Sonic spent most of the Summer going on very lengthy runs, and coming back either late afternoon or early evenings. He was less grumpy, and more cheery. Everyday he’d leave the house for hours and then talk about the Rocky Mountains or wherever else he visited. He’d even bring me back souvenirs (I questioned how he got them to me without currency…). I bet he could probably go see all the famous places in Paris and be back in time for dinner. I continued working on the play that was going to perform at the end of Summer, and even began planning for the holiday fundraisers Lorhen presented every year. However, the lingering thought of Sonic eventually leaving was ever over me, like a gray cloud, which threatened rain, but never fell.
I resolved to call one of Ayanna’s friends, Natalie, who recently inherited her parents private charter boat. She still gave tours for tourists to deep sea dive in the open ocean, and even get a chance to see rare wildlife like whales and dolphins. She was the only one I could think of that could get Sonic home. It would be a little tricky to steer to South Island without giving away its location, and I wasn’t even sure how far it was from Lorhen. I was going to leave that for Sonic to decide.
Summer came and went. Once again, I was scared to let go. Yet even so, Sonic was my friend. I had to do what was right, even if it hurt.
Finally, the day came. I packed the car for a few days of snorkeling and swimming. I had a striped, one piece bathing suit and a large straw hat to keep the sun off my face, and a cotton white cardigan over it.
“Do you always wear black-and-white?” Sonic asked, suddenly standing beside me with his disguise on.
I didn’t answer. Instead, I declared:
“Oh! Sonic, you don’t have to wear that! I got something different for ya!”
I pulled out a gift bag, yellow, with a sunflower on the front, and blue tissue paper. Sonic’s eyes widened and mouth gaped.
“Wait, you made something for me?” He gasped.
“Of course! I’ve seen how uncomfortable that stuff is. So, I made something more custom to your size.”
I handed the bag to him. He beamed, then quickly tore through the paper. It was a large pastel yellow hoodie, with chili dogs darted around it, and military green capris.
“I’ve taken full advantage of your long runs!” I announced, “It was a little difficult to find that fabric, but I hope you like it.”
Sonic quickly dove into it. He pulled it down and adjusted it. He began testing its mobility. A wide grin went across his face
“The shirt’s big enough that it doesn’t hurt my back quills, but it’s small enough that it doesn’t feel like a bloated balloon, and the pants are surprisingly comfortable!”
“I know you’re not exactly a clothing fan, but I figured it’ll be helpful when it gets colder” I added, “It can’t be nice having icy wind blowing against you when you’re running in the Winter.”
“I love it!” He exclaimed.
He looked at me.
My smile turned into a grin.
I opened the driver’s seat door.
“Now come on, we got a boat to catch.”
Sonic nodded and eagerly hopped into the front passenger seat, and we were on our way.
“You sure you don’t want me to take you there?” He joked, “I can get there in, like ten minutes. Maybe even five!”
“Heck, no! I don’t need a blue hedgehog to sweep me off my feet like I’m a damsel-in-distress!”
According to Sonic, South Island would take a whole day to get to by boat. But because we paused to sightsee and such, it took two. Sonic was a little impatient, and even got a little seasick from time to time, but he handled it well, and tried his best to hide it. I noticed, but that’s because I knew him.
We came across two pods of dolphins, all curious and excited to see us. Ayanna and I went down into the water both times to interact with them. The second group seemed to be different from normal dolphins. One in particular was coaxing me to hold its back fin. I wondered if it was trained, or perhaps a recently released dolphin from a rescue center somewhere. Against my better judgement, I gave in to its demand. Suddenly it took off. Its pod began to follow. Natalie had to start the boat and chase after us. I honestly didn’t know whether to be delighted or terrified, but I hung on regardless, in case there was a risk I’d hurt myself letting go. After about ten minutes, the pod slowed. I let go, and was sprayed with water. I floated for a little while while the charter boat repositioned itself. The dolphins waited until I was able to successfully get back onto the boat, before they took off.
I grabbed my towel and wrapped it around me. Despite the hot sun, I was shivering. Sonic snickered.
“You alright?” Sonic asked.
“Yeah, I’m fine,” I replied.
I glanced in the direction where the pod swam away.
“That was so odd…”
“Not really, that’s normal from where I come from.”
I raised an eyebrow, surprised.
“Yeah! They’re always eager to be ridden!”
Then, he added with a mischievous smile:
“We must be close…!”
Sonic had woken up early the next morning. He was sensing something familiar. He sat up, quickly dressed, and walked up onto the deck. The sun was rising over the horizon. He looked around, watching the seagulls and which direction they flew. His fur stood up on its ends and he shivered with excitement. He dashed back down below deck and to me.
“Luana! Lu, wake up!” He quietly urged.
I stirred and sleepily opened my eyes.
“W-what, Sonic…?” I mumbled.
“We’re almost there! Come on!” He hissed, pulling at my arm.
I clumsily got out of bed and struggled to follow. Ayanna was awoken by the commotion.
“What’s going on?” she asked, tiredly.
I didn’t have time to answer as I was already out the door and towards the deck.
Natalie was at the wheel, following the coordinates that she put in based on Sonic’s directions. She was puzzled, as she had never heard of an island way out here in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. However, she couldn’t pass up the chance to see something new. She noticed everyone come up on the deck, and sped up the boat slightly. Sonic was on his heels, eagerly awaiting to see the luscious green hills come over the horizon.
“You’re going to love it, Lu!” He said excitedly, “Just wait till you see it!”
We stood in silence for a long time. Sonic was antsy, and couldn’t resist squirming with anticipation.
Five minutes went by…Ten minutes…Fifteen minutes… As time passed, so did the size of Sonic’s grin. He stopped squirming, and stood still. His eyes remained fixed onto the horizon. Nothing appeared. I glanced over at him. His face was slowly turning pale. I grew concerned.
“Sonic…?” I asked.
He didn’t respond, and he didn’t look back.
“Something’s not right…” He breathed.
I took a step closer.
“Sonic?” I asked again.
“I know how to get home better than anywhere, even from a boat…” He mumbled, “So where is it?”
“Are you sure this is it?”
Slowly he began shaking his head.
“No…That can’t be right…Maybe…Tails put a cloaking device on it or something to hide it…!”
“Tails?” I echoed.
Suddenly, he lept onto the top of the railing and jumped off.
“SONIC!” I screamed.
He took off, dashing on top of the water, running off into the distance.
“SONIC, COME BACK!” I called.
“What is going on!? Who is he!?” Ayanna exclaimed.
I ignored her question and turned to the pilot’s hut behind me.
“Natalie, after him!” I shouted.
Despite our captain being completely dumbfounded by what was going on, she swiftly obeyed. The boat’s engine roared to life and it kicked into high gear.
“Where is it!? Where is it!?”
Sonic sped around the perimeter of where South Island used to be. He went up and down, and through where the island was supposed to stand. But there was nothing but open air. He slowed. His head raced and his heart thumped so loud, it rang in his ears.
“Tails! Knuckles! Amy!” He thought wildly.
He screamed: “TAILS! KNUCKLES! AMY!”
He was so distraught, that he didn’t realize he was too still, and he instantly fell into the water.
“SONIC!” I screeched.
Natalie pulled on the brakes. Despite no swimwear, I dove into the water. It was dark. I swam as swiftly as I could.
“Sonic? Where are you!?” I thought, panicked.
I dove closer to the bottom. Finally, after passing through a cluster of bubbles, I could see Sonic’s bright blue fur pierce through the darkness. His eyes were closed, sinking like a rock. I pulled forward until I could wrap him in my arms. Then, I pulled us upward. I was running out of air, however, the adrenaline gave me the strength to push on. The sunlight began to glimmer through, and I was almost there.
I took a giant gasp for breath as I finally made it to the surface.
Ayanna threw a lifesaver into the water. I caught it. Ayanna and Natalie reined it in, and I managed to pull Sonic and I back into the boat.
I laid him on the floor of the deck. I bent over him to hear a heartbeat. Then, I began CPR. Thankfully, it only took ten seconds for his eyes to fly open, and jerk up to cough all the water out of his lungs. He hacked and gagged for two straight minutes. Finally, he finished, and collapsed. I caught him before he could hit the floor. Tears grew in my eyes.
“Why did you do that!?” I cried, “You could’ve drowned!”
He didn’t respond.
Ayanna found a towel and quickly threw it over him to warm him up. Sonic had just enough strength to pull himself up and wrap his arms around my waist. He shivered, and whimpered, clinging to me like a fearful child.
“Everyone is gone…” He whimpered, “Everything is gone…Everything…”
I frowned. I wrapped my arms around him, and rested my head on his. I closed my eyes.
“It’s alright. I’m here. Just breathe…”