Welcome to another heart-wrenching installment of Spacemon, the tale of a Pokemon TRPG campaign! This is the second part of a three-part origin story for the newest player character that has been inserted at this point in the story to provide context for future installments. You can get caught up on our previous adventures here!
I feel the darkness swirling around me. I see it obscuring their faces. Amir, Neela, Jamal, Fareed… Dad. I try to extend my hand out to them, but I just can’t seem to reach them. They slowly fade back into the dark.
“No! Don’t leave!” I cry out. “Don’t leave me here alone!”
I feel like I’m falling. Tumbling and turning deep into a vast abyss. Am I dead?
Suddenly, a tiny point of light appears. I’m not falling, I’m floating up towards it. It continues to expand as I draw near.
My eyes slowly flicker open and I see light: the warm glow of an electric lamp. I turn my head to the right and see a man in dark robes sitting next to me, a faint smile appears on his pale brown face.
I quickly try to sit up, but he reaches out and pushes me back down onto the pillow. “Easy, child,” he says.
“Wh- where am I?” I ask. My throat feels dry and cracked but I manage to sputter the words out. “Who are you?”
“You may call me Raj,” he tells me. He hands me a glass of water. I eagerly take a sip. “You are in the Ninauli Monastery, just outside of Mirthal. You are safe here, child.”
“How did I get here?” The last thing I remember is walking… Then the darkness.
“I found you lying in the road. You had a horrible fever. You are lucky to be alive.”
“In the road…? My Pokemon!” I frantically reach for my belt, but my Pokeballs are missing. “Where are they?!”
“Your Pokemon are safe,” Raj says, pointing to a nearby table. Ebony and Loki’s Pokeballs sit on the table. “They were in bad shape as well, but they have been taken care of.”
He gets up and walks to the table to fetch them. He returns and hands them to me. I release them right on the bed. My Pokemon friends, Eevee and Espurr, look up at me. They look happy to see me. I hug them tightly.
“Thank you,” I say. “For taking care of them… and me…”
“It was the least I could do,” he responds. His smile returns as he places a hand on my shoulder. “You will need more time to recuperate. You may stay here as long as you like.”
The wind rustles the trees as I run through the forest. I hop up onto a large protruding root and leap off. I grab hold of a branch hanging over the narrow stream and swing across. Ebony runs alongside me. Her beautiful golden bands seem to sparkle as the sun filters through the trees and reflects off of them. Raj gave me a dusk stone for my birthday and I used it to evolve Ebony into an Umbreon! She’s even cooler than before!
We push through the bushes and emerge atop the hill, looking down over the treetops below. I jump onto the steep incline and slide down on the dirt, back into the dense brush with Ebony close behind. A few moments later we arrive at the clearing. The sun shines down on the grass and the bird Pokemon chirp in the brush. It’s so peaceful here.
“Alright, Ebony, let’s see what we can find,” I say. Today we’re going to find a new Pokemon friend.
Suddenly Ebony darts off into the bushes. “Hey, where are you going?!” I shout after her. I run over to the bushes and pull them apart but she’s not there. “Ebony, where’d you go!?” I call out.
The bushes further along the clearing edge rustle for a moment, then she springs out with a little yellow bug Pokemon on her back. The little thing bites into Ebony’s back. She begins shaking violently and throws it off.
“Get it Ebony!” I shout. “Use Feint Attack!” She leaps up and pounces on the bug Pokemon, pinning it down. “What is it?” I ask as I pull out my Pokedex to scan it. “Joltik, huh? It’s kinda cute looking…”
The Joltik squirms out from underneath Ebony and then shoots out an electrified ball of webbing at her. The strands of sticky fibers get all tangled in her legs and then shock her!
“Hang in there Ebony,” I cheer her on. “Bite it!” She fights through the webs and clamps her jaws around the Joltik.
“Now to catch you.” I pull out a Pokeball, decked out with a case of my own making that makes it stronger, and throw it at the little yellow bug. The ball collides with the tiny Joltik, still in Ebony’s mouth, and sucks him inside. It land on the ground and shakes once. Twice. And my new friend is caught!
I run over and pick the ball up, and immediately let my new Joltik out. He’s a cute little thing, no bigger than the ball he just came out of. He sits right in the palm of my hand, looking up with his four little blue eyes. “You’re a little cutie, aren’t you?” I ask as I stroke his fuzzy back. “I think I’ll call you Okuma.”
The darkness surrounds me again. The blackness crawls along the floor, pursuing me as I run down the hall. I see him standing there, arms open to welcome me. Daddy, save me from the darkness! I run up and grab open air. He’s gone.
The faceless shadows surround me. The laughter of the children taunts me. Leave me alone! I didn’t do anything to you! I run. I have to keep going. I have to get far away from here. Run away little crybaby.
I run to my new friends, but their smiles turn malicious. Come and stay a while, but we’ll just leave you in the end. They were just pretending. No! Don’t leave me here!
I keep going. I have to keep going. It’s becoming so hard to breathe. The light is going out again. I’m going to die.
I gasp for breath as I bolt upright in bed. Tears and cold sweat drip off my cheeks. Ebony stares up at me with a confused look in her beautiful red eyes. It was the nightmare again. Every night it’s the same. Every night I die again.
“I’m sorry Ebony,” I say. I stroke her soft black fur. “I woke you up…” I swing my legs over the edge of the bed and stand up. I’m not getting any more sleep today. In the pale morning light I stare at myself in the mirror. My damp hair is matted against my face. I sweep it back and look myself in the eye. I look like shit. I feel worse…
It’s been a year since I nearly died, but that night still haunts me. I can push it out of mind during the day, but at night I’m plagued by nightmares. I see my life play out like a tragedy. I just want it to stop.
The day seems to crawl by in slow motion. I watch the monks go about their business, ignoring my presence. Raj is the only one who pays any attention to me, but even he’s been too busy for me lately.
Raj used to teach me things. He told me about Earth, the origin planet of people and Pokemon. He told me about the Tree of Life and Tree of Knowledge. He told me about the Angels who were chosen to watch over this Universe by God. Now Raj doesn’t have time for me anymore.
I sit with Ebony in the garden watching the Pidgeys play in the trees. A few monks sit around meditating with their Pokemon. Off to the left, one of the older monks sits with a Medicham, both very focused. Across from me under a tree, a young monk sits with a Lucario. Raj told me about meditation before, but I don’t really get it.
“You seem troubled, child,” I suddenly hear Raj’s voice say. I turn to see him standing behind me.
“Oh… Hi Raj,” I say.
“Are you alright, Alex?” he asks me.
“Yes,” I tell him. “I guess… Maybe. I don’t know…”
“What seems to be the problem?”
“I can’t sleep anymore,” I say, “I have nightmares… Every night. They won’t go away. I think the Universe hates me…”
“The Universe cannot hate. The Universe just is.”
“But why is it like this?” I ask desperately. “Why is it so full of pain?”
“God has his reasons,” Raj says. More ambiguous answers.
“What reason could he have for making my life so miserable? Why do all these bad things happen to me? What did I do to deserve this?”
“God does not wish ill upon any of us. Misfortune is often caused by the actions of others. Those with wicked spirits bring harm upon those around them, whether they wish it or not.”
“So everyone left me because they were bad people? Or is it my fault?”
“I cannot say, child,” Raj tells me. “But I do not believe it to be any fault of yours.”
What if he’s wrong?
The question eats away at me. It burns away in the back of my mind. Every day it gets stronger and stronger. What if it’s all my fault? Everywhere I go, I get hurt and people abandon me. Maybe I’m a bad person.
The weeks pass by and I can feel the darkness surround me. Even in the waking hours of the day I feel it. I’m living the nightmare now. It’s all my fault. This is the price of my existence. I wasn’t even supposed to be born. I was just an accident that should never have happened.
Weeks turn to months. I can’t even bring myself to eat anymore. I’m just bad luck for everyone. Mom died because of me. Dad disappeared because of me. Everyone left because of me. I should just die. It should have happened a long time ago. Why did Raj save me? He should have left me in the road.
I have to end this.
I drag myself out of bed and I stare at myself in the mirror. I hate you! I want to scream it, but no sound comes out. I grab one of many unfinished Pokeballs off the table. Why should I bother finishing them anyway? I throw it at my own reflection and the mirror shatters, spraying glass all over the floor. Go away! I can’t stand the sight of myself.
I grab a shard of glass off the floor. It cuts into my hand and draws blood. Pain. I drop the glass and it explodes into tiny fragments. It’s so fragile, but so deadly. Just like me. It’s time for me to go.
I place my Pokedex on the table. One by one I surround it with my Pokeballs. Ebony. Loki. Okuma. I’m sorry, I have to go. I turn back to the broken mirror. All I can see are my eyes, full of sadness and pain. I walk up and grab another shard of glass.
I slide it across my wrist. It hurts so much, but I have to do this. The blood runs down my arm and along the edge of the glass, dripping onto the floor. Now for the other… I slice open my other wrist as well, struggling with my weakened arm.
The room begins to spin and fade. I feel dizzy. I think I’m falling. The darkness is all around me. I give in. No more fighting. No more pain.
Where am I?
My eyes slowly open to reveal my room, lit by the faintly glowing lamp. My wrists throb in pain. I lift my arms to see them bound in bandages. How?
I tilt my head to the side to see Raj sitting next to the bed, a somber expression on his face. “You are awake,” he says.
“Why am I here?” I ask as I sit up. I’m supposed to be dead. “Why am I still here?!”
“I promised I would look after you,” he tells me. “That is what I have done.”
“Why would you do this?!” I scream at him. “I wanted to die. Don’t you understand?”
“I do understand. But I cannot just sit by and let someone take their own life.”
“Why would you even care? I’m not worth saving…”
“I believe that all life is precious, and therefore worth saving… Including yours, even if you cannot see it.”
“You’re wrong. I’m not even supposed to be alive. I shouldn’t be here. You should have just let me die!”
“Deep down, I know you don’t really believe that.” He places a hand on my shoulder.
“Yes I do!” I push his hand away.
“Right now your mind is clouded by darkness…” He pauses for a moment and looks off at the light flitting in through the partially closed blinders on the window. “But there can be no darkness without light.”
“Just go away!” I shout at him. “I’m sick of your bullshit and riddles!”
“I will leave, if that is what you wish…” He stands up and straightens out his robes. “But think about what I have said.”
Why can’t I just die?
I tried again, but I can’t do anything right. I can’t even kill myself! So here I am… I feel so worthless. Raj keeps telling me that I should keep living. Why? I can’t keep going. Doesn’t he understand?
Of course he doesn’t… All he says is this stupid metaphysical shit. No darkness without light… What does that even mean anyway? Darkness is when the lights go out, and I have no light left.
I have to try harder. There must be a better way to do this… I think maybe I could jump off the tower… But I’m being watched now. Raj won’t let me be alone very long. There must be something I can do… I’m so weak now, but I climb out of bed anyway. I walk to the door and step into the hallway.
“Where are you going?” Raj asks. He’s sitting right outside the door.
“The bathroom,” I lie.
“Very well,” he says. I think he believes me since he stays there.
I don’t go to the bathroom. I go to the tower. I have to go quickly because Raj will realize soon. Up the stairs I go. Up to the very top of the tower.
The wind howls past the open windows as I look down at the ground below. One jump and it’s all over. I climb over the window, out onto the edge. One more step and I can leave this world behind forever.
“Please, come back inside.” It’s Raj. He must have followed me.
“Why should I?” I ask.
“When I first found you, I saw a girl in need of help, and help is what I offered.” He pauses briefly and takes a step toward me. “Right now, I see a girl in need of help, and help is what I am offering. So, why don’t you come back inside? Let me help you.”
“Why do you have to care? It would be easier if you didn’t… No one ever cared about me. No one should care about me.” The tears are pouring from my eyes.
“Do you really believe that? I think maybe you are just searching for a reason not to jump. Let me show you one. Please, come back inside.” He moves closer still and reaches out for me. I look at him, then glance down at the ground below. Then back up.
Is he right after all?
No, he can’t be right. I can jump now and end the pain.
But what if he knows another way to end the pain?
Just jump already!
No. I don’t want to jump.
I reach out for Raj and take his hand. He pulls me back over the windowsill and into a hug. “I don’t want to live like this anymore,” I manage to get out between tears.
I’m leaving today. These past few months have been a difficult path to recovery, and now I must continue on my own. I understand now what Raj meant. There is no darkness without light. The two balance each other out. It just took the overwhelming darkness to show me the light again.
Raj guided me back onto the right path. He showed me how to stay in control so I don’t fall into the darkness again. He gave me a new Pokemon friend, a Riolu. I named him Anubis. Raj said that they’re more in tune with the aura of humans and are good to meditate with. I’m still not very good at meditating but it seems to be helping.
I train with my Pokemon too. We’re going to become strong and take care of each other. They will always be here for me, and I will always be there for them.
I lean on the fence outside the monastery and gaze out into the trees. I feel the wind blowing through my hair and the sun shining on my face. I feel alive.
Raj is going on a pilgrimage. He says I should go on a journey of my own, so it’s time for me to leave as well. I have a new goal now. I am going to find out what happened to Dad. It’s time I learned the truth.
“Are you ready to go?” Raj asks. I turn to see him standing behind me.
“Mhm,” I respond.
“Good,” he says. “Good. Before I go, I want to give you something.”
“What is it?” I ask.
He hold out his hand to reveal a silver chain with a Sinai religious symbol hanging from it. “I know you don’t really share my faith, but I hope this can be a symbol of hope for you.”
“It’s beautiful,” I tell him. “Thank you.” I allow him to reach behind my neck and clasp it in place.
“I’m going to miss you!” I cry, this time the tears are a mix of joy and sadness. I throw my arms around Raj and hug him as tightly as I can. “I’ll never forget you!”
“And I shall never forget you, child,” he tells me. “You have a very unique perspective on the world. I hope you find what you are looking for.”
“Goodbye Raj,” I say.
Author’s Notes: Feels, man. Freaking feels. I nearly teared up like three different times just writing this, even though I knew how this would all play out already. There’s not a whole lot of action in this part as it pretty much just focuses on Alex’s emotional struggles.
The intro takes place just after the end of Part 1, but everything else takes place over the course of like a year and a half when Alex is twelve and thirteen. Her time in the monastery is very important to her character because that’s where she attempted suicide, and was saved as well. If she had ended up somewhere else, she very well may have succeeded. I only briefly touched on it here, but this also where she learned a lot about Sinai religion and stuff like that.
At the end, we see Alex decide to start searching for her father, which will be a major focus of Part 3 and, as you know, Volume 2 of Spacemon. In the first part, I touched briefly on how Alex felt like she didn’t really care about finding out what happened, but now she has changed her mind.
There’s also some fantastic foreshadowing in here, if you can spot it.
That does it for this chapter. As always the Spacemon gang and I will be monitoring the comments to foster discussion and answer any questions. Feel free to give feedback and critiques of the writing so I can improve it for the future, or just leave a comment with what you think about what went down in this chapter or what you think might happen next! You can also revisit past chapters, check out the Spacemon Appendix which is a repository of information on all the lore and characters of Spacemon, or like our Facebook page to stay updated on all things Spacemon! Click here for the next exciting installment of Spacemon!