Friday, June 2, 2023

The Advancement of Mateo Matic: March 30, 2399

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Vearden is sitting next to Arcadia, as he does all day every day. He doesn’t even go to bed anymore. He just reclines the chair, and stays there, only getting up to get food, or get rid of it. In this reality, the vital sign monitor keeps track of all the usual suspects, like heart rate and oxygen levels, but it also logs the weight. The doctors didn’t explain why, but it’s apparently what first alerted them to the fact that the baby was gone. Now it seems to be back. Arcadia’s weight has just suddenly gone up by eight pounds, seven ounces, which Vearden noticed, because they programmed the system to alert them to any further changes in weight. Just as he’s calling for help, she starts to tremble, then shake, then scream. She’s awake.
“Arcadia, Arcadia, Arcadia. Shhhh. Shh, my darling, it’s okay. It’s okay. You’re okay. You’re back, everything is gonna be fine.” 
She pulls the oxygen tube out of her nose. “I’m back? Where did I go? Where was I? Tell me! Tell me what happened! Did I jump through time!”
He keeps trying to reply, but she’s not really letting him. She’s hyperventilating. A nurse steps into the room. “Put the oxygen back on, please,” he asks of her.
“No!” Arcadia cries. She starts ripping out the other medical things attached to her. That’s when she seems to first notice her belly. “Wha—what the hell happened? She looks up to her love, tears in her eyes. “Vearden? How long have I been away?”
“You haven’t been away, dear. You’ve been in a coma. At least that’s the best diagnosis that the government doctors could provide.”
“How. Long.”
He frowns at her. “Two and a half months.”
“The baby? How’s Kendra?”
“She’s perfect. She’ll be coming soon, Dr. Best thinks.” No need to mention the part where the baby disappeared for a week.
Arcadia nods. “What happened to Mateo? Where is he? He’s dangerous. There is something wrong with his mind.”
“That’s all been dealt with,” Vearden assures her. “You don’t have to worry about anything except taking care of yourself, and our little girl.”
She nods again. “Hey, Vearden.”
“It’s happening.”
“What’s happening?”
“The baby. She’s coming.”
“Yeeeeeeeeeaaaaaargh, right now!”
Vearden reaches up and pushes the big mauve button, which indicates an emergency, and sounds an alarm to wake everybody up. More nurses flood into the room. “She’s going into labor!”
They all move to their stations, and start getting things ready. One of them checks under Arcadia’s gown. Another handles the IV bag and monitor. A third leaves again to retrieve the doctor. It takes a really long time for him to return. When he does, Dr. Best is not the one following him. It’s a doctor that they’ve never met.
“Where is Dr. Best?” Arcadia demands to know.
“I’m afraid Dr. Best is trapped in an elevator, and won’t be able to help you. It’s my first day at this facility, but I’ve been a gyniatrician for eighteen years, I have full clearance, and I’ve been fully briefed on your situation.”
“Someone needs to teleport to Dr. Best,” Arcadia begs Vearden.
“That’s not possible,” Vearden replies apologetically. “Not these days.” He looks back up at the new doctor. “What’s your name? It’s important.”
“I’m Dr. Suggitt. Dr. Cheyenne Suggitt.”
Vearden and Arcadia share a look. “You see?” he begins. “This was always meant to happen. Our child has a future, and while we know her life won’t be easy, we also know that she survives at least into her thirties, and becomes a beautiful, powerful woman. “We have nothing to worry about.”
Arcadia has been listening, but she’s also clearly in an incredible amount of pain. It takes everything she has to nod her head at him between contractions.
Dr. Suggitt takes her stethoscope out of her ears. “Okay, this is happening, and it’s happening now. I’ve never seen someone in labor for such a short period of time. Sorry, no time for drugs. Dad, if you want to stay here, I’m going to need you to clean yourself up, and put on that set of scrubs.” She jerks her head towards one of the nurses.
The nurse shakes the scrubs to show that he’s ready to help Vearden put them on.
Vearden leaves for a moment to wash his hands and arms. By the time he gets back, little Cheyenne is already crowning. Arcadia no longer seems to be in any pain. She’s resting her head against the pillow, and appears to only be experiencing a little bit of pressure while the head slips out. In under a minute, their baby girl is out and in the world. She’s cooing, and not crying. At first, she looks pretty normal, but then she begins to glow. The nurses exchange nervous looks. They obviously know that there’s something special about the girl, but they weren’t warned about this. Probably because no one else was aware that it was going to happen.
The glow intensifies, and spreads beyond her tiny body. As it grows like a bubble, the light fades, but a strange visual distortion remains, like the heat shimmer from a flame. Once it passes through Vearden’s body, he begins to feel a calmness, and a strong sense of relief. It reminds him of what it feels like to teleport or travel through time. No, it feels like it does once the pinch from doing so is over, and he’s reached his destination. He watches through the window as the bubble accelerates, and starts to roll over the lands, so far into the distance that it disappears over the horizon. 
The nurse in charge of tracking Arcadia’s vitals disappears, but only her. Her clothes remain, suspended in the air for a split second before collapsing to the floor. They hear a crash outside. Two cars have collided with each other in the parking lot. One of them starts to slip over the edge of a dark hole that appeared out of nowhere. People are screaming down the hallway. It starts to snow over a small area down the street.
Vearden looks down at his precious girls. Back in the main sequence, when he was resisting finding a partner to settle down with, people would tell him that a baby changes everything, as if telling him a scary story would somehow convince him to go for it. They had no idea how right they were. “This is her. This is Cheyenne’s doing.”
“No.” It’s his supposed future son-in-law, Curtis Duvall. “People are getting hurt, and that’s sad, but this is not your fault, and it’s certainly not Cheyenne’s. It’s Danica’s. She didn’t stop time powers from existing, she just pent them up, and now they’re coming out all at once. Chickens. Roosting.” He pauses for effect. “Temporary.”

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