The Boxes

Everything in bold was written by me. The rest is auto-continued by an artificial intelligence called GPT-3.

Jen woke up to an odd surprise. In the corner of her room, there was a small metal box. She didn't put it there, and she lived alone.

Was this some kind of a joke? Jen got up and opened the box. Inside, there was a bright orange book. She picked it up and read the title, "The Art of War," by Sun Tzu. She opened the book and read the first line, "If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles."

Jen put the book back in her bag and went to work. When she got to her office, she opened the book again. As she picked it up, a small piece of paper fell out. It read, "Know your enemy."

Jen was confused. She didn't know who this "enemy" was, but she wanted to. She took the paper and put it in her pocket. She didn't tell anyone about the book or the note, but she kept them with her.

The next day, Jen looked for clues. She started where she always started, her email. She had a few new messages, but they were all from work. She examined her phone. A few new texts and several calls, but no weird messages.

Jen tried her best to forget about the incident.

***

The next day, Jen woke up to the same surprise. Another metal box was in the room. She opened it and found another orange book, this one titled, "The Art of Seduction." She opened the book and read the title page, "To seduce, you must know the mind of a seducer. You must be the seducer."

That night, Jen had a hard time sleeping. She kept thinking about the book and its message. She was confused and didn't know what to do.

***

The next weeks went by normally. Jen had installed a new security system. She had also changed her passwords and changed her email. She was safe.

Except she wasn't.

The next day, Jen was surprised again. This time, there were three boxes in her home. She opened the first box, and, again, she found a book. This time, it was titled, "The Art of Disappearance." She opened the book and read the first line, "If you know the place that you will disappear, and know the place that you will reappear, you have nothing to fear."

She opened the second box. It contained a book titled, "The Art of Intimacy." The first line read, "You must know the hearts of a lover, and you must be able to find that heart."

The final box held a book titled, "The Art of Confusion." The first line read, "If you know the minds of the confused, and you know the place where the confused will find peace, you will have nothing to fear."

Jen was shaking. She walked to her computer to check the recordings of the security cameras.

There was nothing. Just herself.

She checked her phone again. Three new messages. Two from work, one from her friend Paul. She called Paul.

Paul picked up and said, "Jen, where did you go last night?"

"What?" asked Jen.

"You went to the party last night. I saw you."

"Paul, I was home. I didn't go to any party."

"Oh, don't lie to me. I saw you. You were drunk and you were dancing."

***

Lock the door. Ensure the camera is on. Lock the door again. Close the shades.

Jen's nightly routine grew longer.

***

Jen sat on her couch, going through the recordings of her security cameras. Something was odd.

She watched the video again.

And again.

Then she saw it.

She saw herself change clothes.

She saw herself leave her apartment.

She saw herself reappear.

A box in her hand.

***

Jen didn't remember how she fell asleep, or why she suddenly woke up. It was after midnight, and there was a new box in her room. She had a strange feeling it would be the last one. She opened it.

Inside was a small stone statue. It was black and it was cracked. On the statue, there were three words, "Know your own."

Jen picked up the statue. It was warm to the touch.

She looked at it, and she saw her own face.

She put it down, and fell asleep again.

She woke up the next morning, and the statue was gone.