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Friday, September 6, 2019

Microstory 1185: Danica Matic

The Gallery was created to protect inconsistencies that arose when time travelers altered events in the past. Much of what they do and did involved making sure certain peoples were born in the new timeline, even if prior events would have naturally negated their existence. They even sometimes adjusted later life events, so a given individually can develop to serve the Gallery’s needs. There is at least one case, however, when the Gallery specifically targeted someone from one reality, and prevented them from existing in all others. Such is the case with Danica Matic. She was only born once, and in no realities that came after. She was destined to become The Concierge, of a special location on Earth known as The Constant. Her life started out somewhat normal, with her having no idea what she was. She didn’t know her birth parents, but it was never this big mystery she was trying to solve. She assumed her father didn’t know she existed, and her mother abandoned her to live a carefree life. She was adopted by the Salingers, led a happy life, formed healthy relationships, and ended up with a satisfying job as a police detective. One day, she met a man named Mateo, whose last name happened to be the same one she had at birth. She was curious and suspicious, but didn’t jump to any conclusions. It wasn’t the most popular name in the world, but it wasn’t unique either, so it very well could have been a coincidence. After he showed himself to be a time traveler, who only lived for one day every year, she knew they must be related. She had never before considered the possibility that she had temporal abilities, but this encounter just reeked of fate.

Following a trip through a portal, Danica suddenly found herself in something she called an isolation egg. It was an extremely advanced spacebound vessel that was shaped like a chicken egg, and designed for only one person. It contained a bed, a stasis chamber, water, and a universal biomolecular synthesizer, among other essentials, like thousands of years of video and audio entertainment. It could land on some kind of celestial body, extract the elements it required to persist, then move on. She was living in 2029, so this was obviously from the future. The egg was capable of faster-than-light travel, and of sustaining its occupant indefinitely, but Danica didn’t need to go anywhere, and she would not have to stay for long. She watched as other machines arrived, presumably also from the future. They started building something on their own, incredibly quickly. Within the day, an entire structure was out there in the middle of the space dust. The egg piloted itself towards it, and docked. She stepped inside to find what best resembled a hotel. It had a lounge, and a bar, and guest rooms. It had exercise machines, a swimming pool, and closets full of clothes from all eras. It had a garden, food, water, and everything else she, and a hundred of her closest friends, might need to survive for many lifetimes. There she lived for thousands of years, with no interaction with another soul, nor instructions for what she was meant to do. She watched TV and movies, she read books, and she studied. She learned every language, and all the other things too. Eventually, she realized that the windows which once showed her outer space were being covered up. The accretion disk orbiting the sun was slowly forming larger and larger chunks, and were including her new home in that enterprise. A planet was forming around her, gradually increasing its own mass, and gravitational pull. She immediately sought out the entertainment archives, and watched an account of this sort of thing happening in fiction. The vessel in the story survived, and she assumed she would too, so she was able to relax.

Millions of years passed as she remained underground, as she learned everything she could about where she was. She knew every square millimeter of it. She continued to entertain herself, study, and do anything she could to stay busy. Hundreds of millions of years. And billions. She stayed in The Constant, almost entirely alone, for the entire development of Earth, until people evolved, and started showing up, seeking shelter. It was her job to provide them a respite from their travels, then send them back on their way, for missions, or whathaveyou. Again, no one told her to do this, or to do anything. She just figured she was placed there for the responsibility. Pretty soon, she started realizing her knowledge was growing well beyond what she had learned from her research pursuits. She could remember historical events from the outside without having actually gone up to witness them. She could even recall discrepancies from alternate timelines. It is her job to be there for any and all other time travelers. Only she has met every single temporal manipulator in histories, at one point or another, though she is never allowed to leave. The powers that be maintain their control over her, just like they do all other salmon. She was only permitted to set foot outside the Constant once, and that was to pay her last respects to the woman she would come to realize was her mother, in her original timeline, who never willingly abandoned her at all.

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