded huffily.
“You are, aren’t you.” This was not posed as a question, and suddenly over my shoulder appeared the head of my assistant. This head was connected to a body, which likewise was hovering a considerable distance above the part of Never-Turn-Back that was assumed to be the floor. “Put that off forever and somebody’s going to have your head for i—yeep!”
I had grabbed his considerably smaller body with one paw and was now glaring at him. “Let’s not forget who the boss is here, shall we?”
Zero looked miffed, but I let him go when he started struggling. Who knew what pointy metal screwdrivers or whatever he could start attacking me with? (There’s another problem with Zero: I wouldn’t put that past him. He’s not the nicest of people.)
“Your funeral,” he said, dusting himself off.
I continued staring glumly at the monitor, until Zero bothered to speak up again. “Hey, Giratina.”
“There’s always been something I wondered about…”
“I’m impressed, Zero,” I said, flicking my hands upward in praise to the nonexistent heavens. “You’ve actually thought for once… go on.”
“Shut up.” Those two words have recently been becoming his catchphrase; gee, I wonder why. “Anyway, as I was saying, there has always been something that I’ve been wondering about, and I figured you’d know the answer to it. You being, you know, the Celestial Librarian and whatever.”
“Can’t you go look it up in the Archives? I’m suffering from editor’s block here.”
“I’m sorry, have you even looked at that place recently? You couldn’t find your left leg in there! …No. Actually, don’t go in there. I’m asking you.”
“Fire away.” I was just eager to get the little murderer off my back.
“It pertains to the subject of hair.”
This prompted a pause. “…Hair?” I asked. “Zero… in case you hadn’t noticed, I am not in possession of any hair at this time. This is something you’d be better suited writing in to Hoennian Girl.”
Zero ignored my pointed comment. “No. I mean, some people’s hair – such as mine, for instance – just tend to… I don’t know, grow strangely. Another example is that brown-haired kid with the ridiculous-looking bangs.”
“Yes. Rodney. Thank you…” Zero’s one visible eye slowly drifted its focus to some point off in the distance.
“Oh, I see,” I said, getting out of the chair I was previously sitting in. “You’re wondering why your hair makes gravity your personal slave and everybody else’s doesn’t.”
“Well, that’s not the way I would have put it, but…”
“Right. Zero, have I ever told you about the Gravity Gods?” It was evident from his facial expression that I had not. “Well. Over in some other dimension which is even more confusingly entwined with Earth than Never-Turn-Back is, there lives a race of small black deities which reproduce by way of magical powers instead of… the traditional fashion. They also float. This race, collectively, are the Gravity Gods, and on Earth I believe they tend to be known as…”
“Ding ding! We have a winner. Yes, the Unown. At the beginning at the universe they were assigned a power, just like all the other Legendaries, and this race wound up with gravity. Anyhow, they also have a mysterious tendency to have… ah… unstable DNA, shall we say.”
“Right. It’s not exactly DNA, per se, but they seem to have some other atomic Pokémon makeup that tends to be, you know, prone to changing in vibrant and ridiculous ways. Well, as you know, sometimes the Unown pass over their world’s barrier into Earth. The trip… well, it’s very interesting, but it’s also been known to loosen and reconfigure this not-DNA in the Unown. It doesn’t happen to every Unown, which explains why you still see regular old Unown around a lot, but it happens to a few. And when that happens, they turn into human beings, and…”
“…They end up having unusual hair?” finished Zero dubiously. “Are you trying to tell me that in reality I’m six inches tall?”
“No, if you’ll let me finish,” I growled. “The Unown-human responsible for your funny hair could have died a few hundred years ago. When an Unown-human discovers this is happening, then usually they find themselves unable to transform back, being for the most part human now and without the Unown’s dimension-spanning abilities. When that happens, the Unown-human has no choice to accept itself into society…”
Zero’s expression was blank.
“In basics, it’s pretty much that the ability to have gravity-defying hair is an inherited trait, just like eye or skin color,” I said wispily. “Somewhere along the line, a few greats ago, you had an Unown as an ancestor. Nowadays humans have found their own ways to simulate unusual hairstyles without having an Unown gene in them, as it can be called, but you can’t choose the hairstyle you have when you’re born with it. That’s what happened to you, right? You had no choice but to let your hair grow that way?”
“Yes,” he admitted. “That’s right.” There was a pause. “Uh… thanks. I suppose.”
“No problem,” I said pleasantly. “Now leave me alone.”
Well, in any case, she was wandering along Route 209, humming a tune under her breath and admiring the scenery passing by. Next to her was a Drifloon, floating happily in the gentle breeze. Yes, in the personal world of Anima Ardall, all was at peace. And because all was at peace, she found herself not thinking she needed to look where she was going.
This was why she crashed into somebody else.
He looked to be off in his own little world too: his eyes were drifting around vacantly without really registering anything, a sure sign of deep thought, and by the looks of things he was depending entirely on the little gray-and-purple shadow walking beside him to warn him if anything was coming. Unfortunately, said gray-and-purple shadow’s warning came just a little too late.
This was why he crashed into somebody else.
The noises were synonymous and, when spoken together, didn’t sound very good, but they got the point across. The two stared at one another after that, until the taller of the two cleared her throat and spoke.
“Oh. Uh. Excuse me.”
The shorter: “Huh? Um, no, it was my fault. Sorry, sorry.”
The taller: “Ehehe! Oh my gosh, I’m so klutzy sometimes…”
The shorter: “Um, right… uh, see you around? Or not?”
The Drifloon and Grumpig who accompanied these two worriedly eyed first their respective owners, then the other. There came an understanding there that could only be forged between two Pokémon: the understanding that their Trainers were most definitely not all there, and that the other wasn’t alone in that aspect. It wasn’t the nicest agreement, to be certain, but it was one of those instinctual things that Pokémon had picked up lately. Fascinating power, but not all that helpful.
And the two people passed one another. Rodney Harrison and Anima Ardall were confident they would never meet the other again (they were going in entirely opposite directions, after all), and within minutes they were back to their regularly scheduled lollygagging. And the two Pokémon shrugged (or whipped their tails, the Drifloon equivalent). The Grumpig and Drifloon went on their way, following their Trainers while assuming that the other would not at all be relevant to their life in the future.
Both the trainers and the Pokémon were wrong.
Yeah, so... sorry about this wait, guys, and I have something to say.
First off, I'm not shutting down Abecedarian. This story has been kicking around in my mind before I even got the idea for Metal Coat, and I'm not going to let it just drop dead. However, I did suffer an enormous writer's block, and trust me - it was even harder on me than it was on those of you who actually care. So yeah, part of the chapter was totally out of left field and hard to follow, and for that I apologize, but I was just trying to get my inspiration to work enough to bring me through Chapter Three.
That in mind, I don't know when the next update will come, but I intend to bring it. This story has waited five years and just as many rewrites to come to a conclusion, and I'm sure not letting a rocky part of the writing process ruin that.
So yeah... I'm sorry for abandoning this babeh for so long.
Oh, and for those of you who are following both this and WHW - and yes, that Rodney.