Sunday, June 7, 2015

The Advancement of Mateo Matic: April 2, 2026

As soon as Mateo jumped back into the timestream, Leona was ready with a needle. She injected him with a substance that she claimed to not know, but that would apparently clean his system of the virus for good. He began to feel sick during the car ride, but they had a bag ready for him. He was sweaty and dizzy, but was still able to understand as they told him about how the virus that he brought back from the future spread throughout the entire world. Almost everyone showed symptoms at some point, and to some degree, but they only ever lasted for a few days. His mother was the only one who died from it, presumably because she made skin-to-skin contact with Mateo. He was responsible for the deaths of both of his parents, and he couldn’t tell whether the vomit was from that guilt, or because of the injection.
The car drove them up to the small airport where they got into a private jet that evidently belonged to a close friend of Duke’s who owed him a favor. He spent the next few hours vomiting, shaking, and sleeping. He had nightmares about what his mother must have gone through, and was grateful for having been given the gift of feeling a fraction of that pain. They first took him to Leona’s father’s home in Topeka. He wanted to go straight to the cemetery to pay his respects to his mother, but they refused. He was in no position to argue, especially not after passing out on Leona’s bed.
When he woke up, he was still sweating the toxins out, but he felt much better. It was fairly late in the evening. A young boy was staring at him at the foot of the bed. “Are you doing okay?” the boy asked.
“You must be Theo. All grown up.”
“Not grown up enough,” Theo sighed. “I am sorry about your mother. She was a fine lady, and I wish I could have known her when I was more myself.”
“How are you not now yourself?”
“I’m getting there,” Theo admitted. “But I still need a little more time. The memories are returning quicker now. Soon, I shall have them all back.”
“How did you lose your memory?”
“I died,” he answered mysteriously before standing up. “Come on. It’s near time to go see your family.”
“All right.” Not feeling up to pursuing a line of questioning, Mateo got out of bed, took a shower, and followed everyone to the cars.
Duke, Leona, her little brother, her father, and her step mother all stood in front of the graves of Carol and Randall Gelen. There was another man there too. When Mateo asked Leona who he was, she explained that he was a doctor, and had treated Carol while she struggled with the virus. Each of his friends spoke words of kindness about his parents. He was surprised to find out how close Carol had gotten with Leona’s parents. He was missing a lot, and was growing more frustrated by the fact every day. He chose to not say anything about them, preferring to keep it all to himself. But it wasn’t much. He didn’t know what to think. For the first time in his life, he was seriously considering killing himself. The main thing that stopped him was the likelihood that the powers that be would not allow it to happen. They were going to force him to watch everyone he loved die. What he did wrong to deserve this curse, he couldn’t say for sure.
While the crowd headed for the cars, he remained behind to be alone. He desperately wanted to pray, but he was losing his faith, and the part of him that doubted the existence of God was presently winning. Instead, after only a few moments, he stood up and turned around. But he was no longer in the cemetery. He was in a different one. He was in the small graveyard outside the city’s borders. Everyone was gone; everyone, except for little Theo Delaney. “What just happened?” He looked around. “Daria!”
“She’s not here,” Theo said.
“How did we get here then?”
“You needed to be here.” He pointed behind Mateo’s back. “And so did they.”
Mateo turned back around and saw that his parents’ graves were still there. They had been moved here to the other cemetery. “But why?”
Theo smiled. “This place is for us. It’s for salmon. But, I suppose the powers that be made two exceptions. You must be pretty important to them if they allowed your parents to be laid to rest here.”
“What are salmon?”
“You and I. And Daria, and Mario, and your birth mother. That’s what we’re called. Well, that’s what I like to call us, at least.”
“Because we’re going the wrong way.”
“Aren’t you a little young to have a pattern? Leona hasn’t so much as hinted that you’re one of us.”
“Leona has been keeping a lot from you, but of this she knows nothing. Right now I don’t have a pattern. Before I died, I was moving forwards in time according to the Fibonacci sequence.”
“You died and came back to life?”
“As Theo Delaney, yes. Like I said, I have to regain my memories. I don’t remember everything yet, but I remember dying.” He paused for a bit. “And I remember your birth mother.”
“You knew her? When?”
“We were...friends, for a long time. At different times.” He nodded his head. “She’s over there.”
Mateo looked to where he was indicating. He saw two small gravestones buried deep in the ground that were not there before. He knew this for a fact, because the markers were older than he had ever seen. “Laurel and Samuel. 1744. You’re telling me this is my mother, Lauren?”
“Yeah, she used different names for different jumps. We spend a lot more time in one place than you do.”
He fumed. “Will I ever see her again?”
“It’s not likely. Her and her boyfriend’s pattern is to go back in time in a geometric progression with a ratio of two. One year, two years, four, eight, etcetera. My records suggest that she survived her death, like me, and continued backwards. I have no idea how you would encounter her again. But you know what they say...stranger things have happened. For instance, this graveyard. It doesn’t exist just outside of Topeka. It doesn’t exist anywhere. It moves to when and where it’s needed; a sanctuary for us when we are at our worst. So, you see, Mateo, you were born a salmon. Even before your 28th birthday, you were part of the plan. That’s why the graveyard has always been there for you.”
The doctor from the other cemetery appeared. “Teddy? Is that you? Why didn’t you tell me who you were?”
“Dr. Sarka,” Theo said with a smile. “They let you come back here? No one is hurt, far as I know.”
The doctor pulled out a device from his pocket and looked over it. “I’m here for a consult with a...Mateo Matic.” He looked up. “That’s you.”
What the hell was going on? “A consult for what?”
“Kidney transplantation.”
“My kidneys are fine.”
“Yes, exactly. You’re a donor.”
“I never agreed to that.”
Theo looked like he finally understood. “You’ll agree to this one.”
“Why? Who is it for?”
The doctor scrolled through his device. “I don’t have that information at this time. I just need some samples now that you’ve had time to push the virus out of your system.”
“I do,” Theo said. “It’s for my sister. She is very ill, and has been waiting for a kidney for about three years. They can make certain organs with 3D printers, but kidneys are extremely complicated, very expensive, and at the highest demand.”
“How do we even know I’m a match?”
“I wouldn’t have been sent here if you weren’t. My machines probably checked your compatibility in the cretaceous period while I was stitching you up from the explosion, but I don’t see that data until the powers that be disclose it. Need to know, and all that.”
“So you’re a...what did you call us, Theo? Salmon?”
The doctor laughed. “Yes, I am. I’m the resident doctor. They send me in when one of the others gets hurt.”
“What about when I broke my leg?”
He shook his head. “I wasn’t vital. I’m sure whatever treatment you received for that injury was good enough. I only go where I’m needed.” He looked back at his scheduler. “And I’m needed for a transplantation in one year’s time. It’s technically illegal, so they can’t just have any surgeon perform it.”
“Do you know anything about salmon deaths?” he asked of Dr. Sarka. “Theo here says he was reincarnated. My parents were moved here with all the other salmon. Is it possible that they will come back to life too?”
Sarka walked over and examined the gravestones thoroughly. He even took out another device and scanned the ground. “They appear to actually be here, and not just part of the transition between jump points.”
“What does that mean?” Mateo asked.
“It means that it is entirely possible that your parents were salmon their entire lives without knowing it. I make no promises, but you may very well see them again.”
Later that night, Dr. Sarka prepared Mateo for surgery. As soon as he jumped forward to the year 2027, they were ready for him. He looked over and saw Leona next to him, under anesthesia.

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