Rachel sat down on the park bench in a huff, frustrated at her phone’s feeble GPS connection. The large, red banner loudly declaring ‘GPS signal not found” below the notification bar was starting to get on her nerves.
Turning her head, she saw people engrossed with their phones, walking on the well-trodden paths, as if in a daze. Then one of them would suddenly stop in their tracks, and hold their phone up, as if to take a picture – but she knew this was no picture.
It was a wild Pokemon, one only they could see with the help of augmented reality.
She wondered to herself. What Pokemon was it?
A Sandshrew? An Eevee?
Then her awakened mind whirred into life. If she caught three Eevees, each of them would give rise to the original three Eeveelutions – Vaporean, Jolteon and Flareon. Or – even better, since this was one of her favourites of all time – a Dratini? Then it would eventually evolve into the invincible Dragonight.
All this made her feel even worse. Her good friend had already caught a Kabutops, which would never have been possible in the original game. What if she never caught anything? Everyone seemed to be playing and filling their boxes at an incredible rate. How did they do it?
She looked at her battered Android phone, and sighed. At this rate, she would never catch a single one. She had meant to take a leisurely walk in the local park and catch a few, if her cranky phone allowed her. But the damned contraption had refused to cooperate.
Biting her lip, she remained frozen on the park bench, fingering her well-worn bag.
She’d brought a book along. Should she read?
She sighed heavily.
The warm sunlight streamed through the branches, lighting up the bougainvilleas for their debutantes in the furious summer. They announced their raucous arrival through bursts of violet, magenta and pink –
Their sheer vibrancy made her stare in innocent wonder. What beautiful flowers! One could almost feel their colours vibrating in the stagnant summer air. Her fingers soon stopped fidgeting.
Then her eyes widened. Beneath the flowers, a sleepy snail had hitched itself onto a glazed rock, and was hanging on for dear life, its heavy home swaying awkwardly. She laughed at its absurd position. Then she looked up, and for the first time since her arrival, noticed a pristine sky brimming with fluffy fortresses for clouds. Billowing tufts of darkening columns, strong enough to hold a thousand raindrops. She got up, and walked over to the bougainvilleas to examine them closely, and cried out in delight. A butterfly was emerging out of its chrysalis – completing its metamorphosis from an unknowing infant caterpillar, to newly confident adult. She crouched down to her knees, watching it struggle out of its broken cocoon. It had iridescent blue splotches on its jet-black wings. A strange awe overcame her, which was soon replaced by a growing sense of pride that blossomed and took root in her heart. She was now observing a sacred ritual of life. How long had it taken for this butterfly to grow? What species of butterfly was this? She made a mental note to head to the library during her next weekend break.
Then she glanced at the others.
Had they noticed…what she had seen?
“Oh my god! I caught a Dragonair!” One girl tittered excitedly to her absorbed friend, who ignored her as she walked around absent-mindedly, straying off the path…and walking over a patch of yellow wildflowers, crushing them beneath her Converse shoes. Rachel winced. She looked at another group of equally glassy-eyed individuals and tried to suppress her own laughter. This game was even more adept at turning normal people into zombies than Resident Evil.
She shrugged her shoulders, and picked up her phone again. Oh?
The map of the park had finally loaded itself on her phone…and there was a Dratini nearby.
But Rachel laughed and closed the app, picking up her bag as she hummed to herself, skipping down the stony path.
There was an even better quarry in store for her than a mere pixelated monster.
(I decided to try my hand at finishing a short story that was languishing in my drafts today 🙂 )
© Zelda Reville