Night of the Unliving
The heroes stood frozen in the eerie green light of the machine. The saucer-like monster hovered in the glade. But aside from the strange lights that pulsated from its dome head, the thing had simply hummed a low sound since appearing mysteriously outside the city.
“Maybe it just wants to make friends,” said Big the Cat. The gentle giant reached out a hand toward the saucer’s body.
“Be careful,” said Tails, hovering over the scene on the twin helicopter blades that gave him his name. “You don’t know what—”
It was too late. The moment Big touched the machine, an awful grinding noise emanated from within. The massive metal monster spun around and bore itself into the ground.
“Submit or be destroyed!” cried a hollow, angry voice from within.
“Well, I think that settles that!” Amy ran up from the edge of the glade and called to her team. “Big! Cream! Let’s give it a little flower power!” Without a word, Big opened up his large bamboo umbrella and twirled it over his head. Amy and Cream the Rabbit jumped on top, holding each other’s hands and whipping up a furious spinning speed.
“One, two, three . . . GO!” Amy called and then let go of Cream to shoot herself at the machine with full force. Her hammer swung around in midair for a mighty blow, and then . . . Clang!
Amy bounced straight off the whirling body of the saucer! She hit the dirt and rolled to safety, but the machine continued its awful dig, sinking its body firmly into the earth.
“Submit! Submit! Submit!” it called out in a droning tone that set the heroes’ hairs on end.
“It looks like the top may be vulnerable!” yelled Tails over the noise. “Try to crush its dome!”
In a split second, a blue blaze flew over their heads, nearly blowing the heroes down with its force. The spinning ball of fury shot toward the machine’s dome like a bullet and struck it hard and true. The dome crumpled as the blue blur came into focus as Sonic the Hedgehog.
“Were you waiting long? Just kidding. I know you weren’t,” he said with a smirk, and crouched to balance.
Underneath him the half-sunken saucer shivered and steamed. “Submit! Submit! Submmmmmm . . . ,” it wheezed before finally splitting wide open. With a wet, sickening sound, the metal body of the monster burst, shooting a torrent of sticky green slime all over Amy’s team.
“Whoa!” said Tails as he zipped high in the air to miss the green goo.
“Gross!” called Amy. “I feel like I got sneezed on by a giant.”
“Oh, my poor Cheese!” said Cream, picking up her floating sidekick pal from where he was knocked to the ground.
“Oh, I don’t know,” said Big, sitting calmly in the squishy green slime. “It actually feels kind of . . . nice.”
“Hahahaha!” laughed Sonic. “Sorry to say, but that’s what happens when you’re not the fastest thing alive.”
Without the robotic saucer body, all that was left of the machine was a tall metal spire. In its middle sat a large green meteor rock that continued to pulsate with strange light, even as it dripped the disgusting discharge.
“We’ll have to contact a medical team to decontaminate you,” Tails said. “Standard procedure.”
“Have fun waiting to get hosed off,” said Sonic as he swung outside the slime radius with Tails’ help. “I’ve got more action to find instead of getting stuck in place.”
The next day, Sonic sped through town in search of some fun. Street after street, the scene was calm and quiet. No explosions or attacks or action of any kind. Except at . . . Cream and Cheese’s house?
Out front, the kindly rabbit and her partner were making a racket of clangs from a mountain of sheet metal. Cream struck a large wrench against the warped pile again and again. Sparks flew each time she struck, some jumping into Cheese’s eyes. But neither of them seemed to care.
“Uh, hey, Cream,” Sonic said as he skidded into her driveway. “Working on an art project?”
“We are building the spear,” said the rabbit without stopping.
“Right, the spear . . .” Sonic didn’t know exactly what to say. “And you think a wrench is going to shape that metal up the way you want?”
Cream stopped her motion mid-swing. She pulled the tool down slowly and stared at it for a long moment. The quiet made Sonic uncomfortable. “Perhaps you are right,” she said at last.
The wrench dropped with a thud, and Cream reached up her hands to grab the metal firmly. With surprising strength and an agonizing squeaking sound, the rabbit folded two pieces of strong metal together as though they were paper. She started to mold and shape the pile like clay.
“Wow!” said Sonic. “Have you been working out?”
The little Chao creature that followed Cream everywhere floated up to Sonic’s nose. “Chao.”
Cream explained to Sonic that this meant they had been strengthened and wanted Sonic to join them.
“Um . . . I’ve got somewhere else to be,” Sonic said and sped away before he got too close.
The strange encounter drove Sonic across the city to Amy’s home. If anyone knew what was going on with those two, it would be their best friend. But when Sonic arrived, Amy didn’t charge out to greet him.
“Amy? Anyone home?” Sonic called into the curiously open door. When no one answered, he walked in—carefully, in case there was an ambush waiting. But what he found was almost too boring: Amy and a room of maps.
“This planet has so many people on it,” she said without looking up. Amy leaned over a massive map of the planet. Pinned on every wall were charts of country borders and city streets. She was totally absorbed.
“Planning a trip?” Sonic asked and forced a flat chuckle.
“The trip is over,” she said slowly. “All that’s left now is to . . . ah, ah, AH-CHOO!” Amy sneezed, covering her mouth with her hand, but Sonic noticed that her hands were now covered in green slime!
“Gross!” said Sonic.
Amy just looked at him with an empty stare. She slowly reached out her slime-covered hands. “It’s fine,” she said. “Touch it and you’ll see.”
In a blur, Sonic was gone again, roaming the streets for answers to whatever had happened to his friends. No matter how fast he ran, no answers came. Then it hit him. The slime! The crash site must hold the answers to what was happening.
Within seconds, Sonic was back on the outskirts of town and rushing into the quiet glade. What met him there was another friend. Or was it?
Big sat still as a stone in the blackened pit that the saucer had dug. While his back was to Sonic, it was clear the large purple cat was staring up at the dented meteorite that still glowed an eerie shade of green.
“Hey, pal,” Sonic called, trying to sound normal. “Fish ain’t biting today?”
“Fish?” Big finally said. “No! We are busy!” He rose slowly like a sleeping giant and lurched around. His eyes had turned a bright green, and streams of green goo dripped down them into his whiskers.
“To understand us,” said the cat slowly, “all you . . . have to do . . . is submit.”
Copyright © 2018 by Kiel Phegley; Illustrated by Patrick Spaziante. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.