Snowdrift

Twenty-one
Back in the Blue

There was a big group of people outside the next morning, but they weren't camera crews, just ordinary people wishing us good luck on our journey to find our egg. We bid them farewell and took off in the direction Sapphire pointed in.

"We should make it to the right city in about two days time," Sapphire informed us, "Maybe a little more if we stop for a break."

We had all her Pokémon with us, but they were all in Pokéballs. Shelly was riding Glacier and Sapphire perched on my back. I could tell by her weight that there would be a fair few rests, and Glacier probably wasn't up to long distances yet.

I couldn't hold the suspense any longer; I just had to know. I had known her for weeks and I needed to know.

"What's that blue stone you've got around your neck?" I asked Sapphire during our flight.

I couldn't see, but I knew she had raised her hand to finger the stone. "It's a stone my mother gave to me when I was six," she said wistfully, "It's called a sapphire. She told me it is said to bring wisdom, faithfulness and clear thinking. I've lived with this Sapphire and those words for my whole life. So far, it's been working for me."

"That's a powerful stone!" said Shelly, when Glacier flew up to hear.

"Oh, it feels so good to spread my wings again!" cried Glacier, "You have no idea what it's like to be stuck in there for a month and not be able to fly. I'd almost forgotten what it feels like!"

I laughed. "Technically, Glacier, you only knew you were there for two and a half weeks. The rest you were unconscious."

He shrugged. "Okay, fine, two and a half weeks without flying!" He grinned. I grinned too. The two days flight would pass quickly with friends like these.

Sure enough, it wasn't long before we saw the city in the distance. It was much different to Sunset Town, so much bigger, and greyer. I didn't like it.

"I've rented a hotel room that allows Pokémon," said Sapphire, "They didn't have any freezers or anything, but we can turn the air-con on full pelt."

I didn't know what air-con was, but it sounded okay.

She looked at her piece of paper she called a map and gave us directions to the hotel. It was a huge building, at least a hundred times taller than Sapphire's house, and much wider too.

"We're going to live here?" I asked her, my eyes filled with awe.

"This is a hotel. People pay money to stay in one room in here. Each room is exactly the same, but there are some that have to be fireproof."

We glided down and tried to ignore the hoards of people dropping their jaws and pointing and gasping. Led by Sapphire, we walked in through the double doors through a marble hallway and into a huge room, almost as big as the stadium, that Sapphire called the lobby. She told us to wait while she went to get our room key. I had no idea about all these new words, and I couldn't be bothered.

"Watch your tail, Glace," warned Shelly, pointing to a small boy about to give it a good yank.

Glacier turned and glared at the kid, wrenching his tail to his chest and holding it there. "See, you don't have to worry about this kind of thing anymore," he told me. I giggled.

The people in the city were much less welcoming than the townsfolk. They all pointed and stared and whispered to each other about the missing tail on 'that Articuno'. Not for the first time, I felt naked without my tail. Finally, Sapphire came and showed us to the 'lift' that would take us to our room.

We stood with another group of gawkers, one of whom asked if Sapphire was the girl from TV, and waited in front of the big silver doors for the lift. We waited. And waited. And waited some more. Eventually, after so many questions, the lift came. Scores of people streamed out, gasping at us, leaving a small empty room. We walked in and Sapphire pushed some buttons, as did a lot of other people, and stood for more waiting.

The doors closed and the lift lurched to life. It felt worse than being in a Pokéball. I could still move, but my stomach was doing weird things. The doors opened and people walked out. The exercise was repeated another four times before we made our way out, ignoring the look on the person's face who was next entering the lift.

We walked through a maze of corridors before Sapphire said, "Here we are, 7831." She stuck the little rectangle of plastic in the door, which looked exactly the same as all the others, and it opened. Those tiny squiggles on the door must have great significance.

We walked in the room and Sapphire closed the door behind her. The room was about the size of Sapphire's lounge room, but it had everything in the house in the one room. There was a bed, a TV, a table and chairs, a fridge, and off to the side in a separate room was the bath and shower. On the floor by Sapphire's bed was a pile of neatly placed blankets for us to sleep on.

The far wall was completely covered by glass, through which I could tell we were very high up. I walked over to it and looked through at the city. Hundreds of buildings, all lower down than we were, spiked their way to the sky. Running through the city, splitting it in two, was a brown river. It didn't even seem suitable for a Magikarp to live in.

Sapphire came over and opened a sliding glass door and walked out to the balcony. She rested her arms on the rail and gazed over the city. Glacier, Shelly and I joined her.

We stared out for a fair while in silence, watching the sun sink to the pointed grey horizon. When the last sliver of gold had disappeared, Glacier broke the silence. "What's say we fly up through the window from now on? I don't think I can put up with that lift another time."

"Here, here!" agreed Shelly.

Sapphire and I nodded in agreement.

"Right," said Sapphire, turning to go inside, "We'll have a good night's sleep then head off to the EggSales.com showroom in the morning."

So again we bedded down and went to sleep.

Twenty-two