Deep Within the Shadows

Prologue:

How can the world outside be so calm when my own world is falling apart? Rachel sat there every day after being bullied and tortured at school. She watched other people laugh and play, strolling around without a care in the world. She wished she could do that. She wished she could simply let go of the past and watch it fly away like a bird. If only it were that simple.

The wind blew at her back, causing her wavy hair to thrust in front of her and twirl around. How does the wind do that? How does it simply blow through everything without a care in the world? She let go of a deep breath that she felt like she had been holding in for years. Her yellowish green eyes stared at the clouds as they drifted by. Will the tide ever turn? Will life get any easier? No, she told herself, never. The world was floating by slowly, slowly, ever so slowly…. She wanted it to end….. She wanted life to end…..

"Hey, you're not falling asleep in the middle of the park are you?" Rachel's eyes widened in fear and she screamed at the top of her lungs. A boy behind her laughed as she whirled around.

"Gee, sorry 'bout that. I guess I'm a little too-.." he stopped in mid-sentence and gaped at Rachel. She was frozen, not daring to blink even once. She was staring at him with vulnerability in her face that was clearly noticeable. She couldn't believe it. A blue hedgehog? It wasn't completely uncommon, but she still found it interesting…. Interesting and frightening. The hedgehog smiled and did a flirty whistle at her.

"Wow, you're- I mean, you look- beautiful." He blushed and took a step towards Rachel. She began shaking all over, her pupils shrinking. Why isn't it over? She thought miserably. Why isn't it over? He stopped and looked at her curiously.

"Hey, are you ok? Look, I'm not going to hurt you if that's what you think." He gently placed his hand on her shoulder. Rachel started taking short, quick breaths. She could hear the torture about to come, feel the fists come clashing into her face.

"No…..no…" she whispered, her voice getting progressively louder.

"Hey, calm down," he urged.

"No…..no….no….no….. NO!" She screamed as loud as she could, and before the hedgehog knew what was happening, she shoved him to the ground and ran down the path, her eyes tearing up rapidly. Never again. She promised herself, Never again. He watched her leave in confusion. I have to find out what's been happening to her. He thought decidedly.

Chapter One:

Rachel ran all the way to her home in Owen Lane. She was calmly seated on her porch, thinking hard about many things that had happened to her. She stared at her hands and let her tears fall from her face. She thought there was no hope. That no one would help her. She thought of how it all almost ended….. All of her pain and suffering, all of her misery… If only she would've jumped like she wanted to… She shook her head furiously. If only she had someone to talk to, someone she could tell everything to. Her parents wouldn't understand, her sister wouldn't either, and everyone at school teased her… Then, out of nowhere, she thought of the blue hedgehog. He had said that he wasn't going to hurt her, that he thought she was beautiful. That was the first time anyone had told her that. If only she hadn't freaked out….. She didn't even know his name! She shut her eyes tight. How could she have been so blind, so stupid? She pinched her arm as hard as she could in frustration. She screamed after the pain got too intense. Her arm was bleeding, and she started crying harder than ever. Then, a gentle hand wiped the tears off her face.

"Why are you torturing yourself?" Rachel looked into the eyes of the hedgehog she had encountered before. He smiled down at her as she hugged him tightly. He wrapped his arms around her and kissed her lightly on the forehead.

"It's ok," he whispered, "you can cry if you want to. I won't tell anyone." So, Rachel rested her head on his chest and cried. She didn't know how long she stayed there, but it felt good to be with someone she could trust.

Chapter Two:

Rachel spent much of her time after school with the hedgehog. She learned that his name was Sonic, he loved chili dogs, and that he loved making people laugh. He especially loved making Rachel laugh. Although he didn't attend school, he had been seeing how the other kids tormented Rachel everywhere she went, and how her parents abused her. He felt that she needed someone to talk to, to bring her happiness. And it appeared that he was successful. Sometimes he would sneak through her window when she wanted to talk to him.

One day, at about 5 p.m., Rachel was huddled on her bed, hugging her knees tightly as the room shook slightly and the sound of screaming and things being thrown across the room filled the air. She had her blinds up with a single light flashing through the window, which was her sign to Sonic that something-bad-is-happening-please-help. She felt her eyes burn as tears began forming. She started shaking slightly. Please come soon, Sonic. The room shook slightly as her mom's voice grew progressively louder. She pressed her hands against her ears and clenched her teeth together. Then, she felt something wrap around her shoulders.

She gasped slightly as Sonic whispered to her, "It's ok. I'm here." Rachel turned around and let him hold her.

"Sonic….." she whimpered, "Oh Sonic…." He gave her a small smile and kissed her lightly on the forehead. This had been one of the many occasions where Rachel had to stay locked up in her room listening to her parents fight with her sister. Rachel always needed Sonic to be there in those situations so that she didn't break down. And he would always be there. After school, Rachel met up with Sonic down a path outside her neighborhood. (Her parents never cared when she got home.) They would climb up a tree and talk about anything that was on their minds. Sonic usually only talked to two people for long periods of time; Rachel, and his best friend, Knuckles. There were other animals like him and Knuckles on the planet, but he liked talking to Rachel the most. He felt like he had to protect her as much as he could. But one day, he was too late to help her.

Chapter Three:

Rachel got off the bus and briskly walked to the entrance of the neighborhood. The boys did their usual routine of yelling at her, mocking her, and pulling her hair. But she honestly didn't care anymore. All she was worried about was meeting with Sonic. She felt strongly about him, and she wanted to tell him. She didn't care if he liked her back, but she had never had a crush on a guy before in her life. Was it truly love? Or was it all just a fantasy? Rachel reached the tree in a breeze. She climbed to the top of it and kicked her legs anxiously. Where is he? She waited nervously, hoping that nothing had happened to him. She looked around, hoping to see him soon.

"Hey you ugly broad!" Rachel froze, her body shaking and her eyes widening. Oh no. She took deep breaths and stared at her boots. The boys came underneath the tree and stared up at her.

"What's the matter? Has your hideous face finally gotten you kicked out of the neighborhood? It's about time!" The other boys laughed. Rachel took a long, deep breath, held her head up, looked them in the eye and smiled as she stated, "Well, at least I'm not a monstrous snot-eating fathead who sniffs glue in his basement for fun!" The boys stared at her in shock. Rachel smiled even wider. That was the first time Rachel had ever stood up for herself. She felt… alive. The boys yelled up at her.

"Don't you have other places to be? Like…oh, I don't know, in your room crying and cutting yourself?" Rachel laughed.

"I don't cut myself, you bone head!"

"Then go hang yourself in your bathroom! Or…..better yet…" he grinned and nodded at the other boys, "we'll hang you right on this tree!" Rachel screamed as they reached up and yanked her down. They pulled her on her feet and punched her in the eye. She fell onto the pavement. They picked her up again. Two boys held her arms as the other one punched and kicked her all over her body. She cried out in pain as he hit her harder and harder. Suddenly, the two boys threw her to the ground and all three of them started to kick her. She cringed with every blow, her body pounding with pain. One of the boys picked her up yet again and pinned her against the tree. Rachel could only see through one eye. Her curly hair was in front of her face and she could see the white streak. Out of the corner of her eye, she could see one of the boys tying a rope on the tree branch, making a loop on the end of it. Rachel couldn't move at all. Her body was weak from pain and agony. The boy yanked her off the tree and put her by the rope. The boys grinned.

"No one can save you now, harpy." They placed her neck inside the loop of the rope and tightened it around her neck. She cried out in pain, her air stopping short. She put her hands on the rope and tried to pull it off, but she was too weak. She kicked around and tried as hard as she could to breath. She felt her neck bone crunching in on her throat. It was harder and harder for her to see. She stopped kicking around. The boys ran off down the path, and everything went black as her body went limp.

Sonic ran as fast as he could. He raced on the sidewalk, avoiding as many people and roads as possible. He had a sick feeling in his gut that Rachel was in deep trouble. He ran up to the entrance of the neighborhood. He squinted down the path to try and see Rachel. He stopped breathing when he saw her dangling from the end of a rope on the tree. His heart pounded. He felt like it was going to explode inside of him. He finally came to his senses and ran up the path.

"RACHEL!" He got to the tree and untied her. He laid her down on the ground and held her head. Her body was bloody and bruised everywhere. Even her white cami was torn and her jeans and boots were scuffed with dirt and a little blood. Sonic nervously touched her wrist with two fingers. He sighed as he felt a small, almost silent heartbeat. She's alive. He picked her up gently and ran up the road, heading straight towards the hospital, not once slowing down or hesitating.