This is a work of fanfiction by Butterfree/Dragonfree/antialiasis and is not to be reposted without permission. This story is in no way official or endorsed by Nintendo, GAME FREAK, Creatures Inc., or The Pokémon Company.

Morphic

For more information on this story and a full list of chapters and extras, click here. Please note that Morphic is rated R (M if you prefer Fiction Ratings) for strong language, violence and other sensitive subject matter.

Chapter 7

“…and I’m gonna be in the movie!”

Will smiled awkwardly at Jean. “I know. You’ve told me before.”

“Yeah, but they’ve sent us a contract now! And I’m getting Dad to sign it. He doesn’t want me to be in the movie, but I want to.”

“Yeah,” Will muttered, wondering as he did occasionally whether Jean really was that much better than no company at all. He scratched his whiskers and said nothing more, although he cringed and pulled the hood of his sweatshirt further over his head as the pair of them approached Jean’s human friends. He wasn’t sure why he did that; after all, it wasn’t as if they hadn’t seen him before and weren’t aware that he was a Pokémorph, and definitely not as if it made them any less likely to ignore him completely (in fact, the opposite was probably true). But he liked to keep his Meowth features concealed anyway. It made him feel less self-conscious.

“You know what? They’ve sent us a contract! I’m gonna be in the Sarah Hooter movie!”

Her friends didn’t look overly impressed. “We don’t care, Jean!” moaned a girl with dark, curly hair. “Stop rubbing it in!”

Jean’s friends didn’t really appear to like her that much, Will had observed. They put up with her and didn’t mind talking to her occasionally, but the moment anything reminded them that she wasn’t like them, they’d reject her and make it obvious she didn’t really belong with human beings. Will wasn’t sure whether she ignored it or was just that oblivious.

This time Jean looked at the girls’ harsh faces in dumbfounded astonishment and then, abruptly, bared her teeth in a very surprisingly frightening manner and let out an intimidating, uncomfortably bestial snarl.

Will recoiled. Jean’s friends jumped and then, after a tense moment, just bolted towards the school building.

Jean’s face had returned to normal, her expression confused as if she wasn’t entirely sure where the snarl had come from either. She stared after the girls, and Will noted awkwardly that there were tears forming at the corners of her eyes. He backed away a little, not wanting to be the target of a tantrum while also not wanting to look like he was abandoning her as well. He’d never been good with cheering people up.

Jean closed her eyes and shook her head for a second; Will saw the ends of her six red tails curling up a bit more than they already were. Finally she reached for her pocket, grabbed her cellphone from it and opened it, punching in a number with great precision.

Jean’s cellphone was really loud. He could hear the slow beeps before her father picked it up even from where he was standing.

“What is it, sweetheart? I’m driving, so make it quick,” said Dave’s voice.

“My friends all got mad at me,” Jean sniffed. “And then I – I like growled at them.”

“Really?” her father answered on the other end. “Did you do it voluntarily or just sort of impulsively? What kind of growl was it?”

“I don’t know,” Jean replied and paused for a second. “They all stared at me and ran away and were all mean.”

“Well, honey, when your fire sac is active, you’re going to roast ‘em all if they’re mean to you, understand?”

The thought seemed to cheer Jean up considerably. “Yeah!” she shouted happily into the phone while punching the air.

“But hey, you can tell me all about it when I come to get you home, okay? And when I’m done driving you, I’ll have to go back to work. Brian and I have to finish some stuff for Gabriel.”

“But what about the contract?” Jean whined. (Will scolded himself for mentally calling it that, but it really was the most appropriate word.)

Dave let out a long sigh. “That’ll have to wait until I get back tonight, sweetheart. We won’t be able to mail it to them until tomorrow, anywa…” There was a sudden screech of tires. “Oh, shit!” Then, “Look, I love you, honey, but can you not call me while I’m driving? I think I nearly ran over a Meowth or something here. Bye, sweetie.”

“Bye,” Jean said, but from the sound of it Dave had already hung up. Will was meanwhile shivering at the thought of a Meowth being run over by a car. Especially Dave’s car. Even though he’d have loved to be an ordinary human being, he couldn’t help identifying slightly with the species he was spliced with. Sometimes he felt stupid about it. At other times he just wondered whether the other morphs felt the same way. It seemed awkward to ask them.

“Okay, so what do you want to do?” Jean asked. The human friends were apparently forgotten. Probably a good thing, since Will couldn’t help feeling that if he were them that snarl would have disturbed the hell out of him and there was little hope they would ever think of her the same way again. But Jean always got herself new groups who were semi-willing to hang out with her for a while, for as long as she did not go on about her awaiting acting career too much.

She would get over it before he could say ‘That’s not friendship’.

“Tag,” he said, touching her shoulder before bounding off in a random direction. “You’re it.”

-------

Night had fallen by the time Dave and Brian stepped out of the main building of Heywood Labs.

“Jean’ll be worried,” Dave was saying. “I promised I’d be back home by nine o’clock. I just left her some lasagne, but I don’t know if she’ll have gotten into bed.”

“Well, Gabriel knows how to take care of himself,” Brian said as Dave motioned to open the door of his car. “I’d call it a good day’s wo …”

He was cut off by a gunshot. It took a while for Dave to register all the blood.

“Shit,” he swore while his brain numbly attempted to start itself. His eyes refused to look for the wound, instead fixing themselves on the steadily spreading pool of red around Brian’s unmoving body as it lay awkwardly on the sidewalk. “Oh, shit, Brian.”

It wasn’t until the second gunshot, which chipped some concrete from the wall of the building behind him, that he realized who the gunman had actually meant to shoot.

His brain bolted awake with a sudden rush of adrenaline and before he really realized it, he had ducked behind the car.

“Fuck. Shit. Goddamnit.” Where the hell was his cellphone? While his hand dug through his pockets, another bullet hit the windshield of the car, and Dave somehow found the time to evaluate the yelp the sound squeezed out of him as extremely stupid-sounding before he bolted up and started towards the next car, Brian’s, parked a few dozen meters away along the same sidewalk. He finally manoeuvred the phone out of his pocket, opened it and attempted to punch in 911, but the actual outcome on the screen looked more like 986121, either because he was still running or because his hands were trembling too much. He didn’t really care which.

Dave threw himself onto the sidewalk behind Brian’s car just as a third bullet tore through the air behind him and landed on the wall of a side building of the lab.

He pushed himself into a crouching position, hammered the cancel button on his cellphone and retyped the number. He hit the call button as quickly as he could and jerked the phone up to his ear, surprising himself by how broken his voice sounded.

“Emergency? I think some crazed fuck just shot my coworker – yes, still here and still trying to shoot me now, so if you don’t mind – just outside Heywood Labs, Grace City – the fuck should I know? – Look, can you just send some cops and an ambulance already…? You did? Right. Okay. Thank you. I’ll get back to cowering behind this– shit!” Shards of glass suddenly exploded out from the car window just above him as a bullet shattered the pane. Dave tried to cover his head as the rain of broken glass bombarded his back; he felt a couple of pieces pierce the back of his neck before it subsided. He looked quickly at his phone; it was dead. He stuffed it clumsily back into his pocket. The car alarm had gone off with a blaring siren noise.

Dave leapt back to his feet after a moment of thought, racing for the next car which was in front of the next building. “I’ve called the police!” he screamed on the way, hoping to scare the attacker off even though an increasingly large part of him was sure he had probably given up the wrong information in that phone call or something. “They’re on their way!”

He heard another gunshot and felt something strike the side of his forehead, a kind of oddly powerful sting, and warm blood began to leak down the side of his cheek as he attempted to keep running.

Fuck, he thought to himself in disbelief as the power left his legs and he crumpled to the ground. I'm dead. Fucker shot me in the head. I'm dead. Fuck.

While he fell he was hazily surprised at how long it seemed to be taking his brain to shut down, but then his head hit the concrete sidewalk and his vision faded away.

-------

Dave blinked. This was strange, because people had made up the notion of an afterlife in a bout of wishful thinking and that was not supposed to make it exist.

“You’re awake?” said a voice. He blinked again and realized that there was a short man in a white coat standing over him. The side of his head throbbed with dull pain.

“Wow,” he muttered as his frontal lobes began to process the situation logically. “I didn’t think doctors could cure that.”

The man gave him a curt smile. “The bullet only grazed your forehead, Mr. Ambrose. You were very lucky.”

“What?” Dave tried to sit angrily up, but the attempt drowned in all the pillows in the hospital bed. “No way in hell that just grazed me. I felt how I died, for fuck’s sake.”

The doctor gave him another one of those irritating smiles of his, something reminiscent of the way people smiled to a child talking about an imaginary friend. “The psychological shock made you fall, and you were knocked out when you hit your head on the sidewalk. A security guard in one of the nearby buildings came to inspect the noise and stopped the bleeding until the ambulance arrived.”

“What?” he asked again, unable to think of anything else to say.

“I assure you you did not die at any point this evening. I’m sorry if this upsets you.”

“Stop being a wiseass,” Dave said, trying to pull his thoughts back into something coherent. “Where’s Brian?”

“I’m afraid there was nothing that could be done for your friend when we got there. The bullet went through his heart. I’m sorry.”

Dave blinked yet again a few times. He rubbed his forehead and turned away, trying to convince himself that he just had dust in his eye.

“Well, fuck.” Brian. How could Brian be dead? That was goddamned messed up. Brian wasn’t supposed to be murdered. That was just not the way things happened. “Fuck,” he repeated to fill the silence. It didn’t help very much.

There were a few more seconds of awkward silence.

“Well, there is a policeman here who would like to speak with you, but if this is a bad time…”

“No,” Dave said, making some vague gesture with his hand without looking at the doctor. Partly it was just to get rid of him, really. “It’s fine. Send him in.”

He looked back up now that the doctor was walking out of the room and took a few deep breaths. All this was so fucked up. Why couldn’t there be a time machine to just rewind everything by… how long had it been, anyway? He looked around and found a clock on the wall above the door. It was a quarter to two AM. He reached carefully up to his head; it had been wrapped in some bandages. The pain still throbbed there vaguely as background noise. There were blue curtains hanging by the sides of his bed, presumably concealing other patients.

A comfortably overweight, uniformed police officer with round glasses stepped into the room, walked over to Dave’s bed and sat down on a chair beside it. “Good evening, Mr. Ambrose,” the man said. “I just have a couple of questions for the time being. First off, I’m sorry about your friend.”

“He wasn’t really a friend,” Dave mumbled. “Just a coworker.”

“Well, sorry about your coworker, then,” the policeman corrected himself, flipping briefly through a notebook. “Can you think of anyone who would have a motive to want him dead?”

Dave snorted. “Brian? Fuck, no. He’s the least offensive person you’ve ever met.”

The policeman raised his eyebrows and scribbled something into his notebook, but said nothing. “So you have no idea who might have been behind this?”

“Truth to be told, I think the guy was just trying to shoot me and got him instead.”

The cop wrote some more. “So you think they had a motive to attack you?” he asked without looking up.

“Oh, sure,” Dave replied. “There are all sorts of nuts I’ve upset in some way or another.” And as he said it, he came to the unsettling realization that seeing as whoever it was had clearly not been caught, the psycho was still after him. “He’ll try to kill me again,” he muttered aloud. “Fuck.”

The policeman nodded, pencil still furiously scratching the notebook. “It’s possible. I’d be careful if I were you. You should try to stay in your apartment for a while once you get out of here, at least until the guy is caught or we find out more. We’ll get a couple of guys to hang around nearby just in case he tries to get you at home.”

“Thanks,” Dave mumbled, not quite sure what he was thanking the man for as he hadn’t really been listening.

“Did you see the attacker?”

“Not a hair.”

The cop finished writing, looked up at him and smiled. “Well, that will be all for now. We’ll contact you later as the investigation continues.”

“All right.”

The policeman left. Dave was starting to get a severe headache and wanted to sleep, but the irritating doctor stepped in again. “You also have some visitors. Should I show them in?”

“Sure,” he replied, waving the doctor off. He wasn’t even sure who the visitors were and wasn’t at all sure he would like to meet them, but he said it anyway. As it turned out, the visitors were Howard and Mia, which partly cheered him up and partly didn’t; after all, it could have been somebody like his mother (or worse, Jane), but at the same time he was dully disappointed that they were the only people who cared enough to visit him.

Howard hurried over to the bed and attempted to give him a hug, not succeeding very well as he was standing by the side of the bed.

“Brian… oh, God, I can’t believe it. I’m glad you got out okay. I’m not sure what the morphs would do without you. But… God…”

Howard actually did have tears in his eyes, which made Dave feel awkward. He looked over at Mia, who stood by the other side of the bed and looked at him with an empty expression. There was no better person to trust not to be sentimental.

“Cheryl stayed home to watch out for Lucy. Joe is on the way and he was going to pick Jean up. Everybody over in Taillow Springs has been contacted. They’re all in shock about this. I think your mother…”

“Christ, don’t bring her here,” Dave muttered, rubbing his head. The headache was getting worse.

“Well,” Howard continued after a second’s pause, “what I’m saying is everybody is kind of scared now. I mean, there’s somebody targeting us, obviously, and from what I heard the killer ran for it the moment the security guard announced he had a gun and he didn’t see anything. I think the cops found some bullets, though, and are working on trying to trace down the owner of the gun they came from… oh, God, Dave, he killed Brian. He killed Brian.”

“I kind of noticed,” Dave mumbled and wished Howard would at least attempt to hide the fact he was crying. “I think he’s after me more than you guys. I mean, I’m the main guy behind the Pokémorphs and all.”

“You think it has to do with them?” Howard sighed and started trying to wipe his face with his sleeve. “I guess it makes sense, I suppose, but…”

“What else? Most fucking controversial thing we’ve ever done. Didn’t you get some fundamentalist nut waving a sign in front of your house the other day?”

“You think it was him?”

“Probably not. He seemed more the sort to just wait for God to strike me with lightning.” Dave rubbed his forehead again, wishing he could go to sleep. “I see you brought Mia,” he said to change the subject.

“She wanted to come.”

Dave turned to the girl, who was still standing in the same spot beside the bed as before, unmoved. “Well, that was nice of you.”

Mia just looked at him in silence, her eyes flicking between the bandages on his head and his neck.

“It just grazed you,” she observed.

“Apparently. Didn’t feel that way.”

“They took us to the morgue,” she went on. “Brian was there. There was a lot of blood. It smelled nice. I think I wanted to eat him.”

Howard gave her a very disturbed look which Dave took to mean she had not mentioned this to him.

“Well, you’re not going to eat him, Mia,” he said, trying to sound as conversational as he could while pushing the image of the half-Scyther tearing Brian’s throat out with her teeth firmly out of his head.

“I know. But I don’t want to eat you because you’ve got bandages on.”

“That’s nice.”

“Mia, you should probably wait outside,” Howard said, his voice brokenly high-pitched and pathetic. The girl obeyed, walking casually back out the door.

“Why the fuck did you take Mia to a morgue of all places?”

“We were the first people to arrive and they wanted us to identify him before the autopsy,” Howard said miserably. “I didn’t really think before bringing her along.”

Howard sighed and looked down. “God,” he muttered suddenly. “Who’s going to tell Gabriel?”

Dave groaned. “Gabriel. Right.” He rubbed his eyes, trying to think. “I’ll do it. I was there. You got a phone?”

Howard fished a cellphone out of his pocket and handed it silently to Dave. He found Brian’s name in the contact list and pressed the green button, holding the phone to his ear.

He waited for a while, the calm beeps of the phone searing through his ear and magnifying his headache. He was about to hang up when a sleepy voice answered, “Hello?”

“Hey, Gabriel.”

“Dave? What… why are you calling in the middle of the night?” Gabriel sounded only sleepy and irritated and had clearly not noticed that Brian hadn’t come home yet. That made it worse.

“Your father, he, uh…”

“He what?”

“He died.” Dave paused and then decided that was too short and abrupt. “Some psycho shot him when we were coming out of the lab. I think he was trying to shoot me, but I moved and he was behind me, and… he died.” Then he realized that was absolutely not the right way to approach this and tried again. “I mean, there was that gunman, and he shot him, and then he tried to get me too but I called an ambulance and then the bullet just grazed me. I’m in the hospital right now. They didn’t catch the guy.”

That didn’t really sound good enough either, as evidenced by the complete lack of a response on the other end of the phone.

“Gabriel?” Dave asked carefully. There was a short silence and then the sound of hanging up.

Dave rubbed his forehead again. Goddamned headache. “Fuck.”

Howard made no comment, staring at the curtain on the other side of the bed. “What did he say?” he asked at length.

“Nothing. Absolutely fucking nothing.”

“I should call one of the others in Taillow Springs and get them to go over to him. See if he’s okay.”

Dave gave him back the phone without words. Howard began to dial a number.

“Any word from Jane?” Dave asked him suddenly. Howard looked up.

“What? No. Why would there be? It’s been ten years since you were involved.”

Dave shrugged. “Just wondering.”

He lay back in his bed and heard vaguely as Howard talked to Bill Ray and asked him to check on Gabriel. He didn’t really notice it happening, but by the time Howard hung up, he was fast asleep, dreaming of Mia eating Brian and bullets shattering windshields.

Page last modified July 14 2017 at 16:44 GMT