A Left Eye of Darkness ('Convent Girl' up 20180527)

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brythain
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A Left Eye of Darkness ('Convent Girl' up 20180527)

Post by brythain » Sun May 27, 2018 1:53 pm

When the dark years came, unexpected leaders arose, and were entangled with unexpected events.


The Girl From The Convent (2044)

I had first met Chiaki Hasegawa at the office of an old friend who was her boss. Poor Misaki, I had said to myself that day, this is the kind of person who will win everything you cannot. She looked intimidating: fit, graceful, with beautiful long black hair neatly pinned up, and the gaze of a tiger.

It had been a year after my interview with that old friend, and I was in his office to hand over some documents in person, from another old friend.

“The Director will see you now,” Hasegawa-san had said. There was something in the way she examined me, despite being a junior officer. It was systematic, unflinching, unblinking. I almost flinched beneath the steady and analytical scan of that gaze.

I put it out of my mind as I completed my errand, and although I had occasion to meet her again, and even converse, over the years, I had never thought to deepen our uncomfortable acquaintance. And then, it was November 2044, and she had become the person in the hidden chamber.

*****

She had changed. She was still calm, unblinking. But she had let down her ebony hair, and there was now a subdued violence about her, an air of someone accustomed to the remorseless use of logic and power: both the power of logic and the logic of power.

“Director Hasegawa,” I said, bowing as I greeted her.

“Kawana-san,” she replied, the angle of her bow just enough to give me slightly more respect than I deserved.

“Thank you for granting me this interview.”

“Ah, your boss is an old and valued associate of this agency, and so are you,” she said, smiling carefully. I say ‘carefully’ because it was gentle on the surface, but precise underneath. She was smiling to indicate that she was not my enemy, but perhaps not my friend.

“Thank you for offering to interview my undistinguished self. Also,” she added, “it is now the policy of our government to give the civil service a more human face. Every individual matters, because each of us is worth more in our complexity than we are as a faceless mass.”

That sudden spouting of the official position was unexpected, but not completely so. We Japanese were barely holding on to our heritage, years after our largest neighbour had come so close to sweeping the entire Pacific board.

I nodded in agreement. “May I set up a panoramic?”

“Of course. Come, let me show you to the little room I work in. It is not the General’s old office in the basement.”

Indeed, it was a tiny room. Somehow, the Director managed to fill it with her dark-haired, slender self. It was as if each strand of her hair was linked to a corner of a worldwide web. As I busied myself in the instruction of my assistant suite, she spoke softly to me.

“What can I do to serve the knowledge of the people?”

It was an odd phrase, and my suite recorded it as the opening phrase of our interview. She had thus far managed to make me uncomfortable several times, but I sensed that it was merely the business of her life.

“You are Director now, as my friend used to be. The people might want to know how this is different for the country, and also for themselves.”

I was being blunt, something I was thoroughly unaccustomed to be. Silently, I cursed myself for attempting such an approach.

Yet, Director Hasegawa’s lips curled in a smile. Then, as unexpectedly as blossoms in winter, a grin appeared. I could see her teeth.

“Oh, of course there is difference. The General was crafty, but also prone to sudden leaps of intuition. On occasion, those leaps landed him in places that were difficult to negotiate. I am not as clever. I do not leap from place to place, but I find bad hats well, I see patterns quickly, and I focus on each job in the greater picture—one at a time, until they are all done.”

“Could the honourable Director please tell me more about how she came to be this way?”

“It is a long story. I was brought up Catholic by accident, in a convent. My parents felt that it would provide a good environment. I was a very different sort of child. It’s probably best to say that I fell on my head as a baby. But I also have some genetic disorders. My brain seems to have minor complexities, shall we say, and my eyesight is not normal. Somehow, I have managed to perform as required, academically and at work, without extreme difficulty. I have been fortunate.”

“Fortunate? Or talented enough to appear so?” I smiled back.

“My experience is that children see through adults easily. Ask the General’s son. He keeps calling me ‘Aunty’, although I am no blood relation of his. Our culture allows for such things, but it makes me feel old and encyclopaedic. Meanwhile, the young man insists I am as talented as a trapeze artist, and as beautiful as a stork.”

“That is rather… odd.”

“He himself is rather odd. But he will serve the people too, if he has his way, in his own way. I am rather fond of him, for he is very unlike his father.”

“Does this mean you found his father difficult to be fond of?”

She smiles again with utter lack of humour. Something else is there, though, something wry.

“It is a private thing, but I will say that the General has always been supportive of my unorthodox thinking. Sometimes, he was even more unorthodox than I. There was mutual respect, or so I would prefer to believe.”

“So, Director-san, what do you think the future holds for our country?”

The ghost of a frown appears on her smoothly made-up face. Perhaps it is a made-up frown? I cannot tell.

“I think times will get hard before they get better. We will watch a whole generation grow up in turmoil. It’s our job to protect them from themselves until they know better. There are enemies everywhere.”

“How will you protect them?”

“By knowing more than they. By using all the tools we have, and being ruthless about it.”

“Is this the way a democracy works?” I said, only partly teasing.

She smiled gently. “It is the only way a functional state actually works. That is what I learnt in the convent. Thank you for interviewing me. It is always good to have some access to the people.”

What can you say to that kind of exit? We rose, exchanged bows, and traded courtesies until I was no longer within range. At the end of 2044, I felt that we would experience many regrettable things in the decade or so ahead. When they came, I was shocked nevertheless.

=====
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Post-Yamaku, what happens? After The Dream is a mosaic that follows everyone to the (sometimes) bitter end.
Main Index (Complete)Shizune/Lilly/Emi/Hanako/Rin/Misha + Miki + Natsume
Secondary Arcs: Rika/Mutou/AkiraHideaki | Others (WIP): Straw—A Dream of SuzuSakura—The Kenji Saga.
"Much has been lost, and there is much left to lose." — Tim Powers, The Drawing of the Dark (1979)

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