Tuesday, November 1, 2022

The Advancement of Mateo Matic: August 29, 2398

Mateo can’t shower himself. He can’t feed himself, he can’t clothe himself, he can’t even open doors. He has sent a number of random items to God-knows-where in an attempt to gain control over his newfound ability, but he’s confident in his assessment that he has been blessed with suck. He’s basically King Midas, except that at least that guy was surrounded by a bunch of gold. He can touch his own skin, which is a small miracle, but if he was able to transport himself, maybe he could find out where he’s banishing everything else. It might still be the key to finding Trina.
Leona has returned from the store, where she picked up a number of stylish vests for him to wear. He’s fine with pants, as long as someone helps them on, but shirts are a no-go. A single brush against the skin from his wrist to his tips, and it’s gone. Vests are really the only type of clothing with arm holes big enough to avoid an issue. But that is nothing compared to the humiliation of needing help going to the bathroom. He really had to go while his wife was out, and Marie was the only one around who he felt comfortable enough asking. She did so without complaint or awkward tension. “Are you mad?” he asks.
“That Marie helped you with your clothes?” Leona asks.
“Did you cheat on me?”
“Of course not!”
“Then of course not, I’m not mad. What kind of person do you think I am? If you were an amputee—or your hands were mutilated—we would probably have a nurse for you, who would be doing the same things.” She carefully gets the vest around him so he can stop walking around topless.
“That’s true, it’s just...”
“It’s just that we’re family, and we’re all here to help you get through this.”
He appreciates that, but he’s having trouble expressing it. He can’t really express anything right now but frustration, anxiety, and depression. Once Leona is finished, he plops back down on the chair, and hangs his arms over the armrests. It’s not very comfortable, but it keeps his midan hands away from everything. “Thank you.”
She frowns down at him, slouched there. “You know, this could be a blessing.”
“How so?”
She steps over to the table, and picks up a package they received earlier today. “This is our new shower mirror.”
“What does that have to do with anything?”
She removes the mirror from the box, and then tosses the box to him.
He instinctively reaches up to catch it, banishing it to the unknown. “Why did you just do that?” he questions.
“I’m your garbage man! I go across the land!” she sings as if that’s a song he’s meant to be familiar with.
“We don’t know where it went. We don’t know if it went to the same place as all the other stuff.”
“That’s why Ramses is in Lebanon.”
“He’s not going to find anything there.”
“We’re working on a way to get him into Russia. He’s just starting his field work closer to home. The Olimpia is almost ready to fly at optimum efficiency again.”
“He’s not going to find anything there either.”
“Mateo, that timonite sat there for upwards of millions of years without transporting anything anywhere. Otherwise, it would have destroyed the whole planet. Something has to be able to render it inert.”
“It was inert because it was sitting under immense pressure,” Mateo argues, “pressure which would vaporize my hand, if not straight up kill me. I unlocked it. I relieved that pressure. And I seriously doubt there is anything in the universe that can shield against bulk travel. There’s nothing anyone can do. Hope is a teardrop in the ocean. Once it falls, you’ll never find it again, but you may drown in the attempt.”
Leona nods. “I applaud you for your hypothesis that it remained inert due to the pressure. That’s not something the old Mateo would say.”
“Maybe Erlendr is controlling me psychically again.”
“Maybe.” She doesn’t believe that, but her own mind is somewhere else already. He’s right, they can’t recreate the pressure of the depths of an undug mine, but he’s wrong about there being no hope. There are others with the ability to travel the bulk, which means that they must have ways of controlling how that happens. They must have access to materials that react to it differently than normal baryonic matter. Maybe that’s neutrinos, maybe it’s dark matter, but whatever it is, it has to exist. There is only one place on Earth that might have it, and they weren’t planning on going there until the winter. Well, it’s in the southern hemisphere, so really, it’s more about it being summer at the destination. Hopefully it’s not just a main sequence location, because then they really might be searching for teardrops in the ocean.
“I know that look,” Mateo says. “You’ve come up with an idea.”
“I need to order a few more things,” Leona tells him with a smile. “I’ll have you throw out the boxes for me.”
“Gee, thanks.” He cracks a smile. “What do you need?”
“For one, a good winter coat. I hear Antarctica is freezing this time of year.”

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