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Tick Tick Tick

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When I was young, I liked Pokemon, as most kids did back in the day. Despite being fairly young to the series (maybe about 6 or so), I played Pokemon Red and I loved it. Unfortunately, as I got into double digits, I went through that horrible phase where I thought that everything I loved when I was younger was ‘childish’. Of course, this included Pokémon, so I missed out on Pokemon Gold and Silver, Ruby and Sapphire, and even FireRed and LeafGreen.

Though early on in High School, I managed to get my hands on Pokemon Diamond and I loved Pokemon all over again. I didn’t like the game itself (although I far from hated it); the whole concept and gameplay of it reminded me of why I loved the series in the first place. I went and bought everything I could. I managed to find a FireRed and an Emerald in a local GameTraders, and I bought HeartGold when it came out. Hell, despite having the remake, I even went back and played the original Red again. I’m even thinking of buying Yellow, as I never got a chance to play that.

Because I had both Red and FireRed, I felt that I needed both Gold and HeartGold. But Gold was hard to find. Whereas in my GameTraders, who frequently stocked Yellow and the GBA games, they didn’t stock any from 2nd Gen. This irked me, so I went online to get a copy. Sure enough I found one going for (no, not a dollar, although that would have been nice) $20. It was the cheapest one there, so I bought it.

It took about three weeks, but finally it arrived. I opened the package up and took the golden-coloured game out and place it in my limited-edition Pokemon GameBoy Colour (well, it technically wasn’t mine, but my brothers and I share all our game stuff as if it’s everybody’s, and they didn’t want it when they moved out, so…). The game screen starts up like normal, but there was no save before me. I was a little disappointed, as I would have liked to see how far the previous owner had gotten and what team they had. Nonetheless, I started a new game.

I name my character Gold (generic, I know, but hey; I’m a girl – I couldn’t name him after me), and my rival Silver, of course. The game played perfectly. That is, until I got to Violet City.

Nothing was wrong with the city itself. Everything was fine, there was no creepy music and I beat the monks at the Sprout Tower no problem. Nothing was wrong. But there was something wrong with Falkner. Don’t get me wrong: his sprite wasn’t decaying or anything, he didn’t say anything weird before the battle, and none of his Pokemon were harmed, either.

It was after the battle which was weird.

Instead of talking to me, I immediately get the badge. After the ‘Badge get’ music finished and the “GOLD got the ZEPHYRBADGE!” text box disappeared, he simply said “……”. I pressed A, and he went on.

“…tick…

…tick…

…tick…”

I then got the TM, and was able to leave. That was it. I tried talking to him again, but he just says the same thing. I talk to his one trainer in the gym to see if he still says the same thing. Surprisingly, he said something different from when I last spoke to him.

“He is waiting.”

Who is waiting? And for what? That’s a bit creepy, but I save and continue with the game.

After that, I’m a little surprised to see that the game hasn’t changed at all, It all plays out the way it’s meant to. Maybe that was a glitch? I almost forgot about it until I come up to the next Gym Leader, Bugsy. The same thing happened: he said what he was meant to before the battle, but after, the badge was immediately gotten and all he said was:

“……

…tick…

…tick…

…tick…”

And then the TM was obtained, and like Falkner he’d just say the same thing if I tried to talk to him again.

I made sure to talk to the trainers after I beat them before I took on Bugsy, and they said nothing out of the ordinary. However, after Bugsy was beaten, one said the same thing Falkner’s trainer said:

“He is waiting.”

I assumed the other would just say the same thing, but I was wrong. The other simply said, “Hurry.”

As I progressed through the game, I built my team. It consisted of Typhlosion, Umbreon, Dragonair, Sudowoodo, and Togetic. I don’t like to nickname my Pokemon – I feel they don’t need one – but they were still my pals.

I found that the storyline itself was fine. Not even Silver said anything out of his usual dicky character. But all the gym leaders had said the same thing when they were beaten. And depending on how many trainers in the gym there were, I’d get new phrases. When I had beaten Clair, I had gotten these phrases:

“He is waiting.”

“Hurry.”

“The badges must be obtained.”

“He must be battled.”

“The ticking must stop.”

By this point I assume that this game was a hack, and may not have even been finished if there was nothing wrong with it outside the gym leaders. I fly to New Bark Town and go on my way to defeat the Elite Four.

They all said the same thing when beaten:

“……

…tick…

…tick…

…tick…”

And of course, they still said that if you tried to talk to them again. It was getting annoying. But Lance was last, and I thought that finally this ticking would stop. His team goes down fairly easily thanks to both Sudowoodo and Dragonair. After his defeat I was greeted with a “……” Oh great, I think as I press the A button. But he said: “Don’t keep him waiting.”

All of a sudden the screen goes black. Then the credits rolled. Just like that. No “congratulations on beating the Elite Four”, no Hall of Fame, just straight to the credits.

The game restarts like normal, and I’m back in Gold’s room. The game is normal once more, and I’m now able to go into Kanto. This was the part I was most excited about when playing HeartGold, and thus I was just as excited playing it through on Gold. I start off with Janine, who was the lowest level out of all the Kanto Gym Leaders. She goes down easy. Unsurprisingly, her text appears, and all she says is “……”. I click A, and she says something slightly different than all the others.

“Don’t keep him waiting.

…tick…

…tick…

…tick…”

The trainers don’t say the same thing either. In fact, all they say is just “……” now.

I continue on, beating Gym Leader after Gym Leader and they all say the same thing. By this point I had 13 badges. I just needed to wake up Snorlax and get to the other side of Kanto. I caught Snorlax and headed through the Digglet Cave. Before I go to beat Brock, though, I went to Mt. Moon to beat Silver for the last time. The battle was mine, of course, and Silver still can’t believe he lost again. But he says something slightly different than what he’s meant to.

“…I lost again. ….. …GOLD, you should be careful. There’s something… not right.” And then he leaves, and he seems to run slightly faster than he did all the other times I beat him. But I put it past me, and continue on to beat Brock. Of course, he says the same thing the other Kanto Gym Leaders say when they’re beaten. The same with Blaine. I now had 15 badges. All that was left was Blue (I actually call him Green, but because the game called him Blue, I will too here).

The battle was close, but in the end I win. Again, the ‘badge get’ music plays automatically and the text box with “GOLD got the EARTHBADGE!” pops up. But instead of the ellipses, I’m greeted with Gold’s name. “GOLD…” Blue says, “Stay away from MT. SILVER. Don’t listen to everyone else. Stay away from it.” ‘everyone else’? As in, those who said ‘he is waiting’?

And then it clicked.

Mt. Silver.

Red.

Red was waiting.

But why did I need to stay away from him? I nervously click A to make Blue continue.

“For the sake of you and me, the ticking needs to continue.”

I don’t know why, but that one sentence freaked the shit out of me. But I continue nonetheless, going to Oak’s and getting permission to go to Mt. Silver. Blue’s words still went around in my head, but I was too curious not to go. And this was Red, right? You had to beat him in order to really complete the game. So in I went.

I explored everywhere, grabbing all the items and looking everywhere. Finally, I found him. Red. He was looking the other way, of course, and I readied my Pokemon for battle and saved. Then I went up to him, I was met with his usual silence before the battle ensued.

“PKMN TRAINER RED would like to battle!” It was just as epic as it was in HeartGold. I hardly cared that his Pikachu completely owned my team. But for some reason I didn’t white out. The screen cut back to the overworld and for the first time, I heard (well, read) Red speak.

“……

…tick…

…tick…

…tick…”

Then the screen turned white and the text box read “GOLD whited out!”

For some reason I find the ticking much creepier when Red does it…

I then spent hours upon hours level grinding so I could beat the legendary trainer. I manage to get them all up to level 70, which I thought would do. After all, if my team in HeartGold could beat his level 88 Pikachu and team at level 68, then my team in Gold can beat his level 82 Pikachu and team at level 70. Armed with stronger Pokemon and a bunch of revives, Hyper Potions and Full Restores, I was ready for him.

I talk to him again, and again he says nothing. The battle starts, and again out goes Pikachu. Sudowoodo goes out first, and I get it to use Earthquake. Red’s Pikachu obviously goes first and it uses Iron Tail. Luckily, though, it misses. Earthquake manages to take it down in one hit.

Red then sends out Blastoise, and I don’t have any type advantages for it, so I counter with Dragonite, using Outrage to take it down. I do, but Blastoise has also done a far damage on Dragonite, and her health has gone in the red zone. Venasaur’s up next, and I switch out for Togetic. It’s fast and hits first with Flying moves, landing super effective hits. However they don’t do a fat lot despite being super effective, and Venasaur unfortunately takes down Togetic.

I didn’t want to use Typhlosion just yet, as he’s my highest level Pokemon, but I have no choice. One Eruption and Venasaur falls. Snorlax comes out next. Another Eruption and it takes off a bit more than half. One more and Snorlax also falls. Next is Espeon, and Umbreon is sent out to take it on.

Despite going first, most of Espeon’s attacks are Psychic, and thus do nothing. A few Feint Attacks, and Espeon faints as well. Charizard is last, and I leave Umbreon out. I use my turn to heal Dragonite fully before Umbreon is taken down in one hit by Charizard’s flamethrower. Dragonite then comes out and two Surfs later Red’s Charizard falls. I yell triumphantly; I always feel so proud after defeating Red.

It cuts back to the overworld, and as usual, Red has his text box full of ellipses. I press A, but instead of it fading to black and him disappearing, the text continues.

“……

……

…boom.”

I feel a jolt of electricity and automatically drop the Gameboy. After a couple of seconds to recover from surprise, I look at it and see that it switched off. I turn it back on, but it tells me that the save file has been corrupted. I try a new game but it tells me the same thing. Then I realize: After Red, there is nothing. Once you beat him, there is nothing left to do. The ticking was leading up to that. As long as Red was undefeated, everyone could continue existing. But I beat him, and so he destroyed their world. Gold’s world. Blue’s world. Everyone’s world. He destroyed it. He was waiting to.

I should have listened to Blue.

Because now all I can hear is ticking. And I own a digital clock.

“For the sake of you and me, the ticking needs to continue.”

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