Nula: Butterflies Rise is a decision-making game that explores the experience of living with anxiety.
Inspired by puzzle adventure games of the early 90s like Myst, the surreal comedy of Flann O'Brien, and the author's experience of living with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Nula creates an immersive textual experience, an insight into the daily struggle anxiety can be.
Claret & Blue:
Shaving David Moyes
In the evening-time, Kumar’s All Store in Stratford is electric. I was in there buying an emergency Lion Bar, some spiced Polish sausage, pickled mushrooms, and oranges. It’s a well-kept place: bottled water lining the fridge units; bagged confectionery adorning the serving hole; unpopular things, long Turkish breads, tinned chickpeas and beets at the back of the shop, lit by the fly killer. Spitting away.
I picked up a Badger shaving brush and inspected it, thinking about the smooth neck and jawline it promised. There was something about the flush curvature of its hairs which was pleasing to the touch, and I flicked it back and forth against my palm, translating the sensation to my face in my mind.
‘Don’t often see a young man like you with a thing like that’, said a man, softly; his tinny quiff barely visible above the one-blade Bic razors, sixty in a bag.
‘Just curious’, I replied blind, to the faceless presence in the aisle. ‘I’ve never used one before’.
The gentle Dunbartonshire accent was alluring — not quite pure Glaswegian, but that was its chief component; its outer edges buffed perhaps by many years in the capital.
I continued my shopping, thumbing at the shelves, semi-admiring their patterned lines and regularities. But thinking only of this Scottish man. Where did I—
At the terminus of the central gondola, reserved for party goods, funny-putty, collapsable horse toys, table mats, I turned my head to take in the expanse of this place. And I saw him.
In a shin-length claret puffer-jacket with sky-blue zipper and pocket-trim, his huge hood aloof and bespeckled with evening rain, there he was. There was a cleaning tub and utensil in his hand. He was having a thought.
‘Guess you’ll be giving something a scrub’, I said. Shit.
‘I’m sorry?’ he replied, and approached. His bulbous eyes aglow with reflections of the televised game-show at the till.
‘Scrubbing something — you know — removing the bits of soil and stuff’. Shit. Christ sake.
He whistled through his nose sympathetically and smiled, so the trenches by his eyes and in the hollows of his cheeks exposed the contours of his skull. He looked like a goblin. Like a sexy goblin.
Then I recognised him. His jaundice. His supply-teacher pizzazz. His West Ham United official merchandise whistle.
It was David Frances Moyes.
‘I tend not to use tubs like this for housework’, he oozed, sidling closer. ‘Declan Rice is having an apple-bobbing party at our ground; party bags, Travis CD for dancing.
Kouyaté’s made a flan.
Do you like flan?’
He reached out his hand and laid it on my forefinger, knuckle, and index. The tip of his nose next to mine.
‘Cheese and eggs in a sort of, savoury, historical cake. What’s not to like’.
David Moyes was hungry at the thought of Kouyaté’s flan and he began to chew, his teeth closing around my cheek, gnawing at me affectionately. Like a suckling foal at a nipple. Braying for a little sweet milk.
‘You know,’ he purred, ‘if an anaconda bites you, clasps its jaws around your arm and starts to squeeze’, he ran his fingers up my forearm, ‘really tight — forcing the air out of you — so very very tight; you know what you should do? You should… relax. Push your hand deeper into its jaws as far as you can go. Till it unclenches a little. Ask your assistant-manager, or your kit-guy, as calmly as you can, to wrench open its mouth. And you are, away. Free. Alive’.
So I kissed him — David Frances Moyes, the World-Weary Wicked Witch of the West, with his tie and all of his breath — his life; his liveliness. I licked up the length of his tongue with mine and I touched him on his pelvis. David Moyes, I thought, formerly of Real Sociedad and Sunderland. No-one would believe this.