Chapter 2: Hang Fire

Chapter 2 “Hang Fire”

The Playground, is like a world on its own. A place where you can witness happiness, misery, war, camaraderie, innovation and destruction.
Children running around laughing while playing tag; A shy one sits on a swing looking at how happy the other kids are; A band of boys dodging each other while shooting water guns; A girl helps her little brother learn how to ride a bike; Two best friends playing on the sand box building castles; And a gang led by a bully vandalizes the see-saw at the corner.

Sarah sits on a bench near the slide. Keeping an eye on a boy who joyfully climbs the ladder then waves at her before sliding down. She smiles faintly, trying to hold on to this moment, knowing that it won’t last.
The boy rushes to climb back up again that he almost slipped but kept his balance.
Sarah stood up instantly, and yelled “Be careful!”
The boy looked back and gave her an assuring smile, then ran towards Sarah and hugged her.
“I’m okay mommy.” The boy said and kissed her on the cheek. He ran back to go up the slide again.
Sarah quietly stared at her son, wishing she could freeze time.

Sarah stood frozen outside the door of Cameron’s room, watching John trying to help fix the damaged Cameron. Sarah looks down, immersed on thoughts of john, on how strong he has always been. But he never showed it.
She hears someone entered the front door and heads over to see who it was.

Cameron evaluates the possible damages that she sustained. Her HUD shows that she’s scanning for errors. She tries to raise her right arm but can only manage an inch high.
“I need to repair it.” She told John, who was looking at her tentatively.
“Yeah, I can see that.” John answered frankly.
He looks at Cameron like there was no hope for her.
“What will you do about the-.”John couldn’t finish his words, pointing at his own face.
“The damaged tissues? I already have the required tissue for skin grafting. But I still don’t have the material needed to heal it faster. I’ll worry about that later. I need to repair my arms first.” Explained Cameron.
“I was gonna say ‘the eye’, but yeah that too.” Said John, feeling a little dazed by what she just said.
“My eye?” asked Cameron.
“Yeah, you can’t walk around missing an eye.” Replied john. “And remember you’re going to the prom? With Morris.” He added jokingly.
“Prom?” questioned Cameron.
“Never mind, just go and do what you need to do.” John said calmly.
“I’ll worry about the eye later.” said Cameron.
“Since when do you worry about things?” asked John, fazed by Cameron’s continuous display of human emotions.
“Just making conversation.” Answered Cameron without looking at him.
John shook his head with a grin on his face.

Sarah found Derek in the kitchen, catching his breath.
“You ok?” asked Sarah.
“Yeah, I wanted to get back as fast as I could. How’s John?” said Derek.
“He’s fine. He’s helping Cameron. How did it go?” inquired Sarah.
“I towed the Jeep and left it at the back of a junk yard.” Derek informed Sarah. “Listen, we have to get out of this house right now. Whoever did this might come back.” Derek added immediately.
“We can’t just leave yet. Not now.” Answered Sarah.
Derek looked at her questioningly.
“Why not?” Derek asked furiously.
Sarah took a moment to answer, “Cameron’s damaged, we need her. We can’t run without her.” Sarah said to Derek pressingly.
Derek looked at her like she doesn’t know what she’s talking about.
“But you have to go.” Uttered Sarah.
“What?” asked Derek.
“Find somewhere safe, hide, just for a while.” Said Sarah.
Derek stood there staring at her.
“I called someone for help. If he sees you, he might change his mind and arrest you.” Said Sarah.
“Ellison? You called Ellison?” said Derek feeling a little stunned. “Why? What for? Are you forgetting that he’s also after you?”
“It’s a long story. I’ll tell you everything when it’s all sorted out.” Explained Sarah.
“Fine.” Said Derek then sits on the dining chair.
“I need you to go now.” Said Sarah with a faint smile.
“Okay, I’m going.” Said Derek.
Sarah takes her cell phone from her pocket and hands it to Derek.
“Here take this. We’ll call you as soon as I’m sure that I’ve convinced Ellison about your case.” said Sarah.
Derek walked closer to Sarah. And looked directly into her eyes.
“Be careful. Don’t be too confident about Ellison.” Warned Derek.
“I know.” Said Sarah.
Derek takes a moment to look at her, and when Sarah nodded, he took it as a sign saying that everything’s fine; he left.

A man in a black shirt looks at his reflection on a dusty, cracked mirror on the wall. Even in his blurred image, his wounds were clearly visible. His face and neck brimming with gunshot wounds. He looks down on his left arm which had gashes all over it. The man touches a wound on his face revealing a small, gleaming, silver surface. He looks back at the mirror once more, his eyes glowed red.

Charley is sitting on the stairs near the pool, looking at the body bags being lifted at the back of the ambulance. He seemed worked-up and lost seeing these events unfold. A man in a suit approaches him.
“Mr. Dixon, I’m Agent Stewart.” He said. Charley stands up and shakes his hand.
“I believe you’re the first one to respond on the scene?” He continued.
“Yes.” Answered Charley.
“Have you seen Agent Ellison?” asked Agent Stewart.
“He was when I got here but then he left, he said he needed to go somewhere.” Said Charley.
“Did he say where he was going?” asked Agent Stewart.
“He didn’t say. He did mention it was important.” Replied Charley.
“Thank you Mr. Dixon.” Said Agent Stewart then he turned to leave.
“I saw this man, Kester, I saw him leave.” Said Charley his voice trembling.
Agent Stewart turned to face him.
“I just arrived when I saw him at the gate.” Continued Charley.
“He walked away without any injuries?” Asked Agent Stewart, bewildered by what he heard.
“He had gunshot wounds all over him.” Told Charley.
Agent Stewart stared at him like he was delusional.
“It’s impossible.” He said. “No human can ever survive that.” Added Agent Stewart.
He then turned and leaved.
“It’s because he’s not human.” Charley said aloud to himself.

Sarah entered Cameron’s room. John walked towards her.
“How is she?” asked Sarah.
“She’s doing repairs, her arm, wires were damaged. It needs to be fixed before the skin grafting.” Explained john.
“Anything I can do?” asked Sarah.
“Well, she did say that she needs an ECM, powdered form or something. It’s to repair the tissues.” Said John.
“What’s ECM?” asked Sarah.
“Extra Cellular Matrix.” It was Cameron who answered Sarah while still doing repairs and then continued, ECM causes regrowing and healing of the tissues. It facilitates the surrounding cells to repair it instead of forming scar tissues. And in a much faster rate.” Explained Cameron.
“I’ve never heard of it. Does it work?” Inquired Sarah.
“Research is currently being done by universities as well as the U.S government for wounded soldier applications. Scientists are using powdered form on Iraq war veterans whose hands were damaged in war.” Explained Cameron.
“How did you know about this?” It was John who asked this time.
“The research was a success. ECM was used during the year 2010 when the war re-ignited between the United States and Iraq. Many soldiers benefited from it.” Said Cameron.
“There’ll be a war?” asked Sarah, “Aside from the war that we’re trying to prevent from happening?” She asked after a brief pause.
“Yes.” Replied Cameron.
“Sometimes I wonder why we’re wasting our time and our lives trying to stop Skynet from starting a war against humanity. When we, humans, engage in wars that kill millions of people.” John said desolately.
“Because you care.” Cameron said bluntly.
“Do you even know what ‘care’ means?” Said a surprised Sarah, then looked at John questioningly.
“Don’t ask.” John said, “So where are we gonna get this ECM?” He added, looking at Cameron.
“Please tell me we don’t have to steal or kill anyone for it.” Said Sarah, sounding very concerned.
"No, we don’t have to steal or kill anyone for it.” Replied Cameron moving her right arm, testing it.
“Is it fixed?” John asked.
“Yes.’ Cameron said to John the she looked at Sarah and said, “There are 15 containers of ECM stored in a Storage facility. Locker number 715. Location: 7500 Whitsett Avenue.
“Does Derek know about this storage?” asked John.
“No. Only the Engineer knows about it.” Said Cameron.
“Who is this ‘Engineer’?” Questioned Sarah.
“Is he still alive? Is he here?” Asked John.
“Yes and No.” replied Cameron, “No, she’s not here at this time.” She added.
“You said ‘she’, does she have a name or-“ Sarah was interrupted by a knock on the front door.
Sarah took a 9mm hidden under Cameron’s table.
“Stay here.” She said to John, “You too.” She told Cameron when she stood up.
Sarah left the room and quietly walked towards the door. She look closely at the person at the other side. She recognized the face then tucked the gun at the back of her jeans and opened the door.
“Agent Ellison, thank you for coming. I don’t know anyone else who can help us.” Said Sarah.
“I’m glad you called. Anything I can do to help. You saved my life, It’s the least that I can do.” He said sincerely. “And I believe you.” He added.
Sarah felt a little glint of hope. Like the weight of the world on her shoulders suddenly felt a pound lighter, and another step closer at stopping Skynet.

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