So unless you’ve been living under a rock the past few weeks, you’ll know about the resurgence of the Pokémon craze in the form of mobile game Pokémon Go, where you can catch monsters that appear in the area around you thanks to GPS technology. I must confess to being bitten by the bug myself, having the app running while walking to and from work, to town or to the gym etc, and trying to ‘catch ’em all’. While Pokémon never went away, exactly (there have still been games made since the originals on the Game Boy, and the anime is on something like over 800 episodes now, and will probably outlive us all), it hasn’t been this much of a craze since its inception in the 90’s. Feeling inspired, I started to write a short story relating to the Pokémon Go craze, the beginning of which I am now posting here for your reading pleasure. Let me know what you think, and should I continue with it? Might be cool to post it in installments if there’s demand for it 🙂 Anyway, enjoy, and any critiques/comments/feedback are welcome – that’s how us writers learn and improve, after all. Without futher ado…
Pokémon Go inspired short story (no title yet) – Opening
As he neared the dark and foreboding alley, he was starting to wonder if this had been such a good idea after all. This is where the monster was supposedly lurking, if the rumours and mumblings had been true; yet his device had seemingly still not detected it. He hoped this would not turn out be a fool’s errand; he was alone, a mere child, deep in the heart of what was most certainly not a good neighbourhood. His mother would have his head if she knew he was skulking around here, even more so if she knew the reason. She had already been rather dismissive of the whole thing, and had given him a long, stern talking to about the dangers of it. Thinking of it, he was pretty sure that she’d even specifically said something about ‘finding yourself in a dark alley and Christ-knows-what happening to you’. He knew this was not a place he should be in; it was somewhere he wouldn’t even dream of visiting in any other circumstance. This neighbourhood had a colourful reputation – an assault and/or stabbing of some poor soul or another was reported in the news seemingly every other day. He couldn’t help but think that a fair few of them had probably occurred right where his feet were cautiously tip-toeing through at this very moment. But he had to do this. He had to go and investigate. After all, he had got this far without encountering any unsavoury characters; a few deathly stares from faces with seemingly more piercings than flesh; but nothing deeper than that. Despite this, frustration was certainly starting to set in now. His device still wasn’t picking up anything. Looking at his tracker in vain, the avatar representing him inching further and further down the long, narrow rectangle, he groaned in frustration, still not seeing anything appear on the map. But there was plenty of alley left yet. He had only just been able to squeeze himself through; he was sidling his way through, rather than walking. It was merely a tiny gap between two buildings, but the map suggested there was an opening on the other side, that led to a dead end where the monster supposedly lied. In normal circumstances, if it was there, the tracker would have picked it up by now. Regardless, he was hardly going to turn back now.
Inching his way through the last stretch of thin darkness, he eventually emerged in a wider space – the dead end depicted on the map – and found…nothing. Nada. Not a blip. All that was there was a wall that appeared to be the back of another adjacent building, with a door long-boarded up, and a solitary window that had only sharp remnants of glass. The brick had been coated in graffiti, leading him to wonder who would be determined enough to make the effort to squeeze themselves in here just to do that. Said the guy whose chasing goddamn digital monsters through here, he cursed to himself. Sighing in exasperation, he opted to sit himself down on a turned over crate that lay on the floor, looking at the device again. Still, nothing would show up. Either this rumour had been a steaming pile of bullshit, or someone had beat him to it. Either possibility was equally frustrating. He sat there sulking for some moments, until someone’s voice near enough made him jump out of his skin.
“You shouldn’t have come here, kid”.
“W-What? Who’s there?” he squeaked, then cringing with embarrassment at his voice deciding to crack at that very moment.
“Me” the figure replied as she emerged from the dark corner just behind him. Just how long had she been standing there? he thought to himself. Clutching a device very similar to his, but apparently a newer, sleeker model, she was a very tall young woman, although how much older than him, he couldn’t quite say. She wore a leather jacket and a sour expression, caked in gothic make-up. A face as white as snow, and lips as black as night. Her hair was a flowing pink Mohawk, a fitting contrast to the dark aura emanating around the rest of her. Chunky black boots came after her tattered, faded jeans, adorned with a surely unnecessary number of buckles and zippers. Although slightly scared and intimidated by her appearance, he couldn’t help but feel a little…attracted to her as well, despite himself. He continued to sit there with a stupid, blank look on his face, wondering just who the hell this girl was, and why she had the authority to tell him that he shouldn’t have made his way to this dilapidated corner, deep within the darkest alleyway of the dingiest neighbourhood in town.
“And who’s ‘me’?” he asked in his best attempt at an assertive tone.
“Oh, just a girl who knows what’s really going on with this whole stupid ‘craze’. Honestly, they fooled you idiots the first time round back in the 90’s, and now they’re doing it all over again. Heck, that was probably before you were even born, squirt” she answered snarkily.
“What? Don’t tell me you’re one of those conspiracy nuts who think it’s all some big scam so some shadowy corporation can snatch all our personal details, or some shit like that”.
“Well well, haven’t you got a mouth on you, squirt. Didn’t your mother ever teach you anything about respecting your elders?”
“She didn’t say anything about talking to strangers who wear too much scary make-up” he snapped back, his cocky teenage attitude starting to return. Although, in truth, he was still feeling a bit uneasy in this whole situation, and wasn’t sure how long they could both stand here trading insults. Who was to say she wasn’t some crazy bitch with a knife hiding in her jacket pocket?
“Oh, touché, bravo, well done” she retorted sarcastically, “Got an answer for everything, have you? Well, tell me, what would she say about you skulking around a place like this? Solely for the pursuit of what you believe to be fictional creatures”.
“Well…she’d be pretty pissed” he admitted timidly.
“Exactly. So why don’t you get yourself home, kid, before she starts hollering for you round the streets and calls the police. Or before you get yourself stabbed by one of the brain-dead residents of this simply delightful area. It’s for your own good, squirt”.
“Will you stop calling me ‘kid’ and ‘squirt’ already?!” he yelled, starting to get more than a little annoyed now, “I have a name, you know…”
“Hey, hey, relax, squirt, don’t go getting your knickers in a twist, geez. Fine. What is your name then, foolish child?”
“J-Jake” he stammered, not expecting her to actually ask, “Jake Freeman”.
“And just how old are you, Jake?”
“Oh yeah” she declared as she absent-mindedly looked at her black-painted nails, “Definitely too young to remember this whole thing the first time round. Way back in ’96, it all started. Well, the tech wasn’t quite as advanced then, admittedly, but those bastards did their best with the primitive machinery they had access to…”
“Sorry, just what in the hell are you talking about, anyway?” Jake asked, having had just about enough of her patronising brand of vagueness.
“Nothing that you’d even begin to understand or comprehend, kid. Seriously, go home”.
“Try me” he said with defiance.
“Christ you’re a stubborn one ain’t ya” she groaned after a yawn and a stretch, apparently becoming bored of him now, “First things first. Were you looking for what I think you were looking for in this godforsaken pit of humanity?”
“What is it you think I was looking for?”
“Smart-arse. Well, I’m going to take a wild guess and say that you probably saw that post on the net that said there was a friggin’ Drakonine in this very spot. You know, that supposedly ultra-rare one that don’t pop up all too often? Is that by any chance what you were risking your stupid little teenage neck for by bringing yourself here?”
“Maybe” Jake replied cryptically. She knew the answer to that question the moment she laid eyes on him.
“Well, I’ve got bad news for you then, ‘Jake’, if that even is your real name. I’ve been posted here for the sole purpose of stopping little whippersnappers like you who try and come here to capture your precious rare little critter” she said with authority.
“What, why? By who? What’s the big deal about some kid finding a Drakonine?”
“I must say, I’m impressed, though” she commented in admiration, apparently choosing to ignore his questions, “You’re the first one who’s actually made it here. Most of the poor saps who’ve tried were too goddamn fat to even squeeze through the gap. Obviously the ‘game’ isn’t the miracle exercising app that it cracks itself up to be”.
“Really? I’m the first?” Jake asked in shock, being sure that someone else would have dashed here before him and snatched it. While most of the monsters in the game were not solitary beings – a copy would usually generate for everybody playing it in that location – apparently this one was the exception, as there was literally only one. Once it was gone, that would be it. What that didn’t explain, in that case, is why it was nowhere to be seen on his screen. Checking again, it was still the same. No Drakonine. Had she somehow hidden it, or had she in fact been the first to find it and grabbed it for herself?
“Yep. Congratulations kid, you’ll be an internet celebrity! Earn yourself a place in the Pixel Monsters Hall of Fame! Jolly good show!” she proclaimed as she raised her arms up in the air, her voice dripping with sarcasm.
“Wait, hang on, if I’m the first, where is the Drakonine? He’s still not showing up on my phone…did you capture him already?” he asked, ignoring her contemptuous manner.
“Certainly not” she said sternly, apparently genuinely offended by this accusation, “No, kid, I’ve made him, well, invisible, to put it in terms that you’d understand. I’ve got a few tricks up my sleeve too, you know. Pixel Monster cloaking software. I wrote it myself. All emanating from my phone’s signal, see?” she said proudly as she pointed to her phone screen, apparently running some kind of program. Jake could see various monsters scrolling down the display, including Drakonine. The text next to them alternated between ‘Scanning…’ and ‘Cloaked successfully’. So the Drakonine most likely was standing there right in front of him, he just couldn’t see it.
“Okay, that’s really impressive and all, but why? If you’re not using that to try and capture all the rare ones for yourself, just what the hell are you doing it for?” Jake pressed further, his temper beginning to fray at this point.
“To protect them, kid. That’s why” she explained in a suddenly very serious voice. That infuriating smirk of hers had suddenly been wiped clean from her face.
“Protect them? From what? I don’t know if you know this, lady, but Pixel Monsters aren’t real. They’re just little digital creatures that pop up on your phone screen. I don’t think we need to call the RSPCA on this one or anything”.
“Pshh, how little you know, child” she growled dismissively, some of her snarkiness returning, “What if I told you that they are real, and always have been?”
“I’d say you’re one crazy bitch”
“Charming. You kiss your mother with that mouth, do you? I’m being deadly serious here, kid. I suppose there’s no harm in letting someone else know. It gets awfully lonely when only a few of you know the secret…”
“But they can’t be real” Jake insisted, “It’s a game”.
“Yeah, that’s just what they want you to think” she said in a tired, weary voice, “But it’s not. It’s far more than that. It masquerades itself as a game, just like it always has. It just wasn’t always done through your shiny little smartphone, which incidentally you’re a bit young to be even having one of those, if you ask me. Kids these days”.
“How about you stop insulting me and get to the point?”
“Fine. But I don’t expect you’d believe me”
“Like I said, try me”.
“Okay, I guess we’re through the looking glass here anyway” she lamented, sitting down to get herself comfortable for the revelations she was about to share, “So, it would appear that this ‘Pixel Monsters Move!’ game, as they call it, uses GPS to show the user a map of their general area, right? And the monsters appear at certain points for you to use the Pixi-Orbs to capture them, yeah?”
“Yeah…” Jake murmured, wondering exactly where she was going with this.
“Well, see, that’s not what it’s doing at all. It’s not showing where you are. Not really, anyway”.
“Then where is it showing?”
“Well think of a mirror” she began to explain, “And how a mirror shows us our reflection – and everything else, like it’s a duplicate of the world around us, only with everything flipped, reversed”.
“Monsters don’t usually creep up behind you when you look in the mirror, though” Jake commented dryly, curious to what the point of this example was.
“Well no, I’m only saying it’s like a mirror” she said with exasperation, “But in this case, there actually is a whole other world behind the glass. And the game, coupled with your phone, is acting as remote access to that other world. The world where these monsters – who I can assure you are living, breathing creatures – live and reside”.
“Ok, so saying I maybe, just maybe, hypothetically believe you, and buy this crazy shit” Jake sighed, although he was beginning to become slightly convinced, despite himself. “Just what is this world that we’ve been granted a window into?”
“A digital world that exists alongside ours, occupying the same time and space, just not visible to us without this wretched thing they are calling a game. A parallel dimension. And if we don’t stop this madness soon, these creatures really won’t be living or breathing”.
TO BE CONTINUED…?
Check out my first poetry collection, ‘The Awakening’, available NOW for download as an eBook on Amazon. Check it out here: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B017BZBH6M