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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