Johannes Punkt’s Flaskpost

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Tag: vignette

This Is Interactive Fiction

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 …
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This is a Robbery

Sometimes I wish I were a dog. I understand that humans can only smell one thing at a time, which is why you need a few hours to appreciate a good perfume. First the strongest scent hits you and then you wait, a bit dizzy, until you’re numb enough to the first one to feel the second, and so on. If I were a dog, I could smell it all at once. On the other hand, if I were a dog and I was in that building when the shit hit the fan, I would have panicked and shat myself and someone would have been very disappointed with me the moments before oblivion. That’s no way to go.

I was coming up the stairs out of the Grand Central Bank. Banks are usually styled to look like temples, I’ve heard, and this one was probably for Hades. Big, open spaces, sequoiadendronous pillars, the river Styx running through it artfully under a thick, clear glass floor like Arctic ice. Specks of the colour black in the form of guards in tuxedos.

They say Death is beautiful. She was a plain girl. They say she grants wishes, right before she kills you. A sort of theological apology. “I’m sorry your life sucked,” she had told a stubborn radio reporter. “Have what you think you want, before you stop existing.” Everybody knew the reporter’s name, and everybody knew the number of seconds between that answer and his aneurysm.

Once, we found a man underneath a bridge who had thought he wanted to be able to fly. He had jumped and thought he could fly away once he gained the ability. It hadn’t worked like that; he was dead before he hit the ground. Gorgeous blue-green wings had sprouted from his back and sucked the blood out from his heart to fill their veins. It was really quite pretty.

She passed me on the stairs. And she smiled at me, touched my shoulder the way you do a good friend if you can’t stop to say hello to them. And I could feel her lavender perfume like a crane hitching me up into the air, and underneath it I could smell all the different textures of death itself, soft and yielding like rotting flesh. I guess I don’t actually know how the olfactory sense works, I thought, as she held up a finger to her mouth like, “shh – don’t tell anyone.” She turreted her head back straight forward and kept walking. And so the second wave of her perfume hit me, and it was opium. Underneath it, burning charcoal.

And she walked into the bank and spoke calmly, “listen up, everybody. This is a robbery.”

Two security guards reached for their guns and immediately fell to the ground, their eyes glazed like marbles. They smiled quite widely. One woman wrapped herself in a chrysalis. A few tellers were set on fire and, as previously mentioned, a few dogs shat themselves. They yelped. A lonely, shaggy man was suddenly surrounded by his family and they died together.

The one teller that remained gathered the money quickly, panicking. She had a panic attack and an asthma attack at once, and leant against the wall and lost the use of her hands and for a moment it looked like she would stop breathing there. But she found her inhaler as if by magic and she straightened her back and she straightened her tie. There was a kind of glow about her, now. She walked like a fucking queen – not slowly, not quickly, but in her own time, and she gathered the unmarked black bars used for sensitive money-transfers. She punched in the right combinations, turned the right keys like she’d been doing this her whole life. The bars were completely untraceable, the Grand Central Bank’s speciality. Right after the teller confidently handed Death the bag she collapsed and died.

And Death walked out of there smiling, smelling of hibiscus and sulfur.

This is filling me with dread. I’m going to stop thinking about it. I think I saw a squirrel outside.


That is correct. This is exactly what it says on the tin. Or, is it?

Obviously, you have to read it to find out.

New Vignette! “Unreachable”

Hopefully this story makes sense. This is a story about a lover from long ago interacting with you, however briefly, and how you used to be.

New Story! The Anywhere Machine Appendix I – Futureful Skyful

A new vignette appears. It appendices The Anywhere Machine, which I have not finished fixing up yet. Some of you may know that I wrote a novella called The Anywhere Machine for NaNoWriMo last year: I am still editing that thing. If you desperately want to find it, you can probably nose around my tumblr-site until you find it. I don’t recommend that, but the option exists. I am also planning on adding two or three more appendices.

I have 18 entries to the glossary, and I’ll add a few more before publishing it. It will from thereon update only in the shadows, fanfarelessly.

My time travel story has been temporarily put on hold – but don’t worry, it will be awesome once it decides to return.

New Vignette! The Possession of Mmuti Kaan

A fun thing to do when being out of ideas, is to read your old works and see if any of them hint at something that could hint at being part of a continuity. (Originally, his name was Mmuti Has, but – anglocentrically – I changed it to Kaan, as Has is already a word and in a URL it looks like there’s a cutoff in the middle of the sentence. We can’t have that on this blog.)

So I found this:

(Obviously I am fine with sentence cutoffs in the URL for that blog.) So, this might be a running continuity because of that. Probably not, but one never knows!

Time Travel with Politics, and Notes on Lebensdauer

I added another story to the Choice Vignettes!

Before I begin, I want to note that while the author might dead, I can still have opinions. And, generally, I would know more than you about these opinions. I also might have used these opinions while writing the thing.

The title is inspired by the old German propaganda phrase Lebensraum. It means habitat, or ‘living room’. Space in which to live. Basically the Nazis used it to explain why they needed so much of other countries’ land, and starve so many of the lower classes. (If you starve enough people, you enter a surplus! It’s like winning arguments by exploiting dictionaries, but with people’s lives.)

Dauer means duration, which seemed the most appropriate thing coupled with room. Time might be better coupled with space, but Lebenszeit doesn’t sit right with me. I don’t know German, so possibly I’ve made a horrible mistake here.

Anyway, time travel with politics.

Hitler has a time travel exemption act, which means that if you’re writing time travel, you have to clarify why exactly your characters don’t go back in time to kill Hitler. Adolf Hitler, that is, if that was not clear. Unless your story actually centers around murdering Hitler (see: Lebensdauer) writers often feel they have to at least nod in that direction.

Now, it could be that you’ve got a time travel authority that keeps track of all the time travel – presumably by existing in a time-time, which is something I will define if you really want me to – and this authority has a moral obligation to protect history. Or to protect the natural order of things. Maybe time travel always leads to a Niven loop that annihilates itself, and this is how progress disappears – maybe that’s how Hitler came to in the first place: the universe propelling science into the direction of war, and not time, machines. Or maybe, I don’t know, Hitler actually runs the time travel authority and we need to preserve his past.

(Tangent: how creepy would it be if I referred to him as Adolf the whole time?)

Maybe someone demonstrates the butterfly effect. Maybe you’ve got some actual chronomics in there, and you can’t go back in time very far. Maybe the time machine is unreliable and prone to depression and only goes to nice stretches of time because it knows how it gets – it just refuses to land in a war or near bad people. Maybe you need a Weimar-era German passport to meet Hitler and gosh, you just don’t know any good enough forgers. Hell, maybe the people who travel in time are all evil, rich tourists, and dinosaur fetishists. The list goes on.

I once wrote a story in which nazism was actually needed to travel through time – it was simply a function of a certain neural pattern only achievable by nazism. naturally, the Pope (Ratzinger, I mean) showed up at the scientists’ doorstep and wanted to learn about it. He said he was reaching out to the science community, and then he disappeared from time and killed the most famous Jew of all: Jesus Christ.

Maybe the person with the power gets really nervous about meeting famous people and– no that’s enough, stop it. Just stop.

Anyway – once you’ve dealt with why they don’t fix the 40’s, you now don’t have to spend more time dwelling on the ramifications of time travel: clearly you’ve considered it. But if you actually have unlimited time travel, shouldn’t you be morally obligated to fix things? Having unlimited time travel at your disposal would be a heavy burden, if you stopped to think about it. Kind of like having omniscience, but less reliable.

I don’t think time travel exists. I think people who write time travel into stories should be more creative about it. I feel kind of bad for writing about it, adding another Hitler story to the pile, even though I was clever. I also feel bad for having the urge to write the infinite list of why we will not kill Hitler – and to remedy this I need to write something more clever, is all.

Notes on Mors Ontologica, and Greetings

[Trigger Warnings: suicide]

I wrote this thing a while ago. You should read it before you read the rest of this post. I guess I should have talked to you about it before; I told you yesterday I should tell you about it when I’m stable. Well, hah, I’m not. I posted it anyway, and I’m writing this. I am rebellious against myself like that, like cells that mitose and evolve to become the nemeses of each other. And I am writing it out here instead.

I told someone about it once and she mostly just stared at me. “Yes, you’re being scary. Maybe a little bit,” she said when I asked about it. I must have rambled for up to eight minutes, and she was all silent. Parts of the story come from that conversation, though translated and made to fit. Bernard is obviously me, or what I feel like. He doesn’t live in the real world though; his death is one he can’t go back from, though if I died I think I could go back. Never did die though, and I hope I will never attempt.

We – the one I told and I – had fucked two weeks prior and now I was breaking down, and I’m sorry about that, and it probably meant more to me than it did to her. It meant friendship to me, not any partnerness or anything. I loved, and love, her as a friend, and she is the only person who is beautiful. She said she saw it as friendship and I trust her on that, but I break like the walls of a dam and it was bad, wasn’t it. I am so sorry.

She seems to like me still. She seemed happy to have lunch with me, and the time before that, she mumbled something like ‘same goes for you’ when I told her I love her. I don’t know how it works. But that is not what this is about. I break like a dam and fuck I can’t stop crying.

I wrote it the 8th of October. That was ten days before a cataclysm. (Talking about the bad events as cataclysms makes it sound like my life is important.) Probably I could smell the iron in the air and that’s why I wrote it. That is what I get like when I’m suicidal. Physical suicide is so anathema to me that identity death is the only other option left. The title comes from the end of A Scanner Darkly, which resonates with me like a tuning fork.


Sometimes I want to die. And that is what happens. And I get away. Did you know that 75% of those who survive jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge report regretting it in mid-air? I think the person who told me that might have bullshitted, but that is the effect of me trying to die like that. Bouncing back with broken bones. But you can’t survive howevermany falls. And I have disappeared from myself now.

Repetition is my biggest tell. I repeat myself when I’m not okay. I have repeated myself two and a half thousand times this sentence alone. I’m absorbed by the something else. Sometimes I convulse and then I’m okay again.

Being not okay is not the same thing as wanting to die. I am just not okay now. I want to be alive.

Did I explain things here? I hope so.


Oh, and to all you … other people. Hi. This is my blog now. Things will happen here. Bookmark it.