Chapter 11: The Two Paths

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Kim was in her apartment Downtown, trying out new hairstyles and kind of hating them all, when Maria called. 

“I heard your date went well. Stop by my office.”

Kim hung up her phone and opened up her closet. She took her time choosing a new outfit. There was no need to hurry to Maria’s. Now that she had learned about The Hack, the path before her was clear. 

She took off her sleeveless tank with a flying skull on it and exchanged it for a sleek black dress with 3/4 sleeves. She felt extremely powerful in it. 

While she was once again lamenting her lack of shoe options Maria called again. 

“Stop by my office when you get a chance. Nothing sinister.”

Okay so it was definitely something sinister.

Kim put the boring strappy black shoes on again, gave up on her hair, and made her way over to Hollywood and Maria’s office.

“Well!” Maria said as Kim entered. “You can follow directions pretty well, that is something. Good for you. Now, I have something else for you.”

“And what might that be?” Kim asked sweetly. 

“Well,” Maria said. “I know Kim would never ask, but she's looking for someone to oversee the Kardash Miami store. Doing the buying and so forth. And before you say it: No, it’s not a photo shoot or an acting gig, but it’s better than folding socks at So Whatever, and you could get some good networking opportunities if you can get it in as a buyer for the store. Miami is pleasant. You will enjoy being there. Aside from the store there is also a club, and an empty house.”

Kim was silent. 

“What,” Maria said. “I’m offering you an opportunity here. I have taken you on as a client. I am literally expanding your horizons. Now is the part where you do as I suggest and we both live out our lives in mutually advantageous benefit.”

“I am not interested in this plan,” Kim said. 

“What? What do you mean, you’re not interested. Miami is a great opportunity.”

“I don’t care about Miami,” Kim said. “I want to know about The Hack.” 

Maria stared at Kim for a moment. “Oh crap,” she said. 

“I learned about it on my date,” Kim said. Thank you so much for setting me on that path, by the way. I have learned quite a lot about this world. It turns out there are people all around us wielding unlimited Power. And they don’t have to fold clothes, or manage stores, or ride the Metro in endless circles like a peasant.”

“The Hack is not your concern,” Maria said. “I want you to forget you ever heard about it.”

“You want to send me to Miami so I can run a shop. You want to distract me and keep me busy with inconsequential little errands when what I want--what I need--has been right within my grasp all along.”

“The Hack is a corruption of nature,” Maria said. “Money and Power, without proper Fame and Friendship--”

“--I’m not here to make friends,” Kim said. “I am here to defeat Willow Pape and return home.”

“And I will help you do that, in time, the right way.”

“Your way takes too long,” Kim said. 

“The Hack is a temporary solution to a temporary problem,” Maria said. “It leads to nothing but negativity and darkness.”

“Flying to Miami to beg for a job in a shop does not free me from negativity, it enslaves me to it.”

Maria rose and swept everything off her desk in one swift, violent motion. A terrible grey thundercloud appeared over her head, crackling with lightning that threatened to unleash itself in every direction. Maria’s eyes were wild and black.

“Ungrateful creature, I am trying to help you and you throw my assistance back in my face. Do you know who you are dealing with? I am Maria, Eldritch Publicist and Keeper of the Keys.”

“And I am Kim of House Kardashian, Daughter of the Hunter’s Moon and Destroyer of Men. The limits of this world are meaningless to me, as are your decrees.”

Kim stared Maria down, unsure of what she might do next. Maria was clearly a powerful witch, she would handily defeat Kim in her own office. But one way or another she would not be dissuaded. 

After a long moment in which Kim was sure Maria was working a powerful enchantment against her, the storm cloud quickly dissipated, swirling in on itself and disappearing.

“Kim,” Maria said. Her voice softer now, her eyes wet. “Please do not do this. The Hack is a drug, a disease upon this world. It makes ghosts of our most talented young celebrities. You have so much promise, so much purpose in this world. The Hack will make you forget who you are. You will lose sight of your battle with Willow Pape. All that matters most to you will be lost.”

“You have betrayed yourself Maria,” Kim said. “Has the idea of my achieving this Power frightened you so much? It is clearly the only path before me.”

“It is not,” Maria pleaded. “There is another path, please let me help you.”

“I had had quite enough of your help,” Kim said. “I am done here.”

“You are too good for this, Kim.” 

“You don’t know me at all, Maria. I’m not too good for anything.” 

Kim turned to walk out, but stopped at the door. “I would curse you, but you already share an office with Simon, so I guess someone beat me to it. BYE.”

Kim left, not enough bothering to slam the door behind her. Let Maria get up from behind her desk for once.

She kept going, walked right next door to the Brew Palms and sat down at a table by herself. She took out her phone and scrolled through until she found Alexis in her contacts.

“Alexis Cassiopeia,” Kim said. “I summon you. Come forward and let’s be on a date.”

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