Teary Promise (Part 19)

We walked towards the local school together with Nishizawa and Saeko. Nishizawa revealed to me that Saeko is like a programmable robot that is immortal, but defenceless, with an actual person’s soul inside.
Right now, Saeko has been put on the command to behave like a high class hotel receptionist serving important guests, which is so unnatural from Saeko’s usual behaviour. I wonder if Saeko is cringing in her mind with this forced behaviour, or has she been brainwashed to behave as such? If it is the former, maybe I can make her say or do something that would make this obvious. The tricky part is with the presence of Nishizawa, who made her behave as such, and not being obvious that I wanted to check on Saeko.
Me: “How did the school turn out to be this bad? Surely the education ministry or the city mayor would have done something about it.”
This town does not have a town hall, so all admin matters fall in the charge of the nearest city, which is where my high school is. However, the city council there does not monitor much of what happens outside the city they are directly in charge of, so things like education doesn’t get monitored much.
Nishizawa: “Well, it started many years ago. You can say it is something like a continuous cycle of seniors teaching stuff to their juniors. To make matters worse, the teachers were graduates of that school, or for those from elsewhere, made them swear to not tell about it or they would find something that would dismiss them as a teacher. During some of the few official visits from the city hall, the bad things that the school is known for gets covered up and…”
Saeko: “I would appreciate it if someone were to stop stepping on my feet.”
I had Nishizawa to look at me as we were talking and walking in a way that one of Nishizawa’s feet would keep stepping on Saeko’s feet, with she herself unaware of it because of the shoes they wear. I’m surprised Saeko did not yell in pain despite the way her feet was stepped on would have been painful, but it certainly seems that she could feel it.

As we were having our conversation, I couldn’t help but to feel that my phone, which was in silent mode, kept vibrating. I think Saeko is trying to tell me something, but with Nishizawa talking to me practically non-stop, the opportunity to check what the message says without her raising the topic is non-existent.

Moments later, Saeko tripped over something and fell down. I don’t know if it was intentional or not, but she seem to have tripped with the foot Nishizawa was stepping on earlier. What is even weirder are how her arms and legs are positioned as she lay on the ground: they are positioned the same way as if she was standing earlier.

Nishizawa: “What are you doing? Get up.”

She turned Saeko around as she said this so that her face is not facing the ground.

Saeko: “My deepest apologies, but my body is restricted to be unable to do that without assistance.”

Nishizawa: “Okay, you made your point. Here, you look silly.”

Almost as if having ran a marathon, she got up and went gasping for air.
Saeko: “Don’t ever do that again to me. It reminds me of what Itsuki did to me on my birthday.”
She said that in an almost crying tone, even though the words she said was supposed to be in an angry tone. By the way, who is this Itsuki guy Saeko is talking about? I’m also guessing that the same thing happened on her birthday.

Nishizawa: “Are you angry? You sound like a crying child to me, and i lifted your behavior control. Oh yes, you can’t get angry in that body as any anger gets expressed as sadness instead. I only controlled how you behaved, and no, I did not forget about unlocking all of your body’s moods: your body just wasn’t even designed for being able to express anger at all, which the designers seem to have either forgotten about, or just didn’t want to see their own invention to get violent at them. It is because of this fundamental design feature (or depending on who you ask, a flaw), you are unable to fight someone without being scared, if you could fight at all. It seem very odd to make an immortal body like yours to also be scared and defenceless, but that itself can be useful for deception. Of course, you have to feel the actual pain incurred in order for you to express the appropriate action, including ones that results in death which your body would react as if you actually are, though you don’t actually die and automatically revived when only a Hatsuya staff, someone you trust, or with nobody looking at you. If it weren’t for the director saying that having your mind controlled may caused long term damage to you, I would have also tried to brainwash you to see how you would react in certain mindsets of various situations.”
Saeko seemed as if insulted at that comment, but did not respond to it either which tells me that everything Nishizawa said was true. It must be suffering to be controlled by someone else and unable to escape.

…Hold on, did she say that Saeko was immortal? How did I not know of this before?

Part 18 | Part 20
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Teary Promise (Part 18)

Woman: “Ah, I almost forgot. There are several spare uniforms at the staff room you can wear. We keep spares in case our students stained theirs with paint or blood, or gets torn apart. Wait inside the girl’s toilet of the nearby park. You will attract attention if you don’t change.”

Why are they keeping spares at all? Why at the staff room instead of the storeroom? What is with the mention of blood and tears? Why wait inside the park toilet instead of the outside? This sounds very wrong, even for a school away from the city.

Me: “Is the bullying that bad?”

She had an odd expression on her face when I said that.

Woman: “Not all the families of the students can afford the uniform, and you know, bullying cases where they tear them apart. Some are… Left behind by students. There’s a set prepared in the first cubicle in the toilet.”

Why did you already prepare the uniform when I had only just met you? I felt that the conversation was very awkward to me. I somehow sensed that the uniform in question once belong to someone that has something happened to her. Unclear if related to the recent tsunami or not. Nevertheless, I continued following. At the same time, I sent a coded message in secret to my brother and Hisakawa-senpai that meant as a cautionary notice that I could be in danger of being attacked.

The park in question seems deserted, and not of the one I had been to. The woman went ahead to the school just visible in the distance. There are two toilets next to each other, one for each gender, but why am I seeing a urinal in what is marked as the female toilet? Why is that there? Only boys can use that. Nevertheless, the said (female) uniform is in the first cubical.

It feels as if I’m being watched while changing… Have I walked into a trap? If so, why did I knowingly walk into one? It’s possible that someone might had saw me talking to that woman, who could possibly isn’t with her, and led me to the wrong toilet by swapping the signs as, clearly, there aren’t supposed to have urinals in the woman’s toilet. (Not my first time seeing them: Saw men using one of those when dad brought me in the mens room when I was a small kid wanting to use the toilet, but with only dad instead of mom around to ask.) Would someone attack me once I get out of this cubicle?

Wait. I’m hearing a commotion outside. Sounds like there are boys fighting outside, along with a familiar voice.

Unknown girl: “You two, why are you switching the toilet signs?”

She said that with a frightened voice, but frightened girls wouldn’t even involve themselves to begin with. Wait. There’s no other toilet besides the one I’m at within earshot.

Male 1: “Do you want this knife into you? Mind your own business.”

At that moment I received an email from Hisakawa-sempai. It said: “My senses tells me that you are in the park’s male toilet and I caught two men changing the signs. One has a knife and some ropes, the other with a gun.” Two armed men? Huh? Another message? “There’s a possibility that I might ‘die’ confronting these men. lol”. Why the quotes and laughter on being killed? More importantly, how is she sending me these messages while dealing with hostile people?

Male 2: “Hey. Get out of our way, unless you want to get raped like the girl we have trapped inside that we planed.”

They really do want to rape me! Why did I knowingly walk into a trap?

Hisakawa: “Y-You would have to take me on first! Don’t g-give me the special treatment just because I’m… a girl!”

I don’t know what happened exactly out there as they seem to have moved out of earshot of me. Some time later, I heard gunshot and, a short while later, a scream of the woman I was with earlier.

Woman: “Murderer! Come back here! Hey!”

Man 1: “Hey, you shot that girl in the head…”

Man 2: “Oh no! I didn’t mean… Let’s get out of here!”

I received a message from Hisakawa again. It said, “You can come out now, though a woman saw me being shot. Technically, I am not dead, but my body reacted as if I was actually dying. Kind of an annoying feature to have for an immortal girl like me. On top of that, they deliberately made me unable to fight.”

Wait. She is immortal?! Also, what is the point if being immortal if she couldn’t fight?

“Hurry up and revive me. I can’t revive myself when people are looking, including via security cameras. You just need to bring my body away from watching eyes or something.”, said a more recent text message.

I got out of the toilet, already changed, and, to my horror, I saw Hisakawa-senpai lying dead with a bullet on her forehead. I started wondering if this messages I’m receiving from are fake. I messaged “How are you sending messages to me? Prove to me that you are that dead over there and not some pretender”.

“Well… someone closed my eyes, so I can’t tell what’s around me besides indistinguishable footsteps and voices. Your phone does not support, or is inaccessible to me, to link up with my status… But you probably wouldn’t understand what you are seeing if it does. How I am sending this to you? I don’t know how myself: I just think of you and what to say, and you would receive it as a cell phone message. You could say it’s part of how my body works, except that no one told me everything it is capable of.”

Was this how I received a message from her during the school field trip where my phone has no signal coverage? Still, no normal human could send messages by just thinking, especially to an electronic device that doesn’t use analogue signals. Appearing to be dead in front of me on top of that. Lets see what happens if I attach a picture of her dead body to her. There was a slight delay before I received a reply.

“Yes… That is me right there. I would love to send you a picture of what I can see, but, after someone closed my eyes, there is nothing but black space. My body is in a “dead” state, so apart from being able to hear and feel, I can’t do anything. Try forcing my eyes open.”

I did as I told and got another message. It was a picture of my lower half while squatting with what was underneath my skirt partially visible. “Sorry about that angle of you, but that is exactly what I’m seeing with my current head position. Is this enough evidence?” attached. Well, since I did it without a thought, and Hisakawa-senpai being someone I known for a while who is a girl and immobile, I shall overlook that. Even more so when I was saved from being raped not too long ago.

I tried to carry Hisakawa’s body to the toilet area, but the teacher whom I was with earlier came back to the park after chasing those men. She saw me and had a horrified look.

Woman: “Hey! Leave that body alone or the police would label you as the culprit instead of as a victim. Especially when there are no security cameras in this area.”

Me: “B-but…”

At that moment, something odd started happening to Hisakawa’s body. Blood that was scattered on the pavement came flying back into her body. Any injury, or clothes being torn, or dirtied, during the fight was reversed. Her body is now back to what it was before the attacked happened.

Hisakawa: “That was a horrifying experience. Now I know what it feels like to have been shot by a bullet into the forehead. Can’t say that I didn’t feel the extreme pain of it. Funny how they made me immortal, not that I asked for it, but defenceless and fearful when attacked too.”

Woman: “You- You…!”

Hisakawa looked at her, before wearing the look as if realizing something.

Woman: “You are that famous Powell founder! Hisakawa Saeko! Your company has helped a lot of people and we don’t know how different things would had been if the company did not exist.”

Hisakawa-senpai seem to not like her own company being mentioned. Most likely for being inappropriate to the situation or how often she has been asked of this. I honestly was surprised that the teacher did not question on how Hisakawa came back to life after very convincingly appearing to be dead, especially after having been shot in the forehead. No normal person is supposed to have survived that.

Awkward silence soon followed as no one said a word after the teacher.

Woman: “Those boys has just been expelled from school for bullying that resulted in the victim ending up being admitted to hospital, or worse, even suicide. I never thought they would go to the extent of murdering… you. It’s technically murder, but you are alive as of it never happened even though I witnessed it. Still, they can be charged for attempted murder and possession of illegal weapons. Except for their current whereabouts, I know everything about them.”

She was indicating towards Hisakawa.. Despite mentioning how Hisakawa has come back to life, she did not express shock or even question how that was possible, which I find very odd.

Hisakawa: “Nishizawa, you can stop trying to avoid mentioning how I came back to life. I already told her myself.”

Seems that Hisakawa and the woman I just met called Nishizawa knew each other before today, but where?

Hisakawa: “So, this is Nishizawa. She’s one of the people who occasassionally works at a department at Hatsuya behind… me.”

She seemed reluctant to say it.

Nishizawa: “What are you talking about? You are our most important thing to our company! Those old lab rats and theories don’t represent how humans would accurately react, and we can use you over and over without worrying about the police. Plus, your reaction is an accurate representation of how people would react our untested medicine, products, and theories.”

Why the mention of lab rats?

Hisakawa: “I never wanted to be your lab rat!”

She seemed angry.

Nishizawa: “Yes, but that was the condition for whoever stumbled into that machine at Mihara Academy your girlfriend, Miyazawa has set up, which happens to be you. Since that machine created your body as what you were at that time, you are technically our property and forever stuck as a female. An android with your own official serial number from those guys who approve electronic devices as safe to use, so that legally means that you are not human or an animal and we can get away with whatever we do to you. If it weren’t for you being an existing employee, and Miyazawa herself emotionally attached to you specifically, we could have kept you like a prisoner.”

Who is this girl named Miyazawa? Is what Nishizawa said true?

Hisakawa: “I AM VERY MAD! I CAN’T TAKE THIS ANYMORE!”

She said that in a sad, crying, voice despite the angry words.

All of a sudden, Hisakawa stabbed herself in her chest with the knife the attackers left behind. It was too quick and sudden to persuade her to not do it. This time, nothing happened. The knife just stood there partially into her body with no blood around it.

Hisakawa: “Why can’t I kill myself? I have experienced the extreme pain of being killed too many times! How am I still living?”

Nishizawa: “I told you: test our untested products and theories. Should those actually result in death, you will react as such, but made it so that you aren’t actually dying. That also means that you are immortal. We didn’t want you going against us, so we deliberately made you helpless and unable to express anger, even if you were to be attacked like earlier. These are hardwired into your body, so that can’t be change with anything presently accessible to you. We can also trace you anywhere in the world even if you try to escape, and you can’t stop sending to us what you are seeing or hearing.”

Hisakawa seemed like she has given up living, and knowing that she couldn’t die even if she wanted to. Who want to live on forever? Even in movies, I’ve never ever heard of an immortal person who is also scared and defenseless. However, I could sense that Hisakawa is unable to express what she is truly feeling inside.

Nishizawa took out something and press some buttons. Hisakawa’s crying and anger abruptly stopped and wore an expression that looked as if she is a receptionist waiting to greet someone. The knife that was in her fell onto the floor with no blood stain, not even from earlier, and the cut into her body and clothes reverted too.

Hisakawa (in a pleasant and polite voice): “May I help you, Nishizawa-San?”

Her eye movement tells me that she has no control of her body.

Nishizawa: “Hold on. Those eyes of yours don’t seem right.”

Uh oh. She noticed that too. Now I can’t tell if she’s forced to behave that way, or has been brainwashed.

Nishizawa: “Now that is out of the way, shall we head to the school? We has lost a lot of time.”

Hisakawa: “Understood, madam.”

This feels akward.

Part 17 | Part 19

Teary Promise (Part 16)

With the overseas school trip behind us, I am hoping to put behind the bad memory of being very lost and crying about it behind. I try to remember the other things about the trip, but that scary moment of being lost is hard to mentally disassociate with the trip.

I wished I had not become so scared and frightened back then, but that was how I reacted naturally to the situation. Looking back, I should have been able to keep calm, but my body felt fear that became a part of my emotions before I was even able to think of keeping calm. You might have heard from my brother about how much we both look and think alike that we are practically twins, and how we eventually grew to be different.

My current behavior is completely different from how I behaved when I was younger, and I’m very much aware of that. I don’t like how girls behave, but the problem here is I am biologically a girl myself and there’s some kind of unbreakable mental barrier that is forcing me to not be able to behave any other way.

How did this confusion with myself happen? You see, since before I knew anything, I was copying my brother in whatever he did. One day, our parents arrived home (at the capital city back then) from work, but they couldn’t tell us apart because of how similar we are. I know enough about my brother to be able to answer questions by people who mistook me for him, and vice versa. Since there were no uniforms in primary school, it was quite easy to do so. It was because of this, I was brought up looking and thinking I was a boy and my brother’s twin.

The similarities ended when I entered middle school with my brother: I found myself wearing the female uniform and my brother was wearing the male version. I thought mum made a mistake as I thought it was supposed to be similar to what my brother was wearing. It felt like I was cross dressing, but nobody saw anything weird with it.

When I first saw my middle school uniform that mum bought for me, the first female clothing I wore, I thought mum was making fun of me as it was different from my brother’s, who was also in the same school. As I saw myself as a boy back then, I was somewhat angry about why I have to cross-dress and how girly it looked, and how very different from the male version. It had the ribbon instead of a tie and had a skirt that is a lot shorter than the pants for the male version. My mum used whatever excuse to make me to wear them, including being able to hide things under my skirt and yet appear to not be hiding anything until they look underneath, which itself (according to mum) is a big social taboo. I don’t remember how I ended up wearing it in the end, but I’m sure “because you are a girl” wasn’t one of those reasons.

It wasn’t until later that my body grew in completely different ways from my brother. I thought I had cancer growing at my chest, which get irritating and heavy while trying to move myself to the point that I wanted them removed badly: it’s making everything I do uncomfortable. They made my old shirt tight and uncomfortable to wear even though they are of my size. The only clothing I felt comfortable wearing since then was only my school uniform… and female clothes that I’m reluctant to wear due to its feminine design, but those are now the only kind of clothes that best fits me and could wear comfortably.

I asked mum about it as she works at a hospital around middle school year 2 when they become quite obvious, but that was when she gave me the bad news: she told me that I am a girl and the “cancer” growing on my chest are actually breasts, which even mum has. She added that it would be abnormal for a female if I didn’t develop breasts by the time I enter high school. Her assurance that it isn’t life-threatening doesn’t ease me either. That obviously means that I’m stuck with these weights for the rest of my life. It was also at this point that I started to see myself as a girl and surrendered to the feminine feelings that were growing stronger inside me, though I was hesitant about it. I guess it’s hard to resist natural feelings.

How did I use the toilet if I didn’t see myself as a girl until very recently? Ones in houses are mixed, and, in middle school, I observed that other students who wear the same uniform as me always enter the one with a red symbol with the shape of the skirt similar to what we are all wearing. I only saw it as toilet for people who wear skirts more than as a toilet for females only. I have to admit that I have entered the boys toilet before and even tried using the urinal (no such thing in the female toilet), but my body is not designed for it and forced to sit at the cubicle to be able to pee without making a mess, but the ones with the washlets installed, like at department stores, make me glad that I am a girl as I can clean my bottom easily without getting my hands dirty.

Over time, the female emotions developing inside me overwrote my behavior. I still know how I used to behave, but I am unable to behave like how I used to. Its like my behavior has degraded from that of a brave boy to a shy girl who gets emotional easily. I don’t know how or why my behaviour has changed so dramatically when there are other girls older than me who still behave boisterously.

I am aware that there are many boys who stare at me, but I chose to ignore them because my tomboyish mind tells me that boys likes to look at pretty girls, which increases their self-morale or something. Being a girl myself means that I feel nothing when I see other girls and get attracted to boys. I would like to say that my tomboyish mind would have me feeling confused, but I never fell in love with anyone outside the family back then, and by the time I fall in love with Takuya, the female instincts had already taken over me. Although, the void left behind by Takuya’s death left me blind on how to live on without him just how strong my love to him was. It’s so strong that I actually went emotional about it and couldn’t think rationally.

Teary Promise: Brother’s Side

My name is Isaka Tsukasa (井阪一), 2nd year student of Kobayagawa High School. Although there’s nothing wrong with the characters of my name, I don’t like my parents for choosing Tsukasa as a way to pronounce it, as it sounds like a girl’s name to me. I prefer my friends to call me Hitoshi instead, which can also be written with the same character, so they would never suspect that until a relative call me by my name in front of my friends who are used to the other name.

I am a member of the chess club that forms one of the many small clubs in the school, and not much large ones. This is partially because joining a club itself in my school is not mandatory. The larger clubs are typically pretty much what you would expect any school would have: art, music, swimming, baseball, soccer, and so on.

This school is an average school with several other schools in this city: including Kamisugi High (上杉高校) and Kaisei Junior High (海星中学). The well-known Mizuho Girls’ Academy (瑞穂女子学園) is also part of the city, but the massive size of their campus, along with the state-of-the-art facilities it has, the academy campus seem like it’s a city on its own. It is hard to describe what Mizuho is like, but it’s like entering a different world. I would talk about my encounter with Mizuho later.

If it weren’t for Mizuho Academy and the headquarters of the well known Powell Research company, this city would just simply be just another insignificant city. I heard that where Powell’s headquarters used to be an abandoned mansionette that existed long before the city itself was established. That building still exists as where the office of the big boss (aka the founder) is located. They have a general hospital at the outer edges of the land.

The windows around where that office would be looked like the only untouched part of the building during the major interior revamp, but people who have been to her office said that the only windows there are facing the corridor on the opposite side, and no sign of the mysterious room. People that worked at night added that lights from there were sometimes seen turned on.

According to my mother, who works there, the founder of the company is regularly seen wearing the uniform of the high school section of Mizuho Academy, but was seen wearing the Kamisugi High (another school in the city) uniform the year before. She probably transferred because her potential would be better utilized at Mizuho instead of Kamisugi. Kamisugi is a typical high school like mine.

For a company that only employs college graduates or higher, it’s hard to believe that it was founded by a young girl that is currently still in high school. Judging by the year the company was founded, that would mean that she was still in primary school at that time, but records say she was in middle school. That would make her the youngest person to have founded a company, which itself has grown to be quite well known all over.

This city might not be as great as the capital city I grew up in, but even its average school is considered better than at the town where I live now. You see, I travel four hours daily just for school to get there and back. The schools at the town I live doesn’t seem to have a good school, as evident by the behaviour and attire of the students of those schools. My family felt that it might not be good to be sent to a school in the town.

I moved into this town with my family during the break between my first and second year of middle school due to dad’s work. At first, it was at the neighbouring town by the beach, but my mother became worried over huge tidal waves that we moved further inland to where we live now. I wasn’t really sure if she was overreacting about it. Well, that is what my memory tells me, because I felt that things that happened 3 or more years ago never happened, but it’s probably my imagination.

I’m not the only child in the family: I have a younger sister that is about a year younger than me that attends the same school. We are very much like twins and close siblings that we don’t call each other by name. Our parents had a hard time telling each other part. It wasn’t until when my sister entered middle school (shortly after we moved from the city) where our gender differences became more apparent and affected how we saw each other.

We behave very much like each other, or rather, she behaved like me. Our primary school did not have any uniforms and, until recently, she never wore female clothes because she wanted to dress like me. Our friends often mistake me for the other and vice versa, and be able to get away with it because we could answer and do things that was meant for the other.

Although the middle school I attended for my first year had a uniform, her boyish behaviour meant that she saw herself as a boy instead of a girl and didn’t see my uniform as something only males wear. Her middle school uniform was the first girlish clothing she (had to) wear and wondered why it looked so different from mine (apart from having the same colours) that is also for the same school that has pants, while she wears a skirt instead. To her, wearing female clothing is like cross-dressing as she is so used to male things, behaving like a boy, and apart from mom’s things, never used or own anything that was specifically designed for girls only.

At first, my sister never thought much about the unfamiliar female clothing, apart from seeing it as cross-dressing, as it was bought by our mother and probably thought it was for people to tell her apart from me. However, as time passed, she had a rude shock with the changes to our bodies: My voice became deeper and was growing taller, but she instead grew breasts (it’s bigger now) and experienced pain every month while peeing out blood. Her male-like mind made her confused on what is happening to her body, and why her body is growing so differently from me, who she saw as a twin who is supposed to look alike.

Thinking that it was a disease, and still thinking she was a boy, she thought her body had a growth defect and believed that her breasts were tumors to the point of wanting to get rid of them. She even complained that her old clothes and the (male) clothes of her size that she tried out were getting tighter and tighter to the point of being uncomfortable. Sometimes, she doesn’t bath or change clothes simply because she doesn’t want to see her breasts or feel the senses from it by just the slightest touch to it because the skin there is quite sensitive to the point of feeling aroused. Even mum says that she herself feels the same. In the end, she had to be persuaded by me or mum to do so. Higher chance of it working if it’s me because of how close we are.

She grew up thinking too much like a boy that it almost seemed as if my sister, from her point of view, had her gender changed and was feeling senses that are quite alien to her. As her brother, I can assure you my sister has been a girl since birth, though it might be my fault for brainwashing her into thinking she is a boy, but I was very young and, me being the older brother and her copying me, I never saw what I was doing back then as something only boys do. Even my parents were clueless as to how to raise me and my sister, and actually left me to take care of her when they saw her following and copying me, who doesn’t know how girls should behave and instead had her adapt my male behavior. She faithfully copied me until she reached puberty when she got confused as what she think she was is completely different from what she is.

My sister kept denying of being a girl and still want to be like me, until she realized that only female clothes are able to accomodate her growing breasts comfortably, which includes the middle school uniform she has been wearing all the time.

As of High School now, she seemed to have given in to the female feelings in her and accepting the fact that she is a girl and not a boy she was raised to think. She doesn’t blame me for it as she saw the effort I had put into raising her, and having nothing but myself for reference. However, she is still attached to me that it makes finding a girlfriend difficult. We do still think alike, but it’s impossible for either of us to pass off as one another other than as text.

I don’t know what she does when she’s not around me, apart from heading to a secluded beach near home. Although she still says that she doesn’t like being a girl, her behavior is slowly progressing from an energetic boy to a shy young lady. It’s amazing how quickly a person can change their personality and not notice it themselves without looking back.

*****

So, what is this great deal about me and Mizuho? Well, it started with my chess club competing with other schools in the prefecture. My clubroom only has some cheap and massed produced chest set made out of the same cardboard on packages for the board, and the same kind of plastic used for bottles, only harder. Nobody thought the cheapest chess set would be this cheap in quality. Nowhere near the quality that would be used in competition. However, the club is being realistic by competing with other schools at community places or, if proper facilities are available, at their school. Mizuho is one of those schools big enough to even hold several competition-level events. That academy is a really rich school that even the second most famous school in the city is nowhere this big both in terms of land size and number of students.

The first time I entered Mizuho, I was amazed with how huge it is, and how futuristic the place looked compared with just the outside. I was told that the technology to achieve it had already existed that aren’t widely used yet. Everyone I saw in there were girls wearing many different uniforms who all have the identically huge breasts that were larger than any female I know of. It was like a boy’s paradise here. It never occurred to me at that time on what me and my club members looked like, but the students there did correctly identify us as students from Kobayagawa High, and I do remember everyone introducing themselves.

However, after the competition with Mizuho, I realized that my student pass had gone missing. I don’t know when or where it happened, and I had cover huge distances in the campus since entering that it would be an uphill task to trace back my steps. The receptionist told me that they would find it and told me to collect it in the morning, giving me enough time to reach my school on time. I guess people loose things quite often, and I guess the person who goes on patrol would forward things they found to the lost item counter at the end of their shift.

Because I have to be back at the counter before heading to school, I was also told that I could stay at the dormitories of the academy for as long as I like by simply occupying any vacant room for as long as I like without paying any rent or fees. Of course, I told my parents that I’m staying elsewhere closer to school so that the time otherwise spent traveling to and from home would be better used for my studies. Rooms that are occupied are displayed. Maybe I could use this place as a place to stay since travelling to and from home is very long. It feels like I could study and do my homework better with this atmosphere at the campus. No wonder so many people who graduated from Mizuho are quite smart. It’s because of that so many wanted to enter the school, which itself caused the entrance test to be just below Tokyo University in terms of difficulty. Although the academy could take in a lot of people, being popular means that it could be taken up quickly, and are sorted according to rank in the tests if there are more people than places.

The dormitories are scattered all over the academy, and are not gender segregated. All are designed for up to four people, but most of the occupied rooms I walked past only have one or two people in it. The interior of the one I chose is like a nice hotel and the room temperature is maintained around 25℃ regardless of the external temperature. Strangely enough, there is no toilet or bathtub provided. What seemed like the toilet had some unfamiliar looking fixtures in it that I don’t know what it’s for, or how to use them.

*****

Nothing seemed out of the ordinary until I noticed on the train to school the following day, that I had collected the wrong student ID! I could see why I had easily made this mistake: it belonged to a girl who attends the same school as me, and even had the same way of writing and pronouncing the name as me. At a glance, everything on this card looks like the same as mine, with the only glaring exception being the photo on the student ID.

Since this belonged to a student of my school, it would be common sense for me to bring it to my school’s lost and found counter the first thing before heading for lunch. However…

Receptionist: “What are you talking about? The photo on this student is you of course. Why are you reporting your own student ID as lost when you are holding it in your own hands?”

Not wanting to argue, I walked away and kept it with me, wondering what to do with this student ID with a glaringly obvious picture of a girl with the gender stated as female. Everyone I asked also thinks that it belongs to me. Is it me who is seeing things?

As I sighed while eating lunch, a beautiful girl came to sit opposite me. I didn’t see her coming as she came from behind. I don’t understand why she chose to sit at my table directly opposite me when there are tables with empty seats elsewhere in the cafeteria. However, I do admit that she looks attractive, and, come to think of it, she does have quite a resemblance to the unknown girl on the ID with me, but not exactly like the girl in the photo…

Girl: “Hi there! I need to seat with someone so that my friends would not find me as easily than if I were to sit by myself.”

Wait, I should keep this thing before she talks about it. Who is this girl? I’ve never seen her before. Her presence is making my heart beat faster. Is this a potential girlfriend who is making her move first?

Me: “Um, sure! G-Go on.”

An awkward silence soon followed. I’m too nervous to say anything. She looks like a first year, so maybe she isn’t in any club yet.

Me: “Er… I’m with the chess club. You seem to be a first year and our club is kind of small in the number of members. Do you know how to play chess?”

Her facial expression tells me that she wasn’t interested in chess, but does know something about it.

Girl: “I only know the western chess, but I do get defeated very quickly when I play. No one pointed out where I did wrong. I don’t intend to join a club because traveling time to head back home and doing homework alone is taking too much of my time outside lesson time. I intend to score good grades.”

Her mentioning not being in a club because she lives far away from school sounds awfully familiar. However, the conversation was awkwardly ended there as neither of us said anything until I finished my meal. I don’t know why she didn’t get up and leave in that span of time, but her presence and appearance as an attractive girl is infatuating me.

Girl: “Well, it looks like my friends might have given up searching for me by now. I had fun talking to…”

I really want her to be my girlfriend. I don’t know when the next opportunity would come because it’s rare for a girl to approach guys first. I have to say it now. She had been patiently waiting for me to finish my meal before saying that, which clearly means she doesn’t have friends waiting for her as she never looked at the time or anywhere else besides me and my food, on top of being empty tables around us. A clear sign she was interested in me.

Me: “Will you go out with me? Tell me you name, or at least where I can find you.”

Her face tells me that I had said certain keywords that she has been waiting for me to say. She seemed happy, which means it is now guaranteed that she will be my girlfriend.

Girl: “Oh? I didn’t? Well, I’m usually in my classroom for about 15 minutes after the last bell to prepare for my long way home… maybe we should give our email address while we figure everything out. By the way, I’m…”

She started doing her hair as she was saying that for some reason. The hairstyle she is doing looked awfully familiar, like I have seen it several times before.

Girl (in a different tone): “…Inami. Inami Yumiko. Your own younger sister.”

Huh? This perfectly attractive girl who has been attracting me was my own sister?! She’s totally unrecognisable from what I’m used to from as recent as just yesterday morning. How did this formerly tomboyish shy little sister of mine became like an attractive young lady overnight? Was it something I said to her? Like, not relying on me too much that made her change? Why is she doing this to me?

Sister: “Sorry, I was trying to see if you could recognize me with my new look, but since you didn’t, I might as well give you a taste of what it’s like when a girl walks up to you on her own, something that won’t be like the real thing if you knew who I was.”

That was her little test to see if I could recognize her with her new look?! I’ve been fooled: women can really look completely different.

Sister: “Us thinking alike means what I know about my own weaknesses would also work on you. Sorry… You raised me like a boy since before I knew anything, and that male way of thinking got me very confused when my body got increasingly feminine. I know I used to be so energetic and yelling with the other boys like equals, but I subconsciously became a shy girl that finds it difficult to look at boys. I’m still the same me as back then that can think the same way as you. Me trying to behave like a boy like I used to could trigger certain female instincts in me that makes it hard for me to be able to think. As much as I hate behaving like a girl myself, that is sadly what I am biologically, and what society expects me to behave.”

*****

Later that day, I showed my sister that card. She seemed amazed as if she can’t believe what she’s seeing, but the last thing I would expect her to say from all that curiosity is what all the others has said: “Isn’t this yours?”. However, as she was saying that, she wore the expression on her face that suggests that those words aren’t what she wanted to say and hinting to me that the card might be cursed. Either way, I came home that day to take my stuff to the Mizuho dormitory from the following morning onwards.

*****

While unpacking my things, my knee bumped into some furniture. I never thought much about it as it wasn’t painful at all, until I realized that my skin just had direct contact with the object. I was puzzled at first because I could still feel my uniform’s pants being worn at my waist, but as I walked around, I could feel that the bottom of it rubbing against my lower thigh. None of the shorts I have ever worn is that short or this much airy.

As I looked down to see what happened to my pants, something else caught my attention: I have two round mounds forcing through from underneath my uniform shirt around my chest, which made an otherwise loose shirt becoming a tight fit. Why do I have it? These things are embarrassingly huge and they oddly feel a part of my body that I don’t think it could be removed at all. I tried to have a closer look, but I was unable to unbutton it, which was when I also realized that the buttons are on the opposite side with no button at my collar. Looking further down, I saw myself wearing a skirt instead of pants, which explains what I felt while walking. What on earth happened to me? How did I not notice it earlier?

I’ve gotten used to seeing girls wearing skirts of this length before, but now I’m wearing it myself, it feels like I’m wearing nothing! The idea of feeling nothing being worn even though I appear to be wearing something is an alien concept to me. Even as I sat down trying to figure out what was going on, I found myself automatically holding the back of my skirt before sitting down and my legs to either criss-cross each other, or stuck together and leaning to a side. (Was I sub-consciously doing that during chess practice yesterday?) Even with that, my skirt barely covered my legs from the cold surface of the chair I sat on. Do girls really face these problems with their skirts a lot? If so, why do I see them wearing it a lot and not complaining? In fact, every single person I saw in Mizuho wears only skirts that are actually shorter than what I’m wearing.

Despite the very strong feminine things in my sight and mind, I never felt my male thing growing big and rock hard, which usually happens when I think too much of female things. As I found out, I don’t have such a thing on my body and, in its place, felt a tightly shut slit that goes inside me. Do all girls have this too? I hate to admit, but not having a male thing there actually makes me feel more comfortable wearing a skirt and having my legs together.

When I looked at myself in the mirror, I saw the face of the girl on the student ID from yesterday staring back at me, wearing the female version of my school uniform similar to what I see myself wearing now. There was no one else besides her that is visible in the mirror I was looking at, which I found strange as I did not see myself on it. I moved myself and saw that girl doing the exact same thing as me. She looked pretty attractive, if only she could be… WAIT! THAT GIRL IN THE MIRROR IS ME?! WHAT IS GOING ON HERE?!

Did me and my club members look like this when we came into Mizuho yesterday? I never paid attention, but I did notice that every single person in this huge campus is female. I don’t know how or why, but I don’t have much time now to make it to my school on time.

So, that student ID with me yesterday really was mine. The unknown girl was really the me as I am now. I now look more like a near-identical version of my sister than my male self. If they recognize the female photo of me as me in my male self, would they not notice that I’ve been turned into a girl when I turn up for class? I don’t have the time to figure out how to turn back!

At class, my classmates noticed and greeted me. Besides the usual people, there are more female classmates than male who greeted me. The fact that they weren’t shocked on seeing me means that my classroom and school never changed: they didn’t notice that I am a girl now, or they thought I had always been one. It’s hard to tell which gender I am being treated as, though my best friend did have a different body language: looking at me a lot, but not at my face. At the chess club, we did talked about yesterday’s practice match at Mizuho Academy, but there was no mention of being turned into girls, and neither did I see anything different with the club members who were there (or at least, what my memory is telling me).

Several days has passed since it happened, but I still have yet to figure out how to be turned back. I did not return home or, except in text form, never talked to my sister. She doesn’t mind me staying at Mizuho dormotories, but it can get suspicious to her not to see me at school. During those few days trying to figure out, I mysteriously never felt hungry or thirsty, or even felt the need to use the toilet the whole day since this morning. There was oddly no physical education classes either.

So, how did I turn myself back into a boy? Well, a Mizuho High girl, with the name Kanade Haneda (羽田 奏) on her name tag, was calling me as I was walking around near the main entrance, where it contains the only asphalt road in the whole campus. The road leads to the office area from the outside, briefly passing past a research lab, and outdoor sporting facilities. (I don’t get how Mizuho students can do sports very well when they can’t even remove their regular school uniform.)

Kanade: “Oh, hi there! Are you having problems taking out your uniform?”

A girl from the high school department approached me. She had the name Kanade Haneda (羽田 奏) on her name tag.

Kanade: “I know mine can’t be removed until I graduate, but, for you, you can do it outside the campus as long as no one sees you, or know where you are exactly. This specific Kobayakawa female uniform you are wearing is actually a Mizuho uniform for visitors. Visitors of other schools would see that of their school version.”

Me: “Thanks for the tip. But how do you know this much detail?”

Kanade: “I was… used as a model when they designed the uniform and have a brother who works here.”

If she says her brother works here, and being one of the people involved with designing of the uniform, she must have known about boys like me being turned into girls, but I’m not going to ask her about that.

Kanade: “Your mother told me that you were staying here and, since I have to come here, I might as well meet you. From the images I saw at her office, you do look a lot like your younger sister, even when you were a child. I saw your student ID at the lost and found counter. Would had brought it to your mother if you hadn’t told the lost and found office about it.”

How does she know about my mother?! I have to admit that me as my female form does make it possible for me and my sister to look alike again. Actually, it hurts more if we don’t look alike. I only anticipated my sister to crossdress and trying out a deeper voice to be like me, not the other way where I am transformed. Being siblings with the same set of parents, I don’t think my face looks much different than before, but gender-specific facial features makes it hard at a glance to confirm this. It seems that, on top of the free accommodation and utility usage, Mizuho is actually paying me to stay there.

Me: “How did you know my mother? Are you even talking about the same person here?”

Kanade: “Didn’t she already told you about an important person at where she works looking out of place wearing a school uniform?”

Hold on. Mizuho High uniform… Knows my mother well… Mentioned that she saw me and my sister on a photo at my mother’s office… And I think my mother did mention about a misleading name tag being worn. Huh?

Me: “Wait a minute! What were you doing at my mother’s office, and how did you get there? She told me that non-employees aren’t allowed to go any further than the hospital area unless with permission.”

Kanade: “Er… I forgot to introduce myself, did I?”

She gave me a name card with her picture on it and briefly showed me her staff pass.

Saeko Hisakawa
Founder, Chief Executive Officer
Powell Research Corporation

Kanade: “My name is Saeko Hisakawa, the so called founder and CEO of Powell Research. I am the big boss there, so of course I can go anywhere I like around Powell, though my appearance can be misleading to those who don’t know what I looked like. I have been kicked out of meetings by my own staff and scolded by security out of a misunderstanding, but I guess it can’t be helped because I stand out too much to fit the image of a Powell staff. I can’t even grow older or take out this uniform to blend in.”

I heard her saying “so called” when she mentioned her job title. She is strangely informal for an important person like her and appeared reluctant to mention her job post. There was no mention about her youthfulness, or why she had a different name in Mizuho. Also, to be kicked out of a meeting as a CEO by your own staff is crazy.

Hisakawa: “If you excuse me, I have something to do now. I hope we meet again soon.”

I see her walking towards the Hatsuya branch. She seemed out of place for someone who is part of the upper management of a serious company. I have this feeling that other senior managers want to get rid of her for things like contradicting the company’s policies, but with her holding the highest position, and founding the very company they work for, they can’t do anything about it.

There are rumours that if she hires people herself, that person would be hired without an interview. This means that they would not need to go through the hiring department that is infamously known for their strict interview process on top of requiring a degree for any position. However, for the founder herself to hire people itself is quite rare. According to staff hired by her, it came unexpectedly and she made it sound like a small company when describing it.

*****

After several encounters with my mother’s boss, she allowed me to use her money to order anything I like, no matter how expensive it may be. She admitted that her personal relationship with me is now stronger than my mother.

Hisakawa: “You see, my income is far too much for me to spend it for myself. Even if I retire now, I would still have a lot in excess even after considering spending it on expensive things everyday until I grow old, and setting aside funds for my family. I think I can also finance a huge fraction of any expensive project, or donate a large amount of to charity, but I would be attracting attention. Since I’m also seen as a founder of Powell Research, my actions can affect the company’s shareholders funding even though it’s unrelated.”

For some reason, Hisakawa always seem to imply to me that Powell is not hers and her attitude is more like being forced to take over a family business that she doesn’t want to. Since the company is managed by the upper management team and not her alone, the company can run on its own without her input. She can override the decisions the upper management team has decided, and Hisakawa’s decisions can’t be overwritten. This also indirectly means that staff that were hired by Hisakawa herself, and some staff she has an interest on, can’t be fired except by Hisakawa herself.

After selecting the things to order from the online store, the delivery date was scheduled to be around the second week of March. The size of the order means that my presence is needed to collect the delivery from the courier. However, it is not yet clear when exactly the graduation ceremony would be and, as a second year student, be present to show appreciation for the graduating third years. Whether it happens and me being involved would greatly affect the address I would use to have it deliver to: my home, or the Mizuho dormitories. If it is delivered to home address, but with me not around when it arrives, there’s the high possibility for my family to ask what I ordered and, particularly my sister, would open the package before I get back. The Mizuho dormitories seems like a safer choice.

I don’t know how am I going to reveal my appearance as a girl to my sister if she wants a picture of me, or hear my voice, inside Mizuho. If an emergency situation happens while I am there, it is highly possible that I would reveal it by accident. Knowing her, she could be shocked.

Teary Promise (Part 15)

Hisakawa seemed to have problems with the people with a certain group of people in an area near where we are now. Quite a number of people have seen her at Powell Research’s official events in that Mizuho uniform, enough times for people to see it as her “trademark” outfit. This means that she would be recognized instantly.

For her to get into a disguise is nearly impossible as her Mizuho uniform can’t be removed, including the name tag that has a completely different name written on it. The shape of that name tag, and her (larger-than-average) breasts, could still be seen even with multiple layers of clothes worn over it. She added that she hates wearing skirts, which is ironic as she’s wearing one now and is never seen wearing anything else. Hisakawa is such a beautiful and elegant woman that I can’t ever imagine her as a man.

Hisakawa’s phone started ringing. She answered it, but not long after, she started crying.

Hisakawa: “What do you mean? Didn’t I tell you not to mess with my things? …Huh? Why must I go to that lab? …No, that is not important enough to have me go through the trouble while I’m abroad now. No, I’m not crying even though it sounds like I am. …WHY DO I EVEN HAVE TO TALK TO YOU? GIVE ME KOTOMI AND MY BODY BACK YOU THIEF!”

…however her choice of words, and hanging up the phone at that word, suggests she is angry. I did not dare to ask what the call was about, nor do I know what were those last few words meant. It seems that she knows who the person on the other end is, but not on good terms. Being an important person, I think this could be a cryptic message that could mean something completely different.

Me: “Are you okay?”

Her face quickly changed to as if that call never happened.

Hisakawa: “Oh, sorry about that. Anyway, you probably want to get out of here and back to the hotel. Your friends are quite worried about you when they realized you were missing from their group. Even more so because the crime rate here against females is higher than back in our home country. I have suffered the most extreme of what they could do, though that is not likely to happen here.”

She spoke as if she has experienced being helplessly attacked several times before and is sick of it, but did not elaborate on what those could be.

Me: “So, how did you find me?”

Hisakawa: “Your friends you got separated from called the teacher, who informed the other teachers. I was at a neighboring town, which I mentioned earlier, that was not far from where you were last seen. Spotting you in the crowd was not that hard as this country’s school uniforms are very different in design, not to mention that I heard whispers of people describing you.”

I guess my uniform was really attraction.

Hisakawa: “At first, I tried to call your phone, but it said that you were not contactable even though I saw your phone being charged last night. My guess is that your phone doesn’t work in this country, so I used a signal emitter so that your phone would receive a working signal for me to be able to call you. Anyway, we should head back to the hotel: the teachers are getting worried.”

She didn’t say why she went through all that trouble, or why she made me wave towards nothing but the sky.

Just as we were about to leave, a car that had no driver stopped right next to us and open two of its doors. I have seen driverless trains before, but on something that doesn’t have guided rails and not appearing to be preprogrammed? I don’t feel easy about that…. Wait, the car registration of this car is from back from my country instead of the ones here?

Hisakawa: “This car? I don’t exactly know how it works, but they say it’s the most technologically advanced car in the world. Although technically the company’s property, it only works with me. Don’t know why myself.”

She talked as if she doesn’t need it, but to be given a car that has both the interior and exterior of the car bares resemblance of a luxury car that could only be driven by her is too much to ask for. If she could sponsor my school for this overseas trip, this car is probably nothing to her. However, she looks out of place being with that school uniform in the driver’s seat.

Teary Promise (Part 14)

I felt uneasy about Hisakawa-san telling me to meet her at the lowest level of the basement car park of a nearby shopping center. It almost feel like I’m walking into a trap. Am I really walking into one?

The location of the meeting place alone seems suspicious enough to me. I was already scared enough for today from being lost in a foreign land all by myself, and again when my phone rang even though I thought it had no cellular coverage here when I checked. I checked again now: there is currently no signal again.

The area where Hisakawa asked me to wait has a lot of cars parked near there, but otherwise void of people. The only sound here are from the cars driving around and some ventilation machines.

Not long afterwards, I saw Hisakawa sticking her head out, calling out to me, as though she does not want to be seen by others. She seemed to have tried to crossdress like a man, but the shape of her body is too feminine to be able to pass of as a man, especially with that large burst.

Hisakawa: “Sorry about how I look. Apparently my own body only allows me to wear certain types of clothes. If I try to wear other types of clothes, it gets repelled out like a strong magnet.”

I find it strange that it’s even possible for clothes to be repelled out of your body by itself, let alone specific type of clothes, but it does explain why pictures of her (via mom) seem to have her only wearing certain types of clothes.

Me: “So why did you want to meet me at a random spot of this car park?”

Hisakawa: “Well…”

Part 13 | Part 15

Teary Promise (Part 13)

On one of those days my group visited a place somewhere that is quite some distance away from the city center. Not sure where, but I do know that most of the way there has nothing but high-rise apartments. Unfortunately, I got separated from them while figuring out on getting around at an unfamiliar place. I don’t know how it happened, but it did.

I’m kind of scared to approach anyone, who are already looking at me. My uniform kind of stands out as there aren’t any schools in this country that has a similar design, judging by the students that I had seen. My mobile phone doesn’t seem to work while overseas. Payphones are nowhere in sight and, even if I do find one, I don’t have the coins for it. Also, I don’t remember the numbers to dial to contact people who might be able to help me.

People were already looking at me because the design of school uniform I’m wearing is not used in local schools. The fact that people are even looking at me makes me scared. I would like to ask the locals for help, but the problem is that I am unable to speak the language. I don’t have any additional clothes with me, or have money to buy any new clothes that would have me to blend in.

I’ve never felt this scared before. Being in an unfamiliar territory too doesn’t make me feel at ease either. What I’m fearful the most is to have suspicious men to approach me and, being a girl, more likely for them to do something to me.

Well, my first instincts are to head back to a more familiar area. The trains around here surely must eventually link to around there, but where is the nearest station? I’m sure they had noticed that I’m missing, but did they know when and where I was separated from them? I don’t even know where I am, and I don’t know how others would be able to locate me.

*****

Walking around, I heard a soft ringing tone from not too far away. It sounds like mine, but it’s of the generic type that anyone else could have it. Plus, mine does not work overseas anyway.

Well, that was what I thought, but the ringing was persistent. Also, the loudness and angle of the ringing remained the same no matter where I went, so the only way that is possible is if it’s mine, but how is that possible?!

Feeling scared, I slowly took out my phone. Just as suspected, all that ringing was coming from my phone. What’s even creepier is that the name of the mobile carrier my phone belongs to back in my home country appears there too at full signal. Who is calling me?

It’s the big boss of the company my mother works for, Hisakawa Saeko. I had her number saved on my phone because it had accidentally synced my mother’s contacts on the family computer. Mine and mom’s contacts have since been merged that it becomes a very long contact list. The phone’s interface makes it difficult to delete contacts in this very long list, on top of mom’s knowing people who has the same family name as my friends whose given name I’m not sure about, which explains why I didn’t delete them.

Hisakawa: “Yumiko-chan? Are you okay? Your group of friends had told the staff that you went missing while traveling with them.”

The one calling me is mom’s big boss, but the voice and the words she said suggests that she’s also the Mizuho girl that I’m sharing the hotel room with. So, it wasn’t some girl who did a poor impersonation of her, but rather a very good disguise. I don’t know if it’s because she knows my mother that she revealed her true identity to me.

Me: “How are you calling me? My phone did not have a signal the last time I…”

Hisakawa: “Now is not the time to talk about that! I can’t maintain this call for long. Anyway, if you are the schoolgirl I’m seeing, turn 45 degrees to your left and wave your free hand while looking towards the sky.”

She can see me? But there’s nothing but the wide open sky in the direction she asked me to look at, and a camera in that direction is certainly out of the question. Maybe she’s looking at me from behind? I feel silly doing it in a crowded area, or be facing away from where she could be looking at me from.

Hisakawa: “Ah. That is you. I’ll be picking you up at the lowest level of the basement car park of the shopping center near you in a while.”

For some reason, she chose to pick me up at a basement car park instead of the road near me. I guess it’s the only deserted place inside a very crowded area, but doesn’t the location sound suspicious, like ambushing me for a kidnap or something? I am a daughter of a scientist who is important to some degree after all, and I heard of scientist of similar rank, but at Hatsuya, has been killed by terrorists many years ago.

I have my doubts if the female voice that called me was even the Hisakawa-san I met.

Part 12 | Part 14

Teary Promise (Part 12)

If Hisakawa said that she had met my brother inside Mizuho, she must have known about his body changing. I mean, my brother and I go to the same school and, having seen a recent picture of me and my family (most likely the one taken during my entrance ceremony day last year), and knowing that me and my brother could look like the other if one of us tries to dress like one. I’ve seen my brother returning home directly from Mizuho, and if people saw him, they could easily mistake him as me in my school uniform, though he looks a bit different and I’m not well known enough on top of that for something to possibly happen. What I’m afraid of is not knowing if Hisakawa has already told my mother about it.

Also, I knew I had the sense of familiarity when I first saw her on the plane, because she’s the same person as the computer club president that I met at the Kamisugi High school festival. Her wearing a name tag that clearly reads as “Haneda Kanade” even though her name is something completely different is very distracting. I didn’t dare to ask her about it.

*****

When I woke up, my mind wondered where I was until I remembered that I was in the hotel on a school field trip. It’s like I had been booted up without my memory loaded until later on. When my senses came about, I heard the shower being used. There’s no one besides my mom’s big boss sleeping in the same room with me, so it should be her. I walked past the bathroom door and…

The door wasn’t closed, and Hisakawa-san is visibly taking a shower while still wearing the same thing I saw her wearing the whole of yesterday. Who on earth take a shower with their clothes on?! Is she crazy?!

Hisakawa-san noticed me and turn the tap off. Her clothes seem unusually dry considering that water was splashed on her whole body just a few seconds ago. Huh? Am I seeing things? She’s as dry as if she didn’t take a shower at all, but there’s water splashed around her, including the floor she’s standing on.

Hisakawa: “Er… This uniform is somewhat like my skin. That’s why the water bounced off, or you never saw me changing out of it. I can assure you that this outfit handles all the things my body needs by itself without me doing anything as…”

I didn’t get what she said to me as she used terms I wouldn’t expect to hear from her, or be mentioned the first thing right after waking up. From what I understand, she can’t do anything about what she wears.

Hisakawa told me more of herself: her body is biologically around my age, but is actually 6 years older. She seemed to have be cursed by something that doesn’t allow her to age or die. I didn’t know such thing exists in real life, though things in my life has somewhat become illogical since I first witnessed my brother being transformed into a girl.

Hisakawa added that she cares more about Hatsuya more than Powell. Everyone knows that Powell competes with Hatsuya, but hearing that form the very person who founded that company to prefer a rival company over her own is something.

Me: “Are you saying that your staff disagrees with you?”

Hisakawa: “To tell you the truth, I never founded that company: A me of an another dimension did. Although it was officially founded 10 years ago, it never actually existed in this dimension until 4 years later. I was already working for Hatsuya before its sudden existance in this dimension. Of course, Hatsuya has a way of identifying their staff from a different time and dimension, and knowing if something has happened to them. Hatsuya is aware of my situation with Powell, but not the opposite.”

It took me a while for me to get what she just said.

Me: “Huh? Powell did not exist until 6 years ago? Wasn’t mum working for it for longer than that? I also remember Powell being mentioned from that time too.”

Hisakawa: “Well, when the company suddenly existed, people’s memories were also modified to not notice its sudden existence. The site it sits on before it appeared is, like what the company history says, was a large abandoned mansion, just simply untouched for a bit longer. The Powell employees could possibly be working for a completely different company just the day before it happened. If I’m not wrong, your family moving to your current house could be the result of this. Your mother could possibly be a housewife or was working for a company near where you previously lived. You could say my actions caused this, but, in truth, I have no control over it or knew that this would happen. I’m afraid I don’t know how to undo it too.”

I don’t know if she’s lying or not as having people’s memories modified, including things associated with it, is hard to prove. I mean, if my memory has been modified already, I wouldn’t know what it was like before it happened, especially if there were no hints pointing to it. Then again, my family moving to a town far away from the capital I grew up in is a hint. I don’t even know if my own life is real or a super advanced system where every single object has it’s own physics and texture rendering even more advanced that the latest video games I know of.

Hisakawa must be a strong person to comfortably manage something a normal person would find too much.

*****

After breakfast, students were briefed of the itinerary. Due to the amount of students, they would go in their own groups when traveling in a large group is a bad idea, especially through crowded urban areas. The students were glad that they could form groups with students of other classes. For safety reasons, groups with less than 5 female students each should have a school staff. Male students could travel in groups of 2 or more without a need of a teacher, though the group can include female students. This means that a group with only 3 females without a teacher is allowed only if at least 1 male student or another 2 female students joins them. There is no gender ratio specified. This is also an obvious opportunity for couples to be together, except that I don’t have anyone.

Students who aren’t in any groups could form a team with each other, or join with a school staff, including ones who are already part of an another team. Of course, there are some specific needs, or someone a student can’t join with. It sounds complicated to sort out, especially since the students are free to choose whoever they like and weren’t grouped before the trip.

I would like to talk about the new things I encountered, but this is about me and not a travel guide of a city I’m not familiar with.

Not having any males that I know of, I joined a group of girls that had people I meet regularly. I mean, I would like Takuya to be with me, but he’s… passed on. We went to a lot of places, but the excitement isn’t exactly there with the people I’m with. It’s hard to get over this sadness, but I still have my feelings attached to him.

Part 11 | Part 13

Teary Promise (Part 11)

Being in a foreign country for the first time, it suddenly occurred to me that reduced food, electricity, and business hours in light of the earthquake back in March, does not apply to here at all. Buying things using a currency I’m not used to has make me feel disoriented on whether the numbers on the price tag of an item is considered cheap or expensive. They said to divide a number by 100 from the yen as a rough guess, but seeing something that costs 800yen back home being labelled as 25 in that currency, which itself after currency conversion, is worth 650yen or US$9, is making me even more confused.

Waking up, having breakfast, preparing things, travelling to school, waiting for everyone to gather and brief, taking the train to the airport, having lunch, waiting for the plane to depart, duration of flight plus delays, timezone differences. All of this has made us tired from travel alone and lost track of how long we have been travelling. The sun had already set when we arrive.

As it seems, even though the airport itself has good transportation links, we were ushered on to the coach buses that would bring us to the hotel. Though it doesn’t look like it’s at a hidden place, you wouldn’t know where the coach bay was unless you explored or were told of where it was as the public buses are located elsewhere. The number of buses, and knowing that each large ones would fit the whole class with some empty seats remaining, easily tells us how many people there are in total.

Due to the layout of the hotel, some had a room to themselves, some shared with another, and others three or more people per room. The hotel may be able to accommodate everyone, but there aren’t enough rooms of any one type to accommodate all. Practically all hotels outside Japan are only of the western style.

I don’t know what they were thinking, but I was assigned a room for two people. It’s common sense that everyone in a shared room should not have anyone of the opposite gender sleeping in the same room, so I can’t have the schoolmates that I know, who are guys, to sleep with me. Those guys are sleeping in a large room all to themselves, but they can’t invite me simply because I’m a girl.

Rooms that have empty beds would have a teacher sleeping in it. Since male teachers can’t sleep with the girls, but with the contradiction of female teachers being able to sleep with the male students (unless there is already a male teacher there), that affected how the students are assigned. Each room could have more than one teacher, or none at all. Of all the people who could have slept with me, it’s that girl from the college section of Mizuho Academy sleeping with me. I was hoping for my homeroom teacher or a classmate at least. Oh well, it’s not like meeting someone new is a bad thing or if there’s anything wrong with her.

Mizuho girl: “You’re Inami-san, right? It’s been a while since I last saw you. Your mother has been worrying about your safety since she started working at headquarters long before the earthquake. I came along for the trip not because she asked me to, but because I’m the one providing financial assistance. I’ve also met your brother too, and I could see how similar he is to you in appearance.”

Huh? I’ve met her before, and she knows my mother and brother? From what she said, she’s also that “mysterious” sponsor.

Me: “I’m sorry, but how do I know you?”

She took a look around the room and the corridor outside as if making sure that nobody could hear what she’s about to tell me.

Mizuho girl: “Remember the computer club president of Kamisugi High two years ago? That was me. My name tag might say otherwise, but my name is Saeko Hisakawa, founder of Powell Research Institute and I work for Hatsuya Research Institute. Although, it’s also a fact that I’m a college student at Mizuho, and I think your brother has already explained how difficult it is to take off the uniform. Before you ask, I’m really a girl even while not wearing the uniform, and, except for my hairstyle, my actual appearance is no different from what I look now. I’m actually 6 years older than you, and I was a year 1 Mizuho high school student just last year.”

WHAT?! My mother’s big boss from work is right in front of me, but me having met her in an unrelated situation, and has the appearance that would misled you from what you would think she does. What she described to me about herself is making me even more confused with things that contradict each other. Founded company A, but working for company B? If she’s was a year 1 at Mizuho High last year, how is she in college now or 6 years older than me? It’s common knowledge that Powell has been founded almost 10 years ago, but if the founder is still a student now, then…? Huh? Unless she was actually in primary school when the company was founded, something doesn’t seem right here.

Hisakawa: “Looking at your face, I think you’re confused about what I had just said. Don’t worry, I’m even confused as to what I am exactly myself too as I just suddenly woke up one day to be like this. Oh, and please don’t tell your mother about what I just said to you, and you don’t need to be so formal with me just because I’m more senior than you. I feel lonely when you do.”

For a big boss of one of the largest companies I know, she doesn’t look and behave like one.

Me: “So how do you know my brother?”

Hisakawa: “Well, your mother showed me a picture of the two of you: both present and during your primary school days, and she said that you looked and behaved like your brother until you entered middle school, when gender-related body growth differences became more obvious. She said that your brother was in the chess club, while you aren’t in any. At a chess tournament in Mizuho against your school, I saw what I though was you, but knowing from your mother that you aren’t in any clubs, I knew it was your brother.”

Me: “Back in March before the earthquake… was it you too?”

Hisakawa: “If you are referring to the two girls he met who was throwing away their money and letting by whatever he wants with it and then collecting it on the day of the quake, yes, one of them is me. The other is… my sibling that I’m not close with. Anyway, we should go to sleep now for a long day ahead.”

Hisakawa did not remove her shoes or change clothes before she climbed to bed and sleep.

Teary Promise (Part 10)

About half a year has passed since the earthquake happened. Everything has started to become normal again, and the mess caused by the tsunami in affected areas mostly cleared up, though there are still shipwrecked ships and empty areas where destroyed houses used to stand. Only the roads, surviving buildings, and some trees, tells us where everything was. Electricity is gradually returning back to normal, though some energy conservation measures implemented since the earthquake are still visibly in place. Sadly, it seems as if the world has stopped caring about the incident itself.

There have been small earthquakes since then that were more frequent than usual, which might be possibly be and aftershock of an aftershock. There was a typhoon that nearly threatened to hit the already-damaged nuclear plant and scatter its radiation just recently, but it became weak enough to be not much of a threat when it arrived.

Some boys in school have started to talk to me often since the start of the academic year than over the previous year, and I sometimes find myself walking with them to train stations. I don’t really see them as friends as they never come across my mind, but they are talking to me as if we are. To me honest, my mind is still filled with Tatsuya. I don’t know. Maybe I’m just too depressed to notice that I am surrounded by friends that care about me.

These days, my brother doesn’t even want to head home together with me. This is partly because he wants to hang out with his friends, and another being that he is in third year of high school and is preparing to enter university. His current grades allows him to enter any average college, but he’s aiming for a better one. Even he, like everyone else, wants to enter the top universities in Tokyo. So there’s stiff competition there, not only from our school, but the whole county. Chances may seem slim, but he says that if he doesn’t even try, there isn’t any! At best, at least one that is not the top, but still rated above-average.

Being in the later half of high school second year, this means that excursions would be taking place soon, as the third year is mainly focused on studying for college entrance examinations from around this time of the year until before the exams itself. I also doubt that such things would even happen in college or working life, at least with a large group and not have pay most (or all) of the cost with my own money.

The excursion trip usually brings us to somewhere with all the second years. The committee behind organizing it has been indecisive on choosing between local (Kyoto in particular) and overseas: some argued about knowing “our” culture, and experiencing what it’s like to be in a foreign country as almost everyone has never been out of the country before. Since the effects of the earthquake is still being felt with disruptions, and the value of the yen is getting stronger against many currencies, the overseas option was chosen. (Sadly, it’s not to Europe or America as everyone was hoping.)

The cost of things at the current exchange rate seem as though everything outside of my country is cheaper, with the exception of the ones made here being sold there. I feel strange seeing things from my country at a place overseas. According to my brother who claimed to have overhead the committee behind it, the country we would be headed to would have expenses, in our currency, be at least two to four times cheaper. I don’t know if this is a good or bad thing, but I do know that the school had already used quite an amount of the school funds to help out students and parents of students who were directly affected by the earthquake.

Barely a day after the school announced the initial plans, an anonymous sponsor approached to help finance a large majority of the costs involved and allowed the school to pick a better place to visit and stay using the sponsor’s money entirely. There are rumours that the person helping out doesn’t want the money they have, which seems quite a lot. This has allowed the school to upgrade to a better place, though they said that since we “already had a lot of exposure of western countries”, they picked another country that is in the same region as the initial choice, though the standard of living there is closer to ours.

Except for those who chose not to go for the trip, we were told about what to pack, the necessary documents to prepare, and changing some money of the currency there. Everyone was amazed with the money from how colourful it was and most of them never had a hold of a currency besides the yen before that they are most used to. It appears that some of my classmates have been to overseas before, but only with their family.

The school told us some things that almost caught us off-guard: we would also need to get an adaptor for electrical devices to fit into the wall socket there and check if it supports a voltage used there, which is different from the one here. We were also told that, except for some particular models, our mobile phones might not work. Even if it does work, steep fees might be faced. They suggested getting a prepaid card with a compatible phone there, use pay-phones (if there is anyone who could be called on top of being uncommon these days), or use online services.

The day of the school trip has come. Unexpectedly, a girl in a uniform of the college at Mizuho Academy was seen together with the teachers. On her name tag, “羽田 奏” was written, which tells us that her name is Haneda Kanade. Her uniform looks almost like a formal business outfit, but in a different colour and texture. Not sure if the shoes and stockings she’s wearing are part of it too.
[Author’s note: Students of Japanese schools wear their school uniform during school excursions, including overseas trips.]

She’s might be attracting attention when we are over there. I don’t know why a girl from that elite school came along for. Her uniform alone stands out from those from my school, and I have this odd feeling that I’ve seen her more than once before. Except for what students aren’t allowed to wear, with more specifics for the course they take, students of normal colleges could wear practically anything while studying there, but the college at Mizuho is the only one I know of that actually has a standardized uniform like those in middle and high schools. What is she doing here with us anyway? Kobayagawa High has no relations with Mizuho Academy at all.

When the plane took off from the ground, it felt like I was riding a roller coaster, but in an enclosed space and infinitely going up without ever heading down. My ears felt funny too.

The duration of the flight takes just as long from the start to the end of a school day to get to, according to the flight info. Since I’m mostly confined to my seat since boarding it, my body has started to feel funny. I have my friends around to kill my boredom, but I’m not the kind of person who likes to sit in a chair the whole time.

On landing, the first thing I noticed are that the license plates of vehicles are completely different, but the ads on the bridge that links the plane to the terminal is from the very same bank as where we left! I don’t feel any different from being in a foreign land, but seeing things that I’m used to, but in a different style, feels as if I am looking at a new thing I’ve never used before.

Being in a foreign land and how things here work and look are different. Wait… Doesn’t that make me a foreigner here?