Kate Dodge had once been the most attractive actress in the world, able to turn men’s heads with a glance and keep their eyes locked on her with a superior frown. She still was, in fact, and still could. But she now shared those attributes with 800 million “people,” and it was starting to grate.
Her problem had started when an applied physicist working at MIT finally invented and perfected a working replicator, and a plethora of basic patterns to go with it. Rather than patent the invention and make millions, or sell it to a private concern or the government, he had used his replicator to make a thousand copies of itself, and had given them away for free around the world.
There was only one condition placed on new owners — they had to make five more copies and give them to friends, relatives, or strangers. Then they could use their replicators however they liked.
The invention went viral. People started replicating whatever it was they needed. The economy of the entire world collapsed within months. Fortunately, nobody cared. No food? Get a hot nutritious meal in seconds! Clothes in disrepair? Conjure a new more stylish set from thin air! Always wanted a copy of the Mona Lisa to hang in your bedroom? Now you could have one right away, looking as if you’d just swiped it from the Louvre!
It was the beginning of a golden age, where everyone could have everything they wanted.
Unfortunately for Kate Dodge, millions of people wanted…her.
Soon a new pattern started popping up all over the Web. “Repli-Kate,” it was called, and it was her, at least physically. The personality was a bit off. But who cared? It wasn’t like very many people had actually met Kate Dodge. She was just their fantasy, now made flesh.
The modification patterns followed. Repli-Kate: Housewife Edition. Repli-Kate: Maid Edition. Strippli-Kate. Repli-Katerix. Something for every possible fetish and dream. There was even one that purported to copy her actual behavior. Its downloads, of course, were the fewest and farthest between.
At first she had tried to reason with the people writing the programs. This wasn’t some recipe they were copying, it was her! Most of them weren’t very polite. The last one she talked to just laughed in her face. “You’ve been selling yourself for years,” he said. “Now we can get you for free.” Then he waved his own model over, and–Kate shut the screen off in anger.
The threat of a lawsuit didn’t do much good, either. There were no relevant laws on the books, and the courts were becoming more useless by the day anyway. With enough replicators for everyone, and thus enough of everything to go around, there weren’t very many lawsuits anymore.
Briefly she flirted with the idea of ridding the world of all her replicants. But she couldn’t figure out a practical way to do it. What was corrupted by a virus, could be reprogrammed. Any replicant that was “killed” could be replaced instantly. The genie was well and truly free of his bottle.
Only one thing left to do.
She retreated to her estate in Colorado, and fenced it off herself, section by section. Then she built a few small towns around the estate, and populated them with replicants. Replicants specially programmed to admire her, to treat her with the respect to which she had become accustomed. And she lived that way for the rest of her days.
All was well. Mostly. But every so often, she remembered that none of the fantasy world she had created for herself was truly real.
She wondered if the Repli-Kate owners felt that way too.
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