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Zip-Zip & Yo-Yo Adventures MAG
After looking back on the events following Zippy’s arrival on earth, Joshi laughed. What may have been trials of discipline and anger were now more bearable, but if Joshi had the chance to do it again, she would not, for the sake of keeping her sanity. All that had occurred was an experiment of imagination passing into reality.
No takeout, no chopsticks
“Ah, thank you, Hitoshi,” said Yoshi upon receiving a cup of ramen from the office errand boy. There she was, Yoshi Tokio, reclining in a wheeled chair, staring out the window of the junior graphics department in the headquarters of Ninja magazine. Yoshi was a Japanese girl, but also part Chinese and part Korean. She was nine years old and had long black hair with thick bangs. She often wore a baseball cap that said something in Japanese. Yoshi unzipped her canvas art bag and took out her sketchbook. On a noodle-ly day such as this, one couldn’t help but think of mischief.
“All I want is ... a dog!” And she began to draw a dog, as was the common subject in all her artwork. A dash of ink and a speck of color, and then ... well, there was just another dog on the paper.
“My dog would be much cooler than normal. It would be like me! Only different.” And at that, a brand-new idea entered her head. It started with only one word to hear.
“Zippy!” And little did she know that it was there to stay.
“I’ll call it a space-dog, a dog from another universe. She’ll be blue with big ears and purple spots. She’ll speak to me in a robotic voice, but will not be a machine. She will be intelligent and fun to be around. My dog’s name will be Zippedity Zhong, in short, Zippy.”
Zippy had landed.
“Hello, I am Zippy,” said Zippy in a robotic voice. Yoshi looked down to see a cute, multicolored puppy sitting at her feet, wagging its tail.
“Zippy, you must hide! If someone sees-”
“Sees what? Sees that you have found the unforbidden paintbrush of personalities?” said Zippy, referring to the paintbrush that had drawn her.
“Hide in my mind and I shall use this paintbrush to call you out.”
“Agreed, Yoshi-san. Let the chaos begin.”
In the following weeks Yoshi enjoyed talking to Zippy and listening to her strange advice.
“The world isn’t as blue as the abyss,” said Zippy.
“What is the abyss?” asked Yoshi.
“It is your mind and how you view it.”
Over the next few weeks, Yoshi also had the pleasure of cleaning up after Zippy’s sock fights in her bedroom, Zippy’s sharpening of all pencils on both ends and the attempted sharpening of pens. Along with all this, Yoshi discovered a mysterious decrease in her supply of toilet paper. Zippy was a messy roommate, but she was a dog, after all. Yoshi could talk to Zippy about politics, sciences, history, subatomic particles, and psychology, among other topics. Yoshi’s major chore at home was unclogging toilets. While she was plunging a toilet, Zippy would sit on the tank, talking to her.
Yoshi had fun playing with Zippy after school and on weekends, but she wished she weren’t so lonely at school. She wanted a best friend as much as she’d ever wanted a pet dog. Yoshi went to bed thinking about this on a particular evening.
Yoshi had a fine set of brushes wrapped in a bamboo mat and placed in a sheath fit for a sword. One paintbrush was a bamboo brush that said “Zippy” on it. Because this set of paintbrushes was Yoshi’s finest secret, it was only natural that Zippy would find it. The day Zippy did find it was the day Yoshi went to bed normally and woke up differently.
The next morning Yoshi woke up not feeling like herself. But, being herself, she rolled out of bed like she had every morning. Only, this time she fell on
the floor. Before this morning she had never fallen on the floor because her Japanese bed had already been on the floor. Rubbing her head, she looked at her bed. The comforter had Norse dragons instead of zodiac dragons, and the bed was two feet off the ground, two feet too much.
Yoshi looked around in a panic. She didn’t want to think about what had just happened. Running to the nearest file cabinet, she looked for anything that was the same. The only thing she spotted were a pair of snow boots, “Yoshi boots,” made of a bright aqua-green rubber. She pulled open a drawer of the filing cabinet. Zippy jumped out of the drawer and into her mind. Yoshi began to get a huge headache. Before she knew it, she was standing in front of a mirror, still in her pajamas. A girl that looked exactly like her was standing beside her. It was Zippy as a human.
“I will duplicate another body for you to have,” said Zippy.
“But I want to be myself!”
“You will be,” said Zippy still speaking robotically, “only different.”
Zippy blasted light all over and had Yoshi look in the mirror again. “This girl is American, and I think she’s just as pretty as you! I’ll make you look just like her, only not.”
Not quite understanding Zippy’s explanation, Yoshi replied, “But what if I don’t want to be pretty?”
Yoshi turned around to see Zippy morph her alienism into Yoshi’s former body, giving Zippy the appearance of the Japanese Yoshi, only with purple eyes, much larger, alienish ears, and two very noticeable snail eyes poking out of the top of her head. With one good-bye, Zippy began to fade away.
“I’ll be in Tokyo,” she said. Only this time her voice was not robotic, but deep and gruff (and a tad bit scary). Zippy was unrealistic, but human.
Yoshi looked back in the mirror. She realized she was in a bathroom. Then she realized what she looked like. Her hair was short and strawberry blond, with blue edges. Her eyes were still dark brown and a little bit red, but her skin was now very, very pale.
Unsure of what to do, Yoshi ran back to the file cabinet in the middle of the hallway. She pulled open the first drawer. There was nothing in it except a piece of paper. Unfolding it, Yoshi read in English, “No takeout, no chopsticks - policy of Zippedity Zhong, Anime Paint Studio, Ink.” What had appeared to be an ad or a fortune cookie riddle might be both an advertisement slogan and a trick of wits. In any case, Zippy had misspelled the abbreviation for “incorporated.” Yoshi shoved the drawer shut and reached for the one remaining drawer in the filing cabinet.
“Nuh-uh-uh!” echoed a strangely familiar voice.
“You, you’re still in my head!” Yoshi sputtered.
“Well, not exactly,” said Zippy. “You see, this is a back-up file of me. I thought I’d duplicate myself so I’d be here for you even while I’m taking your place over yonder.”
Yoshi opened her mouth but nothing came out. She was not the happiest of campers at the moment, although her curiosity was thrilled at the suspense of the situation.
“You can’t open the second drawer yet because you haven’t heard the explanation of the first. As my motto states, you can’t get chopsticks without the effort of showing up for takeout. You can’t find what you want until you make an effort to search for it.
“Dreaming about something brings pleasure, but not success. You have to do instead of just think. Cooperate with yourself, that’s what I say, Sport.” After a pause the voice of Zippy ended the greeting. “Takeout, yeah, like I said ... I’m hungry for takeout.” And then her presence was gone.
Yoshi looked down at the unopened drawer. Where was she? What was Zippy? What were the rules of this arrangement? To find the answers, she knew there was only one thing to do ...
Chapter 2 - Yoshi to Joshi
Yoshi yanked open the second drawer of the mysterious filing cabinet. It held stacks of papers organized in an orderly fashion. In other words, it looked like an ordinary filing cabinet. Yoshi was surprised. She was expecting fireworks or some other special effect, knowing what she did about Zippy’s way of giving information.
Yoshi pulled out the file at the very front. She opened the manila folder, and boom! All the other folders that had been neatly arranged in the small compartment of the cabinet evaporated into small, twinkling snails floating in midair.
For the second time in the last 30 seconds, Yoshi was surprised.
“Read, read!” the snails squeaked in high-pitched voices, “the more you know the more you can be! Be, be! Be who you are! If there’s any advice we can give you, it’s this: Nothing stinks as much as caviar!” With that, the snails took off at top speed (averaging 30 centimeters per hour), gliding through the air and out the window.
Yoshi examined the folder and then its contents. A second glance at the cover revealed “Joshi” typed in blue on the tab with a paw print dotting the i. The folder had paint stains and fingerprints along the cover and inside pages, the first of which was a bio about someone. Attached to the bio was a photo of the someone it described.
Status: loner, tomboy
Archetype: anti-hero, shadow, sage, platonic ideal
Nationality: half Scandinavian, half mystery but 100% American (wants to be an elf, claims to have invisible tail)
Blood type: 0 negative (because the glass is half empty)
Hair: short and yellow (not blond) with bangs, sometimes blue (depends on mood)
Kringle: prefers it cold, with hot chocolate
Yoshi found a long list of speech patterns tucked behind the bio, and under that she found her lucky baseball cap - only it was no longer Japanese. It said “Sport” now. She put it on, backwards, like a punk. Beneath the cap was her favorite magazine, only now with a different title, Skrive. She flipped through it, realizing it was last month’s issue translated into a different language. A piece of paper fell out. It was a city map, detailed to show every single object and piece of furniture between her and the next two blocks. A yellow smiley face was drawn in crayon around the words “filing cabinet, where you are now.” Yoshi traced her finger along a yellow dotted line to a building located down the street and to the right, where it was written, “Destination: Come here with your folder and its contents!”
Feeling she had no choice, Joshi changed into some clothes she found in a closet and jumped into her Yoshi boots, tucking the folder under her arm. She was wearing her lucky cap (her only hat) and lucky boots (her only shoes), so just maybe she’d find some answers and a plane ticket home. What she wouldn’t have guessed was that she was going to get a lot more answers than she bargained for.
Yoshi looked up. The sign on the building read Character Data Center. A fire hydrant with dog feces next to it stood to the side of the building, as shown on the map. She walked in, stepping over a wad of gum on the entrance mat, as had also been on the map.
A clerk no older than 13 sat behind a counter near the door gnawing on a gum wrapper. He sat under a sign that read Confusement Cases. Yoshi’s gut told her this was the place she needed to go.
“Excuse me, I’ve been told to come here due to a recent change in character by way of paper data.”
“Yapf, this is where they send you when that happenses. Present paperwork evidence, miss.”
Yoshi placed the folder on the counter. The clerk ran a neon light scanner over the character bio, the map, and the speech pattern list inside. It made beepity noises that would bounce off sound waves at random tempos and pitches - an odd song of sound effects out of tune.
“What is it doing?” Yoshi questioned.
“This maw-sheen counts how many words are written all over these pages. The more beeps, the more words-es. The more words-es, the longer your confusement. Makes things mores ek-siting, yapf?” His way of speaking seemed enough to confuse anyone.
Just then the neon scanner stopped beeping and flashed a number on its screen: 599,950. Yoshi didn’t think there could possibly be 599,950 words on three pages and was about to tell the clerk the machine must be broken when a phone below the counter rang.
“Yapf? Oh, yapf, client nummer 35 is here. Yapf, will do. Thanks you, bye-eeee.”
He put down the phone and spit the gum wrapper out of his mouth. “599, 950. So many words missing, so great a way to finds them. Life is full of searchings for lost things, yapf?”
Yoshi nodded, beginning to get a slight idea of what might be going on.
“I am going to ask you some questions, and you must provide mee with answers to every one, miss.”
“What is your name? Write it down here.” He put down a pen and a blank nametag on the counter. Printed on the pen was the warning, “Do not eat this pen. It has ink in it. It would occur you a bad problem.”
Yoshi didn’t know why anyone would assume a pen had no ink left in it and want to eat it. She also did not think there was such a thing as a problem that was not bad - that’s why problems were troublesome, like math problems. But Yoshi was only in her ninth year of breathing, eating, and sleeping, and she knew this. A kid like her is used to being confused and used to not knowing everything about the world and why it was and why it worked the way it did.
Yoshi picked up the pen and started to write, only there was no ink.
“Umm, this pen doesn’t seem to be working. I think it’s out of ink.”
The young clerk sighed. “People assume so much - assuming thingies are broken just because they don’t work eks-actly the way they ek-spect them to. Did you tell it to write?”
Yoshi shook her head.
“Then just ask it.”
Yoshi whispered in her mind, Please work, ink. Please work, pen. And so it did. Yoshi wrote “Yoshi” on the nametag and showed it to the clerk.
“What’s this? Y-o-s-h-i? I don’t thinks I can pronounce that. It doesn’t seems feasible. Ah, look at that, the ink isn’t sticking to the paper just yet.” He pointed to the nametag where the ink was gliding off the paper and dissolving. “Try it differently. You know, the better beginning of something makes way for a better end.”
Yoshi didn’t understand how her name could be wrong. How could someone get the wrong answer for his or her name? Yoshi wanted to tell the clerk that his questions weren’t “feasible,” but Yoshi felt something in her shoe at that moment. She squatted on the floor and reached into her left Yoshi boot. She felt something long and hard near her heel. She took out a ... paintbrush? Yes, it was a paintbrush, and yes, it had been in her shoe. The paintbrush said something on it in runic. She flipped it over to find a translation: “Ioshi/Joshi.” But it didn’t add up, there were more letters in the alphabetic translation, which produced two words, while the runic was obviously one. She showed the paintbrush to the young clerk.
“I see. Your name is Joshi.”
“That’s what I told you! I also wrote it down!”
“No, what you had written down was Yoshi. This runic can be translated as either Joshi or Ioshi because in runic, J and I share the same letter. Guess you’ll nevers really know if you’re Joshi or Ioshi ... unless ... ah, neverminds. I think you are Joshi, but I could never be sure.”
Yoshi wrote Joshi on the nametag and it stuck. Joshi then said, “I am Joshi.”
The clerk then sat on the counter and reached out his hand for a handshake. Joshi shook it, and statically shocked him in the process. “Kool name, Joshi. I am Jyger. Now, you must put on your nametag. It doesn’t have to be visible, because-es only you and a few others will see it.”
Yoshi didn’t understand the purpose of a nametag if not everyone else could see it, but she complied, and stuck the nametag on the outer sole of her left Yoshi boot.
“Good choice. I keep my nametag close to my soul, too.” Jyger took off his shoe and showed Joshi his nametag on the bottom of his sock.
“Next question. What color is your hair?”
Joshi wasn’t sure why he had to get her to say what her hair color was if he could just see for himself.
Jyger was curious what Joshi would say if he gave a suggestion for a possible answer. “Strawberry blond? Yapf, a blondie you are.” Jyger held out a form and began to write “blond.” “So, you are blon-”
“Skrumfidag! You are not to say I’m blond! My hair is yellow, Jyger. You are the blond one!” And indeed he was, for his hair was light.
“Sorry, miss. Will do, yapf!” And he saluted Joshi. “But, hey, you’re already beginning to follow your speech patterns.” He opened Joshi’s folder and pointed to the word skrumfidag.
“Okay, Joshi. There’s only one more important question left.” He leaned closer to her, a serious look in his eye. Joshi didn’t see how the other questions had been important, but she played along anyway. “Can you answer this last question, Joshi? If you can’t, it shall be ... Well, it shall be very annoying for me because I’ll haves ek-stra paperwork to do.” He laughed and then returned to his serious look. “So, can you answers it, Joshi?”
“Good answer. Okays, how do you like your kringle?”
Joshi was trying to figure out what kringle was.
“Oh no! Please, don’t tell me you don’t know!” he sobbed.
Joshi remembered seeing something about kringle on her character bio. She looked at it and said, “I prefer my kringle cold and to have it with hot chocolate.”
Joshi still wasn’t sure what the heck kringle was.
“Yay! Okay, that’s it. You’re authorized!” With that, Jyger put a yellow dot sticker on Joshi’s cheek. Joshi looked around and realized there was a sticker on everything: the floor, the countertop, Jyger’s pen, Jyger, the wall, the ceiling, Jyger’s chair, and the neon scanner.
Jyger loved “authorizing” things.
“So, Joshi. Do you have any questions?”
Joshi had a lot of questions about how she could get back to her old life, but she didn’t feel like asking them right now. “Jyger, do I have to memorize the papers in the folder to be myself?”
“No, not at all. It should come to you naturally. You won’t really need to look at those papers for a while, so you should keep them in a safe place, like a vault or filing cabinet.”
Yoshi was curious about the building she was in. Several feet behind her there was another counter like Jyger’s, only it had a very long line of people holding folders waiting behind it. The sign above it said Self Displacement - Psychological Conformity.”
“Hey, Jyger, what are all those people here for? Did they have character data changes too?”
“No, it’s a sad story, reallys. These people come here a lot to cheats the system. They discards everything about them - small personality items, their values, ideals and imagination. All of it, they discard for a chance at un-ultimate riches. It’s ethically illegal here, but since the exchange is paper for paper, the clerk there bends-es the rules to get more business. It’s delusional. Try going a day without having a favorite color, a hobby you do in your spare time, handwriting that is uniques to you, a song you usually have stuck in your head, or the special habits you prefer for doing things in order by your own way, or even going without a craving for your favorite food.”
Joshi looked into the waiting crowd. She saw no children. There was a teenager, skateboard in hand, a skateboard that had comforted anger, revived lost energy, and traveled everywhere. And it was to be given up, along with a pair of lucky shoelaces that never improved grades on test day but had been there to glow in the dark. A stack of papers detailing the hours of battle on a most-exciting video game and an ambition to program a video game were to be dumped as well.
A businessperson, fresh out of college, grasping a tie that had been lovingly given by a best friend and worn to graduation with pride, accompanied by the thesis that had changed a world perspective on poverty in third-world countries. Both regarding effort and doing for the benefit of all, but if they didn’t bring in money, what good could any of it be to the owner?
Moaning about the long line was a person leaving middle age and entering elderlyhood. What good had any personality done for a life - getting one in and out of problems? Problems weren’t worth anything, money was. Why hadn’t this come up before in that mind? Could it have really been that there were people and situations of no net worth that caused happiness? It couldn’t have been. “I’ve lived this long and still haven’t been rich” was the tone of the grunting.
Joshi didn’t want to see any more. She told Jyger she would be leaving now that her character data change had been authorized. She stepped outside and was greeted by a news kid. “Buy a paper! Papers let you read! The more you read, the more you can see!” The kid lowered the stack of papers that had been waving, and Joshi realized it was Zippy. She didn’t know whether to run away or corner Zippy and question her.
Zippy thrust a paper toward Joshi, “The Zippedity Times.” The paper looked like it could be written in Mandarin or Cantonese. But the upper right-hand corner had a line in English, “Somewhere, USA.”
“I think it’s time we had some ...” and then Zippy uttered that mysterious word, “... kringle!”
Between the Earth and Soul
Zippy led Joshi to an arcade a few streets away from the Character Data Center. Inside, the arcade was filled with people, mostly pre-teenagers. Joshi statically shocked herself many times walking through the crowd. There were arcade games of all sorts: sports, racing, mock gambling, fighting, puzzles, and shooting games. There was a machine with a moving basketball hoop that had footballs to score with. Mock slot machines gave out actual fruit from the winning combination of pictures, and an automated booth lit up with the daily high scores for “Smack-a-Germ” which averaged -5 due to the size of the whacking subject. The featured fighting-style game was out of order, but the shooting game was popular, with several watching and cheering for the player to shoot invading robots with a water gun. Another was racing snails on a virtual screen. Joshi particularly noticed this one because it sported a huge yellow dot sticker.
Zippy gestured toward a flight of stairs behind what was quite possibly the world’s largest pinball machine. The spiral staircase led all the way up past the ceiling, which was over 30 feet high. A sign on the banister read, “Authorized person L’s only.”
On the second floor of the arcade was a small kitchen and stand-up bar.
“Wakezashi welcomes you and you!” said a short girl with green hair standing by the door. Feeling awkward, as if she might fall backwards down the stairs, Joshi closed the door. “A Zippy and a Joshi, what great company for a rainy day!”
Joshi’s first thought was, How did she know my name? Her second thought was, I didn’t know it had started raining. She had a third thought but forgot it because Wakezashi was introducing her to someone.
“Zippy knows Wakezashi and Rainer, but Joshi doesn’t know. Hello, Joshi one! Wakezashi I am, and this,” she said waving toward a boy behind the bar, “is Rainer, who is Wakezashi’s assistant.” Rainer’s hair was wet and he had water dripping from his clothes. He stood about three feet taller than Wakezashi, and wore a chef’s hat and an apron that said, “Don’t kick the cook. He is a Norwegian kung-fu master.”
Rainer showed them into another room that was raining inside. Joshi and Zippy sat down at a table with a large umbrella over it. Rainer set down a dish of something on the table. Zippy took a piece of kringle and got down to business, and Joshi did the same, only they both had different ideas of what that meant.
“What do you know about plumbing?” asked Zippy, using a brilliant question to start a mealtime conversation. “Have you ever thought about experimenting with toilet paper?”
Joshi’s reply was whimsical, because she figured the more she appealed to Zippy, the more Zippy might tell her what she needed to know. “Plumbing is a system of pipes which may carry a liquid or gas, or in the case of video games, people. Pipes are connected to different places, sort of like the entry of a wormhole in space, except that pipes are exact paths. The last time I experimented with toilet paper was when I was out of paper to take notes on at school. I ran to the bathroom and got toilet paper to write on.” As chance would have it, this was precisely what Zippy was talking about.
“Yes!” Zippy burst out. “You are correct in many assumptions, except that some pipelines are not as direct as you think. I have experimented with toilet paper as well, and I have also found a new use for it.” Joshi hoped this “new use” wasn’t for hog-tying her to a post, or maybe Zippy had discovered toilet paper’s real purpose?
“When you faced a shortage of toilet paper, it was being used for experimentation. I was flushing the toilet paper to different places in time and space.”
Joshi could hardly believe this: it had been her former pet dog that had used up all her toilet paper?
“Zippy, tell me how I can get back to who I was!”
“You are who you were because you’re you.”
“No, in Tokyo!”
“Okay, kiddo. I’m going to do this like the cops do. You’ve got five minutes to make a phone call to anyone,” said Zippy, whipping out a cell phone.
“I must call Hitoshi!”
Zippy dialed and handed the phone to Joshi.
“Hello, Hitoshi! It’s me, Joshi! I just wanted to talk and to say-”
Hitoshi yelled something in Japanese and hung up. Joshi heard Zippy’s phone go to the default dial message. “To make another call, start dialing. To call Mars, dial 1. To call Mercury, press 3. To call outside of your network, the solar system, dial 12797349747858975598975. If you would like to make an interplanetary call, dial 101 and press the smiley face button. To stop hearing this message, reprogram your phone, make a call, take out the batteries, lock up your phone in a place far away, or turn off your phone. The connection waiting on line two is the CIA. The connection waiting on line three is ...”
Joshi turned off the phone in despair. How could Hitoshi do that to his friend? Hitoshi, who had so faithfully served her ramen each and every day and played with her at school?
“I guess I might be upset, too, if someone called me in the middle of the night speaking a foreign language,” explained Zippy.
“This difference, it’s like being a foreign exchange student, only I didn’t choose to come here!”
“Which makes it all the more worthwhile,” nodded Zippy.
As they were leaving, Joshi thanked Wakezashi and Rainer for the kringle and asked Wakezashi how she knew her name. “Your nametag - you keep it on your soul, between you and the earth, on the sole of your shoe.” Wakezashi took out a recipe for chocolate-chip cookies. “Ah, the ingredients. Wakezashi needs jelly, onions, and some salad dressing for these cookies. Come back in an hour or two and you and you can have some.” .