Thursday, June 16, 2022

The Advancement of Mateo Matic: April 13, 2398

The whole gang is here, but with different jobs. Ramses and Leona are affixing the secret cameras to the lamp posts, while Heath is assisting them. He’s not as educated or experienced as they are, but he works in IT, and has a better grasp of this reality’s technology. It’s not too different from what the other two are used to, but there are some key learning points. Marie is on lookout. She’s listening to a police scanner with her headphones, and literally walking the perimeter, looking out for activity all around them. It’s the middle of the night, so there’s no one around, but every car they hear zipping down the highway less than a kilometer away freaks them out. They’re wearing black, because they have to assume that at least one night security guard is doing periodic rounds in the surrounding buildings. The installers are switching off each light that they work on so they won’t be seen by such an individual, but they’re worried someone will notice that this keeps happening, so the risk is nowhere near zero.
Mateo and Angela are not here for the cameras. They’re just hunting for clues. Every manhole cover, every oddly shaped tree, every unique rock, could be some way into a secret underground base run by time travelers who are in control of this reality. There is something special about this spot, and they want to know what it is. “Anything yet?” he whispers loudly.
“I can’t see a goddamn thing,” she whispers loudly back.
“Well, we can’t do this during the day,” he reminds her.
“Yes, we can,” she argues. “They can’t do what they’re doing in the daylight, but we could probably get away with it.” She tosses a stick back to the ground. “We could kick a football around as cover.”
“What’s a football?” Heath whispers to them.
“It’s a kind of bird,” Mateo jokes. It’s not everyday he meets someone who isn’t orders of magnitude smarter than him.
“Heath, I need more of that tape,” Leona requests.
“Right.” He hops to it. “Here ya go.”
“Look,” Angela tries to begin again. “I’m just saying that we’re probably not gonna find any—”
“Beetlejuice,” Marie announces. She’s whispering too, but louder than the others. “Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice,” she adds. Once means trouble is on the way, pack it in. Twice means they should run. Three times means it may already be too late.
Leona and Ramses scoop their parts and equipment into their bags, and prepare to take off, but they wait for the others.
“No, just go,” Mateo orders. “If they catch you with all that, we’ll have no excuse, and the whole thing will have been a waste. We’ll meet at the rendezvous.”
She and Ramses take off.
“You three need to go too,” Heath says, stepping towards the corner of the parking lot facing the most likely direction the cops would come. “If they come here and find no one, they’ll just keep investigating.”
“The guard reported seeing multiple figures in this lot,” Marie explains.
“Then I’ll stay too,” Mateo decides.
“You don’t even have a real identity yet,” Heath argues.
“I do,” his wife reasons. She takes off the police scanner, and hands it to Mateo. 
“So do I,” Angela states. “I’ll take your place.”
“What difference does it make?” her alternate asks.
“The difference is I’m not pregnant,” Angela says.
Heath perks up, clearly unaware of this claim.
“How did you...?”
“Go!” Angela almost screams.
Mateo takes Marie by the hand, and leads her into the trees at full speed. The police cruiser pulls up, and hopefully doesn’t see them. As they’re continuing to make their escape, they hear Heath screaming some nonsense about Daltomism being the only true path to God. They’re going to get in big trouble, but at least he’s diverting attention away from what they were really doing here. It’ll be okay, Mateo decides. They’ll figure out how to break their friends out of jail. They always do.

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