In the dead of night, Chanyeol found himself at the crossroads, standing at the very same spot as he was 10 years ago. He made a fire, hands trembling as he did so. From the flame arose a figure. The figure was just as tall as Chanyeol was, but because he bore such a frightening and domineering aura, Chanyeol felt as if he was shrinking to the size of a dwarf.
Once the figure had fully emerged from the scorching fire, Chanyeol felt shivers up and down his spine. He was already sweating because of the heat from the fire, and yet he was also getting chills. He his lips and gulped, his nervousness resulting in such a tight and unpleasant feeling in his stomach. His limbs were shaking as he stared at the fireproof figure that looked like his own mirror image. As if that was not scary enough already. And those eyes...very, very sinister.
“We meet again,” said X-Chanyeol, sounding much more eager than his human counterpart was.
“Y-yes,” Chanyeol replied shakily. “Our deal…”
“Getting straight to business, huh,” X-Chanyeol commented, chuckling to himself. “Yes, indeed, we had a deal. I’ve most certainly held up my end of it, wouldn’t you say?”
The past 10 years of Chanyeol’s life flashed before his eyes. It all started when he decided he wanted to pursue a career as an idol. But given the competition in the industry and all the other trainees fighting for their chance to debut, Chanyeol felt like he would not be able to realize his dreams no matter how hard he tried. He wanted it so badly, so desperately, that he had resorted to some...supernatural means of getting what he wanted: a pact with the Red Force. In fact, he did not even have to go looking for them. Knowing his deepest desire, they had sent a representative to him. The representative was the spitting image of Chanyeol, and he called himself X-Chanyeol. The resemblance was uncanny in terms of appearance, but everything else could not have been more different.
“Yes,” Chanyeol answered hastily. “But you also said...you said...what happens after those 10 years...you wouldn’t guarantee anything?”
“I see you would like to renew our pact. Another 10 years, perhaps?” X-Chanyeol offered, grinning devilishly. “It’s not out of the question, you know. Just depends on what you can give me in return. Last time, you agreed to let me take 10 years off your life. You were actually supposed to live quite a long life so…” he shrugged. “I guess it wasn’t a big deal. But this time…” he paused and smirked wickedly. “Considering the fact that I’ve given you something so valuable, I think it’s only fair that I take from you something of more or less the same value.”
“What do you want?” Chanyeol asked, his voice becoming a squeaky whisper as he was quaking in fear in the presence of a creature so powerful and menacing.
“I understand that there is this human boy that you are disgustingly in love with, and I hear he feels the same way about you,” X-Chanyeol began. He frowned slightly in disapproval of the human construct called ‘love’, but quickly his facial expression changed to one of amusement and interest. “What’s his name again? Oh Sehun?”
Chanyeol’s eyes widened in fear. “P-please...please don’t h-hurt him. Please. I’ll give you anything you want. Just...spare him, please.”
“Relax!” X-Chanyeol burst into laughter. It was just so entertaining to see Chanyeol freaking out. “I wouldn’t hurt him. I’m just here to do business with you. My terms are simple. I’m not going to take another 10 years from you — this time, I’ll just borrow a week from you.”
“A week?” Chanyeol spluttered. Surely, that was not all? He was asking for another 10 years of his life as one of the most successful idols in South Korea, and all that he had to give in return was a week of his time?
X-Chanyeol nodded. “I live your life for a week, and you live mine for a week. Maybe then I’ll understand why you’re so desperate for this kind of life.”
Chanyeol gasped. “Your life? But I don’t...I don’t even know what you are. How am I supposed to—”
“Oh, it’ll be simple. I just need you to stay inside this...cube,” said X-Chanyeol casually. “You don’t have to interact with anyone. The cube is a bit like the studio you built. There are musical instruments for you to play, so I assure you, you will not be bored. There’s free wi-fi as well.”
“O...kay?” Chanyeol blinked in disbelief. It seemed too good to be true, but then if X-Chanyeol had other terms, surely he would make that very clear, right?
“So, what do you say? Deal or no deal?” X-Chanyeol asked, cracking his knuckles in anticipation. “Though it’s not like you have a choice, really. Feel free to turn me down, although you ought to keep in mind that I can easily take away from you what I’ve given to you. And I don’t think it’s going to work out very well for you.”
Chanyeol his lips, still tense and scared. But X-Chanyeol was right — he had no other choice.
And so, he went into the cube that X-Chanyeol talked about. It did look like a studio, and there was a bed and a bathroom and other standard amenities. There was also an iPad for him to use so he could order food. It was almost as if the cube was designed to make him feel comfortable. He switched on the TV, but found that there was only one channel.
Chanyeol’s jaw dropped. He was live-streaming his own life on TV, as if a camera was following X-Chanyeol round-the-clock.
For the most part, it was just kind of awkward, but so far, nothing too unpleasant had happened.
Until Chanyeol realized that there was no way he could switch off the TV. Nothing would work, not even unplugging all the wires and sockets whatsoever. He cursed to himself, realizing that he had gotten himself into a bigger mess than he could have expected. He felt more powerless than ever, trapped inside this stupid supernatural cube while someone that looked like him but was absolutely not him was living his life for him. It felt so wrong.
In no mood to do anything else, he sat down on the bed and stared into blank space. Only when the TV had become too loud for his liking did he finally snap to attention. He reached for the remote and tried to turn the volume down, but to no avail.
“Goddammit,” he uttered, and threw the re