Chapter 4: (Re-) Discovery

I was in the bathtub of my house, naked and at night. It seemed that it was raining heavily outside with the windows wide open. How did I end up here? The last I remember was that I was in class with the teacher showing off some strange object. On top of that, I am feeling tired and sleepy as though I was doing something tiring not long ago and had been out the whole day.

I got out of the tub and headed to my room. There doesn’t seem to be anyone at home. The room looked as though someone else has been living in it. My uniform was hung at a corner and it felt warm as though someone was wearing it, but I could only smell my body odor on it. On the study desk were several 2nd year assignment books with my name (小林春奈) on it. Since when was I in second year? Looking on the inside, there was indeed my handwriting on it, but there was also a handwriting of my father’s university friend’s son whom I had known since childhood. What is it doing there?

The calendar seem to point a few months later than I though I was in. Something seemed to have happened to me between then and now, but I have no memory of it. I also seem to suddenly gain knowledge on subjects I was struggling with, especially English where from where could barely understand anything to being able to understand perfectly. In fact, everything except what I was doing since February.

I think my blog should hold some clues, but I need to sleep first…

Too many shocking things already, probably more later….

Today is June 6, 2 days after the night when I suddenly found myself in the bathtub of my house. I could have sworn I was in class of February 4 just before that.

I was wondering where my parents had went to until I saw a note in their bedroom saying something about a large amount of cash under their bed for me. I looked at the luggage bag counting it: it seems that someone had grabbed a small amount of it.

I looked at my blog: there were no new entries since that date, but there was an unpublished draft dated 22 May.

………

Huh? I typed that? It says that I am unable to move and my childhood friend who is residing inside me is doing so? But I can do so normally with no difficulties…. I don’t understand. I then viewed the blog of that friend of mine mentioned.

………

It says that I fell into a coma and has taken control of my body since 14 May, the day after he got into an accident. Strange part is that the post is dated 2 weeks after the incident and he even had detailed description of the accident he was involved in. Newspapers from around that time that were lying around the house support that the incident did happen (though it wasn’t on the front page).

Looking at the time, it seems that I would be late for school if I don’t hurry. Had to leave early as it’s quite some distance away. As I was about to leave, I saw stuff on and around my bike that was parked inside the house at the doorstep (I normally park it outside). I don’t know whose these things are for, so I just put it aside and rode my bike to the train station.

I reached the school, but I don’t know what class I’m in currently as the new school year started back in April. Let’s see… I’m in 2B (2年B組), so I made it to second year, but I don’t know who my classmates are.

When I found the class and entered it, Kyousuke seemed to be happy upon seeing me. The guys around him seem to be cheering him on. Yukari was among them too.

Kyousuke: Oh, Haruna-chan! I hope you enjoyed the gifts. I won’t forget about what we did in that restaurant in Shibuya last Saturday!

“Did what?” was on my mind when he said that. He also seem to be closer to me than I thought he was.

Me: Oh, sorry, I don’t mean to be rude, but I don’t seem to remember that day. Sorry.

Kyousuke was suddenly in despair when I said that. Did I say something wrong?

Yukari: There there, it’s not the end of the world yet. Maybe she’s in too much of a shock. You should…

I was out of audible distance. There were several empty seats, but there were also people seating at other people’s seat, talking to someone who sits there. There are sure a lot of unfamiliar faces here, and I don’t know where my sit would be. Where is it?

I spot a familiar face sitting near the back of the class: it’s Saeko Hisakawa (久川沙江子). We had knew each other since we were kids and was also in the same class as the previous school year. I wanted to introduce her to the son of my father’s friend, but seem to narrowly miss the opportunity to meet her. She’s also seems to be the kind that would get all excited over scientific research, programming, and whatever complex stuff that I don’t understand if she were to explain to me. It seems that she has been watching over me from the moment I entered the classroom. I wonder if she knows what happened to me.

I then sat down at an empty seat nearest to her and explained what I had experienced recently and why I had suddenly know stuff that friend of mine, that was supposedly reside in me, as though it were second nature to me. She explained that I suddenly lost consciousness after the teacher had played around with an odd doll and added that before today, I had never even approached her since being discharged from hospital.

Her eyes tells me that she knows more about me than I would know myself and wanted to say more. But seeing that she has a lot of things on her mind and before I continue on, she referred me to Nagisa, another close friend, instead.

Nagisa says that I had reverted back to my old self after a long while. Could she be referring the time that, to me, passed by in a flash? I asked what is wrong with Saeko as she seems stressed up.

Nagisa: Well, she was walking around the city downtown of here with her group of friends on the Saturday of two weeks ago. When she was crossing the road to get to the station when heading to work, a speeding van, out of nowhere, had hit her and badly injured and was sent to hospital. On top of that, her body is so badly paralyzed that she is unable to move at all. So, you can talk all you want to her, but she won’t be able to reply back. It’s hard to tell if she’s even listening to you at her current state. There were a lot of witnesses and the incident was reported in the newspapers.

Me: But she’s here now and looks fine to me.

Nagisa: That’s the thing. When she turned up in school the following day, everyone, including the teachers, was shocked to see her as though she were a ghost with no injuries, as though it never happened. This Saeko don’t seem to remember that the fact that she was downtown that day, claiming to be at work at that time, but did recall hanging out with her friends earlier during lunch break.

Me: So, I bet that the Hisakawa-san here is aware of it, seeing that she seems stressed up.

Nagisa: Well, yes. Hirano-san, who was present at the accident site, showed Hisakawa-san the notebook she found on her. The amazing part is that the Hisakawa-san who claims to be not at the site had the exact same notebook with the exact same thing written in it, but without blood stains unlike the one who was hospitalized. She herself was shocked about it.

We ended our conversation just as the chime played, indicating the first period. I asked Yukari where my seat is, and she points to the seat I was sitting at when I was talking to Saeko earlier.

How embarrassing…

At the end of school the following day, Hirano-san approached me and Saeko, looking uncomfortable.

Hirano-san: “Kobayashi-san, Saeko”

Saeko: “What is it Aiko?”

Hirano-san: “I know it might sound strange to you, but the director of your workplace my father would like you to visit…”

There was a deafening silence.

Hirano-san: Visit yourself at the hospital today. And Kobayashi-san, he has something to tell you too.

Me: Me? What does he want with me?

Hirano-san: He didn’t tell me, but you would find out soon. Oh, I would like to tag along with the both of you, but I have a tennis tournament match with another school today. So, if it doesn’t drag on for too long, I might be able to drop by later on.

Saeko: Erm, yeah. See you then.

Saeko looked even more nervous. To get to the hospital, we took a bus from a bus stop just outside the school and travelled for quite some time before reaching it. I’m not familiar with this city.

Looking at how nervous Saeko was, I approached the information counter.

Me: Excuse me, do you know in which room I might be able to find Saeko Hikakawa? I’m here at the request of Hirano-san and I’m her friend and classmate.

The receptionist (who was wearing a white lab coat) stared at my friend hiding behind me in disbelief before looking through the records.

Receptionist: Our director eh? Or did you mean his daughter? Anyways, let’s see. Hmm, our director should be in the room of the patient you just mentioned earlier, which is room 827 on the 8th floor. From here you blah blah blah…

I left when he mentioned the room number. It appeared that he did not noticed that I had left as I was quite some distance from him. Well, he did look like the kind who would rather play around with chemicals than to serve people at that counter.

It took us a while to find the room as the elevator that serves that room is on the other side of the large hospital. We then reached the room. It is indeed room 827 with the name 久川沙江子 on the door. The Saeko with me is even more nervous.

Saeko: Hey, Aiko. Are we at the right room?

She appeared to be either talking to herself, or think that I am Hirano-san.

Me: Well, there’s no other room in the entire hospital that has your name in it.

Saeko: But I’m not even a patient here. Why is my name there as though I am one?

Me: Well, we won’t know until we enter this room.

I opened the door as soon as I said that. I first saw a man wearing a lab coat looking at us. At the bed next to him, I saw someone lying on the bed who looked very much like my friend behind me. Her body, however, looked very much like that of a dead person, frozen stiff since the accident. So why is it still here?

My friend who came with me approached the other in disbelief and waved her hand endlessly quite close to the face and looking elsewhere. I looked at where she is looking at: I saw a screen that had a view of what that body on the bed would be seeing and an avatar that look like my friend (not sure which), with an annoyed look on her face.

Voice from TV: HEY STOP THAT!

Everyone in the room was shocked.

Saeko: Wha? Who said that? (looks around)

Voice from TV: Me of course, the one whom you were waving your hands endlessly at.

Saeko: This lifeless body of myself in front of me? Oh, I’m sorry. Um, director, may I know what is that?

Director: Oh, this may sound far-fetched, but that is actually the visualization of what the you in that bed is experiencing now being transmitted the same way a normal TV broadcast would. Despite what you are seeing here, her mind is functioning very much like the rest of us but, apart of what I explained earlier, she has no other way to communicate to us because of her body’s current condition. I’m not sure if you have the same ability too. I hate to say this, but according to our research, you and that girl on the bed there are the exact same person from appearance right down to the fingerprint. So may I ask the both of you what happened back on 24 May?

I quietly left the room just as the footage of me from behind in school on the TV screen appeared. I had enough shock for today. The “down” button of the elevator appeared to have been pressed by someone at the lobby when I reach there.

Inside the elevator, an old man wearing a lab coat (do all the staff here wear that?) appear to recognize me, except that I don’t recognize that face.

Professor: Oh, Kobayashi-san! I haven’t seen you since you were discharged last month.

May I know who the bloody hell are you? Of course, not wanting to be rude, I instead said:

Me: I’m sorry, I don’t remember.

We got out of the elevator at some random level that don’t seem to be the ground floor.

Professor: Well, I was the one who was present when you woke up in a coma back in February. When you arrived here back then your body was so stiff that we have difficulty straightening your body. Well, here’s a photo that was taken on one of the first few days you were admitted here.

I was shocked, but felt like laughing out at the same time: He showed a picture of me wearing the school uniform sitting in a chair in the hospital ward in front of the empty bed. It appeared as though I was wishing for someone who was no longer in that bed to get well. The window outside looks like it was taken in the transition period between winter and spring. Well, I do remember doing that when I was suddenly transported to yesterday.

What is this picture all about? I don’t remember posing for this photo.

Me: Erm, may I know whose room is this taken in?

The old man suddenly burst into laughter. I don’t get it.

Professor: That room is your room. As yours wasn’t a life threatening situation and can’t find a to straighten your body, which also means that we can’t change your clothes without cutting it, that would mean that putting you on bed would expose your “bottom”. That would leave us with making you look like a visitor whose relative is in a critical situation.

Righttt……

We seem to enter some office that is filled with stacks of paper in a disorganized manner.

Professor: I’m not sure if the director has told you this, but he did say that he merged your mind and your childhood friend from overseas just a few days ago. He said that it was the best thing to do when that childhood friend of yours I mentioned earlier got into your body after he was involved in an accident half a month before you were discharged. The director still seem to
be uncertain on whether it was the right thing to do as it was based on a notebook Hisagawa-san, who works with us and might be from your school, found on the day she (the one who’s hospitalized) got into an accident. Thankfully, that note was found by the director’s daughter.

Me: Huh? He was inside me after some incident I don’t know of? You said that my mind was merged with his, so that may explain why I would suddenly know stuff I didn’t know previously. But who exactly was I before the merger?

Professor: Hard to tell. One thing that I do know that childhood friend of yours, according to the director, was the one who controlled your body from the moment you woke up from hospital, but I heard that you had no control of yours since back in February. I heard that it was a strange looking doll that might be the same as your friend was working on was somewhat involved in it.

Wait, wait. Don’t get me all confused here. I don’t get what you were talking about most of the time. What you were saying to me were all alien to me. Anyways, after doing something for some time, I headed home soon after on. It was evening, so it would probably be dark when I reach home due to the distance.

I saw Aiko Hirano alighting from the bus on the other side of the road while waiting for mine, but didn’t notice me. She was in a tennis outfit with a sports bag.

Chapter 3 Part 8, 9, 10, 11 Chapter 5
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