Wednesday, June 22, 2022

The Advancement of Mateo Matic: April 19, 2398

Still feeling the feels from their serious conversation yesterday, both Marie and Leona choose to sleep in, and make it a lazy Sunday. When Ramses goes on one of his walks, Mateo decides to go with him so he’s not making any noise down in the bunker. They only make it half a kilometer away before Ramses announces that he won’t be able to go any farther.
“What’s wrong?”
“I guess my body’s not used to the freeze-dried meals. I’ve been having trouble all week, but now it’s just...”
“I understand, we’ll go back,” Mateo says.
“No, I don’t want you to do that. I’ll go back, but you should keep going. The nature will do you good. It’s been a long time.”
“It hasn’t been that long,” Mateo points out. “We lived on Flindekeldan not two months ago.”
“Trust me, despite the terrible things Marie has told us about this place, the woods are peaceful. And there’s no one else for miles and miles. Just enjoy it. I really gotta go.” He runs off.
Mateo is about to slowly follow, but then figures he may as well do as asked. He keeps walking, hoping not to get lost. He remembered to pack one of the two-way radios, so it should be okay. Before too long, he realizes that Ramses was right. Flindekeldan was great and all, but there’s something special about this particular forest. It could be some kind of side effect from whatever is canceling out their powers and patterns. Maybe he’s always felt like a time traveler since he was 28, but now he’s normal again, and it’s changed him into something he doesn’t recognize. Is this how regular people feel all the time? They probably don’t think about it much.
A couple of hours later, Mateo squeezes their predetermined code into the radio, and gets the appropriate reply, which means he’s still within range. It’s probably time he head on back, though. He hears something that stops him. Oh, no. What is this? This is another thing, isn’t it? This is just like when he came across Cassidy Long in Gatewood, or that time he ran into his future self, or that time he became the future self, and met his past self. It’s gonna start something, and he doesn’t have time for it. Still, there’s someone over there, and he has to know who it is, and why they’re there.
He snakes his way through the brush, and comes to a small clearing. A woman is kneeling on the ground, presumably praying. Three pipes are sticking out of the ground. Does this religion worship some kind of metal God? She gasps, and stands defensively. “I don’t want any trouble, and I don’t have any money.”
“Neither do I,” Mateo agrees. “I’m just on a walk. I didn’t mean to disturb your....uh, ritual.”
“It’s a monument,” the woman counters.
“Okay.” He doesn’t need to know any more.
“To my friends.” She points to each one: “Frank, Lawrence, Jefferson.”
“Okay,” he repeats.
“I was placed underneath one of these once. They saved my life, so now I honor them by erecting a monument in every city we ever lived in together.” She clearly wants to tell someone about it.
“That sounds nice.” He clearly wants to leave. Marie needs to know about this in case she considers this woman a threat.
“Would you...please stay? I don’t have anyone to talk to about them, and they deserve to have their story told. I always try to find someone to listen, but this is the first time someone actually showed up at the site, so it feels like fate.”
He smiles sadly at her, then swings his bag off his shoulders, and drops it off the ground. It’s a bag of holding, which was designed to access a pocket dimension. That no longer works here, but a random assortment of items managed to stay in the normal part of the bag, including two small, light, camping stools. He pulls them out, and extends them with a flick of the wrist. “I’m Ma—artin. Martin.”
She doesn’t seem to notice he had to come up with an alias. “Jessie.”

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