Haruka's Diary
Chasing After Rainbows: August 2010

28 August 2010

Old Family Photos

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I've come some old photos of my family from before I entered primary school (小学校) . The people in it seem different from what I had always known them as. The majority of these photos that were taken before the 1990s were starting to become brown/red-ish.

Roughly, there are about 2000 images of them. Restoring the above-said images is time consuming due to the vast quantity, and amount of defects on the photo at the time it was scanned, it could take forever. It's very hard to restore them, and certainly very difficult to make it look like their digital counterparts. Not counting phones with camera below 3 megapixels, nobody in the family had a camera until late-2003. Imagine how excited I was, despite memory card space volumes back then being tiny for today's standards. I have even seen some rare photos of my mom and dad from their high school days (separately of course), and a set of grandparents that had died before I was born. Shame I don't know anything about them from my parents.

However, most of these photos are of people with their blank faces at the camera and almost none without. You can imagine how boring to see that for thousands of times. This has changed in more recent years though.

Since I have things that are worth more of my time, and the lack of assistance, my priority of doing this is quite low. I have low motivation to edit the boring photos, and prioritize more towards doing other things. I have a lot of things accumulated that I have yet to even start doing. This has also affected the frequency and content you see from my Twitter account.

Story 2 Part 58, and Story 3 Part 32, are currently being written, but I'm having trouble thinking that I tend to repeat what has been said earlier. Those are likely not to be published this weekend.

On unrelated news, Apple will be having an event early next month, which is traditionally the launch of new iPods.

21 August 2010

Alternate Dimension (Part 57)

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My position as the Kamisugi High's Computer Club President has been handed over to the person whom everyone has elected months earlier, just before every third year became very serious for their college entrance tests. Initially, I wanted Takagi to take over my position, but he revealed to me that he was in the same year as me. That left me an uncertainty on how the newly elected club president would lead.

As I cleared out my things, I came across that strange doll again. It's the doll that, according to rumors, people who had came across this doll had their lives completely changed, like my Mihara classmate and her childhood friend some years ago... Wait. Could I also be one of its many victims too? The day it happened is about the same... No, it can't be, right? But, I've seen that thing several times, and my life now is completely different from before I first saw it... I think I should leave this thing behind and... what is he doing here?

Me: "Takuya-kun, what are you doing here?"

Takuya: "Well, I just want to visit the club room for the last time..."

I sensed that he didn't make it through his choices of universities and would have to wait for another whole year for an another chance.

Me: "Anyways, the founder of the Powell Institute asked me personally if I had friends who are interested in joining them. She said that being employed through her is easier than through the Human Resources department since she cares more about developing abilities and doesn't even care if you didn't even have a degree the HR department is looking out for. You are also protected from being dismissed or retrenched by all the supervisors except the founder herself. Keep in mind that she's so busy that she only appears in the company's messaging system, and you are considered lucky to even see her in person, so this is considered a rare opportunity."

His facial expression changed.

Takuya: "Really?! Please let her know that I'm interested."

The "founder" in question was me. It is common knowledge that most of the jobs at Powell requires, at minimum, a degree. It's also known that it's hard to succeed through the interviews done by the HR department due to strict standards, and their particular dislike towards people who were previously employed at Hatsuya Institute for reasons unknown to me, partly because I'm a Hatsuya employee too. I'm unrecognizable when in school uniform, or in random disguises to gather information from employees without revealing my identity, but for other occasions, my attire is formal enough to let everyone know that I have the highest authority there that, unless they didn't know it was me due to my disguise, they would greet me on sight and be careful not to make a mistake. To people like Itsuki... he disregards my level of authority and even managed to seduce me like the other day despite my seriousness. The HR department is not the only place to get employed into Powell, but they are the ones who put up the job offerings and therefore, to outsiders, seemed like the only way. Another way of getting in is through events like the annual programming competitions that is hosted in collaboration with other companies. The last way of getting in is through me, which I had talked about earlier.

The impact that I had left behind at Kamisugi High seemed great as I was mentioned in many of the farewell speeches. It was too emotional for me to handle. It was even sadder to leave the place I have been to for years for the last time. As for the Nanami that Itsuki had asked me to observe, I have not found anything special about her other than confirming that she is a relative to Kotomi. I seriously don't see the point of observing her.

So, I have this break between leaving Kamisugi High and entering Mizuho Girls' Academy, though the days between the first day of college entrance exams and graduation seemed to have toned down from the peak of the studying period. It is also this period was when Takuya had agreed to do the interview to join the Powell institute. In my wardrobe of my main house near Itsuki's place, it seems that I have already received the new sets of uniforms not long after that announcement of the new Mizuho uniform designs I saw even though that was even before the official results of its entrance tests were announced. Seems that my application was indeed sent to them a long time ago. When I tried it on, nothing seem to have happened to me. The "transforming properties" of the Mizuho uniforms Itsuki mentioned either doesn't work here and now, or would be adjusted to something similar to mine. Yes, the Mizuho uniform is not just a piece of cloth, it has technology built into it, but yet still weigh the same. What they are exactly is relatively unknown, but it has shown that the wearer does not develop not even a minor health issue from prolonged wearing of it, and the wearer and the uniform does not even get dirty or wet even if they dived into muddy water like they had never been. (Well, breathing underwater is an another thing though.) Since Itsuki is still wearing the older version while to work, I'm guessing that it would be on the day of the entrance ceremony the new one (*hnff*) would take effect.

I have prepared myself and my office for the interview, and, of course, checked what the available positions are. It's the same attire as when I have to show myself for business meetings, and, more recently, my conversation with Itsuki at my office about Kotomi coming back later in the year. It gives the atmosphere of not doing foolish things with me so effectively that I'm even scared to look at myself. The door that separates my house here and my office that sits right outside of it is easily concealable and can't be discovered by mistake due to the biometric entry system. Itsuki managed to get in since he shares the same traits as mine, and until recently, even my own thoughts could be monitored by Hatsuya Institute as part of their "discover trends among students for each period of time" nonsense, which is also why I am endlessly attending high schools for what seemed for almost a decade so far. Talk about a lack of privacy and freedom of my otherwise immortal life. To make matters worse, my name was registered under "Kanade Haneda" (羽田奏) with my hairstyle in the photo completely different from what I normally had my hair in. Apparently, they said that this was to avoid people from Kamisugi from recognize me. Those from Mihara in this dimension don't even know me, and my original high school with Kotomi is associated with that other me I always tag along with.

Closer to the interview time, a staff notified me of Takuya entering, as expected. Then, I saw the door of my office door being opened. It was partially opened just enough to not see me, but enough to see my desk and my arm.

Takuya: "Excuse me, is this the room of the founder of the Powell institute? I'm Ishida Takuya, and I'm sorry for not knowing your name."

Takagi was dressed quite appropriately for the interview, and holding some documents. He still doesn't seen to know that it's me yet. I adjusted my voice a bit to give the temporary impression that it's not me. I have to use that voice too while associated with that new identity.

Me: "So you are the friend of the recently-graduated computer club president of your school who told me about you. Am I right?"

Takuya: "Er, yes. She was the one who told me about this interview."

Me: "You are even lucky that you would just need to hear me talking rubbish for the interview. The HR department usually does that instead, but their standards and expectations are quite high. Besides, I already know your performance at your club and you didn't made it through the college entrance tests as the subjects tested are not of your interest. Quite a shame that the Art club you joined at first was disbanded by the beginning of your second year."

He seemed shocked that I knew this much without asking him questions.

Me: "Don't worry, I didn't do a research about you prior to this interview. In fact, I was with you as it happened."

Takuya: "I'm sorry, did I hear you say that you were with me?"

Me: "Yes. don't you recognize me? No? What about with this look and the name on this shiny useless thing on this desk."

I adjusted my hair and voice back to the usual one. The "shiny useless thing" I was refering to was the plate with gold-like texture that is long with 3 sides. My name was facing away from him before I said that. Takagi became more shocked the more "me" he knows was formed.

Takagi: "Hisakawa-san?! What are you doing here?"

Me: "I'm the so-called founder of the Powell Institute, and also the same person who was the computer club president of Kamisugi High right until a few weeks ago. I must emphasize on the "so-called" as I personally didn't founded it, but all evidence point to me. It's one of the many things I suddenly had as a result of my life being completely different from what I was used to. It's like a wish, that I have never asked for, coming true. I'm supposed to be 21 this year, attending 4th year of college, and working as an employee of the Hatsuya Institute. But instead, they made worse on a minor disaster I had relating to their projects, and I'm now forever stuck with a girl's 16-year-old immortal body that doesn't ages, and belongs to them. Don't you know about all the nonsense I have to go through now? Even now, I am still scared to even look at myself. I mean, what's with all this things I'm wearing now? At one moment, I was a nobody who was struggling, and the next moment, I'm suddenly popular and smart girl who looks prettier than most of the girls I've seen before. It's like waking up to find yourself in a body of someone else and can't return back."

To an outsider, it would seemed that an otherwise serious person holding an important position of a well known company suddenly showing her true colours that has been hidden for so long, or having gone insane.

Takuya: "Does... anyone else know about this?"

Me: "A close friend of mine and her uncle, who's also the director of the Hatusya institute, and the third years of our club when we were only first years. One of them currently works here at Powell."

Takuya: "...and what about my job here? You seem carried away talking about yourself."

Me: "Ah, that. You are actually already hired since I mentioned about knowing your performance at school. What is left now is to choose any available positions that interests you. I should have been more serious that the HR people throughout the interview because of my position, but I don't feel comfortable with going through the formalities with people I know outside this company. Welcome aboard anyway."

Now that the interview is over, I should start preparing before the first day at Mizuho. It's location is somewhere north of Kamisugi city. Pedestrian and vehicular entrances are separate, with the former designed in such a way that you couldn't tell who among those not wearing the Mizuho uniform are entering the campus or not. The Mizuho uniforms seems to change your natural behavior and how your body functions in many ways, including not developing health issues from wearing something for too long. Maybe it's because it's based on me that I don't notice any difference. Itsuki told me that, including the older version, everyone is issued with the same sizes and, if detected if someone is wearing the wrong type of uniform or are missing something, it would be corrected upon entering as part of the "transformation". "Transformation" times varies from person to person, but as a general rule, a girl who has the same age and body measurements as me would be the quickest.

According to the route that Itsuki brought me around the last I was there, it show little of the facilities they had as the route didn't go anywhere near the more central areas but more of the outer areas. Not counting stores in the central area, most of the companies that had been set up in here share are usually business services, media production, and scientific research businesses. Although the place is slightly smaller compared to Mihara, it's still big enough to require transport to get around. Since there are very few roads, walking and the free inter-school train system are the popular choice to get around. I should have done this earlier, but I should have checked how crowded the trains are between Mizuho and my house inside Powell institute.

Chapter 14

15 August 2010

Alternate Dimension (Part 56)

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The new year has started, and I'm approaching my graduation from Kamisugi High. Knowing that my endless life would go on like a never-ending loop, I stopped caring about what year it is now, other than this feeling that Kotomi would be back from her college studies in America and hopefully side with me to deal with my annoying other self. I haven't seen her for at least three years. With the duration of not seeing a person exceeds the time between meeting that person for the first time and the last you see them, there's an increased chance that the other person might not recall you.

The school that I will be headed to after Kamisugi High is Mizuho Girls' Academy. They have officially dropped "High School" from the name due to the confusion with the other departments it has there and office areas within its grounds. They have also introduced an optional 4th year where they could graduate with a master's degree, making Mizuho look like a shortcut for Middle School graduates to enter post-graduate education institute. They have also announced internally about the new uniform designs that is to be introduced from the weekend after the graduation day of the previous academic year.

There are several different designs for students, teachers, non-teaching staff, and visitors, with the one I worked with Itsuki the other day being for students. I heard students of other high schools would be in their respective (female) school uniforms instead, and, except students, seem deliberately designed to make it hard to run in them with high-heeled shoes that oddly seemed to be part of your leg but strangely does not develop health problems that are associated with prolonged wearing. I also notice that all versions have only pencil skirts for the bottom with the hemline above the knee level. Although all are a lot nicer than others, the nicest design are the non-teaching staff's uniforms that looks like a smart casual office attire that uses only white and pink colours. It wouldn't look out of place in office environments, but the category "non-teaching staff" the uniform is for also include janitors and the cafeteria people, which makes them seem out of place.

To outsiders, you might think that Mizuho is a beautiful place filled with only young, elegant and smart beautiful girls, that is completely void of males, but if you step into the grounds, you would see why as you would become one yourself. There also seem to have some measures that this phenomenon is relatively unknown to the outside world. It seems quite effective since it moved to the current campus many years ago when it was implemented and nobody seems to know about it.

Itsuki never liked working there for personal reasons, but the Hatsuya Institute had transferred him from a branch near my parent's house to inside Mizuho after I was sniped for reasons unknown other than me being more likely being a target than him and he was supposed to go instead of me anyway. Officially, though, he was sent there "because of his ability" to work with the "equipment" there and be able to develop "invisible, yet very effective" security solutions. By the looks of it, he could be working there for a long time. I wonder what would Kotomi think of it? Her reaction seem rather negative when she first saw me in that other dimension.

Itsuki: "That was one of the other designs they made me wear during the test after you left. Since the first day, our mother was shocked to see me in a Mizuho uniform. Since I was transferred to Mizuho, my way of thinking is messed up since my body's gender keeps changing, which determines whether I would be able take things seriously, or have dirty thoughts in the way."

Me: "Yeah, I noticed that you didn't make fun of me and quite serious when you are in your female form, but you are planning to marry Kotomi, aren't you?"

Itsuki seemed troubled on being asked of this question. He does have feelings for her, and she loves him back, but the idea of marriage never occurred to him.

Itsuki: "Well, I don't really have anyone else in my life..."

He looked away from me as he said that with a sign of embarrassment from his voice before he turned back to me.
[Author's note: In reference to Part 23 of 3rd story]

Itsuki: "Either way, she wants me to pick her up from the airport around summer, but could only confirm the exact date and time when she's about to board the plane at the San Fransisco airport. If she arrives during office hours, I would need you to come along to help me to buy time to let me change out of the Mizuho uniform as she would only give me ten minutes from when she has cleared immigration to pick her up."

At that moment, I heard a beep. It's from the messaging system used within Powell staff. It only beeps when a message is addressed to everyone or me specifically. Yes, we are at my office there now.

Me: "It just a notice for some staff event... Anyway, Itsuki, that's my body you are marrying Kotomi with, but it was me who first met her and continued the relationship. If you had not occupied my body when I tried to return from the other dimension, I wouldn't have been stuck in this body, have all this unnecessary wealth that came with it, and a different way of doing things to what I was already used to. Also, fingerprint scanners or any unique body identification can't tell us apart unless it is vocally or visually."

Itsuki: "We have the same fingerprints? Don't even twins have different patterns?"

Seem that Itsuki was listening only to my last sentence.

Me: "You didn't know? If not, then how did you enter my room here and attempt brainwash me on my birthday the year before last? The one where you made me behave like your cute younger sister, calling you 'Onii-chan'. I never liked you, and even more when I'm forced to. I'm only hanging around only because I'm "some project of yours" and "a property of the Hatsuya Institute". Just to let you know, my mind is a real human mind and not an artificial intelligence."

Itsuki: "I thought you had allowed me to go through since the thumbprint and eye scanner let me in easily..."

Me: "Anyways, has there been news about the time where everyone seem to have vanished shortly after? You know, the one where I was cut into pieces by a chainsaw."

I was referring to a long time rival of the Hatsuya Institute came up with a machine that had everyone to vanish except them, me, and, curiously, a handful of Hatsuya and Powell staff. It is unknown what the range is, but the news reported that people as far as across the Pacific Ocean are affected too, according to the news, but it happened while they were sleeping. The rival company itself has been forced to dissolve due to strong evidence of crimes associated with them against Hatsuya staff, with the incident incident in question apparently being the last. To the few who weren't affected, you could see clothes and items on the ground. Machines that required attention during that period had something happened. Transportation vehicles that were moving at the time of the disappearance crashed into something as there was nobody steer or apply the brakes. To the majority that were affected, the whole event, from their point of view, passed by in a millisecond and found themselves in a mysterious crash and being on top of their belongings instead of wearing them.

Itsuki: "I can't believe that you, as the victim they had ever brutally attacked on, could pass it off as though it was nothing. Oh, that machine and those that the police didn't take away is now in in Hatsuya's possession to be studied on.

Me: "Is that all?"

Itsuki: "The rest is being taken care of by the police, but we don't know what exactly is going on their side. As for the general public, well, they don't know who to complain to for the damages and embarrassment since it happened to everyone around the world at the same time. As for the escaped leader of theirs, we only that he's laying low somewhere in Hong Kong, and alerted about him in the Interpol, but the land density there are making things harder to search for him."

Hong Kong?

Me: "Say... do you think that me being shot there the other day is related?"

Itsuki: "Now that you mentioned it...yeah. I've never thought of that before. I'll inform the higher ups about it. Anyways, you're going to enjoy your time in Mizuho... Saeko?"

Itsuki is making me sad again. Please, let me do whatever I want with myself. Even now, I am still scared to look at myself because I look completely different from my mental self.

Itsuki: "Hello? Why are you squatting down at a corner crying?"

Even my own body: it's not mine, but it seems that I'm permanently stuck in it. I had experienced at first hand of me being killed to the extent of even seeing parts of my body, lying all over, but my immortality means that I would be back to normal. I might even see Itsuki's children as grandparents while my body is still the same. I might be left behind when the people I know now has passed away as part of this cruel fate of being immortal, but I don't want immortality. I never even asked for it. And then there's hnnnnnnn?!

Itsuki kissed me at the lips and touched me. There was this sensation that I have that I had never experienced before and found myself blushing excessively beyond control. Curiously, my body quickly gave in and allowed anything he was doing to me.

Itsuki: "Sorry. It's been a while since I last kissed a girl, and you look more attractive than all the other girls I know, including Kotomi."

Me: "As the witness and my position as the founder of the Powell Institute on top of being the victim, I can charge you for... and call the... and send you to..."

I tried to use my authority to stop him, but the feelings I developed from his actions cause a mix of hating what he's doing, but at the same time, wanting more of it. I was born as the guy in front of me, but what I'm feeling now is something only females could experience, which is sending me mixed reactions to my mind about this and flashbacks of the time I enjoyed being with him I didn't know I had. I don't like him, but I don't really have anyone else who would understand me deeply. As for Kotomi, she doesn't know about me being here since I narrowly missed her 3 years ago.

According to descriptions by her family and Itsuki, she did came with me to the other dimension 5-6 years ago, but returned back by herself about a year later, avoiding the train incident that had happened there. It was that part that made me wonder why she could return as herself with no time lags while it doesn't work with me. Was it because of me having larger differences between myself of the two dimensions, complicated by being in the cloned body of myself in that dimension (who was born a female). That large time difference could be caused by me being in a body that never existed when returning back, probably processing how my existance would fit in, and the cause & effect of me owning properties and businesses. After all, my Powell employees could be working as something else, and have everything relating to it, looked as though it has been that way before I came back. I clearly remember it was completely different. Another possibility that I could think of is that Hatsuya would know what is happening with its counterparts of other dimensions, so they knew about the conditions that came with the (unknowingly and accidentally) cloning myself and prevented me from entering my original body, and had me continue being their test subject. Of course, they won't tell me that if it's true anyway.

Either way, my new existence created upon coming back means that I'm now seen as a different person from my original and can't return back even if I undo the conditions that made me what I am now. I don't know who to blame: myself for playing with unknown machines and trespassing, Kotomi for even making that machine, Hatsuya Institute for having that condition in place that doesn't omit their own employees, or Mihara Academy for having the place so accessible. Somehow, I am developing feelings towards my former male self, and less interested over Kotomi in recent times. I don't know why myself.

Chapter 13

11 August 2010

Mysterious Rising Eletricity Bill

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Even though I have been out of the house longer than I had been since last year, I've notice that my family's utility bill has been increasing. I can't be the culprit as I always unplug after use. On closer inspection, it's hard not to see why:
  • LCD TV and the audio system is in standby overnight instead of being unplugged. The TV is apparently turned on only in evenings too.
  • The power "bricks" of already-removed appliances at hard-to-reach-places are still plugged in even though the other end has already been removed for some months now
  • The router has never been switched off since it was installed almost a year ago. Wonder how much power it consumes over the older one?
  • Parents always switch on the air conditioner at night during summer, before they go to sleep (A major source?) and wearing jackets.
  • Sometimes, I find that the fan or radio in the kitchen are left running when the place is obviously not in use
  • Desktop PC in the living room is left idle, not doing anything except displaying a completed flash-based game that mom was playing for many hours! (Screen is turned off though, but that and the printer is plugged into the same extension as the PC itself!)
  • Some people in my family sleep with the room light turned on overnight!
  • Since the main fridge broke down, my parents have bought an another smaller refrigerator. The main fridge has been fixed now, but that small fridge is still running!
  • Since it was bought more than 10 years ago, the microwave oven in the kitchen has been plugged in the whole time. The only time that it's unplugged is when the whole family goes for a holiday trip of a few days
  • and that hot water dispenser thing that I usually use for instant cup noodles? That has been left plugged in 24/7 too.
There's probably more sources of the wastage of electricity around the house, but the above listed are probably the most glaringly obvious that are running from the socket that I have never started. What's even stranger is that nobody complained about it.

05 August 2010

Alternate Dimension (Part 55)

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This happened on my first day back in class after I was mentally tortured by my own other self. It could have been worse if the higher-ups had chosen me instead of him. Itsuki had that unhappy look when I was there and that "testing" continued on even after I left. I wonder what's going on?

Female classmate: "Hisakawa-san? What happened to you? You were away for quite a few days. You looked just fine just barely half an hour before you collapsed from the fever."

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中野区, 東京都, Japan
帰国子女 英語能力は堪能。趣味はアニメや漫画やプログラムコードを編集。通常、あたしの小説を英語で書いてです。Grew up abroad &travelled to different countries. I write my own fictional novel on my blog.