Sunday, December 13, 2020

The Advancement of Mateo Matic: Saturday, July 18, 2133

They stayed in Ladytown for the rest of the day, and ate with the residents. The Ladytowners wanted Mateo to stay, so he could help repopulate their town, but that was an awkward request, and it wasn’t really up to him anyway. Come midnight central, they jumped forward to 2133, and hours later, they had still not yet received an assignment from Jupiter. It was becoming increasingly difficult to justify not sticking around when he could help them with their problem. The conversation continued. Their leader was named Hua. “You have to understand, Mister Matic, that we do not want to sleep with you. I mean, I’m sure plenty of us do, but that’s not the point. We’re not doing this for fun. We need to keep the town alive, or the government will win.”
“You can’t just recruit more rebels from the city?” Mateo suggested. It might have been a little ignorant and insensitive.
“We would love that,” Hua replied. “We would love it if the entire city turned against the Republic, but it’s more complicated than that. Their guard is up right now, and they are just waiting for our surviving fighters to make a move. After the men died from the haemophilia virus, they knew we would be angry, and galvanized. They figure we’ll attack them at any moment, and that we’ll sacrifice our lives just to kill as many of them as we can. We have to be smart, though. We have to rebuild. You can help us do that.”
That’s asking a lot, though,” Mateo said. “I already have a daughter I conceived in this reality who I never even got to meet before she went off to another universe. I have two children from a different reality who we’re not sure are still here, but we’ve never really met them either. I have another daughter who sometimes exists, and sometimes doesn’t, and I’m not entirely certain she even is my daughter, or if time just occasionally brings her into existence. I can’t keep having children I don’t raise. It’s not right. I’m not that kind of guy. If I weren’t a time traveler, I would be a real dad to those kids.”
“We don’t need you to be a dad,” Hua continued. “We just need your seed.”
“I understand that, but that’s not what I need.”
“I see your perspective,” Hua went on, “and I can appreciate your reluctance. You hesitate for good reasons; not bad ones, and I don’t mean to downplay them. But there is more than one way to contribute positively to the worlds. You won’t raise these children either, but they will go on to do great things, and fight for democracy. We will all raise them in your stead. They will grow up to be amazing people, just like I’m sure your other children have.” Mateo tried to say something, but she interrupted before he got a sound out. “Tell me one thing, would those four children even exist if you weren’t a traveler; if you just lived in Kansas City from birth to death, in realtime?”
“Without time travel, no. I don’t know what happens in that scenario. I was twenty-eight years old when I made my first jump, and had not yet met anyone I thought I could have kids with. It may never have happened, or...I would have conceived other children.”
“Yes, reality is quite complex,” Hua agreed. “Few know what would have happened, but the fact is that those four people exist, or existed, because of you, and you should be proud of that, whether you were there or not. I’ll tell you this much, literally not being in control of your life is a good reason to be an absentee father. It’s probably the best reason, and it doesn’t make you a deadbeat. Or to put it more clearly, it makes you not a deadbeat. We will tell stories about you to your biological children here. We will make sure they understand who you are, and what you have done. And believe me when I tell you, Mister Matic, we already do know who you are. Your dealings are in historical, and future historical, records. You’re famous on every planet.”
“I don’t know.” There wasn’t much more he could say about it. He had expressed his position, and Hua had expressed hers. Neither one was right, and neither one was wrong. It was just a question of whether he was willing to sacrifice his own emotional health...or theirs. When looking at it from that angle, the answer became quite clear. His opinion wasn’t the only one that mattered, though, and it was then that he realized how quiet Leona had been this whole time. “I would like to hear your thoughts.”
“My thoughts are irrelevant. Your body, your choice.”
“It’s not that simple,” Mateo said to her, setting his hand on hers.
Hua nodded at her supportively.
“I...I don’t wanna sway your opinion. If you need to do this, then do it. If you can’t, then don’t.”
“Let’s call it a hypothetical,” Mateo began. “Let’s say you’re writing a story—the characters aren’t real, so it really doesn’t matter what they do, because no one will actually get hurt. If you’re writing that story, where would you take it? What would you have the Mateo character do?” He used airquotes.
Leona shut her trap.
“Please. This is important.”
“I know it’s important, that doesn’t mean I’m going to answer your question.”
“I’m your husband, and I need to know what I have to say about it.”
She was silent for a time, but thinking it over now, instead of just refusing to express her feelings outright. She didn’t look at either of them straight on, though. She stared at the wall in front of her, and made glances over at them, having to strain her eyes the most to see Mateo, who was sitting next to her. Sometimes she would look over to the corner on her other side, just to avoid giving anything away. Finally, she gave up holding out. “I think you should do it. I know I should say that I don’t—that it makes me a bad wife—but as a woman, I can’t sit here, and watch this phallocratic government oppress their people. If this is what they need to fight back—if they need future warriors— can we deny them that? If I had...seed, I would give it away. I just don’t have time to donate my womb.”
Mateo reached over, and pulled Leona into a hug. He held on for a long time before releasing her. “I agree.”
Hua smiled softly, but was not overly excited about their decision. “Okay. Obviously, you have the right to back out at any time. This requires consent, just like any other encounter. We would take samples from you if were capable of preserving, or even effectively inseminating them. At the moment, our only real chance is real sex. I have already spoken with the group, and only a handful of them have rejected this plan, and of course, that’s also their right. Most of them are willing to do this. We know you can only do so much in one day anyway, so you’ll be able to pick whoever you want.”
“I don’t need to pick,” Mateo said, shaking his head. “This isn’t a game of kickball. Anyone will be fine. You did say you wanted children. I will do my physical best to...contribute as much as possible before I’m forced to leave.”
He was able to be with five women before they ran out of time. This new body’s refractory period was surprisingly long. He would have thought it would be pretty short, or even instantaneous. Perhaps Pryce didn’t design the clone bodies to want or need sex often. Come to think of it, Mateo’s sex drive was lower than it was with his original body. Culturally, it was less important in the future than it once was. Immortals tended to not feel the compulsion to procreate like their predecessors, or their younger, regular human selves. So it would make sense for Pryce to not put too much emphasis on it. Still, it wasn’t like Mateo’s libido was completely nonexistent. He was able to perform, and it was just as pleasurable as before, if not more. He tried not to enjoy it too much, because of his wife, but if they were completely cold and clinical, the pregnancies might not take. Passion and foreplay were scientifically known to be important components to conception, and could not reasonably be ignored.
Once the job was complete, Mateo retired to their little temporary hunt with Leona, so they could end the night alone together. They started to talk about the experience, and ensure that no one was uncomfortable about it, or felt that their perspective wasn’t being respected. As midnight approached, Leona began to feel a little possessive and left out. She needed physical proof that he was still with her, even though she trusted him, and knew that it wasn’t going to spark some urge to step out. Fortunately, he was reaching the end of his last refractory period, and was up to the task one last time. Whereas before, he was having sex, now he was making love, with the human he loved. The deed was done just as midnight hit, and they were simultaneously swept through a transition window, back to The Parallel.
They were in a bed, but not the same one from Ladytown. It was as if someone in the Parallel was aware that they would be returning, and exactly where. They were in the middle of a lovely crop field of some kind now, though, rather than a building. They stood up, and put on their clothes, which were folded neatly on top of the nightstand. Yes, someone must have traveled to Ladytown during their interim year, and retrieved all of their belongings. Their go-bags were here too. Underneath the last shirt, they found a handwritten note. It was from Hua. Dear Mateo and Leona, I want to thank you for what you tried to do for us last year. It was a heroic act, and meant more to us than you could ever fathom. We will forever be grateful by your attempt, and for your understanding, Leona. I know it wasn’t easy, letting him help a group of strangers in such a way. Sadly, none of the women became pregnant as a result of the endeavor. It would seem that resurrected bodies are incapable of procreation, whether by design, or oversight. Or perhaps the virus the city sent our way had a greater impact on our biology than we realized. Again, we appreciate the effort, and we will not give up hope that our world can change. You have reminded us that there are still good people in the worlds, and that they must exist somewhere in Aljabara. We will find them, and things will get better. Thank you.
Yeah, they should have thought of that.

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