Sunday, June 28, 2015

The Advancement of Mateo Matic: April 5, 2029 & ??? ?, ???


Leona ran up to him. “Is this what it feels like? Like nothing?”
“What did you expect?”
She shrugged. “I don’t know.”
“We have to find a way to get you off of my pattern.”
“That ship has sailed, sweetheart. Did you notice? I’m now only a couple weeks younger than you. I started jumping after I turned 28, just like you.”
“We don’t know that you’ve started anything. You hacked into my anklet. That might have connected your device to me...temporarily.”
She started digging through her bag. “I can get that off.” She took out a sinister mini blowtorch and tore through his anklet like it was butter.
“Stop right there!” Salinger had burst through the door again, and was pointing her weapon at them. “You look exactly the same. What the hell happened here?”
Mateo sighed. “It’s been a year for you, but not for us.”
“Are you trying to tell me that you’re time travelers?”
“Timeslippers,” Leona corrected.
“We prefer salmon.”
Salinger stared at them for a few seconds. “Get inside. Both of you. You have any idea how much trouble I got into for losing you after making a big deal about calling the feds?” She kept her gun trained on them as she opened the door.
On the other side of the threshold was not the police station. It was Stonehenge, but different. There were many more stones than Mateo remembered having seen. It looked complete.
“What the hell is this?” Salinger asked.
“A meeting,” a man answered from the other side. “You’re not invited, but you can stay if you want. I don’t really care.”
Curiosity got the best of her, and Salinger walked inside, no longer worried about getting Mateo and Leona into the station.
Leona admired the architecture. “Is this how Stonehenge originally looked?”
The man looked around. “Oh, this? No, it’s been partially destroyed by now. It used to be a building. Now only the stones remain. In time, many of those will be stolen for other things. That is, until a bunch of historians come out and say, ‘hey! Quit stealing stones from this henge! Ya dicks!’”
“May I ask who you are?”
“You may, Mateo, indeed. But you won’t get a very good answer. I’m afraid that my head has been filled with so much other information that I’ve lost all knowledge of my own life. I do not know my name. The salmon just call me The Delegator.”
“You’re a puppet for the powers that be?” Mateo asked.
Leona stepped forward and examined the Delegator more closely. “Or he is one of the powers that be.”
“I’ve not yet ruled that out.”
“What do you want with us?” Leona asked cautiously.
“He’s here to tell you what you’re supposed to do,” Salinger explained. They all gave her a weird look. Did she know something? “Well, isn’t it obvious? That’s what a delegator does.”
“Quite right,” the Delegator agreed. “If a salmon has trouble figuring out their job; be it because they’re resisting, or because it’s too complicated to inuit, I step in. Which is...pretty much always. I think I’ve met every single other salmon.”
“And you don’t know how you know what you know, but you know who to contact, where to find them, and what to do with them?”
“Yes,” he replied.
“Do you always bring them to Stonehenge in the past?”
He looked around and smiled. “I do, mostly. I like this place. I don’t have to bring them here, but it’s become sort of my office. It provides a level of stability for me.”
“And I’m just here because I was in the way?”
“You’re here, Detective, because there was too little time between Leona’s initial jump, and you showing up. So I suppose you’re right; you got in the way.” He pointed toward the gap in the stones they first came through. “Step through that door and it will take you back home.”
Salinger began to walk towards the opening.
“Step through any one of the other doors,” he continued, “and it will take you somewhere else. And you’ll become one of us.”
Salinger looked back at him, unsure of what to say.
“You can do that?” Mateo asked. “You can just turn someone into a salmon?”
“She already is,” he started to explain. “She was initialized when she came into physical contact with a salmon after their own activation.”
Sad panda Mateo turned to Leona.
“She’s not your fault,” the Delegator said. “The powers still had to decide to activate her. If they wanted her, they would have found a way to get a preexisting salmon to touch her. If it hadn’t been you, it would have been someone else. Though, to be fair, you’re a package deal. They obviously wanted you together, which is why they put you on the same pattern.”
“That doesn’t explain how I can choose to be one by walking through a different door,” Salinger argued.
“We all agree to this,” the Delegator corrected. “Both parties must enter into the proverbial contract, or nothing happens. Yes, as Delegator, I’ve been given the power to...recommend an applicant, but I do not exercise this ability often.”
“I never agreed to this,” Mateo said.
“On some level, you did. These people making this happen, they don’t think in conversations and remarks. Communication is more complex and fluid to them. A part of you wanted to go, so the powers made it happen.”
“You son of a bitch.” Mateo unenthusiastically lunged towards him. “I wouldn’t have done this to my parents! And my birth parents wouldn’t have done this to me!”
The Delegator was unfazed. “There is something you have to understand, Mister Matic. The soul is timeless. Literally. That’s what makes time travel and teleportation possible. It’s why there’s no such thing as a sociopathic salmon. Your soul knows absolutely everything there is to know about the universe; past, present, and future. It’s designed to guide you through your choices. The only difference between a salmon and a normal person is that mine and your souls are giving us access to a little bit more information than one might expect.” He gathered his thoughts. “It’s true, you...consciously did not want this, but your soul did. And you have to do what your soul demands of you. Trying to escape that directive is, well...impossible, at best.”
“What will my directive be if I step through a different door?” Salinger was apparently seriously considering the offer.
“I can’t tell you that until you try it. That’s the drawback. There’s no preparing yourself, and there’s no changing your mind. Either you do it or you don’t. I can give your soul a nudge by outwardly showing you a choice, but you still have to make it. Again, you can’t go against your soul. Whatever decision you make is what it wanted you to make.”
“Then I guess there’s no point trying to run from fate.” She turned to Mateo. “And I guess I won’t know until later whether I should thank you or shoot you for initializing me.”
“You don’t have to do this,” Mateo begged. “I don’t believe in fate.”
She tilted her head and smiled. “I kind of do. Fate’s just another word for God.” She started to back up towards a random opening. “When I met you, Mateo, I knew that my life was going to change. I’ve been searching for my place in the world, and this is my chance to find it.”
“Detective Salinger, wait,” Mateo said. “I never caught your first name.”
She smiled sweetly. “It’s Danica. But I was adopted, just like you, because my birth mother was hardly ever around. Her last name was Matic.” She crossed the threshold and disappeared into nothingness.
“Aunt Daria,” Mateo whispered to himself.
After Mateo turned back around, the Delegator acted like he had known exactly what was going to happen. “Now do you see?”
“Enough the the puzzles,” Leona said firmly. “What is our job?” She put air quotes around the last word. “What are you delegating to us?”
“That’s the brilliant thing,” the Delegator began. “Every salmon is given assignments, and it’s my job to dole them out. But you’re different. To my knowledge, you two don’t have any responsibilities. It is my assumption that the powers that be want to see what you choose to do on your own.”
The sun blinked and both Stonehenge and the Delegator disappeared, leaving them back in Kansas. Mateo and Leona spent the rest of the day speaking very little at a picnic table in the triangle where 130 Road, Aa Road, and Highway 191 and meet. Click here for the next installment...

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