It wasn't until the Christmas of 1999, the year my siblings and I became fans, that we each got a Pokémon game. My sister got Pokémon Blue, my brother Pokémon Red and I got Pokémon Yellow.
The more we played our Pokémon, the more fascinated we became with the franchise. Eventually, we started getting more and more Pokémon games as we got newer consoles.
By the time I got Pokémon Ruby in 2005 and I got all eight badges, I started to have trouble finding the Pokémon League. Due to my frustration of not only trying to find something, but also trying to "catch them all", I lost interest in the Pokémon video games. Since then, I had not played any of my Pokémon games.
Flash forward to October 2010.
I was cruising through DeviantART when I came across fanart of a strange type of story called Lost Silver. Out of curiosity, I had read the story and watched the accompanying fanmade video. I had unfortunately made the mistake of watching/reading them really late at night. However, as time went by, I became more and more fascinated by these stories of video game playing gone horribly wrong; stories simply known as "creepypastas."
Because of the creepypastas, I had found myself digging out my old copy of Pokémon Yellow and my yellow Game Boy and playing the game once again. It had felt quite strange yet amazing to play a game I once loved again.
By the time that Pokémon Black and White had been announced, I was pretty excited. However, for some unknown reason, I had the urge to get Pokémon SoulSilver instead. I managed to get the game after my 2011 Spring Semester at college had ended and I played it to my heart's content.
Due to my long hours of gameplay, I managed to catch quite a handful of Pokémon. True, it was not every single Pokémon that could be caught in the game, but I caught enough to make me happy. Heck, I had even caught Lugia before I went off to the Indigo Plateau to face the Elite Four. But when I was going through Victory Road, something had happened that I did not expect.
A Pokémon attack! But how was it possible?! I had used a Max Repel so I would not have to deal with any wild Pokémon. Nevertheless, I was ready to make my move and flee the battle, until something caught my eye. For the wild Pokémon was no ordinary Pokémon…
It was a Gengar; a fifty-six level Gengar! I didn't know how it was possible because I knew for a fact that Gengar could not be caught regularly like its pre-evolved forms, Gastly and Haunter, let alone at level fifty-six. But right now, none of that mattered. I was not going to miss out on this golden opportunity to catch a Pokémon that could not be caught regularly.
Thus, I brought out my Typhlosion, who I had nicknamed 'Flame' when I first got him as a Cyndaquil early in the game. But trying to catch the Gengar was a pain in the neck for me. Luckily, I had managed to get his health down far enough for me to use a Dusk Ball on him. Totally on edge, I watched as the Dusk Ball rocked back and forth three times before the click sound was made.
I could only stare in shock and disbelief at the thought that I had caught a Gengar, one of my most favorite of Pokémon! Because of my little success, I started screaming like a madman out of joy and victory. Once I got through the whole PokéDex nonsense, I was asked if I wanted to give the Gengar a nickname. With a smile, I had settled on dubbing Gengar with the nickname of 'Nightmare'. How I had come to deciding on that nickname, I was not sure. All I know was that it sounded awesome.
From that point on, I had Nightmare on my team and he was a worthy Pokémon to have. With his help, not only had I managed to defeat the Elite Four and the champion, Lance, in one go, but I had also defeated all of the Kanto gym leaders, caught Ho-oh, along with Entei, Suicune and Raikou, and even defeated Red; all on my first tries. But as time had gone by, I slowly started to play SoulSilver less and less, for I had bigger problems to deal with in the real world.
My grandmother's health was declining. It wasn't until she had passed away in her battle from cancer that I had fallen into a great depression. Since then, I had stopped playing SoulSilver for what seemed like ages.
It wasn't until the week before my first day of the Fall Semester that I was looking through my DS games, and I came across SoulSilver. Just then, it dawned on me that I had not played the game since my younger brother's high school graduation. Luckily, in the past few months that I had not played the game, I had bought a 3DS so I could play my DS games without having to fight my brother to play on his DS. So for my sake, I had decided to play SoulSilver and check up on my team.
Little did I know…
Was that things would not be the same…
The game started normally, but when I loaded the game, things started to seem… off.
I recall that when I last saved the game, I was at the Pokémon Center at the base of Mount Silver, where I was going to fight against Red again. However, the usual Pokémon Center theme was not playing. In fact, there wasn't any music playing at all. Just… Dead silence. What's more was that everything seemed literally darker, as the lighting seemed faulty as if to give it that feeling that the lights were flickering on and off.
Wondering what the hell was going on, I checked my Pokémon team to make sure they were still intact. Luckily, I had all my Pokémon still. Flame, my nickname for my Typhlosion, Sparky the Pikachu, Rhydon, Lucario, Lugia and…
Hey, that was strange. I couldn't find Nightmare on my team anywhere. Where could he possibly be?
Shoving that thought aside, I closed my Pokémon team and walked out of the Pokémon Center, with Flame following close behind me. Just as I exited and I was outside, the text box opened, saying 'Ethan! There you are!'
At the sound of that, a question mark in a speech bubble appeared over my character. Before I knew it, the character sprite of Lyra came rushing up to my character urgently. Somehow, I could feel her fear as she spoke with a message, "I… I found Ryan. He's badly injured. You have to come see!"
Before anything else could be said or done, I found Lyra leading my character over to the entrance of Mount Silver. There, much to my shock and horror, was the body of the game rival, Silver, or as I called him, Ryan. He was lying on the ground with a bit of red underneath him, most likely representing a puddle of blood.
I made my character approach Ryan and clicked the A button, and Ryan spoke, "…. Ethan…. Is it really… you? I was… attacked… by a… a… a Gengar. After he attacked me, he said something… about… finding some guy named… Red. Here… Take this…"
The next dialogue box that came up read, "Ryan gave Ethan the Crucifix. Ethan placed the Crucifix in the Key Items pocket." Once that was done, Ryan spoke once more, "Ethan… you have to… stop him… before it's too late…"
After I clicked A upon finishing with the text, I clicked the button again and another text box came up. "Ryan drew his last breath and died." The only thing I could do was gasp in horror. This couldn't be real, at all. A Gengar… He couldn't have meant… my Gengar, Nightmare, right? Shaking that off, I made Ethan approach the entrance of Mount Silver before I was stopped as Lyra approached me.
"Hang on, Ethan. You can't go alone. That Gengar might make you suffer the same fate Ryan did, so I'm going with you."
It was then that I was given the usual answer choice:
Coming to terms that this new story arc of the game was like no other, I decided that I would most likely need her help. Thus, I clicked the 'Yes' option. "Okay, let's go!" Lyra said in response. And with that, my character, with Flame and Lyra following, entered into the cave.
Upon entering, a text box came up, "???: Welcome, friends. Come meet me up at the peak of the mountain. I've been… expecting you."
By now, I was starting to feel slightly disturbed. Nevertheless, I made Lugia use 'Flash' and my character, along with Flame and Lyra, navigated through the mountain all the way up to the top.
The further up we went, the more sprites of dead bodies I saw of Pokémon and humans, which made my stomach churn more and more. Eventually, we made it up to the peak and walked along the snowy trail until we reached the end of the path to where Red normally stood.
However, Red was not standing in his usual spot. Instead, it looked like the sprite of a Gengar, its back turned towards my character. I was only a few steps away from the Gengar when Ethan and Lyra were both stopped.
"So… you've finally decided to show up after all this time, have you? Well, it's about time. I've been waiting for you." When I pressed A, the Gengar turned to face Ethan and Lyra. "It's been way too long, Ethan. Or… would you prefer that I call you by your real name… Ben?"
Reading that almost made my heart stop. Nightmare couldn't have known my real name. It… it had to be just a game, right? That's all Pokémon is, really. A video game. They never had this kind of knowledge of their players, and they normally never broke the fourth wall. The only time that Pokémon broke the fourth wall was during the movies, and they were by Team Rocket. Jessie, James and Meowth Team Rocket, that is. Nervously, I turned back to my 3DS as I clicked A.
Lyra turned to look at me, as she spoke, "Ethan, what is he talking about?"
"Ah, so you haven't told her. Well, Benny boy. Now's your chance to prove yourself." Nightmare said, approaching us, "Prove that you haven't lost your touch as a Pokémon trainer."
I was given the usual YES/NO choice at the sound of that. Seeing my choices, I frowned and clicked 'NO'. As I did so, I said aloud, "I'd rather not!"
I was hoping that the Gengar would not attack then. But how did he reply? "You don't have a choice, Ben! We fight right here! RIGHT NOW!!!" With that, Nightmare approached my character and the battle began! Nightmare stood on one side of the screen, while Ethan and Lyra stood on the other, leaving me to realize that Lyra was going to fight, too.
Suddenly, I noticed something completely different about Nightmare. He looked nothing like the Gengar I caught back on Victory Road now. His fur color was a darker shade of purple; almost completely black. Plus, there was a notch missing from his right ear and he had a long red scar going vertically across his right eye, which looked more like a blind eye now. I then noticed something in his right hand and I took a closer look to see it was a severed head. But it was no ordinary severed head; it was Red's severed head!
Shaking that off, I clicked the A button. Almost immediately, Ethan sent Flame into battle while Lyra sent out her Marill. Once that was done, Nightmare spoke. "Really, Ben? I was sure you were better than that, fighting with two Pokémon against one."
I only frowned at reading that. The idea of a video game character scolding me just annoyed me. After all, it was only a video game. That's what I kept reminding myself as I played the game, choosing Flame's attack; Fire Blast. Luckily, I was the first to attack and it took a critical hit on Nightmare, taking half his health down.
I wasn't sure how that was possible, seeing that Flame was only at level sixty-three and Nightmare was at level seventy-five. It was after that hit that another dialogue box popped up. "Impressive, Ben; most impressive. My turn." I obviously knew that those were Nightmare's words, commenting on Flame's powerful attack.
Suddenly, the sinister-looking Gengar made his move by throwing a Shadow Ball at Marill. Given Marill's level of fifty-seven, I had expected Nightmare's attack to take out most of Marill's health until it was really low in the red. Luckily, Marill managed to counter with a Hydro Pump, bringing down Nightmare's health by a bit. To finish it off, I commanded Flame to use Flame Wheel, which depleted Nightmare's health completely. Despite this, Nightmare didn't sink from the battle screen. Instead, a textbox popped up, Nightmare saying, "Well, it looks like you haven't lost your touch, despite your hiatus."
Immediately, the game faded back to the over world. For some reason, even though Lyra and I had defeated the Gengar that used to be mine, I had a strong feeling that the battle seemed too simple. Just then, Nightmare said, "Good job, Ben. You're still as good of a trainer since you and I defeated that so-called "Pokémon Master" everyone refers to as Red. What do you say we have a rematch?"
At that question, I was given the usual YES/NO choice. I had thought it over for half a minute and then nodded as I clicked A on the YES option. Once I made my answer, Nightmare said, "Excellent. Meet me at the Ghost Tower in Lavender Town, tonight at midnight. Don't be late." The screen faded to black and back to the mountain, revealing that Nightmare had left Ethan, Lyra and Flame all alone at the peak. I could only feel slightly nervous about what could happen later on in the game.
I was startled from my game when my mom came into my room. She had said that she and my dad and brothers were going to go out and about and wanted to know if I wanted to come along. With only my rematch with Nightmare on the brain, I nodded and agreed, turning off my 3DS. For now.
For the rest of the day, my family and I went to a few stores, saw a movie and even had dinner at a Max & Ruby's. We managed to get home around 10:30 at night. By around 11:55, my parents and youngest brother were asleep, although my second to youngest brother was still awake and playing his games on the Play station 3 downstairs. Up until then, I was chatting with a friend of mine on AIM, telling him about my recently shocking experience with my SoulSilver game. At first, he thought I was crazy and that I was telling some sort of story. But as the discussion went on, he started to believe me.
For a brief second, I looked up from my laptop to the clock, which now read 11:58. My eyes traveled to my lone 3DS, remembering the deal I had made with Nightmare in SoulSilver. However, I asked myself if I was willing to risk my sanity over a simple DS video game. If I didn't keep my promise, though, there was no telling what would happen. Nodding to myself as I made up my mind, I told my friend on AIM that I would be right back, closed my laptop, picked up my 3DS, turned it on and started SoulSilver.
When I loaded my game, I found Ethan and Lyra, with Flame following, in Lavender Town as they approached the Pokémon Tower. If you recall how the town's theme in Gold and Silver, let alone HeartGold and SoulSilver, seemed calmer and more soothing, that tone was not present in the game.
Instead, the tone was more like that of the original Pokémon games, only remixed for SoulSilver, giving the song that creepy ambiance it once had. Honestly, I had always hated the original tone of the Lavender Town theme; it was just nightmare-inducing. I shoved that thought aside as Ethan and Lyra stopped at the tower's doors and they turned to one another.
"Something about this seems off, Ethan. Are you sure you want to go through with this?" She asked my character, giving the YES/NO options.
I only nodded as I clicked YES. With that, I regained control of the game and walked the three into the doors. Instead of finding the characters inside what would look like a Radio Tower lobby, instead the lobby was big and bare, like it normally was in the earlier games before Gold and Silver. As the Lavender Town theme continued, I started to feel even more freaked out because spooky songs didn't agree with me late at night. I decided to switch the music with my radio, but when I went to check it, I saw that I had no radio. Immediately, I shook that off and trekked up the tower with Lyra and Flame following my character.
Eventually, we reached the top of the tower, entirely looking like an HG/SS remaster of the Pokémon Ghost Tower. We continued walking until we saw Nightmare waiting by the tombstone. As we approached him, the Gengar sprite turned to face us before the dialogue box popped up.
"Well, well. You actually managed to show up, Ben. I was beginning to think you'd chicken out and be halfway to Sinnoh by now."
Lyra took her turn to speak, "Like we had a choice."
"Well, either way, we finish this now!" Nightmare approached our sprites, "It's payback time, Benny!"
And just like that, the battle commenced! As the battle started, the music changed to what sounded like the SAW theme, 'Hello Zepp'; except remixed in a way to make it sound like it was made for a Pokémon game. I didn't know how that song managed to find its way into the game, but I decided that didn't matter right now. Pushing that aside, I looked at Nightmare's level to see that, much to my shock, he was now at level 666, which I clearly knew as a number associated with the Devil.
Nevertheless, Lyra and I sent out our Pokémon, even if I knew neither of us stood a chance against Nightmare, hence his high level. Luckily, Flame and Lyra's Marill managed to go first, but they barely made any damage on the Ghost Pokémon. One by one, Nightmare wiped out all of our Pokémon. Much to my surprise, every time the Pokémon fainted, it said that they "died" instead of "fainted." I obviously knew that Pokémon couldn't die, but apparently this game thinks that actually applies. As soon as all of our Pokémon were "dead," Nightmare spoke.
"Oh, dear. It seems I killed all of Benny and his girlfriend's poor, stupid little friends." Nightmare said, as a way of taunting me. "Now, it's time to die!"
I gulped, knowing that Nightmare would kill both Ethan and Lyra, whom had slid onto the battle screen before Nightmare had even spoken. Much to my confusion, I saw that I was still in battle. Instead of the word 'Attack', though, I saw the word 'Sand.' Since I had no other options, I chose 'Sand.' I read the outcome: "Ethan threw sand at Nightmare." After that, I was treated with the animation of Ethan making a tossing gesture, followed by the 'Sand Attack' animation. Needless to say, that made Nightmare's sprite shake as he spoke.
"AAHH! MY EYES!"
Instantly, the game returned to the over world as Nightmare's sprite hopped up and down, a speech bubble appearing over his head with an angry emoticon inside of it. That only meant that, in my little victory, I had only enraged the Gengar. "You good-for-nothing cheating boy!" Nightmare said through text box.
Ethan and Lyra turned to one another. "Lyra: Run for it, Ethan!" Almost immediately, the sprites of the two kids ran away from Nightmare, out of the burial ground and out of the Pokémon Tower. Once outside, the two kids stopped and turned to one another.
"Lyra: Nightmare's not gonna be picking sand from his eyes forever, Ethan! Run as fast as you can and don't look back!"
With that, Lyra ran offscreen before I regained control of Ethan. Immediately, I rummaged through my Items bag and chose the Bicycle. This had made Ethan board his bike before I guided him northward from Lavendar Town. Before I could exit the town, though, I was interrupted abruptly from control as another text box popped up.
"Nightmare: Where are you, Benjamin?! Come back and face me, you selfish, cowardly BRAT!"
After closing that textbox, I was given another one, with a different message: "Nightmare's catching up to you. Better hurry."
I took no second thoughts and guided Ethan as far away from Lavendar Town as I could. After minutes and minutes of getting away from the ghost-inhabited town, I eventually found Ethan stopped at a cliff. The camera panned down, revealing water lapping with sharp rocks at the bottom before it panned back to Ethan facing downward before…
A speech bubble with an exclamation point inside appeared above Ethan before he turned around, just as Nightmare arrived. Seeing him made my blood run cold. Immediately, another text box came up as the Gengar spoke.
"Go on, Benjamin. Jump from the cliff. Kill yourself. It's your only way out…"
I was suddenly given the usual 'YES/NO' option. Frowning, I chose 'NO'. Nightmare's response?
"Nightmare: Kekekeke. You've got guts, punk. You'd rather die at my hands, the hands of your former companion." Nightmare's sprite took one step towards Ethan's. "Tell me, Ben. Do you still care about me?"
Again, I was given the 'YES/NO' option. I spoke aloud, "Of course I do, Nightmare. You're one of my best Pokémon friends!" As I said so, I chose 'YES,' hoping that would do something good. However…
Nightmare approached Ethan, bumping him and causing him to jump back once, as a way of hitting him. "Nightmare: Spare me your lies, Ben! You've forgotten about me, and for what? Your stupid brother's graduation? Your grandmother's death?! The old hag deserved to die! She shouldn't mean anything to you!"
Reading that made me both insulted and horrified. Insulted, because I knew that my grandmother did not deserve to die. Horrified, because I did not know how the game could know about that. Up until this point, I kept convincing myself that it was nothing more than a game. Sadly, I knew that it would not do me any good right now, seeing that Nightmare obviously knew more about me than a game character should.
"Nightmare: Now… Prepare to die!"
Immediately, Nightmare and I went into battle. For Ethan's "attacks", he had 'Punch', 'Kick', 'Struggle' and 'Sand'. Unfortunately, each time I chose the former three, I was given the same response: "It doesn't affect Nightmare." And when I tried 'Sand', the text box read, "Nightmare" avoided the attack. Much to my dismay, Nightmare managed to bring down Ethan's health until it was in the red, before he spoke.
"Nightmare: This is it, Ben! Say goodbye!"
Out of options, I looked to my Items option, looking through every item I had in the bag until I came to Key Items. There, I saw my only item: the Crucifix that Ryan gave me. With no other choices, I clicked on the Crucifix, clicked 'Use' and held my breath. Ethan did his 'toss' animation as the item- a crucifix- flew right at Nightmare. Surprisingly, Nightmare's health depleted completely until it was empty before another text box came up.
"Nightmare: Impossible! How… did… How did you…?"
The dialogue cut off there before Nightmare sank from the screen, as these words came up in the text box: "Nightmare died."
With the battle over, the game once again came back to the over world. Ethan stood there, Nightmare's sprite now laying before him.
"Nightmare: I swear… I will get you… Ben… Ja… Min…"
"Nightmare lets out his last breath before he shuts his eyes."
I could only sigh in relief, knowing I had just defeated my demon. Lyra's sprite then arrived, coming up to Ethan.
"Lyra: Ethan, I followed Nightmare here as fast I could. I was scared that he might have killed you. Are you all right?"
As if I was expecting it, the 'YES/NO' option popped up. Smiling, I clicked 'YES' as I nodded. With that, another text box popped up. Much to my surprise, this time, the dialogue seemed to be spoken by…
"Ethan: Yeah, I'm okay, Lyra. It's finished now. Nightmare's reign of terror is over… It's finally over." His sprite turned to look southward. "Ethan: Ben… thank you very much. We'll never forget you."
Lyra came up next to Ethan. "Lyra: Thanks a bunch, Ben."
I only smiled a sad smile as the screen faded to the credits, knowing that I managed to help the main character survive his battle, and yet I was sad that it all cost him and Lyra their Pokémon teams. As the credits rolled, a different tune played; a tune that sounded like Evanescence's 'Hello', remixed to be played in a Pokémon game. I opened my computer to talk with my friend, remembering that I'd chat with him. Before we got too far into our conversation, I heard another sound from my 3DS. It sounded like the Lavender Town theme, except it was slowing down. I looked at the two screens. On the top one was a pair of glowing red eyes, the right one looking a bit… blind. But then, I saw the bottom screen, showing some text, and it read this:
"You think you've defeated me for good; that you're at peace. But you don't know anything." The top screen reveals what the red eyes belonged to; a Gengar darker in color than any other Gengar, with a jagged scar across his eye. It then hit me; it was Nightmare. "I wouldn't celebrate so soon, Benjamin. For as long as you live and breathe… I will haunt you and those you love…"
As I read that, both screens faded to black before fading to the opening titles of the game. The only thing I could do, though, was stare at the screen, Nightmare's words echoing through my mind. I checked to see if my save file was still there, but there was no 'Continue' option; only 'New Game' and 'Options.' I only sighed in relief as I turned off my 3DS, no longer caring if I had to start my game over.
Before I closed my 3DS to put it away, something caught my eye in the reflection of the top flap of the game system; a pair of glowing red eyes... behind me! Out of panic, I turned my head quickly to see what the red eyes belonged to. However, nothing was behind me. Was I… Was I hallucinating? I only shook my head, putting my 3DS away. Sadly, I could not shake off the feeling of fear that Nightmare's words had given me.
Later that night, I placed on my crucifix necklace before going to bed, knowing that the crucifix in the glitched-up version of my SoulSilver game had saved Ethan's life. Plus, it helped me to feel slightly safer. Ever since that night, I wore my necklace as a way of protecting myself. But at what cost?
Each and every night, I had the dark feeling that no matter what, someone or something was in the dark…
Waiting for the chance…