Apocalypse Sensei

You’re scared not so much that you think the end of the world is coming, but what happens when it comes?

Photo by Thibault Penin on Unsplash

As the old man, he did his best to remain calm, but the wind blows, no doubt, and his muscles trembled. The warm light slanted in, and he glanced around, fearful to see that the room was empty.

The old man—the still-unmade hat was the exact same—said nothing. The air felt stagnant, as if divided into several distinct layers. Not that this place had the air of a well-watered house, and the columns of dust from windy summer rain seemed to hover in the air. He might have been a well-disposed collector—someone who would take the air in a cellar or in a filing cabinet. The well-dressed furniture and paintings were, in comparison, filthy. A huge stack of television sets and books, litter of the kitchen-cupboard, and the shelves of long-defunct television, lay scattered in all directions—stuffed to the point where the eye could hardly find any room to sit. A small table in the center had been pulled off the floor, and the remains of a chair were covered with scrapings and tape. The old man’s boots were stained with something like green tea tea—the same tea that had spilled on the floor the night before. The old man pulled the window shut, cut the curtain of the dark room to clear a little cone of light, shutting off the outside world. For a time, the old man seemed to be pondering something.

He seemed to be lost in thought, perhaps even lost in his own thoughts. He appeared to have lost the power to speak. At length, he said, with a strange twist of the lips:

“Don’t worry. I’ll manage.”

He couldn’t possibly grab my arm. And then instead of pushing, he tapped my wrist once. The pressure was so far away I couldn’t feel anything.

“I don’t understand. We were friends, wasn’t we?”

“That’s right.”

“You can’t be afraid here, I suppose?”

I shook my head. “Afraid that…I don’t know.”

“I wonder why not?”

I shook my head. “I don’t really know,” I said. “It’s not that kind of a thing, I think. It took some time for things to work out.”

“Did the experiment hurt you?”

I shook my head and tried to put on my glasses. “Nothing to speak of. It’s just that I was scared. As I told you, maybe it was kind of a bad omen.”

“I wish it had been a good, clear test. Now if you could, it could have been a good one, for it’s probably the most important thing anybody’s going to say in this new world, as it seems to us. So I’m pretty sure that you just did things to shock us, deliberately and deliberately enough. You would have told us a little while ago—if anything would have been of any avail—that these were things, that we hadn’t got around to thinking about them, that someday we’d have to go a bit further, that…”

I got up from the sofa and leaned on the windowsill. He was standing there staring, out at the world. It was a perfect place, completely silent and cold, a good place to be alone.

You’re scared not so much that you think the end of the world is coming, but what happens when it comes? That’s what he wanted me to stress. But that’s just what I saw. Something like a fish swimming upstream next to the shore that night, just like when I’d been lost in the currents in the darkness of the ocean, unable to see the direction of the waves. And somehow I managed to cling to the shadows and reach out, trusting in them.

I don’t know, maybe he actually did see me as he was. I don’t remember. I was on my way to my usual place.


Editor’s Notes

Written by AI, generated as a sample during around step 404,000 on run 2 of training my general fiction model by fine-tuning gpt-2 774M.


I removed the first word, as it was an unrelated orphan to the story. I removed a paragraph in the middle that sounded pretty inappropriate. I removed the last two words, also orphaned after the last sentence ended.


Title derived from generated content

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