Sunday, September 4, 2022

The Advancement of Mateo Matic: July 2, 2398

Heath is pacing around again, this time in the main seating area of The Olimpia. He hasn’t spoken to his wife in four days, and hasn’t seen her in five. Neither she nor Kivi has been responding to their messages, but their devices are still on and active, in Middle of Nowhere, Florida. In fact, they haven’t moved a centimeter since June 30, which suggests all kinds of possible explanations. They could be dead, or stuck in a timeloop or time bubble. They could have lost their belongings, and moved on, or someone might have stolen them, and left them somewhere. Heath is presently considering all of these possibilities, plus some more outlandish ones. He keeps asking Leona and Ramses questions about how time and time travel work so he can add more to the growing list, and enhance his own sense of dread. It’s not healthy, but nothing they say appears to be helping him out of the grim hole that he’s digging for himself.
Leona is operating the controls, hunting for a landing site as close to the unmoving phones as possible. Ramses gets on the intercom to begin an announcement as they approach their destination. “Welcome to the location of Youth Water. It comes from a natural spring in the middle of inland Florida, which dried up centuries before it was permanently settled by Europeans. In the main sequence, this area was well-developed by the time the culture advanced to this point in its history. It boasts one of the first regions to undergo the massive rewilding effort that sought to revitalize the world’s wildlife, and consolidate human populations into ever smaller artificial habitations. But still, the spring was dry, only to be accessed long ago in the past. It is one of the most popular of the immortality waters, because it can help promote life extension in the deveiled humans of history without interfering in later endeavors to assemble the other waters, and possibly achieve complete and total immortality.
“According to the correspondence map, Marie and Kivi’s devices are currently located at the approximate location of this spring, implying that there is something quite interesting there. And I’ve just been informed by my co-pilot that the nearest open area for vertical landing is about four kilometers from this site. We apologize for the hike that will soon be demanded of you, but barring teleportation, or aerial vehicle fast rope, this is the best we can do. Mateo and I will be staying with the Olimpia in case it’s needed at a moment’s notice. The rest of you will make the trek to the target location. Thank you, and please be patient while we execute this latest, delicate maneuver to the ground.”
Mateo and Ramses wait in the clearing while the others go out and attempt to make sense of all of this. A couple of hours later, Angela returns alone. “They’re gone.”
“What do you mean, they’re gone? They’ve gone where?”
Angela catches her breath. “While Leona was looking through the phones they found by the edge of the water, Heath dove in, believing the spring to be the ultimate answer to his question. She went in after him, and they both disappeared. I was feeling a strong pull to follow them. It took everything I had to not get in the water too, because I knew I shouldn’t. They did have their devices on them. Ramses, can you track them?”
He loads up his own device. It takes him longer than they would think. It should be a quick friend location ping. “’s complicated.”
“How so?” Mateo asks.
“They’re in the future.”

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