Do you know who the boy in this paper is? He's a kid that I brought home, and I wanted to teach him to be good, but he never learned, so I had to kill him. Is that what you want? If you do not do as you are told, I will have to kill you, too.

That was what Robotnik had said. That was what he said after he saw me looking at a newspaper clipping of another hedgehog who'd been here before me.

He kept me in the basement to teach me to be good, as he put it, though he never told me what I did wrong.

My name is Scourge, and I am Robotnik's step son. He only lets me out of the basement when he wants to use me and then throws me back inside when he's done. It's cold and dark down here, and I spend my days passing the time with whatever I can get my hands on just to keep from going out of my mind, which is hard enough as it is.

One way I like to entertain myself is music. Of course, Robotnik never gives me anything to make noise with since he prefers quietness, so I use some pieces of wood I found to make light tapping noises that sound like music. I think it's called 'drumming' but it's been a long time since I heard anyone mention music. I have to do it quietly or Robotnik gets angry and uses the belt, and he gets angry very easily. The marks on my body would testify to that, but that's not what hurts the most. Outside wounds heal fast, but hunger doesn't. He rarely feeds me, telling me I'll get fat like him if he overstuffs me. He keeps me thin because he says I look good that way, but it does little to numb the hunger pains I live with everyday, and even when he does give me food, it's only a little, enough to keep me alive. Then he has his way with me and puts me back in the basement, telling me it's so no one will have to see how bad I am.

This has been my life for as long as I can remember, but recently, Robotnik's nephew, my step cousin Snively, came to visit. He just came over to check up on his uncle, and for the first time, Robotnik let me out of the basement and we watched television together while enjoying a pizza. It was the first time I had been treated like a person, but as soon as Snively left, back into the basement I went, and things went back to the way they'd been before, only now I longed to be let out one more time, to experience the freedom I had never known previously. After that, everything I had done to keep myself busy now seemed hollow.

What good was drumming when I could be watching TV? What good was Bread and water when I could be enjoying pizza? And just why did I have to live in the basement when no one else had to? Surely Robotnik and Snively had made mistakes, too. What had I done that was so bad?

No longer content with my incarceration, I started looking for something new to do and that was when I noticed an old box of papers behind the staircase, so I opened the box and looked through the various documents. Just a lot of magazines and newspapers, but then I stopped at one particular article that talked about a young hedgehog named Manic Hedge who had gone missing at the Riverdale Mall on July 9th, when he was only 9. It showed pictures of Manic and his family doing various things together, like blowing out candles on a big cake, riding in a boat on a lake, and playing around in a pile of leaves. The article also mentioned that Manic liked to hang out with his brother and sister at the local Pizza Hut. His younger brother was named Sonic and had blue fur, his younger sister was Sonia and had crimson colored fur, his mom was named Aleena and she had a calm shade of purple, and his dad was called Jules and his fur color was also blue, making him look like an older version of Sonic, while Manic was bright green like me. But despite their differences, in all the pictures they were smiling or laughing. Something I had never done before. However, one part of the article stood out from everything else. It said that his family had put every ounce of energy into finding their lost boy and getting him back. They loved him enough to go looking for him, even after he had been taken away.

As I stared at the article and the pictures, absorbing the details of Manic's life, I couldn't hold back the tears. I wanted to have the kind of love that the pictures showed Manic enjoying with his family. I wanted to go on the same adventures that he did with his brother and sister, and eat the same food he did. Whether I got fat from the food or not no longer mattered to me if my life couldn't have some sort of meaning to it. I sat there fantasizing about having a family like Manic's until my eyes began to get heavy and I dozed off.

I soon found myself on top of a hill covered in cold white fluff, known by many as snow. I was lying on my front side on some green circular object made of plastic and zooming down the hillside at an incredible speed. The excitement and adrenaline climbing as I descended. Faster and faster I went, sliding down through the snow until I reached the bottom and continued sliding, laughing the entire way. But then the sled went over a snow mound and I immediately shot up in the air and lost my balance and was unable hold onto my sled and fell face down into the snow and was quickly absorbed by it. It happened so fast that it scared me a little, but I was laughing because it was also fun and I didn't get hurt, thanks to the snow being so soft. But then I looked up to see someone running down the hill toward me. As that person got closer, I could see that it was someone with purple fur. I knew I'd seen that person somewhere before, but as the person got closer, I recognized her as Aleena Hedge, Manic's mother. I knew I'd seen her somewhere, presumably on some picture, but it slipped my mind as she ran up to me and scooped me up in her arms and held me.

"Are you alright?" she asked.

"I'm okay." I said.

I could have sworn my voice was three times higher. I looked at my arm and noticed it was tiny, and enveloped in a thick blue sleeve, indicating I was a young hedgie wearing a heavy blue snow coat. Aleena must have tripped over something because she fell backward with me still in her arms and we both started laughing and then she smiled at me and ran her fingers through my quills as I rested my head on her shoulder, purring contentedly at the warm fuzzy feeling inside me. My eyes started to get heavy and I felt more relaxed, Aleena's fingers still running through my quills, and I slowly began to nod off, getting lost in the serenity.

Then a hand grabbed my shoulder and roughly spun me around. I turned and saw Robotnik standing over me, but the snow and Aleena were gone. Only the basement walls remained. I had been dreaming that Manic's mom had been my own.

Robotnik noticed the article I had found and snatched it away.

"I suppose there's no hiding the cat now that it's out of the bag." he said, "Do you know who the boy in this paper is?" he asked.

"Manic Hedge?" I replied, hoping it was the answer he wanted.

"He's a kid that I brought home, and I wanted to teach him to be good, but he never learned, so I had to kill him. Is that what you want?" he asked, menacingly.

I shook my head, but that wasn't enough for him.

"If you do not do as you are told, I will have to kill you, too." he growled, "Now will you do as you are told?"

I nodded reluctantly, knowing what was coming. The contrast between Robotnik and Mrs. Hedge was overwhelming. In the dream where Aleena Hedge had been my mother, I felt love and warmth, but here with Robotnik, there was nothing, only hunger. Hunger for food. Hunger for safety. Hunger for love. All of which were beyond Robotnik's capabilities.

"Good…because it is time for our get together." said Robotnik, pushing me up the stairs.

Neglect and isolation aren't the only things Robotnik does to 'punish' me for being bad. There are nights when Robotnik has needs and uses me. The pain from the belt and from hunger is nothing like the other kind. He pins me to the bed and I see red as he rips me apart from within. It makes me sick to think about how pathetic my cries are. I cry and piss myself like a baby. It hurts so bad every time that I can't even hold in my screams. That makes him angry and he smashes my face with his fists if I make a sound while he's doing his business. If he can't get me to be quiet, then he pulls my hair while hitting me with his fists until I black out, only to wake up in so much pain that I can't even move. Other times, he just covered my mouth and nose with his hand so I couldn't even breathe. That was worse because I was suffocating while staying awake through the other kind of pain, so to spare myself the suffocation, I bite down on my arm until it bleeds with the rest of my body, but it's better than making Robotnik angrier.

After he's done, he drags me back to the basement and lays me down on the floor and goes back upstairs to stuff his face and watch TV or go to bed. Meanwhile, I lay here in a fetal position, desperately wishing I had Manic's family. Wishing they'd come and take me away from this horrible place. At least they don't want to kill me.

But a few days later, after Robotnik had gone to work, I heard a car pull up and someone entered the house. I thought it was Robotnik returning home from work until the person opened the basement door. It was Snively. He slowly walked down the stairs and stared at me.

"You'll never guess what happened." he said, smirking, almost menacingly.

"What happened?" I asked nervously.

"Robotnik was in a car accident and he's unconscious in the hospital." said Snively, now smiling.

I began to feel hope for the first time. This meant that he couldn't hurt me anymore and I could escape.

"Does that mean you'll help me?" I asked him.

"It means you're mine, now." he said, shoving me against the wall.

Whatever hope of escape I had, died. He tried to kiss me, but I pushed him away. That made him angry and he pulled out a switch blade and slashed at me, cutting my arm which I had raised in defense. My arms were covered in scars and bite marks, so it was easy for me to ignore the pain from the knife. I tried to swat the knife out of his hand, but he lunged at me and stabbed me in the chest, something I was not used to. The pain was indescribable, but as if that wasn't bad enough, Snively jerked the knife to the left, leaving a big gash in me. I couldn't stop screaming because I was in so much pain that I couldn't even move. I collapsed to the floor, holding my side, trying to stop the bleeding. In the midst of my agony, I briefly noticed Snively backing away from me. I heard him scamper up the steps and out the door.

Now I was all alone. Robotnik was unconscious and Snively had left me for dead after stabbing me. Getting weaker, I knew that if I didn't do something, I was going to die, and I wasn't ready to die, so I used all my effort to push myself up off the floor and for the first time, I voluntarily walked up the stairs by myself. Each step was like climbing a mountain and I had to use all my strength just to lift my foot up a step, but I kept going and going until I finally reached the twentieth and final step at the top and I pushed open the door to see the kitchen and family room where I'd watched TV. I looked around and saw a phone on the wall. That was when it hit me.

I had been wanting Manic's life, and now I could have it. Robotnik said he'd killed Manic, and having looked in the mirror a few times, I knew I looked very similar to him, though alot older, which meant that I could pretend to be Manic and his family would take me in and care for me. I could finally be loved. I staggered over to the phone and picked it up while fighting to keep from falling over.

I dialed the only number that came to mind: 911. All I heard on the other end was ringing.

"Please pick up." I whispered frantically.

I looked behind me to make sure Snively had told the truth and Robotnik wasn't there in the house with me. If he caught me phoning the cops, it would all be over, but as I looked around the room, I saw a trail of blood going into the basement. For a moment, I thought somebody else was in the house, until I saw the trail of blood leading to me and I realized it was my own, and not only that, but the blood was pooling around my feet. I was losing more of it with each passing second.

"911 Emergency Services." said a voice at the other end of the line.

It's go time.

"It's me, Manic Hedge. I was kidnapped by Ivo Robotnik. Please help me." I said, both frantically and excitedly.

"Hold on." said the officer.

After a moment, he came back on.

"You're the Manic Hedge? The one who was kidnapped 5 years ago?"

They remembered him.

"Yes. Robotnik kidnapped me and now I'm trapped in his house. Please help me, I was stabbed and I'm losing blood." I said, feeling light headed.

"Robotnik stabbed you?"

"No, his nephew, Snively Kintobor told me that Robotnik had been in a car accident and then he tried to rape me, but I fought him off, so he stabbed me and then left. Please hurry." I said, impatiently.

Hope began to fade as I started to feel dizzy. I wasn't going to last much longer.

"Okay, do you know the address you're at?" asked the officer.

Address? How was I supposed to know that?

"I don't know the address. I've been trapped in this stupid house for as long as I can remember!" I said, practically shouting into the phone.

"Okay, okay, can you see it on the mailbox?" he asked.

By now, I could barely move because I felt so dizzy, but at least they'd know where I was as soon as I told them the code on the mailbox, so I forced myself toward the door. My vision was starting to go dark, but I kept going, determined to get the address so I could leave this place forever. After much staggering and stumbling, I made it to the door, but when I opened it, there was no mailbox in sight, just a heavily wooded area with a driveway that disappeared into the trees.

"No! Not now! Not like this!" I shouted, forcing myself out into the yard, leaving bloody footprints.

Here I was only a phone call away from freedom and I had to die of blood loss all because of a stupid mailbox address. I was losing blood and I wouldn't make it much further, and yet, I still couldn't even see the mailbox. Even if I did get to the mailbox, I wouldn't make it back to tell the officer what was on the mailbox.

In my hopelessness, I collapsed to the ground.

"Someone help me." I called out silently, my voice barely a whisper.

I felt my life leaving me as my vision went dark.

No response. Just as it had been my whole life. No one had ever been there for me before. Why should it be any different now?

This has been my whole life, and this is how it all ends…in darkness…