Sunday, July 31, 2016

The Advancement of Mateo Matic: June 1, 2086


“Do you have any idea what it takes to dig a mass grave with nothing more than a shovel? I have to match dimensions...in more ways than one!”
“Sorry, brother, it was all I had access to.”
“Yeah, yeah, I know.” He wasn’t really all that upset.
“Why do you only have access to a shovel?”
“That’s what I wanna know.”
“Do you remember me?”
“I live outside of time. I’m not immune to all reality changes, but major ones, and ones that would change my relationships with others don’t affect me.”
“So are we outside of time right now?”
“We are.”
“That doesn’t make any sense,” Alt!Leona said. “You can’t be ‘out of time’. There is no ‘place beyond time’. You can be in a different timeline, or an alternate reality, or maybe a parallel universe, but you can’t just not be experiencing time. I mean, if we weren’t in time right now, this conversation wouldn’t be happening.” She started pointing between them. “Because you said something, and then you said something, and then you replied to him. It’s called causality, and maybe you can jack with causality, but you can’t just...like, have it both ways. You can’t both be subject to, and unburdened by it.”
The Gravedigger, Mr. Halifax stared at her for a few seconds, or for no time at all, since that was how it worked according to her. “We’re in a pocket universe.”
She paused for the same amount of time. “Okay, yeah, that’s all right.”
“Speaking of being all right,” Mr. Halifax said, “if we don’t get you to The Sanctuary soon, you could die.”
“What are you talking about?” Mateo asked nervously.
“Normal humans can’t be taken through time except under special circumstances,” Halifax explained. “Saviors, like your late Aunt, can teleport people to safety, but usually only once. Your father can do the same, but again, he has his limits. If a human is transported by just about anyone else, they’ll eventually get sick.”
“But weren’t those security guards normal humans?” Mateo asked. “The ones who watched over Horace Reaver?” he added. “And also their families?”
“I don’t have memory of that, but I’m sure they were moved back and forth by The Chauffeur,” he said. “That’s his job. He’s the only one who can regularly protect humans from temporal sickness.”
“Temporal sickness,” Alt!Leona repeated. “What are the symptoms?”
Halifax retrieved something from a bag that was sitting on the ground. It looked exactly like the portfolio binder Danica used to somehow find The Blender in 1975. “They vary based on type of travel, degree of separation between egress and return, strength of the traveler, and also just the biology of the human, as with any disease.”
“Is there a cure?” she asked.
“Not once the symptoms start.” Then Halifax corrected himself, “well, there was one case where Meliora treated him, but it took a long time, and Lincoln suffered from heavy side effects.”
Abraham Lincoln?” Mateo gasped. “Abraham Lincoln, Time Traveler,” he continued in a sort of whisper.
“No, L-O-L,” Halifax said. “Different Lincoln.”
“Wait, this shouldn’t matter anyway,” Mateo pointed out. “Leona is a salmon. She’s just not been activated in this timeline.”
Halifax tore a piece of paper out of his portfolio and scribbled something on it. “I’m afraid it’s much more complicated in her case.” He took a lighter out of his pocket and started burning the paper, eventually letting the remains to fall to the ground and burn out. “I can explain later, but I have to get her to The Sanctuary, and you back to ‘a place within time’.” He winked at Alt!Leona.
Dave, the man who had worked for Horace Reaver’s counterpart, Ulinthra, along with Harrison, appeared in front of them. “Does someone here need a ride?”
“Dave,” Mateo whined. “You told me you weren’t a time traveler when we first met.” Yes, it was starting to come true his belief that literally everyone he had ever met was going to turn out to be part of all this.
“I’m sorry, you must have me confused with someone else.”
“Oh,” Mateo said. “It was in an alternate reality.”
“Well...maybe I wasn’t a chooser in that reality.” He placed his hand on Leona’s shoulder and spirited them both away.
“You never really told me what the Sanctuary is.”
“Precisely two time travelers are capable of entering Sanctuary; our friend, the Chauffeur, and Meliora Rutherford Delaney-Reaver. If you tried to go in, you would immediately experience temporal sickness, and likely die within minutes.”
“So it will protect Leona from the Blender, The Cleanser, and even Makarion?”
“It will, yes,” Halifax assured him.
“Good.”
Mateo spent the rest of his section of 2085 wandering around a new Topeka. Much had changed since he had first been there. Upon reaching midnight, he jumped forwards one year.
Mateo spent the first half of 2086 sleeping on a bench in a park. He was happy that parks still existed, even with all this urban expansion. A police officer approached him just as he was waking up to offer him help. Mateo politely refused and made up some story about his roommate needing the apartment to himself all night. The cop was still worried, but she moved on without further question. Without his mother, Mateo was going to have to figure out where he was going to live. Feeling homesick, he decided to go find her old house. It took a long time to get all the way across town, but public transportation probably required an identity, and there was no record of him in this timeline. He was even more isolated than ever.
His house was gone, replaced by some other futuristic structure. A beautiful young woman was just coming out of the building with her dog. She was jog-hopping around, presumably getting ready to go for a run. The dog broke free from her grip and raced towards Mateo. It excitedly jumped up towards him and tried to balance on his straightened knees. “I’m so sorry about that,” she said. “I promise she’s harmless, but she’s also shy around other people. She usually only identifies with...” she trailed off.
He smiled. “Identifies with who?”
“Hey, this may sound like a strange question, but do you like salmon?” She didn’t hit that last word too hard, but she accented it enough that he understood the reference.
He held out his hand. “Uh, yeah...I’m Mateo Matic. I come from an alternate timeline, but I don’t exist here.”
She looked relieved to not have to explain why she was asking a stranger on the sidewalk if he liked to eat fish. She took his hand and said, “Téa Stendahl.”
He shook his head. “You look so familiar, but I just cannot place the face.”
You as well. Maybe we knew each other in the other timeline. Ya know, we sometimes catch glimpses of them.”
He kept shaking his head. “Maybe...briefly. I think I would remember better if I had ever spoken to you.”
“Well,” she said, “have you ever been to the past? I actually used to be a man.”
“Oh, you’re trans. I’m not sure.”
“No,” she said. “I died, but the powers that be weren’t done with me, so I was reincarnated, this time as a girl.”
“Oh, I’ve never heard of that. Your name is Téa?”
“Yeah, but I used to go by...”
“Ed Bolton.”
“Yeah, so you did know me?”
Mateo wasn’t sure what to say. This was not only an alternate version of Theo Delaney, but a female Theo. In going back in time and killing Hitler, he had inadvertently erased himself from the the future. But he had also changed Ed’s fate so that he was reborn as someone completely different. Now it all made sense. If both Leona’s parents had died, and she was raised by the Gelens, it meant that Theo could never be born as her half-brother. But Ed still needed to be reincarnated so he could continue with his pattern at the pleasure of the powers. He was really starting to get a handle on these time travel complexities. “In my timeline, your name was Theo, and you were reincarnated as my girlfriend’s brother.”
“Interesting.”
Mateo looked back to the building. “Do Aura and Samsonite live here?”
“They do. They too were reincarnated, but with the same gender assignment.”
Even after all these changes, his mother still came back and lived in the same place as before. She would have no recollection of him, though.
“Under what conditions did you know them?” Téa asked.
He was about to explain the truth, but stopped himself. Alt!Leona was already in this, but there was no point in pulling his mother back into his drama. The former Theo, now Téa, was walking a freaking dog. They lived normal lives. It didn’t look like they were worried about Reaver, or The Cleanser, or any other evil time traveler. They were probably happy. He had to let her go. “Umm, well...you know, salmon swim into each other every once in awhile.”
“Yeah, this is true.” She looked at her watch and tugged at her dog who was still insistent she get to know Mateo better. “Listen, I’m going for a run. You’re welcome to join, and maybe you can have lunch with us? I don’t know your pattern, do you have somewhere to stay?”
“Oh, I’m fine. I actually have somewhere to be. I appreciate the offer. Really, it means more to me than you could know.”
She took out a slip of paper and wrote down her phone number. “Okay, well, you know where we are. And now you have our phone number. Don’t hesitate to call or drop by if you ever find yourself back in our time period.”
He took the number. “I’ll remember that, thanks.”
“Hope to see you again,” she called back as she was running away and inserting her earphones. Little Téa Stendahl. What a crazy world he was living in.
Makarion caught up to him on the corner as he was leaving. “I thought you might come here.”
“You’re looking better.”
“I’ve had a year to recover.”
“You have a movie for me or something?”
“Yeah, we’re back to the old structure. You’re about to walk sixteen more blocks. Well...youre probably gonna wanna run.”

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Frenzy: Child’s Play (Part III)

Click here for the previous installment...
Click here for the entire story.

I was never much of a dancer in my youth, but I got more into it when I realized how beneficial it could be for my running form. They said that I should either do that or swimming as supplement, or even both. But absolutely not. I mean, I can swim. I wouldn’t drown if someone threw me in a pool, but I don’t like water. It’s...well, it’s too wet. I deal with it okay, and I even sometimes run in the rain on purpose in order to overcome my weaknesses, but I like it dry. And I like dancing. I know, could I be any more gay? Sometimes on the race, when I’m waiting for a traffic light to change—and yes, there are times when it’s too dangerous to cross, and illegal either way—I’ll dance for the cameras. I like to put on a show to generate viewers and revenue. It’s kind of my job, though it would be nice to get paid for it. The crazier the dance, the better, so I generally do the Wobbly Walk, the Donkey Roll, or The Creep.
At parties, however, I do disco dances, even though I’ve literally never heard a DJ or playlist master put on the right track. Whatever, I’ma do me. After a bit of hustle, I take a break and grab some water at the bar. Keilix has her elbows on the counter, watching Feingold and Tick Tock spar with some kind of martial art. I’ve never been much into fighting either. Unlike swimming, it’s not that I don’t like it, I just don’t quite see the value in it for my purposes. Feingold and Tick Tock seem to enjoy it, though. “Come here often?” Keilix asks as a joke.
“Tomorrow’s gonna be weird.”
“I don’t think we’ll notice.” She takes a sip of her chocolate milk. Studies have determined that excessive amounts of milk don’t really help build stronger bones, which would be useful to Frenzy runners. Still, a dairy manufacturing company is one of our largest sponsors, for reasons of the myth, so we get free milk.
“Well, I know we won’t individually see fewer people on the battlegrounds, but the city’ll feel different. Fewer people will be watching, little children probably won’t be allowed to chase after us. All I’m saying is that it’ll be a very different kind of race this year.”
“Brave new world,” she replies melodramatically.
“You know what I mean.”
She affectionately taps her head on my shoulder. “Listen, I’m about to leave so I can study before a nap. I just wanted to tell you that I’m glad you’re here. I know I was giving you a hard time about registering late, but it wouldn’t be the same without you. We’re a team.”
“Thanks Keilix. And hey, next year your parents won’t be able to stop you from joining the Tracers, so we can keep running together.”
She exales a breathy laugh. “I’m going to college, Serkan. Probably out of the country.” She turns her hips to face me so I know to pay attention. “I’m not going to be in a gang. I’m gonna get an education, and I’m gonna move on from this.”
“You’re going to stop running?” That would be surprising.
“I’ll run in the mornings before class, and then before work, like any health-conscious individual, but this will be my last race.”
I massage my stubble. “But your feet keep the planet spinning.”
“You’ll just have to run twice as fast.” She wraps her arms around my neck and gives me a kiss on the cheek, and a wink. “Well, more like three times.”
I take one of her hands and plant a chivalrous kiss. “Keep in touch, just the same.”
“I will. One more thing before I leave. Braxton is about to ask you to run The Gauntlet.”
I turn back to watch the crowd and say, “shit” under my breath.
“You haven’t been to HQ lately, otherwise he would have asked you weeks ago, and you’d be safe today.”
I gesture towards Braxton with my hand as I’m talking about him, “he’s gonna beat me. The Gauntlet is the one thing I can’t do.”
“Well, he wants you to prove it.”
Braxton is the kind of guy who isn’t satisfied with being the best. He needs evidence of that, and he needs everyone to know it. He would rather lose then never know for sure. Fortunately for him, there’s almost no way he’s losing. The Gauntlet was installed two years ago, but I’ve always avoided running it in front of others. It’s a fantastically tough maze of obstacles that I just can’t wrap my brain around. Two-foot steps, three consecutive four-foot gaps, a winding rock wall, and a rope to a catwalk are some of the easier obstacles. It was constructed in a completely new gymnasium built as an extension to the original headquarters building. For now, it’s used exclusively for training purposes, but the council has plans to make it a performance venue so that smaller parkour events can be held throughout the year. They’re just trying to work out the legal issues now since no one really knows what that’s gonna do for the economy. It will certainly help, at least in the short run, but the local government is worried it will cause a loss of interest in city landmarks. Tourism was the main reason the race was founded, so if that was ruined, City Frenzy might lose all support.
Seeing me talk about him from across the room, Braxton literally runs over. “Are we doing this or not?”
I take a drink from my water. “Or not.”
“Get the hell in that room, bitch!”
“Your taunts aren’t gonna work on me, Braxton. I’m an adult.”
“Then what the hell are you doing here?”
“You know what I mean.”
“I know you need to get your ass in that gym and show me what you’re workin’ with.”
I laugh. “Oh, if that’s what you’re interested in, then I would be happy to oblige. But I would rather do it in a bed.”
“Please, you know what I mean! Bitch!”
“Call me bitch one more time and see if you get what you want.”
“Please, sir, Mister Serkan, sir,” he says more politely.
I pause for dramatic effect. “I don’t want you boasting and flipping around when you inevitably beat me.”
He slaps his hands together out of pure joy. “My man!”
“I’m serious, Braxton. You have to learn to be a gracious winner.”
“Yeah, man, I got you,” he says, but he’s distracted by his own excitement about the whole thing. “Yo, Tick Tock! Start that clock! Serkie and me are ‘bout to drop a rock!” Dropping a rock is a tracer idiom for running a course you’ve never done before. It refers to landing on a boulder you didn’t know was unstable, and it falls out from under you. Of course, we’ve both run the Gauntlet before; we’ve just never run it together. Braxton mainly wanted to show his rapping skills while he was at it, because he’s that kind of guy.
As Braxton moves off to gather a posse, Keilix throws out her empty milk carton. “Like I said, I gotta go. Make sure Agent Nanny Cam films live on her channel so I can watch in the car.” Agent Nanny Cam is a nineteen year old former racer who only ran the Frenzy once. She became so much more interested in the broadcast aspect that she quit so she could operate one of the drones. She moved up the ranks rather quickly and is now in charge of the whole broadcast department, managing all camera equipment, and directing the live presentation.
“Will do, love,” I promise her.
Braxton yells to me from the doorway as he’s filing everybody through. “What did I say about that ass?”
“I’m coming, I’m coming.”
By the time I make my way into the gym, everybody’s already sitting in the bleachers. Even the kids who are now too young for the Frenzy are in there. Agent Nanny Cam is nearby. “What’s going on?” I ask her.
“I knew you were going to agree to Braxton’s challenge,” she explains. “So I told all my subscribers that I would be going live soon. Some people came back to watch in person. Kind of makes me feel bad, really, like I couldn’t give them a good show online.”
“What have I gotten myself into?”
“Come on, dude, you’ll be fine. This is child’s play. I know you’ve never been happy with your results, but you run it better than you think. Your standards for yourself are just too high.”
“How would you know how I run it?”
“There are cameras all over the place. I’ve been able to see every time you’ve tried it.”
“And you never put it on your website?”
“Of course not.” She looked mildly insulted.
Braxton runs up again. “Let’s go, we’re burnin’ daylight!” Not only is he always running, but he’s always yelling too. In the end, he’s a pretty annoying person, and I should try to distance myself from him. I head for the starting point, but he stops me. “We’re starting at the back.”
“Are you crazy?” It might not seem weird to start a race from the other end, but some of the obstacles are designed to go one way. It’s possible to reverse them, but it makes it difficult. Not to mention the fact that the intended direction gives certain muscles in your body a break at certain times. Going backwards will force you to go hard at all times.
“I told you that we were droppin’ a rock. What, you thought I didn’t know what that meant; that I just wanted it to rhyme?”
“I’m not doing this.”
“That’s your choice.” He motions to the crowd as he turns his back. “I would be more worried about disappointing them if I were you.”
Agent Nanny Cam sidles up to me with her master controller. “We’re not live yet, I still have time to cancel the show.”
No, this is important, because a show is exactly what it is. I don’t have to win, I just have to try, and I have to make it interesting. “Let ‘em fly, Cambria.”
Minidrones shoot out of their nest and start flying around the room, each one looking for a good angle. She activates her shoutcaster microphone. “And we’re hot! Welcome to the First Annual Gauntlet Death Match. Our contestants today are Serkan Demir and Braxton Cosworthy...” I stop being able to hear her as I’m walking towards the finish line, and she’s pacing in the opposite direction.
The crowd cheers as Braxton puts his index fingers over his temples and slides his feet on the floor one by one, mimicking an angry bull with horns. Then they wait, because I’m supposed to do something too, so I harken back to earlier in the day, and present them with a few nice curtsies. They cheer even louder for me than for him.
“You win this round, Serkie.”
“Please stop calling me that.”
He ignores me and takes his action camera from Agent Nanny Cam’s cargo drone. I take mine as he’s fitting it around his chest. “I’m ready.”
“Same,” I say.
The buzzer goes off and we’re gone. Click here for the next installment...

Friday, July 29, 2016

Microstory 375: Luxury

Click here for a list of every step.

Ahh, luxury, isn’t it the best? We all like it. We all want to be able to go to the store, find something good, and not worry about how much it’s going to cost us. Some people live like that, ya know? They have so much money, they literally don’t know what to do with it. In my recursive stories, at a more recent point in history, money is abolished. Everyone is given a proper education, after which, they are given the responsibility of a job. With artificial intelligence, and other automation, all the crappy jobs organics don’t want to do are taken care of. The only jobs available either require creative thought, or are incredibly easy. There are more people in the star system than necessary to run it, so if you’re given a boring job, chances are not super low that you won’t have to do much of anything. If you do, you take it in stride, because in exchange, you get decades of sabbaticals in between work stints, you’re immortal, and you don’t really have any problems. But that story begins at the end of paradise. Either way, we don’t live in that world. In reality, Earthans have decided to honor the intrinsic value of work itself. However, work has no value. The only reason we work is so that people who are benefitting from that work give us money, so we can spend that money on business that benefit us. And so goes the cycle of the economy. But that doesn’t mean the work itself is important. Kids these days are maximizing their free time while simultaneously minimizing their effort. Good for them. This sounds obnoxious, but it’s not; they’re right to do that. The 40-hour workweek is an arbitrary number that arose out of a series of compromises between workers and business owners who would rather just enslave you. We should be working to modify these labor practices in preparation for future advancements. If we don’t, a whole lot of people are just going to be unemployed. The only way to avoid it is to spread the wealth. Hobbies and other luxuries are THE ENTIRE POINT OF LIVING. Work is but a means to that end. Thank you for playing.

Calm

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Microstory 374: Guilty Pleasures

Click here for a list of every step.

I never liked the concept of guilty pleasures. Way I see it, if you like something, then you should either be proud of it, or you should stop. Really think about whether you should stop something. If you like little children, then yes, you should most definitely stop. If you’re an adult man, and you like My Little Pony, then only maybe should you stop. If you’re an adult straight man and you like the ballet, then no, you should not stop. I have a wide range of interests. I like writing, adventure sports, photography, pre-hospital medicine, musicals, urban fantasy romance novels, alternative rock, hiking, the opera, disco, dancing, and singing. I watch The Vampire Diaries, Project Runway, Jason Statham movies, YouTube documentaries on how to science, and just about anything else that isn’t sports, most scripted reality television, or the news. So when I say that an individual has a right to their guilty pleasures, what I really mean is that they have a right to like what they like. I heard a quote—from a television show, of course (Necessary Roughness)—which I actually believe to be a modern proverb, or maybe an aphorism. I can’t remember what they were talking about, but she said “don’t yuck my yum”. Our culture has had a long history on pissing on everybody else’s interests. These range from genocide of those belonging to a particular religion, to being harassed for playing Dungeons and Dragons. If any youngsters are reading this then first, I hope you didn’t read the one about sex I did the other day. But I also want to say that school life is total bullshit. I was picked on a lot when I was your age, I think. I don’t quite remember, because who cares? None of those people matters to me these days, and I always knew that. I never knew I would end up like this, that I wouldn’t be as successful as I wanted, but I did know that life goes so far beyond the playground. I assimilated a little when I was very young, but I eventually got over that. Let no one tell you that you’re not supposed to like what you like. You are just fine as is.

Luxury

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Microstory 373: Relationship Spontaneity

Click here for a list of every step.

For my entire life, I’ve been in exactly two relationships. One of them never happened, and the other one didn’t happen either; I just lied to you! There are many reasons why I’ve never had a girlfriend, but it all boils down to my autism. I’m quiet, because when I try to talk, I regularly find myself saying the wrong thing. I only speak when I have something meaningful to say, and even then, I’m awkward. I’ve become more open-minded and outgoing as I’ve grown up, which rose out of a need to assimilate into the culture, and pretend to be an extrovert. But there just aren’t a lot of prospects for me. My standards are high, and it’s hard for someone who doesn’t do recreational drugs to relate to someone who does, which includes just about everyone. I tell you this so you understand why I’m not able to give you relationship advice. I’m simply not the right person to ask. I struggle to write about couples in my stories, because I don’t have personal experiences to draw from. Sure, I write about interstellar spaceships too, but no one has experience with those, so you kind of have to trust my claims in that regard. Most of my fictional couples start their relationship in the middle, which is the same way many crappy science fiction or horror movies do it. When you think about, these two people only met yesterday, but they’re already on love, just because of their harrowing adventure? The beginning of a romance is a pivotal time between two people, because neither of them knows where this is going. Love I get. I’ve been in love, so I know how I would treat someone with strong feelings for me, but I certainly don’t know what goes into reaching that point in the first place. There are some things I can tell you that I’ve learned from movies and other observations, though. Treat your partner with respect. Be honest, but don’t reveal your every thought. You still need a filter. Don’t be judgmental, but also don’t just accept their flaws. It will create resentment. Be comfortable around each other, but also try new things. And as with anything, be nice.

Guilty Pleasures

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Microstory 372: Sexual Gratification

Click here for a list of every step.
This one is Rated-R, or whatever.  This is here because sex is a common and natural part of life. It’s so far down the list because it’s not anywhere close to being the most important. What’s important to remember is to do it safely, of course. I’ve heard a lot of people compare the dangers of sex with that of drugs, but there is a huge difference. Sex, when done right, is a good thing. When it’s consensual, disease-free, and with a partner you feel comfortable with, it’s a beautiful and healthy thing. Recreational drugs, on the other hand, are always bad. There is no “right” way to do them, there are just ways to do them not quite as dangerously as others. Sex aside from procreation isn’t necessary. In fact, with recent advancements in medicine and other sciences, it’s not even necessary for that purpose anymore either. Our species could live through indefinite generations without ever having sex again. Sex for fun is, well, just that; it’s fun. It provides us with psychological, neurological, and yes, physical relief. Sex helps us connect with others, and encourages love across the board. You don’t have to be romantically interested in someone to have sex with them, and you certainly don’t need to be married. In my recursiverse stories, it’s considered taboo to get married before ever having sex with your partner, because you’re expected to use it as one among many metrics for compatibility. I’ve always found it funny that our society has it the other way around. When I put it that way, it sounds rather silly, doesn’t it? I already wrote a long essay about “rape culture” so I’m not going to go too much into that here, but I do feel the need to reiterate it. I mainly want to remind you of The Three C’s: consent, consent, consent. Lastly, one thing I didn’t really get into is how much people need to stop the slut-shaming. An adult woman (for these purposes, treat the word adult as something more complex and gradual than a single birthday) should be able to wear whatever she damn well pleases without you claiming it’s distracting. That’s a you problem, don’t put that on her.

Relationship Spontaneity

Monday, July 25, 2016

Microstory 371: Strength

Click here for a list of every step.

That last one was weird, wasn’t it? I was being 100% genuine with it, but I decided to take the opportunity to be experimental, which is what this site is all about. Here’s what’s going to happen for this and the next week. I’m going to stick with my original plan. I’m going to accept that I won’t quite remember what I had in mind to write under these titles, and you’re going to accept whatever comes of it. I’m going to sit down, write a paragraph for a straight period of time, then I’m going to whittle it down to to match the word count, and that will be that. I promise you that the reason these later ones are subpar is not because I’m under the influence of some kind of substance. I don’t get to use that as an excuse...ever, unlike billions of other people. Sorry, got a little too real there for a moment. Let’s move on. This one is called Strength. I would like to think that I really meant something more like willpower, but somehow I don’t think so. I think I was referring to physical strength. Humans are still evolving, the main trait is that we’re getting bigger. There are a lot of reasons for this, involving a complex cocktail of natural selection, sexual selection, and other subconscious breeding techniques. In the future, non-transhumanistic humans will average seven feet tall, and will live typically over 120 years old. If that sounds like a big deal for you, just wait until I get into the details of what’s going to happen to the rest of us. The fact is that, even though evolution is still happening, it’s no longer necessary. No other species is capable of manipulating its environment to anywhere near the degree we do with ours. When we get cold, we don’t have to grow fur; we fabricate coats, and construct shelters, and build fires. Physical strength is adored in our society, but...like, why? I don’t need to be able to pull a car with my teeth. I’ll just start it up and use the pedals. Well, that’s my time. Sorry to leave you hanging. I’m not getting better at this, am I?

Sexual Gratification

Sunday, July 24, 2016

The Advancement of Mateo Matic: May 31, 2085

Click here for the 2016 table of contents.

The Cleanser left as quickly as he had come, saying only that he had to figure out what had gone wrong. Apparently he had had something to do with the whole five-Saga thing, but events had turned out differently from his perspective. Somehow his memory of events had been overwritten while Mateo’s was not. Again, why would that be? Was some chooser ally out there helping him? Could Darko be responsible? He could be alive in this timeline, and even if not, his death had yet to occur in 2005. He was the only friendly chooser he knew, mysterious Makarion notwithstanding. There was also Meliora, but who even was she? And maybe Frida, but what was she?
Nothing notable happened for the rest of the day. Yeah, he was chased out of the Pentagon upon being discovered impersonating a police officer, but that wasn’t a big deal. He only had to hide out for several hours on end before his original pattern kicked in and pulled him to safety at midnight. He never thought he would miss some good ol’ fashion timeskipping, but it was useful in some cases. One thing was for sure, he was already tired of the “missions”. It was time to get back to basics. He wasn’t sure what year it would be when he returned to the timestream. Hell, it could have just been 2006 for all he knew. It was only when he saw the architecture around him that he realized it couldn't be. And it technically wasn’t a standard timejump, unless The Washington Monument was, at some point torn down and replaced with some kind of futuristic megastructure. Wherever he was, there was a lot of fighting going on around him. It was war, and he had to find safety.
Bullets, or...lasers, or whatever, were flying all around him. A few of these whatevers flew close enough to him that he felt a burning sensation. He wasn’t able to get a good look at what was going on, but he was able to discern two distinct sides. There were robots to his left, and humans to his right. Obviously, he started veering to his right in search of safety. Apparently seeing him, the humans crowded around a wall and supplied him with cover fire. A figure braved the open air and demonstratively urged him to get behind the wall. Out of breath, he slid into home base but quickly looked around in case he had made the wrong choice. Never do anything without having an answer for why; rule number eight.
It did appear as though he made the right call, however. The soldiers looked at him with concern. “Are you hurt? Were you hit?” one of them asked.
“I’m fine.”
“What the hell were you doing in no man’s land?”
“Uh...my Uber was lost,” Mateo answered, still taking it all in.
“Funny. Hey, are you looking for someone?”
“He’s lookin’ for me,” Makarion’s voice came from a dark corner. “Well...he’s looking for her.” No. Please God, no.
“You better be using the term her as some kind of personification and sexualization of a weapon or vehicle.”
Makarion laughed and coughed as Mateo was approaching. He was slumped against a back wall. Leona Gelen was tending to his wound.
“You say we’re in the future,” she whined, “so there must be some kind of magic...I dunno, bandage foam!”
“Only Baxter has that, and I doubt he would be called to help him,” Mateo said, kneeling down to take a look.
Don’t look so worried,” Makarion said. “Your tears will salt my wound.
“What year is this?”
“What the hell are you people talking about?” one of the soldiers demanded to know.
“Back off,” Mateo said angrily, hoping to exude some authority, or at least a level of not takin’ no shit from nobody.
It seemed to be a sufficient response to the soldier, but he also had a battle to continue.
“It’s 2085,” Makarion began to explain in between weapon’s fire. “This is the Battle of the Dallamo.”
“It’s the what?”
That’s what I said,” Alt!Leona agreed.
“The United States has ceded territory back to the Republic of Mexico in an attempt to repair the U.S. economy. Automation and androids have significantly reduced the need for human labor; for unskilled work anyway. This is fine for the rich, for they don’t need to work much anyway. 3D printers, nanites, and superior health solutions have rendered the 40-hour workweek obsolete. In time, everyone will benefit from these changes.” He coughed up a little blood. “In the meantime, however, the less fortunate live in limbo. There’s no work, but even more people who need it than ever before. These fine folk are revolting against our robot overlords.”
“In a place called Dallamo?” Mateo asked.
Makarion laughed up some more blood. “It’s a pun. We’re in Dallas, and a supposed grassroots campaign came up with Dallamo to harken back to another historical Texian battle. The city is in a strange location. It neither accepted, nor rejected, the land turnover. They’re about half and half Mexicans and U.S. citizens, and have a kind of anti-border perspective. Most don’t think we should have countries anymore.”
“That’s weird.”
“I know, sounds more like Austin.”
“I’m still not clear on what the fighting is all about.”
“I don’t have time to explain it,” Makarion said. “And also I don’t know, because we just got here.”
“Yeah, how did you get here? And why is she here? I wanted to keep her out of it.”
He struggled to sit up a little straighter. Alt!Leona winced, trying to keep pressure on the wound without disturbing the healing process. “The Cleanser did mention that,” Makarion revealed. “But Nerakali wasn’t having it. You contracted her to blend someone’s memories, and when she gets a contract, she goes through with it.”
“Even if I changed my mind.”
Makarion nodded. “Even if. She says the contract isn’t with you, but with the timeline gods, or whatever nonsense she believes in. I guess you haven’t run into any of the religious nutters, have you? Yeah, now you’ll start seeing them all over the place. They worship time, and they keep humans as pets. They’re weird.”
“Makarion, back to Leona. You could die any second, and I need answers.”
“Hey!” Alt!Leona argued. “This is my patient, and you will treat him with respect!”
It was strange seeing her like his. She was Leona, but she also wasn’t, because she had been through so much he didn’t know. She had grown up differently, so she had a different personality. On the outside, she looked like the same person, but unlike in the Pentagon, he could feel the disconnect between them. It wasn’t that he didn’t like her, but he didn’t know her, and you compromise your position for people you love, not strangers, so he ignored her. “Makarion.”
“The Cleanser did as you asked. He protected her from getting her brain blended. Unfortunately, he felt like this was the only way. You didn’t want her to remember the alternate reality, but I guess he figured this was okay.”
“Could he not have kidnapped The Blender in her stead?”
“She’s more powerful than him. Sure, he has a greater variety of time tricks, but she’s more connected to her power. She can even make him forget memories.” That might explain why he thought the Pentagon had been attacked in 2005.
“Okay,” Alt!Leona said, removing her hand from Makarion’s belly so she could gesture with them. “Okay, okay, okay. Time travel, I’m okay with. I studied film in college, so I am what we call genre savvy. What I don’t understand is why you’re talking about me like you already know me, and that I know you. I’m just some random girl.”
Makarion started using technical language to bring her up to speed, realizing he wouldn’t have to dumb it down for her since she was, as she put it, genre savvy. “The two of us went back in time and created a point of divergence that changed the timeline dramatically enough to alter your life experiences. In the reality where we’re from, your birthfather lived, Mateo here was the one adopted by the Gelens, and you two didn’t meet until...”
“2016,” Mateo filled in.
“2016,” Makarion echoed before continuing. “You became friends, then you started jumping through time with him. They’re actually timeslips, because you had no control over them. You jumped when the powers that be wanted you to.”
“Why don’t I remember this?”
“Well, because it never happened.”
No, no, I get that. I know why other people don’t remember, but why don’t I? I guess the real question is, if I was his partner, why wasn’t I with him during the creation of the point of divergence?
“You were in hiding,” Mateo said. He didn’t want her to be involved in this, so his instinct was to tell her as little as possible. But no matter what about her personality had changed, she was always going to be petulantly curious. If they kept her in the dark, she would just get mad and do everything she could to find out anyway. The cat was out of the bag, so she might as well learn the truths. “You pissed off a very powerful man, one who could travel through time on his own. Makarion here protected you for me, then we went on the mission, and by the time we got back, everything was changed.”
“What was the mission?”
“That’s not important,” Makarion jumped in before Mateo could speak. He knew Mateo wouldn’t want her to know those details. Keep murder out of the discussion on a first date. “It just created a butterfly effect that had some unforeseen consequences.”
“Well, are you gonna go back and stop yourselves from completing the mission?”
“We can’t, even if we thought it would be best, other time travelers would just correct our correction.”
A heavy blast struck the wall and knocked over the top half. Rubble and twisted metal rolled uncomfortably close to where they were sitting. Dust clouded up and squeezed on their throats.
“Can you teleport us out of here? There’s gotta be somewhere safe from the war. Maybe Canada? Canada’s always good.”
“Wait you can teleport? I thought you didn’t have a choice.”
“I do,” Makarion told her. “Usually, at least. But I’m too hurt. I could probably get myself out of here, but no one else.”
“Yeah, maybe you should do that,” Mateo said, deep in thought.
“I was joking.”
He spotted something interesting over yonder. “Hey, Halifax exists in this reality, right?”
Had he the strength, Makarion probably would have shrugged. “Well, yeah. Why?”
“Go ahead and save yourself. Head for a hospital or something. It would probably be too dangerous for us to try and move you anyway.”
“Are you serious?”
“You can’t help us, but Halifax can. There’s an open grave over there.”
Makarion struggled to turn his head over to where Mateo was motioning. “That’s a mass grave. It’s a..it’s a pit.”
“It’s open, ain’t it?”
“It’ll never work. He doesn’t even remember you in this timeline!”
“I have faith,” Mateo said, mostly to himself. He stood up and took Alt!Leona by the hand.
She allowed Mateo to hold onto her. She was a woman out of time, and had to make decisions on the fly. There was no time to weigh options and decide if he was good people. “Why are we looking for a grave?”
“Tell me, did they make a movie called The Shawshank Redemption in your reality?”
“Umm...yeah? Who cares?”
“It’s just nice to know that some things never change.”
“Shouldn’t we help him?”
Mateo looked back and saw Makarion teleport away. “He’s not really a friend. We have a sort of love-hate relationship.”
“You said he protected the alternate version of me.”
“He didn’t do a great job.”
They were at the mass grave. It hadn’t been filled yet, presumably because the battle started before they could finish the job. Bodies were piled on a cart next to it, on the other side. Killing Adolf Hitler hadn’t completely desensitized him to death, but it certainly hadn’t strengthened his empathy. These people also didn’t feel quite real. It felt more like a video game that he could just turn off, especially since he was about to teleport somewhere else.
“Again, what are we doing here?”
“Do you trust me?”
“No.”
“Could you pretend for five seconds?”
She rolled her eyes. “How about three?”
“Should be enough time.” Then, like an asshole, Mateo took Alt!Leona in an embrace, spun around, and leaned back towards the pit.