Wherever You Are
This is a one-shot actually based on the death of one of my most precious pets, a female golden retriever who we had to put down recently. So, this is a somewhat relatable piece for me. For those of you whose had to put down a treasured pet, you'll relate well.
Samurott used to be a powerful, majestic beast. He could use his sword to slice foes in half. He could swim entire lakes. One glare from him used to intimidate opponents. He won so many tournaments. His master was so incredibly proud of him. He was a Level 100 Samurott. An unstoppable, unbeatable, unconquerable champion!
At least, he used to be all of that.
Heartworm. Dirofilaria immitis, if you wanted to use the scientific term. That one diagnosis changed Samurott's life faster and more powerfully than anything else could have. That one word… disease… abomination… had caused his life to quickly spiral downward in a sea of medicines, tests, constant doctor appointments, and other diseases that branched off of heartworm. It was too much for Samurott to take. It had disintegrated his health and battle spirit into virtually nothing.
Now, it wouldn't surprise Samurott if his master was ashamed of him now. And why wouldn't he be? His master no longer had a powerful, majestic beast to be proud of. Now, all his master had left was the empty lifeless shell of a once mighty Samurott.
He was lying down in the backyard after his master had put him out. Again. For vomiting on the carpet. Again. Tears emerged from the former samurai seal's eyes. He would never do something like this intentionally. But disease had reduced him to this. He had nothing left to live for. Battling was his life. His soul, his spirit and the one thing he could take pride in. Now that it was cruelly taken away from him, he had no purpose.
After cleaning up Samurott's vomit, Hilbert found himself sitting on an old rocking chair that had belonged to his grandmother, gently rocking back and forth as he looked out into the backyard through the glass of the sliding door.
He sighed to himself. It pained him to see his Samurott this way. His Samurott, the one that was once an Oshawott and whom he had painstakingly raised into the powerful water warrior he is. No. Correction: Was. Heartworm and diseases changed all of that. To see his own life's work and pride diminish to this horrible state broke Hilbert's heart.
And every day just seemed to getting worse and worse.
Was it time?
Was it time to let his Samurott, his pride and joy, his life's hard work, and his first ever Pokémon… was it finally time to let him go?
Hilbert knew better than anyone how much Samurott missed the battling. The fun, the rush, the thrill of the game, and the sense of victory he got when he won a grueling match… Hilbert knew how much Samurott missed all of it.
He sat there for a while and thought, long and hard.
"Am I just being selfish? Am I just keeping him just because I can't let him go? Is this really the best thing for him?" he sighed. "Maybe I should ask Cheren."
He rose up out of the chair and walked over to the kitchen, where a house phone stood in its charger on the counter. He swiftly grabbed it and started dialing Cheren's cell.
It was an agonizing wait for Cheren to pick up. He could count the seconds tick by slowly as he waited for the receiver to answer.
"Come on…" Hilbert thought to himself.
"Hey Hilbert. What's new with you?"
Hilbert sighed. "Hi, Cheren. I… really need to talk to you."
A few seconds passed before Cheren responded. "I think I know what this is about."
Cheren was nearly psychic like that. He had this innate ability to know how a person was feeling and what they were thinking about just by the tone of their voice. It still amazed Hilbert that Cheren could read his mind so easily after all these years.
"If that assumption involves Samurott, you'd be right." Hilbert muttered, Cheren barely being able to make out his words.
Hilbert stuttered slightly before he began to speak again. "D-D-Do you think it's… you know… time?"
Several more seconds passed. 1, 2, 3, 4…
"This isn't my decision to make, Hilbert. Have you talked to the doctor about this?"
"Yeah… I did. He said Samurott's not going to get better anytime soon. That it's only going to get even worse. I-I-I don't know."
"Samurott does have his dignity to think of. I hate to sound harsh, but I really don't think Samurott even respects himself anymore. I've seen him, Hilbert. I don't think he's happy."
Hilbert sighed over the line again. He shuffled his feet awkwardly as he decided to sit down on the kitchen chair.
"Though," Cheren continued. "This isn't my decision to make. This is just my view on it. You ultimately make the final choice, Hilbert."
"No pressure, right?" Hilbert commented dryly. The two tried to laugh over the joke but it quickly became stale and lifeless.
Much like Samurott was now.
"Maybe… Maybe you're right. He isn't happy at all. But… I can't do this by myself, Cheren. I know I can't. I don't have the strength." the former Pokémon Trainer confessed over the telephone. "I can't. I need help to get through it. And you know I can't call Bianca…"
"I know." Cheren acknowledged. "She's not really good with this kind of thing. Remember a year ago when we had to put Emboar down?"
Who could forget? The Mega Fire Pig Pokémon had become deathly ill just one year ago. It was so unexpected, since Bianca always took extremely great care of him. Emboar never even smoked. A lot of Fire-types had (it was a common fad) but smoking just never appealed to him. He had shown some of the symptoms (wheezing, coughing up blood, weight loss) so we had suggested to Bianca that she should get him checked. Then we discovered: Emboar had developed lung cancer. There had to be a mistake, the Fire-Fighting Pokémon had never even touched a cigarette in his life! But the diagnosis was correct, he had lung cancer. Emboar's quality of life began to slowly spiral downwards, until it reached the point where he was on life support and Bianca was forced to make her decision.
Though, once he had passed on, it was nearly impossible for Bianca to fully comprehend it. She ended up locking herself in her room for two months. She felt she was the one who killed her first and most precious Pokémon. It took two months of persuasion, reassurance and counseling to get her out of her room.
Hilbert wasn't going to put Bianca in that same position again.
"…Yeah. I remember that."
"Let's not take that trip down memory lane. All right, Hilbert. I'll come over and help you take Samurott to the vet and you can talk it over with the doctor. See you in a few minutes."
Hilbert set the phone back on its charger and stood up out of the chair. He walked over into the hallway and leaned back onto it. This was a huge decision that Hilbert had to make. Once he did, there was no turning back.
He took out his Xtransceiver and looked at the time. 5:45. Cheren took residence in Opelucid City after he moved out of his parent's house and became a Pokémon Scientist, to research and discover more about Pokémon. Opelucid City was around a 30-minute drive from there to Undella Town, but 5 minutes by flying on a Pokémon and Hilbert already knew which choice Cheren would opt for.
He looked at his Xtransceiver again. 5:50. Cheren should be getting here soon.
Hilbert heard the familiar flying wings of an Unfezant landing outside his house. Cheren's original one had actually died a while back; this was the child of his original Unfezant.
Hilbert stepped outside into his house's front yard and there was the familiar black-haired Asian boy he had known for so long, now a full-fledged adult.
"Man, how time flys." he realized.
Cheren had recalled his Unfezant into its Pokéball and walked over to Hilbert.
"Are you ready, Hilbert? We can take your car; Samurott's too big to fit on Unfezant." Cheren asked.
"Yes. Can you… help me get him?"
Words weren't wasted as they walked to the courtyard. There wasn't much to really say, but they both knew it was time to end it all.
The duo reached the courtyard where Samurott was laying down in the grass with little life left in him. Hilbert knelt down and reached his hand under Samurott's shell helmet to scratch his head. He always loved that.
"Come on, Samurott." Hilbert whispered, with his eyes tearing up.
Samurott was deaf now so Hilbert used hand signals to communicate with him. He and Cheren led Samurott out of the courtyard and to the driveway where Cheren unlocked the car door. Hilbert was about to get in the driver's seat when Cheren stopped him.
"I'll drive." the Asian insisted. "You sit in the back with Samurott."
Hilbert could only nod silently as he helped Samurott into the back seats. He shut the door and walked over to the other side of the car, opening the other back door. Hilbert shut and locked it, then turned over to Samurott.
"I-I guess it is time." Hilbert hugged Samurott; his life, his precious Pokémon he had ever since he was a young boy and the one who helped start his entire Pokémon journey.
Cheren started the car and began to drive to the veterinarian's office. Cheren knew Undella Town relatively well since he had visited Hilbert many times before. Though, the vet's office was only about a 10-minute drive, the trip felt like the length of his entire journey with his samurai seal. Each second that ticked by was an agonizing hour for him. Memories of he and his Samurott began to soar through Hilbert's head.
The first moment he picked the cute little Oshawott at his starter…
His and Oshawott's first encounter with the mysterious N…
The moment when he barely took down the Striation City gym leaders…
Reaching the artistically rich Nacrene City and defeating Lenora…
Fighting through the deep, dark Pinwheel Forest…
And when his Oshawott evolved to Dewott… my gosh, such a proud and crowning moment…
Hilbert's entire journey played through his head in a matter of minutes, up to the point where he took on the malevolent Ghetsis, who had manipulated his own son for his personal gain and came out victorious after the harshest battle Hilbert and Samurott had faced in their life.
The now-adult Hilbert was snapped out of his thoughts by Cheren, who turned back to look at him.
"…Oh. Ok then."
Hilbert unlocked the door and stepped out of the car and onto the pavement. He helped Samurott down from the car seats, carefully supporting his weight so he wouldn't fall. Cheren locked the car doors and began to walk inside, Hilbert and Samurott slowly following behind.
The duo and former shogun seal reached the front desk.
"Is Doctor Trent here?" Hilbert unsurely asked the lady attending to needs on the computer.
"Yes." she nodded. "I'll page him. Wait in Room 3 and he'll be with you shortly."
They walked over to Room 3, which was only a short distance from the front desk. Hilbert sat down on a chair in the room, waiting anxiously for the doctor. Cheren took the seat next to him. Not long had passed when Hilbert sighed again.
"Is he going to be here soon?"
Cheren shrugged his shoulders. "Hilbert, it's only been 2 minutes. You need to be more patient."
"Cheren, this is not something I'm looking forward to. I already know what the doctor's gonna say. I've visited him enough times to figure that out! I'm not an idiot!"
"All right. All right. Just don't yell at me, geez."
"But…" Hilbert whispered. "It is probably for the better…"
"Hey there, Mr. Black. How are you doing?"
Hilbert turned his attention to the person addressing him. Standing in the doorway to the back of the vet's hospital was a young doctor, around twenty to twenty-five years old. The young man had black hair, but darker than Cheren's.
Hilbert tried to force a smile, but failed to even hold up a fake one. "Fine, I guess…"
Both Cheren and Doctor Trent knew Hilbert was far from fine.
"So, what is it that I can do for you and Samurott?" Trent looked over to Samurott who was lying down on the floor, expressing very little energy or excitement.
"I..I.." Hilbert began to stutter. He was finding it very hard just to talk to the doctor.
Eventually after a few seconds, he gulped and came out of his stuttering. "I am… considering putting down Samurott." Hilbert looked over to Samurott who showed no sign of joy or fear. He was simply lifeless.
"Can you explain why?" the doctor requested.
Hilbert exasperated. "He's hardly been eating anything and when he does eat, he always seems to throw it back up. He had a diagnosis of heartworm about 3 years ago and since then, he's had to quit battling. He…" the adult gulped. His eyes were beginning to tear up. "He… hasn't been happy at all since he had to stop battling. He just… lies around the house and does nothing. Maybe… maybe it's time."
Doctor Trent nodded. "I see. This isn't an easy thing to go through. You know, I had to put down my Stoutland last February. It was really hard for me; it's hard for anybody to come to the point when they need to put down their Pokémon. Some people end up holding on too long and can't do it until their Pokémon is completely unable to do anything whatsoever."
Cheren remained silent as Hilbert began to speak again.
"No. I… I don't want to be that person." Hilbert said.
"OK." Doctor Trent handed a piece of paper attached to a clipboard on it. It read:
Unova Pokémon Hospital
Official Euthanization Form
Please fill out the following information about the Pokémon you wish to euthanize:
Name of Pokémon:
Species of Pokémon:
Along with other things such as capture/receive date, birth date, etc.
Doctor Trent turned to Hilbert. "I'll take Samurott and insert an IV into his skin then give him a mild sedative to make him sleepy. Then we'll euthanize him."
"Why don't you just euthanize directly? I know euthanization doesn't hurt so why not?" wondered Cheren. He was always the kind to ask questions on anything he didn't know about even in a situation like this.
"The reason we don't euthanize him directly is because while it works, it causes muscle twitching that doesn't hurt the Pokémon but can be kinda disturbing to watch."
Hilbert was busy trying to push that mental image out of his mind as the doctor took Samurott. The former trainer redirected his attention to the euthanization papers. He gulped nervously. He attempted to fill out the papers but his hand was shaking insanely and resulted in messy, but still legible handwriting. He kept going until he reached the last section of the paper.
Do you wish the burn the Pokémon and keep the ashes in a specially designed urn?
If so, do you wish to keep a lock of your Pokémon's hair/fur/armor?
If so, do you wish to keep a pawprint of your Pokémon (if applicable?)
Hilbert shook intensely as he read the words. "B-B-Burn?" he thought in shock.
"C-Cheren?" Hilbert questioned nervously.
The Asian adult stood up from his chair and walked over to Hilbert.
"It asks me if I want to burn my Pokémon. That's just doesn't…"
Cheren looked at the paper. "I think it's a good idea?"
"Are you crazy? Why would I…?"
"Think about it. Why leave Samurott to the bugs? Why just put him in the ground for the bugs to eat his carcass? That's a disservice. If you burn his ashes, I think you're doing him an honor."
"An honor?" mused Hilbert.
"Yeah. Plus, you can put the urn away and whenever you want to remember him, you can just pull it out."
Hilbert thought about it for a while. It did seem like a better option compared to letting his carcass rot underground. He turned back to the paper and circled all three options for 'yes'.
The doctor came back almost immediately after Hilbert finished. Hilbert sat at the ground near where he was coming in. Cheren proceeded to do the same. Behind Trent was Samurott with an IV in his front right leg, walking slowly then proceeded to rest his body on the ground. His head lay on Hilbert's lap. Hilbert scratched Samurott's head as he took the helmet off. Cheren handed the papers off to Doctor Trent.
"Are you ready?" asked Doctor Trent.
Hilbert sighed. He didn't really want to put Samurott to sleep. But he knew keeping Samurott just because he wanted to was wrong. It would be incredibly selfish of Hilbert to do that. He knew what was right.
Hilbert turned his head up to Doctor Trent.
Doctor Trent knelt down and took out a small syringe with the mild sedative in it. He placed the needle of the syringe into the IV and slowly depressed the lever until the entire liquid was in Samurott's veins. Another sedative followed. Finally, Doctor Trent pulled out a large syringe with a pink liquid in it, easily identifiable as the killing drug. He set the syringe into the IV.
Hilbert wanted to stop it all. He wanted to yank that syringe right out of the doctor's hands. Every bone in his body urged him to.
But his heart told him otherwise.
His heart said it was time.
Time for Samurott to depart this world.
Time for him to go home.
And time… to let go.
But as Samurott shut his eyes for the final time, Hilbert could clearly see a beautiful smile on his face.
Both Cheren and Hilbert were in tears as Samurott's heart stopped. Hilbert whispered, "Go home, Samurott. Say hi to Mom and Dad for me."
Doctor Trent stepped up and offered a hand to Hilbert, still sobbing. He took the hand and stood up as Cheren got up on his own.
The doctor took Samurott's body and began to walk off. Hilbert turned towards him.
"Y-You promise you'll do everything, right? T-The hair, and the urn, a-and the pawprint?"
"I promise, cross my heart. We'll call you once everything is ready." the doctor nodded. The doctor left with the empty shell that was once Hilbert's mighty powerful and majestic Samurott, leaving Cheren and Hilbert alone.
Cheren walked out of the room first, with Hilbert slowly following behind him. The two left the building and on the way out, he saw a little girl, perhaps 5 to 6 years old walking with none other than a small Oshawott. Immediately, he was brought back to his childhood, to when he first chose Oshawott. Hilbert turned to the girl and knelt down to her level.
The young girl twisted her head to look at the much older Hilbert.
"Yeah, mister?" she asked.
"Chose an Oshawott, huh?"
"Yep, my mommy said I'm not allowed to start my journey yet, but she let me pick this cutie!"
The girl lifted her young Oshawott off of the ground to show to him.
"Osha! Osha!" it said, rather cutely. Hilbert couldn't help but chuckle.
"But someday, I'll turn 10 years old and get to be a Pokémon Master!" the girl claimed proudly.
Hilbert smiled, seeing himself in the young girl.
"Listen. That's great. It's awesome of you to dream big and have a goal set out in front of you. But do yourself a favor."
"What do you mean, mister?"
"Don't try to grow up too fast. Don't look too far ahead and take yourself out of the present. You don't know what you've got until it's gone. Enjoy the time you have with him now. Treasure it. Will you do that for me?"
The girl seemed to spend some time briefly thinking over what the stranger had said. She nodded her head.
Hilbert stood back up and began to walk out of the building.
"Someday, Samurott, we'll meet again. Have fun with Mom and Dad. Enjoy yourself up there. You might have to wait a while for me but don't worry, I'll follow. Until that day comes, I'll be dreaming of you wherever you are."
Pokémon © Nintendo/Game Freak