“This is my last post/tweet/IM/DM/story/video. Fer reel fokes.”
Nikki Raylene had not touched [share] yet. She wasn’t sure she wanted to. She knew she needed to, but as the self help guru (one of her one million plus (depended on on the social network) followers) Aeron Fedelmid (really Freddie Jade) had posted “need is a relative term”.
She would private message Freddie.
Freddie had been an early supporter, when she was a shy sophomore in high school. Somehow Freddie had read a few of her posts – with *no* followers whatsoever and miraculously had commented.
@NikkiRaylene37018 How did you get so wise?
@AeronFedelmid From you.
@N… I thought you were fer reel.
@Ae… No no no 🙁
I didn’t mean it
@N… never say never believe you “didn’t mean it” everything we say & do affects our pranic energy
@N… but i still feel that truth – that clean new might of an old soul
She had taken that surge, that dynamism to one million followers, with messages of health, harmony and goodness – written in the simplest of terms with lots of whitespace on pastel backgrounds.
Now she was tired. It takes a lot of work to post at least twice a day, never repeating (or at least not so anyone notices) and respond to a few hundred comments to keep her followers fresh.
She’d gotten a few offers for product placements in the ten of thousands of dollars. Try as she might she had never been able to make them fit. It felt dirty. She essentially had a full time job that paid nothing.
She lived with her mother in Beechgrove Tennessee and she wanted to go to college.
She had Freddie’s private IM number.
“I want to go to college. I want to be anonymous. I can’t go to the Seven-Eleven for a slurpee without girls videoing me and asking for selfies. No one pays me for selfies.”
Freddie wrote: “What would you do after you graduate? What do you want to do? Have you meditated?”
“Oh Freddie you know I can’t meditate.”
“I’m going to send you a round trip plane ticket. Can you get out of school?”
“For how long?”
“Ten days is the minimum, but let’s say a week – seven days.”
“Wow Freddie really? I can’t pay you back.”
“Let’s say I have the money. ‘If you believe, you will receive, whatever you ask for in prayer.’” (Matthew 21:22)
“Yes, I believe in that fer sure.”
“What’s your postal address?”
“I don’t know you.”
“You know me. Close your eyes and wait for the ‘ding’ of my next line.”
Nikki did as she was told.
“I hate meditating. I hate it I hate it hate it hate it.” she thought.
Behind her closed eyes lights came and went. She finally had a question to be answered that she felt she was too small to answer herself.
Nikki got off the plane. As everyone knew what she looked like, she did not expect Freddie or whoever Freddie sent, to be holding a cardboard sign with her name on it.
Freddie was a man! Aeron Fedelmid had always been coy as to gender. There was a subreddit arguing for one or another or none sexual orientation. It was part of Aeron’s mystery. He was old, maybe thirty! Yuk.
There were five or six young women with him.
Nikki got off the plane. Freddie was a woman! What a relief. Her friends had told her not to go. Too weird. Too dangerous. Too internet is a tragedy.
Her dress and demeanor were a combination of new age and business informal. She looked smart with only a single long necklace of prayer beads as an accessory.
“Welcome Nikki. I have plans for you.”
Nikki got off the plane, What was he/she? Nikki had read the reddit about Aeron and had learned the word ‘intersex’. Freddie had on pants, true, but they were linen and loose. Yoga pants.
Did Freddie have breasts? An Adam’s apple? Nikki didn’t want to seem rude. Even Freddie’s ‘Hi’ was not enough of either gender to decide.
“Let’s go. My car is just outside.”
Waiting in the car were two other girls? Women?
“Hi” “Hi” “Hi” “Hi”
“You’re going to have a special week.” said Freddie.
It was too weird. She texted a few followers privately and they all wrote: “Don’t go – internet tragedy awaits.”
So she avoided tragedy. She didn’t exactly get comedy either.
College was boring. She didn’t stand out in any way. Lots of girls were prettier and more popular.
Her first paper for English 101 started:
“I was an internet star. At first it was fun and then it sucked.”
Nikki got off the plane. She looked around but no one seemed to recognize her. She had no alternative. She waited.
After a couple of hours she IM’ed Freddie. No answer!
She was in Chicago with a return ticket in a week and she had twenty dollars.
Nikki was in her dorm room when the news came over the app.
Aeron Fedelmid, also discovered on the interwebs to be ‘Freddie Jade’, driver’s license Chris Hudings has committed suicide along with all the manor’s household. SWAT teams are going through the compound looking for survivors or hold outs with weapons.
As Nikki read more on the different news servers she realized some of dead girls and boys would have arrived right around when she would have gone. That is, if she hadn’t cashed in the plane tickets and kept the money
Nikki said goodbye to her mom.
“Are you sure dear?”
“Okay then, have a wonderful adventure….!” her mom’s enthusiasm seemed to follow a few seconds after her words.
Freddie had sent a handwritten note of twenty pages. She had praised Nikki to the skies, enclosed a picture of the house which was more like an estate where Nikki would be staying and some notes from other girls who had undergone Aeron’s Initiation to Feminine Power with their postal addresses and contact info.
Mom had googled every one.
Nikki looked at her ticket. Freddie! Aeron! Her vision blanked for a split second. Blink? She couldn’t do it. She turned around and called her mom. She hadn’t gone far.
Nikki was in line at security. She was pulled off for a random screening.
The woman agent with purple hair started going through Nikki’s bag.
“Aren’t you Nikki Raylene?”
Nikki had had this happen often enough that she knew she needed to be gracious, but she’d had it up to here.
“No I just look like her.”
“No you are.” The agent held up Nikki’s driver’s license.
“No, yeah, uh I get that a lot.”
“Are you hiding something?”
This was not exactly professional, but Sylvia hadn’t been on the job long and she’d already interviewed at NeetFreek at the local mall. She didn’t care.
“Hey don’t pick on me, I’m not…”
Sylvia held up a vial of marijuana.
Nikki blurted: “Medicinal is legal!”
Sylvia was looking at an uplevel. Even being a celebrity didn’t make weed legal at an airport. She pushed a button just under the end of the table.
“You’ll need to keep your voice down…”
By now Nikki was shaking her fists at Sylvia. Bad move.
The quiet squad of agents stood by surrounding her, not touching, not yet, waiting for their moment.
I was an internet star. At first it was fun and then it sucked. There is an internet tragedy here, but I’m not sure who the her/o/oine is. Maybe it is me.
Here’s a link to the New York Times article about me: link! The writer was really good and fair, I guess.
I was all upbeat and fizzy with the writer because I was still hoping my brand would get me enough money to go to college without taking out a loan. Ha ha. That worked out great. NOT.
You could say I am a published author without writing a single complete sentence. I’m fixing that now.
What the article didn’t include because it was a secret then is: I had help all along the time I was a star. You can google Aeron Fedelmid. I had Aeron’s secret IM channel. It was F****** J***.
FJ told me again and again I was special. I was a sophomore, junior and then senior in high school. I had never been kissed. FJ’s encouragement got me to 1 million followers, to where any boy would be happy to pretend to be my boyfriend, to thousands of selfies with girls (mostly) I didn’t know, to days when I couldn’t get out of bed. Luckily I could post from my bedroom, under the sheets with the light off.
That’s when I needed FJ most. And you know what? Screens just can’t do what people are meant to.
Nikki was sitting across from the writing tutor. Old enough to be her mom’s mom! Nikki looked up from her paper and asked: “How is it so far?”