Please Stand Clear of the Yellow Line

Some Pokémon fanfic because why not. I wondered, “So what if Emmet went kind of crazy as a result of losing Ingo?” and then this happened.

Chapter: 1,970 words | Story: 5,339 words

Please Stand Clear of the Yellow Line
Written by Sudo (Pseudinymous)

~ 1 ~
Platform Change

One day turned to two. And then a few days to a week. Weeks to months, months to a year… and on and on it went.

Emmet stared at himself in the mirror. The smile was strained these days, had been ever since the search was finally called off, and he didn’t feel wont to replace it. What was the point when you’d lost your match, your mirror image and your total opposite? He didn’t have anyone to stand next to except a ghost, the memory of Ingo, which haunted him far better than any Pokémon could ever dream up. His brother was gone without a trace, the precious Pokémon he carried with him too, and none of them were every coming back.

Sometimes he swore he could hear Chandelure’s chime, and footsteps at the door. Ingo coming home. Those imaginary sounds danced together and dangled their merry melodies affront his face.

What a sorry state he was in.

“Eelektross,” he called, softly. “If you could.”

The not-terrifying-at-all electric eel Pokémon rounded the corner into the bathroom and rested an arm on Emmet’s shoulder, trying its best to show its solidarity. And then it shot a ten thousand volt static shock into him, standing his hair on end and almost leaping him out of his own skin.

Ah yes. There we go. This was Awake Emmet. The normal smile was back. It didn’t reach his eyes, but it was back. Good enough to go to work. “I-I am Emmet,” Emmet stuttered out. “Thank you!”

Hmm. The hair on either side of his cheeks was now filled with static and frizzing out, but it would settle down eventually. It didn’t matter. Today was an important day to go work, today more so than any other day on the calendar, and he was going to show up and do his job with honour no matter what.

Emmet fitted his hat to his head on the way out the apartment door and invited Eelektross into the lift with him as they headed downstairs, earning several disgruntled stares as the Pokemon took up a good deal of standing room with its bulk. Emmet didn’t care. Neither he nor Ingo were much in the habit of walking with their Pokemon, but today it felt important. In normal times Ingo would have taken its place by his side and they would have chattered, happily, about Pokemon battling and trains…

But Ingo was gone, now, and Emmet felt like he shouldn’t be alone.

He wanted to comfort Eelektross, too. It and Chandelure had always been especially close, and Emmet rather thought it missed the sound of her happy chimes just as much as he did. For a ghost Pokemon she always was exceptionally gentle and upbeat, sometimes you even started to forget that in the absence of synthetic food it burned people’s souls to live.

Wherever she and Ingo were now, he prayed they had enough to eat.

Even if he logically knew they were dead.

Chandelure wasn’t the only Pokemon that had disappeared with Ingo in the tunnels that day. Haxorus, Ingo’s Klinklang, and Excadrill had all disappeared with him, along with a variety of (Emmet did not like to admit, but thought about sometimes) rare and expensive battle items. It took Emmet at least a year to replace their Life Orb, not that he had a Pokemon to give it to anymore, after waiting and waiting for the BP shop to bring it back in stock. It sat on the mantle, now, next to a picture of Excadrill as a momento.

Its rightful owner.

Eelektross gave off a mournful electric crackle as they walked, producing a sound eerily like a Geiger counter. Emmet didn’t know what to say to cheer it up. He was never the good one with words.

Ah, and of course. As he sidled up to Gear Station, the only spring in his step being the leftover jitters from being lightly electrocuted, Elesa was waiting. It was that time of year. She would always wait.

Emmet began to dodge around the crowds and started heading for the back entrance of the station, hoping to avoid her. It wasn’t like he didn’t like Elesa, she was his best friend and he loved Elesa verrrry much, but today was absolutely not the day he wanted to see her. She always wanted to make a big deal out of it. Wanted to do something, treat it as anything other than Just Another Normal Day. That was not what Emmet wanted to do. Emmet wanted to run the Battle Subway as if nothing was amiss, ignore the date’s presence as if it wasn’t even there, go home, and lay in a cloud of no less than a hundred and twenty-five skittering little Joltik.

And, ah yes there it was, the back entrance. A silvery metal door that looked uninviting to anyone who looked at it, reading DANGER: HIGH VOLTAGE in large capital letters. They’d put that sign up a few years ago to stop people from banging at the back entrance to talk to staff – a rather ingenious little design if it did not make Emmet feel as if he were violating his Safety First protocol every time he entered. Today, however, he appreciated it.

Grinning, he began to open the door.

And was greeted by an Emolga flying out and hugging his face like an extremely happy little parasite.

“MMmph!” he started to yell, trying to pull the Emolga off and only succeeding in somewhat uncovering his mouth. “I am Emmet! This situation is completely unsafe and—”

“Gotcha,” he heard, followed by a mischievous little laugh. Elesa. Damnit. “I knew you were going to try sneaking in around here.”

“A man can try,” Emmet replied, finally succeeding in pulling the Emolga back off his face and unimpressedly back to Elesa. It grinned at her, triumphant in its success, and she gave it an affectionate pat on the head before perching it upon her shoulder. “I am fine. This does not need to be a big deal.”

“Yes it does. This isn’t just the ordinary bit today, this is an intervention.”

A… a what now? Emmet’s grin faltered for a microsecond before it was replaced by another, slightly more confused grin. “I’m verrrry sorry, an intervention for what?”

“For overwork, birthday boy! You do it every year!” Elesa admonished, and gave him a gentle punch on the shoulder. “This is silly! You should be going out and eating cake, not nearly passing out on the tracks and becoming a safety hazard to yourself and everyone around you.”

Oh. Oh, she was going to play it like that, was she? She always was a cunning little—

“I already called you in sick.”

If Emmet’s brain was a series of Klinklang, which it very well may have been for the mechanical way it worked, all the gears would have jammed in place. “You what?”

“You’re called in sick. You’re off work. And, you’re coming with me.” Elesa pulled her strappy little handbag over her shoulder proudly while giving Eelektross a loving stroke harmlessly over its normally electrified fins. “We are going shopping. But first, we’re getting cake.”

Emmet looked like he was silently about to explode. To anyone else, this combined with the grin would have had them keeping an exclusion zone of thirty feet around his perimeter. But Elesa could read him and Ingo like a book and wasn’t bothered in the slightest.

“Come on, it’ll be better than overworking,” she insisted. His hand was being grabbed. He began to turn.

And then the DANGER: HIGH VOLTAGE door slammed open.

“Out, get out!!” yelled Jackie, one of the depot agents. “Just because Emmet’s not in doesn’t mean you can take his office—” he noticed the station master and the gym leader standing there right as the second Emolga took up its proper perch on Elesa’s other shoulder. “Emmet?!” he asked. “I thought you called in sick?”

“I am Emmet. No, she called me in sick,” said Emmet, pointing at Elesa.

Elesa was just grinning like the mischievous little gliders either side of her face. “It’s his birthday, you see.”

“Well never mind that, since you’re here you need to come in right now! Both of you!”

A small pool of confusion began to well at the bottom of Emmet’s stomach. “Is there an incident?”

“Nah it’s not like that, it’s just—” Jackie shook his hands frustratedly in the air as he tried to come up with the right words. “You’ll see!”

Emmet returned Eelektross to its Poké Ball and marched in with his famously long stride and an amount of purpose. Momentarily, and while this minor crisis and intrigue was ongoing, he was thankful to forget just a little bit about Ingo. Put his mind to some use, problem solving, obviously they needed him for something, although why Jackie was insisting Elesa come too was a bit of a mystery. Her Emolga’s heads bobbed along as she walked down the hallway.

And then, all of the depot agents clustered around a computer terminal at the back of the ticket master’s office, Emmet saw it.

A video of Ingo.

Emmet tore past Jackie and then again past several rather surprised depot agents, Elesa zigzagging her way in through the newfound chaos behind him. “I am Emmet!” he yelled. “What is this?”

It was a tape recording. A tape recording from one of the security cameras long lost in the Northern Loop tunnel, from the area that had blacked out a week before Ingo had disappeared and hadn’t been put back online for at least a week. That was where Ingo had gone in the middle of the night on the day of his disappearance, to help out where he could with the maintenance works while it was Emmet’s turn to look after the Pokemon at home, but the maintenance team had said he’d never shown. They’d always assumed that Ingo hadn’t disappeared within the tunnel, but had instead met his fate somewhere along the way, out in the streets near the manhole entrances.

But there he was. The date and time were such that this tape would have been the last time Ingo was ever seen. Emmet leaned in, blocking the view of others.

Ingo was carrying a high-powered flashlight as he nonchalantly wandered down the deactivated tunnel line, looking around and keeping an eye out for anything that might be a fault as he went. It hadn’t been a scheduled inspection but it was a good habit to get into regardless, safety first as Emmet had always said.

“Where did you find this?!” Emmet suddenly demanded. “We searched all the recordings!”

Cameron shook his disbelieving head. “Supplied. By an anonymous tipster. I can’t believe it.”

Just what in the name of the Reverse World had an anonymous tipster been doing with their tunnel security footage – obtained in a blackout, no less? It was clearly one of their camera models too, obvious from the display resolution. Where had it been getting power?

“This is crazy,” said Elesa, watching Ingo wander about on screen.

“Just you wait, it gets better,” Jackie assured.

And get better it did.

Ingo seemed to stop, facing away from the camera, but it was still obviously him. The coat was a dead giveaway, and it was just visible as a shadow from the back-illumination of the torch. The shadow of Ingo starts to lean forward, clasping his head.

Emmet can’t breathe.

And then, what in the ever-loving fuck, a furiously bright crack in what was apparently space-time appeared beneath Ingo’s feet and he vanished into it, never to be seen again.

There was a sharp crack.

And then Emmet woke up in an ambulance.

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