What is this, you ask?

This is not just a follow up chapter to The Final Step.

This is the beginning of the sequel, The Day After.

Recently my co-author Stephen Zacharus set up a, as you'd put it, way past cool website for The Day After in precedence to the fic, which is about halfway or so to being complete. Then he told me to post this.

Since I figured it wouldn't hurt to whet the audience appetite, or rekindle your interest a bit I decided that I'd put this up in hopes of seeing what you guys think, promoting the site, and maybe getting a few new fans before the final product comes out. So thanks, guys, if you do read this.

Anyway. The website address is http://tdaproject.tripod.com but be warned—the special features section DOES contain spoilers. We've taken down the link to the songfic version of Zacharus' ending, but any other spoilers are clearly labeled.

Anyway. Enjoy.



Premature release chapter one



[TAILS, David Macintyre]

My name is Miles Prower, but everyone calls me Tails, because I have two. I work in a convenience store.

It is this completely useless fact that has led me to my whole predicament. I know that last sentence sounded a little too brainy for my size. I didn't mean to.

Working in a convenience store—a dilapidated Fastrip, to be exact--hasn't exactly brought me the joys of having work that I had expected, the ones Sonic told me about. Sonic always said that earning money was a great thing, and to take pride in it you didn't even have to try. It felt good to earn money, he said, before joking about using that money to buy more stuff. More of the good stuff. Not funny.

I can't call it shit. Sonic always told me not to swear. I don't know why I should still respect him enough to listen.

He told me that working somewhere simple was best to start for someone my age. He told me there was a quick-e-mart near his place that I should try.

I went a few times. Eventually I got a job. And then I wound up here, in this happy little situation. Smiles and hugs for everyone.

Sorry if I seem a bit more sarcastic than usual, that is if you know me. If you don't know me, then get used to it.

Anyhow, back on track, right now I'm having a very bad day.

I came to work today with a headache. It only got worse.

Far too many customers today. I work on checkout. Wave after wave of butt ugly, rude people, expecting me to know what every damn person wants the second they step up to the counter. We [apparently] don't have apple flavor, sir. We [very obviously] don't sell those, miss. They're over there in front of the [fucking] door, miss.

I've still got another hour or so to go by the time I finish my break. I really need some coffee. The machine's broken.

I get back. I thought I wanted a longer break. I got one.

But it gets boring.

There aren't any customers. My shift has suddenly been extended (without any kind of warning), and there haven't been any for the last three hours. I guess I'm just that popular (and irritable), and nobody knows I'm working this late. I'm not allowed to read, play Game Gear, leave the counter, and there's nobody to talk to. My headache increases. I cough and feel like my head is going to blow apart for a split second.

"Boss… come on. Let me go."

"No, Miles."

"Boss, there haven't been any customers here for the last few hours. My [extended!] shift is officially over in ten minutes. Let me leave, please."

"No, Miles. You'll have to stay those ten minutes out."

I hate my boss. Well, my supervisor to be exact. I'm sure nearly everybody does.

I'm allowed to go. I feel like… stuff. Ten minutes can do wonders for your health.

As soon as my shift is over I make my way to the toilet and try to throw up in a dignified manner. It ends up coming out as tacked on acting. I really am throwing up. But it's no longer dignified.

As I prepare to leave, I know that I won't be able to fly home today. I pulled something the other day from abusing my gift.

Maybe it's just the stress. I'm still thinking that while I walk out the doors and consider giving the supervisor a sign. But I talk myself out of it. Sonic always told me stress can be hard on someone. He also said that you should always respect your boss externally. He knew from experience.

Which brings up a major point.


Sonic Sonic Sonic Sonic Sonic Sonic Sonic.

He taught me everything. He was my best friend, one of my only friends. He was my teacher, my mentor.

It is only after he raped my friend Amy Rose, turned her into a les, and got himself put in jail do I really appreciate the fact that I was dependent on him. And by appreciate I mean really realize, not necessarily… appreciate it.

I was dependent on him for support.

"So why don't you just ask her?"

I was dependent on him for friendship.

"You've always got me."

I was dependent on him for advice.

"That's not the way to do it, trust me."

And, most of all, I was dependent on him for protection.

"Listen… if I ever see you near my little buddy again, I'll make you take that insurance bullshit and shove it up your—"

"Well, if it isn't the little two-tailed freak. Hey, MAI-ulls."

My thoughts are cut short.

Since Sonic went to jail, I had to move back in with my parents, because I can't support the apartment on the equivalent of pumping gas, and they won't let me run away to my workshop slash cottage in the country. And now that I have money and none of Sonic's protection, I have to pay the 'insurance bullstuff'.

School, neighborhood, and mall thugs. You have to hate them. If you are one, I suggest you go cut yourself.

"What do you want?"

Nameless. I don't know the names of any of them except the girl over there on the right, ugly as sin, named Rita. They're all bigger and older than me, and unfortunately in my class because I was skipped ahead two grades. Of course, I still have no common sense.

"What do you think we want?"

I've mindlessly gone through the alley shortcut, completely forgetting that that's where they like to hang out. It's a dismal little area, short path from the direction I came from and then a fork going in opposite directions at the end. Fire escapes, dumpsters, you know the drill.

"I haven't gotten paid yet."

"Well, shoot me in the balls, neither have we. What a coincidence. GIVE IT."

"Look, I've only got two dollars…"

"That'll do as a down payment."

Down payment. Like they actually know what it means. They try to sound smart around me, because I've built planes and they'restill struggling with long division. However I mostly pay this guy named Rotor to do my runway and mechanisms in my beach house, if you can call it that. He's a bit of a geek, but I can't stand dumb people as friends.

The following comment will annoy me beyond belief. They should get their own jobs somewhere.

"Man. Two dollars. That's pathetic, Miles! Come on, even my mom will give me more than that. You don't get us enough cash."

"Well, I'm sorry I can't be the man your mother is."

It takes a moment for the comeback to sink in. By then I've already proven the point that being one of the only kids in school who can fly is a definite advantage. Although I realize that lately I've been using it for escape a bit too much.

I give one or two somewhat painful spins of my rear appendages and leap in a Matrix manner to a fire escape above. By then theyhave realized they have been insulted and started yelling curses at me from down there. I leap from stairwell to stairwell, carelessly dodging crude projectile trash that eventually stops coming

But then it finally happens. This has been foreshadowed from the start.

I slip.

My foot catches on something as I try to jump, and I begin careening to the alley floor below. I can't pick myself up because of my pulled muscle.

I hit solid concrete. Hard. I'm winded. But that doesn't stop them from practically kicking my head in.

"Little faggot…"

I groan loudly in pain as my nose is smashed against the concrete and I am bitch-slapped in the cheek. I don't think it's broken, but it's definitely bleeding. I don't cry. I never do.

As they leave, I throw up again.

And there's my little situation. I work in a convenience store. And as a result I frequently get pounded.

"Tails… Tails?"

She's older than me by two years, making her fifteen. She's in my class, and until recently I had a crush on her. She's now a lesbian. Her hair is pink and spiked down.

She helps me up from the ground and I turn to look at her after brushing off my… very recently washed… work uniform. Normally pink. Today white as a ghost.

"Hi, Tails…"

No, not the clothes.

"Hi, Amy." I rub my nose painfully. "Haven't got a tissue, have you?"

"Tails," she says weakly. Ignore the tissue then, I'll do without.



Something's bothering her. She's not usually like this. For example, she's stupidly come here more than two hours after I was supposed to have finished.

"You know I should have finished hours ago."

"Oh…. Oh. Yeah."

"What's the matter, Amy? You look like you've seen a corpse in your bed or something."

"Well… bad news, Tails."