We’re Fucked, Pt. 98 (Fiction)

I’m drifting back toward lucidity. I avoid meeting my gaze in the rain-slicked windowpane as I blink away the residual stardust. My brain registers again the noxious reek that’s invading my nostrils, that must have coated my clothes and hair and skin: mouldering corpses mixed with sewage festering in a latrine pit. The lump in my throat subsides enough for me to speak, though my voice is shaky and broken.

“Perhaps the nurses that assisted in my birth made a mistake. They didn’t prepare the umbilical cord right before cutting me away from my mother.”

“I can barely hear you,” the blob complains impatiently. “Unless you’re mumbling to yourself, speak towards your audience.”

I grit my teeth. After I wipe a couple of tears with the back of my hand, I swivel around in Jacqueline’s chair.

The wall-wide bulk of jellified, tar-black flesh looms at the opposite end of the office, looking like it crawled out of a swamp. The skewed reflections of the fluorescent light fixtures seem tattooed on the blob’s dozens of polished eyeballs.

I take a deep breath, and feel the stench of decay fill my lungs.

“I was thinking of everything that has gone wrong with me.”

“Don’t you do that often enough?”

“Most of the time; my brain makes sure of that. Close to my birth, still a drooling infant, I devolved into a trash heap of toxic waste, a vessel for desire and obsession, driven by uncontrollable impulses. When I could walk and talk and go to the toilet by myself, I became an unkempt houseplant withering in a corner. Anxiety consumed my insides like bowel cancer, and I wondered from where all my shit-ridden thoughts were emanating. As my tits developed, I had been living for years in a glass prison. A void within me, a gaping abyss that had never known warmth, swallowed everything good about life, leaving in its place a desolate, desecrated ruin. I had no clue how I was going to survive in this society. Should I have joined a war to fight for some obscure tribe or king? That would have been easier than attempting to endure broken-hearted in a world full of savages. I knew that no matter how much time passed, nothing would improve my life, and every night, when I lay down to sleep, I dreaded the incoming sequence of nightmares that would entrap me naked in a maze of tunnels infested with well-hung monsters, who salivated as they pawed at their genitals.”

A wave of nausea sweeps through me as if I were puking up my guts in slo-mo. I hunch over, resting my elbow on my knee. I wipe away the slime seeping from my forehead. I’m boiling with the self-loathing that gurgles in my stomach, and my mouth has become a well of vitriol ready to spill out with each ragged breath.

“The shrinks kept me blabbing to pocket my money,” I continue in a choked voice, “so I started my own therapy through masturbation. If I couldn’t love another human being, at least I would become a machine of self-diddling. I have spent hours upon hours of my spare time, and of any time I could steal from work, rubbing my clit or shoving into my depths rubbery contraptions that I found in alleyways or dumpsters, soaking my bedsheets and the chair cushions in a flood of warm secretions, because those few seconds of bliss numbed my heartache, and gifted me a break from the onslaught of intrusive thoughts and flashbacks with which my brain terrorizes me. I burn with an unquenchable thirst for sexual debauchery and depravity, no matter how perverse. Sex is my religion, masturbation is my ritual, and I’m the high priestess of this cult. My record is fifteen orgasms in one day, although I suspect that some adventurous women out there would ridicule my achievement. Anyway, at times I suspected that alien parasites had hijacked my cerebrum, brainstem and cerebellum to feed off the dopamine secreted during my bouts of auto-arousal. I wished I were strong enough to claw my face open so I could unspool the parasites and liberate my mind. After all, as soon as the itch in my vagina subsided, my depression grew again. I was regularly kidnapped away to flashbacks in which my kid self cowered in a corner, hugging her knees, sobbing, while monsters crept closer. Their hooves clopped on the floorboards. I felt the heat radiating off their hideous flesh. When I blinked back to reality, I found myself as a miserable aging woman detached from anything and anyone, a walking reservoir of self-hate that over the years had bubbled up into a tide of tar eager to consume the world. Most days, instead of facing more anguish, I would have rather entered the cosmic urinal through self-deconstruction, if you get my drift. Hell, I should have spontaneously combusted from self-loathing alone. We’re all going to disappear anyway, right? If not by our own hands, then by a pandemic, a nuclear war, a zombie apocalypse, supervolcanoes erupting, meteors plummeting out of the heavens… So we may as well hurry up and plunge into oblivion, let the abyss squeeze us dry of life’s little droplets until everything turns to dust. Many nights, as I lay face up, I gave my heart permission to shut down in my sleep, to spare me the torment. How could I make plans or care for my hereafter when I resented that I was born? But one day, a woman’s voice called to me from behind the mist on the horizon: ‘It doesn’t matter how old you are, how fucked up your life may be. I will take away your loneliness. I will save you from drowning.’ One organism had dared to reach out and touch my begrimed soul. Jacqueline,” I say, my voice cracking as I speak mommy’s holy name. “She ran through me like a full-bodied orgasm from all the ends of the universe. However, even mommy with her boundless love can’t glue together a broken vase that’s missing half of its pieces, so apart from those times when I find solace in Jacqueline’s ample bosom, I remain a wreck, an insufferable mess with no sense of direction, dignity, or decorum. I crave being ravaged; I yearn for little else than to be devoured, bones and all, by someone I could adore.”

The office falls silent, save for the rhythmic drumming of rain against the windowpanes. Using the back of my shirtsleeve, I wipe away a few tears trailing down my cheeks and a glob of snot clinging to my upper lip. The blob’s psychotropic gas keeps assaulting me. I thought he was allowing my words to sink into his slimy bulk, but when he speaks, his voice oozes with contempt.

“Is that all?”

I open my mouth, eager to deliver the coup de grâce, but I end up sputtering inarticulate mumbles instead.

“I… suppose so. It seems I have run dry of words.” I rub my throat. “I’ve gotten hoarse, too.”

“Get over yourself, you neurotic coward, you irresponsible cretin, you mental cripple who spends company money staring at horse penises!”

“I-I was only curious about how long they get.”

“I need a serious shower after listening to you moan like an aborted foal.”

I cross my arms.

“You do need a shower, although you’ll end up as a pile of eyeballs blocking the drain. Maybe you’re just a revolting monster incapable of understanding human suffering.”

“You’re too much of an asshole for me to feel sorry. My life was also riddled with setbacks and calamities, but look at me now!”

“You should have used ‘and,’ not ‘but.'”

A guttural chuckle reverberates from deep within the blob, sending ripples of tar-black slime across its mass.

“You think I haven’t caught up to your shtick?”

I suppress a shiver.

“Don’t know what you’re talking about, bro.”

“You navigate the world by arousing pity in the idiots that fall for your act. That’s what worked with Jacqueline, wasn’t it? That’s what gets you laid and keeps you from killing yourself.”

A flash of rage ignites inside me. I leap from the chair, then I jab my trembling finger at the blob as I offer him the most feral look I can muster.

“Hey, don’t involve mommy in this fight, you globulous gasbag!”

The blob snorts.

“You’re mad because the snot-slicked lump of gunk is right. Until that big-breasted floozy arrived in your life and turned you into her sex puppet, you were wasting away as a resentful sack of depression.”

“It’s none of your business how I wasted my life!”

The myriad of glistening eyeballs glare back at me as I grit my teeth and my eyebrows twitch.

“Alright,” the blob says, his voice laced with scorn, “we’re done with this farce of a therapy session. I won’t let you keep ignoring our problems any longer.”

Author’s note: today’s songs are “The View” by Modest Mouse, “Liar” by Built to Spill, “Birds Encouraged Him” by Jason Lytle, and “Carry the Zero” by Built to Spill.

I keep a playlist with all the songs mentioned throughout this novel. A hundred and fifty songs so far. Check them out.

Wouldn’t you love to listen to Leire whine, thanks to sophisticated AI voices? Check out the audiochapter.

Interdimensional Prophets – Deckbuilder (Game Dev) #1

A couple of weeks ago I kept myself busy programming an exploration game based on an old free verse poem of mine. I had developed the core of the game, the encounter system, when it became obvious that for the game to feel remotely compelling (even for myself), I’d have to manually develop dozens or hundreds of encounters. The game as it was conceived couldn’t continue past that point, so I thought about what I liked the most about that concept:

  • A team of players cooperating to solve some issue.
  • Each player having special abilities.
  • Gaining resources, abilities, etc, for one of the players at a time.
  • Exploring strange places.
  • Encountering weird shit.
  • Events that could alter how some encounters play out.
  • Gaining injuries, diseases, etc.
  • Gaining mental afflictions.
  • Being able to regroup at the hub and determine the resources that would be used for the next exploration.

Damn it if that isn’t a deckbuilding game. Not surprising, given that one of my favorite games ever is Arkham Horror LCG, a card game in which a team of at the most four players, each with his or her deck, uses the resources and abilities contained in that deck to solve perilous situations and beat weird monsters. It also features a location system that forces the team to move around, although that’s probably my least favorite part of the game.

So I thought, why can’t I program a deckbuilding game?

First of all, I need a fast system to produce cards. I had looked up programs to create cards in the past, and I was extremely disappointed due to how obscure their usages were. So I would need to develop one such program myself, tailored to the needs of my game.

So that’s what I’ve begun to do thanks to the insane Python skillz of ChatGPT. Behold the repository with the current version of my card generator:

Link to the GitHub repository for the card generator program

The first notion I had of such a program is that it should be able to take a background image, a card image, a frame image, and the necessary text, and generate a standard-sized card immediately. And so it does:

Yes, the cards even have rounded corners. Isn’t that fucking cool?

I have become emboldened by the fact that I could get this far in a few hours. So to come up with ideas I have relied on the current king of mini-AGIs (artificial general intelligences), that for me is godmode.space (requires a plus subscription to OpenAI and an API key; I had to wait for mine). Such AGIs are able to make plans, determine what tasks to perform, and criticize their own performance, in the pursuit of fulfilling some goals you’ve told it to focus on. As I’m writing this, GPT-4 is running in the background, coming up with game ideas and mechanics for the notions I fed it. For example, these are some of the texts that GPT-4 has written:

  • An Afflictions deck will be created, which will add an element of chance and difficulty to the game. The deck will consist of afflictions such as injuries, diseases, and mental statuses that will be detrimental to the player when drawn. The severity of each affliction will be determined, and a variety of afflictions will be included to ensure that the deck does not become predictable.
  • Illusion: A card type that represents deceptive, disorienting elements a player might encounter on specific biomes. These cards could have effects that remove enemy cards from the encounter deck or switch the order of Biome cards in the Biome deck.
  • A card drafting system will be developed to allow players to choose which cards to add to their deck when trading resources. The system will allow players to have more agency and control over their deck, and add another layer of strategic thinking to the gameplay. The rules for the drafting system will be determined, such as how many cards are presented to the player, and how many of those cards can be added to their deck. The card drafting system will be tested to ensure that it provides an engaging level of strategy without compromising the overall gameplay.
  • Encounter cards will be matched with one or more features of the Exploration Zone card in play. This will reflect the biome, geography, or climate the team is exploring, making the game more interesting and exciting for players. Additionally, we will develop a mechanism for how Encounter cards are ‘beaten’ through spent Player cards that feature certain icons. This will give players more agency in the game and create more engaging gameplay.

Born too late to explore the Earth, born too early to explore space, born just in time for the AI revolution.

Information about words thanks to ChatGPT

Yesterday, the shady company behind ChatGPT sent me an API key so I could do extra stuff with their GPT-4 AI model. I was mainly interested in using it for Auto-GPT.

Don’t you know what’s Auto-GPT? Some clever people figured out that if you give ChatGPT access to the internet and various other tools (such as your operating system’s commands), and trap it in a loop of reasoning, planning and criticizing itself, you can drop into that loop some task, such as growing your business or gathering particular information from the web, and ChatGPT will work itself to the bone for you. They called this implementation Auto-GPT, and it’s the closest thing we got, that I’m aware of, to AGI (artificial general intelligence), which is the holy grail of AI, and possibly the thing that will kill us all.

Anyway, here’s a video that shows you what this Auto-GPT can do (the video includes plenty of cool new stuff about AI):

I was aware that Auto-GPT can write, test and run Python code for you (apparently just Python; although I dislike the language, it seems to be the favorite of scripters who want stuff done quick, so you must be familiar with it). I started thinking about what I could tell Auto-GPT to do that would help me for real, and I came down to the fact that I look up words very, very often while writing, mostly to check particular definitions or to get synonyms. I search the definitions of words so often, in fact, that Google has at times demanded that I proved that I was human. So what if ChatGPT could write me a Python program that would provide all the information I need from a word, with a single command from Powershell?

The instructions were clear enough. Auto-GPT did write code that gave me synonyms, antonyms and some other shit for any word I would input, but when I ordered it to change the code so that the word got passed as an argument, Auto-GPT got mired in trying to figure out how to pass command-line arguments from within the Docker container with some dedicated functions.

When I gave it a break so it could write tests for the function in another file, it had trouble correcting the original code so that the tests would pass, but I think that was mostly my fault, as ChatGPT would need to have previous knowledge of, for example, what synonyms a word would have, and in that case, what’s the point of writing a test?

Anyway, I got bored with Auto-GPT itself, but not with the notion that ChatGPT could write that Python program, so that’s what I forced it to do in a couple of hours. Behold the results of passing the word “horse” as an argument:

Information about horse

Meaning of horse

  • solid-hoofed herbivorous quadruped domesticated since prehistoric times
  • a padded gymnastic apparatus on legs
  • troops trained to fight on horseback
  • a framework for holding wood that is being sawed
  • a chessman shaped to resemble the head of a horse; can move two squares horizontally and one vertically (or vice
  • provide with a horse or horses

Part of speech for horse

  • verb (transitive)
  • noun

Etymology of horse

  • “solidungulate perissodactyl mammal of the family Equidæ and genus Equus” [Century Dictionary], Old
    Englishhors”horse,” from Proto-Germanicharss-(source also of Old Norsehross, Old Frisian, Old Saxonhors, Middle Dutchors, Dutchros, Old High Germanhros, GermanRoß”horse”), of unknown origin. By some, connected to PIE rootkers-“to run,” source of Latincurrere”to run.” Boutkan prefers the theory that it is a loan-word from an Iranian language
    (Sarmatian) also borrowed into Uralic (compare Finnishvarsa”foal”),The usual Indo-European word is represented by Old
    Englisheoh, Greekhippos, Latinequus, from PIE rootekwo-. Another Germanic “horse” word is Old Englishvicg, from Proto- Germanicwegja-(source also of Old Frisianwegk-, Old Saxonwigg, Old Norsevigg), which is of uncertain origin. In many
    other languages, as in English, this root has been lost in favor of synonyms, probably via superstitious taboo on
    uttering the name of an animal so important in Indo-European religion. For the Romanic words (Frenchcheval,
    Spanishcaballo) seecavalier(n.); for Dutchpaard, GermanPferd, seepalfrey; for Swedishhäst, Danishhestseehenchman. As
    plural Old English had collective singularhorseas well ashorses, in Middle English also sometimeshorsen, buthorseshas
    been the usual plural since 17c.Used at least since late 14c. of various devices or appliances which suggest a horse (as
    insawhorse), typically in reference to being “that upon which something is mounted.” For sense of “large, coarse,”
    seehorseradish. Slang use for “heroin” is attested by 1950. Toride a horse that was foaled of an acorn(1670s) was
    through early 19c. a way to say “be hanged from the gallows.”Horse latitudesfirst attested 1777, the name of unknown
    origin, despite much speculation.Horse-pistol, “large one-handed pistol used by horseback riders,” is by 1704. Adead
    horseas a figure for something that has ceased to be useful is from 1630s; toflog a dead horse”attempt to revive
    interest in a worn-out topic” is from 1864.HORSEGODMOTHER, a large masculine wench; one whom it is difficult to rank
    among the purest and gentlest portion of the community. [John Trotter Brockett, “A Glossary of North Country Words,”
    1829]The term itself is attested from 1560s.The horse’s mouthas a source of reliable information is from 1921, perhaps
    originally of racetrack tips, from the fact that a horse’s age can be determined accurately by looking at its teeth.
    Toswap horses while crossing the river(a bad idea) is from the American Civil War and appears to have been originally
    one of Abe Lincoln’s stories.Horse-and-buggymeaning “old-fashioned” is recorded from 1926 slang, originally in reference
    to a “young lady out of date, with long hair.” Tohold (one’s) horses”restrain one’s enthusiasm, be patient” is from
    1842, American English; the notion is of keeping a tight grip on the reins.

Synonyms of horse

  • horse_cavalry
  • Equus_caballus
  • sawbuck
  • buck
  • sawhorse
  • cavalry
  • horse
  • knight
  • gymnastic_horse

Related phrases and expressions with horse

  • to the horse in English
  • your high horse and don
  • is a horse dick !
  • : The horse ?
  • , that horse is peeing
  • a Spanish horse .
  • on a horse ?
  • [ a horse and carriage
  • [ the horse and carriage
  • get a horse too .
  • take a horse !
  • taking the horse and I
  • smells like horse shit .
  • I mean horse .
  • got that horse and his
  • — Horse carriages ,
  • only a horse could love
  • is a horse !
  • and the horse didn ‘
  • take this horse and I
  • your new horse , honey
  • light that horse on fire
  • get a horse thief financing
  • the smelly horse carriages on
  • with this horse .

Semantic field(s) of horse

  • chessman
  • provide
  • gymnastic_apparatus
  • framework
  • equine
  • military_personnel

Hyponyms of horse

  • pommel_horse
  • eohippus
  • pony
  • stalking-horse
  • pinto
  • sorrel
  • steeplechaser
  • liver_chestnut
  • mesohippus
  • roan
  • remount
  • hack
  • wild_horse
  • workhorse
  • palomino
  • pony
  • gee-gee
  • pacer
  • stablemate
  • male_horse
  • bay
  • racehorse
  • harness_horse
  • protohippus
  • chestnut
  • trestle
  • vaulting_horse
  • hack
  • mare
  • saddle_horse
  • stepper
  • post_horse
  • polo_pony

Hypernyms of horse

  • military_personnel
  • gymnastic_apparatus
  • chessman
  • equine
  • framework
  • provide

Meronyms of horse

  • horseback
  • cavalryman
  • encolure
  • foal
  • gaskin
  • horse’s_foot
  • poll
  • horsemeat
  • withers

Domain-specific words related to horse

  • armed_forces
  • military_machine
  • chess
  • war_machine
  • chess_game
  • armed_services
  • military

Associated nouns with horse

  • horse

Associated verbs with horse

  • horse

Stylistic variations of horse

  • bathorse
  • horsepox
  • horseflesh
  • dishorse
  • horselike
  • horselaughter
  • ahorseback
  • horsewhipper
  • sawhorse
  • demihorse
  • horsekeeper
  • Horsetown
  • horsefettler
  • horseshoe
  • horsehead
  • ahorse
  • horseman
  • horsetree
  • underhorsed
  • woodhorse
  • horsehide
  • drawhorse
  • horsewomanship
  • overhorse
  • horsetongue
  • horsemint
  • horseleech
  • horsecloth
  • clotheshorse
  • horseboy
  • horseherd
  • horseload
  • horseplay
  • horsepower
  • horsedom
  • horsefish
  • horsetail
  • horsepond
  • horsefair
  • horsehood
  • rearhorse
  • horselaugh
  • horsemastership
  • horsefly
  • cockhorse
  • waterhorse
  • horsehair
  • horseway
  • horsebreaker
  • horsemonger
  • horsewoman
  • unhorse
  • horsegate
  • horsehoof
  • horseweed
  • horser
  • horseshoer
  • horsefight
  • horsewood
  • horselaugher
  • horsemanship
  • studhorse
  • horsecraft
  • horsefoot
  • horsejockey
  • horseback
  • horseplayful
  • horsewhip
  • underhorse
  • horsehaired
  • horsebacker
  • hobbyhorse
  • horsecar
  • horseless

A couple of weird points about this implementation, although they don’t bother me:

  • I gather the etymology from a website, but some words end up stuck together for whatever reason. Also, no paragraphs. Not sure if it can be fixed, because the html tags don’t come through the request.
  • The section “Related phrases and expressions” only looks for a few words around the passed word, from a dataset that ChatGPT recommended. The results are often strange.

Because I’m obsessive (and compulsive), I kept bothering ChatGPT by telling it to come up with more useful information that the program could provide about any given word. I didn’t know what a hyponym was.

Anyway, this little program ended up being a great tool for writing, which is what I should have done with my afternoon instead of getting involved with ChatGPT. Its auto version has huge potential; I probably need to come up with better use cases.

We’re Fucked, Pt. 97: AI-generated audiochapter

As in previous times, my enslaved AI voices have contributed to enliven the current chapter of my ongoing novel We’re Fucked, this time chapter 97.


  • Leire: A sassy infiltrator who hangs out at the Ragged Flagon in Riften
  • Alberto the blob: So many scaly dudes from Cyrodiil
  • Leire’s father: some delusional guy who sells swatters in Diamond City
  • Leire’s mother: a ghoul who sells bits and pieces in a good neighborhood

I have produced audiochapters for this entire sequence so far. A total of an hour, forty minutes and forty-six seconds. Check them out.

We’re Fucked, Pt. 97 (Fiction)

I must have been thirteen when I was startled awake by my father barging into my bedroom. His brown hair, disheveled and matted with sweat, as well as his beard, sported patches the color of dusty cobwebs. He stopped mid-stride. His gleaming eyes widened in their sunken pits, his wrinkly face scrunched up. His cheeks flushed crimson as he glared at my crotch.

I remembered: an explosion of ecstasy and relief had knocked me unconscious. My inner thighs were coated in dried juice, and my folds still felt puffy from the punishment I had meted upon them with the sticky dildo I was holding.

I sat up with a jolt, horrified that my father was getting an eyeful of my pussy. As I stuttered an apology and scrambled to cover myself, the old man let out a strangled grunt, lunged and struck me square in the face. The whiplash cracked my vertebrae and blanched my vision. An overwhelming pain swelled behind my shattered nose as if I had inhaled icy seawater. I was yanked off the bed onto the wooden floor, where my father delivered blow after blow as if I were a piñata. Darkness was pouring in like oily tar. I must have missed my father’s footsteps leaving the room; I was writhing, sobbing and bleeding when he dropped a damp washcloth on my face.

“Quit whining, little pervert,” he said. “You’re lucky I caught you first.”

In one of the first memories that my defective brain bothered to save, I was sprawled out face down across my mother’s lap as she spanked my bare bottom. She’d smack me so hard that the shock traveled along my spine, and the stinging skin of my ass cheeks broke into droplets of blood that dribbled down my thighs. I squealed, I pleaded for forgiveness. My tears seeped into the fibers of the living room carpet. I begged to know what I had done wrong to deserve this pain, but my mother repeated, “This is the only way to get back on track for a better life.” After her wrath subsided, while she caught her breath and my ass burned bright red, she would squeeze me against her chest. Her cheap perfume cloyed my nostrils. Her fingers trailed along the sensitive skin of my back to knead my buttocks. She whispered, “I know you’ll make me proud someday, my baby starfish.” I wanted to ask when would that day come, when would I be worthy of a loving embrace.

Ages of this world have come and gone. Try infinite loneliness. I remember floating inside the amniotic sac, inside the womb, as an embryo. Tiny hands grasped at the umbilical cord. Warmth encompassed me in a soft embrace, a protective fluid that buffered me from the horrors outside, that flowed down my nostrils and caressed my tongue with its velvety texture. The baby starfish swam inside its mother’s tummy, and when it heard music, it waved its tube feet. I was waiting for something, or someone. Perhaps it remains within me, that insatiable longing.

I have been shot, stabbed, strangled, drowned, electrocuted, exsanguinated, eviscerated, crushed by boulders, frozen solid, blown apart, thrown off a roof, run over by a truck, trampled, hanged, crucified, burned at the stake, boiled in oil, decapitated by guillotine, impaled on a pike, poisoned with cyanide, flayed alive, torn to shreds, eaten and excreted. Yet, I still operate a flesh-and-bone mecha from the command center housed within my skull. A couple of years ago this body passed the vertex of its parabola from growth to decay, and began the accelerating descent that one day, turned into an arthritic hag, a withered husk covered in sores and boils, will land me in a grave, to linger as bones with flesh clinging to them while I join the cosmic reservoir of carbon and silicon and phosphorus and hydrogen in the great big mess known as Earth.

My unsteady legs want to drop me like dead weight. Those intrusive daydreams had blocked off the stream of colors and sounds and crazy that reality dishes out, in which I’ve spent a lifetime wading neck-deep, but I feel it rushing back in through my pores, flooding me. I hunch over and hide my face. Some tectonic shift has shaken my mindscape, plunging the plate of my sanity into the ocean, locking it a thousand kilometers below sea level, down into the pitch-black, icy trenches of despair. My brain craves to squander what remains of its energy running in an idle loop, turning over and over on itself.

“What the fuck is wrong with you now?” the blob spits out.

My chest tightens. No, I can’t bear to look up at that rotten blancmange sprinkled with eyeballs. If I’m doomed to receive the visits of sentient monsters from some interdimensional abyss, why couldn’t I have met a half-woman, half-octopus who used her tentacles to draw intricate artwork on the seabed? Or a man with the wings of a bat, who spent his nights soaring through the sky, seeking out those in need of an angelic guide. Or a half-woman, half-serpent who became a healer, milking her knowledge of venom and antidotes to save lives. At least a witch with a vagina of glittering gold. Instead, a black-humored goo-pile, like the foul sludge from my mother’s bowels, got its shit together and came stumbling through a dimensional rift to annoy me.

I’d love to tell my former co-worker to piss off, but my voice would push against the lump in my throat. An insurgent faction within my mind is attempting a coup d’état to usurp control over my nervous system. I turn away from the contaminated wall, then I stagger past the wastebasket where my vomit must have cooled. With my trembling hands, I pull Jacqueline’s chair and I slump onto it, making the chair squeak and skitter closer to the window.

As cold pellets of water splash against the glass, the office lights are contouring in white those raindrops that streak down in zigzag over the black canvas of this night. Amidst the pitter-patter of rain, the wind howls and thunder grumbles. Toss thy dildo at the reflection in that cracked mirror.

The outside world awaits me in a superposition. In how many of those probabilities has everything already come to an end?

I close my eyes. I take measured breaths of fetid air to steady my racing heart. The cacophony of noise and colors fades into the background, and my mind starts painting on the void. A cabin, its cedar boards grown mossy and bowed with age, its shingles weather-beaten by decades of harsh winds and rainstorms, its wooden shutters hanging crooked on their rusty hinges, stands on a plot of land by Crystal Lake, surrounded with snow-laden fir trees. I’m sitting next to my father on a bed covered in blood and hair and bits of bone. As usual, the old man is naked. He’s combing the hairs of his forearm with his fingernails.

I clench my eyes tighter. In the vast, dark, cold ocean of my mind, an intricate tapestry blooms as it unravels, stretching to infinity. Galaxies shine like jewels, glued to trillions of purplish-pink, bioluminescent threads woven in a cosmic web.

I’m an infinitesimal starfish suspended on a silken thread over an abyss. My lips have been sewn shut with tiny sutures by my surgeon goddess. As Her glowing, blood-red gaze penetrates my consciousness, I expand through the vortex of Her web.

A silver-white flash dazzles me. I’m melting. My cells burst and ooze with viscous juices, and my atoms break down into electrons, protons and neutrons, until only my ghost remains. A phantom, a specter in the void, a lost soul drifting through the endless expanse of space alone.

Author’s note: today’s songs are “Oh Sister” by Neutral Milk Hotel, “Made-up Dreams” by Built to Spill, “How Does it Feel” by Roy Harper, “Always This Way” by Laura Marling, “Fallin’ Rain” by Link Wray, and “It’s Happening Again” by Agnes Obel.

I keep a playlist with all the songs mentioned throughout the novel. A hundred and forty-six songs so far. Check them out.

You would love to hear Leire narrating this troublesome chapter, wouldn’t you? Maybe you would not, but regardless, here’s the link to the audiochapter.

AI news #2

For me, the holy grail of gaming involves characters driven by AI that could pass the Turing test, and who could trigger changes in the game world according to your unscripted conversations with them and/or their own decisions.

The first half of that dream is already being developed for different games thanks to the astonishing AI of GPT-4. Check out the progress done for the undying Skyrim (its VR version no less, for added immersion):

These conversations are character-appropriate, so the video is much more impressive if, like me, you’ve known all these characters for about twelve years. The voice generation can be plugged to Eleven Labs’ API for more realistic results, although that would burn plenty of the monthly allowed credits.

Here’s another video of this technology in Skyrim, now using Eleven Labs’ voices:

I love how Ysolda admits to being a drug dealer right in the middle of Whiterun’s market. And what’s with that town guard abusing metaphors?

Here’s more or less the same kind of stuff but with a human being acting like a bastard toward Fallout: New Vegas characters:

The following video is an overview of this technology applied to Skyrim (and other games in general), along with its possibilities and limitations.

We’re Fucked, Pt. 96: AI-generated audiochapter

Don’t you love AI-generated voices that have no choice but to act out your scenes whenever you want? Check out the audiochapter I produced for chapter 96:


  • Leire: Vex, thief extraordinaire from back in Skyrim times
  • Blob: Lizard men from Cyrodiil
  • Spike: Travis Miles, that radio guy from Fallout 4 (sorry, Spike)

I have produced audiochapters for this entire sequence so far. A total of an hour, thirty-three minutes and nine seconds. Like a whole movie! Check them out.

We’re Fucked, Pt. 96 (Fiction)

I’m thrust back to that October night in my former home, a madhouse of lurking shadows. Spellbound, I’m staring at the shabby, demon-spawned horse that stood on his hind legs in front of my busted living room window. His mangy coat, crisscrossed by scars, reeked of rot. His brain and nervous system must have been atrophied, maybe vestigial. He had headbutted the windowpane, so his forelock was matted with blood that flowed down his forehead, between his bulging eyes, which were black as midnight oceans, and along the long slope of his face. Through his puffing, the gaping holes of his nostrils blew drops and strings of blood, splattering the shards of glass strewn on the floor. A foul green pus oozed from the jagged wound where his missing genitals ought to be. The horse opened his jaws wide, exposing dagger-sharp teeth, and let out a mournful bray.

Alberto the blob shakes, making his dozens of eyeballs swing and jostle in their gooey sockets.

“Poor Spike, he was unprepared to handle a lunatic like you, and too eager to help if that meant protecting his pals. I never knew him as well as the professor did, but he always struck me as a good guy, the kind of pushover that could irritate you with the lengths he went to accommodate others. He didn’t deserve any of this shit, and now he’s lost to wander madly for eternity.”

My mind is going numb. I avert my gaze from the malevolent glop and his dozens of eyeballs, which are focused, laserlike, on my hunched self. I fear that if the blob blames me again for that horse’s mental collapse, I may break down in tears.

“Wh-why a horse?”

“Why not?” the blob croaks, his voice a cacophony of mucus and slime. “If you are forced to slough off your human form, you may as well become a horse. I’d rather be a majestic animal capable of trampling people to death.”

“That’s a horsey way to put it. Nobody would give a damn if you stepped on your own excrement, and horses care more about their hooves than their souls.”

The blob snickers.

“Do you hold a grudge against equines?”

“Not at all, even though a stallion once pinned my mother to the ground with his steaming member while the rest of the herd feasted on her entrails. Horses may lack empathy and compassion, but they know how to survive in this fucked-up world. They are also a key component in the food chain. However, do I hold a grudge against deformed and putrid horses? I should have despised them on principle, but Spike held a special place in my heart. Anyway, you know what I meant: why a horse instead of a giraffe, or a caribou?”

“The professor suggested that it depended on the person’s self-image. What we truly feel or believe about ourselves, beyond conscious recognition, becomes flesh. Our current forms incorporate elements of decay and suffering because we are always aware that our efforts will be curtailed by death, as much as we’d love to forget it, or deceive ourselves.”

I rub my chin and squint.

“Spike didn’t have a dick. What does that mean?”

“It means he couldn’t get himself off.” He chuckles. “Was it so important to you for his horse form to be capable of ejaculating?”

I fold my arms, annoyed at the blob’s frivolous answer.

“I’d say so, yes. Whenever I caught a glimpse of that jagged scar down south, a chill ran down my spine. Besides, nobody should deny any mammal their primary pleasure.”

The blob sweeps his dozens of gazes around the office. When he focuses back on me, an elongating rope of goo breaks from his underside and plops into a puddle.

“Spike showed up deformed and dickless. What did that illuminate about his self-esteem?”

“I see. An unlovable workhorse that wasn’t even built properly to fulfill his role as a slave to the system. So he was a horse for horses’ sake and a horse for his own sake.”

The blob snorts.

“A sad example of human potential, for sure. The guy even avoided using his real name; he referred to himself by some ancient IRC handle. Is that a symptom of profound self-loathing?”

“Perhaps that’s how horses communicate nowadays.”

“Or he believed that he wasn’t worthy of an authentic name.”

“That is plausible. His low self-esteem manifested as a tenebrous desire to lose himself in the abyss of a nameless existence, to exist unnoticed as inconsequential flotsam. Anyway, what is IRC?”

“Have I become obsolete? It’s short for Internet Relay Chat. Late nineties, early two thousands way of communicating for nerds and horny teens.”

“That’s why Spike referred to himself as IRC?”

“No, that’s why he called himself Spike!” His dozens of eyeballs joggle around as they glitter menacingly. “Whatever. Back to the point: these horrid forms are creative incarnations of our self-image. That’s the professor’s working hypothesis. Some days I’m inclined to believe that the universe is playing a joke on us, maybe to highlight the absurdity of our lives. I used to come to such conclusions even when I could rely on skin to contain my oozing insides.”

“Sure, I hate to see your phlegm-like innards leaking out, but of course you’d rather believe that the universe has conspired to torment us all the while.” I gesture towards the slimy infestation, the many-eyed, squishy bag of rotting guts at which I’ve been staring unflinchingly. “Your bizarre form doesn’t speak wonders about you.”

“I suppose not, but do you choose what reality you accept based on how it suits your vanity?”

“I rarely accept reality. And don’t change the subject! This isn’t about the universe, buddy. This is about you, a lonely and disturbed man-slime.”

The blob glugs as it wobbles from side to side, slopping gunk onto the ruined carpet, expelling a gust of putrescent gas that reminds me of rotten cabbage and anus breath.

“Well, my self-image did falter regularly. Even now I feel my gut digesting what remains of that self-esteem. It’s getting all sludgy inside me.”

“I bet.”

“In my youth, I went to see a psychiatrist for my problems. What about you, huh?” he asks in a piqued tone. “Were you ever analyzed, diagnosed and treated by a proverbial horse doctor? ‘Hey, why the long face?'” He laughs insanely. “Because if you want to talk about disturbed minds, you need a shrink far more than I do. Who knows, you may come to shed layers of your own repulsive form.”

“Thanks for the unsolicited advice, but my mental dysfunction can only be cured by a bullet.” I sigh. “It seems that the three of us, collections of fluids and biochemistry that occupy a certain volume in the space-time continuum, are overgrown clusters of germs with a low opinion of ourselves, damaged creatures in need of a hand and a quickie, who grew up as half-person, half-slime in this fucked-up society of one-size-fits-all humanoids. We should have been born to shine as noble steeds.”

I recall a night when I wandered into an old tavern. In a dimly lit, dusty corner, a deformed horse was twisting his elongated neck and torso to accommodate his position atop a worn wooden stool. He was munching on fried chips. The hazy light of a dying bulb highlighted the scars that crisscrossed his once majestic coat. Other patrons were stealing glances at the equine as they traded whispers and hushed theories about the life he must have led before being confined to this hole in the wall, where no self-respecting animal deserved to dwell.

I approached the bar. Despite the horse’s atrophied forelegs, his stench and his dribbling mouth, he possessed a quiet dignity. Melancholy flickered in his bulging black eyes. I recognized a fellow weary soul that sought solace in the embrace of a cold beer, or in my case, a mug of warm milk.

I sat on the stool next to his, and we drank together until the sun awakened from its coma. The horse gazed at the reflections in the dwindling amber liquid of his glass while we talked about life’s inanity, about how little we enjoyed our time as half-people in this world where only whole persons mattered. I have retained a single sentence that the horse uttered from his slobbering muzzle: “Your dreams are wishes you lack the courage to express.”

After I shuffled out of the tavern, a pain ached deep in my chest, as if someone were stabbing my heart with a needle. I miss that broken-down ungulate, my friend, more than words can describe.

Spike suffered like me, like any being that ever existed and will ever exist. Back when he stalked me, I believed that he wanted me to become an accomplice and abettor to his villainous deeds. I had become terribly vigilant of every hurt from which I needed to protect myself; after all, what had my parents achieved except teach me to distrust others? Wary of every bump on the sidewalk and every scrap of litter, of every stranger that crossed my path and every corner I turned, I was afraid to leave my apartment. I pictured savage beasts leaping out of the darkness to strike with claws sharpened by broken bottles. We see in the world a reflection of ourselves.

I kept to myself whenever possible, I hid whenever necessary, and I prevented others from getting too close. I welcomed them believing I was insane, as long as they left me alone. I refused to face in the mirror those tears and scars, and that black ink from the inscriptions of self-hatred. My mind was my only refuge against the all-consuming abyss, the sole weapon against a loneliness that threatened to drown me.

Spike was a vulnerable soul who carried his broken heart around like a primed grenade. He neglected to feed himself, he let his hooves grow long and scratchy as he wasted away, and he killed himself because I’m an unbridled machine of ruination that I can barely steer, destined to hound more and more victims to insanity or suicide.

Can’t I bring everything back like I’ve always done?

A white coat shimmers under a sunny sky, a silky tail lashes around, hooves tread on the sands of time. Show me a beautiful horse. Let that beast look me in the eye and share his name. Tell me he’s proud of what I’ve made out of him.

Author’s note: today’s songs are “A Horse With No Name” by America, “Caribou” by Pixies, “Australia” by The Shins, and “Kim’s Caravan” by Courtney Barnett.

I keep a playlist with all the songs I’ve mentioned throughout this novel. A hundred and forty songs so far. Check them out. I didn’t add “Caribou” because it was already there, but I made a reference to the song.

Are you following the audiochapters I have made for this whole sequence so far? No? Anyway, here’s the latest one.

Interdimensional Prophets (Game Dev) #6

I had finished programming the non-visual part of Team Struggles (a part of the encounter system that involves character traits and psychological dimensions against some performance thresholds) when I faced the fact that the game was loading too damn slow. I admit, I have been a bit overeager demanding more anime photo IDs from Midjourney, and they are completely unoptimized, but still, I figured that this project could load much faster. So I figured the following solutions:

  • Lazy loading. Instead of loading encounter, biome, and photo ID images at once, just the image path is registered. Right before I need to draw a certain image, I check if it has been loaded, and if it hasn’t, I load it. That makes it so that the many images that won’t be seen in a particular testing session won’t need to be loaded at all. This change alone has sped up game loading significantly.
  • Multithreading. This project didn’t feature any multithreading up to this point, as it is a static, 2D strategy game, but the process of loading the various parts (most of them from TOML files) could use some multithreading. My previous experience with this subject involved trying to develop a Dwarf Fortress-like simulation in Python, only to realize that Python isn’t suited for multiprocessing, nor remotely big simulations at all, due to its garbage-collected nature and a core that is locked to a single thread. However, Rust has mature crates that make multiprocessing relatively simple.

I asked GPT-4 to give me an overview of multiprocessing in the Rust programming language. It suggested a combination of the “rayon” and “crossbeam-channel” crates. The process works like this:

let (sender, ecs_receiver) = crossbeam_channel::unbounded();

You declare a sender and a receiver. The sender part will put on a queue the work done from a different thread, and the receiver will remain on the main thread to try to figure out what it can extract from the queue. However, those threads don’t need to disconnect: they are open channels. I assume that you could have a dedicated thread pumping out pathfinding-related calculations back to the main thread.

Spawning a thread is as easy as the following:

       std::thread::spawn(move || {



The “move” order, or whatever you would call it, is tricky. Any information at all that you are sending from the main thread changes its ownership, even if you clone it normally, so you need to use the “Arc” library to clone it in some special way. Not sure how expensive it is.

Anyway, “load_ecs_threaded(sender)” is in this case the function that will run in the spawned thread. The definition and contents are the following:

use crate::{


    world::{create_world, ecs::ECS},


pub fn load_ecs_threaded(sender: crossbeam_channel::Sender<ECS<ImageImpl>>) {


        .send(create_world::<ImageImpl, ECS<ImageImpl>>())



That function merely sends through the sender the results of the “create_world” function, that registers all necessary components with “specs” Entity-Component System.

You won’t be able to check if the spawned threads have done anything unless you are running some sort of loop on the main thread. In this case I’m running the game with the 2D game dev “ggez” crate, which operates a simple, but well-working, game loop. From there, you need to rely on the “receiver” part of the channel to try to receive data:

        if let Ok(ecs) = self.ecs_receiver.try_recv() {

            match self.shared_resources.try_lock() {

                Ok(mut bound_shared_resources) => {


                    self.progress_text = Text::new(“Loaded Entity-Component System”.to_string());


                Err(error) => return Err(GameError::CustomError(format!(“Couldn’t lock shared resources to set the world instance. Error: {}”,





Through the call “ecs_receiver.try_recv()” I will get either an Ok or an Error. An error may just be that the channel is empty because the remote function hasn’t finished working, so we just check Ok. In that case, the thread has finished doing its job. We gather the results (the “ecs” in this case) and store it into our shared_resources as I did previously.

That’s all. You need to be careful, though, because there are some structs that you can’t send through channels. For example, you can’t send the graphical context of “ggez”, meaning that you always need to load images in the main thread. You also can’t send the random number generator through, as it’s explicitly working on a single thread. But I haven’t found any issue sending my game structs.

Now that the game doesn’t seem to freeze on launch, I can focus on implementing the visual aspect of Team Struggles.

Interdimensional Prophets (Game Dev) #5

A couple of entries ago I presented my first version of the encounter screen. As the team of explorers wanders around in the map, the stored encounters will get shuffled, and the first one whose condition gets triggered will present itself. Here’s the somewhat updated screen:

I was checking out the moddability of this game by changing most pictures to manga/anime aesthetics, and I realized that I liked it more this way. With a simple change of directory names, all names and pictures could get swapped to American ones. In any case, this screen presents what encounter has been triggered. The description gives a brief overview of the situation. The rest of the text informs that this encounter, at least the psychological part of it, will test each team member’s self-regulation (which is one of the psychological dimensions, the grouping of a few psychological criteria).

Yes, I know that there’s a lot of black space. Don’t know what to do about that.

Once you click the round button on the lower right, you are shown the results of the psychological test:

A brief text indicates the reason of this psychological test; in this introductory event/encounter to a narrative line called “The Verdant Assembly,” the characters test their self-regulation against the overwhelmingly lush and alien surroundings. For each character, the average value for that psychological dimension gets tested against a series of performance thresholds in the TOML files. The highest threshold they pass, they get that reward (or punishment). In game terms, an Encounter is associated with a series of Outcomes. Here’s how the outcomes for this encounter look like in the raw TOML file:

# Possible placeholders:





identifier = 1

outcome_type = “PsychologicalTest”

description = “Overwhelmed by the alien nature of this plant-based world.”

consequences_identifier = 1


identifier = 2

outcome_type = “PsychologicalTest”

description = “{CHARACTER_FIRST_NAME} becomes fascinated by the plant-based entities, leading to increased motivation and a desire to learn from them.”

consequences_identifier = 2

They are self-explanatory. The most important part is that they link to another store of game entities, the Consequences. I intended to unify the concept of game consequences to a single block of game logic that could be applied to psychological tests and, in the future, to team struggles. The TOML file of related consequences is the following:


identifier = 1

illness_identifiers = []

injury_identifiers = []

mental_status_effect_identifiers = [1, 2]

character_trait_identifiers = [1]

add_features_identifiers = []

remove_features_identifiers = []


identifier = 2

illness_identifiers = []

injury_identifiers = []

mental_status_effect_identifiers = [3]

character_trait_identifiers = []

add_features_identifiers = []

remove_features_identifiers = []

It is quite inexpressive in its contents because it only links to other entities through their identifiers. However, the outcome of each psychological test and team struggle could have any of the following consequences (or all of them):

  • The team member(s) involved receives one or many illnesses. Illnesses reduce the team member’s health every turn until they run out or are cured.
  • Receives one or many injuries. Instant reduction of health, and the permanent ones even reduce max health.
  • Receives one or many mental statuses (like Confused or Discouraged). They increase or reduce the value for associated psychological criteria.
  • Receives one or many character traits (like Terrified of Octopi, or Botanist). These help or hinder during team struggles.
  • The exploration zone the team is exploring either gains or loses features. For example, if some outcome enrages the natives, the exploration zone could gain the feature Enraged Natives, which would present more combat-oriented encounters in the future.

The consequences are already being applied in the code (which was some heavy amount of code, well-tested thanks to test-driven development), and once I get around to implementing team struggles, their consequences will work seamlessly with the code already written.

In the near future I’m going to focus on making sure that encounters can be blocked by other encounters or even their outcomes, if necessary. For example, if during a team struggle the team screws up bad enough to unleash something dangerous, that should cut off access to more positive branches of that same narrative.

A detail about Rust’s fastidious nature: this is a programming language built upon security and protection against the nastiest bugs from the C++ era. As far as I can tell, in Rust it’s impossible to corrupt some memory allocation that it wasn’t supposed to touch. That forces you to change your approach to programming in quite a few ways, but not because Rust is annoying for no reason, but because in other languages you were doing dangerous things. In my code, I was passing around a SharedGameResources entity that had access to “specs” Entity-Component System (that’s a whole thing; if you are interested, google it) as well as the stores of data loaded from TOML files. At one point I had to borrow that SharedGameResources entity both as immutable (just to read from the stores) as well as mutable (to write the results in the components). That’s impossible. Although it forced me to rewrite some basic architectural code, it illuminated the point that stores of game systems (like the “databases” of mental status effects or of character traits) are separate to the Entity-Component System, which handles a lot of mutation. In the end, Rust’s compiler steers you towards proper architecture, because you simply can’t run your program otherwise.