"Callan, Callan, can you hear me?" Called his mother's voice.
"Callan, wake up!" His father.
He distantly felt the sensation of being shaken, hard, but it felt so far away...
"What's wrong with him?" He heard Andrew ask.
Why can't I see anything? Callan thought as he concentrated. Let me open my eyes!
Sight broke into his consciousness. He felt so tired... he could barely open his eyes a slit. The slit he saw showed his room with his family and Andrew's looking at him, concerned. He knew something was wrong with this, but he was so tired... he couldn't think...
They're too healthy! He realized. They're not scared of the pokémon, not worried... Hang on, Andrew's family were killed by that Articuno!
The tiredness overcame him, and his sight faded, closely followed by the worried calls of his family. But Andrew's voice continued to yell clearly.
"Callan! Wake up! Help! CALLAN!!!!!"
Callan awoke with a start to see Andrew defending himself from a couple of Sandshrew.
"Ah, you're awake at la- look out!"
A third Sandshrew jumped onto his head, by it's expression it was intent on relieving him of a couple of eyeballs. He cried out, and hit it.
Hit it with a hand which happened to contain the deadly disc.
Within the milliseconds the Sandshrew had been in contact with the disc, it froze solid. It's body, made of earth and made brittle by the disc, shattered as it hit his desk. Andrew and the other two Sandshrew stopped fighting and stared at the remains of the pokémon. As one, they turned and stared at Callan.
Callan was half in shock. The disc had been in his clothes, thrown carelessly on the floor; how did it get in his hand?
He looked at the pieces of Sandshrew, then looked at the other two with a homicidal grin on his face. As one, they jumped into the holes they had come in by and ran for their lives.
"Weak against ice." Andrew said after a moment. "Come on, there's more of them through the house."
"Right." They both moved out into the corridor. The carpet was ruined, and another Sandshrew was roaming through it.
"Squirtle, I choose you!" Squirtle emerged. "Water gun!"
"Squirtle!" A thin but high-pressured stream caught the Sandshrew full in the stomach. It cried out shrilly, before passing out.
"Shrew!" Several more calls came from throughout the house.
"I think there might be more than I thought." Andrew commented dryly.
"Do me a favor, get a couple of my sis's softball bats, would you?" Callan said from the corner of his mouth. "Squirtle, cover the floor with bubbles. As many as possible."
Squirtle nodded, and began shooting bubbles all over the place. There were a couple of thumps from Angela's room.
"One of 'em got in there." Andrew came back holding two bats. "But it got tangled in the curtains the Scyther ripped down."
"Well, here they come!" Callan pointed at the Sandshrew moving round the corner. There were at least ten.
"Squirtle, water gun 'em to bits! Andrew, try to knock them into the bubbles, or just whack them till they stop wriggling." With that, Callan dived in, and crushed the first one with a incredibly hard double handed down strike. It practically cracked in half.
"Sandshrew!" The others protested at the loss of their fighter. Two of them dove at Callan's face.
"Shrew freeze!" Callan quickly held up the disc. One of them hit it with their claw; the arm froze and snapped off while the rest of the Sandshrew fell to the ground in shock. The other grabbed his arm, and hung there looking at it's teammate, before Callan swiveled and Squirtle watergunned it off.
The remaining shrews weren't so eager to attack. Andrew yelled at Callan to get out of the way, and threw his bat full on at them. The bat weighed more than they did, and was much stronger; three more fell unconscious, and another lost his head to the projectile.
"These things aren't very strong, are they?" Callan commented. The few remaining Sandshrews wisely remained back, glaring angrily at the insult.
"Crumble like wet sand." Andrew said. Another of them snapped and tried to claw at his face, but was blown back by Squirtle's Water Gun blast.
Two of the Sandshrew remained, apparently wondering whether to stay and avenge their fallen comrades or run like the wind. After a moment's thought... they ran. Squirtle aimed a water gun, but it only hit one of the retreating pokémon's tail. It melted, and fell off.
"I love my job." Callan commented.
"Come on, we've gotta see whether anyone was hurt."
Callan ran after him, almost slipping on the frozen and crumbled Sandshrew remains.
It turned out that there had been some casualties: One guy had had an eye gouged out. The blood and gore was everywhere. He was quite obviously dead, but there was a hint of irony: Apparently when the Sandshrew had attacked him, the rush of blood had also killed it. After close examination, they found it wasn't anyone they knew, but someone from the neighborhood who had nowhere else to go.
"That is seriously not pretty." Andrew commented.
"I think we go and leave him for the Spearows."
"What?!" Callan was shocked.
"Well, we're not gonna leave him here, and we don't want him anywhere near our house to attract more pokémon."
"Still, that's being a little..." Callan couldn't think of a suitable word, and left it blank..
"Well, if we're gonna survive what's ahead, we're all gonna have to be a little..." Andrew emphasized the silence with a hand motion. "If we'd caught one of those Sandshrew, we might have been able to dig a grave. But I ain't busting my back doing it."
"If we drag him away there's gonna be a blood trail. Big red arrow saying 'Come and get us!' and pointing straight for our door."
"Use your Squirtle!" Andrew gave the corpse's legs a tug, dragging him across the room leaving a dull red trail.
"I suppose so."
"Or we could just get Charmeleon to burn the body."
"How many predators do you think that will attract?"
They dragged the body outside.
"Just a suggestion."
"Why don't we cook it and eat it then?"
"Callan!" It was Andrew's turn to be shocked.
"Kidding!" Callan waved him down. His grin faded. "We're really getting into this, aren't we?" He asked, soberly.
"Soon, I don't think we'll have much choice." Andrew answered. "We might even end up eating 'em sooner or later."
"If there is a later."
For a while they were silent, dragging the corpse out into the middle of nowhere.
"The rest of the world couldn't have been this bad." Callan looked over the crumbling ruins of the once bustling city. "If the death count's only one billion..."
"Only one billion?" Andrew asked incredulously. "Only one billion? That's one-sixth of the world's population down the drain!"
"Yeah, but let's look at this." Callan's arm swept over the rubble. "How much of this city's pop do you think is still alive? How many people lived here? Two, three, four million? How many are left now? I'd be suprised if there's more than two thousand. One in one or two thousand survived. If the entire world had been that bad, that'd be a death count of..." He did some quick math. "About five billion, nine hundred ninety million."
"I hadn't thought of that." Andrew said, paused thoughtfully, then shook his head hard. "This is not the sort of thing kids like us should be talking about."
"This is not something anyone should be doing." Callan agreed, nodding to the body.
"Do you think this is far enough?"
The house was barely visible in the distance. Callan nodded.
"Should be OK."
"Let's get back then."
"And let's stop talking on such depressing subjects."
"Squirtle!" Callan tossed the ball lightly, and the blue pokémon came out. "Wipe out the blood trail here, please." He said, pointing to the rather weak trail. It wasn't nearly as obvious now, but further towards the house it was quite clear. With a rush of water, the red smear dissolved into the damp ground.
They slowly trundled home, pausing every few metres for Squirtle to wash off the ever-thickening trail. When they were about two thirds of the way back, Squirtle squinted at the house, then started yelling and pointing.
"Something's attacking the house!" Callan yelled, and raced off. Andrew and Squirtle followed after.
Before they had gotten far they saw the flying specks above the house. They cleared the run as fast as they could, stumbling over rubble and broken glass, jumping over melted asphalt and skidding over frozen sections. The attackers were clearly visible now, and audible too.
A triumphant call, by at least a dozen voices. It was very shrill, and Squirtle stumbled for a moment.
"Fear!" Another, much deeper voice called.
"Feeeearow!" Two more responded, one sounding muffled.
"Speeeer!" The Spearow called again.
Andrew and Callan came speeding up to the house, skidding on the rubble as they stopped. Squirtle raced up and skidded in front of them.
It would have been quite a comedic moment, to a casual observer. The seven Spearow and single Fearow that could see them stopped their destruction of the house to look at these angry newcomers. With a wave of the Fearow's wing, four of the Spearow descended on them.
"Go, Charmeleon!" Andrew called. Charmeleon appeared, looked up at the Spearow diving at it, and let loose. A crispy and immobilized bird pokémon fell to the ground. Another blast of fire, and another spearow fell.
Squirtle's Water Gun left another too soggy to fly, and Callan held up the disc to a fourth. It pecked it, freezing itself up to the neck, which broke off. Looking at the body, Callan noticed blood on it's claws and beak.
The Fearow, shocked at how easily it's minions had been defeated, gave a shrill cry of rage and descended upon them, the last three Spearow following close behind.
Blasts of fire and water took out two of them, and the final Spearow circled up for a powerful dive, but the Fearow screamed straight at the only apparently defenseless one: Andrew.
Andrew stood in a ready pose while the huge bird approached. Charmeleon was keeping an eye on the final Spearow, Callan was too far away and Squirtle's attack missed. It seemed like there was no hope for Andrew... (Pardon the dramatic corny moment, everyone. -Author)
At the last second, Andrew's hand swung from behind his back, and in one smooth movement, the softball bat hit the Fearow just below it's beak, knocking it up and away from Andrew. Another sweep, and the Fearow lay knocked silly on the ground. Callan quickly slipped off his backpack of Pokéballs and it was sucked in.
The final Spearow let out a shrill cry of fury and circled above the house. In ones and twos, the other Spearow and Fearow rose up. There were two more Fearow, and eight more Spearow. The two kids and their pokémon readied themselves for battle, but it never came.
The birds took in the six fainted Spearow, and the disappearance of the other Fearow, and decided it wasn't worth the bother. They dived back into the house, the roof of which was virtually destroyed, and flew back out hauling various unrecognizable objects. However, the blood and occasional piece of flesh that fell from them, it quickly became obvious.
"Squirtle, Charmeleon, attack!" Callan yelled. Squirtle attacked without question, bringing down one and winging another, but Charmeleon hung back, looking first at Callan suspiciously, then at Andrew to confirm.
Sadly, they were too far away for flamethrower or water gun to hit. Charmeleon growled, crouched slightly, as fire built in it's mouth. With one sharp movement, a fireball flew at the Spearow, and hit full on: The hit Spearow instantly vaporized in the heat, and three of the ones beside it fell. One Fearow was knocked downwards but recovered, and it and the rest flew on.
"That was impressive." Andrew said, patting Charmeleon's head. "I don't remember seeing that in the pokémon game..."
"Ah well, I'm not complaining." Callan said, heading for the badly damaged house. "Come on!"
It was chaos. It seemed the birds had killed everyone in the house, and taken most of the bodies too. The place was sprayed in red blood, and it stunk like crazy. There were a couple of Spearow bodies here and there too, and another Fearow. They had put up a fight, but not much of one. But they'd done pretty well to take down the Fearow. It had a heavy knife sticking out of it's thin neck, and an extremely suprised look on it's face.
Callan fought back the tears as he moved through the house in a daze, looking for signs that someone, anyone, had survived. He stiffened suddenly, hearing a noise. Listening carefully, he heard it again: a small sob.
Digging through the rubble with great fervor, he realized when he heard it again that it wasn't coming from beneath. He found the source of the voice soon enough: it was his sister Angela, and Andrew's sister Jenny, cuddled up together shivering in the bathtub, in the one room that was still less than half-destroyed. Most of the walls were still standing, although with holes from the powerful pecking of the Spearow. There was even quite a bit of roof left, although that was quite full of holes too.
Callan moved up to them; their clothes were drenched in blood and torn, and they seemed to have some pretty bad wounds. He moved up to them, patting them on their backs.
"You two are real survivors, aren't you?" He said softly. They started to look up to him, when all of a sudden, the walls started to shake.
Through one of the many holes in the wall opposite the door he had come in by, a huge torrent of water spurted, knocking him straight back through the door he had come from. He skidded, and bumped into some softer rubble. It would cause bruises; nothing more.
He looked up to see the room he had just been knocked out of shudder and collapse to the ground, collapsing inward so that all four walls and roof crashed into the room. On top of the two girls. There was no logical way they could have survived, but Callan jumped at the rubble anyway.
He heard a strange snigger, and saw the two Sandshrew that had run away earlier laughing at him. He knew it was them, since one of them only had a half-melted stump for a tail.
"You bloody stupid pokémon!" Callan snarled at them, and was just about to jump at them when a huge gust of fire swept over them. The temperature was incredible; Charmeleon surely couldn't do that! The two shrews, being made of sand, hardened into glass statues as the huge attack wafted over them. They were well and truly dead. He turned to the attacker.
He was right. It wasn't Charmeleon, instead it was one of the most powerful fire pokémon: Ninetails.
Giving him a very suspicious glance, the graceful firefox began digging into the rubble. Soon it was buried halfway up it's bushy tails, then gone.
Callan was in too much shock to move, so he slumped into a half-sit, half-crouch which didn't look very comfortable. Everyone here... the last human life in the area... torn to shreds. His and Andrew's sisters... he could have saved them, but then that blast of water had knocked him out of the room. He knew, deep down, that if it hadn't he would have been killed in the collapsing room too, but that didn't stop him screaming at himself in guilt, thinking he should have done something... those bloody Sandshrew... He looked at the two glass statues, kept in their sniggering pose forever. Not if he had anything to with it... he forced himself up, picked up one of the Sandshrew statues and immediately dropped it, clutching his scalded hands.
He grabbed the disc from his pocket and clutched it tightly, and his hands stopped burning. After about half a minute, the pain died away altogether, and the burn marks were barely noticeable. He held the disc to the glass Sandshrew, and as it cooled far too rapidly, it cracked loudly twice then shattered of it's own accord. He held the disc to the other statue, and had the same effect. He turned around, and saw the tips of pure-white tails, slightly dirtied by the rubble, followed by the rest of the tails, the body, and the head which was dragging something up from the ground. He recognised it as the huddled forms of Angela and Jenny, beaten and broken, and quite dead.
He took a step forward to see the two girls, but the Ninetails dropped them and growled, low and loud, crouching as if ready to pounce, until Callan backed off. He didn't know if even his disc could stop the fires of this powerful pokemon.
The Ninetails began to snuffle around on the two girls, inside their clothes and around them. Callan let out a cry of protest and moved forward again, but Ninetails began to flame at the mouth and he backed off again.
It sniffed at the girls for a few minutes longer, then seemed to have found something and pushed in between them. It's head came out again, smeared with blood and dirt, holding a tiny creature in it's mouth: A Vulpix, a baby, small enough to fit in the palm of Callans hand, and with only one tail. Ninetails put it down gently, gave a look to Callan that said quite clearly, Touch my child and you're in big trouble, and started sniffing at the bodies again. Apparently unsatisfied, it turned back to the hole, looked at Callan, it's baby, gave Callan that look again and disappeared down the hole.
Callan was confused. Fire pokemon seemed to have something against him, it seemed. But then, really, the only two other types he'd seen so far were flying and ground, and they didn't seem quite thrilled about him either.
Andrew, Squirtle and Charmeleon appeared, having searched the rest of the wreckage. Squirtle looked releived to have the whole thing over and plonked itself down next to Callan, looking dirty, dusty and tired. Charmeleon spotted the tiny Vulpix sprawled on the ground, sniffed it gently, looked at the hole, and set itself on guard between it and Callan.
Andrew slumped on the other side of Callan, sighed, and then noticed the bodies. "Hey, aren't they..."
"Yes, they're our sisters." Callan said, the his voice flat and emotionless, mostly through shock. "I found them, alive, huddled in the bathroom, but a couple of seconds later the two Sandshrew that escaped earlier collapsed the roof..." He told the entire story. As he was finishing, the Ninetails began to reappear from the hole.
It was carrying a much lighter load this time: three more little Vulpix babies. It put them down next to the one it had found with the girls. One was completely crushed, there wasn't a chance of it being alive. One looked rather hurt, it's rear legs damaged, but the other two looked fine, just scared. Quickly taking in the situation, the Ninetails nodded its thanks to Charmeleon, then curled up around her babies.
"I think there's not much point in us staying here." Andrew said, watching the Ninetails start to breathe slower, falling asleep. "I think we spend one more night sleeping here and then go on a pokemon journey."
"Just what we've always wanted to do, right?"
"Yeah, but now it's personal." Andrew clenched his fist, looking at their sisters lying dead nearby.
"Get to sleep." Callan hit him on the head lightly. Finding a spot not covered in hard rubble and dried blood, the duo quickly fell asleep. Squirtle just pulled its limbs and head and its shell lay there, snoring gently. The military Charmeleon, however, snorted at their lack of caution and sat itself down to keep watch for the night.