Sunday, March 6, 2016

The Advancement of Mateo Matic: May 11, 2065

Mateo tentatively pulled himself into the lifeboat, nearly tipping it over a few times. Okay, so this was supposed to be a recreation of Life of Pi. Believe it or not, Mateo had actually read the book twice, and seen the movie three times. The visuals were just amazing in the adaptation, and so he couldn’t help but watch it every year before his first time jump. As he was sitting on the bench, back pressed against the frontmost possible, he let out a mild laugh. There was that part with the flying fish crashing into the boat like a gift for Pi and the tiger to eat. They were almost like salmon.
There was no zebra, and no orangutan. He lowered his head and tried to get a peek under the tarpaulin at the back of the boat, but he could see nothing. There still could be a hyena and tiger under there, but he was just too scared to check. He grabbed one of the oars and began to row. Pi never did that in the movie, and it was important to remember that The Rogue had an obsession with movies. Any difference in the adaptation needed to be ignored. Source material was irrelevant. But Mateo had to row, because he was on his way to find Leona. He wouldn’t be able to follow the story to the letter. Fortunately, it seemed that this tactic was not against the rules.
As he continued to row forwards—with no clue what the hell is was doing, or where he was going—he frequently looked back at the tarpaulin, just waiting for a tiger to leap out and tear him to shreds. There was a part in the movie where Pi tries to train the tiger, Richard Parker by getting it to associate isolation with seasickening waves, and calm waters with Pi and rewards. It was too early in the reenactment for that, but there was definitely some kind of moaning sound from under the tarp. Mateo adjusted the oar so that it was in position to be either a spear or a bat. But a tiger did not leap out from the darkness and attack him. Instead it was a human man. He was rubbing his head and trying to wake himself up. He stopped crawling out upon seeing Mateo. “Who are you?”
“Mateo Matic. You’re Richard Parker?”
“I am.” That was a pretty significant deviation from the film. The story told is a bit open to interpretation, and it’s possible that the animals actually represent people, but the tiger would have been representative of Pi himself, and wasn’t Mateo supposed to be Pi? No. Maybe he was the hyena.
“How did you get here?”
Richard Parker stood up but had to immediately take a rest on top of the tarp while he continued to massage his head. “The last thing I remember, I was being sent into space. My boss was testing a probe, and I was just his guinea pig.”
That was too familiar. “What year was this?”
“2036. Don’t tell me I’ve been reawoken after centuries in stasis. That’s just...too predictable.”
“Not stasis. Time travel. Let me guess, it was April? Around the twelfth? And your boss is Horace Reaver.”
“That’s exactly right. Who are you?”
“That probe was supposed to be unmanned.”
“Yeah, Reaver said there were legal problems with that, so we lied on the documentation. I didn’t feel like arguing, and honestly wasn’t worried about dying. Plus, my brother was on the moon, so I was hoping to surprise him.”
“I think I met your brother. On the moon. He was very welcoming when we found ourselves stranded there.”
“If you’re a time traveler, what happens to me?”
“Reaver said that you died, but never said how. You’re Richard.”
“Yeah, I told you that.”
“No, I mean that you’re the Richard.”
“What the hell are you talking about?”
“All three of us are time travelers. Horace Reaver knew you in an alternate timeline, along with your husband. Then he went back and changed your timeline so that you never married, but for some reason, he felt the need to hire you.”
“Why do you think your boss was so successful? He was always defining state of the art, wasn’t he? That’s because he was from the future, and knew how to develop technology. Did you ever see him gamble? He never lost, did he? Not once. That’s because he had already seen the game.”
“But you have no proof.” He shook his head and looked for another oar. “I need to get back to Reaver so I can get this all straightened out.”
“Your boss is dead. That was ten years ago; ten days for me.”
Richard stared into Mateo’s eyes for a few moments. “I’m going to believe you for now...but only because I like what you’re saying.” He looked across the ocean all around him. “Now, where are we?”
“A fourth time traveler has put us both here to reenact Life of Pi. I think we’re going to be here for 227 days.”
Richard stared for a few moments again, and then he burst into nearly uncontrollable laughter. “My name is Richard Parker!”
Mateo laughed with him. “I never your last name, so when my enemy told me you would be here, I thought it would be an actual tiger!”
He laughed even louder upon hearing this. “Your enemy is one clever boy, I’ll give you that. What’s his name?”
“The Rogue.”
Even greater laughter. “Are we gonna die out here?”
“Not unless you’re vegetarian!”
They harmonized their laughter.

The two new friends spent a couple hundred days together on the boat, learning how to fish, but mostly just talking. Mateo spoke of his first jump, of meeting Leona, his battle with and ultimate victory over Reaver, the Rogue and The Cleanser, and everything in between. Richard’s life had been interesting, but could not quite compare. Many of the same things happened to them as they did in the movie. Sharks showed up every once in awhile. Flying fish did eventually jump into the boat and feed them. A gargantuan whale jumped up and caused them to lose a great deal of their supplies. A few things were out of order, but he was willing to give the Rogue leeway on that, especially since there was only one day and one night. It was mightily impressive how he was somehow able to manipulate the patterns of the animals. Time manipulation was one thing, but an orchestrated jellyfish lightshow was on a different level. The floating carnivorous island was glaringly absent from the tribulation. But that was to be expected since such a thing does not exist, and would take a lot more effort to generate than anything else the Rogue had done to them. And of course, since there was no tiger, the whole premise was sort of thrown out. A significant amount of the original story was about trying to survive with a dangerous wild animal. Richard, as a person, was actually rather tame and easy-going.
Time continued to pass at a far slower rate on the outside of the time bubble than it did on the inside. It probably moved a little faster than the day before, though, since Pi was written to have been on the boat less than a year. They rowed in a single direction, which was easier than it normally would be since the sun and stars were stuck in the firmament. Finally, once it was all over, they came up on some land. It was not a beautiful Mexican beach with a lush jungle behind it. No, that would be too easy. The rocky beach backed up to death and desolation. The air was packed with near blinding particulates and smelled of sulfur. A volcano simmered and steamed in the background. They didn’t bother finding a way to tie the lifeboat down. The Life of Pi tribulation had been completed. They were somewhere else. They just needed to figure out where.
A man walked up to them with a gorgeous black horse. “Excuse me, could you tell us where we are?”
“Why, you’re in the nation of Glubbdubdrib,” he answered.
Mateo and Richard just gave each other this look. “Are you the Lord of Glubbdubdrib?”
“Heavens no,” the man replied.
“Is that good or bad?” Richard asked of Mateo.
“I do not yet know.”
“He lives up there,” the man said on. “I can take you to him. I’m going that way.”
Mateo took Richard to the side and spoke in whispers. “An island or a lifeboat is one thing, but fabricating an entire country should be practically impossible, even by 2065 standards. People would know about it. Even the awesome power of the Rogue shouldn’t be enough for this. Something stranger than usual is happening here.”
“Well, what else would we do but play out your tribulation?” Richard returned.
“Good point. At least there is one thing we can count on when it comes to what happens today.”
“What’s that?” They began to follow the man who had already left without worrying about whether they were following him.
“The Rogue definitely has the ability to summon dead people through a mirror.”

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