Sunday, July 5, 2015

The Advancement of Mateo Matic: April 6, 2030

Mateo slept all the way across midnight. The sun was still not out when he found Leona sitting on the other side of the lawn, watching birds argue with each other in a nearby tree. He approached her carefully. “I’m sorry.”
“No, I’m sorry,” she said back. “Now I know why you left on the train. I don’t want my family to go through this. I’ve disappeared, and that’s tough, but they’ll get through it and move on.” She looked up at him. “We need to keep them out of this.”
“I agree.”
“But I refuse to go to Utah.”
He laughed and sat down next to her. “You won’t hear me trying to force you.”
“I do wish that I could have said goodbye to my little brother, but it’s for the best. I can’t touch him now that I’ve been activated. I don’t want him to become one of us.”
Oh boy. “There’s something you should know.”
She patiently waited while a car pulled up behind them that they ignored.
“He already is one of us.”
He could feel her surprise, but she did a pretty good job of hiding it. “Since when?”
“Since before he was born. Apparently, we can sometimes be reincarnated. The way I understand it, he died at quite an old age.”
She turned her head towards Mateo, but kept her eyes to the grass. “Then maybe it’s hereditary.”
“How do you mean?”
“Think about it. Out of all the salmon we’ve met, most of them have been related to one of us. Your birth parents, your aunt, your cousin, and my brother. Hell, that doctor and the Delegator might be our children from the future, for all we know.”
“There was a guy who healed me with his blood when I had an allergic reaction after the surgery. He walked through a portal in the wall.”
She looked at Mateo. “Grandson?”
He shook his head with uncertainty. “I don’t know that what you’re saying is how it works.”
She went back to watching the birds. “Yeah, it doesn’t matter either way. I still need to stay away from Theo. Maybe he would need to be reinitialized, and I still don’t want that for him if I can stop it. He may be an old man, but to me he’s just my baby brother.”
“I hate when you call be a baby,” said Theo behind them.
They turned around. “Theo!” Leona cried.
Mateo chuckled uncomfortably. “What are you doing here?”
“I came here to find you. Did you already go in?”
“The chapel? I’m not sure I’m even Christian anymore.”
Theo snorted. “Neither is that place.” Leona pulled herself away when Theo tried to help her up. “You can’t hurt me, sestra.”
“You don’t know that.”
“I don’t have time for this crap.” And with that, he deliberately placed his hand on Mateo’s shoulder. “There, it’s too late. Now is it asking too much for my big sister to give me a hug.”
She looked like she was about to cry, but she jumped up and hugged him, both despite and because of her feelings.
Mateo led the way towards the chapel. “Why are we going in there?”
“Didn’t you just speak with the Delegator?”
“We did.”
“And he sent you here.”
“Why didn’t you leave?”
“We don’t have a car.”
“No, that’s not it. In the daylight, you can see Lebanon from here. You knew you were supposed to be here. He still should have told you. He’s not doing his job right.” He opened the door and stepped in like he was showing them their new house. “This chapel hasn’t always been here. In fact, it was destroyed once twenty-two years ago. But they can’t destroy what’s underneath.”
“What’s underneath?”
Theo smiled menacingly and spoke the magic words. Literally. “Open sesame seed bun! Fresh meat! The coast is clear!” A few seconds later, the entire floor began to descend. It started off slowly until settling into a second set of walls which closed above them to form a new roof. “Hold onto something.” The elevator dropped dramatically, faster than any before, but thankfully slowed down again after a while. “The base is 144 stories under the ground. Engineers and construction workers were sent back in time to build it. We don’t know exactly when, but we think it’s been here for millions of years. We call it The Constant.”
“What is it for?”
“It’s a resupply station. Down here you’ll find meds, food, appropriate clothing for your new time period, etcetera. There are some other creature comforts if you want to take a break from your mission, but they won’t let you stay too long. There’s only one person who stays down here, and she’s always here. Like I said, this is a constant. It doesn’t move through time like our graveyard. It was built in one place, at one time, and then left alone, which means that The Concierge isn’t like other salmon. She’s very special, though.” The elevator stopped.
“She’s special in what way?”
The doors opened. “I’m immortal.” It was Salinger.
“It’s very nice to see you again, Mateo.”
“How long has it been for you?”
“No one knows how long I’ve been here. They compare notes and have their guesses, but I’ve never told a soul. I won’t make an exception for you, even though you’re my cousin.”
Mateo couldn’t help but embrace her. They hardly knew each other, but she was family, and that counted for something. Leona joined in the hug, followed by little Theo. “Do you regret your choice? To go through the other door at Stonehenge?”
“For the most part, I do not,” Danica replied. “But there are many more minutes than there are salmon. It can get lonely, but I have a television.”
They laughed.
Danica looked at her watch and began to frown. “Unfortunately, you don’t have long here. I’ve been authorized to give you these.” She presented to them five futuristic mobile phones. We’ve put you on a family plan. They won’t run out of battery, and the network will never go down, however they’ll usually only connect to each other. I don’t know for sure, but you probably cannot be separated from them. Time should always tether you to them.”
“Why are there five?” Leona asked.
“That’s why you need to leave. You’re scheduled to meet up with the other two people in your party.”
“You can’t come with us, just for the day?”
“I’m part of the Constant. I haven’t left in—ohohoho! Almost had me there! Let’s just say that I haven’t left in forever.”
“Who else are we picking up?” Leona asked.
Danica shrugged. “I haven’t been given that information.” She looked something up on her device. “I only know that you’re supposed to be in a city called Huntsville, Ontario in less than nineteen hours. Which means you’ll have to speed. I promise not to pull you over.” She winked.
“Will I ever see you again? Will they ever let me back down here?”
“I imagine so. However, I promise you nothing. This is here for when you need it. The basic premise of this whole time travel thing is that you’re put where you don’t belong and have to find a way to survive and do some good. It’s not a vacation; it’s a calling. This place is for furloughs.” With that, they said their goodbyes and left.

The car automatically drove them halfway across the country, and into Canada where they presented fake passports that Theo had drawn up. Presumably, they would know what they were looking for when they found it. They later discovered that they wouldn’t have to look very far. Near the end of whatever it was they were doing, Theo motioned them over. “You should sit over here.”
“What? Why?”
“Just come sit over here with me. That seat needs to be empty. I just know it.”
“For what?”
“You’ll see. Would you two just do it? Have we not yet learned trust?”
Mateo and Leona reluctantly crawled over and sat on either side of Theo. It was awkward. “This is awkward.”
Theo looked at his watch. “It should be happening any minute.”
Leona shifted, trying to get more comfortable. “Are we gonna get hit by a meteorite or something?”
“Just wait,” Theo insisted. “You’ll like this surprise.”
After a few moments of waiting, a formless blob faded into view on the other seat where they had been sitting. Detail by detail, the image focused and became clear. The blob turned into two blobs, then two people, then two people with features. They were kissing each other, but stopped after the transition was completely finished. They looked up and around, but not directly at the other three. “Are we in a motor vehicle?” the man asked.
“We jumped to the future,” the woman continued. “Why is that?”
Mateo recognized the woman. He would know that face and voice anywhere, even though he hadn’t seen her in twenty years. “Mom?”

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