Sunday, May 24, 2015

The Advancement of Mateo Matic: March 31, 3118

Click here for the 2015 table of contents.

Everything changed. Mateo was no longer in the Snow White coffin. Instead, he found himself on a comfortable bed inside of a larger dome. There was no discernable way out of the dome. He looked around for a seam, and banged on the glass, but it was useless. Around the dome were machines and other instruments. The rest of the room was empty, except for a man who was staring at him without a hint of surprise. “Welcome back, sir.”
“What is this? Where am I?”
“You’re safe. We need to keep you in there or you’ll be contaminated. We built this facility around your jumpsite so that you would never breathe the open air.”
“What year is this?”
“Thirty-one-eighteen.”
“No, that’s not right,” Mateo reasoned. “It should be 2024.”
“It should be, yes. But it isn’t. The machine that the old scientist had you in disrupted your pattern, and threw you here. And it’s a good thing it did.”
“Why is that?”
“You are very special to us. Your genes are the key to the revival of the human race. You are to become the father of a multitude.”
“Why can’t you do it?”
“I’m not biological. And even if I were, I would already be contaminated. Everyone is. The few living humans are incapable of reproducing. You’re the first pristine person we’ve encountered in decades.”
“And you knew I was coming?”
“You told us.”
Mateo nodded. “That makes no sense.”
“You helped us build this place,” the man explained. “Yesterday.”
“If you’ve already met me, then why didn’t the other me help you with your virus problem?”
The apparently non-human laughed. “That version of you was contaminated, along with everyone else. After today, you will travel back to your time period, and then you will resume your pattern. Centuries later, you will jump into a year after the virus is first released, and it will infect you.”
“But it won’t kill me?”
He shook his head. “That’s not what the virus does.”
Mateo sighed. “What do you need from me? This me?”
“Samples. Lots of samples.”
Mateo let the machines run tests and take samples from him, partly because he didn’t feel like he had a choice, but also because if there was even a slight chance for him to save humanity, he couldn’t risk refusing. They needed a lot more than Professor Andrews had. He was feeling a bit violated, honestly, especially since they at one point gave him anesthetic and took some of his seed. But he learned a little bit more about how the world had been developing. Biological humans were a dying race. The man was hesitant to tell him too much, including how the infection began. They were worried about him going back and altering the timeline. He could make things better, or he could make things worse. There were too many variables to count, and even a nanite transhuman was incapable of accounting for all of them. The dangers of time travel. But if that were true, how were the powers that be justifying their intervention in the timeline? Once the machines were finished, and the samples had been safely taken out of the enclosure, Mateo took a much needed nap.
He must have dreamt of it, because when he awoke, he remembered the device that Daria had given him yesterday. The man scanned it with his high tech robot eyes and nodded. “I could read that easily, but not from out here.” He waved his hand at the dome. “You actually have everything you need in there, but you would need to build the interface from parts.”
“Teach me,” Mateo asked.
And so the man went about giving him instructions. He had him strip parts from machines they no longer needed, and haphazardly put them together. He even had to use a sort of soldering tool to mold the pieces. Finally, he had what he needed. He inserted the device and let it play.
A video automatically came up on the screen. On it was a man he didn’t recognize. He had a sinister smile on his face. “Mateo Matic. The Transient Hero of Earth. You’ve not yet met me, but I know you. I’ve been scouring the timeline, looking for when I could be rid of you before you cause me so many troubles. I’ve been trying to kill you for, well...days. But something always protects you. The powers that be don’t ever let us get close enough to end each other. But I found a loophole. I set in place a series of events that eventually led to your dear aunt Daria giving you this device. It took me a long time, but we’re finally here.” He took a drink from something and slammed it back down on the table. “You’re done! And you haven’t even started!” The machine exploded.
Mateo was thrown into the other side of the dome, but remained conscious. The fire began to consume the bed, and the oxygen was quickly being ripped out of his lungs. He banged on the glass again, and begged the man to let him out.
He just looked back at him in horror. “I can’t let you leave. If you become contaminated, you’ll carry the virus back to the past and make things even worse.”
“But if I die in here, then I can’t go back, which means I can’t return using my regular pattern, which means that I’ll never help you build the dome in the first place!”
“I have to trust that you won’t die,” the man responded. “But I can do nothing from out here. My hands are tied.”
He looked for a way to snuff out the flames. They had left some drinking water for him, but it wasn’t nearly enough to put the fire out. He opened every bottle and started drenching himself with it. The explosion had compromised the integrity of the dome, but the weakest points were very clearly on the other side of the fire. He grabbed some kind of large instrument, then jumped onto a cart. He slammed the instrument into the glass. It didn’t shatter, but it opened up enough for him to escape. He fells to the floor on the other side and began to crawl. There were tons of cuts and second degree burns on his body. He reached out, hoping to receive some help from the robot man.
But the robot man made no move towards him. He stared at him stoically, like he was weighing his options. “I’m sorry.”
“Please. Help!”
“I can’t let you go back to 2025. The virus is bad enough in our time, but we have technology, the human race will survive. We might be different. We may even be unrecognizable. If there is no cure in your uncontaminated blood, we will still find a way to keep going. But we would never survive an early 21st century pandemic.” He started to walk away.
Mateo struggled through the blood in his throat. “Wait, just wait. I’m the cure, right? Well...I was the cure. So, cure me with my old blood.”
“We don’t know how long it’s going to take to develop a cure, or even if there is one. You may be fruitless for us. And we can’t risk losing what few samples you gave us by returning some of it to you on blind faith. I’m very sorry, but your journey is over.”
“But if I don’t survive, I can’t go back to 2025. We just went over this. You need me to build the dome whether I’ve been infected or not.”
“The past can be changed; this much we’ve uncovered. But if it were going to change, it would have already done so from our perspective. As soon as you broke out of the dome, your future—our past—was altered. Yet the dome was still constructed. I don’t know how, but it’s there. Someone must have built it just the same. I’m made out of nanites. I can shift into any shape I choose. Perhaps the man who helped me build it was never you at all, but an imposter.”
“Don’t do this,” Mateo begged, then coughed up a little blood.
Before the man could say anything else, one the walls lit up and turned into a video screen. The man from the message before was back again. “Did you think that that explosion was meant to kill you? That was just the primer. Now it’s time to paint this room red.” He let out an evil laugh.
Mateo prepared himself for another explosion, but yet another man appeared out of nowhere, took him by the shoulders, and jumped them both out of there.
Hours later, Mateo woke up again. He was on a bed of leaves and grass in the dark, but the moon was bright and seemed larger. A teeny tiny dinosaur that looked like a triceratops hopped around nearby. His wounds had been treated with some kind of high-tech liquid bandage. He rolled onto his side and looked around. The man who had taken him out of danger was holding a musket and keeping watch for danger. “Hello?”
The man turned around, but his face remained obstructed by shadows. “How are you feeling?”
“Alive.”
“Alive, and in the Cretaceous period. Great story for your kids.”
“You slungshot me through time, like my aunt.”
He tilted his head. “I don’t think sling is a verb.”
“What’s your name?”
The man looked at his watch. “It’s almost midnight.”
“I can’t know the name of the man who saved my life?”
He dismissed the idea with a wave of his hand. “It’s my job.”
“No, it isn’t. You could quit. Eventually the powers that be would give up on you.”
“You’re just as tenacious as your mother.” The man stepped closer and showed himself by the moonlight.
“Oh my God. You look like me.” It was his father, Mario. Midnight came. Click here for the next installment...

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