For you, gaming is about escape. When you push the button on the console, switch the PC on, you are switching the real world off and escaping to somewhere else for a while.
Recently the bright primary colours and flat backgrounds of retro games have been your escape. Sure the graphics are virtually primitive and the plinky plonk music can be infuriating but there;s something about the simplicity, the fullness of the characters and the amazing gameplay of those games that really appeals. Until that is, one of those games full of bright sunshine days, suddenly turns dark.
Until one of your favourite characters fills the screen, but instead of offering his usual wide smile and mischievous eyes, he instead offers you emptiness, terror and the dark hollow void of empty sockets that leak some awful fluid. The music fades, the eyeless face glares out and you realise far too late, you’re in his world now.
Skirting similar territory to infamous Ben Drowned creepypasta, Sonic exe. is a creepypasta story based around a ‘haunted’ computer game. Switching focus from Nintendo to sega the story concerns a version of the classic game Sonic the Hedgehog that the narrator picks up as an .exe file for PC. Soon after beginning the game however, the player begins to experience strange phenomena and realises that this game is very different from anything he has played before.
Although it employs many of the same established tropes as the Ben Drowned creepypasta, (for example the concept of the ‘haunted or cursed object’ in this case a game that the user has come across in some unconventional way), unlike the BEN Drowned Creepypasta in which the cartridge is haunted by the spirit of a previous player, Sonic exe instead presents the eponymous character, an alternate version of video game icon Sonic the Hedgehog, itself as malevolent entity. Rather than being human Sonic .exe is something else and far darker entirely.
Sonic.EXE Creepypasta Story
I’m a total Sonic the Hedgehog fan much like everyone else. I like the newer games, but I don’t mind playing the classics. I don’t think I’ve ever played glitchy or hacked games before, though I don’t think I want to play any after the experience I had…
It started on a nice summer afternoon. I was playing Sonic Unleashed (I liked how you get to explore the towns in it) until I noticed, out of my peripheral vision, that the mailman had arrived and put something in my mailbox as usual and left. I paused my game to go see what I got in the mail. The only thing in the Mailbox was a CD case for computers and a note. I took it inside.
I looked at the note first and realized it was from my dear friend Kyle (let’s just call him that), whom I hadn’t heard from in 2 weeks. I know that because I recognized his handwriting, though what was weird is how it looked; it looked badly written and scratchy and somewhat difficult to read, as if Kyle was having a hard time writing it down and did it in a hurry.
This is what he wrote:
I can’t take it anymore, I had to get rid of this thing somehow before it was too late, and I was hoping you’d do it for me. I can’t do it, he’s after me, and if you don’t destroy this CD, he’ll come after you too, he’s too fast for me….
Please Tom, destroy this god-forsaken disc before he comes after you too, it’s too late for me.
Destroy the disc, and you’ll destroy him, but do it quick otherwise he’ll catch you. Don’t even play the game, it’s what he wants, just destroy it.
Well, that was certainly weird. Even though Kyle is my best friend and I haven’t seen him in 2 weeks, I didn’t do what he asked me. I didn’t think that a simple gaming disc would do anything bad to him, after all it’s just a game right? Boy, was I wrong about that…
Anyway, I looked at the disc and it looks like any ordinary computer CD-R disc, except it had black marker on it written “SONIC.EXE”, and it was much unlike Kyle’s handwriting, meaning that he must’ve gotten it from someone else, like a pawn shop or eBay. When I saw “SONIC” on the writing of the CD, I was actually excited and wanted to play it, since I’m a a BIG Sonic fan.
I went up to my room and turned on my computer and put the disc in and installed the game. When the title screen popped up I noticed that it was the first Sonic game, I was like “Awesome!” Because like I said earlier I liked the classics. The first thing I noticed that was out of place was when I pressed start, there’s was a split second when I saw the title image turned into something much different, something that I now consider horrifying, before cutting to black.
I remember what the image looked like in that split second before the game cut to black; The sky had darkened, the title emblem was rusted and ruined, the SEGA 1991 was now instead SEGA 666, and the water had turned red, like blood, except it looked hyper-realistic.
But the freakiest thing that was in that split second frame was Sonic, his eyes were pitch black and bleeding with two glowing red dots staring RIGHT AT ME, and his smile had stretched wider up to the edge of his face. I was rather disturbed about that image when I saw it, though I figured that it was just a glitch and forgot about it. After it cut to black it stayed like that for about 10 seconds or so. And then another weird thing happened, the save file select from Sonic the Hedgehog 3 popped up, and I was like “WTF? What’s this doing in the first Sonic game?”, anyway, then I notice something off, the background was the dark cloudy sky of the Bad Stardust Speedway level from Sonic CD, and there were only three save files. The music was that creepy Caverns of Winter music from Earthbound, only it was extended and seemed to have been in reverse. And the image for the save file where you see a preview of the level you’re on is just red static for all three files.
What freaked me out more was the character select, it showed only Tails, Knuckles and to my surprise, Dr. Robotnik! Now I was sure that something was up, I mean, how can you play as Robotnik in a classic Sonic game, for crying out loud?
That’s when I realized that this wasn’t a glitchy game, it was a hacked game.
Yeah it definitely looked hacked, it was really creepy, but as a smart gamer, I wasn’t scared (or at least I tried not to be), I told myself that it was just a hacked game and there’s nothing wrong with that. Anyways, shaking off the creeped out feeling I picked File 1 and chose Tails and when I selected and got started. The game froze for about 5 seconds and I heard a creepy pixelated laugh that sounded an awful lot like that Kefka guy from Final Fantasy before cutting to black.
The screen stayed black for about 10 seconds or more, then it showed the typical level title thing, except the simplistic shapes were different shades of red and the text showed only “HILL, ACT 1”. The screen faded in and the level title vanished revealing Tails in the Green Hill Zone from Sonic 1, the music was different though, it sounded like a peaceful melody in reverse. Anyway I started playing and had Tails start running like you would in any of the classic Sonic games, what was odd was that as Tails was running along the level there was nothing but flat ground and a few trees for 5 minutes, that was when the peaceful music started to lower down into slow deep tones very slowly as I kept going.
I suddenly saw something and I stopped to see what it was; it was one of the small animals lying dead on the ground bleeding (that was when the music started to slow down), Tails had a shocked and saddened look on his face that I never saw him have before, so I had him move along, and he kept that worried look on his face. As he kept moving I saw more dead animals as Tails moved past them looking more and more worried as the music lowers and he moves past more dead animals, I was shocked to see how they all died, they looked like somebody killed them in rather gruesome ways; a squirrel was hanged on a tree with what appeared to be his entrails hanging out, a bunny had all four of his limbs torn off and a duck had his eyes gouged out and his throat slit. I felt sick to my stomach when I saw this massacre and apparently so did Tails. After a few more seconds there were no more animals and the music seemed to have stopped, I still kept Tails to continue.
After a minute passed after the music stopped, Tails was running up a hill and then he stopped, it wasn’t until I saw why; Sonic was there on the other side of the screen with his back against Tails with his eyes closed. Tails looked happy to see Sonic but then his smile faltered, obviously noticing that Sonic wasn’t responding to him, if not acting as if he was totally oblivious of Tails’ presence. Tails walked slowly toward Sonic, and I noticed that I wasn’t even moving my keyboard to make him move, so this had to have been a cut scene.
Suddenly I began to have a growing feel of dread as Tails walked closer to Sonic to get his attention, I felt that Tails was in danger and something bad was going to happen. I heard faint static growing louder as Tails was but inches away from Sonic and stopped and stuck his hand out to touch him. That foreboding feeling in my gut was growing stronger and I felt the urge to tell Tails to get away from Sonic as the static grew louder.
Suddenly in a split second I saw Sonic’s eyes open and they were black with those red glowing dots, just like that title image, thought there wasn’t a smile. When that happened the screen turned black and the static sound was off.
It stayed black for about 7 seconds and then white text appeared forming a message, saying, “Hello. Do you want to play with me?”
At this point I was creeped out, I didn’t want to continue with the game, but my curiosity got the better of me when I was taken to a different level with the level title now saying “HIDE AND SEEK.”
This time I was in the Angel Island level from Sonic 3 and it looked like everything was on fire.
Tails looked as though he was scared out of his wits this time. He actually looked at me and made frantic gestures to me as if he wanted to get out of the area he was in as fast as possible. I was starting to get freaked out by this…I mean Tails was actually breaking the fourth wall, trying to tell me to get him out of there.
So I pressed down on the arrow key as hard as I could and made him run as fast as he could, a pixelated version of that creepy theme when you meet Shadow at the ARK as Robotnik from SA2 was playing as I made Tails trek through the desolate forest, trying to help him escape from whatever he was trying to run from.
Suddenly I heard that creepy laugh again… that awful, Kefka laugh… right after 10 seconds have passed as I helped Tails run through the forest, and then I started seeing flashes of Sonic popping everywhere on the screen, again with those black and red eyes.
The music changed to that suspenseful drowning jingle as I see Sonic behind Tails slowly gaining up on him FLYING; Sonic wasn’t running, he was actually FLYING! The flying pose his sprite was making looked very similar to Metal Sonic’s flying pose in Sonic CD, except it was just Sonic and he had the black and red eyes again, only
This time he had the most deranged looking grin on his face, he looked as though he was enjoying the torment he was giving the poor little fox as he gained up on him.
Suddenly when Tails tripped (another cutscene), the music stopped and Sonic vanished. Tails laid there and started crying for 15 seconds. The scene was rather upsetting to watch and I kind of teared up myself. But then Sonic appeared right in front of Tails and Tails looked up in horror.
Blood started to come down those blackened eyes of Sonic’s as a grin slowly grew from his face as he looked down at the horrified fox, I could do nothing but watch.
Just in a split second Sonic lunged at Tails right before the screen went black, there was a loud screeching noise that only lasted 5 seconds. The text returned only this time it said “You’re too slow, want to try again?” and then that god-awful laugh came with it.
I was so shocked by what had happened…did Sonic murder Tails? No, he couldn’t have… He and Tails are supposed to be best friends, right? Why did Sonic do that to him?
I shook the shock off as I was brought back to the character select, the save file that had Tails was different; Tails was no longer in the box itself but in the TV screen itself, which was flickering with that red static, Tails’ expression scared me, his eyes were black and bleeding, his orange fur had gone black and he had an expression of anguish on his face, Trying to ignore it I picked Knuckles next.
The laugh came again and the screen cut to black again and stayed there for another 10 seconds, this time the level said “YOU CAN’T RUN”.
I was really freaked out by now, I couldn’t really tell if this was a glitch, or a hack, or some kind of sick twisted joke… or anything really. But despite my fear of what happened next, I kept playing.
The next level looked much different, it had the ground of the Scrap Brain zone, but the sky background looked like the main menu; it had the dark reddish cloudy sky. But it was the music that creeped me out the most: It sounded like Giygas’ theme right after you beat Pokey in Earthbound. I also noticed that Knuckles looked afraid just like Tails did, though not as much, more rather he looked a little unnerved. He broke the fourth wall just like Tails and looked as if he wasn’t sure about going on, but I made him move anyway.
He ran down the straight pathway in this dark level, and as he did the screen started to flicker red static a couple times and then that maddening laugh came again.
Then after a few seconds of running I notice several bloodstains on the metallic ground, I felt a growing sense of fear again thinking something horrible is going to happen to Knuckles. He looked nauseated walking down this blood-stained road, but I still kept him going.
Suddenly as Knuckles ran, Sonic appeared right in front of him with those black and red eyes and then red static appeared again, when the static vanished showing nothing but black screen with text saying “FOuNd YOu!”, I was now scared, Sonic found Knuckles already?! What was going on?!
Anyway red static came again and then I was back to the level, Knuckles looked like he was panicking, and Sonic was nowhere to be found. And this time that high-pitched squealing from the Silent Hill 1’s final boss was playing.
Was this some kind of boss battle with Sonic? I hoped to God it wasn’t, honestly.
Suddenly Sonic appeared right behind Knuckles in what appeared to be pixelated black smoke, I made Knuckles turn and then punch Sonic, but Sonic vanished in black pixelated smoke before I could even land a hit, that terrible laugh went off again. Then Sonic appeared behind Knuckles again and then I made him punch again, and Sonic vanished again laughing. Knuckles was panicking even more, and even I felt like I was going crazy, Sonic was practically playing with us, he was playing a sick twisted little mind game with me and Knuckles…
Another cut scene played as Knuckled fell to his knees and clutched his head sobbing, I felt his agony, Sonic was actually driving us BOTH crazy.
And then in a split second Sonic lunged at Knuckles and the screen went black with another distorted screeching noise that lasted for at least 3 seconds.
Another text message appeared, “So many souls to play with, so little time… would you agree?”
What the hell… Just what is going on? I started to think Sonic was actually trying to talk to me through the game… But I was too scared to think that.
I was brought back to the main menu and this time the second file box had Knuckles in the TV screen, his red fur had darkened to a reddish grey, his dreadlocks were dripping with blood and his eyes were black and bleeding too, and he had a look of sadness on his face. I began to think that those are the actual characters trapped in those TV screens on the save files, but I couldn’t believe it… I didn’t want to believe it…
So I shut off the game and took a break. I took a nap, wish I hadn’t, ’cause I then began to have the most disturbing nightmare, I was in pitch black darkness, though I was under the light given off by a lamp that hung high above my head. I could hear the cries of Knuckles and Tails nearby. They were saying stuff like, “Help us…” and “Why did you give us to him?” and “Run away, before he gets you too…”
Their cries died out as I then heard Sonic laugh, his laugh… it sounded a lot like the distorted Kefka laugh.
“You’re a lot fun to play with kid, just like your friend Kyle, though he didn’t last long…”
I was scared and looking around for the source of the voice…
“Won’t be long now until you join him and all my other friends…”
I saw him walking toward me, flickering in and out in several directions…
“You can’t run, kid. You’re in my world now. Just like the others…”
When he grabbed me and I saw his bleeding black and red-eyed, grinning face, I woke up with a fright.
After a couple of hours I decided to continue playing the game. I don’t know why, but I had to know, I had to figure out why this was happening… So I turned on the computer, turned on the game and selected Robotnik next.
I still thought that was wacky, playing as Robotnik, but anyway the level title appeared again and this time it said “…”, which I found really freaky.
This time I was in some kind of hallway, didn’t really look like it was from any of the classic Sonic games, though it has the pixelated style; the floor was shiny and checkered, the walls were a dark grayish purple with animated candlelight’s and a few dark bloodstains here and there, and there was a dark red curtain hanging above on the top part of the screen. Every 12 seconds or so that red curtain sways very slowly, but whenever you’re playing the game you can barely see it move. The music was oddly pleasant, a piano playing a rather sad yet peaceful song, but I knew better, this was the song that played in Hill act 1, only it wasn’t in reverse.
Robotnik didn’t look entirely nervous like Tails and Knuckles did, but he did have a suspicious look on his face as if he was just a bit paranoid. He did a little animation when I just left him standing, he turns his head to the left and then to the right at least twice and then shrugs at me, as if he has no idea where he was or what was going on. Even though I was scared outta my mind about what was going to happen, I had Robotnik continue onward. He did his usual running animation (You know, when you’ve beaten him at the end of a classic Sonic game and you chase him) as we continued going through the hallway.
Then I stop at a long flight of stairs leading downward, now I was nervous, even Robotnik seemed unsure of himself, though I pressed onward.
As I led Robotnik down the stairs, I noticed that the walls have gotten darker and more reddish; the red torches are now an eerie blue. Then we landed onto another hallway, this one was longer than the last one (or at least it felt like it) and then we headed down another flight of stairs down, this one was much longer, took at least 1 full minute.
And then I heard that horrid Kefka laugh again and then the music slowly faded until it was quiet, as it did the walls turned more dark red and the torches were a black flame now.
When Robotnik landed onto the 3rd hallway, I noticed he now looked really creeped out, though he tried to hide it, I couldn’t blame him, I was scared too.
Suddenly, Sonic popped right in front of Robotnik the same way he did Knuckles and then red static. The red static lasted for about 15 second and then it showed me a most unpleasant image…
The image showed a hyper-realistic of Sonic standing in the darkness where you can only see his face while his head and torso faded into black, and when I say hyper-realistic, I mean like he looked so real you could actually see the lines in his blue fur, as if you could actually feel the fur if you touched the screen.
His face… oh god, he had the most horrifying smile I had ever seen.
And that’s saying something considering I saw that image at the start of the game.
His eyes are wide and black and once again crying blood (Which also looked hyper-realistic) and there were two small glowing red dots in those black eyes staring RIGHT AT ME, as if staring into my mind. His grin was wide and demonic, it literally stretched to the sides of his face like a Cheshire Cat except Sonic had fangs, VERY SHARP fangs, much like the Werehog’s teeth except more vicious-looking, somewhat yellowish and from the look of it, he had stains of blood and small bits of flesh on his lips and fangs as if he ate some animal.
I stared at that gruesome image for a good 30 seconds, never taking my eyes off it, I felt as if he was actually looking at me, smiling at me…that face, it just took 10 seconds for it to etch itself into my brain for good.
Then the screen flickered with red static again 3 times, and on the 3rd time I heard the Kefka laugh, except this time it sounded distorted, demonic even…
It went back to the image again except this time there was the text again though it was messed up, but it was pretty much one of the most horrifying things I looked at since I had this game…
“I AM GOD.”
It was when I read that message while looking at Sonic when it hit me, I realized right there and then.
This Sonic was a monster, a pure evil, sadistic, all-powerful, nightmarish, demented monster… and all of his victims, including Tails, Knuckles, Robotnik and possibly Kyle, are just his little toys, and the game is the very gateway into his chaotic, nightmarish world and the very Hell his victims are trapped in.
Suddenly in an actual split second I screamed as Sonic lunged at the screen screeching loudly with his mouth wide open to an unnatural length revealing nothing but a literally spiraling abyss of pure darkness before the red static came again, this time much louder and distorted, so loud that it hurt my ears, I yelled and grabbed my ears as the red static screeched for a good 7 seconds.
Then it stopped and showed nothing but black screen.
As I sat there staring at the black screen, one last text came up.
“Ready for Round 2, Tom?”
The Kefka laugh, now sounding more clear as if Sonic was right behind me, played again 3 times as I looked at that text in shock and confusion.
Then I got booted back to the main menu and this time the third save file had a TV image of Robotnik in the same, tormented state as Tails and Knuckles; Robotnik’s skin turned a dull grey, his mustache drooped and had blackened, his glasses broke and blood is coming from them and he had a mere dead like expression on his face.
I looked at Tails, Knuckles and Robotnik and I cried a bit, I pitied them for the agony they’re going through, they were forever trapped within the game, forever tormented by that horrid hedgehog, and always will be.
Then the computer shut itself off, I couldn’t turn it back on no matter what I did.
I sat there for maybe 25 seconds, horrified by what had just happened…
Sonic is the very embodiment of evil, he tortures people who play his game in more ways than one and then when he gets bored he drags you into the game, literally drags you to Hell, where he can play with you always, as his toy….
I can’t get the game outta my computer. I think it’s stuck in there, but at least I managed to turn it back on now.
After I sat there for 25 seconds I heard a voice right behind me, like a whisper…
“Try to keep this interesting for me, Tom.”
I turned around to see where the voice came from, and what I saw made me scream…
Sitting on my bed… staring right at me…
… was a Sonic plushie, smiling with bloodstains under its eyes.
Appearance and origins
In appearance Sonic .exe is almost identical to the established Sonic the Hedgehog character, a stylised, bipedal hedgehog with famously spiked blue hair and a wry smile. The chief difference is that in the exe version the characters eyes are missing, replaced instead with dark pits through which a single point of red light is shining whilst blood or a dark liquid leaks down the cheeks.
This motif of the empty eye sockets and bleeding eyes is again reminiscent of the BEN drowned creepypasta whilst the absence of eyes is similar to the character Eyeless Jack (versions of both characters feature eyes that leak, either blood or another unspecified substance). The exe of X version of sonic also has noticeably less neat hair spikes and in depictions where his teeth can be seen, always has yellowed fang like teeth. His limbs are also notably blackening as if to suggest some form of decay.
Development and influences
The Sonic exe. Creepypasta was originally written by JC-the-Hyena. In a post describing how he came up with the creepypasta the originator explains that his inspiration came from a photoshopped screen capture image of the holding screen for Sonic the Hedgehog in which the character has the aforementioned eye injuries but retains the sardonic smile. In the post JC-the-hyena implies that he was also the creator of the original image, though this has not been confirmed.
The story inspired by the image was posted by JC-the-Hyena to the Creepypasta wiki on 9th August 2011. Almost a year to the day later a game based upon the creepypasta story was released by MY5TCrimson on Gamejolt. This was followed by a reading of the story by Youtuber MrCreepyPasta, though the story’s popularity really skyrocketed after youtuber pewdipie did a playthrough of the game based upon it, with the video garnering close to 7 million views.
Building upon the success of the original creepypasta, JC-the-hyena made several further posts explaining the nature of the character, likening the entity to something closer to an eldritch being or demon and underlining the fact that the creature is not simply a human or ghost.
Despite its massive following and status as a common theme for fan art on sites like deviantart, the original creepypasta of Sonic exe was removed from the site when it was deemed to be of low quality and criticised for having too many cliches.
Creator JC-the-Hyena was less than impressed with this removal, announcing it in a blogpost on the 14th January 2014. His subsequent reaction to this removal which involved trying to get fans to protest to have it reinstated on the site and blocking people who levelled any negative comments in his direction was criticised. The creator later apologised for his reaction and in 2017 posted a complete remake of the story. This second incarnation begins in exactly the same way but now more explicitly identifies the Sonic .exe character as an Eldritch abomination.
The Sonic .exe character and story are examples of an established subgenre within creepypasta which relates to cursed or haunted video games. The prevalence of this story model within the creepypasta genre as a whole may be due to the likelihood of shared audiences (for video games, deviantart and creepypasta content) and also because it is a modern update of an established trope.
Sonic exe also plays on a common device used by creepypasta writers, namely the adoption and subversion of established or primarily benevolent characters, taking beloved figures and giving them an evil or menacing element or creating an alternate ‘evil version’ of a well loved character.
This is the same device employed by the author of the Ben Drowned creepypasta and the same device responsible for making figures such as clowns, dolls and puppets (objects that are ostensibly fun and humorous) into malevolent creatures. It is also frequently employed in another subgenre of creepypasta ‘the lost episodes’ where it is common to find stories of sinister or leftfield versions of shows that on the surface are supposed to be friendly and harmless or which should elicit positive nostalgic reactions from the audience.
It iso this same device that, having found popularity in the creepypasta community through stories like Sonic .exe and Ben Drowned, led to the popularity of reddits /r/imsorryjon threads on which artwork of disturbing interpretations of innocent characters such as Garfield, the teletubbies and yes, Sonic, are very popular.
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