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Thursday, October 6, 2022

The Advancement of Mateo Matic: August 3, 2398

When Alyssa McIver was fully brought into the fold last week, she decided that she wouldn’t feel comfortable here if she wasn’t contributing in some way. Some of these people have jobs, and some go on missions, and who knows what’s going on that she and her family don’t even see? There had to be something she could do. Perhaps they wanted a roof garden. She could certainly help with that, but someone would have to pay for it, so that seemed like an odd request, since it could sound like she was being too greedy and needy. There was a way, though. On the first floor of the building, they had set up the security room. They didn’t have any security guards to work out of there, but they had plenty of cameras. They even had ones installed in a parking lot less than a mile away. She didn’t understand at first, but then they explained that that’s where everybody seems to end up when they come to this reality from elsewhere. It’s an easy job, but not one that can be ignored. Someone has to watch the footage, or at least review it fast forwarded later.
So that’s what she’s been doing for the last week. She keeps an eye on all of the cameras, some of which are just pointing at lava lamps, for reasons that she’s not expected to care about. Again, it’s not particularly difficult, but it keeps it off of other people’s plates, freeing them to conduct more important business. She’s sitting here right now, and has just realized that the building’s been nearly all cleared out. She doesn’t have audio, so she doesn’t know why, but it seems everyone left for different reasons, rather than as part of some conspiracy. Leona Matic had to go inspect a manufacturing plant, Angela and Kivi had to have a business lunch; who knows? As she’s rechecking the monitors, just in case she spots someone somewhere, she sees movement out of the corner of her eye. It’s one of the parking lot cameras. That’s not that weird. People drive in and out of it all the time. It’s an overflow lot, so it’s not extremely packed, but it sees traffic every day. Still, when that happens, she’s been asked to run it back to see if the persons there walked or drove like normal, or appeared out of nowhere. She jumps back ten seconds. Holy crap, he appeared out of nowhere. Wait, go back again, and keep an eye on the timestamp. Yep, it happened. It’s a time traveler.
It’s been almost a minute now, and every second that passes gives the visitor more time to leave. He may not even be trying to escape, but just not know to stick around and wait for the welcome party. There are so many people that Alyssa could call, but she doesn’t know who among them is closest to the lot, or whether they’re in a position to get there anyway. The Lofts aren’t that far from it, though. It’s within walking distance. More appropriately, it’s within running distance. She doesn’t have time to think this through. She’ll ask for forgiveness later. This is her best opportunity to demonstrate her value, and she considers it part of her job here. They didn’t specifically say that it was, but they didn’t tell her what else to do, probably because they didn’t truly believe that it would ever come up.
Carlin is in the hallway when Alyssa bursts out of the security room. “Lock up for me!” she yells back. “Moray is in charge!”
“Where are you going?” he questions.
“To the lot!” Someone ought to know where she’s run off to.
She races down Main Street as fast as she can, then steers to the left at Grand. She doesn’t stop, even when her shins begin to scream angrily at her. She just has to make it there, and then she can rest. The visitor needs to know that he’s not alone. Even if he runs off after that, at least he would have gotten that message. Or maybe he won’t get any message at all. Even at top speed, it still takes her five minutes to cover the distance, and the guy is no longer around when she reaches his last known location. He may be meters from her, but if he turned the corner of a nearby building, she wouldn’t be able to see him, and she has no idea which direction to try. What would someone who has just experienced this do? Where would they go? That depends on who they are, and what they know of all this. It’s an impossible question to answer.
Alyssa’s phone rings, and she picks it up instinctively, but keeps looking around for clues, all the while trying to catch her breath. “Carlin, I’m kind of busy right now.”
He went south on Warwick,” Carlin replies.
“What? What are you talking about?”
The guy you’re trying to find. He’s heading south, probably intending to cut through that park.
“How do you know this?” Alyssa asks him.
You left the room open. I took a look at the cameras, and watched him walk away. He’s out of range now, but if you hurry, you’ll catch up. He doesn’t seem to be in any sort of rush. Once he got his bearings, it looked like he kind of knew where he wanted to go.
“Thanks,” Alyssa says. “I assume you’re watching me right now. Which way is Warwick?”
After she gets the info, Alyssa hangs up and heads off. She drops to a jog, because she no longer needs to break the land speed record, she only needs to close the gap. Before too long, she sees the back of the head of the target. He’s wearing the same clothes, so it’s got to be him. She drops pace so it doesn’t look like she’s coming for an attack, but maintains an advance.
He notices that someone is behind him, so he looks over his shoulder, but since they’re in a park of all places, it doesn’t concern him. He must assume she’s just out to get some exercise. She decides not to wave. He may freak out yet, and if he does, she ought to be closer. He turns back, and keeps going, but then he stops. He turns around completely, and steps forward to meet her in the middle. “Alyssa? I thought that was you,” he says like they went to high school together.
She stops, worried. Maybe she’s the one who’s going to have to run away.
“Oh, sorry. I thought you were someone else,” the man backtracks.
She’s not buying it. “My name is Alyssa, so you really do know me. How?”
The man looks around. “Is it a coincidence that you’re in this park, or did you know that I arrived?”
She doesn’t speak, but it’s written all over her face.
He nods. “If you knew that you would find me here, you must know at least a little bit about time travel. You are from my past, but I must be from your future. That explains why you look a little younger than when I last saw you.”
“When was this?” she asks him.
“That’s too much information. We are not what the kids call simpatico, which means that I know things about your personal future. Best not to tamper with that.”
“Can you at least tell me your name?” she asks.
“Of course. I’m Vearden Haywood.”

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