7 July, Yoshihisa Okazaki

文字数 3,538文字

The Mechanical Rabbit’s Invention


Somewhere in the world there was a town called Humol, neither too big nor too small, in which lived neither too many nor too few people.
  On the edge of town stood a windowless building like a huge slab of tofu, inhabited by the Mechanical Rabbit, whose name was Jan Stroj. Yes, he was a human. He was neither mechanical nor a rabbit. This name came from the fact that he looked a bit like a rabbit, and he was always fiddling with mechanical things. Jan Stroj was an inventor.
  Late one night, Jan called in his assistant Mālik to test a new invention he had just completed. Mālik was a thirteen-year-old boy who always, sleeping and waking, wore a white mask. But the one thing he hated was dirt, so whenever he got dirty he took off the mask to wash his face. All the townsfolk told him this was very weird behavior, and advised him to stop, but the Mechanical Rabbit stood by him. He declared that this was in fact Mālik’s first step towards personal freedom, and he redesigned the mask so that it had a mouth that popped wide open so Mālik could eat without getting dirty.
  Jan’s new invention consisted of two palm-sized dolls, made of something that felt a bit like earth and a bit like metal. One had a wide-open mouth in the shape of an O, the other one’s mouth was clamped shut like a M. You held a doll in each hand, and when you squeezed one you grew bigger and when you squeezed the other you grew smaller.
  Mālik first squeezed the M doll. Whrrr! He found himself rapidly growing smaller. Already Jan looked the size of a vast rabbit, then the leg of the table was towering over him like a huge tree trunk, then the floor stretched out around him like a boundless plain, and still he went on growing tinier. When he reached the size of a microscopic bacterium, he felt for a moment he might be able to talk with these little creatures, but down he went, getting tinier and tinier, until he seemed in danger of tumbling right inside an atom.
  Then Mālik squeezed the O doll in his other hand. Whoosh! He found himself suddenly swelling rapidly. A second later he was rushing up past the size of a bacterium. Jan was trying to speak as he passed but Mālik was already breaking through the laboratory ceiling, he was taller than any tree in the town of Humol, his head was poking up above the clouds, and then he was so huge he felt he might be able to talk with the moon, except that by now the air was too thin for him to breathe, so he quickly squeezed the M doll.
  Once he was back to normal size again, Jan asked him which size he liked the best.
  This one! said Mālik contentedly.


Translated by Meredith McKinney/Arranged by TranNet KK

Yoshihisa Okazaki
Born in Tokyo, 1968. Works as a full-time writer. Won the 40th Gunzo Literary Prize for New Writers for

Byōsoku

10-senchi

no

ettō

(Passing winter at 10cm per second) and the 22nd Noma Literary Prize for New Writers for

Rakutenya

(Optimism shop). His other works include

Banbīno

(Bambino),

Minami

e

kudaru

michi

(The road that turns down south),

Kubinari

hime

(The princess with the loud neck),

Dokugaku

ahō

nōto

(Self-study magic notebook),

ct

no

fukai

kawa

no

machi

(The city on the river with a great deal of ct),

Bungakuteki

na

jānaru

(A literary journal),

Fantazumagōria

(Phantasmagoria),

Poshī

to

Popā:

Futari

wa

tantei

(Posey & Popper: Sibling detectives), among others.

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