A grinning sophomore stepped out of the back doors, reveling in the sun's weak December warmth as she bounded down the steps. Her brown hair cutely stuck out on both sides of her head in a fashionable, flattering way, though it was a mystery of the school how she managed to keep it as such. A pleasant breeze ruffled the tails of her red bandanna as she inhaled the sweet scent of grass and took off in a dead run in the same second. Her mood had been considerably lifted ever since the bell rang for the end of fifth period, which also meant the beginning of her lunch.
She sprinted across the considerably elegant backyard. She was already late, though it wasn't as if that were new news. Realizing this particular tidbit, her face slacked, her shoulders shrugged, and her pace slowed all the way down to a walk. Might as well take in the serenity of the scenery before the serenity part was ruined, she thought. And so the brunette just did that—deliberately slow her pace to little more than a snail's and admire the particular courtyard of West Riverwater Magnet High she'd already gotten so used to.
The girl slowly—but surely—made her way to the far back corner of the garden, a place people didn't always go because it was farther and more secluded. After passing the familiar stone angel statue and a line of trimmed bushes, she was there.
The pagoda was something of a mistake; she'd accidentally stumbled upon it once when she'd been briefly lost in the garden last year.
And almost immediately, she had fallen in love with it.
It was rustic—a one-tier piece of architecture that wasn't too intricate, yet well-sized and could hold at least a dozen people. Rose vines climbed several of the pillars. Bird droppings littered the rounded roof that resembled that of a dome, and a rounded slab of stone hugged the interior to serve as a bench. The pagoda was located in a spot where trees grew more frequently, and thus shade and cover were both abundant.
If one looked up, there were a series of elegant arabesque designs on the ceiling, dancing and twisting until it all congregated in the middle—a large, clear, cyan crystal that the brunette thought was the most gorgeous color ever. Today, however, when she looked up, her brow furrowed in confusion. For some reason, it was a darker shade of blue than usual—almost navy.
It's no big deal, she reasoned. Probably just got dirty or something.
"Hey guys," May greeted, sitting down on the curved bench. "What's going on?"
"Guess," said June, the girl next to her.
Like May, June Rosenberg was a sophomore, and they'd been friends since freshman orientation. The first thing both of them said after introducing themselves was, "Do your parents have as bad of a sense of humor as mine?" It was indeed true that June had been born in June and May was born in May.
"You'd think that at fifteen and sixteen, they might not be so hung up over Pokemon," said a pretty blue-haired girl on the other side of the pagoda.
Her name was Dawn Berlitz, and unlike the other four current occupants of the pagoda, she was a freshman. On the first day of school that year, she had discovered the pagoda occupied with the sophomores, and though there had initially been a few awkward moments, the girl had quickly fallen into rhythm with the rest of the four when the topic of Pokemon had, inevitably, arose. She still received plenty of lighthearted freshman-related jeers, though. Upon May's appearance, she smiled, crossed the length of the structure, and gave the brunette a quick hug.
"News flash, Dawn, you play Pokemon too," said June, rolling her eyes. Dawn stuck out her tongue at her.
Smiling slightly, May glanced at the scene unraveling before them featuring two boys, neither of whom had seemed to have heard the three girls' short conversation, so focused on their tasks at hand as they were. One of them was Ash Ketchum, a sophomore with hair as black as night. His facial features were currently scrunched in concentration. He wasn't the most handsome guy in school—he had more of a puppy-dog face—but his loyal, positive, and sometimes naïve personality made him friendly with everyone.
The other was Brendan Yuki, also a sophomore. He was definitely one of the finer faces in school, and a gentleman around girls whenever given the chance. His dark hair was almost always hidden by a signature white hat that he wore whenever he could.
"Losing, Ash?" taunted Brendan, grinning in triumph.
Ash frowned as he retorted, "No way, not to you!"
It goes without saying that they were in a very intimate Pokemon card battle.
"I've only got one prize card left, and none of you guys have ever taken my fully-evolved Swampert," gloated Brendan.
"My Electivire can! I just…don't know where it is right now…" muttered Ash, shooting daggers at his deck that had failed him.
Dawn peered over Ash's shoulder, looking at the cards in his hand and twisting a lock of her cobalt hair around her finger. "Wow Ash, I don't think you can do much with just a Hoothoot or Magikarp," she commented. "Or a Grass energy card."
"Ash, aren't those the weakest basics you've got in there?"
The raven-haired boy flushed. "Uh…"
"C'mon, Ash—just admit defeat already!"
Ash sulked and tossed the cards in his hand into the middle of the game, giving up. He crossed his arms childishly, pouting and looking away from his friends. Brendan, June, and Dawn snickered.
"Ash, you should get more Supporter cards into your deck."
"But I don't have any!" he retorted, still sour over his second loss in a row.
"You can have some of mine," offered Dawn. "I got like four Professor Elm's Training Methods and two other Supporters in my first and last booster pack, mind you—and not a single cute Pokemon. Can you believe it?" she said in disgust.
May smiled. She loved her friends. It wasn't as if they were a super unlikely clique, but ultimately, the most important thing that had brought them together was one common interest—Pokemon. Whether it was the cards, the games, the manga, or the show featuring Red, Blue, and Green, the franchise was their own guilty pleasure.
"Hey Ash, I want to see if your deck's really that terrible," mused June. "Let me battle with it against someone?"
Ash frowned, pretty convinced that was a thinly-veiled indirect insult. Then he shrugged. "Fine, maybe someone else'll have better luck with it than me."
"Dawn, battle me?" offered June, relinquishing her seat beside May.
"Okay!" she replied eagerly. "Regular deck, regular rules, but three prize cards. I have homework I need to do before lunch is over."
With that, she swiftly took out a Ziploc bag labeled "reg deck" that contained exactly sixty cards, and kneeled down on the floor of the pagoda opposite June. Moving over to give them room, Ash took a seat next to them, interested in knowing whether his deck was really so unusable. Brendan found a spot next to May, where June had been sitting earlier.
As the battle began, she found herself drifting off; after all, five hours of sleep the night before does that to a person. She blindly leaned to her right, eventually finding Brendan's left shoulder, relaxing into it wordlessly. She felt Brendan tense for a moment, then relax as he recognized the sudden pressure. It wasn't long before she drifted off.
The rest of May's day had crept by, although a bit faster than her earlier classes had. By her last period, Physical Education, May was tired and decided she just no longer cared about the class anymore.
May always looked forward to the end of the day, a time when she and Dawn, June, Ash, and Brendan all congregated again at the pagoda in unspoken tradition. In truth, they didn't often do much when they were here, except sometimes homework, studying, and Pokemon. They usually just relaxed and talked. Maybe walk a few blocks to the corner store for some food, or simply head home after a little while.
Once again, May was the last to arrive at the pagoda.
"Last again, May," joked Brendan. "You must walk the speed of a Torkoal."
May stuck out her tongue at Brendan as everyone else rolled their eyes at the corny Pokemon reference, and said, "I just ran two miles, I have an excuse."
"I saw you in gym. You were walking," he said in a tone of mock disgust. "You weren't even breathing hard."
"Well–" May thought hard for a good response; none came in that instant. "...Not everybody runs cross-country, Brendan!"
"That doesn't even make sense," laughed Brendan.
May playfully blew out a breath, rolled her eyes, and in doing so, had her attention captured by the center of the ceiling for the second time that day. She stared at the crystal for a little while.
"Guys?" she started slowly.
"I don't think the crystal thing in the middle has always been black, has it?" she said as she lifted a finger to point.
Her friends lifted their gazes, and Dawn noted, "I always thought it was blue. That's weird."
"It's probably nothing," said June, shrugging.
As if feeling the sudden intensity of their questioning stares, the crystal suddenly flickered and turned a pale lavender color.
"Okay, that wasn't nothing," she quickly amended.
"…It's not a light, right? Because aside from disproving something that we've thought for a really long time, it'd at least make sense and be okay," reasoned Ash.
"If it's a prank, it's a bad one," said Dawn, turning her head and scanning their surroundings.
The closest people were probably a hundred yards away, and they were nonchalantly playing Frisbee. May eyed the same people before deciding they were innocent, and looked back at the crystal. It was now a steel blue.
"This is kinda weird," noted Brendan.
Then the crystal turned black again.
It faded to lavender.
"Is that a pattern?" asked June, squinting.
"You bet," said Ash, apprehension beginning to creep into his voice.
It was turning colors with abrupt speed now, hardly staying on one hue for longer than a second. Eventually, all it was doing was flashing the same colors over and over again.
"Guys, it's just a rock, but I'm getting a bad feeling," whispered Dawn. "Maybe we should -"
None of them would ever learn what Dawn thought they should've done, as she was abruptly cut off by a sudden flash of bright, blinding white light and roaring wind.
May felt the ground whisk away from underneath her. Or maybe she was whisking away from the ground. She heard Dawn and herself scream. In a corner of her mind, May wondered if anyone else was seeing this right now.
"Help!" she tried to shout.
The current got faster, stronger. It began blowing at tornado-like speeds, whipping their hair painfully into their faces and necks. The light grew even brighter, if that was possible.
Then they were quickly sucked, without their permission, into some sort of black hole that had ripped open in front of them.
One of the students playing Frisbee stopped. "Did you hear something?" he asked.
His friend stared at him incredulously, and said, "No?"
"I could've sworn someone screamed 'help'... or something," he said as he looked in the direction of the pagoda, and then scanned the area. Nobody was anywhere near. He shrugged. "Guess I'm not getting enough sleep," he joked, returning the Frisbee.
May was falling.
The wind had died down considerably, although it must have still been fifty, sixty mile-per-hour winds. It felt like it was carrying her.
It was kind of warm, the feeling engulfing her. For a moment, she simply reveled in the comfortable temperature, and the feeling as if she hadn't a worry in the world washed over her.
Then she remembered.
She tried to open her eyes to see, but it was still far too bright, and thus had to shut them immediately. It was like looking into the sun, only the sun was all around her.
"Guys?" she tried to call, but no words came out as the wind shoved the word back down her throat.
Now, she was a bit more than afraid. Try terrified.
After what may have either been two seconds or forever, she noticed the wind had died away, and then felt something.
May had literally crashed into the Earth. It hurt, but it wasn't bone-breaking pain - and there were more pressing things to worry about. She sucked in a deep breath, as the tornado-wind-thing had knocked everything from her lungs.
May chanced opening her eyes. She saw the bright, blue, vast sky, as a flock of something flew by overhead. A shock ran through her a second later as she registered what she saw.
Those are Pidgey...
"Guys?" she called again.
There was no answer but silence.
Groggily, she lifted her head and scanned her surroundings. She seemed to be on the outskirts of a town of some sorts, though from what she could tell, the houses were a bit simple.
Her fall had been broken by lush, long grass, and behind her were trees for as far as she could see. A single worn dirt path cut through the foliage of bushes, plants, and dew, and it all seemed to stretch endlessly.
She squinted for anything—her friends, hints, other people, even Pokemon, as long as she wasn't going crazy seeing those Pidgey. This obviously wasn't the campus of West Riverwater anymore, and absurd had already been thrown out the window. Her friends certainly weren't within a several hundred-yard radius of her.
There were a few people deeper in the town, going about their business. A few children were playing. Nobody noticed her, nor the fact that she had apparently materialized out of the sky.
If she looked closely, she would've seen a Hoothoot napping in the tree closest to her, a Pidgeotto pecking at a Weedle some eight feet away, and a Caterpie watching her curiously from the safety of a bush.
However, her attention was caught and held by a wooden sign a few yards away from her, facing the path that led into the forest.
Neatly printed on the flat surface were the words, "Welcome to Petalburg City – where people mingle with nature."
Thanks for reading :) reviews are welcome!