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Thursday, June 23, 2022

The Advancement of Mateo Matic: April 20, 2398

Mateo Matic is not a very smart man. He hasn’t had a lot of education, and what he did manage to get through, he didn’t pay much attention, nor retain it. That’s why he became a driver. That’s not to say all drivers are stupid, but it he excelled at it, and he wasn’t great at anything else, so it made the most sense at the time. Even since all this, he’s had opportunities to enrich himself with knowledge, but he hasn’t really taken them. That’s fine, that’s why he has people like Ramses, Leona, and the Angelas. It’s also one reason he misses Olimpia so dearly, because she’s more like him. Despite all this, he’s still been around for quite awhile, and in that time, he’s grown wiser.
Jessie did not appear to be a threat, but he didn’t want to take a chance. After listening to her stories, he escorted her to her car parked by the side of the road, and then reentered the woods. He did not return to the bunker, though he was certain he knew what direction it was, which he was proud of himself for. Instead, he pulled out his bivy sack. It’s very small, but useful in situations such as these, and he’s grateful that it survived the destruction of his bag’s pocket dimension. It’s kind of weird, really, that all the essentials survived. His e-reader, and extra clothes are gone now, but he has a sleeping bag, pocket knife, and he had extra water, until he drank it all to turn it over to a fresh cycle. When Ramses got ahold of him through the radio, Mateo relayed that he needed to sleep outside tonight. He didn’t say why for fear of being eavesdropped on, but his team accepted it, and didn’t try to lure him back. If Jessie, an associate of hers, or some other nefarious party wanted to find out where Mateo’s friends were hiding, they were going to have to wait ‘til morning. That seemed unlikely.
Unprompted, Fairpoint called Marie the next late morning to inform her that he was finally on his way to the police station to find out where Heath and Angela were. She reminded him of what was at stake here, and what the authorities were allowed to know. Apparently, atheists are conventionally that way when it comes to religion, but so-called agnostic in terms of anything else. They don’t care about police brutality. They don’t care about racism. They don’t care about war. They think all these things are bad, to be sure, but they’re generally comfortable in their superiority, and find that trying to alleviate suffering can lead only to frustrating inefficacy. Religious people are the passionate ones. Some are on the wrong side of any given issue, but atheists don’t usually get involved at all, so someone like him needs to be directly encouraged to go out of his way to do the right thing. It should be okay. He sounds like he understands the concern, and is going to do everything he can.
“So we still have to wait,” Mateo presumes.
“It could take hours,” Marie replies. “They may make him wait, or not agree right away to let him advocate. There’s no telling how they’ll handle this. It all depends on the religious makeup of that station.”
“God, why does religion always have to mess things up?” Leona questions.
Marie twitches at this. Mateo was Catholic once, and he knows this academically, but The Superintendent stripped him of all his faith just before he tore him out of the timestream for half a century. Leona was born enlightened, and Ramses at a time after superstition had faded significantly from culture. Out of all of them, Marie and Angela could recall belief the best. Back when they were only a she, she did lose her faith over time. It was reportedly common for dead people to stop following the lies that their particular prooftexts claimed once they learned the truth. It wasn’t a given, though. There were those who continued to believe. Pryce’s afterlife simulation, after all, was just that; a simulation. It could never explain what happens after one dies. It only demonstrated that it was possible to technologically stave it off indefinitely. Some of the more intelligent religious people recognized this reality, and continued to believe in some kind of actual divine power that was still out of reach. Though to be fair, if they were so smart, they probably rejected mysticism anyway.
Here, religion has taken over society, but unlike most fictional depictions of such a world, there isn’t one governing body that lords over the innocent people. It’s not a cult of belief. It’s a cult of belief in belief. That is a lesson that the main sequence began to gradually learn for themselves in the latter days. It’s not really any specific denomination that ultimately proves itself no longer worthy of devotion. It’s the very idea of devotion to the unscientific. Young generations realized that simply believing in something that isn’t real is detrimental to healthy and ethical personal and sociological advancement. It doesn’t matter that a certain sect donates money to the poor, or accepts gay people past their doors. The act alone of trying to convince someone of a lie—even if you are genuinely convinced of it yourself—is immoral at the highest level. The only sane and virtuous path is the one towards observable truth. If what you think can only stand on its own potential to be true, then it is not true, and ought to be ultimately rejected. This is something that Mateo doubts the people of this planet will ever come to accept.
The phone rings. Everyone holds their breath as Marie listens. She then says, “okay,” and hangs up. “We’ll see them tomorrow. It’s over.”
No, Mateo thinks to himself, this has just begun.

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