Sunday, August 15, 2021

The Advancement of Mateo Matic: May 31, 1838

Leona checked her watch when they woke up in a completely different room the morning after the doctor mission. It was now May 31, 1838; the largest jump yet. Their cuffs weren’t giving them directions. In fact, they weren’t on at all. Until now, they weren’t even aware they could be turned off. Either they were completely dead, or Anatol figured out how to use them, and decided they weren’t necessary this time. “I actually don’t know how they’re powered,” Leona admitted. “I’ve never been allowed to open them up and examine them. Yes, they could be dead.”
“Well, no one here has powers, except for Olimpia sort of,” Mateo pointed out. “We don’t need them anymore regardless. We just have to do what The Warrior asks of us.”
“What is it he’ll be asking of us?” Jeremy asked. He was a little down, even though they still had no proof that the cuffs weren’t coming back.
Just then, they heard a scream in the other room. It didn’t sound like someone was being attacked, or that they had just bumped into the coffee table. It was more like they were in mourning, or something. The six of them rushed through the door to find a woman on a bed, crying out in pain. She was very pregnant, and almost certainly in labor.”
“Does anybody know how to deliver a baby?” Mateo asked.
The woman shouted at them in a foreign language. Or rather, the native language.
“Does anybody speak German?” Olimpia asked.
Angela stepped forward. “Wir sind hier um zu helfen.”
“Ich bin allein,” the mother replied.
“Nicht länger,” Angela said. She turned to the group. “Jeremy, find clean towels. Olimpia, give me that bottle of hand sanitizer from your bag. We need all of it. Siria, find me some liquor, in case all of it isn’t enough. Leona, fresh water. Mateo, how strong is your arm?”
“You need me to lift something?” Mateo questioned.
Angela took his arm, and placed it in the mother’s grip. “Halte ihn fest.”
Mateo winced as the mother beared down. “I’m okay, I’m okay. Okay.” He placed his other hand upon hers, both to comfort her more, but also hoping she didn’t feel the need to break his radius.
“Ich muss jetzt deinen Bauch berühren.”
The mother just nodded, so Angela reached under her outfit, and started feeling around. Then she started to press harder. “It’s breeched.”
“What are you going to do about that?” Mateo asked, still trying to figure out how to survive this death grip.
“Turn it.” She looked up at Jeremy when he returned with the towels. “Hold all eight fingers right here,” she ordered. “No. Harder. Harder! You’re not going to puncture her stomach with your fingernails. Hold until I say otherwise.” Angela got to work, pressing on the mother’s belly as Jeremy held in place. It looked like she was giving a deep tissue massage, and she was feeling it more than she was looking at it. Before too long, she shook her head. “It’s not working.”
“What else can we do?” Jeremy asked.
“Let go. Give me your knife.”
“Are you serious?” he questioned
“Give me your goddamn knife right now!” She faced the mother. “Es ist okay. Du bist okay. Okay?”
“Okay,” the mother confirmed.
Siria returned. “I found some alcohol.”
“Give it to her,” Angela ordered. “Trink es. Trinken Sie alles.”
The mother was too scared.
Still scared, the mother took the bottle, and downed it pretty much in one gulp.
Once the bottle was empty, Angela took the fairly large pocket knife from Jeremy. She drenched it in the hand sanitizer, then rubbed some on mother’s belly. “Ich muss das tun.”
The mother nodded, understanding what had to be done.
Angela cut into the belly, less carefully than Mateo would have thought. She didn’t need it to look pretty, or leave a clean scar, or maybe she just didn’t have enough training. She had Jeremy pull the flesh away as she continued to cut. There were a lot of layers to get through before she reached all the way into the uterus. Mateo could see a head peeking through. By this point, Leona was back. She sat by the mother’s head, and rubbed her hair affectionately. Olimpia and Siria stood by, ready to receive. Angela reached in and pulled the baby out, again less gracefully than Mateo would assume. She just got it out of its mother, and placed it into the towel in Siria’s arms.
While Siria and Olimpia were washing the newborn off, and making sure it was crying and breathing, Angela reached in and retrieved the placenta. Leona had apparently considered there might be a c-section, so she was ready with a needle and thread. Angela sewed the mother up like a seasoned surgeon. The baby’s cries filled the room. It had all apparently gone well. They spent the next few hours caring for the two of them, retrieving whatever she needed; water, food, more towels. Mother was able to hold baby most of the time, and even managed to nurse him a little.
“Now, no one had babies in the afterlife simulation, right?” Mateo asked.
“Never. It wasn’t part of the programming. Any baby born inside the sim would be artificial intelligence, and difficult for many to accept as real. There were plenty of medical training programs, though. I wouldn’t be able to perform open heart surgery, but I can do some basic things like this.”
“No one would call that basic,” Leona contended. “It’s a good thing you were here. I learn something new about you every day.”
“I’m sure the Warrior knows my history and education.”
“I’m not certain he does,” Leona said. “We haven’t come across many people who know about the afterlife sim. I think it’s a pretty good secret, and anyway, it would be difficult for him to gather information about things that actually happened to people in there. Or, I suppose, will happen.”
On the other side of the room, Siria was trying to communicate with the mother. “The name. What will you name him?” She pointed to her own chest. “Siria. Siria Webb.” She pointed to Olimpia with her whole palm. “Olimpia Sangster.” Now she pointed to the baby.
“Oh,” it sounded like the mother said. “Anatol.”
The room stopped what they were doing, and turned towards her. “What was that?”
“Anatol,” she repeated. “Es ist sein Großvater.”
“He’s named after his grandfather,” Angela translated.
“Anatol Klugman?” Jeremy asked.
The grown up Anatol came into the room and regarded his mother, and his Past!Self. Now it all made sense. The Warrior brought them here to assist with his own birth. But obviously it went fine in his own reality, or he wouldn’t exist to ask them for help at all. This didn’t feel like a predestined time loop. So that was what made it actually not make sense at all. It made no sense when considering time travel rules. This version of Anatol existed. And no matter what they did, this version of him would continue to exist. Any other version in any other timeline would have to be assimilated either way, so who cares? Was it just his mother? Did he just want his mom to have the baby, regardless of what that meant about his own identity? “It’s time to go, you six,” he said. “Now,” he added when they didn’t move. “She’ll be fine.”
They stood, and started to leave. “Warten,” the mother said. “Herzlichen Dank!”
“Gern geschehen,” Angela said for the group.
“Let’s go,” Adult!Anatol said. Baby!Anatol, on the other hand, said nothing.
Once they were in the other room, and out of sight, he transported them all to the middle of the woods. “What?” he asked defensively.
“We didn’t say anything,” Leona promised.
“I’m not just being self-serving!”
“You don’t have to explain to us,” Mateo said honestly.
“You’re right, I don’t, so shut the hell up! And if you ever tell anyone about this, you’re literally dead. And I mean, like, real dead. All I would have to do is take you to dinosaur times, before Pryce’s computer program exists.”
“Anatol, it’s fine,” Mateo tried to assure him. “I don’t know if you’re just too used to dealing with bad people, but we’re decent. We’re not going to put your Baby!Self in danger. Do you really think that’s the kind of thing any of us would do?”
Anatol sighed. “I suppose not. But you’re also a little unpredictable, especially when dealing with someone who you would consider an antagonist.”
“No one here is gonna hurt a baby,” Mateo continued. “The Superintendent once sent me out to kill a bunch of Adolf Hitlers from other universes. They were all at different ages, and one time, he was an infant in 1890. I refused, and I’ve always kind of thought it was a test. Anyway, I still think there’s good in you, and I’m not giving up on finding it.”
“You’re right, there is good in me, and I use it every day, because what I do is good, and it is just, and I don’t regret a choice.”
“Well...that’s what I’m trying to change. Good people have regrets. If you don’t, you’re not doing it right. You either can’t recognize your mistakes, or you’re not taking any risks. I know you take plenty of risks, so...”
“I’m done with this conversation,” Anatol began, “and I’m ready to move you on to another mission. After five years of fighting in all of the Prussian wars, I tried  to return home, but ended up on a detour. I need you to take care of my business for me, so my Past!Self can go home.”

No comments :

Post a Comment