Sunday, February 28, 2016

The Advancement of Mateo Matic: May 10, 2064

Click here for the 2016 table of contents.

Mateo woke up almost naked on the beach somewhere. Leona was nowhere to be found, but there was a pile of clothes nearby. They weren’t his, but they were all that was available, so he put on the brown button up shirt, the eerily familiar brownish sweater, and the dark brown slacks. He removed the brown socks he was already wearing because they were wet. He called out for help as he wandered around, but no one replied. Upon coming up on a yellow inflatable boat, he realized what was going on. Just like The Shawshank Redemption before, he was now supposed to play out the movie Cast Away. The biggest problem with this scenario was that the main character from that movie was on the island alone. Who knows what horrors Leona was dealing with on her own. She could be somewhere else on the island, or she could be running from Michael Myers, for all he knew. He tried to remain positive, and noted that at least the day hadn’t begun with a plane crash.
During the last tribulation, The Rogue had combined two different stories into one, so there was no telling what would happen here. It might have only been Cast Away, or something else could be tossed in to make it more complicated. If it became a mashup of that and Lost, then he wouldn’t be alone, but he would also be in far greater danger, especially since he never watched the show. As he was walking through the jungle with an instinct to head for higher ground and survey the scene, he picked what few berries he could find. There didn’t seem to be any coconuts, which were a staple of the original film. The Rogue was again making alterations, presumably in an effort to throw Mateo off his game, and to make the tribulation that much more difficult. In fact, the berries could be poisonous, like the ones in The Hunger Games. But there was no way to know. He had heard a high school friend one time mention something about an edibility test, but Mateo didn’t know how to perform one, so whatever.
Upon climbing to the top of a ridge, he could see a great deal of ocean and land below him. Something in particular caught his eye. He was too far up at that point, but it looked not unlike a person. This figure wasn’t moving, though. If his memory served him, it was a dead body. He scrambled down the side of the cliff, wishing that he had instead been placed in the movie itself, so all this work could be edited out. Once back down to the bottom, he ran up to the body, still waiting for him on the edge of the treeline. But it wasn’t a dead body, or a person at all. It was a dummy of some kind. The Rogue didn’t seem like the kind of person who would turn away from killing, so why the charade? Mayhaps he was not as dangerous as they thought. It was true that they did not know of any time when he had killed anyone. This was all a game to him, so he was clearly sick in the head, but maybe that’s as far as he was willing to go.
On the dummy body, Mateo found a pair of shoes that were too small for him. But underneath it he found some other things. Video tapes, divorce papers, a volleyball, ice skates, and an ugly brown child’s dress were somewhat buried in the sand. Yep. Those were from the movie. He cut off the toes of the shoes and put them on. Then he tore up the dummy’s clothes to seal up the shoes as much as possible. Was that it? Was that all the Rogue wanted for the game? It must be.
Mateo spent days alone on the island, and days is to be taken literally. Night never came. The sun shone down on him perpetually. He eventually realized that the clouds were not moving, but it wasn’t until the next week that he uncovered confirmation on what was going on. A bird was flying through the air, as birds do. But once it flew far enough over the ocean, it stopped in midair. Time was moving faster on the island than in the outside world. This meant that his pattern had not been completely broken. He couldn’t tell exactly how much time had passed for the rest of the world, but he could be rest assured that it had not been so much as a day. It probably hadn’t even been an hour. He wasn’t capable of doing the math himself, but he imagined that the entirety of four years would take place over the course of only one day for everyone else in order to match up with the timeline of the film. Awesome.

A few hundred days into the Tribulation, Mateo was sure that no one else was on the island. Due to the film’s time jump, there was no way to know for sure what the character in the movie had been doing during the majority of his time marooned. And so he just did the only thing he could do: survive. He eventually did find coconuts. He fashioned spears from the ice skates and hunted for fish. He realized, however, that there was not an endless supply of these fish, as most of them were trapped outside of the time bubble. They were free to traverse the barrier back out and become trapped as often as ever, but could only return once in a blue moon, from his perspective. And so he began to capture some of the fish and kept them in a tank built of wood and lined with the inflatable boat. There they could breed. They didn’t do it a whole lot, because Mateo was no fish farmer, but it was enough to keep him alive.
Night slowly fell about halfway through the year. He didn’t question why the time difference was smaller than what the movie led him to believe. He was just grateful that it was nearly over, and hopeful that he would finally be able to return to Leona. The Rogue apparently had other plans. “Had enough yet?”
“I have,” Mateo answered. “This is a bad one.” It was mostly about the boredom.
“Why have you not built a raft?”
“Tom Hanks doesn’t do that for another three years.”
He laughed. “Good. You’re learning.”
“Where is Leona?”
“I can send you to her. Rather, I can let you go to her.”
“What about the time bubble?”
“It will follow you through the ocean.”
“I’ve yet to build a raft,” Mateo said.
“Yeah, I’m tired of this one,” the Rogue lamented. “I didn’t realize how boring it would be. If I had started with the plane crash, you probably would have died, and then our fun would be over too quickly. But this is excruciating, so I’m going to just give you a lifeboat.”
“How kind of you,” Mateo replied sarcastically.
The Rogue ignored the comment. “Look behind ya.”
Mateo turned to see the lifeboat frozen in time on the other side of the temporal barrier. Without speaking, Mateo began wading towards it through the water.
“Oh, and you’ll have help out there!” the Rogue called up to him from the beach.
Mateo did not respond, because that was surely a joke. And it sort of was.
“His name is Richard Parker!” Shit. That’s not good. He should have grabbed one of the spears. Click here for the next installment...

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