brands you never knew existed

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Screaming and screaming and screaming, that's all there is for a while. Bright white light and nausea and no emotion or reason or input beyond an overarching, all-consuming sense of incorrectness.

It takes Anicentricity a moment to process that the screaming is her, that it's her voice, her fear and panic and danger. The bright white lights begin to resolve, as her eyes and senses adjust, to a room, a pristine, white room.

Her nausea overtakes her fear long enough to set her screaming aside. She retches, dry heaving unproductively, turning her head to the side because she's lying down and can barely move for some reason. Everything: hurts. She is sore and achey and she can feel something cold and electric slicing through her veins and it's so, so bright.

Without the screaming the room is quiet, terrifyingly so. She can hear her breathing and her crying and her moans, and: the sounds of her wrists struggling against the straps that keep her arms tied down to her sides. She's on a bed, no, a table of some kind. In a room that's bright and white and she feels her panic start to rise again until suddenly one of the walls seems to: turn off, and then it's a window, and there's a man standing there.

"Anicentricity," he says, his voice soft and patient and kind. "Are you OK my dear? I'm so sorry for the difficulty of your waking up."

"I'm- what's happening? Where am I? What's happening?" The initial mild sense of relief about not being alone, about the fact that someone is nearby, watching over her, is quickly being drowned out by all the questions piling on top of each other as she returns to her senses.

"You are fine, and you are safe," the man says. His voice is deep and soothing and so friendly. It's good. She clings to it. "I'm Daddy," he continues. "I'm taking care of you."

Anicentricity strains to look at him, to see him through the window, beneath the glaring lights overhead reflected across his image. She can move her neck and head, but not much. Her body and arms and legs are all strapped down to this table. But he's older, and he's wearing the distinctive black suit with pink lining that the Daddys wear, and he's got these really cool white glasses. Attractive.

"I have a Daddy now? What's happening? Where am I? How did I get here? Why can't I move? Why can't I-"

"Shh-shh-shh," Daddy intones quietly. "Anicentricity, I understand how confusing this all is, and I am going to help you through this, but I need you to settle down a bit so I can actually answer your questions. Can you do that for me honey? Just breathe."

Anicentricity inhales deeply, choking back a sob, and nods as best as she can, tied to the table.

"Great," Daddy says. "I'm so sorry about having you tied down there, but we didn't want you to hurt yourself, fall off the table or bang yourself up or anything, right? That's all that is. We're trying to take the best care of you."

Anicentricity nods. "OK thank you," she says.

"Of course, sweetie, of course."

Anicentricity strains to look around the room, searching for clues to her location and receiving none. "What show am I on?"

"OK great question," Daddy says, sounding genuinely impressed. "None at the moment, but that's all about to change, my dear."

"How did I get here? I was shopping. I was meeting my friends. Did I go to the mall? Did I do a bad job? I was really trying, I swear."

"Sweetie," Daddy says, his words patient, beatific. "You were trying so hard, that's why I brought you here. We noticed. You're in the Tower."

"I'm. I am?"

"You are. And we have a really exciting new project for you."

"You do? omg." Her fear is finally starting to dissipate now. She can feel a sort of calmness floating through her, actually traveling through her veins from her head to her toes. She starts to feel: curious. Excited. Engaged. Happy.

"We're testing out a brand new show. Different from, well, everything, really. We've been trying out different stars, tinkering with the format, but it keeps not working out, for one reason or another. It's been a mess, more than a littler frustrating, to be very honest with you, Anicentricity. But I think we've got the process just about all sorted out here and we're ready to get going. And we think you might be the right personality to launch this show."

"You do? Oh wow. I'm in the Tower. I'm really excited. I sort of knew I was destined for something like this, but I didn't know it was so close. But I've been trying so hard my whole life and really manifesting positivity."

"You have, and we've definitely noticed it and appreciate it." Daddy turns to someone next to him, someone Anicentricity can't see in the shadows "Don't we?" If there's a response she doesn't see it.

"What's- what's this new show?" she asks, wanting Daddy's attention back on her.

Daddy spreads his hands wide in a way that indicates something immense. "It's hard to even know where to begin to describe it. Totally new. Unlike any other show that's ever existed. You're going to be interacting with some amazing brands."

"Which ones?"

"Brands that haven't even been invented yet. Brands you never knew existed. Brands that will be invented specifically for you."

"OK wow?"

"You're going to be the start of something so new and so exciting and so original. Everyone will be talking about it. Everyone - I don't mean a lot of people, Anicentricity, I mean everyone - will be focused on you. It'll be historic. Your brand will last forever. Think about that Anicentricity. You'll be eternal, a brand people will talk about forever."

"omg that sounds so good."

"It does, doesn't it?"

Anicentricity laughs. Everything feels so amazing. "I'm really excited. Wow. When I woke up here, idk. Idk what I thought. I remember being in the dressing room and the zonny. I thought: I thought I was dead."

"No, not yet sweetie," Daddy says.

"Yay. Phew."

"What we've learned from our many, many failures so far is that it's best to kill you under very controlled circumstances."

Anicentricity nods and smiles in agreement. Then: "What?"

There's a clicking sound, metal on metal, very close by, and then a zonny emerges from underneath the table on her right side and begins to crawl up her abdomen, towards her head. Then another zonny appears on her left side, and the there's another, right next to her, its front feet on her head.

"You should be feeling OK at this point," Daddy says. "Just sit tight and we'll see you on the other side."

"Wait," Anicentricity says. She can feel the zonnys moving busily over her body, and there's a faraway sense that they are inserting things into her head and neck. "What?"

And then the room starts to get dimmer, finally, but she can't keep her eyes open anyway, and everything just gets darker and she thinks: the other side of what? But then there's nothing.

Daddy stands very still at the window, watching Anicentricity's vital signs slow down and turn off. "OK," he says. "Show time."

///

FRIENDS that's the end of Episode 05 which means there's only one episode left in this season. I'm realllllllly excited to show you the finale of S01, it's all written and ready to go and I can't wait for you to read it. I'll be posting 2 chapters per week to finish this up. Show time. 👻💕📺

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