NOTES: This is a prequel to "Only Lonely" and "Fuzzy Dice". It's not necessary to have read those stories, but I'd recommend it.
SUMMARY: After capturing a new type of terminator General Connor faces a personal crisis, while his future father confronts a frightening new enemy in the forbidden wastes of the Arctic Circle. Prequel to the 'Only Lonely' series.
DISCLAIMER: All characters herein are the property of someone other than me. No profit has been earned.
"The Killer I Created"
"Here it comes… the monster's gonna get you…"
Slowly and with one digit at a time, John Connor walked his fingertips up a pair of tiny feet, prodding lightly at the rosy pink soles and listening to the obligatory giggles of his four-month old daughter. She began wriggling in his lap, face scrunching up into a silent guffaw as she anticipated what was to come, her tiny face awash with pure, unrestrained, infantile joy.
John's heart filled up like a balloon.
Even though he was prepared for it, he never truly realised what it was going to be like to become a father. The worry, the joy, the exhaustion, the momentousness of it all. Sometimes it rushed him and felt like too much, like he was coming apart at the seams with the awesome responsibility of an entire human life. 'Saviour of humanity' indeed. He was destined to be responsible for the lives of every human being left in existence. But then, in their secluded hideaway from the rest of the world – his family was all that existed.
His fingers crept up onto the woolly fabric of her sleepsuit, walking their way slowly up her belly.
"There's no escape… watch out…"
John wondered if this was the way his father would have felt if he'd had the chance, whether they would have played silly games together. He thought it was and it made his heart ache, like he was connecting though some tendril of metaphysics to the parent he never knew. It was just one more joy little Sarah Connor brought into his life.
When she had been born, his mother had rushed to be there, completing as soon as possible whatever mission she'd been on and raced to the lighthouse. Things like that only happened once. He'd placed her into the arms of her grandmother and watched the fearsome woman's iron will dissolve in seconds, crying in a way he'd never seen as she'd kissed and fussed endlessly, counting fingers and toes and cooed over her for hours. Then when those perfect emerald eyes had opened and looked up into hers, she had fallen for her. Hard. Ten-fold when John told her what her name was.
'Now no matter what happens, they'll always be a Sarah Connor.'
Little Sarah's face widened into an open mouthed smile, freezing as she waited with bated breath the ecstatic conclusion to their game.
Johns' fingers sprinted the rest of the way, springing out to land gently on the sides of her face.
He withdrew his hand and she let out a squeal of joy, wriggling in his arms with deceptive strength, laughing and gurgling so hard she gave herself the hiccups. John's smile stretched from ear to ear.
When she had woke him up a few minutes ago with her cries he had groaned that it was far too early and that work lay ahead, aching at the thought of getting up but wanting to anyway. Nothing was too much for little Sarah. Then as he picked her up and taken her in his arms he had remembered that today was Sunday, a holy day by anyone's measure, even the staunchest atheist, and all went right with the world.
"You're supposed to be getting her back to sleep."
John looked up as Cameron slipped into the room, a laundry basket clutched under her arm. It had been months since Sarah was born, but he was still getting used to his wife's slimmed physique.
"Impossible!" He looked down at the little bundle in his arms, his every word and expression ridiculously exaggerated. "Nothing can make this little creature sleep! She's nuclear!"
Cameron raised an eyebrow, mouth curling furtively as she folded some freshly washed baby clothes into a dresser draw, listening to the little laughs as John rubbed Sarah's belly. "That's unlikely, John."
"Oh? Well then how do we explain all the nuclear waste she keeps producing, hmm?" His eyes never left Sarah as she looked up at him with a grin of mischief. "Last time she needed a change daddy had to get the gas mask from the wardrobe, didn't he?" He began tickling her feet and the fits of laughter began again.
Cameron slid the draw shut and looked over at father and daughter. Sometimes she wondering just who was bewitching who.
John groaned as he got to his feet, curling his arms beneath Sarah as he walked towards her mother. "Mommy's gonna look after you now for a little bit. I won't be gone long." Whenever they were together, Cameron had observed, John always insisted on telling Sarah everything that was going on and what was about to happen. She didn't have the heart to tell him that she had yet to develop the necessary speech perceptions to understand him.
Cameron reached out with cradled arms as he passed her over, sliding his hands out beneath her as Cameron took charge of their daughter, holding her close and running a biometric scan. Everything was fine. Sarah had always been very healthy.
"I'm gonna go take a shower." She favoured him with brief but pleasant glance, too wrapped up in her child as she stroked her cheek with the tenderness only a mother could bestow. John smiled and slipped quietly out of the door.
He glanced at the windowsill as he entered the living room. The clock read 5:27am. He groaned inwardly. Too early. The only time he ever usually saw the world this early was because he'd been up all night, not woke up to see it. John was not and never would be a 'morning person'. Nothing short of an imminent attack or the cries of his daughter could stir him at this hour. He was glad that it had been the latter.
In fact, ever since they had moved here to this isolated cabin, there had been no Skynet activity at all. That had been the plan. Before Sarah had been born he had always intended to move again, had found this place in a national park forest of Washington state, complete with a half-decent job in the nearby town. It was the perfect, out-of-the-way place for the two of them to disappear to and begin raising their daughter in peace.
John took a moment before performing his morning ablutions and headed for the fireplace. Aside from the bit of circulatory hallway between the two bedrooms and the bathroom at the back, the cabin was mostly open plan. The kitchen and lounge were pretty much the same thing and took up the majority of the rustic dwelling, six windows and a door the only portals to the snowy forest outside, the roof space a triangular void of crisscrossing timber. The walls were rolling tree trunks packed tight together with chinking mortar, the hearth a column of grey stone and so long as it stayed lit, easily kept the place cosy and warm.
John really liked it here.
In addition to its rustic charm and secure isolation, the cabin had been mercifully furnished with modern appliances by the owners, a delightful elderly couple that lived in town. A fridge and freezer, a washing machine and gas boiler in the daylight basement, no television but after a few weeks neither of them missed it. What was available however, to John's constant relief, was a working phone line, even out to this distance so that he could stay in contact with his mom and Charlie.
When they had moved, John had made it sudden and without warning. He wanted to make sure that neither of them knew until it was done. Derek was no longer an issue – they'd heard nothing from him for almost a year now.
No one knew exactly where they were and John had devised the most elaborate system for identity challenge the Connors had employed yet. Nothing would compromise little Sarah's safety and he was always careful never to let slip any clues as to where they were. At first Sarah had been nearly distraught, John had known she would be, but in the end she had agreed and felt better for it knowing that they were safe and she and Charlie could concentrate on stopping Skynet.
In the living room, the dog lay spark out next to the embers of the log fire, gorged on turkey giblets and farting like a trooper as he warmed his bloated belly. He didn't do mornings either. John reached over him and opened the doors to the wood-burning stove, tossing in a few split tinders and dried pinecones, rousing the fire back to life. The dog opened an eye to look around, then went back to sleep.
"You're supposed to be a guard dog," John grumbled, swinging the doors shut with a metallic yawn. "Eat and sleep. That's all you do." He shook his head and patted him before heading back the way he came on his way to the bathroom. He locked the door and swung the shower lever, hearing the distant sound of the gas boiler rumble into action as he waved his hand under the warming spray. He picked up his toothbrush and looked in the mirror. What stared back nearly gave him a heart attack.
A quarter of an hour later, he stepped out of the bathroom feeling and looking decidedly more human, even more so after he brewed a little nouveau mug of espresso from the chic coffeemaker and downed it like a shot of bourbon. His evolution from haggard Neanderthal was now complete and the modern man called John Connor made his way quietly back into Sarah's room.
He peered around the door to find Cameron sitting in the rocking chair in the corner, little Sarah at her bosom beneath the folds of her dressing gown. He stifled a sigh. They looked so perfect together.
Cameron of course, being a terminator, didn't need to re-evolve every morning quite like he did. She looked great whether it was the break of dawn or the middle of the night. He loved and hated it about her. But then again, the whole purpose of evolution was to make things better, more suitable for the task.
John grinned with a little pride in his partner. You couldn't improve on perfection.
Cameron looked up and gave one of her brilliant smiles, the one that made him feel weak and unworthy, ready to drop to his knees and wrap his arms around her waist and thank her for saving him from a life of running and hiding, living in the fearful shadow of his destiny. Being with her made everything seem possible, that every obstacle that lay ahead was a surmountable challenge he no longer had to fear. She trusted him, believed in him, loved him, and in so doing had given him something he never imagined he would ever be entitled to.
"Hungry again?" He whispered, moving inside next to them, softly so as not to disturb Sarah from her morning feed.
Despite his preparations, John had been a little unclear as to how often Sarah would need feeding. Should it be when they ate at mealtimes? Every hour? Should there be a schedule? As it turned out, Sarah was rather vocal on the subject and had her parents at her beck and call day and night. Last night in fact had a reanimated John hunched over a pan of boiling water, despite Cameron's logical objections, reheating a bottle of expressed milk at one o'clock in the morning. Cameron didn't need sleep and was perfectly willing to foot the majority of the leg work in caring for their daughter, but John didn't see it that way.
Caring for Sarah made him feel close to her, like they were connecting on a very deep and personal level. He was giving her what she needed to grow and survive – she was making his life worth living. Actually, she made every struggle and hardship he had ever endured feel worth it, like everything had led to this and he was no longer a ticking clock or a plan waiting to happen. He felt like John Connor was actually and finally happening rather than a work-in-progress. Raising Sarah was not a drill or a preparation for some great task – it was real, the results plain to see – not some far off destiny that lay years ahead.
Sarah detached from her mother and hiccupped, settling back in Camerons' arms with a humungous yawn. She'd had her fill and was now ready to go back to sleep. John shook his head, still amazed that Cameron could even have children, let alone breastfeed. It was such a natural and human thing to do – such an incredible length for Skynet to go in order to convince that she was human.
He had thought about it at length actually, pondering the limitless depravities he knew of the machine-god's science, wondering whatever would have possessed it to give her these abilities. Rational and methodical reflection had settled on the logical answer after going over and over the recording of his meeting with Daniel Phillips, his mind unencumbered by Derek or his mothers' prejudices and paranoia. It was simple really.
Skynet had never intended it.
How did it even create living tissue for its terminators? From scratch? Unlikely. It must have been cultivated from existing material – human prisoners – if not for Cameron herself then her lineage back to the first T800 must have had some natural beginnings, even if Skynet just copied the genetic code and recreated it. The problem with that was how to suppress a billion years of evolutionary instinct encoded in every strand of DNA that commanded its cells to propagate, reproduce and survive no matter what?
On some fundamental level, it would always want to subsist and multiply. Skynet's perverse designs could not be separated from those instincts any more than you could extract the flour from baked bread. Perhaps in Cameron, for whatever reason, life had found a way around the rules it imposed, a loophole that Skynet missed, leaving its every machine power and synthetic enhancement to life's ruthless imagination.
What things might life create in the face of such power?
"What are you thinking about?" Cameron asked as she wrapped Sarah in the blanket, cocooning her so she was snug and secure.
John stared at her, then smiled and shook his head, dismissing his lugubrious thoughts. "Nothing…" He reached out with a finger and stroked his daughter's chubby cheek. "I'm not thinking about anything."
Together they carried Sarah to her crib as she drifted off, placing her down between the softwood sides onto the firm mattress. Cameron tucked her in as John arranged her teddy bears, positioning them around her like samurai guardians. With a flick of his hand he sent the crib gym in a delicate spin, the tiny bells and coloured reflectors jingling softly above her, sending a glitter of refracted light across the inside of the cradle.
"See you in a few hours," John leaned in a kissed her cheek, giving her belly a farewell pat. "Sweet dreams."
He clicked on the baby monitor and tiptoed to the door with ninjutsu stealth, opening it quietly and turning back in time to see Cameron kiss her goodnight before joining him in the hallway. He slid the door shut like they were disarming a bomb, turning the handle as he pulled it to and released it without a sound. Both of them breathed a sigh of relief.
After they had gone, little Sarah opened her eyes, sensing the absence of her parents and gazed up at the lightshow above. Her arms reached out to capture them, scooping at the air with her tiny fingers in vain as she was hypnotised to sleep. She felt very safe and secure, her belly full as a tick, her cuddly protectors standing vigilant around the perimeter of her bed, keeping any monsters at bay.
Sleep beckoned to her and she felt its weighty tug, pulling her down into dreams of things and places she had never seen or been, watching as the singular colour that always drew her fascination bled through to dominance amidst the twinkling lights.
She smiled as she saw it, so unlike the others in its remarkable beauty. A thing to be savoured and adored. She had already made the decision, even at this tender age, that of all the others she could see it was by far and away her favourite and would always be.
Red. Without any shadow of doubt. Her favourite colour was red.
Out in the hallway, John scrunched his face in a mock breakdown and slouched heavily into Cameron's arms. "I love her to pieces, but she's a handful sometimes."
Cameron bore his weight effortlessly as she patted his back. "You've been handling fatherhood very well, John. I'm impressed."
He lifted his head from her shoulder, grinning salaciously as his vigour returned. "Impressed, huh?" His eyebrows twitched up and down. "Does that mean it's reward time?"
Her mouth curled coyly. "Yes," John felt his heart sink for a fleeting instant, the way it always did when sex with Cameron was imminent. He felt his loins warm and he leaned in for a kiss.
"I will make you breakfast."
John froze. She planted a quick peck on his mouth and walked out of his arms towards the kitchen. Her absence was like having the blankets pulled off him on a winter's morning, nearly painful as the burgeoning activity in his pants fizzled out. Cameron could be a virginal tease sometimes and a kinky nymphomaniac the next. He loved and hated it about her.
Cameron twisted the dial on the cooker and one of the rings beneath the glass-ceramic cooktop reddened in the seconds she used to gather the various ingredients for pancakes. John slipped into a chair at the kitchen table, content with the conciliation prize of watching Cameron's shapely behind as she made him breakfast. He rested his chin in his hand, smiling like a cat, deciding he'd like to see the back of her head later on when he took her to their bedroom and a gave her a bit of…
John froze and stared blankly. For an instant he was fourteen again and had just been caught watching porn. "Huh…?"
"You were going to chop some wood this morning, John. For the fire."
His eyes scrunched as he remembered. "Oh yeah. Umm…" He slid up from the table and made his way to the door, lifting his coat off the hanger and pulling out his hiking boots. "I'll go do some."
"You don't have to go now. Have your breakfast first."
He shrugged on the jacket and the zipper sang upwards. "It's okay. I won't be long. Some morning air will do me good."
Cold air rushed in as he headed out, fumbling a pair of gloves on as he walked across the timber porch and down some short steps, heading off around the rear of the house. He returned about ten minutes later with an armful of split timber, finding Cameron nowhere to be seen and a laid table with his breakfast waiting for him – a stack of dripping pancakes and blueberries, maple syrup, fresh coffee and orange juice, a slice of pink grapefruit to finish. The centre of the table was plush with condiments and a narrow vase sprouted the fully bloomed stem of a pink-white rose.
John offloaded the firewood into the basket next to the stove, wasting no time removing his coat and boots before seating himself down at the table. Camerons' pancakes should be a national treasure. Sweet and fluffy, perfect every time. He'd have them every morning if she didn't insist it only be a weekend treat. His health and vitality were always sources of concern for her. The last time she'd caught him smoking she'd nearly snapped both his hands off at the wrists and they'd been no sex for a week.
No way in hell was he enduring that again.
John finished his breakfast and washed it all down with the orange pulp remnants of his juice, retiring to the couch with his cup of coffee after he'd washed up and cleared the table. The dog groaned awake and rolled over, staring at him as his ears hung haphazardly around his face. He looked genuinely miffed that he'd missed breakfast and whatever morsel he could've guilted from his master.
"Don't worry…" He assured him. "You've got more giblets coming tonight."
As if understanding every word, the dog huffed out a laboured breath and rolled over back to sleep, happy and content.
John smiled and took a sip of his coffee, ears pricking when he heard the distant thump of the boiler clicking off. Cameron must have been in the shower and now she was finished. Terminator personal hygiene was something he hadn't thought of before meeting her, but in retrospect it made sense. They perspired, shed skin and got dirty like everyone else. It made sense that they'd have to bathe. They even got bad breath. John chuckled to himself at the spark of a memory in which Cameron had had her first bout with an electric toothbrush.
He heard the door to the bathroom open and bare feet pad across the timber floor behind him.
"How was the water? That boiler performing prop…" As he turned to face her his sentence died, his throat drying in seconds.
Cameron was leaning against the edge of the kitchen table just a few feet from him, her hair springy and damp, a fluffy white towel wrapped around her body from her armpits to the top of her thighs. Other than that – nothing.
"You said something about a 'reward', John?"
She walked around the edge of the furniture and John felt that feeling again – the one that made him want to drop to his knees before her, but he held firm. For God's sake! She was his wife and there wasn't a part of her he wasn't intimately familiar with. How the hell did she do this to him?
Cameron reached down and hiked the hem of the towel up what little of her thighs it obscured, sliding herself forward gracefully and straddled his pelvis. Her arms moved around his neck and threaded her fingers into the hair at the back of his head. Her gaze was intense, desire obvious, like a hunger that burnt like fire. He slipped both hands up her thighs, beneath the towel, cupping the warm mounds of flesh he found.
"Is there something I can do for you, Mrs. Connor?" His voice was as cool as the morning air.
He found it hard to believe that there was once a time when he would have freaked out if a girl even spoke to him, clamming up like a barnacle and have nothing witty or interesting to say. He'd been the computer nerd with the psycho-mom the other kids learnt to avoid, awkward in his motions, fashion out of date, zero prospects with the ladies. That seemed a long time ago now.
Now he was a married man and had begun a family. No fear, no uncertainty. With Cameron he had never felt that way. From day one he was comfortable, at ease, so much that he spilled his guts on their second meeting all about his father. He never talked to anyone about his father. Maybe it was because she was a machine – it made it more comfortable for him. Maybe because she was Cameron. She was so easy to talk to, easy to be around, easy to understand, even more so to love.
Nothing about her was hard work or intimidating. Not to him. He loved that about her.
"I love you, John." She said softly, leaning in for a gentle kiss. "Thank you for giving Sarah to me."
Something inside John constricted painfully, chocking him up with the ache of hearing the words he knew were so difficult for her to express, her imperfect programming so often falling short of what she felt and so desperately wanted to tell him.
"Thank you for having her. And I love you too."
They smiled at one another, a perfect moment in time he'd keep with him forever, carry a picture of it around in his head until the day he was put to rest.
With a deft flick of her hand Cameron undid the towel and slipping it off her body like a veil of silk, tossing it away where it sailed through the air and landed over the antlers of a taxidermied moose mask that hung above the fireplace. Oozing warm confidence and nuclear sex appeal, she leaned in close and threaded her arms behind her husband's neck as his gaze moved over her body.
"What do you think, John?"
John felt his lungs deflate as his eyes moved up and down the alabaster perfection of Cameron's naked figure. They'd done a lot of things together in the year they had been a couple, things that would make a hooker blush, had engaged in every one of his fantasies and plenty more besides from the online pantheon of human intercourse. Cameron was a very quick study, and between him and Ann Summers, he'd been the best teacher he could.
"I think…" His mouth curled in a boyish grin. "I may have created a monster…"
Her mouth curled lustfully and she reached to undo his belt, taking John's mouth with hers before they sank down into each others' arms.
The end. At least for now. I hope you've enjoyed this one as much as I've enjoyed writing it. More than anything it's been a great education for me and I think I've become a better writer for it.
I'm thinking of doing an author's review as a chapter 12. I'd go back and explore the origins and inspirations for the story, examine the characters, the symbolism and motifs, probably do a few paragraphs on each chapter, not to mention look at what I liked and disliked about it and what I learnt. Let me know what you think.
Please read and review.