Sunday, August 7, 2016

The Advancement of Mateo Matic: June 2, 2087

Click here for the 2016 table of contents.

In order to make things more difficult, The Cleanser insisted that, from now on, he only watch the movie attached to each tribulation once. In this case, Mateo had already watched 16 Blocks when it first came out, which meant he wasn’t allowed to see it again. Makarion claimed that this actually wasn’t that big of a deal, because the Cleanser also wasn’t interested in simply watching the action play out exactly as it had anyway. In fact, the whole film angle was apparently the original Rogue’s idea. The Cleanser wanted them to be more deadly, which made Mateo shiver. They’re pretty dangerous as is, so what could be worse? Really, what? That’s something he should probably be worried about.
All day, and into the next, Mateo had assumed he would be playing the Bruce Willis character, because that was what made sense, but like the Gladiator II tribulation, the Cleanser was turning it on its head. Makarion had Mateo turn around so he could put him in handcuffs. “Someone is going to be tasked with getting you to to the other side of town while others are tasked with chasing you.”
“Who are these people?”
“Your protector is someone you know, but he doesn’t know you in this reality. Your pursuers are some of the worst criminals throughout time. They’ve been given the opportunity to go free. All they have to do is kill you.”
“Oh, is that all?”
“I know, it’s proven to be impossible so far, but honestly, I like their chances.”
“Why?”
“There’s another component to this game, something that will make things more complicated for you.”
Oh no. “What is it?”
“You two, and your pursuers, will be moving at lightning speed. Everyone else around town will be placed in a temporal bubble.” He looked at his bare wrist. “All in all, the tribulation will probably only last a few minutes.”
“That doesn’t sound so bad.”
“The civilians will be protected from your pursuers as long as they stay in their bubble. You can bring anyone out of that bubble, and into your dimension, just by touching them. So you’ll have to be careful.”
“They’re like obstacles.”
“Exactly. Again, this won’t be a recreation of the film. Your goal is literally sixteen blocks away, but how you get there is up to you.”
“Understood.”
“There’s one more hiccup; I mean, besides the identity of your so-called protector.”
“What might that be?”
Makarion took out the same gun Mateo had used to kill Adolf Hitler during his short stint in 1945. Without saying another word, he shot Mateo in the stomach and teleported away.

Mateo fell to the sidewalk. Shocked by the sound of the gunshot, people who happened to be nearby tried to jolt their heads to find out where the danger was. Gradually, time slowed down for them. Half speed, quarter speed, eighth speed, all the way until they were moving at a snail’s pace. Mateo was now completely invisible to them, well...most of them. In the distance, he could see the figure of another human being running towards him. But the blood loss from the gunshot wound was starting to get to him, so his eyes were having trouble holding focus.
The figure ran straight for him and helped him to his feet. “Come on, we have to go. They’re after us.”
“Merger?”
“Nobody calls me that,” Kayetan Glaston said. A few days ago, Kayetan was the only survivor of the original Gladiator II tribulation. As they were waiting for further instructions, Mateo freed him from his temporal restraints. Kayetan then proceeded to betray him by placing him in a hell dimension for thousands of years. But that was another life. Literally.
“You’re supposed to save me.”
“That’s right. I get you to the courthouse and they give me back my powers and let me go.”
“They can strip powers from people?” Mateo started laughing like a drunken idiot as Kayetan was trying to drag him down the street. “What is his nickname, The Stripper? HA!”
“Why are you this bad? You were barely hit.”
Mateo did his best Mos Def impression, “life’s too long?
“What the hell are you talking about?”
“It’s from the movie.”
“What movie?”
They heard a very loud banging sort of sound, and something small flew past their heads incredibly quickly. After it did so, it started to slow down, moving at a comparable speed to the people in the temporal bubble. “Oh look, a birdie.”
“We gotta go. Those bullets go fast until they’ve missed their mark.”
“Stop!” Mateo commanded. He dropped down so they could hide in an alley. A few more bullets slowly flew past them.
“No, we have to get to the finish line,” Kayetan insisted.
After maneuvering his restraints back to front, Mateo reached out and tried to grab one of the bullets. It burned his fingers, and forced him to retreat, but it also pulled it back into his time dimension, and fell to the ground. Upon seeing his arms, the attackers started firing again. There was now a whole crowd of bullets slowly moving down the street. “Those bullets are stuck in the time bubble.”
“Yeah, they can’t hurt us now, unless you try to grab one, of course like a dumbass.”
“But they can hurt someone else.”
“What?”
“Well we’re the ones going fast. Everyone else is in real-time. Those bullets aren’t actually moving so slow. We just perceive them that way. Those poor people are stuck with the bullets meant for us.”
“Yeah, I guess. How does this help us get to the courthouse?”
“We can’t just leave them there.”
“They’re not my problem.”
“Oh my God, you’re the same in every timeline.”
“That sounds like it’s supposed to be an insult.”
Taking a chance, Mateo reached out and stole as many bullets from midair as he possibly could. They burned his hand, so he used that to his advantage by lifting his shirt and placing them on his wound.
“Holy shit!” Kayetan exclaimed. “I’ve only ever seen people do that in movies.”
“We are in a movie,” he answered with a melodramatically lower register.
As the heat from the bullets continued to cauterize his wound, Mateo stood up. He kept staring at the small group of shooters as he took more bullets from the air, placing each one on his gut. Yeah, it hurt like hell, but it was medically necessary, and it also made him look like a badass. The attackers didn’t know what to think, but for now, they figured they better stop firing their weapons. Kayetan followed him down the street, but periodically ducked behind things, just in case they started shooting again.
“The man didn’t tell us you had balls,” an apparent leader noted.
“Do you have any clue what’s going on here?” Mateo asked.
“Yeah, they’re jackin’ with time,” the leader said.
“It’s a massive temporal bubble,” one of the others said, trying to help.
“Shut up, Harlan.”
“Don’t shut up, Harlan,” Mateo said. “Always be yourself.”
Harlan cracked a little smile.
“We’re supposed to kill you,” the leader said.
Mateo continued the line of questioning. “Are you time travelers?”
“Well, we’re here, ain’t we? And if we kill you, the guy who sent us here is gonna take us to any year we want and let us live free.”
“But, I mean, the first time you traveled was today. You’ve never done it before.”
The leader was lost. “No, why?”
“That’s means you’re gonna die.”
The leader lunged his gun forward, but wasn’t going to shoot, because he needed answers. “We’re the ones holding guns.”
“No, I’m not going to kill you. Believe you me, I don’t want you dead. Hell, even the gun who brought you here doesn’t want you dead, but he knows you’ll die anyway. It’s just biology. Some people can travel through time, but others can’t.” He gestured towards Kayetan, who was cowering behind a stoop. “He and I are genetically different than you. We can move through time safely as we please, but normal people get sick. Don’t ask me to explain any more than that, because I personally don’t understand it. I’m not a doctor.”
The others were starting to believe him, especially Harlan. The leader still had a decent amount of doubt. “How do we know you’re telling the truth?”
Mateo didn’t actually know whether this was true; it was just something Mr. Halifax claimed. He didn’t even know what symptoms might appear, but he did know some standard time travel symptoms. Daria would get dry mouth, and Mateo would get very tired for a few moments. He saw Gilbert Boyce’s men go through this kind of thing when they were on Easter Island. “Are any of your palms really sweaty, or is your skin really tingly, or maybe it’s really cold?”
That last one made the leader twitch.
“Yeah, that’s it,” Mateo went on. “The cold thing. It’s not cold for us, that only happens to normal people. Those are the early signs of temporal sickness, so you still have time. Just count yourself lucky that your heads don’t hurt.”
“My head hurts,” one of the other shooters said.
“Oh, that’s not good. That’s a later stage. If we don’t get you out of here right now, there is a one hundred percent chance that you die within the next two hours.”
The leader finally dropped his gun, prompting the others to as well. Kayetan ventured from his hiding place an inch or two. “What do we do?” the leader asked. When Mateo started digging through his bag, he raised his gun out of fear.
“I’m just getting some paper.” He carefully and deliberately drew his notepad out.
The leader lowered his gun again and waited impatiently.
Mateo never did see what Mr. Halifax wrote on his sheet of paper, or if the paper itself was special, but he had to have faith once more. He desperately needed this to work, so he chose to believe it would. He wrote out the words Dave, a.k.a. The Chauffeur, I have six passengers here in need of a ride to Sanctuary. PS: Never open the package. He didn’t know why he made a cheeky reference to the rules in the Transporter franchise, but it felt like a good place for it. He held out his hand. “May I...?”
The leader tentatively provided Mateo with his gun. Mateo pointed it towards the ground and fired. The bullet only went a couple feet before starting to move slowly. He placed the corner of the piece of paper on the bullet and let it burn. He then knocked the bullet out of the air, forcing it to drop safely on the ground.
After the paper had completely burned out, Dave appeared, just as he had before in the graveyard. “Okay, that’s not really how it’s done, but I’ll allow it this one time. Next time I see you, remind me to teach you protocol.”
“I would appreciate that.”
“These guys here?” He motioned towards the attackers.
“Yeah, and I would be forever in your debt if you would take him back to jail too.”
“What? No,” Kayetan cried. “Screw you!” He started to run away.
Dave snapped his fingers, remotely banishing Kayetan from this moment in the timestream. “This will still cost you. I don’t work for free, and I don’t mean money.”
“Whatever it is, I’ll pay it. Just save them.”
“Very well.” All seven of them disappeared.
Mateo calmly and slowly made his way to the courthouse, careful to not touch any of the humans.
The Cleanser was waiting for him at the top of the steps. “Color me impressed.”
“Are you gonna disqualify me for that?”
“I would never. I really am impressed, and as a bonus, I’ll even let you celebrate the centennial in realtime.Click here for the next installment...

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