“It’s rude of me to discuss this with someone I’ve just met, but… will you listen to what I have to say?”
The girl, with an expression filled with tension, said that there was something she wanted to discuss.
She was crying earlier too, and it was me who invited her to the cafe anyway, so I gave her a single reply.
“If you’re fine with me. I might not be much help, though.”
For a long time now, I’ve been weak against girls who seem crushed by something unseen.
“Please don’t laugh… to be honest, I can see the future.”
Despite having somehow managed to prepare myself, I was still shocked when she spoke again.
The feeble way she confessed this, straining her voice out from her throat, made the strength of her determination all the more conspicuous. Shyly, as though she was taking a peek at me, Shizune-chan confessed her worry.
She was talking about something as inexplicable as precognition to someone she had just met, not to mention an older person of the opposite gender.
She looked remarkably like she’s about to explode, so it was obvious
“I, I don’t mean anything by this…!
But, well. Would you mind if, um, if I called you Mikiya-san from now on?!”
that her speaking out like this, with her face completely red, was something that came from her extreme tension.
“Sure, it’s better to use an easier name.
Now, about that precognition… how far ahead can you see?”
“R-Right! Um, well, I can see about three days ahead if I can see it as a scene. Sometimes, they’re less like scenes and more just images, and flow right past me; I can see one month ahead, or at worst, one year ahead with those.”
“So even with the future you see, there are different levels, huh… which do you see more often?”
“…I see the scenes from three days ahead about two, three times a day. The one with that man before was in this type, too. On the other hand, the fragmented ones really only come once in a while.”
I can see it, the girl murmured.
With her feeble words just now, and the contents of our conversation up to this point, I think I can understand Shizune-chan’s worry.
She was carrying a sense of alienation similar to guilt.
Having experienced events like that of today countless times, she feared trespassing into other people.
Before she even trusts or distrusts someone, by seeing the future, she can do something equivalent to ‘peeking’ into that person’s life; she was blaming herself for this.
With both advantages and disadvantages, she can see the future; it was a special talent other people did not have. However, she did not acknowledge it as a benefit. In fact – even though she was more special than others, she possessed a feeling of inferiority.
“…This is hard stuff. I don’t really know, but are there no good things you see in the future?”
“That’s not it… say, with the contents of a test, or when a senior is about to call me, I know all these things before they happen, so I’m an honour student at school. Just a while ago I was at the top of my year… it’s strange, isn’t it? It’s not even because I’m smart.”
Friends who are diligent and hard-working.
The girl murmured, as though conscientiously apologising to her steadily growing list of friends.
Seeing the future is a foul play; she was blaming herself for always cheating.
“…I see. I guess you can say this ability is too much for one person to control.”
“Yes. It’s wasted on someone like me.”
Shizune-chan nodded dejectedly.
…However, the roots of her worry run deeper than this. She did not put it into words, but maybe the reason for her gloom is because of her resignation towards the fact that the future is decided.
For example, if the world was a long picture scroll, then one cannot remain proactive if looking ahead by oneself.
It wasn’t a farsightedness which came from having known the future.
It was the uttermost sense of alienation – isn’t it many times more frightening to be alone outside of the scroll?
“I want to ask you one thing. Shizune-chan, are you afraid of seeing the future?”
“…I don’t know. It just comes so naturally to me that by itself, seeing the future isn’t good or bad. It’s just… I’m afraid of seeing a future I can’t do anything about.”
For example, her own death.
For example, the death of an irreplaceable neighbour.
Certainly, no one would want to see something more than once if it is unchangeable.
“But you haven’t ever seen something like that before, right?”
“Oh, um… yes. When it was my dog, It was like I just somehow knew… because it wasn’t an accident. But accidents like today’s are scary. It’s lonely to be to able to see the death of someone you know.
…That’s probably why I’m always scared, or depressed. In the end though, that’s all someone else’s business, and I’m never confident in myself, I guess you can say I just falter around – aha, it’s really messed up, isn’t it. It’s pretty vague even to me whether I’m scared or not… I wonder why. Maybe it’s because I’ve always been scared of it, so I’ve just gotten used to it.”
The burden she couldn’t clearly express in words weighed heavily on the girl’s shoulders.
“It’s not scary. It’s just – ”
Shizune-chan raised her face, looking blank.
I couldn’t bring myself to have her speak the conclusion now, and more importantly, it wouldn’t be any sort of solution.
She mustered all her courage and opened up completely about her worry, so I’ll have to do whatever I can to help as well.
“No, let’s leave that until the end. Could you continue with how you can see the future?”
I’ve already heard about what her precognition is, and how far ahead she can predict. The only remaining question was the conditions. I can’t attach a reason to the precognition, and I’ve already been taught regarding that topic quite some time ago.
“For example, let’s go back to the man from before. Since that was your first time meeting him, is this also your first time in the city, Shizune-chan?”
“No, I’ve come to Fumine many times. It’s closer to my school compared to other cities.”
“So you came today by train?”
“No, by bus from Chounodai. I got here at around eleven o’clock, and I felt dizzy right away.”
“…If you came from Chounodai by bus, then you’re going the same way as me… how did you get to know that man?”
“I talked to him after seeing the future. Before that… um, how did it go… maybe… we passed each other at the bus stop. But, mmm…”
“You felt dizzy right after you got off at the bus stop, right? So maybe, that man got on the bus together with you, and he got off first.”
“Oh. Now that you mention it, yes, I think so!”
“I see. To borrow what Touko-san said, there’s coherence.”
Ignoring the way Shizune-chan tilted her head to the side, I took out a business card from my wallet, and scribbled a sentence on the back.
I placed the business card with its front facing up on the table without looking at Shizune-chan, who appeared more and more mystified.
– Now then. I’ll have to ask the last question. I hope I can do it well like Touko-san.
“This took pretty long, but one last question.
Shizune-chan, is it scary that you can see the future?
Or is it scarier that the future is decided?”
Eh – Shizune-chan’s eyes became round.
After troubling over it for a while, Shizune-chan, holding the glass of ice cocoa with both hands,
“…They’re both scary. But it’s the latter, I think.”
pouted, and answered uncertainly.
“Well, that’s a relief. As the elder who you sought advice from, I will assert something; Shizune-chan, you’re completely wrong about what you’re worrying about, so you should be more proud of yourself. If that’s the kind of future you see, then you should see it all the time.”
“Wha?! B-b-but, but I don’t want that! Mikiya-san, did you listen to what I was saying – ?!”
“Of course. As I hear it, your precognition isn’t something bad. Well, the world is a big place, there’s probably at least one troublesome person who would peek into the future. But your precognition isn’t like that, Shizune-chan.”
There is no good and evil to an ability, but even I can distinguish, for a human life, which side this ability will work for.
“You see, there are several types of precognition.
I got this from someone else, but – ”
And so, I spoke about the interpretation of precognition that I heard just a few days ago.
Astoundingly overdue wages. The financial situation of the employee should be left to his own discretion; this controversial statement from the chief was withdrawn just before moving into August. It was the end of July. The fact that our company, Garan no Dou, is also in the business of architectural design, became the income source that saved us.
The advance deposit came from a certain high-class hotel. Apparently, it’s not in Fumine, but a city two prefectures away.
‘Oh. Come to think of it, didn’t you take on some odd jobs before we settled down here?’
Overjoyed at the sudden income, Chief Aozaki Touko gave the sole employee, Kokutou Mikiya, the job payment as a completion bonus; all the while, she was recalling the headache of having completely forgotten about the open-heartedness of a superior.
Perhaps on a whim, the high-spirited Aozaki Touko, accompanied by her employee and Employee’s Friend A, attended the dedication ceremony – something she would normally keep a distance from; they returned to the office after getting involved in an unexpected event at the venue.
A few days passed. Aozaki Touko and Employee’s Friend A were discussing what would later become the conclusion.
“Apparently, there was a letter of responsibility from the criminal at the scene of the crime. The time of explosion and the scale of damage, the number of victims and even the details of their injuries; these were all accurately recorded. The police are seeing it as a bomb warning, but I’m not so sure about that. The contents were quite simple. If I had to, I would say it’s more like a report.”
“…A report, huh. So you mean, he didn’t create a disturbance because of a grudge against the owner or as some kind of criminal philanthropy, but because it was just a job?”
“I guess the side that hired this ‘bomber’ had some humane expectations as well. Resource wars are harsh in every line of work. A direct attack would be too hasty, harassment can have its effectiveness – well, these are unrelated concerns to the perpetrator.
The problem is, why this outside order is still catching up to us, even though it was established as having no loose ends. Shiki, where did you go that night?”
“Nowhere. I just went out because the view was bad. More importantly, that letter – it’s predicting the future, isn’t it.”
The repeated bomb threats, and their reenactment.
The skill that was shown in deceiving the police pursuit and escaping the net, exceeded the definition of an ability possessed by a single person.
The actions of the bomber, evading the capabilities of the organisation known as the police force, cannot be explained as anything other than some sort of a miracle.
To speak unrealistically, the bomber possessed invisibility, or a hundred faces.
To speak within the bare minimum of reality –
“It’s a precognitive ability. It would take a wielder of precognition to know the image of the future beforehand.”
The magus – the one with privilege against common sense, spoke over her shoulder, unpleasantly.
“Chief, are there really precognitive abilities?”
“There are. There are a lot of different kinds, so they are all put together under the same label. At its most fundamental, it is just an abnormal ability to ‘see’. Exchanging signals with the future, or seeing a future then shifting into a parallel world – we won’t include the fakes. This man is probably a born psychic, so this is different from a magecraft divination, or religious prophecy.
When it comes to precognition based only on the functions of humans, they are divided into the two categories of prediction and calculation. The great majority possess prediction of the future. At a high level, the contents of their predictions play back in their minds like a clip.”
“…Hold on. If that’s true, then wouldn’t this bomber be hard for even the police to catch?”
“It would be easy for the police. They just need to widen their nets. No matter what kind of future you see, there is a limit to the capabilities of one person. Assuming you can’t take to the skies, you can’t escape from society.
But the police gave out too much information. They are an easy opponent to see for someone with precognition. At its current scale, the headquarters for preventive measures will just continue to be led around by its nose. If they want to catch the bomber, they will either need a lot of manpower to go for a battle of attrition, or hope for some unexpected bad luck on his part.”
“Unexpected bad luck… like a traffic accident?”
“That’s right. Something that would be unexpected to precognition – well, that’s not really the case with a car or a train, but in any case, a bad luck that one wouldn’t think of happening in everyday life.
– Ah, like a natural disaster aimed at one person in particular, that would be a kind of unforeseen bad luck, too. Precognition isn’t seeing the future. You can’t see what you can’t read.”
“…? Precognition isn’t seeing the future? But isn’t that what they’re doing?”
“Like I said, that is prediction at most. For example, let’s say there is someone who will be killed two days from now – Victim A – and someone who will kill him – Culprit B. With precognition, you would see the result of this case just by seeing these two aliases. Even though you wouldn’t know their faces, their names, and above all, their reasons.”
“The hell? If you can know even without a reason, then that’s not seeing the future. Isn’t that just instinct?”
Even I can do that, said Employee’s Friend A, and Aozaki Touko smiled bitterly at her.
“Don’t group others with the likes of you, Shiki. What you have is a sixth sense that can reel in the future just by hearing and imagining, whereas precognition has both foundation and proof.
Listen. Humans stand at the peak of the primates, a peak built upon their various cultures and bodies of knowledge. They have evolved not just in bodily functions, but also in the usage of the brain. But, evolution is the process of conforming to the shape of the environment. Functions which are useless or which would burden the act of survival are cut off. If there is a working substitute with a lower cost, then even an excellent function will be stoppered – that’s life. Precognition is nothing more than one of the ‘functions originally possessed by humans’ which had disappeared in the name of safety.
As a simple explanation, they are humans who ‘cannot forget’.
Humans are always watching a clip. We receive an unthinkable amount of information just by talking like this – and they will pick up all of it, unconsciously. This is something that normally would burden the brain, ‘all the information obtained by sight’ which will only cause an overflow; they will record it all without casting aside a single thing. Not just the words, but the voice, the smells, the tempo, even a single stain on this wall – all of it, unconsciously.
The information from everything in the environment is mixed together in a coordinated fashion; the moment the result which would be inevitably derived from this arrangement is confirmed, is when they see the future as a clip. Prediction of the future is not instinct, is nothing more than advanced information processing. It isn’t something episodic, like the way Shiki somehow manages to read ahead. They are normal people with a regression in just one part of their functions.”
“…It’s a regression? Even though they can do something so amazing?”
“Of course. Humans, having evolved as intelligent beings, are able to pick up only the information necessary to them through clever selection. Nowadays, civilised societies have become too complex and cannot be completely processed by humans.
This doesn’t need to be said, but there is a gap between the environment we are in, and the world that we individually recognise. The world we individually grasp is revised based on individual values. There are individual differences in the choice between what is necessary and what is not – you know this, right?
It’s the same as the case of the Fujou Building. Originally, the world is perceived using all five senses, with all of them connecting together forming a single union; it is correct to grasp the world like this. However, that is futile. That sort of information processing is futile. In any case, it would not be a great difference whether or not civilised societies possessed ways other than sight to recognise the external world. Individualisation and adaptation are the prime virtues of us humans. When we broke off from primates, we naturally lost that connection, and began to use all of the five senses as a unitary function. We do not divert our attention for every single thing which does not connect. It’s a conservation of mental energy. Labour is something confined to only ever decrease. We have no interest for anything but ourselves, so we pick up nothing except truths which bring benefits to ourselves. After all, that is the method of our certain, accelerating growth; it took us a thousand years to understand this.
…Let’s go back to the example before.
Victim A and Culprit B; no matter who you look from, you would see the future of ‘being killed, killing’ with precognition. You would not see the image of the criminal, but you can read out the result even just from A. The is the result gained from reading A’s lifestyle patterns, even A’s unconscious perception of danger which is unknown to himself – but if a human is constantly processing this information, he would be crushed. Precognition is an unnecessary power now. Machines which can substitute it have already been invented, and continue to evolve day by day. Eventually, the day may come when we are overtaken by artificial intelligence capable of estimating the formless future.”
The information originally obtained by the senses of seeing and hearing.
An intelligent prospect, conjecture of the future.
Unifying them, lifting them to the limits of reality – that is precognition.
They are looking, not at the ‘future several minutes later’,
but the ‘result several minutes later’ produced by reality.
“Hmph. But this guy’s different. He’s not seeing anything at all.”
“Hm? Being able to see the future without any prior arrangements, you can’t even call that prediction anymore. It’s not a special right; it’s abusing a privilege.”
“…That’s not seeing. But whatever, it’s annoying. Anyway, there are two kinds of precognition, right? So what’s the exact difference between prediction and calculation, Touko?”
The magus spoke of the difference between prediction and calculation.
The one with practical uses – that would be calculation,
and the one which would be dangerous as a culprit – that would also be calculation.
– On the other hand,
the correct method as a human being would be prediction,
and the one which would be compatible with Ryougi Shiki is –
“Well, it’s just what-if’s, but I can’t help that. Let’s end the talk about precognition here – Mikiya-kun, can you bring me some tea? I’m thirsty from talking so much.”
“Yes, right away… but Chief, what should you do if you meet someone with precognition?”
“Hm? If it’s the prediction kind of precognition, then it’s fine to just leave them alone. Right? Relatively speaking, they are the ones who would more easily fit in with society. If they can precisely offer advice to a third party, then they can precisely form compromises.”