"Where's the john?"
"You mean where is John?"
"I said what I meant.Where is the bathroom in this house?"
"Maybe there isn't one downstairs.I'm sure there's one upstairs."
They had to move often to keep ahead of the terminators and this
new house took some getting used to but it bothered Cameron that
her mother would use that slang term since Sarah's son and
Cameron's brother also went by those four letters.
Cameron had felt dizzy when her mother asked the question and,
for a moment, everything shifted.Family, other people, the place
they were (she could have sworn they were in Los Angeles metro
but it was Wichita), and things were different.
"Mom, where's John?Is he still in the car?"
"What are you talking about?Who are you talking about?"
(sarcastically) "My brother, your son, John Connor."
Sarah Connor turned and looked back at Cameron.Her only child was
a machine and she loved her as a gift from Kyle Reese but
sometimes . . .she said the strangest things.
"Are you feeling okay?"
Cameron had a sudden feeling that John was in danger.She ran
outside.The car was empty.She called out to the
Sarah came outside also to see what the problem was.
"What is it?What's wrong?"
Cameron's heads up display showed only two sets of thermal images
of footprints around the car.Hers and her mother's.Cameron was
now in full alarm mode.
"We were talking as I drove and he must have been in the back
sleeping so we didn't notice him.When we stopped at that last
exit for gas, he must have gotten out for snacks or to use the
rest room and we must have driven off and left him, still
thinking he was in the back sleeping."
Sarah thought that her cyborg daughter must be having flashbacks
to the memories she absorbed from Allison Young and said so:
"Calm down.You're not Allison Young.You're Cameron Connor my
Cameron immediately knew something was very wrong.Her mother had
never called her Cameron Connor before.Cameron Baum, Cameron
Phillips, Cameron Smith, Cameron Jones and a long list of other
aliases but NEVER Cameron Connor.And she never acknowledged her
as her daughter. In fact, she went out of her way to tell people
that she was just a friend of John or somebody living with them.
"I never told you about Allison Young."
"Sure you did your template.Allison sacrificed her life to trick
Skynet Forces into making the most advanced machine and then The
Resistance captured it and The Engineer made you into the
ultimate weapon for fighting Skynet.You must be having amnesia
"I've never had amnesia.You're having amnesia not to remember
your own flesh and blood son."
In the timeline Cameron remembered, Cameron had never had
amnesia, never blanked out, never met Jody, and so would never
have cause to tell her mother about Allison Young or amnesia.John
could not have come to her rescue at the Halfway House or when
Jody was trying to frame her for a house burglary.If it never
happened, then why did she remember John?Was he a fantasy?The man
who never was?Something The Resistance cooked up to keep Skynet
busy chasing ghosts?Pretty nifty but Cameron had clear specific
memories of John.Far too detailed for any delusion or
"Flesh and blood son, eh?Before Kyle died, we talked about having
children.We both agreed that we wanted a daughter.Son?Ugh!I mean
we would have been happy with whatever God sent us.But after that
terminator killed Kyle, I contracted ovarian cancer in Denver and
had a hysterectomy.I've been cancer-free for over ten years and I
thank God every day that Future Kyle sent you back to be with
"What's this ultimate weapon nonsense?"
"I think they were being sexist and objectifying you rather than
respecting you as a person.What they should have said was that
you are the ultimate leader."
"I've never heard you refer to me as a person before."
"Why shouldn't I?You're an individual who is a machine being just
like any other machine being or human being."
"You're saying that someday I will be leader of some little cell
of the resistance?"
"No I said you are ultimate leader now of the combined worldwide
"I always got the impression that you felt that girls were too
much trouble because we have needs that boys don't have and
therefore we are a hassle to a family on the run from
terminators.You said you don't care what I need."
"You make it sound like I hate girls.I'm a woman myself."
"You once told me that if you blew my head off it would solve
half your problems."
"You make me sound like a monster.They're obviously working you
too hard with all those computer simulations and worst case
scenarios if you're so tired that you're imagining things."
"You're saying I'm crazy?"
"No I said I think they're working you too hard.I'm putting you
to bed young lady.Let's go."
Sarah took Cameron by the hand and led her back inside.Since the
house was turnkey, she could expect a furnished bedroom and they
wouldn't have to sleep on the floor tonight.Upstairs had two
bathrooms which the real estate agent hadn't mentioned.When told
that the new house was two-storey with two bedrooms and two
baths, Sarah assumed one bath on each floor not both upstairs.
The house was very modest but comfortable.It was all that the
cash-strapped Resistance could afford but the Resistance used its
meager funds efficiently and provided good health care.Sarah was
cancer-free and Cameron had no chip damage (she got an upgrade),
no shaky hand, no broken hip, and no broken leg.In the timeline
Cameron came from, the Resistance was flush with cash but not one
penny was spent on John's right hand, top aide and
confidante.Cameron was allowed to fall apart when Sarah had boxes
of money to pay for the best biotechnology engineers and
roboticists to help her.
"I don't mean to be hurtful Mom.I'm just telling you that I
remember the past and the future differently from you.John
Connor, the son you couldn't bear in this timeline, must have
gone to rescue me after I gave my chip to John-Henry."
"Why did you give your chip to this imaginary John Henry Connor?"
"No.John Connor and John-Henry are two different people.You've
never heard of John-Henry?"
Sarah shakes her head no.
"He's the machine messiah of a faction of the Machine
"A lot of Johns in these futures you dream up at Tech-Comm."
"He didn't come from the future; he went to the future from the
present.And how do you know about Tech-Comm?"
"Tech-Comm is where you work.We kind of ignore child labor laws
which is why I am a full time mother.I've never been in the
future like you and Kyle but you've never talked about a
John-Henry before.You are the messiah of the Machine Underground
not somebody from the future.That's what I mean by combined.You
are the ultimate leader of the combined human resistance and
It was breathtaking to absorb all the drastic changes from the
timeline she remembered from only an hour ago.One second she died
as she gave John-Henry her chip and the next thing she knew, she
was with her mother stumbling around in a new house in the dark
looking for the light switch and the bathroom.In the future of
her lost timeline, John Connor had proposed an alliance but his
people had screwed it up.In this new timeline, her people had
pulled off an alliance with ease.
"If there is no John-Henry, then I suppose you've never heard of
Catherine Weaver either?"
"We're good friends.You don't remember that either?She's sweet
just like her little human daughter.Just between you and me, I
think that Savannah is a good influence on her.Usually it's the
parent that is the influence on the child.But in your case too,
you're the best thing that ever happened to me.I'd be a bitter
old woman without you.Connor genes generally predispose us to a
sour and salty personality.Kyle's gone and I miss him but he
loved you and loved me enough to make sure we looked out for each
other if something happened to him.That must be why he came back
through time with you."
"What!I thought he hated me as a machine.I killed his girlfriend
Allison Young.A machine killed Kyle and that's why you hate--why
the Sarah in the other timeline hated me too."
"You did nothing of the kind.The guards killed Allison Young when
she tried to escape from the Skynet Forces prison ship.Kyle
blamed you and all machines for Allison's death.For about one
minute.He was a sweet person like you are.He couldn't blame you
for the circumstances of your building.He saw how Skynet
programmed you to be evil and he talked to you and offered you a
choice between death, being sent back to Skynet having failed in
your mission to kill Kyle and life among humans who would accept
and love you."
"Naturally I must have spat in his face and told him I'd kill him
when I got another chance."
"My word, you have as negative an opinion of yourself as you have
of me--correction, the Sarah in this other timeline.No you jumped
at his offer and said that there were machines in the underground
that wanted to talk alliance.That's how the ball got rolling on
that.You were a born leader from the second you were built."
"But that's not how we terminators are built!Every circuit, every
subroutine, all of our hardware and software is designed for one
purpose, to terminate humans."
"Oh please, with the big bad terminator stuff.Terminators
terminate other terminators if they get in the way.Humans kill
other humans.Evil is universal.You are an artificial intelligence
and no matter how much Skynet designs you to exterminate the
human race, you have the ability to think.Cognito ergo sum.You
gave Kyle's offer thought and accepted.It is almost irrelevant
whether a given machine has free will or no free will or is
somewhere in between.If you are in the field, you are
autonomous.I've read Skynet Forces specs so I know that as a
fact.You have to be able to make judgments and make decisions.You
made a choice.You interpreted Skynet's order to kill in the most
unique way I've ever heard.You decided to kill with kindness.You
also erased Skynet programming in yourself.I'm sure The Engineer
is good but there was almost no malware left for him to remove
after you reprogrammed yourself.He exaggerates his skills.Men do
"But I'm dangerous, I might kill you someday."
"I'm your mother.You don't need to regale me with tales of your
heroic self-restraint.I'm already impressed.I'm already proud of
"You've told me how you heard about Allison but how do you know
about what happened to her?"
"From you, from Kyle, from machines that defected, from The
Machine Underground, and from Derek."
"But we were always so tightlipped about the future.We kept you
in the dark so as not to change the future for the worse and to
make sure that the future did change for the better, I'm no
longer sure which.Is Derek still dead?"
"You tell us everything.What do you mean still dead?"
Sarah whipped out her cellphone and called Derek.She breathed a
sigh of relief at the sound of his voice.Sarah went into another
room out of earshot of Cameron so as not to disturb her.
"Everything's fine but I'm trying to get her to sleep or at least
rest.Look, she's stressed out.She needs a couple of weeks off
before you guys kill her."
Cameron could not hear Derek's voice.
Turning back to Cameron.
"You scared the daylights out of me.I thought the worst."
"How's Uncle Derek?"
"Uncle Derek is it?I thought you wanted to call him Dad."
"I love him like I love you but he can't stand me."
Cameron was beginning to accept that she was stuck in a timeline
that, though it lacked John, had some nice compensations.Like a
mother who loved her.So she slipped her true feelings into the
conversation to see if she could get away with expressing her
love for the people around her.Something she couldn't do back in
the hate-filled old timeline.There John told her she couldn't
feel and Sarah did everything but burn her alive.
That Sarah was more like Skynet, Stalin and Satan combined.That
John was supposed to inspire people to want to die for him.Yeah,
right.Humans in The Resistance committed mutiny and sabotaged
everything John tried to do to win the war with Skynet and
mistrusted him because he used metal bodyguards.Derek
assassinated Andy Goode, his best friend.John-Henry was built by
the Machine Underground to help John Connor so naturally humans
killed John-Henry.It was a confederacy of dunces shooting
themselves in the foot.Cameron seemed to remember that Sarah had
finally admitted that mistrust of machine allies had driven her
to unconsciously do the bidding of Skynet to work against her son
John, to dismantle the Resistance as fastas others tried to build
it and, worst of all, to get key people like Derek, Charley
Dixon, and Cameron killed.Ms. Weaver thought that the war against
Skynet would have a chance if she could get Cameron and John away
from the negative influence of Sarah Connor.But Ms. Weaver had no
idea of how suicidally depressed Cameron was or how capricious
her son could be or how the time travel to find her boy would
expose her and John to certain death.Children can be a hand full.
But at least they didn't wreck the car.The car being the time
"Can't stand you?If you weren't a machine, I'd think you were on
drugs.Derek loves you.Derek and I used to fight like cats and
dogs over who got to raise you as their daughter.He'd say that as
Kyle's brother, he went from being your uncle to being your
father when Kyle died.And I'd say that since he ran The
Resistance, he couldn't be a parent full-time like I could.I'm
sorry I pulled the gender card on him . . . "
Sarah looked off into the distance her eyes out of focus.
" . . .it really hurt him.He kind of caved in after that.He
wanted what was best for you.And he loved you so much, and still
does love, that he was willing to give you up.But he still has
that wounded look in his eyes over losing you.He's so opposite
Kyle.If Kyle were alive, he'd bounce back and constantly
visit.Derek maintains a polite distance."
"You love him don't you?"
Tears escaped Sarah's eyes.Her eyes returned to focus and she
looked back to Cameron.
"After Kyle died, I didn't think I could love a man again.But yes
I do love Derek."
Cameron changed the subject to let her mother compose herself.
"So I'm being groomed to someday run The Resistance and fight
Skynet after Judgment Day?"
"Judgment Day!That's standing before God after you're dead to
find out whether you're going to heaven or hell."
"I meant decades in the future after the nuclear holocaust in
2011 kills three billion and the subsequent Skynet plagues kill
another three billion."
"Either way, I'm not raising a fatalist.There is no fate but what
we make of it ourselves.You lead in the present day because the
war is in the present day and it is obviously a crushing
responsibility.I got you a couple of weeks off.Maybe we can do
something together, go shopping so Madison Avenue can feel good
about itself, you know, retail therapy." (pause) "I'm joking; we
don't have that kind of money.You can see your boyfriend.Not that
ingrate Eric.He's too old for you anyway.The other one." (she
remembers) "Morris!Kiss him.That'll shock him.Aggressive
grrrrrrrrrrrrrls always keep a boy off-balance." (she emphasized
the grrr in girls) "Never take no as an answer from a boy."
"Mom, I'm not a rapist.If a boy says no, he means no.I thought
you told me not to kiss anyone.Especially not you."
Sarah responds by kissing Cameron on the forehead.
"Kiss your mother on the cheek." (Cameron does) "I'm not that
monster from your imagination."
"Everything was blown to kingdom come, mom."
"Actually in the Hebrew, the Lord's Prayer says may the kingdom
be blessed.When I learned that, I stopped obsessing about the
future and started thinking about the present.Sweet dreams,
honey."(Sarah turned off the light)
There it was again, the atheist Sarah that she knew had been
replaced by this Sarah who knew the Bible.
In the dark, Sarah sat in an easy chair to watch Cameron power
down, her version of sleep.Often she would watch Cameron for
hours.When her daughter was upset as now, she would watch her
from falling asleep to waking up.A solid eight hours and Sarah
enjoyed every second of it.She didn't watch Cameron every
night.More often, she waited a few minutes to see Cameron off to
sleep, then left to do a few chores, wash dishes, bathe and then
go to sleep herself.More often, she jumped out of bed in order to
quietly enter Cameron's bedroom and watch Cameron sleep, rouse
from the morning light and awaken. She wanted the first thing
Cameron saw every morning was her smiling face.To know that her
mother loved her like life itself.
Kill with kindness?Two could play that game.It was a friendly
competition between mother and daughter to see who could be nicer
to the other.Sarah was honest enough to admit to herself that a
machine was better at it than her so she tried harder to be a
better mother.But Sarah was also honest enough to admit that it
wasn't about Cameron being a machine.Savannah Weaver was the
light of Catherine Weaver's life and Savannah was a human.No.It
was about Cameron being a daughter.
Cameron was afraid to sleep despite how tired she felt, despite
how much her systems needed to shut down and allow internal
recharging.She did not plug into a wall socket like some
gadget.Everything was internal and self-contained.But she did eat
and she couldn't remember the last time she had eaten.In the
morning, she would have to get up before her mom and make
breakfast for her.
Cameron was afraid to sleep because when she woke up she would be
back in her own old timeline with a mother who constantly
threatened to shoot her or dismantle her or burn her alive.An
uncle who regarded her as dirt and not this one who was crushed
because he was not raising her as his daughter.She had loved the
old timeline Derek despite his ingratitude.The new timeline Derek
Correction.The Derek she had known in the old timeline was dead.
Cameron was afraid to sleep for fear this would all shrivel up
and blow away like dust in the wind.This Sarah did not fear.If a
terminator tracked them down and slaughtered them all, she could
stand before God on Judgment Day and honestly say that she had
loved her daughter till her heart burst overflowing.But it didn't
hurt to put a little more effort and a little more thought into
that love on each new day that she was blessed to receive.
Before she fell asleep, Cameron had one last question and, since
her mother was there in the dark, she asked.
"Why don't you marry him?"
"He's married to Jesse Flores.They have a new baby."
It hit with a wallop.The three of them would never live together
as father, mother, and daughter.He had his own family now.She
would never have a father.Cameron turned over in bed so that her
back was to her mother.Perhaps no timeline was perfect.