“Hari, are you ready?”
Fuschia's voice was the same as always, steady and measured. Hari always wondered why her voice stayed as calm, as focussed, as ever-steady as it was.
A question for another day.
“Sorry, I was just thinking about something.”
Fuschia placed a hand on Hari's shoulder and sat him down on a chair. It was an orange, padded, armless creation that appeared in every Pokemon Centre. It was uncomfortable, she gathered, based on her own chair. It sat opposite, just as gaudy and seemingly incomplete.
“What's on your mind?”
Hari's face fell somewhat. He didn't seem to want to talk about it.
“I... I was just thinking.”
Smiling faces appeared through the haze. A doctor and a nurse, white coats gleaming brilliantly through the haze. Flourescent lights formed rows of dull appeal behind them. A shattered image.
“How are you feeling, Hari?”
“Uh... I... Where's Celadon?”
A doctor's furrowed brow. The scene before Hari seemed to darken suddenly.
“Where's my mother...?”
“Your mother and father are... There's been a complication with Celadon's operation.”
The bed seemed to shake as Hari's body began to turn unresponsive. His chest began to burn intensely as the power overcame him, the result of an operation he had consented to out of shame. A young orderly stepped over, reading from a book.
“Caeus Cail Nost Calphus Treus Tarr...”
The power began to subside as Hari found his mind suddenly clear. An unusual clarity, a state of near complete awareness.
“What just happened?” He quickly asked.
“Your operation gave you the gland of a Mew. Your power, when fully expressing itself, still has a tie to the Conduit. Those words are old, terrible things. Words of power, you might say. The Conduit ascended to a state of pure consciousness, as I'm sure you know. You signed a non-disclosure agreement upon learning that, if you remember. In doing so, certain ancient rituals were performed that placed a certain set of... restrictions on the Conduit. Your power can be tempered by speaking these words, which temporarily sever your link to it, making it refocus in your mind. Did you feel the clarity?”
“Yes.... I... What happened to Celadon?”
“She perished, I'm afraid. In the operation. She rejected it and destroyed a wing of the Hospital in the process.”
“I... I see.”
“You know, you're meant to pray in one of these places.” A jolly, thin, clean shaven man sat beside Hari. He recognised him, but couldn't quite place where.
“I'm not much of a churchgoer.”
“Me neither. Can't stand these places. It seems so... morbid to fixate on the afterlife.”
“Do you believe in Arceism?” Hari asked, bluntly. It was a loaded question, certainly, but the man had a certain candour he appreciated.
“Personally? No. Do you mind if I smoke?” The man gestured with a cigar. Hari shook his head, and the man lit the cigar and puffed vigorously. “Do you?”
“I don't know. I mean, I'm not sure if I can reconcile it with the world around me.”
“The world around you...?” The man laughed deeply. “You're what, Eight? I'm guessing you're a Richtog Psychic, given how smart you are. Am I right?”
“Personally, having seen a lot more of the word, I can say one thing. Arceus is meant to be a figure of worship. Of respect. Admiration. A guiding light in the darkness.” He took another puff of the cigar. “I haven't seen anything in the world that makes me think it's anything but lies. Maybe Arceus exists, but when I was your age, I prayed and prayed. I prayed for the selfish things, like bikes and candy, and I prayed for the important stuff. Like my mother.”
“Did she die?”
“No. Arceus was much too cruel to let her die. She survived an aneurysm in a state of complete vegetation. She's still like that, unable to do anything. Why, you may ask, was she not put out of her misery? Simple. Arceism says it would be wrong. I can't accept that.”
“My sister died.”
“So I heard. You're Hari, right? Sorry to hear about that.”
“You know who I am?”
The man extended a business card to Hari. “I'm kind of a big deal.”
Hari glanced at the card. It said 'Cerulean Nostrum – CEO Attara TV.'
“I'm doing an impromptu check on our show Surgical Sorrows. That horrible medical drama people like. I guess it's the realism – even if it is only made in a closed-off wing.”
“You're not reporting on the damage my sister did?”
“Why should I?” Cerulean took another puff on his cigar. “I'm being paid perfectly good hush money to keep it a secret.”
“Is that ethical?”
“You kids and your big words... Nobody cares about this. This is a private hospital that serves Richtog Psychics and Film Crews for Surgical Sorrows. I don't really want to do it, but there's stuff here that the world's probably better off not knowing.”
“You think it's worth the cost?”
“Kid, you don't know how much good has come out of this place's terrible practices. Peaks and troughs, you know?”
“I guess.” Hari returned to staring in front of him. A stained glass window was casting light on his face.
“You and your sister were close?”
“We shared a bond.” Hari sighed. “I can still feel her. It's like she's still alive.”
“Being psychic is cruel that way.”
An awkward silence.
“I should go.”
“Take this.” Hari handed back the business card.
“You don't want to keep it as a souvenir?”
“I don't watch TV.”
The man shrugged and took the card. Sighing, he headed for the door.
“Thank you.” Hari said, turning to face the exiting man.
“No problem, kid.”
“I'll never forget you.”
“I can't even remember what he looked like.” Hari said, burying his head in his hands.
“He sounds like a pretty terrible person.”
“He... he might not have been the most upstanding person, but he helped me.”
Fuschia laughed a little. Hari's eye caught hers, and she waved him off.
“Sometimes I feel like I'm the only one who ever pays attention to celebrities these days... Come on, Hari. If we get out of this alive, I'll tell you who to thank.”