Sunday, September 18, 2016

The Advancement of Mateo Matic: September 18, 2092

Mateo didn’t know for sure what had happened. The assumption was that, upon transfusing his blood into Leona’s body, she would become like him. It seemed, however, to have had the opposite effect. He was instead transformed into a regular human. For four months, he and Leona lived together on Tribulation Island. They chose to leave the remaining MREs stored away for a time when that was all they had to eat. They subsisted on berries, bass, boar, and bananas. Well, the fish weren’t really bass, but they sure did look like it. Leona explain that the island must be on a different planet altogether—one strikingly similar to Earth in atmosphere, gravity, flora, and fauna—but different nonetheless. This would certainly explain why The Rogue had been able to scatter airplane parts, and commission replicas of the Colosseum and a stargate, without anyone noticing. Surely by the end of the 21st century, satellites and other exploration projects would be able to spot any settled island on Earth, no matter how remote.
Following his first timejump, and his introduction into the world of salmon and other time travelers, Mateo had experienced breaks in his pattern. He had been caught in temporal bubbles, skipped over many hours of a day at a time, and even gone into the past. This, however, was different. They were experiencing the world in real time. The sun came up and went down every 24 hours, birds didn’t get stuck in time, and storms came to torment them. Unless the act itself of stargating to the island caused some sort of temporal shift, it was presently September 18, 2092 on Earth. No version of Boyce showed up to interact with them, and neither did The Cleanser. They just spent their days maintaining Saga and Vearden’s little cottage, hunting, fishing, and relaxing. Mateo did get into running, and could often be found running up and down the steps of the Colosseum.
Leona chose to spend a lot of time exploring the rest of the island under the assumption that Boyce would have hidden treats or traps all around, possibly even something left for tribulations they would never see. She did find a few supply caches, but nothing to write home about, and the last thing she found was weeks ago. Tonight, however, she returned with something she claimed to be quite interesting.
“Oh yeah? What is it?”
“I want you to guess.”
“A box of tissues.”
“What?” she asked. “Why would that be interesting?”
“Because I could have used that last month when I had that cold.”
“No, Mateo, it’s not a box of tissues.”
“A dinosaur.”
“You think there’s a dinosaur in my bag?”
“I saw tiny dinosaurs. After going to 3118, my dad jumped in and took me to the past where Sarka fixed me up. There were tiny dinosaurs running around me.”
“Fair enough, but no.”
“Those were my only two ideas.”
“All right, all right.” She removed something of zero relevance from her bag.
“It’s a mirror.”
“No, it’s not a mirror.”
“It sure looks like a mirror.”
“It’s a time window.”
“You mean like that thing underneath Easter Island that kept showing us the sky from different times and places?”
“Exactly. Smaller, of course.”
“I just see my face.”
“Well, you have to activate it.”
“With what, the magic words?”
“More like magic thoughts. Just concentrate on when or where you want to see.”
Mateo accepted the time mirror and gazed into it. “Mirror, mirror, in my hand, will I ever again eat food that is canned.”
“Why aren’t you taking this seriously?”
“It’s this tiny little hand mirror that can show me the past, or whatever. What are we supposed to do with that?”
“It doesn’t show you the past,” Leona tried to explain. “It shows you the whole universe, and the whole timestream.”
“I still just see my face,” he tilted it a little. “Oh, that’s better. That’s much better.”
“Why, what is it? I can’t see anything. Maybe only the holder can see it.”
“No, it’s just the angle,” Mateo clarified. “Here, look.” He tilted the mirror more so that Leona was looking right at it.
“No, I just see my own face.”
“Exactly. Much better than mine.”
“Oh, shut up. Cute sentiment, poor execution.” She gently nudged the mirror away from her. “Really try to use the mirror as it was intended.”
“Okay, I’ll give it a shot.” He adjusted his stature a bit and shrugged. “Show me the Colosseum right now.” She was right. The glass rippled slightly then refocused to reveal an aerial view of the Colosseum replica. “Interesting.”
“See what I mean?”
“Show me a wide view of the planet we’re on,” he requested the mirror. The view zoomed out quickly, past clouds and out of the atmosphere. It settled on a perfect image of their little marble. It was much greener than stock photos of the Earth. There were oceans, of course, but it seemed to be mostly land. It was beautiful. “Switch to a view of Earth.” It did so. “Show me my parents.” The screen went black.
“What does that mean?”
“Show me my mother,” Mateo amended. The screen blinked slightly, but remained black. He sighed. “Show me Aura Gardner.” It changed to the sight of Aura, Samsonite, and Téa reading independently in their home.
“How are you feeling?” Leona questioned with the soothing voice of a good therapist.
“They look peaceful.”
“I bet I could get the stargate to operate. We could go back to Kansas.”
He took another deep breath and admired his kingdom. “No. This is home.”
“I am inclined to agree.”
He wrapped one arm around her shoulders so that they could both have a good look at the mirror. “Show us the future.” The mirror began to vibrate like a cell phone. The glass began to show a tunnel of light, like some kind of hyperspace or warp speed. Images flickered on and away in such rapid succession that it was hard to tease anything specific from it. He was only able to remember a few of the images. They saw the two of them fishing together. They saw the Cleanser showing his face once more. They saw Mateo hanging off the edge of something. They even saw Darko appearing out of nowhere and shaking their hands. They saw the interior of an advanced spaceship, a young Horace Reaver, some kind of dark object barrelling towards what looked like Earth, an explosion, Leona on an operating table, the faces of many salmon and choosers, the Easter Island Agora filled with people. Blood, a pile of rocks, two birds, a sword shattering in pieces, a star going supernova...
“End program,” Leona ordered. The images disappeared.
Mateo set the mirror down on the floor and walked out of the cottage.
Leona waited a few minutes to come out and see him. “What’s going through your head right now?”
“This isn’t over.”
“No, it’s not.”
“Was that our future? Or just a general future.”
“I don’t know.”
“Leona, what’s going to happen to us on June 8?”
“I don’t know that either.”
“We could prevent this future from happening if we just never went fishing again.”
“I don’t think that would make much difference,” she said, almost coldly.
“We have to do something.”
“Mateo.” She waited a long time to continue, “we know that the future can be changed. All that we saw may not come to pass. But the only thing we understand less than those images is what kind of things we’ll actually see once the future arrives. We don’t know why a sword is shattering, but we also don’t know what happens if we stop it from shattering.”
“So, what are you saying? That it doesn’t matter?”
“That’s exactly what I’m saying. What we saw changes nothing. We still have to try to make the best choice possible in any given moment.”
“Horace Reaver was there.”
“I know, I saw him.”
“He was younger. Even if he’s alive in this timeline, he couldn’t be that young.”
“With longevity and rejuvenation treatments, he might could be.”
“Is he good or bad?”
“That’s the 64,000 dollar question.”
“It looked like you were having surgery,” Mateo said.
“I must have missed that one.”
“You’re not supposed to be a salmon.”
“What do you mean?”
He turned his head so that she was completely out of his line of sight. “In the other timeline, I donated my kidney to you.”
“I remember.”
“After you had fully recovered from the surgery, you started traveling through time with me.”
She said nothing.
“I now understand that receiving something physically from a time traveler will cause you to absorb their power, if only temporarily. I became more like Meliora when her blood landed in my eyes. You adopted my pattern upon receiving my kidney. And theoretically the same thing will happen again. I lost too much blood from the transfusion, and it is my theory that this is what kept me in the timestream, but it will not last.”
“Yes, I have always believed that we will restart the pattern once the year is up.”
“That’s not my concern, though.” He finally turned to look at her straight on.
“Do I want to know what is?”
“You remember the other timeline, right? I mean, you remember everything. You don’t have any gaps or fragments.”
“Well, I don’t have perfect recall, or anything. Those memories were tacked onto the back, not where they belong according to the standard timeline, but according to my chronology. They feel like they happened thirty-five years ago, and beyond.”
“Try to concentrate on your memory of the original 2020s.”
“Where are you going with this, Mateo?”
“You were suffering from kidney disease, so I gave you my kidney,” he said accusatorily.
“I know, I remember! What are you trying to say!”
He was growing more tense. “Did you contract kidney disease natural, or did the powers that be give them to you so that you would fall onto my pattern...”
“I don’t—” she began to say, but was interrupted.
“Or did you somehow give yourself kidney disease so that I would unwittingly make you like me?”
No answer.
“How dare you?”
“That’s not an answer.”
She started to back up carefully, like she had encountered a snake.
“Leona, tell me what you did. Explain yourself.
She just continued to back up.
“There’s nowhere to go. Just...just tell me what happened. Tell me the truth. Do I not deserve that?”
She spun around and broke into a run.
Mateo chased after her, knowing that his training would pay off, and that he would easily catch up with her. But this was not what happened. She jumped through the ring of the stargate replica and disappeared through a portal. When he ran through, he just fell off the edge and landed on the sand on the other side. He did not know how to open a portal, so he just stayed on the island alone for the next eight months. He did still have the time mirror, though, and was able to keep an eye on her. She was not doing well, but he had no idea where she was, or how to get to her.

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