If I Rise
This story is an entry for the Dreamcraft Contest
In the shadows of the village, a lone figure walked slowly along. Her white fur was tainted by dried blood and dirt, giving the Absol a rather desperate appearance. She limped from alley to alley, staying out of sight from anyone who might try to hurt her. Her fur attempted to bristle, but to no avail; the fight had gone out of her. If the Pokémon ran into danger, it would not end well. That’s why the darkness behind each building was such a welcome relief. Out in the streets, a stray Pokémon would have to endure glances and mutterings, if not outright violence, but here, there was no one to scoff at a runaway. The only thing that was annoying her about her choice of road was the ever present shards of broken bottles that lay sparkling in the otherwise unremarkable ground. The Absol had been good at avoiding them for the most part, but if there were too many of them, or if she was lost in thought, one would prick her paw and cause her to wince in pain. Occasionally, she would find a dirty human leaning against a building, silent except for the rustling of the newspapers that kept him warm. The two outcasts would exchange glances before Alix the Absol continued on her way.
For now, her only destination was away. Away from the contempt people showered upon her, away from the pain in her side, and away from him. As she stepped over another scattering of green glass, the Absol shook her head to clear it of all thoughts of her former master. But no matter how hard she tried, he remained in the back of her skull, whispering his words of malice if she would only stop and listen. That’s what she had done the first few days after she escaped, holing up in a small cave and crying over the pain he had caused her. I’ll do a lot worse when I find you,
the voice said, making its way into the foreground once more. You know I’m going to be mad when I catch my little fugitive, maybe a bit of pain will stop you from running away, like a broken leg.
Alix stopped in her tracks and felt tears well up in her eyes, but managed to hold them back. “You will never hurt me again,” she said to herself and pressed on. As the Absol reached the village limits, she saw a field of lush grass and scattered trees and bushes. For someone emerging from the veil of suffering, this new landscape looked like paradise. The Absol contained her excitement and made her way around the final building, after all, it would be a shame to draw attention to herself after sneaking through the rest of the village like a thief in the night. But finally, the threat of humans had passed, and the dark-type was comforted by the serenity that only a field can possess.
With each step, Alix felt more rejuvenated. Her body slowly shifted from her crouched, limping gait to one with more dignity and grace. Or, at least as much dignity and grace one can have when her fur is matted by blood and filth. The Absol saw that there was a way to rid herself of that; a river was just over the next hill. Cautiously, she made her way to top of the slope and looked out at the meandering body of water. With the sun glittering off of its crystal blue water, the river seemed to be in full bloom, just like many of the plants around it would be in the following weeks. It appeared to be shallow, since there was a small number of Pokémon already bathing in it. Alix also saw what she assumed was a family of Oddish and Gloom playing in it and soaking up the fresh water for nutrients. Towards the middle of the river, the Absol saw a few Magikarp fins as well as what could have been a Feebas fin. The Absol debated between going down there now and waiting for the few Pokémon there to leave. She decided to clean herself off as soon as possible, before the grime could get more of a foothold in her fur.
The Grass Pokémon paid little attention to her, which Alix was grateful for as she submerged herself in the cool water, keeping only her head above the river’s surface. As the Absol’s fur became soaked, most of the muck that had ruined its color was washed out. What remained was removed through the tried and true feline method. The Disaster Pokémon remained in the river for just a while longer, letting the cool water soothe cuts and bruises that her fur hid, but after the water became more chilly than refreshing to her, Alix walked out. Noticing that the other Pokémon had left, she shook herself dry and made her way to the top of the hill. Then, the Absol lay down in the grass, hoping to use the afternoon sun to finish drying herself off. Laying her head in the nook created by her folded paws, Alix the Absol drifted off to sleep.
However, dreams held no escape from the harshness of reality. Alix found herself falling into a never-ending void. She could barely see her own front paws and felt nothing solid; there was only a feeling of weightlessness and impending doom. The Pokémon closed her eyes and braced herself for the end of her fall, but instead of the solid ground she expected, Alix landed on a surface that gave under her weight as she walked around it. It felt smooth on her paws, but Alix had little time to contemplate this new development when the blackness was lit by a harsh light. Squinting, Alix saw a grotesque image of her former trainer’s face, whose face seemed to have been melted like wax from a candle. The head was many times the size of a full-grown human with a glow emanating from its eyes and mouth, like a Jack-o-Lantern. Alix reckoned that it wouldn’t take more than a single gulp to dispose of her forever.
Alix was not going to let that happen though; she moved herself into attack position, readying the horn that was the focus of many of her techniques. But as she put her paws forward and arched her body forward in order to pounce, Alix felt the ground beneath her shift under her weight. With the light that the deformed visage of her trainer seemed to give off, Alix saw that what she was standing on was nothing more than an oversized hand, no doubt belonging to the monster in front of her.
Realizing that it could simply close its hand and crush her like a bug, Alix gave up on trying to look ready for a fight, instead reverting to how she was truly feeling, terrified beyond all belief. The hand raised her to look at her trainer’s eyes which, although they were full of soft orange light, no longer glimmered with a spark of anything resembling life. Instead, the eyes were cold and empty, like a mannequin’s, and seemed to mock Alix. The wax face grinned at her and opened its mouth, dripping what she hoped wasn’t flesh, and unleashing a voice that sounded like that of the human it resembled, but with a deeper resonance that the Absol felt underneath it.
“Well, well, well,” it said, with each word echoing down the Pokémon’s spine, “what do we have here?"
Despite the emptiness in his deformed expression, a hint of humor lurked behind its eyes. “That’s just like you Alix, acting tough as nails when you’re shaking like a leaf.” Part of its right cheek dripped off of the face and hit whatever lay beneath them with a sickening plop.
Alix did her best to muster up some reserve of strength she felt must be there, but came up empty-handed. “What do you want from me?”
“Nothing at all,” it said, and brought the Absol closer so that she could reach out and touch its empty eyes. Alix actually considered it, just digging her claws into those waxy orbs and going out in a blaze of glory, but fear kept her from moving a muscle. “I’m just curious,” it continued. “Why are you wasting your time napping when I’m still looking for you?”
That brought Alix out of her stupor. If it was true, if her trainer was still looking for her, he wouldn’t stop at the village. No, he would ask around and act like any concerned trainer would when a beloved Pokémon went missing, and the people would buy it like they always did. If even one of them had seen her, Alix’s former master would have a good idea of where she was now. All of these thoughts swirled through her head in a flurry, as the melting figure dropped her and began laughing hollowly. Once more, she was falling, but this time Alix could see the horrific face grow smaller as she dropped like a stone. Who knew, maybe she would go plop, just like the wax from its cheek had. But before the Absol could find out, she found herself not in a pit, but on the hill by the river.
Alix was in a cold sweat and felt something soft brushing against her side, near one of her numerous bruises. Fueled by the adrenaline the dream had awakened in her, the Absol leapt to her feet and turned to face her attacker. With a snarl worthy of her undomesticated ancestors, Alix found herself looking at a little Roselia who looked like it might have wet itself in sheer terror. In an instant, the fierceness in her body faded, only to be replaced with embarrassment. “I’m sorry,” Alix said. “Are you okay, Miss?”
“I’m fine,” the smaller Pokémon said, getting back on its feet and brushing itself off with its flowers, “but if the shorter skirt didn’t tip you off, I’m more of a mister than a miss, if you catch my drift.”
“I’m sorry,” Alix said. “I just thought that most Roselia were female.”
The green Pokémon looked at her with a look of mock contempt, “And I thought all Absol were dark and moody.” In response to Alix’s confused expression at this, the Roselia’s serious demeanor broke and he extended his blue petal to her, “The name’s Mend. And you are?”
The Absol gave the figure an odd look, “I’m Alix, and I have to start moving.” She began to walk past the Roselia, planning to follow the river to wherever it went. Soon enough, the small Grass Pokémon was following her, struggling to keep up with the Absol’s faster stride. “What are you doing?” Alix asked.
“Keeping you company of course,” Mend replied, before winking at her, “Or would you prefer I leave the stereotypically brooding Absol alone?” Alix sighed and slowed her pace, which the Roselia took as an invitation. He caught up with her and the unlikely duo set off down the river bank together.