The Hand

I showed them my new hand. It was much better than my old hand. This one could count up to six. It could also close itself into a fist both the usual way and the other way, which wasn’t much use I admitted to the crowd. But what use is use when you can do things like that I said. And like this!

A woman fainted and so did a man.

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The Market

There was food everywhere but none of it was as good as mine. I went up to every stall and told them so and showed them my wares, which I held out in front of me on a plate that was also better than theirs.

“Try it,” I said. “It is the new food.”

They reached out with their hands and took a small cube and held it up to the light and examined it carefully for defects and when the defects were not found they popped the cube into their mouths and gave it a trepidatory chew.

Not one of them survived.

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The Coin

He held his fist before me, tightly clenched.

“I have in my hand the coin,” he said.

“What kind of coin?” I asked.

The coin.”

“What kind of coin?” I insisted.

“I cannot show you the coin.”

“You don’t even have a coin, do you?” I accused. “Nobody has a coin.”

“I don’t have a coin. I have the coin,” he italiced.

“What kind of coin?” I re-iterated. “If it even is a coin.”

“It is the coin.”

I pushed him in the chest with two of my hands and he stumbled back but his hand never wavered nor unclenched nor even somehow moved and instead of falling over he was held up by his hand which held on to nothing except perhaps for the coin.

“How did you do that?” I enquired.

“It is the coin.”


I began to turn away but even as I turned my eyes stayed looking at his hand and the more I turned the more painful this became and so I turned back and looked at the hand straight on rather than obliquely through the translucent edges of my skull.

I stared at his hand for a while with a winning intensity and eventually my gaze unsettled him into a declamation.

“Behold,” he said. “Behold the coin!”

He began to unfurl his palm, slowly, so slowly. His huge fingers peeling away one by one like bananas opening up to reveal the pearl in their grasp.

The anticipation pricked at my skin and I jumped up and down and wobbled my legs around and leant forward then backwards then forward again and finally his hand was open and I could see the palm of his hand and it was empty and coinless.

“You may touch the coin.”

There wasn’t a coin.

“You may touch the coin.”

I leant in close and poked at his palm with the cleanest of my fingers.

I felt… something. Something cold. Something old. Something untold.

“What is it?” I said.

“It is the coin.”

I pressed the coin. You wouldn’t believe how I pressed it.

There was a click, a tick, finally a tock. His fingers sprang back into position. He turned and ran away.

And that is how I lost my hand and gained the coin.

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The Unnaming Machine

I was tired of my name and desired a new start, which was fortunate, because the government had declared my name a weapon of war and impelled me to remove it.

And so I had to enter the unnaming machine.

The Unnaming Machine, to give it its full name, is a big ovoidal structure that glows white while idle and then quickly pulses through all the possible sub-colours while unidle. Then finally it resumes its whiteness and the newly unnamed creature, person, or thing emerges. It is at this point that a new name can be picked, and indeed has to be picked, for not only has the creature, person or thing fully forgotten their name but also so has the universe at large (except for the government official on hand whose job it is to ensure the name has been successfully expunged).

Today’s government official was        , her name badge told me. Her face resembled          ‘s, which was disconcerting in some ways, not least for           who was here as a witness.

She said, “Name?”

And I said, “Toby. Toby Vok.”

She said, “Correct.”

And I said, “Do I need to take off my shoes?”

And she said, “No, it should be fine.”

And then I said, “What about my trousers?”

And she said, “No, it should be fine.”

And I said, “What about my silk shirt, crystallised cravat, and spiderweb hairnet?”

And she said, “No, it should be fine.”

I handed her my watch just in case and stepped inside.

Being inside the machine was strangely like being outside the machine and imagining you were inside it. There was a quick rumble and a prolonged pulse phase and then a pause for a second that you could easily have missed if you weren’t as aware of pauses as I am. Then the machine opened and I was ejected back out into the room.

“What is your name?” the government official said.

“Toby,” I said. “Toby Vok.”

“What?” she said. “That’s not right. It’s not worked.”

She looked over at     in the corner. “It’s not worked,” she said.

    looked concerned. “Toby what have you done,” he said.

I laughed and laughed and laughed. I had performed a reversal.

“I have performed a reversal,” I told them.

They were never getting their names back now. No one was.

No one but me.

Behind me the machine began a long and colourful explosion phase, which was, I hoped, merely the prelude to a much longer much less colourful dust and soot phase.

Before me,           wept like I had never seen him weep before.

As I skipped past     and         I repeated my name over and over again like a mantra (tobyvoktobyvoktobyvoktobyvokTOBYVOKTOBYVOKTOBYVOKtobyvoktobyvoktobyvok) and then with a wink I danced out of the room and into the newly beautifully nameless world beyond.

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The Herald

The Herald rode up on his horse and stopped by the garden gate.

“I am,” he heralded, “The Herald.”

“Hahaha terald,” I said.

“No!” The Herald shouted. “The Herald.”

“Herald Vaaaaaaaak,” I said.

“No!” The Herald shouted. “The Herald.”

The Herald rode off.

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Spiders Are Wonderful
















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several conversements: final conversement: auto


from: Ted
to: Toby

Toby, Look at this

[see attached image below]

It is a scene from my autobriography (the extra R there is intentional, copyrighted), Tales From My Bathtub. Would you like a copy, so that you and your lawyers can ensure that you have been successfully defamed?




from: Toby
to: Ted

Yes, I would like a copy. Please ensure the picture is included on every page, even if that means all other text must be removed. It is a fine likeness.

from: Ted
to: Toby

I am sorry but the manuscript has just this very afternoon been destroyed (unexpected high winds in the perplexing chamber). No further correspondence shall be entered into.


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several conversements: conversement #12: blockages

Conversement #12

from: Ted
to: Vok Nutritional Severices

Dear Vok Nutritional Services,

I have been experienceing severe t o mild abdominal pain at regular frequencies throughout the day. On close and thorough inspection, under both micro-and macro-scopic viewings, it is evident that my intestines have become clogged with a strange, thick, foul looking substance. Is it sausages, do you think?

Ted, A Worrier

from: Vok Nutrition
to: Ted

Mr. A. Worrier,

The only way to be sure is to start eating sausages. If they displace the original contents then it confirms that it was, indeed, sausages. If it doesn’t, return to the rotary chamber.

Toby’s Assistant
(just kidding, it is I, Toby)

from: Ted
to: Nutrivok

Assisted Toby,

Thamk ye. Suasauge it be. gbejhe dhjfhgjbdenneeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee

from: Ted
to: NuVo


A series of serious seizures seized me, leading to unexplicable poundings upon the keys of my textichord. I am, however, better now.

Thank you

Ted (sausageless)


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several conversmentes: conversment #11: seasonalsneeze

Conversement #11

from: Terrible Phark
to: Father Toby

Dear Father Vok

I have the following symptoms. Burst of pain above the eye. Watering of nose, running of eyes. Slower than usual turn-of-head speed. Eyes oversensitive to light, colour, shapes. Suggestive perhaps of a “cold” or CHULL. What say you, in your professional capacity as a tender of flesh and soul.

Of course this may all simply be psychosomatic hayfever (I saw a daffodil, two kinds of blossom, a bee, and, despite my isolation, it is possible my immunoresponses activated unneccessarily), in which case your help is neither required nor requested.

Good day

Terrible Phark

from: Fr. Toby
to: Ted (A parishioner)

What percentage slower head turn? That is the key difference between a cold and a CHULL and will determine what treatment should be offered.

a) None (none required)
b) 4hrs, Rotary Chamber
c) 8hrs, Rotary Chamber
d) None (no point)

If the bee follows you into the rotary chamber, proceed to d). Do not pass a).


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several conversements: conversement #10: unopened

Conversement #10

from: Toby
to: Ted



from: Ted
to: Toby

And yet, messages could still enter, and the capaciousness of the box was never breeched. This suggests that the box is formed from a substance permeable by thought but not matter, surrounds an envelope of space of infinite informational density (I have sent many messages, and no doubt have many others, for your fame is quite unholy).

I would say that perhaps you should, now the box is open, begin to fill it with dirt. Eventually, the whole world will be within your box, and may be discarded as you wish.

from: Toby
to: Ted

speaking of boxes, do you ever watch UNBOXING VIDEOS on the YOUTUBE, Ted?


so much technology

so little dirt

from: Ted
to: Toby

I once invented the sport of Unboxing, for an existential novel based around the concept of reversals in all things. I myself was once very good at unfootball, where with the aid of magnets you have to suck ballbearings out of nets.

I do not like this talk of tubes.

Ted Vaaak

from: Toby
to: Ted

But what is a man but a series of tubes? NOTHING a man is NOTHING but a series of tubes

and that is why I have invested heavily in tubes


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