Not far from the Connor’s household
In a darkened alleyway, all was still. Only the gentle rustle of litter broke the silence, drifting aimlessly. Then something odd started happening: There was a charged feeling in the air, not unlike when a storm is coming.
An energy force was gathering steadily, focussing on a single point in the ally. The force concentrated on a spot four feet off the ground, and increased until the air literally buzzed with blue forked lightening.
A metallic sphere, six foot high, swelled out of nowhere and stopped when it touched the ground. The sphere was highly polished and without a single blemish.
Then it melted away, leaving no trace of its presence, and revealed a naked man bent on one knee. He had chiselled features, dark brown hair, and a figure that looked like he lifted planets for a living.
It was the Terminator.
Steam wisped up from the concrete beneath him which had cracked in the heat.
The Terminator drew himself up to his full height and assessed his surroundings.
To his right was a metal gate which led to a shabby block of flats.
The first flat he reached, as chance would have it, was Marcus Burnham’s.
The Terminator saw Marcus through a downstairs window. He was playing on a laptop, had an i-Pod ear-phone in one ear and a mobile to the other.
The Terminator approached the front door and knocked loudly.
It was Mr. Burnham who answered. At first, he froze, and then forced a laugh.
“What is this? Poofs ‘R’ Us?” he jeered.
The Terminator was unused to this kind of mockery and chose to ignore it.
“I need your clothes, your boots ...” he began, and then stopped as he noticed Marcus helping himself to a can of beer.
“Your son is underage to be drinking.” he told Burnham, sternly.
“You came here to lecture me on my kid? Where’s yours, auditioning for Cocks Magazine?”
The Terminator gave Mr. Burnham a deadly look. He recognised a villain when he saw one. With one hand he lifted the man clean off his feet and stepped into his flat.
As Burnham struggled and swore, the door swung shut with a bang.
Burnham punched him in the head but, to his horror, had no effect whatsoever.
Marcus came to see what all the noise was about.
He stopped dead, mouth falling open, gormlessly.
“You’re that guy from the News!” he wheezed, paling, “The one with John Connor who blew up that computer factory!”
“I’m sorry you have to see this.” The Terminator told him and he meant it.
A naked man breaking into your house and attacking your parent is heavy stuff when you’re just a kid.
Then he addressed Mr. Burnham again.
“Give me your clothes, your boots, your vehicle-” he looked at Marcus, “-Your mobile, and your i-Pod.” He added.
The boy threw them over at once.
“You should spend less time with machines.” the Terminator warned him. “In future, they could terminate you.”
The Burnhams threw over everything until the intruder was dressed in full biker’s clothes and Burnham’s favourite T-shirt. The Cyborg pocketed Marcus’ phone, and made to leave.
That’s when he spotted a familiar jacket on the back of the computer chair. He set his eyes to zoom, and identified it as an old friend’s. He snapped his head round.
The Burnhams quavered in the glare he fixed them with.
“When did you last see John Connor?” the Terminator rumbled.
John arrived home once more. By now it was pitch-black, but this time, Sarah didn’t come to meet him. He wasn’t sure how he felt about it as now was a reasonable time to be lectured. All the same, he wasn’t complaining.
Exhausted, he flopped into bed without removing his clothes and fell asleep.
While he slept, he dreamt that his dad, Reese, was alive and had just come home.
Reese was wearing a World War II uniform, and on sight of John he held out his arms and cried tears of joy. John tried to greet him quickly but it was like wading through sea-water. Then his dad started changing into the Terminator. The closer John drew, the more he changed, until he was completely transformed.
He wore a grim expression. His red eye blazed with blood-lust, and in his outstretched hands he now held guns.
“I told you I could never cry.” He growled, shooting John in the chest-
John was woken with a horrible jolt, sweating and shaking.
“John, could you get that? I’m in the shower.” came Sarah’s voice from the bathroom.
Still disorientated, and running on auto-pilot, John scrambled out of bed.
He quickly changed out of last night’s clothes and into jeans and a T-shirt.
Then he hurried downstairs, rubbing sleep from his eyes, and answered the door.
An impressive figure was silhouetted against the morning sunlight.
He was dressed in a biker’s outfit, and there was a jet-black Harley Davidson parked out the front. He had ‘’I’M A GOOD BAD BOY’ in white on his shirt.
“It’s good to be back.” the Terminator said, his eyes crinkling at John in a smile.
John’s face went white as a ghost, feeling like one was on his doorstep now.
The Terminator stepped past him into the hall, and John stared after him.
“I got this back too.” The Terminator added, and held up a jacket.
The boy recognised it as his. The one Burnham stole the other day.
“Thanks.” He said, unable to think what state the Burnhams might be in right now.
The Terminator hung his and John’s jackets up and John silently watched him do so.
“I saw you die.” He faltered.
“Your future self made a copy of my chip.” the other explained. “One that picked up signals from my old one before the body was terminated. It replicated the memories. Come.”
He beckoned John into the sitting room before entering himself.
John approached the doorway, unsteadily, and looked in.
The Terminator was making for an armchair, but then, something above the fireplace caught his eye and he stopped.
John followed his gaze but it was obvious what he had seen.
The Connor family photos lined the whole of the mantelpiece. They were all framed.
The Terminator moved closer and studied them all, slowly and carefully.
The woman in each one was obviously Sarah, but the baby, the toddler, the boy -
“These are all you.”
When other people asked about those pictures, John was embarrassed, but he didn’t mind the Terminator asking. It was important he learnt these things, and John crossed the room towards him.
“Mum took as many as she could while I was still small.”
The Terminator took Burnham’s mobile from his pocket and held it up, looking at John through the screen. The boy grinned.
John moved closer to see, and made a face most people do when seeing photos of themselves.
“My smile’s weird.” he said, critically.
“Maybe you should practice in front of mirror or something.” The other teased.
“Jerk!” The boy punched him playfully and the other smirked and pocketed the mobile again.
“Why do people take photos of each other?”
John dropped his head and shrugged, making for time.
“Because er ... It’s a way of remembering ... what people were.” He blundered.
“So they can compare themselves when they change?”
“Well ... Not compare, exactly. Just appreciate it. It’s what parents do.”
A rather awkward silence followed.
“So,” John said, loudly. “You’re the same machine as before but more advanced?”
“And I sent you back from what time?”
“Later than the T-1000.” The other replied, and then he smirked, “I’m replacing your old machine. Upgraded.” he joked.
But John wasn’t laughing, he was shaking his head in disbelief.
“Does someone erase my memory as I get older or something?”
The Terminator stopped smiling. “No. What do you mean?”
”I mean why the Hell didn’t I send you back before that last machine?”
“Because you didn’t want to interfere with your memories.”
John clutched at his hair, incredulously. “But if you’re the more advanced, then you could have beaten the T-1000, and you would have still been around! You never would have ...”
He couldn’t say ‘died’, but the other one watched his face and guessed the end of the sentence. He put a hand on John’s shoulder.
“Nothing is invincible.” he said, gently. “Not even Cyborgs live forever.”
It was a truth that hurt John in the middle, and his whole body wilted.
“Why did I have to watch you die?” he asked, thickly.
The Terminator fell silent, eyes downcast. His hand dropped from John’s shoulder.
“I have no answer for that,” he said, “because no answer would be a good enough excuse. I’m sorry.”
“That’s not what I meant.” John said, quietly. “That wasn’t your fault ... That was my fault.” He added, humbly.
The Terminator nudged him. “You’re only human.”