“$40.75, including tax.”
The machine scanned the currency card, and Mat picked up the deli container.
“Thanks, Odis. I can always count on you to get me the most legal pork chops in town.”
The slug-like creature gave a grisly howl of laughter. “Ha-ha-haw! Don’tcha flatter me, boy. I might just go and open up my own restaurant chain.” His voice sounded as if he had a cold, but you would only believe that if you weren’t a returning customer.
Mat replied in an almost believing tone, “Yeah, good luck with that.”
As Mat exited the doorway he heard the continuing laughter of Odis fade out behind him.
Leaving the store, Mat leapt from the hovering metallic platform and detached his gliding disk (“Flying Saucer™”) from his back, gripping it to his boots’ magnetic fields.
With one hand on the disk and one hand on the container, Mat aimed his whole body forward in an attempt to get home faster.
Halting the disk, Mat was only seconds away from what some jokingly call a “ship dock.”
Using his one good eye, the door scanned his retina, and the door unlocked.
“Eh, Pops, I’m home!” Mat’s tone was as if the building was three stories high, but it was barely two, the reason being it was made from an old compacted crew ship prototype, which upon revising was realized it wasn’t even a crew ship anymore. This led to rooms being unusable in many ways, but a way cheaper alternative.
As Mat placed down the container, a withered old man in a dark blue robe dragged his feet down the stairs. “’Mah boy, giv’ya ’ol pops a hug.” The old man spoke with an accent that the average 30th century man would have never come across.
The man’s hands pinched the back of his son, due to his thumbs being hinged with metal.
The two sat down and enjoyed their lunch. The old man expressed delight at the representation of a meal in front of him. “Now this, this is what I call food. So much better than any of that hologram hooey.”
Finished with his food, and after waiting around for about a minute or two, the old man decided to tend to his work. “Mat, ’mah dear boy. I must continue my studies. I do hope you understand.”
Mat responded, understanding that his father must follow what “the man” expects.
Mat continued to eat his pork chops, savoring each bite. The tranquility of the ensemble made the meal worthwhile.
Surprisingly, a sharp piercing sound wave was directed towards Mat’s ears.
(Mat’s daily wardrobe contained a cybernetic eyepiece located on his left eye and audible-enhancers distinctly attached from the back of each ear, entering each just like earbuds, but intending the opposite effect.)
Mat’s grip released, leaving his fork to fall onto his plate and reveal an echoing “clank” sound throughout the room.
The piercing sound became more intense until Mat felt it seemed to be thoughts of his own crammed into his skull. If a picture is worth a thousand words, then Mat would say it was as if he read “War and Peace” three times over.
The increasingly nauseating high-pitched sound cut off abruptly.
Mat realized he had swung his whole body straight towards the table beneath him and awkwardly picked himself back up.
A quiet echo could be heard from Mat’s father. “Son? Was that you?”
Mat brought himself back to reality and yelled through the building. “Yeah! It’s nothing!”
Mat could hear a very quiet “ok,” and decided to relax.
He went to his room and threw himself onto the bed, comfortably, much to the surrounding metal’s dismay. Lying down, he attempted to rest.
As Mat was asleep, the thoughts returned. The thoughts given during the piercing sound. He started to move around more violently in his sleep, as the thoughts become more vivid. Mat viewed in his own perspective an illusion of some sort of past life. The vision was followed by similar fates. Ones that he felt like he lived before. However, the memories started to change rapidly. That was just it. They were memories, not just thoughts. As the sound was faintly building up in the back of his head, something burnt through all the other memories like a blazing faint light.
Mat scanned it in his head, “15897642 Noho-Rode. What?” He thought to himself that it was just the oddest thing to dream about. Never one to be big into superstition, he still managed to write this address down. Clearly it meant something… or nothing.
With his father still asleep, Mat gathered some of his belongings and left a simple note on the table for his father.
While searching for information about the address, Mat was directed towards a neighborhood in Manhattan. Originally titled only “NoHo,” the neighborhood was located in New York City. Not a great distance away from his current location.
As Mat confidently walked out the door, every ounce of him that would have regretted the decision left him as he slid his gliding disk on the air and led himself to the uncharted visions.
Soaring through the sky with his glider, Mat increased speed to land him a short distance from “Noho-Rode.”
Mat sat on the glider with one leg up, where his arm rests. Easing in the landing, Mat’s glider stopped at a door seeming to center an apartment complex.
With nothing on the door, there was only a box with a button at the side of him. Mat pressed the button, seeing as there was no other option.
“*Beep* Hello, you are about to contact. ‘Go to floor three! I don’t have the mo—’ Would you like to contact them? *Beep*”
Mat waited for the timer to count down from three as he knocked on the door, and it shook open with uneven movement.
Swiftly making his way into the building, which at the moment appeared to be just the interior of an elevator, Mat pressed the third-floor key. If he couldn’t count, there would be no distinction other than the second key’s number not being scratched off.
The elevator moved and sounded like a bat out of hell. (One could only wish it sounded like the album.) It darted upward and scratched at the eardrums.
When it shifted to an end, it sounded like a train finally coming to a stop, but as the door opened a silhouette was revealed and a much worse sound was blasted aimlessly at Mat’s ears. With little hesitation, Mat stumbled over, knocking over a lamp and other items surrounding it.
The silhouette moved quickly towards Mat, in distress at the possibly injured guest.
The piercing pitch and flashing images were stronger than ever. Mat’s grip on his head wouldn’t let go until one of the memories became a reality.
Mat’s vision was blurred, but it cleared up quite soon. He looked up at the no longer silhouetted figure, and she asked a question.
“A-Are you ok? Are you hurt?” The woman questioned frantically, trying to help as much as she could with short notice.
Mat replied with an average response to such a question. “Yeah. I’m fine.” Though he didn’t really mean it, he didn’t need help at the moment. He just wanted to know why he was there in the first place.
Still concerned, the woman let out her hand to help Mat up. Mat grabbed her hand and stood up, still a little woozy.
A vibration went through Mat’s head, as he still felt drawbacks from the memories.
As Mat’s vision aligned with his memories, he knew who was standing right before him. “Mom?”
The woman looked at Mat in a look of disbelief and sorrow.
“I’m sorry, I—” she cut herself off. “Well, you—” and yet again. “I couldn’t possibly be—” she stumbled on her words as she looked away from her spitting image.
“My God. Oh my God. Oh my God!” Each abrupt sentence showed a different form of emotion that was given its own unique reaction. Shock, realization, and joy.
The woman’s appearance was dirty, as she wore an old lab coat and sported scuffed-up goggles. Her hair was long and grayish blonde, but Mat knew that it wasn’t always this color.
She turned around and let out her arms to hug Mat. Though at first reluctant, Mat felt a tear come down his right eye and, as if it was a normal occurrence, hugged the woman back. This time, however, Mat was the one with hands that felt mechanical.
Coughing in her fist, the woman decided to explain information that was needed at the time being.
“My name is Roberta Walkstein. I am…” She breathed in, to get ready for what she was going to say. “…your mother.”
Mat looked at her, astonished. Astonished and grateful.
She continued. “Me and your father… We lost touch. Before anything else crosses your mind, your father was not a bad person. I wouldn’t say I was either. You were all he ever wanted. A son to call his own.” Roberta looked unconfident about the whole conversation. “It all came down to our families. A classic “Romeo and Juliet” deal. My mother would never let me keep you. I was only 27. That was far below the average age of married couples back then.” Roberta seemed to argue with herself to find an answer to all the possible questions Mat could possibly have.
She calmed herself down and skipped to the current events.
“That headache of yours. I’m afraid I might have been the cause of it.”
Mat’s attention grew immediately, as if he wasn’t already taking in every word.
You see, it isn’t uncommon practice for a parent to implement a tracking chip into their child when they are first born. I figured if you had had one, that it might’ve… helped me if I made a bad decision. You see, I just recently tried contacting you, but, God, I sent it about a month ago and figured it didn’t go through. But now you’re here.” She looked up at Mat and smiled.
“I-I know I might be crossing some unsafe grounds here, but, due to the current events, I would just like to ask ya... Would you like to stay here? Now, I’m not necessarily saying live here… I’m not necessarily saying not to either. But, if you would like to know more about me, or, heck, even yourself. It would be educational for the both of us.”
Mat was happy and torn at the same time. “I-I’m sorry. I still live with my pops. I would love to know more about you, but, I also have my own responsibilities.”
Roberta seemed disappointed, but not too shocked. “Very well. Just, please, stay in contact. It would mean the world to me.”
Mat replied, glad with his findings. “Thank you for everything, but, I think I have to go see someone.”
Roberta looked sad with Mat’s quick-feeling exit. “Just remember, now that you’ve found me… I won’t be able to let you go.”
Mat’s expression turned back to joy. “I think I can live with that.”
Back at home, Mat realized it was almost 10:00 pm. He entered the door and tried to act quiet, but was quickly halted by his father appearing downstairs instead of in his room.
“Mat! Good heavens, I’ve been worried sick about you. You’ve been gone all day.”
“Yeah. Sorry I didn’t specify how long in the note.”
Mat’s father looked worried, but his expression changed as he became relieved. “I’m just glad you’re alright. What in the world could have taken you so long?”
“Oh, nothing out of the ordinary,” Mat replied, acting as if his day was just simply wasted away.
“Well that’s not good. You’re still young. You should be using this time to have fun. You should do something new for a change.”
Mat rolled his eyes jokingly. “Maybe tomorrow.”
Mat sat down, thinking about the day in its entirety, as his father walked upstairs.
His father turned around, willing to hear whatever Mat had to say.
“I… I found my mother.”
Mat’s father’s eyes widened, seemingly almost scared at this highly unexpected news.
“So… What do you think?” his father asked.
“I’d like to know more about her.”
Mat’s father scrounged for some kind of negative thought about some random problem he could possibly have with this meet-up, but he couldn’t even think of one.
“That’s really good to hear, Mat.”
Mat’s father walked to his room and sat down. He dragged his hand across his face and sat by his computer. Looking to his side, daydreaming through the wall, Mat’s father was proud of his son for doing the one thing he never could. Find his son’s mother.