In their kitchen, the tea kettle whistled violently as Cameron anxiously stared at it. They sat and watched as steam rushed out from the hole like a stampede before vanishing to thin air. A hand suddenly came down across from them, grabbing the handle to remove it from the stove. Like a child being ripped away from their parents. The hand had no arm nor a body attached to it. It was a floating hand - the opposite of a shadow - of brightness.
The lid opened up as soon as the kettle was tilted. As the water flowed out, Cameron listened as the droplets crackled at the bottom of the mug, making them uncomfortable. They had severe misophonia, which meant that every subtle sound wrapped itself around their ears like a snake and suffocated them. It penetrated their soul, as they morbidly described it.
Suddenly, the glowing hand grew an arm. The light flowed in the shape of an arm like a 3D rendering of a person. It continued down, making shoulders, a torso, the other arm, and legs appear before them, until a full-scale human of light stood in front of Cameron, pouring them tea. It resembled their body shape, same height, same structure, same head shape.
When the kettle was out of the water, the figure placed it back on the stove and stuck out its hand. Cameron reluctantly handed it a tea bag that it took gently. Its skin felt tingly on their palm, like a vibrating controller. It felt active like a star. It placed the teabag in the water and let it dissolve for a few moments. They watched as it unsettlingly spread throughout the water like a plague, changing its color. It was a color that they had never seen before. It was too dark to be black, yet too bright to be white. It was…ethereal.
“Now,” The figure began, its voice sounding high-pitched and crackly. Cameron wondered how it was able to speak when it had no mouth. It bore no face. No bodily features. It was simply a shadow of light. “The tea is ready, Cameron.”
“I don’t want it,” They fought, quivering.
It tilted its head and sighed, “I always knew you weren’t ready for it. You don’t strike me as the type to walk the walk.” They frowned, putting their head down in shame. “You have ambition, Cameron. So much, that it drives you further than any car ever could. But you need to learn to accept the consequences.”
“How can I accept them? What life would that give me?!”
It leaned forward, Cameron could hear a slight buzz radiating off of it like the sound of a gnat, making their stomach turn, “The life you chose.”
They buried their head in their hands and began to whimper. The figure slid the cup of tea in front of them, saying nothing. “I’m tired of drowning,” They finally cried, their face as hot as the tea. “I wanna live! I wanna do things the way I used to! There’s no need for this!”
“Shhhh,” It’s tingly finger pressed on their lips and vibrated their head. The buzzing grew louder and more irritating. “I know it’s hard to accept, believe me, I do. But you brought me to life knowing full well what was in store for yourself. You can’t cry simply because you’re, ‘tired of drowning.’ In life, we make choices for ourselves that affect our futures either immediately or down the road. You, my friend, made one of those choices-”
They slammed the table, “What choice did I have?!”
“Every,” It said as it disappointedly backed away. “Drink the tea unless you wanna let all of your fans down. You know, the fans that you’ve spent the last two decades of your life obtaining and luring in with your oh so creative stories? The fans that grew up with the works of your mind? The fans that escape to your imagination to get away from their harrowing lives?! You want to abandon all of them?!” Cameron let out roaring sobs that echoed throughout the room. Their tears boiled within their eyes. Their stomach burned with regret. They knew they were trapped.
“I hate you!”
It banged the table and shouted, “You…created…me!! I did not ask to be here, yet I am thanks to your ego!” It lowered its tone, “You can’t hate your creation, you can only hate yourself. You should know that of all people. You create stories and characters for a living, for goodness sake. Creations are given life by you. You control who’s in it and what happens and the world it takes place in. If it turns out bad, then it’s not their fault, it’s yours.” They sniffled, remaining silent. “Once again, I am giving you a choice: drink the tea, or don’t and abandon everyone who has ever supported you. Pick one.”
A hopeless look came across Cameron’s face. Tears filled their eyes and despair gripped his cheeks like an angry mother. “I…I…I can’t walk out on my fans,” They stuttered. The figure simply gestured toward the tea. They breathed heavily before letting out a painful curse. It was over. The second that the tea hit their tongue, it was over. Trembling, they gulped and grabbed ahold of the handle. It sloshed around in the mug as they struggled to keep it steady. When they put it up to their lips, they looked up at the figure who had its arms crossed, patiently waiting. They squeezed their eyes shut and downed it.
It felt immaculate going down their throat - not too cold and not too hot, but just right. It tasted like a sweet cup of coffee. When they had finished, their thirst had gone away and they set the mug down. Their hand suddenly let go of the mug and slumped back to their side without them moving it. Like sleep paralysis, they could not move. They could see, but not blink. They could smell, but not inhale. They could feel, but not do anything.
Helpless, they watched as the figure walked around the kitchen table over to them, and lifted them without even touching them. Strings came from out of their hands and legs that went up to something that they could not see. Their body moved without their control. It didn’t take them long to realize what had happened, and there was no way that they could escape until the figure would let them.
The figure made them walk over to their desk, open their laptop, and begin clacking on the keyboard, a story that they did not like. A story that they did not want to write. It was boring and cliche and similar to what others had written. It was purgatory. Try as they must, they could not move out of their chair or stop their hands from typing words. All they could do was sit and stare at the screen of boring and uncreative words…trapped.