DARK WEB: STEVEN HICKEY’S ESSENTIAL GUIDE TO CREEPYPASTA – PART 32: SONIC.EXE
I’d actually planned to cover a different Creepypasta for Dark Web this week, but when I secured an interview with the creator of one of the most infamous pastas of all time, I knew I couldn’t pass it up.
Long-term readers of this series will be familiar with the various videogame pastas that have found an audience with the fandom. One of my earliest Dark Web features covered Jadusable’s phenomenal BEN Drowned, which is still chilling readers to this very day. Of course, the posting of the Majora’s Mask pasta to 4chan in 2010 prompted a flurry of game pastas. One of the most influential of these is undoubtedly JC-The-Hyena’s Sonic.exe, which was originally posted at the Creepypasta Wiki on 9 August 2011.
You can read the full story over at: http://trollpasta.wikia.com/wiki/Sonic.exe?page=8
For those of you who haven’t read the story, it is about a young Sonic the Hedgehog fan who receives a mysterious CD-R disc which contains a supposedly hacked version of a Sonic game. It also contains a hastily scrawled and desperate sounding message from his best-friend, Kyle, who pleads with the protagonist to destroy the disc. Needless to say, the narrator foolishly ignores this request and instead opts to play the bootleg game.
He immediately notices that the game is darker and more menacing, featuring a nightmarish image of the title character with bleeding, black eyes and red pupils, flashing a horrifying smile, against a sea of hyper-realistic blood. The game itself continues with this unsettling tone, featuring a number of disturbing sounds and visuals. In it, Sonic’s loveable sidekick Tails finds himself relentlessly pursued by the diabolical alternate Sonic. When the monstrous character catches Tails (complete with a distorted screeching sound), the game starts to communicate directly with the player, warning him that he is ‘too slow’. As the game goes on these messages become even scarier, talking about souls and directly naming Kyle and even our protagonist.
As the horrifying images and messages escalate in intensity, the game and the title are revealed to have a very real influence in the world beyond the computer screen…
It’s an interesting pasta and, while the prose can be a little amateur at times and some of the character decisions are decidedly patchy (choosing to continue to play the game after some truly frightening events occur seems a tad unrealistic), it’s imaginative and manages to evoke some genuinely unsettling imagery. As such, it proved immensely popular and soon spread throughout the web, including DeviantArt and other Creepypasta sites. In fact, a search of DeviantArt this week for work with the Sonic.exe tag yields more than 10,000 results!
In fact, the pasta was such a popular title that, in August the following year, Gamejolt user MY5TCrimson (AKA Crimson the Bat) actually released a playable version of the game: http://gamejolt.com/games/sonic-exe-the-game/16239 . It’s a truly astonishing piece of work that remains HUGELY faithful to the source material and, somehow, actually makes Sega’s mascot pretty creepy.
Shortly after the game was released, JC-The-Hyena returned to his creation and elaborated on what exactly the titular entity was with a post to his FurAffinity page The truth about Sonic.exe (http://www.furaffinity.net/journal/3947977/). Posted on 21 October 2012, the text explains that Sonic.exe is actually a formless entity composed of dark matter that adopted the guise of a demonic Sonic. It doesn’t truly exist in our reality, but the game acts as a bridge, allowing it to influence anybody with darkness in their heart. With this post it soon became clear that the author had plans for the character and its surrounding mythos.
In November of that same year the original pasta was also read by the always popular Mr Creepypasta over at his YouTube Channel. You can find part one here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-qxYzu7X0ec and part two here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bl_WZks4TWU . Mr Creepypasta has an exceptional YouTube following and his reading has been viewed more than 400,000 times.
Rapidly gathering momentum as it spread through the Creepypasta community, the game (and pasta) received a real surge in popularity when well-known YouTuber PewDiePie posted a Let’s Play walkthrough video to his channel on 5 May 2013, itself viewed nearly 9,000,000 times. (You can watch it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=36smb94HGNo). This is an astonishing figure and demonstrates the formidable popularity of both the pasta and PewDiePie himself.
It was in that same year that JC-The-Hyena finally followed up on his original pasta with the official sequel, Round 2: The Sonic.exe Sequel. You can read the story here: http://sonic-exe-stories.deviantart.com/art/Round-2-the-Sonic-exe-Sequel-629625508
In this narrative the author expands on the story significantly, introducing an ongoing police investigation into a series of crimes dubbed ‘The Sonic.exe Murders’. Told from the point of view of a detective investigating the crimes, it also introduces the sinister Cult of X, a deranged group of individuals who worship Exe, plus looks more closely at the monster’s influence. This includes a reference to seven mysterious guardians in Exe’s realm and a human agent for Exe, one Shannon Goldman, his most devout follower. It’s certainly an ambitious piece and really hints that there is much much more of the Exe tail to come from JC-The-Hyena. Again, there are a couple of rough patches of prose, but it’s a fun read and had many readers eagerly anticipating the next chapter in the saga.
However, even as the pasta was finding new readers (and fans), JC-The-Hyena suffered a blow when, on 14 January 2014, the administrators over at the Creepypasta Wiki deleted the original post due to ‘quality standards’, claiming that it was “badly written” and “had too many cliches” and “was a bad example of what should be a creepypasta”.
This caused JC-The-Hyena some considerable upset, and he wrote a lengthy response to the news (http://archive.is/QmP5q#selection-351.120-351.218) in which he berated the Wiki’s admins for their decision and encouraged fans of his pasta to rally behind it. Sadly his efforts were for nought and the pasta remains on the trollpasta wiki, a site on which poor or deliberately sub-standard web horror stories are posted.
Be this as it may, Sonic.exe remains one of the most well-known and popular video game pastas, all thanks to the creative efforts of one person — JC-The-Hyena.
JC was kind enough to agree to speak with UK Horror Scene about his story and to answer my questions about the pasta. The full interview follows below.
UK HORROR SCENE: Thank you for talking to me. The most obvious question first – what served as your inspiration for the story?
JC-THE-HYENA: Well, I guess what inspired me to make Sonic.exe would be how I saw everyone else’s Creepypastas. They were all really good and really, well, creepy, to say the least, and I felt I should try my hand at making my own Creepypasta. It wasn’t really easy honestly.
It started out as a simple edited PNG image of the title screen from the first Sonic the Hedgehog game. But then I decided to take it a step further. I then wanted to try turning it into a .avi file, but I decided .exe was a better idea.
I know I was being a little unoriginal with the pasta — the hyper-realistic blood, the Sega 666 bit, and all that. But you gotta understand where I was coming from. This was my first creepypasta so I was kinda learning. I wanted to make something different. And when I made the story, I made the titular monster something that had no explanation on exactly what he is or where exactly he came from.
When the story became a hit, I decided to flesh him out and TRY to add some background to him. I actually never expected how popular my story became when I posted it, though I also never expected how many people would come to dislike it, Sonic.exe is pretty much split down the middle in the internet but I’m not COMPLETELY complaining about that, I’m just glad I’m getting some recognition for trying something out. XD
UKHS: In your own words, can you tell my readers about the story of Sonic.exe
JCTH: The story of Sonic.exe is a little hard to explain without like, trying to explain plot of the Creepypasta itself.
Basically this guy gets this game disc in the mail, he plays it, turns out it’s cursed, and that the monster haunting it is something mankind has never seen before. And in the sequel it turns out that this monster has a whole religion behind him and the cult that worships the monster is trying to help him take over the world, and this disgruntled detective explains, in his diary, that he’s coming close to cracking the conspiracy before the story ends with him becoming another one of the monster’s many many slaves.
That’s pretty much the whole gist of Sonic.exe rly. As for WHAT he is, I can tell you this. He’s not Satan. He’s not God (even though he says he is.), he’s actually this extra-dimensional being that can bend reality to his will… and is coincidentally a passionate fanboy for Sonic the Hedgehog. XDDD
UKHS: Why do you think Sonic.exe has resonated with readers?
JCTH: Well, for the reason why Sonic.exe is split down the middle, the answer is kinda obvious; It’s the internet, there’s always gonna be a buncha people that like something, and there’s gonna be a buncha people that don’t like something. That’s kinda how it works.
But as for how it affected readers. I think it’s one of two things: first is the idea of Sonic being this sadistic, all-powerful monster being quite the face-heel turn surprise for Sonic fans. Like, I remember watching reaction videos and let’s plays of people playing the fan game and them actually saying that Sonic would never do this or he wouldn’t do that. It always cracked me up. XD
As for reason two, it’s the common fear of the unknown. Sonic.exe (or “X” as I call him) is literally a creature that nobody has any idea on what he is or where he came from. And he has all this power to do whatever he wants and what he wants to do is torment and enslave humanity for his own sick amusement.
Try to imagine that in a real world perspective. It’s a pretty scary thought when you actually think about it right?
UKHS: Which writers, horror or otherwise, do you consider yourself a fan of?
JCTH: I guess I was always into the works of Stephen King and H.P. Lovecraft, their works on supernatural entities much larger and much more outside our understanding of the universe for the most part helped with the creation and fleshing out of the creature that is named “X”.
X is this nameless alien monstrosity in the form of everyone’s favorite blue blur, and he gets off on using his dimensional powers to torment his human slaves to the point of insanity. I personally think he and Pennywise should hang out together. XD
UKHS: Are you a fan of Creepypasta? If so what is your favourite Creepypasta by an author other than yourself?
JCTH: Yeah, I’m still a fan. I like many of the other Creepypastas that are still around today: Abandoned by Disney, Smile.Dog, BEN Drowned, Squidward’s Suicide (That one was the first Creepypasta I ever read), but if I hafta choose a number 1 favorite, iiiiiit’d be Suicidemouse.avi.
UKHS: Why do you think Creepypasta is so popular with the fandom?
JCTH: Well, alotta reasons actually, the first two being the ones I mentioned earlier, but other reasons I think it’s cuz the fans like seeing Sonic as a darker more edgier version of himself, you know like the Werehog or Dark Sonic from Sonic X.
Dark Sonic also kinda helped with the inspiration of Sonic.exe but not completely. I guess you could say I took the dark and edgy factor and tried cranking it up to 11. XD I like to think I succeeded. Other reasons I think for SOME fans that like Sonic.exe is how attractive he looks as a character. I think it’s his smile that wins them over in all honesty but I’m still debating.
UKHS: The fans are very passionate about the story. Are there any examples of fan art, such as films or readings, in particular that have impressed you?
JCTH: Yeah, alotta fans have impressed me with some of their work. The Sonic.exe fan game and all it’s versions by Crimson the bat, all the “.Exe” Fan characters, even the Sunky.mpeg parody game (http://gamejolt.com/games/sunky-mpeg/78243) got several laughs out of me. XD
I’ve even allowed some fans to try their hand on making their own version of the Sonic.exe story, y’know, just to see what they can do.
UKHS: I feel the story has been wrongfully maligned by some segments of Creepypasta fandom. Have you read any of these negative comments? How do you feel about them? Have the fans been as vocal in their support as the dissenters?
JCTH: Ehh, I’m not exactly happy with some people hating on Sonic.exe, but I TRY to keep a positive outlook on it. I mean everyone’s entitled to their opinions. I don’t even really look at the comments as HATE comments per se, they’re really more or less just criticism and opinions. I just read them, consider what they say and then move on.
Though if anybody’s being critical and is only doing so cuz they wanna help me in improving Sonic.exe, I’ll take it. After all Sonic.exe WAS my first story, I was still learning. I guess you could say I’m still learning now. As for the fans that support me, yes they’ve been vocal about their help and support, and I deeply value their concern for me.
UKHS: You were very outspoken about your disappointment at the decision of the mods at the Creepypasta wiki to delete Sonic.exe from the site. What happened there? How is your relationship with the Creepypasta Wikia team now?
JCTH: Yeeeeah, not gonna lie, my little outburst on the Admins deleting my Creepypasta off their wiki was quite stand-offish. I wasn’t in the best kinda moods that day and I deeply apologize for ever doing it. It wasn’t the smart way to go about with the situation and I wish I handled the news more carefully.
Though I still stand firm that the admins were being a little unreasonable about deleting it. I mean let’s not kid ourselves, originality doesn’t exactly EXIST in the internet nowadays. XD;
However, ONE admin who’s still a fan of my story and is still a good friend of mine backed me up during the feud… though she had to quit being an Admin when she saw how stubborn the others were being. And I respect her very much for sticking up for me. Furbearingbrick, if yer still out there on the Net: Thanx for helping me out when Exe got deleted. You’re an awesome friend. X3
UKHS: Do you have any other Creepypasta creations either in the pipeline or already out there that you’d like to share with our audience? And do you intend to return to/expand upon the Sonic.exe story in the future?
JCTH: Well, I made one other story. It’s called the Horror of Montyburg (you can read it here: http://someordinarygamers.wikia.com/wiki/The_Horror_of_Montyburg), and I kinda based it off of The Blair Witch Project.
You can see the appeal, guy in Mississippi gets burned for witchcraft long time ago, comes back in modern time as a goat-headed demon that kidnaps people and uses their body parts to make crude voodoo dolls designed to resemble the people he’s killed. It’s a neat story told like a campfire tale, I think it’s still somewhere on the internet but I don’t remember.
As for Sonic.exe I DO hope to add more to the universe of the story, get more sequels in, or maybe do a remake. Haven’t really decided. But I can promise you this, I’m still gonna be doing stuff with Sonic.exe for a really long time.
UKHS: And finally, where is the best place for my readers to check out your work?
JCTH: Well, if you ever want to check out more of my work, go on either Furaffinity.net or Deviantart.com, my fans have posted both the original Sonic.exe story and it’s sequel in both, so you don’t gotta worry about finding either one. However, if you ever want me to write or draw something for you, I do art commissions. If you wanna contact me about a purchase, my Furaffinity is JC-the-Hyena and my Skype is sirjc231.
What JC-The-Hyena and Sonic.exe show is that, even if the more traditional sources of Creepypasta don’t appreciate your work, there are still plenty of places on the worldwide web on which it is possible to post and share your output with a similar, like-minded community.
Come back next time when I’ll be covering another pasta which found a home at DeviantArt.