How it feels to be the only person left on Earth not playing Pokémon
A terrible noise wakes you from a fitful sleep. It's a buzzing; the low rumbling drone of a crowd. The beehive of voices is punctuated by shouts and the occasional bolt of a high-pitched "HIYA!" simmering over the din.
Frantic, you get up to see what's going on. Your roommate isn't home. His room is deserted. All that remains is his damp Charizard boxers, fluttering delicately in the breeze from his open window. As you look through it to the street, a 20-something who's already preordered Coachella 2017 tickets runs by.
Street parade? Impromptu festival? Are you the only person who hasn't been invited to the world's largest flash mob?
You see your Facebook is abuzz with activity. All of your friends are posting photos of anime creatures. They look strangely familiar.
“Didn't people used to collect these things on cards?” you ask yourself. A group of people your own age walks past you, holding out their phones in front of them. The phones are guiding their way, steering them on some kind of hunt. They're hurried, intent, muttering something about someone called "Eevee." Suddenly you jump, your central nervous system awakened by the shriek of a woman's squeal. You spin around, only to find her pointing at an empty street corner, jumping excitedly. She's snapping photos of nothing and awkwardly trying to pose with an invisible ghost.
"I caught a Clefairy!"
Then—tunnel vision. It hits you.
You are the last human left on Earth not playing Pokémon. Everyone else has a Bulbosaur.
You start walking down the street, suddenly aware that everyone is on their phones. Some of them sit in large circles in your neighbors lawns. You overhear a graphic designer with blue hair and a silk bomber jacket that says "Japan" on it ask, "Is this where the gym's at?"
You break into a sprint, shouting for anyone to hear, but no one notices. Two men on their phones walk directly into traffic, unaware that another universe exists in their periphery beyond their touch screens. A semi truck screeches to a halt to avoid them, but he's too late. He's turned one into red mist. The spray pimps the neighboring cars' ride. His friend blankly continues on. He's looking for a water Pokémon.
Appalled, you scream for help. Someone must not be playing Pokémon who can help this man.
There's a grocery store up ahead, but it's empty. All the cashiers are gone. They're getting to know their city in a whole new way; on foot, in search of little anime things who like to battle. The lights flicker on and off. The electric company has been abandoned with all the engineers out chasing Articuno and Zapdos. Soon everything will crumble around you. Who will run the world when the entire world is playing Pokémon? You take whatever canned goods you can and get the hell out of there.
This can't be real. Is it all a dream? You can't be the only one not on Pokémon GO. You’d heard your friends talking about how they're stockpiling candy, catching way too many Doduos and saying something about a Lucky Egg. But you'd shrugged if off, sure that whatever virtual reality walking game they were talking about surely wouldn't catch on, confident that What's App was, and always will be, the very most popular app in the world.
But you were wrong and now you are alone. You have no one, nothing. All that remains is your thoughts and whatever food you can scavenge. All the while, the warm phones of your friends, family and lovers glow with a soothing, collective light. Somewhere out there in the smog and sunlight; somewhere underneath the rising moon, Pokémon GO is leading people to dead bodies, making everyone's legs pretty sore, and pitting them against each other in imaginary battles that help them escape the bleakness of what their lives were before they'd amassed at least 14 Caterpie. But you know what? At least they have each other. You hack open a can of Bush's Baked Beans and cry.
Suddenly, your eyes sense something off in the distance. It's a group of people. They're walking on a sidewalk, looking at each other, not their phones.
Could you be hallucinating? Are there others like you? You run towards them, shouting and waving your arms, praying to the god you no longer believe in that they'll take you into their arms and tell you you're not alone. But just before you reach them, one pulls out her phone. She aims it at a tree stump and giggles: "Pickachuuu!" You stop dead in your tracks, jaw agape. Their shoes are caked in mud from traipsing outdoors in search of Pokémon all day. Their eyes are bright, excited, astigmatic. You are standing directly on top of a Poké Stop, a place where people can buy virtual incense to anoint their virtual Pokémon battleground.
You're the only person left on Earth not playing Pokémon.
You run, screaming, into the night.