On overstepping the modesty of nature
Unsurprisingly, Bob thought himself the best actor in the world. Surprisingly, he was. Yet the ever-growing twistedness of Hollywood contracts and a particularly devious Hollywood Valley executive — and what a high bar that was — forced him to spend his days in front of cameras not making movies but transferring whatever new nuance his endlessly inventive craft could come up with to vampire-like neural networks that would later possess the studio's technologically beautiful and strategically diverse army of virtuals.
It was a well-paid life, and it was hell, and Bob dreamed awake during insomniac nights too bitter for drugs or company of killing the executive he blamed for it, not that he thought he had the skill for it — and he wanted revenge, not to exchange the metaphorical prison of his life for a literal one.
But you don't become the best actor in the world without having lived an interesting and not always accurately chronicled life, and Bob had, very much back before the day, known the best assassin in the world.
A few discrete inquiries were made. The man, already middle-aged when Bob had been a young man not expecting to live much longer, had died a few years ago after five years of convalescence with nothing to do but spend his large savings on attractive nurses and programmers no more ethically fastidious than average for that crowd.
Bob was given the expensive address of a terrifyingly laconic bot that made many, many questions and then provided a bulletproof assassination plan.
The experience, Bob thought, was an eye-opener. He had been tricked, yes, and was being, in ways more spiritual than humanitarian, exploited, but he was also contributing to something larger than himself, an store of knowledge and skill that would one day surpass him not in profitability — that had long been the case — but in the art. The bot had already been enhanced with information and concepts the dead assassin had never had, and one day murders would be committed that no man could have dreamed of.
One day, Bob realized, there would be acting fit for the envious applause of God. His hell was worth it.
He still killed the executive, of course.