I had been travelling for quite a while on route 110, when I saw a rest house on the side of the road next to one of the cycling road's supporting pillars As me and Blaze, my growlithe, were both tired and sore from the long walk, we thought it's be a good idea to stop and rest a little. These rest houses are always appreciated!
I grabbed the door handle and pushed the door open, expecting to be greeted by a bunch of trainers enjoying a break and a soda, but this was not the case. The house was empty. Blaze didn't care, he rushed to a cushion lying on the floor, yawned, and scratched the cushion before laying down on it, happily enjoying himself.
I looked around the house, asking out loud if there was anybody else present, but my calls were left unanswered. I then saw a little note left on the desk and read it:
"Hello and welcome to the Trick House! Here, the rules are simple: find me, and you get a free prize!
Best of luck, the Trick Master"
I thought that was great; all kind of contests are being held here and there around Hoenn, giving out free TMs as prize, this must have been one of them, and there was one specific TM I had been desperately searching for quite some time. I decided to play along, but it turned out to be not that big of a challenge, as I soon as my eyes left the note, I heard something scratching nearby, as if someone had dragged something on the floor. I turned around and saw a huge vase standing where the sound seemed to come from. Blaze had heard it too and was already there, scratching the vase frantically. I looked inside and saw someone sitting still, staring back at me.
"It's no use, I found you." I told the man, facepalming.
"Damnit!" He answered before getting up and handing me a TM. "Alright, here is your prize. Next time I'll be more careful! Come again!"
I soon left the house to continue my trip, kind of disappointed that it still was not the TM I had been wanting for so long.
I came back the next morning, curious about which kind of trick he was up to this time, and hoping it wouldn't be as pathetic as the day before.
Just like before, there was nobody in when I entered. Blaze started sniffing every corner of the house as I read the note left on the table.
"Hello and welcome to the second edition of the Trick House! Here, the rules are simple: find me, and you get a free prize!
Best of luck, the Trick Master
Hint: I am hiding in the backyard."
I laughed. Now he was basically telling us where he was, though I couldn't remember the house ever having a backyard the previous day. I saw a back door that wasn't there before and walked through it. There we were in the backyard. The Trick Master certainly outdid himself within a single night! I laughed even harder.
I found myself at the entrance of a small maze of freshly transplated flowers and plants of all kind, completely secluded by a tall white wooden fence. it was actually pretty calming and beautiful to be honest. Blaze followed close behind, carefully sniffing his surroundings. It didn't take much time before I saw some bush move in the corner of my eye. It was either a pokemon, either the Trick Master failing at subtlety again. It turned out to be the latter. Once again he gave me a TM and said he'd try harder next time. Once again I thanked him and left.
At that point I was laughing so much I was starting to cry. This was getting ridiculous. Little did I know things would soon change...
The next day I walked up to the house with Blaze again. The door was locked. I knocked and the Trick Master voice answered me. "I'm not yet ready, please come back later!"
I smiled. I didn't know what he was doing in there, but it looked like he was putting a lot of efforts, thoughts, and time into it this time.
I came back one day later, and got the same answer again. I shrugged and left.
I forgot about the Trick House for about a week, until I happened to pass by on the cycling road. I had stopped to give some water to Blaze, it was a very hot day and we were both tired and thirsty. As I was enjoying the landscape during this short break, I noticed a house under the bridge and remembered about the Trick House and the Trick Master. I thought I'd pay a visit.
As soon as we got to the front door, a chill ran down my spine. I couldn't see any light coming from the windows, it was pitch black inside. That was probably part of the new trick so I didn't pay much attention. I opened the door and walked inside carefully, Blaze still to my side. I ordered him to use his flash ability to light up the room so I could see where I was going. As soon as he did, I gasped. It seemed like nobody had set foot in there in years, and when I say years, I really mean it.
The whole place; the floor, the walls, the furniture, everything was covered in a layer of dust so thick it was actually hard enough to be lifted off. All light bulbs were blown, and the plastic light switch had disintegrated. The furniture looked like it was thrown around, although in reality they had just collapsed after their wooden legs had given up. The curtains and the carpet were partially eaten by mites, and old graffiti paint could be seen tearing off a wall under the dust. Some of the windows had been covered with wooden planks and thick dried out spider webs. I walked up to the desk, which had taken an unnatural white color and looked like it was made out of calcified wood. The usual note was there. I picked it up and blew the dust off it. All that dust made Blaze sneeze for a good while.
"Hello and welcome to the third edition of the Trick House! Here, the rules are simple: find me, and you get a free prize!
Best of luck, the Trick Master
Hint: You have to find me and the very end of the house."
I did not smile, nor laugh, nor get any other kind of reaction: I just didn't know what to think, this was all just too weird. Once again, I decided to play along, for some unknown reasons; a decision I was soon going to regret. I walked to the back door, and as soon as my hand grabbed the handle, Blaze started to growl fiercely. I turned around in shock; Blaze had a relaxed nature, he was a nice and patient little fellow who did not worry about a thing. He was always very calm and thoughtful, growling was a very rare thing from him, and this kind of growl was such an unnatural behaviour that it worried me. It felt like he was growling for his life. He bit on my pants and tried to pull me away from the door. He was not the same growlithe I knew, and I didn't know what to do. I tried to talk him into calming down, but without success. I kept on pulling on my pants until he ripped the bottom of the pants' leg off. This angered me and I yelled at him, without thinking for a second that he only wanted to protect me. He understood that I wouldn't listen to him so he just sat there, in the middle of the room, staring at me and the door, all while growling. I opened the door and walked through it, but Blaze did not follow me.
The backyard's garden too was different. The maze of fresh flowers and bushes were now a mess of overgrown dead plants covering the whole place. There was a thick mist in the area that blurred my sight past 3 or 4 meters. I walked around for a while. There were no sounds, the tall wooden fence was replaced by stone walls, and a thick glass roof covered the entire garden, explaining why the place was rather well lit. I had to be careful not hurting myself on the thorns of the defunct overgrown rose bushes and at some point, a zubat nearly crashed into my face.
Seeing it made me feel a little better, at least there were still a few living beings in there, and the sound of its wings flapping broke through the loud buzzing my ears produce out of hearing music at a high volume for so many years. The garden gave on a dark corridor the size of a normal door. I used the screen of my pokeNAV to light my path as I was walking. The corridor was getting narrower at each step I took, and I eventually ended up crawling through a tiny passageway, before finding myself in another room. By then I knew something wasn't right due to the simple fact that when I saw the house from above, it was still a somewhat small house with the river flowing close behind. There is no way such rooms could exist.
The room I was now in was completely empty and dark, except for a round table in the center with a single spotlight above it. The spotlight lighting up the table was strong, and it created a painful contrast with the rest of the room: matter of fact, the light it created did not radiate throughout the room as normal lights do, it only lit up the table, and everything around was engulfed in total darkness. Besides, this room was squeaky-clean and everything seemed brand new, as if it had been built and carefully cleaned a minute ago. There was nothing on the table... and eerily nothing under it... not even a shadow. I found no other exit to this room than the one I had just come from, carefully inspecting the walls and the floor did not reveal any hidden door or trap. It was a dead end.
I shrugged it off and walked back to the small hole in the wall from which I previously crawled through. As I was about to enter it, I heard a clear and distinct hissing sound fly by my right ear. I jumped and looked behind; everything was total darkness, the spotlight had gone out. If the Trick Master's new trick involved scaring people, well right now it was working, and working damn well. I faced the hole again. I heard a light clipping sound resonating through the room. I looked back again. The light was back, and on the table... stood a shiny (green) teddiursa which did nothing but stare intensively at me, with a larger-than-should-ever-be grin (which literally extended from ear to ear...).
I screamed and hurried back into the hole, crawling as fast as I could through the narrow passage until it got bigger and I could finally stand on 2 legs and run. I found myself facing a door that I clearly remembered was not there before. I hesitated to open it, where was I going to end up? I looked behind, facing the option of returning to teddiursa's room. I definitely did not want to go back there so I opened the door, closing my eyes in fright of what could be behind it. I heard it close behind me, I did not dare to move. I wanted to call out for Blaze, he would've showed me the way back out, but deep inside I knew he wouldn't hear me.
I started to feel something crawling up my ankles... then my legs... I shook them, tried to chase whatever it was with my hand, but it did not work. I dared to open an eye, and the feeling disappeared. There was nothing. I was relieved. I looked around. Four large and tall dead trees stood around me, casting dark and heavy shadows on the ground. The ground was an odd mix of dried earth and white grass. I could see no light source around, yet the area was lit with a soft white light that reminded a strong moonlight. How I wished Blaze was by my side... how I wished I had listened to him when he tried to warn me.
How I wish I had never witnessed such eerily abnormal sceneries that just... couldn't exist. This whole thing simply could not exist, it broke every logics and physics law out there... rooms where there is no place for them, objects that cast no shadows, light sources failing to reflect around the room, a corridor with 2 locations on a single end... none of this made any sense! I carefully walked amongst the trees, once in a while jumping and looking back after I felt something blow on my neck. The place grew colder by the moment, and I was freezing. I walked for what felt like an hour. I started to see a house up ahead. Where was this place? Had the Trick House led me into some place hidden far in the forest? Was it night already?
I took out my pokeNAV to look at the time. My pokeNAV's new battery was dead. Either something had drained its energy out, either I had been in there for way longer than my brain would tell me. I reached the house and stopped... somehow I had seen this house before, but I couldn't recall where. I tried to open the door but it was locked. A small piece of paper was hanging on the handle.
It read "I need a key!".
Of course I could see that, but where was the key? I heard a low and loud humming behind me and started to panic. I was not alone and didn't know what else was there with me... and wasn't sure if I wanted to know or not. I turned around, shaking. Obviously, I did not see anyone, or anything. The temperature had dropped even more, it felt like I'd be freezing to death soon if I did not find a way out. I saw something on the floor, it was shining like a metal object reflecting the light.
I ran to it, and the "thing" that was there with me followed mt. I felt it right behind me all the time. It was breathing on my neck, and letting out low growls in my ears. A key! It was a key right there on the floor! I grabbed it but to my surprise it wouldn't come, like something was holding it on the ground. I pulled harder. Then I felt it again, that crawling on my ankles. This time I could see what it was; the thick shadows cast by the trees were crawling up my legs. My heart was racing so hard I thought I'd faint from fright. Looking around me made me realise that all the shadows were leaning toward me. I felt it on my hands too, what was holding the key down was now creeping up my hands and pulling them down as well.
I pulled as hard as I could, as adrenalin rushed into my body. I screamed as loud as I could, a scream able to wake up the dead. Finally it gave up. Whatever it was released its grip and I fell on my back with the key in my hand. I got up and looked at the house. Light was now filtering out of its windows and I remembered where I had seen it. It was the Trick House itself!!
I rushed to it, clumsily drove the key in the keyhole, and turned the handle. It worked! The door opened and I ran inside, closing it behind me.
I was back at the entrance of the Trick House... in a well lit normal main room, and the Trick Master standing behind his desk, looking at me with a face as white as a ghost. We stared at each other for what seemed eternity, both of us waiting for the other one to talk first. I was the one to break the silence.
"...What... Why are you so white?" I faintly asked, my voice refusing to obey me.
He, in the same faint voice, answered "I... You came in not five seconds ago... eerily unsubstantial like a black and white holographic version of yourself... I tried to get your attention, but you walked right through me and exited the back door... which I thought was funny because I destroyed the back yard and blocked the way out, and expecting you to come back through the back door again, you came through the front one..."
I did not know what to say, my jaw simply dropped to the floor. I looked out the door and saw a sunny route 110... and looking back inside, I saw Blaze, peacefully sleeping on the cushion... What had just happened? Where had I been? I will never know.