Johannes Punkt’s Flaskpost

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Tag: zombie apocalypse


Good! You’re here. Just in time. Today’s story is one of ethereal awesomeness in the full sense of the word, The Glorious Dead.

I’ve received two of Uel Aramchek’s secret fictions now, and they’re amazing. There is a nowness to them. These are not things meant to go down in history, but they are experienced now and then sunk. It is a bit like going to poetry readings five hundred years ago. There is some power in the secrecy. You can join the exclusive club here:

Translation notes in English, as usual, are to be found at the bottom of the post. If you would like to contact me about translations or stories or ideas, my email is johannespunkt at gmail dot com. You can find the rest of the translations in this project at this link: /tag/the-north-of-reality-translation-project/


    av Uel Aramchek
        översättning: Johannes Punkt

Inte mer än minuter efter det att viruset tog deras liv började offren växa sina första fjädrar. Varje plym var gyllene och genomskinlig och skimrade violett och smaragdgrönt. Metamorfosen ägde rum ögonblicken efteråt; deras pupiller virvlade utåt tills de var avgrundslika spiraler, deras lockar vällde fram i lejonlika manar, och all färg i deras blod avtog tills det var klart som regnvatten.

Vi föreställde oss aldrig att zombierna skulle vara vackrare än oss själva. Det svåraste med att slåss tillbaka var hur de sjöng när de närmade sig, ljuva och främmande psalmer i ett språk som bara kunde talas med flera röster åt gången. Varenda en av dem var en änglakör i sig själv. Det var svårt att tro att det fanns något värde i att vara vid liv ifall döden kunde se så här ut, men likväl stod vi på oss.

De som såg på dem med avund i blicken var de första som gav vika. Vad gäller överlevarna tog vi upp våra vapen, våra pilar och våra svärd och vi tog isär dem. De var perfekta från insidan och ut – benen vi hämtade från liken kunde till och med användas som prismor. Nu när allt är över finns det samlare som köper och säljer deras fjädrar på marknaden. För någon som mig finns det dock bara skam i att ens titta på dem.

Jag hemsöks av sånger jag aldrig kommer höra igen. I mina drömmar låter jag deras kristallina tänder sjunka ner i min vanliga dödliga hud och då, då kan jag godta att bli någonting fulländat snarare än förruttnat.



The word “centered” (especially in comnbination with “accents”) posed a problem here, because I found no real equivalence in Swedish. I didn’t find this meaning in the dictionary either, but to me that sentence seems to mean that the feather’s centre area (spol in Swedish, apparently, if you were curious. Or maybe spole; I’m extrapolating from other terms) is golden and there are hints and accents of violet and clover (which I rendered as smaragd, “emerald” to keep the feeling more than the exact colour) at the tips of each featherbarb. I wrote this instead as the feathers shimmering with the accent colours, I imagine like the rainbow you can see in oil leaks and such.

I added the word “vanliga,” usual/normal, to “mortal” to suggest the right kind of mortality, because otherwise it seems the flesh is deadly. “Vanliga dödliga” is a common idiomatic phrase meaning “‘mortals.”

I had trouble with the combination of spiral as a verb and whorl as a noun, because the cognates of those – spiral and virvel/virvla – work best in the other configuration, until I realized I could just translate “spiral” into “virvla” and “whorl” into “spiral.” The rest was straightforward or things I’ve already gone over until the last three words, where some poetry had to be involved. According to this handy graph that I made, the words perfection and putrefaction are alike:

A hand-drawn Venn diagram with one circle containing the letter E, one side containing the letters UTA, and their intersection containing the letters PREFCTION.

This requires there to be at least some semblance between the two words. This proved a bit difficult. I initially wanted two noun phrases but the only two acceptable direct translations of “perfection” are perfektion and fulländning. There’s no noun, as far as I can find, that half-rhymes with either and means ‘rot.’ So I went over to verbs, for which fullända and förruttna work pretty well. I couldn’t separate them with just one word, which is a shame, but I think this translation holds up. As a final touch, I glitched the word “then” – – and had it repeat once in order to get the same sense of arrest right before the final clause.

The Author is Undead – how to analyse literature and kill zombies

I can confirm that, since I am the only person still alive on the university premises, I will be teaching this course next semester. I remind you that I am the only person with the keys to this place, and I have hidden the keys somewhere not on my person. I have dried food and resources and I’m happy to share them, but only if you’ve got a passing grade. I remind you, also, that you cannot open locked doors. No, really. You have no special skillset. These are modern doors, in old buildings. You can’t even break a window. You will have to listen to me.

Sign up now! Limited places available. Intruders will be killed.

In this course we will learn some useful terminology relevant to the field of literary criticism. If you’ve ever been curious why a Nobel Prize winner really won the Nobel Prize, this is the course for you. You will be asked to bring your own shovels, meat cleavers, and pick-axes. I have sealed off the library, but if you really cannot find the literature anywhere else I am willing to let you in to search the shelves. The door will be opened once again exactly an hour later, and if you do not egress by then you will be assumed lost, or turned. The curriculum is as follows.

January 14. “A Mere Rifle”, lecture. In short: the basic survival strategies. Always work in pairs; never use a shotgun; the basics. How do we separate intention from result, or heads from necks cleanly? (You are not required to attend any of the lectures, of course, but even if you think you know everything I am about to say, lecture hall B is one of the safest places in the building, and one of the few that still have electricity.)

January 17. “Is This All the Fault of Zombie Novelists?”, lecture. A history of the zombie apocalypse, to the best of my understanding. A close look at the body of work that predated this armaggeddon. Those of you who were too busy struggling with simple survival might find it interesting to see how this all relates to literature today. What does the addition of poac do to the established modes of thinking of pomo and popomo? Also: we learn when it is okay to describe things as post-infrastructuralist as opposed to post-structuralist.

February 3. Essay deadline. I don’t truly care what you write about, but here are some starting points, should you need them.

1. Does the author’s life up until the point of writing their work factor in on the value or meaning of the book? (No. Don’t be daft.) If you think it does, why wouldn’t the rest of their life also factor in? Many authors keep writing new forewords to their new editions; do we include the sentiments expressed in those? Do we include their incoherent moansfootnote? The author is dead, and should stay dead.

2. You are in a burning book store and can only take three books with you, intending to leave, before the roof collapses. Analyse your mistakes. Why were you in the book store? You almost survive the roof collapsing – the beam is restricting your breathing but not prohibiting it entirely – but you cannot move. Eventually the soot lines the insides of your lungs. Describe your last thoughts.


February 11. “Deconstruction”, lecture. In this lecture, I lay out the tools you can use to apply the knowledge you have gained in praxis. What is genre? What holds a body together, and what can we do to break it down? Gardening tips for the long game.

February 25. “Dead, or Just Sleeping? How to Make Sure”, lecture, followed by open discussion, followed by a big feast. This is the date weakly inked out next to the ‘eat-by’ line on much of the dried food, and by then I calculate that the freezers in the cafeteria will have stopped working. We do cling to the trappings of our old, fallen civilisation. No-one really knows why the date on those bars is 25 Feb., but it is, and we follow it. Surely it should be time to examine our old beliefs and disbeliefs about the world, and not blindly accept the word of those who led us into this darkness in the first place? But we would feel uneasy eating those nutrition bars and rice cakes after this day. We have read things about proteins breaking down, and we have seen the smug scurrying of flour beetles before, and that’s what sticks in our minds. It feels safe to hold onto the past. This building is a safe place. Unless we’ve figured an alternative source of food by this date, I have nerve gas and exactly one gas mask, and if I know myself I won’t have any qualms about eating people by then.

Thank fuck no-one reads this far down in a curriculum anyway.

March 6. Examination. I take you this a nearby graveyard that I found, where the tombstones all mention the prehumous profession of the corpse. We pick out one that says ‘novelist’ or ‘writer’, and you dig up their grave and make sure they are actually dead. Survival means passing.


1. I heard one of them outside my window one night. I recognised her as a famous children’s novel author. “Rrrrrroooooooooooooooohhh” she said, in a long, slow drawl. Later in the night she switched syllable, “hhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwlllllllllllaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhh”. It was mesmerising to listen to, and I will be updating the curriculum when I figure out a good way to pry myself away from the noises. “Baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrthhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss.”