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Akihara Nana’s Data Input
Data Input #8930: Akihara Nana
Third month, Sun @ Institution
I was a seventh year at the Heian branch of the Institution. It was third month, so it was the start for lecture sign-ups as well as summer programs hunts. Slots go out quickly, so after I received the notification, I settled by an empty outlet in the main court, plugged in my google and started scrolling. I had decided to start my studies abroad early and was eying a prestigious off-shore teaching hospital—the Hawaii Research Branch. Minako Ieya, Shiko Kotowa, Shibe Yukawa—all of those inspiring fellows started their humble journey there, and now humanity is gifted with printable organs. I dropped Chichi and Haha a note about it a few weeks back, but didn’t get anything back, so I assumed it was a go. A month later, I was on the express heading off.
At the time, I thought I was heading off to the States. And I knew at the time Motherland has been setting up bases around the world to help other nations get back on their feet after the Great Fall. So I was naturally excited. I was going to be part of this great expedition, this great institution, help change the world, and come back a hero. Everyone loves that on a resume right?
Third month, Water @ Hawaii
That was when I met Fukuza. He was standing at the main court when I arrived at the port. He looked scrawny, so imagine my reaction when he lifted my bags with such ease and grace. He led me down a hall to the auto and drove for two hours. He talked about the waves and the reefs as I looked out the window. The sand on Hawaii is composed of the same material as the sand on Motherland—feldspar, quartz, calcium carbonate, and miscellaneous—but I took in long breaths of the Pacific Ocean’s salty winds and continued gazing at the long strips of yellow sand. When we arrived at the hospital, the sun was almost setting. The glass building shone, almost like the free, open sea.
I was led in. By the by, Fukuza was the Chief, but he told me to call him plain Fukuza. I was assigned to study under his close guidance. As I followed him into an elevator shuttling us to his office entrance, he explained some ground rules: no relationships with patients, no conversations beyond that related to the case at hand, no interviews, no reporting any incidents in the Research Branch to paperists as most materials are highly confidential until patented or published or something of the sort, and so on and so on. I forget precisely, but it doesn’t matter.
He went on about the building’s founders for a minute or two, about how they were all inspirations, and then handed me a notebook with two lines on it. Cardiac Engineering: Development of Viable Scaffolding as a Base-Structure for Harvested Human Heart Cells. Patient I: 03945. Patients didn’t have names, I was told. He walked me to an empty lab and left. I was to report my findings to him every second Gold, and send him a note if I had any questions. I was technically—as far as my recommendations and my notebooks read—on my own, starting what was supposed to be ground breaking work.
Third month, Wood @ Hawaii
His name was Sool. When I walked in and called him oh-thirty-nine-forty-five as his file ID reads, he told me he was Sool. “Way easier to remember than those ruddy numericals,” he mumbled. I wasn’t allowed to speak to him if it didn’t directly pertain to the trial, so I ignored him and continued. I noted his physiques: yellow pin-like scars on the right arm and purple ones on the left arm, a patch of melanin on his left knee, his first, second and third rib pairs stretching his tight skin, and a duly lot of white keratin bordering an empty lot of smooth scalp. He slowly nodded, tapping his right foot, as I listed each of them. I scribbled ‘restless foot.’
“Anything else I should add?” I asked, hoping I had received a mentally unstable, psychology-rich research subject. That would certainly enrich my studies and make my reports more interesting. But he only grunted as he got up, hobbling onto his right leg as he reached for a thick wooden stick by the door.
A little disappointed, I admit I was. But I scribbled down ‘emotionally unstable—need further inspection’ on the page before signing him out.
Third month, Gold @ Hawaii
He wasn’t afraid of the needle, something I much appreciated after hearing tales of upperclassmen who dealt with squirmy kid-patients. In fact, he didn’t even so much as twitch when I pinched his index to draw a 30 cc of blood. As I worked, labeling the vials and packing them into different boxes for later, he watched me tentatively.
“Nothin’. Just checkin’ you’s puttin’ that into the right or’er. Ya can’t believe how man’ of ‘em swap the two in mis’ake and I’d just get ‘nother two prickin’s aga’n.”
I continued to work and he continued to watch.
“Hey, doc?” I took out my google and opened an excel.
“D’yar from that Insti’ution or somethin’, yeah?”
I was surprised since nobody should have told him anything about Motherland. I packed the last tube into a testing box and documented it on the excel. “Yes.”
“’ns you do lots of studyin’, yeah, ever read’uhn ‘bout Cavendish?”
I told him to stand on the scale and measured his height. 1.6 meters, I recorded.
“Yessuh. Grandmaw told me ‘bout it. When she was a little girl, she loved that stor’. Watched it thrice when it came auhn out, she boast’ah o’hers down at Alleysway.” 55.8 kilos.
“D’you know when I pass ‘nd I leavin’, folks says my body will lose some pounds. They says i’s my soul. Right auhn ‘ere, they says.” He points at his chest.
I chuckled. The Soul is a mere document in the Archive born with each person. A digital record for future references. I closed my folders.
“’Tis truth. Yah dun believe it, eh, doc?”
I told him he could leave and take the next day off. Testing his blood would take two days at least.
Third month, Earth @ Hawaii
I popped the vials into different automators today and left the lab for my first excursion. My first taste of Hawaii outside of the lab room, and where better to understand the culture than the village. Fukuza said to not talk with my patient, but he never explicitly said to avoid Natives. So, I walked a good half-hour to the small rustic town of Valleys. There were several other Motherlanders about.
“Akihara, over here. Please, join us for some Moanokes.”
“I am Koto Ai, specializing in orthology. And this is my partner Kisa Mao, specializing in neurology. We’re both from the Edo Branch of the Institution.”
“I am Akihara Nana from the Heian Branch, specializing in cardiology. But please call me Nacchan.”
“Nacchan, what are you studying in cardio?”
“Tissue engineering, I suppose. But so far Fukuza only asked me to do a few blood work, so I’m not sure how that will go later.”
“Fukuza? He designed the F002A-type prosthetic limbs. Quite fashionable. Have a pair or two if I might add.” F002A-type prosthetics were popular. Many Motherlanders were switching one limb to the next on the daily basis—silver with lace patterns matching totes, titanium with engravings matching tatts, synthetic jade matching hairpieces. It had done much to minimize the social stigma against amputees from the Third War, a great success through and through.
“Yes, I have heard that. It’s such an honor to work with such a reputable researcher.”
The fellows needed to return to their work by noon. “Today, we’re harvesting for our experiments. Wouldn’t want to be late unless we would have wasted a month of work and tests.” We said our farewells and I wandered by the beach rather than going deeper into the village. By the time I had returned, the tests were finished. It turned out 03945 had opsinopathy.
Fourth month, Sun @ Hawaii
“What do you mean you knew?”
“’Tis what the old doc told me. Oppahsinahpath’or’uther.”
“Yeah. That’s why I’m here right now, eh. The old doc says you help with experry’ents’n’all. So what’s tha plan, doc?”
“I need to do more tests firsts.”
“Take as much blood as you need. Dun worry ‘bout me. My little grand-girl is cookin’ me might meals ev’ryday.” He seemed bright and cheery today, so I took out my kit and pricked him on his other index finger.
“Ya know, my little grand-girl is supreme. She cooks for me, lissin to me stories, and is the prettiest one out there. Not like ol’ Cavendish and his fam’ly, no. My girl has a beauty heart, ev’ryone says.” He holds a faded picture of a baby for me to look at.
“I’m sure.” I took the vial and placed it on ice.
“Say, I wond’rin’ if we gots the same blood in us, you’n’me.”
“I am a Motherlander. A Heian descent.”
“O’ you ne’er know fo shoor. Long, long time ago, Motherlanders came to Hawaii and stayed here to live. Or so my grandmaw told it. We was some Buddhist or somethin’. The one with those spirits floatin’ all th’ time.”
“Buddhism does not exist on Motherland.” I tapped his knees as preliminary test on nerves. Clouds are made of water vapor, H2O molecules bonded to each other. Nowhere would you see people in togas drifting down. Wet suits maybe to avoid the wetness as they put up ads, but no togas.
“No, I no Buddhist no more. Just believe in spirit is all.”
“Science is the only truth.”
“But shoorly you ‘lieve in souls in hearts and reincarnations dun’cha?”
I explained to him that the heart was merely a beating organ that pumped blood through arteries and veins. There were four chambers made of muscles, contracting and relaxing in sequence. Souls were Souls. The only ones existed in the Archives. And reincarnations couldn’t be proven, so we couldn’t just assume what we wanted.
“Soul is no dockyment or arkive. Soul is no object ‘un’o’nother. Soul is free. Soul is a verb.” He dramatically extends his arm in front of him, almost knocking over a tube. I lowered his arm.
“We unfortunately do not know too much about opsinopathy. We might have to test your granddaughter as well.”
“My grand-girl? No, she’s too ‘fraid o’ doctors. Too ‘fraid.”
“You should convince her otherwise.”
“Maybe, maybe.” He stood up and hobbled off.
Fourth month, Wood @ Hawaii
After that, I hadn’t seen 03945 for a few days. He missed his check-ups, so I headed out to Valley to look for him. The village was broken up into two different sections, as far as I could tell. The outskirts were where the Motherlanders stayed and drank a few strong Moanokes. There were little ones holding up self-rolled dewppies and others going around with a mirror and a brush. Women stood by doorways in bright clothes, and sometimes Motherlanders, too drunk to control their conduct, would point and burst out laughing. One or two would slip them a note now and then. I was appalled at first—at my failure to notice these people my first visit to the village, and at the ease at which Motherlanders fall under the spell of Moanokes. Leaders in the fields of neurology and chemistry were only thirty minutes away.
I stopped a kid on the path and asked him where oh—Sool lived. The kid shrugged and twisted out from my grasp. So I walked up to one of the women.
“Soh, we ‘ave a Smart here, eh? You want some pleasah?”
I cleared my throat. “No, I have a question regarding a patient of mine.”
She held her veil and let it flutter, following the figure-eight she made with her hands. She batted her eyebrows and faced the clouds outside. I pulled out a note. “Sool?”
“’Tis that ol’ Sool? You’s never find ‘em here in ‘tis village.”
“But he says he lives in Alleysway. Isn’t that Valleys village, here?”
She smirked. “No. Alleysway. Alley. Different. He is free with grand-girl, he says. Free in the way ‘here.”
Fourth month, Gold @ Hawaii
It was the first day I went to meet Fukuza. Our first little meeting about my research project. I don’t remember much of what went on. But I do clearly remember he wasn’t happy that I lost my patient somewhere in the woods.
“You inquired about his life?”
“No, he did the talking.”
“But you weren’t supposed to go off and take on another patient.”
I didn’t speak.
“Opsinopathy can cause delusions in patients. He needs a heart as soon as possible, which is why I asked you to construct a scaffold.”
“But how? It has never been done before.”
“Use stem cells extracted from his heart.”
“He might die.”
“This is your career. He’s an old Valleys. Guess how I’m here today.”
Data Input: #8931 Akihara Nana
The talk with Fukuza replayed in my mind. Societal obligations had it that Chichi and Haha raise me as a child, and I raise them when I can work. Disobeying this law resulted in shame, so I tried to find Sool the first week. More than once, I noticed these lithographs on stones by the woods. Yet more than once, I followed them but they led me in circles. I was blindly searching for him and getting no better at it. So I decided to do the one thing I could to get closer to understanding him: learn about Cavendish. The creation in whole—especially the unlikeliness of the chain of events—was ridiculous. Life is logical, and the probability of such a chain of events happening is infinitesimally low.
Fifth month, Water @ Hawaii
A good month has gone by, and my position and future has been again threatened. But this time, out of the blue, Sool appeared for the check-up. I was so relieved he was sound, minus a few scrapes on his legs and the soot coating his fingernails. I began repairing him, pouring saline water over the small wounds.
“I was goin’ to go get sum watar when I see none coming from the tap. So I follow ‘em roots and tries to see what’s goin’ on.”
“Wells, you see doc, not too long ago, we has people comin’ from Japan, buildin’ these long tubes that bring watar to taps we can drink from. An’ I jus’ saw we dun have no tap no more. Now we can’t live without fresh tap, so the tubes needin’ some fixin’ is all. Wasn’t sure where, so I followed ‘em tubes and sees where the leak is comin’ from. Tried patchin’ it’n’all.”
“The pipes broke down?”
“And you fixed it.”
“Nuh uh. It be too hard’n’all, so I give up and came back ‘ere. ‘nd guess what I seen long the way to ‘ere.”
“’nother tap jus’ like the Japinese tap, only ‘tis uhn has a redder flag. Brokin’ nun’heless. Shame. Nows we wait for ‘nother country to come.”
“Why not get them fixed?”
“Nobody to fix ‘em ‘ere. All donayshions, they goes to the buildin’ o’ metals’n’all, but none to keep ‘em goin’. Sumtimes ah wunder if yous Smarts are Smarts. E’erythin’ people see from the Alley dun mattar no more.’nd e’erythin’ that mattars from the Alley, people dun see. But ‘tis ol’ fool ne’er been schooled, so maybe ‘tas the way to save more. Not shoor no more.”
I didn’t know how to respond, so I just continued bandaging his wounds. Then, I started on the fingernails.
Sixth month, Moon @ Hawaii
Sool had been restored and perfectly healthy. For a few days already actually. Fukuza was becoming more impatient with me, but I stalled for as long as I could. Then, Fukuza threatened to pick up the work himself. He was giving his aid to make sure I became the next Fukuza, but he said I take it too much for granted. If I didn’t show any progress soon, I would be forced to leave the Institution. But I didn’t have anyone to speak with at that time. The Motherlanders caught wind of the friction between me and Fukuza and decided to fully ignore my existence. Every time I walked through the hallways, they gave me the cold shoulder. Better than being like a Native I suppose.
“03945. You understand the risks of this procedure, am I correct?”
“And you are aware that you are signing away yourself?”
“Yea, doc. It’s no use for a nobody lik me in the Alleysway tryin’ to fix ‘em tubes. Bettah off donatin’o’somethin’ to the worl’. Plus, I’m too ol’ to fight no more. ‘Tis mah las’ chance o’ helpin’, you see doc. Aw, dun be lik’at, doc. I dun ‘lieve in much, but I do ‘ave sum hope lef’in me. Prolly why Grandmaw lov ol’ Cavendish so much. We’s all be creatin’ our own Cavendish ‘tis way you see.”
“Science is truth. You will die.”
“’ell I’ll jus’ hafta be re’ncarnated to sumthin’ bettah my nex’ life.”
Eleventh month, Water @ Hawaii
The Institution congratulated me on my success. The scaffold heart was a success. But that was the last time I saw Sool. I came in contact with his body, as I eventually harvested the heart cells and other cells, but that was just a corpse then.
Sool was wrong. In a perfectly sterile environment with the right humidity to prevent immediate decaying, his weight remained the same. I would love to believe in spiritual reincarnation, but sadly I don’t. But, in the nitrogen and carbon cycle maybe. Biochemically at least, reincarnation is a fact. Donate your ashes to a Valley farmer.