Sunday, March 5, 2017

The Advancement of Mateo Matic: July 2, 2117

Click here for the 2017 table of contents.

Over the course of the last however long it had been, Mateo learned to ignore his timejumps. This allowed him to sleep through the night without freaking out. Sometimes, however, it was beneficial to him to notice it, and his body seemed to just understand that on its own. He returned to the timeline at midnight central on the second day of July in the year 2117. The man he last saw the year before was hovering over him. He must have been trying to put his arms back in the cave wall restraints, which Mateo would have incidentally broken free of due to the jump. He instinctively, stuck out his feet and swept his opponent’s legs. The man fell to his side, but was still in control enough to drag Mateo down with him once Mateo tried to hop over him and run away. They struggled like rival weasels in mating season for a bit before Mateo managed to build distance between them. He got himself up to his feet and was about to run away when he noticed Xearea chained to the wall. The pain in the back of his head suddenly jumped to eleven.
When Mateo woke up yet again, he immediately looked over to find Xearea, but she was no longer there. He called out to her a few times, but she didn’t answer. Did the man kill her? Why? She had done nothing wrong. Then he realized that she was not like him. She didn’t skip an entire year at a time. She presumably just spent the last 365 days with this new opponent. What did he do to her? What did he want? Was there anything that Mateo could do to help?
He watched with relief as Xearea finally appeared from behind vegetation, holding a wooden bowl. “Here,” she said. “I’ll help you drink.”
Mateo hesitated. “Is this...?”
“The water from the magic immortality puddle? No,” Xearea confirmed. “It’s just regular water from a nearby lake. Either way, you have to drink all of the ingredients to change.”
He accepted her help, finishing the entire bowl. It wasn’t until the water touched his lips that he realized quite how dehydrated he was.
“I’ll go get some more.”
“Wait.” He tried to take her by the arm, but his chains gave him very little give. “What did he do to you?”
“Normal hostage stuff. He just kept me chained up like you are for a while, then he felt comfortable giving me some room to move around. Eventually, I had a radius of several meters. A couple months ago, he took them off. He knew I couldn’t leave after he drove both of the cars into the ocean. When there aren’t any cars to drive on the ocean highway, it disappears on its own.”
“The others,” he suggested. “They didn’t come for you?”
“They know nothing about this place, or how to activate it from their end.”
“My God, you’ve been through so much. I was the age you are now before any of this even started for me.”
She nodded. “I accepted who I really was a long time ago. I knew this wouldn’t be easy. My only regret is that I’m not a real Savior. I’m not actually helping people...like my predecessors.”
“That’s not true. You helped Baudin, and Gilbert, and Samsonite. And now you’re helping me. And you will continue helping people until we get through all these expiations, and you get to go back to Earth, at which point you’ll continue to help others. I wouldn’t hope for anyone better for the job.”
“Thank you, that’s very nice of you. It’s not quite enough, though, is it? Especially not since we don’t even know when I’ll be torn out of time, like your friends.”
He became more somber, and chose not to argue, so that she wouldn’t feel invalidated. “I know.”
They were silent for a little as she sat next to him and let him rest his head on her shoulder.
“Who is he?” Mateo finally asked.
“He is very old. He learned of the immortality water from a choosing one who just, like...automatically knew how to do it. It was her only temporal power, and she explained to him the ingredients he would need. Together, they found a chooser who could jump through time and retrieve these ingredients for him.”
“He became the first immortal.”
“That’s right,” she said. “But he’s different than any of the others. When he took the water, he became one of the ingredients. His saliva tops of the new recipe.”
“Well, what makes that recipe different?”
“When someone drinks it, they became immortal for, well...ever. He, on the other hand, must continue collecting and drinking the water if he wants to survive. He can only last about a half lifetime before he needs another dose.”
“So that’s why he’s here, to get what he needs from the star puddle.”
“That’s why he came here, yes, but that’s not why he’s here now. Over the months, I gathered more and more information from him. What I’ve learned is that the person who was taking him across time and space betrayed him, and trapped him here. I guess they didn’t want him making any more immortals. He’s destined to die here, taking the good recipe with him.”
“Can’t someone just jump back in time and get his saliva in the past, before all this?”
“I asked him that, but he didn’t answer. You can’t push him too hard or he’ll pull away into his shell.”
The man walked up from the side. “Time travelers can’t drink the immortality water, except under very specific conditions.” He started talking with his hands. “If you want my water, you have to come to me at the exact right time. The amount of time you’ve lived has to match up with the amount of time that has passed since your birth. For instance, if you’ve been jumping through time, and while doing so, you experienced ultimately twenty-eight years of living, you have to come back to the time period exactly twenty-eight years after you were born.”
“That doesn’t make any sense,” Mateo argued. “The Cleanser offered me and The Navigator a drink when I was thirty-five, but it had been over a hundred years since my birth date. It had been centuries since The Navigator’s birth.”
The man smiled. “Then he was lying. Or he was giving you the base recipe, which would mean you would have to keep drinking it, just like I do.”
“So what do you want with us?” Mateo asked of him.
“I want you to get me the hell out of here.”
“There was a highway, you could have left when we arrived.”
He shook his head indignantly. “I can’t leave by a highway. It’ll loop me back. They didn’t just..abandon me here. They trapped me here. I can only leave one way. I need a time traveler.”
“Well, sorry to disappoint you,” Mateo began, “but the two of us are salmon. We can’t go anywhere unless the powers that be want us to, and my pattern wouldn’t help you anyway.”
“Which is why I don’t need you.” He violently pointed towards Xearea, “I need her! But she said she wouldn’t help until you came back!” He moved violently in her direction. “Well, he’s back, so get me out of this hellhole!” He stared into Xearea’s frightened eyes, waiting for a response, rather slowly realizing that he already had one. He looked back at Mateo. “The powers that be. Salmon. Did you say that she was a salmon too?”
He didn’t want to answer. The possibility that she could help was the only thing that was keeping her alive.
“Ah, she is, isn’t she!” He got in her face again. He was totally insane. Centuries, possibly millennia, of obsessing over his own immortality had caused him to come completely unhinged. There was no reasoning with a man like this. “You lied to me! You said that you could help, but you can’t! You said we had to wait, so we waited! I gave you food, I let you roam free, and you betrayed me! Just like him! Just like aaalll of them! You’re all a bunch of liars!” He started raging out, tearing at his hair and shaking air molecules around.
“Run,” Mateo tried to whisper, but she was frozen. “Xearea.” He grew louder, “Xearea, run. Run! You have to get out of here!”
“Nooo!” the man screamed. “If you can’t help me then I have no use for you!”
She finally found the strength to leave, but it was too late. The man quickly overcame her and tackled her to the ground. She tried to fight him off, but was just not physically capable. She was clearly malnourished and tired. She cried and screamed and pleaded for her life, but he didn’t care. He reached over to a loose limb and angrily drove it into her stomach.
“No! Mateo cried out. “Somebody help! Arcadia, help her!”
Arcadia teleported in and swiftly kicked the man in the face. “Fuck you!”
“Arcadia, please,” Mateo begged. “Save her.”
“I can only do one thing for her.”
“No, not that. You’re so powerful. I’ve seen you people heal injuries. Just wave your hand over the wound and fix her.”
“I can’t do that. I’m powerful, but I don’t have every power.”
“How could you let this happen?”
“I can only come when you pray, and when you really need me. I have my own limitations. Look, I didn’t tell you this before, but I was never planning on taking her out of time. She’s...different. I can’t do whatever I want with a Savior. I struck a deal so that I could bring her to the island, but I had to keep her in the timeline if the powers were going to let me do that. If I rip her out of time now, someone will have to pick up the slack.”
“Fine, I’ll do it. Just...end her pain, and give her a chance to come back from this!”
“It’s not simple. You can’t be a savior. You’re just...you. But I’ll need all of your friends. You can help on certain days, but not the rest of the time. They’ll all have to agree to it.”
“I’m sure they will. Just please, before she dies.”
Arcadia took a deep breath. “All right. She will live...eventually. But you’ll have to stay here for now.”
“Fine.”
Arcadia knelt down and lifted Xearea in a hug. Xearea was coughing up blood, and close to her last breath. They both disappeared. Click here for the next installment...

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