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Editor’s Note: Recently, you may have seen your friends posting avatars created by artificial intelligence (AI), showing them looking more heroic and flawless than ever. Today, Jesse took a different direction in allowing AI to do some creative legwork for him. He took an excerpt from the brilliant and hilarious author Simon Rich’s piece called “Learning the Ropes,” in which a pair of pirates—Black Bones and Rotten Pete the Scoundrel—loot a ship and find a baby girl onboard. Black Bones wants to toss her to sea, but Rotten Pete is soft and wants to keep her and raise her as their own. They decide to keep her and fight over how to raise her.

The Excerpt (from Simon Rich):

I am me own master and commander. 

I serve no King and fear no God. I would sooner cut a hundred throats than heed one order from a living man. When I strike, I take no quarter, for there be no mercy in me heart, just cold, black ice. Me cutlass is me only friend. The devil is me brother. I don’t recycle. When I’m done with a bottle, I just be throwing it out. Even if recycling be made easy for me, like there be a bin right there, and it be labelled “recycling,” I be throwing me bottle in the regular garbage. I am Black Bones the Wicked, the most evil, fearsome pirate ever known.

Our tale begins on the Delicious, a three-mast frigate built for shipping sugar biscuits. We’d hornswoggled the Captain into crewing us by claiming we was common merchant seamen. But as soon as we sailed past the breakers, we whipped out our pistols and announced our true intentions.

How AI Wrote the Story

The crew offered no resistance, for we’d made it plain that there be no quarter given. So we was surprised when Rotten Pete the Scoundrel found a baby girl in a water-soaked cot in the bilge. It be plain she’d been put there to save her from the coming fight.

I, Black Bones, wanted to toss the babe back into the sea and make good our escape. But Rotten Pete pulled out a tiny rag doll he’d pilfered from somewhere and said her life would be saved by him.

The ensuing argument between me and Rotten Pete lasted far longer than any of us expected it too. We shouted back and forth about who should keep the baby, what should be done with her, and if we could smuggle her on board again if she were taken onto shore for schooling or churching or suchlike.

In the end, we agreed to keep the girl and raise her as our own – an agreement which left each of us too exhausted to plunder any further vessels on our voyage home.

Of course, taking care of a little girl brings with it all kinds of new responsibilities for us two scoundrels. We fight over how best to parent this poor wee lassie – who wakes up screaming in fear every night because of the cursed memories she has from being stranded out in the unforgiving ocean. It be hilarious sometimes to watch us competing over who can best clean up after her messes; bickering over who should get to read her stories before bedtime; quarreling about whether salted biscuits and rum be nutritious enough for a little girl; and debating how exactly ye should punish an impish two-year-old when she’s stealing coins from the ship’s chest!

Also, there be one time that we both wanted to dress her up like a proper pirate lassie, with eye patch and bandanna and all. I wanted her to wear pink to match my pink parrot, while Rotten Pete was determined she should wear red like his parrot. There be much arguing between us about this for days before deciding that she should choose whichever color she likes the most when she gets old enough to decide for herself.

There be things we agree on too. Valuable skills like how to swab the deck and identify potential victims from afar. We also taught her important lessons like how to shiver someone’s timbers without getting caught and how to find buried treasure by following a map on dungeon walls.

After years at sea, with loot fit only for a baby pirate girl in tow, we rowed ourselves home – to Black Bones’ Island – where I’m sure you will find us this day; raising up future generations of rogues and scallywags… minus all that recycling stuff mind you!

Jesse Stone

Jesse B. Stone loves science and writing. Apologies if you were looking for the "Jesse Stone" played by Tom Selleck in the CBS movies.

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