A/N:Lights Out started as one of the first drafts I made for Child of the Green Hill, a story depicting Sonic's origin before it became something of its own. Child of the Green Hill is part of my T4 series, which is a collection of stories depicting the backgrounds for different characters. I plan on starting the story sometime in September, so be on the lookout for it.
I had already written an excerpt of the first version of this origin story for Sonic, which I wrote in October last year, and then left it to collect dust in my directory. So, I polished it a bit, changed a few minor things, mostly in terms of the writing itself, corrected some grammar, and decided to post it.
Lights Out is a one-shot depicting a prologue for Sonic 1 and SegaSonic the Hedgehog (the Arcade game, exclusively released in Japan) with incorporated elements from SatAM and Archie Sonic. Read, review, and enjoy!
He waits for hours in his bed, hiding, just like his mamma told him to. And when night comes, he still waits, goes to the kitchen to get a sandwich and a glass of milk because he's hungry—and dad told him to take care of himself thoroughly while they were gone—before returning to his room. He tries not to think on how much his hands are shaking, or how itchy his eyes have become. The winds howl, cold blowing into the house and encompassing him like a faux blanket, and it's opened up for the canopy of stars tonight; beautiful and twinkling like mamma's eyes. But his mum is not here, and neither is his dad.
Night becomes morning, and hours become days… he's lost count after the fourth, he thinks… and then something happens one night during a restless sleep.
Maurice wakes with a start, his heart lurching in his throat while he listens to the rattling of the doorknob. Though tired and sleep-deprived, his green, green eyes, dry from all his tears, and his throat hoarse from crying, a sprinkle of hope ignites itself like a flame within him. He cannot help the smile that breaks through, the sheer relief hugging him, and he dashes downstairs to the front of their home to greet his parents.
"Mum!" he shouts, rasps, really—for he cannot raise his voice beyond a few octaves—tearstained and happy. "Mummy! Daddy!"
But when he turns the corner leading into the hall, it's not his parents who stand in the doorway. The words die on his lips, the ember of hope dimming, and he stops short, confused. Through the blurriness of his vision, he can make out the shape of a hedgehog, the small droplets of water dripping from his moustache and, most of all, the burning eyes filled to the brim with something Maurice can't make sense of. It's a myriad of feelings; relief, sadness, desperation…
Maurice chances a glance behind the man he knows so well, only to meet nothing but the endless darkness of night.
Emerald eyes then move swiftly back when the man in question steps forward, over the threshold and atop the doormat. He's wet from head to toe, dragging the bad weather inside with him. There he freezes, allowing a small ocean to pool at his feet, letting the night creep further into the small home. It's as if the man has forgotten where he is or why he has come here.
"Uncle Chuck?" Maurice says, suddenly feeling way smaller than he is. And Uncle Chuck's face breaks into a wince and the fear grips him anew. "Where… where's mum 'n dad?"
Sir Charles Hedgehog cannot look his nephew in the eyes for long, a sudden gasp leaving his lips by the question. Opening and closing his mouth, he tries several times to form the words needed to comfort a child yet to truly grieve and finds none.
It is quiet for a long time. The silence is killing him, and as such, loudly repeating his words, Maurice screeches, "Where's mum and dad?!"
His face contorts into an expression of utter pain, and finally, his uncle turns his gaze away from him. The little hedgehog clasps his hands across his mouth in an attempt to muffle his whimpers. He must have failed in remaining quiet because he reopens his eyes—when had he closed them—at the feeling of cold hands. It's like viewing the world through a lens, and staring back at him is his uncle's concerned and shattered face.
"Oh, Sonic," he whispers, hands on either side of his muzzle, stroking his skin in gentle circles with his thumbs, but his patronising voice—because what else can it be—irritates him only further. Maurice opens his mouth to retort… only to stop by the lump in his throat, preventing him from speaking. A hiccup escapes him, then another, and the tears are spilling from his eyes, crawling down his cheeks like the cascading rain from outside.
"Shh," his Uncle Chuck shushes, and Maurice can barely hear him over his cries. His feet leave the ground and he feels arms encircling him in a hug; there's a heartbeat at his ear, thudding away and offering him warmth. But he doesn't want it. So, why is he clinging to Uncle Chuck's shirt as if his life depends on it, feeling the fabric grind against his cheek as he hides his face in his jacket?
He's not a baby, he's a big boy! And big boys… big boys don't cry… they don't, they don't…
"We have to go, Sonic."
Wide eyes look at his uncle, uncertain and afraid.
Uncle Chuck sighs softly but can't keep from looking over his shoulder.
"You don't want to stay here alone, do you?" A watery smile crosses the older hedgehog's face. "An adventure with your Uncle is much more fun, isn't it?"
Despite the panic coursing through him like water to a wheel, there is a flicker of interest in those teary eyes as he glances up.
With a strained tone, Chuck ruffles the young hedgehog's soft quills and forces a laugh, "We can even race! Show me how fast you can run, Sonic!"
The smile that blossoms on his face is bright and sad all at once, bringing out the beauty of his eyes despite their glazy state; but it disappears almost immediately. Maurice sniffs once but doesn't otherwise answer. Merely, he glances over his shoulder into the living room, where only a week prior they were sitting at the coffee table watching a baseball match. He can even still taste the flavour of his mum's blancmange on the tip of his tongue, sweet and savoury and gooey all at once, mixed with almonds… dad had spilt the creamy deliciousness, marring his face with gelatine. Maurice had laughed and laughed until he hurt. His mother, too, and her sweet giggle is, oddly, the one thing that he clings to.
The thought wells his eyes with fresh tears, and he buries his face in his uncle's chest, giving a curt nod of acknowledgement.
And that's all the encouragement Charles need. He barely spares a glance for the house his brother lives— lived in, before he hoisters Maurice more securely into his arms; and then he takes off, running as fast as his legs can carry him and not stopping, just. Not. Stopping.
Keep moving forward… keep moving… or else you'll fall…
Farther and farther they run, away from the only home Maurice has ever known. There's still lights in the windows, the door wide open, getting smaller by every step they take. Uncle Chuck is panting, the wind blowing across his ear, and yet his eyes are trained on the horizon, focused on a place he cannot see. Maurice still clings, watching the light… a flicker in the dark… vanishing…
"Uncle Chuck?" He finally stutters, barely trusting his voice. "Where… where are we… g-going?" It's cold and he's realising, at that moment, that he doesn't have any proper clothes on; he's shivering and wet, his long black nose dripping with water.
"Someplace safe," Uncle Chuck rushes to reassure. "We're going someplace safe, don't worry."
Maurice is still wheezing for breath, not thinking—not thinking on the inevitable—but instead casting his eyes out on the rain. And then, at last, he latches onto Uncle Chuck's pinched expression. He's running himself breathless and yet he doesn't stop; he keeps on going and going, never letting his hold on Maurice loosen even a little bit.
"Where…" Maurice starts, and he hates how his voice sounds, so small and unsure and wobbly because that's not him—that's not him! But… but… "Where's mum and dad?"
The grip around him tightens ever so slightly, causing Maurice to wince. His uncle eases his hold, but he doesn't otherwise answer his little nephew. Silence greets his ears; with it, the only answer Maurice will ever get. And somehow, the silence is worse than what any words could possibly tell.
There is this sound, like someone being squeezed around their throat, windpipe dropping dead; someone desperately trying to stay alive but lacking the ability to take in any air. It continues on, like a man clawing for oxygen, and it takes Maurice a moment to realise: he's making that sound. He cannot breathe, wheezing and spluttering as his hands dig into the shoulders of his Uncle Chuck. Tighter and tighter his fists become, and he can feel the way his nails tear clothes and break skin, drawing blood.
He sucks in the air but it doesn't feel right; it feels like is his lungs are constricting, collapsing in on themselves and his heart… oh Chaos, his heart… it pumps and it pumps and it pumps, circulating his blood quicker and quicker, but bleeding, all the same, becoming worse, an avalanche of pain, crushing his chest, and by Chaos, he can't breathe!
He doesn't hiccup, not quite, snot forming under his nose and vision darkening around the edges. If hearts could break, his would be made of glass, clattering to the floor and shattered into a dozen little pieces. Through his failing eyesight, and his disoriented system, he catches bright neon lights made of fire, and without meaning to he casts his gaze in the direction of the hills.
Green Hill Zone looks spooky during dark hours, he thinks absentmindedly, but just beyond the cliffside separating his home from the Marble Zone… beyond Never Lake…
He stops breathing altogether, heart stuttering behind his ribcage and eyes widening to the size of saucers. He's stiff as a plank in his uncle's arms and his outburst causes the old hedgehog to stop up shortly.
"Sonic?" He questions, and glances down to the hyperventilating child.
Maurice doesn't react to the calls of his nickname or his uncle's otherwise desperate please. For just there, nestled in between the mountains and looking like a direct rip-off of Metropolis… the one thing captivating his attention is this egg-shaped head with a moustache sticking out like Pippi Longstocking pigtails, grinning manically and hiding behind a pair of spectacles.
His ears are filled with cotton, his mouth as dry as a desert, and nerves completely fried. All he sees is a madman made of metal, laughing and glaring into the heart of his soul, unravelling him. His world goes dark and he knows nothing but that laughing face.
Word count: 1,745
Disclaimer: Sonic the Hedgehog and all of its assets are trademarks of SEGA and copyright of © SEGA and affiliated associates and people. I claim no ownership over the established series, characters or plots, and Lights Out is fan content only. I make no profit off of the story.