Chapter 13: Welcome to Ambition

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Kim followed Alexis through the wall and into the city. They were on a sidewalk, as though they’d just come out from an alley. 

The city was dark, electric, alive, pulsating all around her. At first Kim thought it was the neon blinking lights that seemed to cover all the buildings, but as she went deeper into the city and saw the buildings up close, she realized there weren’t any lights at all--it was the buildings themselves that were blinking.

It was as though very building was imbued with that aspect of The Hack that made it impossible to ascertain a person’s true appearance. Buildings cycled through different styles with each glance of her eyes. A storefront became an apartment building became a restaurant. Some of the buildings she recognized from her travels in Los Angeles and Beverly Hills, but some seemed to belong to a different part of the world altogether, architecture that would be perfectly suited to Paris, London, Sydney.

Every time she shifted her eyes her entire landscape, her entire reality, seemed to shift with it. She was everywhere and nowhere, all at once.

“So, hey,” Kim said, struggling to keep up with Alexis. “Where are we? What is this place?”

“This is Ambition,” said Alexis. “Isn’t it cool?”

Kim wasn’t sure what was particularly cool about it. How were you even supposed to find your way around with everything switching its appearance all the time? And the streets were filled with other people, but no one was looking at anyone else; there were no conversations, debates, laughter, arguments. Kim had the distinct feeling that people were staring at her, behind her back? from the shadows? but every time she turned around everyone was pointedly not looking at her.

Kim was starting to feel uneasy, surrounded by all these freaked-out buildings and people. She had a sudden, intense desire to be back in her quiet apartment, standing in front of her tiny closet. So okay maybe her clothing options were severely limited, still, there was something fun about the challenge of styling cool outfits when your options were constrained.

“Come on,” Alexis called, over her shoulder. “We’re almost to The Lady. She’ll be so happy that I brought you here. And be careful where you step, it’s easy to fall out of the world here.”

Um what? Kind of a crappy city if true. Kim rushed to catch up, thinking Hello? Can we walk together like civilized people? Alexis didn’t seem to care if Kim was even following her. Rude.

Around a corner and down a ways Alexis stopped in front of a building set apart from the others. It shifted rapidly in-between looking a lot like Kim’s mansion and the Championship Business Center. But every time it changed Kim swore that just for a second she could see through the skin of the building, and inside it looked like it was made of bones. 

If Alexis noticed she didn’t say anything about it.

“Come,” Alexis said.

Wow bossy, Kim thought to herself.

They entered the skeleton building and inside it was just a simple room with a long table and a fireplace. There was a woman—incredibly well-dressed, K-Stars for days--seated at the table. Another woman was leaning over and whispering something into the seated woman’s ear, but she was dismissed, sent scurrying out as soon as Alexis and Kim entered.

The woman rose. She was a shifter just like all the others, her appearance changing wildly every time Kim looked at her, but there remained something about her that was older than anyone else she had seen here yet. Her face was slightly stretched, plastic, devoid of warmth and emotion. She performed a series of non-touching air kisses with Alexis. Kim had never cared for that type of greeting. Hand hugs all the way.

“My Lady,” Alexis said.

“And who’s that girl?” The Lady said, looking over at Kim.

“This is Kim. She is my friend,” Alexis said, the word friend like a rock in her mouth as she tried to smile around it.

Kim attempted a small curtsy, she wasn’t sure exactly what the protocol was here.

“Hi I’m Kim Kardashian,” she said.

The Lady raised one eyebrow. “Were you compelled to come here, Kim Kardashian? Or do you come of your own free will? Express yourself.” 

The Lady had a very weird accent--British, but inconsistently so, like she was forgetting to use it half the time.

“I--” Kim looked at Alexis, unsure if there was a correct answer. Had she had a choice? “The free will one,” she guessed.

The Lady closed her eyes and nodded, then turned to Alexis. “Thank you Alexis, you may leave us. I believe Kim and I will get along famously.” 

Alexis looked uncomfortably from The Lady to Kim and back. 

“Kim is the eighth person I’ve brought you, my Lady," Alexis said.

“So it is,” The Lady said, and she opened her hand and a torrent of dark black heart emojis swept out from her upturned palm, bouncing and skittering across the floor. Alexis turned and scrambled after them, chasing them right out the door. 

So, that was weird. And Kim couldn’t believe Alexis just took off, without a look back, or a Hey see you later, or even a fake-y air kiss in her general direction? That chick is definitely not my friend and this is 100% bad news, Kim thought.

“Let’s dress you up,” The Lady said. “Let’s get you hacked."

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