Yuko: “There’s 3 kinds of time traveling this machine has: First, allow us to explore what it’s like there as if we are in that time, but doesn’t allow interaction and not be seen. This is the most useful to view events that happened in the past where there are no known or surviving witnesses of an incident, and, more importantly, to ensure that the past is not altered. The second one is going there as ourselves in that time. Problem with this is that there’s a chance that we may not retain our current memories, wouldn’t know what happened during the time difference, and obviously can’t go any earlier than one’s birthday, or any latter than one’s death, with the latter being the unknown and you yourself possibly having died too if you didn’t go out of that time before it happened. You would also find yourself at a location and situation at the time you time traveled to, which can put you in an awkward position if you find yourself talking to someone you haven’t met yet currently.”
That’s scary. I wouldn’t want that.
Yuko: “The third one we will be using is to travel in time as we are now, with the possibly high risk of altering the present and future. People would look at us strangely of we are seen wearing something that obviously looks out of place or use devices that don’t belong in that era, especially gadgets from the future of that time. Although technically, we could bring them along. We don’t know if the time machine would do the changes to us automatically though. I need to look at the settings.”
Me: “I’ve never thought of those different ways of time traveling, but those movies on time traveling does follow one of the methods you said.”
Yuko: “Okay, we’re rescue that friend right now with that third method I explained earlier. That friend we’re rescuing used that method.”
She was already pressing some buttons on her wristband-sized time machine.
Me: “Hey wait! I’m not ready. I’m not dressed for that period and I have things that are from the future of 20 years ago.”
Ironically, Yuko herself doesn’t seem to have prepared for it even though she herself said that we should. We didn’t even plan of what we would be doing there or where we would land ourselves into.
Yuko: “We also shouldn’t worry about coming across ourselves in that time as we are too young to even be able to walk, and our future selves that may be in that time too would not be making their presence known to us anyway.”
She’s ignoring me! You said all the precautionary measures for time traveling just a moment earlier, but you aren’t following it yourself. Just before I could think of doing anything to stop her, she had already activated the device. It was hard to describe what I felt, but it was scary enough for me to shut my eyes.
The crazy feeling ended and we found ourselves surrounded with nothing but tall trees. I found myself wearing the old version of the Mizuho uniform without any restraints that Mizuho uniforms are uniquely known for, but nevertheless had a style that made me look slightly different. Everything I had on me wouldn’t look out of place if it were the late 1980s to early 1990s, and there’s a card on me to dial a certain toll-free number to contact my present time. Yuko on the other hand… has been turned into Itsuki… with casual men’s 1980s wear and a white coat over it. I was expecting at least a formal attire.
Itsuki: “Looks like Mizuho in this time has yet to be owned by Hatsuya or have those crazy features implemented into the uniform. This is one of the things I have been working on since working at, but couldn’t tell you due to my position. I wasn’t lying when I said that there are no supervisors and I wasn’t one, but I somehow find myself the only one at my branch to be automatically wearing it. I didn’t know why myself, but it seems to be probably because I’m the most important person there. I still have the same job position as my colleagues there.”
Somehow, my impression of Itsuki in his original male form is completely different from the female form, despite being the same person.
Me: “You mean you knew what will happen and automatically change anything that won’t fit in that time period? Why do you seem to be in a hurry to want to rescue him if we can just take our time and arrive at the same time anyway?”
Itsuki: “Well, there’s a non-default setting that allows you to have things from a time ahead of the destination time to not have it changed into its counterpart of that era. As to why I was in a hurry to get here, I just had the strong urge to get out of the Mizuho uniform I’ve been made to wear 24/7 these days. No other real reason for it.”
I’ve been to this city before, but don’t know much about it besides the shopping areas. The first time I’ve been to this city here was en route to visit Kotomi’s house for the first time. It was the first station that the train I was on, which I later found out to be a limited express service, stopped at after noticing that the train did not stop at the station closest to Kotomi’s house. When I explored that city for the first time, most of the buildings were built as recent as a few months earlier. The rest are mostly buildings that survived from redevelopment and earthquakes.
Looking at the landscape of the city about 15 years before I first visited it, I felt kind of lost of where everything is on seeing so many older buildings that don’t exist in the present. I don’t recognize much buildings that exists both 20 years ago and the present besides the train station. Itsuki seems to know this place better than me.
Itsuki: “Okay, here’s the plan. I’m going to wear this, bring that friend out, and leave no traces that he was even arrested at all. Kind of easy as he’s from the future of our current time. I looked at what languages he could speak: he knows lower-intermediate level of our national language, English, and a language neither of us would understand without thinking too hard.”
The said clothing in question looks like a man’s police uniform complete with their hat and some genuine looking identification. It came from a sports bag that I don’t recall seeing prior to the time travel.
Me: “So, how exactly are we rescuing him, and with that police uniform? Your plan doesn’t seem detailed enough. More importantly, where did that come from, and how and where are you going to change into that autonomously?”
Itsuki: “You don’t want me to waste our time describing it… The group of people belonging to the person that allowed me to head back in time gave me this. As to where where I would change, I could just do it at the hospital not far from where he is held. There’s no rush to bring him out, but nobody likes to spend any moment of their lives in prison either. Come on, we want to minimize the impact of our action with the past, and spending little time in it is one of them.”
He did not say where the bag came from, or why it suddenly appeared. I definitely did not see Itsuki with the Mizuho uniform on (Yuko) holding it or lying around in the room we were in.
Eventually, we reached the hospital Itsuki was talking about. It’s quite a distance from the train station. Nobody around us had a strange look at us, which means that we blended in nicely. Funny to see things I consider old as brand new, and there’s a noticeable big difference in automobile design of those between the 1970s and the 1980s. The name of the hospital we are entering, however, seemed awfully familiar.
Itsuki: “To know for sure that people aren’t watching, we should avoid places visitors are likely to go to, especially the levels closest to the ground floor.”
Except for the ones built or upgraded within the past 10 years of my present time, older elevators seemed scary to me with its dim lighting, design of the interior, the noise it makes, and even the floor level displays.
Itsuki picked a random level and searched for an area with low traffic. I noticed that almost all of the rooms here have the kind of doors that swings outwards instead of sliding ones. We walked for quite a while to find a suitable place, but we heard awfully familiar voices arguing among each other.
Woman: “Onii-chan, isn’t there another way?”
Man 1: “We don’t want our son to be a part of this. He’s not even a year old!”
Man 2: “Well, my sister has signed a contract, that allows me to use her as part of my experiments in exchange for financial assistance all the way until the your youngest child, which hasn’t even born yet, is old enough to take care of themselves. Your son is an extension of my sister. Don’t worry, this experiment won’t kill the child. In fact, it would excel in many areas more than the child’s peers.”
I signaled for Itsuki’s attention since it was so easy to walk past this room and not knowing what happened inside this room. We had to whisper to each other so as to not have the people inside hear us.
Me: “Itsuki, these voices sound a lot like Kotomi’s mother, father, and uncle. Don’t you think so?”
Itsuki: “Come to think of it, they do sound like it. But Kotomi was born within less than a year we are in now, and there isn’t a male child that I know of in the family except ones born 4 and 8 years after her. Those people clearly said ‘son’, but the familiar voices in there disturbs me.”
Man 2: “Well? Anything do you want me to add before I do it? I promise I won’t touch your next 2 children to make up for it. With my financial help, the number of children is not a problem. Backing out is not an option either, and it can’t be delayed or it would be harder for the child to forget this event. Also, the contract states that, including this child here and the two future ones I wouldn’t touch, you must produce 6 children in the period of 20 years.”
Woman: “That means that my son here would be almost done with college when the youngest one has only just been born.”
That does match the description of Kotomi and her siblings, but I don’t know any children in her family younger than Kuniko, who is the 5th child.
Man 1: “Fine then! Have this child to find a wealthy, kind, and knowledgeable soul-mate in high school and not ever be separated, even if the partner in question isn’t smart or popular. Let this child have their own free will, but behave as if born what you’re going to turn him into and not remember that this event even happened. I’ve already disappointed my girlfriend’s parents and deprived her chance to complete high school and college. By the way, what are you turning my son into?”
Man 2: “Well, I can’t grantee that this child would behave as what I’m turning it into, especially as it grows older, but everything else is could be done and I will ensure to hide records of this even happened. As to what I’m turning your son into, that’s a secret you’ll find out shortly. Let’s begin!”
Woman: “I thought my boyfriend was making love to me, but back then, I didn’t know that would get myself pregnant. I’m only just turned 16, but I already have a child.”
Wait, the woman in there is only 15 when she had a child?! Another clue that oddly describes Kotomi’s parents.
The sound of a machine being powered up was heard, and, when it reaches the peak, I could see rapid flashes of light coming from the gaps of the door. The sound of a baby crying was also heard.
Itsuki (to me): “Even the events going on in that room sounds familiar, but what?”
Since we couldn’t see what’s going on inside, we don’t know what happened during the silence that followed for quite a while before someone said something. Due to the high possibility of the people inside being someone we know quite well in our present, we didn’t dare to barge in either.
Man 1: “Noooooooooo! What have I done to deserve this? I shouldn’t have ***** with her in the first place. He created a mutant out of my son! I can’t bare to look at it for the rest of my life!”
Woman: “I’m not wearing my glasses. What happened? Why is he screaming as if my son has turned into a monster? He still looks the same to me.”
Man 2: “Sis, I’ve turn your son into a girl. There are no traces on your child’s body that it was even born a male and it’s genetically completely female. It will grow into into a beautiful and intelligent woman and be able to give birth to your grandchildren.”
Itsuki and I quietly left and didn’t say a word until we climbed halfway up the staircase to an another floor. It’s hard to believe what we had just heard.
Itsuki (to me): “You don’t think that is what I think happened in there? An infant that had a sex change done in front of, but without the consent, of the parents. But Kotomi being that infant in question and not knowing it? That’s disturbing.”
Me: “It could be someone else, but those voices is definitely that of the people we know and those three know each other. One of the men also mentioned ‘financial assistance’, and the other ‘mutant’, which Kotomi had already explained that her uncle and father had respectively said the same thing too. Also, the mother said that she was only a teenager when she gave birth to Kotomi, and the father was in the same class as her at some point in time.”
Itsuki: “But… but… Kotomi really has those and is no different from other girls in any way. Her voice too.”
Me: “Well, what about that uniform you are made to wear at work? It’s based on the same thing, but only as long you are wearing it, though they are no making it easy to take it off. There’s nothing left on you of ever being a male while you were wearing it, except your memories. You’re in my original body, and I’m forever stuck in a real girl’s body with traces that I had even lived as you completely gone except for the fact we both have the same parents. You complaining about what it does to you is nothing compared to me.”
Itsuki: “So… should we tell Kotomi about that commotion in that room and my work uniform? It obviously looks like female clothing even when I’m not wearing it, plus I’m been made to wear it most of the time these days.”
That’s a tough answer as Kotomi’s reaction seems unpredictable.
Me: “There’s a possibility of Kotomi committing suicide the moment she knows about it. So let’s wait until she has a strong reason to not do so like marriage and children, which can take a few decades. However, the revelation of you in the Mizuho uniform should happen before the other to reduce the impact. To reduce the chances of her finding it before then, even if she come home unexpectedly, give it to me or hide it among my things. I don’t know if you would ever have any children with Kotomi: the question is her being born a male, but completely turned into a girl to the extent of her body growing as if she was born one… it’s one of those things that gender reassignment surgery could not achieve, including the ability to give birth to a child.”
Itsuki: “Um… that can wait until she has a stable job. Can I go change into this police uniform upstairs? I can’t risk bumping into them if I did it on the same level we were on.”
Me: “What about me? I can’t be a sitting duck or wait around for the unknown and doing nothing in the meantime.”
Itsuki look through the bag where his police uniform came from.
Itsuki: “Well, I don’t think there’s any for you… oh wait, there is one for you. I don’t know what it is exactly, but it look like like formal clothing for women that’s more conservative than what you have only been able to wear. It’s definitely not a police uniform.”
It has maroon and gray colours, but identification that came with it does seem to come from the police department. The only kind of people I could think of who work with the police, but not wear the police uniform, are usually those of higher ranking or work only in the office.
Itsuki: “Oh, a note attached says that anyone, including other police officers, would do anything we want with no questions asked or any consequences if we wear these. Identification systems would see us as actual police officers… It can’t be used to break the law unless the overall intention is good or the law itself is unpopular with the people… Oh, let’s just go change into these.”
It was a nice change to wear changing out of something I’ve continuously been wearing for some months now. The Mizuho uniform I was wearing before changing is of the same design as the ones just prior to the ones introduced while I enrolled into it, but without that crazy technology in the uniforms. I guess the newer ones were a radical change to keep up with the times.
A voice in my head: “Saeko? It’s Kotomi here. What exactly happened in the room you just heard? I clearly heard my parent’s voices. Did I have an older brother? Come on, you and my husband both heard it.”
Kotomi? How are you able to see this when I have traveled to the year 1990? I don’t even know what I heard, and… unless you mean Itsuki, I don’t know who is this husband of yours that you speak of.
Voice in my head: “…huh? (silence follows) Oh no, I was talking to the Saeko of 2010 who was rescuing a Powell colleague stuck in the past… Wrong year. I thought I was talking to the you of my present time. Er, don’t mention about this conversation it to anyone, not even Itsuki or the me of that time, unless I mentioned it myself, which would only happen, as you discussed with Itsuki earlier, some time after he reveals himself to me while wearing the Mizuho uniform. Otherwise you would change the past, and you wouldn’t want to give me a reason to kill myself before the me talking to you now. See you then.”
That sounds like Kotomi from the future who has already married to Itsuki, but still seem to care about me. At a time where I was about to think that people outside the time I’m in can’t contact me too…