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Ghosts (one-shot, PG-13)

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction' started by AmericanPi, Oct 30, 2016.

  1. AmericanPi

    AmericanPi Write on

    "Ghosts"
    by American--Pi​

    Warning: Contains death and suicide. Please feel free to not read this if those two subjects make you uncomfortable. Hopefully I didn't mishandle the sensitive subjects this time around.



    John hated the dark.

    The feeble light from Watchog helped a bit. At least the middle-aged man could see the forest around him. But the way the pitch-black branches of the trees, so innocuous-looking in the daytime, snaked their way into the moonless sky… John tried to convince himself that the skeletal limbs were not a swarm of cold, scaly Ekans.

    Though the forest unnerved him, John was more worried about Jess, who was in the village hospital giving birth to their second child. He focused on swinging his ax and hitting the wood in front of him as hard as he could, imagining that he was knocking all the eeriness out of the scraggly tree. He needed to focus on the task at hand. The village needed firewood for the winter ahead.

    Well, not really - the village actually had plenty of firewood, enough to last two winters, probably. But he had to make himself useful, or at least do something to distract himself from the cold dread that accompanied the fact that his wife was in labor, and had been for a distressing amount of time.

    "Thanks, Watchog," John said, turning to his family's companion Pokemon and smiling nervously. The Normal-type Pokemon grinned, despite the fact that she was carrying a sizeable pile of chopped wood. John turned back to the tree and continued working on turning it into firewood as Watchog looked on, providing enough illumination so that the man could see in the darkness.

    A sudden deathly chill pervaded the air surrounding John, causing the man to shiver violently and whip his head around. His eyes widened in fear. A gaseous orb of darkness floated inches away from him, its eyes wide and its mouth in a sinister smile. The Gastly cackled, opening its mouth to reveal sharp teeth and a large pink tongue.

    "Go away! Shoo!" John shouted at the ghost, acting instinctively. Watchog yelped, leaping backwards and dropping the firewood she was carrying, but John hardly cared as he swung his ax. The Gastly disappeared just as the ax would have made contact with it, only for the gaseous orb to reappear at the corner of John's field of vision, laughing with a voice that sent shivers down John's spine. A clammy coldness enveloped the man as the Gastly extended its tongue and licked John on the side of his neck. John cursed loudly, swinging his ax again, but once again the ghost evaded the attack. It disappeared, laughing maniacally again, and John and Watchog both stood at the ready, prepared to attack should the Gastly appear again.

    "That little git," John muttered, panting as he stood with his back to his Pokemon's. He held his ax as his eyes darted around for signs of movement in the dark forest. Watchog was still against him, but he could feel her stiff muscles and heavy breathing. After a while, though, the Pokemon relaxed and looked up at the human, making a saluting motion with her paw. So the Gastly was gone. John relaxed, but only a little.

    He hated ghosts. Like everyone in the village, John feared many Pokemon, especially sinister ones like Murkrow and the Gastly he had just encountered. He couldn't figure out what that Gastly wanted with him. The Ghost-type was probably just evil, as most Ghost-types were. The villagers often spoke in hushed voices about Ghost-type Pokemon, believing them to be harbingers of doom and despair. Pokemon in general were creatures of great power, and the village knew little about most of them. True, some, like Watchog, proved themselves to be harmless or even useful to the little village in the mountains. But others, John knew, were nothing but bad news.

    "If you ever see Ghost-type Pokemon," the village elders often said, "run away from them or attack them if running is not an option. They bring misfortune and trouble."

    Some villagers thought that Ghost-type Pokemon were the restless spirits of the dead, out to hurt the living for having what they didn't have. Other people believed that Ghost-types were soul-eating monsters that lived off the life energy of others. Still others asserted that the ghosts were bundles of bad luck that did nothing but bring misfortune. The one thing that everyone in the village agreed on, however, was that if one were to see a Ghost-type Pokemon, something bad was probably going to happen if that person did not get as far away from the Ghost-type as quickly as possible.

    "Well, Watchog, let's just gather what we have, I guess," John declared, somewhat unnerved by his meeting with the Gastly. Watchog nodded, and as John bent down to collect the dropped pieces of wood, eerie cackling filled the night air again.

    Only this time, there were many voices.

    John and Watchog both dropped the wood they were carrying again and whipped around, John grabbing his ax and Watchog baring her fangs. There, in the sky above the twisted branches of the forest trees, three apparitions were giggling as they floated through the area. John didn't recognize these creatures - the lamp-like things were purple and black, with a flame in their centers - but he knew at once that they were Ghost-type Pokemon.

    And they were headed right for the village.

    "Watchog, leave the wood. We need to go!" John yelled urgently. Watchog nodded briskly and ran alongside John, the two of them tearing through the woods on the path to the village. John's heart quickened. Ghost-type Pokemon never targeted the village, considering that most of the villagers gave the phantoms a wide berth. Then why were these three ghosts heading straight for John's home? John knew that something terrible was going to happen if he didn't intervene. Maybe a terrible curse would befall the entire village. Maybe everyone he knew would have their souls sucked out of them. Maybe Joey and Jess were going to die… he couldn't stand the thought of losing his wife or his ten-year-old son. Especially not Jess, who was giving birth! He belted towards his home more quickly, Watchog keeping in stride, and looked towards the sky for the purple-and-black apparitions. He couldn't see them. What if they were at the village already?

    No, John thought, his heart wrenching.

    oOo

    "Dad?"

    John turned towards his son, who was standing at the doorway to the kitchen. The father's tear-filled gaze swept past the spot at the kitchen table where Jess sat.

    The seat where Jess sat before she died.

    She had died just a few hours ago giving birth to her and John's second child. John couldn't remember whether he slept or not. What he could remember was the small horde of fiery apparitions gathered around the small shack that served as the village hospital. Four or five of the Ghost-types were the lamp-like creatures he had seen in the forest, while several more looked like candles that burned with eerie purple flame. John even recalled seeing a single large ghost with a flaming purple center and several skinny black appendages.

    All of the ghosts were gathered around the hospital as John had helplessly watched the life energy drain out of Jess and her second child. The villagers had gathered outside the hospital to ward the creatures off. The kind villagers, who hated ghosts as much as John did, had brought their pitchforks and torches in an attempt to dispel the monsters. But the evil spirit-eaters had kept dodging the attacks and laughing at the futility of the humans' attempts.

    John had watched her and her deceased infant son's burial early in the morning. The funeral was happening the next day.

    "Daddy, where's Mommy?" Joey asked in a quiet voice, his eyes betraying feelings of sadness and confusion. "I thought my little brother was coming today…"

    John swallowed as he approached his son, a tear trickling down his cheek.

    "Joey…" he began, choosing his words carefully, "there was a problem at the hospital and… your mother passed away."

    John watched, heartbroken, as Joey's mouth dropped open and his eyes filled with tears.

    "W-what about my brother?" Joey managed to get out.

    "He's gone too," John said, truthfully and sadly. His tears were flowing freely now. "They're both in a better place now."

    "Promise?" Joey asked, wrapping his arms around his father and burying his teary face into John's body.

    "I promise," John said, hugging his son tightly.

    oOo

    "John! John, John, wake up!"

    The pounding on the door of John's wooden house was so frantic and intense that the sleeping man's eyes flashed open. He sat bolt upright. Was it tomorrow already? Was he so sleep-deprived that he had missed his wife's funeral? He threw on his clothes, and in the process spotted a note on a small piece of paper on his nightstand.

    The note said, in hastily scrawled letters:

    Daddy - i went to the beter place to find mommy.

    John stared at the note in confusion for a few seconds before the frantic knocking on the door started up again. Only then did the horror sink in.

    He belted to the front door of his house and flung it open. Rose, a fellow villager and close friend of his, stood there with her eyes wide with fear and sadness.

    "John - I'm so sorry it's so early - but Joey - he's -"

    The middle-aged woman shut her eyes and took a deep breath. John waited, clutching the note from his son and knowing what would come next but dreading it all the same.

    "I'm so sorry, John," Rose said softly, her eyes teary. "Your son… he must have jumped off the cliff. Last night. Ken and I found his body at the bottom of the gulch when we went out this morning."

    "So he's dead?" John asked, shaking. A cold emptiness seemed to have enveloped him. He felt numb.

    Rose nodded, putting her hands into her face.

    oOo

    John walked up the hill, his feet moving on their own and his mind numb.

    It was night. Watchog was sleeping in the house. Joey's bloody, broken body had been collected many hours ago, and Jess's funeral had been postponed so that she could be laid to rest along with her firstborn son.

    A cold void had filled John's body. He was beyond heartbreak and sadness. He clenched Joey's final note in his hand, his son's words echoing in his broken mind.

    Daddy - i went to the beter place to find mommy.

    John felt empty. He wanted more than anything to cry, but no tears would come out. His memories of the past few days came flooding back to him - watching as the ghosts drained Jess's life out of her body, holding his wife's hand as she passed away, sobbing uncontrollably as he gazed at Joey's dead body at the bottom of the gulch. As John remembered, he expected to feel depressed. But instead, he felt nothing at all, and yearned for this nothingness to end.

    The villagers had tried to console John, expressing their condolences for John's losses and assuring him that things were going to get better.

    But things were not going to get better. He didn't want things to get better. He wanted everything to end.

    John continued walking, his eyes glazed over with unmeasurable sadness and his mind no longer in control of what he was doing. His feet, with a mind of their own, carried him to the top of the cliff overlooking the gulch where Joey's body had laid just a few hours ago.

    One jump, and all his pain would be over. A few more steps, and he would be with his wife and two sons. It would be easy, so easy to just kill himself.

    And he'd see Joey and Jess again...

    The wind buffeted John's face as he stood at the edge of the gulch, looking down at the rough pebbles that lined its bottom. He was cold, but he didn't care. He didn't care about anything at this point.

    Daddy - i went to the beter place to find mommy.

    John swallowed, the hollow feeling in his chest intensifying. He was going to do it.

    Then an apparition appeared in the air in front of him.

    It was mostly a pale brown, about a third as tall as a human, and had hollow reddish eyes and black appendages protruding out of its wooden husk.

    "Phantump," the creature called with a sad, urgent, and familiar voice.

    His son's.

    John stepped back in astonishment and eyed the phantom in front of him apprehensively. It was a Ghost-type Pokemon, that was for sure. But something about this ghost made John survey it curiously rather than attack it or run away in terror. He could feel something return to him as he gazed at the creature in front of him, but he wasn't sure what it was.

    "J-Joey?" John asked softly, his eyes widening.

    The Pokemon - Phantump, considering the noise it just emitted - made a nodding motion.

    "But how is this possible?" John murmured, examining the Phantump in front of him - the Phantump that, for some reason, looked so much like Joey. He was too surprised to do anything else. "Son, is that really you? But I thought you were…"

    Suddenly, John knew.

    "You took the form of a Ghost-type Pokemon after you killed yourself."

    "Phan," the wooden spirit said, once again in Joey's voice. The Pokemon made another nodding motion, its eyes closing.

    "And…" John reached out tentatively, and the ghost moved forward to touch John's hand with one of its stubby black arm-like things. John was surprised when he found out that while the ghost's form felt cold, it felt somewhat comforting. "You want me to join you?"

    "Phantump!" the ghostly tree stump called in alarm, tackling John to the ground. Joey's new form continued ramming into the grieving man, but away from the drop-off. The spirit continued making urgent-sounding noises, and John sat up, confused. He stiffened as the Phantump began wailing, burying his face into John's chest.

    "Joey," John said. He wrapped his arms around the Phantump's wooden shell, letting the coldness of the ghost's form envelop him. "You… don't want me to kill myself?"

    Joey wriggled free of John's embrace and nodded vigorously. "Phan," he moaned, pushing John gently away from the cliff.

    "I don't understand," John said, standing up and facing the spirit of his son. "I thought you would want me to join you and Mommy." He stared at the night sky. "Didn't you find her?"

    "Phan," Joey vocalized sadly, shaking his head. "Phantump, tump, phan, phantump, phantump…" He butted John lightly on the chest again.

    John stared. The Phantump was trying to tell him something. The Phantump was his son.

    And suddenly, with that realization, he felt emotion again.

    He felt his heart shatter at the sight of his son's dejected spirit.

    If the Phantump could cry, John had a strong feeling that the Pokemon would be in tears.

    "I understand now," John said slowly. He swallowed, tears forming in his eyes. "You don't feel complete now that you are dead. Something is missing. That's why you're asking me to stay alive."

    "Tump," the Pokemon repeated, nodding and looking sadder than ever.

    "Oh, Joey," John said with a broken voice, embracing his son's spirit.

    For a while, he and Phantump just hugged, John sobbing uncontrollably and the Pokemon wailing. But John was starting to feel again.

    "I-I-I'm so sorry all of this happened. I swear I was only trying to help. I'm s-sorry I didn't do more to keep you alive, and Mom and Jude too," John stammered. He took a deep breath, burying his face into the Phantump's wooden shell. The Pokemon nodded, and John knew that it was in understanding.

    "Phantump," the Ghost-type murmured, extending an appendage and wiping away John's tears. With that action, John felt a certain strength return to him.

    "But one thing that I can promise," John said, "is that I'll try my best to make things right for you. I'll stay safe, I swear. I'm sorry that I was thinking about killing myself… if me staying alive is your wish, I will at least do it for you."

    "Phantump," Joey said, nodding slowly in John's embrace and nuzzling against his father's body.

    The father and the son's spirit remained standing at the top of the cliff for a long time, giving each other hope as they embraced. John, after he felt that enough light had come back to his body, was the one to break the hug.

    Joey tilted his body to the side. "Phan?"

    For the first time in what felt like too long, John felt himself smile, his heart filled with bittersweet love for his son. He turned towards the path back to the village.

    "Come on, Joey. Let's go home."

    -END-



    Inspired by this (WARNING: Image contains a lot of blood). Happy Halloween, folks.
     
  2. Bay

    Bay YEAHHHHHHH

    Aw, this is a bittersweet piece there. I can't blame John there being at his worse there, having lost everything within a short timeframe. At least Joey is back, and neat you have Phantump's pokedex as inspiration.

    One thing I think I would have like to see more is John's grieving. Even though it's understandable he's at his breaking point as I mentioned I feel it was a bit rushed to have Joey's death, John about to kill himself, and then relieved to see his son. One scenario is perhaps he didn't get to see Joey until after the funeral, and during the funeral John has all these emotions bottled up inside. He then lashes out at the villagers that tried to console him.

    Overall though, I enjoyed this Halloween tell there!
     
  3. ChloboShoka

    ChloboShoka Writer

    This was a very tragic piece and I think you did a great job with the inspiration. When I read it it reminded me of a web comic that I saw and that was the exact one I saw. Overall great one shot and perfect for Halloween.
     

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