Sunday, August 30, 2015

The Advancement of Mateo Matic: April 14, 2038

Leona nudged Mateo awake needlessly violently. “Are we going?”
“Going where?”
“I slept on it,” she said. “Now more than ever I think we should go on the hunt for Reaver; try to turn the tables on him.”
“What time is it?”
“Twenty thirty-eight.”
Mateo shot upward and looked for the window. “It’s almost 9:00 PM?”
“No, dumbass. It’s the year 2038. It’s just before dawn.”
Mateo fell back down to the pillow and yawned. “We can’t leave yet. We coordinate it with our time jump. That way, the trail goes cold for an entire year.”
“Why would we do that?”
“It’s what I did last time.”
“How did that work out for you?”
“I could never have predicted meeting Duke on the train.”
“You’re right, it was a solid plan. So good, they would never think that we would ever think of doing it any differently this time. In order to keep our family from finding us, we should leave this morning, and throw them off.”
“That’s stupid.”
You’re stupid.”
They sat in silence for a few minutes. Mateo nodded off. Leona growled every once in a while.
“What if—?” he started to suggest.
“Shut up!” she cut him off.
He breathed in and out melodramatically.
“I keep going over it in my head,” Leona finally said. “Any plan I run risks them finding us, or Reaver finding us, or the authorities.”
“What do the authorities have to do with anything?”
“I don’t know. We don’t have IDs. One broken taillight and we’re screwed. You’re supposed to be 52 years old! And dead! I wouldn’t be there to hack you out of jail this time.”
“Well, let’s burn that bridge when we get to it. Speaking of which, what does Reaver matter at this point? All we’re trying to do is get back to Kansas. The earliest we could see him is 2039. The earliest,” he reiterated.
“I’m planning ahead! God, it’s like you don’t have ears.”
He sat up on his elbows and tried to match her eyeline as she stared at the bedsheets. “I don’t know if you know this, Leona, but I don’t have an advanced degree in astrophysics. I’ll never be smart as you. Keep in mind that you were a dum-dum teenager when you met me. I was always far older than you, until a few days ago. It’s time to come down to reality and admit that you chose to align yourself with an imbecile. I don’t claim to know what the motivations of the powers that be are, but I’m sure they didn’t choose me for my brain.”
She didn’t respond.
“Now help me find my shoes,” he continued. “I always have trouble remembering which one goes on which foot.”
She fought it, but couldn’t help revealing an adorable smile. She reached down to the floor and retrieved one of his shoes so she could throw it at him.
“I love you,” he said, trying to make up.
She sighed. “Were I you, I would too.”
While they were getting dressed, they made their plan of escape.
During breakfast, they directed the conversation in such a way that would lead others to come up with the exact ideas they wanted them to. And it worked perfectly. Leona’s stepmother, Melinda wanted to take a boat out on Brooks Lake, but Samsonite wanted to take a hike on Loop Trail. They decided to split off and get to know each other a little better. Mateo went on the water with Melinda and Theo while Leona went for the trails with Aura and Samsonite. Leona’s father was in his 60s, and wasn’t up for either excursion, so he just went back to his and his wife’s cabin.
He and Leona had already synchronized their watches, so he knew that he was behind schedule. They weren’t as close to the beach as they needed to be so he offered to take over rowing for Melinda. She thought it was sweet, but Theo seemed to recognize it as unwarranted urgency. While she was laughing at how vigorous Mateo was with the oars, Theo’s special future cell phone rang, which meant either that someone else had the number, or their plan was in jeopardy. When he tried to pick it up, Mateo slapped it out of his hand. “No calls during tranquility time.”
Theo was growing more concerned. “What? It could be important.”
It rang again. “No, I’m sure it can wait.”
Theo looked at him like he was crazy and spoke condescendingly, “I’m gonna answer it, Mateo.” He reached down to get his phone back.
It rang again. Mateo settled into an overly offensive stance. “No. Don’t do that.”
“Why don’t you want me to answer this?”
“Son, he just wants to be free from technology for the day.”
He closed his eyes in exasperation. “He’s a time traveler, mother. The last time he checked his email, he did so with a an animal. He rarely uses tech.”
“Don’t you talk to me like that!”
“You’re not my real mother! You were a vessel!”
“You know it makes me feel bad when you try to explain where you’re from, and how I wasn’t the first to give birth to you.”
The phone had stopped ringing, but was back at it. Mateo exerted as much effort as possible into reaching that beach.
Theo grabbed his phone and answered it. “Hello?—How long has she been gone?—Well maybe she’s...ya know. Number two.—She probably just wanted to get far enough away from you for privacy.—Because it’s embarrassing.—I know everyone does it, but most of us don’t like an audience.—Look, I’m sure—” He stopped short.
Mateo could feel Theo’s eyes burning a hole in his head. He turned a bit and looked at him in his peripheral vision.
“Why are you rowing so quickly?”
Mateo ignored him and continued rowing.
“Mateo Matic, what are your intentions with my sister?”
No response.
“I don’t understand what’s going on,” Melinda said.
“Shocker,” Theo said rudely before returning to his conversation on the phone. “Aura. They’re running. Go find her.”
With no further options, Mateo took his chances and jumped out of the boat. Because of how close the beach was, he half-thought his feet would touch the ground, but he just kept sinking. Water filled his nose and stole his breath from him. He pulled himself to the surface and began to swim. He could hear the splashing of Theo behind him, and felt like he was keeping a decent distance between them. Finally, he could feel the fine dirt sliding through his fingers. He turned his body vertical and began running in slow motion until he could get his feet up in the air. Fortunately, he was taller than Theo and was able to hop through the water faster.
“Why are you doing this?” Theo screamed up to him.
“We’re trying to keep you out of it!” Mateo called back. “There wasn’t supposed to be a high speed chase!” He struggled up a hill and through the trees, tripping over roots and rocks. Theo was still in hot pursuit.
He ran as fast as he could in one direction, quickly coming upon the road that likely led to the east side campground. The plan called for him to turn left at this point, but he didn’t want to lead Leona’s little big brother right to her. He took a much needed breath, crossed the street, and headed right. He ran in zigzag, trying desperately to fall out of sight. He had laughed when Leona predicted something like this would happen, and tried to prepare him for it, but was thankful now for her amazing grasp of future possibilities. He removed a pair of goggles from one pocket and something she referred to as a rebreather from another. It didn’t look like much, but she claimed that it would extract oxygen from water and turn it into breathable air. Out of his trust for her and her quick understanding of futuristic technology, he stuck it in his mouth and slipped into Brooks Lake Creek.
The creek appeared to be murky enough to keep him invisible to someone on the surface, but Mateo closed his eyes tightly in anticipation. He was overcome with an irrational sense of fear that Theo’s arms would reach down at any second and pull him up. Such a thing would ruin their plan, sure, but it wasn’t not like Theo was an enemy. They would just have to figure something else out later. Mateo waited for minutes on end, perfectly able to breathe, until he felt safe enough to resurface. He looked around but found no one. He half-crawled, half-swam to the other side and looked at the map in his special phone.
About an hour later, he managed to make his way to the rendezvous point. Leona was already waiting for him. She was noticeably upset about him being late, but felt more relief about him arriving at all. “Where do we go now?” he asked her.
“The closest town is Dubois, so we’re going to Moran. We won’t get there until next year.”
He gave her a kiss on the cheek. “Lead the way.”
“I love you,” she said.
“Were I you, I would too.”

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