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snowstorm on the yellow sea

Discussion in 'Literature Library' started by roule, Feb 19, 2017.

  1. roule

    roule Youngster

    Feb 4, 2017
    hey! someone reccomended me this fourm on ffnet, and i thought it was neat, so i joined. this story is originally on both ffnet and serebii, and takes place in the real world. anyway, here goes...

    Chapter One

    Amongst the rubble they danced

    The island always talked about this as your biggest day. Your "coming of age ceremony" as a member of the isolated community of Alexandria-by-the-sea. Going far away from the little island off the Pacific coast of Canada, to travel around in a far away country, to see if their Pokémon gyms are up to snuff.

    The quest was one of the only times some people left the island, and it had been required for all young adults since forever. This was so that they could learn about the cultures of the outside world, which they usually wouldn't . Villagers told stories of the faraway lands they saw on their voyages. The people they met, the Pokémon they caught, and how it gave them a new view on the world. The community as a whole prided themselves on beating gyms across the world. They would show off their gym badges to their children or their grandchildren. As those children grew up, they anticipated their adulthood. Training and catching their own Pokémon.

    For me, my coming of age quest came on a Saturday in January. A thick layer of snow still covered the green grass of the rocky islands. The blizzard did nothing to change that, and the frosty winds would beat you down until you fled inside, with a red face and shivering limbs. Yet, I stood out in that weather. Wearing a thick furry coat and long pants and brown hiking boots. Watching the churning waves beat down on the rocks below the cliff where I was standing. At that time, I was the only one at our meeting place. I woke up at 4 am, and had been unable to fall back asleep. There was only 2 hours until I had supposed to meet with the rest of the people journeying with me.

    After an hour of fruitless tossing and turning, I got up, got my things together. This included my bag, which had my clothes, snacks from home, my Pokémon and extra pokeballs. I walked down the steps of my family's small seaside cottage to the kitchen, with white tiled floors and a large wooden table made of old oak. I made myself fried eggs and coffee, and watched the wild snowstorm from safe indoors. I wondered if it would be as bad this when we were leaving. The boat driver had driven through worse more than once, I thought to myself, transporting kids or transporting fish. Other than fishing, and training Pokémon, we used to provide lumber, but the elders halted it a long time ago. That was when we realized how much the lack of trees could hurt the island's Pokémon. We then became known for Pokémon battling, with several former residents winning the Pokémon League, which took a lot of patience. Some of these people I actually knew or met growing up. In the end, my dad refused for me to feel pressured by the expectations to be a world class trainer like him. He didn't want me to become something I hated.

    After filling my stomach with my breakfast and getting some coffee, I did the for my Pokémon. I then let my three permitted Pokémon from home out of their pokeballs, so that they could have some room to move before the boat ride.

    The ride would need them to be inside until we landed in South Korea. That was where we would stay for at least a week, until our ferry to China. Both places excited me because I had learned Korean in high school, and there was a pretty huge gym scene there. In an ideal situation, I could get in one or two badges before I had to go to China. There, they were about to open their own Pokémon League, after banning ownership during the Cultural Revolution.

    I let Varaha out first, who was the son of my own father's Emboar, who had traveled with him when he was on his own journey. I was given Varaha by my father after he found out in October that I was going to be leaving in December, as a memory of home in my travels. When released, Varaha looked up at me, and snorted a hello before eating the toast I had given him as breakfast. Varaha had a lot of potential as a battler, being the son of my dad's Emboar. That old boar could sweep teams in a heartbeat. But I hadn't had the chance to train him. So I decided to bring him along so he could grow into a strong Pokémon.

    Next was my Nidorina, Nina, who was my first Pokémon I ever caught by myself. I had caught her when she was a shy little Nidoran, where my mother used to live. Now a much bolder Nidorina, Nina looked over at me and nuzzled my legs. She made sure not to poison me with her barbs by accident and end my journey before it even began. She then ate the lettuce and tomatoes I set out for her. Nina was more experienced with battling than Varaha, having evolved in combat before, and was more reliable than Jessica. It only made sense that she would join me on this journey.

    The last one out was my Clefairy, Jessica. Jessica was my true "starter", having been given to me as an egg at age 8, and raised by me alone. Because 8 year old kids dont know how to properly socialize Pokémon, Jessica didn't get along with any other Pokémon, or any humans. Other than my parents, of course. Instead, she mainly stayed with me, and was protective of me. She crawled onto my lap, and I fed her her favorite food, Frosted Flakes with a spoon.

    (sometimes, she even imitated the commercial's stupid catchphrase, with loud humming.)

    Jessica was my starter, and even though she was stuck up, spoiled, and could hit a high C when upset or not getting her way, I still loved her. She had a soft spot in my heart, and could be quite powerful when Metronome got the right move. Or when Double Slap didn't miss.

    Suddenly, I heard footsteps, and Jessica and I looked up to see my dad slowly walking down the stairs. My dad was a taller man, not as tall as my mom, with a thick build and dark short hair. His Mightyena, Herman, was hot on his tail, as usual. He had traveled to the gyms across the United States when he was 20, meeting my mom in the process. Who then traveled with him as his companion. He ended up beating them all, even having a decent chance to defeat the Pokémon League. But, in the end, he refused to even try, instead coming back home to raise a family. Ever since he told that story to me, I wanted to finish his job, and become the champion of one of the Pokémon Leagues, no matter what country. After giving up his chance to be champion, he worked at home as a traveling salesman. He frequently went to Vancouver for business.

    "Marie? You're already up?" He asked me, squinting at me, and I nodded. "Are you nervous?"

    "Yep." I shrugged, and Jessica hummed to herself, grabbing my still hand to get another bite of food. "Woke up at 4, couldn't fall back asleep."

    "You shouldn't be nervous. In a few hours you're going to out there, dashing across the Pacific Ocean, about to travel to a new country, with people who will change your life." My dad smiled at me, and Jessica started squirming in my lap. "My journey changed my life, and so will yours."

    "I know." I smiled, scooping some more cereal for Jessica, causing her to hum again. "It's just... it's the farthest I've been from home. Alone." My dad walked over to me and put his hand on my shoulder, and I looked over at him.

    "Sweetie, you'll be fine." My dad said, and I felt reassured. Jessica started squirming again, but I ignored her. "If you miss home, just call, ok?"

    "I will." I replied, and Jessica started whining like a child. I sighed, and scooped more cornflakes.

    "They better sell cornflakes in China." My dad joked, looking at the bratty Clefairy eating like I hadn't fed her before. "Or you're gonna have one angry Clefairy on your hands." I rolled my eyes.

    "She better learn to eat something else." I groaned, rubbing her head , and causing her to pout. "I'm not paying for one more box." My dad laughed, and walked over to the kitchen to make breakfast for Herman.

    I heard footsteps coming from the ceiling. I looked up to see the tall figure of my mom walking down their stairs, looking sleepy, but still excited. She had her dark hair in a ponytail already, and had been dressed in baggy sweats and an old t-shirt from Moosewood. Herman quickly ran over to her, so the he could have his early morning pets.

    "I started a pot already." I told her as she walked over with a smile on her face. She topped to rustle my hair, causing me to smile a little bit.

    "My little girl's all grown up, and heading on her own journey!" She smiled, and I giggled loudly, ignoring the Pokémon on my lap. This caused Jessica to squrim again.

    I started to say something to my mom. But just then Jessica started to hit that high C, because I wasn't feeding her fast enough, and I really really did not need that today.

    "Alright! Alright!" I growled, spoon feeding her more Frosted Flakes, and she returned to humming again. I rolled my eyes and sighed, and looked over at my other two Pokémon. Varaha was laying down, taking a short nap, while Nina was looking outdoors as well. I stretched out and watched the storm again as my parents made breakfast, and enjoyed the quiet before my journey. After a few more bites, Jessica finished her cereal, and rested against me. These were the moments from her that I enjoyed, when she wasn't bugging me for for food. Or trying to antagonize Varaha because he was recieving more attention than her. I softly petted her fur, causing her to shut her eyes and begin to nap. Nina walked over to me, and gave me a look.

    Suddenly, a loud bell rang to alert villagers that the coming of age ceremony was about to begin at the sea. I got up, and picked up my backpack, and let all my Pokémon back in their pokeballs. I quickly walked over to both of my parents, and quickly went to my parents to say goodbye. I gave my mom a tight hug, and walked over to my father and did the same. I patted Herman on the head, and walked over to the couch in the living room, where I had laid out all my stuff. I put my jacket on, placed my pokeballs in my backpack and threw it on, and walked to get my boots.

    "Don't forget to call!" My mom yelled from the kitchen, poking her head out.

    "I will!" I yelled back, as I stepped into my hiking boots and tied them up. I looked back at the living room, smiled, and then stepped outside. The blinding cold and the waves of snow flying came flying at me when I walked out. But I endured it, and took my first steps towards my journey. I walked forward towards the path to the town center. I followed it down, passing by snow covered storefronts and benches circled around the silent fountain. Before long, I was standing at the meeting place overlooking the sea, where I stood now, looking at the sea. It had been 15 minutes, well at least that's what it felt like, and no one had come yet. It was pretty frustrating. But I guess some people didn't want to part from their parents just yet. Or were putting on thicker clothing.

    When I looked up again, I could see a figure walking forward, distant in the horizon. I immediately straightened up. As the person walked forward, I smiled in recognition. I walked forward and yelled:


    Adel Barnett, or "Addy", was my closest friend on the island. He moved here when we were both 11, his parents moving to Alexandria because of the view. We clicked the day he arrived on the ferry, and we became fast friends and training partners. Addy immediately looked up, ran forward at the speed of light, and bear-hugged me. He was wearing a thick furred green coat like me, except with the hood tightened to protect against the winds. I could barely make out his brown face in the mass of fur.

    "W-who'd ya pick?" Addy shouted over the storm, quaking like a leaf. I grinned in response.

    "Nina, Jessica, and the Tepig my dad gave me!" I shouted back at him.

    "Jessica? S-seriously?" Addy laughed, as a new blast of wind blew us about. "But she's such a brat!"

    "But she's strong, when I can get her to fight!" I yelled back. "And who'd you pick, oh so wise and mighty?"


    "BUNIE?" I shouted back. Bunie was his Buneary that he hatched himself, having gotten it from a Pokémon orphanage in Vancouver for 40 bucks. He then proceeded to spoil her to high heaven when she hatched. "You're telling me I shouldn't bring Jessica, and you bring Bunie? Newsflash, she's pretty bratty too!"

    "Oh s-shut up! Bunie reminds me of home, and I'm trying to make her less of a brat!" Addy crossed his arms, and was pouting at me. "Anyway, you didn't let me c-continue! Bunie, Dewie, and Ciccinci!" Dewie was his Budew, who my father caught to give to Addy as his first Pokémon on his 12th birthday. Ciccinci was a Miccinco caught somewhere in Toronto.

    "Gonna train in Korea to try to evolve them?" I asked, scratching at my arm. South Korea had a pretty intense Pokémon scene, with several hundred tournaments every year. Yet, on the other side of the DMZ, any ownership of Pokémon had been banned. The punishment was immediate execution for anyone caught. This was because of the fears that allowing Pokémon battles would lead to people having actual power. That would lead to the Kim dynasty's collapse.

    "Yeah. I'm not going to challenge the gyms over there though, heard they can get real too fast." Addy groaned, jumping from one foot to the other, like the floor was lava. "Like that lives can be changed in some of those battles. Maybe it'll be good for you, cause its in your blood to battle Pokémon, but not for me."

    "I would imagine." I said, looking around. A decent crowd of people had shown up, many of whom I knew from around town, but no one I particularly knew well. Other than Addy, I wasn't friends with a lot of kids on the island. It wasn't anyone's fault, I wasn't that social to begin with. Many of them went to the village school on the island, but Addy and I went on the ferry to Vancouver instead to a private school. My mother wasn't too fond of me going to school in a one story building with no re accredation by the government. So I didn't attend the same classes as most of the kids, and only shared them with Addy. Mr. Moreau, who was the teacher of the village school, and someone who had traveled with my father when he was young. He was approaching the group, presumably to instruct us further.

    "Hello, representatives of Alexandria!" Mr. Moreau shouted, and all the other kids looked towards him as he struggled against the winds. His blue puffy coat was flapping about, causing him to shove his tan hands into his coat pocket. He pulled his hood over his buzzed salt-and-pepper hair, and his dark eyes squinted against the snow. He then began to list out names of the trainers, to confirm if they had made it alive and weren't freezing to death in the snow or bailing. After, he listed off how to avoid dangers, and to always contact their parents and the village every week to make sure that they were still alive. He also gave information about China. But, it was nothing I didn't already know.

    Mr. Moreau finished talking, and walked us down a path towards the dock. This was where the ferry would be waiting for us to start our adventure. I managed to crawl down the patch without slipping and breaking my neck, ending my adventure prematurely. I watched a blonde girl that I might have seen around town in front of me fall over onto the rocky path. She laid down for a minute, before pick herself up with blood dripping down her legs. Red staining the snow where she had fallen. That sight made me slow down, and take very careful steps. But after several minutes of tip toeing around rocks and nearly slipping and falling to my death, I managed to make it down to the dock. It was full of villagers mulling around even in the disgusting weather outdoors. After a bit of peering and craning my neck, I spotted my parents in the crowd, with Herman and my dad's Emboar by their sides. I followed the other kids walking to the boat, and I smiled and waved to my family in the crowd. My mom had changed from her slacks into a nicer white dress. She had been crying, which made my stomach drop. My dad had a wide smile on my face, with eyes brimming with pride and tears. The sight made me overwhelmingly homesick. I stopped in my tracks at the edge of the slippery wooden dock, overwhelmed with the urge to cry and run back home. I took a deep breath,and decided to go forward with my journey. Even though I was a little less sure.

    I walked towards the boat, climbed onto the stairs. And I stepped on board.

    Later, I wish I ran back towards my parents.
  2. roule

    roule Youngster

    Feb 4, 2017
    Chapter 2

    Every Set of Light Up Here, is Watching

    Nothing bad happened immediately, that'd be too funny to not mention. The boat didn't catch on fire the instant I got on, there wasn't any sudden rocking or a loud explosion as we sunk to the ocean floor, and I wasn't informed that there was a serious mistake, and that I would have to return home. I merely walked onto the boat, into a large lobby covered in dark emerald carpeting, with dark blue plush chairs facing towards the large observing windows in front, and what appeared to be a kiosk towards the back, with a fridge and a menu I didn't bother to read. I had my name checked off by the captain, who knew me from years of shipping me off to school, and smiled at me, and I walked through the green colored hallways to my cabin to put my stuff down or maybe nap a little. My cabin wasn't terribly huge, having a small bed, a chair, and a dresser with an Aero candy bar and a Coke on top, presumably for me. I smiled a little, amused that the captain remembered my favorite soda and candy, and put them in my bag for later, not wanting to gorge myself on crud before I had dinner, and end up feeling disgusting the rest of the day.

    After I grabbed my pokeballs from, I walked over to my bed, and laid down for a nap. To my surprise, the bed wasn't too small for my above average height of 6'0, and I wasn't too excited about my impending journey to almost immediately fall straight to sleep when I put my head on my pillow. I convinced myself that it would be just a small nap, and I'd be up and about at 7:30 to meet everyone that I never had the chance to in Alexandria, and maybe sneak a snack from my bag for my Pokémon so they wouldn't be ravenous before dinner.

    Instead of waking up well rested and excited, I woke up disorientated, so hungry my stomach felt hollow, and I felt a sudden wave of anxiety at the unfamilarity surroundings. I took a few seconds to remind myself that nothing bad had happened to me while I was asleep, and I wasn't kidnapped by someone. I stood up, wobbled a bit, and walked out in the halls to the front of the boat, and saw that the sun was just beginning to set. I dashed to the dining hall, and bumped into Addy, who was dressed down so that his wavy dark hair was visible, and holding a tired Bunie in his arms, who was clutching onto his maroon shirt tightly.

    "Woah, watch it!" Addy shouted, and I grabbed him by his shoulders, looking at him through my shaggy bangs, and he visibly flinched, looking wide eyed at me. Bunie merely glowered at me between her big fluffy tan ears, having never gotten along with me no matter how hard I tried.

    "What time is it?" I spluttered out.

    "It's 6 at night, we're literally about to eat dinner." Addy replied, brows furrowed and face contorted in confusion. "I was gonna get you so we could... Are you alright?" I slumped forward, and held my head in my hands.

    "I overslept." I groaned, and Addy let out a loud chuckle at that, and the brown rabbit looked up at him in confusion.

    "I figured. If there's anyone who can literally sleep through the excitement of going to a new country, it's you." Addy snorted, and I looked up to scowl at him. "Remember when you were late to graduation because you wanted a high score on Elgyeman?"

    "Point me in the direction of where I asked." I snapped back, and Addy smiled at me.

    "Ugh... now all my Pokémon are going to be hungry, and Jessica's probably going to go straight for my ankles." I groaned, and I walked away to face the music.

    After corralling 3 hungry and grumpy Pokémon to the dining hall, which took a good 10 minutes of trying to avoid having my ankles and fingers bit by both Jessica and Varaha. The dining hall was a surprisingly rich looking place, with red cloth embroidered wooden chairs, dark wood tables with bright red and gold tablecloths, and red carpet, but steel serving stations, a reminder that this was still a boat, and not some room in a mansion. I got food for me, and grabbed some tomatoes and an apple for Nina, who was behaving herself this evening, and not trying to gnaw one of my fingers off. I walked over to the table where Addy was sitting, surrounded by his Pokémon. The instant I walked over to him, Bunie, who was standing on the table, eating her greens voraciously, she narrowed her eyes and jumped into Addy's arms. I shrugged my shoulders in acceptance, and sat down, putting my Pokémon's food on the ground, finally letting them chow down.

    "She is literally never going to like me." I groaned, digging into the chicken parm I got. "Ever."

    "Well, honestly, Jessica hates me, so it's only fair." Addy gestured with his sauce covered fork to Jessica, who was glaring back at Bunie, while eating her Frosted Flakes.

    "She doesn't like anyone, other than like my parents, Nina, and the cashier at Costco who gets her Frosted Flakes! Bunie loves literally every other person she meets except for me!" I said, and only got a shrug in response from Addy.

    "So," Addy asked, finishing off his lasagna, and fidgeting with his fork, as the bunny Pokémon continued to glare angrily at me. "Are you going to get a water type to counter against the Seoul gym? Isn't it a fire type gym? I overheard some other kids discussing it, like that one girl who fell when we were walking down to the docks. Apparently she got a Snover from her aunt in Nova Scotia."

    "Yeah, I think I'm going to buy an egg when I'm there." I said, between bites of lasagna, wiping my face with a white cloth napkin. "Never was so great with fishing... Same with dad, ended up getting his water type as a gift during his journey."

    "Oh, I remember." Addy said, a smile growing across his face. "Took you 4 different days to catch one Magikarp for that high school assginment. It was so depressing!"

    We spent the remainder of our meal discussing things about the journey, like which restaurants to visit in South Korea and of things to do there. Addy seemed intent on trying Bunie out in a movie there, having always preferred contests (mainly held places like in Japan, Los Angeles, Beijing and New York City) and acting to battling, which I agreed with. Even though the little rodent could be a real pain, she still had a lot of potential to be a star, and even had the sob backstory of being bought in an orphanage for only 40 dollars. After an hour of talking, in which the sun dipped under the waves, leaving the windows pitch black, and eating some dessert, we both retired to our cabins for the night, where I fell asleep again, but only after an hour of playing video games on a 3DS.

    The two and a half days after my first day were almost identical. I played games and went out to the deck of the boat in the early morning, before going to breakfast, having some pancakes and feeding my Pokémon. I would then talk to Addy about little things over coffee, and then take a nap until lunch, eat lunch with my Pokémon, and then read or sleep until dinner. I'd eat dinner, call my parents, and then sleep again. It was pretty monotonous, but it was leading up to one of the biggest moments of my grown life, so I didn't mind the mind numbing boredom as much as I would if I was at home, in Canada.

    Finally, after those two and a half days were up, on a surprisingly calm day, our real journey began. After dinner, we were told by Mr. Moreau, who had accompanied us on the boat, to pack up our stuff in our cabins, put on clothes you wouldn't mind sleeping in, and head to the hold. I eagerly put everything away, including several more things of sweets that I bought from the kiosk in the front of the boat. After I gathered all my things together, I took one last look at my cabin, before I went to the hold. The hold was a large metal room in the bottom of the boat, with notches in the floor to allow the boats to go down into the Yellow Sea, in the hull, with 12 lifeboats attached to a machine to lower them into the water, for each of the 12 kids. Releasing boats with the travelers on then was a tradition as old as the voyage itself, because in old times it was practically required to take a boat anywhere, despite being unnecessary and very unsafe. Even my father, who could've just taken a train down, took a boat to California instead. It was odd tradition sure, but it was still a tradition, and it meant a lot to the community. We were informed of what to do when we arrived in South Korea, which was to basically go to the nearest town and take a train to Seoul to have your passport stamped, then continue. Another kid brought up what to do if they somehow ended up in North Korea.

    Mr. Moreau frowned, and looked thoughtful for a second. Then, he replied:

    "Try going to the British Embassy, and calling the Canadian government, and say that there's been a horrible mistake." Mr, Moreau said, and quickly, his voice became stern. "However, let's try our best to avoid landing in North Korea at all costs, because we can't guarantee your safety there."

    The other 11 kids and I were lead off to our boats by Mr. Moreau, with Addy taking the 3rd boat on the left and me taking the fifth on the right, I waved to him as I passed, and he waved back at me. Now that the boat was closer to me, I could see that it was just a larger than normal, but otherwise a normal metal skipper, with a large "5" and "CANADA" written on it, albeit with no motor. Inside was a tied down sleeping bag, and a large bolted container for my bag. I looked around to see other kids putting their stuff away, laying down in the sleeping bag, and then Mr. Moreau would walk over and pull a breathable tarp over the boat. I put my bag in the container, took off my shoes and put them in too, and pressed my hands hard on the lid to make sure it was tight. I stepped precariously into the boat, and I slid into the sleeping bag, and waited for Mr. Moreau to put the tarp over me. I was already sweating from excitement, and it felt like hours until I heard him approach.

    "Are you ready, Ms. Jones?" He asked, looking down at me with a smile.

    "Yes, sir." I nodded.

    With that, he pulled over the tarp, and I only saw dark blue. In a few minutes, I was asleep. I have no idea what happened after I was asleep, because I did not wake a single time during my voyage. I've guessed that a stray wave flung me off course, or a sudden storm broke out. I have no idea how I wasn't stopped, or shelled to oblivion by the forces by the DMZ. Whatever happened, it moved my boat far away from where it was supposed to go. Maybe it was destiny. Maybe it was luck. Maybe some ******* forgot to go to their post that evening. Whatever happened, it happened.

    I actually remembered my dream that night, too.

    I was alone, traveling a distant path by foot, walking a long distance in the sweltering heat of a mid summer day, sun shining brightly in my eyes and, far away from what I knew. I saw a river distantly in the horizon, the light making it reflect a dark blue, and I walked closer to it, trying to get to it. When I reached the river, the riverbed making the water appear dark, I found that it was a wild thing, churning and rushing past me, crashing against dark rocks littering its path, and whipping around the corner out of my sight. I turned my head, and saw a large mountain in the distance, not as big as I had remembered Mount Rainier being during my brief visit to Seattle, but still large and foreboding or whatever dream mountains are supposed to mean. I watched the river run past my vision, unsure of what I should do, or how I should pass over it. As I contemplated how to make it over the river, I saw something move in the river's path, somewhat deep underneath the water. I looked closer, and I managed to make out what it was, which caused my stomach to drop and a cold sweat to break out over my body.

    It was a woman, dead, face crumpled in pain, and that's all I could make out before it disappeared. Suddenly, I saw more bodies in the river, men, women, children. All of them had drowned trying to cross. Naturally, that made me afraid, reluctant to proceed further, but my body started to step on the rocks to cross without my consent, and I tripped against one of them, my body not registering the pain, just the nauseating drop of my stomach, and fell, fell!

    I woke up with a jolt to the sound of waves crashing against the hull of the boat, and I slipped out of my sleeping bag, quickly checked that all of my stuff had made the journey, and put slight pressure on the bottom of the boat with my bare foot, to see if I was on land or adrift on the sea still. I heard a slight but noticeable scratching noise against the metal bottom and a firm feeling, and I peeked out of the tarp. I was on a wide beach, only barely on the sand, with grey rocky sand, clear water, and blue skies with bright white popcorn shaped clouds. I slid from an opening in the tarp, and crawled on my hands and knees, feeling the wet sand dig into my palms, until I managed to stand up using the boat, and I was hit with the bone-chilling cold of the ocean breeze, which might have been nice if we weren't in the end of January, beginning of February, causing me to shiver and cover my arms. I pushed the boat further inland on the beach, to prevent it from getting washed away while my thoughts were elsewhere.

    Looking around, I managed to see a large forest right in front of me, with thick trees that had lost their leaves, and distant pine trees. After looking around me just to see more grey sand and dark waters, I managed to spot a sign and a road not far ahead. I hobbled forward as fast as my bare and cold feet could take me, and approached a large wooden sign at the beginning of the beach, written in Korean, confirming that I did not end up in China. It gave the name of the beach, Nampo Beach, and I read nothing further, blindly assuming that I had landed on a beach a few cities away from Seoul, which was a huge mistake. I walked onto the dirt road, watching out for any vehicles flying straight towards me at a breakneck pace. I walked forward on the gritty dirt road, trying to ignore the pain in my bare soles, and the utter cold, which did not improve at all as I left the coast, only seeming to get more bone chillingly cold.

    I walked a decent stretch up the road before I caught a glimpse of a gigantic red, blue, and white sign, written entirely in Korean. I squinted at it slightly, and walked around so I wasn't reading it at an angle.

    The sign read:


    I stared dumbly at it for about 5 minutes, craning my neck slightly, before it all came onto me, and I felt my blood run cold, and I began to feel sick.

    Stupid, my brain screamed as I ran down the road as fast as I could, back to the boat, stupid, STUPID!
  3. roule

    roule Youngster

    Feb 4, 2017
    Chapter 3

    I am drowning, there is no sight of land.

    Thankfully, by the time I reached the beach, with aching, dirty feet, no soldier had suddenly arrived to inspect it, probably because it was the middle of winter, and no one would be by the water if you weren't crazy or trying to die via exposure.

    I quickly rushed to pull off the tarp cover, and flung it on the sand. I quickly tore off the cover of the container, grabbing my hiking boots and socks, quickly putting them on after gently using the freezing seawater to clean my feet. I grabbed my backpack and quickly checked for my Pokémon, and breathed a sigh of relief when i found their pokeballs unharmed. I crawled in the boat, and reached for another large box wedged in the very tip of the boat. I managed to slide it free, while also ripping my sleeping bag out of the boat, and I eagerly opened the box.

    The box contained emergency biscuit rations, matches, tinder, a first aid kit, a Swiss Army knife, what appeared to be a large space blanket, three tins of water purification tablets, some canned food, a flare gun, fishing kit, other things that had absolutely no value to me, and an actual, disassembled pistol, mostly black but with a brown grip, with live ammunition close by. I stared at that pistol for a minute, feeling mixed emotions of shock and confusion at the fact there was a real gun stocked in my boat. I tried to muster up memories of when my American uncle took me out to a shooting range to show me how to shoot a gun, and then promptly got yelled at by both my mom and grandma at the same time, an amazing feat, but I couldn't remember how to reassemble it for the life of me, only how to shoot. Thanks a lot, Uncle Rich.

    After another minute of staring at the disassembled weapon, I managed to reassemble it without killing myself, and clicked the safety off, and kept it nearby. I grabbed the emergency box, and stuffed it in my bag, before grabbing a change of clothes, which was a long sleeved dark shirt, dark pants, and my jacket from before, and flung the tarp over me and changed clothes. I packed my clothes, the emergency box, my sleeping bag, curled up into a ball and the tarp, also rolled up. I sat down on the beach, and tried to think of something, anything, that could help me. I remembered what Mr. Moreau said, about going to the British embassy in Pyongyang. Pyongyang could be anywhere from barely a day's walk to nearly a week away. I'd have to walk for a long time, with potential contraband on my shoulders. However, I knew I had to do one thing before I went anywhere.

    I looked back at the boat, looking for those distinctive red letters. Before I did anything, I pulled out my camera, a gift from my mother to chronicle my journey, from my bag, and took a picture of the boat, to preserve it in case anyone said I was a liar. I put my bag down, pulled the pocket knife, and started to chip away at the "C" in "CANADA", until the "C" came off. It took a long time to remove all the letters, but it was worth not getting my home country tangled in North-South Korean political nonsense in the end. After I removed the letters, I pushed the boat out into the ocean, and watched as it floated away, until it was out of sight. Now with the fear of accidentally starting World War 3 because of a single mistake off of my shoulders, I picked up the gun laying in the sand, and began my trek north.

    Even for someone who lived on the coast of Canada, where the summers were always chilly at best and the winters were nearly unbearable, North Korean winters were pretty cold, even barring the fact that I was right by the ocean, making it even colder. After trekking past the sign from before, I found myself blowing on my hands to keep warm. When I reached a small clearing a few meters away, I sat down and pulled out my pokeballs and some biscuits from the box. I sat cross legged on the dead grass, took a deep breath in, and released my Pokémon, who simply sat and stared at the food that I gave them. Varaha even seemed uneager to eat, for the first time ever, and Nina looked straight at me, unflinching.

    "This is all we have for now." I said over the cacophony of growls and indignant squeaking from Jessica, who looked ready to bite my hand off. "Let's eat."

    "Eat it, Jessica." I said, pushing the biscuit towards her, causing her to turn away. I felt my throat constrict, and I swallowed. I'm not going to lose it right now, I'm going to be calm and collected, and think this all through logically.

    "Please." I begged, but none of them ate, merely staring at me if I had lost my mind. I swallow again, don't lose it, don't lose it, you are calm, don't lose it, don't-

    "I'm sorry, okay? I'm lost in a dangerous country, and I can't just parade you around here!" I snapped, and the Pokémon stopped. I rarely raised my voice at them, not wanting to be like the trainers in my school who screamed at their Pokémon at high volumes after losing a schoolyard match. "I don't know how long it'll be until I can buy us food, and I don't know when we'll be where we're supposed to be! Just eat the biscuits, please?"

    Nina was the first to reluctantly eat the biscuits, and the two other ones soon followed. I decided to eat the biscuits too, because I hadn't had any breakfast either, and I needed to eat something before I walked. The biscuits were small, white little things, and one bite yielded a stale, rancid taste, and I wondered how old these biscuits were. I pressed forward, and was able to down two before nausea prevented me from eating anything more. My Pokémon had finished before me, and were watching me as I coughed, covering my mouth as I did.

    "I'm sorry for yelling." I said quietly, shoving the biscuits back in the backpack. "I'll get you all something nice when we get to the city. Some nice apples for Nina, some toast for Varaha, and some sweets for Jessica." I let them back into their pokeballs, and I sighed, wiped my eyes, and continued forth.

    After about 10 whole minutes of walking, I spotted the city ahead, and I moved slightly faster, but not in a full dash, to avoid attention if someone walked by. As I climbed the hill, I looked around for some form of crowd to blend into, but I ended up just trying to make myself as small as possible while crossing the road. stuffed my firearm in my pocket, and walked through the city.

    If I had stayed behind and looked for crowds, I would've been standing in that spot forever, because, as I found out walking through the run down city of "Nampo", there are apparently never any crowds in North Korea, or maybe just Nampo. There were men on bikes, passing me by, groups of women chatting with each other about what movies were on TV, children, or food, children running around, and stopping to look at me with an odd expression on their faces, but no crowds of people. I stared right back at the gawking kids, feeling like a circus animal, and they ran away from me, quickly looking back at me. I snorted quietly to myself, but almost immediately regretted it. What if they snitched to their parents about the "weird girl with the backpack" who stared at them, and I hadn't left the city yet? What if their parents snitched to the police, and I had the army tailing me? I could see the headlines now, "Canadian Spy Executed, Death to Trudeau and the West!". I shook it off, blaming my paranoia for making me irrational. I needed to stay rational, stay calm, so I didn't mess up and end up executed in a horrible manner.

    As I followed the road, which had no cars on it for whatever reason (probably why so many people were biking), I passed through an open air market on the walkway, filled with stalls with meats, fish, street food for the commuters, and produce. I went over to the produce stand, and bought some lettuce, and a couple of tomatoes for Nina, and the rest of the Pokémon, and grabbed the yuan I had exchanged a few days before. The older gentleman, with his thin frame and tired eyes looked at me, shrugged, and took the money, and bagged my produce.

    "Thank you, comrade." I said, with a fake smile, and left as quickly as possible without looking overtly suspect. I felt eyes turning to me with an offended look in their eyes, probably because of my very strong accent or something, crawling all over my back, and I moved faster, trying to outrun them. I managed to free myself of them, shaking my head lightly. I hated this place, I hated being looked at with suspicious eyes, my mind scream hysterically, I want to go home! Calm, I told myself, stay calm, being irrational will be the end of you. Kim Jong-un doesn't care if you're innocent and scared out of your mind, he only cares that you're Canadian, that you have contraband on you, and how many things he can get you to confess to under torture. So stay calm, I repeated, being calm will get you out of here.

    Soon, after repeating my "stay calm" mantra 3 more times as 3 more people stared at me, eating a snack made up of rice, rolled up in seaweed, that vaguely resembled a dish I frequently saw people in Koreatown in Vancouver eating, which I bought, and procuring a English-language map from the trash, the city of Nampo was behind me, and I was facing the "Youth Heroes' Highway" (which garnered a quiet snort from me), which, according to the map, was one of the main paths to Pyongyang. I'd have to walk on it for a indeterminate period of time, and dive into the woods whenever I saw a car pass by. I sighed quietly, and walked towards it, darting to the shoulder, where I was less likely to get hit or spotted by someone.

    Surprisingly, throughout my 3 hour journey, I only had to dive off of the road one time. It was when I was halfway to Pyongyang, and I was listening to music as I walked, with one earbud in, one out. I was humming along to a Chinese song that my mom used to sing to me, before I suddenly heard the deep roar of an engine, and I jumped from the shoulder and I rolled down the grassy hill before I caught myself, feeling and hearing the contents of my bag rolling about. The rickety, white truck filled with soldiers clutching to the sides so they wouldn't fall off, roared past, not noticing the girl who flung herself off of the road. Other than that close call with capture, I managed to make it to Pyongyang without getting run over or spotted by the North Korean military, which caused me to walk through the woods to avoid a checkpoint populated by two young looking soldiers, until I reached the sidewalks of Pyongyang. By the time I reached Pyongyang, the sun was setting, and there were actual lights in the skyline, instead of darkness, which was what I honestly expected.

    Pyongyang isn't a stunning, commercial center city like New York City or Toronto is, and isn't a government city populated by monuments and history like Washington D.C. or Ottawa, it's somewhere in between, straddling the line between the two. There are tall skyscrapers climbing up to the sky like streamers in a parade, actual crowds (small) of people walking about, actual buses driving past, a bit old and rusted, but still buses none the less, and what appeared to be train stations, and then there are large monuments to "Songun ideals" scattered around, Songun translating to 'military first'. It was like, after the Korean War, Kim Il-Sung didn't know what city he wanted, New York or D.C., or fought with his personal architect over plans before executing him and his family in a stadium as hundreds of people watched. Basically, Pyongyang was a mess.

    But wherever I went in Pyongyang, I was always followed by the gaze of the chubby smiling face of either the graying Kim Il-Sung, or the pompadour of his son, Kim Jong-Il, and their ridiculous slogans. Their faces were plastered literally everywhere, monuments, storefronts, murals, all covered with their faces, looking down at their citizens, or in some cases, leading a gaggle of soldiers, somehow providing leadership by smiling and pointing. At least in Ottawa, I didn't see gigantic pictures of Justin Trudeau staring down at me, proclaiming to me that I should work to show glory to him, or bronze statues of Obama leading people to victory in Washington D.C. Anyway, any chance I got, I took pictures of my surroundings, and hid my camera in my coat when I passed by a soldier, who would almost always stare at me. Pyongyang was positively teeming with them, and I found myself in a constant state of anxiety, monitoring myself for any signs of suspicious or 'western' behavior. I watched the kids my age interact, and I began to imitate them, which seemed to garner me less stares.

    After a little wandering, I found myself in front of the British Embassy, which wasn't just British, but German and Swedish as well, and I walked towards it with a smile, rehearsing the speech that I would give the person working the counter. The speech would go something like "Help my boat washed up on North Korean territory and I had no intention of going here to spy or overthrow the Kim dynasty please just drop me off in Macau I'll be fine there". I was only a few strides away from freedom, and seeing my family again. However, as I walked forwards towards the embassy, my smile dropped off my face. On the front of the embassy compound, there was a massive sign written in both German, Swedish, French, and English. The sign read:



    I was screwed. Absolutely screwed. If I entered that embassy, I would have my bag searched, my Pokémon would be found, and I would be almost immediately thrown to the government to do whatever they pleased with me. I'd have to stay in North Korea until I could find some tourist group to blend in with to take me home. But that could take days, month, years! What if they test missiles or nuclear bombs again? What if I'm trapped in the next Korean War? What if I'm framed for passing out religious documents. What if I live here for the rest of my god forsaken life, and I marry some dude, have his kids, and watch as they're permanently indoctrinated into the North Korean personality cult?

    Hey, my logic asked, can't you just cross the border into China?

    That's it! China! I already had a visa to train there, so it technically wasn't illegal. I could just walk all the way up the border, camp out for a few days, and then end up in Beijing like nothing ever happened. I'd have to stay in Pyongyang for about a day to look for extra supplies, but it's still worth a shot! All I had to do now, was to find somewhere to stay for the night

    I walked around, trying to scope out a place to sleep for the night or feed my Pokémon, that wouldn't lead me to get caught, before my feet lead to me to a large amusement park, with bright lights and screaming people. The sign at the front read "Runga People's Pleasure Park", which was a pretty interesting name for an amusement park, I guess. Maybe there were some worker's quarters that were unoccupied, so that I could sleep a little tonight. I tried to get into the gates, but I felt a hand on my shoulder, and turned to make direct eye contact with a soldier, causing my blood to turn cold. He was about my age, potentially younger, with a scrawny build, tan skin, short height only reaching to my mouth, and an uniform bigger than him, his eyes peeking out of his hat with a glare.

    "What are you doing?" The soldier asked firmly, and I quickly jumbled a bunch of excuses from my head, hoping to get one good one.

    "I'm going to get my aunt from the amusement park, comrade." I stated, and instead of just leaving me alone to find somewhere to sleep, he simply just stared at me, eyes boring into my skull, like he could see every single scared thought.

    "Are you a foreigner?" He asked, and I froze for about a minute. Calm down, calm down, calm down, calm down. Just be calm, be collected, respond coolly, and this will all be over, and maybe you'll have something nice for dinner.

    "N-no..." I responded quietly, and then internally screamed at myself for stuttering. I'm doomed, doomed, doomed, doomed! I quickly darted my head around, looking for the quickest escape route. The soldier looked at me with squinted eyes, peering over every inch of me.

    "You speak pretty weird for someone who lives here." He replied, and I began to shake. I thought of my parents, how devastated they would be that their only daughter accidentally landed in North Korea and was executed due to circumstance. I closed my eyes, and tried to think of some excuse.

    "I... uhhh.... emigrated from Macau a few years ago!" I said, forcing myself to smile. He stared at me, with a unimpressed look in his eyes. Macau was where my grandmother lived before she left to America in the '80s, after a job offer forced her to move, so I wasn't too far off.

    "Come with me." The soldier said, grabbing my shoulder, and I reluctantly followed as he led me through the streets of Pyongyang, as people, men, women, families looked away from us. They knew that I was being led away to my death, and didn't want to associated themselves with me, so they wouldn't die too. They had family to feed, and couldn't be bothered with a girl who had obviously done wrong. By the time we reached the park, and he lifted his hand from my shoulder, I was violently sobbing and shaking with every breath. I watched as he removed his hat, revealing his shaved head, and I only cried more.

    "Do you know about Pokémon Trainers?" He asked me, and I nodded through my tears. I was ready for him to shoot me in the face, or break my neck, but he didn't. All he did, was reach into his jacket pocket, and hand me a worn color photograph.

    "Do you know this man?" He pointed to one of the two young men in the picture, which was of a Pokémon battle. The man he pointed to was a younger version of my dad, battling the Miami gym, the final gym of the American League, battling the leader with his Emboar. I stared at it in awe for a while, having been confused enough to stop crying.

    "How'd you get this picture?" I asked him, handing back the photograph.

    "My friend's older brother got them off of the black market when we were kids." He replied, scratching his face, and I was shocked by the revelation that pictures of my dad were on the North Korean black market. "I always thought this one was the coolest out of all the ones he got, and he gave it to me before I went to the army. I don't know, I just always thought that Pokémon Trainers were cool, even though the imperialists used them against us." I raised my eyebrows at that line, but ignored it.

    "He's my dad." I replied, and the soldier looked up at me in shock.

    "He's your dad?" He repeated, and I nodded, sitting down. A wide grin grew on his face, and that was when I gained a little bit of confidence that I wasn't going to get shot or sent to be executed with larger and more powerful guns.

    "This is so cool! I never thought this could happen!" He shook my shoulders excitedly, and a small smile grew on my face. "But, if you're his daughter, how'd you end up over here? Isn't he American? And you two don't look that much alike!"

    I explained my predicament to the soldier, and showed him some pictures of my dad on my phone. He seemed genuinely amazed, and not faking it to lure me into a trap. I mean, it would be a pretty intricate plot to get me if he already had a picture of my dad on him, so I shrugged it off.

    "So, you came to Pyongyang to try to return home by going to the embassy?" He asked me, and I nodded, putting my phone back in my bag.

    "Honestly, I doubt it's going to work." I said sadly, and sighed. "I have contraband on me. I doubt they're gonna let me through, just hold me hostage or execute me. I think I'm just gonna end up like, going across the Chinese border."

    "Contraband?" The soldier asked, and I pulled out a Pokéball, causing his face to light up again.

    "You have pokeballs?" He asked, walking over to me. "Do you have any Pokémon?"

    I let Nina, Varaha, and Jessica out, and grabbed the bag full of produce, placing it out on the ground for them to eat, and all three of them seemed more than eager to chow down. The soldier watched in awe as the three of them ate, and as Jessica looked up, and flew into my arms in fear, digging into my chest.

    "He's fine, Jessica." I reassured her, petting her softly, and watched as Varaha walked over to the soldier and rubbed his head against his knee, wanting to be pet. "Varaha wants you to pet him."

    "Oh! I, uh..." The soldier stammered, reaching his hand to pet the pig Pokémon, who snorted softly in reply. I laughed at the two of them, as Nina came over to me and sat down, watching the two of them.

    "You're lucky, you know?" The soldier smiled sadly, as Varaha climbed into his lap, and I stopped laughing. "Ever since I was little, I wanted my own Pokémon. It just always seemed so neat, that people could work with them as partners."

    "Well, I would be more than happy to let you travel with me, I mean, if you wanted to." I said, smiling slightly, and the soldier looked up. "I know from personal experience that it can get pretty lonely out there." The soldier thought to himself for a minute, frowning deeply.

    "I'll go on one condition." He replied.

    "Throw it at me." I said.

    "'Throw it at me'?" He repeated, furrowing his brows. "Excuse me?"

    "Western speak, I mean, go ahead and tell me." I corrected myself, and his face relaxed.

    "We have to go to my home village and tell my parents that we're defecting, and that they need to join us, otherwise..." The soldier trailed off, looking down and covering his mouth.


    "Otherwise... they'll be executed in my place." He looked up to meet my eyes and my blood froze.

    "Yeah, I'll do it." I replied quickly, nodding profusely.

    "Alright. Are you leaving tonight?" He asked, and I shook my head profusely.

    "No way. I walked all the way here from Nampo, and walking to China will take several days at best. I need one day's rest, and then we can set out." I said, cautious of his reaction, anticipating him to beg me to set out tonight. Instead, his body lifted up slightly, as if a large weight was off of his shoulders, and smiled.

    "Good idea. I get paid tomorrow, so we can spend it on food for the journey." He said, and I retrieved my Pokémon, put them in my bag, and slung it on my shoulders.

    "Well, let's meet here tomorrow at the same time, and set out then." I said, and began to walk out of the park, before the soldier stopped me.

    "Wait, where are you gonna sleep?" The soldier asked, with concern painted on his face, and I turned to him and shrugged.

    "No, no, no. You are not going to just go out into the cold, and find somewhere to sleep." He said, walking towards me. "You'll just walk around, maybe lay out on the street and freeze to death! Besides, I know somewhere you can sleep."

    "You could've told me that first instead of nagging me." I snorted, crossing my arms. "Well then, show me where I can sleep."

    He again walked me through the streets of Pyongyang, this time not by holding my hand and threatening me ominously, and the streets had no one on them. Pyongyang seemed to have turned off all of their lights, leaving all of the city in inky black darkness. Slowly, snow started falling from the sky in little flutters, and I watched as they danced to the ground. It was kind of nice, actually, walking amongst the glittering snow.

    "Hey." I said, and the soldier looked over his shoulder at me.

    "What?" He replied.

    "What's your name?"

    "Lee Joon-Ho." He said, looking forward briefly, before looking back again. "You?"

    "Marie Jones."

    "Marie." He said slowly, trying it out. "Huh. Interesting name."

    "Thanks." I said, huddling into my jacket. Joon-Ho was right, it was seriously cold out tonight, and I probably wouldn't have made it very long without collapsing in an alleyway and dying of frostbite.

    We arrived at the building Joon-Ho was leading me to, and he turned to me again, looking me dead in the eyes, very very serious.

    "Listen, Marie." Joon-Ho said, placing both hands on my shoulders, causing me to sweat nervously. "Do not make a sound inside here, okay? Any sound at all could get us caught."

    I nodded, and the two of us walked inside softly. The blast of heat was a relief from the unflinching cold, but I didn't show it. The room we were in was near impossible to decipher because of the lack of lights. All I could make out was a long, wide hallway in the front, and a shorter, thinner hallway close to my right. I could assume this could be some sort of army barracks, and even then it would be hard to hide in the rooms with the soldiers, because of how many soldiers lived in one space, but I assumed that Joon-Ho had a better idea than I do, probably because he lives here. We tiptoed across the concrete floor of the thinner hallway, until we ended up in front of the stairs, climbing onto the the stairs, with Joon-Ho holding me to make sure I didn't violently fall on my face, and onto the second floor, which proved to be a more dangerous beast to tame, with the flooring being wood instead of concrete, before he led me to the first door on the right side.

    "Do not leave this room at any point until I tell you it's good to go." Joon-Ho whispered. "I'll bring you food for you and your Pokémon, so don't worry, alright? I'll knock three times to tell you that I'm the one at the door." He waited until I nodded, and then began to slowly walk away, towards the stairs

    "Good night, Joon-Ho." I whispered, causing him to stop. He turned to me, appeared to smile, and replied:

    "Good night Marie." And with that, he tiptoed down the stairs.

    I slowly opened the door of the room, walked into the room itself, which was also on wood, and carefully shut the door behind me and locked it. The room was also almost impossible to decipher in the darkness, only the mattress on the floor was visible. I lightly set my bag down, and practically crawled into the bed. I threw the thick comforter, which lacked a fancy cover, over me, and fell straight into a dreamless sleep.

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