Sunday, January 8, 2017

The Advancement of Mateo Matic: June 24, 2109


Mateo had his face buried in his hands. Literally everyone on the island was standing around in a jagged semicircle.
“It’s not that we don’t believe you,” Leona said. “We just want to understand. What were these buildings?”
“There were several of them,” Mateo tried to explain. Our mansion from Kansas City was here, there was a movie theatre-slash-video store. Téa, you were responsible for a clothing shop where salmon could jump in briefly and get what they needed to blend into their new surroundings. And Samsonite, you...you were a teacher. The Historian and The Archivist moved their operations over here. My God, why doesn’t anyone remember?” Probably more than any other emotion right now, Mateo was feeling furious. He didn’t imagine these last couple weeks. The buildings were real. Baudin was real.
“And one man built all of it? By himself?” Mateo’s once-father, Mario was likely exhibiting a healthy level of skepticism, but it just made Mateo more angry. This was coupled with the fact that Mario never did find a way to remember Mateo from an alternate timeline.
“Yes!” he screamed. “Because he has superpowers! Like so many of us do. I don’t know how he did it. He cut off his leg and jammed the bone into the dirt, and then a building would show up. Maybe he was just creating some sort of temporal bubble, I don’t know!”
“Okay, honey,” his once-mother, Aura tried to say. “You don’t have to yell. We can figure this out.” She didn’t remember Mateo as her son either, so hearing from her wasn’t all that comforting.
“Gilbert, Gilbert.” Mateo thought of an idea. “You have to remember him. You were him once. You possessed his body and you helped Meliora construct The Sanctuary.”
“What’s that?” Gilbert asked.
“It’s a special place that nearly all time travelers can’t enter. It was designed to protect humans who were in danger from people like us.”
They just looked at him.
“Oh, come on, you have to remember Sanctuary!”
“There is no Sanctuary.”
“Good, Gilbert. That’s good. You remember movies. So it’s not like you people can’t fucking remember anything!”
They were clearly not super happy about his use of foul language, but they could all tell that voicing their concerns would not be the best use of their time.
“Darko, you remember The Cleanser at least, right? He’s your brother...kind of.”
“We all do,” Horace confirmed. “Gilly killed him a few years back.”
“And The Warrior killed his sister, Nerakali, right?” Mateo asked. Whoa, that was weird. He remembered that happening, but could also remember experiencing a night without that happening. Maybe his friends’ weren’t the only ones whose memories were being messed with. He was being affected too. What else was he missing? Was this even real life? Does he even exist?
“Yes,” someone responded. He couldn’t even tell who it was since he was deep in thought.
So some things were the same, but others weren’t. “Saga, Vearden.” He stood up and approached the door-walkers. “You remember building the Colosseum, right? I mean, the replica. I experienced three tribulations there. Or was it two? I’m not sure if Glaston’s pocket dimension was part of that.”
“We do remember,” Vearden said. “Was this Baudin guy part of that?”
“No,” Mateo said. “I’m just trying to get a baseline.” He turned around and started pacing. “Xearea, how did we meet?”
“You forced your way into my house and protected me from killers.”
“Why were the killers there?”
“Apparently I piss them off in the future. I never really did learn why.”
“How long have you been on the island?”
She briefly shook her head, not understanding how he didn’t already know. “Well, I’ve been here ever since. That was, what, ten years ago?”
“What are you talking about?” Mateo questioned. “You’re the Savior! You haven’t been on the island, you’ve been teleporting around, saving people’s lives!”
“Mateo,” Leona spoke up again. “She’s been here. We’ve all been here. This is our island. You came her first in 2014. The rest of us followed over the course of the next few decades. Occasionally, they let us leave. Xearea was the last.”
Mateo closed his eyes, trying and failing to find patience. “So we’ve never been to Antarctica? Or Australia? Or Mars, or Iceland, or 1945!”
“You remember us going to 1945?” Leona asked, eyes wide.
“Well, no, I guess only Gilbert and I were there. But that’s what started everything in this reality. I killed Hitler—”
That got some eye rolls. Killing Hitler was not something you just throw out there casually and expect people to trust.
“I can see that you don’t believe me, at least not about that part.”
“Now, hold on,” Aura began, “that’s not fair. We are really tryi—”
“Zip it!” Mateo interrupted. “I can see now that someone somewhere somehow created yet another reality. This is not what happened for me. We’ve not been stranded on an island like...like...”
“Like LOST?” Saga suggested.
“Yes, like LOST,” Mateo agreed. He took a deep breath and composed himself. He was indeed finding his calm once more. If this was another reality, that meant it could be reversed. He didn’t know how, or who would help him, but he knew it could be done. “Darko, if we’re lost on this island, then we had to come with things from Earth. Like our clothes. Can’t you thread someone’s shirt, or something, and take us home.”
“My powers of object threading were turned off the moment I arrived,” Darko explained. “I’m stuck here too.”
So that was out. How convenient for whomever made this all happen. “Paige?” Mateo asked simply.
“I don’t have any pictures. My powers might still work, but there’s nowhere for me to go.”
Strike two.
“Saga and Vearden, these huts have doors.”
“They do,” Vearden agreed. “So what?”
“Have you tried walking through one and ending up somewhere else?”
“Why would that work?”
So apparently, Saga and Vearden weren’t door-walkers in this reality. They must have just been apported to Tribulation Island, and had no memory of being anywhere else. When they built the Colosseum, they did so here, so that explained why some things happened the way they did before, but not others.
Mateo sat back down on his log and scanned the crowd. Darko and Paige were their only hope. Everyone else was a salmon, and had no control over their patterns. Not that it mattered all that much. At best, they could get them back to Earth, but what he needed were answers. He needed to find a way to his reality. Or did he? Was this best? Who was to say say this reality was any worse than the other ones he’d seen? Maybe the only answer to this problem was to stop thinking of it as a problem. There were still a few things he needed to know, though, either way. “Who is Kivi Bristol?”
“You don’t remember me, father?” Kivi asked.
“I just met you yesterday,” Mateo replied.
“You’ve known me for years. I’ve been here the whole time too. I’m your daughter.”
He sighed again. “Same same, but different. Very well.”
She was holding back tears, but did a pretty good job of hiding it. Presumably she had all these memories of getting to know her father, but he had no idea. Was this what it was like to be his parents? Was this karmic retribution for killing Hitler and doing this to them? No, karma wasn’t powerful enough for this, not in the world of choosing ones. It had to be them. But who? Who was angry enough for that? With time travel, it could be anyone, even someone he had not yet met, like with Xearea’s attackers.
Everyone looked around awkwardly, not knowing what to say. It wasn’t until then that he realized that there was one face he didn’t recognize. Was this it? Was this the man who was doing all this? The man caught his eye and made a subtle motion for them to talk alone.
“Okay. Everyone is really stressed out right now, and I can see that the things I’m saying are upsetting everyone. Maybe I’m remembering an alternate reality, maybe I came from one. Maybe someone gave me false memories, or maybe it was just a dream. Regardless of the truth, I’m tired, and I feel like I need to be alone. Please...carry on with whatever you were doing on an island with nothing to do.”
They were hesitant, but everyone did eventually wander off, not quite sure how to deal with his problem. The stranger started heading for the treeline, looking back once more to make sure Mateo understood, but Leona was still there.
“It’s okay,” Mateo said to her. “I really am fine. I just need some time.”
“I’ve seen what these people can do, my love. When I told you that I believed you, I wasn’t just patronizing you. I don’t doubt for one goddamn second that something has been changed, and that the person who did it wants only you to remember. You can tell me anything. I promise that I’m on your side.”
“I can’t tell you how much of a relief it is to hear that from you, Leona.”
“Were I you,” she said.
“Were I you.” As she went for the beach, Mateo went off to catch up with the stranger, grabbing a pointy stick on a whim.
“You got my message,” the man said once he was sure no one else was around.
“You did this. You did this to me! To them! So what do you want from me? How have I slighted you that I don’t even remember, or haven’t even experienced?”
“It’s nothing like that. I’m not the one who screwed with your memories, but I know who did.”
“Oh, do you now? And how might that be? How come you and I are the only ones? I don’t even know you,” he spit.
“You don’t know me, but I know you. My name is Lincoln Rutherford.”
“What did you say?”
“I’m Lincoln. I too hail from an alternate reality. I was Horace Reaver’s security guard, back when he and Ulinthra were working together. My adopted daughter, Meliora accidently sent me back along with him.”
“They say you helped me. They say you stopped Reaver from hurting me many times, and that you protected my family too.”
“I did what I could. I wish I could have done more.”
“Did you ask people not to mention you to me.”
“I did, yes.”
“Why?”
“It seemed appropriate at the time.”
“That was Reality One,” Mateo tried to work out, “so to speak. You ended up in Reality Two, but then I went back to 1945 and created Reality Three, erasing everyone’s memories of Two. How come it is that you remember it?”
“I remember all realities. It’s my chosen one power. I see everything...except when it comes to spawn. That’s why I don’t always understand you, because Leona is in the way.”
“How convenient.”
“I suppose there’s no real way to convince you that what I say is true. I recognize that you’ve been tricked by both Zeferino, and Gilbert.”
“This isn’t about them. This is about me and you, baby. If you can tell me what happened, I may just start to trust you. Who’s responsible for this?
“It’s Arcadia.”

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