Sunday, April 2, 2017

The Advancement of Mateo Matic: July 6, 2121

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When Leona Reaver was thirty years old, she was senselessly killed in a car accident. Her husband, Horace, flew into a fit of rage, and killed a great many people. It hadn’t been his first time, but it was the first time it had had consequences. He had the ability to redo every single day one extra time. Usually, his murders took place during the first round, but her permanent death had destroyed his mind, and his capacity for self-restraint was lost forever. But then their daughter, another time traveler, came back with a proposition. She would send his consciousness back in time to when he was a child so that he could start over. Unfortunately for him, too many things were different. Yes, his beloved was still alive, but they didn’t meet when they were supposed to, and she ended up falling in love with the man who had been responsible for her death in the other timeline.
Leona ended up figuring out how to hack into Mateo Matic’s temporal pattern, and join him on it. Her alternate husband grew even angrier for this, and made many attempts on Mateo’s life, always failing, and eventually being killed himself. She and Mateo continued their adventures, but they were not always together. At one point, he was sent back to the 1940s so that he could witness a now-friend of theirs murder Adolf Hitler. This major alteration in the timestream created a third reality. Mateo himself was never born. Leona’s parents both died, causing her to be adopted by a lovely couple; ironically the same parents who had adopted Mateo in the previous timeline. Leona’s brother was never born either, she never fell in love with Mateo, and she never became a time traveler. She spent twenty-eight years of her life totally oblivious to all this.
It was only then that she was ripped from her life, and thrown into a world with time manipulators, salmon, and powers that be. Five years later, one of these time manipulators finally caught up with her. Nerakali had the ability to extract memories from an alternate timeline, and implant them in the mind of the version of that person in the current timeline. She called this blending, and it is how Leona was able to remember her old life with Mateo, even though all those events had been erased. This was all common knowledge to her friends and family. What they didn’t know about her—what she never breathed a word of—was that Nerakali had also given her the memories of that original timeline. She could remember her time as Horace Reaver’s girlfriend, and later wife. This was important, because at the moment, on July 6, 2121, Leona Delaney was alone on a beach with Horace Reaver. It was awkward, but they were going to have to talk eventually.
Earlier that morning, Saga Einarsson stood before everyone, and explained what expiation they were charged with completing. It wasn’t really her, though. A time manipulator was taking control of her body, and speaking her orders without having to actually be there with them. Every three days, a new person would go missing, and this time it was a woman named Stendahl. Like with all the other people Arcadia had taken from them, no one could actually remember this woman. It was hard for them to wrap their minds around the possibility that they experienced these deep, personal connections with people, only to have them torn out of time so thoroughly that they didn’t even feel loss. Leona and Paige were different, though. They couldn’t remember details, but they did feel that someone was no longer with them. Before Téa was taken, she donated her socks to Leona, which provided a sort of psychic connection that could not be completely severed. She did the same to Paige by donating a pair of her pants.
There were a few things about Téa Stendahl that Leona knew to be true. Téa was born a man in the eighteenth century. In his twenties, he became a salmon, and started uncontrollably jumping forwards in time. Through this, he eventually met Aura Gardner and Samsonite Bellamy, though they all three had different names. Téa, while going by the name of...oh, what was it? Theodore. Yes, Theodore Bolton. Leona couldn’t believe she managed to remember that. Upon Theodore’s death by what might have been a car crash, he was sent forwards in time once more, to the year 2018, but it wasn’t really him. He was reincarnated into a new family, becoming Theo, Leona’s younger brother. At first he knew nothing, because he was just an infant, but over the years, memories started coming back to him. By the time he was an adult, he could recall as much about his literal past life as anyone could of their earlier experiences. He later met up with his old friends from the past, and did his best to maintain a relationship with his now-sister, who was a time traveler herself.
This was all well and good, but then Mateo did that thing where he went back in time and helped change history by killing Hitler earlier than he would have died. Since this changed Leona’s upbringing, it meant that the man once known as Ed Bolton could no longer be reborn as her brother. Hell, his mother, and their mutual father, never even had the chance to meet. And so the powers that be, the people controlling all of this, simply chose to place him in some other family. This was when he became a she, and she was named Téa Stendahl. Since Nerakali had blended Leona’s brain, she could remember her former brother-slash-now sister. She could remember feeding him baby formula, and teaching him how to walk, and helping him with math homework. She could remember the love she felt for him, the pain of having to leave him behind all year, every year while she hopelessly jumped forwards in time, and the joy of seeing him every moment she could. But Téa never understood any of this. Sure, they could tell her that she was born as Theo in an alternate reality, but that was not something she could truly comprehend. Leona eventually had to face the reality that she no longer had a brother. Reconciling the contradictions between the three lives she remembers living was something she’s never really been able to do. It was a work in progress.
Another thing, however, that Leona could remember of Téa Stendahl was that she had a history of letting people down. More importantly, she had a history of making things up to the people she loved. Leona always knew that, no matter what, Téa would do everything she could to make it right, to repair any damage she had caused. And so this was their job for the next three days. They were tasked with working with someone who either they had wronged, or had wronged them. This was why Leona and Horace were sitting on the beach together, forbidden from going far enough away to find one of the other groups. Their special location was their old camp; the one they supposedly used for decades before being assigned the construction of a new camp. Their memories had been altered, which meant they hadn’t actually spent all that time there. It was just a falsehood, but it still felt real, which made it that much more sad to see the camp in such poor shape. They hadn’t come back in years, and the shelter was falling apart. It was a mess; a suitable symbol for their new lives as island survivors.
When Mateo and his friend went back to 1945 and killed Hitler, life for Horace Reaver was destined to change as well. His salmon time power was different before. He would still go back and relive every single day, but he had no memory of the first time around. He possessed only feelings; a sort of déjà vu on steroids. Everything he did felt familiar. This gave him an advantage—say when betting on a sports competition, or getting into a bar fight—but it was also stressful. Nothing felt exciting, and he could never really do anything spontaneous. Fortunately for him, his luck would change. He met a young man by the name of Serkan Demir. They started battling this evil corporation together, and quickly fell in love. They spent decades as a family, along with Paige, whom they had accidentally brought with them on a trip from 1970s Stonehenge. He was not the twisted killer from the first timeline. He did not murder people for sport, and then rewind the day to absolve himself of all consequences. Nor was he the ruthless business magnate of the second reality, so obsessively focused on reclaiming his love, Leona, that he no longer cared about anything else. He was a new man...a good man.
At some point, though, this new Horace Reaver encountered the brain blender, Nerakali Preston. For reasons known only to her, she blended his brain as well, implanting memories of the first and second realities. Suddenly he could recall all the death and destruction he had purposefully caused. He could remember killing his own mother as a child to prove to himself that he was a time traveler. He could remember killing his own fiancé, in this bizarre ritual sacrifice, before going back in time and marrying her. He could remember going on a killing spree after one of his best friends literally drove her to her the true death. And he could remember being given a second chance, and wasting it by dedicating his life to his former friend’s misery. This was likely what Nerakali had in mind when she forced these memories upon him. She wanted Horace to go after Mateo again, to rekindle their hatred of each other in the future. But this did not happen, because not only could he still remember the reality where he was good, but what she didn’t know was that he had forgiven Mateo even before the third reality was created. He did not return to his life as an adversary. Instead, he became friends with Mateo and Leona, and that was what he remained, even today. Leona knew this, but it was still awkward between them, because they were two of only a handful of people who had memories of all three alternate realities.
They stared at the ocean together. Every once in awhile, one of them would open their mouth, as if to say something, but they never did. They now had less than three days to air their grievances, which might be enough, but they had to start sometime. If they didn’t come to some kind of understanding between each other about what they knew, and what they felt, Téa would remain lost forever. If they didn’t complete this expiation, Arcadia would never her bring her back from the void, and they would never see her again. To most of the others, this probably wasn’t that big of a deal. After all, the whole point was that they couldn’t remember she existed in the first place. But Leona could. Mateo, wherever he was, could too. They would feel that pain for the rest of their lives, so it was time to get to work. She looked Horace dead in the eye. “You go first.” Click here for the next installment...

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