DNA: One Thousand Mornings: Chapter 3
Her hands stiffened as she clenched a piece of paper firmly in her palms. A vacancy had burrowed its way into her train of thought, neutering her mind. Looking down at the words, they appeared illegible and foreign to her. Suddenly, she began to feel like a stranger in her own body. Nothing ever made sense anymore.
“With your veteran’s discount, you’ll only be required to pay 30%.”
She gawked up at the man, clad in a white jacket as he stood across the opposite side of the counter. Flanked by equally white walls on either end. The sterile atmosphere felt suffocating.
“Ms. Tsumibiki, be sure to stay consistent with these, okay?
Although she had a skill for filtering out the words of others on command, the bag sitting before her abated her attempts at ignoring her own reality any further. Mirai Tsumibiki was marked clearly across the top of the label. Hesitantly scanning her phone at the payment kiosk, she swiped the bag and made a straight line for the exit. Still standing behind the counter, the man let off a tired sigh as Mirai vanished from his sights.
It was just past noon, and the city was as busy as ever. Driverless vehicles lined up behind one another as wary pedestrians bobbed and weaved through traffic. Children piled on top of one another as they stood mesmerized by the holographic images that plastered every store front. As everyone went about their day, fighting to keep pace with the evermoving world around them, Mirai found herself proceeding forward in slow-motion.
Clutching the bag tightly in her hand, she fished her phone out of her pocket and tapped on the name, Yukue.
As the phone rang on and on, she pulled her face from the device in astonishment. “That’s weird”, she whispered to herself.
“I got what you told me, although I still don’t think it’s necessary.
Anyways, I’m heading over to your place now, so I’ll see you there.”
As she sent off the message she flagged down the nearest taxi and made her way inside. “Where to?” the driver asked, “Inagi,” she stated solemnly, surprised to see an actual person at the wheel. Peeking through the rearview mirror, the cab driver injected, “I don’t get many passengers heading in that direction.” With a nonchalant visage, she glanced at the driver through the same mirror before shifting her eyes to the side window. “Yea, I’m sure you don’t.”
After about a 15-minute drive, the taxicab pulled up in front of a very modern styled home. Clad with a unique blend of refined wood finishes and glass, meeting one another with black brushed metal trimmings and complimented by a minimalist garden before it.
“Alright! You’re good to go milady.”
“Thanks,” she returned as she stepped out through the car door, now facing the art piece of a home in front of her.
“Mam…” the driver called out to her. “Will there be an issue when I try to exit the premises?” he asked with an aura of confusion emanating from his voice. “No, the gatekeeper won’t give you any trouble,” Mirai calmly explained.
As the tires drudged down the road, the environment fell eerily quiet. The atmosphere felt… still.
Placing her palm on the sensor, the front gate eased open, and Mirai stepped her way down the path before her. Reaching the front door, a wave of hesitation clawed over her skin as the oddity of the moment grew into an uncomfortable sensation. Normally she would let herself in, but today she opted not to.
With one push of the doorbell, she waited.
Yanking her phone out of her pocket she checked her messages once more. They remained unread, and while this shouldn’t have been cause for her to assume the worst, she couldn’t help but consider it over and over again in her head.
Unlocking the door, she stepped in through the doorway and into the genkan; a traditional style entrance once common in Japan, one of the now missing nations of the world, that was all too unusual nowadays. “Yukue!” she called out, but yet again, no answer. Panning her eyes across the scene in front of her, nothing seemed out of the ordinary. Everything was in place. Furniture was intact. Objects seemed to be as they always were. Nonetheless, she couldn’t help but shake this anxious feeling in her gut. As she peeked down below, she spotted a pair of shoes at her feet. Reaching towards the closet on her righthand side, she swung the door open and confirmed that all the other shoes that she’d known her sister to own were there.
In other words, Yukue had never left the house.
Mirai slowly closed the front door, all the while keeping her wits about her. Removing her shoes, she stepped into the home and began analyzing the area. She proceeded tepidly, but surely. She paid attention to everything from top to bottom, careful not to miss even the slightest clue. She navigated her way from the first floor up to the second, and then back down again.
There was nothing. Nothing that stood out, seemed unusual, or just worth taking note of. Everything was normal…
Pressing on, she made her way towards a room at the backend of the house. Stepping through the door she entered a space that felt much less modern than the rest of the home. A wooden floor with a pecan hue helped the room feel warm and earthy; while the thick lacquer coating spelled the words of a person fixated on maintaining a pristine environment. Antique styled furniture accented the traditional bookshelves that lined the walls on either side. An auburn-colored rug was placed centerstage, right beneath a desk situated in front of a window that stretched from corner to corner. The slowly setting sun cast long shadows of the outdoor garden through the window that landed at the tip of Mirai’s feet. “Why is this door open?” Mirai worryingly questioned.
Standing over the desk, she peered down into a notebook laid open. Kanji alternating repeatedly lined the sheet top to bottom. Mirai lightly ran her finger over the page as she led her eyes from kanji to kanji. Frustrated with herself at her inability to read what was written. “Why would she be practicing kanji?” Mirai thought to herself as she flipped through its pages.
Reaching the final string of writing, she noticed the last stroke unusually dragged right off the edge of the page. Following it with her eyes and now staring at the floor, she began swiveling her head left to right as she searched the ground beneath her, discovering a pen sitting just underneath the desk.
Gripping it in her hand, scenes of her sister being hauled from her seat flooded her mind. The pen slipping from her hand as she fought to free herself. “But why wouldn’t she have tried to use it as a weapon to stab the intruder in the arm instead?” She questioned as the scenes played back in her head. Struggling to break away Yukue kicks the chair…
No, she concluded, as the chair didn’t seem out of place.
As the playback continued, she followed the theoretical intruder drag Yukue around the desk and towards the door. The lamp sitting in arm's reach was still where it’d always been, unscathed. The rug was unbothered. No ruffles, or even the slightest shift from its position. Books still rested in place on the shelves. No scuffs or scratches on the walls, floors, or furniture…
Now standing back in the doorway and facing towards the room once again, Mirai toiled with the reality that there just wasn’t any signs of a struggle. As the seconds passed and her mind churned, she made one final consideration. Yukue had been sedated. Sneaking in from the garden and through the window…
No, a conclusion. Perhaps the details were still to be figured out, but one thing she felt sure of nonetheless was:
That her sister had been taken.
Immediately Mirai made a beeline straight to an AI Hub interface installed by the entrance. A single, solid, glass panel built flush with the wall acted as a control center for every mechanism available within the home. Including security camera footage and personnel tracking. However, Mirai was disappointed to find out she couldn’t interact with the system without an access code. It was a sinking revelation despite already being aware that Yukue kept the AI system disabled either way. Even if she could access its interface, would there even be anything for her to find? Was she simply being desperate and irrational? Did anything even happen to Yukue begin with?
“Are you imagining things, Mirai?”
The words oscillated through her eardrums making her feel sick to her stomach. The blood spread across her hands as she looked into the eyes of a man clad in uniform. Her sense of reality wavering in and out. “Mirai, what have you done?” the voice cried.
With frustration boiling over the edge, Mirai threw her fist into the wall. The memory began to fade, and her mind became clear. She looked at the bag from the drugstore looped over her wrist, only just now noticing the Japanese mochi shaped smiley face printed on its side. “What kind of useless shit is this? she vented as she leaned her back against the wall.
The hands of the clock hung across from her ticked on.
“So, what exactly comes across here as an abduction?”
The officer stood sternly. His stature a few inches over Mirai’s as he gawked down at her languidly. “It’s just that… she’s missing!” Mirai tiringly failed to explain. Hardly moving from his position, the officer peered down the hall and lightly scanned the surrounding area. Glancing back at his partner who welcomed himself to a seat at the kitchen table, the officer then turned back to face Mirai. “You know it takes 72 hours for us to declare an adult missing. We’re only here because… well it’s a perk of the neighborhood.”
“The fuck does that even mean?” Mirai decried in a tempered tone. “You know what, wait!” she then insisted as she began stepping in the opposite direction. “Just gimme a second.”
Emerging from her sister’s office with the notepad in her hand, she eagerly presented it to the officer hoping to capture his attention. Lightly flipping through the page his intrigue slowly, but surely, began to dissipate. “She’s pretty good at writing in kanji,” he mentioned with an irony laced tongue, “yeah it kind of takes you back to your grade school days in world history class, huh?” he chuckled with a gesture towards his partner who was now fixating his laptop atop the kitchen table.
“I’m not joking.”
The pointed edge to her delivery slowed the officer down and immediately gripped the air. The officer closed the notebook and tapped it twice into the palm of his hand. Their eyes dug into one another and put them both into a paradigm shift.
“Mirai Tsumibiki… what a poster name.”
“What does that mean?”
The officer made another tempered glance towards his partner who dipped his own words into the uncomfortable bicker. “Asian names are pretty unusual nowadays.” The first officer then followed, “DNA like yours is a hot commodity to some people.”
Stepping over to his partner, he placed the notebook in front of him. “Any of this seem like the cry of an abducted young lady?” As he stood over the table, he looked at the computer screen through the corner of his eye.
“I don’t think so,” his partner returned. “Yeah, I didn’t think so either.” Stepping back over towards Mirai, the officer handed her the notebook but not without passing her an intimidating look; to which she reacted equally in unison. “72 hours… No word from her in 72 hours, we’ll put the case through to the missing persons department.” With his hands clenched around his belt he passed a head nod to his partner. They both then made their way over to the front door while Mirai stood planted in the same position.
“Don’t go getting yourself in trouble now,” the officer iterated as parting words, “72 hours and we’ll take care of it from there.”
The dimming sunlight shifting with the swinging door passed over Mirai’s irritated countenance before dissipating. Leaving her in the shade of a house vacant of conclusion.