>I’ve never actually seen much of the areas around Mizuho Academy, but looking at the areas I’ve only gone to once, it’s somewhat smaller than Mihara academy, but with higher density. The office district alone looks like the downtown district of the capital. Everywhere you look, it seems well designed and maintained: you don’t come across anything unpleasant at all as everyone is mindful of others. Well, maybe I would eventually end up at the other places in some point in time. Navigating around the whole Mizuho campus requires you to either take the inter-campus train, or climb a lot of stairs and elevators, and not much open spaces besides courtyards. I think I might go to some of these places I’ve never been to at some point in the future.
Despite the high class appearance or being close to one of the many train station, office and shop rental rates is below 100 yen per square meter per month, which is ridiculously cheap even for a similar space far away from the country’s capital. Accommodation is free and available to anyone, including visitors, but you still have to pay for non-Mizuho provided utilities, which is clearly labeled. Accommodation is already decorated with furniture and some household appliances. There are no limit on how long you can stay or restrictions on what you can’t do, but since it’s within the campus grounds, it’s still subject to what the uniform can do to you that nobody is able to speak of.
The inter-campus train is the primary way to get around the campus due to the massive size. It doesn’t seem to have much exposure to the outdoors and goes through a lot of buildings and, for minor stations, at locations you otherwise wouldn’t expect to even have trains to go through. It may sound confusing, but there’s advanced technologies that senses where you specifically are headed, and shows you how many stations there are left to your destination station or the station where you will be transferring to another line at.
The only road from the outside leads only to the multi-story carparks in the office area. The other modes of travel is a segway and bicycles. Complicated national road regulations and restricted leg movement by the uniform means that they are not common. Basically, you are made to walk elegantly, no matter how much of a hurry you are or how far your destination is. Yuko had once demonstrated (on an exercise bike) that she had trouble getting on and couldn’t pedal it when she did.
Like before, I encountered Komatsu Toshiko and her “grandfather” again when I stumbled across a courtyard in Mizuho without any actual destination in mind. Actually, I’m headed to the Hatsuya branch to meet Yuko, but there’s no real reason behind that. Well, to check the status of case of finding a missing person that Takagi has given me maybe, but that’s not important as I can ask Yuko later.
As she told me herself, she’s actually only 2 years old, but looks and behaves a lot like a teenager, until you ask her personal questions. On which, she has trouble answering and sends her questioning about the knowledge she has.
Toshiko’s grandparent: “Ah! Haneda-chan! Did you come here to celebrate on my granddaughter’s third birthday?”
Okay, 3 years old now.
Me: “Well, I’m actually searching for information for my senpai of my previous school, but there’s too much information to filter down.”
Toshiko: “Gramps, are you sure I’m only 3? I look a lot like a teenager and I’m behaving like one now too.”
Toshiko’s grandparent: “Well, I’m more extreme: you wouldn’t believe how different I looked outside this uniform. I don’t want to change out of it because all the medical problems I had before wearing it would come back, and I’m happy feeling healthy now. I’ve already retired as a school principal of Katsura High 3 to 4 years ago. I didn’t want to act dead, but somebody found an actual dead body that looks very much like me. Mizuho is a good place for me to hide and start with a new life, though being a gardener in what I was assigned to wear seems very odd for my job.”
Katsura High School? Why does that name seem so familiar? Hm… Do I know it? The part of my memories that tells me that I do might be on the damaged part of my brain that I couldn’t access.
Toshiko’s grandparent: “Well, here’s a photo of me, your mother and father, and you just two and a half years ago. You could see Toshiko’s resemblance with the parents, and since it was taken after I started working here, you could clearly see me there. I look out of place come to think of it. They, my daughter particularly, was shocked to see me as I am now for the first time as it seemed like I rose up from the dead, among other reasons. I couldn’t change back, because of that dead body that is supposedly me discovered on the day I wanted to announce my retirement to the school. It feels that I can live for longer than the oldest person ever known.”
Toshiko: “Ah, grandpa is staying here by himself. He picked me up from home when my parents head to work as I don’t have school and, outside Mizuho, I’m incapable of getting around by myself. Can’t you believe that I was only this small, screaming, and being irritating to my parents just this morning? A stark contrast to my current behavior. Neither dad nor mom has come to Mizuho before to see me, so they have never seen me as I am now.”
Me: “Really strange, isn’t it? Oh, I wanted to ask you something. Do you know of anyone actually mysteriously disappearing in the past two years?”
I described the background of the case Yuko and I were working on.
Toshiko’s grandparent: “Well, I’m afraid I don’t know about it any more than what was reported on the news. I did have something strange at the school I used to be the principal of: a female student who scored quite high, and popular among the guys. She has actually has been brainwashed since childhood by her uncle to hide traces of what he did to her since birth, but of course, it doesn’t seem like it from her point of view. She did look as though she didn’t know what she was doing that others thought she is good at, or even what she’s saying herself. I wanted to tell her about what the truth about what her uncle did to her at birth within a year of her graduating, but then that dead body appeared and forced to stay away from the school. It’s as if fate doesn’t want Kotomi herself to know about it. It wouldn’t be long before she realizes it, but a little longer for her to know what it is.”
The description of the girl “he” was talking about eerily describes the Kotomi that hangs around me and Itsuki. There was no mention of “A Girl From The Future” or having anyone she’s close with in school. At that moment, my phone started ringing and my hand automatically picked it up. What’s this? Who’s calling? Why am I picking it up?
Instead of the headset, the voice unexpectedly came directly into my head, as if telepathy. It’s the very familiar voice of Yuko. I wanted to take off my phone as it’s redundant, but my right hand feels glued to my phone, which itself seemed to be glued to my head. Is this one of my body’s automatic reaction of not looking strange to others?
Voice of Yuko in my head: “Haneda-chan, could you come to my office? I want to discuss about this gardener you are talking to now. Oh, and did you forget that a group of people could be watching what you are seeing, hearing, and thinking at any given time? Especially office hours. Come to my branch here, where all of that is blocked from being transmitted except within the branch itself. I could talk to you about the gardener more freely there.”
I didn’t forget. It’s just that I’ve given up of not being allowed privacy to the point that I stopped caring if people could look at what I’m seeing.
Me: “Excuse me, it looks like I have something I have to attend to now.”