Haruka's Diary
Chasing After Rainbows: November 2010

21 November 2010

Alternate Dimension (Part 63)

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I explained to Kotomi of how I was the same person as she met 5-6 years ago, but in a different body. She seems to be believing every word I said even though I have been expecting otherwise. She seemed more friendly towards me than Itsuki.

Then, as though I'm hearing Itsuki's voice from inside my head, he tells me that he has done changing and hidden the Mizuho uniform somewhere in the car. Come to think of it, I haven't changed mine too: I was intending to change into what Kotomi is used to seeing me in, but time constraints didn't allow for that, and I can't wear anything over the uniform, except a lab coat. Since transferring into my current body, I've always found myself always wearing a skirt of a length halfway between my hips and knees, with the longest I could wear barely reaching my knees, and unable to wear longer ones or anything else, including jeans and traditional outfits, for reasons unknown to me. The timing of the new Mizuho uniforms seems as if it's because of me that they made a major redesign after decades.

As scary as it was, my complete change of natural behavior six years ago still scares me. If I didn't have Itsuki around, I might have forgotten what I was like. My mood keeps changing, but I am unable to express anger, which is why I can't scold Itsuki even when he annoys me a lot. Since he's with my original body, was tasked to watch over me, and with some tracking device inside me that I can't turn off or remove myself, it's hard to avoid him. I'm now living on what I had wished strongly for six years ago, but never expected for it to actually happen.

Me: "Oh, sorry to drag you into my sad story. Itsuki is waiting for us outside. I'll handle your luggage and prepare the clothes for the funeral of your relatives."

Come to think of it, I have never verbally said his name for a long time. The feeling of saying my former name from a third-person perspective gives me the creeps.

Itsuki: "Oh, Kotomi. I see you have met up with my master, this little girl with you. Hehe."

"Master"? "Little girl"? What are you talking about? You treat me like trash just because I'm a female clone of you and think that you can do whatever to me without... oh whatever.

Me: "Just drive, seeing that you are showing off to her."

I feel small with Kotomi and Itsuki both having already aged. I was supposed to be of the same age as them now, but my body is stuck as a teenager: neither a child nor an adult. Strange that Kotomi has yet to ask what I have been doing or called me by name. It was raining heavily with dark clouds when we left the airport.


Kotomi: "So, anything we didn't discuss on the phone or online?"

There was a pause, probably too quick for Kotomi to notice. Itsuki can't say that he works inside Mizuho or being forced to turn into a woman because of the work uniform. He came to my apartment yesterday to hide things like those clothes if Kotomi were to visit his house. It's already troublesome enough to ask our parents to not talk about it with Kotomi around until the right time approaches.

Itsuki: "Oh, nothing much, just some work and all. I'm working there full time now. This girl with us here is currently in the third cycle as a high school student in first year, changing schools at the end of each cycle. I'm actually gaining knowledge on what is the latest trend and behavior among teenagers of a particular era, and maybe solve some mysteries and cases."

Don't remind me. Anyway, I explained to Kotomi about how I knew Nanami while at Kamisugi High (previous school I attended) and her resemblance to Kotomi. I explained on how Nanami is like while her family was still alive.

Kotomi: "You have certainly know a lot about her. I didn't even know I had such a relative: my family tree on dad's side is too big and confusing. I can't control who my relatives above me are since I'm their decedents, but I can say if I want children, when they are born, or how many."

Nanami's grandparents and Kotomi's great-grandparents both refer to the same people. Isn't that confusing? The confusion was caused by Kotomi's father and grandfather of being the eldest son and having children while still teenagers or in their early twenties. Kotomi has been complaining to me of how she was born when her parents had just graduated from high school and before being married. She also does not want to be the eldest child of so many siblings. By tradition of being the eldest child, she is supposed to stay with her parents even when they retire and grow very old, but they are thinking of leaving that to Kousei or Kuniko, Kotomi's two youngest siblings, instead. Their parents had told Itsuki that Kuniko has been invading Kotomi's bedroom while she's away. The parents really do look too young to be Kotomi's parents, but wouldn't look odd for the younger children.

Kotomi: "By the way, have you seen my luggage? I'm sure we entered this car empty handed."

I stored them inside me while you weren't looking. Apparently, she doesn't understand my hand signal for that. Giving up trying to understand, she asked mostly on what I was doing since she last saw me. I'll give you what you want from your bag when you need it.

One of the things I talked about is about Itsuki and my parents still living at the old house despite offering financial assistance (I have too much money and they don't earn much) and to live in a place I own nearby that is larger with better fixtures. Nobody is living there now, though Itsuki does drop by the house even when I'm not around.

We have reached the place of the funeral. Outside, the weather remains unchanged. It seems as though the rain itself represents Nanami's sadness. I heard some of my staff from Powell discussing about me paying a lot for an unnecessary grand funeral place as the deceased is neither important enough nor rich. To be fare, the general public and the media also contributed to the funds, and I never touched the company's funds for this funeral.

During the entire time, I quietly stayed away from Kotomi and her family until it was time to give things to Nanami. Kotomi's dad was crying the most. The children had a look of being clueless of what they are even doing there.

I gave Nanami some of my money. It's only small change to me, but it is a lot to most. She was thinking that I'm a relative's friend's sister, but she seem to have the odd feeling of familiarity when it was my turn. Nanami had never seen me before that moment for a long time, and I look different from when she last saw me. She might be shocked on how much cash I'm giving as it's probably worth more than the total that everyone else gave. Kotomi noticed me giving me the cash.

Kotomi: "Itsuki, I will be heading back to the airport. There's still the final exam to come."

You are going back already?! Not even to go back home with your family?

Itsuki said exactly what I was thinking, but with delay.

Kotomi: "Don't worry. I'll be back after graduation. People from our high school already have expectations since not much students who graduate from there could even make to places like Todai, let alone a top university overseas."

I wasn't around when Kotomi graduated from there or found out about her being able to go there, so I can't really say what happened.

Related: Disoriented Feelings (Part 21, 22), An Unexpected Wish (Part 1)

14 November 2010

What to do with an annoying ad

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So, you were happily clicking around when something pops out at your face or hear some sound that did not came from what you were interacting with, or some redirect page just for the ad. There are no additional software/plug-in or coding hacks involved. There are three of the most annoying kinds (besides pop ups/under) I'm talking about here, though I don't think these points would be useful.

I'm complaining mainly because less than 1% of the ads I come across are even reverent to my interest, and none of that 1% could attract my interest to click on the link.

Banners that enlarge and/or play some animation, static ad that pauses the video underneath it
This is kind of annoying if you are hovering over one and the link you wanted to click on is obstructed by the banner. Here's how to deal with it:
  1. Tolerating
  2. Using an ad-blocker
  3. Complain to the owner of the site
  4. Subscribe to some "premium" account to have it not appear

Redirects you to some page that displays ads of any kind for x-amount of seconds
This is kind of tricky and more annoying than the above. In addition to the above here are some more points:
  1. Click on an "X" or a link that (claims to) bring you to the page you are supposed to see
  2. Wait for x amount of time (usually 30s) before redirecting
  3. Load the page again and hope the redirect does not happen
Video ads that plays before the video you wanted and can't be skipped
Usually applies to online video streaming through a desktop browsers. I don't mind it appearing at the beginning of a cinema theater film, but this kind should not even exist on DVDs too. This are the most irritating type of ad besides pop-ups. Here's what you do with it:
  1. Watch it
  2. Look elsewhere while waiting
  3. Refresh the page
  4. Pay money for an account that does not have that to appear
  5. Look for an alternative version/method that does not have this to appear
  6. Forget about the video you wanted to watch, and move along

10 November 2010

Alternate Dimension (Part 62)

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Besides the crazy things that Yuko told me on my first day about the academy, Mizuho is actually a normal school and does not have strange lessons like what I feared might happen. With this strange rule of Mizuho students not being able to physically change out of the uniforms until graduation, I would wonder how things are done or what to do should I find myself drenched or be splattered with paint or mud.

I have to do some paperwork to let myself in the restricted areas of the Powell institute since the staff are going to see me as I am now a lot. The staff processing my forms thinks that the one approving it and the person being allowed in are two different people while it's actually letting myself in while in disguise. They might expect me in my disguised form to be "employed" in the near future. I mean, why would I want to be employed by the very same company I founded? Simple: to experience what my new staff go through, and to see if my staff would do things that they wouldn't do if they know my true identity.

As summer approaches, I received a call from Nanami in the middle of the night. It was one of those random nights where I would hang out with Itsuki at our parents' house. I could hear police sirens in the background. Itsuki once told me that she's Kotomi's cousin, but have never met each other before. Nanami was weeping throughout the call. The last I met her, she doesn't seem to know anyone outside her immediate family, besides me, well.

Nanami: "T-They're dead... I thought the house was oddly dark and called the neighbour, but then I saw... waa"

She started crying and hung up before completing her sentence. What's going on? It sounded serious.

I heard a name of a reporter that I know of from the news of a particular channel being mentioned in the background that is usually on at this time, so I turned it on. What I saw shocked me that I had to call Itsuki.

Itsuki: "What is it? I was having fun with... WHAT?! I should let the Miyazawa family know about it!"

"Girl Finds Family Murdered" was the headline, showing what is clearly the house Nanami lives in with police surrounding it. The reporter said that the house have been broken into, but is not visible if one were to have a quick glance from the outside. People close to Nanami's father and brother noted that they did not turn up at their usual place and thought that they had only fallen ill. It seems obvious that the incident happened right after Nanami, the only one who last saw them alive, had left for school. Police investigations are still going on.

Itsuki: "I've notified the family and Kotomi. Kotomi will be rushing back from America just for the funeral when the autopsy on the bodies are done. Due to time constraints, I do not have the time to head home from work to pick her up from the airport and go pick her up directly. I need you to buy me some time to change, so I will pick you up on my way out. I can't let her see me wearing the Mizuho uniform. At least, not yet. Oh, and also, I'm planning to propose marrying her."

Those last few words Itsuki said... I don't know if I should be happy or sad about it. Happy because of the marriage bit, or sad because I used to be a part of him, and I, as him back then, experienced meeting Kotomi for the first time and following me around. All from my point of view.

Itsuki: "Er..."

*****

The location of the funeral wake is big enough to hold a lot of people from the media to even friends of Nanami. Multiple parties are paying for the cost of the funeral, including strangers, and even more would offer something to her but this is usually a one-off thing and are never heard of again. I had donated some of it, under the name of the Powell Institute.

Investigations are still incomplete, but they had gather enough data for the autopsy and sent to the funeral. It seems that food prepared for breakfast was still on the dining table with a lot of unconsumed food and drinks, with only one eaten set at the kitchen sink when they checked the kitchen. That eaten set has traces belonging to Nanami. The murder scene, which was previously not mentioned, was at the corridor at the base of the ground floor. The brother's body was at the foot of the stairs, the mother at the doorway of the kitchen opposite, and the father in-between. The latter two were facing downwards, and all were in the pool of their own blood with no sign of being dragged away from their original positions. It was not clear what they were all doing there, but it is clear that a sharp blade of some sort was used as a murder weapon. Nobody knows what was stolen as the rest of the house was relatively tidy.

On the day of the funeral, there are huge dark clouds that did not fall until afternoon. There's even strong lightning and thunder too. Since I'm not a relative, I wasn't excused from school until Yuko (Itsuki in his female form when wearing the Mizuho uniform for work) called for me. The teacher did not question Yuko as the latter was in the uniform that only someone of the same level as the school principal or higher would wear. Although the way it's done does attract attention.

Yuko: "...sorry to disturb you all. Anyway, Kanade-chan, it seems that Kotomi might have just arrived by the time we reach there, so you are going to wait near the car while I go and search for a quiet spot with nobody or no security cameras around: it's one of the conditions for me to be able to turn back. I have already told her the description of our car, but not of your existence."

The car in question is actually mine, but security measures can't differenceate between me and my other self.

Me: "So where is the car? There's a thunderstorm outside."

Yuko: "We are protected from being wet or falling ill, but I'm not sure about being struck by lightning... You can make the car drive itself to the nearest pick up point without us exposing to the outdoors, right? Hurry up, I can't run with what I'm wearing now."

Let's see... the car is currently parked at the Hatsuya branch here, but there's no shelter there. The next nearest place the car can go that is sheltered is...

Me: "The subway station in the office area with an underground car park. The car will be waiting for us in there near the elevator from the station."

Yuko: "Oh, great. Let's hurry there."

There was a tone of disappointment in her voice, but not on her face. Yuko is seen walking at a normal pace despite saying being in a hurry, but it's clear that she's annoyed with her restricted leg movement that forces her to walk gracefuly regardless of how much of a hurry she is in.

The entrance to the subway station from where we were is the esceleator inside the cafeteria. Since the subway is free, there are no ticket machines or gates. The trains arrive at every minute during the day and less frequent at night. The station we are headed to is just a few stops away.

The approaching the destination station, the train seems to enter through a skyscraper. This office district seriously looks like the middle of a big city! (Though somewhat depressing-looking with the dark clouds above.) Everywhere I look, there is a sea of young women in various colour schemes of the office uniform everywhere and there is an odd complete absence of males.

Yuko: "The colours represents the company they are working for, but the person with the highest position of their office wears the same attire as me. Anyway, we don't have time to explore. Where is the elevator, and what floor?"

I don't know where myself, but my body is moving by itself to the nearest elevator and pressing the deepest level of the underground car park. Our car is waiting just outside the lift lobby. Wait, what?

Yuko: "Wait. Is this car ours? I'm sure I had parked this car elsewhere. Looking at your face, it seems that you are shocked yourself too. Come on, let's go!"

Yuko jumped right into the driver's seat. Closer to the surface, there are visibly more parked cars. The rain is getting noticeably heavier as time passed that it looked like night with streets lights not turned on. I've never seen this kind of weather for a long time or lasted for a long time.

When we arrived at the airport, the arrival information indicates that Kotomi's flight has landed. Looks like there's not much time left.

Yuko: "Uh oh. I should hurry now. Say hi to Kotomi for me."

Me: "Hey! What am I supposed to... she's too far away already."

About five minutes later, Kotomi appeared and looked at my direction. She seem shocked to to see me. Well, it has been several years. Wonder if she still think of me as Mamiko, the name I was using the last she saw me.

Kotomi: "I know I haven't seen you for a long time, but what are you doing here? Where is Itsuki?"

I miss her so much. I have been waiting for more than three years just to meet her again. So much that I cried into her without caring about the people around.

07 November 2010

Alternate Dimension (Part 61)

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The downtown district of the academy resembles very much like the downtown areas I know of. The upper floors of these buildings has offices, or dormitories. To get here from the main entrance, you would have to take the subway as it's quite a long walk in and the only roads in the campus are only between the vehicle entrance and the sector where most of the offices in the campus are. It's almost like walking and the subway are the only way to get around. Running and cycling is actually allowed, but nobody except students were seen doing so because they physically can't. The subway has entrances at various places around the campus.

As there are only young ladies here wearing the assigned mandatory Mizuho uniform, there are no clothes or shoe shops at all. I see products that are only sold in the campus, like milk with higher-than-usual nutrition and is quite popular, but the quantity stocked seems relative to the number of people in the campus the day before. Handbags with the school's logo sold here could hold an infinite amount of things and the only weight you feel is the bag itself. The only things you can't put in are people, and those that could contaminate other things inside easily.

Everything in here looks futuristic, but the things they are made out of is actually available currently. People outside are not using it because of costs, old ways still being practiced, the lack of creativity of it's application, amongst many other reasons. The reduced differences between people and self-distraction (quite literally) seems to be the main reason that other schools lack that Mizuho produces so many top-grade students and, for companies, and higher chances of demands being met on time for things within their control. I haven't been to the area where most of the officers are, but I do see skyscrapers in the general direction of those. I can't tell if those buildings are outside the campus.

Speaking of offices, I'm dropping by the Hatsuya branch office here to see if there's anything for me since they are the ones who sent me here. The land the office it's at is about the size of a stadium field, so it's neither big nor small. The corridors and staircases are as narrow as a normal house. For a company that is well known with many branches and contributes the most to the academy, the building of their branch seems rather small and low-profile. It's barely larger than the first branch I work at. There's a carpark at the front, and I see my car that Itsuki drove being parked there. It's rather small. There's a warning sign saying that only Hatsuya staff could enter. With the Mizuho uniform designs, this usually means that unauthorised people are those in student or teaching uniforms. Staff of other branches being allowed in are unknown. I don't know what I'm under as it just lets me in instantaneously with no problems. Well, I don't know why...

Voice from behind: "How did a student like you get in here? Wasn't the reader at the building's entrances supposed to only let the staff who work here... oh wait, it's you. Didn't recognize you with your new look. What should I call you, "Kanade Haneda" as in your school records, or the usual "Saeko" you are more familiar with?"

A woman wearing the mysterious Mizuho uniform approached me with a sigh on her face. Only people who are in the highest position of the school or company they are a part of wear them. The staff pass she's wearing has a slightly different name of Yuko Hisakawa (久川由子) printed on it, which raises my doubt on this is the same Itsuki I know of as there's absolutely no hints on her being him with that very feminine appearance and behavior. She even knows  the name I use here and my actual name.

[Author's note: From here on, Itsuki in his female form is referred as Yuko. "Other self" still refers to the protagonist, or Itsuki/Yuko if it's from the protagonist point of view.]

Yuko: "You don't seem to recognize me, but that's excusable because of your condition when you last came here and the changes with the new uniform. Don't worry, I won't disturb you when I'm like this, but forgive my actions when I turn back. I can remember what I did in either form, so you don't need to remind me. I don't know why my uniform is the odd one out from my colleagues or what it means. It wasn't one of the designs I had either tested or informed of. I mean, what am I wearing now? It's the most embarrassing thing I have been forced to wear on top of being near-impossible to remove, though I oddly don't out of place and feel comfortable."

She doesn't seen to be aware that she is their leader. When I saw them working the last I was here, they all worked under orders from headquarters or the administrative department of the academy.

Me: "What's with the name change? Didn't you say something about having a gender-neutral name not being changed?"

Yuko: "I'm well known enough to not be allowed to keep my original given name when I'm like this without others thinking that I'm crazy to my already confused self-identity. On the official records, I'm seen as two different and unrelated staff, but certainly some people like the director would know about this. Before you ask, the uniform also can't be removed in the dormitory or for sports activities and I'm not behind this craziness as it dates back far before I was even posted here. Be lucky that I suggested the new designs that are more diversified with many versions and up with the times that is considered a major makeover over the previous conservative design that actually seemed old-fashioned when compared to most other schools at that time, but they went to the opposite end of that scale and now look better than the current counterparts. I would like to tell you more, but even I am kept in the dark on how things work here. There's something about the uniform around the areas covering the most sensitive parts of the female body that is making everyone campus-wide, including myself, feeling strongly aroused at random times once everyday, but nobody is talking about it and carry on as though it never happened once it ended. It can happen during meetings and important exams too. Only way to avoid it is to be outside the campus when it happens."

That thing I experienced earlier is considered a daily thing? I don't get how that helps with scoring top grades.

Me: "You never told me this before, but what exactly have you been doing since working here?"

Yuko: "It's the same as before, but more specifically for the systems in here. This academy is one of the few places that my company could test out their inventions in actual use. Sometimes, I wasn't even told what I was programming or report straight to headquarters without giving me enough time to change back and turn up as I was on being contacted."

Me: "At least I don't need to show my face to my staff at Powell. By the way, do you know how long I will be here? Nobody mentioned about it."

There was silence. It seems that she never thought about it.

Yuko: "You are now in the first year of high school, but given that you have already went through two full cycles of high school, your knowledge level being quite high, having "founded" your own company that is now well known, and the possibility of Kotomi not wanting to be a housewife or take care of her future children. It seems that you might be able to skip to third year of college at the end of the year if you can pass it. Any student can take it, but only those at the end of college second year and above would even know what to write upon seeing the questions, but you still have the chance to take the test for your immediate proceeding year should you not pass that. Please at least stay in high school section for at least this academic year. Mizuho exams are known to be quite difficult for the grade level, but with "unique" things that only happen here, not a student has repeated a year in the school's history since it moved to the current campus."

It seems that me being posted here indirectly means that my endless cycle of only learning high-school level education is ending and finally move on to college level. Yuko also implies that I would have to take over the role of a mother should Kotomi want children, but not take care of them. Unless Itsuki is the father of the future children in question, how am I going to have them think that I'm their parent too? I don't want to think about it now:  it might be a nightmare for me when it happens that could last for a very long time. So long that they might quietly have it as long as her youngest child needs my care. They might send me back to school when the oldest child is in middle school. Wait... Her children will grow older than me and I would still be a 16-year old girl? Oh why?


Part 60 | Part 62

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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.