Hearing The Binary Number Stations

For the first time ever, I’m really worried about Satomi.

We met last night at the Metropolitan Plaza, and after a quick trip to HMV, we saw マイ・バック・ページ (My Back Page) at 19:15, at the Cine Libre. We picked out seats in the middle, as is my usual tendency. It was about the aftermath of the Tokyo University student protests in 1969, well before either of our births, and I thought it was OK, although a bit long. Satomi, on the other hand, was well past distracted during the whole thing – she kept going up and out to the bathroom, and would come back with a flushed face and slightly messed up hair.

I assumed she was just washing her face over and over, perhaps in an attempt to stay awake. Even since I’ve known her, from when Agartha Labs was in its start up phase, she wasn’t one for sleep. Besides staying up most of the night to work, she would only get an hour or two before waking up again, and then she would randomly wander about to the bathroom or kitchen for a few minutes, before heading back to bed. She didn’t like to talk about it at all, but she was usually seriously sleep deprived. Last night, however, it seemed like she was having a really hard time – she looked so tired that she couldn’t possibly get even a short nap, not even in a darkened theater.

Once the movie was over, I was about to fall asleep myself, but we managed to get down the elevator and escalators, and into the Ikebukuro train station. Satomi was still not focused – she kept getting distracted by the heavy crowd, random kiosks and fair gates, even though we were just headed straight through towards Sunshine 60 Dori.

“Are you OK?” I had to put my hand around her wrist, lest she wander off into the green JR entrance.

She turned around to me and threw her paisley scarf to the ground. “I have to get out of here….” I quickly picked it up, and then she started taking off her hip-length black wool jacket. I stopped her before it left her arms.

“Come on, let’s go get some fresh air.” Turned her around and headed back for the Metropolitan Plaza exit, and helped her up the escalators to the street. Sat her down on a nearby ledge, and then she really started to freak out. We were speaking Japanese most of the night, but she suddenly switched to English.

“I can’t go back to the US I can’t go to sleep there.” She looked up with a jerk. “I’m not stressed out I’m turning inside out, I don’t know if I can make it”

I didn’t know what to think, so I tried to simply comfort her by placing my left arm around her shoulder. She shook it away.

“I keep dreaming of Jenny, she’s watching me watch her in my head.” Tried to take off her coat again, but I stopped her, for fear that she was going to disrobe even further. She squirmed for a moment and then grabbed my jaw and cheeks with her hands.

“My left eye knows what’s going on, but my right eye doesn’t.” She was starting to raise her voice. “The binary number stations are so loud it hurts!”

Some passers by stared for a few microseconds before regaining their politeness, but it was hard not to look as she clamped her head and hair with open palms.

“I’m going to take care of you, OK?” I got out my phone and called Yuma. “We’re going to get on the train to Harajuku, OK?”

I didn’t want to take her back home in this state, so I figured that Yuma would know what to do. Maybe she could stay with her for the night.

“Are you there? We’re at Metropolitan Plaza…. Satomi’s totally freaking out right now!”

Before Yuma could respond, Satomi grabbed the phone and continued with the weirdness. “Look here, I’m going to make 12 other bands, one for each zodiac sign, and they’re going to fight over me to the death. It’s so simple, like taking off your skin and faxing it. My arteries are glowing and my veins are turning black. Watch out!” She hung up the phone and started singing something loudly in a language I didn’t recognize.

I didn’t know what to do. I got a text from Yuma and she said she was already on the way to the train station, and that she would meet us there. When I brought my attention back to Satomi, she was sitting as still as a statue, staring straight ahead with a slack face.

“Satomi, are you OK?”. She wasn’t responding, even after I poked her shoulder and waived my hand in front of her face. She just stared off to the other side of the street, for at least 30 seconds.

Then, without fanfare, her face tightened back to life. “Sorry about that.” Smiled – she was speaking Japanese again. “I haven’t been sleeping well at all lately. I think I was sleep walking or something just now – the last thing I remember is the train station.”

“We’re going to meet with Yuma, alright? Let’s go to the Yamanote.”

With that, she nodded, slowly stood up, and straightened her coat and scarf. She seemed back to her usual self as we threaded through the crowds to the JR gates, and even on the train to Harajuku she was perfectly composed and pleasant. She seemed remarkably awake and alert for well past 21:00.

By the time we exited, Yuma was pacing back and forth by the fair gates, her hands lost in her gray trench coat pockets. Honestly, she looked a mess, like she just grabbed anything to put on and ran the dozen blocks to the station.

Satomi just walked over and gave her a tight hug. “I’m sorry about before. Let’s just go home, OK?”

Yuma was about to burst in tears, but she composed herself and took Satomi by the arm out of the station. I walked a few paces behind, not knowing how to react.

As far as I could tell, Yuma didn’t seem shocked at all about the whole experience. She just seemed resigned to the mess, like a little kid who always came home to fighting parents. It made me wonder what other events might have happened in the past, and how the band dealt with them.

In the end, I don’t know. We spent a perfectly normal after midnight at Yuma’s – Masae came over a few minutes after we arrived, and brought a party in a bag. I just watched them drink each other silly, and I ended up walking them one at a time to bed, where they plopped down like a big pile of coats before wiggling into sleeping positions.

I didn’t get much sleep last night. I just curled up on the couch, and had mini-nightmares where I kept having to pick up Satomi’s holographic clothes before they hit the floor, in a never ending stress loop. By the time I finally got them to stay on, all that was left of her was a shiny, white mannequin covered with folds of light and colorful marking pen graffiti.

I have some serious thoughts about this – serious enough that I can’t share them right now, before I consult with Ai first. Sufficed to say that I need to start spending a lot more time with the band.

Click to continue RGA

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