Que el comenzar las llamas
"Let the flames begin"
"Let the flames begin"
John leaned against the car door as Cameron fueled up at the almost abandoned gas station . It was nearing noon and they still hadn’t been able to escape the miles and miles of deserted highway, now surrounded by flat desert instead of live trees. He twirled the baby bottle around in his hands, once full of formula but emptied very quickly by Alison. At first, he’d refused to feed her at all, sure that Cameron must have some sort of programming concerning babies, being a girl and all, but once she pointed the bottle down at Alison and prepared to shove the nipple into the baby’s mouth with all due force, he’d sighed and done it himself.
It was hard not to smile as he’d done so, Alison’s kind brown eyes staring so trustingly up at him, making him regret all his doubts from last night. She was between 8 or 9 months old now, hands constantly reaching out to grab things and wide curious eyes taking in everything. Cameron had walked off to take care of the gas station attendant as he’d fed Alison, obviously disinterested in the whole feeding process since she wasn’t any use to it. The old man had been relatively easy to disarm and tie to a chair in the back room as she liberated the cash register of money and took several bags of chips and sodas for the trip.
“Hey…” he said suddenly, turning to face Cameron standing on the opposite side of the car. She squinted against the sun at him, a hand still holding onto the holster of the gas pump even though the tank was full.
“Yes?” she asked, bringing up a hand to shield her eyes better from the harsh Nevada sun. “What happens to Alison…after they make a copy of her? I mean…does she escape? Does she go back to the resistance?”
Cameron frowned, pulling the pump out and setting it back neatly where it was in the holster and closing the gas tank cap to the car. “I don’t know. I used to know, but I don’t…anymore. Everything is different now.”
She walked around towards him and stood a foot away, arms crossed as if daring him to ask her something else she didn’t know.
“Well…when things…weren’t different. What happened to her?” he stood up straight, away from the car and closer to her. Cameron looked away, not meeting his eyes, into the back seat, where Alison was fast asleep, a bit of dried formula stuck to one ruddy cheek. A smile twitched at the corner of her mouth but vanished before John could notice.
She debated whether to lie. Would John even think everything they were doing was worth it if he found out what had happened? She looked him in the eyes. They were the eyes of someone she knew she couldn’t lie to anymore. Someone she didn’t want to lie to.
“She died.” Cameron said simply, walking back to the driver’s side of the car without another word. John stared where Cameron had been silently, running a hand over his face slowly in shock, feeling the day’s stubble accumulating on his cheeks and chin. That innocent little baby…grew up…just to die? He rushed to open the door and sit in the passenger seat. He wasn’t done interrogating Cameron yet.
“How did she die? Did Skynet kill her?”
Cameron bit her lip, a very human action that betrayed an emotion she shouldn’t be feeling. Worry. Fear. She didn’t know whether John should know the truth. Everything was so different, she felt like she didn’t know anything anymore.
“Yes. Skynet killed her. But…she might not die anymore. So much has changed. So much…” she trailed off and turned the key, the engine starting with a rough cough before lurching back out onto the straight Highway.
On to somewhere...to nowhere…to everywhere.
“How about here?” John said suddenly, the lights of a Motel’s Vacancy sign staining his skin a pale red. It was nearing midnight and John had decided they needed to stop for the night, at least for his own peace of mind. Cameron studied the exterior of the structure. It seemed small enough. And if she were lucky, only one person would be on duty this late at night. She pulled into the parking lot and turned off the engine. John made to follow her but she stopped him with a hand to his chest.
“You can’t leave her alone. Stay here. I’ll be right back.” she almost ordered him, staring him right in the eye. He nodded quickly, reaching back to put a hand on the side of the carrier to show her he meant it. She ducked her head back out and went towards the office. The $34.50 and Doublemint gum she’d swiped from the gas station wouldn’t be enough to pay for a night at the Motel. She knew that. John knew that. The Motel night clerk was about to find this out.
“Yes? Can I help you?” a middle-aged man asked as she stepped in the door, her heavy boots clap-clapping on the tiled floor. He was wearing a very obvious toupee and a bridge in his mouth along with having a ratty looking mustache with crumbs of food in it. The whole room smelled of burnt out cigarettes. Cameron wrinkled her nose and assessed the threat level. Low.
“I would like a room. Two full beds, and a kitchenette with access to clean water.” she said all this politely but with an edge of demand in her voice. She eyed the wall of room keys behind the man almost hungrily.
His name tag said Eustace. She took note of this.
“Alrighty then, Little Miss! That’ll be Room 407, just down the front way a bit. I’m afraid we request payment first with night reservations. You know how it is, teenagers bunking in for a little fun and driving off first thing in the mornin‘ ” he smiled a bit, showing the wire of the bridge as it held the false front teeth in.
Cameron stared at him, unsmiling. “Teenagers. They are trouble aren’t they.” she commented dryly. Eustace gulped and tapped rapidly on a calculator.
“One night special is $ 50.75! Cash or debit?” he held out his hand expectantly. Cameron’s eyes flashed as she grabbed his neck, like she’d grabbed Alison’s and Jody’s and squeezed.
“Force.” she said calmly and carried him gasping for air to the small bathroom, throwing him roughly into the tub, where he lay unconscious and forced the door shut with a deft twist upward of the doorknob. She walked back out to the car, grabbing the keys to room 407 on her way along with a book of matches.
She nodded at John, who opened the door and hurried to get Alison quietly out of the back of the car. “Should we bring the seat too? He asked worriedly as he held the drooling baby against his chest, pointing back at the carrier in the back seat. Cameron stared at John holding the baby. The small smile crept across her lips again. “No. I don’t think it will be necessary.” She said quietly, continuing her walk towards the room. John sighed and followed, slamming the door closed behind him.
Neither of them noticed the pair of eyes watching them from room 405...
Cameron threw down the bag of baby supplies and food that they brought with them on the bed farthest from the window. Less of a threat level there. That would be where the baby slept. She took out a diaper and stared at it quizzically. John grabbed it from her with an exasperated groan and lay the baby down on the mattress, lifting the pink blanket away and starting to undo the buttons on her be-bunnied onesie. He was even more squeamish about this then the feeding but, he didn’t trust Cameron to do anything a girl was supposed to do. She hadn’t so far. Why would she start now?
While he was diapering Alison, Cameron surveyed the small room, scanned it on every level she could and finally sat down on the opposite bed. John finished with Alison, holding the dirtied diaper an arm’s breadth away from him, holding his nose and throwing it in the trashcan.
“It’s inefficient that baby’s defecate on themselves.” she observed calmly, kicking off her boots and taking off her acid-washed denim jacket to reveal a second-skin graphic t-shirt underneath. John could just see the slight outlines of her bra through it. He shut his eyes tightly and turned back to Alison who had slept through the whole thing.
“Ah, we can forgive her that little quirk.” he said tenderly, putting the blanket gently back over her chubby legs and stomach, her mouth slightly open and releasing significant amounts of saliva.
“I don’t understand why humans think babies are attractive. They are aesthetically pleasing, yes, but they are even more inefficient then an adult. Useless.” Cameron’s tone was hollow, but John didn’t miss the soft look in her eyes as they both watched Alison sleeping, her tiny chest going up and down.
“I think that’s why we like them so much.” he said quietly, sitting next to her on the other bed, their hips touching. “They’re so little, they need so much help, they need others just to survive. And I think…people like to feel needed.” he looked over at her, his eyes going up and down her face, trying to read her expression. Did she know how much he needed her? How much like a helpless baby he was himself sometimes, and that without her, he’d be dead? She turned to him, a customary pout on her face, but it turned into a tiny smile as he watched her. He smiled too and a little laugh burst out with it, laughter at what a ridiculous situation they were in. She added her own, soft and sparkling, like her smile.
“well, I’m off to bed. You gonna stay up and watch her?” John stretched and yawned, resting his hand just behind her back on the bed. Cameron nodded and studied him again. “I’ll watch you both. I don’t sleep. Might as well.” she added, shrugging in such a “schoolgirl who doesn’t care” kind of way, John chuckled again.
“Alright. Have fun with that!” he gently nudged her off the bed and pulled up the covers, snuggling under them and switching off the lamp. He heard rather then saw Cameron sit down on the edge of Alison’s bed with a light creak. As his eyes adjusted to the darkness, he could just make out in the semi-red light from the sign outside the window, Cameron’s hand reaching out to Alison, and resting on the child’s chest, listening to the tiny heart beat…
It was morning when John finally opened his eyes, eyelashes sticky with morning muck and mouth as dry as the Nevada deserts. He looked around blearily, for a moment forgetting where he was. Cameron’s silhouette stood against the window, sun streaming in and lighting up her solemn face. Alison squirmed in her arms, straining her chubby hands towards the glass of the window and the dancing sunlight. It was a sharp and startling contrast.
For a moment, he forgot what had happened, and smiled, sure he was looking at his true future. No war, no saving mankind. Just Cameron real, and their child gurgling happily in her arms. But then, her words broke his waking dream in an instant.
“We have to leave.” she said quietly, still ignoring Alison’s incessant wiggling.
“What? Why? Did you feed her yet? We have to get breakfast, make a long term plan about where to hide I don’t think-”
“I fed her. I watched you do it yesterday. And this is why we have to leave.” she turned and with the remote she was already holding turned on the small TV on the dresser. A female reporter’s sharp voice rang out from the tiny speaker on the side of the screen.
“Approximately 24 hours ago, police report that a gruesome duel murder and kidnapping happened at this 22nd street town house. The victims?, Claire Young, a new mother and passionate music teacher whom family says, “never hurt anyone in her life”, and her 9 month old daughter, Alison Young whom authorities say was not found anywhere on the premises where Claire’s body was found mangled in the kitchen. An Amber alert has been put out for this baby girl and police are asking anyone who has seen two young teenagers traveling with a child to call crime-Stoppers Nevada at 344-566-679-”
Cameron shut off the television and threw the remote on the bed.
“Like I said before. We need to go. Now.”
John swallowed and hurried to pull his sneakers on, grabbing their bag of supplies and rushing out the door with it. Cameron followed awkwardly with Alison, who had started to pull at Cameron’s hair. She didn’t respond to the tugs, not even when a whole clump of honey-brown hair came away in the infant’s hand.
“Oh, c’mon Cam, you need to be careful with her!” he chastised, pulling the sizable clump of hair from Alison before she could shove it happily into her mouth. He secured her back into the carrier and jumped into the passenger’s side. But Cameron didn’t get in the car. She walked purposefully towards the window to Room 405 and put her hand against the glass.
“Cam! What are you doing? Come on! We have to leave!” John shouted.
Cameron started to bang on the glass with her open palm, the slaps echoing around the parking lot. Finally, the glass cracked and broke completely, the reflection vanishing and revealing a chubby woman with curlers in her hair holding the motel room phone and stuttering incoherently.
“Who are you calling?” Cameron demanded. John watched, petrified, too scared to dare leave Alison alone and too scared of what Cameron might do next.
“The-the-the-the…the police! You got a baby in that car, you and your boyfriend! It ain’t your baby is it, you kidnapped it from that poor woman, that poor lady! YOU SHOULD ROT IN HELL!” the woman seemed momentarily shocked by her own audacity and trembled in place for a second before Cameron ripped the phone away from her just like she’d done to Martin Bedell back at the house almost a year ago now.
“Then you can join me.” she mumbled and pulled the book of matches she’d taken from Eustace’s desk from her pocket and struck one against the wall, throwing it on the bed. Instantly, flames flared up and started to crackle away on the sheets. Cameron picked the woman up by the scruff of her nightdress and dragged her to the bathroom like she’d done to Eustace and bent the doorknob down, locking her in. she walked calmly out of the broken window and towards the car.
“CAMERON! WHAT ARE YOU DOING? YOU CAN’T BURN THE WHOLE MOTEL DOWN ARE YOU CRAZY?” John shouted. Alison promptly started screaming in the back seat. A strand of hair flipped itself into Cameron’s face and she pushed it out of her eyes angrily.
“I did what I had to do.” she said quietly and pulled out of the Motel parking lot, back out on the open road, flames engulfing room 405 and slowly the rest of the motel, only the first piece of destruction they’d leave in their wake.
“Let the flames begin…” Sarah sighed as she watched the coverage of the burning motel on the house’s tv screen. “It’s about time you played the role of Gretel and left me a trail.” she spat. She got up and went to the kitchen, where Derek was working on packing the guns. He looked up when Sarah came in.
“Let’s go. We got ‘em.”