Johannes Punkt’s Flaskpost

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Tag: rituals

THE EEL GAME

This is a game that came to me in a dream a year ago. If you play it, I am not responsible for anything. I am updating the rules here because as time has passed the game has only got more refined in my brain.

Pre Game Rituals

The game is played seldom, only in times of drought or catastrophe. The elders will hold secret council late at night. They will light a small fire but they will not tend to it, and the rest of the people who live in the area will pretend to sleep when really they’re glued to the windows trying to catch a glimpse of the faces of the elders. The way to decide who will host the game is this: they have a poisonous fish in a bowl. The first elder puts the fish in their mouth along with water, and with a kiss transfers the fish to the next elder. The elder that bites the fish, or is bitten, dies and becomes the host. Their family is the one that hosts the event.

The way to choose a champion is more varied. The customs differ between families and places, but there are three main categories. The first is the diving game, which is a game where contestants dive to the sea floor and pick up rocks in their mouth. Generally this will include backbinding of the hands and a blindfold, and be done on a still day, but there are as many variations as there are games played. The heaviest stone marks the winner. The second category is the saltwater game, which is played by drinking saltwater until one vomits. The last player to vomit is the champion. The last category of games is the catching of live eels, where the champion is the contestant who catches the most eels. One champion is needed from each household, and anyone can play.

The Eel Game

The game requires at least one eel per player, and a maximum of eight eels. At least three champions are required, and the optimal number varies depending on the locale. The champions wear damp clothes full of holes and pockets and tight bands, which make it easy for the eels to slither around inside the clothes. The eels can enter and exit these garments like coloured handkerchiefs from a magic show.

When all is set up, the room is filled with saltwater to ankleheight. Champions are placed in positions and fitted with eels, then the game is begun. The objective of the game is to fulfill one of the following criteria:

Be the last one on the floor with eels on them

Have twice as many eels as the secondmost eeled player

Champions are not allowed to touch other champions with their hands but they may bump into each other with hips or shoulders, as long as this is not considered ‘violent’. A common strategy is for champions to stand next to other champions with sleeves or pockets toward theirs and try to coax the other champion’s eels into their own clothing. Games are usually slow-moving, somnambulist matches between two champions at a time, while the others buy time. Another common strategy is to coax eels out of other champions’ sleeves without bothering to catch them. Once an eel has touched the floor, it is out of the game. Strategies are manifold and it all depends on the type of player.

The Ceremony

The ritual must have begun as something brutal and shamanistic, but has now been formalised into elegance.

The lion is released from her cage and there is a curious symmetry between the way her shoulderblades go up and down and the characteristic, sidling gait the performing woman walks with; the ceremonial robes allow only that.

Anxious performers may carry a dagger, but most go without. The lion circles her three times as she makes her way across the arena, every movement calculated and written down in an old book.

There is swift, bloodless death. It takes a lifetime to master.

Unink

I put my feelings into words, onto paper, with a black pen, and I put the lid back and I set it aside. I perform the ritual to uncap the green pen. I underline. I explain myself in the margin. I argue. I circle words, connect them to words further up. I put the lid back, and I put the pen aside. I uncap the red pen and start crossing words out. I write foreign symbols in the margin, where there’s room for it.

I fold the paper, read it until I know it, and put it in the fireplace.

Nightmare Fuel October 2012, Day 20

broken heart collector

A village on the side of the road with old timberframe houses and lantern light in the windows after dark, where your death has been foretold ever since you were born. Miss Buhnaf is taking care of the logistics; in her great wooden temple there is a stone on which you will be laid. Torches have burnt since ten years back and will fall when you are tied and secure. Men with burlap sacks and silent feet have been sent out to fetch you. It is prophesied you will come of your own volition, but the men have their ways.