Sunday, November 8, 2015

The Advancement of Mateo Matic: April 24, 2048

Click here for the 2015 table of contents.

Aura asked Mateo and Leona to hand over the information regarding her daughter’s disappearance, and also for them to stay out of the investigation. They would only be able to help once every year, and she still felt uncomfortable about Mateo’s prior relationship with his own half-sister. She didn’t voice her concerns over the second part, but it was implied. When the two of them returned in 2048, there was apparently no news on the matter. Frida/Aquila was nowhere to be found. It was a longshot, because it was pretty clear that she was one of them. If the powers that be didn’t want someone to learn something, then they wouldn’t, and nothing was going to change that.
For the first time in a long time, Mateo and Leona had nothing to do. They didn’t have to break someone out of prison, or run for their lives from that person. They didn’t have to search for information, or go to a funeral, or have kidney surgery. “Honestly,” he said after waking up, “I can’t help but be bored.”
“I know,” Leona agreed. “I was sort of getting used to a life of constant urgency. Our brief moments of respite were filled only with anticipation for the next crisis. I don’t know what to do with myself.”
“What does one do with a life such as this?”
“No clue.”
Mateo’s birth father, Mario had been behind them for an unknown amount of time. “I have an idea.” He touched both of their shoulders and pulled them away.

They found themselves in some kind of body of water. It didn’t seem too deep while they were swimming over to the nearest bit of land. There were tall cliffs all around them, like they were sitting in some kind of giant bowl. “When are we?” Leona asked.
“Same time,” Mario explained. “Well, I think we’ve jumped a few hours into the future. Well...maybe several hours. I don’t know where we are, though.”
“Some kind of crater lake,” Leona said, just off the top of her head.
Mateo pulled out his phone and looked at the GPS. “It says Rapa Nui.”
“That’s another name Easter Island,” Leona said, again just off the top of her head. “Why did you bring us here?”
“The powers brought us here. I’m just the medium.”
“In your experience,” Leona began, “what might a reason be?”
“My sister teleported all over the place, helping people. I, on the other hand, help people help other people. I save boy scouts...proverbially.”
“So it is actually the two of us who are supposed to help someone?” Mateo asked, but it wasn’t so much of a question.
“Yeah, I would think—” Mario began, but then blinked out of sight.
“Well, that was helpful,” Mateo said. “How the hell are we supposed to get out of here?”
“We climb, of course. You were the one complaining about not having anything to do.”
“So were you.”
It took them a few hours of slipping, stumbling, and cursing, but they did manage to climb out of the crater, and survived to tell the tale. Upon reaching the summit, they found themselves face to face with a series of guns. “Mateo?” a familiar voice came from the back. He gently moved the gunmen to the side and stepped forward. It was Gilbert Boyce, the man they had agreed to free from Reaver’s prison a few days ago. “What are you doing here?”
“We’re...uh,” Leona stammered. “We’re here to help.”
Gilbert studied their faces for a moment and a half before shrugging. “I don’t know how you do it, but it wouldn’t be the first time you appeared out of nowhere and helped me out, so I guess I’m gonna go with the flow.” He helped her off the ground as his men lowered their weapons.
“Where are we going?” she asked.
“Into the crater,” Gilbert answered.
“We just came from there,” Mateo whined.
“It’s the only way.”
“What’s down there?”
“You’ll see,” Gilbert said ominously. The team slowly and carefully made the trek down the slope of the crater. Mateo was getting a decent workout today, and was not particularly happy about it. He took back what he said about being bored. That was the ideal. Once they were at the bottom, Gilbert took out a map and started comparing it to landmarks around them. “This way.”
Leona took a peek. “Please don’t tell me that’s a treasure map.”
“Of course not,” Gilbert said, much to their relief. “Okay, that’s a lie. It is. There’s a secret entrance nearby.”
“And you’re going to be the first to find it.”
“Since the ancients, yes.”
“That sounds crazy.”
“I literally did not ask you to come.”
Leona pulled Mateo to the side and whispered to him, “it’s dangerous for us to be underground during a timeslip. Erosion, flooding, bats. It’s just over an hour to midnight central. We can’t risk it.”
“The powers that be have a plan. We either follow it or try to subvert it. I don’t know about you, but I haven’t had much luck going against their wishes. They want us here, we’re here.”
Gilbert called to them while unpacking supplies, “are you two coming, or not? Honestly, I can’t say which I prefer.”
“We’re leaving,” Leona said, but only to Mateo. She took his arm and began to lead him away, but stopped short.
Frida was standing in front of them. She had not changed a bit. “Go with them, Leona,” she instructed before disappearing, like any salmon would.
“You saw that, right?” Mateo asked.
“Yes. We have to go.” But she was not happy about it.
“I’m not a huge fan of this one.”
“This one what?” she asked.
“This day. This year. I guess it’s good that we’ll be done with it soon, though.”
“Let’s just hope we don’t accidentally timejump off a cliff.”
Gilbert nodded to them, fortunately without having seen Frida’s sudden appearance. He addressed his men, “two of you will need to go down with your own lungs. We didn’t bring extra rebreathers.”
“Actually, we have our own,” Mateo said.
“Rule number seven,” Leona noted. “Pack the essentials, and always keep them within reach.”
“Serendipitous,” Gilbert said. “It’ll take us a few minutes to get through the tunnel and up into the grotto.”
“Assuming it even exists,” Mateo pointed out.
“Exactly,” Gilbert agreed.
They all put on their rebreathers and dove into the water. It took them awhile before finding it, but there was indeed what appeared to be a secret tunnel. It could likely not be found by anyone not looking for it. They snaked their way in one by one, and about ten minutes later, were able to surface in the grotto. The walls were covered in some kind of greenish-bluish glowing something or other. It was stunningly beautiful. Leona walked over to the cave wall and examined it. “Glow worms. Like the ones in New Zealand.”
“Are they dangerous?” Mateo asked in fear.
She shrugged. “Might could be. Don’t touch them.”
Gilbert stopped looking at the worms and went back to his map. He turned it around, wrestled with it, and peered closer.
“Do you know where you’re going?” Mateo asked.
“Of course I do,” he said, to their relief. “That was another lie. This is pretty much as far as the map goes. There’s another map, but I was not able to procure it.”
“Well, what are we looking for down here?”
“You’ll see.”
“Stop saying that!”
“Again, I don’t even know why you’re here!” Gilbert yelled. He pointed down the corridor. “I’m going forward. You may leave at any time. But I’m done with your complaints.”
That was actually kind of fair. Kind of. The team pressed on down the corridor. The glow worms never disappeared completely, but there were fewer and fewer of them as they moved. When finally they found themselves in another large chamber, full of twice as many worms as the first, nearly an hour had gone by. Leona’s watch beeped. “It’s time, Mateo. Whatever we’re supposed to do, it will have to wait for next year.”
“What does that mean?” Gilbert asked. “Why do you only show up once a year?”
She ignored him. “Get in the middle of the room. It’ll be the safest place for us.” She and Mateo huddled together and prepared themselves.
Midnight came and went. They were still in the same place, and the team was just staring at them. “Are you two okay?”
“We’re still here!” Leona cried with excitement.
“The cave must be protecting us.”
Frida is protecting us.”
Gilbert turned his head to get a better listen with his lizard brain. “I wouldn’t be so sure of that.” The sound of rushing water could be heard in the distance, back down the corridor from where they had come, and it was growing closer. “Um...run.” Click here for the next installment...

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