The Smell of Fear, The Smell of Death
It can make you do weird things you would never do otherwise. It can turn a strong confident person into a weak blubbering baby, a former shell of itself. It could make that person do anything for it, to avoid feeling the fear. Even kill.
Then, fear could also make a person do brave and amazing things. It could make a person stand up in front of a bullet, make them give up their riches and social status, or take a fatal blow. That could make the person, the fearful, dead.
The charizard was feeling the first type of fear. It ran through the thick, humid forest as fast as it could carry itself. Its mammoth wings were tucked to its sides, and its sharp claws were tearing a furious path through the bush. It's mouth, usually breathing fire or roaring, was open, its tongue hanging out the sides. Suddenly, it heard it. A strange lilting tune. In its fear, the charizard made the connection between the tune and whatever had scared it that badly. It gathered what few scraps of its courage, and ran towards its origin, willing to die for it's running to end.
Misty Waterflower was sitting at the waters edge, whistling, waiting for her fishing rod to catch something. She had been there for at least half of an hour, and she was slowly getting bored, despite her love of fishing. Then a weird noise and the shuffling of bushes a couple of feet away from her made her turn her head. Absent-mindedly, she continued whistling her tune. The shaking of the bushes got more and more violent, and she stopped. Then a red blur burst out of the bushes. The young woman did the only thing that came to mind. She screamed.
Ash Ketchum was nearby at the camp he and his two best friends had set up for the night. He heard Misty's scream. Without another thought, he sped off, leaving his friend Brock by the fire, making dinner.
The young man sped through the forest, his mind focused on his friend Misty. His shirt-sleeved jacket did nothing to protect his bare forearms, but he didn't seem to mind. His legs propelled him the short distance to the lake in speeds he, in retrospect, never thought he could achieve. His official red and white hat almost fell off, but he took it off of his head and held onto it firmly in his hand.
After what seemed like an eternity, he reached the river where his ailing friend was. She stood there, frozen in terror, as the gigantic charizard towered over her, making her cringe back in fear.
Without another thought, Ash grabbed a rock and flung it at the charizard's head. It connected with a thump, right at the side of its head, drawing blood. Ash started to jump up and down, waving his hands wildly.
"Here, I am, ya big bully! Come and pick on someone your own size!" Ash taunted.
The charizard shook its head to clear it. The damned little piece of meat had hit him with a rock. He glared at it and shot a stream of fire from its mouth. The meat daintily jumped out of harms way. The Charizard ran towards the flesh bag, its wings opening up as if it were to take flight. By then its fear had turned into rage, a rage that burned hotter than the fire on it's long red tail.
Ash turned and ran from the angry charizard. He tore a glance behind him to Misty, making sure that she was ok. Then he concentrated on keeping alive. As he sped ahead of the charizard, his much smaller frame allowing him to get through the trees a lot faster than the charizard, he fingered the pokeballs in his belt.
"Bulbasaur…Squirtle…Lapras…I think I'll use Lapras!" Ash thought as he dodged branches and leapt over a couple of large roots. He spotted a clearing up ahead, and dashed forward, making a break from the enraged lizard behind him.
Launching himself in the air, he spun quickly around, simultaneously, taking the pokeball from his belt and throwing it in the charizard's direction.
"Lapras! I choose you!" Ash yelled, landing on his two feet. At the same time, he placed his cap back on his head and twisted it around.
The ball bounced off of a tree, and opened up. A flash of blue light erupted from the ball, and a red light came from the ball. A Lapras materialized from the red light.
"Lapras, use your ice-beam on the charizard!" Ash yelled.
Before the Lapras could comply to it's trainers orders, the charizard started shooting flamethrowers in their directions. Lapras and Ash started to dodge the fire blasts, trying to keep alive.
The charizard looked at the flesh bag with hate in it's eyes. It ignored the meat's pokemon, its levels far below its. It looked up ahead, a plan staring to form in its mind. It closed it's mouth for a few seconds and launched a fire blast at it. As expected the meat avoided it, but was a bit dazed. The charizard took the advantage and charged it.
Ash quickly shook his head clear, and looked up. By then it was to late. The charizard was almost right on top of him. He looked up at the big, red behemoth, it's arms wide open, fangs bared and a bit of fire erupting from it's mouth. The moment seemed to freeze in time, the image of the charizard baring down on him black and white. Then time started again and the world turned into pain.
Misty breathed a sigh of relief, and collapsed on her knees. A tear ran down her cheek. She was emotionally and physically exhausted, the adrenaline and the brush with death running it's course. Then she looked up.
"Ash…" Misty whispered and broke off into a run, following the trail of shredded and burnt bush and trees. Suddenly a hand grabbed onto her arm. She whipped her head around. It was Brock.
"Where…" he began but Misty cut him off with a gesture. She pointed at the trail and started back running. Brock followed her.
By the time they got to the site, it was over. Lapras stood over her fallen trainer, nudging him with her mouth. Ash was on the ground, bruised and bloody and a bit burnt. The Charizard was encased in a huge block of ice.
Misty and Brock rushed over to their friend's side. He was barely breathing, and he was covered in blood from deep scratches all over his body. He was also conscious and feeling every bit of pain that he was in.
"Misty…Brock…." He gurgled out, coughing up blood.
"No, no Ash. Don't try to talk. I'll go get help," Brock said. He looked over at Misty.
"I'll take Onix to the next town and get some help. You stay here with him and make sure he stays conscious. If he doesn't…. he might never regain it," he told her, his fear and anxiety showing in his voice.
Brock took out one of his pokeballs he kept on his belt, beneath his multi pocketed green vest. He threw it in the midst of the clearing.
"Onix, go!" he cried. The pokeball opened and out popped the 15 story rock pokemon. It looked like a multi-segmented snake in a way, with a ridge on its head.
"Onnnniiiixxx!" it said, and it looked down at it's master.
"Onix! We've got to get to the town we were in before. We don't have much time!" Brock shouted up at the pokemon. It nodded and lowered it's head for it's trainer to get on. Brock climbed on top of it's head and they headed off, moving with a speed that belied it's size.
Misty turned back to Ash. She sat by next to him, and held his hand.
"Oh, Ash I'm so sorry…. so sorry…." Misty wailed, tears coming down her face.
"It's… ok…. Misty…. You… are… ok…" Ash managed out.
"No, I'm not! You got hurt because of me! You got hurt… because I couldn't help you," she sobbed.
Ash tried to wipe her tears away, but left a bloody trail across her face.
"Sorry…" he apologized.
Misty sobbed harder.
"Please… don't cry…Mist….. I'm ok…. It doesn't…hurt that…..bad" Ash tried to comfort her, lying through his gritted teeth.
"Don't you dare lie to me!" Misty screamed at him, trying to keep from crying some more.
"Sorry…" Ash said, his eyes filling with tears.
Misty caught herself. Geez, he's here, all banged up and bloody, not even shedding a tear, and I'm about to make him cry. I'm such a jerk. A big ungrateful jerk.
"No, Ash I'm sorry. I didn't mean to snap at you like that. I'm just afraid of losing you. You're my best friend. And the thought of losing you scares me. And it's my fault to. If you died, I don't know how I'll handle it." She admitted.
"Don't… worry. I give ….my word I…. won't die on you. I …promise."
"Don't make promises you can't keep Ash Ketchum!"
Misty gave a little chuckle at that.
"Where are you hurt, Ash? Maybe I could do something?"
"Uh, find out how Lapras is doing," he replied.
Misty nodded and turned to Lapras, who was standing near her fallen trainers side. Her eyes were filled with sorrow, seeing her trainer on the ground, hurt so badly.
"Don't worry, Lapras. Ash'll be better.. you'll see," Misty said, trying to soothe the pokemon.
After about ten minutes, the sound of helicopter blades were heard and a large copter landed in the clearing.
Two paramedics emerged with a gurney in their hands. Misty was bent over crying on Ash's body. His still body.
"Aw, shit…" one of them muttered.
The pair set down the gurney next to Ash, and gently pried Misty off of him. One of them checked for a heartbeat and breathing.
The paramedic looked up and shook his head.
"He's got a pulse, but it's weak. Barely breathing, at least two broken ribs. One of them must have punctured his lung, maybe both lungs. We need him at the hospital, stat."
The other guy nodded and they quickly loaded him on the gurney, and strapped him down, making sure to avoid the deep slashes all over his body. Then they put him in. One of them, the guy who checked for his stats, walked over to Misty.
"Do you know the victim?"
"Yes…yes I do. He's one of my best friends, and if he dies, I don't know what I'll do!" Misty sobbed into the paramedic's shirt.
"Come with me. You can ride back with us," the paramedic said, leading her back to the helicopter.
The blades spun, and the aircraft flew back to the hospital.
Misty, Brock and Pikachu waited silently in the waiting room. Misty had cried herself to sleep, and Brock had shed a few tears himself. Pikachu was in a state of shock, the guilt of not being able to protect his friend seeping in.
A few minutes passed. A nurse walked in.
"Umm, are you people here for Ash Ketchum?" she asked hesitantly, the fear of what she had to do, almost getting to her.
"Yeah. Yeah we are," Brock spoke up, standing up.
The nurse took a deep breath, and began.
"You're friend, I'm afraid is in a light coma. He will wake up, but no one will be able to tell. It could be hours, it could be weeks, it could even years. No one will be able to tell."
Brock blinked back a few tears. Not ever seeing his friend again, up and about… it struck a cord within him. It reminded him off the way his mom died. In a hospital almost like this. But he had to be strong, if not for his sake, but for Misty and Pikachu and Ash.
"Well… he's alive right? That's something to be grateful for. Is he going to suffer from any permanent damage?"
"Yes, that's another thing… you see, some of the injuries he suffered from are, in truth, supposedly fatal, and he should have been dead by the time you got him here. By some miracle, he has held on, and he still is, but barely. You're friend has some fight in him, but it will most likely be a matter of time," the Nurse said simply.
"No… I can't lose him… I can't lose him!" Misty shouted, apparently awake to hear what the nurse said.
"I am sorry, but there is nothing I can do…" the nurse said simply and sincerely, shrugging her shoulders.
"Oh, Brock, what am I going to do?" Misty wailed silently to Brock, finding solace in his embrace.
Brock stayed silent and just tried to comfort the girl, hugging her. He was to busy thinking about what he was going to do. The nurse left.
It was so peaceful, here in the field with Misty. Ash had never felt so content as he had. Pikachu was somewhere playing happily with his other pokemon and Brock was happy too. He didn't know how he knew, but he just knew.
Misty smiled at him. That smile… it was the thing dreams were made of. It was a smile full of love and caring, and it was all for him.
"I love you," Ash told her.
She giggled slightly. "I love you too, Ash Ketchum"
Then they kissed, a deep, passionate kiss. At least it was supposed to be. There just was something wrong. Something missing. Ash knew it in his core, deep inside. But the illusion or whatever it was was good enough for now. So he was satisfied.
They started to make out. Nothing dirty or sinful, but it just felt pure and right. And yet, that nagging feeling got to him again.
Then he noticed the tug. The tug to make him stay there. Of course he wanted too, and he returned Misty's kisses with much fiercer ones of his own. Then he noticed his surroundings. He wasn't supposed to, but he did. Ash realized he was in a bed. A large bed.
They stayed inside the waiting room that night, not even sleeping. Pikachu was a wreck, and every once in a while would make a break for Ash's room, but was stopped gently by Brock.
They were there all thinking about how Ash had affected their lives, but always stopped themselves when it their thoughts started to cross the line to how their lives would and will be without him.
Misty thought about all the fights and arguments they had. Then she thought about that afternoon, and how selflessly he had saved her life. But to her, the irony of the situation was almost unbearable. She would rather have died to have had gotten him killed over her.
Brock was also thinking about the young trainer. He remembered the first time he had met him, and remembered how dedicated and stubborn he was. Ash had always been headstrong, even when he was using an electric type against a rock type. Of course he did come back and defeat him.
He remembered the years of traveling with him, the friendship they shared. Brock couldn't fathom life without him, he the young man who had changed him so much.
Pikachu was still in shock(no pun intended) and he kept on whispering Ash's name over and over when he wasn't trying to see him. He was so sorry for shocking him all those times, for being so hard on him. He was even more sorry for not following him when he went after Misty. He would've handled that Charizard easily. It was his fault, as he was his pokemon, and pokemon are to help protect their trainers from the wild.
Ash broke away, suddenly from Misty. He felt something, a tug, a pull away from Misty.
"What's wrong, Ash? Is everything ok?" Misty asked, gasping for breath.
"No, everything's not ok. Something is wrong. Terribly wrong," Ash answered.
"It happens to some guys, Ash. Don't worry about it."
"NO, NOT THAT!" Ash yelled, blushing furiously.
"Well, it isn't me, is it?" Misty asked, her eyes welling up with tears.
"No, it's just that… I have this feeling, this gut feeling that something is wrong. That I'm not supposed to be here," Ash said and sat up in the bed.
Then it hit him. Wasn't he at some filed a couple of moments ago? In fact, how did he get in the room he was in? He looked around the room, searching for something, for some clue of to where he was.
"Uhh… Ash? Weren't we doing something just now?" Misty asked impatiently.
Ash gave no answer. He tried to open the door, but it didn't budge. He took a step back and tried again. Nothing. He finally turned to Misty.
"Where am I? What is this place?" he asked.
Misty gave a sigh, and she began to cry.
"I knew it! I am a scrawny little runt! No one could ever love me!"
"Cut the crap and just answer my question."
Misty looked up at Ash in surprise. "Fine, if you really must know, you are in between living and dying," she said, cutting the waterworks.
Misty got off the bed. When she did, the room was gone, and all that was left was whiteness. Ash looked around. He was still in his boxers, and Misty was still in her bra and undies, but everything else was gone.
"How did you? When did you?" Ash stammered out.
"Ok, to make a long story… not so long, you are dying. I have no idea how you realized that something is wrong, but you did."
"So, if I am dying, who are you, if you're not Misty?"
"Oh, I'm the part of you that wants to stay. I am just like Misty in every way, shape and form. But I don't have to stay like Misty. I can be anyone you're heart desires. And there are more like me," she explained.
"But I don't want something like Misty. I want the real Misty!" Ash yelled in frustration
The fake Misty shook her head. "Don't you get it Ash? You don't have to worry about arguing about keeping up you're little shield. No more pain, no more suffering, no feelings not felt back."
Ash stepped back. If he stayed here, things would be good. He wouldn't be alone, and he had something that was like Misty… No. He would only settle for the real thing, even if it meant that she didn't return his love.
"How do I leave?" he asked.
The fake Misty sighed. "All you have to do is get through that door, and the rest is up to you."
"Thank you," Ash said, and bolted for the door.
The door opened immediately, and Ash quickly ran through it. He almost ran back with what he saw.
It was… his memories of all of the bad memories he had when he was younger.
The falling out with Gary when he was just eight.
Losing battle after battle with Pikachu.
Letting down his friends, time and time again.
His father… the father he shouldn't remember, but he did. The time when he left and never came back, him and his mother begging him not to leave.
Imagine if you will every time you had ever felt sad or hurt or guilty. Now imagine all that at one time, coming down at you in wave after wave, each wave even stronger. That's what Ash was going through.
Ash lay there in the darkness writhing in pain, sobbing and choking on his tears.
Brock woke up with a start, the loud wail of a machine bringing him back to consciousness.
"Ash," he thought and started following the sound. A staff of nurses and doctors rushed past him, and began to give CPR to the patient.
"Give me that adrenaline, now!" a doctor bellowed. A needle was given to him, and he plunged it in Ash's chest. He pushed the plunger. The heart monitor stopped its wail and began to give a beep, though not as strong as before.
Brock breathed a sigh of relief. He turned around an saw Misty and Pikachu there.
"Was that.." Misty asked, hesitantly.
Brock nodded grimly.
"Brock shook his head no.
Brock waited for a nurse to come out the room.
"Um, excuse me, nurse? How is he?" he asked hoping she said he would be ok.
The nurse gave a sigh. "I'm afraid your friend was dead for a while. We brought him back. But he's not out of the danger zone yet. We just have to keep praying."
As she started to go, she turned around. "Hey, is that Ash Ketchum, the pokemon master?"
Brock smiled wearily. "Yeah. Yeah he is."
The nurse smiled back and left. Brock wiped at the stubble on his face. He needed to take a quick shave, maybe get something to eat.
Misty sat back down in her chair and hugged Pikachu tightly.
"Hey, uh, Misty do you want anything?" Brock asked her.
"Uh, I'll be ok. You want anything, Pikachu?"
Brock already knew what to get Pikachu.
A quick stop to the cafeteria and he came back, two cups of coffee, a hot dog and a large bottle of ketchup. He handed the hot dog to Misty and the bottle of ketchup to Pikachu. A rather heartless "thanks" and "pika" was what he got. He sat back down, and sipped silently at his coffee.
Ash struggled to his feet, the images fading slightly. He wiped at his face, trying his best to dry his tears. He struggled onwards, a slight limp slowing his progress. Then, wherever he was, turned pitch black.
"Wha-?" Ash stammered out. A bright light flashed on ahead. It illuminated an open door with the sign "Exit". Grinning broadly, Ash began to run as fast as he could towards it.
That is, until another light came on right in front of him, showing a person right in front of him.
"Gary?" Ash asked, shocked. Gary was in his usual garb, the purple tunic, gray pants, and brown boots.
"Yeah, yeah, I know, big shock to see me and all. Look I don't have all day, and I shouldn't even be wasting my time on a loser like you, but hey! I like a challenge!" Ash cocked an eyebrow and folded his arms.
"Are you going to just sit here and berate me all day?" he asked. Gary looked shocked.
"Wow! Ketchum used a big word!" he said in mock surprise.
Ash grinned from ear to ear. "I've been watching Dawson's Creek!" Gary face-faulted.
"Urr… anyway, I just wanted to let you know that I'm here to help you out. As weird as it might sound, but I'm going to be you're guide to the exit."
"Why do I need a guide? The exits right over there!" Ash replied, pointing at the aforementioned sign.
"Oh really, Ketchum? Do you know what's in this darkness? You can't see a foot ahead of you!"
"All I need to do is see my way to the exit and I'll be ok…"
Gary folded his arms and smirked. "Yeah… sure Ketchum. Question? Who always gets your group lost?"
Ash sweat-dropped. "Point taken. Where do we go?" Gary pointed in a direction behind him.
"Follow me, Ashy-boy."
Hesitantly, Ash did follow him.
The nurse's keen ears detected it. "Oh, my gosh," under her breath. The beeps of the heart monitor were coming at a slower rate. She ran to his bedside and examined the screen. Sure enough, she was right.
"We need the doctor in here, stat!" she screamed at the entrance. Her voice carried very well in the halls.
Brock sat up, hearing the nurse's call for help. He set down his coffee and stood up. A knot of tension formed in his stomach, and he started walking in that direction. Unable to contain himself, he broke out in a run. He arrived just in time to see the doctors monitoring his best friend's rapidly declining progress.
"Ash…" Brock whispered under his breath.
Misty was so busy eating her hot dog that she hadn't noticed Brock's disappearance until he was halfway down the long hall. Dropping the hot dog, she ran towards the room, Pikachu close on her heels.
"Are you sure that we're going in the right direction?" Ash asked as he noticed the light to the exit was fading away as they got further from it. Gary sucked his teeth.
"C'mon, Ashy-boy! How many times do you have to ask that question?" he asked, annoyance seeping into his voice.
Sighing, Ash followed, though his gut instinct was telling him to go back to were he was going.
"C'mon! We can't just wait here and do nothing while he's dying!" misty wailed to the doctors, tears coming down her face.
"I'm sorry, but there's nothing we can do… not until he flat lines. Then we'll try to bring him back," the nurse replied, on the brink of crying herself.
Misty gritted her teeth and wiped her face with her forearm. She went over to Ash's bed, and clasped his bandaged hand.
"Damn you, Ash! Come back to me!" she whispered softly to him, hoping that her words would change his condition.
Ash stopped dead in his tracks, earning another curse from Gary.
"Were going the wrong way," he said. His eyes refocused on the bright light, which seemed so far away. He started walking towards it. Then Gary grabbed him by his shoulder.
"Ash, look. I know you might be thinking that you're going the right way, but you're wrong. I'm leading you the right way. Trust me…" Gary said pleadingly.
"Oh, yeah like I did all those years ago?" Ash replied hotly. Gary's closed his eyes and lowered his head.
"I'm sorry about then, ok? We were young and I didn't mean anything by it."
"That's a bunch of crap! You knew I was afraid of the dark, and you knew I didn't want to go into that cave! But I trusted you, didn't I? And you betrayed me! You knocked me down and tied me up and left me in that cave!" Ash exploded, and turned around and began running towards the exit.
As Gary began to plead and even threaten Ahs, a sweet voice blocked Gary's pleas. Ash zeroed in on that voice and ran to the exit with all he was worth, ignoring the pain in his leg.
After what seemed like an eternity, he finally made it. Not even hesitating, he dove right into the exit. He expected to hit the ground, then he realized: he was falling, and falling fast. The ground wasn't in sight. Ash began to wonder if leaving Gary behind was such a great idea…
"Ash! Please, come back! I love you!" Misty screamed as the heart monitor wailed along with her, not picking up Ash's heartbeat.
Mostly because he had none. No longer able to control herself, she clutched his chest and cried hysterically, burying her face in his shoulder.
The doctors began to prep the electric paddles, as the nurse tried to get her off of Ash's body. Misty started shrieking hysterically. She clung to him as hard a she could, refusing to get up. Brock was weeping silently, leaning against the doorway.
Then the wailing of the machine stopped, replaced by the steady beep, finally getting a pulse.
"Ow… what happened?" Ash asked, his voice husky and throaty, dry from lack of moisture. Misty looked at him as if he was a ghost and then hugged him tightly across the neck.
"Oh, God, Ash! We thought we lost you!" she exclaimed happily to him. Before he could respond, she kissed him full on the lips, for a good few seconds.
Ash had a shocked but happy smile on his face. "Well, thanks Mist. Maybe I should have more near death experiences more often, huh?" She mock scowled and dried her face.
Brock had turned around wiping his cheeks of any stray tears. "Hey, man, good to see your back!" he said as he turned back around.
Ash nodded his head. "Don't even think about kissing me, man!" Brock stuck out his tongue and lowered his lower eyelid with his finger. Ash laughed.
Misty protectively put her arm around his neck. "Yeah, I'm the only one who kisses him! Got that?"
Brock chuckled at that. "You're man? You know maybe you do have something there with this near-death experience thing going, Ash." He turned his attention to the Nurse. Now that the danger was over, he could concentrate on the finer things in life… namely the rather attractive nurse.
"Excuse me, nurse? I'm feeling rather faint. Do you want to go in the back and do a bit of mouth to mouth?"