Sunday, March 20, 2016

The Advancement of Mateo Matic: May 12, 2067

“So, you killed him.”
“I don’t know that I would look at it that way. I was responsible for his death.”
“No,” Leona said clearly. “There was a bomb. It was not about to explode; it was actually in the middle of exploding. He was safe on the other side of a barrier, until you pushed him past it so that he was in danger. Then the bomb finished exploding, and killed him. You killed him.”
“He was torturing us, Leona.”
“Do I seem like the kind of person who thinks that makes a difference?”
“Yes,” Mateo lied.
She didn’t respond.
“It wasn’t really killing him. He said he was immortal. And if he didn’t want to explode at all, he should have been able to jump out of the way, or hold time in place, or...or something!”
“It is irrelevant whether he survived or not. You pushed him through with the intention to kill him. You didn’t want him to survive, and if you really thought there would be no chance of you succeeding, you wouldn’t have done it, because now he’s angry.”
“Well...” she had him there.
“How can I be with someone I don’t trust to not murder the next guy who comes along?”
Mateo was going to double down on the argument. “Well, you obviously don’t have a choice, do you? You didn’t choose me in the first place. You were literally fated to be with me. The powers that be made it so. They’re the ones doing all of this. And I don’t know if The Rogue was, or is, a power or a chooser, but he was a threat. If the powers wanted to stop him, they could, with a wave of a hand. None of this is my fault.”
“You still have the gift of free will.”
“No, I don’t, Leona. I don’t. No one does. That’s the whole point. The regular humans, as in the non-salmon, they don’t have choice either. When you have a group of people this powerful, and they’re not benevolent gods who choose to give us free will, then it doesn’t exist.”
“You could have chosen to not push him through the barrier. That was a choice, unless someone was controlling your mind.”
“Maybe they were!” Mateo screamed. “We know they can do that! Either way, I had to try. Yes, I killed him. Or at least I attempted to. Because what I’m really going for is protecting us, so I felt I had no other choice but to give it a shot. You weren’t there. You didn’t see it; I’m just telling you about it. In fact, you weren’t there for the last two years! I was alone on an island for half of it, and stranded with only one other person on a lifeboat for the other half! So don’t you dare talk to me about choice! This is war, and I made a fucking call!”
“It’s been two years?” Leona asked quietly.
He had not yet told her about that. “The first tribulation was Cast Away. It was going to be four years, but he altered it. Then it was Life of Pi. He kept me in a time bubble so that he wasn’t technically breaking my pattern. But it meant spending months under the relentless sun.”
“I didn’t know that.”
“I didn’t know where you were. I didn’t know if you were dead, suffering from something worse, or just perpetually a football field away. And when I found out that you had just been at home, for only a few days, I wasn’t relieved like I should have been.”
“Keep going,” she said, calmer than she had been.
He didn’t want to finish, but he had to. “I was angry. You barely cared that I was gone, because it was just a flash in the pan for you.”
Tear formed in her eyes. “You think I didn’t miss you because it had only been three days? You think I don’t miss you when I turn around and you’re right behind me? You think I don’t miss you when I fall asleep, or you’re in the bathroom, or I blink? I spent years waiting for you to come back to me. And you were the one who didn’t care, because I was just this dumb teenage girl who threw up on you in the hospital. And only a few days before. I can’t imagine what you went through on that island and in the lifeboat, and I’m not saying my life was worse than that before I joined your pattern, but it was no picnic. My feelings for you were almost immediate. That was hell for me, and I fear every second you’re not in my line of sight, because you may be gone forever.”
He had never really seen it from her perspective before. They cried together for an hour or two.
It wasn’t until after they were dried out that they looked around to find out where they were. They were sitting on what must have been an island. It looked not unlike the one from Cast Away. A small plane was crashed on some rocks down the beach. Supplies were scattered around it, not as if having fallen out, but like someone had placed them there. An inflatable lifeboat had been opened inside of the fuselage, filling up nearly every nook and the other thing. “What is this one? Plane is too small to be Flight 29.” Leona noted.
“I don’t know. It’s not something I recognize.” They were not yet over their fight, and things were weird between them, but they were able to put it on hold to focus on surviving.
“We need to find water,” Leona said.
They grabbed some empty plastic jugs and headed inland. Before too long, they found themselves at a lake with a beautiful waterfall. “Okay, this is looking a tad bit more familiar now, but I can’t place it.” A pig came out of nowhere and approached them. The two humans just looked at each other. “I’m not killing a pig to eat. It seems...too soon?”
“Yeah, I would agree,” Leona said. “I’ll get the water.” She waded into the lake while Mateo tried to shoo the pig away.
He looked over and saw Leona stop suddenly, dropping the jugs. “What is it?” he asked.
“I’m about 83% certain that there’s a snake in my shorts.”
“Oh, I know where I recognize this one.”
“What?” She was impatient.
He tried to recall in his memory. “It’s, um...Forty Days, no that’s too long. I can’t remember the title but it’s a romantic comedy about a pilot and his passenger. This is the snake in the lake scene.”
“Well, how do we get out of it?”
“In the trailer, it looked like Harrison Ford just...reached in and took it out.”
“You didn’t actually see the movie?”
“I was a child. You probably weren’t even born yet.”
“So we don’t know what’s coming for us.”
“I think there’s an explosion, and we jump off a cliff.”
“But we don’t even know if they survive.”
“It’s a romantic comedy, of course they survive!”
“Well, I don’t know! Just come get this goddamn snake out of my pants.”
This would have been an awkward part in the film, because the characters neither knew nor liked each other. But this was nothing Mateo had not seen or felt, so retrieving the snake was easy. It was only uncomfortable because they were fighting.
As they were walking up from the water, pig still in place, they heard a rustle in the brush. “Please tell me that is not a baby. Because mama would have to be gigantic.”
“It’s full grown,” Leona assured him.
“Please tell me a pirate isn’t coming to kill us.”
“That I don’t know it.”
“I’m not a pirate!” yelled Darko, still not quite in view. He walked into the clearing, hands in the air.
“Put your arms down. We just didn’t know.”
“Are you two ready to get out of here?”
“How did you find us?”
“The plane out there is the actual one used in the movie in question. It was stolen from the prop warehouse under suspicious circumstances. I threaded something else back to before the robbery, then I threaded the plane to arrive here. I’ve arranged for it to be moved back stateside, so I can take you home.”
“Much appreciated,” Mateo said cordially. “And hey, we’re finally gonna take that plane ride we talked about fifty years ago.”
They walked back to the beach and let Darko thread them through the timestream of the plane all the way back to a warehouse in Hawaii. It was already May 14, 2068.

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