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Pokémon Room 817

Persephone

Pokémon Trainer
Pronouns
her/hers
“Code Gray in Wing 2C!”

Mrs. Abigail Northton stowed her radio and drew her weapon. The flashlight ignited in one fluid motion, earning a shriek before her nemesis ducked around the corner. With a swear muttered under her uneven breaths she rounded after the creature just to watch its filthy, unsanitary shroud slip into the stairwell. She summoned one more burst of energy and raced through the doorway.

The stairwell was colder and bleaker than usual. And the concrete shaft with unadorned, colorless walls and dull metal railings was plenty cold and bleak on its own. She flicked the flashlight on once more and slowly started scanning every shadow. There weren’t many: the harsh fluorescent lighting lit everything almost uncomfortably well. Just a few stray patches of darkness under the railings, none of which contained her foe. The only thing left to cast a shadow was…

She abruptly pivoted in place and shined the light behind her. The phantom reappeared with an unholy wail, only to be snatched up by its shroud. Abigail Northton glared at the now-whimpering monster. At its stained patchwork of a cloak that was poorly stitched together, some parts hanging loose and sagging down under the force of gravity. A bad parody of a pikachu with inky black tentacles dripping down beneath it before fading into fog.

“Ik-yuuuuuuu.” The creature’s cry was mournful. Almost human. The kind of thing she heard every day in the hospital. Abigail Northton’s grip slackened in pity and she started walking down the stairs.

“I’ll let you go this time,” her words echoed alongside her footsteps in the cavernous space. “But I’m hiring an exterminator soon. You won’t like what he’ll do to you. Trust me.” She opened the door and stepped into a side alley. The sterile air of the hospital was immediately replaced by the fragrance of a dumpster one day away from being emptied. She threw the dirty shroud into the trash where it belonged. Her sympathy for the undead only went so far. “Find somewhere else to haunt.”

She shut the door behind her before leaning back on the cold, concrete wall. So many ghosts. Not just the damn mimikyu, which had tried in vain at least thrice before to break in. There was also a fright of gastly living on the fourth floor, a misdreavus that loved to drift through the halls and wail every night, and even the odd party of drifloon settling down in the courtyard on particularly bad days.

They were scaring the kids. Scaring the parents, too. The idea that their child would have their soul eaten as soon as it left their miserable, sickly body… she’d heard the same shouting, sobbing rant from more parents than she could count. What was she supposed to do? Tell them that it was a hospital, a magnet and factory alike for the ghosts? That certified exterminators weren’t easy to find? That uncertified ones made the problem worse more often than they helped?

She straightened up and prepared to return to whatever problems work threw at her today.

The damn exorcist couldn’t arrive soon enough.

*​

A young woman with straw blonde hair walked out of St. Timothy’s Children’s Hospital, her pokémon following close behind. The small pokémon were more yellow than their trainer’s hair with shocks of black capping the ears. A ridiculously shaped tail jutted out behind their perfect, popular bodies.

Pikachu.

They’d brought in pikachu to play with the kids. Again. Just like they did every seven days. It wasn’t fair. Pikachu could come and go and the ghost couldn’t. She wanted to play with the kids, too. Soak in the love. The feeling. The meaning. Pikachu didn’t even feed on love and they got to come and go as they pleased!

Not. Fair. Not fair at all.

The ghost ducked into the bushes to sulk unseen. With the flick of an inky tentacle, she slipped her cloak off and laid it out before her. She had made a stupid, spiky tail. She had made stupid, black-tipped ears. She had made stupid swirly cheeks and a stupid face and stupid yellow skin. Why wasn’t it enough? Why did they keep kicking her out and escorting the pikachu in? There was no good reason. None at all.

The ghost slipped the cloak back on as easily as she’d taken it off. Wouldn’t do to be seen without it. She was very ugly. Didn’t look right at all. Didn’t look human. Not anymore.

Why did it matter if she didn’t look human? She was a… a ghost. A mimikyu. Ugh. Sometimes it felt like the world was just about to make sense but then it all fell through. Like. Like… Sand through your hands at the beach. Like something.

None of that mattered. What mattered was getting inside. Getting to kids. To A… to him. Finding someone to love and snuggle. She hadn’t been cuddled in… ever. She needed cuddles like humans needed food.

The mean woman said that an “exterminator” would be coming soon. That didn’t sound good. If the ghost wanted in, she would have to act quickly. Tonight. In the darkness. Daylight burned, even through the cloak, and by the time she crossed the burning river of black she would be too weak to complete the mission and get the sorely-needed cuddles.

Now she needed to rest. But as soon as the sun went down and the river stopped burning, she would make her move.

*​

In the dark no one could see how ugly she was. The cloak could come off. Her tentacles snaked up the door until they found the weak point. The next part was delicate work: one tentacle dissolved into shadows and branched off until dozens of tiny, shadowy tentacles took its place. One expertly entered the lock and pressed itself into just the right shape. With one powerful tug on the handle from a larger tentacle the lock snapped open and the door creaked outwards.

She dropped the tentacles and reformed the frayed one in an inky blur. In another movement the cloak was back on and she was inside the building. Halfway towards her first destination she remembered to go back and close the door behind her. Can’t let rattata in.

Her first objective was just a few doors down a quiet, empty hallway. She couldn’t be seen as she was, coated in dirt and twigs. There was a room of water and sweet-smelling goo. Two rooms. She picked the one with the silhouette of a human in a cloak, because she was also wearing a cloak. And you were a girl.

The lights flickered on in front of her as the door slammed shut. She stood stock still for a second, waiting on an “exterminator” to burst out of the strange compartments and drag her away. Or worse. But nothing happened. It was just the too-bright, automated lights that she had hated before as much as they brought her odd comfort now. After a quick glance under the compartments she hesitantly slid the cloak off. With quick snaps of tentacles through the air she grabbed ahold of the sink and hauled herself up, carrying the cloak behind her.

Thankfully the shiny glass did not capture her hideous reflection. Just a cloak suspended in midair by forces unseen. The cloak is dumped into the basin and the water turned on, hot. A snap and a crack brought the container of purple liquid over the water and cloak. A short pop pours some onto it. After a quick, aborted dip of a tentacle tip into the water, the hotness is reduced and coolness is added to the flow. Then a tentacle slips back in, testing with the tip and then splashing in, shadows moving the suds and cloth around until the bottom of the sink is clogged with twigs and mulch. Then she moved to the next sink and tried it all again. And again. Until the cloak no longer tasted of outside at all.

Content that she was clean, the ghost slipped the cloak back on and shuddered under the new weight of the water. It wouldn’t do. Brown paper was obtained and dragged across the side of the cloth until the paper was soaked, then more was snatched and the process repeated until another sink was filled up.

The cloak was still too heavy, but it was tolerable. A quick test showed that she could still slip it into shadow if she had to. And not a second too soon.

Quick footsteps sounded off in the hall, echoing off the hard, clinical walls and floors. The ghost darted into the nearest shadows, the cavern where the paper had been, and waited. The steps kept going. The door to outside swung open and then closed. Then there were no steps to be heard.

She swung the door open and drew her tentacles fully under the cloak and away from the light. Then she bolted towards the stairwell with dozens of tiny steps. The light on the stairs was every bit as harsh as she remembered it early in the day, but at least the stairs themselves cast plentiful shadows. She shifted the cloak up so that her tentacles had room enough to haul the cloak up the stairs.

Two floors up she heard barking. Not like one of the fluffy white dogs with long necks and a coat cut into a ridiculous shape. Not like any of the eevee she had observed while contemplating a fox-shaped cloak. This sounded darker. Fiercer. She felt it in her soul.

There was nowhere to hide in the stairwell. She’d learned that three times before. The only option was getting into the hall and hiding before the dog found her. She flung open the door—the time for subtlety had passed—and ran as fast as she could while keeping her core hidden by the cloak. The dog’s barking became ever louder and ever fiercer as the footsteps of a large human slammed down behind the canine’s agile feet. She heard the dog try—and fail—to turn a corner behind her. Heard the slamming of stone(?) against the wall. All the while she desperately scanned the hallway for somewhere, anywhere to hide. She found one with a panicked glance up. A hole in the wall with a thin metal grate. The constant, low whine behind it was intimidating, but not as scary as the dog running after her.

She steeled herself and extended three tentacles down as far and fast as she could, another two reaching up to grab ahold of the metal as her body lifted off the ground. Her sixth tentacle reached up and tore straight through the obstacle while the others reached up and pulled her in.

The new space was dark. Cold. If it weren’t for the fearsome, terrible wind it would’ve been perfect. She looked down to see a large man glaring up at her, a terrifying dog at his side. It had horns curling from the back of its head and exposed bone coating its back. Its tail ended in a visibly sharp dart. She could almost feel it tearing straight through her cloak.

“Mimikyu, huh?” The man says. The dog just growls in response. The mimikyu ducked deeper into the passage and tried to press on. Except, she couldn’t. Her tentacles could find nothing to grip as the wind sheared them into fog and what remained slipped helplessly off the smooth metal. She glances back down to see the man and his terrible, terrible dog looking back up at her. “Well, ready to come out? Not going anywhere in the shaft.” No. That couldn’t be true. Not now. Not when she was so close to cuddles. To the only person who’d been there for her near the end. She pulled the cloak back into the shaft and pressed forward as hard as she could—only for her tentacles to pierce straight through the metal before dissolving uselessly into smoke. “Come on. I can make this easy on you. Or I can let Rexy here use you as a chew toy. Your choice.”

There was no running. And she needed food. Needed Ai… him. Badly. Leaving now, after all this effort? That would be the end. She’d starve to death, alone, wondering why the pikachu had it so good. No. Not that. Not again. The first inklings of a plan came to her mind. By the time it was half-fleshed out she was already sailing through the air.

Darkness hit her. Not good darkness. Terrible darkness. Darkness that pierced her soul and twisted. For a moment she could think of nothing but pain and… and another darkness. Surrender. Release. The end. Then reality hit her. Literally. The darkness had not knocked her off course at all! Her cloak struck the man’s chest and she started moving before she could think. Two tentacles slipped the cloak off. Another two yanked it over the man’s head while the rest of her body swung out behind him, the remaining two holding onto his waist.

“Don’t… look…”

Had she just spoken? In human? Was that her? Oh gods that had been her voice, just slashed to pieces and gargled out. That was what she was now. Just an unlovable, hideous, freak. No. A question for later. Whoever spoke the words, the words led to the man standing still. The dog growled and stamped its feet but stayed in place, afraid to attack with its target on its trainer. A stray thought and the swish of a tentacle sent a red light out from the man’s belt. The dog disappeared. Moments later the ball was thrown up into the windy passage. It sounded like it was rolling away in the darkness. An excellent distraction.

A temporary one. More humans approached. No. They could not be allowed to see her ugly self. She slipped the cloak back on, scuttled down the man, and began to run towards the stairwell. The man didn’t follow. Good. She still wasn’t taking any chances. The door was thrown open and she practically flew up the stairwells, two tentacles at a time grabbing onto a railing and pulling hard enough to send her flying past it, but not quite hard enough to bend the metal. She took leap after leap until she finally stopped on the top floor. With nowhere else to go she opened the door and entered the hall.

Things were quiet up here. Mercifully quiet. She could hear something being rolled in the distance. Still gave her plenty of time to roam the halls and find—whatever she was looking for. Kids. In the end she walked past a lot of doors, never quite feeling right about any of them. There was one that… that had lots of feelings behind it. Bad ones. Anger. Fear. Sadness. She never wanted to go through that door again. Besides, there was no one behind it.

At the fork in the hall she turned left on a whim. Whim? This was the whole point. Passed three doors on each side before coming up to Room 817. There were also feelings behind that door. Some bad. Stupid arguments. Scared people lashing out. Most good. And he… no, Aiden badly needed a hug. Needed his friend.

She gently slipped the door open and stepped into the room, another tentacle flying up to make sure that the door closed as slowly as possible. The boy didn’t stir. That was good. She slowly, gently made her way into the bed. He was lying on his stomach, one arm beneath him and one splayed out to the side. His head faced the ghost. A thin stream of drool ran down it.

The mimikyu softly moved towards the boy’s elbow. She half-faded into shadows to best squirm under his arm and press into his body. He did notice that. The ghost stood petrified as the boy moved in his sleep, both arms coming out and wrapping around the cloak. He pulled her tight to his chest. One arm fell back down and the other draped limply over her.

She stayed there, curled up in her cloak and feeling the warmth of Aiden’s chest as it slowly filled and emptied with life-giving breath. A deep-seated part of her was jealous. It was unfair that he got to be human—got to be alive—while she was hideously ugly. But mostly? Mostly she was just glad to be here. To be loved. To feel a flicker of life flowing back into her from the cuddles.

In the morning the nurses would come. The exterminator might come back with his devil dog and its piercing shadows. That didn’t matter. Not anymore. She was here with Aiden.

They’d already been through so much together.

What was one more challenge?
 
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