Terminator High School 11
Earthquake weather. John sneaks off during lunch hour at school to finally get the tracking device extracted from him. He leaves his sixth period class early to get a jump on the fast setting sun. Instead of going home, John is now out in the country walking along the two-lane farm to market road. It has even less traffic than he calculated and that means slim chance for a ride from a truck farmer.
As he lifted his thumb to hitchhike, the one truck on the road roared past, throwing grit and diesel wind in his face. John is exasperated to look over to the other side of the road and see the police chief leaning against his cop car, mirror sunshades, and a hay straw in the corner of his mouth.
"What can I say? I'm good at my job. I'm not here to stop you. I'm here to warn you. We are with the main population. Out there are terminators sent before we migrated to this past. They won't even listen to new orders from Skynet to stand down. We can protect the Baum family or whatever cover name you use in the county. Outside the county, you are on your own. Going to get your sister?"
"Not too many hours of sun left. You need to make better time. This will help you."
He throws a manila envelope. John catches it. It's full of money and files.
"That's confiscated drug money. I know you think it has a tracking device so spend it today to get wherever you are going faster. Study those files boy. One of those gunfighters might kill you."
"Great! More homework."
The chief laughed, gravel crunched and wheels spun as he drove off not even bothering to look back in his rear view mirror. His wife was making his favorite meal tonight. Rack of lamb. He had recently learned how to compliment her appearance and how to enjoy food. He wasn't human neither was she but it was baby steps.
John looked ahead not back. Earthquake weather. Hot, humid and the strong dusty Santa Anna wind had stopped. The weeds were silver-leafed brush and the air smelled of purple sage. He walked another ten yards and saw a man in the distance on a farm in a clearing working on a crop duster, a helicopter with dusting arms. John stuck the manila envelope in his backpack and walked through a field of datura to him.
"Excuse me. Can I hire you for a half hour? Or less?"
The man snorts.
"Only if you have twenty-five hundred."
John waves three grand.
He starts to remove the crop dusting apparatus from the chopper.
"Leave it on. Let's go."
"Where are we going?"
"The nearest commuter airport."
In the air, John asks: "Where can I find a strong industrial magnet or degausser?"
"The FAA repair shop near the airport. We can land near it."
John walked near the equipment and felt a little dizzy but at least it would destroy any remaining bugs on him and on the contents of the manila envelope. A prop plane would be too slow. John spent the rest of the chief's unlaundered money chartering a jet flight. He had other money on him. What Uncle Derek gave him and what Mrs. Faraday gave him and what money had been stuffed through the vents in his school locker.
While waiting to board his charter, he threw away the manila envelope, memorized the files, made copies, and then threw away the originals. He should be free of any tracking devices he figured as he boarded the jet headed east.
Soon after the jet's wheels went up, John fell asleep. A long morning at school, lunch spent in major surgery, his right leg partly paralyzed post-op, a long afternoon at school when the leg returned to normal, and a bicycle ride followed by a hike out of town may have had something to do with it. He never saw the blood-red sunset over Arizona.
Billions of years ago
Billions of years ago, a comet smashed into the Earth (the Pacific Ocean) and the Moon was ejected in the cataclysm. Life began in the mud of Genesis as amino acids were subjected to extremes of heat from Archeozoic volcanoes and cold from Proterozoic ice ages caused by more comet strikes. Pressure from gravity created an atmosphere of sulfur, methane, ammonia, and carbon monoxide. And lightning was the catalyst -- the spark of life.
The Paleozoic ocean deepened as more ice comets arrived and vaporized. A new phenomenon occurred: pure liquid water rain rather than the acid rain, mud rain, methane rain, and ammonia rain of the early Earth. As the sea level rose, the flat lands were mostly submerged. Then during epochs of drought, great coal swamps were formed as plants turned carbon dioxide into hydrocarbons and the newest component of the atmosphere was formed -- oxygen.
Continents rose as the original supercontinent continued to break up and tectonic plates started to slam into each other at a pace far slower than glacial, a geologic pace set by the recoil from that first big comet.
As the Rockies rose late in the Mesozoic era, the inland sea that covered the West finally drained in a natural burst that dwarfed several Niagara Falls and left deserts and The Great Plains. The Great Salt Lake and the Salton Sea remain.
BC 65.1 million
An asteroid slammed into the Earth near the Yucatan peninsula in the Chixulub Deep Impact. In the global ice age that followed, the big dinosaurs went extinct. Just as the dinosaurs had replaced the ancient trilobites, mammals now replaced dinosaurs. The great coal swamps became shale deposits. The Permian Basin will become a notable area of petroleum.
The Sierra and Cascade mountain ranges formed parallel to the Rockies. About one hundred million years after the last dinosaur died, the first ancestors of pre-humans evolved. At the same time, the ancestors of dawn horses and buffalo roamed Pliocene North America as grass spread across the Great Plains. The oldest equine fossils are left in the trans-Mississippi region.
Six hundred forty thousand years ago, the Yellowstone supervolcano, which erupts with the regularity of Old Faithful, blew with enough force to not only wipe out nearby forests but to turn the mountain above it into dust that triggered an ice age. The Pleistocene had four such glaciations that wiped out forests and large mammals. Man began to abstract thoughts, articulate words, and invent artifacts like tools and simple mechanisms.
The last ice age was a time of such desperation that humans took scarce resources from other Homo sapiens (Cro-Magnon).
With the changing of sea level, the Bering Land Bridge disappeared fifty thousand years ago.
In what is now Lewisville Texas, the First Americans hunted woolly mammoths, mastodons and saber-toothed tigers.
circa BC 10,000
From ancient times, there was a Native American prophecy that first came the Red Man in the creation. Second would come the White Man who would bring destruction and turn humans into machines. Third would come the Metal Man who would bring re-creation and turn machines into humans. And coming full circle, fourth would return the Red Man preserving life.
Of course, the original words of the prophecy did not use the word "machine" because ten thousand years ago, only simple machines like levers and inclined planes existed. The original word roughly translates as "non-human".
By BC eight thousand, many hunters could turn to gathering as the climate warmed and glaciers retreated. Foraging and fishing soon were followed by pottery making, domesticating plants and animals, and farming. As population increased and spread to South America, great cities, pyramids and civilizations arose and books such as the Popol Vuh and Chilam Balam were codified. Democracy is first invented among the San Blas Islands off the coast of Central America. Like people elsewhere on Earth, there is interest in the stars by night and the sun by day. Consequently, priests are expected to use the sky to create a calendar for planting, harvest, weather prediction, and whatever else they could think of. Some ancient observatories are built on a massive scale eclipsed only by the layout of villages along trade routes -- such as the Chaco Canyon region by the Anasazi. They knew how to conserve scarce desert water, perfected desert agriculture, and thus survived when the bloodthirsty Aztec Empire collapsed under the weight of running out of victims for human sacrifice, contracting disease from invading conquistadors, and cooperating Toltecs disgusted with the Aztecs.
The invading Spanish introduced the modern horse to the West (the dawn horse having gone extinct) and escaped horses known as mustangs, cayuses, and broncos.
early contact with whites
He-walks-the-wind was near death. His tribe had been annihilated by the smallpox-infected blankets given to them by the whites and by the steel guns of the whites. As he died, he looked out across the stark and foreboding but beautiful landscape. He-walks-the-wind thought about his kidnapped wife. Where was Bright Flower? Was she suffering? He could imagine what the men did with her. He thought about his daughter who died in the crib when the illness came. He thought about his son shot in the chest by the firesticks when he made his war cry and charged toward the invaders not knowing the kind of danger he faced. This was not rocks or tomahawks or spears or arrows. It was near invisible but the medicine men had dug out bits of poisonous metal (they called it lead) and managed to save some. But those saved were saved only to die after the treaty was broken by the blankets given in false friendship. Surely this President of the United States (who some chiefs called the "White Father" out of respect) did not know what his corrupt agents were doing.
He-walks-the-wind looked up at the Big Sky and looked for the face of the Great Chief in the Sky (whom whites call God). He took the eagle feather from his hair, held it high, let it go, watched the wind loft it to the heavens, and gave up the ghost. His dying breath was a promise to look after his family and tribe and thereby restore the balance of life.
Red Fox James, of the Blackfoot tribe, rode all the way to the White House in Nineteen-Fourteen for American Indian Day. He rode his horse not the whites' iron horse. Some whites said it was the end of the Old West. Some American Indians said the end of the Western Hemisphere was coming.
July 16th, 1945
Trinity site, New Mexico
First the light and nausea came, then the heat, then the pressure wave, then the dirty wind, and finally the first mushroom cloud rose angrily above the desert.
Robert Oppenheimer quoted from the Bhagavad Gita: "Now I am become Death, shatterer of worlds."
Another scientist put it more prosaically: "Now we're all sons of bitches."
There was nothing holy about this trinity.
Some tribes were relocated. For the third or fourth time. At first it had been for gold or silver. Then it was for oil or other minerals. The First Americans (some would say the only real Americans) found that their treaties were not worth the paper they were written on. Whites broke them when it suited them. The red man thought that a man's word should be his bond. When whites saw something they wanted, they simply ignored the treaty and moved the "Indians" (they were not from India) aside. The Native Americans found that their reservations guaranteed by law meant little when big corporations could simply claim mineral rights or water rights from under "Indians" living on the surface. But digging subterranean mines under reservations and pumping away their underground water (leaving tribal wells dry) and stealing the wealth from the tribes who actually owned them was not enough.
The Cold War
Scattered across the lands of the Navajo Nation are over thirteen hundred uranium mines abandoned after they were exhausted. Whites had so little respect for America and for these First Americans that they dumped uranium tailings everywhere -- even in Monument Valley. Locals were encouraged to use uranium tailings in the stucco they applied to their buildings. Those who worked in the mines used the waste rock to construct uranium homes. One contaminated hogan was found to emit gamma radiation twenty-five hundred percent higher than emergency level. The radium in uranium ore emits the radioactive gas radon. Radium does not decay entirely for thousands of years.
Bush Administration era
Allowed by the federal government, the big corporations brazenly strip-mined the surface with open pits which forced the Native Americans, the people actually living on the land, to breathe toxic dust raised by trucks the size of five storey buildings. This forces Native Americans living downwind to breathe toxic dust. This is in addition to the radon they are already breathing. The crops are poisoned. The livestock are poisoned. One mineral the mining companies were after was uranium but for people with common sense, fission is a dirty technology that undermines the economics of clean technology.
The West hasn't changed much. In Tucson, they even shoot members of Congress trying to talk to their constituents.
The Navajo used to have one of the lowest cancer rates in America. Now they have one of the highest. More and more lobbyists are hired to oppose any anti-mining action.
airport near Santa Fe
It was dark when the plane touched down. He took a taxi from the airport out to the reservation. It was a long taxi ride. Almost four hundred miles. It was now late and the cabbie balked at crashing the closed gates. The headlights illuminated a sign but neither driver nor passenger could make out business hours. Like many whites, the cabbie was raised on bad movies. His experience was that Indians were like everybody else but his prejudice was that they might scalp him or shoot him full of arrows.
"You getting out?"
"There's no guard at the gate. I prefer to arrive announced rather than barge in. You got a radio or phone? I didn't bring a phone." He feared GPS and cell tower wifi tracking.
The information operator gave him the number of the tribal police but before he could use it, there was the sound and light of a vehicle.
bullhorn: "You there! Step out of the car. Not you driver. Just the passenger."
John: "I'm -- "
bullhorn: "We know who you are. We call you Turtle. Go back. She doesn't want any more abuse from you or your mother."
John stepped over to the driver's window.
"Where's the nearest motel?"
"The Best Western three hundred miles back."
"I'm tired. I just had surgery today. Long school day. Long bike ride. Long walk. Long flight. Long drive. And now this. Let's just sleep in the car until morning and then sort it out."
He turned back to the light. He couldn't see anyone or anything behind those super-bright police lights.
"Is it okay if we sleep in the car until morning?"
Now it was a cop's turn to be exasperated. There was a sigh in the bullhorn: "That's hours away." He mumbled to himself: "And I have a patrol to complete." Out loud: "We have a bed and breakfast inn on the reservation but it was full last night, I mean, tonight. There might be a vacancy in the morning. You look awfully young. They might not let you check in. I can let you sleep in the tribal jail--"
John went back to the cab, retrieved his backpack, and got in the back seat of the tribal police vehicle. The vehicle didn't move.
"What are we waiting for?"
The officer didn't reply. He waited until the cab drove off. The cabbie saw a rest area fifty miles back. He planned to nap there before attempting to head home. The officer continued to wait until he was sure the taxi was gone and then he drove a long way to the reservation lockup. It was a long drive because it was a large reservation. The word 'nation' really fit.
Under the light of Western stars, shepherds watched over their flocks lest anything from coyotes to jaguars and thieves ensnare them. The price of wool was high this year.
The officer was not the talkative type and didn't care for this person in his back seat. He hated third shift.
The officer turned John over to the station clerk and returned to his patrol. The uniformed clerk led him to a plain cell.
"I'll get you an extra blanket. I know you're young but as a precaution we have to lock the door. We kick you out at dawn but you get to wash up and we bring you breakfast. That's the most hospitality this jail can offer you. Little Feather can talk to the innkeeper and see if they can reserve you a room. She's the first shift clerk."
As John bunked down, he could hear the police band radio of his jailer. Except for him, it was a slow night.
"You heard the score? Over."
"China 9, Liberty 37."
First American High played Blanco High. A friendly rivalry between a predominantly Native American high school and an Anglo high school. "Civilize the blankets!" yelled the First American crowd at the games. The Blanco High Whiteskins usually won these rounds but not tonight. The tribal police expected celebrations to get out of hand but the night had been abnormally quiet. Though called "predominantly" Native American, in fact First American High was one hundred percent Native American. Even the blue-eyed girl named Yellow Hair for her blonde tresses had to go back two generations to a find a white ancestor -- a grandfather who left a Native girl pregnant. This girl was now an old woman but when her dark-skinned daughter had married, the daughter's husband thought she had cheated when their first child was born blonde. The doctors called it a recessive gene because the yellow hair had skipped a generation.
Hearing the scores, John thought of the Sherman High Tanks and tonight's victims East High before he fell off to sleep too tired even to wonder how Cameron came under this tribe's protection. Everything she did was amazing so he had long ago ceased to be amazed by anything she did.
John woke up once imagining that Cameron was outside the bars watching him sleep. Or did he wake up? Probably a dream.