In the Labyrinth
The waiting room at Nebula Medical looked just like any other waiting room. Boring magazines stacked on plain tables and beige walls that no one could actually find objectionable. Souji had already filled out the paperwork from the e-mail and so now he just sat waiting.
No one else.
That was really the only thing that made him nervous. There was always at least someone else in a waiting room, but this was just him and the secretary.
A man, probably middle-aged, walked into the room from further inside the complex.
Souji stood. “Yeah.”
“I’m Doctor Kishitani. Thank you so much for coming on such short notice.” He bowed deeply. “Will you follow me to my office?”
“I’m one of the doctors in charge,” Doctor Kishitani explained as they headed into the complex. “Especially for the initial screening. May I ask why you chose to participate?”
Souji shrugged. “Sounded interesting.”
“Ah, the best of all reasons, curiosity.” The doctor positively beamed. “And you’re in university right now?”
“Yeah. Studying engineering.” That seemed like pertinent enough information.
“A difficult degree. What made you decide to pursue it?”
Souji shrugged again. “Sounded interesting.”
“Guess I just wanted to watch all the pieces come together. I like it when individual things come together to make a whole, and I want to work in a team environment.”
“So you like working with a team?”
“Generally, yeah.” Not doing such a great job of it right now, but yeah. “I guess this appealed to me because I’m really interested in how people get along with each other.”
“Maybe you should have considered psychology then.”
“Maybe, but when I looked at the courses and talked to the faculty it just didn’t feel right.”
“That can happen, especially if you are somewhat restricted in where you can attend.”
“I guess. What about you? What made you want to perform this study?”
“Sounded interesting,” the man quipped. “In all honesty, it’s simply because the connection between our scientific mind, the matter in our heads, and our behavior fascinates me. We can track certain things, but behaviors which you might associate with a heart or a soul are more challenging. We’re hoping to learn about that element of the human mind.”
“You must have sponsors?” In fact, Mitsuru had messaged him that the Kirijo group was among those sponsors, but he was curious as to how open they were willing to be, and who else might be involved.
“Of course. Many companies feel it would useful to advertising, while more humanitarian efforts feel it can promote our understanding of mental health and help catch when someone is suffering from suicidal thoughts.”
“I like the honesty about the ads.”
“While helping others is a noble goal, humans tends to prefer to see the payoff. For me, the knowledge is the payoff. For a company it is the idea that they can use it to help generate more customers and keep employees happy and in line. What sort of things do you find rewarding?”
“I just like helping people. It’s all worth it when someone really smiles.”
Doctor Kishitani chuckled slightly. “You truly are noble.”
“Is that a problem?”
“No. In fact, I suspect you will fit in quite well with our research.”
“Because I’m noble?”
“Because you’re kind.”
“That’s what you’re looking for?”
“Those who are kind are often in agony. They suffer so others may smile, yet find comfort in that smile. In some ways it is the most confusing of behaviors, yet it is the one we most often encourage. Don’t you think that’s interesting in its own right?”
“I never thought it was agony. Not when I really started reaching out to others. Saying goodbye, that’s what hurts, but if you’re really close to someone, then no matter how long it is you always feel like it was just yesterday when you see each other again. You are true friends, and that’s a bond that can never be broken.”
“You really are exceptional if you truly believe that. And I don’t doubt that you think you do. Maybe during these tests we’ll get a better feel of how deeply you truly believe that.”
“You’ll never find the bottom.”
“I certainly hope so.”