Sunday, November 26, 2017

The Advancement of Mateo Matic: August 9, 2155

Before the strike of midnight central, Mateo helped Lincoln escort Zeferino down to the dungeon, and install him in the cell he would have to call home for the next year. He didn’t seem too bothered by this. After thousands of years of living, a single year being trapped in one room probably wasn’t that big of a deal. It was Lincoln that Mateo was worried about. He would have to be alone for all this time, with only a psychotic prisoner for company. A lot could happen in the interim. What if that psycho escaped, or Lincoln started going through Lima Syndrome, which he had a history of in an alternate reality?
As it turned out, Mateo’s fear was misplaced. Lincoln was not alone. He used the extraction mirror to summon a friend of his from the past that had died. Mateo had never had the chance to meet Asier Mendoza, but he recalled people talking about him at his engagement party. For personal reasons, Lincoln returned him to the moment of his death before August 9, 2155, robbing Mateo of ever having the pleasure.
“Has it been a year already?” Zeferino said with a smile upon seeing them walk down the steps. “I don’t remember blinking.”
“Have you thought more about what I asked?” Mateo swung the cell door keyring around his finger.
“I’ve already agreed to help,” Zeferino replied, confused.
“Yes, you said the words, but did you mean them?”
“Why, of course? I would never lie.”
“Everything you say is a lie. I don’t think there’s anything you’ve ever said to me that was the God’s honest truth.”
Zeferino thought about. “That can’t be true. Anyway. Yes, I’m happy to help. In fact, I’m extremely excited to meet The Superintendent.”
Mateo dropped the key to the ground and made one step closer to the bars. “What do you mean? You’ve never met? But you know he’ll help us?”
“Now, hold on. Before you start accusing me of lying again, you’ll remember in our conversation, that I said he could help. I can’t speak to whether he will. He’s the most powerful force for our universe, who knows what he’ll do? Lots of people know how to contact him, but we don’t, because he can tear us out of time like that.” He snapped his fingers illustratively.
“Your sister can do that.”
“Ah, parlour tricks. The Superintendent can delete the whole story. He can cancel the universe itself. He can make new ones. Technically you can too, can’t interact with your godlings.”
“The hell is he talkin’ ‘bout?” Mateo asked Lincoln.
“My sight does not extend beyond the limits of this c-brane,” Lincoln explained. “Whoever the Superintendent is—and I have heard of him—I have no data on him. And I don’t know what this joker’s talking about.”
“Look, all I’m saying is that it’s a risk. He doesn’t talk to people who can’t help him. If we manage to get to him, it’s ‘cause he wants us to. You need to be prepared for whatever he asks of you. He doesn’t give you a choice, like I and Arcadia did.”
“Since when have I had a choice?”
“I mean literally. You’re his slave. I don’t mean you’ll suffer consequences. You simply cannot refuse.”
“He sounds just as bad as you,” Lincoln noted.
“He’s our God. What do you expect?”
“You’re telling me we’re going to talk to God? Nah, I don’t believe it.”
“I think deep down you know that Catholicism is bullshit, Mateo. The Bible says nothing of time travel. You’d think it would come up once.”
“It does,” Mateo countered. “There are tons of prophets. The Book of Revelation is all about the future.”
“And do you think that future is ever coming?”
Mateo smiled and drew even closer. “Maybe it another reality.”
For this, he had no argument. Mateo hadn’t often proved someone wrong with his faith, because there’s little proof of its validity...which is what faith is. But the wonder of time manipulation actually reinforces the idea that the miraculous events in the Bible happened for real. After a pause, Zeferino moved on. “This is all irrelevant. If you want to go through with this, then we better get on it. That starts with you letting me out of this cage.”
Without breaking eye contact, Mateo reached back, to be met immediately by Lincoln’s hand, transferring to him the keys he had retrieved from the floor. They were in sync. He let Zeferino out and waited for something to happen. “Okay...what now?”
“Oh, we just wait. Be patient.”
“I thought you were going to contact him for us. That’s why we let you out.”
“Oh, no I just wanted out. That’s a jail cell. He knows we seek audience.”
He closed his eyes. “Your stupidity astounds me every time. Talk about a miracle. I’ll speak slowly, so you can understand.” He did begin talking slower, “the He created...the whole universe. He’s not just listening right now...he’s controlling what we say. He’s writing them down right now, and is probably worried...that people will misinterpret the number of ‘o’s in the word ‘God’ as an elongation of the word ‘good’.”
Mateo just looked back at Zeferino like he was the dumb one. “It’s official. You’re crazy nutso cuckoo.”
“No, no, he’s right,” came a voice from behind.
Mateo turned around quickly, only to discover he and Lincoln were now standing in a bedroom. Clothes were lazily draped over the banister that protected people from falling down the stairs. Overall, the place was a slight mess. Zeferino had not traveled with them, though, so thank God for small miracles.
A man was sitting in a bed, listening to music. He reached over and clicked a pen. Dredg. That was the name of the band playing on his computer, which he suddenly now knew. A slideshow of photos of what might have been a beagle—after another click of the pen, he now realized it to be a foxhound—was playing on the television. He continued, “Crazy nutso cuckoo is one of my catchphrases. And the only reason you said it is because I have it written down right here, see?” He turned his laptop so they could see. Their entire conversation was laid out before them on the page.
Lincoln started freaking out. He blinked and keeled over, grasping his head in pain. “Argh, not again!”
“What’s happening to him? What did you do?”
“Oh, sorry,” the Superintendent said. “Here we go.” He reached over and clicked the pen once more, which somehow magically took Lincoln’s pain away.
“It wasn’t his fault,” Lincoln said with a sigh of relief. This happened when I first went to that other c-brane. I can only see my universe, but apparently when I go to other ones, I start seeing their proverbial spacetime paintings. It’s rather overwhelming.”
“Yeah, you’re not gonna have that power anymore,” the Superintendent said. “I’m over it.”
“What?” Mateo protested.
“Hey, this is a compromise. Did you think Arcadia was gonna let you get away with not killing Lincoln just because you get Darko back by some other means? She’s not a fan of loopholes, but she’ll use one herself if she has to. Lincoln’s inability to compete with her possession of the LIR Map should suffice.”
“If you’re God then you can just end all of this right now.”
“I could, but that’s not an interesting story. Who would read that? Once upon a time, there was a man named Mateo Matic, and everything was fine in his life. The End. You hear how stupid you sound? I almost regret making you this dumb. Now I see why everyone hates you.”
No words.
“Oh, precious little Christian got his fee-fees hurt. I definitely regret making you Catholic, and I’m so gonna take that away from you without any explanation to my readers why.”
“Do you have any?”
“Do I have any what?”
“Straight to the heart. I musta accidentally turned down your empathy, and turned up your sass.”
“Why do you have, like, four TV trays in here? Isn’t this a bedroom?” Lincoln questioned with his own sass.
“Why are you named after two presidents and a werewolf?”
“Apparently because you arbitrarily deci—oh, okay, that’s the answer. Fine.”
“Are you gonna give Darko back, or not?” Mateo wanted to return to the subject at hand. “I was told you would want something from me?”
The Superintendent went back to his—“you can call me Gaius, by the way. People don’t really understand that calling myself the Superintendent isn’t quite as egocentric as it sounds. Think less manager of an organization, and more broken pipes in an apartment”—computer. “I’ve already written one thousand four hundred seventy...three words, so we don’t really have time for you to do anything for me, but I’m sure I’ll think of something by the time I get back to this story next Sunday. It might even have something to do with Effigy.”
Mateo just sighed.
“Though, I kind of like the idea of you two having zero effect on each other’s story.”
“Ya know, this whole thing where you write yourself into the story is like Adapta—” Mateo blinked. “What was I saying? Oh yeah, you stole the idea of writing yourself into the story from a movie called Stranger Than—why can’t I think of the name of that mov—what was I saying?” Mateo finally noticed Gaius’ hand hovering over his magic pen that could alter reality. “Would you stop doing that? God!”
“Now you’re gettin’ it! But really, don’t call me that, it’s gross.”
“Believe me, I will never consider you my God.”
He shrugged. “Whatever. You don’t have long left in this story anyway.”
“What? But seriously, folks, I do worry about writing myself into these stories. I don’t technically have to do it, but I’ve already established the quantum interconnectivity of all these universes, and sometimes I get carried away with the crossovers. A side effect of that is you sometimes cross over into my universe. I’m gonna try to tone that down next year. Until then, you have a full week until 2156 arrives.”
“Are you one the powers that be?” Mateo asked, trying to get more answers.
“Heavens no. That I promise you.”
He seemed sincere, and Mateo wanted to believe him, so he did. “Do I truly want to believe you, or do you just want the conversation to end befo—” He blinked and nearly fainted. “Please stop doing that.”
“I’m about to take that pen from you,” Lincoln said, feeling extra protective of Mateo.
“You know, this season has been all about you two. I came this close to developing a romantic relationship between you.”
Mateo was just horrified at the through of Leona being erased from time for good to make room for someone else.
Gaius just smiled. “Don’t worry. Leona wears more plot armor than you do.”
“You better go. It’s 2:03 in the morning and I have a long day of rewatching the Netflix Marvel series. You’re welcome, by the way. In my universe, we have a show called Iron Fist, but I chose to spare you that horror. Plus, I gave you ten extra seasons of Bunheads, so a little gratitude would be nice.”
“Where will we go?” Lincoln asked.
Gaius was all but ignoring them, having returned to his laptop. “You can borrow that green car in my garage. The key’s right there. I don’t care where you go. Be back in a week.”

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