Chuck versus Mom
Chuck jerked awake and found himself sitting bolt upright in bed.
"What's the matter?" asked Sarah coming awake instantly and hitting the light switch. Then when she lightly rested her hand on his shoulder and felt his clammy skin and the way his whole body was shaking, she asked again in a much more concerned tone, "Chuck, what is the matter?"
For nearly thirty seconds Chuck didn't respond as he remained trapped in the lingering aftereffects of the nightmare. And it seemed more bizarre than any dream he could ever remember, even more bizarre than any dream he had ever heard of. Who dreamed they were some kind of robot covered in human flesh? And then that their Mother had killed them? Oh, others had probably dreamed of their Mother's killing them, but who dreamed of being a machine?
"Really bad nightmare," said Chuck finally.
"Do you want to talk about it?"
Chuck shrugged, but then almost immediately began speaking. "It was the weirdest thing. Okay, you know how I have been searching for my Mother? In the nightmare I had found her and was at my first meeting with her. And then it turned strange. My Mom was yelling and screaming that I wasn't her son, but some robot sent to replace him. Then she used this really big, almost monstrous rifle thing to shoot me in the chest. And as I collapsed to the floor dying, it suddenly was true. I was seeing all these readouts in my head giving status for the various mechanical systems inside my body.
"But the truly weird part was that it all felt so real. It even began with me waking from another nightmare, which is probably why it felt so real," said Chuck, finally winding down as he realized he was beginning to repeat himself.
"A dream within a dream," mused Sarah. "From the psych classes the Agency required me to take, that's very rare."
"A dream within a dream," repeated Chuck. Then he sharply exclaimed, "Damn!"
"What is it?" asked Sarah, as she moved around behind him and began kneading his shoulders.
"Oh, I think I suddenly understand the cause of the dream," stated Chuck.
Sarah paused with her hands resting lightly on his shoulders as she waited for him to continue.
"Since you had the seminar this evening, Morgan and I went to the movies and watched 'Inception', the one about dreams within dreams, twice, back-to-back. Then on our way home, we stopped and had a pizza with anchovies."
"Chuck," began Sarah, now relaxing a little and starting to work on his tense neck muscles again. "You know you always have bad dreams after eating anchovies. Whatever possessed you to do that?"
Chuck felt his body start to relax, a little, as the realization sank in of how simple the explanation for the whole situation was. "You know how it is. Sometimes when Morgan and I are out together, it is like we are fifteen again and I just can't help myself from doing idiotic things."
Sarah was just about to kiddingly chide him over his juvenile behavior when they were interrupted by a loud crash out in the apartment's hallway. It was immediately followed by a high pitched scream that had to be Morgan. And then the scream was abruptly cut off by a loud guttural bark she immediately recognized to be an automatic weapon – something bigger and heavier than an M-16.
Sarah gave Chuck a surprisingly hard shove to the back, but she was a strong, athletic girl and her adrenaline had immediately kicked into overdrive. As Chuck tumbled off the end of the bed, she was already diving for her Glock which was in its customary place under her pillow.
Chuck had just righted himself with his head sticking up barely over the edge of the bed when the door leading to the hallway came crashing into the room. And following it into the room was a monster. Oh, not a huge monster, rather a petite monster, but a monster all the same.
And the monstrous part was that it was wearing the face of his Mother - the youthful face from the lone photo Chuck possessed of her. The one where she had been sitting in the open Jeep with a large German Shepard in the seat beside her.
No, the monstrous part was when she turned so he could see the right half of her face. At first glance she could almost pass for human. But then Chuck got a look at the right half of her face. Large chunks of her hair and skin were missing and a chrome-plated skull showed through. And where her right eye should have been, there was instead some kind of camera device lit by an eerier inner red glow.
Sarah must have realized this creature, this thing, was no human being for she instantly opened up on it with her weapon. And as Chuck spared a glance in her direction, he realized Sarah looked like a mythical lioness protecting her mate - from her mane of golden hair to the intent, determined expression on her face, to her momentarily forgotten gloriously naked body.
Then Chuck's attention was drawn back to the mother-monster. She was wearing a white tank top tee and gray sweat pants and they immediately began to display blossoms of red as Sarah's rounds hit home.
But the rounds didn't knock her down; they merely rocked her back on her heels briefly. Then she raised her right arm from where it had been hanging half-hidden or at least half-hidden from Chuck's angle. For he immediately understood from her position up on the bed Sarah would have seen it from the moment the monster had entered the room and that was probably a large part of the reason she had opened fire as quickly as she had.
For the arm was not human, but some skeletal construction of rods and linkages, pulleys and actuators. And it wasn't bright, shiny metallic. No, it was liberally coated with blood and gore. And that was when he realized it was a creature just like he had been in his nightmare. It was a robot sheathed in human skin. And it suddenly felt like Chuck was trapped back in almost the same nightmare again.
But before Chuck had time to comprehend any more of what this meant, the mother-monster had finished raising its right arm and he saw the BFG clenched in the skeletal metallic hand. He wanted to shout to draw its attention away from Sarah, but it was too late. The metal finger closed on the trigger and a wave of murderous projectiles raced across the eight feet separating it from Sarah.
The bullets punched into and through Sarah's naked body. They slammed her off the side of the bed and into the bright yellow wall. She fell limply to the floor leaving a series of long red streaks on the once pristine surface.
Chuck stared in shock at her body. She had been hit at least half a dozen times and was definitely dead before she had even reached the floor. Sarah was dead. They had been through so many dangerous, life threatening situations and then it all ends like this. And it had happened so unexpectedly and quick. He never thought it would happen or at least that they would have a chance to say a final goodbye.
He was still staring at Sarah as the killer robot that pretended to be human moved closer. Suddenly, it was looming over him and he was forced to look up.
"Mommy's home," it exclaimed with an attempt at an evil grin. But with most of the right side of its face missing, it didn't have the intended impact. No, Chuck was mostly numb and falling into shock and the only thing that struck him was the absurdity of pearl white teeth embedded into the chrome-plated jaw.
Then as the metallic hand once again lifted the BFG, Chuck found himself chanting in his head, 'Let this be a dream. Let this be a dream. Let this be a dream.' Because this couldn't be real, they weren't supposed to die like this.
But as he heard the faint whir of actuators and pulleys tightening the finger on the trigger, his thoughts went back to Sarah. At least, he thought, as the hammer clicked down on the chambered round, Sarah and he would soon be together again.
Let this be a dream, he thought one last time before being swallowed by darkness.
End of Chapter 3