Sunday, October 8, 2017

The Advancement of Mateo Matic: August 2, 2148

No one was torn out of time come August 2, 2148. During breakfast, Mateo kept doing a headcount, making sure that he wasn’t crazy. This wasn’t the first time Arcadia had broken her pattern—just saying that she does have any pattern may be a bit inaccurate—but still, this was making him nervous. What did she have in store for them? Was it good? Bad? Neutral? Was it a break? Were he and Leona meant to have their honeymoon now? After they were done eating, the two of them went out for a swim in the lake that The Cleanser had used for the Six Days Seven Nights tribulation. Leona had convinced him that there was no use fretting about the possibilities. When they had an opportunity to rest and relax, they needed to take it, and not worry about secret plans.
“I suppose we could use some time to talk,” he said while slowly slipping into the water.
“Yeah, we’re married, and we never talk about it,” she agreed.
“Are you wishing we weren’t?”
“No. It wasn’t right that she forced it on us, but I’m happy it happened. I want to be married to you. We’ve been together for thousands of years.”
He chuckled at the remark, knowing that saying it had been thousands of years wasn’t really doing their situation justice. “We’ve not really taken time to go over the Serif thing, though.
“Oh, are you still in love with her?”
He was silent at first. The three of them cared for each other deeply, but it wasn’t an equal bond. Though Mateo now knew that Serif didn’t exist until a few days ago, his memories of her from before that remained intact. He could remember when they met, and how their relationship developed. Leona’s feelings grew at the same time, and they eventually had to admit that the best way to describe it was polyamory. Even as such, though, Mateo and Leona were the primaries, with Serif being a third-wheel. That wasn’t an insult, though, as it was Serif who made this claim for herself. She called them collectively a tadpole tricycle, which was a design that involved having two wheels in the front, and one in the back. “Without me,” he falsely recalled her having once said, “the tricycle falls apart. Two wheels in that configuration are completely unstable. But have no fear, because a tricycle with two wheels is a bicycle. You would simply have to redesign the relationship to account for my absence.
“I guess she should be included in this conversation. I didn’t forget about her, but I sort of avoid talking to her about it, because I know she’s all right. I know she’s not upset about our marriage, or that she wasn’t part of it. That’s just the kind of person she is. You would love her, Leona. If you gave her a chance, you would feel as I remember you feeling.”
“Well, that’s the thing. If what you two say is right, and that my memories of her were somehow corrupted, then all we should have to do is finish the expiations. If I’m really supposed to love her, then my memories of her should return, along with those of everyone else we’ve lost.”
“Rrrrriiiiight, well...”
“Well, what?”
Well those memories can’t return to you because they don’t exist. Mateo was saved by the bell when none other than Serif burst out of the bushes.
“There’s a boat!” she called down to them. “Whoever’s on it has probably gotten to the beach by now.”
They ran through the jungle, and then down the beach to find a sailboat anchored far off shore. Passengers were still on their way in three inflatable motor boats. The islanders stood there in shock, not knowing whether the people who had arrived were friendlies, or else.
The group of newcomers smiled kindly, though, so things were looking up. The oldest one extended his hand in friendship, which Leona took hesitantly.
“We have been granted passage to your island so that we may thank you for saving our lives. We’ve been waiting to do this for many years.”
“Who are you?” she asked.
“The children. In Petrovichi.” He gestured to his group, all of whom were smiling as warmly. “You made a tea for us that cured us of our disease.”
“But you died. We watched you,” she argued. “Some of you, at least.”
“It just made us look dead so our parents would let us go. We were then brought to this world where we’ve lived ever since.”
“How did we not know about you,” Darko asked.
“We weren’t allowed to come here until you had experienced your time in 1921. It’s a big planet. You’ve not seen it all. In fact, you’ve seen very little.”
“It must have been hard for you to grow up alone like that,” Mateo said.
“We weren’t alone. Not by a longshot. This world is teeming with life. We are not here just to thank you, actually. We’re here to take you there so you can see for yourself.”
“Is this an expiation?” Mateo asked.
The leader stared at him. “I don’t know what that means.”
They all piled into the inflatables and then onto the sailboat, including Marcy and Dar’cy. It was a little tight, but they were all able to fit with decent breathing room. “Are we gonna get there before the three of us jump into the future?” Serif asked, not thinking until that moment that these people may not have any idea what their pattern was.
“Ira,” the leader, whose name was Anisim, said.
Ira knew exactly what he meant just by him saying her name. Through the little window, Mateo could see her fiddling with the instruments.
“Best hold on to somethin’,” Anisim recommended.
Just as Mateo grasped some kind of metal bar, the boat flew into superspeed. He looked down to see the water flying away from them faster than it should have been possible for any boat. The clouds were doing the same. The wind, on the other hand, was a different story. It was definitely coming at them at a high rate, but not as high as it should have been for as fast as they were moving. This was a magical boat, one that was capable of subverting the traditional laws of real-time. It probably operated on the same principle as Serkan and Horace’s friend and speedster, the mysterious masked K-Boy.
Anisim smiled at the newbies and their dumb newbie reactions. “It would take us days without the cylicone design,” he explained. “It’ll get even weirder once we reach land, though.”
“What happens then?” Darko asked.
Anisim just smiled wider.
About an hour later, they could see land up ahead, and were coming upon it too fast. They would either have to slow down soon, or the magic boat was even more magical, and could stop instantly without throwing them all overboard. The islanders tightened their grips and kind of leaned back and squinted. They couldn’t help but not fully trust the mainlanders to not kill them all. Their fears were unwarranted, of course, but it was true that the boat never stopped. It kept flying over the land, as if it were simply more ocean. It started to twist and turn through trees, around mountains, and even between buildings. Yes, there was a city of highrises, and even skyscrapers. If this was just the coastal city, what did the rest of it look like? How many people lived here, and exactly how advanced we they? He couldn’t see too many details at their current speed, but he did see people walking around. Some of them watched the boat fly by them, but no one appeared to be shocked by it. This could have been an entire world of people who experienced the manipulation of time on a regular basis. How did they not know this place existed? How long had they been there?
A half hour later, the boat slew down to more comfortable speeds, and finally came to a stop. They were in a region of the mainland called Sutvindr, which Anisim described as the Kansas of Dardius. It hadn’t occurred to Mateo to name the planet that he supposedly owned, but he was glad he never did. That was a good name, and it would have made things weird for it to have more than one. But then he started thinking about the fact that there were so many people living here. It wasn’t really his at that point anyway, nor was it ever Gilbert’s. It was easy to own it when the Tribulation Island was the only area populated, but now that he discovered there to be so much more, that all seemed even crazier than it had before.
“How many people live here?” Leona asked. They were standing at the edge of another city.
“A few billion,” Anisim answered. “Maybe four? I guess don’t really know.”
“That’s half the population of Earth when we first left,” she pointed out. They’re all refugees?”
“I guess you could call us that. But not all anymore. The majority of people here are descendants of these...refugees. They’re not all from the same timeline, and not everyone is human. We even have a subpopulation of Dardieti natives that we didn’t know about when the world was first settled fifty-two years ago. They did not yet have complex language, but now they’re productive members of society.”
“You did all this in half a century?” Lincoln asked, impressed.
“Eh, time...right?” was all that Anisim said.
“How long do we get to stay here?” Marcy asked. “There can’t possibly be enough time to see everything.”
“For you there will be,” Anisim said. “For these three,” he added, gesturing to Mateo, Leona, and Serif, “not really. I believe we have you for the next three or so years.”
“Wow,” Dar’cy said, eyes wide.
“Where do we start?”
“Come on.” Anisim motioned for them to follow as he walked off. “Mateo National Park is just up ahead.

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