Tuesday, May 2, 2023

The Advancement of Mateo Matic: February 27, 2399

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Leona is ready to meet her fate. She’s standing in the airlock, hand hovering over the outer hatch pull, but she can’t pull it. She just stands there, trying to work up the courage. If this doesn’t work, she’s going to die in here. If it does work, she still may die in a car crash in an old timeline in the main sequence. Something else has to work too, which will bring her consciousness back to the present day through the extraction mirror. But she has no proof that it actually did. An entity inside of Mateo’s body is claiming to be a future version of her, but she doesn’t truly know that. This could be it. She could be committing suicide. She can’t bring herself to do it. As she’s frozen in place, she hears a banging on the hatch behind her. She turns to see Alyssa through the window, scared out of her mind, and trying to open it. Leona does it for her.
“What the hell are you doing?” Alyssa cries.
“I’m trying to open the other hatch. I’m just having a little trouble.”
“Leona, we don’t know that this is going to work.”
“That’s why I’m having trouble. My confidence is high, but apparently not high enough. You need to do it for me.” She points to the control panel. “Tap this one here.”
“Leona, I can’t murder you! I know we’re fighting right now, but I still love you.”
“You won’t be murdering me...probably...hopefully...I don’t think.”
“Your confidence level seems to be dropping.”
“I’m sure it’ll be fine. I just...have to get this done.” She wants to speak with her husband, but she can’t, because another her is in his brain, and she doesn’t want to talk to her, because she doesn’t want anything she hears to impact her future choices. She’s trying to close this loop. It’s already done. “I can’t keep living in the anticipation.”
Alyssa shakes her head. “You know better than I, but I still can’t push that button. I can’t be the one who does it.”
Leona nods understandingly. “That’s okay. Could you do me a favor then?”
Alyssa leaves, and returns with someone else, but Leona sends her away again. She shouldn’t even have to see this. “Thanks, Aly.”
Erlendr grins. “You want me to pretend to kill you?”
“I did this to your daughter once, on another ship.”
“Yes, I’m aware. I never much liked that daughter, though, especially not after you corrupted her.”
“So you don’t want to get back at me for it?”
“Oh, I didn’t say that,” Erlendr replies. “I’m just savoring this moment.”
Leona turns her watch up to look at it, but isn’t paying any attention to the time. “If you don’t do this in the next thirty seconds, I’m going to go down to Earth, and do it to the daughter you do like instead.”
“You wouldn’t, she’s pregnant.”
“Eh, barely. I’m pro-choice.”
“That wouldn’t be her choice!”
“Then I guess you oughta do what I asked, and you oughta do it now!”
Erlendr pushes her back into the airlock, and seals the inner hatch. He taps the button out of malice, sending her to the deep past, and then the very recent past.
Leoteo walks up behind him. “Boo.” They take him back to his cell.

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