Paper Office: TAKASHI KURATA
February 9, 2016
Interfaces in 2036, imagined by sci-fi author Takashi Kurata, is introduced in seven segments, four from a short story and three from an interview with him. This is the prologue of the story. Three individuals, two men and a woman, are locked in a cylindrical paper office made of a new type of paper called, Papel Nova. As they try to escape, what are the recurring thoughts they experience?
New Year’s Eve 2036
“I think the bars are closing,” Wakana Sasanami mumbled.
Roni Yoshida broke out into his usual grin and suggested, “Let’s pick up some liquor at the convenience store and just drink on the street.”
Sasanami chuckled bitterly and said, “I haven’t drunk like that in more than ten years, and I’m not going to do it today either. Plus it’s cold.”
It was ten o’ clock on New Year’s Eve, 2036, and the temperature was three degrees outside. Comparatively, the paper office was warmer. Going out was not an option, but it was in fact quite comfortable where they were. Three individuals were locked inside a cylindrical space that had been turned on its side, and was made with a special type of paper. Kei Tomi, a 28 year-old male engineer. Wakana Sasanami, a 32 year-old Member of the House of Representatives and the mother of two. And Roni Yoshida, a thin, 40-ish male Zingalamaduni alien sporting a beard.
“Yoshida, can’t you get in touch with your own planet?”
“The planet is gone. It was blown away.”
“Didn’t you say the other day that it still existed?”
“Well, for us it will always exist in our hearts.”
Meeting the forceful tone of Sasanami’s voice, came Yoshida’s, which showed no signs of tension. Tomi paid no attention to the exchange between the two individuals he had invited there, and was staring at the paper in his hand. It was an A4-size piece of paper with color printing and from a distance looked quite similar to the menu screen of a tablet PC. Icons were lined up and the time was displayed with changing numbers. In short, the sheet of paper was an animated display.
Tomi held the paper up in front of his face and verbalized, “Divide A5.” A small confirmation window appeared on the surface of the paper. With his finger he tapped the ‘OK’ button in the window and then grasped the paper and lightly jiggled the edges. A slow tearing sound was produced and the A4-size sheet neatly divided into two A5 sheets of paper. The paper system precisely changed the adhesive structure along the fine straight dividing line, and weakened the fiber bonds. The two resulting pieces of paper displayed the menu screen of the original sheet, but reduced to 70%.
Every single fiber that made up the paper was as fine as that of the kouzo and mitsumata plants, mass-produced micro electronic devices. These devices produced light and color that created the display of the paper. The brand name was Papel Nova and the product was built on state-of-the-art nano-manufacturing and rapid production. The company where Tomi worked was a developer of output equipment for offices and maintained a virtual monopoly on the market.
The paper office that the three individuals were locked inside of was also made of Papel Nova. The high-strength exterior and total surface area display of the interior walls were printed out using general-purpose office equipment. It was to be released to the general public in the upcoming year as a presentation space.
The three entered through a door located at one end of the cylindrical space and later the door would no longer open. The operation panel, a menu, had stopped responding. The wall was extremely hard and all radio waves were cut off from the outside.
“What do you think? Is there something we can do to get out?” After Sasanami asked the question, Tomi handed her one of the two pieces of paper that had just been created. Tomi’s face seemed to reveal a glow that he knew a way to get out. Each of them took a piece of paper. Sasanami held a teasing expression, and Tomi displayed a smirk.
“Please fold it. I’ll tell you how.”