Besides the crazy things that Yuko told me on my first day about the academy, Mizuho is actually a normal school and does not have strange lessons like what I feared might happen. With this strange rule of Mizuho students not being able to physically change out of the uniforms until graduation, I would wonder how things are done or what to do should I find myself drenched or be splattered with paint or mud.
I have to do some paperwork to let myself in the restricted areas of the Powell institute since the staff are going to see me as I am now a lot. The staff processing my forms thinks that the one approving it and the person being allowed in are two different people while it’s actually letting myself in while in disguise. They might expect me in my disguised form to be “employed” in the near future. I mean, why would I want to be employed by the very same company I founded? Simple: to experience what my new staff go through, and to see if my staff would do things that they wouldn’t do if they know my true identity.
As summer approaches, I received a call from Nanami in the middle of the night. It was one of those random nights where I would hang out with Itsuki at our parents’ house. I could hear police sirens in the background. Itsuki once told me that she’s Kotomi’s cousin, but have never met each other before. Nanami was weeping throughout the call. The last I met her, she doesn’t seem to know anyone outside her immediate family, besides me, well.
Nanami: “T-They’re dead… I thought the house was oddly dark and called the neighbour, but then I saw… waa”
She started crying and hung up before completing her sentence. What’s going on? It sounded serious.
I heard a name of a reporter that I know of from the news of a particular channel being mentioned in the background that is usually on at this time, so I turned it on. What I saw shocked me that I had to call Itsuki.
Itsuki: “What is it? I was having fun with… WHAT?! I should let the Miyazawa family know about it!”
“Girl Finds Family Murdered” was the headline, showing what is clearly the house Nanami lives in with police surrounding it. The reporter said that the house have been broken into, but is not visible if one were to have a quick glance from the outside. People close to Nanami’s father and brother noted that they did not turn up at their usual place and thought that they had only fallen ill. It seems obvious that the incident happened right after Nanami, the only one who last saw them alive, had left for school. Police investigations are still going on.
Itsuki: “I’ve notified the family and Kotomi. Kotomi will be rushing back from America just for the funeral when the autopsy on the bodies are done. Due to time constraints, I do not have the time to head home from work to pick her up from the airport and go pick her up directly. I need you to buy me some time to change, so I will pick you up on my way out. I can’t let her see me wearing the Mizuho uniform. At least, not yet. Oh, and also, I’m planning to propose marrying her.”
Those last few words Itsuki said… I don’t know if I should be happy or sad about it. Happy because of the marriage bit, or sad because I used to be a part of him, and I, as him back then, experienced meeting Kotomi for the first time and following me around. All from my point of view.
The location of the funeral wake is big enough to hold a lot of people from the media to even friends of Nanami. Multiple parties are paying for the cost of the funeral, including strangers, and even more would offer something to her but this is usually a one-off thing and are never heard of again. I had donated some of it, under the name of the Powell Institute.
Investigations are still incomplete, but they had gather enough data for the autopsy and sent to the funeral. It seems that food prepared for breakfast was still on the dining table with a lot of unconsumed food and drinks, with only one eaten set at the kitchen sink when they checked the kitchen. That eaten set has traces belonging to Nanami. The murder scene, which was previously not mentioned, was at the corridor at the base of the ground floor. The brother’s body was at the foot of the stairs, the mother at the doorway of the kitchen opposite, and the father in-between. The latter two were facing downwards, and all were in the pool of their own blood with no sign of being dragged away from their original positions. It was not clear what they were all doing there, but it is clear that a sharp blade of some sort was used as a murder weapon. Nobody knows what was stolen as the rest of the house was relatively tidy.
On the day of the funeral, there are huge dark clouds that did not fall until afternoon. There’s even strong lightning and thunder too. Since I’m not a relative, I wasn’t excused from school until Yuko (Itsuki in his female form when wearing the Mizuho uniform for work) called for me. The teacher did not question Yuko as the latter was in the uniform that only someone of the same level as the school principal or higher would wear. Although the way it’s done does attract attention.
Yuko: “…sorry to disturb you all. Anyway, Kanade-chan, it seems that Kotomi might have just arrived by the time we reach there, so you are going to wait near the car while I go and search for a quiet spot with nobody or no security cameras around: it’s one of the conditions for me to be able to turn back. I have already told her the description of our car, but not of your existence.”
The car in question is actually mine, but security measures can’t differenceate between me and my other self.
Me: “So where is the car? There’s a thunderstorm outside.”
Yuko: “We are protected from being wet or falling ill, but I’m not sure about being struck by lightning… You can make the car drive itself to the nearest pick up point without us exposing to the outdoors, right? Hurry up, I can’t run with what I’m wearing now.”
Let’s see… the car is currently parked at the Hatsuya branch here, but there’s no shelter there. The next nearest place the car can go that is sheltered is…
Me: “The subway station in the office area with an underground car park. The car will be waiting for us in there near the elevator from the station.”
Yuko: “Oh, great. Let’s hurry there.”
There was a tone of disappointment in her voice, but not on her face. Yuko is seen walking at a normal pace despite saying being in a hurry, but it’s clear that she’s annoyed with her restricted leg movement that forces her to walk gracefuly regardless of how much of a hurry she is in.
The entrance to the subway station from where we were is the esceleator inside the cafeteria. Since the subway is free, there are no ticket machines or gates. The trains arrive at every minute during the day and less frequent at night. The station we are headed to is just a few stops away.
The approaching the destination station, the train seems to enter through a skyscraper. This office district seriously looks like the middle of a big city! (Though somewhat depressing-looking with the dark clouds above.) Everywhere I look, there is a sea of young women in various colour schemes of the office uniform everywhere and there is an odd complete absence of males.
Yuko: “The colours represents the company they are working for, but the person with the highest position of their office wears the same attire as me. Anyway, we don’t have time to explore. Where is the elevator, and what floor?”
I don’t know where myself, but my body is moving by itself to the nearest elevator and pressing the deepest level of the underground car park. Our car is waiting just outside the lift lobby. Wait, what?
Yuko: “Wait. Is this car ours? I’m sure I had parked this car elsewhere. Looking at your face, it seems that you are shocked yourself too. Come on, let’s go!”
Yuko jumped right into the driver’s seat. Closer to the surface, there are visibly more parked cars. The rain is getting noticeably heavier as time passed that it looked like night with streets lights not turned on. I’ve never seen this kind of weather for a long time or lasted for a long time.
When we arrived at the airport, the arrival information indicates that Kotomi’s flight has landed. Looks like there’s not much time left.
Yuko: “Uh oh. I should hurry now. Say hi to Kotomi for me.”
Me: “Hey! What am I supposed to… she’s too far away already.”
About five minutes later, Kotomi appeared and looked at my direction. She seem shocked to to see me. Well, it has been several years. Wonder if she still think of me as Mamiko, the name I was using the last she saw me.
Kotomi: “I know I haven’t seen you for a long time, but what are you doing here? Where is Itsuki?”
I miss her so much. I have been waiting for more than three years just to meet her again. So much that I cried into her without caring about the people around.