. . .But What We Make
Again, I say poor Jarod. His world just got turned upside down without apology, and he was on the run for his life. Even then, I couldn't guarantee that he would live past Judgment Day.
"When are you going to explain?" Jarod asked as he stepped out of the truck. Reese placed her hands on her lower back and stretched, trying to pop it. She remained silent, but jerked her head toward the motel room. Whatever was coming would have to wait until they were inside.
Once the three of them were inside the room, the Machine went into the bathroom to perform some minor repairs on his body. Reese pulled out a chair for Jarod and for herself. She sat and waited for him to do the same.
"You want to know what's going on, right?" she asked. He nodded. Reese sighed and rubbed her hand down the side of her face.
"My name is Reese Connor. I was born May 5, 2010--"
"Wait a minute," Jarod interrupted. "How is that possible? That's 10 years away from now."
"Just be patient. I'm getting to it," she snapped. "Now, for this to make sense, you have to throw away all common sense and trust me." She arched her eyebrow and waited for his nod before continuing. "Okay. Like I said before, my name is Reese Connor and I was born on May 5, 2010. Coincidentally, that was when the War Against the Machines began. But let me start in the beginning. In 1984, my grandmother Sarah Connor woke up one ordinary day that would change her life forever."
Sometimes I wonder what this was doing to my family back home; back in my when. Even as I was explaining the troubled past, unsure present, and murky future to Jarod, I had a hard time grasping that it was really happening. Harder still was trying to imagine how Dad was handling it.
John said a goodbye to Katherine before putting on his combat helmet and leaving the compound with his detachment. His oldest was still in the past and still in danger, but he still had a job to do.
Even though it was dark outside, a little light peeked out from behind the thick cloud in the sky. It kindled a new kind of hope in the hearts of the soldiers. If light was starting to show through, what could be next? Maybe a substantial victory against the Machines?
It was only a matter of time, John knew. He had been told the ending so many times that it was ingrained into his memory, almost as if it had already happened. They would win, to be sure. The problem was that John didn't know how many would die before that reality was realized. That was what kept him up at night.
How much longer did they have?
How do you explain something that is history for you, but hasn't happened yet for the other person? This situation never showed up in the worst-case scenario manual. I understood how absurd I sounded as I went on, but he had to know why he was now with us. . . if at least for his own temporary survival.
"How can I trust you?" Jarod asked incredulously once her recounting of history was finished. "You've already lied to me about your amnesia, and now you're telling me about all this stuff that hasn't happened yet."
Reese kept her eyes trained on his and called out, "Jack!" Almost immediately, he exited the bathroom and stood beside her. She then looked up into the Machine's face. "Show him," she ordered quietly.
He didn't need further explanation. He pulled out an Exact-O Knife from his jacket pocket and then took off his jacket. Without hesitation he brought the knife to his bare arm and began to drag it around his forearm.
"Holy shit!" Jarod exclaimed, jumping out of his chair and moving behind it. He watched speechless as the gigantic thing before him cut the skin off of his arm without even flinching. And then, just as nonchalant as when he was cutting, he pulled off his forearm skin as if it were a winter glove. Then he saw: instead of bone was a metal framework that resembled the toy arms they sold in stores. Only this framework whirred and clicked as its fingers moved, and trickles of blood clung to it.
Reese crossed her arms and watched Jarod's face. A kind of pity filled her eyes. This wasn't fair; not to Jarod, not to Reese, and not to the rest of mankind. But most times, life just wasn't fair.
"What are you?" Jarod asked. Reese wasn't sure who he was addressing. The most likely answer was he was addressing both of them. She looked at the floor.
"I am a Terminator; 101 model, 850 series. I was created for the purpose of being an assassin."
Jack went on, but Reese stopped listening. She'd heard it far too many times. She could hear thunder in the background. It was going to rain. Her mind would have progressed further, but a fluttering sensation caused her to pause. She bit her lip and brought a hand to her abdomen; slow, so as not to draw any attention. She moved her hand around until she felt it again. The world seemed to stop, and her own breathing sounded very loud to her ears. That was her baby; her little girl.
She looked up, blinked once, and turned her head to Jack. He sent a brief glance her way as well, holding her eyes with his for only a few seconds. He continued his story all the while. He didn't even stop when Reese got up from the table.
She returned a few moments later, when he was finished. She looked at the two at the table. She held out her hand in front of Jack. As if he was reading her mind, he dug the truck's keys from his jacket pocket and tossed them to Reese. She caught them without even looking at them. Instead, her eyes were on Jarod. She took a breath before saying, "I'm going to go get some food from that shop I saw a few blocks back." Then she looked to Jack. "If I'm not back in an hour, get him to a safe place, then go to my grandmother's and have her terminate you. Got it?"
"Yes," the Machine said. "We will be fine."
She turned on her heel and walked out of the motel room into the rain. Once in the truck, she put the keys in the ignition but did not start it. She let more than a few tears fall before she went on her way.
I had my final proof. The Machine had been right. After the girl made her presence known, I knew it was only a matter of time before she joined us here in the world. For the first time in my life, I had no idea what to do. We would definitely be hindered by a baby, and I knew I could not put her in harm's way. I would have to die first before anyone would touch my daughter. What was a mother to do?
Kate shivered as she walked down the corridor. Part of being the wife of a military leader was to visit and encourage the families of the troops, and she was very good at it. Most of the women here would fight if only John would let them. But the human race was endangered enough as it was. The women were needed to procreate. Kate knew John was hoping for a baby boom similar to that of the middle of the 20th century, but it was unlikely. Some of the women had experience severe radiation poisoning. Many of the younger ones had been born sterile. The statistics were the same for the men, if not larger. Kate and her team of scientists were working on fertility treatments. Only one had been successful, and only once. The outlook for mankind was bleak. But Kate still held out hope. She had to.
"Mrs. Kate!" called out a voice to her left. Kate smiled at the familiar nickname that had been given to her. The soldiers could not call her 'Mrs. Connor' because that still carried connotations of Sarah Connor. Kate wouldn't allow it. Sarah was twice the woman she'd ever be. 'Mrs. Brewster' didn't seem right because it separated her from her husband, something she didn't want. One day, someone blurted out 'Mrs. Kate' and it stuck. Kate would have preferred 'Kate', but everyone here insisted on a more respectful title.
"Hello, Rita," she answered as she turned. She gave the woman a hug. "Are you feeling better?"
"Only as can be expected for an old woman like myself," Rita answered with a smile. "But don't you worry about me. I can take care of myself. I heard about Miss Reese," she said in a solemn tone. "The lot of us are hoping for her to have a safe return back to home sweet home. How are you holding up?" she asked.
Kate took a breath before answering. "We're doing fine, considering the circumstances."
"Maybe you misunderstood me, Mrs. Kate. How are you holding up?"
Kate sighed and rubbed the back of her neck. "I'm losing sleep. I can't eat; I'm just not hungry anymore. Allie and Bobby try their best to get me to notice them, but I never do. And now, with John topside, it's even worse." A tear slid down her cheek, which she brushed away.
Rita placed her hands on Kate's upper arms and waited until Kate was looking at her. "I know how special Reese is to you. I had children once. But she's a woman now and can take care of herself. She's out on her own. You have to respect that. However, Bobby and Allie are still here, and they still need you. They're just as special, and you need to show them that. Now, I'm not saying you need to forget Reese and move on. But the situation is out of your hands, and has to play itself out. When you keep that in mind, then you'll find yourself sleeping again, feeling hungry again, and taking more notice of your kids again." The ancient woman smiled. "I promise."
Kate smiled even as more tears fell down her cheeks. Rita smiled again and took Kate into her arms in the most motherly fashion that was possible.
The shopping trip helped me clear my head. I couldn't let Jarod know about my pregnancy. Not yet, anyway. He wouldn't believe me if I told him. It was best to let him process the wealth of information he had just received. He would know, in time.
Reese walked into the room and closed the door with her foot. She took the bags to the kitchenette counter and set them down. Water dripped from her hair onto the floor, but she didn't give it any attention. She reached into one of the bags with both hands and pulled out two jugs of water when she felt someone at her side. Jarod, without a word, dug into the bag himself and started putting the groceries away.
Once the task was finished, he took the bags and threw them away. He then turned to her, grabbed a lock of hair and said, "You're soaked." He let the hair go. "I'll go get you a towel."
"Always taking care of me," she murmured after he'd handed it to her. She began to rub her hair dry. Jarod sat down on the bed and rubbed his eyes. "I'm sorry that I lied to you." Reese's movements paused. "My original plans didn't include you taking me in, but after I'd gotten out of the hospital, I felt overwhelmed. Plus, I felt indebted to you. So, again, I'm sorry I lied. But would you have believed me if I'd told you the truth?"
Jarod looked up at her, then shook his head. "No, I don't think I would have. I'm still not sure I believe it." He paused for a moment. "You don't owe me anything, Reese. I did what I did because I wanted to."
The two regarded each other in silence. Reese raised her eyebrow. "Why did you take me in? I was a stranger; maybe even a homeless person who planned to steal from you later. Why?"
Jarod ran both hands through his hair and sighed. His hair stuck up like a boy's would, but his face was that of a weary, older man. Then he let out a soft laugh that was almost incredulous. "Remember those clothes I let you borrow the day after you got back from the hospital?"
"Yes," Reese said, her brow furrowed. "You said they were your sister's."
"Yeah," he whispered, "my sister. She died five years ago. She was living with me at the time." He rubbed his face and closed his eyes. "She had left the house that day. Told me not to expect her back until really late. And I locked the doors before going to bed," he said, sounding like he was disgusted with himself. "I got up the next morning and went outside to see if the paper had been dropped off, but found her body instead. Naked. Battered. Her eyes were open; they'd glazed over. She looked so afraid, Reese," he whispered. "If. . .if I hadn't locked the door, maybe she would have made it in, and I could have saved her."
Reese dropped the towel and moved toward him. "Jarod," she whispered and took his hands in hers. "I'm so sorry. Jarod." She captured his cheek with her hand and made him look at her. "Odds are she was dead when she was dumped there. There was nothing more you could have done."
"You look a lot like her," he whispered, "except for the eyes. I needed. . .I needed closure. I needed to make sure you would be okay." He leaned his face into her palm. "I wanted her back."
Reese pulled away. "Is that all I am to you, Jarod? A replacement sister?"
Jarod thought on this for a few moments before grabbing her hands. "No. You're Reese Connor: my good friend."
Reese smiled. "Good. Come with me." She pulled at his hands and led him to the kitchenette. She began pulling out various items from the cabinets.
"Why, what are we doing?"
"I'm going to show you how to make a pipe bomb."
To Be Continued. . .