OK guys, there's a few things you should be aware of before you get started.
Yes, this is a continuation of Dark Mirror. But this is not the 'epic sequel' that'll be greater than the story.
I have big plans for this series...it's going to be a 5-6 part epic, leading up to the final epic conclusion. This particular story is best described as a filler episode that still builds up elements for the overall arc.
With that in mind, read review and please let me know if anything feels off. Thank you for all your support and encouragement, and I hope my future stories will live up to your expectations.
Somewhere in the Sinnoh region, three children were bedding down for the night in the middle of a thick forest. This was the first night Ash, Brock and Dawn were spending together on their journey. Everyone was excited, but exhausted. The two boys had helped Dawn set up her tent, which she was now fast asleep inside. Brock and Ash were used to sleeping on the ground, so all they needed were their sleeping bags.
Brock had fallen asleep first, and was starting to snore aloud when a slight snap woke him with a start. The boy leapt to his feet and opened his eyes to see the intruder.
It was Ash. He had just stepped on a twig on the edge of the camp.
"Sorry." Ash whispered, blushing.
Brock sighed with relief. "That's alright."
Ash tiptoed over to his sleeping bag, being careful not to wake Dawn. Brock's eyes gradually adjusted to the darkness, and he noticed Ash was still in his street clothes. He hadn't changed into his pajamas.
"You alright?" Brock whispered.
"Yeah, why?" Ash shuffled into his bag, tucking himself in while keeping an eye on Brock. "I'm fine. Really."
Brock somehow doubted that. Ash lied down and tried to close his eyes.
Something rustled in the woods, and the boy's eyes were wide open again. His head whirled around to look at the noise, but it was nothing more than a sleepwalking Bidoof. Ash groaned aloud, trying to settle himself in.
Brock lied down as well, but didn't fall asleep. He could tell something was on his friend's mind.
After several minutes of silence, Ash spoke in a quiet tone. "Brock?"
"How do you do it?"
Brock was caught off guard by that question. Now that he thought about it, Ash had been acting rather slowly the last few days. His boundless enthusiasm and energy seemed tainted by weariness. He had shrugged it off to his losses in the Hoenn championship, but was it something else?
"What do you mean?"
"After what happened…how can you still sleep out here?"
"What are you…?" And then it hit him. He felt like an idiot for not thinking about it sooner. That one town. That one adventure. Anyone would lose sleep after an experience like that.
The minute those words left Brock's mouth, a chill descended. The forest around them became dead silent. The name of the town, and the memories they had of it, carried a weight that none of their other escapades had. None of them had talked about it, not even when May and Max went their separate ways. But it was still there.
"Yeah." Ash sighed. The boy shivered for a moment in the cold. "I thought…I thought it'd get better over time. But every time I close my eyes…" the boy's hand touched the area around his left eye, where a long thin scar had once been.
"Have you slept at all?" Brock asked, very concerned.
"On and off…I guess."
Brock cursed himself for not noticing it sooner. He himself had been having bad dreams for weeks after they had escaped that town. They had stopped eventually, and he just assumed they had stopped for everyone. Apparently not.
Ash continued, staring up at the night sky. "I keep thinking that…I dunno, that those things are out there, that she's just watching and waiting for me to…to…"
"Ash, it's okay. They can't hurt you anymore."
"I wish I could believe that."
"Silent Hill is burnt to the ground. They closed off that area. None of those things can get out of that place."
"Is that how you managed?" Ash asked.
"Kinda, yeah. All those terrible things are stuck in that town, and it's on the other side of the continent. They can't hurt you." Brock emphasized. "You just need to realize that."
Ash didn't answer for a moment. Eventually, he forced a smile and told Brock. "I'll…I'll try."
Brock smiled back in the darkness. "Good. If it doesn't help, we'll get you something in the next town that'll help you sleep. You can't win the Sinnoh Tournament if you don't get your rest."
"Yeah." Ash nodded, chuckling quietly to himself. He settled back down into his sleeping bag, feeling just a little better. His gaze eventually fell on Dawn's tent. "Should…should we tell her?"
Brock shook his head. "No. She doesn't need to know."
Ash exhaled and laid back onto his pillow. "Alright. Goodnight, Brock."
"Goodnight, Ash." Brock yawned. "Pleasant dreams."