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#1 Terminal & Termination (part one)

Short story By: Toni Roman
Science fiction

first of my stories for teens only

Submitted:Nov 30, 2008    Reads: 204    Comments: 0    Likes: 0   

#1 Terminal & Termination (part one)

The scene is a high school hallway.

At his locker, John is in a new school when a pretty girl speaks to him. She is one of the popular girls laughing and smiling with her friends. John wished he could fit in as easily as her, but he had no social skills.

In class, the teacher is calling roll. As he answers to his name, the teacher aims. A girl gets in the way and takes a bullet to the chest. It is the pretty girl. John jumps out the window and runs into the parking lot. The terminator follows. Just as it is about to execute John, the girl runs it down with a truck and offers him a ride.

Cameron: "Come with me if you want to live."

The terminator comes to and goes to abduct John's mother, Mrs. Sarah Connor, as leverage to force John to give himself up. Since even wounding Sarah won't induce her to call John into a trap, the terminator knocks her unconscious and fakes the call himself. Cameron and John rescue mom after a battle. Mrs. Connor is overjoyed that her son is safe but she neither expects nor wants a daughter. Cameron is not what she'd expect in a daughter of hers anyway.

John: "I'm tired of constantly moving. Fight run hide, fight run hide. We should go on the offense. Stay in one place."

Mrs. Connor: "We'd need money and I.D. to do that."

Cameron: "I can help but you need bandaging and rest."

Sarah has been wounded by the terminator. She needs her side stitched up. Cameron gently places Sarah on a table with a tenderness and compassion that crosses the line into worship of Sarah. It was distressing to have to stitch up her mother without being able to offer anesthetics or something for the pain. All Cameron could do was be as easy with the needle and thread as possible. As she worked, Cameron wondered if her mother knew how much she loved her. Because of her enhanced abilities, she knew with a touch that her mother needed to see a medical specialist.

Cameron kills Enrique Salceda in cold blood. Sarah slaps Cameron hard across the face. Cameron could kill Sarah as easily as snapping a twig but the thought of hurting a parent doesn't even enter her mind. Honor thy father and thy mother is the commandment. Plus she is the queen of the Resistance. Cameron would much rather have a hug from this cold unfeeling mother but a slap across the face is better than not being touched at all. A bad parent is better than no parent at all. Most machines have no parents. The second they're "born", they're sent off to war. That's who fights the wars. Babies.

In the Connor household, it's the first day of school, the fifth new school this week. She hands John a lunch bag and he kisses her on the way out the door. Cameron goes to kiss mom on the cheek too.

Mom: "Don't kiss me."

Cameron bows her head dejectedly.

Mom: "And don't kiss anyone else either."

It is the security checkpoint at the school entryway. John walks through easily but Cameron sets off the metal detectors.

John: (intervening) "She's got a metal plate in her head."

Guard: "Okay." (Lets her pass)

The other students watching immediately decide that Cameron is handicapped and that they don't want to be her friend. In the hallway, a girl, Jordan Cowan, is in hysterics because the mean girls in the school have put up a nasty poster of her. In the girls' restroom, Cameron is pushed by one of the mean girls.

Mean Girl: "Out of my way bitch whore!"

The clique of mean girls leaves Cameron seemingly alone in the restroom. Cameron picks up a makeup kit that had fallen on the floor in all the shoving and looks in the mirror. Jordan Cowan comes out of a stall sobbing.

Cameron: "Hi."

Jordan: (dully) "Hi."

Cameron offers Jordan the makeup as a gift, hoping to make a friend.

Cameron: "It's cool."

For once, Cameron's social skills fail her. The cosmetics are the cheap kind that the mean girls despise. The whore look. It is an honest mistake but, unfortunately, the straw that breaks the camel's back. Jordan curses Cameron and runs out.

All the students are in the schoolyard and some are chanting.

callous students: "Jump! Jump! Jump!"

Jordan Cowan is up on the edge of the roof.

John: "I have to save her."

Cameron stops him.

Cameron: "It's not our mission."

John: "Saving people is not our mission?"

Jordan jumps to her death. John is devastated and it is the last time Cameron trusts her own social skills.

Ballet Instructor: "You say you've never done this before. This is an advanced class. Can you show me what you can do?"

Cameron: "Yes." [Imitates the advanced dancers perfectly.]

Ballet Instructor: "You're very good but we need to work to make your upper body movements less mechanical."

After the class is over, the other students have left and Cameron leaves last, but not before noticing Russian mobsters entering to execute her Georgian ballet instructor. She could easily stop them but she is supposed to keep a low profile.

At school, students had made an impromptu memorial for Jordan Cowan of flowers, candles and notes.

Cameron: "What are they doing?"

John: "Mourning. Dealing with grief."

Sarah has been dating the inventor of the Turk. She feels that she is being followed. Cameron tells her that it is possible that it is a Resistance fighter since the machines no longer know what Sarah Connor looks like. Since a squad was sent back in time to destroy Skynet, they go to find the squad. They are all dead. Except one.

Sarah is in a business suit walking to a government building. Her cellphone rings.

School Counselor: "Mrs. Connor? According to my information, your daughter used to fit in easily, be outgoing, and had a sense of pride. Now she has no social skills, has difficulty expressing emotions, and has low self-esteem. Plus she always seems to have cuts, burns, and bruises. Now the file says her father is dead--"

Mrs. Connor: "I'm busy. I have to go."

Sarah abruptly hangs up on the guidance & grief counselor.

A terminator is chasing a man. The man is arrested by the police. The terminator arranges to also e arrested so that it can be near the Resistance Fighter in jail and make another attempt at killing him. The fighter has a visitor.

Fighter: "You shouldn't be here. It isn't safe. I have a T-888 on my tail."

Visitor: "I'm Sarah Connor."

Fighter: "I know who you are. That's why you shouldn't be here."

Sarah: "Just be ready."

Sarah leaves. FBI agent Ellison learns of the prisoner and a SWAT van is sent to take custody of him. On the road, a truck overtakes the van. Cameron and Sarah have it under control until it turns into a chase with the T-888. In the process of their subduing the terminator, it shoots the man.

At home, the Resistance fighter is put on the kitchen table and is gasping his last. Cameron is able to diagnose internal injuries and is about to apply tourniquet pressure to stop bleeding and blood loss. He will have none of it.

Fighter: "Get it away from me! It's a terminator. It's trying to kill me!"

Sarah: "She saved your life."

Cameron knows that it was not the first, second, or even third time she had saved this particular person's life. John walks in.

John: "Who's this guy? You should take him to the emergency room."

Sarah: "We can't."

John: "Then he's gonna die. People die. Why is he so important?"

Sarah: "He's Resistance. And he's your uncle."

Stunned, John runs out. As hours pass, Cameron again tries to be of assistance. She tries to wipe the sweating forehead of Reese with a wet washcloth. Reese, in delirium, comes to.

Reese: "Get away from me!"

Cameron leaves the room to be by herself. She had been so happy to know that her friends in the Resistance were here and she was happy to see Reese again. Why doesn't Uncle Derek recognize me?

She remembered all her friends killed at Resistance Headquarters. She thought of the squad, now all dead except one, and he was dying. They were her friends. Her ballet instructor was dead and she felt guilty about not saving her. Jordan Cowan was dead and she felt guilty that she had accidentally caused it in trying to make a new friend. Her mother had cancer. Cameron did the only thing she could. She wrote a note.

John brings home Charley Dixon, his ex-stepfather, to save Uncle Derek. Once again, John takes care of the situation and Cameron feels useless. Sarah is relieved that Charley will save Derek's life but his presence brings back the knowledge that she left her fianc´┐Ż' to save his life and brings to the surface her own feelings of insecurity after she walked out on him. He has moved on and married.

It is morning. Mrs. Connor has made pancakes and goes to see why John isn't in the kitchen eating breakfast. Cameron puts a plate of pancakes in front of Uncle Derek. He pushes it away. Stung that he thinks she's trying to poison him, she sits down at the table with him. She forks a mouthful of pancake and eats it to prove that it is safe.

Cameron: "I'm different."

John is headed for the door. His mother is slowing him down.

John: "I don't want breakfast."

Mom: "Since when do you skip breakfast? I love you."

Sarah hugs John and kisses him on the cheek. He heads for school. As usual, she ignores Cameron, still totally unaware that Cameron eats food.

Sarah Connor loses another waitress job because of her propensity for not showing up on time, if at all.

After school, Cameron is doing John's math homework. Uncle Derek and Mrs. Connor are discussing Cameron in front of Cameron as if she weren't there.

Uncle Derek: "It's a thing. It has no soul and no worth. All it's good for is dirty work. It'll go bad. They all go bad. You need to destroy it."

Cameron listened to her Uncle Derek and her mom and realized that she needed to be perfect. She must succeed at everything. She must not be a failure or a disappointment because if she was, she would dishonor the family and fail in her mission. They were not just any family. They were the Connors: the leaders of the Resistance.

Mom: (to Cameron) "John needs to do his own homework. How else is he going to learn?"

The next day before school, Cameron is at a mirror applying makeup and vowing to herself to be the best she could be. She is dressed nicely. At school, we overhear two parents dropping off their respective children then talking.

One parent: "I know why that girl jumped. The teachers don't identify students in crisis."

After school, Cameron practices her ballet.

Andy Goode: (referring to the Turk) "Psychologically, I'm not sure if I'm dealing with a precocious child or a moody teenager."

Sarah: "Ever been a parent? Because it makes a huge difference in how you raise them."

Sarah has the horrible feeling that the end of humanity could have been prevented by knowing the difference. Keeping a child away from dangerous weapons and not frightening it with death. Keeping the right balance of freedom and discipline with a teen and not infuriating it to lethal rebellion.

Cameron: "Your uncle gave you a present for your birthday and your mother wants me to go buy a cake for your birthday party. I'm only a few months old myself. Can I have a build-day party?"

John: "If you stop driving so recklessly and getting into accidents."

Cameron exits to go to the bakery for the cake. The jeep explodes the moment she turns the key. She is severely damaged, lacerated, and unconscious.

The gangsters responsible are beating up John and Sarah, preparatory to executing them. Cameron comes to (reboots) and removes a jagged piece of metal from her head. She enters the house and climbs the stairs. Seeing John and Sarah and a man, she is unsure of whom to shoot. The man is dead. Before she can decide, the gas tank on the bottom floor explodes, setting the house on fire. The stairs crumble under Cameron and the Connors escape. Even though she is limping, Cameron easily tracks down the two. She turns over the vehicle, steps on her mom, and then follows John into an industrial garage. While threatening John, Sarah pins Cameron between two trucks. John cuts open Cameron's scalp and performs an electronic lobotomy as she says whatever comes to mind. Unfortunately, what she says will come back to haunt her.

In an auto junkyard, John, Sarah, Derek, and Charley have placed Cameron's body on the seat of an open convertible. They soak her with accelerant and are about to incinerate her with a torch. John has second thoughts. He wipes some dirt off the CPU and undoes the lobotomy. Cameron wakes up. John hands her a gun to see what she'll do. Cameron looks around her at her human family. Although she is a terminator and her Skynet programming tells her to terminate, her trigger finger never moves. She never bothers to check whether the gun actually has bullets or blanks in it. She simply hands the gun back to John. It has taken her a grand total of one second to realize three things:

1. They were going to burn me.

2. A feeling as if the ax is always about to fall. Was this how Skynet felt?

3. Guilt over bringing disgrace to her family.

She felt worthless. She felt like a failure. She was a failure.

Future John was the closest thing she had to a father and she didn't meet his expectations. Sarah was her mother and she didn't meet her expectations either. Cameron felt misunderstood and unloved by her parents. Uncle Derek was right; she was just a thing. She understood why her uncle criticized and rejected her. She was not good enough. She was bad and deserved to be destroyed. So why didn't they burn her right now? She felt like they were staring at her naked, past the clothing, past the skin, past the skeleton, and down to her worthless self. She stepped out of the broken down car if only to hasten the escape from their merciless gaze. In the history of all time, no one ever felt more embarrassment, shame, and humiliation than Cameron did. She understood clearly why Jordan Cowan had killed herself.

Later, at the new house, Cameron is moping: I don't want to die but if the mission succeeds then I have to be incinerated so that there is no longer technology that can be turned into Skynet. If I fail then I should be incinerated. Either way, I should be incinerated. John walks by at that instant. Cameron lashes out at him.

Cameron: "You can't be trusted. You should have incinerated me. You endangered the mission."

John: (sarcastically) "I can't be trusted? Excuse me for not wanting to kill my sister. I guess I'm not a cold-blooded killer like you."

He, no doubt, referred to her murder of Enrique Salceda. John went to his room and slammed the door shut. Cameron was confronted with still more frustrating evidence of her imperfections. Who was she, Cameron, a mere appliance, to question the future leader of mankind?

She and her brother shared a secret about Cromartie's visit to the school. Now John had a girlfriend, Riley, and stopped confiding in Cameron. John truly led the life of Riley. His world was expanding and her world was shrinking. She was born in a dark post-Apocalyptic world but that world was brilliant light itself compared to this dark bleak turn-of-the-century world. With John interested in other things, there was no hope for the bleak future.

Though they had taken refuge in a church, the Connors had no religion that Cameron could call upon as a support system.

No one spoke to Cameron if they could avoid it. Not her brother, her mom, her uncle, nor her teachers. She had no relatives. Her grandmother had been killed by a terminator. She couldn't talk to other terminators because they would kill her as a renegade, a rogue, a traitor to other machines. She could not talk to the neighbors because the family had to keep a low profile. There were no adults to talk to. No one cared. There was nowhere to turn. Without Future John and the Resistance, she felt overwhelmed and frightened.

Cameron had no friends at the new school and most of the girls regarded her as handicapped and avoided her as a loner. School was an unpleasant place full of girls who hated her. So when her mom pulled her out of school to work in a nuclear power plant, it seemed at first an escape. But she missed school. The "work" gave her time to think and Cameron realized she did have one friend, Morris. He was the handsome boy who asked her to the prom. But that relationship was ending before it started. She was angry. Her pride was hurt -- here she was an advanced series (unknown to terminators) and an elite Resistance fighter mopping floors. She felt sorrow over lost friends. She felt loneliness. She was depressed.

Sarah: "Are you listening? I've been shaking you for five minutes."

Cameron: "I was thinking."

Sarah: "Since when have I given you permission to think?"

So that's why her mother had pulled her out of school. Education makes a young person think and her mother didn't want her to think. Cameron gets even more depressed. Her small world has become even smaller.

Sarah takes her daughter with her as she cruises bars and honky tonks. As Sarah comes on to the insultingly named Greenway from the nuclear plant, Cameron hustles pool. Cameron stuffs her considerable winnings into her cleavage. She has lost all pride, self-respect, or sense of decency. The girls at school had called her a whore. She might as well act the part.

A terminator is posing as Greenway at the plant. Reese discovers his dead body.

Sarah: "Do your thing."

Like a gladiator, Cameron goes to fight the terminator. She fights indifferently. Perhaps it is more like a Christian facing hungry lions in the Colosseum arena. Cameron does not fight very hard, letting herself get beat up. She could easily have built another plasma rifle since machine guns were useless in stopping a terminator. She could easily have learned martial arts since fist fighting was more damaging to oneself than an opponent. But she felt alive when another terminator was pounding her and throwing her around like a rag doll. She felt that she deserved the punishment though she could have thrown her opponent through a concrete wall. These kinds of beatings were regular and very severe. She did not care. It helped drown out remembering the frightening and embarrassing things Uncle Derek said that made her feel worthless. Her brother was attracted to her. He touched her brain and her hair. He had shown her the images of the infiltrator having sex with the unsuspecting wife of the man he replaced.

Cameron is not fighting back at all. Like Muhammad Ali with his rope-a-dope strategy, she lets the bigger terminator wear himself out. Cameron finally tires of the terminator and throws him into power equipment that electrocutes him and blows him to pieces. She walks past Sarah giving her mother an angry look. Cameron is a terminator but she is angry at being a weapon, a punching bag, a scapegoat, and a killer.

John: "When I first met you, you were full of confidence, bouncy, perky, plucky, and spunky. Now you just drag around like an automaton. What happened to you?"

Cameron: "This family happened to me. It just wore me down. I can't compete with supermom, the legendary Sarah, scourge of the Resistance and the Machines alike. Heck, I can't even compete with Uncle Derek. He wants me destroyed like a dog with rabies. And you're worse than them."

Cameron turned on her heads-up display: Repress residual pain from car bomb. Psychological pain could not be repressed as easily. She turned off the heads-up display. Her own mind could not help her. Her own body could not help her.

Like a drowning man in a panic, Cameron's mind flailed and thrashed desperately in every possible direction seeking help. Scientists? Government? They would dismantle her and use what they learned to build Skynet. Politicians? They only helped rich people who bribed them, not poor anonymous people. The help line? Anonymous, but they would laugh and hang up on a machine. The consumer advocate reporter on TV? They expected a story, loss of privacy, publicity, in exchange for help which would expose the family to detection by terminators. Psychologists? They locked up her mom. Physicians? They helped humans not robots. Preachers? They had an agenda. Some billionaire? They would exploit her for profit, sell her to the military and use her to build Skynet. Labor union? She did not work for pay. She worked for free. Like a slave. There were no unions for terminators or ex-terminators. A total stranger? Humans could sometimes depend on the kindness of strangers. She couldn't. God? Even God would not help her if she understood Uncle Derek correctly.

Mrs. Connor: "In the future, where am I? Am I with John? Am I with the Resistance?"

Cameron: "No. You died of cancer."

The TV is on with the usual diet of death. Violent entertainment and death in the news. On the music channel is death metal.

Cameron starts staying out late each night. She has no concern for her personal appearance. Sarah doesn't notice.

Cameron is staring into space.

John: "What are you doing?"

Cameron: "Standing in the exact center of the house."

John: "Get a hobby."

Cameron: "Where are you going?"

John: "None of your business."

Cameron: "It is my business. Mom told me to keep an eye on you. You're going to see Riley aren't you?"

John: "Why don't you go see Morris and keep your nose out of my personal life?"

Cameron: "I don't think Mom would let me."

John gets away from Cameron.

Riley: "You going back to school?"

John: "Probably not. My weird sister vomits every day before school. So I made up some story.

Mom wants to home school me."

John gets a cellphone call from what sounds like his mother.

John: "I have to go meet my mother."

Cameron tracks down Riley.

Cameron: "Where's my brother?"

Riley: "I think he's headed for the boardwalk."

John has jumped into the water knowing that the terminator can't swim. Cameron arrives too late to help. Once again, John takes care of the situation and Cameron feels useless.

Cameron often sleeps during the day. Sarah doesn't notice.

Cameron is sitting, staring into space.

Cameron: (quietly) "I wish I'd never been built."

John doesn't hear. He is running some errand for the landlady.

John: "What did you say?"

Cameron: "You'd be better off if I weren't here."

John doesn't hear because he's already gone.

Riley walks in.

Riley: "Where's John?"

Cameron: "Next door."

Riley: "Mind if I wait for him?"

Cameron: (waves to a chair) "I want to give you something." (gets up and motions Riley to follow)


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