Sunday, February 21, 2016

The Advancement of Mateo Matic: March 21, 2014

Click here for the 2016 table of contents.

Mateo, Leona, and Prince Darko slipped out of the house quietly and headed for the street. Their phones were waiting for them on the steps. Danica had been right that time would always tether them together. They hadn’t thought to test that before. Like any good time traveling device, their phones told them exactly when and where they had landed. It was Ann Arbor, Michigan on March 21, 2014. The prison guard had said that personnel don’t ever work in the same time period they live. Wait. “This is the day of my jump. My first jump.”
“It is,” Leona agreed. “What a coincidence.”
“I do not believe in coincidence.”
“Yes, you do.”
“Okay well, I do...” Mateo began. “But not in this case. I’ve been given a second chance. I can stop this. I just need to get to the graveyard.”
“The powers that be will never let you stop yourself from starting your pattern,” Prince Darko said.
“Shut up,” Mateo and Leona said in unison.
“I have to try this. I have to save my parents’ life.”
“And what about me?” Leona asked.
“What?”
“What happens to me?”
“Well...I mean. What does happen to you?”
“Well, you and I never meet. If we ever do, you’ll be fourteen years older than me.”
“But you’ll still be here. I mean, this version of you will. You’re here now.”
“Not necessarily. You’ll be changing the timeline.” Prince Darko pointed to Leona. “Since this woman is out of her natural time pattern, she may be able to remain here, and there will be two versions of her. But probably not. I’ve not heard of it. In all likelihood, she’ll be erased. As will you. And that’s assuming you miraculously pull this off. But you’re a salmon, not a chooser or power. You’re not allowed to change things unless you’ve been assigned to.”
“But you are,” Mateo said to him. “You’re one of the powers, so you could change it for me. And you could find a way to keep Leona and me from being erased. I’m not trying to stop myself from meeting her. I’m just trying to save my parents’ lives.”
“I’m not a power,” Prince Darko said.
Leona shook her head.“What are you talking about? You clearly are. You were in the chooser block.”
“Yes, I’m a chooser,” he agreed. “I’m not a power.”
“They’re not the same thing?”
“You’ve been using them interchangeably, but no, they’re not. Choosers get to choose how they manipulate time, usually with some kind of specialization. For instance, I’m an object threader. I can touch and object and move back and forth along its time path, but I’m bound to it. I can’t move past its existence, and I can’t travel in any other way. The powers that be, on the other hand, can manipulate time in any way they like, and they use this...power to jack with other people’s lives. Bottom line is that choosers are just salmon who aren’t controlled by the powers.”
“Oh my God!” Mateo nearly yelled. “Why didn’t anyone ever tell us this?”
“People don’t seem to know,” Prince Darko said. “I’m not sure why. You’re right to be upset; it’s a pretty big deal.”
“Wait, this doesn’t make any sense,” Leona said. “A few years ago, you claimed to be on our pattern, just an hour earlier. We saw you jump into the future, and you were there waiting for us.”
Prince Darko shook his head in confusion. “I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
“Of course you do,” Mateo said. “Stop lying. You said that you had been on our pattern for two years before we got on it. You said we were a tripod.”
“I’ve never met you two,” Prince Darko claimed. “Not before today.”
“I just told you to stop lying.”
“Mateo,” Leona said. “He’s a time traveler. He must not have experienced that yet. That is our past, but it’s his future.”
“Oh, right,” Mateo said, but he was still not completely clear on the matter.
“I don’t know that that’s true. I mean, yes, that is a sound theory, Miss...Leona, right? But that doesn’t sound like something I would do. I mean, I know you guys don’t know me, but I know myself, and tricking people into trusting me just isn’t my style. I’m not saying I’m an angel; I was imprisoned for a reason, but not for anything like that.”
“Why were you locked up?”
“I just met you. I’m not going to tell you something like that. Sorry.”
“If you didn’t know us, why did you think we were breaking you out of your cell?” Leona had her hands on her hips.
“What did you expect me to do? Question it?” He scoffed. “I didn’t want to be there.”
“That makes sense.”
“Well, even if you’ve not yet done it,” Mateo said, “I’m already mad at you for trying to tear our relationship apart.”
“Rule number five, Mateo,” Leona said to him cautiously.
Mateo had to think through this for a moment. Which one was that? Avoid alternate versions of yourself? No, that was a tip for later. Treat everyone you meet with respect, as they may unexpectedly return. That one works. At this point, Prince Darko had no reason to hate them. Best not to antagonize him, as they may still have a chance to keep him on their side. “You’re right.”
“What rules?” Prince Darko asked.
“Do you go by Prince Darko?”
He was taken aback. “My mother used to call me that, but no. Darko will be fine, thank you.”
“Good,” Leona replied.
“But Mario Matic is your father,” Mateo questioned, but wasn’t sure which answer he wanted.
“Yes, he is. I’ve encountered him a couple of times.”
“That means we really are brothers.”
Darko lifted his chin and stared into Mateo’s eyes. And then he leapt over and gave Mateo a big bear hug. “I had no idea.” He wouldn’t let go. “It’s so nice to finally meet someone in my family I might actually be able to get along with. I don’t know what you think I’ve done in my future, but I promise you that I will never be on anyone else’s side but yours.” He finally released Mateo from his grip. “You included,” he said to Leona. He really did act drastically different than when they first met.
“Then maybe you can help us. I need to warn myself. You were right that I can’t stop this from happening. But I might be able to save my parents. Get us to Topeka.”
“I would need an object that’s going to or was at some point in Topeka.”
“Oh right.” Mateo frowned. “There’s no way. If this were the future, we could just call someone in our family to scoop us up with a fancy airplane.”
“We can still use an airplane,” Leona said reluctantly. “If you insist on messing with time, then all we need to do is find a flight going from Detroit to Kansas City.”
“Yeah, that could work,” Darko nodded. “Kind of a tall order, though. Normal people aren’t just allowed to go up to commercial airplanes. So if you don’t want to go ahead and purchase a ticket and sit through an entire ride, which wouldn’t take any more time, then we’ll have to sneak in.”
“That’s true.”
Suddenly, a little Toyota pulled up next to them on the street. A young man stepped out and handed Mateo the keys, along with a five dollar bill. “Be careful with it. This baby has to get me to Topeka, Kansas by tonight. I’m going to a funeral.” He then walked into the restaurant.
“What is happening?” Mateo asked. “Were we just...”
“...handed a miracle?” Darko asked, taking the keys from Mateo and tossing them through the passenger window.
“I don’t like this,” Mateo said.
“We have to take our opportunities,” Darko said.
And so they took him once again by the shoulders and threaded the car to the future.
They were suddenly in the Topeka cemetery. The driver of the car they had threaded was nowhere to be seen. People were standing around having fun, beers in hand.The Rogue appeared before them. “I’ve let you come here to watch,” he said. “I won’t let you alter time, though. This is just to give you perspective.”
“This is cruel,” Leona said.
“Cruel is my...” he sighed. “Sorry, I’m not going to say that. That’s a dumb line.”
“There’s Saga and Vearden,” Mateo pointed out. The door-walkers were in a conversation with some of Mateo’s friends, Frida being one of them. “Half-brother,” he said to Darko, “meet my half-sister.”
“Interesting,” Darko said. “I didn’t know Aquila had any family.”
“You know her?”
“We’ve met.” He smiled and looked around a bit. “Dad?”
They instinctively turned their heads to where Darko was looking. It really was their father. “I didn’t know he was here tonight.” He was watching the other Mateo intently, but was making no effort to reintroduce himself. Instead, he was talking with Mr. Halifax, the Gravedigger.
“Why are there so many salmon here?”
“This is an important occasion,” the Rogue said. “The two of you are considered the most influential salmon of all.”
“No one was there when I made my first jump,” Leona said.
The Rogue lowered his face but kept his eyes up, as if looking at her over imaginary reading glasses. “They weren’t?”
They continued to scan the crowd. Danica and Dr. Baxter mysteriously walked out of a crypt and focused on the original Mateo as well. After the door closed behind them, the family name on the crypt changed to read January 3, 1743. “Mateo, you might get to see Daria again,” Leona said reassuringly.
He did want to see her once more, but there was no way he would. “She didn’t know who I was when we met in 2019. And she would never lie to me.”
Daria never did show up, but her nurse from Ulinthra’s facility was there, along with the girl who they saw leaning against him at Daria’s funeral. Mateo stepped forward, thinking it was time to find out who the two of them were. The Rogue held him back again and shook his head. “Not yet, kind sir.” Son of a bitch.
It was midnight. They watched as the other Mateo had his final conversation with Kyle then jumped out of the timestream. Saga and Vearden stopped while they were running to help and ended up walking through the magic tomb portal. After the door changed, Danica and Baxter went through, presumably back to The Constant. Mario and The Gravedigger hopped into an empty grave and never came back out. The two mysterious choosers watched the commotion for a few moments and then looked over at the four of them. The girl waved affectionately while the guy smiled at them, then they jumped away. They were following rule number eleven; keep them guessing. The scene changed and the two of them were back in their house in 2064. Darko wasn’t with them. Click here for the next installment...

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