[IFComp 2012] Fish Bowl

I love how this starts out like a motivational tape:

You’re master of your own destiny, Larry Wyndham. Another day, another dollar, Larry Wyndham. And above all remember: Time and tide wait for no man. You aren’t just a drunk beachcomber – you are Larry Wyndham the drunk beachcomber. What you need, the sea shall provide. Eventually. You hope.

But this isn’t titled The Power of Positive Beachcombing… it’s Fish Bowl by Ethan Rupp and Joshua Rupp.

I am immediately concerned about my surroundings, apparently there is a simple dresser missing one leg in the corner. How does that even work? Can you imagine opening up a drawer? Might as well just throw all of your clothes in a pile on the floor, because opening drawers sounds dangerous.

>take bowl
It is not wrong to carry around a fish bowl. You would be breaking no laws. On the other hand, because one can do a thing does not mean one should do a thing. You decide to leave it where it is.

Fair enough.

I like that I’m already operating under some level of paranoia:

>take shovel
You give the shovel a sideways wrench and yank it out of the ground. Dark, sticky fluid comes up with the blade and drips over your feet.

You focus your eyes. It’s just trapped water from the wet sand.

I think I need a drink. Just to calm the nerves, ol’ boy… and now I need another one, because I just found a dead cat. Sick.

What I really love about this game is the narrative voice:

Granted, you do live alone in a shack, you’re a drunk, and your memory is shot to hell. Also granted, there is a dead animal on your lawn. Then again, you have no idea how it got there. Which other people will definitely take into account when you explain how not crazy you are. Because the world is a warm and welcoming place for scavengers fallen upon hard times.

As you stand there, you think about mermaids, creatures that always terrified you when you were a child. You loathed the image of sickly pale human faces ploughing through the black waves. Even though they had human faces, their bodies were horrific – serpentine and hidden in the water like roots. A man would walk into the ocean towards the face, and when he saw what it really was it would be too late.

All that would be left was his footprints, heading into the sea.

It didn’t hit me until I was at the end that all of my paranoia (above) and little hints like this:

>l at hole
A conspicuously large grave for such a small animal.

And this:

>out
You have a strange feeling as you leave the ocean. You can’t tell whether you live on the shore and walked into the sea, or live in the sea and just walked onto the land. You hold your eyes shut, and the disorientation passes.

These were all pieces of what was really happening, just behind the facade of Larry Wyndham, beachcomber. The cat’s grave was really Gabriel’s grave. The message in the bottle was really part of the ship’s log. And my shack was really the shelter of my ruined spaceship. I love that I didn’t really understand what was happening – I guess that motivational tape piece in the beginning really cemented who I was, but I turn out to be a very unreliable narrator. Awesome.

And let me throw in this helpful PSA for you…

7/10.

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