ー “Hm, other than me, I wonder if there are more people here from the future?”
Unlike me, who was still a bit shaken, Misora-neesan talked as calmly as usual. I quickly calmed myself down and tried to think logically. I like to think that being able to do so is one of my strong suits.
“As far as I knowー”
ー “Wait, Tomoe, you can’t tell me.”
“Eh? Why not?”
ー “A paradox occurs. Would you like to come to my house today?”
“Sure, I guess.”
Sadly, I’m used to being suddenly called somewhere. I turned around and started heading to the Matsuse house.
“Misora-neesan, can I ask one thing?”
ー “Sure, and you can ask more than one.”
“Misora-neesan, are we dating in the future or something?”
ー “Hahh… I didn’t say I’d answer, though.”
She dodged the question…
Did I do a three-way thing in the future? I did, didn’t I?
I started to become anxious, and for some reason I started walking faster. I sure wish I could look into the future and see what I will do.
Our call got interrupted by an incoming call from my parents. I told them I was asked to come over by the Matsuses and they gave me the okay. I’d always been close to Misora-neesan. We’d often play games at her house all night long, so it wasn't anything for my parents to worry about. Heh, don’t you know that your son is going to die soon?
I walked through the wooden gate and saw the familiar stucco wall of the Matsuse family house. One of the maids greeted me at the entrance.
“The Young Lady has told us that you will be coming today. Would you like dinner?”
“Has Misora-neesan eaten yet?”
“Then, I think we’ll have dinner together.”
“Shall I bring it to your room?”
The maid bowed and walked to Misora-neesan’s room, her footsteps completely silent.
An insect buzzed in the garden. It probably came from the corner of the garden the light didn't reach.
TN: Traditional Japanese houses sometimes have hallways that are open to a courtyard-garden: image.
When we were kids, we used to launch fireworks in this uselessly big courtyard, but I hadn't been in the garden for years. As I remembered my childhood, the sounds of the insects seemed to be calling me.
My cousin’s room was leaking cold air, just like this morning.
“My Lady, Tomoe Shirasugi-sama has arrived.”
A quiet and dignified yet commanding voice came from inside. The maid silently opened the door for me, and motioned me in. Inside, Misora-neesan was looking at a screen. She sat with a straight back, and her graceful figure made her a beauty worthy of carrying the Matsuse family name.
The maid let out a soft sigh, as though under pressure. As I walked into the room, she closed the door behind me. The maid’s footsteps faded away, and Misora-neesan exhaled and leaned back in her chair.
“Hahh… Don’t you think it’s a bit much to ask me to be the ideal daughter? Tomoe, have you had dinner?”
“I figured you’d be tired, so I told them to bring it here.”
“As expected of Tomoe. My childhood friend and devoted follower is top-notch.”
“You’re in a good mood. Do you want pudding for dessert?”
“Did you buy some? I’ll take it as a thank-you gift.”
She spun in her chair to face me, and got up to face me. With a light step, she turned toward her bed and threw herself on it, face up. With a poof, a sweet scent drifted in the air. I sat down on a cushion on the floor, unfazed by the familiar scent of my cousin.
She looks at me, saying something about a Buddha pose.
“I’m sure you’re having a fun day with your opening ceremony, part time job, and other stuff. But what’s important right now is the paradox I told you about over the phone.”
“Ahh, that. What do you mean I can’t tell you whether or not there are other future people?”
“Yeah. Hmm, where do I start?”
She thought about it for a while, then spoke up.
“You know the thought experiment called ‘Schrodinger's Cat’?”
“Well, everyone does.”
Schrodinger’s Cat is a thought experiment in which poison gas is injected into a box containing a cat. The idea is that until we open the box to check, the cat is both dead and alive at the same time. That’s the main idea.
“Right. What do you think would happen if you put another cat into the same box?”
“Huh? It doesn’t change… Ah, the cats observe each other?”
She nodded, and stood up.
“If someone from the future is alone in this timeline, then nobody can determine if you're from the future or not. They can’t observe you. Think of this person as the cat, and this timeline as the box. So, if a second person comes from the future, they’ll know that the other is from the future. Then what?”
“What’s going to happen?”
“Their memory of the future they’re from will disappear. In other words, you’ll stop being from the future. Your brain will be overloaded, and you might fall into a coma, or worse, die.”
She was pointing at her head with her index finger as she said it.
You say it so nonchalantly, but it’s truly something to be worried about.
“…How did I get in this mess?”
“It causes a paradox. For example, if Tomoe came back from the future and told me so, my memories would disappear. Because the Tomoe I was observing before wasn’t from the future, there would be a contradiction.”
So this is what you meant when you talked about the two cats in the same box earlier. These cats will observe each other, in this case determine that the other is from the future.
“If that’s the case, why am I safe, even though I know Misora-neesan is from the future?”
“It’s simple. You’re from this timeline. In other words, you’re not a cat, you’re just a part of the box. There’s no contradiction when you observe someone from the future.”
I guess that makes sense. I didn't have memories from the future, so I couldn't ‘recognize’ this contradiction.
“So it’s dangerous for people from the future to run into each other?”
“It’s dangerous, but as long as we don’t find out the other is from the future, it’s fine. If they returned from a week into the future, when this week passes, they're no longer ‘from the future’.”
Don’t people from the future only lose their memories of the future when they meet each other, though? In other words, as long as neither tells the other they’re from the future, it’s safe. Even if Misora-neesan, Sasashino and Jindou are all in the same room. Looking back, both Sasashino and Jindou cupped their hands over my ear when they told me that they’re from the future. Were they worried about the possibility that someone like them might overhear? From what I can tell, it’s risky for someone from the future to tell you that they are such. If you’re not careful about it, you’ve got a real risk of dying. The world shouldn’t be full of people from the future, right? Still, the reason all three revealed to me that they were from the future is because they need my help to change my fate. I felt sorry that I ignored Sasashino’s and Jindou’s confessions like I did. I’ll apologize tomorrow.
“So basically: when two people from the future meet and there’s a discrepancy between their memories of the future, both lose their consciousness and their memories. That way, the contradiction sorts itself out. That’s all you need to remember. The mouth is the source of all evil.”
She looked me in the eyes.
“And so we, the people from the future, must blend in, and only act in the background to change fate.”
With such a conclusion, she said the name of this phenomenon relating to people of the future with pride.
“And that is Schrodinger’s Cheshire Cat.”
…Schrodinger’s Cheshire Cat.
In a box I know as the world, people from the future will become the Cheshire Cat, the cat-like character from Alice in Wonderland that turns invisible, leaving only its smiling mouth.
TN: Looks like this: image.
I’m starting to get what she’s trying to say. I’ll never actually see this ‘Schrodinger's Cheshire Cat’.
I didn't want any of these people from the future to have their memories disappear, and die when the date comes where they travelled back. And I especially didn't want someone I knew to die.
“I’ll watch my words, then.”
“Please do. I don’t want to disappear either, you know.”
“Hey, did you come up with that theory from firsthand experience?”
“I won’t say.”
I couldn’t keep trying to get an answer out of her. She looked like she was trying not to think of the pain.
Misora-neesan gently poked my forehead with her finger.
“People come back from the future to redo the past. It’s like playing with fate. Unpredictable things happen to them. That's why, Tomoe, if someone from the future is in trouble, you should try to help them.”
“…It’s the same whether they’re from the future or not. They don’t have to be anyone special. If someone’s in trouble, you help them, whether they’re from the future or from space.”
Misora-neesan laughed, looking both happy and surprised, like a stray cat that was pampered.
“That’s right. Tomoe was always that kind of guy, wasn’t he?”
Want release updates? Join us at https://discord.gg/n3Tuy7NTvw.