Eric, Sonic the Hedgehog
We were under a tree in the park across from school. Everyone was grinning, waking up in the grass.
"Better turn back to normal," Damon said, nodding. The rest of us agreed, just in case. Chaos Transformation! . . .
Nothing happened. We were still human form, but we weren't turning normal.
"Are we stuck like this, then? The Sonic team?" asked Charmie (whose real name I think was Ryan).
"I think so," I said, sighing.
"Hey, guys, I think you forgot something important," said someone behind the tree. Out stepped both my older and younger selves, grinning. It dawned on me. This had all started while I was on patrol, on that parade day—then I was going to head back home for my party.
"HAPPY BIRTHDAY!" shouted everyone, and I smiled. This was probably the best birthday ever.
After I blew out the candles, there was cheering and such. Then everyone pulled out their gifts from I don't know where.
First, the Chaotix. Vector, who introduced himself as Ross, gave me headphones, Charmie (Ryan, I remembered then) gave me a backpack, and Espio (Sasuke, who was obviously a ninja in every way) gave me a series of manga-Blue Exorcist. I hadn't heard of them before, but he smiled and said they were good, so I thanked him.
Next was Eliza. She'd given me a new phone case, one with a bunch of white and blue swirls. Scarlet got me a new pair of shoes, Converse that she'd painted with a red and white design that looked really intricate. Nellie gave me a craft flower she'd made. (I mean, I'm not much of a flower guy, but it was Nellie, so that was really cute still.) John got me a soccer ball, telling me we'd have to play some time. Damon and Elaine had worked together on their gift, making a CD of all the performances I was in and some songs I really liked. Ethan chuckled as he handed me a pair of sunglasses, claiming they'd look almost as good on me as they did on him.
Miles produced a gold ring, like from the games. It would fit around my wrist, with its size. But when I touched it, it started to just flash and fade from existence. It kind of tingled my fingers where it touched.
"I did some research and I finally found them! It's a concentrated manifestation of chaos and physical energy that—well, you know what it does, you've played," he grinned. "And we'll be able to use them now that I've figured out how to activate them."
"Awesome! This is the first one I've seen. This is really great, buddy!"
Amy blushed as she handed me a little pendant—a metal disc that had "Fastest Thing Alive" engraved on one side, and a line drawing of a chaos emerald engraved on the other. I hugged her, and she kissed me on the cheek—I ignored the whoops and whistles.
Jason scratched the back of his neck and handed me a box. I opened it to find a framed picture of the entire group, all in Sonic Human form. There was a fancy background and some artistic lettering at the bottom-Life's An Open Book.
"This is literally the best birthday ever," I said, grinning.
"Uh, sorry, don't have anything," said younger me. I rolled my eyes.
"This is your party too. And yours," I turned back to my older self, "So enjoy some food and stuff." We all shared a picnic. Finally, the older version of me stood up.
"Time for me to head out, guys. That means you, too. See you later," he grinned, flicking his hand in a goodbye.
"See you, me!" I responded. He snorted and Chaos Controlled out, leaving an emerald in the grass behind.
At school, the following fall...
"So, um, yeah. That's the whole story," I explained. Everyone was in the secretary's office, kind of crowded. Our parents were fine with us being full-time superheroes as long as we didn't get in over our heads (which I could have laughed at, but chose not to).
"Eric Sarali, Jason Sarali, Miles Prower, Amy Hills, Damon Von Garthe, Scarlet Blake, John Lute, Eliza Morris. The Sonic team. Did I cover it?" she said, kind of wide-eyed.
"Yup. So, when we have to go take care of things, can we have a pass for it? We wouldn't abuse that, I swear," Damon said.
"I'll double-check with the administration, but I don't see why not. Need anything for class?"
"Nope. I'm pretty sure we'll just have to deal with other students, and we can handle that," nodded Eliza.
"Well, go ahead." We stepped into the hallway, finding our lockers all very close to one another. It was early—we didn't want to be swarmed right away. And we were all in first and last period together, so we'd be able to ditch any crowds pretty quickly after school.
"Ready, Eric?" asked Amy.
"Ready as I'll ever be," I sighed. We all went to the first class and were the first ones, sans the teacher. We explained after her first initial shock.
"I'm going to email the rest of your teachers . . . they can't be expecting this," she chuckled, after a few minutes.
Students started filing in. Luckily, she'd put down nametags on the desks for the assigned seating, so no one had to explain too much, just pointing at their nametag and saying that the secret identity thing was overrated.
"Sonic?!" Jenna said upon seeing me. So did Nick. I rolled my eyes.
"Eric. Eric Sarali. Read the nametag. Did you honestly pass the second grade? It's not easy to mess up S-O-N with E-R." They blinked, and I smirked a bit. Okay, maybe I didn't have to insult them, but they'd been doing it for years to plenty of people. They should be able to take what they dish out.
Later I'd been able to hang out with some kids I'd not had a lot of time for—friends of Miles, Amy, and I before the whole Sonic thing happened. It was great to be just me. Eric, Sonic, same thing, without having to hide it. I didn't realize before how hard I was trying to keep the two separate.
"Hey, what do you want to go by?" asked one teacher.
"Eric or Sonic's fine. Really. It's all me. Call me 'hey you' and I'll probably respond, too," I said.
School was a blur. A big, fun, crazy, robot-fighting, test-taking, college planning, media-dodging, blue blur. And it was awesome, but it happened so fast. It was a shock to find myself crossing the stage with the cap and gown to get my diploma. It was over before I'd even really realized it started again.
And college-that was even faster, and don't get me wrong I hated sitting still, but I wished I had had a little more breathing time.
Life ran so fast I had no idea what to do with it but catch up. There were plenty of adventures to enjoy, too many to tell in one story. But I didn't forget—looking back wasn't something I did often, but I did—where I came from, why I did what I did. I'd done it for family, for others. I was strong enough to go through anything. I was fast enough to get wherever anything might be. I was—am—a hero, able to help as much as people needed me.
I am Eric, Sonic the Hedgehog.