Alternate Dimension (Part 45)

Takagi: "As for the rest of the club members... I don't know what they would be doing, but that recent incident in the papers involving Hatsuya's long-time rival did seem to have an impact on their original plans. Anyways, I want to go now. See you then, if I get to see you again, Hisakawa-san."

We certainly have been here for quite a while: the place is almost quiet now.

Me: "Yeah, see you then. Takagi-san."

She turned around and walked towards the main building. From where we were, I couldn't tell if she's walking around the school for the last time or if she's already heading out through the gates. I don't know when I would see her again, if ever. Either way, I found myself alone again. There was nothing but the sound of the leaves rustle in the wind for quite a while. Before long, I felt being hugged from behind. The aura of the person hugging me feels awfully familiar: it's like I'm being hugged by myself.

Itsuki: "So there you are. Why are you crying?"

Itsuki had sneak up to me. What is he doing here?

Me: "It's nothing. It's just that any graduating ceremony makes me sad, and I had not been to one since graduating from middle school."

Itsuki: "Didn't the both of us attended for high school graduation ceremony the year before?"

He showed me one from his school at Katsura and the other of me at Mihara. I don't recall the latter event.

Me: "If that happened during when my time was frozen during the dimensional change, how am I there as per normal?"

Itsuki: "That's either our counterpart in the dimension you were cloned in, or something that fills in the void while you were not around. Something like the Kotomi you saw being killed. It is a way to minimize the impact to others if someone were to suddenly disappear off to somewhere until they return."

Itsuki re-winded the one of his graduation until Kotomi appeared to be walking up to the stage. She was in the school's student council, but she never revealed what position she was in.

Me: "What's so out of the ordinary about her speech that I don't know about?"

Itsuki: "Look closely at the school principal."

It wasn't obvious from the audience point of view, but the backstage angle revealed that he said something to her. Kotomi herself didn't understand what he said, but the speech she had to give to the large audience in front of her forced her not to ask him questions about it at that time.

Itsuki: "Shame, that old man is now gone due to health problems. He was the first person who told her about the train incident a couple of years prior to the actual event, but she thought it was a joke as he told her that on her 16th birthday. Oh, on the date she claimed to have come back from the other dimension, her behavior was completely different from the day before, but still within her characteristics. She was literally crying in my arms and saying stuff that I wasn't paying attention to, though I did hear indirectly talking about you."

Me: "I would like to meet her again, but that won't happen for an another two and a half years, unless a family or relative of hers is hospitalized or has passed away, which is highly unlikely to happen."

Itsuki: "I've actually brought her along with me. She's currently hiding somewhere nearby. We were searching for you after the graduation ceremony."

Voice from behind: "Hi there! Saeko, you really had not changed at all through all these years."

"All these years"? And that voice... it's familiar. I turned around, but visually, I don't recognize her. Kotomi's older sister? But she's the eldest in the family...

The three of us started to walk out of the gate and talk along the way. The school is deserted by then, with only the graduates that have deep attachment of the school and those cleaning up the place. I was bored of where I was, but where are we walking to?

Itsuki: "She claims to be from the future. Though she didn't say how far, she did say that she is married with two children in primary school. It does explain why she looks a lot older and more mature than when I last saw the present Kotomi. She didn't tell me whom she's married to."

Kotomi: "You two will find out when the time comes. I came here because of what I just found out and could only be done in your time. I can't talk to my younger self because, as you know, I was studying in a well known Californian university and there is this annoying, but yet cause consequences if not followed, law of not allowing the past self to see the future self, but the reverse is allowed. Don't worry, the me who's there will come back here some months before graduation in mid-2009 for a funeral of a family relative. Anyways, Saeko, you might have experienced it recently, where they had cut you... Oh, sorry, I made myself cry."

She started to cry as though it had an impact on her, but she's trying her best to stop herself from crying. The Kotomi I know would cry into my... erm... Itsuki's arms for quite a while and let her feelings take over her. I think I know what she was talking about. It became more obvious as time passed since the first time I met her that her inner behavior does not match with her external expression in front of people. Me, Itsuki, and her unknown husband are the only ones who saw her true colours she doesn't show to others. Not sure about her children.

Kotomi (sad): "Anyways, forgive my current mood. You do know that the rival of the Hatsuya Research Institute has been brought down, right? Well, apparently, the "big boss" had escaped.

Itsuki: "Had escaped? But how?"

Kotomi: "Apparently, he was hiding in a place the police had overlooked and stayed there long enough to have the police at the ground floor leave. The police had checked all the rooms except storerooms and female toilets. This guy is heavily armed that he could easily take down heavily armored group of policemen. Saeko, you are the only one who can take on his attacks, but we need to change your reaction to it away from "pretend to be actually killed" mode. You have experienced that on several occasions, and found it annoying as it makes you helpless. That means that you being cut by a chainsaw would not even penetrate and not even leave a wound instead of your body parts all over the place with the blood, flesh, and... Argh, I'm crying again, and it's stronger than the last."

Though I sense annoyance on herself crying, the way she cried says that she's honestly sad about it.

Kotomi (sobbing): "Since young, I've trained myself not to show my angry self to others, how stressed I am, or do anything that would caused people to see me with a negative impression. As time passed, this turned into me being unable to express my actual mood. People had pointed out that my tone of voice, the way I say things, my external expression, and what I wrote, sometimes do not match with each other, though the words I say or write are the most reliable way to tell my actual mood. They get confused when I gave people a promotion or pay rise when I told them that with my frustrated expression and angry tone of voice as though they would be dismissed from work, though I had told everyone that I suffer from uncontrollable mood swings."

Sure enough, she suddenly became happy upon seeing how different things are between her time and my time. I wonder how things in the future look like?

Itsuki: "So before you were interrupted by your uncontrollable crying, you were saying he had escaped. How did he manage to hide from the police?"

Kotomi: "As you recall, there was the time where he made everyone disappear with their things on the ground. I don't know if I was one of them as it happened when I was already sleeping."

The time difference between California and Japan is about 17hours. That's almost a whole day behind!

Kotomi: "He used the machine to his advantage to try to sneak away, but since he noticed you approaching, he hid in a toilet the police didn't find him in, and probably wore a disguise to leave undetected. All that I can say is that he has already been eliminated in my time."

Chapter 10


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