“David, I really wish you would come home,” Stace said as she set out some paper plates and plastic forks. “No, I know he’s important. Yes, I know that other boy looks stunningly just like your old friend.” She sat down the last plastic fork. “I can’t go look, I need to watch after Chase. Yes, they are here. Well?” She started to tear off paper towels and set them by the paper plates. “Honestly, yes, I do mind. Dear.” She was getting angry. If he wanted to go find Mark because he really believed he ran off, fine, but did he really believe that other boy was Kenneth? And that she wouldn’t mind if he questioned them about it? They’d know nothing. She put the paper towels back down. “Kenneth once lived here. He might have relation, meaning maybe someone in his own family line had a kid who looked a lot like him.” She groaned. “I want to be supportive. Especially for Mark. I am doing what I can to hold down the fort, but I need you to be of sound mind right now too. That boy is not Kenneth.” Finally, he seemed to relent. Good. Bringing up some identical twenty year ago twin wasn’t helping to find Mark.

Stace heard a knock on the door. “Pizza is here. I’ll talk to you soon, David.” She reached for her pen to sign the ticket for carry out. When she opened the door-

Instantly, Sonic went from relaxing back to standing up quickly. That was a weapon he just heard. Chase was already out the door. Chase knew nothing about fighting so he followed him, knowing Tails would do what he could to stay up from behind them.

Chase’s mom lied bloody on the floor, breathing hard. Sonic grabbed Chase who immediately followed his instinct and lunged toward her. He pulled the boy back. EXE is after Chase. Why? At the door wasn’t EXE, but a simple young boy, aiming a gun, ready to kill.

Tails was breathing hard behind Sonic while Chase wasn’t much better off.

“Where are you?!” The young boy screamed at the door. “None of you are getting away. Anyone who knows Mark isn’t leaving alive.” He had his gun, aiming back and forth.

Hm. EXE put someone older in there, to shoot anyone who knew Mark. Half dead, half alive. Maybe Mark wasn’t so controllable if there was an emotional bond. Sonic ducked as he saw a bullet come their way. Small body or not, this person knew how to shoot. Sonic heard the word ‘mom’ from behind him. Looked like Chase was still with him some.


Sonic looked back outward as the kid tried to shoot the guy who claimed Tails was some friend named Kenneth. Well, dear old David was packing. Sonic never used weapons. Didn’t need them. He knew how to use them, but he himself had been as good a weapon to take down Robotnik and any other foe that messed with his world. He was covering Chase right now though, he couldn’t risk him going after his mom.

David shot again until the little boy finally left. He quickly went toward Chase’s mom. “Stace?!” He checked her heartbeat. “Stace, I’m here. It’ll be okay, I’ll call 911.”

Now that the shooter was gone, Sonic let go of Chase, letting him join David toward the floor.

“Sonic,” Tails whispered as he watched David and Chase grieve on the floor. “We can’t leave them. EXE will kill them.” Sonic knew what that meant. David, while he lost his friend twenty years ago, and did believe Tails was Kenneth. I don’t know. This sounds ludicrous. Even getting Chase to believe us, when he was there, was tough. Maybe. But Chase? Sonic already felt a high responsibility for him. His brother was taken. His mom was taken. David wouldn’t be able to protect him if he didn’t understand what was coming. Even if he did, he still had heavy doubts.

While David finished calling 911, Sonic swiped his gun and aimed at him, at the same time grabbing Chase and putting him behind him.

“Sorry about this. Keys,” Sonic said to him. Chase was starting to rebel, but Tails was trying to calm him down. David gave him a vicious glare. “I’m Sonic the Hedgehog. I came out of the old cartridge you gave Chase. The boy you call Kenneth that disappeared decades ago is actually Tails. Do you accept that?” No, of course he didn’t. “Keys. Currency. Anything you got. I’m going after the person who took Mark.” His response was still nothing. “Fine.”

“David!” Chase shouted as Sonic punched him. David grabbed his nose, but still didn’t give in. “David, it’s true,” Chase tried himself. “I was there. Mark is gone, but Sonic will try to get him back. Something evil was in the game.”

“This is a lost cause.” Sonic looked toward Tails.

“David, please!” Chase tried again. “Your friend disappeared twenty years ago into the same game! It was their game! David!”

David held his nose, but pulled out his keys. “Better be a safe driver.” He stood up and tried to wipe the blood off his nose. “Kenneth would have been playing video games, he’d never run away, and there’s no one in this town that is even related to him.” He gestured to Tails. “That’s not relation, that’s him. Even got his birthmark right on the neckline, almost invisible.”

Tails moved the shirt down a little to see the birthmark.

“Out of my mind.” David looked toward Chase. “We can’t take Stace with us, Chase. She’ll die, and the ambulance is coming. I’ll watch her and me as close as I can.”

Well. That was a surprise. Looked like the Kenneth situation did actually make a dent into David’s reality.

“I always knew there was something creepy and strange about those cartridges. I didn’t even know which one. I just tried to ignore it. I just wanted to try to . . .” David shook his head and handed Sonic his wallet. “Cards and money. Use them for safe hotels, gas and eating. Don’t go all luxurious, just take care of him.” Lastly, he gave him his cell. “Make sure you let him call home. That’s got internet too.”

Sonic nodded. He was glad he didn’t have to punch him and mug him. Worked better that way. Especially since he had no idea what the cards or money was worth. “Let’s get out of here.”

Chase moved in the side seat as Sonic took the front seat. Please let him really know how to drive. Sonic slipped the keys in with no hassle. He started it with no hassle. Chase looked out the window as he started to hear the sounds of the ambulance. Then felt himself getting jerked forward as the car peeled off backward, reversing, then heading forward almost at full speed!

He looked over to Sonic who didn’t seem like that speed was any big deal. “The limit is 20 in residential!”

“Chase?” Tails said from the backseat. “This is one of those times where that whole law thing would get you killed again.”

“More than one shooter is going to come,” Sonic warned him. “EXE doesn’t want any connections to Mark, but he’s not bothering to come after you himself. I still don’t even know if David can hold them off or not to be honest.” He turned, almost landing in the other lane, but pulling through it just fine. “As soon as your mom is better, if David can convince her, maybe we can come back for them.” He turned again, this time barely missing a car.

“Can we at least not get ourselves killed?” Chase was leaning back in the seat as far as possible.

“This is slow,” Sonic said to him. “Major slow. I can see these cars and what they do miles ahead of anyone else. I used to coast on 200. Just coast.”

“This tops at 120,” Tails said from the back. “Driving this to Sonic is like umm . . . playing baseball when the ball is moving so slow it takes five minutes to get there.”

“It’s gonna get even worse,” Sonic complained. “Once were far away from here, I’ll start following those posted signs.”

Chase looked at the rearview mirror. “It’s the cops. They are the law enforcement,” he warned Sonic.

“I’m better at this speed. No worries.”

“They could try and trap you,” Chase warned him. Cops didn’t just give up on high speed cars. “They always win. They’ll figure out how to cut us off and pin us in.”

“I wish we got to eat first,” Tails said. “Maybe not eat. Drink something. I think I’m ready to drink.”

“That’s good to hear, Tails,” Sonic responded to him. “We’ll get something once we’re safe.”

Did they even listen or care about what he just said? Mom’s shot. David left me with Sonic and Tails in a car running at it’s top speed from the police. EXE wants to kill my whole family now, and at this rate, I don’t know if I’ll survive this, let alone Mark. Chase started to rub his eyes. He just wanted to go home. He just wanted everything back to normal. He didn’t want to go on some crazy chase after EXE, he just wanted his family safe and sound. He felt Sonic pat his shoulder.

“Don’t cry. David’s tougher than I thought,” Sonic admitted. “There’s a good chance he and your mom will be okay.” He still couldn’t promise anything about Mark though. “Those cherry red lights are scaring you, aren’t they?”

“Can’t fight EXE if you’re in prison,” Chase told Sonic. “They pin racers in. There’s tons of them, limited roads, and one of you. I’ve seen several chases online, no one ever gets away. You can’t race the same way you did as a hedgehog, this is tops, and it runs on gas.” Did he understand now?

“Well, guess we’re far enough. Tails? Looks like potential around here,” Sonic said. He handed Tails some cash.

“On it.” Tails took the cash.

Sonic quickly stopped the car. “Out, Chase.” Tails was already getting out. “I’ll be back.”

Chase tried to unbuckle his seat belt, knowing they didn’t have long before the cops would catch up! As he unbuckled it, Tails already had the door open for him. He practically stumbled out of the way. He watched Sonic leave again.

“This way.” Tails moved him toward the opposite block. “What can we do with this? Is it enough for something to drink?”

Chase looked at the twenty. “Yeah.” But Sonic? He followed Tails. That kid moved really fast, even for walking. He couldn’t fly, but it looked like he was still trained to move fast. Chase partly jogged to keep up with his walking speed. Tails moved toward a gas station lighted area and then turned around to Chase.

“Best water and food. I mostly want water,” Tails said. He gave Chase the money. “Five minutes from where we were, cattycorner.” He looked at the pops. “Not much time. You don’t walk very fast.” Tails opened it and got some water.

Five minutes? That wasn’t long. Chase grabbed a handful of chips, peanuts and candybar. “2,4,6,9.” He looked at Tails water. He got big bottles. “12,15, plus tax.” They took everything up, paid right away, and Chase and him nearly started to run this time to make the five minutes.

“Four and a half,” Tails said. He moved Chase over a few inches. “Get ready to grab the door and jump in.” Tails took everything he was holding. “You just concentrate on jumping in.”

Chase heard the sound of a car coming. Tails moved faster into it, but Chase tried to move as fast as possible. He quickly tried to get his seatbelt, thankful Tails took the snacks and water after all. He was breathing hard, and watched the car coast.

“Gone and gone, no more cherry lights,” Sonic said. He looked toward the back and smiled. Chase could hear Tails really drinking that water.

After the sound of water being consumed by Tails was done, Chase watched snacks almost fly up front.

“Can’t expect real food at a small place like that, but not picky.” Sonic ripped open the peanuts. “Eat, Chase. Your mom never got around to feeding you either.”

Well. Chase looked around. The car was going regular speed now, and he didn’t spot a single cop. I shouldn’t be surprised. Even without his speed, it was still Sonic. The situation. It was just tough. He took a candybar and started to eat it. It wasn’t even nine o’ clock and he felt drained.

“Not yet,” Sonic said as he parked in a parking lot. “Tails, up here.” Chase watched as Tails squeezed in from the back to the front seat between him and Sonic. As Tails adjusted the seatbelt better, he tucked in between them. “That’s better.” He gave Tails one quick rub on the head.

Chase looked out the window again. Now that the car wasn’t going so fast, he still didn’t feel much better. Mom. Mark. Please be okay.














It was a good excuse. Chase sat on his bed as Sonic handled the old cartridge back and forth. The ambulance was there for his grandmother. The police believed Mark was probably scared off by the incident. No one could call him missing yet, and he would probably come back home. It didn’t stop David from leaving to look for him. In the meantime, his mom was letting him visit with the ‘nice teenager’ who came to check up on him. And apparently, his little brother.

“This thing.” Sonic finally spoke gesturing to the cartridge. “Gateway to home.”

Strange. Chase remembered in future games, Sonic almost never seemed to stop talking. It made him think back to his question earlier. “Do you know all the others?”

Sonic turned to look at him. “All the other what?”

Chase couldn’t remember them all. “Um, off the top of my head? You know.” What should he start with? What came after the sonic creepypasta? “Sally? Bunny? Amy?” There was no recognition. “Any other allies or friends?”

“Hm.” Sonic put the cartridge in his pocket. The pants didn’t fit real well, they were David’s, but it worked for the moment. “Knuckles.”

“The echidna.”

“Right.” Sonic looked toward Tails who was reading a little pamphlet. “Anything?”

Tails looked up. “It’s just . . . weird.” He put the little pamphlet down. “Seeing our names like this.”

Chase looked at the pamphlet. Tails was reading the instruction manuals, and he was on the fourth game his dad had of theirs. Must be weird.

“Someone was out there, playing a game of us,” Tails said. “Now we’re in another world. Maybe we moved into a new game?”

“My world isn’t a game,” Chase corrected him.

“You would know what we didn’t?” Sonic corrected him. “You don’t know. Someone could be holding a cartridge of your world right now.”

That was disturbing.

“It might not even be a game,” Tails corrected him. “It could be any kind of media. EXE wants media so that his name will spread. You could be a TV show. Or you could be a book.”

“You mean, someone could be reading what I’m . . .” Chase shook his head. His world was real. He leaned on his bed. “How do we get Mark back?”

“Tails dropped a big hint,” Sonic told Chase. “This presumable thing that is EXE.” Sonic refused to call him after himself. “He wants his name spread out. Where do you spread information the fastest in your world?”

“Internet,” Chase said without a thought.

“And how do you get to Internet?” Sonic asked.

Oh. They were from an old cartridge. Chase pulled out his 3ds. “The internet is all around. It’s how everyone communicates with each other. It’s not a place, more like a thing.” He opened up youtube. “This is a part of the internet. People upload things here, and everyone all around the world can watch it.”

“Too much competition,” Sonic said quite quickly. “He just arrived. Somewhere. He shouted ‘not now’ right beforehand. He was planning on coming here, but he got access too soon.”

“He didn’t want us here,” Tails said for Sonic. “That makes sense. Everything screwed up.”

“Yeah. He was on the right path, but he took a wrong turn,” Sonic agreed, “dragging us here too. If he ends up where he wanted to be, I doubt he’d be trying to do something everyone else is doing. How do you get on the top of the internet, so that everyone can see you?”

“There’s not really a way. Views and time.” No one got big overnight. Hardly anyone became real big at all.

“He’s mad at it,” Tails said. He touched his head lightly. Chase saw him do that sometimes. Being separated from his body, it really made him different at times. It looked like he was remembering being with EXE again. “He wants to change it,” Tails said to Sonic. “People know him already.”

Sonic cursed. “Some already know him?”

“Yeah, but, he’s mad. He doesn’t have what he wants. He has recognition but . . .” Tails shook his head. “It’s not what he wants. Trollpasta. Creepypasta.”

Was that it? “He’s creepypasta.” Chase got off his bed. “He is widely known as creepypasta or trollpasta. More of a gag than scary.”

“There’s that word again,” Sonic huffed. “Show me this creepypasta.”

Chase looked toward Tails. “His? It might be kind of hard to watch.”

“I need to know what it is, Chase,” Sonic asked. He wasn’t one to back down.

“It’s stories. They usually aren’t true. Like, make believe stories. Made for the internet. Creepy internet stories, but most of them aren’t real creepy. Some, but not really.” Explaining it was tough. It wasn’t really his thing. “Well, here. Just watch this.” He picked up a real popular creepypasta. “I don’t know how old Tails are in the old games. Is he old enough for this?” Sonic didn’t give him a pleasant look. Yeah. Maybe I should stop using the word game for their world. “Anyway, here.” He showed him a top ten creepypasta video. That should be tolerable, short, but give the basic idea. After Sonic finished, he continued. “EXE falls between that and . . . well, trollpasta is . . .” He hated to say it, but Sonic wanted to know. “Funny.”

“Funny.” Yeah, he heard it in Sonic’s voice.

“It’s not scary. It’s not taken seriously. No one really believes in it, it was just made to be there.” Chase shrugged.

“That’s what made him mad,” Tails spoke again. “No one took him seriously. He’s a joke. Everyone knows him, but as a joke.”

“Ah.” Sonic nodded and looked to Chase. “Where does your serious, professional work come from? That’s where he’ll be.”

“The more people know him, the deeper he can get in. The more they . . .” Tails trailed off again. “The more they are scared, the more he enjoys when he gets them. He can’t have enough.”

“Where do you find the stuff that scares you?” Sonic asked, trying to take over for Tails again. “Chase?”

Chase looked toward Tails briefly. For a minute, he had acted like Tails was just a sweet kid that couldn’t handle some creepypasta, when he just got torn apart. Mark. Sickening. It was just a habit. To protect younger kids. He tried to concentrate on Sonic’s question. The serious stuff that scares you? “Professionally made you mean?” Is that what Sonic was getting at? “Villains people actually get scared of?” Hm. He tried to type in scariest villains and got many results, like always. Except, he was getting closer. “How could he do that though?” He gestured to the screen. “A lot of these are movie villians.”

“If movies are where the scariest come from, that’s where he’ll be,” Tails agreed. “Movies.” He looked toward Sonic. “He’ll want to make a movie.”

“That wouldn’t be easy,” Chase said to them as he put his 3ds back away. “It takes a lot of people to make a movie. Permissions. You’d need a top movie too with heavy advertising to social media to get attention to it.” Tails just stared at him, almost with spooky eyes. “Are you okay?”

“He. Kills. Holds souls, and puts them back,” Tails said to him slowly. “A lot of people won’t stop him. He’ll enjoy it more . . .”

Sonic moved over toward Tails. “It’s okay, Tails.”

“No, it’s not! No one will! Ever know,” his voice went soft. “What I saw, Sonic. What I felt. What we felt.”

Mark. He was stuck in the terrible place that Tails was talking about. Chase tried not to think about it. Tried to help so he didn’t have to, but he could tell just from the way Tails had been? Mark would be even more traumatized. If they could get back to him. He might be so bad, he’d end up being in a psyche ward the rest of his life. Chase was startled a second when he felt an arm wrap around him. He looked up.

Sonic. He’d picked up Tails and came over to try and comfort him too. He didn’t even really know Chase. Chase could have told the cops about them, had them thrown in jail. He thought about it for a little while, until David spoke up. Yet, he was comforting him. He wasn’t the best at it. Chase didn’t know any extra backstory to Sonic before his teens, but he could tell from the way he gripped Tails and tried to comfort him at the same time?

It probably wasn’t just all wild fun. Now, Chase kind of wished Sonic had been the ‘all break out attitude fast talking’ type he’d become for his generation’s platform. It’d be a little less . . . real. 

“Chase?” His mom knocked on the door. “David’s still gone. I’m going to order out for supper. What do you want?”

No way. Chase almost glared at her, she couldn’t just pull that. “Who was Kenneth to David, mom?” What did she hide from him?

“Oh.” She sighed. “Well, I suppose you’ll find out one day. When David was a kid, he used to have a best friend named Kenneth. In sixth grade, he disappeared. Just one random day, he up and left after playing a game. No one ever saw him again.” She looked toward Sonic. “Your little brother looks very much like him, and David is in a tough state. His son is missing right now. He wasn’t thinking straight when he went towards him.” Sonic just nodded while she looked back to Chase. “Your new friends need to go home soon unless they are staying to eat.” She lingered on Sonic for a little while. “What is your little brother’s name again?”

“Dale,” Sonic said, “and I’m Sonny.” The first thing they had to do was get names that sounded like actual names from Chase’s world. They came up with the closest sounding they could to their own.

“Dale, that’s right.” Chase’s mom looked back at him. “Think about what you all want and then come get me?”

Mom never let friends he just met simply eat with them, but he could tell she didn’t believe Mark simply ran off. A person didn’t come running into an unknown house easily with just a small yell. Maybe she was letting them hang around to thank them. Maybe she was feeding them to thank them. Maybe she was being nice since David went after Tails way too fast.  Maybe she thought he would tell them more, and she could get something out of them? The last one fit his mom best.

If it had been anything else, they probably wouldn’t be there. ‘Dale’ was a cute kid, but not only was he probably the body of David’s late friend, but from the way he acted? It was clear he’d been through some serious situations. And Sonic? Alone he was fine. He spoke decently, and he didn’t get out of line, but his mom kept focusing on other things besides Sonic’s face. Whoever’s body Sonic had, it had a pierced ear and a tattoo on the upper arm. Sonic had been wearing a short-sleeved shirt of David’s, so Chase’s mom saw it. It wasn’t a bad tattoo or anything, just the planet with longitude and latitude showing over it, but it was a sign that Sonic probably wasn’t an influence she wanted around him. He was probably sixteen or seventeen, and with tattoos and piercing that young? His mom wasn’t brimming for them to get close.

“He’ll pop up around movies,” Sonic said after she left. “If you don’t mind, we’ll steal some food before we get out of here.”

Yeah. There’s no way Sonic and Tails could stick around all the time. “Where will you go?” Chase asked. “You don’t have super speed and Tails can’t fly.” Wait. “Can he fly planes?” Yeah, that lingering look again. Not everything followed games. In the games, Tails was smart, and then he only got smarter, and then genius status that could make almost anything. There? Tails was just a little kid, like Mark had been. “Sorry. I don’t know your past from a game’s past. Even in the early ones, Tails could fly a plane.” He really needed to stop being so offensive. Some things were the same. Others weren’t. It’s better to assume nothing’s right.

“Don’t worry about it,” Sonic said to him. “Were used to being on our own. Doesn’t matter who we are, we always figure things out. Right, Tails?” Tails nodded.

“Okay. So, what did you want to eat?” It was a toughie. Chase would say they wanted chili dogs, but that could be completely game based later.

“If there’s anything we aren’t, it’s picky,” Sonic replied as he put down Tails and moved to relaxing on the ground. He sat back, leg crossed over his other knee, kicking a foot up and down. Chase had seen that fashion of relaxing in old youtube compilations. He did that in the early games when a person took too long to start playing. It was his last move before falling asleep. “After this, I better steal a car until I get used to this whole body thing. Who’s got a good stealable car?”

Okay? “You know what a car is?” No, wrong question. “Stealing is wrong.” It had been, but from the looks they gave him, they didn’t seem to care. Chase couldn’t believe it. “You steal?”

“When we need to.” Sonic sounded a little huffy. “If I followed the laws, do you think I would have ever stopped Robotnik? Anyone could? I’m not known as a rebellious hedgehog for being a good little boy that follows rules.”

“Robotnik’s inventions are Robotnik’s property by law,” Tails said to Chase. “We destroy his work all the time. Where he works. What he does. We technically break laws all the time, to try and keep the world safe.”

“Oh.” The real ones weren’t role models. Sonic wasn’t going to be giving a right/wrong speech anytime soon.

“We don’t go out of our way to break it,” Sonic said, seeing Chase shuffle slightly. “You do what you gotta do, and I’ve got to go steal a car to find EXE to stop him. At least until I figure out how to run in this body.”

“How?” Chase asked. “He’s . . . well, he’s . . .” He didn’t want to say an invincible god, but isn’t that what he’d been? How was Sonic going to stop him? Even with his own body and super speed, how would he do it? “What about Mark?”

“If we get him back, I’ll bring him back,” Sonic simply said. He was being careful not to make any promises.

“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.

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.”


“Can I see that?” Chase asked his almost younger brother, Mark. Mark was playing with his DS system. Chase shared it since he had his new 3DS and he was trying to get along with Mark, like an older brother should.

He’d never been an older brother before, just an only child. His mom and dad broke up last year. Well, technically more than a year . . . closer to two. “Just be careful with the game on the bottom.” His mom was getting remarried to David, and so Mark would be his new little brother in about three months. Which was great. They were getting along well.

Better than he did with his future dad. He was trying to get used to another man actually having say so. Chase new David beforehand, nearly all his life. He was his mom’s best friend, and he suspected that his mom was marrying David more for Chase than herself. But. Well, it was her life.

The whole house felt different and they weren’t even married yet. As soon as David and Mark moved in three months ago, things changed. The trash pile grew faster. The house was never as clean. His future dad preferred cooking.

That part was okay, David tended to have some good cooking. Chase didn’t mind his meals. But? His mom was working instead, while David stayed at home with them. He was giving her a chance to go further in her career. It was only for a couple hours longer they’d see him than their mom since they were still in school, but Summer was around the corner. Being around him nearly all day? Just. It was just all . . . different.

“I can’t pass this stage,” Mark said to Chase, handing him the DS. “Can you help?”

“Which stage are you on?” Chase looked at it. Mark was playing Mario 64 on the DS. “You can skip it if you want. You can collect another star.”

“I need to get another star to open the door in the game. I don’t know where the others are at, just that one.” Mark gestured to the game again. “Please?”

Chase looked at the stage. It wasn’t the easiest star to get, but Mark did need one more star to open the door. This is what a big brother does. “Sure, Mark. I can’t guarantee I can get it, but I’ll try.” Mark was good for his age. Chase was ten, and Mark was eight. Not much younger than Chase, but in gaming, every year and experience with the game counted.

As Chase tried to get the star though, the power went too low. “You have to plug it in. We’ll try again later.” Is this right? While brothers did help, he knew from watching television they were supposed to fight a lot too. Big brothers should get real agitated with their younger brother. While sometimes Mark bugged him though, they seemed to get along just fine. Well, television isn’t always right I guess.

“Hey there you two.” David poked his head in the room. “How are you doing?” He pushed his glasses up.

Chase kind of shrugged, looking away. That was another thing he tended to hate. David wasn’t nearly as fun as his dad. His dad went on trips, took chase out to places, and played all kinds of games with him. David? He was more reserved. He did play games, but he hadn’t known anything from the last decade.

“Hi, dad,” Mark said. “We were playing, but the power ran out in the game.”

“Oh. Well, I know.” David had a funny look on his face. “I could hook up something for you in here? I’ll show you what I used to play.”

“That’s okay, we’re just-“ Chase watched David leave. Oh, great. Chase had plenty of other games. What prehistoric thing would David bring out?

“Do you want to play Mario on it?” Mark seemed to read his mind. It would probably be an old Gameboy.

To be polite I guess. Talk about ridiculous though. Chase tried to get along with the new family though. His mom was always so scared that he’d start to hate Mark or not get along with David. They weren’t bonding, but he never hated him. She watches too much television too.

“Here you go.” David’s voice actually sounded excited as he brought out . . . “This is great, I haven’t hooked this up in years.” He gestured toward Chase. “Maybe we could all play a game on this? I don’t know the new stuff, but I used to be real good at these games.”

Chase just stared. It was dusty, but David clearly had tried to wipe it off. There were funny boxes. What were those called? They weren’t CD’s. He watched David blow on the little boxes.

“I have a bunch of old cartridges,” David said as he handed them to Chase. “Go ahead, check them out.” He dug out a couple. “Bubsy was fun. Animaniacs was great too. It was a show in the nineties.”

Uh huh. “Is there like . . .” What was an old game? “Super Mario or Zelda?”

“No, not for that. That’s a Sega Genesis,” David said. “Those weren’t for it. They were around the time period though.”

“Sega.” Chase dug deeper and then found something he recognized. “Sonic the Hedgehog.”

“Yeah. Yeah, I played that real well. Two person controls,” David said to him. “I got up into the last stages. Yeah. I don’t know games of today but there was no saving back then. You had to solve it the first time or start all over.”

“ . . . okay.” Chase didn’t know whether he should congratulate him for that. Did he think his old games were more challenging because of that? Were they sillier because the adventure was limited? He decided not to respond much to it.

“David?” Chase looked at his mom at the door. “Mom’s here to babysit. What are you doing?”

“Oh? Oh yeah.” David finished hooking up the Sega to Chase’s television. “That’s great.” He pointed at Chase and Mark, like he was trying to be cool. “Hey there you two. I am going out with your mom for an hour or two. So, when I get back, if you want we can play a game?”

“That sounds great!” Mark was clearly excited. “I hardly watch you play, and I’ve never seen you play a sega game.”

“Yeah, we’ll take turns.” David blew dust off the controllers and sat them down. “Go ahead and pick out a game to play between you two so you can get used to the controller. Okay? See you soon.”

Chase watched his mom wave at him excitedly. To her, it must have been a bonding moment. To him? David just hooked up an old game system. Still, as they left, Chase moved down to the ground with Mark. “I don’t know any of these games except Sonic.”

“I know Sonic,” Mark said. “He has lots of games.”

“No, he doesn’t.” Chase didn’t want to act fake with Mark. “He has his games, and then he has games that like twenty other characters share.” David shoved the cartridge in, hoping he wasn’t too rough with it. “Like, Colors was okay. But, I mean he’s supposed to be real fast. It seems like everyone is real fast. Everybody’s equal. They are all interchangable, and he gains more and more freeloaders in every game.” He hit the power button.

Blue Screen. He turned it back off and messed with the cartridge again.

“You don’t like Sonic?” Mark asked.

“I don’t know. I mean, his games are like? Well, now there are like two versions of him, and there’s a bat, and another hedgehog, and a silver guy, and a purple girl, and an alligator, a bee, and I forget everybody. Half the time the games just bomb.” David shrugged, shoving the cartridge in even deeper and turning the power back on. “The old games with just him and Tails are supposed to be fun though.”

Chase turned on the TV again. This time, the word Sega was seen. “Let’s find out if he really was more fun back then.”

“He hated it,” David said to Stace they sat down for their date. Even though they were married, David wanted to support her how he could by keeping their dating strong. Once per month if possible. The subject he picked for it though just blurted out. “I’m not a dweeb now, am I?”

Stace just smiled at him, placing her hands over his on the table. Of course you’re a dweeb, but you’re my dweeb. “You’re not a dweeb. You just don’t play games all day long. There’s nothing wrong with that.” When they were younger, they became friends in high school. Even after she was married, it was clear he still had a crush on her.

Once it was clearly over with her husband, he confessed his feelings. Not seeing any good in denying him, she accepted their first date. David was a lovely man. Sweet. Adorable at times. He’d been married once too, and he had a son. He could handle responsibility, and he’d make the perfect new dad for Chase. Plus, a little brother that Chase was excited to have, him being an only child. Not only that, but he would let her run her own career like she wanted, unlike her ex-husband.

But her own feelings? Well. It wasn’t love, but she cared deeply for him, and he was safe. He’d never leave Chase behind. He’d never leave her hurting. Not everyone married based on love anyhow. It was convenient, he was a great friend, and he also accepted that arrangement. She wasn’t hiding it.

In return, she tried to meet his feelings back.

“I thought if I brought out an old system I used to have, it would help us connect. Player one and player two. An unspoken relationship,” David said. “Otherwise, he’s  going to have to deal with a  newbie’s question in every game we try to play. The last console I played on was the GameCube, and that was just a little bit, Stace.” He looked at the table. “I feel like we got along better before I stepped into this role.”

“It’s okay. Don’t try so hard,” Stace encouraged him. “He knows that you’re a great father. You raised Mark after all, and Chase and Mark are hitting it off fine.”

“I’m trying not to hit it so hard,” David said as he picked up the menus for him and Stace. “I don’t want to over try, but I don’t want to look like I’m not even trying before the marriage. I think, not trying anything would be a worse idea. Right?”

Stace shrugged. “Life’s unscripted, David. Chase is a fifth grader, his own little person, and everyone’s different.”

“Yeah,” David nodded. “Two boys.” He smirked. “Father of two boys is great.” It was clear that he couldn’t wait to go home and play with both of his sons. “I never liked player one.”

“Hm?” Stace barely caught something she wasn’t supposed to hear. “You don’t like player one?”

“Sorry, that was supposed to be softer,” David said. “Yeah. I always preferred player two.”

“Why, Hon?”

“Player one means. . . there’s only one person to play with,” David uttered.

“Oh.” Of course. Before her, he had another best friend. When he was much younger. “Your best friend in sixth grade.”

In sixth grade, he had told her that his then best friend Kenneth and him used to come home from school and play on the Sega. They couldn’t wait each day to try and win one of the games again, or at least progress to a new level until next time.

Then, late in the sixth grade, Kenneth disappeared. Media said he was a runaway, so did the police. There was no sign of forced entry. Kenneth’s parents though, and David, never believed it. It still haunted David at times. At the end, Kenneth’s parents gave David a stack of Kenneth’s old Sega cartridges.

Stace still remembered the stack. When they were younger, she tried to get him to play a game with her. Every once in awhile he would, but he would always be player two.

The heart never fully healed from loss, and Kenneth was an old wound that was starting to surface again. But, at least he was picking up a controller again. Maybe this was a good thing.  “You want to play after the boys go to bed?” Stace asked him. “I’ve always been more of a Nintendo kind of girl,” she chuckled, “but I’d play with you.” He didn’t respond right away. “You’ve hardly ever talked about actual gaming, David. I’m surprised that’s how you wanted to try and bond. Did Chase . . .? I mean, becoming his father soon. Is he reminding you of your old friend somehow?”

“Mark and Chase,” David said. “Seeing those two playing together. It just brings back memories. I don’t want to be on the sidelines with just memories anymore.”

“Well, maybe those two can help you through them,” Stace said. “Do you want to order a new dish this time?”

“Yeah, I wanted to try something different,” David insisted. “Change is good.”

“I don’t like old cartridge games.” Mark put his second player controller down. “There’s no option for a second player, and the sound is weird.”

Yeah, it was. Chase stared at the screen. When it first came on, he swore he saw something weird right before it came on with Sonic in the middle, but it was too quick. Tails was on screen now.

And the only way the controller would let him go was to the right. “This old controller might be broken.”

Tails flew through the air, looking for his partner, Sonic. While they were far from the same age, Sonic had been watching over him since he was a small tike. Tails had more freedom than most children with Sonic. Their relationship was more like brothers, and Sonic trusted Tails to take care of himself.

Still, Sonic was not a reckless guardian. He had trained Tails to deal with all of the evil that would come after him. Sonic wasn’t a regular person, he was a hero, and accepting a spot beside him meant evil would befall Tails too. Tails lost his home at too young of an age to even remember it, so avoiding or fighting evil was something he had done for all his life. Although he was technically a misfit having two tails, it was this extra tail that propelled him enough to keep up with Sonic and his lifestyle.

Tails held his arm up and his fingers across his forehead, trying to look in the distance. The familiar back of the blue blur he had known almost all his life wasn’t far away. Without even thinking, Tails headed downward and lightly touched ground. The day had been like any other and he expected to approach Sonic with a smile. He foresaw his hero smiling back and without a word they would run off into the distance, taking several loops of fun before running into their first enemy.

This was ordinary. This was life. Yet, Tails felt a strange sense inside of him. In a bolt of what felt like lightning, his surroundings had changed. Maybe? Sonic was still ahead of him. He was still on the same grass as before, but now there was a dead animal to the side. It was one of the animals that popped out of the machines once they were rescued. Its eye was left open and blood was seen coming from a gouge in its neck. Who could have done that?

Looking away from that direction wasn’t any more pleasant. He saw another dead animal. Tails could foresee Sonic wouldn’t be in a good mood seeing all this death around them. Sonic was a light-hearted individual. Sonic might not even smile at him when he approached this time. He thought about propelling himself ahead faster, when he realized how one of the creatures had died.

There was a ring sticking out of his back. A ring. Not many collected rings. Evil robots didn’t collect rings. Tails felt a strange sensation inside of him, one that for a split second came and went. It was a fleeting thought. A random thought that refused to actually be recognized with any real seriousness.  A weird thought. But just a thought.

Could Sonic be responsible?

As he approached closer, that thought came to him again. More bodies were piling on the sides. Their enemy had made more than one Sonic look alike in the past. There was a good chance this creature might not be Sonic, just an enemy robot. Tails took his trek cautiously. An enemy would usually look behind him by now, exposing some metal part that he could see.

There was no action yet. No sign of any alert. Tails took the next step and placed his gloved hand on Sonic’s shoulder. Tails was a good fighter, but with his tails he could run away even faster. He had a high intellect too, so he was confident he could get away if it wasn’t Sonic.

“I don’t like the screen,” Mark said as he gestured to it. “It’s grainy.”

“It’s just pixelated,” Chase said, his own self feeling a little awkward about it. Modern day Sonic games were filled with bright colors and bands that used lyrics for cool friendships. This? This didn’t sound like that. “This is a real old system,” Chase said, trying to convince himself too. “They had things like glitches a lot more than we have them today. It’s like twice our age or something. It’s probably just glitching.” It was hard to make out what all the pixelated shapes even represented. Although as he moved, he had sworn the pixels on the ground were dead animals. Oh geez. “Nevermind, pick another game.”

“This is creepy.”

“Yeah, it’s just creepypasta.” Chase didn’t know how someone actually designed a creepypasta game on an old cartridge, but it could obviously be done. Why bother? I mean, this game is so old. No one’s going to want to play it. Dumb prank. He didn’t see David trying to prank him. Maybe someone gave him the prank cartridge.

Both of them were busy looking at the cartridges to find a different game. “What’s a 7up Spot?” Chase shook his head. “See anything you like?”

While they continued to look through the cartridges, they didn’t notice the gameplay still moving on without them.

This book is not complete yet.

This book features no romance, no love story, and no tragic love story. It breaks my own mold.

Summary: Tails thought death was the end, but his soul is stuck with the creature that killed him. He is there to suffer everything, as well as to see the creature’s new plans. And although he finds a new way to live, it came with a terrible price for someone else.

It was supposed to be a new start for a family. A new brother. A new father. But Chase loses so much more then he gains when he shoved his future dad’s Sonic cartridge into the Sega slot. Everything he knew and loved will collapse while evil slowly takes over his world, unless someone can put a stop to it.

1. Pay Attention

2. His Name

3. In Or Out of Mind

4. Not Role Models

5. Sonic Can Drive