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Sleepover by Toni Roman

By: Toni Roman

Chapter 1, The problem with an invitation is that you might not get a second.

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Sleepover

1. Invitation

Spring 1999

Crest View High School

Red Valley, New Mexico

As Cameron Phillips, Cameron had been invited to a lot of freshman social activities. Then the teen age John Connor arrived, enrolled as a first year student, a terminator tried to assassinate John, and Cameron protected John by stopping a bullet meant for him and then by using time travel equipment.

Fall 2007

Campo de Cahuenga High School

Los Angeles, California

Cameron was now Cameron Baum. Much had changed. With Sarah as her surrogate mother and John around to cramp her style, Cameron had erased most of those social skills and even the memory of having once been the most popular girl in high school was mostly gone after the amnesia caused by flashbacks of Allison Young.

Cameron ignored the emails. The text messages were harder to ignore. Then Beth asked Cameron in the hallway at school, "Well? Are you coming? You're invited. All those emails and text messages."

"Mom doesn't let me do anything."

"Why not?"

Cameron couldn't say: 'Because my mother doesn't think a machine should have any recreation.'

"You'll have to ask her yourself." she said aloud. Cameron abruptly turned and walked off. Beth flicked her blonde hair out of her eyes and narrowed her blue eyes as she scrutinized the retreating acquaintance. Beth had been trying to strike up a friendship with Cameron because Beth liked taking in strays. People that is. But now it was her mission from God. Cameron was a challenge. Intriguing too. Cameron constantly changed styles and looks. Grunge one week. Leather and spikes the next. Sparkly ghetto fab micro mini dress one week. Sleeves or long gloves without fingers the next. Cameron had no compunctions about creating clothes that no store sold. Beth had to get to know Cameron. There was one style that Cameron would never wear: a fluorescent punk Mohawk with mousse to make it stand straight up and out. And Beth knew instinctively why: Cameron's mother would kill her.

Beth never suspected that this was not metaphorical or figurative. Sarah Connor would literally kill Cameron if she drew that much attention to herself.

"Loser."

"No she isn't. And none of your business. Don't you have detention to get to?" Beth said without bothering to look in Chad's direction. She held up her hand to deflect the inevitable attempt by him to kiss her and went to her next class.

Cameron gave Beth and the invitation no further thought. Cameron had gone from being the most popular girl at Crest View High School (John was the least popular boy) to being the least popular girl at Campo de Cahuenga High School. So it was natural to assume that the girl was obviously trying to ingratiate herself with Cameron in order to get in good with her brother John.

"What's this?"

Mom had a pink personalized stationary envelope in one hand and a fancy invitation letter in her other hand.

"Mail for you?"

Cameron never got mail. Neither did John. And the only mail Sarah Connor got was bills to her under the name "Mrs. Sarah Baum."

"Smart aleck."

She handed the letter to Cameron. It never occurred to her that Beth would ask her mom why not or get her mother to ask her mother.

"Some invitation for me. I turned it down of course. I turn down all invitations since I know that you won't let me do anything other than protect John. Besides, I have no social skills."

Cameron turned to go assuming that the matter was closed, over, finished, kaput. No wonder Cameron erased her social skills. She didn't need them!

"You're going." Sarah said flatly. "You're going to find out if their real interest is in John."

"I assumed that from the first. Give me credit for understanding security. It is my function after all."

My only function thought Cameron.

"If they check out, then no harm done. And you might learn to be civilized. We humans do things other than terminate people."

"Not really. You humans drag it out and kill people over the course of decades. We machines are not so sadistic or cruel. We don't drag it out. We kill quickly."

"Go get a couple of etiquette books from the library and read the chapters on manners while visiting homes. I don't want you embarrassing this family."

"Yes ma'am."

The phone rang.

"Well? Are you coming?"

"Yes, I accept your invitation. Thank you. My mother will call your mother about the arrangements."

Sarah calls Beth's mom.

"Does Cameron have any health issues or require any special arrangements?"

"No health problems but I don't know what you mean by special arrangements." Sarah said cautiously. Sarah grew up almost as culturally and socially deprived as she made John and especially Cameron. Perhaps that's why she was so strict. Why should they have fun I never had?

"Are there any religious dietary requirements like kosher? Or preferences such as vegan or vegetarian?"

"Oh. No, we have no religion, I mean no religious requirements. Besides Cameron doesn't eat. I mean she eats very little."

There was silence on the other end of the line.

"Cameron takes no prescriptions and has no allergies. She is as healthy as a horse. She won't give you any problems. She is so quiet that you will not notice she is there."

"Sounds like a nice girl. Arrival time is seven p.m. Friday. Pickup time is nine thirty a.m. Saturday. In addition to an overnight bag, she should bring a sleeping bag and a pillow."

As Cameron went about preparing for the sleepover, Derek observed her and Cameron knew he was watching her. He watched her buy a gift for her hostess Beth and gifts for other guests (stuffed animals). She washed her pajamas and cleaned her sleeping bag. She vacuumed the air out of her pillow and sleeping bag and enclosed them in a space bag for more compact storage.

"Don't go in my room while I'm gone." she said to Uncle Derek. She clearly implied that he might rummage through her underwear drawer to see if hidden under her unmentionables was a bar of coltan or a secret communiqué‚ from Skynet.

Derek looked heavenward, scratched under his chin, vowing to himself that if the house were burning down he would rouse John and Sarah but leave Cameron to the flames because knocking on her door would mean going near her room. He didn't appreciate being considered a pervert or child molester. It raised his hackles. It was exactly this sort of attitude that made men back away from their daughters and nieces, leave them, and let the world raise them. The world generally destroyed young girls and young boys abandoned by men -- as many single mothers could testify.

Sarah had an ulterior motive. She wanted Cameron out of the house -- if only for one night. She didn't like Cameron and made little secret of it and consequently prevailed upon the reluctant Derek to drop Cameron off at Beth's house at seven p.m. Friday evening.

"Have a good time." he said.

Cameron looked at Uncle Derek in shock. She was so used to John, Sarah, and Derek begrudging her any enjoyment that she was startled.

"I apologize for that snide and thoughtless remark of mine." she said, pecked him on the cheek, got out with her bag, and walked up to the door. It crossed Derek's mind that if he and John and Sarah were killed, that Cameron might have to soldier on in the Resistance without them. If so, she needed people skills. Although the generals of Tech-Comm loved her efficiency, Cameron was hated by many in the rank and file. She needed the common touch and perhaps this was the way for her to learn it.

Derek noted the other vehicles dropping off girls, wrote down their license tags, and compared it to his list of the girls' families. None were Resistance families. Were they collaborator families? 'God, I have been doing this too long,' thought Derek. 'I need to be around normal people.' He headed to a softball game at the local park and watched it for a few minutes before heading home to crazy Sarah who ordered this and to his nephew John who was oblivious to all this.

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