TwitchPlaysPokemon Short Story

If you’ve been following it, there’s a pretty intriguing twitch channel which streams a game of Pokemon. The catch? Anything entered in the chat will control the character. This leads to tens of thousands of players of one game, all with their own idea of what to do, and all offering stacking and conflicting commands. I wrote a short story about this game from the perspective of how it would look to people in that world. It was more of a fun exercise than a serious story, but I hope you enjoy it (especially if you’ve had a chance to watch TwitchPlaysPokemon.

I recently had the chance to sit down with an ex-gym leader, who asked to remain anonymous for his own safety. Here’s what he had to say about “Red”, the infamous pokemon trainer sociopath.

The moment Red walked in, I knew something was wrong with him. It was in his eyes; they were empty inside, like he’d seen and committed acts too horrible to retain his sanity. Most challengers walk straight up to me. We talk for awhile, and then we fight. But Red? He wanted to break me.

He walked in like he didn’t even mean to be there. He walked out a moment later, then came right back in. He must have repeated this 5 or 6 times before somebody said “hey, in or out, you’re letting in a draft.” But Red didn’t say anything. He only stared at the trainer, the sunken pits of his eyes giving away no emotion. He turned and walked out of the gym. At that point, I breathed a sigh of relief.

Then the door opened again, and he walked in. He turned and zig-zagged back and forth across the gym, ending at the far left wall. He stood there, muttering under his breath, saying things like “Bird Jesus” and “The Dome Fossil must be destroyed”. He kept fingering a key he kept at his neck, holding it out as though trying to unlock some door in the wall of my gym, or maybe mid-air.

He continued to wander around the gym, before bumping straight into me, knocking me into the ground. I looked up at him, but he only stared down at me with those horrible eyes, holding a pokeball out. I could not understand the Lovecraftian nonsense that escaped his lips, but I can only assume it was the name of his pokemon.

In battle, he sought to break my spirit with his bafflingly meaningless actions. He began by casting poison sting, again and again, on my poison-resistant pokemon. I knew what he meant. “There is nothing you can do to stop me.” His pokemon fought with a ferocity I had never before seen. And then I saw why. He cared for them no more than he cared for mine.

I watched him send his pokemon into battle against my rock type pokemon, using takedown again and again, until his pokemon was battered and bleeding from slamming into the rocks. His pokemon hovered at 5 HP, barely alive, broken in body and spirit. It stared back at him pleadingly. He seemed like he pondered switching pokemon, as he held each of the pokeballs at his belt, before deciding against it. Everybody watched our battle in dread anticipation.

He then opened his backpack – to look for a potion, I thought. Instead, he looked at a TM again and again, as though he thought HE could learn dig. After 5 minutes, he tired of those, and began fingering the key around his neck compulsively. Finally, he made up his mind. “Takedown”. Everybody in the room gasped.

His pokemon looked back at him, regret and sadness in his eyes. But Red only stared back. Whatever that pokemon saw in his eyes, it was a fate far worse than the one that awaited him. It once again hurled itself into my rock pokemon, fainting itself. He looked at the fainted pokemon, then at me, as if to say “this is what happens to those in my way”. He then proceeded to kill all of my remaining Pokemon with ease.

But when I was to my last Pokemon, that was when he truly broke me. He ordered his Pokemon to use Whirlwind again again, as if to say “Go ahead. Switch to another Pokemon. That’s right. You can’t. You don’t have one. I have broken them all.” He used Whirlwind until I fainted his pokemon, then immediately finished off my next Pokemon with a Thundershock.

I handed him the badge, and he pawed furiously at it. Then he resumed his strange walk around my gym, touching the walls, digging through his backpack for Tms and strange artifacts. Eventually, he left my gym.

We all let out a sigh of relief, but he walked back in immediately. He walked back in and out for another few minutes before leaving forever. I retired as a gym leader the next day. Can we really sanction our battles if monsters like him exist? Pokemon stands for Pocket Monster, but the only monster that day was Red.

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