Sunday, April 10, 2016

The Advancement of Mateo Matic: May 16, 2070

They slept the rest of the day away, but were still tired come midnight. Just after jumping into the future, Makarion aggressively woke them up. “I know you’re still tired from your little Martian romp, but you’re getting an assignment today.”
Mateo rubbed his eyes, but in that cartoonish way with closed fists. “My dog will probably just eat this one too.”
“Cute,” Makarion responded before moving on. “I’m going to be giving you the DVDs for eleven movies. You must pick five and watch them all. Out of the remaining six movies, you must pick six, and watch those as well.”
“Are you serious?” Leona asked incredulously. “Is there even enough time for all of them?”
“I did the math myself,” Makarion assured them. “You won’t have much time for anything else, but you can fit them all in. Oh, and if you don’t get through all of them—and I mean, actually watch them—you will be punished. You can sleep or dawdle as much as you want, but I recommend going as fast as possible. For obvious reasons.”
“What did we do wrong?”
“Why are we doing another tribulation? We should have the day off.”
“This is your day off. Have you heard of a film where the character has to watch other films?”
“No, but I figured you had chosen something obscure, or one that postdates our time period.”
“No, my dear friends,” Makarion said with a hint of sincerity. “This is in preparation for your next tribulation. Next year, you’ll be watching several more movies, and then you will perform for me. This time, instead of recreating a single scene, or even a whole film, it’s more of a subgenre.”
Perform,” Leona repeated. Mateo could see her logicking her way into understanding without further information. “You’re going to make us dance, aren’t you?”
“Very good guess!” Makarion exclaimed. “See? I knew there was a reason I fell in love with you in an alternate timeline.”
“What?” Mateo grew defensive.
“I’m kidding. Little bit of salmon humor. Too soon?”
“Why are you making us do this? Forgive me, but it seems to stray from your usual tastes.”
“I’m gettin’ tired of watching you two bicker. Nothing brings people together like a good dance number. I proudly serve as your common enemy, but right now, you need to fall in love again. We’ve all had enough of the I can’t believe you killed a guy, and the I can’t believe I killed a guy. And waa waa waa!
“Not sure why you care,” Leona said.
“I care because I ship you two, even if I can’t decide on a shipper name. Truthfully, I never understood your relationship with Reaver in the alternate timeline. He was too charming, yet uninteresting. It was doomed from the start; that shipper name was Leaver, haha.” Makarion’s nose wrinkled at his own mention of Reaver’s name. He clearly didn’t like him, but did they even know each other? Not in the alternate timeline, that’s for sure, so why would he have such strong feelings about it? There was something Makarion wasn’t telling about himself. It would take nothing but time to uncover the mystery, though. Villains all have different motivations, but the one thing they all have is a need to be understood, especially by their targets of aggression. He would slip up sooner or later, and then they would have him.
Mateo stopped questioning their situation and went back to the conversation while putting on his pants. “Just give us the goddamn movies and be on your way. That is, unless you have more jokes to tell.” He used air quotes.
“Ouch,” Makarion said. “You wound me. And are you allowed to take the Lord’s name in vain like that?”
“It doesn’t bother Him as much as torture.”
“Fair enough.” Makarion reached under their bed and retrieved a small box of DVDs, dropping them at their feet. “Have fun!”
“Wait,” Mateo stopped him before he could teleport away.
“What is it?”
“I want your word that the rules stop here.”
“I don’t understand.”
“You say we have to watch all eleven movies by day’s end.”
“This is true.” Makarion was still confused.
“I want to hear you say that you won’t randomly change things later on when you learn that we’ve bested you.”
They could all but hear Makarion work through the problem in his head, trying to figure out where Mateo was going with this. He seemed to think his parameters were perfect, and that there was no reason to clarify or readjust. “Why should I have to promise you such a thing?”
“You’re the one here who likes games. And games have rules. Without them, you might as well pick an arbitrary winner and just walk away. We’ve been suffering yours and the original Rogue’s whims. That’s not fair. That’s not how games work. From now on, you give us the rules, and you don’t change them.”
“Or what?”
“Or I’ll call in the Cleanser,” Mateo lied.
“I still don’t believe that you know him. Because why wouldn’t you just do that right now?”
“I can only play that card once,” Mateo said convincingly. “And once I do...he’ll start coming after me. I can use him for one job, but then he puts the two of us back in play. I don’t wanna do that, of course, but if you force my hand, I may I feel I have no other options.”
Makarion had to think some more, but Mateo felt he had him beat. He was getting better and better at lying. It wasn’t very Catholic of him, but there was no way to survive this new world without changing. “Very well. I have laid out the rules. You must watch all eleven movies today, and five tomorrow. I promise to not change the rules, and to agree to rules for later tribulations beforehand. But I won’t promise to not throw in twists, or make things difficult. Knowing the rules is not the same as knowing the outcome.”
“Okay,” Mateo said back.
“But,” Makarion added, “to make sure you understand. You have to watch every second of the films. You can’t let it run and leave the room, and you can’t just skip through it. You have to experience every single moment. I’ll allow blinking, of course.”
“We understand that,” Leona said. “Now go, you’re wasting our time. We’re trying to watch a movie!”
Mateo scoffed and disappeared.
“Okay, what’s the plan, Mateo?” Leona asked. “You’ve obviously found a loophole, so are you able to let me in on it?”
“Oh yeah, I can,” Mateo replied. “He just said that he’s not changing the rules, and we have no choice but to hope he’s telling the truth.” He couldn’t help but be happy with himself for having come up with this solution to their oncoming sleep deprivation problem. He wasn’t as technically intelligent as Leona, but he knew one thing they could use to their advantage. It had to be possible, and if not, surely Leona would be able to rig something up with little programming effort. “He said we had to watch all eleven movies, but he never specified that we had to watch them in real time.”
“He said that we can’t fastforward,” Leona argued.
“And we won’t. We’ll just watch them at double speed, and still experience every moment. I know you can do that for a certain online video site. I can’t imagine that’s not a feature on DVD players. And if it isn’t, I guess I assumed you would be able to make it do that anyway.”
Leona smiled, in that way she used to, before he became a killer. “Mateo, that’s genius. We’ll halve our time, and be able to sleep when we’re done.”
“That is indeed clever. You’re learning.” The Cleanser had jumped into the room. “You called?”
“No, I don’t think I said your name three times.”
“You better hope he doesn’t do a Beetlejuice tribulation. But no, I just like to keep my eye on you.”
“Are you gonna rat me out to Makarion that you and I aren’t really friends?”
“The Rogue and I have an understanding. You might say that there are rules to our own game. I have no obligation to divulge information like that. It’s actually in my best interest to let him worry about yours and my relationship.”
“Could he not be watching us right now?”
“Oh, you mean like I do, with the paraphases? Nah, he can’t do that. All he can do is teleport. If he concentrates enough, he can apport people, but nothing more.”
Mateo looked to Leona for answers who explained that apportation was teleporting other people from one place to another without teleporting themselves. He used it to pull them out of space and into the Kansas City water fountain. Paraphases, she said, must have been what he called the observer dimensions they used to spy on people without being noticed.
“So as long as he’s not around, we can speak freely,” Mateo said.
“Well, unless the Cleanser is watching,” Leona spelled out. “Or the powers that be. Or anyone we do not yet know about.”
“You don’t have to talk about me like I’m not here,” the Cleanser said, feigning emotion.
“We never know when you’re here anyway,” Mateo said with snark. “Remember when we were talking about that? It’s okay if you don’t recall; it was five seconds ago, after all.”
“You’ve become saucy,” the Cleanser said. “I love the new you.”
The Cleanser left after a few more annoying remarks. Mateo and Leona watched all eleven movies in about as many hours. Darko, Theo, Aura, and Samsonite joined in for a few of them. Then they got some more sleep.

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