This is not a Trevenant's Terrifying Tale. See, it's not even labeled properly. So there's that. ~~~~ ~~~~ ~~~~ ~~~~ "I refuse. Cinnabar Island is closed to the public for a reason. I won't have your safety on my conscience." The manager at the Fuchsia Ferry terminal said sternly, arms crossed. "That volcano isn't doing anything. My mom is a geologist with the geological survey out of Pewter City, and everyone on staff agrees the volcano has no chance of erupting in at least the next fifty years. Not even one scientist there who is standing in the back, shouting about how he warned you, he warned you all, you'll be sorry!" "Just because the volcano is safe doesn't mean the town is." I thought back to the Pokémon I had onhand in my storage box. I'm a Fighting Type trainer, so my options for getting myself across the bay? None. My brother offered to help train my Poliwhirl, and had the foresight to train her while she was wearing a King's Rock. When he gave her back to me, guess what happened? My only foray into Water Type was out of the question if I stayed in my specialty. So I gave Poli-now-toed back, and now I'm without a way across the bay. "Fine. Whatever you say. Thanks." I left the terminal to stand at the dock, as if some wistful staring at the peak of the volcano might grant a wish for me. "You want to visit the island?" A woman said to me. She was wrinkled in the face and with glassy eyes, and she spoke like pirates do in the movies. It was unsettling. "That depends. Are we talking about the same island?" She pointed a finger west across the bay, at what was visible of the volcano over the curvature of the planet. "That island." "Yeah, that's right." I hazarded a guess at what was next. "I suppose you have a way to get there." She grunted a pleased sound of affirmation. From an apricorn in her pocket, she let out a Lapras - scarred and weary - into the water dockside. She stepped from the dock and onto its shell, holding on to one of its spires. "Well?" This is very sudden. "Thank you." I said as I stretched my leg over to climb aboard. We were almost to the Seafoam Islands before either of us said anything else. "So, do you cross the bay often? How many people come this way?" She was silent, surrounded by the gentle crashing of waves. "Not often. Not many." It's going to be that way, then. We made it the rest of the way to the island, where she pulled Lapras up to a an algae-slick and barnacle-covered dock. "Thank you for the ride. I'll just be here for a few hours. Do you have anything you want-- hey, wait!" Without a word, the hag backed Lapras away from the dock, and into open water again, heading east and to the horizon. I was alone. Just me, the springtime sun, and a sign reading "Cinnabar East Beach - No Surfing". Well, also my Pokémon. They're here too. I walked into town, and it was just as empty as I expected. Weeds were taking over the roads, trees were lush and full, and the town was generally pleasant in its nostalgia and silence, its colors washed out by sun-bleaching in the years passed. There was even a billboard advertising Ghost Eraser, one of the last movies filmed at Pokestar Studios before a series of flops pulled them under. I wasn't here for the sightseeing, but I couldn't help but to take some pictures as I made my way on foot to the mansion on the island's other side. The mansion was exactly what I expected of it: grand, proper, and with a locked front door. I climbed in through a busted window and walked slowly, searching carefully as I went. Between the broken glass, browned leaves from dried houseplants, and a thick layer of dust; it was hard to find anything for sure in there. When I got to what I thought was the top floor, I heard sounds from above. "Walk with me, Hitmonlee." I said, letting him out of his Pokéball. We went room-by-room, searching, until finally we got to the late Professor's study. "It's locked... Lee, put a Brick Break kick right there on the door." I stepped back as Lee did his work, letting us into the study. Since this room had no windows to be broken, its interior was still spotless. Bookshelves lined the left and right walls, and an array of computer monitors and inputs on the back wall. I sat at the computer and took a folded sheet of paper out of my wallet. "It's amazing this place never lost power after all these years." I moved the mouse and the center screen of the array showed its login page. The current user was A.Mangrove, just as expected. The password given to me was a 64-digit string of numbers, and it took all of my focus to be sure not to miss one. Focus didn't come easily, however: there was a noise growing overhead. A loud purr growing in volume and metallic impact with increasing frequency. I didn't blink at all as my focus struggled to remain 100% on the paper and the number pad. There was a woosh behind me and something cold hit my neck, so I instinctively spun and raised an arm for a punch, but nobody was there. A small flood of water splashed from the ceiling, taking most of the drywall in its way with it. The racket was even louder than before this sudden downpour. I finished the last four digits of the password and was in as the professor. "We need to get out of here, Lee." I plugged in a large drive to the USB port and got to the home folder as quickly as I could. "Documents first, then videos and music for any personal logs she left." As I was copying the documents folder, I decided to snoop, against the orders I was given. There was a recently-edited file near the top labeled "draft procedure abstract", which caught my attention. As I was opening it, I noticed that every single folder and file to be seen was prefaced by the word draft. It became clear that if I wanted more current information, I would need to go to the lab. There was a crash like a gunshot or meteorite, and I flinched more than I would have liked. The ceiling above groaned as drops of cold water dripped into my eyes. Lee dashed away from the computer, and I fumbled for the flash drive as I leaped the opposite direction. A huge cube of metal - an entire air conditioning unit from the roof - came crashing through the ceiling, almost taking me to the basement with it. The room was even more quiet than before now, even though Lee and I could see the sky beyond. "Just because the volcano is safe doesn't mean the town is." The falling unit must have taken out a power line under the floor on its way, because the computer monitors were all dark. "Okay, I get it now. Let's go." Lee and I bounded down the steps and out of the mansion, my heart still racing from near-death. "Well that was terrifying, we almost literally died in there. They better pay double for this extra work. Wait a minute, how are we going to get home?" I asked Lee as we walked to the lab. He just shrugged, never one for words. "Worst case, we'll build a fire on the peak with Emboar's help. Someone in Pallet or Fuchsia will see." Getting into the lab was a similar situation as the mansion. The door was locked, but since the glass door was broken in a storm at some point, it was easy gaining access. The inside was a mess, stacks of printed emails were strewn about the entire floor, smelling like so much mold and mildew. Rows of lights along the ceiling glowed a dim yellow even in the day, and obvious cameras still shone with a red indicator dot on each. The mansion may have been physically scary, but the lab was different. There was something deeper here than the danger of a collapsing building. Lee and I followed directory arrows past the fossil lab and to an unspecified Lab 04. I looked back up the hall to the entrance. Those cameras, I thought. They were facing the entrance before. I turned my effort to the door. Normally it would have been opened by a button press, sliding into the walls, but the backup generator didn't operate that mechanism and left the doors closed. "The fire marshal should have had a problem with that." I strained as I pulled the door into the wall against motionless gears. Inside lab zero-four was dark. More than dark: it was only illuminated by the faint backup lighting from the hall, such that anything farther than a meter in may well have been a void. In that void there was one solid: the glow of one abandoned laptop's power button that somehow remained activated all this time. "Wait out here, Lee." I stepped into the darkness, and I wish I could say my greatest fear was tripping over a power cable or bumping into a chair. It was a clear path to the glowing light, which was exactly what it seemed. A white glow that turned orange as I opened the lid of the computer, leaning over the nearby chair. The computer's screen was fully red with a white dot bouncing like a game of Pong, seemingly some kind of wakeup loading screen. My eyes were fixed on the dot, and I didn't notice as the only door to the lab slammed shut, with Hitmonlee's pounding almost matching the terror of my heart. I turned back to the monitor for just a moment before other lights surrounded me. Large test tubes illuminated randomly, one by one in red glow, and in each and every one was something sickening. Small organisms like the sketches of Mewtwo, in varying stages of embryonic development or decay. "I need to escape." I said. "I need to escape." Either the air was getting thinner, or my lungs were misbehaving. I ran to the door past rows of test tubes with skeletons or lumps of muscles inside, and slammed on the door. I grasped for any finger-hold I could find, and could not get it to budge. "I need to escape!" I was shouting now, though part of me hoped only Hitmonlee could hear me, and nobody else. "I will escape! Go, Primeape! Let's bust down this door!" I threw her Pokéball toward the middle of the room, but nothing happened. The capsule didn't open. "Sawk!" His Pokéball too, didn't open. "Machoke?" His ball I tried to open manually, but even it was stuck shut. Now I'm truly alone. What felt like hours passed, and I sat with my back to the door, staring at the undeveloped organisms in the tubes. Eventually I fell asleep through the hunger, and I remember a dream of a meteor shower, except each meteor was an AC unit. How I wish one would bust through the roof when I awoke. Sure, it would be nice if it made an escape route for me, but that was my only my secondary desire. I moved about the room some, examining some of the tubes more closely, and eventually I sat back at the chair that had its activated laptop, still showing its game of Pong on a red expanse. I slept again in that chair, now less scared and more accompanied by the unliving around me. I woke slowly from restless sleep, the feeling of plastic zips tightening around my wrists. "Stand." A muffled voice said to me. I tried, I really did, but the hunger sapped my strength. I was pulled to my feet. "Walk." It said again, pushing me very gently from the middle of my back. On one wall of the room was a solid light. My eyes refused to adjust to its shine, growing larger and brighter as we approached until it entirely surrounded me. "Stay." There was a series of sensations and one-word commands past that. An elevator going down. "Forward." "Stay." A squeaky, metallic wheeling. "Sit." A belt was placed around me. My zip ties were cut. "Inhale." "Blink." "Arm." "Escape." That last one was me. "Escape." I felt the word in my mouth that time. "No." That voice was as insistent as ever. "Arm." It said. I refused, so it grabbed my left arm and pulled it into a restraint, tightening a bond and sticking a needle into my elbow, an attached tube and bag changing from clear to black. My eyes started to adjust. The blinding white was replaced by soft blue glows coming from more test tubes holding more complete organisms. "Escape." "No. Arm." It grabbed my right arm. "Escape." I was speaking its language now. "No escape." "Yes, escape!" I pulled on my left arm, its needle stinging me as I flexed. I flailed with my right arm, I kicked my legs, I moved every muscle and bone of my body, and I thrashed, oh did I thrash. My captor backed away out of my reach. "I must escape." I chanted while trying to undo my my left arm's bond and the belt strapping me to the chair. "I must escape, I must escape, I will escape!" The metallic taste in my mouth, my hearing going fuzzy, my sense of time and sequence breaking down. I don't know when it ended. I don't even know how it ended. But it did. I escaped, somehow, or at least the important part of me did.