An Unspoiled Heart (GPT-3 fueled short)

My heart beats even louder than when I made the breakthrough that led me to this experiment, to being seated on a public bench on a tuesday afternoon with a wide view of the bustling, chaotic city, along with all its nonsense that I usually avoid as much as I can. There’s heavy traffic on the road, as this is one of the main streets, and plenty of people are walking to and fro, living their stupid lives that have little to do with science and advancing mankind. I power up my tablet, which I built myself from scratch, and I point its scanner towards one of the cars waiting for a traffic light to turn green.
I have a clear enough view of the vehicle for the scanner of my device to hit it properly, and when it hits, the car’s properties are listed on the screen of my device. The AI, which I trained myself, quickly translates the DNA-like properties into readable stuff. It lists the car’s body’s color in hexadecimals, that approach a pure red. Other properties reveal that the tires are worn down. There’s a link to the universe entry for its driver, but I’m not interested in the guy yet. On my tablet I edit the hexadecimals for the color and change it to blue. As soon as I save my modification, in the real world the color has instantly turned a lovely shade of blue. A couple of passerbies stop and stare at the car as if they believe they have suddenly lost their minds, or at least that the car has some modern means of changing the color of its body on the fly. No matter. The world’s inhabitants except for myself and a few deceased geniuses are all peasants. Their minds will adapt to the changing realities as if they were being dragged by a current.
The light turns green, and the modified car crosses the intersection. The driver hasn’t noticed anything. I quickly change the properties of two of its tires so they blow up in unison. The car screeches to a stop in the middle of the street, and the driver gets out of it and, confused, stares at his tires. I imagine he will notice the color change soon enough. Hopefully he’s a car freak, and I have just stolen a small thing from him: now one of his babies has been hexed, its properties changed by some unknown force. But nobody else in the history of mankind has found out what I painstakingly worked to discover: that the universe is built just like a video game. Maybe it is a video game, not that it would mean much to me given that I was born inside of it. Once you can read the properties of everything and you have developed the means to alter them, you are de facto the king of this world. Of the whole universe.
I get up from the bench and leave towards the park. The streets are mine. I take a deep breath and close my eyes, feeling the late afternoon sun on my face. When I open my eyes, my gaze falls on the large crowd gathered on the grass. Some have sat down in groups to eat, others are running around, some are walking their dogs.
I orient the scanner of my tablet towards a tall guy that is playing frisbee, and I read his properties. I change the colors of his clothing, as well as of his hair and of the frisbee he’s playing with. The guy’s skin turns white by itself as his pitiful brain struggles to integrate my interference. He looks down at his now purple t-shirt and the bright green frisbee, and he begins to yell with fear. The crowd turns towards him and his shrill screams, and soon everybody is gaping at the guy as he jumps up and down while pointing at his clothes and the frisbee. I can’t stop giggling, but I walk a bit further from the scene even though none of these idiots would ever realize I was involved.
I try out several more experiments. I turn a cyclist’s clothes into polka-dots, make a young woman’s dress flow like water, turn a kid’s balloon into a bewilderingly complex equation. The results are always the same: people’s reactions are stupefaction, fear, and panic. I’m having so much fun that I don’t take into account the time, and by the time I feel my phone buzzing in my pocket it’s too late: I’ve missed my train. That’s alright, though. The tablet that I have built from scratch should be able to help me in any situation.
I walk around for a bit until I find a luxurious-looking apartment building. I approach the main door and I scan it to reveal its properties. The lock’s mechanism should be easy to manipulate, and in a couple of seconds I open the door as if I owned the key. I saunter through the foyer when I notice that there’s a security guard up ahead.
“I don’t recall seeing you before,” the guy says. He must be wondering if someone gave me a key, or if I know any of the residents.
“You never had, no. But I will come and go from this place as much as I want from now on,” I say cheerfully.
As he, confused, gets up from his chair to walk towards me, I scan him to test if he’s as easy to manipulate as a lock. I try to alter his thoughts. There are entries for his relationships with other entities of this world, as well as the beliefs he holds regarding them. I find a recent entry for myself. I change his perception so that he sees me as a maintenance worker, there to fix some broken pipes in the apartment building. Someone he has met before.
“Alright, go ahead,” the guy says as he returns to his desk.
“Wait a second, did you forget I’m the maintenance worker?” I ask him.
“I… I suppose I did.”
“And you’re the security guard here?”
“Yes,” he replies, still confused.
I chuckle. I am able to change reality and the minds of people by writing in a device. That’s the kind of power I’m going to use in this world. Man, I’m glad I’m me.
I was kind of pressed on time as the gorilla approached me, and maintenance worker was the first thing that came to mind. I’ll change it some time later to him recognizing me as a long time resident. And I will proceed now to check out my new place. Giddy as a child about to receive a present, I walk up the stairs to the first floor. I don’t have any particular preference, so I move up to the first apartment door I come across and with my device I scan the door. Through its linked entities I check out the properties of what I will face beyond the door. I see five people and two cats, all milling about their living space. The door’s lock has some pretty complex properties in comparison with the entrance’s lock, but I easily manage to bypass it.
I open the door and enter the apartment. There are two people linked with the living room up ahead. Before I show myself as a stranger to them, I check out their properties, I add myself as a related entity, and I alter the beliefs of those two people to recognize me as the new owner of their apartment.
It’s a couple in their forties. When they notice me they look distraught, as if they had been caught doing something bad, or failed to do something important.
“What are you still doing here?” I ask them.
“We… We…” the man stammers. He looks dazed.
“You already knew I was going to move in, right?”
As he struggles to put his thoughts together, I quickly check the couple’s properties. I add in that they have had a few conversations with me before, in which they had informed me that they were moving out. I wonder how they are going to react, given that I haven’t added any entry about whatever place they could move into.
“You are moving in already?” the woman asks, horrified. “We were supposed to have more time!”
I don’t appreciate her tone, so I immediately alter their beliefs again.
“You packed up some belongings yesterday and sold this apartment to me for a low price,” I tell them. “You were very happy with the quick hassle-free sale.”
This time they look much more relieved at this information.
“Just out of curiosity,” I ask, “were are you moving to?”
“Oh, that house we just bought in the countryside,” the woman answers with a smile. “We’ll have our own garden and enough space for animals.”
“That’s wonderful,” I reply with a nod.
Interesting. Did her brain rush in to fill the holes with some delusion?
“Well, give me a tour of the place, will you?” I ask. “I want to check out the rooms.”
The couple looks at each other.
“He’s the owner now,” the woman says to him. “What could it hurt?”
“If he wants a tour, we might as well give him one,” the man answers.
“Oh, good,” she says with a smile. “Follow me, sir.”
The woman stands up and walks away, the man following her. The two of them show me around their apartment. I look at the rooms with a critical eye, realizing just how much I can change. The closets are packed full of clothes, and the kitchen has a lot of food stocked inside it. Apparently all the furniture came with the changes I made.
In one of the bedrooms are the couple’s three kids, a guy in his early twenties and a couple of teenagers, one a maybe fourteen years old male and the other a maybe seventeen years old female. Two cats are lazing around on the bed. The three kids are playing some game on a console.
“What’s up?” I ask. “What are you playing?”
“It’s a game with cubes,” the teenage boy answers. “You build towers and bridges and fight off enemies.”
“It’s a dumb kids game,” the girl laughs.
“Alright. Do you know who I am?” I ask.
The fourteen year old kid looks me over, then glances at his parents.
“The landlord?”
I am quick to edit this one kid’s properties on my tablet.
“I’m your new dad.”
The boy’s eyes widen as his mouth drops open. The three kids all react with different levels of surprise and intrigue as I sit down on the ground with them. I have erased even the entries for his parents on this fourteen years old’s properties.
“What is he talking about, Matty?” the girl asks.
“I don’t know,” Matty answers as he massages his temple. “But he’s my dad now.”
The two cats stretch and get off the bed, one of them walking over to me. I reach out and pet it as I look at the kids. I can already tell this is going to be fun.
The girl teenager as well as the young adult stand up and address their actual parents.
“What the hell is going on? Who is this guy?” the girl asks. “This is a joke, right?”
“He’s our new dad,” Matty answers happily. “Right, dad?”
“That’s right, kid,” I answer.
I’m quick to add to their parents the belief that they willingly sold all three of their children to me.
“You didn’t even bother explaining to your kids that you had sold them to me?” I ask the couple as I look over my shoulder. “You are as irresponsible as they come, huh?”
“I wanted to explain, but you didn’t even let me get a word in edgeways!” the mother complains. “Besides, I’m pretty sure they got the idea as soon as you walked in.”
“What!?” the teenage girl screams.
“What the hell is this? If this is a joke, it’s a nasty one, mom!” the young adult says with a shaky voice.
The mother stutters.
“You know how your father lost his job last month? Well, things have been really hard for us… We had to choose between food or the mortgage…”
That’s some interesting improv, I think. I check her updated beliefs on the tablet. She already had an entry for her husband losing her job, and I guess her brain put two and two together.
“So you decided to sell us off as slaves?” the daughter screams.
“Slaves is a harsh word,” I interject. “Your routine won’t change much, it’s just that I’ll be the one in charge now.”
Both the girl and the young adult, who I guess is a bit more infantile than his age would suggest, start crying. The girl also hugs the teenage boy, who looks unfazed about this whole thing.
They’re trying my patience.
“Listen, I’ll let you play games all day if you want. You won’t even have to go to school, okay? So don’t start crying.”
“Yeah!” the teenage boy smiles.
“How are you so happy about this?” the girl says in a mixture of anger and sadness.
“It’s a lot to take in, but you’ll like it,” I say, then hold the girl’s gaze sternly. “However, as the new order of things, you need to establish to your former parents how much you hate how they have wronged you.”
“What?” the young adult asks with a trembling voice. “What are you asking her to do, exactly?”
I go over her properties on the tablet. There’s a whole group of entries for her emotional state. I pump up her rage.
“You hate what they did to you,” I say to the teen. “So vent your anger.”
The teen looks at her father, then jumps to her feet, launches herself at the man and hits him on the chest with all her strength. The two cats run over themselves to escape the bedroom.
“You’re a monster!” the teenage girl screams as she hits her dad again and again. Although her older brother tries to hold her back, she breaks free and continues hitting her father. The mother, who had been wasting time screaming in terror, moves forward to intercede, but I scan her properties and increase the woman’s weight by ten times. Her legs buckle under her, and she struggles on the floor as if a wall had fallen over her. The woman can only weep as she watches her daughter beat her husband to a pulp. The teenage boy is too scared and weak to help, but then again his former parents are now strangers to him.
The girl’s older brother picks her up while she cries and screams incoherently, and he drags her away from their unconscious former father. With his free hand he takes out a phone from one of his pockets.
“What are you doing?” I ask.
“I’m calling the police. You can’t get away with this.”
I change the young man’s properties to include an unwavering loyalty towards me, then change his opinion on calling the police to a very negative one. With a trembling hand, he returns his phone to the pocket.
“I… I don’t know what I was thinking,” he says, frightened.
The teenage girl is panting and crying, but she alternates between looking at me and my tablet as if she’s figured out something is wrong.
“What did you do to my brother?” the sister asks.
“He’s fine. I just made him a little more obedient. He’s your obedient servant if you want him to be. Now, you were beating your dad pretty badly. Shouldn’t I punish you for doing something nasty?”
“I… I don’t understand.”
“What’s not to understand?” I say. “You hate me because I changed your parents, your weakling of a little brother, as well as yourself. You beat up your dad because of it, which resulted in him being hurt pretty badly. You’re going to be punished for what you did. Or you can join me and become a goddess among insects.”
“I… I don’t want to be a monster,” the girl says, crying harder.
Her properties reveal that the previous rage has subsided naturally. Her former father isn’t moving, and blood keeps pouring from his ears. The mother cries while struggling on the ground like a beached whale.
For a new trick, I test whether I can paste the properties I had saved on the device into a present object. I scan a book they left on a table, then I paste the properties of a shotgun. As soon as I save my changes, the shotgun appears with the same small imperfections as those of the shotgun I originally copied.
“Look at that, how nice,” I say, then look at the teenage girl. “Go ahead and grab it.”
The teenage girl grabs the weapon before she even bothers to think about it. It’s heavy, but she holds it up.
“Do you know how to work it?” I ask.
“My dad’s a hunter,” the girl says, then glances at her unconscious, possibly already dead father. “I can work it.”
“Good, because you’re going to be hunting your family now. Go ahead and shoot your mother in the head.”
“What?”
“She’s a monster now. Go ahead and shoot her in the head.”
“I… can’t,” the girl says.
“There are two ways this can go, and only one of them has you walking out of here,” I say. “Either you prove you’re a bad enough girl to follow my orders, or you’re not, and you get killed. What’s your name, anyway?”
“Jane,” the girl answers with a raspy voice.
“Old fashioned, but it will do. Nice meeting you, Jane. Now shoot your stupid mother in the head.”
She looks at me, then lowers the shotgun. “I can’t.”
I’m about to browse her properties when I stop myself. Why am I hesitating? I’m surprised to realize that I don’t want to modify her. She is holding a device of destruction that could end me in a moment, as well as everything I have worked towards, and yet I want this wild-eyed teenage girl to make the choice.
“One… two…”
I begin counting as I read in her properties that she’s quickly working herself up to the task. When I get to five she aims the shotgun at her mother’s head and shoots her. I got a glimpse of the horror in the woman’s face, before her skull explodes into a bloody mess that even dirties my pants.
“Good,” I say. “That wasn’t so hard, was it?”
“No… sir.”
“Sir? Oh, you’re trying to be polite? That is cute. You can drop the politeness now, Jane. You know, I didn’t have to convince you properly to execute your own mother. Is it because they sold you guys into slavery?”
“Yes,” Jane says.
“You are something else, huh? Why don’t you make sure that the traitor you had as a former dad is properly dead from the vicious beating you gave him?”
“Yes, sir,” Jane says.
I watch as she stomps on her father’s head until his skull shatters. I think that if he hadn’t been dead from the beating before, he probably is now.
“Good. You hungry?” I ask. “Let’s order some pizza or something.”
The young adult, now loyal as a zombie, is staring blankly at the remains of his parents, while the teenage boy, who knows me to be his dad, is however cowering against a corner, I guess because of the murders. I kick the teenage boy, knocking him off his spot.
“You. Did I catch your name?”
“M-M-Matty,” he says with a thin voice.
“Hello, Matty. Now, you’re probably scared because not only are you in the presence of a genius, but also of a killer.”
“Y-Yes.”
I sigh, then turn to my favorite daughter.
“What do you think about this cowardly little brother of yours, Jane?”
“He annoys me,” Jane replies.
“Has he always annoyed you, or is this a new development?”
“I’ve always found him annoying.”
She moves forward, then raises her bloodied foot as if she’s about to crush her little brother’s skull as well. As the teenage boy screams, I grab the girl and drag her away.
“Did I suggest you to murder your little brother? You have issues!” I shout.
“You did not,” Jane says, frowning as holds my gaze.
“Right. You’re not eating or sleeping or anything until you apologize to your brother.”
The girl stares at her brother awkwardly, before speaking.
“I’m… sorry, Matt.”
I rub my hands while grinning. Oh, this is going to be fun indeed. The boy is probably going to wet himself out of fear. I kneel next to him and bonk him in the head.
“So, Matty. Do you have a girlfriend?” I ask.
“N-no.”
“Ah. Shame. You’re a good looking kid, you could easily get one. Anyway, I’m a bit tired already, not to mention hungry! You, the oldest, pass me your phone. I need to look up some pizza place.”
The young adult reaches into his pocket, then silently hands me his phone. As I begin to browse the internet for some nearby pizza place, Jane walks up to me.
“Can we get something else? I can’t stand pizza.”
I frown at her.
“Pizza is an art form.”
“Can we get Chinese instead?”
“Listen, I’ll order pizza. If you don’t want any, there’s plenty of food in the fridge. Now, sit down over there and don’t move,” I say.
Jane walks away angrily, scowling as she sits next to her little brother, who is still shaking in fear. At last I find a place that delivers, and call them up. I order a large pepperoni pizza along with sodas.
“Alright, a large with pepperoni, and soda for four. Do any of you want anything else?”
“Can you get chicken nuggets?” Matt asks in a small, quiet voice.
“Chocolate chip pancakes,” Jane asks.
“Meatballs,” the young adult says.
“A bunch of goofballs is what you are.”
I shake my head. I do order some chicken nuggets, though.
A bit later I check out the properties of the two corpses belonging to these kid’s parents, and I erase them. They simply disappear. Curiously, their spilled blood transformed into different entities, but I erase those as well. Later on, me and my new kids gather in the living room. The order comes in fifteen minutes. I watch as the kids dig in, happily eating away. Jane has gotten over her dislike of pizza, which couldn’t have been that strong. The two cats keep walking around with their ears perked up, only to stop at times and stare intently at me with curiosity and confusion. One of them ends up enjoying some pepperoni.
Once I’ve gotten my fill, as I watch the kids I toy with my tablet just in case I come up with something interesting to do. But the sun has already set. How will I handle these kids after they finish their dinner?
“So, kids…”
“…Yes?” Matt asks.
“I need to think of something fun for you guys to do… Any requests?”
“PlayStation.”
“Nah, I’m not really into video games,” I say. “They are for the puny who can’t make their own video games out of real life.”
Matt goes quiet. For about half an hour or so I make small talk, mostly with Janey, but even I yawn a couple of times.
“Can we just go to bed?” Matt asks.
“Yeah, I’m exhausted,” Jane says.
I stand up.
“Alright then. Let’s get going.”
We all head out of the living room. It seems that the room where the kids had been playing on the console before is Matty’s. We leave the fourteen years old there. The young adult, whatever his name is, disappears into another room. Jane leads me to her own room, and then she quickly flops under her blue bed covers.
“Goodnight, sir,” she says.
Standing there, looking down at this savage creature, an alien tenderness bursts in my heart. She’s unlike all those others, isn’t she? That faceless throng of noise and stink that fills the streets. Something pure has survived in this teenager. A little miracle.
I stroke gently her soft hair.
“You are a good girl, Janey,” I whisper. “I look forward to being your daddy. I will show you many curious and magical things.”
She closes her eyes, and in the darkened room I see her face relax.
Although I retreat to the doorway, I am not eager to tear myself away from the pleasant view. For many years I have lived and worked in that shacky garage, unbecoming of someone like me. None of those empty-headed academicians considered my research viable. A madman, they even called me. I was always aiming at a target that none of them could see. I could have given up entirely. I did give up on most of my previous hopes and motivations, except for anger and resentment. Those kept me afloat. But this warmth in my heart is a new phenomenon that I’m eager to explore. Life is full of surprises, and some are even pleasant. I smile at last and turn to let Jane sleep, closing the door behind me.

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