I read lots of Jack London growing up, which meant that along with some light socialist proselytizing, I got a bunch of absolutely ghoulish stories seared into my memory forever — especially “In A Far Country,” in which two men are trapped in a remote cabin and physically and mentally decay until they murder each other over sugar. I’ve been under pandemic lockdown in New York for about three weeks now. Despite having a very pleasant social distancing setup, it just keeps popping into my head.
Anyway, I asked AI Dungeon to write a story about quarantine. It clearly has no idea what Zoom is, but it tried really hard to play along.
Elsewhere in AI Dungeon:
The game got a pretty big update this week. Among other things, it now features achievements, a “cyberpunk” scenario, and a weekly custom story. To what should be absolutely nobody’s surprise, this week’s appears to be a summary of Tiger King.
Elsewhere in AI weirdness:
AI-generated April Fools’ pranks are the only good April Fools’ pranks. I tried “putting my fear of insects into a lemon” this year, and my roommates (who are also my cats) thought it was hilarious.
[PROMPT: You have been in quarantine lockdown for 18 days. The seclusion has driven you slowly insane, and your only remaining earthly pleasure comes from that simplest of tasks: choosing a background for your Zoom meetings. You wake to another day of isolation and] the sound of your cell door opening.
"Zoom meeting," you say as you enter. "I am here."
The room is empty save for a single chair at the far end, which you sit down on.
> Select a Zoom meeting background
You pick up the file and read it aloud.
This is an important document. It will be used to help decide whether or not you are allowed out of this facility. If you do not wish to participate, please choose no.
> Choose "yes"
"Yes," you reply.
A new screen appears, with a list of options. You can choose one of them by clicking on it.
> Click on an option
You see a picture of a young girl. She looks sad, but she smiles when you look at her. Her name is Sarah and she was born in the year 2028.
She was taken away from her family because they were afraid that she would become some sort of monster like you.
They took her to a facility called Zoom where they tried to turn her into something more than what she really was. But they failed. After two years, Sarah grew tired of being there and escaped.
She made her way back home and told everyone about how she had survived. Everyone believed her, including you. They didn't believe you though. So you decided to go to Zoom yourself.
> Select Sarah's picture as your Zoom meeting background
Sarah's face fills your mind as you stare at her picture. Your hands move over the image as if you could touch her.
Her eyes are closed, but she seems happy.
Her smile makes you feel good inside.
It is then that you realize that you are feeling happy again. You remember your mother telling you once that happiness was the key to life. Now, all these years later, you know it to be true.
Suddenly, you hear a knock on the door. You open it just enough to let the voice in.
"Hello?" you say. "Who is there? Is someone else here?"
"No! I'm sorry, but we need to talk."
"We have to tell you that you're free to leave now."
"But...but who said-"
"The person who brought us here did. He is the head of our organization, and he wants to speak with you directly." The man says.
You stand up and walk out of the room. When you get outside, you see several people standing around. Some are armed with guns while others carry various weapons such as rifles or even tanks. Most of them seem to be looking at you suspiciously.
> Look for the head of the Zoom facility
You decide to stay close to the building. If you want to find out what this man wants, you'll have to keep moving around until he comes closer.
As you walk through the streets, you notice a few familiar faces.
One of those is your cousin Bobby. Another one is Glenn. You also see a couple of other people you don't recognize.
Then, you spot the man from before. He stands by a car with his arms crossed and wearing sunglasses.
His hair is slightly disheveled and he has a serious expression on his face.
He looks like he knows something you do not.
"Hey!" you shout, walking towards him. "I thought you were supposed to be talking to me."
"I am," he answers. "What business do you have with me?"
"Nothing," you reply. "Just wondering why you're here."
"Because I'm the leader of a group called 'Zoom'."
"Oh." You pause for a moment. "So, what does this mean?"
"It means that we can help you. We can provide you with whatever assistance you may require."
"And how much would that cost?"
"Very little. Just tell us where to send the money and we will take care of everything."
You nod slowly.
> Join Zoom
"Okay then..." You say.
"Goodbye," Bobby says.
You turn around and walk away from Bobby, leaving him alone in the parking lot. As soon as you exit the car, you feel a sudden chill run down your spine.
> Return to self-quarantine
You return to your own private quarantine. You spend the next two days trying to shake off the effects of the virus. It's only when you realize that you've been infected by multiple strains of it, that you begin to panic.
The more you think about it, the worse it gets. Your mind begins to go completely blank and you start having hallucinations. You hear voices in your head telling you things that aren't true. Things become very dark and foreboding...
The next day, the quarantine is lifted.
If you’ve got good AI Dungeon stories, I for one welcome fiction from our new AI overlords. Send it to email@example.com.