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The Androgynous Strain

Novel By: Toni Roman
Young adult

Nothing else matters.
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Submitted:Apr 1, 2011    Reads: 20    Comments: 0    Likes: 0   

The Androgynous Strain 4
Loud party. Disturbing the peace. Speeding. Speeding ticket. Carbohydrates. Overeating. How-to-be-an-anorexic web sites. Starvation. Relatives visiting during the holidays and other times. Parents cosigning loans so that adolescents can buy a used car.
Hard as it may be for children of permissive parents to believe but not all kids are allowed freedom and privileges. Some parents actually care about their children. Some parents actually impose discipline. And some parents were inconsistent hypocrites. John was allowed to run wild while Cameron was kept on a tight leash.
Some teens were only now dating for the first time, visiting friends for sleepovers for the first time, going to a teen club for the first time, and going to a dance for the first time. Some Christian teens were forbidden to dance. Mormon teens were forbidden alcohol. Muslim teens did not freak dance. [The Middle East invented belly dancing.] And there were no Amish kids at Campo. Racist parents did not allow their children to bring home black friends -- nor even have black friends if they knew about it. Some teens went to their first movie at a cinema or theater!
Some teens joined ministries. Some dropped out. Some were new at the school.
John thought it was his imagination. Was she hinting? Then one day he found a note in his lab manual:
"Please ask me."
It was typed and unsigned. It had to be Cheri Westin. She was his lab partner. Who else would slip a note into his lab manual?
After the old house burned down, the Baums moved to a new house. John and Cameron were pulled out of school. John got home schooling. Cameron got nothing.
On the job, Sarah believed that she deserved a raise but did not really want to be noticed because she was still wanted by the police. So she kept silent. Then trouble began. The boss gave her more responsibility without increasing compensation. In fact, it was more work after a cut in pay.
Some girls at school wanted the perfect dress. Some boys found that all the tuxedos had been rented and there were not enough for sale at an affordable price. This left two choices; either have their father's old tux taken in at the tailor's (if their father even owned a tux and if they could find a tailor who had the time during award season) or get a pattern and sew one from scratch.
"John, I told you back during Homecoming that you were not going. And as for you, the thought of one of your kind dating a human is disgusting."
Cameron abruptly went to her room not bothering to listen to the usual you're-a-machine bigotry. She was a cyborg not a robot. Half human to begin with and these days even more human. Some of her metal parts had dissolved and been replaced by flesh and new organs. She had tried to tell them that she was different and none of them had listened. When she had been built, she had a primitive alimentary canal and a primitive reproductive system. Now she had a heart, lungs, and even the beginnings of a liver.
"I have to hold the door? Why?"
Except for teens born in the South, many were manners-challenged. Some took etiquette classes. John had had these in summer camp.
Easter. Some teens had an older sibling getting married. Yet another reason to get new clothes.
The Baums rented a house in the canyons from the landlady. Other families, especially those out in the suburbs with long commutes, were saddled with mortgages and credit card debt and fuel bills for their gas-guzzling SUV's, trucks, and vans. Foreclosures happened and some families did not even wait for the sheriff's eviction. They got up in the middle of dinner leaving hot food on the table, the TV on, doors open, and leaving behind child's toys, insurance papers, birth certificates, and irreplaceable family photos.
Cameron never forgot her first attempt at making a friend. Jordan committed suicide. Her next attempt was Eric. Cameron realized that his cancer had returned and told him. He no longer wanted to see her and quit his job at the archives.
At Sarah's job, the merger went through but the business went into bankruptcy. Sarah was last hired and first fired. She immediately started asking around and applying everywhere. She started a new job as a taxi driver. While waiting for the dispatcher to assign her a vehicle from the fleet, she spoke to a fellow cabbie, a mother of teens like herself.
"You could get a Mohawk like Robert De Niro in Taxi Driver."
Blank look.
"It's a movie Sarah."
The police were closing in on Sarah Connor.
There were medications for everything. There were medications for young children. There were medications for teenagers. In the time since his friends John and Cameron had been absent from the Camp campus, Morris had been hassled by bullies who were off their medications.
John still wanted to go but his Homecoming date had been asked by another guy after his mother pulled him out of school. Riley was negative on all things high school and had no interest in going.
Sarah: "You're not going anywhere."
Cameron: "But John needs me."
Sarah: "John can identify Riley's body in the morgue without you. You know if I killed you, it would solve fifty percent of my problems."
In the old house, Derek had a room. In the new house, Sarah gave Cameron a room but left Derek to make do in the room above the garage. He spent some of his time with Jesse Flores but didn't bother to tell the others that someone new had arrived from the future. Sarah kept many secrets but considered others liars if they had any secrets. In other words, Derek and Cameron.
"If you ever lie to me again Derek . . . "
"Careful what you wish for Sarah."
The subconscious mind takes what you wish and makes it happen for real.
A Kaliba Group operative abducted Derek and used him as bait to capture Cameron. They found a j-peg (a photo) of Savannah Weaver, daughter of Zeira Corporation president Catherine Weaver, in his phone. Since Sarah felt it was her duty to protect people who might be important to The Resistance, Sarah was concerned that the little girl was going to be killed. Without thinking it through, Sarah decided to kidnap the little girl before a terminator killed her. Luck ran out. Derek was terminated while the family rescued Savannah. John grieved for his uncle, the brother of the father he had never met. Sarah didn't shed a tear. Fifty-percent of her problems were gone.
"Damn!" said Sarah stranded on the road. Derek had always taken care of keeping the cars well-maintained. Be careful what you wish for.
Some teens were adopted before they aged out of the system. Some teens had to give up or share a room when a family member moved in, not for a visit. Some teens were told that they would have a baby brother or sister.
Some teens found out that a family member was mentally ill. If this was a single parent, then they became like an orphan. John had experienced this years before when he was put into foster care when his mother was in the state mental hospital. Sarah had never recovered from the shock of Kyle dying and finding out later that her mother was terminated also. Sarah told John golden stories about her parents, his grandparents. Sarah never told John that her parents first separated, later divorced, and then her father died in the military. He committed suicide.


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