Monday, August 1, 2022

The Advancement of Mateo Matic: May 29, 2398

Yesterday, Holger forced all the staff into the interstellar spaceship that was under construction, and locked them in there so he and Leona could be alone. He placed the entire facility on lock down, which even prevented the guard topside from getting down. He surely would have noticed that something was wrong fairly quickly. Even if he never needed to reach out to someone in the hangar, he would have wondered why no one was leaving for lunch, and if not then, why did no one go home at the end of the day? Leona didn’t know what was happening up there either, though. Holger cut off all information, and spent the rest of the day trying to get Leona to prove that she too had a teleportation watch like his. When she tried to claim that she didn’t know what the hell he was talking about, he grew frustrated. But he didn’t want to ruin their special day, so he takes his time setting up a candlelit midnight dinner for the two of them, and that’s when he explains what he’s been up to recently.
Holger was unsurprisingly upset about being fired from the lab. Day by day, his anger ballooned, until he couldn’t take it anymore. He didn’t want to grow up and look for a new job. He wanted back in, and he wanted an apology. One might think that he would have gotten over Leona in that time, since she was the reason for his dismissal, but his fixation on her only increased. He wanted her more than ever, and he became convinced that he was entitled to her devotion. This was a game, and she was winning, but all he needed to do was gain an advantage. And the first step in this new mission was to stalk her. He found out where she lived, who she was living with, where she liked to go for breakfast, and everything else about her. He watched her, he watched her husband, and he watched their friends. He had trouble understanding the group dynamic, so he started branching out, and investigating the others in greater depth.
Fortunately, the forger’s forgeries were airtight, so he never discovered that all of their identities were fake, but he did know about Angela. Sure, he wasn’t aware that they were intending to use her to replace Marie as a backup twin, but it was still something they didn’t want out there in the world. He was probably the worst person to know so much information about them. And he wasn’t going to stop here. He kept watching them, eventually following them all the way out to a little town in the middle of Kansas called Lebanon. Here was where things got real interesting.
He watched from a distance as the six of them literally disappeared by the side of the road. Confused but excited, he snuck over to get a better look. No smoke, no mirrors, no hidden passageways. All he found was dirt, grass, and other plants. He situated himself in a foxhole, and kept watching the area, eventually witnessing the group reappear and disappear at will. He didn’t know where they were going, or how they were doing it. It was a puzzle, and Holger Bandoni loves puzzles. He continued to watch them as most of the group left, including Leona. He didn’t stay attached to her, though. He had to remain near the site, because unlocking its secrets was more important at this point.
Mateo and Heath blew a hole in the ground. The former fell in, and the latter fell back. While he was unconscious, Holger ignored him, and made his way down the hole using the emergency ladder. He was shocked by how deep it was, and exhausted by the time he reached the bottom, but it was so worth it. An expanse of living spaces and advanced technology. He had to learn more. While he was alone, he managed to search pretty much every room, ultimately making his way to what he thought might have been a hot tub. It was a beautiful room with blue mosaic tiles, and shimmering light, but the water was cool, and it wasn’t big enough for swimming. But there was something black on the bottom. He dove in and retrieved a box, inside of which was the teleporter watch.
As he was fiddling with it, he suddenly found himself in a different room. He pushed the button again, which transported him to a third room. He kept working with it, learning how to navigate, instead of relying on a random destination. Once he was satisfied with his self-training, he made his way back to the main room, and stood by the debris in the elevator shaft. He pushed the button again, and attempted to jump all the way back to the surface, but could not make it all the way up. As he was falling towards his death, he desperately pressed the button once more, and returned to the floor, but apparently, this form of teleportation preserves momentum, so he still landed hard, breaking his arm in the process. While he still lay there, Heath was making his way down, so Holger crawled into what he believed to be a closet, but was actually a second elevator. He used this to travel back up to the top, ultimately having to use his one good arm to punch through the wall of soil in his way. This finally explains how the McIvers were able to see the alternative means of transport that Heath did not.
Now free, Holger made his way to the nearest hospital, and while he was undergoing treatment, he began to make more plans. He had to wait until Leona returned from her vacation, “and that brings us to today.” He smiles, proud of himself for surviving the harrowing adventure, and pleased to now fully understand who Leona is. “We’re in the same boat now. I have a watch, you have a watch. We can be together.”
“You’re delusional.”
“Uhh, no,” he maintains. “See?” He jumps to the other side of the breakroom.
“No, I mean, you’re delusional about us. “Just because you randomly found a flicker watch, doesn’t mean we’re in love now.”
“Is that what this is called?” He admires the thing.
No, but whatever, haha. She sighs. “What about this are you not getting? I don’t like you. I don’t just not like you in that way. I hate you. I don’t want to ever see you again, or have anything to do with you.”
Holger pouts and mumbles. “Ugh. Harumph. Gaaaah! You obviously wanna stay here with me! You haven’t tried to escape!”
“You locked the exit!” she argues. “I can’t get out!”
“Why don’t you just flicker out! How do you think I got in!”
“I can’t!” Leona pulls down her sleeves, and rolls up her pant legs just for good measure. “They run out of juice!” she lies, sort of. They will eventually run out of power, but they likely last a good few years. “When it’s out, it’s out, and you throw it away.”
“Oh.” He seems to be believing her. “Well, how long do I have?”
“How many times have you used it?” she asks.
“I dunno, maybe a hundred? I hate walking all the way over to my bathroom.”
“Ooo,” she begins. “In this short of time?” She decides to repeat a lie Mateo once told someone. “You’re severely overtaxing it. That thing’s about to blow your wrist off.”
He desperately removes it, drops it on the floor, and hops away with a yelp, so that’s when Leona punches him in the neck.

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