"Danny, where are you? Mom, daddy, Danny, Liza?" A little girl around eight years old walked down an empty hall. Her baby blue dress swiftly dancing in the air as well as her chestnut hair, she carried in her small hands a lit candle which was her only means of light in that dark hallway. The floor was covered by an old rug that was almost close to the color of her hair, the walls decorated with old paintings of old relatives.
"Where did everyone go?" The little girl asked as her eyes became clouded by tears. She did not know where her family was nor did she like being left alone especially in that big mansion. She never did like it. And hearing from its previous owner several tales about it she became less and less comfortable in that house. The little girl kept walking down the hall hoping that anyone would jump out and her family's disappearance was nothing short of a joke.
At the very end of the hall there was an old wooden door which led to the attic. The little girl froze in fear since she always heard strange noises in the attic at night. A feeling of overwhelming fear engulfed her. Ghosts, goblins, demons, devils, she'd heard it all and she feared it all. So many stories, fairytales and legends involving these beings of a dark nature and every single one of them scared the little girl. With the rumors running amuck about the very mansion she was living in she lived in constant fear that she too would become the mansion's next masterpiece.
Putting all thoughts aside she crept up to the door and looked it at in both curiosity and wonder. Why would her entire family be up in the basement? She would expect Danny and Liza to do so in order to scare her so they could have a good time watching their youngest sister run to her room and hide under the bed.
Her small hand slowly stretched to grip the doorknob. Sweat forming in the middle of her palm and on her forehead. The noises. They were heard from behind this very door she was about to open. Her mind had broken in half. She so desperately wanted to find where her family was but she did not want to open that door.
Nevertheless her hand finally reached the doorknob and without a second thought turned it. To her surprise the door opened easily and a creaking sound emitted from it causing the young girl to take a few steps back.
The light from the candle could only light up a few mere inches from the young girl's feet. The rest was nothing more than a blanket of blackness. She stared into blackness as her heart began to pound in her chest. Every beat felt like it was an hour apart and her palms became slippery with her own sweat. Her breath now erratic and reeking of fear. Her entire body was trembling with horror and fear and just about every emotion known to man kind.
The small girl holds her candle out and sees some old wooden stairs leading up towards the attic. She swallows hard and gathers just enough courage to start walking up the stairs. Slowly step by step and heartbeat by heartbeat she disappears into the blackness of the attic and suddenly the old door shuts and a blood curling scream is heard through out the entire mansion.
"Bet you can't catch me!"
"Hey, no fair! You had a head start!" Max and Ash ran through the snow as both of them raced each other to see who would reach Toa Village first. Ash had begun to run and after he was a few inches ahead he challenged and baited Max into the race. Max of course could not resist and both began the race. Brock had mentioned earlier that they were only just a few feet from the village.
Max tried his best to reach Ash but as he tried to reach him he tripped on a tree root and fell flat on his face. Max quickly grabbed his knee and yelled out in pain. Ash heard him and thought he had been seriously hurt so he turned around and went to Max's aid. Brock and May saw Max on the floor and ran towards him as well.
When Ash was standing over Max he reached his hand to Max to help him up as he said, "Max, are you okay?"
A sudden smile splashed over Max's face as he grabbed Ash's hand and pulled as hard as he could; as a result Ash fell over and was on his face deep in the snow.
Max took off as Brock and May stopped in front of Ash who was getting up as he spat out some snow. Ash looked back at Max who was all ready reaching the village and glared as he once again stood back up and ran. Brock and May looked at each other and shrugged as they kept walking in the same direction Ash and Max ran in.
Once in Toa Village Max and Ash stopped and leaned and rested their hands on their aching knees as they tried their best to catch their breath. Ash Rose up and looked around. The village was surely small but it was not a pleasant site. The roads were of dirt, in this case, snow, there were dead trees everywhere and the buildings were all deteriorated from the weather conditions they had to endure.
Ash looked around and groaned at the sight. After days in the woods he had hoped to come across a place where he felt comfortable. The people outside of their houses and stores had tired looks on their faces, some were shy-like but others did not look as feeble or friendly. Ahs took a step back but then looked at Max who was looking around and from the look on his face he was thinking the same thing Ash was thinking.
"Well, aren't you gonna walk on?" May had snuck up behind Ash and gently placed her hand on Ash's right shoulder causing him to jump up and turn around quickly since he had not heard when May and Brock reached the village.
"Well, this is it…Toa Village!" Brock said as he put away the map and looked around. His smile soon turned into a frown as he laid eyes upon the village that lay before them. He groaned as May also did when she saw a group of people looking strangely at them.
"Umm…well…let's get going and find a Pokémon Center." Max said unsurely. He would have preferred to keep walking than to stay in that village.
"There ain't no Pokémon Center 'round here."
The group of kids turned around as they saw an old man walking past them. The old man looked like he was 200 years old, saggy eyes looked like they had seen enough during their life time, his skin looked almost like they were hanging off his bones and his old tattered clothes were so filthy they looked like fungus had settled in some spots.
"There are no hotels, no pharmacy, no gyms, no contests, no police and no hospitals. Just us country folk. And a modest little bakery over yonder."
The old man lifted his trembling arm to point out to the small bakery in front of the group. The four kids looked at each other unsure of what to do. They would surely prefer the harsh winter conditions than stay in that little village of horror. Ash leaned to his side to where May was standing and said in a low whisper, "It's just like Children of the Corn only grown up---"
Max hit Ash in the stomach with his elbow for the crude comment. Despite the fact that the village looked somewhat disturbing Ash admitted to himself that he was hungry and surely everyone else was, not to mention that Brock said after breakfast that they needed to stock up on supply.
Ash and Brock being older looked at each other and Brock said, "We don't have any other choice. We need supply."
"I know…I know…" Ash looked around and said in an unsure nature, "Let's just make this quick. I want out!"
Brock agreed and the kids set out to head on towards the bakery.
As they walked towards the bakery they noticed the line of old stores neatly placed next to each other. They were all worn down and looked like they would fall into a dozen pieces if something heavy leaned on them. The only edifice that looked decent was the bakery. Its pink paint had signs of harsh weather conditions and the small garden of flowers underneath the filthy front window proved to have given up a long time ago. Next to the window was the front door and As Ash gently pushed it open it made a terrible creaking sound.
Once in the bakery the only comfort they had was that it was warm inside. Inside was just as bad as outside. Some tiles on the floor were badly chipped; the wallpaper on the walls was torn and very old. Ash, Max and May looked around with wide eyes studying the building from within which in Ash's mind, looked far more welcoming from the outside.
"Well…get whatever you can get…" Ash stated as he walked away from the group and sat on a table followed by Max and Pikachu. May and Brock looked at each other and decided to head towards the counter.
Once at the counter Brock had the comfort of finding everything neatly put and very clean. The napkin box looked clean, the pastries and other edibles were locked in the usual crystal counter, and behind it was a wooden panel at the same height with a coffee machine and large grill right next to a screen door. May looked around at the pastries as she tried her best to decide which one she wanted.
Despite the place's questionable health code and conduct the pastries looked rather tasty and edible. Right next to Brock was a silver bell and seeing as how there was no one around he gently tapped it twice. No answer. Brock tapped it again and this time a woman's voice was heard from behind the screen door next to the grill.
"Coming dear." The voice gently answered. Seconds later an old woman walked through the screen door and in her hands was a tray full of brownies. The smell captivated Brock and May completely and away at the table Pikachu picked up the smell and ran towards the counter. It knew the smell was coming from behind the counter so it jumped up and landed on Brock's shoulder.
Brock smiled at Pikachu and it returned the smile. Its deep black eyes were then captured by the brownies the old woman had on the tray. She was humming a song and as soon as she looked up and saw Pikachu on Brock's shoulder she was completely captivated by its cuteness resulting in a blurt of comments.
"My, what a handsome looking Pikachu. Look at that fur coat, it is gorgeous!" The old woman said as she placed both wrinkled hands on her also wrinkled cheeks. Her eyes solidly placed on Pikachu. The little mouse's cheeks turned even redder as it placed one of its paws behind its head.
"What a lovely creature. Is it yours, young man?" The old lady turned to Brock obviously asking him the question.
"No ma'am. It belongs to my friend. He's right over there." Brock slightly turned and pointed to Ash who was laying his head on the table, obviously tired from all the walking they had been doing, had been hearing every word of the conversation between Brock and the old woman. He simply lifted his hand in a greeting gesture.
The old woman smiled as she turned to Pikachu and said, "I'll tell you what, you, my little bright friend can pick anything from here and you can have it."
"Pi?" Without a second thought Pikachu looked around and laid its eyes on one of the brownies the old woman had just brought out. It pointed at it and the old woman smiled as she understood Pikachu wanted one of them.
"When I was but a wee girl I had a very small Pikachu of my own." The old woman said as she took a napkin and placed a brownie on it and handed it to Pikachu who delightfully sank its small teeth into it.
"How sweet." May said as she smiled at Pikachu eating the brownie almost in hopes that the small Pokémon would give a thumps up or down on the brownie but by the look on its face May knew it was delicious.
"May I ask what became of it?" Brock inquired in a curious nature.
"An illness took her away from me…" The old woman's happiness seemed to perish and Brock leaned his head back regretting he had ever brought up sad memories. "But I know she's in a better place now. It's the good times you get to keep and the hope that your friend is better off." The happiness returned to the old woman's face once more and she smiled at the kids before her.
"Pi Pikachu pikapika!" Pikachu had just finished the brownie and it jumped on the old woman's shoulder and smiled as a thank you.
"So where are you kids headed to?" The old woman said as she reached for her cup of coffee that was placed a few inches from her. The kids had all picked out treats they wanted and gathered it in a big tray and the old woman had joined them for a snack as well and for the simple pleasure of having other people to talk to besides her daily neighbors.
"Trying to get to the next town—"
"And next gym!"
Brock's explanation was interrupted by May and then her explanation was interrupted by Ash's. The old woman smiled at the kids' enthusiasm. She took a gulp of her coffee and as she set it down she turned around as the old television behind her was turned up by an old man who had been watching the news.
They all listened in carefully but were devastated by the news they were hearing. According to the weather man a devastating snow storm was headed right for the area in which Toa Village was located in. It seemed the storm was one to last several hours and it had suggested that all people in the area remain indoors until further notice.
"Not again, it's the fourth time this month alone!"
People in the bakery were beginning to complain as they heard the news about the snow storm. Ash and the others groaned loudly as their plans to arrive at the next town soon had just been drastically changed. Brock then thought of something no one else had apparently thought of.
"Guys, we don't have anywhere to stay."
"That's right! What are we going to do?" May asked as she and Max looked at Ash and Brock who had been out on the road longer than they had been in. They had hopped they could think of something but both Ash and Brock had nothing in mind. They looked at each other uneasily but then their silent worries were soothed when the old woman spoke.
"Thorn Manor. There is an old mansion just up this path right here. It has water, plenty of rooms and a heater. It's fairly clean since travelers use it as a place to stay the night. You kids can stay there until the storm leaves."
Relived to have found a place to stay the kids smiled. "Hey, that's great! Thank you so much!" Brock said as he smiled.
"No problem. The original owners suddenly moved years ago. No one knows why but they just up and left and in a rush too. Guess some people can't keep still." The old woman got up from her seat and headed towards the counter. She looked around the drawers a bit and some minutes later she returned to the table and handed Brock a huge metal ring with four keys.
The keys seemed very, very old and they had a peculiar style to them as well. Brock gave it no other thought and put the keys in his pockets. Fearing the storm would be at their doorstep soon Ash suggested they get a move on so after gathering several supply they were headed out the door to head on over to the mansion.
Just as Ash stepped out the door the old woman remembered a small fact that they should have been told about the mansion so she rushed as fast as she could and grabbed Ash's arm as she placed a small box in his hands and said "Oh, before I forget. The lights don't work. One of the fuses burnt down just this past week so you'll need these candles."
"Hey, maybe we could try and fix it for you." Brock said as he smiled and Ash and Max both agreed.
"Oh, no, you don't have to."
"Hey, it's the least we could do." Ash said as he looked at the old woman. She smiled and thanked them for the kind gesture and watched as they headed for the old Thorn Manor.
According to the old woman the manor was just in the outskirts of the village, it was a thirty minute walk through the woods. The old woman had told them to follow a dirt path which would have been covered in snow except that the local people always kept it shoveled in case travelers needed a place to stay.
After a short walk Ash, Brock, May, Max and Pikachu came upon a huge old mansion. The mansion was not painted, all they saw on the surface was the raw cold cement but nonetheless it looked all right, it was part of the design. The front door which was made of metal had bolts adorning the edge of it. Ash looked around and saw a trail of bushes cuddling at the foot of the mansion. As he looked up he noticed there were three floors to the mansion and aligned perfectly under each other was a set of windows engulfed in filth.
Brock looked at the keys the old woman had given her and looked at the front door. All the keys were alike in every way so he grabbed the first one and tried to open the door. He inserted the key and to his surprise it fit in just fine. He turned the key to the left and heard as the locking system made a sound. Brock remained frozen for several seconds and with his other hand reached for the cold doorknob. To his surprise Brock had turned the doorknob and the door opened with an awful deep creaking sound which shook everyone in its presence.