Sunday, December 6, 2015

The Advancement of Mateo Matic: April 28, 2052

Horace Reaver returned to Mateo’s cell a few hours past midnight and pulled up a chair. He nodded to Gilbert’s body. “He was about your age you know. Rather, he was about a year younger than you would have been were it not for the choosing ones. And today would have been his birthday.” He laughed less menacingly than he normally did. “Sixty-five. He was one day from retirement before his death.”
“You’ve never killed anyone, far as I know.”
“I’m sorry?”
“You’ve caused a lot of pain. We met a woman whose brother died working for you. Lord knows how many times you’ve tried to kill me. In an alternate reality, you did kill Leona and my father.”
“So Leona told me. How interesting.”
Mateo continued, “but have you actually killed anyone? I mean, before Gilbert.”
“In this timeline?” Reaver rhetorically asked for clarification. He thought about it for a moment. “No, I haven’t.” He shifted his seat closer to the cell window. “Are you ready for a story?”
“I wasn’t first thrust into this world when I was an adult, like you. I was literally born with it. At least, that’s what I’m guessing, because I do not remember a time without it. For as far back as my memories go, I’ve lived through each day, and then gone back to do it again. I first referred to the first time around as practice days, assuming that this was something everyone did. I legitimately believed that every single person on the planet was given a second chance at the day, ya know, to make things better. I just thought that that was how physics worked. Time repeating itself everyday made no less sense to me than the fact that the sun disappears every night.
“I discovered myself to be alone when I was pretty young by killing my mother, and finding her to have no memory of the event. I was an angry child, and having gave me a warped perspective. I can spend entire days doing what I want, to whomever I want, and no one will notice. I can kill others, I can kill myself, I can run around naked in Times Square. Had I the benefit of a normal timeline before this happened to me, I think I would been more stable. I would have been able to appreciate what it’s like for everyone else.” He leaned back to continue. “But the choosing ones wanted me from the start, thinking that to be the best way to activate me. They would later realize this was a terrible mistake, but we’ll get back to that.
“Once I realized that I was alone, I realized that I actually couldn’t be alone. There had to be someone else. The possibility of being the only one out of billions of people just didn’t add up. It was too statistically unlikely. I hunted for my counterpart by making a ruckus during what were now called Round Ones, and then doing nothing on the Round Twos. I finally found her after I stopped looking, and that’s when we met The Delegator. As it turns out, Ulinthra was nearly as violent as I was, using Round One to commit horrible atrocities. It took us awhile, but we figured out how to switch gears and become heroes. We saved a lot of lives. I’m not lying about this, I promise that it happened.
“One day, we were pulling people out of a forest fire,” he sort of trailed off and looked to the side, “which is sort of ironic, when you think about it. Two of the men there were Allen and Richard, a married couple on a camping trip. Ulinthra fell in love with them, and they fell in love with her. Group marriage being illegal, she had to marry into the family unofficially. We read them into our situation, and they began to help us.” He stared into space with wonder. “It was magnificent. We were quite a team, and we had yet one more member to bring into our ranks. My love. I met her when I was a thirteen-year-old with a stomach flu bad enough to need a hospital visit. We got to talking and hit it off, but she was a couple years older, so nothing came of it. That age difference was, of course, meaningless as adults, and I ended up marrying her.
“Despite the death of one of Ulinthra’s husbands, we continued our good works. I was happily married, and even had a daughter. Things were going well. We met another salmon. He seemed like a pretty cool guy, but he wasn’t around all that much. He helped us when he was available. Then he fucked up. He made a mistake that cost the life of my love. I murdered him in a fit of rage, but I didn’t stop there. I killed Ulinthra and Richard, I killed everyone I could get my hands on. I began to rampage across the city, and I don’t mean during Round One; I did this when the consequences were real. I did this when there was no going back. Death was final.” He took a drink of water. “Obviously, the authorities caught up with me and sent me to prison. While I was in solitary for having killed three other inmates, my daughter made an appearance. She was much older than she should have been, and I knew that she was just like me. Well, she wasn’t just like me. She was a choosing one. She broke a rule. You see, relatives are a conflict of interest, and so the choosing one who chooses what you do has to be unrelated, but that doesn’t mean your relative has no power over you.
“She sent me back in time, into my younger body. But not one day, no. She sent me all the way back to when I was a teenager, breaking my pattern. She was trying to give me a chance to try it all over again; to do it right. The other choosing ones allowed this to happen, but it had to come with consequences. There had to be some punishment, and it had to be ironic. I wasn’t sick this time around, and so my mother refused to drive me to the hospital. I desperately rode across the city on my bike, but I was late. The love of my life was already in the middle of a conversation with someone else. But not just anyone else. It was the man who had caused her death in the alternate timeline. I held back because, my God, he was twelve years older than her. Surely that would lead to nothing, and I would be able to make my move. Unfortunately, she was smitten; in love with a much older man. And as luck would have it, she would be able to age much faster. Knowing this, she ignored my advances. I bet she never told you that. I tried wooing her for years. I already knew everything about her; what movies she would like, what kind of chocolates were her favorite, but nothing worked.”
The picture was becoming clearer, but Mateo respected Reaver’s story and remained silent.
Reaver lowered his head and watched the floor stand still. “She was lost to me. It was like watching her die all over again.” He looked back up to Mateo, tears in his eyes. “She was in love with you. The mother of my child, the one who kept me sane, kept me from killing. She was in love with the man who had killed her. And she had no goddamn idea, so I couldn’t blame her. I shouldn’t have blamed you either, but I did. You’re not a bad person, Mateo, and I know this. But given the right circumstances, you would easily screw up again and lead Leona to her death. I had to find a way to stop you. Using my knowledge of the future, I built a conglomerate, tackling scientific advances before anyone thought possible. I thought I could sway her with my money, but that’s too simplistic. Of course it didn’t work. I was growing angrier by the minute, waiting for you to return to the timeline. Keep in mind that time moves twice as slow for me as it does for others. This meant a lot of scenarios where I drop your body to the ground, tumbling through my mind over and over again. All my attempts not only failed, but they also pushed Leona deeper into your arms. I was just making things worse. You know the rest. I devised a plan to kill Leona, only so that our daughter would appear once more and give me a third chance. I didn’t want to hurt her; I just wanted her back.”
Mateo stood up from the floor and placed his hand on the window somewhat affectionately. “I’m sorry, Horace.”

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