- Thu Jun 01, 2017 8:51 pm
Grant did as Klaus asked, then left the room, closing the office door behind himself. Without any prelude, the CD started playing a video once inserted into the disc drive. At first, the scene was odd. A grey wall filled the frame with the laminated wood top of a table dominating the foreground. An industrial steel chair stood empty in the middle of the frame. Matt in the camouflage uniform of his past profession moved into the scene from around the table, clearly having just started the camera recording. He was younger looking, lither and less bulky as far as his musculature went. His hair was in a shorter cut and he was clean shaven. On top of that, his mood was completely different. Humor sparkled in his eyes despite the serious nature of the video.
“Hey buddy. I got the okay to tape this, along with a list about as long as my…well, it was a long list, of all the places that I wasn’t allowed to tape it. So, I ignored that and here we are in the cafeteria. Anyway, if you’re watching this, then the worst happened. Sucks, right?”
Matt tried to pull a sympathetic face, but the impish grin kept creeping back into his expression.
”I wanted you to know that I loved you like a brother and that I’ll be waiting for you with Beth. I’ll give her your hellos and watch out for her until you take your sweet ass time getting here. I’m sorry we didn’t get to go see Manchester play Sunderland like we’d planned.”
The humor had finally started to fade, creating a kind of ghost-of-Matt-to-come on the marine’s face. As the subject waned serious, Matt planted his elbows on the table and leaned forward.
”Mom and dad will take it pretty hard, but watch out for Tom, alright? He’s going to try and be brave, but you gotta make sure he doesn’t slip off into some weird, dark emo place. Remind him how I chose this life and died a big damn hero.”
The cheeky grin quirked back again. Matt brought up his then-girlfriend.
”And don’t you dare make a move on Adrianne…well, give her a few months, okay? Hell, just be there for her and I’m sure she’ll warm up to you quickly enough. You have my blessing to move in at that point.”
She had wound up cheating on Matt while he was deployed, writing him a Dear John letter and souring him towards relationships. Since her, his confidence had been shot. It wasn’t until he’d met Kat that he’d really gotten involved with a girl.
At this point in the video, a second voice broke in, drawing Matt’s attention off screen.
”Yo Adri! Matt talks about shaggin’ you all the time!”
Matt laughed as a second marine came into frame. He was built similarly to Matt, but was taller and blond with a longer face and light eyes. Matt grappled him into a headlock and mock punched him in the side several times.
”Viridian, you asshole! This is to my brother Klaus!”
The blond soldier laughed as he waved and disappeared, leaving Matt to settle back into the chair and wrap up the final goodbye.
”So that’s all I can think of right now…If I come up with anymore beyond the grave instructions, I’ll put a letter in the CD case. You take care of yourself and don’t cry too hard, yeah? I’ll be seeing you on the other side.”
Matt reached into the extreme foreground to turn the camera off. The frame froze, but the video timer still showed three minutes left on the video file. The screen went black with an editing cut, then a very similar scene came into view. The Matt across the table was blind, older, harder looking, and wearing what looked like heavily modified riot gear in a red and black scheme. It was filmed in the very same office after hours. Grant probably didn't know that Matt had broken in so he could edit the video file.
”Not all goodbyes get to be said the right way.”
There were no smiles or impish grins for this Matt. A brooding air clung to him as he started at the camera without looking at it. He chewed his tongue as he sought his words carefully.
”I owed you and Katarina, Cole, the office…Mom, dad, Thomas…I owed all of you a better goodbye than I was able to give you. I still don’t have the right words to explain what happened to me or what I’m thinking, but I do know this…”
He planted his elbows on the table he was seated at, mirroring himself five years ago.
”You are and always have been the best friend I could have asked for, so I’m asking you for the biggest favor I can think of. Please give me time and space to figure out who the hell I am and what the hell I’m doing. I think the whole incident has shaken loose some questions about my very nature, about my humanity, and about my purpose. I need to find those answers and I can’t do it the way that I have been.”
He nodded once as if that settled some question he had.
”Take care of Katarina. She’s going to need someone to watch over her and keep her safe from the gossip and rumors. I couldn’t keep her safe and I hate myself for it. Be a better man than I was, Klaus. You have my blessings and my apologies. I shouldn’t have stepped between what you two were cultivating.”
Matt sat back and pulled his hands to the edge of the table, gripping it as if for support.
”Be there for my family, please. If you think they can stomach the truth of what I am and what I’ve done, then it’s your call to tell them or not. If you think they’ll cope better thinking me dead, then let them believe that.”
He rocked slightly with the need to say something.
”I'm working on forgiving Cora. She was just as much a victim as any of us. Maybe you can’t forgive me or accept that choice, but I needed to do it for me. I need to do it or kill myself for real, and I can’t do that.”
His hands dropped to his lap and came back with a helmet in their grip. It was close fitting, red with a built on half mask, and looked alien or demonic. Matt slipped it on, covering and removing all traces of humanity with the gesture.
”Goodbye, Klaus. I’ll be seeing you around.”
The video cut out, finally at an end.