The Strife Of Riley

Riley screamed and turned to run. The cyborg grabbed a fistful of shirt and pulled; Riley's momentum propelling her in the opposite direction. The buttons of her shirt burst open. She wriggled free and ran for her life.

Cameron stared emotionless at the balled garment in her fist then tossed it aside. She set off in pursuit at an unhurried pace. They were heading away from the buildings, away from any possible hiding place. It was just a matter of time now.

Stupid! So freaking stupid! Riley berated herself. Of course they can mimic voices. I knew that. Yet I almost walked - hell, I ran - straight into a trap.

The buildings receded behind her. She was in the quarry proper now. Vast mounds of gravel and shale spoil lined the rutted roadways normally traversed by earth-moving vehicles. They towered above her, huge dunes that seemed endless, like a desert or a desolate shingle beach with the tide out.

Riley glanced behind her. There she was. Not even hurrying.

She doesn't need to. There's nowhere to run here.

She felt a stitch beginning in her side. So soon? I'm not even putting up much of a fight.

The roadway ended with a chainlink fence, rusty in places but sturdy enough. Climb? No, she'd be plucked off the wire like a ripe fruit. Instead she veered right, up the slope of the gravel spoil, her footing unsure and panicky. Bambi on ice!

Crunch! Crunch!

Cameron was following. Riley risked another glance behind and was gratified to see that the cyborg was finding the going just as treacherous, legs sinking up to her knees in gravel.

They're heavier than us. Perhaps I can put some distance between us and circle back to the buildings.

She crested the rise and was astonished to find herself looking down at a huge crater several hundred yards across with a peagreen lake at the center. This must be where they quarried whatever aggregate they quarried. Neglect had allowed rain and groundwater to fill this vast hole in the ground. Perhaps I could swim out to the middle? They don't swim. No. The water seemed placid enough but it would be cold and deeper than it appeared, and the sides were steep. Once in she'd never get out again. Perhaps I could-

Falling!

Her right leg gave way and she fell sprawling on her back, sliding backwards down the slope towards the water. The coarse gravel scoured her bare flesh, grinding, purging. Her bra clasp burst open but that was the least of her worries. She was heading for the water and certain death. Frantically she dug her heels in and managed to arrest the slide. The loose fines enveloped her, cascading over her breasts to fill her nose and eyes. For a second she was blind, then blinked and wished she was.

"Oh please, no!"

Cameron stood over her. From somewhere she'd found a long iron bar and now raised it above her head.

It's over!

BOOM! click BOOM!

The first shotgun blast missed entirely. The second managed only a glancing blow. But on the treacherous loose ground it was enough. Cameron lost her balance and rolled sideways down the slope, still gaining speed as she entered the water and disappeared below the surface.

Jesse stood on the crest. A dark silhouette. Black jeans. Black vest. Dark sunglasses. She cradled the shotgun and quipped, "What's with the topless show, love?"

"She tore my shirt off."

"Kinky. Put 'em away, there's a good girl."

Riley covered what needed covering. "Is she dead?"

"Doubt it. They're tough buggers to kill. But that looks a bloody deep hole. We've got a decent headstart if nothing else."

"If you hadn't come when you did..."

"You know me, babe. Never miss a good tear up. Now, where's this bambino I've heard so much about? I'd like to meet the girl who grows up to be a monster."

"Broken neck. Standard MO. Quiet. No mess. Least it was quick. She didn't suffer.

Jesse and Riley stared at the body of Allison Young's mother stowed in the jeep's trunk.

"She's nice," Riley said sadly. "She grows tomatoes."

"Not any more."

Jesse blew out the tires with her pistol then joined Riley and Allison in her car. She'd given Riley a socceroos sweater to wear. Allison lay sleeping in her carrycot.

"You realise your cover's blown. You can't see John anymore."

Riley found she didn't really care that much and thought the feeling was probably mutual. "I did it, you know. With him. Twice."

"Good for you, love. So how was the man of legend? Did he measure up?"

"Oh he measured up all right."

Jesse and Riley grinned at each other, suddenly like two carefree single girls with nothing on their minds but the weekend and the boys they'd meet. It didn't last.

"What did she want with the baby?"

"Who knows? Their minds work different from ours. Nothing good I'll bet."

"What are we going to do about Allison?"

"Isn't it obvious?"

"Orphanage?"

"Dead on Jay Day. And from what you've told me she's a valuable asset in the future."

"What then?"

"You've got to look after her. Raise her as your own. Do a Sarah Connor and teach her all the stuff she'll need to survive."

"I can't raise a baby!"

"Sure you can, love. I'll give you some diamonds. Half a mill ought to buy a house and a new identity. What you do after that's up to you."

"I can't, Jesse."

"There's no else. And no one better suited. Think about it."

She's right. There is no one better suited. All I have to do is teach Allison the things she taught me. Ironic. Or something deeper. Synchronicity perhaps. Our roles reversed, fate inverted.

"Three quarters of a million," she wheedled. "And a brand new car."

Jesse smiled. "That's my girl."

Behind them Allison Young began to cry. She'd pooped her diaper.

Shit happens.

Inevitably.

-0-

CODA

Night. The moon shone out of a cloudless sky making the surface of the quarry lake appear as flat as a mirror.

Splash!

A hand breaks the surface, ending the illusion and creates small ripples that radiate away. An arm follows, then a head, and finally Cameron Baum hauls herself from the depths. It has taken six hours. The water was deep and the sides steep and precarious. Twice she'd almost made it out only for a landslide to send her plummeting almost all the way to the bottom. But she perseveres. She knows neither frustration or despair, nor will she countenance failure. She is a terminator. She will be back. Always.

On the crest of the gravel spoil she surveys the quarry, scanning in all spectrums. Infra-red reveals tiny white blobs that are most likely nocturnal mammals foraging. She ignores them, just as she ignores the jeep with its four flat tires. Instead she heads for the acess road and the highway beyond.

It is never difficult for a pretty teenage girl in wet clingy clothing to hitch a ride. No sooner does Cameron reach the main road than a red Mustang draws up and a fratboy in a letterman jacket leans out and yells, "Hey baby, wanna ride?"

She says nothing, simply opens the passenger door and gets in.

"What happened to you? Win a wet tee shirt contest?" The fratboy chortles at his own wit. Buzzed on cheap alcohol, he feels things are slotting into place. School's out and now this fine slice of cherry pie falls into my lap. Ni-ce... The future beckoned before him like a bright empty highway.

Cameron removes her sodden shirt and drops it out the window. She notices her companion leering. "You like the twins? I named them. It's not compulsory."

"Sweet!"

"Take off your jacket and give it to me."

The fratboy eagerly complies; at that moment he'd have given her everything he owned.

"Anything else? Name it, babe. It's yours."

"I want your car."

She grasps the steering wheel in one hand and his throat in the other and begins to squeeze.

The bright future recedes to a diminishing point of light.

And is extinguished.

THE END

I deliberately kept Cameron's motives for kidnapping baby Allison mysterious - just as it would seem to Riley whose POV it is. Sometimes you don't need to fill in all the blanks.

Don't think the timelines are disturbed. It's still possible Allison Young will be captured by Skynet and 'become' Cameron, so to speak.

Thanks for reading. Hope you enjoyed it. Let me know.