Sunday, May 17, 2015

The Advancement of Mateo Matic: March 30, 2023

Amidst the blaring of the oncoming train, he could hear someone in the distance screaming, “Leona! Get off!”
Mateo turned to find Leona Delaney racing towards him. “We have to go!” she cried. She took him by the shoulders.
“I can’t move!”
“We have to jump off!”
Leona reached out, trying to get them to the edge of the bridge, but he tripped. His left leg refused to hold him up. The train was a few meters away, and he only had to crawl a few feet to clear it, but it was just too much for his body. He wanted Leona to get away without him, but even convincing her of that would take too long. Just before the train overcame them, he felt a third hand on his back.
Mateo fell to his back. The train was gone. The bridge was gone. The sky was gone. He was in a lecture hall of some kind. Between him and Leona was Aunt Daria.
“Oh my God,” Mateo said, grasping his leg; the full force of the pain attacking him now that the adrenaline had gone down. “Daria? How did you find me?”
“I didn’t,” Daria replied. “I call that a slingshot. When I feel like someone is choking me, along with the dry mouth, I know that I’m only going to be at my next destination for a few seconds. That’s usually how long I have to save someone’s life. The powers that be put me on those missions occasionally. The people I save always end up being senators or rock musicians. I’ve never been there for a family member. You must be pretty important to them.”
“Who are these people?”
“Couldn’t tell you. But they must exist. It can’t be random. The law of probability doesn’t allow it.”
Leona let him lean on her and started leading them out of the room. “We need to get you to a hospital. Foothills is under ten minutes away.”
“How do you know that? Where are we?”
“We’re in the Duane Lab at the University of Colorado Boulder. This is where I go to school. Which you would know if you hadn’t abandoned us.”
“How did you find me?” Mateo asked after managing to get into the backseat of her car.
Leona pushed a button and started the car. “Boulder Medical Center. Foothills,” she instructed the navigation system. “Emergency Entrance.” The car backed out and started to drive on its own. “Cybil, call Carol.”
There was a beep from the car, whose name was apparently Cybil. “Calling Carol,” it—rather, she said.
Mateo’s mother’s voice came from the speakers, “Leona, what happened?”
“We’re fine. Daria pulled us out just in time. He’s broken his leg, so we’re headed to Foothills Hospital.”
“We’ll meet you there.”
“Who’s we?” Mateo asked after the call ended.
“My boss was there during your last jump, so he knew exactly where you would be,” Leona answered while she inspected his leg.
“Your boss?”
“Professor Andrews. He actually saw you disappear, along with several other people in the car. They were pretty freaked out about it. Some people were worried about terrorism, but you fortunately never gave your identification, so there was no real proof that you were still on the train during that leg of the trip...pardon the pun.”
“And you just happened to start grad school at the same college as the guy I talked to on the train to Utah?”
“Duke snatched your bag secretly, and tracked us down. It’s been a year, remember? We got to know each other, and he put in a recommendation for me. I’m one of his teaching assistants. In the meantime, we discuss what’s happening with you.”
“What have you figured out?”
“Just about jack shit.”
“I’m not fifteen years old anymore. Anyway, back to the subject, we did design a special machine that should give us some data that you couldn’t have gotten from a regular ol’ hospital back in Topeka. Our main concern is determining what happens to the space around you when you disappear, and what happens to the space when you come back. Our current observations don’t make a whole lot of sense. I’ve seen first hand that Daria can take people with her, but you can’t. What exactly is the difference between hugging another person, and holding onto a bag, or even your clothes?”
“Well, my father was alive at the time. So that was a difference.”
“Physics doesn’t care whether you’re a living organism or not. It’s all just a matter of matter.” She leaned over and gave him a passionate but rather conservative kiss. “But I care.” Then she slapped him. “Don’t you ever run away from me again. Do you hear me?”
“My God, you’ve really grown up.”
“You’ve been dealing with this for less than two weeks while the rest of us are living in real time. Your entire life is consumed by this. But for me, it’s Tuesday.”
“It’s Thursday,” Daria piped in.
“Never mind. We’re here.”
A couple hours later, Mateo watched in amazement as a 3D printer formed a cast designed to fit his leg perfectly. It looked like nothing he had seen before. It wasn’t completely closed, but a web of plastic connections, almost like fishnet stockings. If Spiderman ever got hurt, this was the cast he would wear. Once it was finished, he put his pants on over it, and you couldn’t even tell that it was there. The nurse tried to give him medication for the pain, but Professor Duke Andrews walked in just in time to stop her. “Sorry, Mateo,” he said. “But the cast is bad enough. I can’t have these drugs interfering with our experiment.”
“Sir, I do not know who you are, but this is a medical decision...” Duke pulled her aside to talk her out of causing problems. Carol came over and gave him a hug.
“Are you going to slap me too?” he asked of her.
Carol turned to Leona. “Did you slap my son?”
“I admit to nothing.”
Daria stood up and took charge. “My nephew needs to get some sleep. I suggest we go back to wherever it is you people live so that he can rest.”
“I need to run some tests before he disappears,” Duke complained.
“And you will get your chance. You have over twenty hours left. But for now, let’s go. Someone needs to deal with the discharge papers.” She physically ushered them out of the room so that only she and Mateo remained.
“I think I would have liked you as an aunt. Whatever the motives of these people, the...powers that be, they better be worth me losing three of my parents and you.”
“That brings me to the second reason I’m back.” She took something out of her pocket and handed it to him. It looked not unlike a flash drive, but it definitely wasn’t that.
“Computers use these nowadays?”
She coughed. “The way I understand it, the technology required to access this device won’t exist for another couple centuries, or was it millennia?”
“I thought you weren’t a time traveler.”
She smiled lovingly and took a drink of water from his cup. “I’m not. But I’ve met some people since you’ve been gone.”
“Daria,” he started to say.
“I don’t know you. But I love you.” With that, she disappeared.
Mateo went back to his mother’s new Colorado house and slept the rest of the day away in a bed designated for him. They woke him up that night and drove him back to the university. Duke took blood samples, saliva samples, and other samples. As midnight approached, they had him lie in a machine that looked like the glass coffin from Snow White.
“The machine is going to run nonstop for the entire year,” Duke explained to him. I imagine the data during that time will provide us with zero insight, but we’re doing it anyway. We’ll see you later.”
Both his mom and Leona told him that they loved him. Then midnight.

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