Grim Tales: introduction

Let me tell you, death is boring.

Oh sure it might seem exciting during the 'end of time' crisis, plucking heroes off the field of battle and bringing them into the world beyond, or being tasked with the high-priority job of harvesting the souls of all the creatures killed by the 'burnt planet' disaster, but once that's over, what's next?

You see death is a funny thing. It's either really fast, or really slow. Never anything in-between. I think it has to do with the cosmic laws of nature or something equally complex and uninteresting.

As far as I can tell, there isn't any good way to die. Hit by lightning and you're dead. Stabbed in the heart and you're dead. Choke on food and you're dead. You can be poisoned or hit by a car or any number of things. It all comes down to the same thing: you're dead.

And you know what the worst part is?

There's no grabbing at life. No begging for mercy. That's what we usually think happens, but it doesn't. You lose, that's it. And your memory is taken away. No longer can you say, 'I remember this. I remember that.' Your memories are gone. You are now just a vacant husk.

I'm the Grim Reaper, one of the most feared and reviled beings in existence. Humans have created songs and books about my reaping. I have been called a monster. A ghoul. A demon.

You think I'm all-powerful, with the ability to play with the lives of mortals as I see fit.


I'm a glorified gardener. Every day is the same - dust off your scythe, harvest souls and return them to their natural resting place in the cosmos. And repeat until the end of time.

My job kind of sucks, to be honest. Is it not the same with you? Stuck in the same job for eternity? I don't expect you to answer.

An image of the Grim Reaper. He has a stern face.

Anyway, I take souls to their final resting place. A place called the 'cosmic netherworld.' It's supposed to be some grandiose place of eternal bliss. But our souls conspire with the chaos. I'm the only person that's able to take souls there.

Now, for those of you thinking, "what's so hard about reaping a soul?", well, it's kind of hard. You see, when you touch a soul, you become connected to its essence. It's very hard to describe. It's as if you can 'feel' the soul. You see everything that person did in their lifetime. You feel everything that person felt, and you hear everything. It's very easy to become lost in a soul's memories. I'm sure you can imagine how bad this gets when you're constantly reaping souls. It's exhausting, to say the least.

The Cosmic Netherworld. It's dark with a glow similar to the northern lights.

Why must I reap souls? Just yesterday, I had to reap a man who spent his life doing unspeakable things. He enjoyed killing, he hurt people, and he destroyed the lives of many. He was a sick, twisted man, and it took every ounce of my power to not run home and puke my guts out after experiencing all of his actions.

I don't even want to tell you what I saw. It's too horrible for words. The memories of the man I reaped yesterday were worse than anything I've seen in my entire existence.

It was the final straw.

"No more reaping!" I yelled, launching my scythe into the nearest wall. It shattered, raining down shards of metal and wood onto the floor.

I just want to have a normal life, like all of you do. I want to do things like... read books, drink coffee, take pictures, go for a jog... You know... the things normal people do.

Hell, I want a great job, something like being an astronaut! Or maybe a musician. That would be excellent, too.

Each soul has free will, so I'll let each soul decide its own fate. Hire someone else! I'm done with this nonsense. I'm going to do what I please.

I had been doing this job for far too long. Harvesting souls one by one, then ferrying them to the cosmic netherworld where they'd supposedly find eternal bliss.

This job was way too... grim.

I didn't know what to do. I sat down in a defeated heap on the floor, my destroyed scythe next to me.

"I quit!"

The Grim Reaper looks pained and defeated. A grey mass surrounds him.

Text generation has been talked about a lot recently thanks to OpenAI's GPT-3, and for good reason - the output is better than anything we've seen prior.

Can current AI write a real story? One with a plot, characters, and dialogue? And could AI create illustrations to go alongside the story too?

That's exactly what I wanted to explore with this book: Grim Tales. Grim Tales is a short story about the Grim Reaper written by an AI, and illustrated by an AI. Read Grim tales!

I'm writing about how Grim Tales was created, my thoughts on AI writing, outtakes from the book, and more.

Read the first post: Writing Grim Tales

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What are AI writers for?

Shit GPT-3 Says

Illustrating Grim Tales

Writing Grim Tales