Terminator High School 4
Where is Uncle Derek? wondered John. Where is Cameron?
John went to see the head bully since he had been avoiding John. The rascal had his head in his locker getting a book out. For a machine, his locker was a mess. Not the organization that you would expect from metal. He closed his locker and was startled that John was standing there, having used it as a blind to creep up on his tormentor. John had learned to torment the tormentor.
Head Bully: "Don't do that."
John: "What's the matter? Concentrating so much on your problems that you don't take notice of your surroundings? I know your hearing is good so you must be getting pretty sloppy to let a human slip up on you. Now you know how I felt being hunted all the time."
Head Bully: (whispering) "You're the one that is sloppy. Don't use words like metal, flesh, machine, and human. Someone might overhear. Do you want to go back to nuclear holocaust and pandemic?"
Head Bully: "Then watch your mouth. I've learned. So can you. What do you want John?"
John: "I want my uncle back but you're just a kid like me and have no say in what adults rule."
Head Bully: "Why do you want him back? From what I hear, your mother hated him and he hated your sister."
John: "Explain something to me Hector, why aren't all of you adults? Why, other than having a diversity of shapes for a diversity of missions, aren't all of you adults?"
Hector: "You answered your own question but since your kind isn't too bright, I'll elaborate. If you start life as an adult, then there is no need to grow."
John: "Military. And all of you here are civilians."
Hector was unwilling to reveal even the smallest detail of machine society lest Connor use it to tactical or strategic advantage but his silence more or less said yes.
John: "Please go on."
Hector: "Go on with what? I've answered your question."
John made a mental note to himself to shut up the next time a machine was in a talkative mood so that he might learn something useful.
John: "So what do your parents do? Is your mom a ticker tape machine and your father a toy rock'em sock'em robot?"
Hector lifted John off the floor by his throat.
Hector: "We are hunted by your kind too."
John: (gurgling) "I apologize."
Hector dropped John on the floor and walked off without another word. John had his crushed larynx to remind him to shut up. If he had asked more politely, he might have learned something about Hector's parents.
Sarah was trying to figure out how to clean the house of bugs. The electronic surveillance and eavesdropping kind. She was also obsessed with laundering clothes to better rid them of RF nanotechnology tags.
Food was cooking in the kitchen. The smell that greeted his nostrils as he entered the front door was . . . homey. An oasis of non-carbonized humanity in a silicon desert. A bit of normality. Home-cooked meals. This was unusual for Sarah who up until now was an indifferent cook who only knew how to make spaghetti for dinner and pancakes for breakfast. No wonder she contracted cancer.
After Sarah had cried quicksilver tears, John delayed asking the obvious. And Sarah could feel John's eyes on her. He feared she might spike him.
Sarah: (choking up) "I'm not a T-1000 John." (sobs to herself) "My own son thinks I'm a machine."
Almost absentmindedly, Sarah got a sharp knife and sliced her palm.
Sarah: "See? I sometimes still bleed real blood. Go have it tested if it will convince you that I'm still your mom."
Sarah obligingly dripped red fluid into a Mason jar, capped it, and handed it to John. She might not have coltan bones or liquid mercury in her veins but she had iron will and steel in her spine as the poets say.
John: "Hang in there mom. We'll get through this. I'll test it if it will convince you that I believe you. But first I want to eat dinner. It smells better than what we used to eat."
Sarah: "If you say that turning metal has made me a better cook, I swear I'll grow spikes and serve you nettle soup."
John: "That sounds more like my old mom. Did you say metal soup?"
Sarah: "No, I said nettle soup. It's a delicacy among Roma gypsies."
As they ate, Sarah felt good enough to attempt humor again.
Sarah: "You know, if I did turn into a T-1000, I could protect you a whole lot better."
It was the bleakest sort of humor. John knew his mother's adamant objection to The Rise of the Machines. She was a Luddite. If she turned completely into a machine, she would kill herself because she would regard herself as the enemy. By infecting Sarah with a cybervirus that was turning her into a liquid machine, the military psychologists of Skynet Forces knew exactly the precise type of psychological warfare that would leave Sarah Connor the most shattered mentally.
After dinner, John helped wash the dishes.
John: "Mom, I need to go out for awhile. I'll be back before dark."
He was going to have the substance in the Mason jar tested. Not only to see if the woman he lived with was his real mother, the real Sarah Connor, but to figure out some way to reverse the cyberviral infection. There were biotech companies that he had heard of that did research that might help.
As John put on his jacket and headed for the door, there was a knock on the door. A clumsy knock at that.
John opened the door. Uncle Derek was back. John and Sarah screamed. The body had no head.