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Neopia's Fill in the Blank News Source | 20th day of Relaxing, Yr 21
The Neopian Times Week 95 > Short Stories > The Search for Sushi

The Search for Sushi

by terrabondayle

also by t_jones
DenorAiDevlin blew a few sharp whistles into the air before starting a common tune. He walked down the grassy fields of Meridell jovially and the local farmers nodded to him in greeting. In his arms, he carried a take-out bag of oriental foods he had received at Mystery Island. Beside him, Calanthil the Crokabek walked eagerly, his tummy rumbling in anticipation.

     "Not too much longer, my friend," Devlin said cheerfully. "I can almost taste that tempura fish in its light, crispy batter…" Calanthil started to drool. "The stir-fried shrimp and vegetables in their own tangy sauce…" The Crokabek tripped over his own feathers, still creating a river of mouth fluid. "The hot, spiced noodles in a flavourful soup… the crunchy cucumber and crab meat nested in sticky rice, wrapped in a fine layer of seaweed..." This was too much for the Eyrie's poor petpet. He launched himself at the bag Devlin was holding and tore at it desperately.

     "Gah! Calanthil! What are you doing? Show some control!" The Skunk Eyrie tore the bag from the Crokabek's grip but the little bird was successful in grabbing a box of chicken fried rice. He tore at it ravenously before Devlin could stop him.

     "Oh Calanthil, now look what you've done!" the Eyrie moaned and tried his best to patch up the torn bag. The Crokabek had a sharp beak.

     "Devlin! What have you done?" His bond-sister's voice drifted from behind him. He got on his feet and turned around to face her. Her Weewoo, Sylune, eyed the Crokabek critically in his savage state.

     "What do you mean, what have I done? I was trying to ease his hunger by telling him it was not long until home. Then he lunged and tore at the food like a ravenous wolf!"

     "Are you sure that's all you told him?" Calanthil looked at Devlin scornfully. Devlin hung his head. "Well, I might have mentioned some of the food in there by accident…"

     "Uh-huh. 'Accident.'"

     By now, the box that once contained fried rice, was empty with only the barest grains of rice. Calanthil burped quite impolitely and squeaked a pardon before settling back with a sigh. Soon after, he started to emit snores.

     "Oh, foolish Crokabek!" Devlin said in an exasperated tone. "Now no one will get any of that rice. So much for food variety."

     "Well I'm sure there's more food from where that came from." Raigara sat down beside her bond-brother. From the looks of the sleeping petpet, he would not be moved for a while. "What about the other food you bought?"

     "Ah, yes! I have some sushi right here." Devlin pulled out a neat, cubic box and opened it to reveal the seaweed wrapped treats. Raigara peered into the black box and blinked a few times.

     "Devlin… can you see any seafood?"

     "That's not funny, Raigara."

     "No, I'm serious. The sushi is just a hunk of rice wrapped in seaweed and then there's a big hole in the centre."

     "It's not like you to joke."

     "That's because I'm not joking! Here, see for yourself."

     The Eyrie dropped a talon in the box and carefully picked out a piece of sushi. He examined it carefully and looked through the tiny gap where the seafood was supposed to be nestled. Instead, he saw through the miniature slot and saw his bond-sister blinking back at him.

     Devlin was speechless. "Wow…"

     "You should go back and get your Neopoints back." The Eyrie eyed at her uneasily. "You did pay for this, didn't you?

     "Erm… well, I bought everything else with Neopoints but I didn't get that sushi from the restaurant." Devlin sat back and told his tale. "I was returning from the restaurant on Mystery Island, when I heard these awful cries that sounded like a broken washing machine. I wondered what creature could emit such horrifying cries, so I followed the sound. I found a purple flotsam, dressed in a chef's wardrobe, who was the source of the noise. He approached me and begged me to help him feed his boss 'Mumbo Pango who needed meals every 5 minutes. I took pity on the poor Flotsam because he must have been threatened into this job. His boss must also be quite big to be able eat so many meals, which must have added to the chef's fright. I agreed to help him, although I wasn't sure if it was the right decision since he required ingredients for a meal of creamy eyeballs and yeast sprouts.

     "When he asked me for an chocolate orange Kacheek, however, I regret to say that I pulled back from our agreement. It sounded absolutely ridiculous. Who needs a chocolate orange Kacheek to make creamy eyeballs and yeast sprouts?-not to mention that they are quite expensive. I may not be a cook, but I do believe I have the faintest idea on what should be used to make such an evidently named meal.

     "I asked him whether there were other cooks around to make something less extravagant that my please Mumbo Pango. He told me there was one Koi chef somewhere on the island, but his food was too simple for Mumbo Pango. I gave the Flotsam my sincerest apologies, and offered him some Neopoints for the journey he will take-sort of like welfare-once his boss fires him. He did not seem too grateful for that, unfortunately, so I made haste and went on my way.

     "Soon after, I came to the market stall where I got my sushi. A red Koi, who was dressed in a Kimono robe with intricate designs, owned it. I wondered if it was the chef the Flotsam was talking about earlier. I approached him and asked if it he was the Koi chef. He seemed delighted that I had heard of him before and even offered me a discount on his sushi. He assured me it was fresh and I saw no reason to distrust him. So, I bought a box and started back home.

     "That is how I came to possess this defective meal. But although it lacks an essential ingredient, I'm sure it will taste fine." Devlin plucked one out of the box and was ready to drop it down his throat when Raigara grabbed it from him.

     "Did you ever think you might need this as evidence when you return to the stall and ask for the right sushi?"

     The Eyrie blinked. "Who said anything about returning? I am fine right where I am, and I will gladly eat here on the grass."

     The Island Uni sighed. "Well, I for one, am not going to settle for such food. It sounds pretty cheap to me."

     Devlin shrugged. "Food is food, as long as it isn't poisonous." He popped a shrimp in his mouth and swallowed. "But take it back if you wish. It's no big loss, and there's still food that Calanthil did not eat." He glanced acidly at his petpet.

     "Yes, I think I will take it back. I won't settle for being conned into taking shoddy food."

***

Soon they were all walking along the streets of Mystery Island. Devlin was trying to remember, with great difficulty, where he purchased the so called "sushi", but as anyone who has visited Mystery Island knows, every street and every alleyway looks the same.

     Finally while the sun was setting, they reached the stand of the Koi sushi chef. He was quietly humming to himself, as he made what appeared to be sticky rice.

     "Oh, hello! Welcome, Welcome! My name is Sashimi-San" He rushed off to greet them shaking their paws vigorously. "How can I help you today?"

     "Well, you see, my bond-brother here came by your shop today, and purchased some of your sushi and…."

     The chef interrupted. "He wants more? Why, of course!"

     Raigara rolled her eyes. "Well actually, there must have been a mistake in his original order. There was no seafood in his sushi rolls."

     "Ah! It needs wasabi?"

     "Wa-what?"

     "Wasabi!" The Koi took out a small box containing what looked like green paste. He took a pinch and took out a freshly made piece of sushi. He stuffed the green paste in an empty sushi roll and offered it to the Uni, smiling with pride. Raigara took it gingerly and examined the food carefully before shrugging and popping it in her mouth.

     She felt like she had been lit in a bonfire. Her mouth was burning with the fiery hot taste, and she gasped for water. Her voice was a hoarse, inaudible noise, and Sashimi-San and Devlin stared as she danced about quite ungracefully. At the most unbearable stage, she finally regained her voice. "GET ME WATER, YOU FOOLS!"

     The Eyrie and Koi jumped. Sashimi-San grabbed a bucket of water from behind his stand and shoved it to her. She all but shoved her head in the bucket and drank until the bucket was empty.

     "D-do you need… more?" The chef cringed at the Uni's glare.

     "Please," she said sarcastically. "I have never eaten something so flaming hot in my entire life. How can anyone stand to eat it?"

     Devlin coughed and Raigara turned her glare at him. He cleared his throat but met her gaze. "I think we should continue our inquiry." He turned back to the chef who looked at both of them uneasily. "The sushi that I bought from you must have been a wrong order. There was no… 'filling' inside of it."

     The Koi started to sweat. "Ahh… no filling, you say? Well it is most unfortunate that… I ran out of cucumbers and avocado! I apologize, and I deeply regret that I could not give you anything better." He bowed solemnly.

     "What about the seafood part?" Raigara asked. "Like the salmon, or crabmeat?"

     "Ahh… ah… we ran out of those, too! Yes, it's a shame that we did not have enough ingredients."

     "Couldn't you just buy from the fish stand around the corner?" Devlin was not sure if Sashimi-San cringed at the mention of the fish stand, or if it was his piercing gaze.

     "Uhh… well… I…"

     "Hey! What kind of hoax are you trying to lead us into? You've got some salmon right here!" Raigara pulled out a red box from behind the counter.

     "What are you doing back here? Away, you disgraceful Uni!"

     "Disgraceful?" she snorted. At least I'm not a swindler that makes wonky food! This isn't even fit for vegetarians!"

     The Koi turned white like the snow on Terror Mountain. He stared at the Uni, his mouth gaping. Suddenly, he collapsed and started weeping on the ground. "Oh, it's true! I am a failure! Sob!"

     "Great work, Raigara," Devlin said sarcastically. "Now he'll definitely give us back our money."

     Raigara looked about uneasily. "I'm sorry, sir… uh… I didn't really mean it. I'm sure your food would be fit for any carnivore."

     His weeping became more agonizing at her words and people stopped and stared at Raigara as though she was a barbarian. She glanced at the chef, the on-looking public, and then back again. "Err, Sashimi-San, people are looking, why don't we go somewhere less…public?" The chef stopped abruptly. "I refuse to leave my stand!" he sniffed and crossed his fins firmly.

     "Very well, but whatever the case, I apologize for my rude remarks. I did not think they would offend you so deeply."

     The Koi sniffed again but said nothing.

     "Would it be inappropriate to ask why my comment was so offensive?"

     "Which one?" Devlin muttered.

     "I will tell you which one!" Sashimi-San shouted angrily. "First you say my food isn't fit for vegetarians, but let me tell you that I am a vegetarian! Do you see why that is offensive now?"

     "Y-yes…" Raigara stammered, but was not given time to say more.

     "And then you contradict yourself entirely, and you say my food is fit for carnivores. If that wasn't the ultimate insult, I don't know what is!" He glared at her and sniffed once again.

     "So you're a vegetarian…" Devlin's eyes sparkled with interest.

     "Yes, I am. Does a carnivore like yourself have a problem with it?" he scowled at the skunk Eyrie.

     "No, but it seems you have a problem with omnivores." Devlin stared back at him just as contemptuously.

     "Stop that, both of you," Raigara said irritably. She turned to Sashimi-San. "Why didn't you tell us that you were a vegetarian from the beginning? It would have saved us a lot of trouble. Don't you have a sign here somewhere that says: "Vegetarian Chef"?"

     The red Koi looked at her as though she were crazy again. "That would ruin my business for certain! No one here would want to become a vegetarian…"

     "Wouldn't it already be ruined anyway? No one would be happy with their orders when they find out it was not what they expected."

     "Well, that was the first time I tried making sushi," he admitted sheepishly. "For the most part, I make foods that do not require any meat. I truly would have added vegetables into your sushi, good Eyrie, but I must have forgotten and sold it off anyway." He bowed in apology.

     Raigara frowned in thought. "That's not right. You should sell off your products proudly, not in shame. You would be surprised at how many vegetarians there are."

     "I know that Epicelena is very devout to her fruits and vegetables," added Devlin with a grin.

     "Well… I suppose it wouldn't hurt to try." Sashimi-San looked around uneasily. "Are you sure this won't ruin my reputation?"

     "Do you even have a reputation right now?"

     "I suppose you're right." With a touch of hesitation, he picked up a board and painted the words "Sashimi-San, the Vegetarian Koi Chef". The results were almost immediate as a pair of passing Kougras took interest in what Sashimi-San had to offer. Before they left, Sashimi-San called to them. "You'll be sure to tell your friends, right?" The Kougras laughed and nodded before going on their way.

     The Koi, now pleased, turned to the Eyrie and Uni. "I guess you were right. I don't think I will be without clients entirely."

     "Glad we could be of service." Devlin said with a small bow.

     "But wait!" Both the chef and Devlin turned to look at Raigara. "What about the salmon that was in the red box?"

     "Oh, that's not salmon," Sashimi-San said with a small smile. "That's more wasabi. Would you like some?"

     Raigara stared, her eyes grew wider. "Uh… no thank you, but if you don't mind, I'll take that bucket of water. I suddenly have a tart taste in my mouth."

     The chef laughed, and handed her the water. "You should not feel so bad. I believe you have saved my small business, and for that I thank you."

The End


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