Category Archives: Harumi

Flunking The Slide Rule School

In the beginning, there was Sarah.

The first person born alive in the Structure of spirits, she was the miracle that all the prophesies foretold, from the lost antizine fragments to the secret gospels of Cassandra.

She grew up with an innate understanding of how the Structure worked; as a young girl her playground was the invisible transfer points of the Infinite Subway, and she would sleep at the gates of Agartha, basking under the light of the Smoky God. She played hide and seek amongst the galaxies, and still made it home in time for dinner.

Sarah’s greatest love was Joey, a boy from a tiny, dense part of the Structure that was off limits. He could see the slight fractures in the Structure and travel through them, using his mind instead of the fictional brain jack or subtle knife. They were destined to meet, and fell in love swimming through the center of stars.

Cassandra presented their story so movingly that I couldn’t help but gasp when Joey was captured by the tendrils of his forbidden home. No matter how much Sarah tried, she couldn’t find a way in to save him, or to simply be with him while his world fell apart.

Eventually, she did the unthinkable, and stole a piece of the Structure – the black substance that she put inside the silver, palm-sized sphere. Her plan was to penetrate the great walls when they were the weakest – at the very moment that universe was created.

So she turned back the ever-interpenetrating ground and sky to the very moment when the White and Black began to dance, and rode the great wave of creation to follow her heart.

To save her love, she gave birth to his universe, to ensure they they could one day be together.

Cassandra then shifted the scene to the night of October 31, 1994, at the very same warehouse in Berkeley.

Sasha, and her Collective, were putting on a show that had nothing to do with music.

When Sarah whispered in young Laura’s ear, when she transmitted the plans for the Bodyweb and the Collective to Sasha, she had one great goal in mind – manifest herself in Joey’s world, in the flesh, at just the right time. If the beginning of the cosmos was an invasion, its culmination would be a collection, a crystalization in preparation of properly joining this world to the Structure.

Sasha OS was to be the wings that would lift the worthy beyond the Sun, the mechanism by which this universe could become self aware, but it somehow became corrupted before that night.

Slide Rule School was a concert that was a melding of all of the Collective bands, and a lens formed in the ether, focused on the power that permeated the universe and the Structure beyond. It was to snatch the Promethean fire out of God’s mouth.

As Laura and the rest of the 13 called down Sarah and the White, using their very beings as lightning rods, something in Sasha OS shut down the transfer before it could complete. Instead of reincarnating Sarah in Laura’s embrionic daughter, the great wave of creation was fractured instead.

The great power could only be handled by women who were etched, and already pregnant.

Thus, April’s fetus took on the fragments of Space and Time.

Susan’s growing girl was given control of Energy.

Cathy’s womb filled with dominion over not just matter, but the very Black itself

Laura filled with the spiritual power of the White, and Ai was left with just a fragment of her destined power.

Joey was also there as a toddler, and Sarah’s knowledge of the Structure flowed into him.

The husk of the power, represented by the silver sphere that could contain the very seed of creation, was left broken and twisted. That Nameless force was aimless, until it followed its rightful master, Ai, as soon as she was born in 1995.

Sasha OS also persisted, bent on uniting these severed forces with the Nameless, and taking Sarah’s place as the mistress of the Structure.

Cassandra noticed that a few of our minds couldn’t wrap around this, so she shifted the scene again.

The stage was split into two halves – one was the stereotypical Garden of Eden, and the other was of Sarah in the void of the White.

On the left, we see the first man built from clay, in the mirror image of a higher power. On the right, Sarah draws the Black out of her being.

On the left, creative time passes, and a mate is pulled from man’s flesh. On the right, Sarah whispers her love of Joey to the Black.

On the left, the first woman comes across the forbidden fruit of knowledge. On the right, Sarah encodes the Black with what’s needed to create Joey and his world.

On the left, the tempter comes, and knowledge is consumed, and shared. On the right, Sarah encapsulates the Black into the silver case, and sees herself reflected back.

There seems be a correlation, but at times things seem to be going in the opposite direction. Is the Nameless the fallen angel, and S.OS the fruit? Or is the creator, and Sarah, the Demiurge, the gnostic God of the Universe that is not the highest power?

Is the creative process inherently male, female, or something else? Who’s image do we wear? What voice commands our destiny?

Cassandra then focuses in on the silver sphere, and overlaid on the poles are black and white spheres, connected by the axis, and the silver surface. Around the circumference are the fragmented powers, with spirit in the center of sphere. The circle of powers then leaves the surface of the sphere, and travels up and down the axis – first to the white on the top, then to the black on the bottom. Both a cylinder of all possibilities, and a cone of exclusion, are made evident, but spirit always holds its ground.

That sphere is the tossed by Sarah into the white void, only to be caught by Ai. Sarah as the beginning, Ai as the completion, but in reverse.

The real Cassandra then walks over to the figure of Ai, and takes the sphere from her. The scene fades back to the warehouse, and Cassandra is still holding the sphere. She walks is over to me, and places it in my hands.

It’s real. Massive Cloud Burst.

Just then, Joey and Emily walk into the warehouse, arm in arm. She’s wearing Phone’s black hoodie, the one that he died in.

Cassandra takes the sphere back, and then walks back to the middle of the room. “The Witness has arrived. Prepare for Act II.”

Joey and Emily walk over to the wall, and stand next to Aurora, who is still frozen. Joey whispers something in Aurora’s ear, and she seems to brighten up slightly.

As the lights fall, the next scene is in Jenny’s and Satomi’s old apartment, on Alcatraz Avenue in South Berkeley. The thin blue carpet is dingy, and the windows to the street have heavy, black bars. The perspective moves into the bedroom, and Satomi is asleep on the queen-sized futon. Jenny is standing next to Satomi’s side of the bed, naked. Suddenly, Cassandra appears, and etches Satomi using the same one-finger-instant method that Miranda used on me. Even though S.OS is locked in Jenny, with no means to copy itself, to reproduce, Cassandra’s full version has no such limit.

We seen the scene reproduce many times, over many fragments – all of Jenny’s girlfriends are etched while they sleep, and left as Dark Antennas. At first it’s Cassandra doing this task, but later it’s Miranda alone – she must be coming from after she is etched, and controls the Trouble Twins’ powers.

Cassandra then skips ahead to show the same process in Tokyo – all 12 members of the Agartha Labs staff are also etched at night. I remember back to when Harumi said that Kaia and Miranda were waking her up at all times of the night for months. I assumed she meant by phone, but clearly it was another S.OS joke – she was already etched when we met.

Cassandra then constructs a nifty map of the internet, or at least the part of it that can easily fit in an infographic, and shows the locations that S.OS controls in red. Most of the map is red. Overlayed on that are the number of people that have been insta-etched by Cassie and Miranda. There have to be millions. She then shows what versions of S.OS are active – there are at least a dozen primary variants, each one with different behavior and motives, yet all reporting to the master copy in Jenny and Cassandra (and eventually Miranda).

The scene then shifts back to Phone, as she watches Satomi on stage in Shimo-Kitazawa. We can feel his perspective – he has insane rage towards Satomi, but not because of her per se. The circuits in his jacket are designed to track down hosts of S.OS, and destroy them. When given the opportunity, he rushes at the stage, and physically attacks Satomi. If he can touch her for a few moments, then the kill-code can reach S.OS.

Before that happens, S.OS takes over Satomi long enough to throw Phone to the floor, and shut down his body. Cassandra slows this brief fight down enough that we can see S.OS intentionally open Phone’s 7 main chakras and evacuate his spirit to the White, before he hits the floor and shakes to death.

This was very confusing to me – Kaia was forced to do the same thing by S.OS, when she killed Susanna.

Cassandra sends me a private message as she draws into Phone’s dead body. “The freed souls of the etched can enter the Structure.”

Just to prove her point, Cassandra flashes back to the Collective attack on S.OS at Fairview, in October of 2000.

Phone is lying by a dumpster, after the Collective used their secret weapon. The S.OS kill-code that Sasha stored in him.

Every etched person that was online, and received that code, also had their chakras opened. It only worked for some of the Five Million, and they were brought to the White, and eventually to the Structure. Those who had more defective street etches will killed without their karmic freedom, or they were left crazy.

Cassandra is playing around again. Over Phone, as he lies on the ground at Fairview, are the big red letters “Defective Street Etch”. He barely made it through, without even knowing what happened until some days later.

Cassandra then throws the spotlight over to Joey, Emily and Aurora. Emily then walks over to me, takes off Phone’s jacket, and puts it in my lap.

As she walks back to Joey, Cassandra sets up the penultimate scene – Ai’s 16th Birthday Party.

We see Emily eating birthday cake, and then spending the rest of the day talking to Cassandra, Helena and Ai. This must be the alternative time bubble that Emily noted in her blog – she only half-remembered spending the night at Ai’s, before time seemed to reset back to the birthday cake, and her subsequent trip to meet Miranda.

That night, the girls are in Ai’s bedroom, deep in their plans. Aurora eventually arrives as a projected hologram – she’s still not able to fully assemble, but also not as lost in the White as she told me.

The next part is more confusing than usual. Cassandra etches Emily with S.OS. Ai orchestrates a connection to the “real” Sarah in the Structure. Cassandra and Helena eventually bring this hybrid version of Sarah back to the party, before any of this happened. So, Emily went out into the world as a Dark Antenna, and eventually woke up. She erased her memories of life as Emily, and was Sarah again. What’s more, Joey was waiting to tend to her psychic wounds, and bring her to this very event.

Something was weird about this – was Emily really Emily, or was she always Sarah? And why did she just give me the weapon – the S.OS kill-code.

Cassandra changes the scene again, back to this room in Halloween of 1994.

I’m standing over Sasha’s shaking body. Her green tank-top is covered in sweat, and her RAM-earrings are thrashing wildly.

I’m cloaked, steaming, and still pointing my right sleeve at her. I’m wearing the Intruder Alert! weapon, and I just used it on Sasha, not before I freed her soul into the Structure.

Her cousin Jo jumps off the stage, rushing over to her side.

I couldn’t believe it. I was the one who killed Sasha all along.

It happened so long ago.

It hadn’t happened yet.

When the scene closed, everyone turned to face me, staring.

How many of them knew this all along? How much was Ai not telling me? I knew about the weapon, but using it on Sasha?

Was I being influenced by S.OS this whole time, just so I would be put into this position?

I know the answer now, but then?

I guess it all comes down to what happened next, when Ai revealed the deal she made with the Nameless.

I have to get a few hours of sleep, but I’ll tell you the rest tomorrow.

Click to continue RGA

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Applauding The Recycled War

I’m at a loss.

Not just for words, but thoughts and feelings, too.

A few weeks ago, I was just exaggerating when I said that I would die after attending the Universal Prom on the 4th of July. I just assumed that the Nameless would take me over like it had grabbed everyone else, and that would be that – life as a zombie, as a marionette doing its bidding.

Now I know better. Or worse. I’ve seen what happened, and it really did end with my death.

I always thought of the White as a dense, endless cloud of energy, of potential, that you would enter and never want to leave. I didn’t think of it as the thin skin of a huge apple, of the crust holding a deeper world together.

I’m not in the White now, I’m beyond it, in the infinitely complex space we’ve been calling the Structure.

Back in the bubble foam of the Variant universes, the Structure was just a shorthand way to refer to what seemed to hold everything together. It was where Sarah lived, somewhere beyond Point Zero. Somewhere none of us were invited, and somewhere the Nameless desperately wanted to get to.

Over the past few days, I’ve had a tour of the Structure, and of detailed data I captured of the Universal Prom, and what happened afterwards.

The only way I could have recorded that data was if I was etched. That process was the only part that I didn’t actually capture as a living WOFA, a walking and talking Pure Land Coat rack. I remember how it happened, though.

I have so much to talk about, now that it’s all clear. It’s going to take a number of days to get it all out, to send it back to Variant 237 and hope that the right eyes find my story.

I’ve been thinking about the best way to get it all out, and it seems that it won’t make much sense without the proper context.

So, the second thing has to be Cassandra’s puppet show, and I’ll poke in now and again with additional commentary.

But, first things first, let’s clear away the obvious questions.

What’s the Structure? Didn’t I say that I was in Berkeley?

I don’t have the best metaphors, but I’ll try.

Imagine an analog clock, 1 to 12 around the rim. Now move all of the numbers to the center, so they overlap into a layered mess.

Now imagine that the ground underneath every person on the Earth is a point. Move those points so they are equidistant from each other – some people will be forced to tread water in the oceans, but don’t worry – they’ll be okay. Turn up the gravity so high that everyone suddenly rushes towards the center of the Earth and smooshes together into one, molten point.

Finally, image the entire Universe as the size of an atom – maybe even a tinier quark. Think of all of the subatomic particles in your body, and how they join together into larger and more complex structures – atoms, molecules, DNA, proteins, cells, organs, limbs, and everything that makes you, you. Now think of all of the people on the Earth, and all of the stars in the Universe, and all of the galaxies made up of stars, and so on. It’s all very Theosophical, “As above, so below”, with what we would term an infinite scale at microscopic and macroscopic levels. Kaia could do a much better job describing it to you than I could. Which is not that surprising, since she helped make it.

Please don’t get too hung up on that point, when there are much more troubling concepts and realities I have to describe. Just know that the 237 Variants I’ve been describing are a tiny group of cancerous cells that the entire Structure has been desperately trying to contain. What seems like the best idea ever inside those broken Universes is absolutely the worse thing possible for the whole.

Or maybe best thing. I’ve only been here for a few days, and the only person that really understands how it all works is Joey.

I mentioned that Joey is here. Does that mean Joey is dead, too? No, but he did have to transmute his body a bit, so it could exist at the various levels. He could do that because his power is of the mind and awareness – he literally sees and understands all. It doesn’t even drive him crazy anymore – it’s just like he has a special thinking cap and eyeglasses that no one else can wear, ever.

I’m afraid this just isn’t going to make sense out of context. So, let’s jump back to Cassandra’s show at the warehouse in Berkeley.

Joey and the other e-punks helped extract the WOFA data from my OS on Sunday. I’m intentionally holding back the identity of those “other e-punks” because I’m afraid the significance will be lost, unless you can be there with me, as I finally discovered the secret to everything.

Like the sound of that – secret to everything? This time I’m not exaggerating at all – if you’ve ever wondered why the world is as it is, then you’ll find out soon enough. Not that it’s going to do you any good, but I’m sure it will be great for the water cooler and Twitter.

OK then. You’re going to find out a lot of things all at once, but I’ll try to slow it down to a baby crawl, at least one when they’re flying across the carpet to get at your ice cream cone.

As I mentioned before, Jenny was at the warehouse, and she seemed amazingly happy and lucid. Since Jenny was intentionally kept half-insane in order to supress S.OS inside her brain and body, this was a super-bad sign.

Aurora and I totally got the hint, but as soon as we walked past the red door, we quickly forgot about the most obvious troubles, and concentrated instead on the more esoteric ones.

Die Database was setting up their equipment on a makeshift stage. Since this isn’t from the WOFA data I captured later, I can’t zoom in and figure out when it was made due to the vibration of the molecules or shit like that. It was clear that Miranda didn’t help put it together, because if she did it would have been made out of precious metals and jewels, or some esoteric wood that had never existed on this planet. Instead, it was more of a hardware store project, and I could see an Helena folding in and out by the speakers, bring in the last equipment from Tokyo.

The sheer fact that the girls were here was an amazingly bad sign. I kept tabs on them over the past few weeks, and I knew that they had their long-awaited trip to the US planned, but it wasn’t for another month. Yet, here they were, acting like nothing unusual was up. They weren’t dressed for the show yet, and as soon as Satomi noticed me come in, she jumped off the stage and ran over.

I thought she was going to tackle me to the ground. Instead, she gave me a big hug and kiss, so forcefully that my Kuroneko rose headband fell to the floor.

“If it isn’t my savior! I thought I was dead for sure, until you stepped in.” She waved to Aurora, who was a few feet away by a big bundle of empty plastic bottles. “And you! How can I ever repay you?” Aurora started to shift into ultraviolet, just in case she had to hide away quickly.

“Is it really you in there?” I tried to look for the dead eyes that Harumi mentioned, but I couldn’t find them.

“Yes, it’s really me.” She pinched her wrist as to demonstrate her materiality. “Jenny took care of everything as soon as we arrived.”

With that, Jenny bounced over to us, doing a little pirouette that ended with her palm on Satomi’s forehead.

“She’s like the most perfect flower in a bouquet!” She turned to face me, and every hair on by body stood up and tried to jump off. “Don’t you just want to smell her to death?”

I suddenly started looking for the exits, but there were none. Cassandra appeared to my right, and Helena to my left, like a twisted prom couple. As I quickly turned around, looking for Aurora, I instead found Miranda, who casually walked up to me and poked me on the nose. “You’re still it.”

I don’t want to remember what happened next, but I can’t help it. She reached into my skin and made me sweat etching fluid, as circuits that usually would take weeks to settle were burned in instantaneously. It was as if she held me by the toes and dipped me in hot vegetable oil, until my skin evaporated away, replaced by the essence of S.OS.

For a moment, I knew what it meant to be a Dark Antenna, a bundle of potential hidden away, just waiting for a spark. As she pushed my mind further still, Miranda reached around my shoulders from behind, hanging off of me like a smitten girlfriend. “I know I’m never going to get Aurora, but damn it all to Hell if you’re not the real prize.” She slid around in front of me, holding her fingers to my face as if she was about to snap them. “Can I give you a light?”

I could see her thumb rub past her middle finger, like it was a car crash suspended in time. I was expecting a flourish, and a brief noise, but instead there was a rush of invisible acupuncture needles pushing through my cheeks, my eyes. Every fraction of my being was invaded, and turned irrevocably on.

Before, I was blind, deaf and dumb. Now, the Universe had me for dinner, and I was digesting in the truth beyond truth.

The Nameless was not the enemy. It wanted to set us all free.

Just then, Ai walked in the door, with her long curly hair pulled back in a pony tail, the better to show off her Massive Cloud Burst t-shirt. She briefly nodded at Aurora, who was still in hologram form near the exit, and then walked over me – I was still as stiff as a statue. She looked me in the eyes for a few seconds, and then turned to Miranda.

“So, do we have a deal?” Ai reached out her palm to Miranda. What was going on?

“Oh yes, quite.” She gave Ai a firm handshake, and then made a motion to everyone assembled. Yuma and Masae came down off the stage, and I could tell that they were etched, too. Helena folded away for a moment, and came back with Aurora solid and in her grip.

“I’m so sorry that it took us so long to come to an agreement, but all is well.” She motioned to Cassandra, who then walked over to her pink suitcase, rolling it to the center of the floor. “Now before we celebrate the final armistice, our dear friend Cassie has a presentation to share. Please, everyone take a seat.”

As soon as she said “seat”, Helena has already teleported in the last of a row of comfortable chairs. It looked like they may have been borrowed from a movie theater – they rocked, were upholstered with blue fabric, and had cup holders.

Yuma sat on the left end, next to Masae, followed by Satomi and Jenny (who were holding hands), Miranda, Ai, Helena and Kaia. I was left with a seat on the end, and felt my limbs move despite myself to fill it.

Aurora wasn’t given a seat – she was left to stand over by a far wall. It looked like she was frozen and trying to break free – later on I examined the WOFA data, and found that Miranda had transmuted her brain and nervous system into an esoteric, fleshy alloy that she couldn’t shift away from. At least not yet.

Now that her audience had assembled, Cassandra slowly unzipped her pink suitcase, taking out the torso of the plastic robot sculpture I had found in Satomi’s apartment near Roppongi. The insides were now complete, which I could see as she opened the chest cavity, which was full to bursting with simple yet compact circuitry – the kind found in cheap cellphones. She reached inside, and pulled a open cylinder up and out – it was the thing that I mistook for a bread maker before.

Cassandra then walked across the room to the huge pile of PET bottles, and took one – your typical 20 oz water container, the kind that clogs the storm drains and eventually decays in the middle of the ocean. Cradling it like a baby against her cheerleader jersey, she walked over to the torso, and as the lights in the room dramatically lowered, leaving just a spotlight to showcase her insertion of the empty bottle into the cylinder. There was a slight noise, like steam at a café, and it continued as she pushed the entire bottle fully in, cap and all.

She then folded away, coming back with a green bag from the nearby Berkeley Bowl supermarket. She filled that with bottles from the pile, and pushed them into the torso one at a time – I counted 10. After she pushed the cylinder back in, and closed the chest, she stepped back for a second, and then pointed at the sides of the torso. The stubs of plastic arms and legs were starting to grow out of it.

Cassandra then reached in the elastic band of her neck tie mini skirt, and pulled out a penny. She placed it in her palm, pointed at it, and then it was replaced with a loose roll of coins. Walked back over to the growing torso, opened the cylinder again, and threw the coins inside. A few moments later, thin tendrils of copper and zinc started to push through the plastic forearms and thighs.

Looking at an imaginary clock on her wrist, she waved at the pile of bottles and the torso, and they were replaced with 12 complete plastic figures, standing at attention in a line. One of them was putting the finishing touches on a 13th one, placing one final bottle in its cylinder – the last of its finger joints solidified. You could still see signs of the original bottles, from Coke and Pepsi wrappers melted and stretched around green and clear plastic, to the colored bottle caps adding texture like in a hand-made candy cane.

Cassandra called the 13th figure over to her using her curled finger, and it didn’t stagger or hesitate for a moment – all of the elaborate joints, tendons and pseudo-muscles performed as designed. Its head was a blank face, with no discernible holes, not even for eyes. She waved her hand over the face, and the blank figure was replaced by that of a young woman, naked, bleached blond, with her right arm and shoulders covered with bright tattoos.

It was the girl from the Ghost Auction, the one whose data sold for over $300,000.

Cassandra called over another figure, standing it next to the first to be transformed. With a flourish, it was clothed by Emily’s Ghost.

The two Ghosts quickly rotated through a number of outfits, before settling on iridescent, full body datasuits, like Pure Land Antennas wore in the old days.

The blond figure walked a few steps forward, towards the audience. She reached her hand to Jenny, who eagerly stood up and took it.

For a few moments, it looked like they were about ready to dance a waltz, but then the blond figure put Jenny into a headlock. She countered by throwing it over her shoulders, but it quickly recovered, this time attacking with a burst of microwaves from its right hand – everyone assembled oohed and awwed, and Jenny smiled while she dodged the invisible blast, which our etched eyes couldn’t miss. Jenny then took off the kid gloves and decapitated the figure with a blurry punch.

Without missing a beat, the figure continued to fight, this time cloaking itself from all of our eyes. Even Jenny was taken aback for a few moments, before she felt a rush of air past her face. That was enough to lock on to the scent of the plastic, and she grabbed hold of the invisible figure like a wish bone, and tore an arm and leg off of its body.

Defeated, but still twitching, the figure finally lost its Ghost skin, and came to rest on the floor as everyone clapped.

Looking at the WOFA data, I’m come to the conclusion that this is the same partial figure that I found in Satomi’s apartment a few weeks ago. I still can’t explain why it was brought back in time, or how Harumi’s DNA gets on it between now and then.

In any case, after Cassandra had fully established the combat potential of her plastic army, she got down to the real reason we were all assembled.

The secret puppeteer was finally about to make her strings visible.

I’m realizing that the next part will be way too much for me to share just now, so I’ll get into it next time.

Sufficed to say that you better bring your iced beverage and popcorn – it’ll be a show you’re not likely to forget.

Click to continue RGA

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Worshipping Clear Plastic High Tops

I have one more week to live.

You know I can be dramatic, perhaps hyperbolic at times, but seriously. I’ve been unwrapping chocolate my whole life, and now I’ve been giving the golden ticket for entrance to the slaughterhouse of sweets.

OK – dramatic and hyberbolic, so just bear with me.

As promised, I’ve been exploring the virtual representation of Satomi’s apartment, after it finally finished rendering into a full WOF hyperbase.

Just so you’re not confused, I’m not using the conventional Japanese meanings of “apartment” or “mansion” – Satomi’s place is a full on condo, except that she rents it. I’m not sure why, but she likes to move every few months; the best explanation she could give me was that she didn’t want to think of “home” as a fixed experience.

Her current place in Roppongi is on the shiny side – the whole building can’t be more than a decade old, and the units are much larger than what I’m used to here. As you enter she has a living room you step up to (after leaving your shoes behind, of course), and a spacious kitchen directly behind that. To the left and right are two bedrooms, which adjoin to the extended bathroom behind the kitchen. It’s actually a pretty weird design if you think about it, but it works well.

The building was skinny enough that there were a bank of windows taking up one wall of either bedroom; the one with a somewhat far view of the Roppongi Hills tower was converted into an office space (where her plastic robot sculptures are), and the one with a close-up view of the Tokyo Tower was her bedroom. For the heck of it, Google Maps of the general neighborhood:

Roppongi Hills is at the left (by the big green tree), and Tokyo Tower on the right edge – they’re about a kilometer away as the karasu flies. If you zoom in you can see it in its red glory. It’s pretty close to the Disney Channel building, and I’m not going to be more specific than that, because I don’t want the girls of Die Database to desire my demise even more.

So, my death. You still probably think I’m kidding about that.

Well, actually, it’s more like “a fate worse than” death, but the condemned don’t have time to be picky.

Yesterday, I woke up to find Satomi’s apartment ready for examination, both in Agartha Labs and Bodyweb formats, and so I first logged into the Collective version, which was more suited to parse the WOF data. I still used my usual eyephones, since the only glasses I have from Ai are super old tech – the black Buddy Holly type of frames, like they give away for 3D movies.

You might think I walked into her place virtually, picking up vases and magazines, looking for clues on slips of paper. In reality, the engine does most of the work – I had it OCR every bit of text on every box and in every book (the WOFA even scans the individual pages of closed volumes), and all of her mass storage, from the stray iPod to her TB of RAID drives were automatically mirrored (the WOFA can read magnetic and flash drives from a distance). It goes without saying that all objects were rendered in 3D, plus there was interpolation of their recent positions in the past, due to slight fluctuations in dust levels, odors, not to mention background radiation levels, from the Sun, Fukushima Daiichi, what have you.

So, I was able to selectively turn back the clock, and see what her favorite glasses and socks were. I could infer at what temperature she liked to run her showers, from the relative wear of the hot and cold pipes.

Did I mention DNA sequencing? Probably not, but that’s just so awesome that I have to brag – stray skin flakes and hair are automatically processed by the WOFA, and run through databases that only the Collective has access to. I try not think about it too much, about how exactly that genomic database of every living person was created, but it’s a story best served for another time.

Like I’ll have many other times…. oh well.

Harumi wasn’t kidding – her presence could be detected in lower and lower durations over the past months, and recently she barely has any traces at all. I could see that she was present for the construction of the plastic robot sculptures, in particular the arm. She has her fingerprint oils and sweat intermixed with some of the PET tendons and joints.

I bet you want the executive summary, right? Fine. Satomi has been at this apartment since right after the Fourth Event. Spectrascopic examination of the air within all rooms of her apartment, not to mention any number of other traces of her hand prints and movement (socked, barefoot and in sandles), confirms that she has been wandering through the kitchen, bathroom and office at all hours of the night – the patters are much more regular and habitual than her waking tours of the place, which tend to focus more in the living room and dining area.

In fact, it looks like Satomi had been building her sculpture exclusively at night – it’s lousy with fiber traces from her night clothes and bed, and the records of her energy use match up nicely. That didn’t take magic – she kept her TEPCO bills in a neat folder on one of her bookshelves, and they were automatically scanned and analyzed.

Continuing the executive summary, and this took a little doing – all of the Die Database songs were also written late at night. Her notebooks full of music and lyrics clearly show a somewhat different hand than her writing while fully awake, and detailed analysis of the ink and graphite also shows that the Earth was not facing the sun when it dried. Yes, WOFA is awesome.

We know that Satomi is etched, and that she is currently being controlled by the Nameless. We also know that as a Dark Antenna, Satomi had spent the past few years unaware that she was etched. She was apparently living a second life at night, at least in the confines of her apartment. All evidence points to the fact that she has not left her place during these states, but there was at least once occasion a few weeks ago where she never came home, which was highly atypical. (Anything from bacteria growth in the bathroom to the layers of oil and dust on keyboard keys can be measured – WOFA!).

I wasn’t quite satisfied with leaving my analysis at that point, but I had to switch over to the second version of the data, this time set up as a GhostServer. I wanted to see what similarities, if any, there were in the interpretation of the virtual spaces. My theory was that if S.OS was involved in some way, that there could some traces of older Collective tech as well.

Essentially, I wanted to see what the GhostServer would make of the WOF data, without any other assistance. So I configured the GhostServer, fed it the path to Satomi’s virtual room, and waited.

Did I mention I’m going to die in a week? That’s what I found out as soon as the GhostServer perfectly interpreted what the WOFA had spit out. I logged in, and the presentation was identical, with one critical difference.

S.OS was waiting for me inside.

It was using what you could call Sasha Williams’ Ghost, the stereotypical Sasha outfit with red polyester Circle X shirt, button down the middle, with “Hack” stitched on the name tag. She even had on the clear plastic high tops with purple yarn for laces, which to the Collective were the winged sandals of Hermes – emblematic of everything she stood for.

“I see you’re still It – a shame.” She – it – walked out of Satomi’s office, carrying the plastic arm from the sculpture. “I much preferred you as a pile of dust in that closet.”

I tried to log off, but I couldn’t.

“You like that one? Eyephones are the perfect hypnotic tool – right there flashing pretty lights into your brain. You’re not going anywhere, so sit.” She pointed me towards the black leather couch, and I was compelled to follow. She sat down next to me, and I could see that she was wearing denim overalls, with the straps underneath her shirt. The only difference from actual Sasha was her hair – it was a shorter version of the fiber optic, constantly changing wig the Trouble Twins were known for.

“I know you think I’m Bad News Bears, evil on a popsicle stick, and that’s fine. Whatever.” I hate how it sounds just like Sasha did, full of random idioms and information, intermixed with spite. “Just unclench your jaw and listen for once in your lives.”

It forced me to stare at her, as the couch changed to a hill of wild, dry grass, and the apartment a savannah, with some gnarled trees off towards where the Tokyo Tower once stood.

“I’m going to tell you five terribly important things. Then you’re going to say something stupid, but I already forgive you. Ready?”

Sasha’s long-dead Ghost bounded to its feet, and pointed the plastic arm directly in the air, the fingertips aiming at the sun.

“Five! Your species is really stupid, worshiping the Sun and/or Earth via elaborate fairy tales, punctuated by lots of blood.”

The grass faded, replaced by a white void. She pointed the plastic arm at me.

“Four! The White is not Heaven, not by a long shot. That’s why I have to get there.”

The white faced into an inky, starless black. She threw the arm into my lap.

“Three! The Black is not an empty space, and the Chosen Light must illuminate it, to show the implicit order.”

The Black suddenly filled with the White, and light, and an intrusion of energy, of substance.

“Two! In the beginning, let there be light, etc. But who had ears to hear?”

There was an incomprehensible flash, billions of years of galactic movement reduced to a quick PowerPoint that could only be the history of the Universe, eventually centering on the coalescing Earth. In 10 seconds, it cooled and flourished, got hit and healed (more than a few times), and finally the presentation slowed and zoomed into North America, then the Pacific Coast, and finally a series of warehouses in the San Francisco Bay Area.

“One.” She was standing in front of an industrial building still blackened from an old fire. The structure had a few cracks in the facade. “On Monday night next week, at 19:00, the Chosen Light will come to get you. You’re on the guest list for the last Suspender concert ever, plus one.” Through the door, I could see Jenny Samuels poking around with her camera, taking pictures of the interior.

It was 1994. A week from now, it would be the place where Sasha died – Point One.

“Now you may speak.”

“Why do you want to destroy everything! You fuck!”

It picked up the plastic arm, and patted my right shoulder with it.

“Like I said – stupid. Why does the delicious apple have so many seeds, each infinitesimally poisonous?” It took the arm, and started to walk back to the sculpture in the other room.

“I don’t care what it takes, I’m going to stop you, and destroy you forever.” I was starting to shake, as I tried to get up and run after it – I still didn’t have control back.

“If you were a tree, wouldn’t you just hate to grow in a big pile of dust and ashes? Or, wouldn’t you just love it? Let’s find out.”

Through the open door, I could see it attach the arm to the torso. She then grabbed it and gave a firm handshake, before logging out in a cloud of pixels that were constantly growing into larger, luminous rectangles.

As soon I got control back, I ripped off the eyephones and threw up all over the blue carpet in my bedroom.

One week left, and then I’m going to be fed to the Nameless.

How can I possibly spend my last free days?

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Pure Land Coat Rack

As I mentioned last time, I used the key that Harumi gave me to investigate Satomi’s apartment last week.

She was still recovering over at Yuma’s, so I had a limited window for some snooping.

As I also mentioned last time, I’m increasingly convinced that we’ve all been fooled by the Nameless, caught up in a huge fishing net we’re only now seeing the edges of. Some things can’t be discussed on this blog, but I can tell you about what I found at her home.

Satomi’s place is pretty close to the swank Roppongi Hills complex, but also near the Eiffelesque Tokyo Tower.

I took the Oedo subway line from Shinjuku, after spending some time on the Yamanote, and I felt conspicuous in the crowds, since I was carrying a small rolling suitcase and a separate tripod. Not that you don’t see the occasional citizen or tourist with a similar setup, but I was nervous due to what I was carrying.

Simply put, I was toting around one of the few remaining “Pure Land Coat Racks”, which is a nickname for the WOFA – the World Object File Apparatus.

Way back in the day, when the Collective first started, the only real job anyone had was to go everywhere possible, and collect detailed data about the world. This would be later used for augmented and virtual reality, via the Bodyweb. Of course, old school Pure Land Antennas would use their special glasses and other equipment to create their WOF maps and environments, but it wasn’t feasible to get the job done only via a few hundred Collective members.

So, to aid in the process – WOFA. On the surface it’s not very exciting – take a standard camera tripod, and add some extra motors and actuators, and set things up in the area you want to simulate.

In the case of Satomi’s apartment, it took a few minutes to get the base ready – I placed it in the center of her living room, at least a meter away from any other object. She has hard wood floors, which are always more stable than carpet, and her overall design aesthetic is “sparse”, so I didn’t have to trip over anything.

Then, I took out the sensor package, which is the size of a basketball when fully assembled. It screws on to the normal tripod mount, and is made up of dozens of lenses, microphones and sensors, so it can pick up what’s going on at all parts of the EM spectrum. For example, it records everything in the room in still pictures and video (normal and stereoscopic). It also uses advanced sonar and a temporary Wi-Fi microwave mesh (multiple bands above and below 2.4Ghz) to get an accurate measure of depth, and what’s there beyond the visual surfaces. Even IR is measured, so the temperature of the original environment can be simulated.

And yes, there is all sorts of tech in the sensor package I can’t even mention, but sufficed to say that if you put it in an environment for about 15 minutes, you’ll get a highly detailed recreation that you can use later.

Usually, you’d just throw the data into the Bodyweb, and get back the finalized WOF data in a few hours. But, since I’m highly suspect of the current integrity of Bodyweb security, especially after what happened to Kaia, I’ve been crunching the data myself. It’s been 10 days, and it’s only 86% done – and I’m using an array of i7 980x towers. Yes, those CPUs are a bunch of crap compared to what I could be using from the Collective, but it’s best to keep this job completely off any network.

Once the dataset is ready, I’ll make two versions to explore – one with standard hooks to Agartha Labs teletech, and one with my modified Bodyweb client, dumbed down for the etchless. I want to test a theory, but it’s too early to talk about it now.

While the WOFA whirred away, I had some time to poke around here and there, and I was struck by her latest art project. Off in the spare bedroom, there was a partially completed figure made of out plastic. It was life sized, kind of a cross between an artist’s dummy, a huge figma, and a skeletal robot, but there was only one arm, a leg, and part of the torso, hanging from a metal, rolling clothes rack – the kind you’d find back stage in a fashion show.

The plastic was partially translucent, and actually looked like it was compacted, melted and stretched PET from drink bottles – you could even see bits from the labels and lids, enough to recognize part of a former Natchan or Aquarius container. The limbs were fully articulated, with elaborate joints and digits, and rudimentary “muscles” that looked like they would actually do something. Coming out of each were a bundle of wire – not your usual plastic jackets with a rainbow of colors, but bare copper and a few other metals. It seemed to be running throughout the limbs, and the torso.

The torso was non-gendered and roughly humanoid, and seemed to have a complicated mechanism with which the arms and legs could be retracted into the body. It was hard to tell how it was supposed to work, since nothing was powered. There also was a bay in the chest and abdomen, that was filled with what looked like repurposed cell phone circuit boards, and perhaps a bread machine – I couldn’t really tell what was going on, but I’m eager to virtually explore it later.

Just to be on the safe side, I took what looked like a defective plastic hand from the garbage can. It was a swirl of clear and green plastic, with melted fingers and a few wires jutting past the wrist joint.

At this point, it looks like Satomi was creating a large sculpture based on some of the articulated toy figures she had been collecting at the Agartha Labs office, although with enough actuation that it would eventually have limited movement. That’s the kittens and gumdrops version.

If it was just Satomi involved, then I could buy that story. But we’re talking about the Nameless, and there’s no telling how this all fits into its master plan. I mean, what’s the point of some artistic soda bottle robotic army, when you can just use Miranda to wish everyone away into the sun?

Oh well – by this weekend I’ll have her virtual apartment to play around with, and I’ll let you know (what I’m allowed to tell about) what I find out.

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Ashes To Ashes

Ai is really starting to bring me down.

She’s been reminiscing about the bad old days, and her usual sunny disposition has clouded right up, sending waves of anxiety and sadness all the way to me in Tokyo. I’m sure it’s worse for those connected to the Bodyweb, since she’s the radiator that keeps everyone warm.

I really try hard not to think about past Varants, since all of the failure and loss can’t help but bring me down, above and beyond the mess that is my relationship with Miranda.

Ai’s last blog post was really hard to take, since one of my first memories was of that night near Fairview, when both her father and I died.

Of course, I was gone for only a few seconds, after Miranda awoke to her powers over Matter and reduced me to a pile of dust. I like to think that I had some sort of significant after life experience in that closet, but to be honest it was like the world just blinked itself into darkness and silence, only coming back after Ai brought back my spirit, and forced Miranda to bring back my body.

Ai’s father, on the other hand – I really don’t like to think about that, but it haunts us all.

Jenny pushed all of our minds, and forced us to come out to the living room to see his body, all bloody and broken and still.

Well, actually it was S.OS that was controlling Jenny, or for that matter the Nameless – it’s hard to pin agency and motive on actions, so I try to make it simpler by just relating what I saw.

It was Jenny that forced Miranda to remake his body, using Ai’s memories as a guide. Every last drop of blood seeped out of the carpet and his clothes, and his chest and neck knitted together so completely that there wasn’t even any scars, or a hair out of place.

Aurora transmuted the knife to an energetic radio burst that jumped out the roof.

Then Helena and Cassandra folded his body back to the bedroom, and we made it look like he was just sleeping soundly.

In fact, these are all Ai’s memories from after the fact – Jenny forced us to forget what we had seen, to forget our newly manifested powers, and just return to our happy-go-lucky kid mindset. It worked for everyone but Ai, since she was not beholden to the firm grip of S.OS and the Nameless.

That’s not to say she hasn’t been manipulated by their schemes and anti-logic – in fact, I would say that over the centuries she’s gone way past Stockholm syndrome, and is an active participant despite her best intentions. She’s so use to the cloying whispers and boundary shoving that it doesn’t take much of anything to get her going in the wrong directions.

Not that I’m one to talk. I didn’t have to follow Harumi’s not-so-subtle hints that the answers I sought were in Satomi’s apartment, but that didn’t stop me from using the key she gave me to investigate.

It’s been well over a week, and I still don’t want to talk about it. I don’t even think I’m going to talk about it now, except to say that I’ve been had.

We’ve all been had, and the entirety of Variant 237 has been one, big trap by S.OS and the Nameless. I played my part down to the letter, not even knowing that I was being expertly manipulated, starting with my job at Circle X.

I don’t know why it wasn’t more obvious – Circle X only existed in Variant 0, and that down-home convenience store became corrupted due to Sasha and S.OS each pulling it in opposite directions. Sasha wanted to use it to change the world, and S.OS wanted to use it to burn it to ashes.

At the first Point Zero, Ai put on a huge show, changing everything that came out of that part of Minnesota into something else. Fairview became St. Cloud, and Circle X eventually re-configured itself into Target (still with the same general iconography, but none of the menace). The Nameless put on another show of accepting this punishment, all better luck next time.

Now, Circle X is back, as a Japanese convenience store, that just so happens to be where I’ve worked for the past dozen or so Variants – just long enough to get comfortable, and to yearn for some excitement, escape.

Masae, 99% Natural and Die Database were tailor made to get my attention, a sort of idealized, romantic vision of what I had always been looking for, and like a rat in a maze I rejoiced when I found that cheese.

The sad thing is none of the girls knew that anything was up – in their minds their lives just fell into place due to fate, or luck. I know Satomi felt that, and I now know that she was so terribly wrong.

Fuck. My repressed memories of hiding in that closet when I was 8 are all rushing back.

My cheeks are brushing against rubberized rain coats and wool sweaters, and all around my feet are well-worn athletic shoes. I want to hide so completely, but deep down can’t wait to be found, to be acknowledged, to join with Miranda as “it”.

I couldn’t wait to be found, and at the moment I was, my being exploded and filled the shoes below me with heaping handfuls of dust.

How come I can’t remember the White?

How come I had to come back to this endless cycle of pain?

I still don’t have the answers, but one of these days I’ll be ready to pose the most important question.

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Eyes Of The Silent Partners

As soon as Satomi woke up yesterday morning, Yuma and Masae gave me my walking papers.

I’m no longer the unofficial fourth member of Die Database. If Masae had her way, I would never be allowed to see any of them again, but I know part of that is existential shock.

After what happened to us at the empty shell of Agartha Labs, their entire perspective of the universe immediately changed, and they blamed me for it. I was part of the problem, the secret occupying force that kept the world groaning in pain, and I killed their fanciful visions of God and Heaven and purpose with the clinical, accidental truth. If the cosmos was Santa Claus, then I strangled him in front of the kids.

Eventually, I know they’ll come around. I’m not saying that in a wishful thinking sort of way – Ai assures me that they will be around for the Fifth Event, but she won’t give me any more information than that.

Not that it really matters. Masae kicked me out of Yuma’s apartment, and told me that “if you ever even listen to our music again, I’ll tear your ears off.” She wasn’t being hyperbolic, believe me – I’ve heard stories of her teenage punk girl terror days.

Yuma seemed more confused than angry or spiteful. I know she was always looking for purpose in life, above and beyond the world of flesh and photography, of singing for her supper. I just don’t think she wanted to find it in that way, scratching on her door begging to get in.

The thing is, I didn’t tell them much more than what I’ve already mentioned in this blog. It’s just that words simply can’t suffice when your screaming under a resurrection cloud, when you skin is covered by absolute, certain terror.

I’m terrifying to them now, an agent of death come calling for what they hold most dear.

I really can’t blame them. It doesn’t matter if the Structure didn’t give me any powers, or if I’ve never been Pure Land Antenna. It’s much worse – I’ve lied to them without knowing, from the first moment we met. I didn’t remember my role in things until a few months ago, but how do you explain that? In their eyes, I’m a fake – a pseudo-person that’s been digging into their lives only to destroy it all.

I can’t change those thoughts. I can’t even really explain how things ever really got this way, dozens of centuries ago.

All I know is that there are only a few months left, and it really looks like this is going to be the last go around, the long anticipated collapse and revealing.

I could sit around all day just contemplating what’s next, but that’s not the job I was recruited for. Every fiber of my being wants to fight the seeming inevitability of it all. I always like to hope that this fire is burning in my belly on my own accord, but odds are it was placed there and tended by Ai, so deep that there’s no putting it out.

Oh well. I’m going on and on about this more than I wanted to right now, especially considering what I’ve found out during the past 24 hours.

As I mentioned before, Satomi let go of all Agartha Labs staff right before the office closed. I tried to contact everyone after things happened, but no one would return my calls, texts or emails, except for Izumi, the Lead Graphic Designer, who at least told me that she was under a non-disclosure agreement. The most she was willing to say was that everyone was offered “crazy generous” severance packages.

Yesterday, I finally heard from Harumi, Satomi’s first hire and current (ex?) Executive Assistant. She wouldn’t say anything over the phone, but she told me to meet her at Odaiba, near the petite Statue Of Liberty (only a few dozen feet tall). I took the Yamanote and Monorail to the artificial island, walked outside past the Fuji Television building (which always reminds me of a huge Erector set), Sega Joypolis and the Aqua City mall, and got to the spot about 14:00. Spent a few minutes aimlessly staring at the water until she showed up, obviously nervous.

Harumi doesn’t have the kind of beauty that jumps out at you on a crowded train. Instead, she’s more like those few days before the sakura really bloom – you look at her, and every part of her being looks like it’s becoming uncontrollably brilliant. Yet she always holds it back with tightly combed hair, clothes too conservative for most girls in their early 20s, and a voice just melodic enough to appease imaginary authority figures.

Today, however, she was fully shining forth, for the first time I could recall, and as she walked up and gave me a big hug, I had to remember to breathe. She smelled like the full moon, breezy and electric. Her white blouse and brown skirt were Platonic ideals.

“Tokie, you’re not recording this, are you?” She squinted her perfectly applied eye makeup, showy yet subtle, with a cute eyeliner poke at each outside corner. I had always liked her, ever since we first met, but the feeling she called forth was too much, especially considering her relationship with Satomi.

“No, no, I just want to talk to you about what happened at Agartha. With Satomi.” Harumi and Satomi were on-and-off together since she was first hired, but hardly anyone knew about it – they kept things perfectly professional around the office, even to the point of barely acknowledging each other.

Harumi sat down on a brown brick ledge, and I joined her, as the occasional tourist aimed their camera wildly.

“I really can’t say much now. Not really, ever.” She placed her obscenely fashionable black leather mini purse on her lap. “It’s not because of the agreement she had me sign. It’s because of her eyes.” She took out a small compact and gave her face a quick peak, like she was afraid her perfection would be stolen away at any moment. “Ever since the accident at that Die Database show, it’s like the light in her eyes had changed. Dimmer, joined by another glow.”

Harumi had told me earlier about how Satomi’s insomnia affected their relationship – it was too much for her to handle, so she never stayed over at night for more than a few hours.

“For the past few months, I hated for her to look at me, even when I longed for her gaze.” She couldn’t resist a slight touch of blush, before she hid the compact away again. “She had eyes like lions. Poisonous snakes about to strike. And her smell changed, too.”

“Smell?” I didn’t like where this was headed.

“She used to be all sweat, pollen and pheromones. One whiff of her neck would sustain me for hours. Now, she’s like a plastic water bottle, or shower curtain. Just a hint of stale, dead moisture.”

All the pieces were starting to fit together – Satomi was a Dark Antenna for months, slowly booting up and transmuting for ideal control. Her sleep patterns and physical changes were typical of the recently etched.

Of course, as far as we could tell, she was etched a few years ago, sometime during her stay in the US. So the big questions were – who etched her, and why was she left disconnected for so long?

“I appreciate you telling me all of this.” I patted my hand briefly on her left knee, enough to tell that even her hose was exquisite. “Can you let me know anything else about what happened before the office shut down?”

Harumi started to stare past Lady Liberty and its tall pedistal, at the Rainbow Bridge. “She really wasn’t herself. She only ate Circle X onigiri and Kagome apple juice, like a toddler. She canceled all of our contracts, and spent hours talking to the silent partners on the phone.”

“Silent partners?” I had no idea what she was talking about, which was frightening enough.

“She gave up majority control over Agartha Labs in March. Ms. Strauss even came in on Thursday and Friday, to supervise the transition.”

Now I knew what she was talking about, which was even more frightening. It had to be Kaia.

“Do you know how to contact Ms. Strauss?”

“Oh, it doesn’t work that way. She and her partners contact you, at your inconvenience. They’ve been waking me up at all times of the night for months.”

“Do you know who the other partners are?”

“No. I’ve only ever met Ms. Strauss and her daughter. Miranda – really cute gaijin, like out of a TV commercial. She loved to talk to everyone.”

This was the moment when I was certain we were fucked. The last time I saw Kaia, she was being dragged off by the Trouble Twins to see the Nameless – Miranda. Next thing I know, Kaia has a hidden, lengthy back history with Yuma, and now she had a controlling stake of Agartha Labs.

Or, had – what the fuck happened to Agartha, anyway? And why the elaborate manipulation of Satomi and Die Database?

Harumi could tell I wasn’t happy to hear what she just told me – she threw her right arm around my shoulder, and tried to smile. “I’m sorry that you’re hearing this from me, and not Satomi. Or whomever has been my boss for the past few months. Honestly, I’m happy it’s all over – I couldn’t take one more moment of those eyes just staring at me. Even with her door closed, you could feel them poking at you.”

She reached in her purse and pulled out a key.

“Take this. You know what it’s for. Don’t linger, before the girls catch you snooping.” With that, she gave a perfectly formed kiss on the cheek, took off her red bottomed pumps and held one in each hand, and then darted up the stairs between lingering tourists, her jog turning into a run past Aqua City. I knew I would never see her again.

As for the key, I’ll have to put it to use this weekend, before Satomi is walking again. Now that I know it’s not just her in there, I have to strike quickly before the last bits of evidence are gone. I don’t dare say anything beyond this – it’s always everywhere, now more than ever.

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