Sunday, January 3, 2016

The Advancement of Mateo Matic: May 2, 2056

Another day, another year. There was nothing particularly different about the second of May in 2056, but it felt like a new beginning. They were finished with the whole Horace Reaver debacle, but due to the laws of time travel, there was no guarantee that he would never return in some way. Mateo had already dealt with Reaver’s bomb in the 32nd century, but he was only there due to a glitch. What would things look like when he actually landed in that time period during his regular pattern? Would the world have changed? How many times? For the better? Worse? Leona told him that they would not find out for nearly three years, from their perspective.
The two of them had been so busy with their problems, that they were falling behind on the news of the times. Rainforests are disappearing, fires are increasing, and the whole planet is getting hotter. Traveling anywhere in the world is as easy as driving to work was in Mateo’s time. Computers have gotten smaller. Babies as foretold in Jamiroquai’s Virtual Insanity were a real thing now, designed perfectly by their rich “parents”. As the mooninite population increases, Earth’s population stabilizes, and scientists are beginning to move out to what’s called the asteroid belt. And soon, The Beatles will be in public domain.
“So, about the same?” Mateo asked, jokingly.
“Yes,” Samsonite replied. “Same same but different.”
“Any plans to go out in a spaceship?”
“No, why?”
“The Head Guard said we’ll be going through space soon.”
“I don’t know anything about that. Mayhaps he was referring to another few decades.”
“What are you two talking about?” Leona asked, coming into the room. They were living back in Topeka. Due to climate change, many people had migrated to the area, but many more were searching for better conditions towards Canada. Housing prices were relatively low, so they were all living together in a nice multi-family home.
“The long and winding road,” Samsonite explained.
“That I can relate to,” she said.
“What are we going to do this year?” Mateo asked.
“It’s been a long time since we’ve not had a job.”
“The Delegator could appear at any moment and give us one, especially since we’re talking about it.”
They all stared at the opposite wall for a few beats. No portal. Good for now.
“Let’s just all have a nice brunch together and see where life takes us.” And that’s exactly what they did. They had brunch, and then they had lunch, then a snack, and then dinner. It was a day of food. They didn’t talk about the choosing ones, or being salmon. They didn’t discuss global issues, or the future. They just talked. About the celebrities of the day, many of them children of the celebrities Mateo and Leona used to follow. They told jokes and made up stories. While Theo was in the middle of a fascinating anecdote about shrinking fish, Mateo disappeared from the table.
He looked to the sky and found two moons gazing back at him through twilight. He was standing on the edge of a gigantic canyon, probably larger than that other one. An ocean threatened to pour into it from behind him. A few aliens enjoyed the evening on the beach. He felt a little heavier, which Leona said might be expected on a different planet. Great. Next time, Mateo resolved, they would have to have a plan of action. It would seem that as long as they kept busy, they were pretty much left alone. But if they ever grew too comfortable, they would be ripped away and thrown into some new adventure. Rule Number Ten, stay active.
“Do you recognize me?” a man asked. It was The Cleanser. Figures.
“I do. I don’t understand how you’re still alive.”
“The timeline where I died was erased when your pattern was disrupted.”
“But how do you remember that?”
Choosers always remember.”
“Why do you go against the others?”
“They’re children.”
“Literally, or is there more to it than that?”
“As you know, the child of two salmon will be taken from their family and raised by a certain someone. This someone doesn’t do a very good job, and that child will grow up as, not only a choosing one, but...” he trailed off, looking for the words, “but also as kind of a dick.”
“What makes you different?”
“I fell through the cracks.” He shrugged. “It happens. I was raised different, and so I have a different perspective.”
“Who are your parents?”
He smiled. “Too soon.”
Mateo lowered himself to the ground. He was doing it because it was difficult to stand under his own weight, but he also hoped to give the impression that he wasn’t scared out of his mind at the moment. “You want my help for your...crusade.”
“You’re very perceptive. I’ve not heard this about you.”
“I’ve gotten smarter. My—” he stopped himself, remembering what happened last time they were faced with an enemy. “You stay the hell away from Leona.”
The Cleanser held up his hands in defense. “Hey, I got no beef with her. I’m not in love with her from another timeline, or some creepy nonsense like that. I’m just here to talk.”
“You’re here hoping to indoctrinate me.”
“I killed Horace, and all those guards.”
“You’re not doing a great job so far,” Mateo amended his previous statement.
“I feel bad about it. I felt worse than I thought I would; not about Reaver, mind you, but the others.”
“Go back and stop yourself.”
“It doesn’t work like that.”
“Why don’t I believe you?”
“I’ve decided to change tactics. It’ll be a lot harder, but I think we can accomplish something...together.”
“Unless you’re telling me that you’re going to stop killing, we’re already done.”
“That’s exactly what I’m telling you.”
“Why don’t I believe you?”
“I’m trying to put an end to all this; all this suffering.”
“Your problem is with the choosing ones, so why kill salmon along the way? What did we ever do?”
“You were given bad information. Don’t blame The Delegator. He was one of the first of us, and something went seriously wrong with his brain. I’m not sure what, but his mind is all jumbled. That’s why they made him middle management.”
“What’s the good information?”
“There is no difference between salmon and choosers. We’re more like a subspecies of humans. The only reason we seem to be more powerful is because someone, long ago, decided that Generation Two salmon were pure, and so they were given control of their powers, while other people’s powers were suppressed. Not everyone can travel through time, and salmon are just the ones being batted around like a cat toy.”
“Are you saying that I could will myself to control my pattern? I could go back to 2014?” Mateo was suspicious, but hopeful.
The Cleanser paced a little, trying to figure out how to dumb things down for Mateo. “Right now you’re a prisoner. You could walk through the door...but you need the key. The chooser who is in charge of you has that key. So yes, you could go back to 2014, but you would have to steal the key from your captor.”
“In other words, I would have to kill them.”
“Yeah, but first you would have to find out who it was. And ya know they’re...intentionally hiding themselves from you.”
“But we have encountered choosers before. My half-sister, Reaver’s daughter,” Mateo listed.
“Right, but they’re not the ones in charge of you.”
“But they’re in charge of someone, and I could theoretically relay that information to that salmon.”
He laughed, “assuming you could somehow find out who they’re in charge of, you would still need to find a way out of their proverbial jail cell. And then they would have to break you out of yours. If we were being literal, this would be simple. But it’s nigh impossible. There’s no actual cell, and no actual key.”
Mateo nodded, mostly to himself. “So you’re saying there’s a chance.”
“I’m not. You are.”
“There’s a chance,” Mateo whispered.
“I’m going to be contacting you again in a few years.”
“Whose few years?”
“In a few days,” he clarified.
“Are you going to tell me your name first?”
Mateo jumped back to the dinner table on Earth, at the exact moment he had left. No one so much as noticed. He decided to keep the detour to himself.

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