There were wires visible beneath the sign, sporadically shooting sparks through the air which melted in to emptiness. Above them, only the R and both As remained of what had once been this Pret a Manger store’s luminescent nomenclature, now a symbolic vestige from society’s carcass.
It hadn’t been the first to go.
First had been Starbucks. Suzanne thought bitterly of that day the coffee chain had decided to coincide the appearance of a Rhyhorn with the release of its new white chocolate Frappuccino in all London branches.
What had occurred was carnage. Stores were destroyed, staff had been assaulted and white chocolate Frappuccinos, rather than establishing themselves as a new symbol of decadence for the caffeine-fuelled metropolitan bourgeoisie, were hurled with nihilistic abandon from trainer to trainer. 4 people had died, Starbucks made losses of over £200 million, and 134 Rhyhorns moved from augmented wilderness to virtual ball.
That was just the beginning. Rare Pokémon suddenly began appearing in public places with brazen spontaneity. The police had issued public orderings; the government had demanded an end to the mayhem, while spiritual leaders from all faiths urged followers not to give in to these false idols. But nothing could stop the mob.
Suzanne remembered the day her branch of Sainsbury’s, where she’d been working for 2 years, met its end. It had been an ironically bright October morning: 2016 if she recalled correctly, not that such trivialities as dates mattered much now. Her colleague, Oscar, was back from a weekend away in Magaluf, and had returned with a tattoo of a big cock down his right thigh. They had laughed. Perhaps that had been the last time she had experienced laughter? It was hard to tell. Their conviviality had been disrupted by the blonde trainee Annie, usually so bubbly, standing then white as a sheet, phone in hand.
“Annie, what is it?” But still she stood, mute.
“Come on love, looks like you’ve seen a ghost” chuckled Oscar, but the atmosphere had turned cold. Everyone in the store now waited for Annie to respond.
She raised her arm slowly, waveringly, and pointed towards the vegetable isle.
“Th-th-there” She stammered, almost inaudibly.
“What is it? WHAT IS IT, GODDAMN IT! ANNIE TELL US WHAT THE FUCK IS IT?!?!”
Now she was crying. Her lip vibrated with a palpable fear. She was only 19, the poor girl. No age to go.
Before she could get it out, before any of them could rush over to check her phone, the distant roar erupted. Within minutes, there would be dozens of people, young and old, male and female, rich and poor, armed with various weapons and smartphones. And they had no interest in organic yoghurts, or hydrated fennel, or discounted capri-sun. Suzanne’s final, lasting image had been that of Bruce, the 61-year old Carribean security guard, with one single tear running down an expression of complete helplessness. He had just become a grandfather.
But that was the past. That was in civilisation. That was when the biggest issue on our minds was Britain leaving Europe. Now there was no Britain. There was no Europe, for all Suzanne knew, although how far the Pokémon-go virus had spread was impossible to deduce now the last radio signals had gone. Through her long-vision poke-goggles, she took in her surroundings: embers of fires still burnt in the streets, and in dark corners, apparitions of Ekans’, Rattatas and Zubats whistled gleeful squeals.
She perched under what had been the Pret counter, but she wasn’t interested in selling lemon cheesecake tubs to the Instagram-addled mothers of yesteryear. She could see others taking up positions within the charred frames of nearby shops. Two men dressed in what looked like 19th century striped pyjamas and old army helmets peered out from the balcony at Pizza Express. Within the disembowelled sediments of an Abercrombie and Fitch store, some Pokémon trainers feasted over the rotten corpse of a fox. It would be good to taste meat again, Suzanne thought.
And then it appeared. At first it barely caught Suzanne’s attention: merely a spotted Pokémon in the area making its way towards them. But then the fluorescent dot from her Pokegoggles grew larger. Others were aware now too: the fox flesh went untouched; someone opened up a parasol frame in Pizza Express, as if to say: ‘I am prepared for anything’.
It floated around the corner, past Sainsbury’s Local, with an ethereal elegance. Light shimmered from all aspects of its being, as if within it lay the truth of life’s eternity. Its movements were deliberate, yet majestically unrushed, and on its face a look of what can only be described as absolute empathy and humility was crafted in to features of preternatural perfection. Suzanne gasped: had anything of such beauty ever walked this undeserving earth?
It was a Mew. Maybe the Mew. She had thought it a myth, a far-flung fancy of the cult-minded cheats and scoundrels hoping to lure in the young. But here, in front of her, Suzanne could not deny existence; in some ways, she felt maybe this divine apparition transcended human existence, and belonged among the stars and gods above.
She crumbled to the floor, her face flooded with a mixture of deferential tears and blubbering snot juices. Her dignity, her pride: what were these trivial matters, now she had glimpsed heaven’s infinite prize? Others fell likewise in awe-inspired genuflection, casting aside gnawed fox legs and old Ugg shoe boxes, the false idols of an older, weaker age. Above them all, Mew surveyed the spectacle calmly, like Alexander on the banks of the Ganges, and was pleased.
The R fell from the Pret a Manger display.
Images from: https://metro.co.uk/2017/07/07/rioters-filmed-looting-supermarket-during-second-night-of-violent-g20-protests-6763519/ and http://www.rightthisminute.com/video/rtmtv-people-get-their-couches-and-crowds-gather-parks-play-pokemon-go?taken-by=deandre__6 and http://blog.maryevans.com/riots/ and https://echwaluphotography.wordpress.com/page/13/ and https://wallpapersafari.com/pokemon-mew-wallpaper/