Author: Lindsay Thorimbert

She was perfect, even if she was so often indignant, given to suspicions and conspiracies. I couldn’t resist her, but I didn’t believe what she said. Not at first.

We met in a chat room, less than a year before the internet finally died. She said it was already gone, whether or not I could see it, that the traffic was all bots. She asked me byzantine riddles, made me repeat tongue twisters and demanded I set my camera at different angles, all to prove I wasn’t AI-generated. I was dazzled by her dark eyes. She remained skeptical as I grew infatuated.

She said she longed for an outdoor life though she spent every moment online. She gave me an address for after, and I wrote her when the servers finally went dark. She never answered. I travelled to Andalusia but found only crumbling whitewash at the address she gave.

I was angry at first, the idea she had strung me along, only to vanish. I grew obsessed, read book after book about the fall of the internet until I found one describing the hallmarks of deepfake video chat. A weariness crept into me as I read. The unusual cadence of her speech, her expressive eyes which I found so endearing, they were all listed.