The Sound of Trees

She strode slowly out of the clearing and into the crocodile

Photo by Federico Bottos on Unsplash

PROMPT: You're a ghost. No one can see you, hear you or interact with you at all, in any way, shape or form. One day, someone comes up to you and asks for directions.

You run out and say, “Oh, just run a bit more,” and then go back inside.

“So what do you do if you are a ghost?’

“I go up into the nearest trees. Don’t go back in the trees again, anyway, they have no legs. I sit in the highest of the trees, just to hold on to the branch as I think I’ll be able to get them up to the ground. They thrash around in the branches, don’t get up, keep thrashing around in the branches, and then suddenly get up again and start again. Sometimes they just stay put and shake themselves, but sometimes they pop out into the open and they quickly find a way of making themselves a living, breathing thing. I’ve heard a couple of people sing a little song about that, and it’s got some moving and squeaking in there. It’s a pity the creak is so hideous.”

Out in the field the old woman had started to sing a little song about a small dog, and the gypsy tunes swelled up in pitch, exploding into song as the vibrations danced across the earth.

“And then I think I’ll need a new pair of shoes,” she said.

“You certainly can’t help noticing that the vibrations are up there?”


“The vibrations are up there. That’s what I noticed. There’s that shabby feel of the work here on the ground. I suppose you need to have a new pair of shoes.”

She wrinkled up to look at him, and squinted apologetically into the distance.

“But I was hardly going to mention this,” she said, but then she suddenly remembered the thing that had caught her attention.

“She said her husband died in the helicopter,” she said.

“That’s what I said,” said Arthur. “I said that he died in the helicopter. I didn’t realise he was from another planet.”

“I didn’t mention that,” she said. “Now I definitely feel a bit awkward about it. But he was very upset that he couldn’t come up here for whatever reason. I think he was going to say that he was going to a party in town and I guess what. He also said that he didn’t want to be here for Thanksgiving dinner, but I guess what that means.”

“But you must admit he did turn out to be from another planet,” said Arthur. “You must admit he did turn out to be from another planet.

“I didn’t notice it. I was very busy.

“But I noticed it. And I know that you noticed it. So what was all that then?”

“Oh, simply to make life easy for a woman. I was very pleased that it was a man. I could see him peering out of the window as he had probably just done, and I noticed he had his arm around my waist. I shrugged. He was a man of unblemished reputation and I, as a girl, had no idea what I could detect.

“But I’m sorry,” said the old woman, and she strode slowly out of the clearing and into the crocodile.

Arthur had his arms around her again.

“You’re crazy,” he said.

“Oh sure,” said Nettie, “he was my son. I didn’t realize he was from another planet. And I’m sorry.”

“You’re OK.”

“I felt I ought to say that.”

“You’re OK. For me it’s, well, it’s perfect. I feel I’ve let you down. But you’re crazy. I told you.”

“It was great making love with you,” said Nettie.

“You’re crazy! What’s happened to you?”

“Don’t worry. He’ll be here when I get back.”

“But he’s not here. I’ve never seen him.”

“That’s what I meant.”

“I know. I’ll keep it under control. He must be staying on this planet too. He must be staying on this planet.”

“So what are you doing here?”

“I’m just one of Trillian’s Bots. There are three of them, three of them in the field, and I’m one of them. So what’s the point in being here? I mean, here’s another example of a perfectly logical idea: why do you suppose that I should be having a party? I could have a groan and a whimper and it wouldn’t matter so much. It’s brain-dead. It doesn’t matter much. It’s as if we never thought. Oh yes. It does. It’s exactly the sort of thing that the party would be interested in hearing”


Editor’s Notes

I only added line returns and formatted the quotation marks to be actual quotation marks for presentation, since it oddly gave me apostrophes and backticks in this generated content. No text content has been altered.

Prompt came from Reddit User:Tenanent

GPT-2 Settings

I used the GPT-2 “355M” model, finetuned on only Douglas Adams fiction text, which is why some Douglas Adams characters magically appeared. I do really enjoy the strangeness of Adams when matched with this model’s disjointedness, they are a good match in their weirdness.

  "model_name": "355M",
  "length": 1024,
  "temperature": 0.75,
  "top_k": 40,
  "top_p": 0.9,
  "nsamples": 10,
  "return_as_list": true,
  "prefix": " You're a ghost. No one can see you, hear you or interact with you at all, in any way, shape or form. One day, someone comes up to you and asks for directions.",
  "batch_size": 5