Jeff muttered incomprehensible calculations as he paced in a circle, deep in thought until he suddenly stopped in place, sighed in defeat and scratched his head. “Uhnnn—logically it can be done, but I can’t quite specify the numerical figures. If I were to do the calculations in my head, it’d take at least 37 days. If only I had a computer with enough processing power…”
In EarthBound part of the joke you and the game seem to be in on is that characters who are completely tangential to the plot happen to come up with narrowly useful, incredibly convenient inventions and solutions to problems they don’t even know exist. In lieu of that, Kumi passes the responsibility for inventing Zombie Paper along to her boy Jeff.
“What calculations?” Ness asked.
“Frequency. If you emit sound waves at a certain specified wavelength, the zombies and the ghosts get sucked in like moths to a light, no matter how far away they are. Once we attract them, we can round them all up and trap them. Think of it like Fly Paper—except, well, ‘Zombie Paper’.”
“Zombie Paper?!” All the people in the tent stared at Jeff in disbelief. “Is that even possible?”
“Why not?” Jeff shrugged. “If we trap all the ghosts and zombies into one single area, you guys can all go home in peace, can’t you?”
Everyone in the tent began to shout.“Please, please, please make it!!”
“Like I saaaid, if I can’t figure out the calculations—” Jeff began to say with a guilty look on his face. But he was interrupted.
Brrrring! Something behind Ness’s back began to ring.
Perfect storm of onomatopoeia: put a language that loves them—Japanese, with its doki-dokis and giri-giris—into the hands of an author who also loves them. I could be wrong, but I don’t see how a phone could ever just ring in this novel. The stirring conclusion—after the jump!
“It’s the phone!” Ness opened his backpack and grabbed the Receiver Phone. “Hello?”
“Ness, how ya doin’?” Apple Kid’s giddy voice emitted from the speaker. “I have some news I thought I better tell you guys right away! Dr. Andonuts, the world-renowned genius, has suddenly quit his life of seclusion! He’s calling for people all over the world to work together to fight against your enemy! Pretty great, huh?!”
“Kid?!” Jeff snatched the receiver phone. “You’re—aren’t you Apple Kid, the inventor? This is Jeff, from Morris School—we used to chat online on LightningServ’s science newsgroup!”
Wait, wait, wait—let me back up a second. Morris School is—for reasons I can’t totally explain—the name Kumi gives to Snow Wood. We have Snow Wood Boarding School; she has the Morris School in Snow Wood town. Also, Jeff, like any good boy genius, was using the internet as far back as 1994.
You’ll notice that Kumi can’t quite get away from the coincidences. But in moving it here she adds even more backstory to her extra-deep Jeff. Now, back to the show, as Jeff begins his impression of the Professor from Gilligan’s Island—
“Well whaddya know! Hey! What are you doing there?”
“Please, help! I need you to process some equations on your computer! It’s an emergency!”’
“Huh? That’s fine, but…?”
Jeff read aloud, in a single breath, a long string of information and mathematical equations. Apple Kid, who usually resembled some kind of sloth, responded on the dot. Before anyone knew it they had reached the mathematical results.
Jeff took off his school necktie and tied it around his forehead like a headband. The citizens began giving him their household items: boomboxes, electric guitars, car batteries, frying pans, cat flea collars, tennis rackets—now, what some of these things could possible used for, an amateur like me could never even imagine, but—finally he finished up his creation, which resembled an odd music box. “Got it!”
“What is it?” asked Ness.
I know, right?
“Zombie Paper?” asked Paula.
“Right,” Jeff said with a proud smirk. “Alright, help me out—let’s get this thing set up!”
Working through the night, Jeff turned a boombox, some electric guitars and car batteries, and a series of unelectrified items into a machine that attracts zombies (and is not, in fact, actual paper to which zombies stick.) And he’s never even seen a zombie before! This Jeff, he’s a smooth operator. To say the least.