I looked up at my trainer, Carly. She was so pretty, with her long blonde hair and big blue eyes. I loved her more than life itself. I would gladly give my life for her. I had long ago promised that if I hurt her, I would kill myself. And I intended to keep my promise.
"Lilly, are you ready?" she asked me. I nodded. Yeah, Carly! Let's enter this pageant and win! I reached up to my head and adjusted my flower bud.
Although it pained me, my flower hadn't opened yet. I didn't know why. I wanted to be more beautiful so that Carly would love me even more and we would win more pageants. I actually had no control over when my flower bloomed. I wished every night that it would bloom, but every morning, it was still a bud.
The curtains opened, and Carly and I started to walk down the lane, side-by-side. We were the ones in the front, because we were the prettiest. I saw a few other pokemon in the sidelines and, shooting them a look that would make them feel special, winked.
Carly was in a long, flowing black dress that rippled gracefully when she took a step. From the bottoms, glittering silver shoes poked out. Her hair was down, flowing past her shoulders and shining. She gave the audience a charming smile.
I was not dressed in anything aside from the leaves that typically adorned me and the bud atop my head, but I was still pretty. I had a seal on my pokeball that had pretty blue butterflies that flitted around me and faded away.
"Good going so far, Lilly," Carly whispered to me without moving her mouth. "The judges like us already!" With the slightest tilt of her chin, she angled towards the box where the judges sat. They all had large smiles on their faces. The two men were smiling broadly, and the women between them had a wistful look on her face, as though she was remembering her own pageant days.
I gave my most dazzling smile to the judging box and continued walking.
When we turned at the end of the lane, I saw our next contestant step from the shadows. It was an elegant Gardevoir. Her body was slender and her cheeks had a faint, pretty blush. Somehow I sensed that she would be our biggest rival.
When the pageant was over, we were awarded "Prettiest Pair." Since the judges had to be fair and give the others badges, too, the Gardevoir and her partner received the "Elegant Contestant" award.
When it was over, Carly and I cheered.
"Yeah! Lilly, you and I were the best! If the judges could pick one certain winner, we would totally be the one they chose! You were so great when you smiled." She grinned and knelt down to give me a hug.
"Hey, you," someone called out. "Girl with the Lilligant." Carly looked up.
"Um… you mean me?" she asked tentatively.
"Yeah, you, I said girl with the Lilligant, didn't I?" said the person who had spoken. It was a man in a dark grey suit with a bowler hat on.
"What do you want?" Carly asked.
"Do you want a pokemon that will make the judges break the rules to make sure you win?" the man demanded.
"Um… I don't know," Carly replied nervously. "What does it look like?"
"Let me show you," the man said. He took a pokeball from his pocket and opened it.
The pokemon that came out brought tears to Carly's eyes, it was so incredible.
It was a shiny Dragonair. And what a creature! Her skin was glossy pink. It reflected the light, even in the shadows. The orbs below her neck and on her tail were golden, and they shone with the light of a thousand suns. Her eyes were a gentle red color, and they held such wisdom, such care! I remember it perfectly and I still can't describe it and come anywhere near the way it looked. Such splendor in that gentle creature!
"Are you willing to give it away, or do you want something for it?" Carly asked suspiciously. The Dragonair moved closer to her, as though trying to get away from the man.
"It costs…" The man moved closer and whispered a price in her ear. Carly let out a cry of shock. Clearly it was expensive.
While the two of them talked prices, the Dragonair drifted over to me and let out a low coo.
"Hello, there," she said. Her voice sent chills up and down my spine. It was lilting and musical. Suddenly I felt self-conscious, though I had just won a pageant and had no reason to be shy of the way I looked.
"Hi," I replied, deciding to be polite. "I'm Lilly. What's your name?"
"I am Dawn of Time, but you can just call me Dawn," she responded. Leaning down to face me, she uttered, "You are very pretty, you know."
"Um… um… thanks?" I stammered, unsure of how to take a compliment from such a radiant creature. "You're pretty too."
"The man there told me that he was going to send me somewhere that was lovely and warm, and where I would get enough to eat and I could look my best at last and where I would finally have someone who was kind to me. Is that this place?"
"Yeah," I agreed. "Lots of food, though Carly keeps it limited so we don't overeat. You can definitely look your best. And Carly is really kind. And, well, it's warm most of the time." I sat down on a rock, and Dawn curled up next to me.
"Carly. Is that the girl's name?" she asked me.
"That's right," I replied. "She enters us in beauty pageants, where she wins money and awards and sometimes even things that make us look better. We walk down a long aisle looking our best with a crowd around us, and three people judge how we look. Then at the end Carly gets paid money and the pokemon gets an award."
"It sounds like a lot of fun," Dawn said. "I really hope that I can experience it – and I hope that we can be friends, too." A glow of happiness filled me at her words. A real friend!
"Okay, Dawn!" Carly cried, walking up to us. "You're my pokemon now! We can go up to our room and have some lunch now." She turned to look at me, and a look of surprise spread over her face. "Why, Lilly! Your flower!"
Wait, is my bud dying? I thought in alarm, rushing over to the nearest pond. To my surprise, however, it was not a bad thing that was happening. The bud on my head was slowly opening. It was very slow at first, but gradually picked up speed until – PHWOMP – it opened completely.
I was a million times prettier now! Maybe the judges would finally be convinced that we were winners for once. My eyes shone as Carly patted me on the head, smiling broadly.
"How wonderful, Lilly!" Dawn exclaimed. She had a large, easy smile that stretched across her face in real pleasure for me.
For some reason, I was reminded of my promise to myself. I still intended to keep it – if I hurt Carly, I'd kill myself.
Carly, Dawn and I trained together for a month before the next pageant was due to begin. Dawn didn't need any training to be pretty, but Carly decided that she would try and train her, anyhow.
It was so exciting as Carly, Dawn and I waited behind the curtains. For the first time ever, Carly had applied to a three-group pageant, which was for two pokemon and one trainer. I didn't have on any accessories, but Dawn had a small golden star just under her left eye. It looked almost like it was natural, and actually made her prettier.
"Get ready! The pageant is starting!" Carly whispered eagerly. The curtains opened and we began!
Flash! Flash! Flash! Picture after picture was taken from the crowd of me and Dawn and Carly. We were stunning. The judges looked starstruck.
We were sent out time and time again to parade around the stage with the other pokemon. Dawn looked more amazed than I had ever seen any other pokemon. I felt it was normal, but there were far more pictures now that Dawn and I were both out.
We actually won several of the pageants, for the judges gave us "Best Group" awards, which were basically the best awards to get, like a badge to show we were the winners.
Dawn soaked up all the praise. Reporters and photographers and even normal trainers were forever rushing up to us to take pictures. We couldn't even go to eat somewhere without being flooded with praise. Dawn seemed happier than ever before, and her joy made her even prettier, for her smile was incredible.
But then, after a while, I began to notice something. The camera flashes weren't as bright as they had been before Dawn. At first I thought there was just something wrong with my eyes, or that the flashes were just too bright and dimmed everything after a couple of them. But gradually I came to realize the truth.
The cameras weren't pointing at me. They were pointing at Dawn.
Each time a picture was taken of us, I would carefully examine the flash, and then the person who held the camera. Their camera was never pointed right at me. Their eyes were always fixated on Dawn.
Obviously, I was jealous, because before this I had been the star; I had been the prettiest pokemon. But I didn't let jealousy take over me, because I cared about Carly and she was so happy about winning. And Dawn had made my flower open.
At least, I had started by trying.
After a few months of winning pageant after pageant, Carly began to ignore me. She neglected to feed me on time, or fed Dawn first and made sure she enjoyed her meal before remembering me. I was sometimes left at home when Carly and Dawn went to go buy accessories or seals for Dawn's pokeball. And I didn't have a special seal for my pokeball anymore. It was Dawn's now. Even though Carly was neglecting me, I still tried to remember my promise. Don't hurt her or you kill yourself! I reminded myself daily.
But then Carly committed the worst possible negligence that it was possible to do.
She left me out of a pageant!
It was the day of the biggest pageant we had been in yet. There were very famous judges there, and the trainers who were in it were all ones who had gotten high marks in other pageants. Carly was busy dressing up Dawn's pokeball with pinkish hearts that blossomed around her and a few golden flower petals. Dawn already had the customary pageant accessory, the eye star.
"Are you ready? This is going to be really, really big," Carly said. I gave her my biggest smile, though I wasn't happy at all. I was so jealous of Dawn that it hurt. But I would do my best for Carly, just the same.
"Come on, Dawn!" Carly cried, and returned me to my pokeball.
Inside, I was stunned. She's leaving me out? I'm not going to the pageant? I'm not in the pageant?! I was so horrified that I tried to break free, but to no avail. I had no strength at all, for all I did was pose for judges and fans. I didn't ever battle.
Tearfully, I tried to relax inside of my pokeball and wait out the pageant. I feared that if I started to cry, I'd drown, so I dried my eyes. I could feel my flower shaking.
It took a long time for the pageant to be over. I was just sitting there, holding back my tears, when I was suddenly released from my pokeball.
Carly was standing next to Dawn, who had a proud look on her face. I figured that they had won. Without me! Carly had won without me! Now what would happen?
That's when I noticed another trainer standing there. It was just a little girl. She had on a pretty blue dress, but she was puffy-eyed and her nose was running. She looked like she had been crying.
"…so if you enter her in contests, you can train until you find a better one, like I did," Carly was saying. "She's pretty cheap, just $150. That's all I got her for. Not much. So you can hand me the money and Lilly's yours!"
My mouth dropped open. No! Carly, how could you? You're selling me to a little girl?! But we're friends! You loved me… I watched in horror as the little girl handed Carly some money and took my pokeball from Carly's hands.
Carly walked away, and the girl gave me an innocent smile.
"Hi there, Lilly," she said with a sweet look from her big blue eyes. "I'm your new trainer and I'm gonna enter you in a bunch of contests so we can win!"
It is four years later now. The little girl, whose name is Katie, has trained me well. We battle and do pageants, but mostly I perform in contests, where I show off my moves and Katie dresses me up. I feel like a baby doll, doing whatever she asks.
Someday, Carly… I think, staring at the walls of my room. Katie wants to be my friend, so when she was a little girl, she would put me in my own bedroom. The problem is that she locks the door. It is very hard for me to escape. I have tried it several times, not to run away but to test the room.
I can tear through the walls, but it takes a lot of effort. I have not knocked down the door, but I feel that it would be very simple.
Tonight is my last night with Katie.
Tonight is Dawn's last night alive.
I stand, nervous at what might happen to me if knocking down the door is loud. Then I discard the feeling. I can have no feelings but anger tonight. Anger will fuel me. If someone tries to stop me from getting at Dawn, I'll kill them.
The four moves that I know are SolarBeam, Energy Ball, Grass Knot, and Leaf Storm. I think they will be good against Dawn. But I'm not just using moves. Oh, no… I would never go so easy on her. She took my trainer. She took my friend. I'll make her suffer.
I remember my promise to myself once again. I won't hurt Carly, not physically. But Dawn… I made no such promise about her.
I back up a bit and run at the door. I slam into it, and it splinters. I crash through easily, though I have a few scrapes from the wood.
Now to move further. I race down the stairs, all four of my feet scurrying at top speed.
SMASH! I slam through the door to the outside world and run out into the night.
The wind soothes me. I have not fought outside very much, for Katie still fears I will run away. I do not like her enough to stay, but I had to grow stronger to kill Dawn, so I would not have run had she allowed me to battle outside.
I race through the tall grass, shooting weak SolarBeams at the wild pokemon that jump in my path. It's not much, just enough to stun them for a short while. I instinctively know that Carly is still in the same house she was in when I was her star… when she loved me.
My anger gives me strength, and I go even faster. Soon I can see the pageant building, which is very near Carly's home. And then… There! I can see her house.
I know where Carly hides her spare key. I lift a loosely planted flower from its pot and grab the silvery key underneath. I slide it into the door and hear a click. I'm in.
I replace the key underneath the flower and run inside.
I can barely remember where Carly sleeps. I know that Dawn must be curled up next to her. I rush up the stairs and silently open Carly's door.
It's Carly in the bed. I know it is. She looks older, her feet almost touching the other end of the bed. I can see her blond hair spread out over the pillow. My heart aches, though I'm not sure if it's with sadness or anger.
There's Dawn. She's next to Carly's bed, sleeping soundly.
I decide to start off gentle. I raise a leaf, which is razor sharp, and bring it down to put a long cut in Dawn's side. The smooth skin glistens and slides apart like it was butter. I must have hit a vein, because the cut begins to bleed wildly, splattering all over me.
I dig both arms into the cut and dig into the warm, soft flesh. I never knew anything would feel this good. The blood that begins to soak me from flower tip to feet is warm and wet. The flesh covers my leaf arms like gloves and softens as I squeeze it. I can feel the pain thickening in the air. I like it.
Dawn is awake now. Her eyes are wide and frightened. "Who are you?!" she screams, her voice breaking from the agony I'm causing her.
"I'm your friend, remember?" I snarl, finding a rib in the bloody mess of muscle. I jerk upward sharply and hear a satisfying snap! The broken rib splinters and juts out of Dawn's body.
"Dawn!" I hear Carly cry from behind me. I don't care. I have one of my arms slicing through the orbs on Dawn's tail. The Dragonair screams in agony as the halved spheres fall to the ground, along with a part of her tail I cut off as well.
"Now to get rid of this one so I can use it as a plaything!" I sneer, cutting at Dawn's throat flesh behind her neck orb. I don't cut deep enough to kill her. I don't want her to die yet.
The orb falls to the ground, and I hurl it away. It hits a wall and shatters. Dawn moans with pain.
"Now these stupid wings! Who has wings on their head?" I snap, grabbing at Dawn's right head-wing and wrenching it towards me. She can't even speak anymore for the pain. I feel feathers and blood come off in my palm. Now that the one wing is just a thin flap of torn ligaments, I rip the other wing from Dawn's head. She wails.
"Dawn, no!" Carly sobs. Her face is covered with tears and snot, and she can't even come close without being sick.
Now, ready for Dawn to die, I tear a gaping hole in her flesh. I reach through, knowing what I should find somewhere around here. Behind me, I hear Carly being sick.
There it is! I grab hold of what I was searching for and yank it up towards me. I hear veins snapping faintly and a final gush of blood covers me. When I wipe it from my eyes, Dawn is dead. And I am holding her heart.
Glad that my hated enemy is vanquished, I lift the heart to my face. Relishing the corpse before me and the joy of the moment, I take a bite out of it. Salty blood runs down my face and onto my dress. I cannot contain myself any longer. Joyfully, I spin around in circles. It is dizzyingly wonderful, the blood and gore and death in the air.
Carly is sobbing into her hands, kneeling on the ground.
"Who are you?" she sobs. "How can you do this?"
Since I cannot speak English, I just glare sharply at her. Then a flicker of recognition crosses her face.
"L-Lilly?" she shrieks in horror.
"Gant," I coo gently.
"You absolute monster!" she wails. "I can't believe you would kill Dawn! I loved you! Dawn loved you! We both loved you a ton! How could you be so horrible? I hate you! I hate you! You're a monster!"
I stepped back in shock. She hates me. She hates me? She hates me! No! I want to tell her that I did it for her, but I can't speak her language. A boiling anger swelled inside of me that I can't make Carly understand what I wanted for her. I am angry at her, at Dawn, and at myself, a little bit. My vision fills with red.
I leap at Carly, tearing with my arms and digging deep into her flesh. She still lives, and hatred still shines in her eyes. I yank her arms from her sockets. She is still alive, and she clearly hates me more. I break both her legs, panic growing inside of me. I can see that her eyes, though bright with pain, are still full of hate.
Finally, desperate to make the hatred leave her face, I put my arms to her neck and snap it like a twig.
The splintering sound silences me. Carly's entire face empties of everything – hatred, horror, fear, life – and I settle down.
She's gone. Dawn's gone. I'm free. But something still burns inside of me – something urging me on, telling me that my job is not done.
Wait! My promise! I have hurt Carly. Even though she is gone, and I still hate her, my promise still stands.
Fearfully, aching with sick fear of what I am going to do, I put my arms to my legs. I bring them down sharply, and break both my legs. I groan in pain, but I cannot stop. All the red makes me sick. I throw up blood. I can't stop myself now. I am not dead.
Agonized, I put my arms to my throat… and snap it.
Everything begins to swirl into darkness. As I fade, I can only think one thing more.
Carly… I didn't break my promise…