The next day was the day of the competition. The Rising Star finals would take place in the evening, and the organisers had given them the entire day free to prepare themselves. But instead of working with Emma on her presentation, Rozena had her laptop open and was busy coding.

“What are you doing?” asked Emma, sitting on the arm of Rozena’s chair.

“This is the trojan virus SCRAM gave me,” Rozena explained as she scrolled through the lines of code. “I’m adapting it a little.”

“Looks like nonsense to me,” said Emma, peering at the screen. “What are you doing to it?”

“It’s quite simple,” said Rozena. “I’m changing it so that instead of it giving SCRAM access to Natasha’s computer, I’ll be the only one who can access her files.”

“Wow.” Emma sat back. “So, once you load this on Natasha’s machine …”

Rozena nodded as she typed. “Once I load this on Natasha’s tablet, I’ll be able to see everything there, but SCRAM won’t know a thing about it. I’ll be able to see her emails, Facebook, everything.”

“And then?” Emma got up to look at herself in the mirror.

Rozena sat back. “All those messages and things; there must be something to prove whether she knows what her father is up to. Whether she’s helping him. All that.”

“And how are you going to get the virus on her tablet?” said Emma. “You don’t have much time left.”

“I set that up already,” said Rozena. “I’m sending her an email with an attachment – an article about dogs. If she opens the attachment, the trojan will infect her computer, although she won’t know it.” Rozena pulled a wry face. “It still feels wrong, but I can’t think of anything better to do. I can’t just leave it. And this way, at least it’s only me that can look at her messages.”

“Hm.” Emma sat down on the bed again. “Shouldn’t you be getting ready for the competition tonight? It’s only a few more hours. I don’t know about you, but I’m getting nervous.”

“Just give me a few more minutes,” said Rozena.

It took more than a few minutes, but at last the new version of the trojan virus was ready, and Rozena sent the infected email to Natasha.

“Okay,” said Emma, who’d been getting more and more impatient. “We really have to start getting ready now. Melinda said we have to be ready at five so we’ll be on time getting to the auditorium.”

Rozena had a quick shower, then got dressed in the glittery black dress and neat black shoes that her mother had bought her for the occasion. Emma helped her with her hair, and watched critically as she applied her makeup.

“Let me do that,” she said at last and took the lipstick from Rozena’s fingers, and put it on for her.

By the time Rozena arrived at the auditorium her stomach was a knot of nerves. The organisers took all the competitors backstage, and started setting up everything they needed for their presentations.

“Hey!” Natasha said when she saw Rozena and Emma. “Aren’t you nervous? I feel like I’m going to die. No, actually, I feel like I’m going to throw up. Did you see the cameras?”

Rozena had seen the TV cameras, as well as the lights, microphones, and the first people who were crowding into the auditorium, talking and laughing. She also felt sick to the stomach. What if she forgot the words to her presentation? What if the sound effects that Emma was supposed to play, didn’t work?

“Hey, don’t look like that!” Natasha threw her arms around Rozena in a sudden hug. “You’ll be fine. You’ll do great! Don’t worry about it.” She gave Rozena a last squeeze and let go. “And thanks for that article you sent me. So cool. It helped me forget about being nervous for a while!”

Rozena caught Emma’s eye, and she had to turn away, sure that her face would reveal her thoughts. Natasha had opened the email she’d sent her, and by now, her computer must be infected with the trojan virus.

Then it was time. The first contestant was waiting behind the curtains, and the master of ceremonies was presenting his introduction. The curtains opened, and the competition began.

When it was her turn, Rozena felt as if she was floating. She couldn’t see the crowd because of the lights shining in her eyes, but she could hear them out there in the dark – hundreds of people watching her as she explained how her smartphone panic button application worked. She hardly knew what she was saying, and she was glad that she’d practised the presentation so many times.

Then it was over.

“Well done!” Melinda Gosling said, as Rozena stepped off the stage.


Tell us: This story partly shows how fake news is made and spread. Have you ever suspected something you saw is fake, or found out that it really is? What made you suspicious of it?