Tuesday, June 14, 2022

The Advancement of Mateo Matic: April 11, 2398

Anxious, and needing to feel useful, Mateo took time in the morning alone, coming up with plans. He reorganized his list of all the places he had visited at some point, in some timeline, into a list by proximity to the team’s current location. Some of the more distant places would be more difficult, but surely doable. Then again, he didn’t know that much about this reality, so maybe they would turn out to be impossible. Now that it’s complete, he’s presenting it to Leona.
“Well, Antarctica is going to have to wait.”
“Why?” Mateo asks.
She stares at him in that face she displays when she wants him to figure it out on his own.
“Because it’s cold.”
“Because it’s cold,” she confirms. “You really can’t go until the summer, which for the southern hemisphere...”
“Is winter for us.”
“That’s right. That being said, maybe there are different rules here. It doesn’t turn into the moon, it’s just more treacherous. As for Easter Island, I dunno. For these people, it may just be another random island in the middle of the ocean, or a nature preserve. These are all special temporal locations for us, but who knows what things are like here? Think about what your life was like before you became a time traveler. These were mounds of dirt, and grass, and flora. There were animals, and roads, and precipitation, and bodies of water. It really feels like this is the manifestation of that original assumption about the world. Nobody here knows that time travel exists, partially because...it doesn’t.”
“Somebody knows something,” Mateo reasons. “Obviously what we need to do first is go to Lebanon.”
“I think you should go back to the parking lot.” Heath has entered the room, holding a tray of assorted breakfast beverages. “At first, it seemed random that Marie should show up there, but your arrival at the same place changes the math. Maybe it’s special. Maybe it is for your reality too, but you never knew it.”
“Maybe,” Leona concedes. “It’s certainly closer than the Center of the U.S.”
“The center of the U.S. isn’t in Lebanon,” Heath declares as if it should be obvious.
“What do you mean?”
“It’s Gothenburg.”
“Is that a band, errr...?” Mateo jokes.
“It’s a small town in Nebraska,” Heath tells them.
“Lee-Lee, how is this possible?” Mateo questions.
She thinks about it for a moment, then faces Heath. “Could you show me a map of the United States?”
“Yeah, here.” He takes a phablet out of the pocket of his cargo shorts, and pulls up a map service neither of them are familiar with.
“Whoa,” Mateo notes, staring at it. “What the hell am I looking at here?”
“It’s just a south-up map,” Leona explains.
“But why? It’s freaking me out.”
“Why would north have to be up?”
“Because most of the world is in the northern hemisphere,” Mateo reasons, thinking he’s so clever.
“Eh, whatever. Besides, that’s not even the point here. Look at that. Most of Texas belongs to Mexico. Some of Canada is in the United States. Geography is a human construct, not an inherent one. These incongruent borders are more than enough to change the location of the center of an arbitrary geographic mass.”
“It doesn’t matter,” Mateo says. “My cousin lives in The Constant, which is underneath Lebanon. They didn’t move it two centuries ago, or whenever the borders were created. It’s been there for billions of years. That’s still where we need to go.”
“I would check both places,” Heath suggests. “Might as well. You’re gonna be here for a while. Money’s not an issue, if that’s what you’re worried about. We can support everyone here, in whatever venture you need.”
“Thanks,” Leona says. “I do have one question, but I’ll probably have more.”
“Shoot,” Heath allows.
“Ya know what, I have two questions actually,” she amends.
Heath nods
“What is this drink?”
“Hagadesfām juice. It’s a fruit from the Arabian Garden.”
“Ive never heard of it. Have you ever heard of The Beatles?”
“Is that a band, errr...?”

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