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Thread: The Cool Kids

  1. #1
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    Default The Cool Kids

    Rating (at the moment): PG-13

    Chapter One - From Humble Beginnings


    I guess you could call me an open book.

    There’s this old quote that says emotions have taught mankind to reason. I think whoever said that must be kind of stupid, or they haven’t been around many men, because in my case emotions and reasoning could not be farther apart. My dad is like a rock and my mom is an emotional wreck. Guess which one I’m like? There are people who can’t express their feelings, and then there are people that have every action controlled by their emotions, and I’ve always been firmly in that second group. “It’s romantic,” my mom always told me, but try telling that to your date when you cry in the middle of a flick. When there’s snot in your popcorn and crap running down your eyes because the soldier might not see his bride again - well, for many girls that isn’t too romantic.

    Maybe if that wasn’t my one defining trait. If I was really tall or great at battling, it might be a little romantic. A blubbering idiot, that’s just awkward for everyone involved. Take saying bye to my folks. A man of eighteen holds his back straight and his head up high and shakes his dad’s hand. He’s not sweating and he sure as hell isn’t on the verge of running to his mom and hugging her for dear life. I wasn’t even scared, that’s the thing. After so many years of getting “do this” shoved into your brain, you do that. Especially in a nowhere town like Fortline. If you don’t want to be a farmer, you become a trainer. My dad is a farmer, you see, and he absolutely hates it. So when I finally got the chance to do something different, it should have been one of those moments you need to catch on camera. Not even good-looking guys look good crying on camera, so I was out of luck. When the hiccup found it’s way out of my throat, Old Jay Morrow number one looked at number two (that’s me, for those keeping track at home) with something resembling disappointment.

    “What’s wrong, Jay? Your balls drop?”

    He loved little jokes like that. Had a big stack of funny-books in the corner of our little kitchen, and he would rattle off from them after dessert like a robot. What’s a tree and a dog got in common? Bark. Guys like Jay Morrow, Sr. always have an edge, to them, though - it’s how they stay young. What do you do when your dishwasher stops working? Well, let’s just say Mom didn’t like that one. For him, asking about my balls was nothing.

    They hadn’t dropped, at least. I reached in my little travel bag that would no doubt be full by the end of the week; I had to fumble around in it for a second before pulling out a Poke Ball. The mindless action had managed to calm me down.

    “You’re a funny guy, dad.”

    He shrugged his gigantic shoulders, smiling thinly. The crisis had been averted, but he wasn’t about to forget a moment of weakness like that. Another thing about guys like him? They don’t forget things. Maybe they’re not the sharpest men around, but you don’t need to be bright to be bitter.

    Any time left to delay the inevitable had passed me by.

    “So.”

    “So.”

    Old Jay Morrow looked almost sad for a minute, before chuckling nervously. “Have what you need, then?”

    “I think so, yeah.”

    “Know where to go?”

    “Only one road to go down.”

    It wasn’t philosophical, mind you, there was literally only one little road to get out of Fortline. The town consists mainly of a lot of dirt and some corn and then some more dirt. Want a shop, or food that’s not corn? Go west to Pallet, where I was heading to get my starter.

    “Looks like it’ll be nice for a couple more hours, then the sun’ll go down. You’ll make it by, uh, by then.”

    “Right.”

    Maybe it was the adrenaline rush or the newness of it all, but any sentimentality that could have emerged from the departure wasn’t there anymore. That’s how it is sometimes. Cry during a movie, but when you might as well be in the middle of one you start to play the role you’re assigned a little better. I held out my hand, straightened out my dark blue jacket. Fixed up my posture. “So I think I should go, then.”

    “Have your license?”

    I didn’t like the guy, but he was also giving a nice performance.

    “Right here,” I said, slapping my pocket with the hand that wasn’t extended. The zipper stung my palm.

    At that point both Jay Morrows were out of words to say. Dad took my hand, shook it twice, let go.

    I didn’t see him again after that, but I like to think things got better for him.

    God knows they didn’t for me.


    ***


    Sun going down.

    The first hour hadn’t been bad. Hadn’t been great, but I like to think I managed it admirably. A man I’ve known since I was four or five was walking back with some supplies, and I only thought for a couple seconds that he might murder me. Things were looking up.

    Thankfully it was all but impossible to get lost. Apart from some knee-high bushes and dirt, there wasn’t anything to look at so hypnotizing that it could distract you. I followed the little rubble path they call a road, stopping only when my bag started weighing against my shoulders or to get a drink of water. Fifty minutes in and I had gone through two water bottles; I knew I would have to ration, but I figured the beginning of any epic journey was meant to be easy.

    The second hour arrived.

    Almost exactly on cue with the opening of my third bottle, a thorn wrapped around my foot. To say it caught my off-guard would be far too kind to me. To say I screamed a little would be an exaggeration, but a little whimper definitely came out. Like I said - the only things here were dirt and bushes, something as exotic as a thorn was unheard of. And a stone road, of all places, seemed like a fairly ridiculous place to worry about stabbing your foot. Probably going to get it infected, dirt’s already seeping in, I can tell. This is great, really just fantastic. I’ll hobble to Professor Oak’s and faint right into his arms like a vaudeville dancer. When I had the good judgment to look down at the damage that had been done, there was something stranger than a thorn staring up at me with two small, beady black eyes.

    Bellsprout jumped up in one swift motion, the legs that I had taken for thorns displaying surprising athleticism. I had seen pictures of it, of course, but Pokemon in general were scarce in Fortline, and Bellsprout weren’t native to the area at all. It lazily swayed its leafy arms at me. Its face didn’t seem capable of registering any emotion, but I took the blank stare as unwelcoming.

    “You lost, then?”

    I expected it to respond, as dumb as that sounds. Two hours in and my mental faculties were starting to abandon me. Great. It did respond to some extent, laying back down on the road, closing its eyes in a dramatic display of defeat.

    “Leave you?”

    The notion of abandoning it seemed cruel. Whatever had prompted me to shake my father’s hand like a man was still in me somewhere, because I decided that wouldn’t happen. “And what, let a Pidgey bite off your arm? That won’t grow back, buddy.” I had no idea if I was speaking the truth.

    I’m not worthy, the Bellsprout said, flailing one of its legs around. It was kind of cute, in a vegan kind of way. I tapped it gingerly with my shoe, afraid it would crumble at my touch. Thankfully, it didn’t. “Come on, stop playing around.” It looked up at me again with its emotionless beady eyes. “Let’s take you to Pallet, huh?” The words came out before I could filter them. Immediately, the Pokemon perked up a little, its arms rising slightly and its dull eyes starting to shine. Crap. Am I stuck with this thing now? And then, more troublingly: Did I just get conned by a Bellsprout?

    No kid dreams of having a Bellsprout as their starter. No kid. I was no exception, but I couldn’t deny that the thing had some charm to it.

    Not much, but some.
    Last edited by Antithesis; 14th November 2011 at 10:25 AM.
    Here’s to the crazy ones. The rebels. The troublemakers. The ones who see things differently. While some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.

  2. #2
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    Hello!

    I see you have a bit of formatting error going on here, so let me go ahead and point that out.

    [i[Crap. Am I stuck with this thing now?[/i]
    I just thought I'd point that out so that you could fix it.

    I must admit I enjoy the angst that I get from the protagonist here. I love that he has a decent character development and actually seems human, and it's only the first chaper.

    I particularly like that you chose for him to rescue a bellsprout, that's a new pokemon to see as a starter.

    I have to say, though it was short I did enjoy this chapter, and I will be back to read again!
    Insert Cool FanFic Banner Here.
    Maybe I should start writing one of those...

    Honestly, the hell if I know...

  3. #3
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    I'm not sure what made me click this and read it, but I did.

    So far this seems quite enjoyable. You've got a nice, smooth writing style going, I like your main character already, and his interactions with both his father and the Bellsprout are entertaining. Not much to say, since it was a pretty short chapter and I don't really have any criticisms, but.

    I want to say I'll be following this, but I have an awful tendency to fall behind on fics I have every intention of following, so I can't make any promises. Nice work, either way.

    Chapter 64: Hide and Seek
    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.

  4. #4
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    Thanks for comments, appreciate it.


    ______________________________


    Chapter Two - Oak


    Let’s talk about Pallet Town for a minute.

    I won’t pretend to be an expert. You can’t be on any place you only spent an hour or two in. But some places just immediately strike you as a little strange. It could be the isolation or the narrowness, but I think there’s just something innately off about Pallet Town that can’t be wrapped up in a nice package. It’s just one of those strange places. Not many things get said about it, so it could just be me. People might just be avoiding it, though, like people avoid anything a little off. Or they might just not care anymore. You don’t hear about people going off to vacation in Pallet too often, and I think there’s probably a good reason for that. It’s just one of those little isolated towns nobody seems to want to live in or be near. That’s why I got the hell out of it after seeing good old Oak.

    I wasn’t even sure why I bothered going to Oak’s. Honesty is an important thing, so let me drop whatever cloak of benevolence I might have been wearing and get down to the nitty-gritty. Just for a minute. I thought of leaving that Bellsprout behind, just like I thought of just heading past Pallet Town and forgoing the whole trainer bit. Once that passed, I thought of shoving it in my bag and getting a real starter - start off with two. A Charmander or something, I don’t know, anything cool. When I walked into town and Bellsprout was dragging its feet behind me, that was one of the big things on my mind. Get rid of the dead weight before I even get started, you know? After getting raised on the strict philosophy of self-preservation, I knew right after looking at Bellsprout that it wasn’t much of a solid beginning, unless you like getting your behind handed to you. Had I had my mind made up before stepping foot in that creepy little town, I might have just went off the road and taken the long road to Viridian.

    From behind me the sun was starting to set. Bellsprout had already started slowing me down a little; a couple of short hours had turned into three long ones. I’ll admit it wasn’t all Bellsprout’s fault. You could call me a daydreamer or just a lazy áss, but sometimes I like to take my time and enjoy whatever limited sights there are. Pallet Town was already starting to suck me in, and subconsciously maybe I was already doing my best to avoid it. Pallet Town gets everyone after long enough, I’m sure of it. The location doesn’t hurt. Want to go from Viridian to Fortline or one of the other little towns neighboring it? Stop on by at Pallet. Same the other way around. Everyone ends up at Pallet, was the only thing going through my head as I walked past the last fragment of what I could call the road.

    So I went into Pallet Town, partly to get somewhere safe before nightfall (the notion that I would have to camp out anyway had somehow not crossed my mind), bust mostly because I hadn’t made my mind up yet as to whether or not I was going to just leave the thing following me by the wayside. When I did have my mind made up to keep it - for the time being - it wasn’t out of anything noble or charitable. It was straight up fear. Worst-case scenarios started flying through my head. Bellsprout’s not strong enough to make it through the night without getting attacked, it’ll die if I don’t take it and then someone will find it and blame me. The couple of guys I had passed might be Oak’s assistants or his friends, and they might tell him I was getting two for the price of one. I’m not a gambling man, and the minus of that and the plus of paranoia leads to a lot of decisions you don’t necessarily want to make. By the time the little WELCOME TO PALLET TOWN! sign was fading away, its rusty nails nothing but a glint in the remaining sunlight, I had something resembling a game plan figured out. Something resembling a game plan.

    I glanced behind my shoulder at Bellsprout, who despite starting to fall behind seemed to be in rather good spirits. “Quicken the pace, bud,” I muttered under my breath, still having it in my head that if I talked discreetly enough people might not notice Bellsprout. “Let’s go see the man with at least some dignity.” A ball of nerves was already forming at the pit of my stomach, and before looking at the laboratory I was pretty much sure the professor would be furious with me. Since when did people see him and say - no thank you, sir, but I think I’m fine with this Bellsprout instead of your expensive, carefully raised Squirtle? Dad’s been making payments on this starter since before I could ride a bike. Every Christmas present from then to now and I’m about to waste it because I’m afraid of leaving this thing to rot. What the hell’s wrong with me?

    Starting with two wasn’t exactly a possibility. What am I, a rich kid? No one from Fortline gets two to start with, the paperwork alone would be too much to handle, not to mention standing by some board saying that I just really wanted this Bellsprout. Nope. It’s one and done, son.

    Peering up at the lab, my stomach dropped at the sight. Every building so far had followed the same general outline: small, a lot of brown and a lot of wood, and maybe an off-center sign promoting cheap bills and great service (judging from the condition of Ted’s Out-N-In Diner, I wasn’t sure just how great any service could possibly be, but I digress). I had intentionally went without looking at the building before, and when I finally did the fear that it would make everything too real were validated. Wasn’t in the back of my room anymore, listening to an old cassette player and eating junk food.

    So what was so wrong with the place? It had a fresh coat of paint, for one. No chipping at all. Nice big windows, with stained glass arcs at the top. The glass looked like it could even make it through a couple of rocks being tossed at it. This was the real deal. Probably even government sponsored. “What do you think?” I said, looking down at Bellsprout. It looked wholly unimpressed. “You’ve barely even got eyes, what the hell am I asking you anything for? Come on, let’s go.”

    My right foot fell down with a thump; I’d apparently raised it forward to move at some point, but had refused to follow up with the left. I shook my head and tried for a chuckle, but no sound came out. Get your act together, Dad would say. Then he’d pop open a beer and tell me to stay quiet so he could read the funny pages in peace.

    “I don’t even know if you have any attacks, do you know that? The Bulbasaur in there - my Bulbasaur, all the papers say, it can probably throw its foot down and start an earthquake. Probably has Solar Beam and all that good stuff. You don’t even have feet, do you? Technically?”

    I turned around. Bellsprout looked back to me, its unblinking little black eyes seeing through the act.

    For a second I didn’t attempt to walk again, despite the laboratory being closer than ever. I attempted to compose myself. Even the door was intimidating. Was that mahogany? You’d think he would have gone with oak.

    Hesitantly, I got whatever resembled courage left in me sorted out and brought my hand up. Clenched it far too tightly, and knocked softly once, then twice. As my fist went down for the third, the door open in one quick motion. My hand dropped down lamely on the extremely well-fed belly of Professor Samuel Oak. It bounced lightly for a second - looking back one of my biggest regrets in life could very well be not snapping my hand back like a normal person would - until I finally withdrew it a second too late.

    The professor glanced up at me, the breezing smile that had been on his face disappearing. Confused, but not angry.

    “That’s how we say hello in Fortline,” I muttered lamely. The joke fell flat, as it deserved to. “Let’s forget about that, then?” The suggestion was better received. His smile came back, this time reassuring. Around then, I started to like the man. Maybe he wasn’t the stern government patsy my dad had always complained about. If I have to send another stupid starter check to them, he would often rant at no one in particular, remind mom to hide the gun next time you two leave me alone.

    He tapped his foot for a moment. I couldn’t help but notice that his shoes were new and leather. “Fortline. Ah! Jay, then?” Oak seemed rather proud that he had made the connection on his own. The heavy lines on his face, the first thing I had noticed, had already seemed to fade away slightly, replaced by the healthy glow of a man much younger. He still looked over the hill, but the tiredness had gone away. “There’s a Bellsprout behind you,” he noted pleasantly. Bellsprout waved a leaf nonchalantly.

    I shuffled my feet, a childlike action I had never been able to get rid of. “About that....”

    The professor cut me off with a brief laugh, the loud king that’s either annoying or great to hear, depending on the person. “We’re not cavemen, Jay. Let’s go inside. Want some coffee?”

    “No, thanks.”

    Oak moved down the narrow hallway. Bellsprout followed accordingly, but I stood still at first, scratching at the back of my head. I need a hair cut, I thought suddenly. My feet had started walking without me telling them to do so. Funny how that works, sometimes.

    Pictures lined the hall, dressed up in nice frames. Several were painted gold, but unlike outside more paint had chipped off with time than was left on the frame. The one that stood out was large, maybe three feet diagonal, and hand painted. What resembled a younger Oak - this one with salt and pepper in his hair instead of just the salt - stood with his arm around a woman (wife?) and what may have been their two sons. Whoever had painted it had done a fantastic job. Warmth radiated out of the image.

    Glancing up, I saw that the professor was looking at me, his large eyes still shining but the warmth not as apparent anymore. “Let’s keep a move on.”

    I thought of asking about it for a moment, before realizing it might be a poor idea. So I kept a move on. “So about Bellsprout,” I tried to start. Again, Oak held a hand up, cutting me off. For most people that would come off as rude, but with the professor it just seemed curt. I got the sense that this was not a man who liked doing things the way other people wanted.

    “I’ve always said that if you’re going to tell a story, you may as well tell it with some coffee,” he said cheerfully, tapping on his belly a little. I also got the sense that this was a man who had heard a great number of stories.

    We entered a little kitchen. The smallness of the lab so far had surprised me; I assumed this was just his living quarters, the rest of it must be in the back. From the looks of the kitchen, I figured my prediction that he had a wife was far off. No woman would let a nice place go to hell like this. The wallpaper, a faded pink and blue floral pattern that was bad enough, was peeling off at the corners, and odd stains I couldn’t make out had dried in some areas. Pallet Town went through my head.

    As Oak went to work on his coffee, ignoring me for the moment, I took a seat at the small wooden table - the only thing of significance in the room beside a tiny television set, rabbit ears sticking up at odd angles, desperately searching for a channel. It was to no avail; black and white specks bounced around the screen. The chair creaked as I put my weight on it, and for a frantic moment I was sure it would break and Oak would escort me out, furious. It took until I had rested my arms in my lap that I noticed three bright, clean Poke Balls sitting on a little tray. A small part of me was disappointed. I had expected this to be a much larger ordeal. Haven’t even seen the lab, I mused. Bellsprout stood proudly at my feet, and I got the feeling that if Bellsprout had a nose it would turn it at the balls.

    I waited as Oak finished up his coffee, took a small sip, and deemed it perfectly drinkable. “There’s a planting company right up in Viridian,” he stated. “You know, garden supplies, soil, all that. As you saw I’ve never been much of a gardening man, so some of the terminology escapes me.” I wasn’t sure what he was talking about at first, before retrospectively noticing that the lab had no front lawn to speak of, or garden. None of the places in Pallet did. Just another quirk of it, I guess. Even with the information I wasn’t sure where he was going with it. Oak took a seat across from me, looking me in the eyes for the first time since escorting me down the hall. “Sometimes a big truck, open at the back so the plants can get air, makes deliveries to the big places. The farms in Fortline get them sometimes, I assume.”

    I nodded absent-mindedly, still not sure where he was going with the story. I thought, for a moment, that the man just wanted someone to talk to. “The owner of the place, he goes by Junior, never call him Ernie, he hates it - we’re old friends, and when he was starting the company up he needed a lot of advice on Pokemon. To help out with things. I suggested Machop, of course.” I nodded again - for the lifting. Those big bags of soil could be heavy. “Would you like to take a guess what else I suggested?”

    It hit me - it had struck me as strange that a Pokemon would be lying on a road to a place it wasn’t from. “Bellsprout.” The Pokemon in question glanced up. I didn’t know if it could understand us or not, but it had perked up quite a bit. “So this Bellsprout has an owner already - Junior?” Like I said before, honesty’s always been big with me. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t relieved.

    “Right. I assume you thought you would have to be the one responsible?”

    That struck me as a pretty cold way to put it, but I nodded. Oak smiled at me warmly, before taking a sip of his drink and quickly putting it down. “Hot, hot, hot. That’s very noble of you, Jay -” I almost laughed “ - but I assure you you hold no accountability for this Bellsprout.” He paused. “Well, except for one thing. I’m afraid this does complicate matters slightly.” His brow furrowed as he thought. “You know, of course, that legally a trainer is only allowed to have one Pokemon registered to him at the time he receives his identification and Pokedex. I could just write one off - ignore it - but that doesn’t seem wholly moral.” I thought that seemed like a wholly rude thing to do, but then I thought Pallet once more. I began to like the old man a little less; people don’t end up here for no reason. Ted and his little eating place got here for a reason, and so did Professor Oak. I nudged away from him slightly. Instinctively. “So I must ask a favor of you, Jay, and I apologize beforehand for any inconvenience.” I didn’t entirely buy that, but I nodded anyway. If there was one thing I had learned so far in life, it was to avoid confrontations.

    “Take Bellsprout back to Viridian -”

    “ - where, of course, you’ll be heading anyway. And then when you come back I will have no contrary feelings at all about handing you one of your Pokemon.” He was messing with me. He got bored doing the same thing day after day, so he was taking the chance that came and messing with me. It would be so easy to just hand me Charmander and pretend Bellsprout doesn’t exist. Why’s he playing a moral angel? Now I’m going to need to come back to this place. The thought made my stomach drop a little. Some towns do that to you.

    Oak finished drinking his coffee, and we sat in silence for several terse moments.

    My thoughts went back to that painting.
    Here’s to the crazy ones. The rebels. The troublemakers. The ones who see things differently. While some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.

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