Johannes Punkt’s Flaskpost

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Tag: names

Oubliette

The first thing he forgot was his own name. At first, this pleased him; it was probably a bad name, like Yosef or Stephen or Muriel. But the name-thing gnawed at the back of his hair, and he had all the time in the world. He started making a list in the ground (it was all coarse fibres; there should be a name for that). Sometimes he would start over if he had a really good idea on how to organise it. One day, he grew tired of scratching symbols in the down, and he dropped his symbol-maker, and he

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Evelyn Myers

Image courtesy of The Thrusting Sensations

Image courtesy of The Thrusting Sensations, who have a facebook page: facebook.com/ThrustingSensations, and a website: thrustingsensations.co.uk

The static disappears, and instead there is the wet, slick sound of well-oiled hands picking up an old corded microphone, like breathless fish jumping on a rocky riverbed, flexing their whole bodies. The hands come perilously close to dropping the microphone a few times, then their grip steadies and an androgynous voice starts to read out sounds with regular pauses after three or four syllables, like names from a list. There are traces of Indo-European in the sounds, but as names they all sound desperately fake. The static returns with a peculiar ebb and flow.

Months pass until the next reading. On the day when autumn turns into winter, faithful listeners are treated to what sounds like the same hands as before, fumbling for the microphone, and the same voice monotonously reading from the list of name-sounds: “…Pritya Alaskor. Nevb Slauvt. Gulend Evetchkas. Nsiovet Lkall…” Humans paying attention to the droning are recording all the sounds, catching frantic and excited keystrokes on tape as well, as they try to tell other humans about the sounds. By the time anyone reads their messages, and has time to tune their machines to the right frequency, the static has returned once more like whalesong, signature and indecipherable.

Years pass, this time. The roar of white noise crescendoes and disappears. A sound of dripping, nervous hands gripping the microphone. The vocal chords that create these sounds belong to something other than human. It is using human sounds, yes, but it is new to them. It is an anglerfish with a 40-watt lightbulb in front of its maw now; it is understanding that human things have uses. It likes the name-sounds: “…Kalskk Mäter. Kral Bedun. Nortmater Juerie. Aulp Pill…”

Someone counts how long it takes until the next broadcast, and it is two years and three months and five days. This list sounds more deliberate, slower than the others. It takes ten minutes to read in total and it gets a name right at last – “Evelyn Myers” – and she immediately stands up from her chair and walks toward the door, stretching the cord of her headphones taut until they are yanked off from her head and clatter to the floor. It is snowing outside, and she walks out barefoot, toward the mountains. The last name-sound, hopeless gibberish, is spoken on air and then the slippery hands drop the microphone with a thud, and the static comes back.

Big Black Wall of Soldiers Lost

You find your name on the big black wall of soldiers lost, not because you really died, but because there was none among the ranks who could recognize you anymore, and you refused to talk to anyone about anything. You find your name on the bark of that tree, but impossibly high up because that moment when he wrote it there, with his rusty pocketknife and his love, was so long ago that you cannot remember his face. You find your name inscribed on someone else’s skin, your face stretched across someone else’s skull, your air filling someone else’s lungs.

Headfirst

An empty park bench made of exquisite beige wood, uncannily placed in the middle of a field. The weather has no effect on it. The bench reacts when you sit on it – not a lot, but enough that you notice it. You can talk to anyone else who has sat, or will sit, on this bench, as long as you know their name, as long as they know yours. The bench will fade away after you have had your one conversation. So, the question is, who do you talk to? I took a deep breath and said my own name.