Sunday, June 14, 2015

The Advancement of Mateo Matic: April 3, 2027


Mateo opened his eyes. He was on the side of a hill. The sky was swirling with beautiful shades of purple and orange. Lightning danced across the clouds. A light mist overcame him. The wind was simultaneously moderate and powerful enough to make him feel like he was flying. A gentle stream began to roll from his left side; the dirt separating to give it room. It continued to flow listlessly in circles around him. In the unpredictable stream, he could feel the distant comfort of his family. He sat alone on the hill for fourteen years before the water concentrated in a singular mass and began to form the figure of a person. Details of the mass appeared little by little, until he could recognize it as that of his Leona.
“You’re here,” he said to her.
“It’s about time,” she replied.
“I’ve only known you for a couple of weeks. But I kind of think that I’m in love with you,” he divulged.
“It has been much longer for me,” she said sadly. “There is no question that I’m in love with you.”
“I’m sorry.”
“Don’t be. I’m now closer to your age. Had we met at that hospital, for some other reason, you would have ignored me as a child.”
“Is that why I’m jumping through time? Was I just waiting for you?”
“Have you considered that?”
“So...you think I’m done? Do you think they’re going to let me stay, now that we’ve found each other?”
“Might could be.”
“That sounds like wishful thinking.”
“It’s pronounced optimism.”
He laughed.
“Thank you so much for the kidney.”
“I think I would have given my heart. Had you needed it.”
“Theoretical hero.”
He laughed again. “You have my heart anyway, though, I suppose.”
“Don’t be so sappy. I really mean it. You’re giving me the gift of life. Truly. That is a debt I could never repay. I will be forever grateful for you.”
“Wait. Are you here?”
“Of course I am.” She gave him a strange look. “Hell you talkin’ ‘bout?”
“I mean, are you real? Is this not just a dream?”
“Oh. Yeah, it’s my dream.”
“No, it isn’t. It’s mine.”
“I think we’re sharing a dream, Mateo. We must still be in surgery.”
“That explains why I’ve been in the same place for a dozen years, and why you used to be a stream of water.”
“I used to be a what huh?”
He hugged her tightly from the side. “I feel like it’s time for me to wake up now. I’ll see you soon.”
“Have fun. Thanks again. I shall begin to repay you in the real world.”
When Mateo woke up, Dr. Sarka was standing over him. “How are we feeling today?”
He struggled to get his eyes open. He just wanted to stuff himself into the covers and disappear. He whimpered a bit, and felt the urge to whine like a baby. “How is Leona?”
“She’s perfect. There were zero problems. Her new kidney is already doing its job. You did an amazing thing, Mateo.”
“Why are you covered in blood?”
Sarka looked down at his own chest. “Oh, sorry about that. I was a field medic in World War I for a few weeks while you were sleeping. I just got back here.”
“I thought you were only a doctor for salmon.”
“The entire battalion was from the future. The Central Powers won in the original timeline.”
That was an interesting bit of information, but Mateo was far too tired to delve deeper into it, so he just fell back asleep. It seemed like sleeping was one of only two things that he was doing with his life.
When he woke up again, he had been moved to a much larger bed. Leona was lying next to him. “She insisted on it,” Daria whispered to him. “She said that your kidney wasn’t quite ready to be that far away from its counterpart.”
He kissed Leona on the forehead. “I agree.” He looked over to his aunt. “When did you get in?”
“I’ve been here for a couple hours,” she answered. “It would seem as if the powers that be have set up visiting hours for you. Your father is here as well.”
Mateo looked around the blurry room. “Where?”
“He stepped outside when you started waking up. He isn’t sure that you want to see him.”
Mateo took a deep breath. “Seeing as that I can’t get up, could you please inform your brother for me that he needs to get his ass in here. He’s missed twenty-eight years. A few minutes isn’t asking much.”
“You know it wasn’t his fault, right?”
“Yes, I do. That doesn’t mean he should waste what few opportunities he has.”
“True,” Daria said. “I’ll go get him.”
Mateo woke up again hours later. Leona was gone from his side. “What happened?”
“You fell asleep again, honey.”
“Is that normal,” Mateo struggled to say. “I have dry mouth. Am I about to teleport?”
Daria took a noticeable step back from the bed. “I sure hope not. But I do believe dry mouth to be a side effect of morphine. You were in quite a bit of pain. You were screaming and crying. I’m glad that you do not remember that.”
“My father was here.”
“I still am,” Mario said from the other side of the bed.
The morphine was starting to become more obvious for him. He was talking in a way that was unlike him. But he couldn’t help it. “Mario. Mario!”
“Yes?”
“Mario! Answer me.”
“I’m here,” Mario said patiently.
“Mario. What’s your middle name?”
“I actually do not have one,” his father answered. “It’s not a part of our family’s tradition.”
“It’s not a part of mine either. My father never gave me a middle name.”
Mario couldn’t help but laugh. “No, he didn’t. You’re right.”
Mateo rubbed the sheet between his hands, and then pounded on the mattress with his fists.
“What are you doing?”
“I’m trying to start a fire! I’m hot! This place is dangerous!”
Daria and Mario looked at each other, not knowing what to do. “This doesn’t sound like morphine,” she said.
“Isn’t it supposed to make you feel happy and calm?”
Mateo narrowed his eyes and looked between them with caution. They were conspiring against him. “What are you two talking about? You sons of bitches are gonna pay. I hear you whispering over there. You think I can’t, but I can. Where’s my mother!?” he screamed. Where’s my mother? Where’s my mother? Where’s my mother?” Mateo started freaking out; thrashing around in the bed, tearing up the pillow case, and screaming obscenities to Mario and Daria. They tried to hold him down. “It’s your fault!” he yelled up to him. “You were supposed to protect her. You were supposed to be there for her. You were supposed to be there for me! Where were you? Where did you go? What was so important that you have to travel through time instead of taking care of your freaking family!”
“Mateo,” Daria comforted. “Please calm down. Everything is going to be okay. We can explain things to you. But you have to be still.”
“He’s supposed to be with her,” he spat.
“I know,” Daria agreed. “And he would have if he could have.”
“He says he loves her, but how can he? How can a man love a woman when he’s only there one day out of the year? Leona has to spend all that time alone, and what does he do? He just runs out on her. What kind of man leaves the woman he loves? She was just fifteen years old. She was just a kid! How could he do that to her? How could he get her mixed up in this? Leona doesn’t deserve this.”
“He’s pretty messed up,” Mario said. “I don’t know if it’s an allergic reaction, or what, but Sarka better get back here fast, or we’re screwed.”
A young man burst into the room. “I’m here!”
“Who are you?” Daria asked.
“I’m a healer. I was told that this is my latest appointment.”
“Sarka is the doctor,” Mario said.
“I didn’t say I was a doctor. I said I was a healer.”
Daria was struggling to keep Mateo from kicking her in the face. “What does that mean?”
“He just needs a transfusion.” The man opened a drawer and began to draw blood from himself.
“I know you!” Mateo yelled in paranoia. “You were there; at my party. I saw you. I met you. You shook my hand. Did you do this to me? It was you, wasn’t it? You piece of crap! What is it? What did you do to me? Take it back! I don’t want it anymore! I just want to stay in one place!”
“He didn’t do this to you.” Mario turned his attention to the stranger. “What exactly are you doing?”
“I’ve been spending the last year, going around the country and healing people with my blood.”
“I’ve never heard of someone who could do that,” Mario said skeptically.
Even through the protests of Mateo’s father and aunt, the man injected Mateo with his own blood. He immediately felt better. His paranoia dissipated, and tranquility spread across his body before settling down the drain and leaving him in a state of normalcy. The debacle was over.
“It’s something I picked up from another planet,” the man explained. And with that, the wall behind him changed. It turned into some kind of portal to another location. It was in the middle of a forest. The wind even blew a few leaves into the recovery room. The man looked back at it and breathed a sigh of relief. “And they are finally letting me go back. It sucks there, but I left my best friend, and I need to find her again.” He started to walk towards the portal.
“Wait,” Mateo said. “What’s your name? Just so I know who to put on the thank-you note.”
The man smiled and stepped outside. “It’s Vearden.”
After the portal closed, Mateo fell asleep once more, and didn’t wake up until next year. Click here for the next installment...

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