Not two seconds after stepping past the, “Welcome to Cherrygrove City!” sign, I was accosted by an old man with an uncanny sprinting ability. He bolted straight toward me, to which Tiko responded by pouncing in front of me and flaring her backside.
Didn’t stop him though.
“Hi! You must be new here!”
“Um, yes,” I said. “Just passing through though.”
“Well then you need a tour! Follow me!”
He turned and sprinted away.
Stunned, I looked to my left and right. He was headed for the Pokemon Center, my goal, and I didn’t really want to follow him. Then again, I wasn’t sure I could outrun him. Tiko would probably defend me if he assaulted me, but the reprimands for ordering a Pokemon to attack a human are very strict. I didn’t want to risk that.
I didn’t have a chance to decide before the guy ran back to me.
“Sorry!” he yelled. “I’ll try to move a little bit slower so you can keep up! Follow me!”
And he did this hybrid jog-in-place/run-forward-slowly thing that was still faster than my normal walking pace. I decided to follow him and hope for the best.
“This is the Pokemon Center!” he cried out. “Go here if your Pokemon is hurt!”
“That’s my plan. Thanks for the tour–”
“And over here is the PokeMart! You can buy Pokemon-related items here!”
“I know. I’m seventeen–”
“FOLLOW ME!” he bellowed, and ran ahead to a lake on the west side of town.
Reluctant, but anxious, I followed. He waited by the shore, jogging in place, sweating up a storm. A vein bulged in his forehead and his eyes were bloodshot.
“This is the lake! Pokemon live in water, too!”
“You don’t say.” I murmured. I saw a man standing on an island some distance away in the middle of the water. I made a note to say hi if I could ever get away from the overactive geriatric man.
“Now come here!” he screamed, running to a house not far away, back to the east.
“This is my house!” he said. “I live here! You wanna be fast, son?! Take my shoes!”
“Uh, I don’t need sho–”
“I said take my shoes! They’re new!”
He jumped out of the shoes. Literally, like, they were just stuck to the ground and he jumped out of them. Then he picked them up and handed them to me, but it was like he was a different person. There was a gentle manner to his movement that I was seeing for the first time.
And with that, he turned and went into his house.
I’m happy to say that I did not follow him. I went, instead, to the Pokemon Center just north of there.
The automatic door whirred open and the Pokemon Center muzak filled the air. I had heard it on commercials on TV advertising the amenities that the Centers offered. Free room and board to all certified trainers. Free Pokemon health care. Free battle and trading facilities (if you couldn’t be in close physical proximity to a friend or enemy). They even offered to store your Pokemon in the cloud.
“Tiko, let’s get you healed up. It’s been a long day.”
She chirped and I pulled out her Pokeball. After pressing the button, the ball opened and Tiko disintegrated, her volume diminishing and transporting to the ball’s interior. Then it shut, locking her in.
After my first day on the job for Professor Elm, I was pretty numb. I left Tiko with the nurse, who promptly placed the Pokeball in a machine similar to that of Elm’s, and it cycled through its restoration process. When it finished, the machine played a jingle to signal its completion, and the nurse retrieved Tiko for me. I let her out at the counter, thanked the nurse, and sat down on a bench.
It was mid-afternoon and I was pooped. What was I to do? Try and make it to Mr. Pokemon by nightfall, or stay here at the Pokemon Center and leave the next day? Professor Elm wasn’t exactly detailed in his request.
As I sat and thought about what to do, I heard a beep sound come from by backpack. I couldn’t think of anything that should make noise in there, so I took it off and rummaged through the many pockets.
My Pokegear! I was surprised to see it. It was an older model, but it could do just about everything that the newer ones could. The beeping was the low battery indicator.
Well that settled it, I decided. I’d charge my Pokegear overnight, which should keep the battery going for a few weeks, and I’d get my first taste of Pokemon Center luxuries.
I found a brochure on the table next to the bench and gave it a read. Apparently they were doing a nation-wide renovation for the new services they had planned, but the normal services could all be found upstairs.
“Come on, Tiko. Let’s get some dinner.”
She squealed and ran ahead of me, stopping at the staircase to see if I was following. She may have been refreshed by the nurse’s machine, but I wasn’t. My feet hurt and I had a bump on my head from the Hoothoot’s dive-bomb attack.
But I loosened up as I walked around the facility. We found the cafeteria and got some food. I was still craving Hoothoot, so I got a roast Hoothoot sandwich coldcut with Miltank cheese and lettuce. Tiko got a dry cereal type meal that was specially made for fire-type Pokemon. I splurged and paid for a sweet poffin–for dessert. The rest of the meal, however, was free, and we were satisfied.
An attendant pointed out the bunks, and I brushed my teeth before collapsing onto a cot. As I fell asleep, I barely registered Tiko jumping up and burrowing up against my stomach, where she kept me warm all night.