This Is Interactive Fiction

by johannespunkt

Let us play a game. I know that sounds cheesy but bear with me. The game has two rules: I must not kill you, and you must do anything that I ask. If either of us breaks the rules, the game is over. The game starts in three, two, one …

Smile. Go on, do it, don’t just read the words. Prop up the corners of your mouth with chopsticks if you have to, just smile, and keep like that for a while. Let it spread to your eyes. Feel good. Does that feel good? Stop smiling. Let your face return to a neutral expression. Use as few muscles as you can. We are playing a game, and we are having fun.

Hold your breath. Release your breath. Hold your breath again. Yes, puff up your cheeks and hold your nose if you have to, just hold your breath. When you get to the period at the end of this paragraph, you are allowed to release your breath and it will feel good, because we are having fun, we are playing a game, and your eyes are darting to the end of this paragraph and you’re trying to figure out how long it is, and how long it will take you to read the whole thing, well, I will end it for you now.

That meant that you can breathe again. Are you breathing? Good. Smile. Prop up the corners of your mouth, stick your tongue out. Take a deep breath, I am going to ask you to do things while you are holding your breath, so it’s good to get a lot of air in your lungs, as this is where the real fun begins; I will ask you to hold your breath in the very next sentence, so breathe in deep, do you understand? Hold your breath. Good. This is interactive fiction; we are having fun. I ask you, now, to remember something that made you angry. You might not get angry often, but something must have struck your ire. Think of this thing. Perhaps your cheeks are puffed up now, and you must look really silly, like an angry blowfish. Try to smile instead. Smile. This looks even more ridiculous. Maybe your cheeks are hurting now, that is good, we are having fun.

I didn’t say you could stop holding your breath. I will say so in the next sentence but it is important that you obey as the game stops being fun when either of us breaks the rules. If you didn’t hold your breath all this time, go back a paragraph and try again – okay, you can breathe again now. Breathe deeply. Wow, this is fun, you’re doing well. Are you still thinking about what made you angry? Are you shaking? You can let it go now. They are not hurting you any more. Water under the bridge, a helium balloon outlined against the sun. You are having fun.

Take a deep breath, and hold it. This game is all about holding your breath, all about lung capacity. I want you to stretch, now. Extend your arms as far from your body as you can, and then your fingers. Wait a bit, then let your breath go. Hold your breath again.

Are you holding your breath?

Good. I want you to think of that thing that made you angry, again. If you can’t think of anything that made you angry, you must stop reading now until you find something that makes you angry. You can breathe again when we get to the period at the end of this sentence, period, I said, that is – a full stop, the kind that goes at the end of a sentence, but remember that question marks and semicolons don’t count, just keep on going until you reach the real end of the sentence; when you reach it you will be rewarded for your good work and nice hormones will rush through your body but for now you are holding your breath; have you noticed that some of the things in the previous paragraphs have changed slightly while we were talking? because if you have that is not my fault, I promise, that just happens some times, anyway you’re soon there, and you’re still thinking of that thing that made you angry, and that’s great, and maybe your blood is pounding a bit, and that’s great, too, keep holding your breath now