Sunday, November 15, 2015

The Advancement of Mateo Matic: April 25, 2049

Two of Gilbert’s men instinctively grabbed Mateo and Leona to pull them ahead of the group and down the corridor towards safety. The tallest of them had not had much opportunity to stand up straight while they were walking before, but this second had a higher ceiling, and allowed them all to move much faster. The floor was already wet, so there was a lot of slipping and running into walls, but they were able to stay on the move. The water flooding in from behind them was moving much faster, and would soon overcome them. But there was a light at the end of the tunnel. Literally. The walls cleaved from each other with each passing step as the ceiling flew up from the floor.
Finally, they were out of the corridor and into the largest chamber they had ever seen. It was a deep cavernous ellipsoid, at least a half kilometer wide, and they were standing in the middle of it, on a sort of mezzanine balcony. There were stairs and seats carved into the rock across the way. The occasional narrow waterfall poured from the walls. Stalagmites littered the floor. Some kind of stage waited patiently in the center of the very bottom. They were standing in an auditorium. But the most fascinating sight was the ceiling, or rather that there was no ceiling. Despite being deep underground, and knowing that this was absolutely not a known landmark of Easter Island, the sky could be seen above them. Rather, there were many skies above them. Stars periodically blinked in and out of existence. The sun appeared from one side and then disappeared, and then it would later appear from a different side. Sometimes, it was like they were seeing multiple versions of the sky at once in a spectacular vortex collage. They watched for several minutes before one of the men pointed out that they were no longer in danger from the rushing water.
“What’s happening here? Is this a hologram?” Gilbert asked.
“It’s a time window,” Leona explained, to the best of her ability.
“What does that mean?”
“You’re seeing the sky at different moments in time, from different angles, and likely from different locations.”
“How is that possible?” he asked.
“Same way my boyfriend and I travel through time; we do not know.”
“I thought I was crazy for thinking that to be the explanation for you two,” Gilbert said. “But I was right? That’s amazing.”
“Why is the sky seemingly perpetually zipping through time?” one of the men  now asked.
“That’s another question we could not answer,” Leona said. “What are you trying to find here, Boyce?”
Leona and Mateo took their gaze from the skies and looked at Gilbert.
He looked back at them. “Does that mean anything to you?”
They now looked to each other. “It does. It’s possible.”
“Who told you that would be here?”
Gilbert shifted his chin to various angles. “I don’t know.”
“That’s usually not a good sign,” Mateo said. “You shouldn’t do anything without knowing why.”
Leona went back to admiring the beauty in the skies. “Rule number eight.”
Mateo reached into his pocket and pulled out his phone. It always traveled through time with them, and was always able to determine when and where they were, and he regularly checked it to make sure his pattern held. “This isn’t right.”
“What is it?” Leona asked.
“My phone says that it’s April 25, 2049.”
“That shouldn’t be,” Leona agreed. “We never made the jump. It should still be 2048, unless...”
“Unless what?” Gilbert looked concerned.  “How are we in the future?”
“The cave didn’t protect us from the timejump,” Leona realized. “It just included everyone here.”
One of the men did his best to sound upset, but actually seemed more excited. “Is this permanent?”
“I couldn’t tell you,” Leona noted. “Last time that happened was with me. That was twenty years ago.”
Gilbert sighed out of fatigue and resolve. “We have no choice but to push on, do we? We’ve come this far. Let’s find the fountain of youth.”
“We are still not certain that is a good idea. Someone wants you here, and if they erased your memory, then they probably do not have your best interests in mind. We should go back,” Mateo urged.
“We have been having this conversation for a year. I’m over it, and I’m not going to repeat myself.” Gilbert turned and began walking down the steps. His men followed, and so did the other two.
As soon as they had all reached the bottom, the sky stopped changing. It had settled on a brilliant shade of red. Shimmering and dusty cloud loomed overhead. “Why does it look like that?”
“It could be a setting sun, or that’s from a couple billion years ago when the sky was orange, and the atmosphere full of methane.”
“How are we still alive?”
“It’s a time window. We are still standing in 2049.”
“I’m not liking this day much more than the last,” Mateo informed her. “Just want to put that on the record.”
“Noted,” she responded.
They continued to walk across the floor and head for the stage, the only logical place to go. The air shifted from hot to cold and back again, warning them away, but they never stopped. Gilbert was the first to step up to the stage, and noticed a sense of relief and mild euphoria. Leona and Mateo came next, and felt the same thing. They were still aware of all of their problems, but they were not worried about them. Suddenly, Reaver and the man who tried to kill them, as well as mystery that was Frida, didn’t seem so important. There was only now.
The other men followed them up, but felt quite differently. One started to smack his lips. “I’m really thirsty. Anyone have any water?”
One grabbed his head in pain. “Son of a bitch!”
“My hands are tingling,” another said.
“Guys, I can’t hear anything,” said a fourth.
The one who had helped Mateo down the corridor while the water was rushing behind them started nodding off. “I can’t keep my eyelids open.”
“What is happening to them?” Gilbert asked, with worry but no sense of urgency. “Why is it not happening to me?”
“It’s a security system,” Leona told him. “These are time travel symptoms. I don’t know why they’re lasting so long, though.”
The last man sniffed the air. “Do you smell burnt toast?”
And with that, all six of the men disappeared. Something from the pack of the guy with the headache exploded, bits of it landing on the floor. He must have been carrying citrus. They had served their purpose, according to whoever wanted the three of them, and the three of them alone, to be down here.
They turned from the spot the men once held, knowing that there was nothing they could do to help. A large transparent cube had appeared in the middle of the stage. Inside of it was everything one would find in an apartment; a bed, a wardrobe, a dining room table, miscellaneous other things, and even the kitchen sink. But no one was inside of it. The security guard from Reaver’s facility who had tried to stop him from escaping with Guard Number One and Guard Number Two appeared from behind a stalagmite. He was dressed in what appeared to be a rather fancy version of a security guard’s uniform. He was cool and collected; the opposite of his demeanor when they had first met. “Welcome to The Agora.”
“What happened to my men?” Gilbert asked.
“They’re safe,” he answered. “Back home. They helped get you here, but they did not need to be here.”
“Who are you?” Gilbert continued.
“I am The Head Guard. But right now, I’m on holiday. I have nothing to do while the prison is empty.” He looked back and presented the cube. “I need you three to fill it for us.”
“Who’s the prisoner?”
“Fugitive,” Head Guard corrected. “I think you know who.”
“Find him,” he went on. “Bring him to justice. We would much appreciate it.”
“Why can’t you find him yourself?” Mateo put his hands on his hips.
He shook his head. “That is not my job. I guard, I don’t catch.”
“That is not our job either,” Leona said.
“Yes it is. You’re The Rovers.” Head Guard seemed confused.
“We’re the what?”
“The Rovers. You go where you’re needed. Did The Delegator not explain this to you?” Really confused.
“Not exactly,” Mateo said. “He basically told us we could do whatever we wanted.
“Hmm...” he replied. “Something must be wrong with his neurolinguistic programming. We’ll have someone correct that. You’re not to do whatever you want, you are to do whatever is necessary. You do have jobs, you just don’t have one single job. Right now, we need you to catch Reaver.”
“Rovers catching Reaver,” Mateo said with a laugh. “Why would we do that when you could just send a Reaver to catch a Reaver?”
“I am afraid I do not follow.”
“Reaver’s daughter,” Leona said. “She’s a choosing one. Masters of time and space, and they still pretend to need go-betweens. I don’t understand why they send any of us to do anything when they could just jump through time and do it themselves.”
“I do not know either,” Head Guard said. “I’m not one of them. I just do what I’m told; like you.”
“We do not do that,” Mateo corrected.
“No, I suppose you don’t. But you need to start, or there will be consequences.”
“Like what?”
“Bad ones,” was all he said of it.
“And what am I to do?” Gilbert asked.
“You are being temporarily placed in their pattern so that you may assist. After that, you will be so far from your own time that the warrant out for your arrest will no longer be relevant, and you will be free to start a new life.”
“What do we get in return?” Mateo asked.
“If you do what you’re asked, then there will be a reward.”
Gilbert perked up. “Like immortality?”
Like immortality.”

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