Ash woke up screaming, the sheets tangled around his legs and arms, drenched in an exhausted sweat.
Cilan and Iris were busy freeing him from the covers as Pikachu stood by his head, trying to calm him down. The Pokémon knew this was not the time for an electric jolt.
“Misty...” He was sobbing now.
“Ash, you’re fine, everything’s ok, you’re alright.” Iris whispered soothingly.
It took a moment for him to realize that it had all been a very bad dream, but the touch of Misty’s ice cold fingers had felt all too real, and his ears were still ringing from that horrifying Snarl attack. Cilan handed him some tissues as he sat up to dry his eyes.
“You scared us Ash, but it was just a nightmare.”
“No...” His voice was gruff. “Misty... she, her neck, then Zoroark, oh Arceus!”
Iris looked at Cilan who shrugged his shoulders. They didn’t know who Misty was, nor what was wrong with her neck, and what Zoroark had to do with it all.
“Here Ash, have some water.” Cilan handed Ash a glass and he sipped slowly. “I think I’ll make some tea, that always calms me down.”
Cilan, ever the resourceful one, Ash knew a cup of tea was not a cure all but he didn’t dare tell the green haired young man.
“So, who’s Misty?”
Ash blushed, yet there was still a haunted look in his eyes.
“A friend from Kanto.” He stated simply, cupping the glass of cool water in both hands. His eyes followed Cilan as he prepared three cups of tea, methodically, orderly, neatly, as he always did every task, with a hint of OCD sprinkled somewhere over the top, like when he sprinkled cinnamon on a cappuccino.
“So what happened in your dream?” The dragon trainer was known for her persistence.
“She...” His words faltered, and his right hand settled on Pikachu’s head, scratching him between the ears, more for support than to pet the electric mouse’s furry body.
“It’s ok Ash, dreams can mean many different things. Maybe if you tell us what you saw, I can interpret it for you.” Cilan explained as he passed a cup of hot tea to both of his friends.
“Cilan, don’t tell me you’re also a Dream Connoisseur.” Iris rolled her eyes at the very notion before taking a sip of her tea.
“That would be correct.”
“Axewww.” Apparently the small dragon type agreed.
Without having to be prompted, Ash told Cilan everything he remembered about the dream, leaving out the part about how much he was head over heels like a Pansage doing backflips in love with Misty.
“I see.” The connoisseur muttered when Ash was finished. He scratched his chin in contemplation. “So, I gather you really... care for Misty.”
Touché Cilan, touché. He had chosen his words with, care. It was one more thing Iris could roll her eyes at.
“Well, you know what this means right?” Cilan asked as if it were the most obvious answer in all of Unova.
“We’re steering quite clear of that haunted house.”
“What? No way!” In an instant Ash was up and out of bed and searching wildly for last nights discarded clothes. “How do I know Misty isn’t in there trapped or hurt or-”
“Or, she could be in Kanto...” Iris pointed to the digital alarm clock on the night stand. “I don’t know, sleeping, unlike the rest of us.”
Ash stopped, one sneaker falling from his clutched arms. It was 4:35 in the morning. Now he felt really embarrassed waking everyone up from their sleep with his screaming and crying. He let the rest of his clothes and the other sneaker drop to the foot of his bed and sat down heavily, causing Pikachu to bounce.
“Ash, pardon my saying this, but you have a terrible tendency to just jump to conclusions.” Cilan explained calmly after a sip of tea. “Why don’t we get a few more hours of sleep, get up, have breakfast, and you can call Misty and find out how she’s doing, I’m sure she’s fine.”
Ash noticed how the Gym Leader was completely avoiding the subject of the nightmare, he wondered what he was really thinking. He sighed and crawled to the top of his bed, pulling the covers over himself.
“Try to get some sleep ok Ash? All this talk of ghosts last night has set your imagination running faster than Chili slices onions.”
The lights were turned off again and everyone, including two small Pokémon settled back into their beds. Ash tried to settle down, steady his breathing and calm his heart rate, but Arceus help Cilan if he was wasting precious seconds by not rescuing Misty!
~ (-o-) ~
It was nine in the morning when Ash woke up feeling groggy as if he hadn’t slept at all. He was alone in the room, even his best partner Pikachu was nowhere to be seen. He remembered his nightmare and shuddered. He needed to call Misty, but what would he say? “Sorry I haven’t so much as emailed you, but out of curiosity have you been bitten by a Pokémon recently and turned into a were-Zoroark?” Obviously not. It was a sickening feeling and now to top it off he felt abandoned by his friends. The ebony haired trainer sighed and threw the covers off himself. He quickly got dressed and made his way out to the lobby of the Pokémon Center to see where everyone was.
He was surprised to find that instead of a beautiful autumn day with clear blue skies, and crisp cool wind, a storm was raging outside, and the windows had sheets of water streaming down. Ash spotted everyone by a ground of window seats, Cilan looked deep in thought, while Iris had Pikachu and Axew on her lap talking to three trainers in hushed tones, who had obviously just come in from the storm.
“Uh... hey guys.”
“Pikapi!” Pikachu scampered up his arm and hugged him tightly.
“Glad to see you too buddy.”
“Ash, sit down, listen to this.”
He took an empty seat next to Iris and surveyed the three drenched trainers, they looked like they had endured quite a lot. The boy who had stopped speaking when Ash came over glanced around the room and continued, keeping his voice low.
“So, we went inside, I wasn’t even thinking straight, this place just kinda sucks you in like a vacuum or something, I don’t know. The whole place is one giant maze, and I swear to Arceus Almighty, stuff was moving, I don’t know if it was a Pokémon doing it or what, but we didn’t find out. Our C-Gear went dead even though it was fully charged, and then we heard...” The boy looked to his friends for support.
“A Pokémon couldn’t have made that sound.” A girl with blond hair whispered, she looked frightened.
The three friends nodded and the second boy spoke, he looked a few years older.
“I’ve never heard anything like it in my life, and I’ve been traveling a long time.” He shivered under his heavy Mareep wool blanket. “Whatever made that noise... it, it was pure evil.”
“We don’t know what happened after we heard it, but we woke up outside, all our Pokémon gone, our electronic equipment smashed.” Tears began to form in the corners of his eyes. “My best partner... gone.”
“I’m sorry.” Ash mumbled, he couldn’t even imagine loosing Pikachu, he held the Pokémon in his arms closer, and without even thinking he was on his feet again staring out the window to the storm beyond. “I’ll do it, I’ll get them back, all of them.”
“Ash are you crazy?” Cilan suddenly yelled. “We need to contact Officer Jenny.”
He shook his head.
“I’m going. The sound they heard was probably the same sound from my dream, someone is out there in that house stealing people’s Pokémon and they’re using a stupid old legend to get away with it! I’m not gonna stand around and let it happen.”
“Is he serious?” The blond girl asked.
“Yeah, he gets like that.” Iris shook her head. “Such a kid.”
“Call me what you’d like, but I’m going.”
“He’s brave.” The first boy said, wiping his tears.
“Stupid is more like it, I wouldn’t go back to Strange House if it were the last place on Earth, I’m calling the authorities.”
“Hmm.” Cilan seemed to finally have come out of his own thoughts. “Ash, did you call your friend in Kanto?”
“Mist-” His attention to the people in front of him was suddenly gone, and he ran silently to the video phones and dialed the number for the Cerulean Gym. After just one ring Daisy picked up.
“Uh... hi Daisy, remember me?” He let out a nervous laugh as realization suddenly dawned on Daisy’s face.
“Ash Ketchum! It’s been like forever, how are you?”
“You probably like wanna talk with Misty, but she’s like not here, she left a few days ago for a totally fancy Halloween party in the Unova region.”
“Here? Wait, like you’re in Unova?”
“Well, like maybe you can like meet up with her before the party tomorrow!”
“Did she say what town she was going to?”
“No sorry Ash, it was a really like nice black envelope, huge too and it smelled like Sweet Scent you could totally tell that whoever is hosting it is like totally rich, me, Lily and Violet were like totally jealous, I wonder what costume she’s gonna wear, like-”
“My bad Ash, I’ll tell ya what, I’ll like give you her Xtranceiver number, and you can like call her yourself ok?”
With shaky fingers Ash took down the number on the back of a RageCandyBar wrapper. He thanked Daisy and headed back to Cilan and Iris, the three trainers were in another part of the lobby talking with two Officer Jenny’s, one looked like a detective.
“So, now that you’re not running off to Strange House in search of stolen Pokémon, how is Misty?” Cilan asked with a small smile.
He took a deep breath.
“She’s here in Unova, I don’t know where, but I need to borrow your Xtransceiver.”
“Can I at least get a please?” Now Cilan was teasing him.
“Cilan, can I please borrow your Xtransceiver... please?” He added another one just in case.
Ash snatched the device out of his hands without a thank you, and ran back to a more quiet corner. He dialed the trainer code with mounting anxiety.
“Come on, come on, pick up... pick up!”
The trainer you have reached is out of the service area, please try your call again later.
Reluctantly, Ash walked back to Cilan, he made to hand the Xtransceiver back to him, when he realized that the older boy’s hands were occupied with a rather large fancy looking black envelope, the smell of Sweet Scent was unmistakably drifting to his nose.
To Be Continued...
It was perfect, beautiful, like something someone with an overactive imagination would dream up in her unfulfilled fantasies!