Sunday, December 13, 2015

The Advancement of Mateo Matic: April 29, 2053

After Reaver told his story, he seemed to be in a bit of a better mood. Mateo had the feeling that he hadn’t explained himself to anyone before, and that this was probably a heavy burden for him to carry for all these years. His past in an alternate timeline did not excuse his actions, but they did lead to a logical and believable conclusion. Reaver’s hatred for Mateo now made a whole lot more sense. Imagine knowing the man responsible for killing the love of your life, and then going back in time to prevent it from happening, only to still end up alone. But the story was not yet complete. Mateo still didn’t know how it was that an alternate version of him had caused an alternate version of Leona’s death. Perhaps if he had all the facts, he would be able to help Reaver’s situation more; maybe even change his mind about revenge.
A man came down the steps and approached Mateo’s cell. He was holding a tray of food. But instead of a strange platter of finger food, this was full brekky. Either he made a decision against his superior’s wishes, or the conversation last year really had helped ease Reaver’s pain. The man placed the tray on the floor and slid it through. Taking a chance, Mateo spoke to him, “are you Allen? Or Richard?”
The man stopped and turned back around. “I’m Allen, actually. Why?”
Mateo thought about revealing to him about his marriage to Ulinthra in the alternate timeline, and how he had died. But that wasn’t his place, and would have placed unnecessary stress on Allen’s life. If Reaver had chosen to not tell him, then it was probably for a good reason, as weird as that sounds. “You’re the one who tried to pick me up after the forest fire, right?”
Allen nodded, “I am.”
“How long have you been working for Horace?”
“Fifteen years.”
“Do you know why he’s locked me up?”
“Do you not?”
“I do. I was just wondering if you do.”
Allen sighed and began to leave. “I don’t really care.”
“Do you even know Richard?” Mateo called up before Allen had disappeared completely up the stairs.
“Just some guy who worked for Reaver before I did.” He left.
That was sad. After going back in time, Reaver had sought out two people before they had a chance to meet each other, and for whatever reason, made sure that they never did. That was good information, though, that might help Mateo persuade Reaver to talk about this situation rationally. He fell asleep for a few more hours.

“Believe it or not,” Reaver said, waking Mateo up, “when I chose to keep Richard and Allen apart, I was trying to help.”
“In what way?”
“I thought if they never met each other, they would never feel the loss.”
“It didn’t work, did it?”
“They were and are two of the most depressed men who have ever worked for me. They were supposed to be together, and I took that away from them.”
“You could always introduce them to each other now.”
“Richard died. It had nothing to do with you. It was just his time. But they were soulmates, and that only acted to fuel my mission.”
“Your mission to get Leona back?”
“Yes.” Reaver stood up and focused on Mateo’s eyes. “The choosing ones can jack with time all they want, but ya see, I think the soul is timeless. I don’t think it can ever forget what happened in an alternate timeline. If you were in love before, you’ll either be in love again, or you’ll feel an emptiness. Leona must be feeling that. Because she’s not supposed to be with you. She’s mine, and she needs me back. If I can just get her to realize that she’s already in love with me, then I can remove her from your pattern, and we can be together again. I need your help, Mateo. Please, I know you think you love her, but she doesn’t belong to you.”
Mateo stood up and approached the window. “Don’t you see, Horace? Your relationship was built on a lie. You killed...I don’t even know how many people.”
“That happened before I met Leona.”
“But it didn’t,” Mateo tried to explain. “You killed all three of them in that ritual. And then you killed Allen for real before your wedding. And even if you hadn’t, Leona fell in love with a man who was not a killer. But that man didn’t exist; you just made her think that you were him.” He slowly shook his head. “She’s not in love with you, and she never was. She was in love with the lie.”
“You son of a bitch,” Reaver lunged and prepared to open the door.
“How did she die?”
Reaver stopped. “What?”
“You said I caused her death, but that I didn’t actually kill her. So how did she die?”
“You’re an ignorant dumbass. You came from 2015, so you didn’t have an understanding of how technology had progressed. You took control of a speeding car in a world where no one does that. I tried to take control back from you but we crashed into a bridge. You and I survived, but she didn’t.”
Mateo decided to not even bring up the fact that Reaver was partially responsible for the accident. Something told him that he already knew that, and was angry at himself for not being able to admit it. “Why did I take control? Where did I need to go?”
“Richard was in trouble. But he was two hundred miles away! There was no chance of us getting there in any helpful amount of time. We were supposed to be foiling an armed robbery. And you weren’t even trying to get there anyway. You wanted to go to a cemetery. I have no clue why. You were insane.”
“A cemetery? Did I say why?”
“Not while you were trying to drive. But after we woke up from the crash, you were delirious. You wanted to send a fax from an empty grave. I don’t know. Something was off about that day. Other salmon were in play, and you were just one screwed up piece of that puzzle.”
“I wanted to send a fax?”
“Yeah, this was 2036. You couldn’t have sent a fax, even if you wanted to. No one would be on the other end. Like I said...insane.”
“It’s not insane. I can explain it.”
“Okay, go ahead. Some kind of code?”
“No, you just misunderstood me. I probably had blood coming out of my mouth. But I can’t just tell you. I have to show you.”
“Fine. Do it.”
“Well, we have to go to a cemetery.”
“So you can try to escape? Yeah, sure.”
Mateo shrugged. “You can keep me chained up. All I need is an open grave.”
“Not this again.”
“In the alternate timeline, I could have helped Richard. In this timeline...I can help you and Leona. But you’re gonna have to trust me. You ever done that before?”
Reaver had no answer.
“Chain me up and take me to a cemetery in the middle of nowhere. I won’t be able to run. But it will all make sense. I promise.”

When Mateo was in high school, he and his friends started hanging out at a cemetery. The gravedigger, Mr. Halifax let them do it as long as they were safe and responsible. He had become friends with Mr. Halifax, and there was one thing he would say nearly every time they saw each other, “if you ever fall into an open grave, I’ll be there to take you anywhere you need to go.” It was weird, but kind of sweet, and he likely wasn’t lying. Mateo first jump through time from the cemetery, and it was Mr. Halifax who had driven him home upon his return. He had been remarkably calm, even though Mateo had been mysteriously gone for the last year. Mateo always thought there was something he was keeping secret, but with all the drama, he never went back to ask.
Allen helped Mateo out of the back of the van. It had taken them a long time to get there, but they were finally at a place called Hughenden Cemetery.
“Okay, we’re here. Go ahead and show me.” Reaver was impatient. “How will this help Leona understand?”
“I need an open grave, I told you.”
Reaver exhaled sharply. “Let’s go look.”
They didn’t have to walk around too much before they found a grave on the outer edge that had not yet been filled with remains. Mateo looked in and prepared himself. If this didn’t work, then nothing was going to change. He would still be in the possession of his enemy, Horace Reaver. But if it did work, then all this was about to be over. “You see, you did misunderstand the alternate version of me. I didn’t want to send a fax, I wanted to speak with someone whose name was Halifax.”
“And he lives in New Jersey?” Reaver was clearly confused.
“He lives everywhere. That is, if I’m not mistaken. I can’t be sure, but I think he’s one of us.”
Reaver’s eyes widened. “No.”
“If I had to guess,” Mateo began, “I would say his nickname is...The Gravedigger. Someone has to do it, right?”
“No!” Reaver yelled, but it was too late.
Mateo tipped himself over and fell backwards into the open grave. It was pretty painful, but he couldn’t think about that right now. He looked up and saw the sky to have changed from bright morning to dim twilight. He could hear a struggle above him, and then the distinct sound of a shovel colliding with flesh and bone.
After a few seconds, Mr. Halifax reached into the grave and pulled Mateo out. He laughed, “you figured it out.”
“I saw someone digging my aunt, Daria’s grave two weeks ago. I didn’t see your face, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that literally everyone I’ve ever met is either a salmon or a choosing one.”
“Sorry I didn’t tell you,” Mr. Halifax said. “But I didn’t want to.”
“I understand.” He looked down at Reaver lying motionless on the ground. “He’s not dead, right?”
“Of course not,” Mr. Halifax reassured him. “Where are we taking him?”
“Easter Island. His new crib is waiting for him there.”

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