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.
Mutt unleashed, lembas bread wrapped and San Pellegrino packed, Tom says 'Up we go' with a twinkle in his eye as he turns to ascend. Dutifully, I canter after my hard-bodied guide, stumbling over the raspberry thicket, my heart aflutter, and moistened brow cooled by the Devonian breeze. “This’ll be no bother this will”, he says, his West Country lilt alighting a newfound vigour within me. 'Don’t mean that Scrumpy’s o’er the hill no hard less earned, no'. For the first time I find my lust for cider dulled and my appetite for gradients whetted. It can’t end, I want to walk these hills forever.
'This ‘ere then, this be the "Broadclyst Pooper!"', he chortles, his brimming chest shuddering, a knee slapping guffaw revealing a darkened patch of armpit sweat. ‘So, he is human’, I thought, bringing an end to a long ponderance on the mobility of marble. I laughed along sheepishly, doing my utmost to participate in what was obviously a longstanding local lark likening circular shrubbery to that of an anus. The self-ascribed mirth obviously churning the snuff, he let out a mighty lugie then blew his nose clear, sans kerchief. 'Right, there be a nice river to cool off in on the other side of this here crack'. I choked on the mineral water, doubling over. He slapped my back with the calloused hands of the arborist he was, setting off down the colon. 'Not far now ya babber!'
Primrose and celandine blossomed through the hardened cow patties that spotted the field, turning the fenced square into a paddock of patchy bloom. It was quiet, with only the spearing of my stilettos through topsoil and the squelching thud of his man feet to ring in my ears. I couldn’t see it through the treeline but could hear the running waters of the River Teign just beyond it.
Suddenly, the quince paste was rising in my throat, with close mouthed belches bringing the fetid prologue of vomit. He turned back, the nerve induced syncopation of my steps pricking his sharp country ears. 'Not far now jelly legs, you’ll ‘ave yer kit off in no time'. The smile he smiled before looking back ahead, coupled with the notion of nudity saw the Membrillo hurtle upwards, chunkily reconstituted, to fill my cheeks. As he ducked down beyond the treeline, I spluttered lunch out the same way it had come in, a once-amber-now-brown sludge splattering across the wild meadowsweet. 'Oh that's loverley that is!' I hear through the dense foliage. I wipe my face clean and bury the sullied bonnet in the dirt. I amble down the path to the river bank. As I make my way clear of the overhang, my lace levee breaks and state of moisture turns to gush, a torrent bursting through the French artisanship. His blonde mop wet and slicked back revealed his clear blue eyes in a bobbing head, two meat spears perforating my essence as his gaze coursed through my soul.
'You coming then lurve?'.
'Mr Gaisford', I hoarsely replied, clearing the Southern belle from my throat before continuing.
'I’m afraid I already have'.