Far beneath the Sinnoh region, there lies a vast area of tunnels. If you’re a resident of the region, chances are you’ve already heard the stories. Most people know it as a place of entertainment and adventure; a place where you can experience your very own treasure-hunt. Because of this, the darkest secrets of the tunnels are overlooked, and sometimes even forgotten by everyone not personally affected by it.
See, through the years, many people have disappeared down there. Some have been lucky enough to make it out eventually, but the majority have remained lost to the world above. If you’ve happened to have been down in the tunnels at some point, the thought of people becoming lost in there doesn’t seem so farfetched. Everything looks almost identical down there, and there’s no way of knowing which way you’ve already walked once you’ve started to advance deeper and deeper, unless you’re a fast thinker and put out a trail to avoid getting lost.
However, most people who venture down here seem to think high enough of themselves that they become invincible in their own eyes. Surely, they; a hiker with more than 30 years of experience, for example, wouldn’t bow down to some winding underground tunnels? No, that’s just ridiculous.
But while confidence is a virtue in many situations, it seems to make these people more foolish once they’re down in the tunnels. Children and grown-ups alike run around giddily in search of spheres, heart scales and if they’re lucky, even a fossil or two. It makes them lose track of time and thus, eventually, lose track of their surroundings.
Before they know it, they’re lost. Fortunately for some, using their Explorer Kit makes them able to return to the outside world, above the cold, dark earth they were trapped beneath just moments before. The worry of becoming one of the lost ones will slowly wear off once the person is able to breathe the fresh air above ground. They will forget about it and move on to their homes or the journey they’ve embarked on. They will forget about the ordeal that could easily have had a tragic end.
They will move on.
One boy deciding to make his way into the underground was just as confident in himself as the people mentioned earlier. Ever since he’d left home to experience his very own adventure, which was a little more than three weeks ago, he’d heard the stories of the Underground; of the treasures and of course, the lost ones. The stories and rumors had come into existence even before he was born, and it was something his grandfather enjoyed telling him about in the evenings, much to the discontent of the boy’s mother.
His grandfather spoke of how he’d ventured into the tunnels on several occasions in his youth, when he was around the same age as the boy himself. He talked about how he and his loyal Pokémon had unearthed some bones once, how much it had startled them, and about all the different traps they’d rigged into the ground.
”But they were all just for laughs”, the boy’s grandfather reassured. ”Most of those traps were completely harmless.” After all, the intention was not to hurt the other travelers down there, simply give them a bit of a startle and a challenge.
The boy took his grandfather’s stories with him on his journey, storing the old man’s advices in the safety of his mind. He received his starter Pokémon; a bouncy Chimchar, and caught a lot of others before he came to the point of his journey that his grandfather had told him so much about.
People he’d met and battled in or around the Lost Tower had constantly reminded him that if he entered the Underground, he would do so at his own risk.
How silly they were. The boy wasn’t afraid of some underground tunnels; his biggest concern about venturing down there was if his bag would be able to hold all the treasure he’d find or if his favorite sneakers would get ruined by all the dirt and dust.
With confidence, he retrieved his Explorer Kit, called back his trusted Chimchar to its Pokéball, and headed down into the depths.
His worries had been legitimate after all; his meager backpack hadn’t been nearly enough to contain all the different-sized spheres he had dug out during the time he’d spent underground. Not only had he gotten enough spheres to last him a lifetime but he’d also, to his great delight, found some fossils. Perhaps they’d be of use some time.
Satisfied with his findings, he walked around the tunnels a bit more before deciding to return to the surface. It was like a wholly different world down here where no natural light existed; the only sources of light being the many bulbs in the ceiling, and the light his Chimchar gave off whenever they reached an area where there were no lightbulbs.
The boy sighed, recalled his Pokémon and took out his Explorer Kit for a trip to the world above ground. He’d miss this place, but he had set his goals on the Pokémon League, and he couldn’t stay down here treasure-hunting forever.
Making sure to pick a good spot to go up from – he wouldn’t wanna go up only to hit his head on a rock or get stuck in some bushes – the boy took a few more steps until he found the spot that felt just right. He pressed the button, and-
Nothing happened at first, but that only lasted for a few milliseconds before he felt the ground disappearing from underneath his feet and he fell for what felt like ages.
The fall wasn’t that long, naturally, but when things happen too fast for the brain to react, the moment seems to somehow slow down, however crazy that might sound. Soon, our young adventurer found himself trapped in the ground, squeezed into a hole that was so narrow it made breathing difficult. His backpack with all its contents didn’t really make things easier either, as they pressed him further into the dirt wall.
A few hacking coughs later, the boy tried to survey his surroundings and ponder his next move, which didn’t come easy either since he was constantly distracted by small particles of dirt getting into his eyes. He’d encountered a few traps before, but none of the fall traps had sent him this deep down. Perhaps it’d just been some sort of cruel joke, until he realized that that was the point of traps to begin with.
But the boy still hadn’t lost his hopes and didn’t even consider that he might be in deeper trouble than he thought as he tried to wriggle his stuck left arm out from between himself and the wall. As he did so, there was a sharp flash of pain, and he let out a little yelp as he felt it coursing through his arm and upper body.
He must’ve broken it somehow. There was no way that he’d be able to pull it free without fainting from the pain. Even if he didn’t faint, his left arm was still rendered useless.
The boy tried twisting his free arm backwards so that he could open his backpack. Calling out one of his Pokémon to search for help seemed like the best idea right about now, and he would’ve done so if he could just… reach it…
He felt the cold steel of the zipper against his straining fingers for a moment before he had to draw his arm back again. That’s as far as it would go, unless he wanted to dislocate his right arm in order to reach into the backpack. Needless to say, he’d rather not take that risk. Instead, he breathed in as deeply as the wall would allow him and yelled out for someone, anyone, to come to his aid.
As he waited, yelled again, and waited some more, he eventually found himself dozing off; his cheek resting uncomfortably against the dirt wall.
Despite this predicament, panic had not yet settled in his mind, and so he slept quite soundly.
Our hero awoke from his light sleep by a sound coming from above, steadily increasing in volume. Blinking to try and get the dust out of his eyelashes, he soon recognized the sounds as what had to be footsteps. Light and somewhat haphazard footsteps, from what he could tell. The approaching person was probably looking around for treasure at his own pace and the thought struck him that this other unassuming person might fall into the pit himself.
Taking another deep breath (as deep as he could muster), the boy yelled out once again; he did not want this person to fall down the pit and onto him.
However, his call of warning was cut short by another fit of hacking coughs, most likely caused by all the dust – and Arceus knows what else – he’d been inhaling. In any case, he had to have been heard by the approaching person, because by the time he finished his coughing fit, the footsteps could no longer be heard.
As he listened tentatively, waiting for this person to make himself known, a worry started nagging in his mind; what if he’d just imagined the footsteps all along? Could they have been a dream? Judging by the heavy silence of the above tunnel, this worry didn’t seem like such a stretch.
The boy called out again, just to make sure, but was only met with his own empty echo.
He had remained admirably stoic up until then, but that was when he felt his confidence falter, leaving him with every heaving, panicked and constricted breath. The panic settled in; better late than never, one would suppose – and he could feel his eyes watering up.
Surely, someone had to find him here? People came down into the Underground all the time, and it was only a matter of time before one of them would stumble upon him. That had to be the case, right?
Deep inside, he knew how it really was; but he was still holding onto that tiny little string of hope.
He’d heard all the stories, and he’d come prepared, hadn’t he? He had his Pokémon with him, he had supplies, tools – all he needed to survive! But the truth was that the tunnels were sparsely populated at the best of times, and the boy couldn’t quite recall having ever run into any other treasure hunter during his own time spent in the tunnels. The only people he’d met had been one or four men who wanted to trade spheres with him, and he’d been down here for what must’ve been hours on end.
At first, he’d been a little surprised to see so few people looking for treasures, but the surprise had quickly turned into glee; more treasure for him.
Now, the boy felt foolish for ever thinking that way. Now, there was nothing he wanted more than for some other treasure hunter to come waltzing by, noticing the young boy trapped in the pit and save him.
Before the panic was able to claim the rest of his body, though, there came another sound from above. Directly above the pit, there was a single, light footstep.
Joy! So it hadn’t been a dream, after all!
He didn’t bother hiding his tears – under other, less life-threatening circumstances, he probably would’ve – but now wasn’t the time to show how tough he was. All he wanted right now was for this person to rescue him and take him out of the Underground so that he could make sure to never return there again; to put it all behind him.
As his head shot up and his eyes slowly got used to the light emanating from the lightbulbs in the ceiling, the shadow looking down on him slowly started to form a shape, but it wasn’t like any shape he had ever seen before. Maybe his eyesight was just blurry from all the dirt and dust? That had to be the case, because the person up there didn’t look like a person at all, but rather some sort of unshapely mass. A Pokémon?
Just as he felt the disappointment wash over him again – no way a wild Pokémon would listen to his pleas and go get help – the “person” spoke to him. Or at least, that’s what he supposed it was trying to do, since all he heard was some sort of gurgling sound that slowly faded into a wheeze, which then faded into nothing.
Our little hero was bewildered, to say the least, but perhaps even more frightened by this… this thing. Or perhaps it wasn’t a “thing”? Perhaps it was just another person, like him, who had been hurt and was now begging for help. That seemed most probable, and that reassured the boy a little. That is, until his eyes got fully accustomed to the harsh glare of the lightbulbs and he got to behold what looked to be a man, but couldn’t be. Not anymore. Not with all those spotty, red mushrooms growing all over his body.
The thing, he was now positively sure that this was indeed a thing, emitted another gravelly (and what sounded like anguished) moan from somewhere deep inside its overgrown body. That’s when the boy managed to break out of his trance and proceed to scream until his throat was sore, but still, he kept screaming. There was no end to it, it seemed, but sadly, there was an end to the limited air supply down in the pit.
He passed out, still faintly screaming, his face getting pressed up against the dirt wall once more. But perhaps that was for the best. After all, he didn’t have to see the thing climbing further down towards him on its many light-footed legs.
So, you can all guess how this particular story ends, can’t you? Many people get lost down in the Underground, and some do actually return, but the question then is; upon their return, what sort of condition are they in?
It’s been said that the ones that manage to get out after being lost are never the same people that they used to be, be it for better or worse. Catatonic states, violent bursts of uncontrollable temper and such have been reported among the returned ones throughout the years, and you’ll have to ask yourself what kind of things they saw that managed to make them that way.
As for our young hero, he was sadly never one of the returned ones. His family grieved over their son’s unexplained disappearance, the sphere-traders in the tunnels were questioned, as were the people by the Lost Tower that had spoken to the boy, but it all came down to nothing in the end.
Years passed and the boy’s family eventually moved on, new children were conceived to fill the blank slate their son had left behind, and in time, he would eventually be forgotten; merely remembered as one of countless people to get lost in the Underground.
Perhaps his confidence became his undoing in the end, there’s really no way to know for sure. After all, it’s just a bunch of winding tunnels, and nothing more. Why would he be afraid of tunnels?
How silly he was.
So, young traveller, if you ever find yourself visiting the Underground in the Sinnoh region, keep all this in mind before you decide to venture down there.
Staying above ground and continuing your journey is what would be most advised, but if you still, against all better judgement, go underground, remember this cautionary tale.
And remember that should you actually get lost, you’re never really alone down there.
Who knows? Maybe our young hero is still down there somewhere, scuttling lightly on his many legs, waiting for the company of someone who used to be just like him?
So if you see a patch of spotty red mushrooms growing somewhere in a dark corner of the tunnels, watch yourself; it might just be him. And he’s been alone for a long, long time.