SGBEG:Volume 1 Act 0
The 0th Act: Turning Point: Reverse
Numbers were dancing around in front of me. Codes fell copiously like rain. Behind the pitch black background, numerous flashy numbers were dancing around.
Man, I was having this dream again. Though I had seen this dream many times, my feelings toward it refresh every time. It was a dream I would forget upon opening my eyes. Vivid scenes I had never seen before would jump into my mind, following, quickly, things about one man...
As I had thought, it was a vague picture of a man in front of a desolate background. It was a man calling intently for something. Wearing a white laboratory coat and with tousled hair, this man was stretching his hands, almost to a crazed state, shouting so intently as if he wanted to tear his throat. Yet, nothing was heard. I...I heard nothing. Never was there once when his words could reach me. Still, I know he was shouting. This was all there was. This was all I know of. But why—why would my chest grieve every time I witness this scene? It was as if I had forgotten something. I should be able to understand after so many repetitions. Still, though aware of having forgotten something, I had no idea of what I had forgotten. I couldn’t, however hard I strained my mind, recall what I had forgotten. As such, I observed my dream, seeking the details of the dream desperately when it appears. I was the kind of person who couldn’t put things aloft once lured by suspicion. I would resolve doubts. I would discover on and on until I found a compelling answer. This was my personality. I had to, at the least, unify my view with others. This was why I had to understand, why I stared at it so intently...
And recently, at last, I understood a spate of things. It wasn't until recently that I found out the man was wearing a white lab coat and had tousled hair. It took me many times to find this out due to the vagueness of that specific dream. So this time I was observing what the man was saying and crying out. Of course, I wasn’t able to hear what he had said, but when one makes a sound, one’s mouth moves accordingly. In most cases, our mouths and jaws take different shapes and forms when the vowels we make or the volume of the voice differs. Although the technique of reading lips exists in this world, most people, even without having learned this technique, would observe the movements of the speaker’s mouth when they listen. This would, subconsciously, rectify the words they hear. The way I was observing was similar to this. Without blinking, I concentrated on the mute shouting sounds.
While I read the lips of the man, I furrowed my brows out of slight surprise.
“Why does he know my name?” I said, unintentionally.
Right. The name the man was calling was mine and not someone else's.
“What the heck is this?”
A man was crying his lungs out, calling my name. Generally speaking, this would be a reappearance of an event happening somewhere, but I had no memory of such an event.
‘’Why...is this...what the...’’
“Why is my chest aching with such pain...” Closing my eyes, I said to myself, pressing on my aching chest.
The man in front of me called again: Kurisute.
“Hey. Isn’t this my name?”
I opened my eyes. The man should be calling my name. Still, why wasn’t the shape of his mouth changing?
At the instant I read the words his lips were making, a non-suppressible feeling thrashed into me, and under its effects, I cried, unwillingly, “Like I said, stop adding Deina to the end of my name!”
“Like I said, stop adding Deina to the end of my name!” At the same moment I cried this, I sat up, coming back to my senses.
“Oh dear, why am I crying like this? That bastard. Give me back what I deserve for my making my chest ache!”
My shoulders shivered; my breathing patterns became coarse. After unleashing my fury, my emotions were pacified gradually.
I looked around in a panic: I was on the bed of the hotel I had been living in for some time. I, Kurisu Makise, was holding the sheets on the bed, waking up abruptly from my sleep, my mind still in a mess.
“Ah, eh? Why did the dream have such strange aspects?”
Agony rushed through me. As I tried to remember what happened in the dream I just had, I found it to be detached from me completely as if my conscious mind was rejecting the memories I had at that time.
“Yeah. I can’t remember anything. There was something I was especially wary of...” Murmuring, I looked at my phone to check the time: 2010/07/28 09:27
It seemed to be the appointed time for waking up.
“I can’t remember anyway. I might as well let it go.”
Heaving another sigh, I took the sheets off my body and got up from bed. Although I hadn’t been to Japan in a long time, I didn’t have the spare time to be dozing off in my bed. If I don’t make haste and prepare for my day, I wouldn’t have time left for some residual activities. As I walked to the bathroom, I took off my pajamas. While I used hot water to bath myself, my mind was checking my schedule today.
I returned to Japan for work and not for a holiday. I came here as a researcher for the Victor Qondria University (in America) since ATF asked me to give a talk on time machines, which, in some sense, found the wrong person. Who the heck had the idea that a neuroscience researcher would also understand the physics stretching to time machines? It was as absurd a proposition as finding a chef for welding steel bars at a construction site. Nevertheless, ATF might only be wanting a layman to give the talk. Put in another way, this was a job of using my own stretch of knowledge to explain time machines. They believe in the importance of flexibility and exchange of constructing knowledge and proposing theories. If I put it this way, it was easier to understand why they would choose a neuroscience researcher to take the job. But this didn’t mean it would convince me, who was already terribly busy in the laboratory, to cross the Pacific Ocean and give some meaningless talk, let alone be interested.
At first, the research laboratory wanted to reject the offer, but when they remembered I had never returned to Japan after going to America for studying, they changed their stance.
This was what my tutor said: “Kurisu, it’s gratifying that you are diligent in researching, but you have immersed yourself too much in your work. It’s time you take a break back home.”
That time was also, incidentally, the time when the experiments and researches were over. Although Japan was my homeland, there was no home I could go to there. My mother moved to America with me ever since I went overseas for studying. If I were to say which place was my home, America would be closer to the answer. Albeit, I wouldn’t have gone to Japan if it were not for a letter. Indeed. It was this letter that changed my mind...
Upon accepting ATF’s work, I found that their treatment was better than I had expected: they would pay for the traveling fees as well as the fees I had spent during my stay. Also, they seemed to cherish the opportunities to exchange with our university.
“Under circumstances where things are out of your expectations, you would really become suspicious of whether there is something else hidden behind all this.”
I unknowingly laughed. It seemed to stem from being aroused by some happiness.
Switching off the tap that was pouring hot water, I started to tidy myself up. I couldn’t let myself forget what I had learned from my senior researchers. I had to put on a bit of perfume, as this was a good way to kick off the preconceived notion that researchers are unhygienic. Then, I put on the uniform of the Ayamein Highschool for Girls. This was to let my mother, who was perturbed by my travel, to permit me to return to Japan. During this trip where I had not brought any clothes to change, this handmade, durable uniform was a treasure—although however I change this uniform, it would only deviate a bit from its original appearance...
“Okay. I’m good now,” I said, looking at myself in the mirror.
Although I was to give a talk in front of many people, I didn’t plan to stand like a decor, but this didn’t mean I want to make a bad impression. Should this happen, my fame would be destroyed, be it the research laboratory or ATF.
Finally, I opened my phone again, checking the venue of the talk and its route.
“12:00 at the Radio Kaikan building in front of the Akihabara Station.”
I opened the door, my hand holding the envelope stuffed with scientific papers, my heart hoping for a change today...
It was blisteringly hot. As soon as I had got out of the hotel and stepped onto Japanese soil, the piercing sunlight and heat waves crashed on me.
“Japan is the birthplace of the heat island effect indeed.”
Although there was a river nearby, it was totally incompetent to the sun’s heat. My brain simulated the effects of rivers, wind, and plants on easing the present heat.
“What unbelievable heat...”
Normally, I wouldn’t have made such a surprising, unexpected remark. This remark was made because I knew I had to come here and back every day in the following two weeks. Although having heard of Japan’s hot weather in the summer, I have lived in Japan in the past, and also have been here in times other than the summer, I had never experienced, in a long time, Japan’s hot weather in the capital between late July and August.
It was blisteringly hot. There were no remarks other than this. With this in mind, I headed to Yushima, which was on the right hand side of Tokyo Medical and Dental University. Going a bit right, you could see the Yushima Seidou; going a bit left, you could see the entrance to the Kandamyoujin shrine. On seeing the green entrance sign, I suddenly remembered a senior who wanted a charm here.
“You’re a neuroscience researcher at Victor Qondria University, yet you believe in gods. How strange, my senior.”
That senior said there were a lot of gods similar to Shiva being worshiped in Japan. Shiva was the god of destruction and creation in India. Kandamyoujin was another one. There was also a god of wealth and Acalanatha. All of them were given to him by one of his acquaintances living in Japan. Of course, in America, there were a lot of people with their beliefs not in conflict with science or even in integration. That senior was one of these people. Science was an act of more in-depth searching of the world created by our Lord than a simple desire of wanting to know. This thought in America’s culture was not rare.
Although having been in America for a long time, I became even more skeptical of such beliefs. Perhaps, different from them, I had no foundation of a religion to support such beliefs. The so-called beliefs they had were different from what I had imagined. I thought it would be something more rooted to our life. From the conventions of Japan, beliefs should be closer to us. This was why in the centre of the world lay the Christian’s Christ and Islam’s Allah. But in Japan, in the centre lay, mostly, family relations, Takan shrines, and schools where everyone gathers. What they told me was that they sense no concrete beliefs from me. To me, the curiosity to distinguish and find out things was, probably, a kind of belief. The stronger men are in their beliefs, the harder it will be for them to hesitate in their decisions. Only with internal, spiritual support could one not sway and get lost.
“My, I had a similar feeling when I was debating...”
I had lost count of the times I pursued for the authentic truth. If I had to believe in something without concrete evidence, my beliefs would never move forward. Doubts deep down my heart would push me to pursue, using my determination as the base, my talent and hard work as the force, to reach possible success. It is important to listen to others; however, what they say are only partial truths. Be that as it may, I was a little jealous of them. I understood this: since I was small, I was blessed greatly. Right, it was my talent. To be more specific, I was capable of doing addition and subtraction easily when I was two. And because of various reasons, I was interested in physics and other disciplines when I was small.
Names such as prodigies, intelligent children were so often crowned on me as eating and drinking. I quickly understood that the wall built between the people around me and myself was formed from envy, inferiority and other similar feelings. I detested this wall, and I thus left these people through skipping grades.
I made friends after that, calling them seniors or colleagues, but I was ignorant of whether they count as my friends or not. If I were to say this out, they would probably protest in tears. I shouldn’t be too certain, of course. Still, in exchange for my talent, I had to lose something. I was still knowledgeable of this. Nevertheless, I didn’t plan to succumb to my weaknesses out right; I had to overcome them through hard work. With this in mind, I came to Japan. I received a letter recently. From this letter I retrieved the staunch matter I lacked, though using the word ‘retrieve’ might be slightly incorrect, as the staunch matter was the relation between my father and myself.
Shouichi Makise. This was my father’s name. This was also the name of Dr. Nakabachi, the one to conduct “The Conference of the Development and Success of the Time Machine” on the eighth floor of the Radio Kaikan building. I didn’t know much about my father using the name Dr. Nakabachi, but from what I had learned from the internet, he didn’t receive much positive feedback.
It had been seven years since I had seen my father. At that time, I did my best to learn physics to understand my father’s papers in a bid to earn his praise. Fortunately, I had the potential to learn, and I endeavored to learn at anytime possible, just to earn his praise.
The unpalatable truth was that I failed. While I was doing my best to understand his papers, I had, since sometime, rejected the theories my father proposed. On my birthday seven years ago, my report on the papers angered my father.
“Are you satisfied now? To refute my theories at such a young age—are you satisfied? Stop joking!”
It was the first time I saw my father with such fury.
No, it wasn’t the only reason that caused this. Although the report sparked off his anger, his grudge against me, in fact, was built before this. But I was too slow-witted in these things. All I thought about was the praise I would earn when I simply work hard. Perhaps, there were other reasons. I could only feel sorrow, fear, and anxiety of what to do at that time. Then, I left my father...
In these seven years, consequently, I had been, perhaps, searching for my father, but with the feeling that we would not meet again; however, it turned out another way. The letter I received from my father was the invitation letter to “The Conference of the Development and Success of the Time Machine”.
“I will definitely make a time machine you won’t reject!”
This was what my father had said seven years ago. Now that I thought about it, most of the papers my father had written were related to time machines, and, from what he had said, he had continued with the research on time machines to this date. To be frank, I believed my father had not yet made a successfully working time machine because, should he have made it, he would have written papers to systematically talk about the theories.
“Still, he might be putting forth his theories in this conference.”
Along the road to the Radio Kaikan building, I had been thinking. If this was the case, then the papers I had brought with me today might aid my father. As if lovingly embracing it, I held the envelope containing the papers onto my chest. They were my father’s invitation as well as the papers I wrote happily. Should I be praised by my father upon his seeing these papers... If I could right the wrongs seven years ago... If I could hear the words my father should have said at that time... Finally, I could be rewarded with the staunch matter—the relation between my father and I.
“I really want to see you sooner, father.”
I came to the Radio Kaikan building earlier than scheduled. The building was smaller when looked at from afar. Through searching on the internet, I got to know it was built in 1962 and had been the tallest building in Akihabara then.
If I were to put its 40 years of age into account, this building shouldn’t be described as small. In the past, it was the tallest building in Akihabara then, once a landmark. As I closed my phone that I used to search information, I stared upwards at the tall building. It seemed to have used imposing lighting, which must make it quite flashy at night. This marked the style of the buildings in Akihabara.
With eight floors, a huge electronic door sign on the second floor, and door signs aligned along the stores in each floor—this was the first impression the building made to me when I looked at it compared to its surrounding buildings. Walking inside, I could see, as I had felt, a large diversity of things, though, in fact, I was too naive.
There was almost anything you could possibly think of, ranging from electronic products and camcorders to local products. Passing through these stores, I walked to the lift. Though old buildings normally look like this, I could feel an exceptional archaic sense in this building, should I put the age of this building into account.
Standing in front of the lift emanating the sense of the medieval ages, I pressed on the button of the lift, which then, unaware, I stopped walking, and looked around, eager to see to my father. This eagerness was also mixed with fear and anxiety when I remembered the things that had happened seven years ago. These two feelings were, in my heart, in conflict.
“It is natural to be afraid.”
Inhaling deeply, I regulated my breathing patterns. It was impossible not to be afraid to meet with my father who had once lashed out in anger. Like Christians who call their beliefs as their God, I call my father a scary god. He was the kind of existence that controlled me, in both good and bad aspects, and in both aspects of what I was willing to do and unwilling to do. His control followed me wherever I went. I, of course, knew the reason why I was now a neuroscience researcher.
“So seeing him is inevitable.”
Softly closing my eyes and opening them again, I inhaled and exhaled deeply in between. These actions, from my past experience and learning, were to ease my mood.
The feelings I had to my father were definitely less staunch than the beliefs my seniors had. Albeit, they were the embodiment of my hard work, the wisdom a neuroscience researcher in Victor Qondria University was proud of.
The deep breathing and closing of my eyes did their job, pacifying my mood. Although still a bit perturbed, I felt a lot better than a while ago.
“Being early was certainly a correct decision.”
Showing a smile dyed with self-pity, I looked at the time. There was enough time for me to sooth my mood until I was completely tranquil. As I brought my eyes back to the number showing the floor the lift was at, I noticed the lift was heading upwards.
“To ease myself to a state at ease, I'll walk there slowly.”
I said it intentionally to clarify my intentions to myself.
Having decided the time, I turned back, walked to the staircase, and climbed the stairs step by step, heading to the place my father was at.
Having strolled around in the building, I climbed the stairs slowly. Even when there were eight floors, only a few minutes elapsed before I reached the top. I needed more time, though, to complete the process of easing my mood. Fortunately, lunch time was approaching. There were only a few in the building, especially in the fourth floor where even the clerks were gone, making the floor very quiet.
“Is it because there isn’t even one restaurant in this entire building?”
In fact, when I had been going up, I had seen people going down, but basically I had been unable to see people heading the same way I was heading. Was this strange or normal? I wasn’t certain, as this was the first time I had been to this building.
This was a great opportunity to pacify my mood anyway.
With a steady pace and breathing rate, I slowly walked around the fourth floor,. Under the stimulation of my neurons, my mood was eased eventually. When I came back to the staircase, I looked up the stairs with hope and my eagerness to see my father surpassed fear. As I was immersed in my thoughts, I was thrown off track with a huge impact.
“What? An earthquake?”
For a moment there I prepared myself by doing earthquake protection measures, but after a while of speculation, it didn’t seem to be an earthquake. What was it then?
Opening my phone, I couldn’t find the emergency call for earthquakes. The clerks nearby hadn’t done any protection measures either, so it shouldn’t be anything special.
When I looked back onto my phone, the time was 11:51—perfect.
“ Right. It’s good. Good!”
I said it once again, but my heartbeat didn’t accelerate because of this. It was said along with the flow of my emotions.
I was filled with the happiness of receiving my father’s invitation again. The happiness that my father hadn’t forgotten me, that my father hadn’t hated me came into me again.
With this happiness, I could give the papers in the envelope I was holding to him as a reunion present after seven years of separation. Would he praise me again when he had read these papers that I had written for him?
Again I tightly, lovingly embraced the envelope, confirming its presence. Recently, when ATF gave me this opportunity and when father sent me a letter, I felt proud because I thought my father had forgiven me. And elated, I wrote these papers for my father: “The Inspection on Time Machines”
Originally, from the contemporary knowledge of physics, time machines were believed to be impossible to make, but strictly speaking, we could say time traveling—or moving between time intervals—was possible. Notwithstanding, the convenient time traveling machines or devices most people would think of in sci-fi novels were impossible at the present stage. In most situations, there would be a great many problems arousing from time transportation, jeopardizing our lives. But what if we look at these issues with a different mindset? A spate of ideas popped up in my mind once I thought of this. When my main projects had finally ended, I spent most of my time, even exploiting my mealtime and sleeping times, to study these thoughts.
This proposition might help my father. Although these thoughts by themselves were insufficient to make a time machine, it would render a large step in this discipline. Perhaps my father could really make a time machine by then.
Should this happen, this paper could be published with both my father’s name and my name signed together. My father would definitely praise this paper—and me as well.
With these hopes, I opened the envelope to have a last check at the papers.
It is a common problem among researchers to forget about the plans for the following weeks when they are preoccupied by these things. I had this problem too; and looking back at it now, it really was a child-like, dangerous behavior.
Different from before, I seemed to have knocked into something—someone, in fact, because I hadn’t been paying attention to my front.
Frantically, I apologised to the person I knocked into.
The first thing I noticed was the white lab coat this person was wearing. Was he a researcher? Was he here to participatein my father’s conference?
As I mistook him for someone understanding my father’s researches, I looked at this person’s face. Then, my brain stopped working.
He was someone in his early twenties, an east-asian with tousled hair. His face was stunned, as if he saw something, his complexion dejected, seemingly out of breath.
With this tense face, he mumbled, “Kurisu.”
That was my name.
“Kurisu...” he said, stunning me.
“Why do you know my name? Have we ever met?” I asked.
At least, I didn’t have or retain any memories of meeting this man. Still, judging from his look and the way he looked at me, I could tell it wasn’t the first time he had seen me.
There was this distinct behavior when people first meet: the constant moving of their eyes—that reflects the distance that should be kept between the two parties.
Then why didn’t the person do this?
His behavior reflected he knew me. It wasn’t only a few times of meeting each other, but of even closer intimacy.
However I searched my memories, I couldn’t find anything related to this person.
“Are you listening?” I asked to the stunned man again. My voice had traces of surprise. Upon listening to my voice, his eyes wandered, as if my words had touched his feelings.
I hadn't thought that this man’s fingers would start moving, as if he wanted to touch my cheeks.
“Hey, wait. What you trying to do?”
When these doubts came to my mind, I had already averted his hand. At the same time, the papers I prepared for my father came out from the envelope and scattered on the floor. Along with bouncing and scratching sounds, the papers spread across the white linen floor.
In a flurry, I kneeled down to pick up the scattered papers. Abruptly, rage filled my heart. The papers I had prepared for my father ended up like this!
“What do you want? Please tell me now!”
My rare opportunity, the opportunity I had waited for seven years...
Of course, I knew clearly in my mind that it wasn’t much of a big deal. The papers on the floor weren’t dirtied and could be fully read.
But why would there be a thought that whatever I were to do I wouldn’t be able to break the wall between my dad and myself? I hated myself for my inability in doing anything. Added by this silent man’s stimulation, my fury was activated.
Shouldn’t the man be saying something? As I cried in my heart, a weak voice came to my ears.
His voice was trembling, as if he was touched...as if he would cry out anytime.
The sound I heard in my ears was so unexpected that I had forgotten my fury and looked at the man in response. His eyes were welled with tears, tears seemingly about to burst forth.
He wanted to say something, but stopped.
Only at that time did I discover that he wasn’t trying to evade my answer but only being silent. This was because he couldn’t form words. Or to put it in another way, he was too touched to say anything. For a while, we looked at each other, silently.
What relation did I have with him, for what reason was he here, why he was touched—I couldn’t make out anything, though I was certain there were inexplicable answers.
Frozen, I continued to look at him without making a move.
And at that instant, I felt something deep in me was revived, as if the functioning of gears, the gear tooth that had been functioning normally was suddenly stuffed with something, making creaking sounds.
Something flashed in my mind.
I was stretching my hand with my utmost efforts, calling upon a man...these vague images came into my mind and vanished subsequently.
I had a feeling that there was something I had forgotten.
“The conference for Dr. Nakabachi will be starting in the lobby on the eighth floor. Entrance is free and welcomed.”
When I was still deep in my thoughts, an announcement was heard in the building.
As if our eyes bounced off each other, we looked upwards. After having a time of frozen state, we finally continued what we had been doing after the announcement.
If I didn’t see my father...
This was the first time I thought on hearing the announcement.
So I didn’t pay attention to the man in front of me who ran away on hearing the announcement.
“Hey, wait. Please wait!”
Though I tried to call him back, he didn’t stop.
What did he want to say, anyways? Though I could catch him if I wanted to, the time for the conference was approaching, so it would be better if I didn’t, as he should be around anyway.
Heaving a sigh while holding the papers, I climbed upstairs.
It was impossible to say I wasn’t wary of him, but there were more important things for me to do at the moment.
I dashed from the fourth floor to the eighth floor through the stairs.
On my way, on the seventh floor, I saw a flashing object. What was it?
I didn’t put much thought into it and picked up the silver, round object: it looked like someone’s gem.
“Mayushii” was written with a red pen on the object. Was this the name of the gem?
Though miraculous, this gem happened to be some kind of protective talisman to me. The round shape gave warmth to my heart, giving me a feeling that I could talk with my dad in a tranquil manner.
Although I didn’t know who dropped this, I picked it up to borrow some power.
While I thought about it, I opened the envelope and put the gem inside. With that done, I climbed to the eighth floor.
The conference should have started, as the people walking in the lobby seemed to have decreased. Letting out a breath, I walked to the lobby.
At last, I was about to see my father I hadn’t seen for eight years.
This was to bring back the seven years lost.
There came a loud cry, unaccompanied.
Having reached the eighth floor, I couldn’t help feeling tense on hearing the loud cry from the lobby.
I would feel afraid whether it was an angry scowl or a cry. My rational side would tell me it wasn’t a big deal, but my body would do the opposite: since the night my father cried angrily at me, things had been staying like this.
The cry was followed by my father’s angry scowl; a quarrel had most likely been stirred up. Again my body shivered; I knew he wasn’t scowling at me, but I couldn’t suppress the scary feeling.
When this scary feeling had faded, my anger rose again, partly because of the hate in my inability to suppress my fear.
The other part was headed to the man who went against my father since he might ruin my opportunity to meet my father after seven years. Certainly these two roots of anger were unreasonable, yet I was still angered.
Without veiling my unhappiness, I pushed the door of the meeting centre and looked inside.
No one could stop me from spilling my anger at him.
At the end of the day, my anger was still yet to be vented.
There stood a man arguing with my father, I assume to be the one shouting just now. His appearance was too surprising to me—he was the man I met ten minutes earlier on the fourth floor. He was the man staring at me with teared-up eyes.
He had to be that man.
Tousled hair, a white lab coat, a tall and obtrusively thin figure.
I couldn’t be wrong. My short-term memories told me it was the man who ran off just now. Although I didn’t know whom he was and that he had come to the meeting centre even earlier than me who had climbed the stairs immediately, I couldn’t be wrong: he was that man.
When these thoughts had gathered, in replacement of the anger I held, questions starting with the word ‘why’ popped up in my mind.
Why did he look at me with those eyes?
Why did he call me with that tone?
Why did he have a teared-up face?
Why was he hesitant in his words?
Why, why, why...
Having your mind stuffed with ‘why’s is normal for researchers. It was the root of curiosity and research.
Without hesitating, I passed through the people in the meeting centre and approached him, tapping his shoulder.
Perhaps he noticed my sharp eyes, but I hadn’t the time to care about these tidbits. At this moment, I forgot my original intention: my father’s affairs.
No, this wasn’t the right way to say it; I hadn’t forgotten it; it was just I had some questions to ask this man first.
When the man averted his attention from my father, I forcibly pulled his hand out of the meeting centre, paying no heed to his shouting sounds.
When I had pulled him out of the meeting centre, the man with tousled hair asked me, strangely, “Who are you?” it was the question I wanted to ask him.
“That should be my question.”
With this type of response, I felt his attitude was different from then. I posed, looked at him from an angle, and asked him as imposingly as possible, “You have something to ask me just now, haven’t you?”
It was just fifteen minutes earlier. He went away without having said anything to me. His words were just at the corner of his lips already back then, but now his answer was completely unsatisfactory.
“Just now?” he asked with a skeptical expression.
I felt my eyes had become even sharper. Why was he pretending he didn’t know anything? Albeit, I didn’t get all worked up but said calmly, “about fifteen minutes earlier.”
“What the heck are you talking about?”
Suddenly his voice stopped and his tone changed.
It was the second time he had called my name. His way of calling my name touched some awkward part of my body, making me blink incessantly. His tone, sound, and eyes gave complete hint this was the first time he had met me.
Was this an act? Would he be that capable? Or did he have a split personality?
Weird...new doubts streamed.
Did the man in front of me really not know me? Or was he just pretending? His first-time-meeting-me tone still continued.
“Oh that person who published her research in Sciency...”
It should be the research paper I had written some time ago about the decoding of neural signals in the memory arena of the cerebrum. I could tell flatly from his face he was lying, yet I still replied him, “You even know that? Which university is the research facility you’re working in in?”
He sounded serious and surprised by my words. Not only was his voice but also his whole body backed as if being hit by some non-physical impact.
“Could it be a spy from the organisation?”
What was he talking about?
My mind was blank. The question, having hit me off track, messed up my thinking ability.
“What? I only have something to ask you...”
“I have no obligation to answer you!”
I was interrupted before I finished. My fury was ignited again, intensifying, now directed at him, who had took out his phone out to contact someone.
“Whom are you talking to?”
After I had raised my doubts, he still kept talking to the phone, paying no attention to me. Infuriated, I, without giving a second thought, snatched his phone away.
If I didn’t check the phone, I wouldn’t know whom he had been talking to, but when I looked at the phone, there was nothing on the LCD screen.
“Hey, the power is...”
He hadn’t been talking to anyone since the start.
Besides, his phone was turned off originally. When I stated this in front of him, the man’s expression wavered largely, and then he suddenly cracked up.
“Wahahaha. Let me tell you exclusively. The power source of the phone will be cut off whenever anyone except me touches it. It’s a special phone for my special mission! Hmph, Hmphh. Wahahaha.”
At the instant I heard his mixed laughing sounds, the rising fire rose in my heart fell below the melting point; it was now that I knew my anger would drastically drop after rising to such a high level.
“Oh, so you were talking to yourself.”
My words were pointy—suitable, indeed. The man ceased his laughing, perhaps because he sensed my anger or some other reason.
Then, I said, “Let’s cut to the chase: what did you want to say to me just then?”
I looked straightly into his eyes, having the intention to look through every act. Even if this man could veil his surface, he couldn’t veil his brain or those evoked by his neurons. Then, as a neuroscience researcher, I was able to read these neural behavior—the eyes, in particular. The eyes would tell more truth than any spoken word would.
“About fifteen minutes earlier. You had something to say to me and looked desperate.”
He averted his eyes from me. Then, as if hiding the wavering in his heart, he said, “Hmphh. I’ve seen through everything, genius girl. When we meet the next time, we’ll be enemies!”
I couldn’t understand that dramatic tone. My thinking was interrupted.
What had he been trying to say?
I was taken aback this time. When I was still consciously dizzy, he ran to the seventh floor with a big smile.
Although I tried to stop him the same way I did fifteen minutes earlier, he didn’t stop again. At a loss, I could only see him running off.
I stared blankly at the staircase the man left off.
I didn’t really ask him after all.
But there was something I was certain: the man that just left was different from the man I met fifteen minutes earlier. At least, their memories were different.
Neuroscience is a discipline, in the science field, that studies the memory of humans. As someone specializing in this field, it was impossible to fool me. My researches told me that it wasn’t possible to be done through skills of act. Right, he hadn’t the memories of the person I had seen fifteen minutes earlier.
“Could they be twins?”
This was the most reasonable answer. Identical twins that come from the same ovum have the same appearance however you look at them. If I put it like this, it would make more sense of that man’s strange behavior fifteen minutes earlier. Also, the reason why the man would be faster than me who had run to the eighth floor directly. The man I had just seen had already been walking to the meeting centre. The one I had met fifteen minutes earlier hadn’t even gone to the meeting centre.
Then could I say he has a split personality? Although this couldn’t explain why he had been faster than me, but it could explain the expression on him when he had first met me...though two of these hypotheses had problems, that is, I had never met the man I had met fifteen minutes earlier, but he acted as if he had known me, Makise Kurisu. This was the only trouble that neither the twin hypothesis nor the split personality hypothesis could explain. Neither could his extreme acting skills that had possibly deceived me.
My mind repeatedly asked questions and answered itself like the way it did in past trainings. For a moment, a grotesque idea popped up.
“How would that happen?”
I scoffed and denied my idea.
Of course, it was impossible.
Could he come here through time travel?
The first person I met was when he came out of the meeting centre, while the one I had met fifteen minutes earlier came here from a distant future through time traveling. Could this be it?
This hypothesis could surely answer a lot of questions.
Even if a time machine was made combined with the research papers I had on my hand and with my father’s, it wouldn’t be successfully produced in such a short time; by that time, he would have surely aged and would not appear in this state.
Certainly there might be other technologies by then: shaping of the face, surgery to make people appear younger…but if we look at it with such imaginable and futuristic ways, we would stride away from scientific hypotheses.
Waving my head, I tried to put this thought aside and took out my phone to check the time: 12:26.
I had wasted a lot of time dealing with different matters. I could hear some scattered sounds of applause from the door leading to the meeting centre: it seemed the conference had ended.
If it was only a conference but not an explanation or a report, the exclusive content wouldn’t have been disclosed. Besides, it was impossible to include these in merely thirty minutes.
For the time being, I was agonised.
I wanted to tell my father to have a look at my research.
But my father was not only my father but also Dr. Nakabachi. If I were to intrude without any concern, I would only be a hassle to his work. If I myself were to encounter such situations in my research, I would put aside my papers too.
Was it better to do this in a place with fewer people? This had something to do with self-esteem.
I gazed around.
There was a staff pathway, leading to a path resting room. It looked to be a sound place with less people around who may interrupt, hence sound for our conversation.
This was what I believed…
I went to the staff pathway before anyone had come out.
Avoiding the stacked, disarrayed boxes, I stopped near the staff resting room, leaning on the wall and regulating my breathing patterns.
My father would come here soon.
What should I say? How’s these seven years? I wanted to see you for a long time? Or…
I felt my heart danced to some high spirits naturally.
No matter what, I first had to tell him about the research papers: he would definitely be happy…
For this research paper was the beginning of restarting the relation between my father and I, I opened the envelope to check the papers again. At this time, I felt someone was walking through the staff pathway.
It was a man with his mouth mumbling, his footsteps crude while walking. He was wearing a deep brown jacket, a black suit, and hair belonging to a forty-year-old man. Right, he was my father.
Although I decided to greet him first, I felt some dangerous ambiance around him. I backed up a bit.
So the one making the first move was my father.
“What are you coming here for?”
My father glared at me, seemingly unpleased. It was the same face he had seven years ago. When this scene matched my memories, I endeavored to hide the fear in my heart, yet I couldn’t pose a smile.
I wasn't certain whether I could succeed. I forced my all to squeeze out a sound.
“T-This paper. I hope…you can have a look, father.”
I handed the paper, the paper I wrote to receive praise from my father, to him.
It was fine if he read it.
I thought. I prayed.
Perhaps my fingers were trembling. But I had to tell my father through this how much hard work I had done to express my love.
My father crudely snatched my paper and read it while standing there. It was quite a long paper. A normal scan would take a long time, but my father was a quick-reader and he could grasp the gist of the contents in about five minutes.
My father remained silent, his eyes darting across the paper.
Silence was spreading around our surroundings. I couldn’t withstand the silence, so I tried to share some words with my father.
“I came to to this conference because you contacted me after seven years, forming this opportunity,” I said to my father, still reading the paper like a robot, having no response to what I said. I stood there, unaccustomed to this treatment. I couldn’t think of anything to say.
“If we were to conclude the theories coming from our minds, we might be able to make a time machine…I want to hear your opinion, father.”
I was getting more worked up as I said.
I did my best in a bid that my father, still silent and reading the paper, to turn his head around. I wanted to hear him say I did a great job, to be praised.
I wanted to rewrite the events that happened seven years ago.
I wanted my father to convert to my original father.
“If this will be acknowledged, then my father, having been driven out of the club, can get back on track…”
The moment I said this, I felt my father’s sharp eyes shooting right through me.
“I wasn’t expelled! It was just an excuse for leaving because I got tired of them.”
His voice was suddenly raised, making a sharp, angry scowl. I could feel a non-physical force pressing on me, sending fear into my whole body. I apologised on reflex: “I’m sorry…”
At the same time I apologised, my father had completed reading the paper. He shot a glance at the cover of the paper and said, “Hmm, not bad.”
The moment I heard that word, all the fear inside me was swept away. It was replaced by the acknowledgement by my father: the joy of being praised. So I quickly said what I wanted in reflex, “Really? I want to publish this paper with both your name and mine signed because this is the opportunity you…”
At that instant, my father scowled angrily again and looked at me with eyes even sharper eyes. It was an angry scowl with even stronger anger and hate.
“Stop speaking crap!”
His scowl made my body shiver. Perhaps my tears had betrayed me.
I felt, for an instant, the eighteen-year-old me had returned to my eleven year old self.
“Please don’t scowl again,” I squeezed out a small sound.
My father only said a word in response. It was an answer I couldn’t believe. I looked at dad, making a dubious sound.
I looked at my father, as I couldn’t understand what he meant.
My father had called me over after seven years. Was not this meeting an opportunity to remedy the family time we had lost in all these seven years?
Had I not done my best to talk with my father?
Was I not acknowledged by my father at last?
I just stared at him. From my point of view, my father had already completed reading my paper and was turning his back to me. Then, some words came from his back, words filled with despair.
“Do you want to know why? Let me tell you then. This paper will only be published in my name. That’s it.”
There was nothing I could feel except for this impulse.
It was neither sorrow or anger; it was sheer shock, way beyond the aforementioned.
I couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t believe it.
It was a taboo never to be violated as a researcher.
“Why…do you want to embezzle my paper father?”
To a researcher, his or her research was equivalent to his or her life.
No, it was the root of a researcher’s existence. It was hard work, the embodiment of one’s life since birth. Per se, it was the wish, the thoughts, the goal, or even the soul.
If the fruits of the research were to be published using someone else’s name, it was equal to depriving every part of the existence of the original researcher.
It was the same as wiping away my present, my past and my future.
What did that mean?
My father was…me, and not someone else?
I heaved a sigh, and spoke it out rather than mumbling, “Do you want to embezzle my paper? I didn’t know you were this kind of a person…”
“Do you want to embezzle my paper? I didn’t you know you were this kind of a person…” “Shut up!”
Instantly my cheeks were hot.
As if anticipating something, I pranced off.
It occurred to me that several seconds had elapsed before I understood the reason my father had raised his hands high.
I couldn’t believe it, not any bit.
I was at a loss.
When I came back to my senses, my neck had already been clutched by my father.
“How dare…how dare you say embezzling…”
The pain in my skull gathered to a point, but something even more painful was the gigantic force pushing me, making my breathing difficult.
“Why are you so outstanding? There couldn’t be a daughter more outstanding than her father!”
My brain was numb, my eyes flashing lights of red.
I couldn’t even make a sound of pain any more.
“Had you not been here, I could have been more outstanding…had you not been here…”
I denied this insane situation I would have never thought of; a situation I might as well take it into my grave.
I was reluctant to accede to this.
False. False. Everything was false.
Please tell me; anyone would be good. Please tell me that this was false, that this was only a dream.
My father wouldn’t do such a brutal thing. My father couldn’t possibly hate me.
No, no, no…
My father is…my father is…the father I…loved the most…
The numb feeling spread throughout my mind; the red darkness had completely veiled my thinking; the pain was devoured by the numbness, the numbness gradually expanded.
When pain had completely left me, I was floating in numbness in my thoughts. Suddenly, I was released from such a feeling.
All the depression had returned to me.
I coughed loudly and held my head in pain.
Most likely my father was pushed away by somebody; hence, I was saved by that person. Someone was blocking my father in the dim corridor.
I could see vaguely that he was wearing a white lab coat with tousled hair.
I had seen a person with characteristics similar to his a while ago, but I had no idea why he would save me.
Still, I believed in him, inconceivably.
He came here to rescue me. I remembered a scene when I was drenched in pain. It was the scene of a dream I had this morning. No, not only this morning. It was a scene I had seen a great many times by now.
The man wearing a white lab coat with tousled hair was doing his best to wave his hands at me.
He was right in front of me. The person now saving me from the hands of my father had the same posture.
I didn’t know things would end like this.
It was inconceivable in theory.
Yet I believed.
“You’re that guy who…oh, so is this what happening? You guys team up just to mess up with my conference? Gugugu…that’s it. I get it now…”
Pushed away, my father smiled with his face tilted.
He hadn’t the gentle smile I remembered. It was a wretched, scary smile I had never witnessed. Perhaps ghosts or devils smile like that. When this insane smile came to my father’s face, I pondered over whether or not this was reality.
Smiling, my father took out a knife from his body. The little light that came through the windows bounced off the knife, accenting his ferociousness.
I couldn’t believe it…I couldn’t believe it…
But as if betraying my thoughts, my father started fighting with the lab-coat-wearing man.
“Don’t take me as an idiot and tease me arghhh!”
Fortunately, the knife my father took out quickly fell down beside the lab-coat-wearing man. Nevertheless, the fury in my father hadn’t eased, and he picked up a screwdriver from a nearby toolbox and posed.
I only wanted to stop them as I jumped in front of the man protecting me.
“Stop it! Please! Stop it…”
“You’re too noisy! Stop directing me!”
But my father hadn’t ceased. With all my effort I stopped the screwdriver heading towards my face with my wrist; although under the actions of adrenaline, I didn’t feel any pain, the feeling of the screwdriver penetrating through my hand didn’t vanish.
“What do you know?” My feelings…my humiliation…the hell I’m in!”
I was sobbing.
All I could do was to sob.
At a loss, I could only sob.
I could see,through the corners of my eye, vague with tears, the lab-coat-wearing man picking up the knife my father had dropped.
My eyes widened. As if everything in slow-motion, he darted off to my father with his knife.
Nothing did I think: in astonishment, I only walked to him and my father to block the knife.
The first feeling I had could be depicted by the colour‘white’.
It was a subtle feeling to express a feeling using a colour.
But in modern physics, the fundamental particles quark-gluons are categorised by colour charges. According to the definition of their properties, it could be said roughly that their colours represented the intensity of their energy and their mass.
Literally, it was the whiteness of the tip of the blade.
It didn’t sound strange to me to express the penetrating feeling of the knife with the colour white, but why would I make such a remark?
The next thing I felt was the feeling of bumping into a foreign object, the distinct feeling of my tissue being ripped apart.
It was only a moment that I could calmly observe the part of my body being crushed by the instrument.
Yes. An unimaginable pain shot through my body. 
I couldn’t make a sound.
The pain had numbed everything; it was a different numbness from back then: it was larger, messier, and more absolute.
The lab-coat-wearing man who had stabbed him was stumped. He could only call out my name, stunned and frozen.
For some reason, his call gave an inexplicable feeling to my heart despite the pain and depression. It was unbelievable feeling as if his chest was shot through by the situation we were in.
I stood against the pain spreading through my waist and slowly slid off his body.
The lab-coat-wearing man shouted loudly and some words my father left came to my ears. Then, I heard the sounds of my father escaping.
He should have escaped by now, but it didn’t matter.
Or even, I hoped he could escape.
Perhaps I would die if things went on like this.
Life was…something impossible to express. It was easy to understand by looking the things that flowed out of my wound. Gradually, the more and more they flowed out of my wound, the colder and colder I felt my body was becoming.
In physics, it was just because of blood; my body had become cold because of a loss of blood.
Even so, I took the blood that flowed out of me as my own life.
So I wanted my father to take away my life again.
With them, my father would definitely be able to make a time machine; he was my father after all.
Escape…escape for your life. I hope you could make a time machine. Even if no one knew the truth, it could be the proof of my existence; it could be the proof of the hard work I had left for this world.
So that was about it for my father’s affair.
Although I was curious to know what the time machine would become, it didn’t really matter if this curiosity wasn’t fulfilled.
There was, however, something regrettable.
It was the man now embracing me gently, calling out, with all his might, my name.
I had to apologize to him, to say I was very sorry…
“I’m sorry to have brought you into this…”
I couldn’t breath properly. Was it pain? Or was some part of my respiratory tract damaged? Although uninformed, I tried my best to make a small voice despite my breathing difficulties.
His words were, certainly, filled with some choking of sobs.
“…because…he’s my father…”
I answered, not actually giving a convincing answer.
It was the most basic politeness for having brought him into this, the last apology I could make, as my feelings were inexplicably eased by his hands around me.
“I…only wanted…to be acknowledged by my father…”
But I could understand now.
My father hadn’t acknowledged me; he had been treating me coldly.
He hated me.
Be that as it may, I only lived by the thought of being acknowledged by my father, hoping he could be as gentle as before…being like an idiot…
I could understand now.
Why was I working hard for my father?
Why would thoughts of letting him escape come to me now?
The answer to these doubts was before my eyes long ago.
How dumb I was.
The pain intensified exponentially, my mind already completely blank.
“Ah…I don’t want…want…to die…”
Again I understood death completely. The real darkness or some appalling thing was expanding.
I held it tightly.
I held someone’s hand tightly.
It was because of fear.
It was because of insecurity.
It was because of loneliness.
It was because of coldness.
The dim colour blocked my ability to think. Please. It’s scary.
He kept on calling my name.
It was like that dream I had.
Call me stronger. Please. Call me more.
“It’s scary…I…don’t want to…die…”
I didn’t want to meet such an ending.
Darkness was stretching its fangs…
It was, I perceived, the last sound I heard.
My consciousness left me after that.
- Hey, you’re a neuroscientist. You should be well aware that there is a limit to the stimulation of instant pain. And researches have suggested that because humans who feel less pain in extreme conditions can escape easier, by natural selection, we humans nowadays actually have a pain-suppressing engine installed in our body to prevent excessive pain from deterring our movements and ability to think.
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