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Tuesday, February 7, 2023

The Advancement of Mateo Matic: Year 52,398

The security room in the Constant has always been unlocked, which leads Mateo to believe that it’s only there for show. If any room needs to remain secure, it would be that one, so it’s probably just to make any intruder think that they have control. Today, he needs it, because he appears to be completely alone. He still doesn’t even know where the others hole themselves up in stasis. Surely someone is awake, though, right? Tamerlane even said that they don’t want him wandering around alone. He steps into the room, and approaches the microphone. He holds the button down, and taps on it. He can hear it out in the hallway, and other nearby rooms. “Hello? Is this thing on?”
No one responds.
“My mic sounds nice, check one!” he tests in a funny voice.
Still nothing.
“Okay, I’m gonna be in the master sitting room for the next ten minutes. If no one shows up by then, I’m gonna go exploring.” He pauses a moment. “I hope that’s okay.”
He sets the microphone back down, and walks down the hall to the master sitting room. He waits twenty minutes, actually, and no one shows up. So, true to his word, he leaves, and starts looking for something interesting to do. He ignores all the places he’s been to before, like the pools, and the gaming rooms. He wants to find something he’s never seen before. This is a big place, but how big is it?
Hmm. Not as big as he thought it might be. The Olympic-size pool and basketball court take up a lot of space, as does what looks like it’s supposed to be a go-kart track, but he can’t find any of the go-karts. He gets to thinking, though, that maybe he’s going about this the wrong way. He’s been trying to see how deep this facility goes, but he has no idea what it looks like on the surface in this time period. That’s where the real crazy stuff is going on, right? He’s imagining rivers of lava, and unending lightning storms all across the sky. There’s probably no way to see it, but he may as well go up to check. He has nothing better to do today until he figures out how to get back to his own time.
Mateo heads for the main elevator, and presses the call button, expecting it to just do nothing at all, but instead, it opens. He steps inside, and commands it to take him to the top floor. Again, he’s surprised when the elevator moves up for as long as it normally does, covering the entire kilometer distance. He’s in what looks like the little chapel outside of Lebanon, Kansas, but that shouldn’t exist for billions of years. Is this all a trick, or is this all real, and everything up to this point has been a trick? He goes to the window, and looks out, realizing upon closer inspection that they’re vacuum sealed, which the ones in the real chapel are not. It’s just a replica; a replica of something that does not yet exist. It will have to be destroyed anyway by the time humans begin to roam the world in this area, so what’s the point?
Outside is a wasteland, but there are no rivers of lava, nor lightning storms. It’s just barren and empty. There’s no dirt, nor even a sky. This world does not yet have an atmosphere. Right? That makes sense, right? Maybe that’s what she should be spending his extra time doing; studying astronomy and physics, so he doesn’t have to ask these questions. “Hey, Constance, are you there?”
I’m here, Mr. Matic,” it replies.
“This world isn’t called Earth yet, so I’m going to take this opportunity to give it a name before anyone else does. Wadya think?”
I think that this planet isn’t Earth, regardless of what you call it.
“What? What are you talking about?”
As of yet, there is no planet Earth.
“Explain.”
In millions of years, the world we’re on will collide with its neighbor. The explosion will forge a new world, composed of parts from the two original celestial bodies. It will also result in the creation of the future Earth’s only significant natural satellite, which the world’s inhabitants will one day know as the moon, or Luna.
“So, this is Earth, it’s just not done cookin’ yet.”
No. Based on orbital patterns, and composite share of the resulting body, it is more accurate to say that the other planet is Earth.
“So, does this one even have a name, if no one even knows it ever existed?”
Scientists will one day hypothesize its existence, and name it Theia.
Theia,” Mateo echoes. “I like it.” He looks through the rest of the windows to get different perspectives. How weird to be on an alien world, yet still so close to home. He comes to the closet. “What is in here?” he asks himself. The AI doesn’t respond, because it knows that he’s about to open it anyway. Inside are vacuum suits. “Are you thinking what I’m thinking?”
Constance interprets this one as a real question. “I’m thinking that you should go back downstairs. You have seen enough of this. Best not to tempt fate.
“Fate is fate; you can’t tempt it. It’s gon’ do what it’s gon’ do.”
You know what I mean,” Constance argues, but still, it doesn’t do anything to stop him, though it absolutely could. It could lower the elevator on its own. It could alert Danica to the breach. It could even just lock the airlock, and not let him out, but it doesn’t, because it’s cool with it.
He steps into the suit, and let’s the automated robot hands on the door seal him up. Still, no one tries to stop him. He’s like Chris Pratt in Passengers, except this isn’t an accident, and if it were, this place would be designed to correct for it. Welp, anyway, it’s time to go outside and see what Theia looks like from the ground. “Wish me luck,” he asks Constance.
I’ll be with you the whole time, even if it’s just to walk the suit back to base with your lifeless corpse still inside.” If it’s going to have an attitude like that, he should probably stop thinking of the AI as an it, and more of a her.
Mateo opens the hatch, and steps outside. He tries to hop around, but the gravity isn’t that low. He was on Mars once a long time ago, and it feels a bit like he remembers. He’s been outside of a ship in space a number of times, but it never gets old. He doesn’t go too far from the Constant, and Constance does stay in his ear the whole time. He just looks around a little, and kicks a few rocks. It sucks, being away from his friends and family, but this experience is certainly nothing to regret. Even assuming that all of the people in the Constant right now have also stepped outside for a walk, he can still count on one hand the number of people who have seen what he has. That’s pretty cool.
Danica’s voice comes through the earpiece, “you’ve had your fun. Come back in.”
“Be right there.” He starts to head that way. “And Danica...?”
“Yeah...?”
“I love you.”
Brief moment of silence. “I love you too.”

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