Sonic turned around slowly. He had his same usual face. There was less of a perky smirk but that was to be expected considering what was around them. Tails doubted he wanted to talk about the death around them. Sonic would instinctively take off in a second with him trailing behind. There probably wouldn’t even be a ‘let’s go’. Sonic really didn’t speak a whole lot, his actions spoke louder than words. Sonic turned all the way around though. He didn’t take off running. Instead, he smiled back toward Tails.

Tails smiled back. That was more like Sonic. He was being extra kind, making sure Tails knew he could handle the situation. It was good.

Then, it was like a paintbrush swept right over Sonic’s face. The kind hearted guy he followed nearly all his life had disappeared. Although the body was the same, and still not robotic, Tails instantly knew the truth. He messed up.

It wasn’t a mess up like accidentally bonking an enemy in the wrong way and losing a few rings. No, this was a big one. One so large that Tails could almost see himself losing to the enemy for good.

The familiar playful look was replaced with eyes of black. There was nothing inside except a sickening red glow in the middle like a pupil. There was no white at all, only intense darkness.

The long known familiar smile was gone. Sonic usually didn’t show any teeth when he smiled. This creature had its mouth opened up and gnarly, yellow teeth protruded at least two inches. He could tear up anything with that mouth. Including Tails.

This was not his friend. This was not Sonic. His heart beat wildly, and for the first time in a long time, he felt afraid. He felt like he was back to when he was first traveling with Sonic, having no idea how to confidently fight or face the enemies they took on. There was an overwhelming fear that struck his heart that was so undeniable, but so dreadful, that he didn’t want to face it.

Without so much as a word, he stepped back and took off into the sky. Although Sonic couldn’t fly, he would not risk being stupid. He had no idea what the creature had been capable of. Watching behind him, he knew he was right. He raised from the ground and went after him. No wings, and no propelling system that a robot would use to hover and fly from the ground. As Tails continued to look from the front to the back, he could only describe it as a nightmare. Not even a creature, it was a terrible nightmare that somehow bled into reality.

“I don’t recognize anything,” Mark said as he picked up another cartridge. Their eyes still weren’t on the game play at all. “Do we have to play?”

Chase looked toward Mark. ”Your dad wants us to play some of these old games.”

“Our dad,” Mark reminded him. “My dad is your dad too.”

“Yeah. I guess,” Chase said, not sure if he was comfortable with that wording yet. “Anyhow, this one looks neat on the cartridge?” He held it up toward Mark. “Like a Racoonish Beaver thing called Bubsy. Want to try it?”

“Game time is over, come wash up,” Chase’s grandmother said as she peered in. “Come on.”

Chase put the Bubsy cartridge down and headed out to the bathroom. He looked behind him, expecting to see Mark come in to wash up before dinner too. After he washed up, he went to the kitchen. He sat down about a minute, waiting for Mark. It really shouldn’t take that long. “Grandma? Have you seen Mark?”

“Just in your room with you,” his grandmother said. “Maybe he didn’t know wash up meant it was dinner time. I should have been more clear. This is the first time I am babysitting him too.”

“Yeah. I’ll go get him.” Mark might not move as fast for his grandma since he didn’t know her as well as Chase did, or maybe his grandma was right and didn’t know ‘wash up’ meant go wash and head to the kitchen to eat. Chase got back up and headed to his room.

Tails heart pounded and he wished Sonic would come to his rescue. When he went above his own head in situations, his friend would always come for him. Even in the last minute. Sonic was so fast, even if Tails saw nothing on the horizon, he could suddenly be there in less than a few seconds.

He never doubted that speed. On land, he ran fast, but he still took it easy. One, so that Tails could stay up with him, and so that he could watch for anything that might hinder him. When the situation called for it though, Sonic could be faster than the speed of light.

Yet, Tails couldn’t help himself. What if Sonic wasn’t near enough before this nightmare reached him? He couldn’t seem to move.

This was not a robot. This was not an enemy pretending to have Sonic’s power. This thing was real, and it would kill him. Tails stared at him, but he disappeared. Yet, Tails didn’t even try to run. His body shook, and his mind was trying to accept what it knew would happen. He was facing an enemy he was unprepared for, and Sonic would not come for him. He couldn’t. That strange sensation he received after the lightning, he knew from his flight above that this was not the same land. Tails knew that there was no escaping what would happen.

The chilling red eyes made their presence known along with the disgusting teeth. The mouth became larger, surreal. He watched only a moment as hands came toward him.

A shrill came from Chase’s room. It was the sound equivalent to a cat yowling as its tail got slammed in a door. “Mark?!” He ran to his room. There’s no reason a human would ever make that sound. “Mark?” Chase looked around the room.

The sega was all static, like it stopped playing. Strange. Mark turned it off, but left the television screen on? Chase turned the television off while he looked around the room. “Mark?”

Then he heard his grandma scream by his door. Mark looked at the floor. He just . . . stared.

It was the Player Two’s controller, with Mark’s hands attached to it . . . without Mark.

Strange. Sonic looked behind himself again. He could have sworn he felt Tails’ presence behind him earlier. Tails often wandered around a new area when there weren’t that many enemies around. Sonic trusted him to be safe. Tails was like his little brother, and he taught him what he could to the best of the little guy’s abilities. Well, big guy. Tails was growing up so fast.

It was unnerving though. Tails had not been behind him, and nearly five minutes later, still had not shown up. There had not been any enemies in that particular area, and even if there had been, Tails was trained enough to take care of them. So, what was going on? It wasn’t like him to be late.

Sonic was not a patient individual and Tails knew that. He should have been back. It was going on ten minutes now without so much as a glimpse. Sonic took off from the hill and searched everywhere he could. He moved faster than usual, worry beginning to fill his heart.

Tails could travel only so far with his tails. Even if he was somehow brainwashed he would have a top speed that would only get him so far. Sonic ran and checked in every direction. Every possible place.

Nothing but blue skies and green grass. Just, hills and more hills. Sonic stood at the edge of the cliff where he first began. There was only one thing that could have captured Tails. “Robotnik.” The words oozed off his tongue. He had warned that menace that he had better never mess with Tails to get to him. His enemy had tested his patience only once.

Sonic took care of the planet, and he kept the doctor in line as he could, but he had more power than others knew. He kept the fighting lighter, but the day Robotnik messed with Tails, he was surprised how far he even took it.

Robotnik became more metal than human that day, and he never crossed that line again. Sonic had to admit that Robotnik must have transported Tails somewhere. No simple bot could move him fast enough to be out of Sonic’s reach. Sonic looked over the horizon. Over the hills, it was bleeding into sunset. For the time being, he wouldn’t be able to travel with Tails, but he wouldn’t leave him long with Robotnik.

His nerves were shaken though. Robotnik had got the picture cut clear to him last time. Why would he push Sonic like that? He took off from the hills and moved onward. If Robotnik was doing this, he wouldn’t do it the same way. He wouldn’t take the same risks.

As much as it might hurt Sonic’s pride, Tails came first.

He went to find Knuckles.

He had no name. Unlike the one who he took his figure from. Sonic.

This was a good decision. He took Sonic’s shape because he was the most powerful being in that dimension. An interesting dimension. He came from a dimension that was his own. There were no other souls to play with. In one hand, he casually jostled the head of the small companion. Taking the form of Sonic was brilliant. Others would come straight to him, making it easier to stay in that dimension. He was the only one in his own dimension, a god. Yet, being a god wasn’t fun without others.

He created his dimension to mimic Sonic’s, with only a few of his own touches between. His design was so perfect that it had fooled the pathetic companion to Sonic. It took power to leave his dimension, but he had learned how to bring others to his. It was not long though, brief. He had to destroy the body of the visitor, it’s ‘safety capsule’, in order to attain it forever.

Tails’ soul was screaming from inside of him. It was funny. There was nothing better than the mental screaming of the ones that should have passed on.

But, he didn’t let them. He had the power to hold their souls without their bodies container. And it would be with him, for infinity. Yet, he didn’t want thousands of souls screaming in his head for all hours. He could make them more useful.

Yes, a body. He could manufacture the soul a new body to scream in. It would be a resident to his dimension. However, there would be no freedom. It would be possessed to do as he wanted. Yes, what he wanted. The ultimate toy.

Then, his mind shifted. Another presence. His act had been so malevolent, that another dimension had involved himself within it. His behavior so heinous, the wicked atrocity was actually infused into something in another dimension beside Sonic the Hedgehogs. Something that wasn’t alive, but brought a connection between them. I wonder.

The word ‘Mom! Dad!’ was heard being yelled. He managed to bring the other soul to his world that screamed the words, and wasted no time. This soul wasn’t just from another dimension, it was a dimension above Sonic’s. “An endless eternity of playing with different dimensions?” The thought amused him.

He tore the soul from his body with not even a glance.

Amazing. My power. It can only grow.

Then, to his surprise, he felt another soul from that dimension beyond again. This one shouted the word ‘Chase!’. It had not been there before. “Oh, I love the wickedness of dimensions. Time is just a concept that has no application. Only the object matters.” He grinned. “Right, Tails?” He heard more screaming inside of him as he stared at the head in his hand. “Right. Glad you agree.”

This time, the god used his force to break the container holding the soul in its own dimension. Last time, he had wanted to see if he could destroy something from that far. This time, he wanted something different. The more that world knew of him, the more it would fear him. Learn to fear him, and he would gain an eternal presence within it. Everyone would be his.

He could do the same in Sonic’s world, but if that young boy he just tore a soul away from had . . . yes, video games. He could read the mind of the one he absorbed. Sonic the Hedgehog. Video game. That was the object that caused the crossing.

Being a god, he understood that while dimensions were separate, powerful ideas were not contained in them. Sonic was known in other dimensions, but only as a character. A figment. That is how anyone is ever known from each dimension to the next. They were something someone ‘thought up’. Even the creators themselves thought they alone were responsible for the story. Gamers believed they were the ones that created the characters that entertained everyone in their games. Artists ‘imagination’ created scenes and characters. Authors writing skill was responsible for what happened in a book.

None of it could be farther from the truth. They were all simply mediums, conveying the most powerful ideas across dimensions. Powerful thoughts do not belong to one being alone. And that could be his gateway out of his dimension, once and for all.

“So many souls to play with, so little . . . wait.” Wait.

Wait. He was reading the child’s mind and he sensed something more. It knew what he had been? It had watched events off its video game while it was . . . shuffling cartridges. Not scary. He heard a name being screamed to him from the child. “Sonic dot E.X.E?” New concepts filled his head.

The world the being came from was much more delightful. Cities. Movies. Video games. Yet, even though the boy knew of him he was not scared. He read his mind for another word. “Creepypasta.” Trollpasta.

He sneered. How dare another world name him. Art. Videos. A game based on what I did. But no fear. “I’m a campfire story to that world.” He looked toward Tails’ head.

He stooped down and picked up a shattered arm of the other boy. Am I scary now? A scream reverberated in his head, to his delight. The medium his character persona came out in was wrong. There was only one way to fix that.

He had some presence. Some knew about him. Some from even another dimension knew about him, only strengthening him. “I will take the other world instead.” He looked toward Tails’ head again. “Aren’t you fortunate?”

He dropped the head to the ground, along with the arm of the other boy. He would have to return to the rest of Tails’ body later, after he got a little more power.

He still had the first boy whose soul he simply ripped out. He hadn’t done anything to the body yet. Valid. He wanted to keep the souls that never met Sonic. Kenneth and Mark. Yet, he wanted to retain his knowledge of Sonic too. “Mark knows of me. Congratulations, Mark.” A smirk graced his face as he heard crying inside of him.

What was that? Sonic’s ears perked up as he heard an unnatural sound. It was a scream, but not a regular scream. No being that he knew of could have made that noise. There was a feeling in his gut he wasn’t used to. Telling him something was wrong, and this time, he might not be able to fix it. “Tails.”

Tails couldn’t have made the noise, but he wouldn’t just let that noise permeate the air and disappear. Not with the feeling he picked up from it. He looked all over in the direction he heard the scream. He stopped and looked outward. “I’m retracing tracks. I’ve been here.” That settled even less well with him. He traveled in every direction he could, that Tails’ top flying speed could have reached. He should have found him.

He stood . . . he stood. Sonic had returned back to his original searching spot. The original place he could have sworn he had heard Tails at the first time. The place where he had waited.

What he saw in front of him. “Not possible. What am I . . .” Yet, it was possible. It was real. It was there.

The body was impossible to identify, it was torn apart and covered in blood. It was only the two twin tails that gave away what was inside the jutting flesh, bone, and fur pile strewn around him.

Tails wasn’t just killed. He was mutilated beyond belief, like someone couldn’t stand to leave any more than a couple of limbs intact. Including the head, which he couldn’t even see at all. His throat was dry, he couldn’t even say the word ‘Tails’, he could only mouth it. He closed his eyelids, coming to terms with the situation before him.

His friend. His only companion. The boy he practically raised. The one he taught to fight and defend for justice.

The one who was like a small brother.

Nothing remained that resembled his little friend.

Sonic laid Tails’ remains, everything that he could find, to rest on the top of Greenhill. It was where they both spent the most of their time. “Here you go.” He placed a stick at the site until he could figure out the next thing to do.

Because he didn’t know what to do. He’d already gone through sickening pains as he pulled Tails together for a final resting place. He didn’t know what killed him and hurt him. He didn’t know what kind of sick maniac would get that kind of pleasure. Who could even grab Tails after all his training? The world stopped making sense.

The only thing he could think to do was to tell Knuckles that Tails had been found. Knuckles didn’t bear Sonic or Tails any ill will over the mistake with the emeralds. This was the only reason he would leave the Floating Island to help. As Sonic reached into where Knuckles said he’d check, the nearby Chemical Plant, he knew the situation wouldn’t be good.

He found Knuckles’ body. Red echidna skin. Although he wasn’t nearly good enough friends with him, Sonic still felt some remorse. Knuckles was powerful, and whatever this thing had been, he couldn’t defeat him. There was only one more left to help. “Robotnik.” No matter what half-baked deal he had to agree to with him, he needed to get this guy. This thing.

As he went searching for him though, he came upon the same grisly scene. Sonic sank along the wall, his mind unfocused. His words, he hadn’t spoke much since he lost Tails, and he might never speak again. He didn’t feel like he even wanted to move from that spot ever again.

But, deep inside, there was still something willing to fight on. He had to find the one who did this, and bring them to justice. Before it kept killing. For now, he just wanted one thing.

All he had wanted was to just stay near Tails’ grave for the little strength he could use to pull through. But his grave. Was being desecrated.

By someone that looked like him. Sonic was screaming on the inside as he ran full force into the imposter.

The imposter just laughed at him. “Miss your friend? Don’t worry, I brought him back.”

What? Sonic looked behind himself and saw . . . Tails. He looked like he was stitched together. Most of him. A couple of parts were still needed, but- “Tails?”

Tails was hyperventilating, he couldn’t talk. “M . . . M . . . Make . . . make . . . Chase . . .”

“No, not now!”

Sonic looked back toward the imposter, but closed his eyes as a flash of light surrounded them.

Sonic brought himself back to his feet, feeling disoriented. He looked around the area. Somehow he’d ended up in a . . . he felt his face. Tails was dead, then alive? Then, trying to say something. “Tails?” He heard a shriek inside the facility he was in. Tails! Please, please let it be him! Or don’t let it be. He saw Tails mutilated body, he was dead, and brought back to life with impossible magic.

His mind could reel later though, it had to, someone was in trouble. He headed inside. A house. Carpet. Walls. The scream came from the back again. He moved to the room in the back and saw a boy, dragging out some strange controller. The woman in the room who must have screamed had fainted. No. Her eyes were opened. She was dead.

Sonic added up a lot of facts, fast. One, he took forever to reach such a short distance, so he wasn’t fast anymore. Realizing that, he looked down at himself. He wasn’t a hedgehog anymore, but a naked, strange, tall person. Three, the boy who was holding onto the controller, also had a second pair of hands on it with him. Then-


Huh? The voice wasn’t Tails, and the body that almost crashed into him wasn’t his either.

“Sonic!” The boy crashed right into Sonic’s leg. “Sonic, Sonic, Sonic, Sonic . . .” He couldn’t stop saying it.

No. This boy was Tails. Sonic had no idea what he had become, where he had gone, what was going on, but his mind latched onto the only fact that it could as he picked the boy up.

The boy in his arm was Tails.

Sonic didn’t want to leave Tails for even two seconds, but he had to act fast. He didn’t know the world they had been dropped into, but he was cold, and so was Tails. He rummaged through a closet in the room quickly to get something for Tails. The clothes were too small for him, but he took Tails with him to other closets until he found something to put on. It wasn’t perfect, but it would work for now. Having faster speed would have helped too. It still felt like he was moving a little faster than average.

Afterwards, he held Tails tightly and returned to the room. The other boy was still traumatized. The elderly woman still dead.

“I. I died.”

Sonic looked back toward Tails. He sat his little brother back down. Normally, Sonic didn’t coddle and hold Tails but, but he was alive. And no one was taking him away again. Ever.

Tails felt himself gently. “Sonic.”

“New look, same you,” Sonic said. “Doesn’t matter, you’re okay.”

“I . . . I guess.”

“I buried you on Green Hill,” Sonic said to him. It just came out. “I!” He felt Tails hug him tightly. Then, he whispered something to him. “What?”

Tails said a little louder as he hugged on tighter, watching the extra pair of hands fade from the remote the other boy in the room was holding. Like they never existed. “He’s c-called . . . EXE.”