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#2 Terminal & Termination (part two)

Short story By: Toni Roman
Science fiction

part of my numerical series for teens only

Submitted:Dec 1, 2008    Reads: 302    Comments: 3    Likes: 0   

Terminal & Termination (part 2)

As an ex-terminator, Cameron was expected to fight nasty battles with terminators. Mrs. Connor had slapped Cameron for executing Enrique Salceda. Derek Reese constantly said things like "dirty work is all they're good for." And then on the first day at the new school, Mrs. Connor told Cameron not to kiss her or anyone else. Therefore, Cameron understood that she was to accept verbal & physical abuse and not initiate violence except to prevent harm to John.

Mrs. Connor did not think of Cameron as innocent. So Sarah Connor took what looked like an underage girl with her to bars when she was stalking Greenway. It did not occur to her that Cameron actually was underage in several ways nor did it occur to her that a lethal killing machine could be harmed. But like all machines, Cameron was very literal. So when the redneck in the bar had raped her, she didn't fight back but she never let him kiss her.

When Cameron fought the terminator and threw it into live electrical transformers that blew it apart at the nuclear power plant, Mrs. Connor had watched. Two days later, Cameron sat down as if tired and absentmindedly rubbed her chest as if having chest pains. Cameron never rested.

Mrs. Connor: "You're bleeding. When were you in a fight?" (She pointed to two stains on Cameron's blouse)

Cameron: "You were there. Two days ago." (Cameron went and changed her blouse)

Now that the awful time at the nuclear power plant was over, life in the Connor household returned to the boredom between attacks by terminators. There were actually entire days when no one tried to kill John and no one got killed. On one such day, Mrs. Connor asked John and Cameron to go to the supermarket to buy some items. Cameron plucked a leaf off a tree, got in the truck with John, and sucked on the leaf.

John: "No wonder Mom sent us for groceries. Down to eating leaves."

Cameron: "Chlorophyll prevents bad breath."

John never got near enough to Cameron to notice if she had bad breath but doubted it.

While John drove home, Cameron snacked on pretzels John discarded as too salty. That got John to thinking. Salt. Salty water. Beach. The perfect place to escape from his weird sister and have an advantage over terminators since they couldn't swim.

At home they unpacked the groceries. Cameron took one item to Mrs. Connor's bedroom. It was Friday after school. John went to help the pregnant landlady with chores and Cameron tagged along.

When they had moved in, the pregnant landlady, Kacy Corbin, had encouraged Cameron to touch her swollen belly. Now even bigger, the landlady appreciated help from John reaching an item on a shelf too high for her. John returned to their apartment but Cameron stayed behind. A sushi place had delivered food. Next to the cartons of sushi was a dill pickle stuck in chocolate syrup.

Landlady: "Help yourself."

As Cameron sampled everything, including what looked like worms; the woman took a stethoscope and listened to the fetal heartbeat.

Landlady: "That's coffee grounds dear. Come over here and have a listen."

The filter of old grounds had been too close to the food. Cameron came, put the stethoscope on, and listened intently. The landlady was impressed with how gentle Cameron was.

Landlady: "I have to go to the prenatal clinic next week. Would you like to go with me?"

Cameron: "After school if John is with my mother or uncle and if she gives permission. I have to get back. Thank you for the snacks."

Landlady: "You're welcome."

The landlady thought that Cameron was a devoted sister if a bit overprotective.

John is still thinking about salt water and the unpleasant prospect of sitting at home guarded by his weird sister on a beautiful day. He calls Riley.

John: "Mom! I'm going out."

Mrs. Connor: "No. You're going to deliberately give Cameron the slip or lose her in a crowd. Until I'm fairly sure that there are no terminators on our trail, we're still on alert."

John: "We're always on alert and there will always be a terminator on our trail. I'm going with Riley to the boardwalk. Last time there was trouble, I handled it without Cameron's help."

It was an unfair slam on his sister, and even John regretted saying it. Cameron looked away hurt.

Mrs. Connor: "Call her back and tell her the family had plans but she is welcome to come with us to the beach Saturday."

As usual, Mrs. Connor has outsmarted John.

Mrs. Connor invited the landlady along. The landlady, glad to be invited, indulged Sarah's paranoia. The father of her child (a cop) had friends watch the building while they were gone. Last out, Sarah set the motion sensors, burglar alarms, other security systems, and locked the doors.

To persuade Derek to come, Sarah had made up some malarkey about how he could pass the day planning what to do if a terminator showed up, scanning the horizon with his binoculars, renting a safe house, looking at maps of the seaside town for escape routes, buying guns on the local black market, and talking to off-duty military at the beach from the nearby base for future recruiting. It sounded like a typical day's work to Derek who ran a one-man auto repair business and did clandestine activity laying the foundation for the future Resistance nearly 24/7. The practical Derek laughed.

Derek: "I'm going to catch fish so we'll have food in the freezer."

He thought of two other missions. One was pushing Cameron into deep water; the other was seeing a beach full of women in bikinis.

Zero Hour.

The attack began. Derek opened fire. Cameron took up a flanking position. Sarah buried a cache of weapons. John ferried materiel. "K.C." landed and raided the pillbox. John grabbed his knife and stabbed. Even Riley helped with the powder. Within minutes the beachhead had been secured. Derek had the grill fired up, John put the first meat on it, and Riley mixed up some instant sports drink with several gallons of water.

Sarah: (to the landlady) "What medicine is that?"

Kacy: "Pregnant zone or something."

Derek had binoculars on a strap around his neck. He had rented a boat for deep sea fishing, rented a couple of jet skis for the kids in case they needed to get off land in a hurry, rented a cabana so that the family could change clothes, rented scuba gear, and even rented a few other things just in case.

Maps had already been pored over and Sarah had weapons locked in the vehicles (they had come in two) and one in the bottom of a picnic basket which she guarded by keeping constantly at her side. She didn't want Riley or the landlady to discover it and start asking questions.

Riley: (to Cameron) "You have any sunscreen? I forgot mine. You don't want sagging skin. Are my ankles fat?"

Cameron looks at Riley's bare midriff and ankles, then her own.

Cameron: "No, I don't have any sunscreen. I'll go buy some. No, your ankles are not fat."

Cameron goes to the cabana, puts on a long T-shirt, tells her mother where's she's going, and goes to a nearby pharmacy (Walgreens) while scanning the area for threats. She buys several items, comes out, scans the beach area for threats again, and returns. After rubbing some on herself, Cameron offers the rest of the sunscreen supplies to the others and plants herself between the sunbathing pregnant landlady and her mother who has started sleeping under a beach umbrella. Cameron buried herself under a big hat and behind a magazine with Jamie Lynn Spears on the cover hoping no one will notice her as John and Riley frolic in the water.

Having made contacts with potential Resistance recruits, Derek had satisfied his conscience and took the rest of the day off. It was still very early. Derek was all business but he was heterosexual. He locked eyes with a beauty in a string top and thong bottom, someone he might cross paths with later but this was a family outing and he had no intention of going beyond looking today. Having accomplished these minor missions, it was time for his main mission of the day.

Derek: "Let's go."

Cameron couldn't pretend she didn't hear or that he was talking to someone else. She had made out her will leaving her meager possessions to John; just her clothes which didn't fit him, but humans said it's the thought that counts. Cameron left the document with the neighborhood notary public the day before.

Derek was both her uncle and an officer in the Resistance so she could not disobey him. She trudged behind him carrying fishing tackle. He cast the line and when it returned empty, she had to hook on more bait.

Derek: "Stop munching on that!"

Derek's arsenal of bait included worms, sardines, cheese, and chum. Cameron sat close to a piling and held on to it for dear life every time he frowned in her direction, lest he push her in. Derek kept thinking that there were too many witnesses on the crowded dock. After catching some decent sized fish, Derek motioned Cameron to follow him back to the SUV to ice down the fish in a cooler. Checking in with Sarah near the cabana, he looked at his watch. John had made it clear that he was spending the day with Riley.

Kacy: "The baby's kicking!"

The landlady grabbed Cameron's hand and pressed it to her belly.

Landlady: "Can you feel?"

Cameron nodded and felt excited. Derek glanced at his watch again.

Derek: "It's time."

Cameron's mechanical heart sank. She looked out at John playing volleyball with Riley. He had saved her from the fire. She looked down at her sleeping mother who had saved her on two occasions. Once by throwing her off a fire escape onto a car below. Cameron trudged behind Reese again.

Derek: "Stop walking like a duck and get on the boat!"

Cameron did. Derek cast off and the skipper of the rented boated shoved the throttle forward. Cameron took little note of what they were discussing beyond gathering that it was military and that the skipper was a Resistance contact. She was mostly conscious of being seasick. Cameron went below deck to find the head in the small boat. No way would she vomit over the side when she wanted to get as far from the water as possible. And puking was not the only necessity. Cameron heard a snatch of conversation above.

Skipper: "If she's Resistance, shouldn't she be in on this conversation?"

Reese: "Hell no! It's a terminator. I brought it out here to get rid of it for good."

Back on deck, the skipper and Reese wore life vests. There was none for Cameron. Reese strapped into the fisherman's chair and pulled a marlin out of the water.

Derek: "Take the seat Cameron. You won't need the harness."

Cameron was excited because deep sea fishing was like terminator hunting but she was afraid the swordfish would pull her overboard or impale her with its beak. Exactly as Reese intended. An unfortunate fishing accident. She wouldn't even get a line in the news or obituaries. Unfortunately for Reese there was no mishap. When they stopped for a break, Cameron eyed the anchor and rope nervously.

Skipper: "Let's see your marlinspike."

Obliging as always, Cameron tied a hangman's noose.

A tall muscular man stood over her. Sarah woke up blinded by noon sun and reached for the basket. The man pushed it away with his foot.

Man: "You have a permit for a concealed weapon?"

Sarah: "Yes sir."

She pulled out her ID. The lifeguard pushed the basket back.

Lifeguard: "Make sure it stays concealed. I run a safe beach."

Sarah: "People are trying to kill us. I'd appreciate it if you kept an eye on us. How'd you know?"

To be sure, Sarah had waved a metal detector over the lifeguard's foot when he wasn't looking.

Lifeguard: "Sharp eyes, job requirement."

He left. Kacy had gotten under the beach umbrella with Sarah after Cameron left but slept through the incident. Sarah felt in the picnic basket. The gun was still at the bottom. She looked up at the lifeguard tower. The lifeguard was looking right at her. He smiled and waved.

When the ordeal seemed over, the skipper weighed anchor and started the motor. Cameron was certain that the anchor would be tied around her neck then Reese would order her to jump into Davy Jones' locker. If there was an afterlife for her, then she wanted a dry heaven or at least no water in hell. Derek brought out skis.

Derek: "Cameron, on the way back you're going to water ski."

Cameron: "You know I can't swim. Why don't you just push me overboard and get this over with?"

Derek: "Hold the anchor and jump in."

Cameron bravely followed orders. Uncle Derek restrained her at the last moment.

Derek: "What did I tell you skipper? Pay up."

Skipper paid up.

Derek skied the whole way back. As Cameron watched, one part of her mind was excited by his obvious enjoyment of the skiing while another was afraid that he would lose control on the swells and waves. It never occurred to her to hate him. As her commanding officer, she respected him. As her uncle, she loved him.

At home, the day at sea left Cameron with a backache and swollen hands, legs, and feet. Mrs. Connor looked at her.

Sarah: "You should have put more sunscreen on your face. It's darker than the rest of you."

Cameron: "Can I go with the landlady on her doctor's appointment?"

Mrs. Connor: "Yeah, she asked me. Yes, you can go."

Cameron was excited at doing something with someone other than a family member. John got to go out with Riley. This was a small step toward that kind of freedom for her. In some ways, Cameron was more shielded from life than John. She was on a shorter leash.

On the day of the appointment, Cameron drove the landlady to the prenatal clinic. She was allowed in the room for the ultrasound but sent back to the waiting room for the exam by the obstetrician. While waiting, she struck up a conversation with a waiting patient. A man walked past. "Oh, that's Braxton Hicks." The landlady came out, made her next appointment, and Cameron took her home.

If you believe in anthropomorphizing, then Cameron was bored. If you think artificial intelligence developers have a clue as to how their creations are evolving, then Cameron was imitative. Either way, just when John, rested from a brief vacation from his weird sister, was beginning to take an interest in her again, Cameron got the munchies again. That is, she continued to sample new foods. The timing is fortunate. Cameron is taking a swig of bleach just when John happens upon her.

John: "Spit it out! Don't you dare swallow!"

He pushes her to the sink, pushes her head down, sticks his finger down her throat, and tries to make her gag up anything that she has swallowed. He then runs the water, splashing it into her mouth.

John: "Rinse!"

Cameron rinses.

John: "Keep rinsing! Like after brushing your teeth." He has a horrible thought while she is rinsing. "You don't swallow toothpaste do you?"

Cameron: "No. I was just using bleach to adjust pH in my stomach."

John goes ballistic.

John: "Shut up! Just shut up with that! I don't want to hear it. If your stomach is anything like ours, then it should be acidic not basic alkaline. If you need to do this pH thing, then use a pinch of baking soda or just some home baked biscuits. From now on just food that we eat. No experiments. Not even if no one is looking. Promise me."

Cameron: "I promise."

John: "Rinse again then drink a couple of glasses of water."

Cameron does as she is told.

She touches John's face. She is moved by his concern as a brother. John and Reese are so opposite and yet both have stopped her from suicidal acts.

John: "What if Mom had seen you? And why don't you eat in front of her anyway? Uncle Derek and I know that you eat. Why doesn't she know that you can eat food?"

Cameron: "Why don't you tell her? Why doesn't Uncle Derek tell her?"

John knows why. It is his trump card and Uncle Derek's trump card. Play it and there is no longer any leverage. But John avoids the obvious question of why doesn't Cameron tell Sarah Connor herself by answering with his own question.

John: "How come you act like a robot around us but you act normal in public when you don't think I'm looking?"

Cameron is afraid of giving an honest answer.

Cameron: "It's complicated."

John: "Try."

Cameron: "You're my brother but she's my mother."

John: "Try again."

Cameron: "You've seen me at my worst. You know that infiltrators exploit emotion to get what they want. I fooled you once before I became your sister. If I got all emotional you might think I had an agenda or ulterior motives. I will go to whatever extreme is necessary to prove that I'm not bad."

John: "It really hurts family communication though."

Cameron: "Tell me about it."

John made a note to his future self. ["Note to self: Don't let Cameron be my official food taster."]

The next day before school Cameron is throwing up in the bathroom.

John: "Sipping bleach again?"

Cameron: "No." She shuts the door in his face.


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