Tuesday, November 15, 2022

The Advancement of Mateo Matic: September 12, 2398

Kivi enters the lab to find Ramses at his desk, listlessly scraping the blade of a pocket knife back and forth along the back of his hand as if trying to sharpen it. He doesn’t stop when she approaches, he’s just staring at the screensaver on his computer. Half a container of fruit is teetering on the edge. “You’re gonna hurt yourself.”
“What? How?” He doesn’t look at her. He’s following the pattern on the screen.
She uses her eyes to indicate the knife, but has to say it out loud, “the blade.”
“Oh, it’s incredibly dull. It’s just self-soothing behavior.”
“Mateo and Leona are gonna be fine. They checked in with us, they’ll be back through the portal later.”
“I know, but it’s my fault they’re there.”
“We didn’t get much information,” Kivi begins, “but it sounds like they would not have been able to get through the bubble without going on that detour first. Sounds to me like it was fate.”
“I don’t believe in fate. You can’t once you’ve been through what we have. We’ve seen the people in charge of reality. They’re just men. Some are even children.”
“That doesn’t change the fact that they’re going to be okay. They’re even bringing back Erlendr, a.k.a. your real body. You’re gonna be back to your old self.”
Ramses just nods.
“Talk to me, Ram.”
“What are we doing here? What are we trying to accomplish?”
“I dunno, what were you working on?”
“Before we found out where Mateo and Leona had gone off to? I was trying to track their location.”
“Is there anything else that needs to be done?”
“That’s my point. We’ve been so focused on getting ourselves back to the main sequence, and reuniting with temporal energy, that we haven’t asked ourselves why. Why bother? Trina was born in this reality. Then she went to another, and had a full life. She lived, she died, and by all accounts, she was happy. The Matics have gotten themselves away from the powers that be. Now that that’s all over, any mess we get ourselves into is our own fault. The harder we push, the harder time pushes back. So let’s give up. Let’s just...be. Sounds easier.”
Kivi sighs. “You can’t do that, Ramses. You have to get out of this reality.”
“Why? What does it matter?”
She sighs again, harder this time. She’s wondered whether she should say anything about this since she first came into existence, and now she may have no choice. Like he said, they were focused on escaping, maybe they would never have to know, but if he’s doubting that objective... “I am the Third Rail Kivi. I can exist in this reality, and this reality alone. I can feel the day that I die, because it is the same day that this reality collapses. I don’t know how, I don’t know why, but I know that it’s coming up. And I’m afraid that if you’re still here when that happens, you’ll die too.”
Only now does Ramses look away from his computer, and into Kivi’s eyes, which he studies. He’s not trying to see if she’s lying, but gauging how sure she is, in case she may be wrong about her assumptions. “Okay, then. I better get back to work.”

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