Friday, May 22, 2015

Toonces' Last Wild Ride

This week's Flash Fiction Challenge is about car races, so naturally I had to go off the beaten (and tire-tread laden) path.  (Wayyy the fuck off.)  Please do enjoy.

Toonces Last Wild Ride

   He was at the end of his nine lives.  And they had all been good ones.
   Toonces, the cat who was world-renowned for his unique driving ability, was reflecting on his former lives.  All the female cats he loved, his owners who were entirely too trusting, and the time he went full-rebel and had to serve time in the slammer.
   And then, there was Spunky, his old rival.  He never knew what happened to Spunky.  One day, Toonces was enjoying a spirited game of table tennis with Spunky, and then, he just left and never came back.  His owners wouldn't tell him where he was, either.
   Toonces had driven over many cliffs in his former lives.  And they were all spectacular.
   His owners, God rest their souls, died a few years ago.  Toonces ran away after he saw them being removed from the house.  He didn't know what would happen to him if the authorities found him in that house, what with his arrest record and all.
   Alone, he walked the streets at night.  He followed the smell of warm food wafting behind restaurants.  Toonces caught the rats and birds that wandered in the alleyways.  He even found a friend who fed him every night.
   The Old Lady was a kind and loving woman.  She would put out warm milk and cat food out every night to make sure he didn't go hungry.
   Even though he no longer lived under a roof, Toonces lived like a king.  Every need the beautiful black and white Tabby had was seen to by The Old Lady.  She would even let him in during nights that were cold or extremely wet.  He would always be gone by morning, though.  He was done living the domestic life.
   Toonces was enjoying things as they were, until one fateful night.  He walked down 6th Street in the early evening, as he always did, and smelled that something was terribly wrong.
   He crept up to The Old Lady's doorway, and saw her lying in a pool of blood in her own living room.  Death had already taken her in his final, cold embrace.  Toonces lowered his head in respect for his one and only friend.
   Suddenly, he heard a crash in one of the back rooms.  He slinked inside to investigate further, and followed the source of the noise.
   Two large men dressed in black were rifling through her things.  They didn't belong there.  He recognized the smell -- he had smelled them on The Old Lady's body as she lay dead in the other room.  They were her killers.
   Toonces hid, watching The Intruders.  He knew he needed to avenge The Old Lady.  And he knew exactly how.
   He followed the men as they snuck out of the house.  Creeping along the rain gutters outside, Toonces could hear them bragging in the alleyway a few blocks away as he grew closer.
   "Man, that old bitch was loaded!"
   "Wait 'til we cash this shit in!  We's gon' be rich!  I don't know 'bout you, but I'm gon' git turnt up tonight!"
   The only "turning up" this bastard is gonna do is "turning up" dead, Toonces thought to himself as his eyes shifted from left to right, surveying the area.
   A 2015 Ford Cobra, jet black with lime green leather interior, pulled up to let The Intruders in.  The driver laughed as they told him about The Old Lady.
   As the car started to peel off, a beer bottle hit the windshield, causing a small crack on the passenger side.
   "What the fuck!"  The driver screamed as he slammed on the breaks, put the car in park, and stepped out fully prepared for a fight.  "Brad, if that's you, you better come out and face me, motherfucker!  I'm gettin' real sick of your shit, fool!"
   Toonces pounced.  With his jagged, untrimmed claws, he slit open the driver's jugular vein.  The driver screamed and fell to the ground as blood spurted from his neck.
   The Intruders were too busy smoking a joint in the car and laughing at each others' jokes to notice what happened.  It wasn't until Toonces started driving the car, erratically, that The Intruders noticed anything was off.
   "Yo, Andy!  Where'd the fuck you learn how to drive?  You been drinking or somethin'?"
    Toonces turned around to look at the pothead murderers, a menacing gleam in his eye.
   The Intruders suddenly sobered up and screamed in mutual panic.
   "What the fuck?!?  What the fucking fuck?"
   A knowing smile crept across Toonces' face.  It was like all his previous lives had been a dress rehearsal for this one.  This was the one that really counted.  It was time for Toonces to meet his destiny.
   He pushed a brick onto the gas pedal and sailed toward the edge of the neighborhood.  Dodging cars and pedestrians, he sped through red lights and stop signs alike.
   A squad car turned on its lights and tailed the Cobra.  Toonces made no attempt to slow down.
   "Slow down and pull off the road.  This is the police," a loudspeaker blared.
   But Toonces didn't give a fuck.
   More squad cars joined in the chase.  Toonces swerved through a busy intersection, barely dodging an 18-wheeler.  The police car directly behind him was not so lucky, colliding into the truck at 85 miles per hour, demolishing the cars powerful chassis.  The other squad cars behind it had to swerve to avoid hitting it.  One ran into a nearby storefront, another slammed into a young couple on the crosswalk.
   Another squad car made it around and through the madness, and hightailed it for the runaway car.
   Toonces couldn't look back.  He had to keep going toward his fate.
   He turned onto the road leading to his destination.  The street ended at the edge of town, right before a sharp cliff.
   The Intruders were begging for their lives.
   "Please, don't kill us!  We'll give you anything!"
   "Yeah, we got diamonds and shit!  We'll give you whatever you want!"
   Toonces didn't have any need for diamonds, and their pleas only managed to disgust him.  Begging was for dogs.
   Racing past a trailer park, Toonces found a NOS button under the armrest.  Accelerating to a blinding speed, the car clumsily careened toward the end of the street.
   Toonces could barely keep the powerful car on the road.  It fishtailed and burst through a barricade at the end of the street.  Shards of orange and white-colored wood went flying.  A construction sign that read, "Dead End," made a few aerial flips before it finally landed next to the rotting remains of an armadillo carcass.
   "Damn," said a man enjoying a beer outside his trailer home.  He and his friend got a good look at the driver and his panicking passengers right before the NOS kicked in.  "That cat can drive!"
   "Yes, he can," his friend replied, spitting tobacco juice into his empty beer can as the car plummeted over the cliff and exploded into a ball of fire.
   "But not very well."

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

The Rising Cost of Curiosity

   This week's flash fiction is another clashing of subgenres.  The Random Number Generator selected Techno Thriller Body Horror for me!  I decided to make it as freaky as possible.

The Rising Cost of Curiosity

   "I can only hope this message makes its way to you," he said.
   It was the first time in three months Lila had seen Rick.  She had all but given up on finding him.  
   His was the kind of job you could never discuss.  She wasn't supposed to know Rick's "trips to meet with clients" were, in fact, secret government missions.  (She never let him know that she knew.)
   He would sometimes leave without notice on clandestine missions, but he would have a message of some kind delivered to her within a week so she knew he was all right, claiming there was a client emergency of some sort.
   This time was different.  She knew from the first day he was gone. 
   There were little telltale signs that indicated things were not like before, or the time before that, or the many other times.  
   And this video message was full confirmation.  Rick explained what his real job was, and (in details she could never repeat) that he was on a rescue mission for a Canadian dignitary who had visited North Korea to speak with the country's leaders about opening up the lines of communication between them and the Western world.  
   And then, he was never seen or heard from again.
   Rick led the mission, but he didn't know when he would be back or what was going on.  Once he was inside the border, he said, he saw things he never imagined. 
   And that was it.  The video ended, and Lila was left wondering what he was trying to tell her.
   She knew someone out there didn't want her to see this video.  
   But she had connections, and hacking skills that were well-above average.  One of the connections, a fellow hacker known as Pazuzu MacNeil, had procured and sent Rick's message.
   Lila took a deep breath and steadied herself.  She knew what she would have to do.
   She gathered her things and prepared to leave.  
   After booking her flight to South Korea, she studied the borders on Google Earth to determine the best place to sneak in to the North.  
   Right before she left the house, Lila received another message from Pazuzu.  This time, he said, it was the full video.  But she needed to sit down for this one.  It wouldn't be easy to watch.
   She skipped past the part she had already seen, and saw something she was completely unprepared for.  Footage of videos taken inside a secret government base.  The dignitary was strapped to a table, twitching uncontrollably.  
   After doctors placed him under sedation, they cut into his skull and removed pieces of brain.  Lila gasped as she saw the man awaken during surgery, screaming.  More footage revealed the next experiment: The doctors cut off his right leg.  Each video clip showed more and more body parts being removed, until the man was finally put down.  In the final stages, he had some strange boils on his face that burst, splattering all over the doctors.  
   The protective suits worn by the doctors were no match for the infectious fluids that seeped through to their skin.
   More footage showed the newly infected doctors strapped down to tables, this time, real hazmat suits were worn by the new group of attending doctors.
   "I don't know how long I'll be gone, or what the hell is going on here.  If I never see you again, please remember that I love you, and that you were the best part of my entire life," Rick said, right before military police broke down the door and dragged him away. 
   The screen went blank.  End of message.
   I have to find out what happened, Lila thought.  I have to find out where the fuck he is.
   On her long flight across the Pacific, Lila tried to figure out what could have happened.  Why did they take the dignitary?  Did the infected doctors live?  And where did they take my husband?
   Utilizing her route and her trusty PMHD (a portable motion and body heat detector designed to sense any humans approaching within a 50-yard radius), she crept across the border, past the guards and into safety.
   Lila used her GPS tracker to find her husband.  (She implanted a tiny chip into the base of his neck one night after serving up a GHB-infused cocktail.)  
   He was inside the government base, and she had to find him before he met the same fate as the dignitary.  She crept inside, and all her gadgets went dead.  Damn, she thought, they must have a jammer in the building.  
   She crept along the wall, listening carefully for any signs of other people.  She crouched down to avoid being seen through a window, and her GPS fell, making a huge racket as it bounced several times off the floor before settling in the other side of the hallway.  
   The next thing Lila saw as she looked up was an incredibly smug face.
   Lila was strapped down to a chair as men in white coats fired questions at her and examined her belongings.  They were able to ascertain who she was, and who her husband was.
   "You must be Lila," said a short man wearing an officer's hat.  "I'm afraid you're too late to see Rick in person.  I'm afraid this will be the best we can do."
   He turned her chair around so she could view a large screen.  It showed her husband getting beaten by men in uniforms as they interrogated him.  Finally, a doctor entered the room carrying a large syringe.  The men held Rick down as the doctor injected him.
   "We named it Namguhng's Disease after our first major casualty.  Dr. Namguhng was an accomplished scientist and a man of honor.  He loved his country, and in the end, sacrificed himself for a great cause."
   Lila stared in disbelief.  "A great cause?!?  What cause is that?"
   "For the glory and praise of our supreme leader, "Kahn Jung XXVX!  Kahn dreamed that it was North Korea's destiny to become the world's reigning superpower.  In order to fulfill our destiny, we must create a weapon unlike anything the world has ever seen!"
   He explained to Lila how they designed a supervirus powerful enough to wipe out entire nations within days of infection.  However, they didn't anticipate the strength of the virus. They couldn't contain it, and Namguhng's Disease began to spread among the people.
   Deaths caused by this disease were swift and terrifying.  The beginning stage, a barely noticeable tremor in the hands, was something the average person could easily mistake for excess caffeine or low blood sugar.
   Blepharospasm, or rapidly twitching eyes, would follow.  Then, throughout the body, blood vessels would contract and tighten, causing wet gangrene and rapid necrosis.  The pain suffered by the infected was excruciating.
   But the most frightening part was how the disease spread.  Blisters filled with pus and blood would explode, infecting all nearby persons upon contact.  The acidic pus (which the doctors learned the hard way) could seep through any pores in one's clothing, so all those within the nearby vicinity of the infected must wear proper hazmat suits, or risk infection.
   "We have been very careful to keep this disease contained," the man explained.  "However, a few citizens have exhibited signs.  Anyone suspected of having the disease is immediately transported to the treatment facility."
   "So," Lila said, "You have a cure?"
   "Unfortunately, no.  We thought we did.  We infected a group of monkeys, and successfully created an antivirus to combat the disease.  However, it did not work on humans."
   "So, now you're experimenting on the infected humans to find a cure?"
   "We had no other choice," the man answered.  "We have never seen anything like this.  The disease spreads so rapidly, and every time we think we're getting closer to a cure, it evolves.  Still, we can't risk news of our experiments getting out to the rest of the world.  We have to keep our biological weapon a secret.  Our work is too important."
   "You still haven't told me what the fuck you did with my husband," Lila said.
   "You see, we have to use every opportunity we can to find a cure.  And intruders make the best lab rats, don't you think?"
   He played a new video that showed Rick strapped to the table, his infection in the latter stages.  His hands and feet were black, his skin covered with lesions.  He writhed in pain as the doctors prepared to amputate.
   Lila turned her head and shut her eyes as Rick screamed in excruciating pain.  
   "You bastards," she whispered.
   "Yes, Lila.  We are bastards," the man declared with a smug expression.  "And you are another intruder."
   Lila lowered her eyes and shuddered.  She knew exactly what would come next.

Friday, May 1, 2015

X Meets Y Again

This week's Flash Fiction Challenge is to create a mash-up of two different things, using a Random Number Generator.   The RNG gods are smiling on me today; I have the honor of presenting Terminator meets Lord of the Flies (but not in the literal sense -- I created my own characters and setting).

The Horrific Things One Sometimes Encounters While On an Island Paradise

   Zach's parents were taking him on a cruise to the Bahamas to celebrate his grades and his 14th birthday.  He couldn't wait.
   The cruise started off well enough with buffets and pools with waterslides.  He even met Leslie, the prettiest girl he'd ever known.  She asked him to come to the teen club with her.
   Zach and Leslie had a blast at the exclusive youth club, chatting and watching other kids play video games.
   That's when things went horribly wrong.
   "Hey, guys," the cruise staff member said.  "I just wanted to give you a heads up -- you might feel the ship rock a little.  There's an unexpected storm outside.  But don't worry!  We've got everything under control!"
   The teens shrugged, then went about their playtime.  The boat started rocking more and more violently.  Leslie and Zach held on to each other, terrified of what would happen next as they crouched against the wall.  Everything went dark, and that's when the panic really began.  The ship was rolling around, tossing everything around (except the furniture, which was thoughtfully bolted down).
   The next thing Zach remembered was waking up on a beach.  He looked around and found Leslie draped over the broken remains of a chair.
   She started coughing and spitting sea water.  He ran to help her.
   "Hey!  Are you OK?"
   "I think," she rasped between wheezes.  "What happened?"
   "A storm hit us.  Hard.  The last thing I remember," Zach said as he helped her steady herself," is the ship rocking back and forth.  Stuff was flying everywhere, and everyone was tumbling all over the place.  There was a lot of blood."
   "OHMYGOD," Leslie gasped.  "Where are my parents?!? Where are your parents?!?"
   "I don't know," Zach admitted.  "You're the only other person I've seen since I woke up on this beach."
   "Where are we, anyway?  What is this place?"
   "I don't know.  Let's see if there's anyone else."
   Days passed.  Weeks passed.  They continued on their search, eating whatever tropical fruit they could find, and catching water in enormous banana leaves to drink.
   In mid-afternoon one day, Zach suddenly took off running.
   "I think I see someone," he called back.  Leslie matched his pace, and the two quickly arrived upon a makeshift encampment comprised of broken pieces from the ship.
   As they looked for signs of life, two barrel-chested teen boys stepped in front of them, like underaged bouncers at an oddly themed night club.
   "Whoa!  Where did you two come from," Zach asked.
   "We didn't see either of you on the island -- where did you come from," asked the guard with a bright shock of red hair.
   "I'm Zach, and she's Leslie.  We came from the other end of the mountain," Zach replied, pointing.
   "Oh, of course," the boy said.  "We have been searching for survivors, but we haven't covered the entire island yet.  There hasn't been any sign of civilization, either.  No buildings, no roads, nothing."
   He leered at Leslie.  "We also didn't know if there were any female survivors anywhere."
   Leslie moved closer to Zach.
   "Brock will be pleased," the other said with a sardonic grin.  "We'll take you to him."
   The two guards took Zach and Leslie by the arms and let them further into the camp.
   They entered a large tepee made of large metal scraps with an enormous piece of carpet for a door.  Salvaged sofas and tables were arranged throughout, and a tall, brawny boy stood in the center, wearing an ill-fitting bellhop's jacket over his bare chest.  The guards announced Zach and Leslie's names.
   "I'm glad we found more survivors," Brock said, oozing with charm.  "The only people who survived that storm, that we've seen at least, were in the teen club tower.  It seems the structure protected us while the rest of the ship was destroyed.
   "The boys and I have constructed this place to shelter us.  You are more than welcome to stay here.  The boys are staying in the small tepees you passed on the way here."
   He looked Leslie up and down.
   "You can stay with me tonight," Brock said to the trembling ingenue.  "I could really use some female company."
   Zach puffed his chest out, placing himself between Brock and Leslie.
   "I don't think she wants to do that."
   "don't remember offering that as a choice," Brock sneered.  A dark pall came over his face as he stood toe-to-toe with Zach.
   As Leslie backed away toward the door, the guards grabbed her.
   "What's wrong, Leslie?  Do you think you're too good for us," Brock oozed.
   "Let go of me!"
   One of the guards put a hand over her mouth, whispering for her to relax as she struggled to get away.
   Zach pushed Brock away, then charged toward the guards.
   "One step closer and we kill her, right here."
   One of the guards kissed her cheek, sneering arrogantly at Zach.
   "Hey, I know you're all eager to get to know Leslie," Zach said, "but I found her first.  I'm willing to share her, after tonight."
   Leslie looked at Zach with total surprise.
   "All I'm asking for is tonight.  If I hadn't saved her, she wouldn't even be here."
   After a moment, Brock reluctantly nodded, and the guards released Leslie.
   "You can sleep in the mud hut, but after tonight, she's mine," Brock sneered.
   Leslie sighed with relief, and took Zach's hand as they slowly walked toward the door.
   "One more thing," Brock said.
   The two froze, nervously awaiting Zach's next words.
   "We want a show.  You have to keep the doors and windows open so we can see everything that's going on.  There isn't any porn out here, and my guys are getting a little stir-crazy."
   Leslie and Zach exchanged looks of apprehension, but he knew there would be no way around it.  Leslie, nodded, then lowered her eyes.
   "It's a deal," Zach said.
   The guards showed them to the hut, and they eagerly sat down on the first comfortable sofa they had seen since the ship capsized.
   "Leslie," Zach said with sincerity in his eyes. "I know this isn't exactly what you would have wanted, but I promise I'll take care of you.  I won't let them hurt you."
   The boys started gathering outside.  Zach looked out and counted, there were about 12 of them, all armed and lecherous.  He had no hope of fighting them.  He and Leslie would have to escape after the rest of the camp was asleep.
   "I've never done this," she whispered.
   "It's OK, I haven't either."
   He smiled shyly, then gently pulled Leslie in for a kiss.  She wrapped her arms around him and pressed her body against his.  The vulgar audience cheered, then started yelling explicit instructions, which Zach completely ignored.
   "Just focus on me.  I'll get us out of here tonight," Zach whispered.  "In the meantime, I'll try not to hurt you."
   Leslie nodded, then slowly took off her clothes.  More cheers.  She kept her eyes on Zach, who disrobed quickly, then held Leslie close.  He kissed her passionately and lowered her down to the couch, ignoring the crude onlookers.  For now, nothing else in the world existed.  It was just Zach and Leslie; everything else fell away.
   Zach tried as much as he could to keep his promise to be gentle as he made love to her.  It was over entirely too soon.
   Zach spooned Leslie, whispering his plans of escape as he kissed her neck.  "I know this is scary, but I promise I'll get us out of here."
   Leslie nodded.
   Her quiet sobs eventually gave way to slumber.  Zach stayed awake, strategizing a way to get out.  A different set of guards watched the camp by night.
   Zach crept up behind one guard as the other walked the perimeter.  He threw him to the ground, grabbed a huge rock and bashed the guard's head in, blood spattering in all directions.
   The other guard was making his way back.  Zach hid behind a tree, holding the rock with both hands.  The guard saw the feet of his friend lying supine on the ground.
   "Hey, wake up!"
   The guard moved closer to his friend, trying to wake him.  It wasn't long before he saw what remained of the head.  Zach prepared to deliver the same fate met by the other guard.
   What Zach didn't bargain for was a fallen tree branch lying in the darkness, waiting to be tripped over.  Which he did.
   Zach fell head first toward the ground, hitting his head on the rock.  He blacked out.
   He opened his eyes to see the boys gathered around Leslie.  She was naked and tied to a tree, muffled sobs barely escaping her gagged mouth.  Tears streamed down her face as her eyes met Zach, silently begging him for help.
   He struggled against the cords that bound his hands and feet.  He, too, was gagged.  The boys noticed him squirming, and started mocking him.  He watched in helpless despair as Brock approached Leslie and pinched her nipples, licking her face as he looked at Zach with perverse glee.
   Suddenly, an explosive blast pierced through the camp.  Brock stood in front of Leslie, protecting his new toy.  Zach looked up to see the tree Leslie was tied to was knocked down, as Brock lay a in bloody mess.
   Zach looked up to see a man with a huge shotgun -- wait, that couldn't be a man, he thought; pieces of flesh were peeled back to reveal a metal skeleton.  The boys ran toward the intruder in vain attempts to stop him.  Spears that pierced his skin halted as they hit the metal beneath.  The intruder staked the offending camp members.  Another boy ran at him with a knife.  The robot reached through the boy's chest and pulled out his still-beating heart, seconds before his lifeless body collapsed.
   Zach closed his eyes and prepared himself for his own certain death.
   A tap on his shoulder caused him to jolt and turn around.  It was Leslie, wearing Brock's jacket over her otherwise naked body.  She cut through the rope, freeing him.
   "Come on, Zach," she whispered.  "Let's GO!"
  "Did they hurt you," Zach whispered.
   "No, but they were about to," she replied.
   He took her hand and they ran as fast as they could, away from the living nightmares.
   They crashed right into another robot disguised as a human.  It stood unfazed as Zach and Leslie both stumbled back, falling to the ground.  He extended his hands to help them up.
   "Come with me if you want to live."
   The good robot lifted his gun toward the killer robot and fired.  The other robot was knocked off his feet, artificial flesh melting off metal skeleton.  The good robot took them to a mountain with a very narrow pathway to the top, and a clear view of any intruders.  A large boulder provided a hiding place, should the need arise.
   That night they set up camp.  The good robot explained everything.  It and the other robot are called "Terminators," created by a company in the future called "Skynet."  Terminators are used to enslave mankind as artificial intelligence takes over the planet.
   What everyone thought was a storm was actually a rupture in the fabric of space and time, caused by the other Terminator, a "Z" series model.  Its mission was to kill Zach and Leslie, because their child would grow up to lead mankind's revolution against the machines, and be the savior of all humanity.
   The good Terminator, a "T-800" model, followed the Z series in the same rift, so as to not draw attention.  It told had scanned Leslie's body and determined she had already been impregnated.
   The T-800 would build a boat to get Zach and Leslie to safety the next day, and he assured the two he would keep guard overnight.
   Zach and Leslie kissed, and made love for the second time before they fell asleep in each other's arms.
   The next morning, they woke up to the sounds of the T-800 assembling a boat on the beach below.  They couldn't wait to get back to civilization and away from the nightmares.  It wasn't long before the boat was finished.
   Before they left the island, Leslie needed to use the bathroom.
   "I'll go with you," Zach said.  He didn't want to risk her and the baby getting hurt.
   As they returned to the boat and the T-800, they could tell something wasn't right.  They emerged from the foliage to see a few dead bodies strewn around on the beach, and the T-800's head severed from his body.  Apparently, there were other survivors from last night's attack.
   The daytime guards and two other boys surrounded Zach and Leslie.
   "You thought you were going to leave us, didn't you?"  The redheaded guard sneered.
   The other boys were circling Leslie like hyenas with a weak gazelle.
   A bullet pierced the redhead's skull.  He fell to the ground.
   The T-800's body was still moving, and still determined to carry out its mission to protect Zach and Leslie.  Just then, the Z model emerged, ready to collect his bounty.
   Zach punched one of the boys encircling Leslie as the others stood in confusion and shock.  He took her by the hand, and they ran back to the mountain, leaving behind a cacophony of terrified screams.
   They held each other, trembling and crying at the mountain top.
   "I promised I would get us out of here, and I will do everything I can to uphold that promise, Leslie," Zach assured as he stroked her hair.  "I love you, Leslie."
   "I love you too, Zach," Leslie said, then kissed him, holding on for dear life.
   Their intimate moment was over just as soon as it began.  Zach could sense something coming.
   He motioned for Leslie to crouch down as he looked over the edge.  The Z model's hands had morphed into hooks, and he was climbing up the side of the mountain.  Zach moved to the other side of the boulder, using all his adrenaline-fueled strength to protect his new family.
   He pushed it off the side, and watched it knock the Z model off the mountain, then crush it on the ground below.  Zach looked at Leslie with relief.  He couldn't believe it was over.  Now, they could finally leave.
   Leslie's eyes fixed on his with equal parts love and eagerness for the life they would share.  Her expression quickly changed to complete terror.  Zach opened his mouth, about to ask what it was, before he felt a presence behind him.
   It was the Terminator.  It had liquefied itself on the way down, and survived being flattened by the boulder.  Leslie screamed in horror as its hand morphed into an icepick and ran through Zach's chest.
   Leslie pulled something out of her pocket the T-800 gave to her the night before.
   "Your priority is to protect the child growing inside you," it had told her.  "The fate of mankind is in your hands."
   Leslie's hands shook as she realized what the token was.  The polyurethane-encased red button on the top was a detonator.
   She looked at Zach, who was fighting for his life.  The killing machine had him in its grip, and would soon take Leslie's life and that of her child, if she didn't act fast.
   Looking into the eyes of her first love, Leslie whispered, "I love you, Zach.  I'll never forget you."
   Zach understood.  A tear ran down his cheek as he silently said goodbye.
   Leslie pushed the button, shoved the device into Zach's mouth and pushed him and the Terminator off the cliff.  The mountain shook as he and the Terminator exploded in mid-air.  Leslie dodged the flaming projectile that flew toward her head.
   Fire spread quickly through the trees, too quickly for her to stop it.  It would be a matter of time before the entire island was engulfed.  She climbed down the mountain to see what remained of the boat.  Miraculously, it was intact.
   Rowing away from the island inferno, Leslie knew this was just the beginning of a war that was soon to come.