Chapter 40:

I’m Here

Grace Dances Upon the Clouds

“Do you still want to see her?”

That question weighed on Haru’s mind after his father explained everything to him during the car ride.

A side project had been discovered, spawned through the coordination of IBN and Bocculus Med. The partnership had granted the necessary resources to support a secret endeavor funded by a sole donor, someone best unnamed.

“She was quite special, a rising star in the musical scene. A tragedy brought an end to such young talent, but a child doesn’t get to pick one’s parents.”

That was the Grace that Haru met in his dream. As to how, that was something Joutarou Higashi, Department Chair of Research for IBN, had pieced together.

“A few years ago, an interesting breakthrough was reported in the journal, Natural. The concept that brain waves containing vital information can be converted into an electric field and transmitted from one medium to another. You can imagine that companies jumped on the opportunity to be the first to send thoughts from one brain to another, giving birth to storing one’s memories. The temporary human condition, preserved!”

“That’s what that joint venture was all about a few months back, right?” Haru pondered.

“Correct. This concept is very much like how semiconductor devices work. IBN took an immediate interest in collaborating with Bocculus Med.”

“That doesn’t explain how someone could just invade my dreams. I seriously thought I was going crazy enough that I needed an imaginary friend!”

His father chuckled, then fell silent for a moment, and finally sighed.

“Sometimes, unexpected outcomes happen. Mistakes that couldn’t be predicted. And I wouldn’t even have thought of it if I hadn’t visited my fellow researchers in America. Apparently, they had been working on a method to bounce brain signals along our extensive cloud network.”

“But that’s across servers, physical computers, is it not?”

“Each network relays specific frequencies between units. And it has been discovered that a human brain emits a frequency as well. That was the experiment. Sending brain waves from one brain to the next, anchored by a hub in between. It just so happened that this instance traveled a bit farther than predicted.”

His father looked at him with a cheeky grin. A happenstance of weird science that greatly caught his interest. That look made Haru naturally bring up a question.

“How was it that my brain had the correct frequency?”

“Your sleep data was part of the set given to Bocculus for machine calibration. It likely bounced around until the matching owner was found.”

In essence, Grace had been someone real, and her virtual existence was the result of a botched experiment. A perfect storm of strange events. A miracle that no one even realized.

But none of that mattered as Haru saw the girl on the bed in front of him through his tears.

“Grace… Grace… I finally get to see you on this side. I’m finally here.”

“My condolences, young Higashi-sama, but even if she can hear you, she won’t know who you are. Unless…” Iwai bowed once again, and then, he signaled to a tech who left the room.

That was the caveat of the miracle formed. It was a one-way path, a remnant of Grace landing in Haru’s head. Only vital information had been retailed, the strongest parts of her psyche. Haru’s own mind supplemented the remaining information, acting with its own computational power to render a form of her. As such, she was ‘born’ within his dreams in his own flavor. A Grace that was uniquely his, a combination of both existences.

The frequency of other people’s minds could also align, the more like-minded to Haru they grew. It explained how each ‘Grace’ ended up different from another. They were all custom fit.

But Haru didn’t care for such technicalities. He carried a piece of her within him, one that he knew couldn’t be his. He had nourished the song that echoed upon those remnants, unknowingly pinging back the signal to the original sender.

And when that happened, their connection forcibly broke. Grace did everything she could to hold onto it until the last minute, but a signal that recalled itself couldn’t coexist in another.

“Can anything be done for her?” Haru asked, staring at the imprisoned girl.

“That depends on you, Higashi-sama. Now that we know where her mind connects to, we would require your help to see it through. Rather than signals floating across air space, a direct line in between is always the best option.”

Iwai’s gaze turned to some techs entering the room with a large machine on a cart and a headset on top.

“This is completely voluntary, and it will pose no danger to your life. However, we cannot guarantee how much her mind will flood into yours. You may see things you didn’t want to know, and she may see the same of you. And if this does succeed, the dreams that the two of you have together – they will no longer be private.

Haru got up and nodded, reaching immediately for the headset. The goal of this research had been to record one’s dreams. Of course, that meant letting others see them, no matter how weird they were.

But Grace mattered more to him than that. She was the one that made him stop caring about keeping them bottled so much. If he could only have her back, the world could see everything about them.

Iwai signaled to his staff. Haru’s father looked on with a stern expression, giving a single nod of silent support. Guided by the team, Haru laid back on the bed next to Grace, watching as the techs hooked everything up. The helmet snugly fit over his head. Sensors crisscrossed his body in a jumbled mess.

The technicians drew a single thick cord between the two beds. Now, Grace and he were connected. Haru looked over with a smile. He felt good about taking a nap.

“See you in my dreams.”

And then, he drifted off. Into the darkness, into the unknown recesses of the girl in the other bed.


“A set from your favorite. Chopin, Etude 25, No.9 please,” a male voice requested.

Piano notes, light and fluttery, danced into the air. Slowly, the scene of a young girl playing a piano, instructor gazing sternly, materialized before Haru’s eyes.

Even before he recognized the melody, the feeling of flying in the sky washed over him. The girl bobbed and weaved from her bench, jubilant in her playing. It was like a pair of wings grew on her back, animated like her performance. A pretty ‘butterfly’ in the air.

A smile on the instructor’s face reflected her happiness, before it turned back to professionalism.

“Etude 10, No.8 now.”

In an instant, the girl changed notes. A bright melody sprung from her fingers as she arched her back. A feeling of bliss spread across her face as she looked toward the sky, like enjoying rays of ‘sunshine’. All this time, Haru stood in awe, his strumming fingers itching with familiarity.

“Now, No.5 next,” he said flatly.

The girl stopped dead, a frown on her face.

“I don’t like that one. It isn’t pretty. It isn’t fun.”

The girl loved melodies that invoked a sense of nature, of exploring the world. Her motivation bounded and waned with her tastes, something that was clear by her instructor’s tone.

“One must do things that aren’t pretty or fun at times. That is how we grow as a person.”

“Will I finally get to attend school like the others if I do? Will I finally leave these grounds?” The look on the girl’s face was a sunshine of hope, a glow of pure innocence despite being confined at home. Her gaze drifted to the window. Her hand pointed to the sky, what she could see of the outside world.

“That is up to your parents. I’m merely a hired instructor. My power only extends to recommendations,” he said, looking over to an ornate family crest hanging on one wall of the room. It was a symbol of power, one that many hesitated to mess with. “It’s for your own protection.”

“Then, I will win over your recommendation.”

“You already have.”

Slowly, the warm scene faded away, back into the darkness once again.

The next thing Haru knew, he was in the grassy field where he first met Grace, clouds high in the sky. But this time, his world was full of color, the spirit that she passed to him. Looking around for a moment, his heart sank as there was no sign of her.

And then, he looked down. The wings she left behind were still firmly in his grasp.

“I wonder…”

A grin formed on Haru’s face. He placed the wings on his back. And with a few steps to get ready, he took a leap of faith. His legs kicked for the sky. His arms reached up high. And then, he felt a tingle on his back. A single flap that gave him hope to continue trying.

Haru landed on the ground. The leap had turned into a bound. He readied himself again, determined to make it just a bit farther. This time, the wings kicked in with a thrust, and Haru’s vision shot upwards. Flailing his arms and legs, he fought to get control.

If there was anywhere Grace would be, it was up in the sky which she loved so much.

And then, a sweet whisper brushed against his ears, one that said “relax, I’ll take over.”

Suddenly, Haru was upright. The nearest cloud touched his heel. He pushed off it and added a midair spin. His face became bright. He danced in the wind. And for the first time, he could feel it – the same freedom that Grace had known.

A blip intruded in his vision, and instantly, his mind went dark. But something else soon came into focus, scenes that matched nothing that he could recall.

A girl in a silky gown was playing the piano at a venue. Despite the crowd, she stared at the ceiling where the sky would be. Clouds reflected in her eyes, her music following the same desire. The scene dimmed and another came to light. This time, the girl danced within a garden, her love of nature apparent to all.

Faces of complete innocence – that was all she held in this sheltered life. She faced any ounce of freedom like she could fly.

But then, a veil of darkness came abruptly. The girl had set out for her dreams, but an unfortunate car collision had left them shattered. She knew it had been intentional, a heinous act due to connections. Even still, she wouldn’t let her feelings die.

Haru reached forward in the growing darkness. The girl reached out toward him. But he found that he had no hands or even legs. For a moment, he was just like her, watching, waiting for the end.

But then, a strong embrace enveloped him. He heard another whisper.

“I’m here.”

Haru turned around, to see Grace once again appear.

Dhamas Tri (dmz)
Taylor J
Mario Nakano 64
F.C Fondness