Author's Note: Wow, my first new, non-holiday fanfic in about three years. Exciting. Now, I normally put author notes like this at the end of the chapter, but there's something I wanna let everyone know before they start reading. The protagonist of this story (Matt) is NOT me! While we do share a couple of traits, he still has some vastly different views from my own. One of these is his opinion on self-insert fics, which obviously plays a huge role in this story. To make the plot a lot more interesting, I made him absolutely hate such stories (it's called dramatic irony). I, on the other hand, fully respect an author's desire if he or she wants to stick him or herself in another universe (especially if it is well-writen). The point I'm getting at here: Please don't flame me if you don't like Matt's view about such fanfics. He's a fictional character who does NOT share my views on self-insert fics! Now that that's out of the way, let's begin...

It started out like any ordinary day. I had invited two of my friends over to play the multiplayer minigames in Sonic and the Secret Rings when, all of the sudden, a huge vortex opened up in front of the TV and sucked us all in! "AHHH!!!" we all screamed before everything went black. When we came to, I was a hedgehog, and my two friends were a fox and an echidna! "Guys," I said, "I think we're inside the game!"

OMGosh! We're in Sonic's world! What will happen to us now? Leave me a review and I'll update!

I lolled my head back and let out a huge sigh. Not another one of these fanfics again! Doesn't anyone ever get a clue that the ol' "Oh noes! We're trapped in the game's universe!" gambit is neither cool nor original?

Don't get me wrong, pulling such a fic off can be done, but this... thing violated every rule in the book quicker than Michael Jackson at a day care center. Rule #1: Thou shall not have thy video game system of choice 'suck' thyself into the game. Rule #2: If thou in the Sonic universe, thou shall not turn into either hedgehog, fox, or echidna, for it is unoriginal. Rule #3: Thou shall not immediately realize that thou is in previously stated universe right off the bat, as thou is not that intelligent. Rule #4: Thou shall not call a single paragraph a 'chapter' for it is an insult to those who actually put effort into their updates. Rule #5: See rules one through four. Rule #6:... You get the idea.

I promptly decided not to waste anymore time (or brain cells) on this sludge and made my way towards the 'Back' button at the top of the screen. Normally I'd comply with their request and leave them a 'review' (read: flame), but I was feeling generous today, so I spared them. Meanwhile, I continued my search to find a halfway decent narrative on before giving up for the evening.

"Honey! Time for dinner!"

Scratch that. Looks like I have to stop now, having nothing on my mind except that emotionally scarring bile that somehow managed to be classified as a story.

"Um... Sure thing! Coming, Mom!"

I closed out of the website and made my way out of my room, down the stairs, and into the kitchen, where my mother had just finished setting everything up on the table. My dad and my sister were already there, so I decided to seat myself down at my usual spot near the table. Thankfully, despite the absolutely nauseating effects that story could've had on me, I still managed to maintain my appetite for dinner. Good thing, too: it was ravioli!

What? I'm part Italian, so sue me.

I suppose you guys might be wondering about my hastily-introduced family here. My dad runs his own business that is pretty successful, but he isn't exactly what I'd call a spender, so we live in a generic, but otherwise nice house in the suburbs rather than some huge, gigantic mansion I'm sure we could probably afford. It doesn't bother me, though, since the house we do have is filled with enough high-end appliances to make Bill Gates jealous (okay, that's an exaggeration... that guy's got a heated driveway, for cryin' out loud!). This includes a personal computer and TV for my room, meaning that I theoretically don't have to leave it for any reason other than for food and school. Emphasis on the word 'theoretically', mind you, as I am usually dragged out of it to do other things, like (gag me) piano lessons and football.

Look, football is fine and all to watch, but I have no desire to make a living getting physically assaulted by a group of heavily armored musclemen, okay?

As for my mom... She's a housewife. Now, I know that such things are uncommon in today's society, where the mom usually works because she has to (family needs the cash) or because she wants to (as part of the feminist movement or whatever), but my mom considers watching over the two of us as a 'full-time job'. I'm still trying to figure out if that is a compliment or an insult.

Finally, there's my sister, Ashley. I have officially dubbed her 'Princess Ashe' because of her unusual obsession with RPGs, regardless of the fact that she's only twelve and thus should not be able to understand any of the subplots. Inexplicitly, she managed to figure out Cloud and Zack's backstory in FFVII before I even could, and she was eight then. Of course, my mom happened to walk in right as Zack was meeting his untimely demise, freaked out, and now has the game hidden away until she turns thirteen. Thank goodness I'm not a fan of GTA...

Me? I'm Mathew, or Matt for short. I'm a sixteen-year-old high schooler just going through the motions in my rinky-dinky little private school. Yes, our 'gymnasium' and 'auditorium' is interchangeable and we hardly have enough money to afford common luxuries such as heating (one time, a toilet exploded in the girls' room during the winter and it turned into a miniature ice rink overnight...), but we've got it where it counts, I suppose. Anyway, when I'm not doing schoolwork or hanging out with my friends, I'm usually either playing with my Wii (get yer mind outta the gutter, sickos!) or working on the computer, plugging away at the next great American novel... or, at least, one of my fanfictions.

Now that all the introductions are out of the way, let's move on, shall we?

"Anything exciting happen in school today?" my dad inquired, sprinkling a little parmesan on his ravioli (as if it needed any more cheese).

"Well..." I began, shoving a whole ravioli in my mouth, "our math teacher ran out of dry-erase markers to use on the whiteboard, so he had to resort to using a highlighter."

"Isn't that the second time this month?" my sis interrupted.

"Yeah... Our school isn't exactly big on supplies... Oh, and I got clobbered in the face with a dodge ball."

"Goodness!" my mom shrieked, "Are you alright!?"

"Heh... Obviously. Otherwise, I wouldn't be here!" I joked, "Seriously though... I'm fine. Really. Physical sports just aren't my thing, I guess."

We continued to eat a bit more before my mom started talking again.

"Do you have any homework tonight?"

"Nope, just one English assignment that isn't due until next Monday. That's no biggie."

"Of course, you think that tests are 'no biggie'..." Ashley quipped.

"Well, exuuuuuse me, Princess Ashe," I teased.

"And stop calling me 'Princess Ashe'! It's not funny!"

"Aw, come on... It's not like you aren't obsessed enough with RPGs..."

"Oh, and what about you? All you talk about is Sonic!"

"... And Mario," I added, "and Link, and virtually any other character to grace a Nintendo system."

"But still, it's mostly Sonic."


At this point, I finished up my ravioli, so I took my plate to the sink and headed back up into my room. While I was ascending the stairs, I heard my mom call to me.

"You might want to at least look over that English assignment once, anyway!"

"Yes, Mom..." I mumbled. She doesn't let anything slip by in the way of schoolwork.

Once back in my room, I plopped down on my bed and turned on the TV to discover that the nightly news was just starting. Normally, I wouldn't care less about the news, as all they usually do is start by saying, "good evening" and then proceed to tell you why it isn't. However, the first story caught my attention.

"I'm here at Sixty-Fourth Street," the on-site reporter began, motioning to the darkened house behind her, "where another child has mysteriously disappeared last night, making him the thirteenth in as many days.

"Police are baffled by this haunting series of disappearances. All the vanishings happen in exactly the same way: their parents claim that their child goes to bed the night before, but in the morning, they are simply gone; no signs of break-in or struggle. In fact, the beds of the children are even made, as if the children were not sleeping in them to begin with.

"As I've previously stated, this is the thirteenth time this has happened. These disappearances have occurred all over the country, from California to Maine, and even in Hawaii on one occasion. So far, ten of the children were not even in their teens when they vanished, and the remaining three were fourteen, fifteen, and seventeen, respectively. Furthermore, only one so far has been female; the rest have all been boys. Police around the country have asked that anyone with any information on any of the kidnappings please contact them at 555-TIPS. All calls will be confidential. This is Mary Anderson, Channel 4 News."

I quickly turned the TV off after that. Kids disappearing all over the country? Creepy. Normally, I'd just say that they all sneaked out during the night in a pitiful attempt to generate some free publicity, but something about this... didn't seem right. You'd think one of them would turn themselves in after a few days, right? Murders, kidnappings, and burglaries in the news normally don't score all that high on my 'Give a Crud' meter (I suppose I could thank CSI for that), but something about this really disturbed me.

Suddenly, doing that English assignment seemed like a valuable alternative in my mind. At least it would take my mind off this creep-fest.

I dug through my backpack until I managed to pull out my English binder. After shifting through a nearly endless number of previously-written essays, vocab lists, and reading comprehension questions for Our Town (dullest. play. ever.), I finally found my current assignment.

Oh joy, it's creative writing. Where they ask you to write what's in your heart and then grade you down for not answering the way they want you to. After rolling my eyes at the oxymoron that is more commonly known as the assignment's title, I looked over the prompt:

If you could live in any fictional world of your choosing, what would it be and why? Please make your answer at least five paragraphs long and explain your reasoning thoroughly.

Well, at least the subject's interesting. What fictional world would I want to live in? That's a tricky one. Sometimes, I feel like the world I'm living in now is stranger than fiction.

Eh, screw it. All Mom wanted me to do was look it over once. Well, I did, and that's all I'm gonna do.

I tossed the sheet aside and walked back over to the computer. I still had a couple of hours before bedtime (no, I don't still have a set bedtime; it was a school night, and I prefer to get to bed at a semi-decent hour so I'm not a brain-dead zombie in the morning), so I decided to continue my epic search for a partway respectable fanfiction in the Sonic community. No such luck, as it turned out. Two hours later, the closest I got to a good story was one where the 'anthro-ed' author took a whole three days since she entered Sonic's world before she was able to make-out with Shadow. Look, just because you love that angst-ball doesn't mean he'll immediately fall for you, okay? Reality check: no one falls in love that easily. Take it from me; the closest I got to having a crush on someone was thinking that Midna was a little cute.

Well, okay, Peach isn't that bad, either. And Samus is kinda hot, too, but she'd probably blast your head off if you asked her out on a date.

Of course, the really sad thing is the fact that I don't have a real girlfriend. I guess I'm just afraid of committing to anyone until the person I know is the right one comes around. There's gotta be someone for everyone out there, right?

Bah, why am I talking about my (lack of) love life, anyway? I gotta focus on more important things right now, like finding a fanfic that doesn't make my eyes bleed. Alas, it was not meant to be. Disgusted, I went back to my homepage, which, at a total lack of better options, was a news site.

What? It's easier than going on the Wii's News Channel, although I love mindlessly spinning that globe around and watching the pretty pictures move.

Anyway, as I looked that the leading headline, I realized that irony knew no bounds: it was about that same, creepy kidnapping spree going around. Oddly enough, I found myself clicking on the headline, even though I already knew (and dreaded) what it was going to say. However, there was a difference between this and the news program's report: this one had a list of the names of the missing children. I don't know why, but I began looking over the entire list, memorizing the names of the kids. I guess... I guess I really felt for them or something.

What the heck is wrong with me? I never got this emotional over any news story before, so why is this one bugging me so dang much?

I glanced over at my desk clock: 10:00 PM. Wonderful. I needed to get to bed, or else I'd really regret it in the morning (let's just say that the consequences usually involved me falling asleep in my cereal...). Thankfully, having a computer in my room means that I'm literally a foot away from my bed, so I got up, took about three steps, and threw myself onto an array of pillows and blankets. After managing to get under the covers and turning off the light on my nightstand, all that was left for me to do was get to sleep. Unfortunately, that chilling news story was still on my mind; I had to find something else to think about, or I'd definitely wind up with a nasty case of insomnia.

My mind eventually drifted back to that essay question. What fictional world would I want to live in? Hmm... Well, RPG worlds are usually pretty cool, but they always tend to be doomed to a quick, flashy destruction. What about Hyrule? Naw, not high-tech enough (although, that Clawshot is a pretty darn cool piece of equipment). Mushroom Kingdom? Now, that's making some progress, but...

Ah ha! Of course! Mobius! Sonic's home world! That place is awesome! Of course, that begs the question of which Mobius I'd be talking about... Would it be the goofy, off-the-wall, all-logic-out-the-window Mobius in that Sonic cartoon or the dead serious, post-apocalyptic, Freedom Fighter's Mobius of the comics? And we can't forget that crazy anime movie... And what about the games that started them all? Maybe it would be a combination of all of them? Well, I guess it really wouldn't matter, as long as Sonic's there! Heh, maybe I'd be able to meet him!

Oh gosh.

I'm starting to sound like one of those authors.

That's when I realized the problem: Forget trying to figure out where I'd want to live, how could I possibly write this essay without it turning into a dreaded 'self-insert' story? Granted, I don't think my teacher would care at all (she probably wouldn't even notice, unless she actually looks at fanfiction, which I seriously doubt) but how am I supposed to write about something if I know it's gonna turn into what I commonly criticize!?

No, sorry, I just can't do it. Mobius, you'd be an awesome place to live, but I'm not putting you in my essay. I just can't take the risk.

This was what I fell asleep thinking about.