Writing: True Pokemon

Chuck Wendig has a fantastic flash challenge up at his Terrible Minds blog. Go. Read. Enjoy.

My random rolls were True Detective and Pokemon:

Detective Pikachu knelt beside the body, his furry head hanging. The dead boy was about nineteen, buried waist-deep in the soft ground of the sand trap on hole nine.

“Pika,” he breathed, and something in the coroner’s gut dropped.

“I know, man. Way too young,” the coroner bent down to look at the boy’s fingernails, but Pikachu already knew. No blood, no skin.

“Pika pika.”

“Yep. Just like the last one. I don’t know how he manages to leave absolutely no DNA behind. I walk through a room and the lab can pin me there two weeks later. This asshole can fuck a chicken and leave an omelet behind.”

A navy sedan slid onto the course, leaving two deep ruts in the otherwise-pristine Kentucky bluegrass. A man got out of the car and tossed his cigarette into the putting green cup.

“Hole in fucking one,” he muttered, pulling off a red cap to run a hand through his spiked black hair. “You okay, man?”

Pikachu nodded at his partner. He fumbled a tiny flask out of his pocket and took a swig.

The coroner shot Detective Ketchum a warning look. Ketchum shrugged and leaned away where Pikachu couldn’t hear.

“What can I do? These cases hit him hard.”

“He’s already on probation.”

“Shit, man. He’s getting the job done.”

The coroner shook his head and went around to the back of the body.

“Here, boys!” he called, holding up something with a pair of tweezers.

Detective Pikachu bounded over, leaning close to the tiny, red object.

“Pika.”

Ketchum nodded.

“Right. A Pokeball shard. Hot damn. This is the first real clue this guy has left behind in months.”

Pikachu went over to the sedan and got into the passenger seat. Ketchum saw the flask glint in the sunlight.

The coroner sat back on the grass, probably destroying evidence with his ass.

“What happened to him? He used to be the best. Like no one ever was.”

“You know what happened.”

“No one blames him for Misty. He knows that, right?”

“I’ve told him. But he doesn’t yet know it in his bones.”

*

The motel had placed a prominent “NO POCKET MONSTERS” sign in the office window. Detective Pikachu slid his cash across the counter with one hand while tapping his badge on the surface with the other, daring the clerk to reject him.

The guy looked long and hard at both detectives and tossed a key onto the desk.

“Room 212.”

Pikachu grabbed the key and walked out, leaving Ketchum to stare down the guy alone.

“Don’t let him shit in the bathtub,” said the clerk, spitting a wad of chew into a mason jar. Ketchum leaned across the desk, so close that he could smell the cherry chew.

“I trained him out of that years ago,” he whispered.

A brown line dribbled down the clerk’s lip. He wiped it off with the back of his hand.

“You trainers are all the same. Crowin’ about your destiny and understanding the power inside. How’s that working out for ya?”

Ketchum jerked upright suddenly, as if he’d been burned.

“Fuck you,” he said, letting the screen door slam behind him as he headed for the restaurant next door. Fuck them all.

*     *     *

Everything looks better with a belly full of waffles, and murder investigations are no exception.

On his way back across the motel parking lot, Ketchum noticed the sun setting behind the building. The color intensified from the delicate pink of a Charmander to the deep red hue of a Charmeleon.

He’d had one of those, back in the day…

Tires screeched on asphalt. Ketchum braced his feet and put a hand over his weapon. It was the local sheriff, his car outfitted in a most egregious combination of neon yellow and purple. The car slowed as the driver read the door numbers.

“Not 212. Please Jesus. Any one but 212,” said Ketchum, invoking a god in whom he no longer believed.

The cruiser stopped at 212. Ketchum broke into a run.

The sheriff pounded on the door. Ketchum heard a woman screaming behind it.

“Police, ma’am. Open the door.”

Ketchum kicked hard at the door from behind a stunned sheriff. As the door swung inward, he heard a raspy cough near his ear. Putrid breath enveloped his head, which immediately started spinning.

“Get your fucking Weezing off me,” he said to the sheriff, pulling a badge from his jeans and swinging it in the guy’s face. “Detective Ketchum.”

The sheriff held up a Pokeball. The Weezing sighed asthmatically, then flew inside.

The woman inside had stopped screaming. She bent down over a tiny yellow body on the filthy floor.

“Wake up, Peek,” she whined.

Ketchum shoved her aside, her tiny blue pleated skirt flying up, revealing nothing underneath.

“Hey,” she said, pulling it down and whipping a long blonde pigtail over her shoulder. “Watch it or in the name of the moon, I’ll punish you!”

Ketchum swept the mess out of the way; cocaine-dusted Pokeballs rolled in all directions. He saw at least six – more than even his seasoned partner could handle on his best day.

Pikachu lay still, eyes open but fixed on nothing.

Ketchum dropped to the ground and locked eyes with his partner. “Come on, man. Get it together. Come back to me. You teach me and I’ll teach you.”

Detective Pikachu blinked slowly and took a gasping breath. Ketchum grinned. “That’s right, buddy. You teach me and I’ll teach you.”

*

It took ten minutes for Pikachu to start breathing normally, and another thirty for him to utter a word.

“Pika,” he croaked. Ketchum fumbled on the nightstand near his head and grabbed the water.

“Here you go, buddy.”

“Pika.”

“Yeah. Shit got real back there, didn’t it?”

The sheriff cleared his throat.

“So, uh. We all good?”

“Yeah.”

“I’ll just report this one as a crank call.”

“You do that.”

“Hey man. I just want to say, I heard about what happened to Misty. Don’t put that on yourselves. It could have happened to anyone.” The sheriff extended a hand for a shake. Ketchum ignored it.

“Whatever. Just know that if we’re called back here tonight, I have to write it up.”

“Understood.”

The cruiser pulled away and the woman pulled a purse over her shoulder. She leaned down and rubbed Pikachu’s head.

“I’m glad you’re okay, sweetie. Call me.”

She got to the door, then turned back.

“I’m sorry, this is going to seem really shitty, but I have to ask. About the two hundred…”

Ketchum dug in his wallet and pulled out two crisp hundreds.

“Thanks.”

“Wait.”

He handed her two more bills.

“Anyone asks, you were with some local guy tonight.”

She giggled with a sound like the wind on the surface of a pond. The clouds parted, revealing a full moon.

“Anything you say.”

*

Ketchum helped Pikachu into the passenger seat in his car, a few more hundreds left on the nightstand to pay for the damage to the room. He looked over at his partner, the brisk night wind ruffling his yellow fur.

“You have to stop doing this to yourself.”

“Pika.”

“I mean it. One more line and I’d be driving by myself right now.”

“Pika.”

“That’s a bullshit excuse and you know it.” Ketchum tossed his cigarette out the window. It bounced along the road in a spray of orange embers. “We need to talk about Misty.”

Pikachu was silent.

“I mean it. Really talk about her.”

Pikachu’s hand moved toward the door handle. Ketchum mashed the auto-lock button. The car swerved into the oncoming lane.

“Dammit, no more of this shit, Pikachu. What happened was not your fault.”’

“Pika.”

“Yeah, you say you know it, but a man with a clear conscience doesn’t try to jump and roll going sixty on the blacktop.”

The silence stretched for five eternal minutes.

“You couldn’t have stopped Team Rocket. It was two on one. No chance. And really, in the scheme of things, a tree shredder isn’t the worst way to go. After a second or two… she was gone. Tell me you understand.”

“Pika.”

“No, really. Say it after me. It wasn’t my fault.”

“Pika pika.”

“Again.”

“Pika pika.”

“Good. I’m going to be on you about this from now on.”

“Pika.”

“No, not because I care about you. I’m just running out of fucking hundreds.”

Pikachu snorted and Ketchum lit another cigarette. You can’t fix an amputation with one conversation, but you could cauterize the wound a little here and there.

Ketchum spotted headlights in the darkness beside the road.

“Who the hell is that at this time of night? What’s over there?”

“Pika.”

“Another one? How many golf courses does this county need?”

“Pika.”

“Oh fuck, golf course. Shit.”

Ketchum flipped off his headlights. The moon gave enough light to drive by. He turned the car onto the grass. The bumped through the tall weeds, then glided onto the trimmed green. He kicked himself that he hadn’t opted for one of those silent electric cars instead of this old gas-guzzler that was louder than a jet plane.

He turned off the engine and put it in park.

“We’re hoofing it from here.”

The moonlight that helped a minute ago now seemed like a thousand-watt bulb hanging over them. There weren’t many trees on the course for cover.

They circled around to stay out of the other car’s headlights. The two people digging in the sand trap were oblivious to everything except themselves.

“You’re digging like an imbecile.”

“Don’t call me that. My hair looks all right, doesn’t it?”

Ketchum lifted his weapon and called out of the darkness.

“Police. Put your hands up.”

The pair in the sand cursed, dropped their shovels, and put up their hands.

“I told you this was too close to the highway.”

“You picked this place!”

Ketchum felt the revolver disappear from his hands.  He groped in the darkness, and then heard a sickening click next to his head.

“Rawr, I used Pickup on his pistol,” something cackled near his shoulder. One of the two diggers stepped into the light. Her magenta hair throwing a large shadow across the green.

“Is that?” she asked.

“It is,” replied her companion. He wailed with glee. “If only we had a tree shredder handy.”

Ketchum’s throat tightened as they both laughed.

“Luckily, the hole we dug is big enough for two,” said the woman, yanking Ketchum’s shirt to drag him toward the pit. The edge was soft and started to give; he half-slid, half-fell to the bottom. Sand poured in on top. He spat it out and flattened himself against the side of the hole.

“Toss the other one in.”

The sky suddenly lit up like lightning and stayed lit for thirty seconds. It looked light daylight from the bottom of the hole.

“Peek? That you?”

A pair of ears poked over the side of the hole.

“Pika?”

“Oh yeah. I’m fine. You Volt Tackle those two?”

“Pika.”

“That’s a fine job, partner. A night well spent.”

“Pika, pika.”

Ketchum looked up at the stars, coming back into focus as his night vision returned.

“You’re right, a lotta dark out there. More darkness to chase and one more evildoer to bring to the light, but it’s okay, man. You can’t catch ‘em all.”

Author: TJ Berry

TJ Berry has been a political blogger, bakery owner, and spent a disastrous two weeks working in a razor blade factory. She now writes science fiction, fantasy, and horror from Seattle with considerably fewer on-the-job injuries. Her fiction has appeared in Pseudopod and PodCastle. She’s on Twitter @TJaneBerry.

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