‘Alexa. Who is the most popular person in the world?’ asked Nicole, even though she knew how her resident bot would respond because she was and had been for the past few years.
As she rubbed her daily dose of face cream into her skin she cringed at how old and wrinkled she’d become. Thank goodness she didn’t have to show her face to her public any more, one of the great things about being a social media star.
The blue ring around the top of the bot lit up. ‘Gamila.’
Slowly, Nicole screwed the lid on to the pot of cream and placed it on the shelf. This was a moment she had prepared for many times over the years, the moment when someone else became more popular than her.
‘Alexa. Show me Gamila.’
A hologram of a young dark haired woman stared back at her from behind a posy of wild flowers.
‘Alexa, find her location. I am going out.’
With a scarf wrapped around her face, Nicole ventured out into the night. It was an unfamiliar feeling, to be among people, and one she’d avoided as much as she could. Another reason to hate the young imposter, Gamila.
‘Alexa,’ she said to the microphone built into the hood of her coat. ‘Tell me where to find her.’
Alexa guided her through the streets until she could see the young Gamila sitting in the window of an upmarket restaurant surrounded by fans taking selfies. The perfect setup for what Nicole had in mind.
Inside, the crowds made her even more uncomfortable. She pulled down her hood and unwrapped the scarf, hoping that the restaurant cameras were less sophisticated than the CCTV on the streets and wouldn’t be able to match the real her to the old photos online. Step by step she got closer to Gamila, taking her time and making sure she didn’t attract any attention that would result in her being ejected from the establishment.
‘Hi,’ said Gamila as Nicole got to the front of the queue. ‘A photo for your grandchildren?’
‘Something like that,’ said Nicole. She leant forward and put her arm around Gamila’s waist. As she snapped the selfie she injected Gamila with a needle so fine she didn’t notice.
‘Thanks,’ said Nicole and left the restaurant as fast as she could without looking suspicious.
Back in the safety and the comfort of her own home she relaxed on her favourite leather sofa with a glass of Alcosynth.
The fun was about to begin.
‘Alexa, show me Gamila’s feed.’
The last entry was from four hours ago – a long time in the world of social media celebrity, especially since automated accounts had been made illegal. This was an era when you had to post for yourself or not at all.
Gamila had stopped. No warning or explanation.
There was considerable speculation about what had happened, with many commentators pretending to have the inside knowledge, but none of them were right.
That pin prick had sent microscopic nanobots into Gamila’s blood stream which had activated once she’d arrived at the specified location, her home. Nanobots designed to crawl around her body and gradually close it down, leaving her in a state of deep hibernation from which only Nicole could wake her.
‘Alexa. Who is the most popular person in the world?’