Dave’s doorbell rang at some unholy hour of the morning and continued insistently until he’d stumbled to the door in his underwear.
“What?” he said, staring at the man who was facing him, looking weirdly shifty. “Who are you?”
“Graham Williams,” the man replied, glancing from side to side. “One of your interns at the lab a few years ago.”
Dave blinked. He supposed maybe the guy did look familiar. “Okay,” he said after a moment. “Is that it?”
Graham took a deep breath. “I… have a confession to make.”
Dave waited. There was a pregnant pause.
“I created two additional Pokémorphs,” Graham then went on, in a hushed tone.
Dave stared. “You what?”
“I made a couple of extras. I thought it’d be interesting.”
“That makes no fucking sense,” Dave said, rubbing the sleep out of his eyes. “That was my secret project and I sure as hell don’t remember letting you in on it.”
“You told me in detail how it worked. I think you were pretty drunk at the time.”
Dave rubbed his forehead. “Oh, Christ. So what sorts of abominations came out of it? I hope you aborted them.”
“No, actually.” Graham smiled nervously. “They came out perfect. A Mew and Mewtwo morph. I raised them myself.”
Dave stared at the man again, trying to discern whether he was joking. “Mew… and Mewtwo,” he repeated when Graham didn’t continue.
“As in… the mythical pink transforming psychic cat, and the superweapon conspiracy nuts think the government engineered in the eighties.”
The man nodded.
Dave waited for a punchline. There wasn’t one. He was way too fucking tired to deal with this (whatever this was) right now.
Before he’d properly decided how to respond, he’d simply closed the door. That was rude and eccentric as hell, but it was probably preferable to confronting the fact he’d apparently been employing a lunatic. (Had he? Maybe that was why Dave hadn’t thought he recognized the guy at first.) He started to walk back into his bedroom, but before he’d made more than a couple of steps, there came another enthusiastic knock on the door.
“Look –” he began when he opened it again, but stopped when he realized that Graham was gone. In his place were standing two girls, one a short blonde with rounded conical ears and huge blue eyes, and the other tall, pale and disturbingly skinny with long, jet-black hair and stubby ears sticking out of the top of her head.
“Hi!” said the short one, waving happily at him. “I’m Bubbles! Can I call you Daddy-two?”
“What the fuck,” Dave said.
“That’s a bad word,” Bubbles said, frowning. “You can’t say bad words ‘cause then the angels all start to cry and are very sad.”
“What the fuck.” His brain desperately reached out for the relative sanity of before he’d reopened the door. “Where’s Graham?”
“Daddy had to go,” Bubbles explained, “because he’s afraid the bad people will find out about him and come with guns and kill us.”
“And he left you with me?”
“Yeah!” Bubbles grinned. “You’ll take really good care of us, won’t you, Daddy-two?”
He stared. The two girls suddenly disappeared into thin air, and then he heard Bubbles’ voice go on behind him (oh, Christ, they could teleport): “Your place is really small. You should buy a bigger house. Oh, and it should totally have a swimming pool! Swimming pools are awesome. I bet God has lots of swimming pools in Heaven.”
“This sucks,” said a deeper, monotone voice. “I hate my life.”
Dave leaned desperately out into the corridor, but there was no sign of the man who had brought them here.
He needed a drink.
To his horror, Bubbles and Jean hit it off immediately.
“…and then Jesus died on the cross, and that’s why you can get into Heaven, but only if you really really believe in him,” he heard the Mew girl explain from inside Jean’s room.
“Really?” asked Jean, somewhat unsurely.
“Yeah,” Bubbles went on. “’Cause if you don’t, he’s going to come and judge you. And then he casts everybody who didn’t believe in him into the lake of fire, with the Houndoom and everything, and then there are Slugma crawling all over you – ewww!” She grimaced. “Also there’s eternal torture, and no matter how much you regret it you can’t get into Heaven because you were too late.”
There was a pause. Then Jean said, hesitantly, “I don’t think Dad believes in Jesus.”
Bubbles gasped. “Oh! Then we have to convert him quick, before the bad people come for him.”
“Please kill me now,” Dave said and found it oddly relieving as he downed the rest of his beer to realize that there was in fact now a real upside to the prospect of being murdered.
“Life sucks, doesn’t it?” commented Raven the Mewtwo morph, who was sitting beside him on the sofa, arms folded.
He looked at her. “So where the fuck does your dad think he got his hands on DNA from the government’s weaponized unicorn project, anyway?”
“Dude, I’m not a unicorn,” she said, annoyed. “Unicorns are gay. I mean, they’re all rainbows and happiness. I hate that shit.”
He stared at her for a moment. “I don’t know if you noticed that Mew is a pink kitten that flies around in a fucking bubble, makes cute mewling sounds and plays with people who are pure-hearted.”
“Yeah, but I’m Mewtwo,” she said, rolling her eyes. “It’s gray and it’s all badass and shit and can destroy everything. Didn’t you see the leaked CIA video of them trying to talk to it?”
“The guy who made that came forth and admitted it was a hoax made to promote Battle for the Earth.”
“Whatever.” She tossed her hair. “They made him say that in exchange for sparing his life. Why do you think he’s still alive?”
“That’s an affirming the consequent fallacy. You’re saying that –”
“Dude, don’t get all Latin on me. You aren’t right just because you’re smart.”
Dave looked at her for a moment and then reached for his beer again, sighing. “Okay. Brick wall. Got it. Never mind.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“I’m just a big fan of bricklaying.”
She stared at him. “Dude,” she said after a moment, “you’re weird.”
Unfortunately, unlike the legendary sisters, Jean was the very opposite of a brick wall, and Bubbles’ particular brick wall seemed to be getting to her. By now, he discovered to his dismay as he returned to listening to them, Bubbles was trying to convince her that homosexuality was against God.
“But I think if they love each other…” Jean protested.
“They don’t love each other!” Bubbles gasped. “The devil made them think they did, but really they love women like everybody else. You just need to show them.”
“No,” he called in response, leaning in the direction of the door. “Don’t listen to her. She may be brainwashed beyond help, but you’re smarter than that.”
In the blink of an eye, Bubbles was standing in front of him with her arms crossed. “You’re brainwashed!” she said, her big blue eyes staring accusingly at him. “Deep down you know I’m right, but you’re just lying to yourself.”
He gave her a hopeless glance. “Jean, she’s a nut. Please tell me you’re not taking any of this seriously.”
The Ninetales morph was standing in the door to her room now, looking at him; she still seemed a little hesitant, but she nodded, apparently somewhat reassured. Bubbles whirled around, disappeared and then pulled Jean back into the room, making a point of slamming the door shut so he couldn’t hear them anymore.
Dave sighed, ruffling his hair. He needed to talk to somebody with sense before his brain exploded. He reached for his cellphone in his pocket and entered Howard and Cheryl’s number.
Lucy picked up after a few beeps. “Hi, Dave!” she said cheerfully.
“Hey, Lucy.” He smiled a little in relief at hearing her voice; she hadn’t talked much lately. “Can I talk to your mom?”
“No,” Lucy replied. “My parents aren’t at home right now.”
Fuck. “Oh.” He paused. “Well, it was nice talking to you, anyway.”
“You too. Oh!” she added suddenly, like she’d just remembered something. “Mia’s back.”
Dave waited silently for a long moment. “What do you mean?”
“I brought her back. I just imagined she was here hard enough and then she came and – oh, she wants to talk to you.”
“What the –” he began and then froze as an all-too-familiar voice said, “Hi.”
It would probably have taken him longer to recover on any other day. As it was, it was oddly easy to accept this on some basic temporary level just while he figured out what the hell was going on. “Mia?” he said after a short pause. “Is that you?”
“Yeah,” she replied as if nothing were more natural. “You haven’t been around in a while.”
This didn’t make any sense. Nothing made any sense.
“You should come over now. That would be nice.”
“Yeah,” he said automatically. “I’ll be right there.”
Mia hung up. He sat there frozenly for a moment, trying to get his brain to form coherent thought. Eventually he stood up, walked to Jean’s room and opened the door.
“…but I think my dad’s right,” Jean was saying, and some part of him was grounded enough to feel a twinge of pride. Bubbles looked up and then appeared in front of him, arms crossed, like she was trying to prevent him from entering the room.
“Jean, we’re going to the Kerrigans’ place,” he said over Bubbles’ shoulder, ignoring her. “Something’s come up.”
“Ooh,” Bubbles said, suddenly not cross anymore. “Can we come?”
Bubbles pouted. “Well, I’m coming anyway.”
Dave sighed. There was probably no way to stop them coming if they wanted to, given they could teleport into the car even if he didn’t open the door for them.
“I’ll bet you an ice cream you can’t stay completely quiet while we’re there,” he said instead.
Bubbles grinned hugely, mimed zipping her mouth shut, and followed them out.
It was Mia who opened the door. He spent a long moment just standing there on the doorstep, looking at her, before he reached forward and touched her shoulder. Solid. Real.
This just wasn’t fucking possible.
He wanted to say something to her, but what the hell were you supposed to say to somebody who’d inexplicably turned up back from the dead, months after being shot three times in the back of the head? Instead, he just continued to look at her, waiting for that weird suffocating feeling to go away. It didn’t.
“Where’s Lucy?” he said finally.
Mia stepped wordlessly out of the way, and he followed her inside with Jean. He had managed, with further bribes of ice cream, to convince Bubbles and Raven to stay in the car, but there was no way he was leaving Jean completely alone with the two of them.
The Misdreavus morph was sitting on the living room couch in front of the television. She looked around as he approached.
“Hi, Dave,” she said nonchalantly, like she hadn’t just somehow raised the dead. He stopped near her and squeezed his eyes shut, thinking.
“Okay, Lucy,” he began after clearing his throat, trying to keep his voice calm. “How did you do this?”
She shrugged unsurely. “It just happened.”
“This sort of thing does not just happen.”
Lucy contemplated it for a few seconds. “I was just here,” she then said, “thinking about what Mia would be doing if she were here. And then I thought about it really hard, and then she came.”
Some crazy part of him, despite knowing perfectly well that the name was just a historical artifact of less enlightened times, couldn’t help latching on to one stupid, irrational thought: Ghost-type.
Goddamn it. He was a fucking scientist. He could do this sensibly.
“Uh,” he began, rubbing at his eyes. “Could you do it again?”
Lucy looked a little confused.
“Try doing the same thing but for Will, right here.”
“I didn’t know him as well,” Lucy said hesitantly. “But I can try.”
“It’s okay if it doesn’t work,” he said, his voice wavering slightly with a weird rush of impatient anger. “Just do the same thing you did then, all right?”
Lucy closed her eyes, concentrating. At first nothing happened at all, and he fleetingly thought this was without a doubt the stupidest experiment he had ever done; then, without warning, the air beside the sofa began to shimmer with a strange, purple haze, and suddenly Will was standing there, blinking sleepily.
Jean ran up and hugged him; he responded in turn, looking a little confused. “Um, hi, Jean,” he said as she started to sob into his shoulder. “Are you okay?”
Dave stared at the boy who had just appeared out of thin air. This couldn’t be happening.
“Lucy,” he began hesitantly, “are you manipulating them somehow?”
Lucy looked vaguely confused by the question; she shook her head unsurely. Will gave him a puzzled look.
“I mean, are you deciding what they’re going to say or do?”
“No,” she replied, shaking her head again, looking a little anxious.
He squeezed his eyes shut, trying to think. “Mia,” he said abruptly, turning towards the Scyther morph. “What’s the age of consent?”
She gave him a blank look. “What is that?”
He exhaled slowly. Okay. She had Lucy’s knowledge, not Mia’s. Some sort of a physical projection of her mental image of her sister, then. Of course it had to be something like that – the alternative was ridiculous – but still he couldn’t shake off some irrational disappointment, the remnants of an absurd hope that somehow this was actually her.
He looked at Lucy; she was tilting her head at him. Should he explain it to her? Ever since Mia’s death, she’d been practically catatonic – not speaking, spending her days sitting around gazing into space, always that same haunted stare – but she seemed perfectly content now that her sister seemed to have simply returned. She’d probably react badly to having her newfound hopes crushed again. In fact, last time she’d discovered her sister was dead, she’d gone into a frenzied rage and knocked out everyone in the vicinity with a Perish Song. There was no telling what she might do if she found out again – she was probably capable of far, far worse.
He shuddered and looked away from her. Jean had just released the Will projection; she sniffled as he smiled awkwardly. “Anybody want to tell me what’s going on?” the boy said hesitantly.
“You… you died,” Jean said quietly.
“Oh,” Will said, furrowing his brow. “Oh. I guess I did.”
Jean pulled him into a hug again, and Will’s frown deepened. “Wait,” he said. “That doesn’t make sense. I’m confused.”
“Yeah, uh,” Dave began, “Lucy brought you back.” He felt exceptionally odd speaking to him (it?); his head was all hypotheses on what would happen if Lucy left the room or covered her ears or went to sleep, and he wasn’t sure whether he should be looking at Will or at Lucy when he spoke. He was increasingly realizing, with dread, that even if he didn’t directly tell her, this couldn’t possibly last; Lucy was pretty perceptive, and there was no telling what might happen if she picked up on any oddities –
“Who are they?” Mia (not Mia) asked suddenly, snapping him out of his thoughts; he turned towards her, only to see Bubbles and Raven standing behind him, having presumably just teleported inside. The Mew morph immediately frowned and started to gesture wildly at him in a way that, as far as he could understand, appeared to imply they’d gotten bored waiting.
“Yeah,” he began. “They’re, uh…” Why was he even talking to her? It wasn’t Mia. It was some fucked-up figment of Lucy’s imagination that looked and acted like her. He avoided its gaze, but went on anyway. “Apparently ten years ago some intern went and made two legendary Pokémon morphs without our knowledge, and…” He trailed off. He sounded ridiculous.
“That doesn’t make any sense,” Not-Mia said.
She was right. It just didn’t make any fucking sense.
He stood there for a moment. He looked around for a light switch, hurried to it and turned the lights off, then on again. Lucy looked at him curiously.
“What the fuck is going on?” he said. He meant for it to sound annoyed, but it came out more just desperate.
“We are,” said Raven, sounding bored as ever. He looked blankly at her; Bubbles sighed.
“Oh, you just have to ruin all the fun, don’t you?” she said, and suddenly her face began to melt; Dave watched in horror as her skin peeled away from her skull, only instead of a skull there was a small, pink head with similar conical ears to the ones she’d had before; then the rest of her body crumpled to the floor where it shrank away and vanished, leaving a small, pink creature in her place, hovering in a translucent pink bubble. It narrowed its huge blue eyes at Dave as Raven’s shape shimmered white and turned into a small purple blob.
“What,” Dave said weakly, backing away without ever really deciding to. “Who the fuck are you?”
“Mew,” said the creature that had once been Bubbles, disdainfully. “Really, don’t you read?”
The Ditto by her side morphed into the shape of a man with dark hair and icy blue eyes. A cold shiver trickled down Dave’s spine as Isaac Daniels looked at him and grinned widely, then pulled out a handgun and raised it.
A shot rang out. Dave instinctively threw himself to the side, only to crash into the wall. As his head spun from the impact, he realized that the shot hadn’t been aimed at him: Lucy collapsed, her body disappearing from view behind the back of the sofa. The Will and Mia projections’ eyes widened simultaneously before they vanished into thin air. He heard Jean scream as he struggled to get to his feet; then the gun roared again, and she was silent.
“You sick fuck,” he said, his voice shaking, his mind numb as he dragged himself up by the wall, fixing his gaze towards the man with the gun and away from where Jean was (maybe she was okay, or just pretending). “You’re supposed to be dead.”
“He is dead,” Mew said coolly. “That’s why it’s up to us to finish our trainer’s job.”
He stared at the legendary Pokémon in incomprehension as the Ditto pointed the gun towards him, grinning widely. “Don’t worry. You’ll see them again in Hell.”
This time he had no time to attempt to dodge before it pulled the trigger.