MINUS • PLUS
“So… you’re saying… there are multiple universes?”
Yukio had just left a stall when Amanda appeared in front of his eyes. He would’ve fallen on the floor, but having experienced this phenomena for quite a few times, managed to keep his balance.
“What the…! What are you-”
Before he could finish the sentence, Amanda grabbed his hand, and they were on the rooftop. It was the place where they had talked for the first time yesterday. It already feels like ages, he thought.
“What is it?”
For some reason, Yukio was feeling like yesterday, when he didn’t know the girl who was now standing in front of him. The truth was, he had already forgotten the faces of two of the people he met last night. What happened last night, although he knew it to be real, still felt like a distant dream. That room, and all those people, seemed to be a part of it. And that darkness… he still had no idea what he saw in there, and whether any of it meant anything.
He felt… lost.
“I need to tell you something. Well, a lot of things.”
Amanda took him to a corner which was quite far from the roof entrance, which meant the chances of someone catching them were slim. In her hand, she had a lunchbox tied in a handkerchief.
It suddenly hit him.
For the first time in his life, he was going to have lunch with a girl on a deserted rooftop.
“Wait, let me go get something from the cafeteria,” Yukio said while getting ready to sprint. Amanda stopped him, and showed him the handkerchief again. “I have already got it.” She said, playfully.
Contrary to what he thought, the handkerchief held two lunchboxes.
“Be grateful. You won’t get to eat my cooking every day.”
She wouldn’t have believed it if Yukio told her how grateful he was.
At first, she gave him a lot of new information. And then, some really exciting ones.
Minus Plus is not a Japan-based group, although the Japan group operates independently. It is also present in the USA, the UK, Australia, Singapore, and Paraguay. Apparently some of the members are from other countries as well, but since there aren’t enough people there they have to regularly Jump to the nearby Countries. The idea of going to another country without Visa worried him a bit at first, but it was to be expected from people like them that they wouldn’t care about “imaginary borders”, as Amanda described it.
As for inside the borders, he was surprised to know that several of their members were in key positions of Governments. Then again, it was also to be expected. Although no government in the world (according to Amanda) had any inkling about them, it was important for them to have support from the people in power.
To do… what?
Amanda didn’t immediately answer it, although it was a question that had been in Yukio’s mind for a long time. The only reason he didn’t say anything about it was he expected her to volunteer the information. When she didn’t, he was irked.
If they just fought bad people, or even other people like them, there was no reason for her not to tell him. He wouldn’t even be surprised at that point if she told him that Aliens were real. Then what was the point of hiding it?
What was their true purpose?
“Come on, start eating now. The break isn’t gonna go on forever.”
Much to his surprise, the lunchbox contained… lasagna. Nothing else. He had expected a Japanese-style Bento, but apparently underestimated her love for Italian food.
As they ate the cold lasagna, Amanda started explaining their powers. Or rather, what they could do with it. According to her, Jumping wasn’t really a difficult process. He just needed to imagine a place, or a person, and reach out. That was literally it.
“It’s true. I had no idea what your room looked like. I just imagined you, and it made me appear right next to you. You know, in your bed.”
Yukio couldn’t help but blush whenever he remembered that.
“So, as long as I clearly remember a place, or someone, I can Jump? What if my memory is hazy?”
“Oh, I didn’t tell you this one,” Amanda said after gulping a mouthful of lasagna and carefully chewing it, “Our mind is different, and really strong. That’s why we can never get drunk, or drugged. As for your memory, it doesn’t have to be crystal clear or something. As long as you remember a place, or person, you can definitely jump. There are no risks. None that I’m aware of.”
As he chewed on that, and also the surprisingly good lasagna, Amanda suddenly ran towards the edge of the wall and glanced towards the roof entrance. “Sorry. I thought I heard someone.” She said, while returning.
She was done eating, and so was Yukio. As he thanked her and returned her the lunchbox, he could see her averting her eyes, being visibly uncomfortable. What was the deal with that? He had thought.
He had no idea what kind of bomb she was going to drop next.
That was when his whole world changed. Literally.
One moment they were standing at the rooftop of their school. Another moment, they were somewhere else.
It looked like a rural human colony, with huts made of tree trunks (some of which looked like bamboo), and a muddy passageway made walkable with sizable slabs of stone. They were likely near a river, as Yukio could hear the sound of water running; his ears were also filled with the singing of birds he had never heard before. With that sound, another sound mingled, which was coming from the direction of the huts.
They were standing under a tree, at a place where people from the riverbanks colony won’t be able to see them easily. But he couldn’t see the people there clearly. So he had to bend a bit.
And he slipped.
As he was falling, he could finally see someone who was walking towards the woods. It was just a glance. Then Amanda grabbed him, and they were suddenly in his apartment. His bathroom, to be precise.
Anyway, that one glance had sealed it all. If he didn’t see that… person, he would’ve thought they just Jumped to another part of Earth.
But that person he saw was definitely not a human.
First of all, humans didn’t have scales in their bodies. And neither did they have big, thick tails. The… lizard-man he saw, just had the face of an ordinary human. Or that’s what he thought, since he didn’t get a good look at it.
“What… was that??” It took him a lot of time to come up with that question. Amanda had already gone through his shoe rack and brought him a new pair of shoes, since the ones he wore were dirty beyond repair. He also realized why they had teleported inside the bathroom.
“You know me, I want as little argument as possible. That’s why I first show, then tell,” she had said with a slight smile, “As you’ve probably already guessed, what you saw wasn’t Earth. I wasn’t supposed to tell you this, Tetsuya-san was going to explain everything to you. Oh well.”
As he was changing his shoes, almost on autopilot, Amanda explained, “What you saw was Lativis. That’s what the planet is called; by us, actually. It isn’t Earth, but a world part of a different universe.”
Yukio’s jaw was almost touching the floor, as he listened, “Remember when I told you I was able to Jump to the kitchen from my bedroom? I didn’t tell you the whole thing. We, the Tracts, are also able to Jump to other worlds. And that is closely related to what we do, because we’re not the only ones who can do that. Some people on those worlds are also like us. And when the bad ones try to target Earth, that’s where we come in.”
After that, Yukio wasn’t the same. The strange, disturbing dream last night didn’t affect him as much as her words did. After changing his shoes, they had jumped to Amanda’s apartment, where she redid her makeup and also changed her shoes. He was too shocked to notice anything, or realize that it was the first time he was inside a girl’s room. When they returned to the school, even then he was speechless. Amanda was shaking him, calling his name, but in his mind there was a maelstrom of too much unprocessed information, which had rendered him immobile. Only when the bell rang, he snapped back to reality, tightly grabbed both of her shoulders, and said in-between deep breaths…
“So… you’re saying…”
Yukio was sitting in the class, even though all the other people had already left. The reason was, Hirata had suddenly asked him to wait for a bit.
“Sit right there. I’ll be back soon.”
He was growing restless every passing moment. After they returned to the school, there wasn’t enough time for Amanda to explain anything else. She promised to tell him more after school, and Yukio was supposed to be with her now.
Learning about things that had, for the first time, made him truly excited.
As Hirata entered the class, he expected her to just give him his book back and be on her way. Proving him wrong, she sat down beside him.
Adjusting her glasses, she said, “You two have become really good friends, huh?”
Yukio stopped breathing for a moment.
What is she saying? How did she…
“You and Amanda?” Hirata said in a stern voice, “What, you thought no one knows that you two left school together yesterday? Or had lunch today?”
Yukio was both relieved and worried. Obviously she didn’t know anything about Minus Plus. But he didn’t expect someone to know about them already. Especially since no one in the class cared about him, and wouldn’t even think in their dreams about Amanda becoming his friend.
“How… how did you know?”
“I saw you,” she said it like it explained everything, “What is going on between you two? Why did you suddenly become so close with her?”
Yukio was silent, as Hirata kept saying, “Tell me, did she approach you? Did some sweet talk, and now you’re mad for her? Takanashi-san, I’m telling you this for your own good. Be wary of her. She loves to toy with guys, and discard them when she loses interest. She’s not your friend. If you don’t realize that, it’s not going to end well for you.”
Now he felt really irritated. She had no idea what happened between them, but she was already thinking that Yukio was so naïve, he had fallen for Amanda’s charm like every other boy in their class.
“Look, Hirata san,” Yukio tried not to be rude, but it was hard, “What goes on between me and another classmate has nothing to do with you. I appreciate your concern, but I can take care of myself. Now, can I ask you something?”
Yukio didn’t know what kind of answer she was expecting from him, but her expression said it wasn’t the one he just gave her.
“What is it?” She said, rudely.
“Do you have my book?”
Yukio was running after changing his shoes, when his phone suddenly vibrated.
It was a phone call from Onee-san.
He slowed down, as he remembered about the invitation to Fujimi.
It was a chance to see her after almost a year. She messaged him last night as well, but just like before, didn’t get a reply. Well, he had too much going on in his mind.
Yukio thought about picking up the call, but then suddenly caught Amanda’s figure.
He shoved the phone back into his pocket.