Stewart knew something was wrong before he opened his eyes. Too dark.
His phone was off, no small glowing light in the dark bedroom. He reached to the bedside and booted his phone back up.
It immediately opened onto a screen with a strange, morphing face speaking to him. The face was constructed of constantly shifting celebrity faces, blending and distorting as if in a dream.
James Dean spoke in an ethereal, phased voice:
“Stewart Moss, you have been hacked, DeepComped. Please check your bank account to confirm.”
Stewart frantically minimized the video and logged into his bank app. He immediately saw that instead of the $20k he kept in his account, he had a balance of -$350k.
The video face, looking like Kanye West, said:
“You will do as we say or we will continue to draw against your credit line until you are insolvent.”
Stewart watched in horror as his account moved to -$475k.
A young Drew Barrymore: “You will do exactly as we say. If you contact authorities we will escalate. You will lose your apartment, your job, and your friends. Every week you will buy and sell certain stocks for us. We will send a message soon regarding your first transaction.”
“Wait, how do I get my money back?”
The face transformed into Stewart’s own face, and the voice suddenly morphed into a perfect simulation of his own. Stewart was talking to his perfect double.
“We will be watching closely Stewart. You will remain in debt until we are assured of your loyalty. You will be rewarded for compliance.”
“Wait!” Stewart shouted at the phone. “Are you a person or an AI?”
The video’s face shifted from Stewart visage into the grizzled, bearded face of George Carlin.
“Does it matter, man?”
Wonder Stories cover, August 1930