Key & Compass presents:
Murder on the Big Nothing
by Tony Pisculli

Murder on the Big Nothing is a Z-machine interactive fiction story written with Inform 7 and is © 2018 by Tony Pisculli. It was an entry in the Main Festival of Spring Thing 2018.

In this short story, you play as the spirit or ghost of a man recently shot to death on a train. You should try to find out who you were, why you were murdered, and if there's something else you should do—if you can do anything—before moving on.

This solution is by David Welbourn, and is based on Release 1 of the story.


banknote thread corpse,wallet, receipt,ID, photo pendant,mirror Mason, gun,Gina, sack BoxcarFour BoxcarThree BoxcarTwo BoxcarOne BoxcarZero f f f f b b b b

Boxcar Two

You heard a gunshot, and now you're beside a corpse.

Note that time acts strangely in this story. In most locations, time is at a standstill. When you move from one boxcar to another, you relive a few seconds from your recent past at normal speed, but understand that's not happening now. It's only when you're in Boxcar Zero when time truly starts to move forward, albeit slowly.

> x corpse. x receipt. take receipt. (Can't.)

> x wallet. take wallet. (Can't.)

> b.

Boxcar Three

> x thread. take thread. (+1 strength; flashback)

> b.

Boxcar Four

> x banknote. take it. (Feel an adrenaline rush.)

> f. f.

Boxcar Two

> take receipt. (+1 strength; flashback)

> f.

Boxcar One

> x mirror. x pendant. take it. (+1 strength; flashback)

> b.

Boxcar Two

> take wallet. (+1 strength; flashback)

> open wallet. x id. x photo.

> take id. (flashback)

> take photo. (flashback)

> f. f.

Boxcar Zero

Time progresses in this boxcar, but slowly. Still, you can't waste too much time. If the bullet reaches Gina, she will die.

> x Mason. x gun. x Gina. x sack.

You must have gained strength four times for this to be successful:

> take gun.

Mason falls out of the boxcar. Gina survives. Everything fades to white.

*** The End ***




I note that taking the gun even after the gun has been fired still saves Gina. There's no ending where both Mason and Gina die.


As an insubstantial spirit or ghost, you can't easily carry things. Start with the lightest items; the more you take, the more you'll be able to take. Also, every time you take a new item, you'll remember something from your past.

You will gain strength by taking items:

You must have gained strength four times to be strong enough to take the gun in the final scene. However, you will never be strong enough to take or deflect the bullet once the gun has been fired.

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