Mirei, you really wanted to torture me. There was a two day holiday which meant Zhuyu and Jacque didn’t have work. They decided this was a good opportunity to finally take me to the hospital. My only concern was the potential collapse of this rigged future once we arrived. However, that was a good thing since I really wanted to leave.
“Why am I driving again?” Jacque asked, changing lanes.
“You volunteered and live closer to Yuki than I do. It all works out,” Zhuyu replied, glancing at his phone.
“Yeah, it’s my fault, you’re right. Look, I actually worked on that project of ours. Long, you can’t deny me that,” Jacque pointed out.
“Except it’s been at least six years. It’s fine though. Oh, that’s surprising,” Zhuyu exclaimed, expression changing as he peered closer at his phone.
“What’s up?” Jacque questioned, peering at his left side mirror.
“We just traded for a really good cornerback,” Zhuyu revealed.
“Sports, huh? I don’t know anything about it. Must be a huge move if you’re this excited,” Jacque noted.
“Yep, didn’t think they pull off such a big trade. Meng’s wanted a good cornerback on the other side,” Zhuyu confirmed.
I didn’t know he was into sports. Then again, Kisai played basketball and followed that pretty closely. Zhuyu, though, was a different matter. I should ask him once I returned back to my own time.
“You see that trade?” Zhuyu spoke with someone on the phone.
“I told you we needed a lockdown corner. Plus, he hits super hard too. The defense is gonna be solid when we’re up against teams with more than one good receiver,” I heard Tai’s voice.
Zhuyu and Tai continued their conversation about sports for five minutes. Jacque turned down the music playing in the car, not saying anything. The math instructor wasn’t just a bandwagon fan which surprised me.
“Bro, we’re almost there. There’s a lot of people today,” Jacque remarked, taking a ticket from the gate.
“Yeah, oh s***, I just realized something. We’ll have to be careful. Jacque, once we get inside, go ahead and scout. Mrs. Tomo might be there and well, we can’t have her seeing you know…,” Zhuyu realized, looking back at me.
Jacque went ahead while we waited in the lobby. This was still surreal, even after so many days here. I still had not adjusted to this strange future.
“Does Mom see me everyday?” I questioned.
“She definitely stops by at least two times a week,” Zhuyu answered, glancing around the room.
Jacque returned, informing us everything was clear. The lecturer remained in his seat, staring at the wall.
“Something wrong?” Jacque questioned.
“I was wondering if Yuki should see Mirei first. Might not be the best plan to have Yuki see herself right away,” Zhuyu replied.
“Let’s go see Mirei then,” I decided.
“Let’s go,” Zhuyu agreed.
Jacque led the way, pressing the third floor button in the elevator. I saw someone familiar in the hallway as we approached Mirei’s room.
“Hold on, I know her,” I said, stopping Zhuyu and Jacque.
“I’ve seen her a few times. Is she one of your high school friends?” Zhuyu asked, stepping in front of me to block her view.
“Go on without Yuki and wait?” Jacque questioned.
“Could we fool Len?” I said, looking at her from a distance.
“That’s your call, Yuki. If you think we can get through it without any problems, let’s go for it,” Jacque suggested.
Len might just buy my excuse of being a look alike. Unlike Mom, Len didn’t notice any of my intricacies which would immediately destroy any excuse. Zhuyu and Jacque led me to Mirei’s room. I knocked, taking the lead.
“Yes, come in,” I heard Len’s voice.
I opened the door, entering first. Zhuyu and Jacque followed behind me. To my left, there was a large couch and recliner. A small coffee table was in front of the couch. The bed was on the right side, wires hooked up to numerous machines. I didn’t know who paid for this but it must be someone with a lot of money.
“Oh, you’re here to see Mirei, right? I’ll be leaving soon so take your time,” Len greeted, standing up from the bedside chair.
Len stared at me, her face in serious thought. Okay, play it cool Yuki. I’m sure she’s just processing if it’s possible for her comatose friend to have recovered.
“Sorry, you really look similar to my friend. But, that’s impossible,” Len finally said, shaking her head.
“I’m sorry to hear that. We just wanted to stop by and check if anything’s improved yet with Mirei,” I said, adjusting the tone of my voice.
“She’s stable. I’m sure Mirei will enjoy your company. Mirei, I’ll come again soon,” Len said, giving us a bright smile before leaving.
Okay, that was good, no suspicious flags raised. Zhuyu cracked open the door, checking if Len was really gone. He then glanced at the whiteboard hanging on the wall, crossing his arms in thought.
“Not much improvement. I don’t think we’ll be able to do anything unless access to the other dimensions are re-opened,” the math instructor said, glancing over at Mirei.
I followed his gaze. She looked the same. Nothing changed yet. I detected no instabilities and my necklace remained stationary. Guess it have to be me seeing myself for something to trigger.
“Nothing’s happening. Guess it has to be Yuki seeing herself after all,” Jacque observed.
“Yeah, nothing we can do about it. Huh, that’s weird,” Zhuyu commented.
“What’s up?” I questioned.
“People usually sign in whenever they visit. But there’s a time block here with no name. That’s strange,” Zhuyu revealed.
“Should we be concerned?” Jacque questioned.
“It could just be whoever came in forgot. Let’s head over to Yuki’s room,” Zhuyu decided.
“Wait! I want to stay here for a little bit,” I exclaimed.
“Take as much time as you need,” Jacque said.
I sat down beside Mirei’s bedside. Jacque and Zhuyu exited, leaving just the two of us alone.
“Damn it, Mirei. You had to do this? I know you’re listening right now. I don’t know how long you want to continue this charade but I get it. You’re saying I’m going to regret my decision, right? Just release me from this already!” I demanded, looking at the unresponsive woman.
As expected, there was silence. No telepathic message or the development of an artificial dimension.
“Yeah, I didn’t expect a response. Fine. I’m coming for you, Mirei! Just wait until I get back,” I warned before leaving.
I expected both men outside but only Jacque stood there, texting someone. Did Zhuyu go ahead without us? It was probably out of caution, scouting out if anyone was already there.
“Did Zhuyu go ahead?” I questioned.
“Yeah, he hasn’t contacted me yet. Let’s check it out,” Jacque confirmed.
We descended back down to the second floor. Jacque finally stopped at one of the many intersections. He peeked to the left and motioned for me to stay back. Guess someone I knew must already be there.
“Oh, it’s your mom. Looks like she’s with Manami and Yuka,” Jacque reported.
“How long do you think it’ll take before they leave?” I inquired.
“Actually, right about now,” Jacque answered.
“That’s fast. I guess it was just a quick visit,” I remarked.
Jacque walked forward a bit, turning to the right. I followed him. From the corner of my eye, I saw Yuka and Manami. From my limited vision; they looked well. As we waited for Mom, I overheard the conversation between Zhuyu and her.
“Mrs. Tomo, do you know where Yukie has been the past few weeks?” Zhuyu inquired.
“Oh, oh, oh! Are you perhaps showing an interest in my niece? It’s time you follow in your friend’s footsteps and settle down. I can think of no better person than Yukie,” Mom responded, her usual humorous tone present.
“That’s not what I meant. She wasn’t picking up. I was wondering if she was at a place where she doesn’t have a signal,” Zhuyu replied, not taking Mom’s bait.
“Too bad! I guess you already have a significant other if I’m not mistaken. It’s too bad about Yuki. Suitors would be lining up at the door if she woke up now. Yukie is working on a project. If I hear from her, I’ll tell her you reached out,” Mom said.
“Thanks, I appreciate it, Mrs. Tomo,” Zhuyu said.
“Your friend isn’t here today,” Mom noticed Jacque’s absence.
“He’s in the bathroom,” Zhuyu made up an excuse for Jacque.
“I am very thankful everyone continues visiting Yuki. Once she wakes up, that girl will be very happy to hear people cared about her during this tough time,” Mom said with sincerity.
They chatted a bit and Mom finally left. Jacque stood next to me the entire time, eavesdropping too. We regrouped with the lecturar after confirming Mom was gone. I didn’t notice until now but Zhuyu wore a black pair of work jeans and an unbuttoned gray denim jacket. Underneath it was a blue long sleeve containing our football team’s logo, a Chinese sparrowhawk. Jacque wore his usual leather jacket over a hoodie.
“How sure are you nothing catastrophic happens if I walk in there?” I questioned before anyone opened the door.
“I can’t say for sure, Yuki. Tess would know but she’s not here anymore. I really wished she didn’t have such tough encryption. It’s been torture trying to find a key that actually works,” Zhuyu said, uncertainty in his answer.
“I’m not even an expert so I won’t even try. But if anything goes wrong, we’re here to back you up. That good enough for you, Yuki?” Jacque gave a smile.
“Yeah, I didn’t expect a reassuring answer from either of you. Fine, let’s get this over with. The sooner I can get back, the better,” I decided, opening the door.
The interior mirrored that of Mirei’s room. I walked over to my future self. It was very strange to view myself, felt like an out-of-the-body experience. For me to have a third-person perspective, it was awkward.
“Feel anything, Yuki?” Zhuyu questioned, standing next to me all of a sudden.
“What the… sorry, you caught me off guard there. Do I have to do something special?” I inquired.
“Your guess is as good as mine, Yuki,” Jacque stated.
I sat down in the bedside chair. Maybe it involved a physical touch, worth a try. An IV drip was attached to my future self’s left wrist. I clasped her hand, feeling nothing on the initial contact. Soon after, a splitting headache struck me. F***, my vision blurred. Good, this meant I was finally freed from this experience.
“Guys, it worked,” I announced.
“Yuki, good luck, I mean it. Don’t f*** up like I did during my undergraduate years. Bounce back and do what you have to like I was forced every finals week,” Jacque imparted words of encouragement.
“Yeah, make sure you change things. Don’t give up without at least trying. Jacque, you wrap things up!” Zhuyu gave a grin.
“Yep, Yuki…,” I heard Jacque’s first few words and then silence.
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