[futureschool]WILL HE RETURN TO VIRTUAL REALITY AFTER HE DIED AT THE AGE OF 13?
[futureschool]WILL HE RETURN TO VIRTUAL REALITY AFTER HE DIED AT THE AGE OF 13?
  • Miwa Sakuraki
  • 승인 2021.08.24 09:44
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Miwa Sakuraki

 

A Japanese writer, born in Fukuoka. She grow up in Mt. Hiko that is one of the famous place for Shugendo, Japanese mountain religion incorporating Shinto and Buddhist concepts. After majoring in writing and journalism in Waseda University, she stayed in Southeast Asia and worked as a local journalist for a Japanese magazine.  After going back to Japan, joined Genron Ohmori Sicence Fiction Writers Workshop. She made her debut with  “The Beautiful Cocoon” (Kodansha) in 2018.  In 2021,  “Two Wings”(featured in “Flowers for Asterism”  Hayakawa),  a  co-written novella with Haruka Mugihara was translated into Chinese and published in a Chinese Sci-Fi magazine 科幻世界.

출처: Pexels
출처: Pexels

 

summer move

Mirai woke up in the morning and decided to go to Amata. She was sick of men now. Technically, it is appropriate to say that she was sick of Kav. Anyway, he was the man with whom she had the most intimate relationship in life. At least for the time being, she won’t be able to shake off the feeling.

Kav was kind at first. He fell head over heels for Mirai—he said he wished to be with her and only wanted to make her happy. But now, if something irritates him, he says curse words, throws things or hits walls.

What happened last night was the last straw for Mirai. Kav had gone wild a few days before and started throwing out Mirai’s things from her room, laughing. She tried to stop him, they pushed each other, and both ended up having bruised arms in the color of beetroot. Mirai didn’t blame Kav. She expected an apology once he calmed down. And last night, describing that night’s incident, Kav declared, “Mirai used violence and hurt me.” Mirai was shocked and felt angry with him for the first time.

Both Mirai and Kav work as the chronicler. Kav is the type who lavishes words, and he has a reputation as the brilliant one in his job. However, Mirai thinks that kind of furtive alteration is a shame for a chronicler. Regardless of the praises Kav earns, it will be difficult for Mirai to respect him anymore.

Amata means ‘beloved woman’ in Latin. It is the newest domus where people whose gender identities are non-male have the right of residence. For example, it can be someone who identifies with a female regardless of the assigned sex at birth. Or, it can be someone whose gender identity is non-binary. Amata opens the door to all these people. At times, even someone with a male gender identity comes here to seek asylum because he finds it impossible to live in any other domus. When that happens, representatives have repeated consultations, conduct careful interviews with the applicant, and review the entry as a refugee. Since Amata was established as the shelter for people fleeing discrimination, violence, and oppression, they firmly believe in the idea that their domus has to stand by those in need of help.

Mirai changed the tubes to visit Amata for the first time. It was a structure showing some beautiful patterns of natural marble built on the banks of an artificial lake. It seems that they have reused the stones of the commercial facilities from the old capital. At the immigration, Mirai submitted her moving-out data from the Hinomoto Domus where she lived with Kav and went through the moving-in report procedure.

The officer in charge was projected in a hologram. He appeared of Asian descent like Mirai, with the darkest hair and eyes. The officer looked like a biological male, but there was a gender-neutral atmosphere about him. He looked a bit younger than Mirai, about nineteen to twenty years old.

“I don’t see your records before you turned fifteen. In which domus did you live before Hinomoto?”

“I lived outside.”

At Mirai’s reply, the officer looked at her as if he was caught off guard. The darkest eyes twinkled.

Domus is a secure and hygienic residential structure safe from disasters, pollutions, and all kinds of infectious diseases. It has slowly substituted the ancient form called the state. By now, every human being lives in one domus or another. However, it was not the case until seven years ago. There were still a handful of people who continued living in the outside world with high risks. These people either voluntarily refused life in a domus or were driven out for financial reasons. Mirai’s parents belonged to the minority that chose to live outside. Life inside the domus means living in a place where everything is sterilized and disinfected, eating hygienic artificial foods as the staple. It may weaken human beings physically and culturally. That’s what Mirai’s parents believed.

Mirai’s parents taught at the summer school for domus children. Here, the children would spend a few summer days outside their domus to build up immunity. When she was young, Mirai joined the program every summer. It was fun for her to play with the kids from the domus, but she didn’t know what it was like for them. For Mirai, it was nothing out of the ordinary to play in a river or walk in the fields, but many domus children seemed to be perplexed or simply wanted to go home as soon as possible.

Once, when she climbed an elm tree to catch a beetle, a girl of Mirai’s age from the domus blurted out.

“Whoa, that’s scary!” 

Her comment made everyone giggle at Mirai. Only one child named Towa was watching the whole thing, eyes shining bright.

“You’re amazing, Mirai! You’re so healthy and can do anything.”

It was the first time she had ever heard anything like that. Mirai was bewildered, but the words were stuck in her heart. Especially when she went through a hard time getting used to the life inside her new domus, she would recall those words like a warm bonfire burning inside.

Mirai’s family was moved inside seven years ago when a pandemic broke out in a faraway domus. For comprehensive prevention, it became mandatory for all the outside residents to live inside a domus.

Mirai always felt somewhat inferior due to her upbringing in the outside world. Even now, deep down, Mirai thinks that she does not understand the rules and conventions of the domus. She has never felt that their artificial foods are delicious when everyone seems to enjoy them. 

Kav used to say that Mirai was strange because she had grown up outside.

“Are you aware that you are not ordinary, Mirai? You’d better try to know yourself a little.”

She hears Kav’s condescending voice now.

The young man in charge of the process introduced himself as Lar through the hologram. Judging from his name, Mirai must have been wrong to assume that he is an Asian descent like her. Lar said with a smile.

“If you have any problem, please do not hesitate to contact me.” 

He then added, “You can call me from the Lararia located in various locations within the premise or from your home.”

This kind of support must have been arranged because Amata is a new domus embracing people escaping from different places. Mirai noticed how easy it was for her to live in Amata shortly after she started living here. People of diverse descents fled hardships and persecution to move into this domus. In principle, ordinary men are not found here. These two factors made Amata a place where you can find diversity and relax both body and mind.

One day, Mirai was at a spa with a full view of one side of the artificial lake. In a swimsuit with gorgeous patterns, she was having a conversation with a few people from some far-off domus she had never heard of. Each had a different story to tell. It turned out that quite a few had spent their childhood outside as Mirai had. She was lucky to meet them, not only as a person but also as a chronicler. Through all ages, the most sensational and meaningful stories are often found at the most unlooked-for places.

When Mirai told Lar that she wanted to focus on her job as the chronicler, he said,  “That’s a good idea.” His face lit up. “Mirai, you must also chronicle your memory of the life outside and your parents’ stories.”

Although she had never considered listening to her parents’ stories, he had a point. Mirai talked to Lar through a hologram call every night, and she was waiting for those hours more than anything else now.

“Where in Amata are you, Lar? Can I meet you in person?”

When Mirai asked him one day, he fell silent.

“I have met you once, Mirai,” said Lar, after the silence. “It was when we were children, at the summer school.”

“What?”

“You were a wonderful child, Mirai. I wanted to see you again so badly that I even said prayers to make me go outside. I actually asked my parents to let me go. Of course, they didn’t allow it and sent me away to a remote domus to study. Then, seven years ago, a pandemic broke out in the domus, and I got infected and died. I was thirteen at the time. What is talking to you right now is, in fact, the result of a formula that weaves and merges my video records and thinking patterns saved when I was still alive.”

He further explained that Lar is an occupation name in Amata, meaning a guardian god and that his real name is Towa. Mirai wanted to say something when she heard his words, but tears made it impossible for her to utter a sound. The word towa, in the ancient language of Hinomoto Domus, means eternity.

Miwa Sakuraki
Miwa Sakuraki


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