“Sonic.EXE?” Chase couldn’t believe it. “No, that’s just stupid creepypasta.”

“Creepywhat?” the teen asked.

No. No! “Who are you?!” Chase yelled at them. “Who hurt Mark? Where is Mark?”

“I don’t know,” the teen said. “I’m sorry, for your pain. But Tails is traumatized. We’ve suffered too. I’m Sonic the Hedgehog, and I’ll help how I can. Once I figure out how to.”

The teenager was named Sonic the Hedgehog? “This is a sick joke! You’re not some character from a game!” Chase gestured to him. “You’re not even in a hedgehog costume you freak!”

The teenager didn’t go off on him. He just gave Chase a minute before speaking again. “Game? What game?”

“What he did.” The boy was trying to speak again. “From inside of him, I knew his thoughts. He shared them. Openly.” He squeezed his eyes shut and took a deep breath. “Sonic. There are many different dimensions out there, but ideas are free flowing . . .” He stopped.

“Easy,” The teenager said to him.

“No, I can’t, you need to know.” The boy gulped. “We’re a game. If you look around here, there’s some kind of game of us. That’s how the world knows us. Through our game, EXE connected when he . . . when he . . .”

The creepypasta? Chase couldn’t see it. Ever. They were playing a trick on him. It was all a sick trick. He needed to call the police. They were probably involved in what was happening.

“Hey,” the teenager said seeing Chase edge to the door. “I can’t help your brother if I’m behind bars.”

He wasn’t Sonic. “Run fast,” Chase demanded.

“I was shoved into here,” he answered. “I’m not a hedgehog here. If hedgehogs don’t exist here, then maybe I can’t be myself.”

“Then you can’t prove anything!” Chase yelled at him. “You can’t prove who you are!”

“I don’t like to leave others in trouble.” The teen stood up. “But I just got Tails back, and I’ve got someone I have to hunt down before they hurt anyone else. So I’m at the edge already,” he warned Chase. “I’ve seen a lot of disturbing things today. Things I’ll never get out of my hedgehog head. So you need to calm down and believe me, or you can try to protect your own self if he comes back.”

“It’s just creepypasta!”

“What’s creepypasta?” the teen asked.

“Mark! Chase!”

“David!” Yes! “Mom, David!” Chase took off out of the room, hanging by the door frame. “Mom!”

“There is going to be some trauma in this situation. It’s recommended that you . . .”

Chase stayed quiet. He had heard the doctors and the police. He tried to tell them the story, but he couldn’t. Even saying some freaks pretending to be a game character sounded fake. His grandmother, her body had been taken away. His brother. Not one strand of hair could be found.

“That’s impossible.”

Chase looked up toward David. He looked like he just saw a ghost. Chase looked back to where he looked at. The kid and the teen before were standing there with better fitting clothes. He didn’t know the next step. They were nuts, maybe they knew what happened to his brother. He could point them out, get them arrested.

“Kenneth.” One word. Chase’s mom looked back toward David too. He moved closer. “Kenneth?”

The kid from before. He didn’t seem to know how to respond to David.

“That can’t be him,” Chase’s mom pulled him back more. “That was sixth grade, David. He’s . . . he just looks like your old picture.”

What? Maybe he shouldn’t rat them out yet. That wasn’t natural. “David, who’s Kenneth?”

“That. That’s him. That’s you,” he said to the kid. “B-but you disappeared twenty years ago. You just left.”

“David, he only looks like him. He’d be your age, he wouldn’t look like that.”

“You just left. Played a game and left.”

Chase started to feel his heart race again.

“David. David,” Chase’s mom tried to comfort him again. “Honey, that’s not impossible. Your mind is just confused because Mark is missing. I’m sure we’ll find him.” She looked over toward Chase. “Can you tell us anything about what happened yet? Please? Honey, the cops are going to keep asking. Your new little brother is missing, you have to say something.”

Chase looked back toward the teenager and the kid. He looked back toward David, who still had the roundest eyes he’d ever seen on him. His jaw was dropped wide open and his voice seemed stuck. “What game was he playing, David?” He looked back toward the odd teenager. The odd kid. The ones claiming to be game characters. They were both staring at him, like they were waiting on him. Waiting on him, before they could go on.

“How?” David asked again. This time, he almost darted toward the kid. Tails. Okay. Maybe. David watched someone disappear twenty years ago playing a game. Maybe even the same game. Maybe . . . he should consider at least referencing them.

The teenager, ‘Sonic’, quickly picked the boy back up before David reached him. “Easy there.” He held his hand toward him. “Not taking any chances here.” David still seemed out of it, but he didn’t move anymore. Sonic looked toward Tails. “Did you know a Kenneth?” Tails screamed a moment as he grabbed his head.

“Who are you?” David accused the teen. “How do you know him? Who are you? What are you doing here?”

“Heard screaming,” Sonic answered. “I ran to check it out.” He looked back toward Chase.

Chase held the cards. He could say he was right, which means he would have to admit that to himself. That they were real. It sounded ridiculous, but, his brother. His hands. Something scared his grandma to death. That. He woke up next to the controller. It. I’m losing my mind. I really believe these are game characters come to life. He stared at both of them for several seconds. In a strange world, no money, if this was the real Sonic and Tails, they should be looking like their very lives depended on him. They needed food and shelter until they found their way back. Then again, they never had shelter. They never ate food on the screen. Well, not from that game. Other games. Do all the games follow them? Yeah. He was already thinking about if other games followed them. He was certain, at least in his mind. “He’s right.”

Whether he was out of his own mind or not was the question.