Sunday, September 13, 2015

The Advancement of Mateo Matic: April 16, 2040

Click here for the 2015 table of contents.

Breakfast of 2040 was sent to them by machines. They did not encounter a human until Dave returned once more to retrieve them. “I know I told you that my boss would see you this year, but there is a more pressing matter for you to attend to, and introductions are postponed until 2041.”
“What could we possibly have to attend to?”
“It’s your aunt. She’s dying.” He unlocked the door and began walking down the hall, obviously expecting them to follow him.
They didn’t have to go very far before reaching Daria’s private hospital room. It was spacious and well-furnished; with the perfect amount of light, a pleasant smell, and calming and quiet music playing. They spared no expense making her as comfortable as possible. Daria was 72 by this year. Mateo had first met her 21 years ago from her perspective. She looked her age, but still the same as before. Though both of his adoptive parents had died following his time jumps, and many other things about the world had changed, seeing his aunt lying in her deathbed really showed him what he was missing, and how fast time was passing. She was a salmon unlike any other. She only teleported, and never traveled through time, so she aged along with her contemporaries. Why she wasn’t chosen to be immortal, or if she would be reincarnated later, were questions that he could not answer at this time.
She looked frail and tired, but she smiled widely when the two of them came into the room. Dave left to do whatever. Dr. Sarka was checking Daria’s vitals while some faceless nurse fiddled with her IV bag. “Mateo,” Daria whispered before gently closing her eyes and exhaling.
“Oh my God,” Leona said.
“Is she gone?”
Sarka placed the instrument he was holding up to her neck and then removed it. “No,” he answered. “She’s very tired, and has been falling asleep quite easily these days.”
“Isn’t there something you can do?” Mateo pressed. “Aren’t you from the future? Do people even die in the future? Give her some sort of magic pill.”
Sarka walked over and sorted through his medical bag before presenting it to them. “I never put anything in here,” he explained. “And I don’t take anything out. My supplies are endless, but limited. I always have everything I need to help my patients...according to the decisions made by the powers that be. If I were given certain medications, yes, I could help her. I could prolong her life, and I could probably restore some vitality. But they don’t want me to.”
Mateo was distraught, but had no response.
“I’m sorry,” Sarka said.
“Thank you, doctor.” Leona was less emotional, and better able to vocalize her appreciation.

Sarka and the nurse left so that Mateo and Leona could sit at Daria’s bedside as she slept. After a couple of hours, she woke up. Somehow innately aware that they were still there, she began to speak immediately, even before seeing them. “You two have become quite the adorable couple.”
He jumped up and took her hand. “Are you feeling okay? Do you need anything?”
“I’m fine,” she replied. “Little bit of dry mouth but it hurts to swallow, so no water for now.”
He was angry. “Are you serious? They’re going to make you teleport now? When you’re like this?”
She struggled through a laugh since that probably hurt her throat as well. “No, I haven’t done that in years. I retired from that life at age 65. That security guard I pulled out of the sky was my final mission.” She seemed content at this, and looked down towards her memories. “I’m glad it was him. He’s gone on to do something important.”
“I...” he tried to say. “I wish there was something I could do. I mean with all this goddamn technology, you’re too young. Aren’t people living well past a hundred by now?”
She nodded. “They are. But mine was a stressful and challenging life. I didn’t have much time to rest. I was always on the go. Heart disease is still the number one killer the world over.”
“This is their fault. They killed you. If you had been allowed to live a normal life, you would have been safe. We all would have.”
He expected her to disagree with him; to describe to him his limits of perspective, but she didn’t. “This is true. I can’t call them evil, because I feel like I’ve done a lot of good. But this whole situation makes you wonder, in the grand scheme of things, does it really matter? Every time I save a life, does someone else pay the price? Do things balance themselves out in the end, regardless of how you manipulate time? Are they helping the world, or are they just sort of...shuffling it around?”
“All good questions.” He became determined. “I’ll ask them.”
She laughed again, but this time it didn’t look too painful. “Of this I am certain.” She paused for a second or two to rest her eyelids. Her breathing grew deeper, but more difficult. “I’m going to die today. This very day.”
“You don’t know that,” Mateo insisted. “You could get better. You could live for weeks for all we know.”
“No, I know” she claimed. “It’s my birthday. I am 72 years old. That’s a nice number. And it’s your day, meaning it’s the last birthday of mine that you could possibly experience with me. Be careful of your birthday, my lovely nephew. These people, for as little as we know of them, we know one undeniable fact.” She became more dramatic and louder. And looked disgusted. “They are completely obsessed with irony. I hate to travel, and not just for the little inconveniences normal people go through with planes and luggage. I always wanted to lay down roots and stay put. That’s just my personality. So what do they do? Toss me around like a ragdoll. You were the happiest little boy I’ve met. You wouldn’t have noticed this, but I had people keeping an eye on you as you grew up since we weren’t allowed to meet until later. Your life, despite having lost your birth mother, could not have been better. But they took it away from you. They took you away from your mother when she was just feeling better, and they took you away from the rest of your family when you were finally getting over it.”
She fell asleep for a few minutes, but when she reawoke, she continued her speech as if it had never been interrupted. “You know what they say; people make plans, and God laughs.” She paused again, but this time for dramatic effect. “And the powers that be fuck up those plans even more.” She looked up towards the door, as if she knew who would be coming. “Horace,” she said with relief.
“Hello, Daria,” Horace Reaver said to her.
“You son of a bitch,” Mateo cried, stunned and unable to move. What was he doing there? How did he even get in the building? What were Dave and his boss keeping from them?
Reaver held up his hands in surrender. “Today is a holiday. I promise not to try to hurt you, and to not...” He trailed off as he looked to Leona. “I just want to say goodbye to my friend.”
Mateo looked at Daria. “You’re friends?”
She closed her eyes as a form of a nod. “We go way back. Before he was like this. Before he grew angry.”
“I’m sorry, Daria. But you know what I’ve been through.”
“I do, and I appreciate you being here. But you either stop tormenting my family, or you will pay. They’re stronger than you. I don’t care how powerful you become. They’re not alone.”
“That’s,” he spat, “my problem.” He closed his eyes like he was reciting the serenity prayer in his head. “It isn’t fair.”
“No, it’s not,” she agreed. “But you can’t go back that far. You either move forward, as a friend, or lose.”
“No. I have a plan. If I beat him.” He looked up to Mateo with rage. “If I end his life,” He screamed, “the way he ended mine, I’ll go back again! And I’ll set things back on track!”
“They won’t let you do it.”
A clan of security guards filed in and began to pull Reaver away. “You won’t even remember this. I’ll go back, and I’ll save your life, just like how you saved mine.” They took him around the corner, but he continued to yell, “I promise you, Daria! I have a way to end this once and for all. I can destroy the The Choosing Ones!”
Even though he seemed to be the enemy, Reaver’s claim that he could stop all of this was intriguing enough to perk Mateo’s interest. He jumped out of the room and ran down the hallway, trying to reach Reaver, but he was gone. The guards knew this place far better than he did, and had succeeded in spiriting him away.
He quickly returned to Daria’s room, but she was dead. Click here for the next installment...

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