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A Difficult Task

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It was a difficult task, but someone had to do it. We couldn’t use shortcuts. We couldn’t afford explosives. Pokémon would refuse to help, so it had to be done with handheld tools.

The demolition of the Pokémon Tower, that is.

I had no hand in making the decision, and even if I quit the job it would have happened anyway. I needed the money; I was a poor man from Cinnabar.

The volcano that had made the island in the first place had erupted violently, and buried the town in its heavy ashes. It buried my home, though neither my wife nor my kids were hurt. I had to raise money to help rebuild the house. And my old job as a janitor was gone, ten feet under solidified lava. So, when the news got out that workers were needed to help in the demolition of the Pokémon Tower, I obliged, using our family’s lone Pokémon; my starter, Fearow, to fly out to Lavender.

The small, rustic town wasn’t as out-of-place as it was often made out to be. It was just barren, and I guess the building of Kanto’s very own radio tower instead of tuning into Johto’s stations was a good idea to bring publicity and business to the town.

Anyway, I’m rambling, as it’s hard to think of what twenty workers and I were doing.

The Pokémon Tower had been standing longer than any of us had been alive. I’d been here one time before, when I was young, to bring an old friend to rest. I wasn’t a very good Trainer, and I ended up releasing all my Pokémon shortly after the incident with Golduck. He was the purpose for my original visit to the Pokémon Tower.

But enough of him, it’s hard enough being here, doing this, already.

The work was nitty-gritty. The task was to completely hollow it out, floor by floor, then disassemble the frame the same way. We had to do this from the top-down.

You’re probably wondering about the many graves. Most were empty, to my relief; only words in the tombstones left as memories. But some weren’t. As we had to remove each and every casket from their place in the floorboards, they had to be opened.

As the tower hadn’t been open to the public for almost half a year now, none of the corpses were fresh. And frankly, we didn’t know what to do with them. I tried not to look, though, of course, I couldn’t help it. I would have rather gotten a direct Stun Spore in my eyes. Some of the bodies were nothing but bones. One I remember was a Seel, rotten, flesh red-black and head merely a skull, dried red filling the bottom of the grave.

And the smell. Oh, the smell. I almost left after bearing witness to my first decayed Pokémon. Especially since I knew when we’d descended from the seventh floor to the fourth, my partner Golduck would be there. I would be disturbing his rest. Disturbing his peace, his soul.

Why did I ever take this job? I didn’t even like the idea of tearing down the region’s largest cemetery. Every one of these Pokémon had a story, a Trainer, a life at one point, and all they wanted was to rest.

The work took a long time, sun-up to sun-down, for many days. I lost count after a while. Staying at the diminutive motel wasn’t helping me get a healthy amount of sleep. Neither did the nightmares of what we’d done.

It wasn’t long before I completely resented taking up this job. The relatively high pay wasn’t enough to make up for the moral crimes us workers were committing. I wasn’t the only one upset about the Tower. I guess we all needed the money. I told myself that it was going to be worth it, going to help my family, as I screwed my eyes shut and emptied the wheelbarrow into the dump, debris of wood and stone among various rotten Pokémon bodies.

When we had worked down to the fourth floor, I tried to stay away from the southern end. I wanted someone else to have to deal with the bones of my past.

There were often sounds that came from nowhere as we slowly, painfully gouged out the Tower. Most were soft Pokémon sounds, a warble or growl, or a sob, but some were almost human-like.

As I came upon a grave marked with a small spoon, I feared -correctly- for the worse when I pulled the nails out of the floor-level grave and saw the emaciated, shriveled form of an Alakazam.

Most of the bodies were of smaller Pokémon; Rattata, Nidoran, and Sandshrew. There were several here. They were the easiest to just look away and take care of- they looked like small animals. But Pokémon like Meowth and Growlithe -both of which were also heart-wrenchingly common- pulled a certain string in our hearts. But Alakazam, the body, it could have been mistaken for a human, and the flash of hot fear I felt almost made my lunch come up without warning.

I had to take a breather, a break, so I left the site for a few minutes. The image of the curled-up Psychic-Type had scarred me. I wouldn’t ever forget it. And I couldn’t forget the inevitable, either. That the body would be dumped in among the rest of the junk. I forced my mind to stop wondering when I imagined what could have killed such a strong Pokémon.

After my heart rate had returned to normal, I made my way back up to the fourth floor -the stairs were murder on my legs- to come face-to-face with the image of a crying Golduck.

I jumped and yelled out, almost taking a dangerous stumble backwards down the stairs. The image was gone. The sound of my departed Pokémon remained echoing throughout the Tower.

I grinned and muttered a pitiful excuse when one of the other men looked at me. As I turned away, though, I saw a Vulpix floating behind the closest man’s head. Its eyes were blank with misery.

I made the connection with dread as behind another one of the workers drifted a Pikachu. A Wartortle. An Electabuzz. I could only guess that Golduck was behind me, too, though no one else seemed to see them as they carted out empty grave after empty grave. Without gaining a hold on my sense of direction, I picked my shovel and hammer back up and started on an untouched grave, words worn illegible.

I heard the protest of “Gull-duuuh!” behind me, but as my heart dropped in my chest, I couldn’t stop the down-swing of my arms. The wood covering gave, weakened by rot, and broke inward to reveal naught but a skeleton of him.

It was many years ago that Golduck had been taken away from this world, after my adventurous companion disregarded his weakness to Electric-Types while we explored the abandoned Power Plant that drew many trainers.

Being the clumsy but well-meaning Pokémon he was, Golduck had burst out of his ball, eager to battle, when he bumped into a sleeping Electrode. The angry Pokémon cornered him against one of the many broken-down generators and before I could recall him or at least send out Golem to back him up, the Electrode had released such a loud, super-conducted Thunder attack that I had fallen back and bruised myself.

Without pausing, the Electrode fired another one, though the limp form underneath the suddenly supercharged generator was already sizzling. The Electrode then rolled away without a care.

It was a harsh blow to my confidence as a Trainer. It was harrowing, not being able to recall him, having to make Fearow carry him to the Cerulean Pokémon Center, where he was proclaimed gone. I made the pilgrimage on foot to Lavender that same day.

And now, here I was, an adult, and I’d fallen to my knees with heavy gasps for air in between sobs of longing and remorse. The disarming sound caused the rest of the workers to look, most of them accompanied by one of their own lost partners hovering above them. They were silent, though their own disheveled eyes held much pity. They understood.

I lost myself, for a short while, in my tears for Golduck. He was the second Pokémon I’d owned. He was my best friend, then he was gone so fast and so easy, it just seemed wrong.

And I was tearing up the resting places of other people’s best friends. It was horrible, digging out their bodies and piling them in with trash.

Tearing up their peace.

The hit my heart took was a deep one, and after my eyes could cry no more, I left the Pokémon Tower for the last time.

Destroying the building was wrong.

The spirits would have every right to rise against us.

Golduck had every right to get at me.

I pleaded for forgiveness. I bared my heart to him. His presence slowly dissipated.

The Pokémon Tower was still torn down, eventually. I never got paid. My family has moved in with an old friend. We’re doing okay. I told my wife what had happened there, and she said she couldn’t blame me. And I could never bear to ever get a radio, or anything associated with that place. I could never visit Lavender Town again.

It was a few years later, actually, when one of the workers who stuck around came up to me while I was in Viridian getting groceries. I recognized him as being the one who the Vulpix had been following.

He told me that he’d gotten a radio, and all he ever heard on it was the sound of his late Pokémon Vulpix calling for him, though his own family only heard the radio broadcasts. He said the same thing happened to the other workers, the ones who had also lost Pokémon in their lifetimes, the Pokémon I had seen floating behind them.

We never fought against the new Radio Tower, because the pleas of this small group of men could never overtake the drone of an entire region of people uninvolved with the ‘black sheep of Kanto’, Lavender Town.

Our people even found peace and forgiveness after time, and they stopped hearing the mournful cries of their Pokémon on their radios.

But the rest of the people across Kanto whose Pokémon had been buried and then dug up; desecrated, if they ever left their radio on late enough and listened hard enough, they would hear the pained protesting, the growling, the sobs, and the wails of their poor departed Pokémon’s restless souls.

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