Sleep Tight

by Spruceton Spook

Chapter 1

"Misty, I've Come From the Grave!"

I have to admit, we've spent the night in some really strange places. Spooky, dark woods with all the unfamiliar sounds; lonely, windy beaches; dozens of Pokémon Centers, some of which I wouldn't stay at again if someone paid me. Then there are all the people we've ended up staying with one way or another, and although I usually got a bed and a hot meal out of it, it didn't mean they were the most comfortable places in the world. I can't say anything about it though -- I shouldn't. I'm a Pokémon trainer, and it comes with that . . . you can't always have the comforts of home right at your fingertips. Weird nights are just something you come to deal with.

But there was no way I could deal with this. Out of all the places we've stayed, this one beats them all by a landslide. I would've traded this one in for any of the awful nights I had to endure previously. They were nothing compared to this.

I don't like cemeteries. They creep me out -- a lot. They always have; it's just something that stuck with me since I was really little. I could remember walking or driving by one and shutting my eyes, waiting for them to vanish from sight. It didn't matter what they looked like. The creepy ones or the "beautiful" ones, as some people claimed, it served as no difference. I hated them and anything that had to do with them. My deepest, darkest nightmares always seemed to involve them someway, leading me into the presence of horrible ghosts and spirits, their endlessly empty eyes glowing at me and their ghoulish hands reaching out to grab me. Movies with cemeteries sent me wailing out of the room, funerals would have me shaking uncontrollably and hiding my face into my parents' side and grasping their clothes for dear life.

I've gotten better about them . . . I've grown enough to realize that there's really nothing to be afraid of. That doesn't mean they don't still succeed in making me queasy and hesitant to be near, though. I like to keep my healthy distance from them. I have nothing to do with them, and they have nothing to do with me. That's the way I've made it for a while.

But that was before we had to set up camp in one.

It was just a normal day as always. We were exhausted, the evening was approaching. Ash had insisted we walk consistently fast the entire day, and Brock seemed to have the same aspiration since it was possible to make it to the next town by nightfall. I had nothing to complain about -- towns meant a roof over our head and the comforting feeling of security. You don't get that out in the woods, which is where we had to spend the last five nights. It's amazing the distance between these tiny towns . . . they never look so big on the map. You have to walk them first to realize it.

My feet were feeling every step of the hike we had taken. Togepi was conked out in my arms, which I was steadily becoming jealous of. I couldn't wait to rest my head that night, close my droopy eyes, and sleep. Tomorrow wouldn't be too much of a hassle . . . Ash was going to be battling for a badge, and I could cross my legs, lean back, and watch the whole thing in relaxation. To me, Breslau Town wasn't close enough. I wished I could magically transport us there, right to our room at the Pokémon Center, and not have to travel the rest of the short way.

A feeling of undeniable bliss flew through me as we entered the town. The sun was just about setting behind the western mountains, the air was muggy but enjoyably warm, and the silent chirping of birds made the most wonderful audible backdrop. Breslau Town was not highly developed at all . . . I would say Pallet Town was more inhabited, making it surprising that this was the site of yet another Johto League gym. From the outskirts of it, it looked pleasant and comfy, well-kept. The highest building in sight was a two-story house. All we could see before us was a dusty dirt road and bright green lawns. Hordes of trees and patches of wildflowers dotted all over the place.

None of us uttered a word as we strolled down the road. Brock had the map clutched in his hands, but he was hardly looking at it. The scenery demanded to be stared at. Ash's eyes were darting here and there, taking in the sights, while his hand was lifted to stroke Pikachu's head, who was perched atop his shoulder. I don't know if it was our weariness that was causing this or the gorgeous town that lay before us, but it wasn't important. I don't think I'd felt more tranquil in days.

That was until it hopped across the road. If it were just Brock and me, I would have said it escaped disregarded, gone on its own way and went on with its own business. But when you're traveling with Ash Ketchum, you can just throw thoughts like that away. No Pokémon dared to cross his path without expecting a challenge in return.

Ash shouting out in glee as the Nidoran dashed across the road, sending up a cloud of dust behind its scampering little feet. It caught me by surprise. I had seen the Nidoran, but considering all the quietness and peace, I would have never expected Ash to just break out of it so suddenly. Raising his fist into the air and knocking poor Pikachu to the ground, Ash reached for numerous Pokéballs at his belt and darted after it. Brock and I had no choice but to follow.

"Ash, c'mon!" I shouted to him, watching his bumpy imagine chase helplessly before me. I couldn't believe my legs were working as much as they were. Togepi awoke in my arms and began to cry, the sound of it causing me to cringe. "Stop! Leave it alone!"

"No way!" he called back to me, his voice all shaken up. He was huffing and puffing. "I'm not letting this one get away!"

"Ash, it's late! Forget about it for now!" Brock cried. I could tell he was about as tired as I was.

Ash totally ignored us, instead tossing a Pokéball in the air and shouting out for its inhabitant to emerge. Chikorita came out and chased beside Ash before he ordered her to track down the Nidoran instead, which every once in a while I caught a blurry glimpse of. I just pumped my legs more and more and breathed choppily through my dry mouth. I couldn't even swallow . . . my body was shot.

I don't know whatever happened to the poor Nidoran, but it didn't end up with us. Brock and I followed pathetically behind Ash, who was making distance on us with every step he took. There were times when I wanted to stop, just rest and wait there for Brock to catch him and bring him back so we could continue to head for the Pokémon Center. But this was Ash, after all . . . I couldn't do that. It wasn't that I didn't trust him, or that I hated to leave him out of my sight for two seconds, but the boy does some pretty dumb things, and gets into some pretty dumb situations. The last thing I needed was for him to get hurt tonight and need yet more medical attention. I wanted to spend the night in the Pokémon Center, not the hospital.

I hardly knew where I was heading until I got there. The trip there was that arduous. I could feel my body lagging and my lungs crying out for air, and every once in a while my eyes shut without my consent. This is not what I needed after such a long and tiring day. But mostly, I didn't need to end up where I did.

I screeched to a halt, taken by such surprise that I was unable to stop in time. Brock nearly crashed into me from behind. I felt his hands slam into my back, sending me a bit forward, but other than that I froze solid. Graves were to the right of me, graves were to the left of me, graves were ahead of me. I was surrounded by the wretched things, all the which jutted from the ground in the most precarious positions, all different colors of grays, whites, and slates. The grass was high, tickling my bare legs, sending chills down my spine. That wasn't the main thing causing my restless shivers . . . if a mirror were before me, I would have guessed I had turned pure white. I could even feel the blood draining from my face.

"Misty!" Brock yelled aggravatedly at me. He came before me, looking utterly peeved, his attention alternating between me and Ash, who was still running. His head kept swinging from me to Ash. "What's the deal? Why'd you stop like that!? Let's go!"

I didn't respond to him. I lost my ability to speak, to comprehend. I think he could tell my sudden displeasure, for he gave me the oddest look. He was breathing heavily, and noticing that Ash was about a mile ahead of us, he was also hasty to get back to the chase.

"What's the matter with you!?" he demanded, already on his toes in Ash's direction. He motioned me to follow with furious waves of his hand. "Let's go! We're gonna lose Ash! Misty!"

My eyes left him, scanning unwillingly at the stone demons around me. Togepi wiggled helplessly in my arms, wanting to get down and run, too, but instead I clutched him with all my might. There was no way I was going to go any further into this . . . this . . . place. I just couldn't. No force was powerful enough to make me take another step.

Brock didn't seem to think so, however. Before I had a chance to realize it, he grabbed my wrist, almost hard enough to yank my arm out of its socket. I felt my neck snap backwards as he jerked me forward.

"C'mon, we're gonna lose him!" Brock bawled, his grip on my wrist tightening. My feet were planting themselves into the soft earth, like they had a mind of their own, almost. I was pulled a few feet forward, but it was obvious Brock was struggling to tag me along.

How could he even think of going in there? And more unbelievably, how could he think that he was going to pull me any further in? Ash was zipping between graves recklessly -- I was able to focus enough to see that. He was still headstrong in pursuit of that Nidoran. Running amongst the graves with no care for what they were, or where he was. Brock was willing to go in further. I could tell by the way he was pulling me viciously to follow. I knew they weren't like me . . . not everyone was as afraid of cemeteries as I was, but I still could never understand how people couldn't be scared.

I guess Brock wasn't going to take 'no' for an answer. He had no idea, of course, what was up with me. I hadn't spoken a word. I had suddenly zoned out, and I know that boggled him. He looked confused, but he also looked overwhelmed. Beads of sweat poured down his brow.

"Misty!" he growled, bearing his teeth. He gave me a jerk. "Snap out of it!" He turned back to Ash's direction. "Ash! Stop! ASH!"

He held my wrist the whole time, unbeknownst to him that he was digging his fingernails into my skin. I continued to fight back. All the muscles in my body tightened and my heart raced. I clenched my eyes shut as my mind began to spin. I felt myself becoming woozy, slightly nauseous. I was scared . . . but why? I thought . . . I thought I was somewhat over this . . .

Brock was totally anxious now. Ash had vanished from sight. God only knows where he chased that Pokémon, but Brock was eager to find out. I was no match against his desire. With all his might, he got me moving.

"I don't know what the heck is wrong with you, but I'm not losing you, too!" he said as he dragged me along.

I shut my eyes and took deep breaths. There was nothing else I could do. I allowed Brock to lead me through the cemetery, weaving between graves. The grass was beginning to whip at my legs and my ankles were weakening. I went on, though. I finally opened my eyes after a few moments, wanting in part to know where I was going. I looked down at the graves as we swept by them, all different sizes and shapes. I gulped.

"Ash!" Brock continued to yell over and over again, his head rolling around his neck in search of him. Stupid kid. He just had to chase that Pokémon, had to lead us here. Out of all the ridiculous, insane things to do, especially after such an excruciating day, he had to do this. I couldn't wait to find him, to wring his neck and kill him. I hope the Nidoran got away . . . or better yet, I hope it made a pummeling, head-driving tackle attack into Ash.

"ASH!"

"I'm here!" he replied in a shout, and Brock halted. I bumped softly into him, my eyes widening. We were right in the center of the cemetery now. I looked back at where we came, noticing that the entrance was out of sight. It was a large cemetery. How could a small town like Breslau have such a large cemetery? And an incredibly freaky one at that!? It looked so old and decrepit, unused and forgotten. It looked like one of those cemeteries you see in those old black-and-white movies . . .

I didn't want to think about it. I wanted out. I was relieved to see Ash sprinting towards us, Pikachu cantering tiredly at his side. His other Pokémon were not there, and he didn't look too happy, either.

"That was just great, Ash!" Uh-oh, now Ash faced the wrath of cranky Brock. Good. "What the heck do you think you were doing? Are you crazy?"

"It got away!" Ash whined, totally ignoring what Brock was screaming at him otherwise. He grabbed his hat and tossed it angrily to the ground. "I was so close!"

"Pika!" Pikachu moaned, plopping to the ground. The poor creature was probably hungry and overheated.

Brock shook his head. "Ash, we're tired and hungry! The last thing we need is for you to run off and go chasing after a Pokémon!"

"It was a Nidoran!" Ash shrugged in self-defense. "C'mon, Brock, that's a rare find!"

"I don't care!" Brock growled back. I guess he wasn't in the mood to yell, either, because he dismissed the case. "Whatever, let's go. We need to get to the Pokémon Center, and I want to get there before dark! This is a new town, and I don't know where anything is."

Ash huffed and picked up his hat, settling it on his head. Brock said not another word, and gruffly turned back the way we came and stomped forward. I hesitated none in following. Ash was beside me as we hauled ourselves briskly out of there, and there was no better way I would have done it. The sooner we were out of there, the better. I said nothing, either. Brock had given up trying to figure out my dilemma, and that was fine with me. My fear of cemeteries was something I didn't need to make public. They would just find so many ways of putting that against me, and it wasn't worth it. As long as we were leaving, I guess I could contain myself for the short time.

I thought I was going to die. Well, considering where we were, I guess it was the most appropriate place, but I didn't want to even think that way. My stomach leapt up and my legs crumpled. It took a few minutes to fully take in what I was seeing before me, what unimaginable thing had just occurred.

We had reached the gate. I didn't remember seeing a gate when I ran in, but I was going too fast anyway. Suddenly, here was a gate. A closed gate. It was tall and black, I'd say about nine feet at that. It was made of bars, all soaring to the sky and shooting up into sharp, nasty-looking spikes. Ash, Brock, and I skidded to a stop before it simultaneously, frozen for a second. That second enough was all I needed to start panicking. I wasn't ready to believe anything yet. After all, just because a gate is closed doesn't necessarily mean . . .

And then again, maybe it does. I watched in horror as Ash walked up to it, first pulling at it and then pushing it. The gate's door banged loudly, moving only a couple inches in each direction. It continued to shake even after Ash released it. It didn't comfort me to see that his eyes were wide.

I stopped breathing. There was no way this could be happening . . .

Brock went up to it and did the same thing. When he got the same devastating result that Ash did, he repeated it, more roughly this time. As he did, my head wandered, glancing around at the premises. The fence extended in both directions, sweeping around the edge of the cemetery. It looked endless. I hoped it wasn't endless. But more importantly, I hoped Brock was going to be able to open it.

"I can't believe this," Brock mumbled, stepping away from the gate. His hands went up to rub his forehead.

Neither could I . . . I wouldn't . . .

"Don't tell me," Ash started incredulously, shaking his head.

Brock didn't reply. He just grabbed at the gate again and pulled. He did this only once, but afterwards I saw him reach for something else. I hoped it wasn't what I thought it was.

Brock arms entwined in the bars, holding the large, gray box in his hands. I watched him tug at it hard, groaning as he did. It was what I had feared. It was a lock.

"Oh my God," Brock muttered, stepping away again. He exchanged a short, blank look with both me and Ash. He didn't need to say anything. The look of his face was all the information I needed.

"Are we locked in here?" Ash gasped, his voice high.

Brock was stunned. "I . . . I think we are, but . . ."

"That can't be! It wasn't closed when we ran in here!" Ash seemed freaked.

I could feel myself sinking as each second passed, as each statement passed between Ash and Brock.

"Well, it's closed now," Brock replied.

"How? Why?" Ash questioned, pulling unsuccessfully at the gate again. The clanging of the bars against the lock made me shudder miserably.

Brock ran his hands through his unruly, spiky hair. "I . . . the only thing I can think of is that this is one of those graveyards they close at night."

That's when I jumped in. I think my outburst shocked them as much as it did me. "Are you saying that in that short time we were in here, someone came and locked this thing up?" The words came out so quickly and with such anguish that it was amazing they caught them. My tongue even felt tied after shouting it out, but that was the least of my concern.

Brock shrugged weakly. "Looks that way, Misty."

Something within my snapped. I shook as I felt it, clenching my fists shut and pulling Togepi in closely to me. Slowly, my head began to shake back and forth, and my stuttering thoughts began to pour from my lips.

"No!" I protested, my voice rising to a deafening shriek. "We can't! We can't be locked in here!"

I looked distressfully at Brock, biting down on my lips and pointing towards the barricade. "Brock, no! You have to open it!"

"Misty--"

"Open it!" I cried, feeling tears pool in my eyes. "Please!"

Brock's eyes darted insanely. "With what, Misty?" he choked, give me a face. "Those amazing mental powers I have!? What do you want me to do, will the gate open?"

I didn't say a word, my mouth dropping open. Of course, my demand was ridiculous, and Brock went on, pointing to Ash and snickering in disbelief.

"And we all know Ash is He-Man here," he chuckled. "Maybe he can break the lock with his bare hands!"

He and Ash erupted in laughter, glancing at each other with their wide, taunting grins. I couldn't believe they could laugh now, that they could make such light joking out of the horrible situation we were in. Cemetery or not, it was not fun to be confined. We were trapped, and I wasn't ready for Ash and Brock to just make fun of it.

I remained speechless as they laughed, gawking at them in skepticism. They didn't look like they were about to let up. Ash was becoming red in the face even, but that might have just been a combination of Brock's rotten sense of humor and his chase. Finally, Brock noticed that I was by no means amused, and he fought to stop his laughing.

"Oh come on, Misty," he said, coughing from the laughter. He came near me, but I backed away. "Chill out. What's the matter?"

I just shook my head at him, my eyes watering even more. Ash could tell something was wrong.

"Misty, we were just having fun," he shrugged, smiling softly. He chuckled again. "That was pretty funny."

Brock started laughing again, and that was it for me.

"There's nothing funny about this!" I shouted at the top of my lungs. I delighted in seeing them retreat suddenly. "We have to get out of here!"

"Why?" Brock asked. Why? What did he mean by why? What could he possibly mean by that?

"Why!?" I gasped.

"Yeah," Ash put in. "We're locked in here. We can't get out. What's wrong with that?"

It was astonishing I didn't faint then and there with the heavy dizziness that enclosed my head. "What!? No, I--"

"Misty, calm down," Brock said, grinning. "It's not that big a deal."

My eyes widened. "What do you mean, it's no big deal?" I was positively screaming now. I looked around at the cemetery, darkening as the sun continued to set. Its orange rays cast upon the boys' faces, confused yet slightly humored. "Look where we are!"

Ash and Brock quickly scanned the cemetery around them. Shrugging, Brock came over to me again, but I didn't back away. Ash came up beside him, too, curiosity written all over his face. Brock cocked his head as he neared me. "Misty, you have to calm down. What's the matter with you?"

I had to tell them. There was no way around it, and the more their looks badgered me, the more I realized it was nothing that serious. So I had a phobia -- among others -- but what difference did that make?

I took a deep breath. "We're in a cemetery," I muttered, my tone dropping in volume. "I -- I don't like cemeteries."

Ash grinned . . . it wasn't a nice grin. It made me sick as soon as I saw it, and my stomach sunk. "You're afraid of cemeteries?" he exclaimed, amusement peaking in his voice. "You're kidding, right?"

"No," I shot at him, suddenly regaining myself. Ash could do that to me in any situation if he was annoying enough. I watched as the grin spread from ear to ear, and his white teeth sparkled from behind his lips. I have no idea how I could like such a face that just asked to be pounded so constantly. "There something funny about that, Ash Ketchum!?"

Ash turned away, his hand flying to his mouth. He was stifling giggling, I just knew it. I looked up at Brock, somewhat expecting consolation and understanding, but I was shocked to see just the opposite. Brock was smiling, also.

I tore away from them backwards, shooting them venomous glares. I stopped abruptly when my legs brushed against a grave, which, despite the warm temperatures, chilled me to the bone. I yelped as it occurred, causing them to exchange looks.

"Misty," Brock managed to say through a giggle as he turned back to me, "it's okay, really."

"Yeah, Misty," Ash added, finally controlling himself. "It's just a graveyard."

"I don't care," I stated forcefully. "It's a graveyard and I hate it. I don't want to be here."

Brock tilted his head. "Well, we have no choice. We're locked in here."

I wasn't ready to accept that. I blinked. "I am not going to be locked in here tonight! There's no way!"

"I wish I could say the same!" Brock replied. "But there's nothing we can do. Look, we're safe in here, no more in danger than we are in the woods. We'll just sleep here tonight and get out when they open the gate in the morning. No biggie."

"I can't do that!" I pouted. No, no, I didn't want to sound that way . . . I didn't want them to see me weakening. But it was no use.

"What are you afraid of?" Ash asked, waltzing over to me. "There's nothing here!"

"Nothing here?" I spat. "How can you say that? We're standing above a bunch of dead people right now!"

"More specifically, one Wendy Carmichael," Brock said. I spun around to read the grave I had bumped into, and promptly jumped off the sacred ground. Brock laughed and bent down to read the rest. "Hmmmm. Loving wife, mother, and grandmother. Oh, lookie! Died in 1934. Wow, that's old."

"Stop it!" I cried, stomping my foot. I felt Togepi squeak timidly in my arms. I knew he never liked when I did that, so for his sake, I tried to calm myself. I cuddled him close to me.

"Stop what?" Ash sang. I looked over to see him smiling at me. I was ready to tell him that I wasn't speaking to him, but he proceeded to prance in circles around a bunch of graves, waving his arms around. Scary or not, I shivered from his disrespect for the dead. He stopped before a headstone and glanced at it. "You telling me you're scared of poor Stanley Harrington? What did he do to you?"

I ground my teeth. "No!" I responded. "It's just that . . . I'm not scared, I--"

"Died in 1953!" Ash continued, paying no heed to my agitated glare. He patted the grave, giving me a thoughtful look. "Say, Misty, know that movie The Frighteners? How all the dead peoples' ghosts sit on their graves at night and talk to each other?"

Which was precisely why I didn't see that movie. Unfortunately for me, however, I did know the scene he was talking about, as my sisters had made sure to tell me each grueling detail after they had seen it. It was not making any of this better. Picturing that awful scene reluctantly in my mind made me shiver and shake my head rigidly.

"Stop it!" I demanded again, flashing him the nastiest look I could. I shut my eyes and tried to rid the scene out of my brain.

"Ooh, I saw that!" Great, Brock had to jump in now. I opened one eye to see him scratching his chin dubiously. "And remember how they didn't even look like real people? They were all decayed and rotted and their clothes were hanging off."

"Yeah!" Ash replied, his eyes reflecting the setting sun. His gaze swept over the expansive cemetery. "Wow, wonder if that's really true, Brock? That the spirits really do that at night?"

"Who knows?" Brock shrugged, looking down at Wendy Carmichael's headstone again. He waved to the air. "Hey Wendy, how's it goin? Hmm, for someone who died in 1934, you look remarkably well!"

I couldn't take any more of it. It was bad enough that we were in this horrible place, but to have the boys teasing me cruelly like this was unacceptable. They knew they were getting to me, which is exactly why I had never told them this. I swear, sometimes I don't know how the people I'm closest to could be so callous. Tears were threatening to drop now, but at this point, I didn't care. Maybe if they saw me cry they would know how serious I was.

There was a silence between the three of us for some time. I chose not to look at Ash and Brock. In fact, I wasn't looking at much at anything. I stared down at Togepi, at his little, fuzzy spikes that twitched every now and then. He was getting tired, but I had lost all my urges and desires to sleep. There was no way I'd be able to settle until I was out of there, till I was on regular ground again and heading to the Pokémon Center. There had to be some way out of there. Sometimes cemeteries had night-watchmen . . . maybe one was here tonight, and had a key. But no, that probably wasn't true. With the looks of this place, why would anyone want to guard anything, especially when it was locked at night to keep intruders -- I guess that meant we were intruders -- out? And we weren't exactly in the middle of town, either. I could only see trees surrounding the place, not even the road we had come off of. The sky was growing darker and the air was becoming denser. I wondered if this cemetery was like the ones that got foggy at night . . .

No! I wasn't going to think that! Thoughts like that were going to make me even weaker. I was still somewhat determined to get out of there, but after I saw Brock and Ash place their bags on the ground beside the tree that hovered over Wendy's grave, I lost some hope within me. I continued to stand where I was, paying no attention to the boys' calls to me. Occasionally, they would giggle under their breaths. I resented that. I hated when they acted this way. Plus, they weren't even going to try to get out, even after I had made such a fuss. Didn't that mean anything to them?

I was still standing as Brock unzipped his bag and pulled out the tent. That was when I really became uncomfortable, when it finally dawned on me that this wasn't a joke anymore. They were dead serious on spending the night here. How could they? How could anyone, even those who aren't as scared as me, want to spend the night amongst the dead? Isn't that the kind of things you did on Halloween, the ultimate dare?

We hardly ever used the tent. If it was a nice night out, we would sleep under the stars in our sleeping bags. The tent was only for when it rained or it was windy and cold. My back was turned to them as he and Ash set it up, which didn't take too long.

"Hey, Misty, look," Brock said softly when they were done. "We set up the tent for ya tonight. It'll keep the hobgoblins out."

Ash laughed at that. I just arched my shoulders and turned my head. The boys smiled widely at me as I did, and Brock motioned me to come over. Instead, I looked up and above their heads, out at the graves that stretched before me. I could barely see far -- the sun was about set now, the sky was a deep, rich purple dotted with pink, fluffy clouds. Each grave seemed to cast a mile long shadow behind them, all shooting towards us. I hoped those shadows would go away soon.

I didn't say a word as I sat down, and neither did they . . . yet. There was something about their faces that I still didn't like. They looked . . . scheming almost. I could tell it in Ash's face easily. When our eyes met, he looked down and away, biting at his lip to keep the smile off.

"I don't think we should make a fire tonight, guys," Brock announced, shuffling through his bag. "It's private property, and I don't feel like getting into trouble over it. It's not worth it. 'S that okay?"

Ash shrugged and nodded, but I couldn't control my mouth when the word 'no' spilled out of it in a creaky little squeal.

Brock gave me a jaded look. "Misty, come on now. Nothing is going to happen. There's no ghosts here or anything. Look, you're with me and Ash, and I put up the tent for you so that you would feel safer. What else can I do?"

I glanced down, pulling tediously at the grass at my feet. I was feeling a little bit better, but the thought of the long night before us was not exciting me. It was terrifying me. I knew what Brock was saying was true; there was nothing there. But I had no idea how I was going to get to sleep tonight, knowing where I was or the nightmares that I would get if I did fall asleep.

"Nothing," I replied inaudibly. I picked myself up and crawled into the tent, lit dimly by one of our small, electric lanterns. It surprisingly did make me feel more relaxed. Not seeing endless graves before me was a relief. As soon as I got in, I settled Togepi onto my blue sleeping bag and pulled my knees to my chin, shutting my eyes and trying to take hold of myself. I breathed deeply and soothingly, thinking of pleasant things in my mind, trying to forget the situation. And it was working, too. Brock and Ash's presence outside, though silent, was giving me a sense of confidence, and already the shelter from the tent was making me feel protected. Maybe -- just maybe, tonight wouldn't be so bad. I would survive . . .

"Misty, I've come from the grave!"

My head shot up instantly, and my heart took a painful leap. I could practically feel my eyes bugging out incredibly as millions of chills ran up my spine and through every part of my body. It originated entirely at my sides, causing by the cold, sharp clutch that had suddenly grabbed at my flesh and squeezed. I did what any normal person would do -- I screamed. It was a deafening, throat-stinging yell that escaped from the base of my lungs and lasted prolongly. My train of thought froze, but not my body; I sailed right into the other side of the tent, continuing to yelp and wail.

I flipped, and found myself staring right at Ash, who was doubled over in the entranceway of the tent, his face scrunched up in uncontrollable laughter. His hair flopped over his face as he heaved and guffawed, his eyes shut and draining tears. I didn't cease whimpering as I gaped at him, feeling the urge to cry overcome me. Without hesitation, I jumped and cracked my palm across his face, sneering at him.

"That wasn't funny!" I shrilled, sobs breaking through my voice. I watched as Ash reached up to rub his sore cheek, though his laughing had not stopped. He was trying to stop, I could tell that, but the whole outcome was certainly hard to ignore. After all, he had succeeded in what he wanted: to scare to living hell out of me. My eyes burned at him.

"Oww. Hehe, I'm sorry, Misty," Ash muttered, his voice all muffled as the bouts of giggled continued to come. I wished I hadn't slapped him -- I should've punched him. He took his hand away, revealing that his cheek was bright red. It didn't seem to affect him one way or another. "But that was just too good!"

Tears rolled down my face and my body shook. My heart was racing insanely, and with all the breathing I was doing, it was not helping in calming myself down. I gave him a look of pure loathing, spitting out my words spitefully and through sobs.

"That was not good! That was a horrible thing to do, Ash! Horrible!" I was crying loudly. He just gave me a slightly pained look, his mouth still desperate to grin. "It's bad enough that I'm so scared here, but do you have to do that? Do you!?"

I didn't give him a chance to reply. He was ready to, and even if it was the most heartfelt apology the world has ever heard, I didn't care. I viciously kicked out my foot, missing his face by inches. He instantly backed away.

"Get away from me!" I growled.

"Misty, I'm sorry," he apologized sincerely, offering his hand. "I was just having fun with ya."

"That's not fun!" I bawled. "That was cruel!"

"Okay, it was cruel," Ash admitted, shrugging. "I just had to do it once, Misty. I won't do it again, I promise. You're really easy to scare."

I turned away rigidly and narrowed my eyes. "Just leave me alone, okay?" I pleaded, not caring any more how pitiful I sounded. I needed some sympathy here.

Ash smiled. "Heh, you should come out here! It's great! You wouldn't believe the all the people we're meeting!"

"Go away!" I yelled. At the same moment, I saw Brock's hands reach into the tent and pull Ash away.

"C'mon, Ash, leave her alone," he said wearily. Ash obliged and left the tent, the flaps of the entrance smacking shut behind him. I could hear him laughing from behind it. I stared at the opening, feeling my body finally beginning to relax. I pulled my knees to my chin again and buried my head in them, letting out the last of my shaky tears and licking my dry, rough lips. I needed to get out of here . . .

TO BE CONTINUED . . .

Hi everyone!! Yay, it's good to be back! And with a story I've been putting off writing since my "Midnight! Pokéball Go!" days. Yeesh!! LOL Well, finally got around to it, another of my SpOoKy ones . . . though it'll sport its romance genre soon . . . Mwhahahahahaha! Um . . . you all like AAMR, right? You don't!? Oh well . . . ~_^ Heehee!

Part 1 of 4! Hoped you liked this, so please review!