(A short story based on a dream I had some time ago.)

I got to the end of the cave and emerged out to a little town in the mountains. The light was blinding. I had been wandering this cave for several hours, so to be greeted by the bright overcast sky above and the clean white snow on the ground was painful to my eyes. Of all the preparation I did, I never thought I’d be needing sunglasses. From where I stood, I could see most of the town. The place looked typical enough, thankfully. A number of buildings were huddled along a main road with few branching streets here and there adorned with more houses. I continued down the path, and passed by countless snow-covered pines on the way to the town center.

I was tense. My team was in dire shape on the way over, and as overly prepared as I thought I was, my medical supplies are exhausted. My first instinct was to go to the main street and get to a Pokémon Center. That distinctively red building was nowhere to be seen. If it weren’t for all the passers-by on the street giving me the evil eye, I would have thought the town had been abandoned. Every last building was dirty, badly maintained, and looking to be on the verge of collapse. It was far worse than I thought.

I sprinted across the entire main road without finding anything to help me. I came to a dead end, but spotted a tunnel on a nearby hillside. The tunnel had recently formed. A perfectly round opening coming out of the ground. I was all too familiar with them. They’d often show up in areas where the land was rapidly shifting, and it was a good sign that I was near my goal. As I was saying, this tunnel looked like it had just recently formed. I prayed that no hostile creatures had settled in yet. Going into it was a risky proposition, but I had absolutely no other options.

Luckily, the tunnel was bare. It led up the hills and let out beside a small pond that had frozen over. I had to walk over it a particular way to reach a little path on the other side. A natural puzzle; as if I hadn’t seen enough of these today. This little path continued up the mountainside until coming to a narrow road overlooking the town. I was really tense at this point. Despite still being well within town limits, it was very nerve-wracking to be so far out of the way of relative safety. I quickly came upon two little houses with signs on them. Despite everything else about their looks, they announced themselves to be the Poké Mart and Pokémon Center. These buildings looked just as destitute as those in the town proper.

Unsurprisingly, the Center looked more like a run-down log cabin than a state-of-the-art hospital. Not a single person was there aside from the one sitting down on a lone chair in the far end of the room. This twenty-something plain-looking guy wearing a black coat gave me an unsettling smirk as I walked up to him. “In a rough spot, eh?” He healed my party while looking me over. At the end of the brief procedure, he told me very sternly to watch myself, get out of here, and to not dare talk to outsiders about this place.

I came all the way here in hopes of tracking down a research lab. The criminal group operating in this region have done something very strange to this place. Their experiments have altered the land and corrupted the nature of things. The first time I came across them, they called themselves Team Rose. That was a long time ago. Since then, they’ve reformed themselves into a cult and amassed a great deal of fanatical followers. I can’t be sure what they call themselves now. It may be better to not know.

Nothing is spared from their corruption. The land has shifted and changed shape. Established routes tend to wander and connect to very different paths. Cities and towns have turned into chaotic clusters of unstable buildings. And the people… It’s depressing to think that I already expected the treatment that I got here. What’s scary is that they’re beginning to turn hostile. I thought my situation was lonely already, but to think I’ll need to go into hiding from every last person out there soon enough…

I am immune to this corruption. I don’t know how, or why. Not a day passes where I question whether this is a blessing or a curse. There’s nothing left for me anymore. Me and my team, we have to reach all their bases and do something. Anything. This corruption will stop, or I will die trying. I’m desperate. Desperate and without medical supplies. This Poké Mart had already been looted.

The way back down to town was straightforward. I needed only to hop down some ledges. I wound up not too far from the tunnel I had come out of. Right now I’m sitting down against one of the trees just off the path, taking a breather and collecting my thoughts. I’m greatly relieved to know my team’s in good shape again, but I’m really put off by how alien this place had become. How long had this place been a mountain? I’m looking over at a few people who are stumbling out of the cave, looking just as disoriented as I was. They don’t look like fanatics, but I’d rather not risk showing myself and telling them what I found. I can’t be sure if they’d believe me. I can’t believe it myself. Nothing seems real anymore.