Sunday, December 20, 2015

The Advancement of Mateo Matic: April 30, 2054

Mr. Halifax merged his graveyard with Leona’s prison suite and swept her away to the garden inside of the hospital where she and Mateo had first met. He was waiting there for her so that they could get some rest and talk in private. “Ello, love,” she said, in her best Australian accent.
“How did he treat you?”
“Like I was the most important person in the world.”
“Did he hurt you? Assume the meaning of the word hurt to be extremely broad.”
“I’m fine, Mateo,” she said comfortingly.
“Why didn’t you tell me that Horace asked you out when you two were younger? That’s a pretty important detail to leave out while he’s trying to kill us.”
She dismissed this, “for Horace Reaver, the day he asked me out was one of the most important days of his life. But for was Tuesday.”
“I’ve heard you say that before. What does it mean?”
“It means that I don’t recall Reaver asking me out because he was a kid back then, and we’ve done so many things since. Lots of people asked me out. You can’t expect me to remember every single one of them.”
“That’s one of your rules,” Mateo pointed out.
“It’s two separate rules, actually. Keep track of everyone you meet,” she paraphrased, “and treat them with respect, because they may return later.
“I’m the poster child for that,” an eavesdropper said. It was hard to tell how old people were these days, but he was probably well past what used to be considered midlife.
“Do we know you?” Leona asked.
“You do not,” the man replied. “But he does.”
Mateo squinted to get a better look at him. “Kyle?”
“Kyle?” Leona repeated. “He’s the one who was with you in the cemetery when you first disappeared, yeah?”
“I was,” Kyle confirmed.
“What are you doing here?”
“I’m here to apologize.”
“I don’t remember you doing anything wrong.”
Kyle began his story, “after I watched you quantum leap in front of my eyes, I became pretty unstable.”
“I remember. I’m the one who should apologize. Again.”
“I ended up having to live in a facility so that I could find my way back to reality,” Kyle continued. “A part of me didn’t believe him, but I met a kid in there who claimed to be from an alternate timeline. I can’t say for sure how much was a coincidence, or if any of it was orchestrated, but he certainly opened my eyes to some things.”
“Kyle...” Mateo tried to say.
“I took little Horace under my wing and we helped each other. Despite my recovery, I ended up maintaining my position that I witnessed one of my friends time travel from a cemetery. I had to keep my knowledge secret from everyone, of course, but I did keep in contact with Reaver. In two-thousand-twenty-one, you asked me to drive you to the train station. You lied about where you were going, to everyone, but Horace figured it out, and found a way to sabotage your train so that it was on that bridge at the very right moment. I didn’t know exactly what he was going to do, but I’m not going to lie and say I thought he just wanted to talk. I knew he was your enemy, and I didn’t ask him his intentions. It was that failure that convinced him his only course of action was to become rich and famous to win Leona’s heart. Even after realizing that he wanted to run you over with a train, I provided legal advice as he was trying to start his business. He had some pretty radical ideas, but as you know, it’s because he’s literally seen the future. He wanted to have control over this new future, but even with all his foreknowledge, he couldn’t go it alone. I was there. I helped create the man you know today.
“We worked together for ten years until he kidnapped your family. I’m not saying I’m a good person, but that definitely did cross a line. I finally felt strong enough to break ties, so we parted ways, and I haven’t seen him since. But I still need to show you remorse for my actions. I’m glad to see that he kept failing. I just wish I hadn’t enabled him to hurt so many other people on our way here.”
“You’re right,” Mateo said.
“I’m right about what?” Kyle asked.
“You’re right that you’re the poster child for there being consequences for dismissing an acquaintance.”
“I shouldn’t have told Horace about your train.”
“I shouldn’t have killed his wife.” Mateo stood up and gave Kyle a hug. “I forgive you. And I’m sorry for not checking in on you more than just the one time.”
Kyle smiled and began to walk away.
“Hey, you’re not one of us, are you?” Leona called up to him.
Kyle just lifted his hand and waved to them once without turning around.
Mateo looked over to his love. “We should probably mark that down as a maybe. Just in case.”
Leona stood up and straightened her clothes. “Everyone is a maybe.”
A Stonehenge doorway of three stones appeared down the promenade. “I was thinking, should we get back in touch with Duke Andrews? It’s been a while.”
“He died of an age-related condition several years ago, Mateo. Keep up.”
“Oh no, that’s sad. What about the Colorado nurse who gave me the leg cast a month ago? Or the nurse who took a blood sample from me in this very hospital way back on my second day?”
“We’re not doing greatest hits. If they come back, we just need to be ready.”
“Are you sure? She may still be working here.”
“Let it go.”
They walked through the stones and teleported to Stonehenge. This time, it looked more or less as Mateo remembered it from internet photos in his original time period. The Delegator was pointing to another opening that served as a portal to a beach. “Visiting Hours have begun,” was all he said.
Mateo and Leona continued talking to each other without saying a word to The Delegator. This was just sometimes how they traveled now. Mateo was worried that his third grade teacher might show up at any moment, but Leona assured him that such a thing was unlikely.
Guard Number One was waiting for them on the beach, in full uniform. “Welcome back to Easter Island.”
“Are you really going to leave Reaver’s prison cube here?”
“Seems as good a place as any.”
“What exactly is that magical pit down there?”
“I’ve not been informed,” One said with the air of honesty. “But I’m sure the explanation is very exciting.”
“How’s your husband?” Leona asked.
“Great,” he replied. “The powers that be took us to the past for a few months, but realized that this was a problem since we were trying to be in a same-sex relationship. When I’m not on shift for Reaver or Ulinthra, we live in the 23rd century. We have two beautiful children.”
“That’s lovely,” Leona said.
“Ulinthra is locked up too? She was doing better.”
“Not good enough, I guess,” One said. “Another salmon team was dispatched to bring her in. She was considerably easier, and agreed to go quietly. I think they told her something about what she did in another timeline.”
“Oh right, yeah. All those murders. Yikes.”
“So,” One said with excitement. “Would you rather hear about your reward for capturing Reaver, or go down and speak with him first?”
Mateo and Leona looked at each other. “We have no need to speak with him again,” she said.
“It’s over,” Mateo finished.
“You should know that he managed to get some kind of message outside. He’s apparently sending it through time with the hope that it falls into your hands at some point. I’ve been told that we can’t stop it.”
He was referring to the device Daria gave to Mateo which he ended up taking to the year 3118. It caused an explosion that ultimately resulted in Mateo inadvertently taking a pathogen back to 2025. And this had caused his mother’s death. “We can’t stop that,” Mateo said quietly. He had grown more accustomed to his situation, and had a better understanding of time travel protocols. “It’s going to have already happened. Just like when you and the other guards later take Horace back in time to attend Daria’s funeral.”
“Very good, Mateo,” Leona said, nudging him with her elbow. “You have less time travel tense trouble than you used to.”
“Wibbly-wobbly, time-wimey, yeah?”
“All right so, Christmas presents,” One said, clapping his hands together. “I give you...” he lifted his hands towards them like he was bestowing a great power. “...the ability to survive in spaceships.”
“What does that mean?” Leona asked. How did she not already know?
“In 2036, you were desperate to get back to Earth from the moon before midnight. You were worried you would reenter the timestream in the vacuum. You were right, but not anymore. If you ever need to go offworld, and it will take you longer than a day, you’ll jump back to the ship, no matter how far it’s gone.”
“Great, thanks,” Mateo said, unenthusiastically.
“It’s 2054, man. This power is becoming necessary. You didn’t think you would stay in the solar system forever, did you?”
“Can’t they just take us through one of Saga and Vearden’s doors? Or with The Graveyard? Or via Stonehenge?”
“You would have to ask one of the choosing ones.”
“Well, right now, let’s just get back to our family.”

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