The summer vacation has arrived before I knew it. I am in the mood to treat all my club members to have an overseas trip to Europe or something, but they have their own plans as what I heard. This ranges from supplementary classes, taking part time jobs, to even playing their home console or computer games for the whole vacation. (I myself have played ones that would take hundreds of hours of gameplay and know the excitement of wanting to play them.) I was slightly disappointed, but I don’t want to show off my wealth around. The last time I brought people for a vacation was about three years ago for a classmate who has somewhat like an an amnesia and needs to meet up with a friend of her father from university. Besides me and Haruna, the people who came along include Haruna’s boyfriend, my director’s daughter, and three of Kotomi’s siblings.
Did I say that there were the two of me? I was the one who couldn’t move and was in a wheelchair. The other me is my counterpart of that dimension: same set of parents, born on the same day and place, but as a girl instead. Since my current body is a clone of her, I inherited her behavior, knowledge and everything she owns. However, I remained in this same body with my counterpart’s things brought along as mine instead upon returning back to my original dimension. This caused a lot of confusion as my other half who stayed behind didn’t know I exist and was shocked to suddenly have a “cute younger sister”. Even I have to introduce myself to my own parents with documents saying that I really am biologically related to them. Me and my original body’s DNA are exactly the same, except for the lack of a ‘Y’ chromosome. However, my other half is treating me is worse than my counterpart as the latter was clueless as to what to do to me, but the former physically abusing me. I’m afraid I have to now call my other half by my former name, which I’m uncomfortable with. How did this all happened? I don’t know as I was asleep when it happened. The two of us are actually the same person, but in separate bodies of different genders. At least I like my new body better as I feel more comfortable and can think better.
Ever since Takagi’s graduation day, I’ve noticed the same odd-looking doll from three years ago appearing at my desk at the clubroom. What does it want with me? People who claimed to have seen it are rumored to have their lives changed completely, but my life has already changed, and I don’t want to change back. I don’t need this thing, so I’ll put it aside and hope it would disappear. Until then, I shouldn’t wish for anything near this doll.
This summer holidays means that people with weak grades (quite a lot) would have to attend supplementary lessons and the annual school festival, but let’s not talk about that: I’ve been through too much and famous students in the school like me (somehow) get picked by more people. As for the stall my club would be involved in during the festival, I’ve place a current third year member to be in charge and requested all the club members not to rely on me as they have always been for the entire period of the preparation and the festival period as I need a break. What I didn’t say was that I would help out only if requires me as the club president or things are needed to be done in an impossible timeframe.
I was walking to the student council room to check the status of the availability of the auditorium (my members had classes) when my classmates caught me unaware.
Female classmate: “Hisakawa-san! Thank goodness we saw you. I know you were not involved with the supplementary lessons, but we couldn’t understand what was being taught and we need your help.”
By “we”, you don’t mean the three guys behind you who are in an unofficial school fan club of the girls here that I’m pretending to be completely unaware of it? They are responsible for the croud outside my club last year and the photos they have “secretly” taken of me (I could tell) and selling them to other guys for profit. I hear pictures of me are the most popular of all, with me looking at the camera directly (I was looking at one? I don’t recall.) and smiling being the most expensive.
Male classmate A: “We need a change of studying environment. Something that would inspire us to do better.”
Male classmate B: “Something like a mix of the public library and a high class hotel, but have it all to ourselves.”
Me: “Something like a high class library that is conducive for study?”
The only place I know that has all of that is one of my houses at Inami city (井波市) where I lived and is also where the first branch of the Hatsuya Institute I had worked is at prior to coming to this city. It’s too far for me to bring them there. The next best thing I know is a little known visitor’s waiting room and the way to it looks as though visitors shouldn’t be there. It’s not part of my house, but it does belong to the company I founded.
Male classmate C: “Say, what about if we are to head to your house to study? That seems like a good place, considering how well you scored.”
Me: “Well, it really depends on your motivation to study. You can’t achieve in something if you don’t put your effort into it. Since the hot summer weather is not suitable to study in, I’ll show a place where you can study.”
I sensed a happy, yet disappointed feeling from the guys: happy because I am talking to them personally (Um, what? Are guys, including my other half, attracted to me that much?) but disappointed as they don’t get to see my living environment.
We walked along the route I usually take to reach home, except that we would use the front gate instead of the back I normally use. The place is quite huge.
Male classmate B: “By “near your house”, you don’t mean one of the houses around the headquarters of the Powell Institute that look like tiny houses in contrast to the building’s massive size.
That is the annex building where the main entrance is built in such a way that it doesn’t destroy the landscape prior to it being built. My house is in one of the rooms of the maisonette-like building closer to the back entrance.
Me: “Yes, I live around here. Weren’t you paying attention to the people who greeted me along the way?”
Female classmate: “She’s right. I did notice people waving at us or calling Hisakawa-san from far, especially closer to this place.”
Male classmate A: “Um, guys. The security guard is watching us…”
Oh yes, I forgot about him. Unlike the security guards at the front entrance, the ones at the back would immediately recognize me without me showing my pass. The ones at the front don’t.
Me: “Let me take care of him.”
As I walked there, I took out my staff pass.
Security guard: “Hold it right there young lady. That pass doesn’t seem valid. Please register…”
Ignoring him, I scanned my pass. My real identity is displayed to the security guard.
Me: “I don’t like to show my face because they would think that I’m a kid and won’t take me seriously from an experiment that went wrong. I intentionally have “visitor” to appear as my job title on the pass, but the overall design makes them think that it’s a fake until I scanned it. Inform the guards who manages the back entrance that I’m entering the front instead of the back. They would know who I am more than you.”
He seemed shock to be a young lady to be one of the most important people of the company he is protecting. I may look 15, but I’m actually 19. Wait, that’s not much of a difference…
Security guard: “Hisakawa-sama? You’re the founder of the company? Of course, you can go through. Oh, and here are the passes for your friends you brought along. I can’t guarantee that you would be stopped by your own employees later on with how you are dressed up now, but I’ll explain to them should they contact me.”
He gave me regular visitors’ passes. I walked back to the rest.
Me: “Here you go. I’m already wearing mine.”
Male Classmate C: “That was quick. What did you do? His face changed when you did something while he was talking to you.”
Male Classmate A: “Your pass even has your name and photo with a better design too. How did you get it?”
Me: “Well, I come here so frequently that the founder noticed me and gave me this special pass.”
I don’t know what I just said.
Female Classmate: “Sounds like you like to study there a lot.”
Male Classmate (All): “What is she like? Tell us!”
How should I explain to them? I can’t say that it’s me.
Me: “Well, she looks a lot younger than the majority of the staff, quite respectable, but very rarely shows her face around. Most of the staff don’t even know what she looks like, but knows that she exists as she replies to messages and requests. She usually doesn’t involve herself on how the company is run, but she can override orders by anyone of high position in the company.”
These aren’t lies, but I convincingly made it sound as though the person in question is not me.
Male Classmate A: “She sounds like she’s the shy, but smart type to be able to have founded one of the largest and youngest company at such a young age. By the way Hisakawa-san, are you sure you know where we are heading to? The staff are looking at us, and there seem to be only offices and research rooms here.”
Me: “Well, this room is in an obscure location that is far away from where most visitors would most likely to go to. Don’t worry, the corridors that lead up to it are not off-limits, though the rooms like you mentioned along it are.”
We reached a lift lobby along the corridor that is quite some distance from the entrance. I’m having trouble remembering what level it’s on as the number does not have a 0 or a 5 and neither is it near the very top of the building, on top of me never been there before, but know about its existence. Though there are a lot of levels in between, the elevator moves so quick that it seems almost instantaneous, but not without our ears feeling funny.
Each level is designed differently, so you could tell what floor you are on. This ranges from the position and design of paintings and (fake) plants you can see outside the elevator, which is the standard, different interior design, or even the type of elevator doors. Most have the same as the elevator interior, but odd ones have analog, bulb, or OLED display that says the level (ones inside the elevator and on most floors are dot-matrix red LED displays above the door) , call buttons from old-fashioned buttons on the wall that requires some strength to press, to mid-air holograph buttons that feels that you aren’t touching anything but the air. Even the doors open differently from the elevator door itself, depending on the “theme” of the floor it’s on. (1950’s, futuristic, high-class office, disused subway, middle-class apartment, etc.) Some doors open upwards and downwards, or even manually. They are part of some project during the time the elevator shaft was built with the reason ranging “nostalgic for the senior staff” or “develop future technologies in our daily lives” and developing advanced hardware in what appears to be old-fashioned equipment so that it wouldn’t look out of place if someone wants to time-travel into the past. I have to agree that the design does match the era the theme is based on, until you see the elevator inside being very out of place. I don’t know who’s idea is it to come up with such inconsistent floor design themes. At least my elderly staff like the old-fashioned themed floors that they even move their office there for the “nostalgically” and work better.
The level we got off resembles somewhat like one of the most expensive hotels I know in the capital with warm lighting along the sides, carpeted flooring, and ambiance music. We finally found the the study room.
Female Classmate: “You’re right. There is a visitor’s waiting room here and it looks quite nice that the only thing out of place are those vending machines there. How big is this room?”
Those vending machines (自販機) are the same as the ones you can find out on the streets, but are priced lower. It’s ironic that there is a water cooler (冷水機) next to them.
Me: “The founder was the one who had told me about this place when she saw me studying and referred me to this larger, and better looking, waiting room. I’m sure she doesn’t mind me bringing you guys here.”
Male Classmate C: “For her to own a company this big with these kind of facilities… She must be a rich, yet kind-hearted person.”
Female Classmate: “Shall we get started with studying before we get distracted?”
I thought them what I know and they are actually absorbing. I don’t know what I know as ones I didn’t learn myself are not visible in my mind, like the answer of a complicated math equation: I don’t know how to answer it, but as long as I see the question and have the intention to solve it, my hands move by themselves and writes the correct answer, including how I would arrive at that answer. Even my mouth talks by itself in my voice if asked a question I can’t answer. Some of them though, are what I do know, but aren’t at the top of my head when asked, or is obviously not what the human mind is capable of like the full value of π (pi).
During break, I decided to head to head to the restroom to wash my face (can’t use it for anything else besides looking at myself) as I’m starting to feel sleepy. That is where I heard a familiar voice.
Takagi: “Hisakawa-san? What are you doing here? I never thought I would meet you again in a location like the toilet of a random floor of the Powell headquarters.”
Takagi had told me 4 months ago that she had found a job at my company through the same programming competition I entered to be employed by the Hatsuya Institute. I knew I would meet her again in a Powell-owned property, but not this soon in a location like this. Her behavior tells me that she still doesn’t know that I am the founder of the company she just joined as she’s not giving me the level of respect of what one would do to their superior, despite my name appearing in the official messages and the company’s history at the museum at the ground floor.
Me: “I came here to study with my classmates at the nearby visitor’s waiting room. They were the ones who dragged me here.”
She looked almost angry. Wonder why…
Takagi: “Must have been tough on you, considering your past. Say, why does your “visitor’s pass” has the design that only my higher ups would wear with your name and photo in a Mihara uniform?”
Mihara uniform? You’re right, no wonder the clothes I wore in it looked familiar. My company is founded around just before I started my high school, but that photo is of my counterpart of the other dimension and not me. No wonder I was renamed to Saeko from Mamiko upon returning.
Takagi: “I know that you and your “brother” are working for the Hatsuya Institute, a major rival of the Powell Institute. Well, they are more concerned about another major rival of theirs from stealing their secrets and receiving threats, but we’re not that cunning. In fact, we don’t do anything unless attacked. Your disguise is so poor that you can’t even fool my colleagues. It’s a wonder how the security guards had let you in or not notice you with that pass.”
Why do I feel the threat of me being thrown out by my own employees like an intruder just because I’m not wearing what they expect the founder to wear and look to the point that they think I’m someone else?
Me: “Okay, I admit. I am the founder of the Powell Institute. Well, I inherited it from my counterpart while I was in the other dimension and still an employee of Hatsuya Institute… and… and.. I don’t even know myself…”
I was lucky there was no one else around when I said that. I would rather remain as the anonymous founder than to people to find out that I’m young and, over time, why I don’t age.
Takagi: “I know that the name of the founder is Saeko Hisakawa, but I didn’t think that it would be you… Are… you sure?”
Me: “You still don’t believe me? I can send a message through the company’s messaging system or that office in the main building that none of the staff could open.”
The main building is actually a lot smaller than the newer annex building, but that building is (supposedly) used to be one my houses. As proof to Takagi, I typed:
Hi Takagi-san. I’m standing right in front of you in a female toilet. Hope that you would excuse my appearance as something went wrong during one of my first few experiments out of curiosity. I forgive you for the things you said to me a while ago as you didn’t know who I was, and my pass printed “Visitor” instead of my actual job title. You forced me to reveal my real identity after you threaten to throw me out of my own company. I’m also the same girl you saw as a club member at Kamisugi High’s computer club in the previous academic year. However I’m studying there only because my current body is the property of the Hatsuya Institute who forced me to repeat High School for the rest of my life as my body’s age is stuck at 15 instead if 19 as I should be now, which is why I appear in the eyes of my employees very rarely. Even I don’t like to see myself as a robot with some random serial number on the Hatusya website as you saw when researching my background to be the club president.
The message is private and have it to expire in an hour in case someone else were to see the message. The media attention I would get if I’m too careless is high. Takagi seem to have received it immediately.
Takagi: “This message… It has the same unique sender ID number as what my superiors told me the founder would use. It even answered the questions I have about you for quite a while. Okay, I believe you. I’ll keep your real identity a secret.”
Me: “Good. Excuse me while I have guests to attend to.”
I feel bad to surprise her with my real identity, but sometimes, I really have no choice. The words I said to her made me sound as though I might dismiss her if I found out that she had leaked the information about me out, which I have no intentions to do so.
Female Classmate: “Hisakawa-san? Where did you go? You have gone away for quite a while.”
Me: “Sorry, a staff stopped me while I was on the way back from the cafeteria. I wasn’t wearing my pass at that time and they had to check if I really was allowed in.”
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