Author's note: This story was originally written for the Worlds Collide contest on the Serebii.net forums back in 2016, then posted with some very light edits on here in 2020. I was never super happy with it originally, but I've now finally gotten around to the further edits I always wanted to do.
This is a cheerfully nonsensical premise with a heaping of 2016 nostalgia and in that respect should not be examined too closely, but the emotional arc takes itself a bit more seriously, so otherwise all feedback is appreciated!
I woke up to a strange squawking – not the usual kind of birdsong that I’d sometimes wake up to at six AM, but something entirely different.
That was it, at first; I lay in bed, pulling the comforter over my head, rubbing the crust out of my eyes, wondering groggily if some kind of unusual bird had taken up residence outside my window. But then I realized it was coming from inside the bedroom, and I bolted upright.
There was a Pidgey on my windowsill, cocking its head at its reflection in the window.
I blinked at it, hard, expecting it to be some kind of early-morning hallucination. Obviously. I mean, Pidgey weren’t real, right? It was a game, a stupid little mobile game that I’d installed when I was bored. Sure, I’d had Pidgey appear in my bedroom before – on the screen. But my phone was lying on the nightstand, the screen blank. The app wasn’t even open.
I made a dumb squeaky noise. The Pidgey turned towards me and chirped, looking kind of irritated as Pidgey always did. Probably wanted to get outside? (Was I really speculating on what the Pidgey in my bedroom was thinking? None of this made any sense.)
Wait, more to the point – how had it gotten inside? The window was open a little bit, sure, but no way in hell would that pudgy, ridiculous bird ever fit through there. The door was closed. And I’d been alone in the apartment for months, since my housemate was spending the semester in France. Nobody could have let it in.
I refused to consider the completely nonsensical answer that came to mind first.
But when the Pidgey started to knock impatiently on the glass with its beak, I couldn’t help it. I carefully pushed myself back against the wall and reached for my phone. With a swipe, I unlocked it and started Pokémon Go. Everything seemed normal as it started up – the Niantic splash screen, the loading screen with the message about paying attention to your surroundings (oh yes, I was paying attention), the popup about not playing while driving.
Sure enough, there was a Pidgey right there. In the game, that is. In the game, and in real life.
Watching the real Pidgey carefully, I tapped the little Pidgey model on the screen, and the upbeat battle music started playing, just like every other time I tapped a Pidgey. The screen showed my actual bedroom as picked up by the phone camera, Pidgey included, but the usual 3D model didn’t appear. I turned the phone; the directional indicators pointed me back in the direction of the actual Pidgey.
What the fuck.
I tapped the AR switch; the screen transitioned to the foresty background with the regular Pidgey model as if nothing were more natural. I tapped it again, and I was back in my bedroom, staring at an actual anatomically impossible floofpigeon.
I couldn’t resist. I placed my finger on the Pokéball – the usual capture circles appeared – and flicked it, then recoiled as an actual Pokéball just popped into existence in mid-air in front of me and sailed towards the Pidgey. It hit it in the head and sucked it in, then dropped to the floor and wobbled a little before it went still. On the screen, a cheery shower of sparks, announcing I’d caught a Pidgey.
The ball vanished into thin air, and I blinked. The Pidgey’s stat screen was up on my phone now; it looked normal. There was no sign anything unusual had happened anymore. Even though it’d only been seconds ago, I couldn’t help second-guessing myself, wondering if maybe I’d just dreamt the whole experience after falling asleep playing the game. What on Earth?
Even if it was an early-morning hallucination, though, Shannon’d love it. She’d always teased me about this game, in the sort of gentle friendly ribbing way of someone you’ve known forever and have an implicit agreement with to give each other hell. I threw on some clothes and had just about convinced myself it really was just a dream by the time I got downstairs. I opened the front door, phone in hand, fully expecting to spend the walk to the coffeeshop telling her about how man, apparently the Pokémon game had really gotten into my head.
It was not just me, it turned out.
There were Pidgey, Weedle, Rattata, just hanging about outside. Dozens of people were wandering in the street, phones aloft – some frantically texting or flipping through news sites, others heading for the Pokémon with Go’s overworld map open. Something about it reminded me disconcertingly of an apocalypse scenario in a movie; I stood there dumbfounded for a few seconds, half-expecting the wind to blow a timely newspaper in front of me with a convenient expository headline.
I stared at the people, the scurrying Rattata, the kids running after them, and blinked, part of me wondering if I was still dreaming.
My phone rang in my hand, and I looked at the screen. It was Shannon.
“Oh my God, please tell me you’ve seen,” she said the moment I put the phone to my ear. “The Pokémon game’s real!”
“Yeah,” I said, deadpan. “I woke up to a Pidgey in my bedroom.”
“Are you watching the professor?”
Professor? My brain froze for a second. “What are you talking about? What professor?”
“Professor Willow! The outdoorsy scientist stud! Turn on the news!”
I raced back into the house and up the stairs to my apartment. When I turned the TV on, the news ribbon at the bottom said, “BREAKING: POKÉMON GO’S PROFESSOR WILLOW ADDRESSES EARTH.”
The haggard face of a middle-aged, gray-haired man filled the screen. It was different to see him in real life, but I could still tell it was the professor from the game, the one who’d said a few words at the beginning and then left me to my own devices. I wouldn’t have even remembered what his name was, although come to think of it I did remember Shannon being bizarrely smitten with him when I’d first started up the game. (I’d rather go for Candela, myself.)
“…so in other words, as I was saying, I’m afraid you’re stuck with them for perhaps a month or two, until we can get the machine back in order. We’re very sorry this experiment got out of hand and we apologize for any disruptions caused. Hopefully the game we devised will help you recapture these Pokémon and send them back here, although of course if you don’t mind some of them staying until we can mass-recall them and close the rift, that’s fine by us.” He looked like he’d been up all night, blinking blearily at the camera before his next words. “So, well, to the people of Earth, good luck ‘catching ‘em all’, as they say. We will keep you updated on our progress.”
“But Professor Willow–” came an off-screen voice, but the image vanished before the professor could answer. I stared at the screen. What? Seriously? This sounded like a particularly half-assed science fiction movie. There was no way this was for real. Right?
They cut back to the newscasters, who looked at each other in confusion. “Well, you heard him, folks,” one said after a few seconds’ pause. “It sounds like the monsters are here to stay for now. Please stay calm, keep a safe distance, and we will be back with more details as soon as we have them.”
The next few days were chaos. Politicians and public service announcements urged caution and avoiding engagement, but it wasn’t like anyone listened – for many this was a childhood nostalgia dream come true. Pokémon popped into existence in random locations on a regular basis, and people would rush to capture them with their phones, increasingly competitive now that there was only one of each spawn. How the professor’s people had managed to make the game sync up seamlessly with real life after being just a game for months, while Niantic swore up and down that they had no idea how it was happening, was somehow the least baffling part of it all. The Pokémon weren’t hostile; they’d try to avoid capture – sort of, jumping around or knocking the ball away but still usually sticking around for a while before losing interest, in no hurry to run away – but they basically never actually attacked people or anything, other than maybe when some idiots had been intentionally provoking them. People would snatch them up and then transfer them back to their home dimension – or keep them around, fight real-life gym battles against one another in the street. It was nuts.
(PETA made their usual noises about animal cruelty, naturally, and nobody listened.)
I caught a few Pokémon too. It was weird, looking at a living creature and then pressing buttons on a screen to capture it in a ball; it just didn’t feel like it should work. At first I vaguely wanted to get into the gym circuit again – I’d battled a bit in the game, back when it was just a game, but found it a little monotonous, and I figured it’d probably be less so in real life. But that, too, felt weird when I tried it. Seeing the scattered real-life battle team I’d managed to scrape together materialize in the street was thrilling, but watching actual 3D creatures beat on each other was a lot more visceral than doing it in a game, and something about it just made me uncomfortable.
It was maybe a week into the madness when one night I couldn’t sleep. Not the first time that happened; university was stressful, and sometimes the silence made it all too easy for anxious thoughts to churn around in my brain. I found myself lying in bed in my pajamas, staring towards the window, and thinking of that strange morning and the unreal sight of the Pidgey on the windowsill.
On some strange impulse, I sat up and picked up my phone, booted up Go and found Pidgey in the list. By all rights I should’ve transferred it to Professor Willow already – it was just a Pidgey, and what else would I even do with it? The Pokémon world was where it belonged. But I hadn’t, out of some weird sentimentality. It was that Pidgey. There was something weirdly special about the first Pokémon I’d captured in real life.
(The first time I was going to transfer after that day, I’d stared at the screen for a moment looking at the deluge of Pidgey in my storage, afraid I couldn’t tell which was which, but a memory had bubbled up of seeing CP 306 on the screen above that more-realistic-than-usual Pidgey, and thankfully there’d been only one that fit the bill.)
I sent it out. The pudgy little bird gave a sharp chirp as it emerged and looked around, head turning in quick jerks as it backed away. I sat and watched as it hopped cautiously around the room, keeping a wary eye on me in between looking at the closed window.
“Do you want to go out?” I thought aloud, and the Pidgey actually looked at me and nodded, still with jerky bird motions. I blinked at it, startled. Could Pokémon actually, properly understand English? In the game they’d just been… there. Attacking and evading balls. Blindly beating each other up. I’d imagined they might be a little smarter than most normal animals, maybe, but this Pidgey had just answered a question.
Well, maybe. I couldn’t get ahead of myself. Maybe the nod I saw was just a coincidence, boosted by oversensitive pattern-matching. “Do you understand me?” I tried, and the Pidgey nodded again, with an affirmatory chirp. That’d be a hell of a coincidence.
“So do all… do all Pokémon understand us?”
Another yes. Holy shit. Suddenly I felt bad for all the Pokémon I’d been capturing, throwing into battles, leaving at gyms. The game had just had them as a… a resource to be mined. Interchangeable blocks of zeroes and ones. It was different when they were alive – but a lot more so if they were not just alive, but sapient.
“But… what? Then why don’t you… why do you just go up to people and let them capture you in balls and then beat each other up for them?”
The Pidgey made a little jerky shrug with its wings. Oh my God. “What’s that supposed to mean?”
It tilted its head. It? “Wait, are you a guy or a girl? Or…”
Chirp. That’d been a stupid way to ask. “Okay, one chirp for guy, two for girl, three for other?” Two chirps. Not what I expected, somehow, but okay.
“Okay, Pidgey. Hi, I’m sorry, I didn’t know.” A lame excuse, but it was all I had. “Do you want me to go open that window now? One for yes, two for no.”
One. I took a deep breath. Some selfish part of me protested; this was supposed to be my Pidgey, and now she was just going to fly away? But knowing she wasn’t a weird mindless battle-machine made it impossible to do anything else.
I stood up slowly and opened the window all the way, and the Pidgey hopped onto the windowsill and nudged my hand. She… wanted me to pet her? I gave her head feathers a cautious pat, confused, and then a light stroke when she leaned into it. She chirped again and then took off, fluttering out across the city. I watched her disappear, then closed the window with a sigh.
I checked the app. She was still there. Guess they didn’t account for that. It wasn’t as if I needed the storage space anyway; I was done. I transferred the last few other Pokémon I had and put my phone away, wishing I’d never installed this stupid app.
I woke up to a strange tapping the next morning. I opened my eyes, still sleepy, only to find a Pidgey standing on the outside windowsill, knocking on the glass – no, not a Pidgey, that Pidgey. I wasn’t sure exactly how I recognized her, but there was something distinctive about her face and the way she moved.
Startled, I leapt out of bed and opened the window. She hopped inside, chirping insistently, bumping her head against my chest. Hesitant, I put a hand on her head again, petting her, and she cooed.
What? She was back? Why would she want to be back? What had I ever done for her, other than finally setting her free?
“Look, Pidgey, you don’t have to…”
Chirp. She looked at me, tilting her head. “You don’t have to come back here. I mean, it’s your life. I’m not the boss of you, even if the stupid game says so.”
She shook her head and flared her wings. I didn’t know what that meant, but it seemed she wasn’t going anywhere. “I don’t know, do you want something to eat? What do you eat?”
I found some dried fruits and nuts in a cupboard for her (technically my housemate’s, but I figured I’d just buy her a new bag before she got back). Pidgey nibbled at what I’d laid out while I watched from my usual place at the kitchen table, slumped on the chair, feeling drained and confused and having had far too little sleep.
“Hey, Pidgey,” I muttered, and she looked up. “Are the PETA people right? They’re saying we should free all the Pokémon and refuse to give them up to a world that’ll make them fight bloodsports.”
Pidgey shook her head, something perplexed in her expression. Guess not. “But I mean… What, you like getting caught in balls and fighting other Pokémon? Doesn’t that hurt? I wouldn’t want to do that.”
The bird gave me a puzzled stare, tilting her head. “No?” I frowned. I supposed Pokémon did keep hanging around letting people catch them. Evading the ball but staying, waiting, giving you several chances, until whenever they got bored and went off to bother the next person instead. Like it was some kind of big game to them, and our role in it was to try to catch them and not mess it up.
“So what, you just… think it’s fun to try to see if a human can catch you?”
She chirped happily before swallowing a raisin.
“What about the fighting? You think that’s fun too? Just a healthy bit of sport and exercise, and then with a couple potions you’re all good and everyone’s happy, no problem?”
One chirp, like it was obvious and required no explanation. Pidgey nudged a peanut towards me on the table, cocking her head.
“Thanks.” I sighed, shaking my head as I took the peanut and popped it in my mouth. It was hard to wrap my head around all this, but if she was telling me this herself, what could I do but believe her? They were basically aliens. Sure, why wouldn’t there be aliens who think beating the snot out of each other repeatedly and then magic-healing the damage away is the most fun thing ever?
I watched Pidgey peck away at the food strewn over the table for a minute. “So in your world, everyone knows you’re smart and can understand them, right? Because I never would’ve just kept you in the ball for a week if I knew. The game just… I didn’t know. I never thought about it that way.”
Pidgey chirped and nudged my hand. I reached up to pet her again, halfhearted. “Yeah, I’m sorry. Maybe you didn’t even mind, but still.”
She slid her head away from my fingers, staring up at me. “Okay, you did mind. I really am sorry, okay?”
The bird leaned into my hand again for a brief moment, as if to say she accepted my apology, and then went back to the food.
I sat there, feeling exhausted and surreal and like a jerk at the same time. “Why did you come back? When I’d done that?”
She looked at me, and then without taking her eyes off me ate another nut off the table. What, because she just… figured I’d give her food?
She nudged my hand again and gave a pleased chirp.
In my current frazzled state I just broke into a helpless chuckle. Food and pets. That was it? Why wouldn’t the alien bird monster just want food and pets? “Okay, sure. I can give you food and pets, no problem.”
She closed her eyes, cooing as I stroked her back and her wings. Her feathers were soft and light under my fingers. I’d never had a pet as a kid, but I’d wanted one, like every kid, I suppose. This wasn’t at all how I’d expected to get one, though. A Pidgey. I’d been adopted by a fat little brown fantasy pigeon, that’d leapt fully formed out of a magic mobile game, whose inspiration had been sent back through time by crazy scientists in another world, to prepare us for the unexpected consequences of a botched experiment. If I’d tried to tell my kid self that, she would’ve pouted and accused me of lying to her.
“Is there anything else I should do for you?” I asked. “I’ll keep the window open so you can get in and out.”
Pidgey let out a coo, unfolding her wings. It took me a moment, but she was asking me to scratch under her wings. I did, and she flopped onto her back making little chirpy noises while I continued.
Not how I’d expected to get a pet at all.
It wasn’t quite like having a pet, of course. Once she’d invited herself back to my apartment, Pidgey was part pet, part mute but opinionated roommate. She was captivated by Earth TV, especially nature documentaries; after a few days of her staying enraptured by my side in the evenings, I came home to her having managed to manipulate the TV remote with her talons, watching David Attenborough narrating footage of lions while she’d made herself comfortable on the armrest of the sofa, feet disappeared into her rounded fluff. She hogged the TV for most of that evening until I explained to her I really wanted to watch the news and she graciously let me, though she still seemed a little miffed about it until I repaid her in scritches.
Apart from that, she liked exploring the city – both on her own and accompanying me when I went places. She’d perch on my shoulder when I walked to the university, leave me there – they’d quickly instituted a strict no-bringing-your-Pokémon-to-classes policy after the initial chaos – and then either come fluttering when I got out of my afternoon lectures or reappear through the window later in the evening, chattering away in a complicated series of chirps about whatever she’d been up to. Sometimes she’d come with me downtown, sit on my shoulder taking in all the different stores and businesses, occasionally prodding me to check out whatever caught her interest or explain what it was. Sometimes she got smitten with some food or shiny object and tried to coax me into getting it. She seemed perplexed when I tried to explain money to her.
(Of course, it turned out she had pretty good taste in street food, so I couldn’t complain there. I had to put my foot down when she started eyeing the display cases in the windows of a jewelry store, though.)
I also caught and transferred some other Pokémon on my walks. Pidgey liked to chirp at the Pokémon we met from her place on my shoulder, carrying on enthusiastic exchanges that seemed to range from friendly conversation to eager back-and-forth taunts while I struggled to throw curveballs on the screen of my phone. A Charizard spawned on the street a short way away from me once, and Pidgey immediately got up to flutter around him in what looked like an intentional effort to provoke him, while the Charizard grinned like this was the best thing that’d happened to him all year, snapping his jaws playfully at her while dodging my terrified efforts to throw Ultra Balls. In the end he gave us an amused nod before taking off into the sky, and Pidgey looked incredibly pleased with herself, landing back on my shoulder and preening like she was queen of the world.
By now there were lots of other people around with Pokémon accompanying them at their sides day to day; I supposed it was a similar story with them as with Pidgey and me. Pidgey didn’t stand a real chance against any of the local gyms, but we went and watched some battles at her urging. They were different; the battles I’d been in for the first few days had been chaotic all-out brawls between Pokémon while their trainers stood on the sidelines and vaguely cheered them on, but over time since then they’d gained order and structure, people and their Pokémon discussing strategies in whispered tones before fighting together, trainers shouting pointers and instructions as the Pokémon executed complex moves I’d never seen in the game. And now, when I watched the Pokémon I could see the excitement in their eyes, the joy of competition and adrenaline. I guess that’d probably always been there; I hadn’t been paying attention. But I suspected they were happier now, too – working more closely together with partners who really knew and appreciated them for who they were.
“You know, I had a battling team,” I told Pidgey one night, sitting on the living room couch as we watched the end of the evening news. As an outro they were showing battles going on near a popular gym downtown, a trainer beaming as his Charizard flexed her tail, flame flaring in excitement, grin on her lips, while all three heads of the Exeggutor opposite smirked. The trainer patted their back, laughing, before ordering a move.
Pidgey gave a questioning chirp, turning her head back from where she sat on my knee.
“I transferred them all like an idiot,” I said. “That night I opened the window for you – I transferred all my other Pokémon. That was stupid, wasn’t it?”
Pidgey tilted her head. Yeah.
“I just… I thought none of you really wanted to be here, so I should do it before I thought too hard about it.”
She chirped again. It was the strangest thing – I was starting to feel like I knew what she was trying to say to me. “I mean, it seemed reasonable at the time,” I said. “I hadn’t really talked to them or anything. I didn’t even realize they’d be able to understand me, and they were apparently happy to just fight their brawls. Not that that’s their fault, I just… I don’t know.”
Pidgey gave me a reassuring chirp. “Thanks,” I said, scratching under her beak; she closed her eyes, cooing. “I guess they’re in the Pokémon world now, anyway. They’re bound to be happier there than with a trainer who didn’t even think they were sapient, right?”
She lifted her wings in a sort of shrug. I sighed, stroking her feathers. “I wish I could have gotten to know them. I didn’t do much battling, but…” I paused. “I mean, when the game was just a game, my battling team then were the only Pokémon I kinda cared about. It was fun winning a battle with a Parasect. Everything else was just…”
I shook my head. It felt weird to think that I’d used to evolve and transfer Pidgey en masse for candy and experience. Hundreds upon hundreds of identical Pidgey, all ground through the metaphorical experience machine. I’d even captured a fair few more of them in the first days after it became real. I supposed they were all flying around the Pokémon world now, a weird surplus of Pidgeotto, with hazy, jumbled memories of their five minutes on Earth.
(I’d asked Pidgey before if she wanted to evolve. Two chirps. I’d been kind of relieved; obviously if she’d wanted to that’d have been that, but it would’ve made things a bit different, and I think I would’ve missed the way she sat on my shoulder. I had the sense Pidgey felt the same way. I hoped the Pidgeotto I’d never given that choice were all right.)
“Hey, Pidgey?” I said after a little while, hugging my knees. “I’m glad I met you. I used to come home to an empty apartment every day, and I was okay with that, but… it’s nice coming home to you. Thanks for coming back and sticking around. I don’t know if I deserved that but I’m really glad you did.”
Pidgey looked at me for a second, her gaze softening. She nudged my arm, placed her head against my palm when I lifted my hand, and leaned into it, closing her eyes. I scratched her head carefully, feeling the warmth of her little body, and maybe it was stupid but a bunch of feelings descended on me all at once and suddenly I had tears in my eyes. Maybe I’d been lonelier than I’d thought. Maybe it just meant a lot, somehow, that Pidgey’d decided I was trustworthy even though I’d messed up and done something stupid. Maybe it was just feeling like I’d gotten something right for once, after so long bashing my head against my studies and doubting my choices.
Tomorrow I’d see if Pidgey wanted to go to the park or something. She’d like that, green spaces and trees and people and regular Pokémon spawns. I could bring some food and a picnic blanket and just scratch her while I read a book, or watch her scare off small mundane birds. It was the least I could do for her. And for me.
It was a strange, cold shock when, on the news one night, there was another broadcast from Professor Willow. I’d always known this was coming, intellectually, but I’d managed to make myself forget.
“…so we expect to be able to close the rift tomorrow. We’d like to extend our gratitude to the people of Earth for your patience and kindness for these past seven weeks. We gather many of you will be sad to see your Pokémon go, and trust us, all trainers know that feeling – but I’m afraid any Pokémon remaining on Earth would maintain the dimensional rift and potentially lead to world-destroying consequences down the line. Therefore, all Pokémon will be automatically transferred at midnight.
“It may be possible one day to open a safe and stable portal between our worlds, but I’m afraid that technology could be years away. We will do our best to reestablish that connection and allow you to reunite with your Pokémon. In the meantime, the game will of course continue to function in its mundane form, and if you haven’t already, we invite you to enjoy the various other Pokémon media that we inspired in your past twenty years to ensure Pokémon Go’s success.
“People of Earth, it’s been a pleasure working with you for this short time. I hope we’ll meet again.”
The broadcast cut off. I turned the TV off before I could see the anchors’ inevitably awkward responses. It wasn’t fair. I didn’t want things to go back to normal. All that time getting to know Pidgey, and now she was just going to be forcibly dragged back to her happy bizarro-dimension, in just a few hours’ time.
On the armrest beside me, Pidgey gave a concerned chirp. I blinked away tears. “I’m okay,” I said. “It’s your home. I bet you had a family there and everything, huh?”
Pidgey nodded, looking away. “Yeah, that’s what I thought. You probably always wanted to get back eventually. I get that. I mean, I moved away from my family, and it’s been great in some ways, but I still want to see them again when I’ve finished my degree.” I stared at the blank TV screen and Pidgey’s reflection in it. A week ago I’d gone to a pet store and almost considered buying a little perch for her to sit on instead of awkwardly making do with the furniture. I hadn’t, of course, because deep down I’d known it’d be a waste of money.
Pidgey’s reflection looked back at me for a moment; then she chirped and fluttered up on my shoulder. “What, you want to go out? Now?”
She chirped again and nibbled gently on my ear. I stood up, careful to keep my shoulder steady. “Well, I guess. Our last walk, huh?”
I wanted to add, “Let’s make it a good one,” but my voice was gone.
We headed out, down into town, threading the long Pokéstop route that I’d sometimes taken when the weather was nice before the rift opened; I’d walked it with Pidgey a few times before, too. We didn’t try to catch any of the Pokémon we passed by this time around; there was no point anymore. Pidgey had little chirped conversations with a couple of other Pidgey along the way. Maybe she was telling them they’d all be home soon.
When I was about to head back, Pidgey instead nudged me and pointed up a street with her wing. I went where she pointed; might as well make this last. She guided me through a few more streets, then chirped, and I stopped.
We were in front of a video game store. A huge poster covering one of the windows showed two large logos, POKÉMON SUN and POKÉMON MOON.
She chirped again, nodding towards the poster. “You want me to… get one of these games?” I asked, skeptical. Pidgey nodded, bumping her head against mine.
“I mean, thanks, but…” I hesitated again. “I can’t just replace you with a video game. It’s not the same. It wasn’t the same. Remember how I didn’t even know you had feelings?”
Pidgey fluttered off my shoulder and knocked insistently on the poster with her beak. I sighed. “You know what, fine, I’ll try the game.”
The store was closed by now, obviously, but I supposed I could stop by tomorrow. God, I’d probably have to buy some ridiculous video game console, too. Not that Pidgey would ever know if I really did it, but I couldn’t go back on my word to her. I did have some birthday money I didn’t really know what to do with. Maybe it’d be something to remember her by.
I looked at my watch and started when I saw it said 23:57. “Oh,” I said. “Pidgey, it’s… it’s almost time.”
She looked up with a sad chirp, then flew into my arms, almost knocking me over. I staggered back to regain my balance, holding her close. Her head snuggled against the underside of my chin as she cooed, warm and soft and comforting. Tears were forming in my eyes again, but I didn’t care. “I’ll never forget you.”
I felt her nod against my neck. She wouldn’t forget me either. I knew that.
“I don’t want you to go, but I know you have to. So go and find your family, and tell them about Earth, and maybe… maybe someday we’ll see each other again. Maybe you can introduce us.”
Pidgey gave a chuckling chirp. I held her like that for a while, in our best approximation of a hug.
I think we both simultaneously felt it coming. She pulled away, and I held her out in front of me where we could look in each other’s eyes. Her body began to glow with a strange, bluish light. “Go,” I said, my voice hoarse. “Go home and be free.”
She nodded and closed her eyes, and her body dissolved into tiny, sparkling particles of light that swirled into the air and vanished. I looked after her for a while; I could see other streams of particles rising through the air, more Pokémon leaving this world. Going home.
I wiped my face off and headed back to the apartment.
I did have to buy a game console – a 3DS, it was called. It had a 3D gimmick to make things look more real, but I turned it off.
I expected the game to just be Go without the exercise, but by the time my in-game avatar had chosen and been chosen by a little kitten creature and held it for the first time, I was sniffling. Pidgey’d been right. It wasn’t the same, but it was something.
And as I’d walked out of the store with the game, I’d resolved to myself that I’d get a pet. Also not the same, but it’d be someone to come home to, who’d be happy to see me. And I’d realized I needed that.
On an impulse, that evening, I opened Pokémon Go again. A 306 CP Pidgey was still sitting in my Pokémon list. I guess they’d disabled the game’s magic synchronization with reality before the automatic transfer, so people would still be able to play with the Pokémon they had. It was just data now, technically, just a bunch of zeroes and ones. But in some sense it was my Pidgey, and I’d keep her with me. I would never forget.
Maybe it’d take years, but one day I’d see her again. I’d find her, and she’d show me her home and her family. Maybe I could move to the Pokémon world. It sounded like a lovely place.
And in the meantime, to prepare, I could at least see some Pokémon on my adventures in Alola.