Sunday, January 1, 2017

The Advancement of Mateo Matic: June 23, 2108

The first thing that Mateo’s once-mother, Aura Gardner wanted to do was start planning the wedding. She barely let Leona and Mateo tell her the good news before her mind started racing with the color scheme and guest list. All Mateo could think of was how ridiculous that list would be. Leona, however, truest voice of reason, pointed out that it was no time to start preparations. “The average duration of an engagement,” she said in her teacher tone, “was about fourteen-point-five months when we first left our time period. I believe it has gone down since then, but still, that’s several centuries away from now for us.”
“You’re not seriously going to wait hundreds of years to tie the knot, are you?” Aura asked, horrified.
“Of course not,” Mateo said, realizing how normal it was for someone to be playing referee between their parent, and their love interest.
Leona put her foot down. “I’m not going to get married tomorrow just because that’s a whole year for everyone else.”
“No one is saying that either, honey.”
“We’ve never called each other honey. Don’t start now just because of the engagement. Marriage is a logical step, not a transformation of the relationship.”
“She’s right,” Aura agreed. “I mean about the wedding date. Not about her thoughts on relationship dynamics. I don’t know anything about that. I just got overexcited. I get overexcited. You need to take all the time that you need to take. We all understand.”
Leona took a deep breath and composed herself. “It won’t be in four hundred years, though, I promise you that. I just need time. It doesn’t just take months to do the actual planning. A lot of emotional exercises need to be completed.”
“We understand,” Mateo said, and in order to lighten the mood, he added, “honey.”

“Congratulations,” Horace Reaver said to them.
“Yeah, what he said,” Gilbert Boyce added playfully.
The four of them were the strangest group of people fate had ever brought together. Horace and Leona were married to each other in an alternate reality. Then he went back in time, unwittingly entering a reality where she fell in love with Mateo instead. Due to his anger, he tormented and chased after them, creating a tumultuous relationship with Gilbert along the way, and ultimately murdering him. Then Gilbert came back to life as an extremely powerful temporal manipulator, and began to torment Mateo as well, but for different reasons, while under the influence of another person’s soul, and at the behest of an even more evil person.
Gilbert later assisted Mateo in going back in time and killing Adolf Hitler earlier than he was supposed to die, which created a third reality where Mateo was never born, Leona was raised by the couple who were previously Mateo’s adoptive parents—which prevented her from having the chance to meet either Mateo or Horace—and Horace had no memory of their time against each other either. He grew up to become a better person, eventually falling in love with a man named Serkan Demir, who recently sacrificed himself to save pretty much the entire universe. And now they were all friends, their respective memories intact, and presumably all water under the bridge. Congratulations, was not a word he would have expected to hear from either one of these two outside of sarcastic sentiment. But here they were, happy for their loved ones' new lives, even amongst all this death and destruction.
Mateo thought about how, if they were able to learn to love each other, then maybe anything was possible. Maybe everything was going to be all right after all. “How are you holding up?” he asked.
“I’m fine,” Horace said truthfully. “Ask me again in three months, and he will have been gone longer than it was that I even knew him.”
“I don’t like missing your grieving process.” Leona placed a comforting hand on his shoulder, which he pressed against with his cheek. “I wanna be there for you.”
“We both do,” Mateo emphasized.
“It would be worse in reverse,” Horace commented. “Imagine a loved one’s loved one dying, but only seeing the survivor once a year while you move on faster.”
“I remember that,” Leona said, referring to the period of time shortly after Mateo’s parents’ deaths. It was years for her, but only days for him.
Horace slapped his hands together. “Let’s stop rehashing the past. It’s a new day; a new year! We should be celebrating. You two are finally freaking getting married!”
“Hear hear!” Gilbert cried, holding up an imaginary champagne flute.
Shortly after Horace and Serkan met, they encountered a young girl named Paige Turner. She accidentally accompanied them through a time portal, and ended up stranded in the 21st century. With no way of returning home—and no desire to—she remained in their care, as a surrogate daughter. That was decades ago, and though she looked younger than Mateo and Leona, she was practically an old woman. At the moment, she was walking up the beach with a girl who appeared to be anywhere between fifteen and twenty-eight, but she could have been older than all of them combined for all he knew.
“What are we celebrating?” Paige asked, noticing that they had all raised imaginary flutes.
“Hello, my dear,” Horace said. “These two are engaged to be married.”
“How lovely,” Paige said. “However, this is Kivi.”
The girl, who was apparently named Kivi, did an actual real-life curtsy, completely unironically.
“What do you mean, however?” Gilbert asked.
“I can’t speak for you, Leona,” Paige said, “but I would take a beat to consider marrying someone if I found out he had a kid.”
“What are you talking about?”
“Mateo Matic, meet your daughter, Kivi Bristol.”
“That’s insane, I don’t have a daugh—” Oh, no. Time travel. Time travel made everything weird and confusing. It was entirely possible that he had a child. She could be from the future, or the other reality, or by some other weird temporal power that he wasn’t even aware of. He was just about to accept her, knowing that understanding her was not a prerequisite to loving her, when he remembered something. “Bristol. I knew a Bristol.” He reached far into his memory banks. Way back when he was just a young one, Mateo spent a little time as a restaurant delivery boy. It wasn’t a biker bar, or anything, but their schtick was delivery via motorcycle, and so that’s what he did. He met a lot of interesting characters during that time, just as he had in other driving jobs, but one of them stood out. She was a very tall redhead with only her left ear pierced. She carried two cell phones with her, but he eventually learned that only one of them worked. The other was to make people think she was a federal agent, or something fascinating like that. She was always messing with people’s heads.
She was the personal assistant to this fellow who patented a singular and relatively small technological advancement that most calculators were using at the time. This allowed him to be filthy rich, and not have any responsibilities. He had always wanted someone to follow him around and do whatever he said, so that was her job. He also had this thing where he ate the same thing, from the same restaurant, every other day. It was always to be delivered at exactly 2:16 in the afternoon. She even stopped having to call it in, because Mateo just wrote it up on the staffing shift schedule whiteboard. It was on these runs, which occurred during the slowest time of the restaurant, where he got to know her. He told her about his dreams of becoming a hollywood stunt driver, and she talked about her dreams of being the first lawyer on Mars. No, she had no real interest in practicing law, nor any plans to apply to law school. And she knew that Mars colonization was a long ways off. But she hated attainable dreams. If you could actually do something, she would say, then why the hell wouldn’t you just do it?
Several months into the routine, her boss died from a heart attack, she moved away in order to live close to a summit named Bitch Mountain, New York—for what she referred to as “obvious reasons”—and Mateo grew tired enough of his job to just quit. And in all that time, after all those romcom movie moments, there was one very specific thing that didn’t happen. Not once did the two of them have sex. He would have remembered that. “Eseosie is your mother?”
“She was, yes,” Kivi answered.
“Eseosie Bristol,” Mateo confirmed.
“Literally the one and only.”
“Shock Bristol was your mother?” Mateo asked, using a nickname of hers he had never quite figured out.
“That’s right.”
“I can’t be your father then. Not that I’ve met any other Bristol anyway, but it simply can’t be me. She and I...”
“Were never intimate?” Kivi finished, clearly not afraid to discuss sex with a man she believed to be her father.
“We weren’”
“I know. She’s told me the names of every single person she’s ever been with. Yes, I am aware of how strange my childhood was. But believe me when I tell you that I know for a fact you didn’t make the list. I don’t understand either, but that doctor guy told us that he ran a DNA test.”
“Doctor Sarka?” Leona asked.
“Yeah, that was it,” Kivi replied.
“Gilbert,” Leona began, “do you have any way of contacting him?”
“I have a pager,” Horace piped up instead. “I’ll go look for it.” He started running off, but then stopped. He either realized that the moment did not require urgency...or running reminded him of his late husband, Serkan.
“Thanks,” Leona called out to him.
Mateo looked at her with his sad puppy dog eyes.
She looked back. “Stop freaking out. We’re still getting married. What kind of person do you think I am?”
A few hours later, salmon doctor, Baxter Sarka teleported to them and confirmed that Kivi Bristol was indeed Mateo’s daughter. It was just that no one knew how. If she had been conceived in an alternate reality, how would she be here now? Mateo wasn’t even ever born in this timeline. There were other forces at play, and Mateo couldn’t be sure whether that was good, or bad. The debate was not able to last past the day, though. When Mateo woke up the next day in 2109, he was in an incredibly rustic cabin, complete with no running water, heat, or power. He stepped out of this sort of door thing and looked around. The beach and treeline looked familiar, this was definitely Tribulation Island, but everything else was gone. None of the buildings that The Constructor, Baudin had built for them were anywhere to be found. He started asking people what was going on, but no one knew what the hell he was talking about. They had no memory of anyone named Baudin, nor of these supposed buildings. Something was wrong.

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