When One Door Closes, Two More Open

On the first day of his journey with his rebellious starter, Ash befriends a Spearow and a Rattata. Ash is seriously injured by Pikachu after saving the young spearow from a Thunderbolt, but the Spearow, her flock, and the Rattata save his life. With not one but two new starters, a strange new ability to understand Pokémon, and a calmer and smarter attitude, a new journey begins.



17. Not So Grim, Grinning Ghosts

"So why are we going to this creepy place again?" Misty groaned as they headed towards Lavender Town.

"Misty, I told you, my cousin's birthday is coming up." Ash said. "He loves ghost Pokémon more than anything, so I want to catch him one. And Pokémon Tower is supposed to be a good place to get one. It is one of the most haunted places in Kanto, after all." He was smiling when he said this. "I can't wait to explore it. Ethan's going to flip when he sees the video I'm going to take from him. Maybe we'll get to see a real, live ghost!"

"Technically, ghosts aren't alive." Trevor pointed out.

"I have really got to explain what figures of speech are to you someday." Ash said with a fake long suffering sigh, rolling his eyes playfully at his starter.

"Man, there's a lot of fog rolling in." Brock said as fog began to cover the area.

"Everyone stay close." Ash cautioned. "We don't want to get separated."

"I can barely see." Aidan said nervously, clinging to Ash's pant leg. "This is really creepy…." Suddenly, he felt a tap on his shoulder and turned back to see what looked like a floating skull grinning at him.

"AHHHHHHH!" Aidan screamed, unleashing a Flamethrower at the "monster." Unfortunately, it ducked and he ended up hitting Ash instead, making Ash let out a loud yell.

"Ash, don't scream like that, you nearly scared the life out of me!" Misty, who hadn't seen what happened, complained.

"Well, sorry for screaming while I was hit by fire!" Ash retorted. "Aidan, what the heck did you do that for?!" he asked his Charmander, his voice a little angrier than he had intended it to be, but that Flamethrower had HURT.

But Aidan was looking behind him and pointing frantically. "T-There…." he whimpered as the skull monster came closer.

Ash looked startled for a second, then realized what the "skull" really was. He reached down and yanked off the skull mask, revealing Loki. "Loki, that wasn't nice." Ash scolded.

"Maybe not, but it WAS funny." Loki said with a grin, then jumped out of the way as a fuming Aidan shot an Ember at his feet.

Ash sweat dropped. "Mist, we have weird Pokémon." he said to his friend.

"Aww, you love us anyway." Venom joked, hovering upside down three inches from Ash's face and making him jump.

"And I have weird friends." Trevor muttered, wondering how the heck Venom had done that.

"You're just as weird as the rest of us, Mr. Know It All." Judy teased.

"Sorry for hitting you with that Flamethrower, Ash." Aidan apologized softly, looking down.

"It's okay, buddy, but try to be more careful with that next time, all right?" Ash told him, knowing Aidan hadn't hit him on purpose.

"Look, there's Lavender Town!" Brock said, pointing. The purple town was bathed in the glow of the sunset. "I'm glad we got here before it got dark." The group entered Lavender Town, unaware of the curious eyes that had been watching them, and the large shadow following them.


A half hour later, they arrived at Pokémon Tower. It was an old, abandoned hotel, menacing looking with horns at the top and windows that were shaped like a face. It was said to be the most haunted place in Kanto, and rumor had it that it was built on top of an old burial ground.

"This place is spooky." Misty said, shivering.

"I know. Isn't it awesome?" Ash asked with a grin. "I've been wanting to visit this place for a while."

"Why in the world would you want to visit an old abandoned hotel?" Misty asked. "Especially one that's haunted?" She shivered.

"Me and Ethan are big into ghosts and cool mysteries." Ash told her. "We always used to watch ghost shows and even snuck into a few houses that were said to be haunted when we were together. We saw this place on Spirit Hunters and Ethan made me promise that when I went on my journey, I'd explore Pokémon Tower and get it all on video for him."

"It sounds like you guys are close." Misty said softly.

Ash nodded. "Yeah, he's like my brother. That's why I want to make this birthday extra-special for him. It's his tenth, so he'll be heading out on his Pokémon journey. Hopefully I'll be able to find a good ghost Pokémon for him."

"We'll help you." Misty said and Brock nodded.

Ash smiled. "Thanks, guys." He started to head towards Pokémon Tower, Misty and Brock, and Ash's Pokémon close behind.

Ash pushed the heavy door open slowly, making it creak loudly. "Hello? Anyone home?" he called.

"Ash, do you really want someone to answer that?" Trevor asked, looking around nervously.

"I think someone's scared." Loki taunted playfully.

Trevor glared at him. "Am not!"

"Wow, it's really dark in here." Brock said. The door suddenly slammed shut, making everyone jump.

"And now it's pitch black!" Misty cried.

"Hold on, let me find my flashlight." Ash said, digging through his backpack.

"Ash, is this you over here?" Brock asked, reaching out blindly and grabbing Trevor's tail by mistake. Trevor yelled in shock and dug his claws hard into Ash's shoulder, making Ash yelp and drop the bag on his foot.

"Something's got me!" Trevor screamed and Ash found his flashlight and turned it on, revealing Brock holding Trevor by his tail.

"Oh." Trevor said sheepishly, his cheeks bright red as Ash took him from Brock. Loki was literally rolling on the floor laughing and Judy was trying really hard not to.

Ash petted Trevor, then placed him on his other shoulder, shaking his head. "Remind me to wear a suit of armor if we ever go to another haunted place." he muttered as he rubbed his sore shoulder and lifted his backpack off his throbbing foot.

Ash shined the flashlight around the room, revealing an old fireplace with candlesticks on it and some dusty old furniture covered in sheets. "No ghost Pokémon yet, but they might be further i..." His flashlight suddenly flickered and died out. "Uh-oh."

"Please tell me you have extra batteries..." Misty groaned.

Ash slapped his forehead, though no one could see it in the dark. "I KNEW there was something I forgot to buy at the Poké Mart..."

Misty glared in his general direction. "Well, that's just great!" she growled.

"Calm down, calm down...I saw some candles on the fireplace. Let me just grab one of those...OW!" Brock yelled.

"What happened?" Ash asked as he managed to find his video camera and turn it on, using the night vision to see.

"Stubbed my toe. Okay, I think I got the candle...Yep, that's definitely a candle. Hey Aidan, can you come over here and light this for me?" Aidan nodded and walked over, using his tail flame to find Brock, then shot a Flamethrower at the candle, but overpowered it and hit Brock as well by mistake. Brock glared at Aidan. "I said light the candle, NOT ME!"

Aidan flinched and jumped backwards. "Sorry!"

Ash rubbed Aidan's head to soothe him and gave Brock an apologetic look. "Next training day, we work on Flamethrower control, okay Aidan?" Aidan nodded sheepishly.

Suddenly, they heard the sounds of creepy laughter coming from somewhere in the tower. Ash and Misty ended up hugging each other in fear. "Where-Where are those voices coming from?" Misty asked.

"It's probably just Ghost Pokémon." Ash said, though he sounded a bit nervous. Blushing, he let go of Misty.

"Should-Should we go check it out?" Brock asked, his own voice a bit nervous.

"Might as well." Ash said.

"Ooh, is this the part where we become shish kabob for a psychotic serial killer who escaped from an insane asylum and is hiding in an abandoned hotel?" Loki asked with disturbing cheerfulness, having seen it in a horror movie he and his gang snuck into a movie theater to see. Aidan cringed and clung to Ash's pant leg and Trevor was actually shaking a little.

"No, Loki." Ash said, rolling his eyes at the Squirtle as he petted Aidan and Trevor to calm them. "There's no serial killers in Pokémon Tower, so quit scaring Aidan and Trevor."

"Fine, I'll take your word for it, but if some maniac with a hook for a hand comes after us, I am so tripping you." Loki joked.

Guided by the light of the candle and Aidan's tail, the group headed down the hallway, taking the first door. They came upon what looked like a huge banquet hall. Lights suddenly came on as they walked in, making everyone jump. The table was set with dishes that were surprisingly clean.

"It looks like some sort of fancy restaurant." Brock said.

"Maybe it's some sort of party?" Misty suggested. "Or a reception?"

"In an old abandoned hotel that's said to be haunted?" Ash said. "It'd be a pretty weird place to have a party. Something odd is going on here."

"You think?" Trevor said sarcastically, making Ash roll his eyes at him.

"What's this string hanging from the ceiling?" Misty asked, noticing a string with a small sign attached.

"It says "Pull this." Brock read.

"Don't pull it!" Ash told them frantically.

Misty rolled her eyes. "We're not stupid, Ash."

A curious Venom flew up to see what the string was attached to, then started to go back down to them. "It's attached to some weird looking ball and a big…." He was cut off when he felt a sharp tug. His back stinger had got caught on the string, pulling it down.

The ball broke open, sending confetti flying and a big banner reading WELCOME dropped down. "Are we…" Brock started.

"Being welcomed?" Misty asked, finishing Brock's sentence before he could. But confusion soon turned to fear as the dishes, tables, and chairs began levitating in the air and flying at them. Judy grabbed a tray from the air and began using it to shield her friends and trainer from flying dishes.

"AHHH!" Brock yelled, getting scooped up by a flying chair. Ash and Misty gasped and rushed to help him.

"Help!" Trevor yelled, getting lifted off the ground by a big plate and taken towards the opposite side of the room. Aidan leapt on top of a flying dish and leapt towards Trevor, grabbing him. They were about to crash into the wall when Judy grabbed them both and leapt on the table.

A pitcher went flying at Loki and he braced himself for impact, but Venom grabbed him, pulling him out of the way just in time. Dodging flying dishes, the group of Pokémon raced out of the room.


"Okay, there's got to be a logical explanation for what happened in there." Trevor said, panting as the group reached the living room.

"This place is freaking haunted, there's your explanation!" Loki exclaimed. "Now let's make like a tree and leave!"

"Wait. Where's Ash?" Judy asked in a panic, looking around.

"They must not have gotten out of there!" Aidan cried in fear. At those words, Judy ran back towards the dining room to find her trainer, Aidan, Venom and Trevor hot on her heels.

"Yeah, run back into the place where the creepy-ass stuff just happened, real smart." Loki muttered, but followed them in anyway. Much to their surprise, the room looked completely untouched, the dishes sitting on the table again. There was no sign of their trainers.

"Where are they?" a worried Judy asked.

"Maybe the ghost got them!" a frightened Aidan said.

"No, that's not possible." Trevor said, though he looked unsure. "This room has more than one exit, maybe they went out through the other door."

"Let's find them." Judy said. The group walked through the room. Suddenly, the lights went out, making Aidan yelp and Trevor leap into Judy's arms in fear.

"It-It's okay, guys, it was just the lights." Trevor reassured them, though his voice was shaking a bit.

"You guys are wild Pokémon, you don't get it. If the lights go off in a haunted place, it means scary stuff is about to happen!" Loki exclaimed.

"Loki, knock it off and quit trying to scare everyone!" Judy snapped. "Let's just find our trainers and get out of here!"

The group of Pokémon headed out of the dining room and down the hallway, looking around nervously. "Ash?" Judy called, looking around. Suddenly, a cupboard door opened quietly and something that seemed to glow purple and be made of shadows floated out of it. Its glowing white eyes focused on Judy and it gave her a sinister smile.

"Guys…." Judy said in a horrified voice, pointing. "Look…."

The others, who were all in front of her, turned to look. But by the time they looked, the creature had vanished.

"Judy, there's nothing there." Trevor told her.

"But it was right there!" Judy protested.

"You must be seeing things." Loki said, though he looked unsure.

"But it was there!" Judy protested, but she followed the others anyway. Aidan moved so he was right beside her.

They had only walked a little further when the creature suddenly appeared in front of Judy, right in front of the back of Judy's head. It grinned at them, showing razor sharp teeth.

"AHHHHHHHHHHHH!" both Judy and Aidan screamed and Aidan hid behind Judy.

"Don't tell me you're seeing things again." Loki said, and the creature mimicked his words. The creature then started to move forwards, an evil grin on its face.

"GET AWAY!" Judy yelled, instinctively throwing a punch at the creature, but it vanished at the last second and Judy ended up punching Loki right as he turned around to see what was going on, sending him flying across the room.

"Ow…" Loki groaned as he hit the wall. Judy gasped and rushed to check on him, but tripped over Trevor. Loki glared at Judy and was about to yell at her when creepy laughter filled the room.

"Please tell me that was one of you." Trevor muttered nervously as he got up, looking around frantically. Three pairs of glowing eyes stared at them in the darkness as the laughter continued. Trevor and Aidan jumped into Judy's arms in fear.

"Well, guys, I suggest we….RUN!" Loki screamed, taking off at full speed. Judy ran off at full speed as well, carrying Aidan and Trevor. None of them realized that Venom wasn't behind them.


Meanwhile, Ash, Misty, and Brock had run into a dark study and shut the door, hearing the dishes that had been flying after them crashing into the old wooden door. They waited for a few minutes, scared and completely silent, until all noises had stopped.

"Do-Do you think whatever's doing this is gone?" Misty asked in a shaky whisper.

"I don't hear anything." Brock said quietly.

"Wait, did either of you see what happened to our Pokémon?" Ash asked, his eyes wide. "Please tell me they're not still in there!"

"I-I didn't see them after getting grabbed by that chair." Brock said.

"Me neither." Misty said, worried.

"We've got to go find them!" Ash cried, worried about his Pokémon. Both Misty and Brock shushed him, not wanting the ghost or whatever had made the dishes float to hear them.

"Ash, shh, we'll find them, but I don't want to be ghost food, so quiet down a bit." Misty whispered.

"Everyone grab hands so we don't get lost." Brock said, reaching out. "Where are you guys?" He bumped into Ash and found his hand.

Ash reached out for Misty. "Mist, where are you?" he asked, holding out his hand.

"I'm right here. Where are you?" Misty asked, reaching out. A cold, bony hand took hers.

"Oh, there you are." Ash said, feeling a cold hand slip into his.

"Man, Ash, for someone who eats as much as a Snorlax, you have really bony hands." Misty commented as Brock slowly led the way out.

"My hands are bony? Yours feel like a skeleton!" Ash retorted. The two ended up in an argument over whose hands were bonier, which would have amused Brock had they not been in a haunted tower.

"Guys, you can decide whose hands are bonier after we get out of the creepy tower." Brock whispered as he felt around. His hands hit a wall and he touched what felt like a light switch. "Hey, guys, I think I found a light switch! I wonder if it actually works!" He flipped it on and the lights came on behind him. A loud scream from Misty made Ash and Brock turn, gasping at what they saw.

Misty and Ash were holding hands, not with each other as they had thought, but with a walking skeleton. It slowly turned and its jawbones creaked as it said in a raspy voice, "Thanks for getting me out of there, guys. There's ghosts in here!"

"AAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!" was the three's very understandable response as they ran off. The skeleton shrugged and walked the opposite direction.

Ash, Misty, and Brock ran, looking back to see if the skeleton was following them, rounding a corner at the same time Loki and Judy, who was carrying Aidan and Trevor as she ran, sped around the corner as well.


Both groups slammed into each other, falling hard to the ground. "Ash, you're okay!" Judy cried in relief, hugging him, as did Aidan and Trevor.

"Hate to interrupt the reunion, but let's get out of this freaky place!" Loki told them.

"Wait, where's Venom?" Ash asked, worried.

"He's right behind…." Loki glanced behind him. "Wait, where is he?"

Suddenly, there was a loud yell of pain, making everyone jump. Ash recognized the voice. "Venom!" he cried, rushing back towards the hallway, intent on saving his Pokémon. But there was a crack in the floor and Ash tripped and fell hard. There was a creaking noise above him and Ash looked down to see a huge chandelier falling down towards him.


Ash braced himself for impact, faintly hearing his friends screaming his name, but nothing happened. He looked up to see the chandelier levitating above him. "How…." he asked in astonishment. He noticed movement on his right and turned to see a huge gray and white Pokémon with a large red eye staring at him. It reached out a white hand, gently helping him up, then carefully lowering the chandelier once he was out of the way. Judy ran up to Ash and tackle-hugged him, relieved he was safe.

"Thank you." Ash told the ghost, trying to remember what species it was. Finally he remembered it from a show on Ghost Pokémon he had watched with Ethan. It was a Dusclops, a ghost Pokémon from Hoenn. But what was it doing here?

"Ash!" someone called from the shadows, interrupting his thoughts. Ash turned to see Venom coming out of the shadows, a Gastly, Haunter, and Gengar with him.

"Venom?" Ash called in relief. "Are you okay? I heard you screaming."

"You'd scream too if you hit a shelf with your face." Venom said, rubbing his head.

Ash winced. "Ouch."

"Oh, this is Perry, Bob, and Rico." He gestured to the Gastly, Haunter, and Gengar respectively as he said their names. "They're the ones who were scaring the heck out of us with their awesome pranks."

Ash was wide-eyed as he looked at the three ghosts, translating Venom's words to Misty and Brock. "That was all you guys? The dishes floating and everything?"

The ghosts looked at him in shock. "I may have forgotten to mention my trainer can understand Pokémon." Venom said sheepishly.

"Whoa, really?" the Gastly asked and Venom nodded. "That's freaky!"

"But extremely awesome." Bob, the Haunter, added and the Gastly and Gengar in agreement.

"Wait, so you guys have been the ones scaring the life out of us? What's the meaning of scaring us like that?" Misty demanded angrily.

"It was funny." the Gengar said with a shrug.

Misty growled as Ash translated for her. "You think that was funny?! That wasn't funny! Scaring people like that is not funny!"

The three ghosts looked at her, confused. "You humans love scaring yourselves. Why else would you be in a haunted tower? Plus, it was just a little scare. It's not like we hurt you or anything."

"You nearly beaned me in the head with a glass pitcher!" Loki yelled.

"And you nearly sent me and Aidan flying into the wall!" an angry Trevor added.

"Relax, I would have made sure you turned before hitting the wall. We prank people, we don't hurt them. And that pitcher was made of stage glass. Even if it had hit you, it wouldn't have hurt." the Gengar said.

"Stage what?" Loki asked, confused.

"Stage glass. It's a type of glass designed to be used in plays and movies." the Gengar explained. "You can hit someone over the head with it and it won't even hurt. See?" He pulled out the pitcher and slammed it towards Ash's head. Ash instinctively flinched away, but the pitcher slammed into his head, breaking easily and not causing him any pain. Judy growled and lunged forward with a Fire Punch on instinct, only to be held back by Ash.

"Relax, Judy, I'm fine." he reassured her and she calmed down, looking a little sheepish. Ash quickly translated everything to his friends as Misty was pulling out her Misty Mallet.

"She does realize that thing wouldn't hurt us, right?" the Gastly whispered to Ash as he looked at the mallet.

"It's Misty. She'd find a way to make it hurt." Ash whispered back.

Misty put away her mallet. "So why scare us like this? Are you trying to keep people out of the tower?"

"No. In fact, we want people to come to this tower." Haunter told her and Ash translated.

"Then why are you trying to scare everyone?" Misty asked.

"Because we're trying to make our own comedy show." Gastly told her.

"But on the computer instead of on TV." Haunter added.

"Do you mean a web show?" Ash asked after translating what the ghosts said to the others.

"Yeah, exactly." Gengar told him. Ash was wondering how wild Ghost Pokémon knew so much about human technology. Turning to Gengar, he asked exactly that.

"Oh, I'm not wild." Gengar told him. "Most of the other ghosts here are, but I belong to the caretaker here. He's a retired magician and I used to help him with his tricks."

"Wow." Ash said, his eyes wide. "So, if you don't mind me asking, how'd you do that trick with the plates? Was there a magnet in the floor or did they have motors or something?"

The Gengar started laughing. "No, nothing that complicated. Sometimes the simplest ways are the easiest. I have the move Psychic through TM and used it on the plates."

Ash's eyes got even wider. "You used Psychic on all those plates by yourself?"

"I had help." the Gengar admitted. "Bob knows Psychic too and some of the others here helped us as well."

"There are others besides you four?" Ash asked.

"Yeah, there are lots of others here." the Gengar told him. "They just don't show themselves as much as we do."

"Are there any that are looking for trainers?" Ash asked.

"Yeah, as long as you're not like this spiky haired kid that came in a few days ago and was bragging loudly that he would capture every single Ghost Pokémon in this tower. Let's just say we had him running out of here screaming like a girl. So much for 'the great Gary Oak' as he called himself." the Gengar said. Judy, Trevor, and Venom burst out laughing and Ash tried to hold back his own.

"I can see you holding in that laugh, kid." the Haunter said, then laughed himself. "We got it all on video if you want to see it."

"Speaking of video, you dropped your camera in the dining room during the plate prank." the Gengar told Ash, handing it to him.

"Thanks and don't worry, I won't force any Pokémon to come with me." Ash told him. "My cousin's tenth birthday is coming up and we came here so I could find a ghost Pokémon to be his starter because they're his absolute favorite."

The ghosts began to whisper amongst each other, then nodded. The Gengar turned back to Ash. "We do have a few ghosts looking for trainers. What's this cousin of yours like?"

"Very friendly, hyperactive, loves exploring, pranks, and jokes, and really loves to battle." Ash told him.

The Gengar's eyes lit up as he heard this. "I know the perfect ghost. And you'll be doing both him and us a favor by finding him a trainer."

"Yeah, he's a bit….annoying. He constantly challenges everyone he sees to a battle, whether they want to or not." Haunter said. "That's why we call him Scrappy. He'd probably be pretty happy with a trainer because he'd be able to battle whenever he wants to."

"We'll take you to him." Gengar said and the three ghosts began to lead them upstairs.

Ash looked to the Dusclops the others had called Big Ben. "If you don't mind me asking, have you always lived here? I thought Duskull and Dusclops were native to Hoenn."

"We are." Ben told him. "I was caught in Hoenn as a Duskull, but my trainer released me here at Lavender Tower."

Ash stopped in his tracks, making Judy bump into him. "You were abandoned?" he asked softly.

Ben shook his head. "No, it wasn't like that." he reassured. "My former trainer was a very serious battler and an Elite Trainer, got top two in the Hoenn League and was taking on the Kanto Battle Frontier. He was hoping to use me in the Frontier, but though I tried my best, I was pretty far behind the others and wasn't really good at battling their way. And though I don't mind the occasional battle, I'm not really that crazy about battling. I tried my best to become stronger and make myself as enthusiastic about battles as all of his other Pokémon, but he could tell I wasn't happy. And with his goals, he needed Pokémon who were strong and loved to battle, and I couldn't be that Pokémon. You can't change who you are, and instead of forcing me to be someone I wasn't, he decided it was best for both of us to release me. He brought me here to Lavender Tower so I could at least be with other Ghost Pokémon and I've lived here ever since."

Ash nodded. "Do you like it here?"

Ben nodded. "Yeah, sort of."

"Sort of?"

"The other ghosts are really nice and I do like it here, but I kind of get bored with nothing to do." Ben admitted. "I sometimes help the other ghosts, but when I try to help them with pranks, I…."

"Accidentally prank yourself." the Gastly said with a laugh. He turned to Ash. "If you ever decide to prank, remember, you have to put the bucket of mayonnaise on the door a certain way so it doesn't come back down on you when you go to leave. And always remember where you put the tripwire for the water balloon catapult."

"I'll keep that in mind." Ash said, laughing. He then turned to Ben. "So what do you like to do?"

"I like to help people out and meet new people and Pokémon. As long as I have something to do and friends to hang out with, I'm happy."

Ash had an idea. "Why don't you come with me? The professor who gave me my Pokédex, Professor Oak, has a huge Pokémon ranch and it's baby Pokémon season so he could really use some help. Professor Oak is really nice and always takes good care of the Pokémon there, and the place is huge, so you'll have room to roam around. And if you get bored there or one of my teammates gets burnt out and needs a vacation, you can always journey with us. I won't make you battle if you don't like it."

The Dusclops's eyes lit up. "That does sound really good. It'll be nice to go to that ranch. And if you need my help, I would definitely be willing to battle for you."

Ash smiled and was about to answer when a voice yelled, "You have entered the realm of the mightiest of all Gastly warriors! Prepare for battle!"

"Hey, he stole my thing!" Venom complained.

A Gastly slid out of the shadows and took a battle stance. "Can I talk to you?" Ash asked it.

"Talking is boring! I want to battle and you wouldn't understand what I'm saying anyway." the Gastly retorted, practically bouncing in the air from excitement.

Yep, definitely a good Pokémon for Ethan. Ash thought to himself, knowing his equally high energy cousin would get along well with this Gastly. "Actually, I can understand what you're saying, Scrappy." The Gastly's eyes widened. "I just need to ask you something and we can battle afterwards." Scrappy finally nodded and Ash explained about his cousin's birthday and that Ethan really wanted a Ghost Pokémon, telling Scrappy a little about his cousin.

Scrappy thought for a few minutes. "Well, he does seem like my type of trainer and I have been wanting to get out of here and show off my battling in actual gyms. So I will go with you and become his Pokémon….if you can defeat me. And if he turns out to be a jerk or a terrible trainer when I meet him, the deal is off."

"Fair enough." Ash said, looking to his Pokémon to decide which one to have fight Scrappy. Venom moved forwards.

"Let me battle him. I want to see how the "mightiest of all Gastly warriors" does against the greatest of all Beedrill warriors." Venom said with a smirk.

Scrappy smirked back. "Bring it on!" He led Venom to an empty room, then looked to the other Gastly. "You're the referee, Perry."

"Um, go?" Perry said and Scrappy launched a Shadow Ball at Venom.

"Venom, dodge it and use Assurance!" Ash called. Venom nimbly dodged the ball of ghostly energy and flew at Scrappy, his stinger glowing with a dark energy. Scrappy had no time to dodge and was hit, but wasn't out yet and went invisible.

Ash frantically scanned the area and saw Scrappy using Shadow Sneak from the shadows around the ceiling. "Venom, he's above you! Use Agility to dodge, then Aerial Ace!"

Scrappy was quicker and managed to hit Venom, knocking Venom back, but Venom quickly recovered and used Aerial Ace. Scrappy slid backwards with a growl and vanished again, only to reappear behind Venom and hit him with Shadow Ball.

"Assurance!" Ash called and Venom hit Scrappy hard with the glowing stinger, making the ghost type fall to the ground and struggle to get airborne again. Thinking Scrappy was out, Ash threw a Poke Ball as it shook once, twice, three times….

….Then burst open. Scrappy grinned, not wanting to give up that easily. "You guys are good. But I'm not going down that easily." He hit Venom with a powerful Shadow Ball, then vanished into the shadows while Venom was recovering from the hard hit.

But Ash noticed Scrappy sneaking up on the right. "Venom! Assurance! Your right!" Venom quickly obeyed the command, striking Scrappy before he could make his attack. The Gastly fell back and used Shadow Ball. Venom dodged, then hit Scrappy with Aerial Ace at Ash's command. Scrappy fell to the ground again, unable to get up this time. Ash tossed another Poké Ball at him, and it rattled once, twice, three times before clicking shut. Ash ran and picked it up, but it surprised him by teleporting away.

Ash looked around for it frantically for a second before slapping himself on the forehead. "Oh, I forgot they did that if you're over six Pokémon. Hope he doesn't give Professor Oak too much trouble at the ranch before I can explain things to him."

"He'll probably challenge everyone in sight to a battle." the Haunter muttered.

"I'll keep him under control." Ben said. "Do you mind if I say goodbye to the other ghosts, Ash?"

"That's fine. Take as much time as you need." Ash reassured him. Ben thanked him and left the room.

"While he's gone, want to see the most awesome place in this tower?" the Haunter asked. Ash translated this to his friends, who nodded. Haunter grabbed Ash as he was the closest. "Come on!' he said, pulling Ash along and heading straight for the wall.

"Wait, I can't go through the…" Ash started, but it was too late. Haunter went through wall, pulling Ash face first into it. "Ow…"

"Sorry, force of habit." Haunter said sheepishly, coming back through the wall and leading them to a door. He opened it and Ash, Misty, Brock and the Pokemon looked inside, gasping at what they saw.

It was truly an awesome room, with a small TV, a laptop computer, and lots of toys, including a swing set and a little merry go round, and some tech equipment. "Wow." Ash breathed. "Where did you get all this stuff?"

"From Gengar's trainer mostly." Haunter said. "Though this pile of ghost hunting equipment is from a group of ghost hunters who came in here to investigate the tower and ended up running out screaming, leaving all their equipment behind and never returning to Lavender Town for it."

"What exactly did you guys DO?" Ash asked.

"Picture walking into a dark room. The TV turns on suddenly at the scariest part in the Exorcist. Then you hear creepy laughter and see THIS." Gengar suddenly turned off the lights while Haunter was talking to Ash. Suddenly three pairs of glowing eyes lit up in front of Ash, then three sadistic grins with wickedly pointed fangs. One lunged at Ash, and though Ash knew who it was, it still made him yelp and fall backwards. Misty managed to find and turn on the lights, and Haunter pulled Ash up to his feet, laughing. "See? Even when you're expecting it, it'll get you. It's so simple, yet so effective."

"Is that what you did to Gary too?" Ash asked, almost feeling bad for Gary.

"Gary? Oh, that arrogant kid with the cheerleaders? Oh, we did something else. Why, do you know him or something?" Gengar asked.

"Unfortunately." Judy sighed before Ash could answer.

"I'm guessing not in a good way." Gengar said and Ash and Judy nodded.

"Show them the video!" the Ghastly said happily. Gengar pulled out the laptop.

"Video?" Ash asked.

"Yeah, my trainer has security cameras hidden throughout Pokémon Tower." Gengar explained.

"Let me turn it on!" Haunter said excitedly and Gengar held it out to him. "Now which button did your trainer say turns it on again?"

Gengar sighed. "The big one on the front."

Haunter hit the button and the laptop came on. "Yay, I did it!" he said in a childish tone, making Ash have to hide his laughter.

"Someone has to invent a translator. I hate being left out of the loop." Misty muttered to Brock and Ash translated what was going on to them.

"What do I do now?" Haunter asked.

"You use the touchpad thing here to move the little white thing to the thing that looks like a camera." Gengar explained.

"Where's the white thing? I can't see it." Haunter asked, squinting at the screen.


Ash came over and managed to get the white arrow and move it towards the camera icon. "There you go."

"Thanks." Haunter said and managed to find the video and show it to them with Ash and Gengar's help. The ghosts had really outdone themselves on that prank, starting with tiny things, flickering lights, strange noises, and scratching, unnerving Gary and letting him get deeper into the tower until he had reached their room full of toys, bragging aloud that nothing would stop "the Great Gary Oak" from capturing all the Pokémon in the tower. At this point, every object in the room burst into life, the TV and radio blaring to life as the toys began to move on their own, the merry-go-round and the swing set going and the giant ball bouncing towards Gary. All the while, sinister laughter filled the room. Gary and his cheerleaders fled the tower, screaming.

Misty burst out laughing "That is great! I think I could watch this a few dozen more times." Ash's Pokémon were laughing as well and even Ash and Brock couldn't hold back the giggles.

"What's so funny?" Ben asked, returning.

"Just showing them one of our prank videos. Apparently they had problems with Cheerleader Boy too." the Gastly said. This nickname made both Ash and Misty burst out laughing.

"Oh, that guy who almost captured me." the Dusclops remembered. "That was a close call." Gary had seen him and was about to let out a Pokémon when the other three had distracted him by banging loudly on the walls, averting his attention and giving Ben the chance to escape. "Oh, Ash, I'm ready whenever you are."

Ash nodded and took out a Poké Ball. "Whenever I capture you officially, you'll be teleported to Professor Oak's Pokémon Laboratory. That okay?"

"Of course."

"I'll call tomorrow morning when Professor Oak's awake and make sure everything's going okay. Please keep an eye on Scrappy for me and if there's anything you need or anyone's bothering you, let me know."

"I will and let me know if you need my help in any way." Ben replied, giving the raven haired boy a smile. "And thank you." He lightly tapped the button on the Poké Ball and was sucked inside without a struggle. The ball soon teleported away.

Brock gave a soft yawn. "We'd better go, guys. It's getting really late." No telling what prank the mischievous spirits standing in front of them would pull if they fell asleep here in the tower.

"Come back anytime, you hear?" Gengar said with a smile.

"And if you need anybody pranked, let us know! We're always looking for new victims!" Haunter told them.

Ash laughed as he translated this to his friends. "Um, we'll keep that in mind." The group waved goodbye to the three ghosts as they headed downstairs.

"Well, that was certainly interesting." Brock said.

"If by interesting, you mean weird." Misty grumbled, though she was smiling.

"You know us, we don't do normal." Ash joked. Suddenly, they heard creepy laughter again.

"Will you guys knock it off? We know it's you three!" Misty yelled, but the laughter continued. A hand was suddenly placed on her shoulder. "Stop it!" But when she turned, she saw a red demonic face with burned black patches and black horns as well as bright yellow eyes.

"AAAAAHHHHHHHHH!" she screamed, pulling out her Misty Mallet and slamming it down on the creature, knocking it to the ground. The "creature" groaned, its mask falling to the side to reveal an old man with a beard and salt and pepper hair.

"Ow…for such a little girl, you have a strong swing." he groaned. Brock helped him to his feet.

"Why did you scare us like that?" Misty asked angrily.

"Thought I'd give you guys one last scare before you left. Can't let my Gengar assistant have all the fun." he joked, rubbing his head.

"Are you the caretaker here?" Brock asked.

The man nodded. "Yes, I am. I'm surprised none of you recognized me. Before I retired, I was…"

"The Great Alfredo!" Ash gasped, recognizing him.

"The who?" Brock asked.

"That sounds like a pasta dish." Misty muttered quietly, still annoyed with the guy for scaring her.

"He's one of the greatest comedy stage magicians ever!" Ash told them and Alfredo beamed with pride.

"Still not ringing a bell." Brock admitted.

"I used to watch his show all the time." Ash told his friends. "It's nice to meet you, sir." he told Alfredo.

Alfredo shook his hand warmly. "Always great to meet a fan." he told Ash, pulling a picture of himself in a bright violet magician's cape and hat out of thin air and making a sweeping gesture. A pen came flying from out of nowhere and autographed the picture all by itself. Alfredo then waved his hand over the picture and it completely vanished. "Hmm, where'd it go?" he asked, looking around. "Maybe….Ash, check out the inside pocket of your vest."

Ash did as he was told, finding the picture neatly tucked in the inside pocket of his vest. Trevor's eyes were as huge as dinner plates. "How did….How'd that….He couldn't have…I would have seen it!" the Rattata stammered, then fainted as his brain glitched. Ash quickly caught him and tried to wake him up as Judy tried not to laugh at her know it all friend fainting from inability to figure out a magic trick.

"That was awesome." Misty breathed.

"You must be the gym leader from Cerulean, Misty. I apologize for scaring you." Alfredo said, giving her a gracious bow. "Let me give you this as an apology." He handed her a folded piece of tissue paper.

"Um, thanks?" Misty said, completely confused.

"Oh, forgive me, it needs to be opened first." he said, taking it from her. He opened the paper and somehow pulled out a bouquet of rose from inside the folds and handed them to her.

"Wow." she gasped, taking it.

"Oh, and you're Brock, the Pewter City Gym leader." Alfredo told Brock, coming up to him and examining him closely. "That's a strange place to keep your Boulder Badges." he murmured, reaching to Brock's ear and pulling out an entire string of small stones shaped like Boulder Badges, handing it to him.

"Wow, you're right, Ash, he is good." Brock said in awe.

Alfredo smiled. "Thank you. So how did you three enjoy our little Tower Of Terror?" The three ghosts came down the stairs to join him.

"It was fantastic." Ash said. "You guys really got us good. The dish prank was well done, but I think my favorite was the talking skeleton."

Alfredo looked genuinely confused. "Skeleton? What skeleton?"

"The one in that closet near the dining room. It ended up holding hands with me and Misty and said "Thanks for getting me out of there. There's ghosts in here!" Ash told them.

Alfredo's eyes were wide. "Rico, did you get a talking skeleton?" he asked his Gengar.

Rico shook his head. "Wasn't me, but that'd be a great idea for a prank. Bob, did you do it?"

"No, I was with you the entire time and so was Perry." the Haunter said. All three ghosts looked completely and utterly confused.

"Quit playing around, we know it was you." Misty told Alfredo with a quaver in her voice.

"I'm not playing around, it really wasn't me." Alfredo told them, sounding just as weirded out as they were.

"He's not lying." Ash told Misty softly.

"I think this is our cue to leave." Brock said nervously and the three said goodbye to Alfredo and the ghosts and headed out quickly. The last thing Ash heard was Bob talking to Rico about finding the skeleton and making it a pranking partner.

"Do you think there's any chance that skeleton thing could have been….well, real?" Ash asked once they were away from the tower.

"I doubt it. It was probably someone's idea of a joke." Misty said.

"Who knows? Strange things can happen." Brock said.


In the tower, Alfredo and the ghosts were searching for the mystery skeleton, but to no avail. None of the other ghosts had ever seen it or knew what they were talking about. Alfredo wrote it down in his journal as the newest unexplained occurrence in Lavender Tower, then went to his room with a shrug. It looked like Lavender Tower still had many mysteries, some meant to remain unsolved.

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