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Dreaming with GPT-2

November 8, 2019

This story is an exquisite corpse written in collaboration with OpenAI’s GPT-2 language model, accessed using Fabrice Bellard’s textsynth.org.


I had a dream last night. In the dream I saw a man come down a long hallway and stand at the very end. The man was my father. The man was my father. He stood there for a long time, not talking to anyone. The hallway opened into an auditorium with a crowd of dozens, maybe even hundreds, of people, but he just stood there and stared. I could make out a few words in his mouth. He was silently breathing out an expression I heard him say many times growing up.

“I will never be forgotten.”

His lips kept moving to these words, again and again. I remember how I felt in my dreams. Somehow, I knew that he was feeling the same way: that the moment he saw me, he would be gone. So he just stared into the crowd, his affirmation of “I will never be forgotten” becoming more and more rapid. The crowd became a haze of colors, some more saturated and clear than others. A moment later, my father turned into a pillar of pure-black void. I could make out only his lips moving to his new message. As the rest of his body dissolved, his lips announced

“I have been forgotten.”

My father was gone. I was still standing at the other end of the hallway, which now lead straight into the void, with the colored haze illuminating the perimeter. A moment later, the void became a vast, black sky. The hallway was gone, and I was on the roof of my childhood home. As I stood there, the black sky turned into a bright, glowing, purple sunset. The sunset gave way to a blue afternoon sky, which in turn became a golden dawn. I looked at all the colors in the sky: blue, orange, yellow, black, gold. Somehow, I saw my father in all of them. I felt his smile, his laugh, his smile with his laugh. I remembered how he took me onto the roof, making me promise not to tell my mother. I remembered how, for several weeks, I had been crying with tears of joy on my face. My mother was concerned, and kept asking me to explain what was going on, but I just said “I know” and turned away from her.

Then, the roof disappeared, along with the sky. I saw a rainbow, or rather, a multitude of them coming together and vanishing in a flash. I was temporarily blinded, but as my eyes adjusted to the brightness, I realized that I was in some kind of laboratory, with bright fluorescent lights everywhere. There was nobody else there, just the fluorescent lights, my father standing still, looking straight ahead, and the various rainbow colors flying all around. The rainbow colors were strange and otherworldly, but my eyes were fixed on the back of my father’s head.

“I’m coming with you” he said. He slowly turned to face me. He was smiling. I rushed towards him with my arms open, and he received me with a tight embrace. He was now a giant. And I: a giantess. The ground was now a vast desert littered with sandstone and limestone. But we crossed the desert in a few gigantic strides, and jumped over a mountain range, and finally reached the ocean. I had never seen my father smile so much as he did that day. We watched the light glisten on the water as the sun approached the horizon.

“It’s a long trip, but it’s worth it.” I said.

“Yes, I’m glad I was able to come with you this far,” he said. Then he turned to face me. “But I cannot return with you.”

“What? Are you crazy?” I exclaimed.

“I’m sorry, but it is the way of this world,” he said. “I cannot go back.”

His took one step into the water. There was no wind. There was no sound but the waves. And there I was. Watching my dad wade into the ocean.

“It’s not like this when we are together,” I said.

“No,” he said, “this is how it is now, and how it has always been.” My heart leapt, and my stomach knotted. I ran towards my father, but he pushed me away. “I must go now,” he said.

I was standing up to my ankles in water, but only my cheeks felt wet. I stared at his back, and my gaze landed directly on the back of my father.

“You will always be remembered!” I shouted. “You will always be loved.”

Rainbow lights swirled about the periphery of my vision as I watched my father proceed deeper into the ocean, then begin to swim. My stomach tightened. He became a point on the horizon, and finally, he was gone. I could only watch as he disappeared.