From the idea to the outline to the beat sheet to the synopsis to the full-blown fleshed-out treatment, you’ve got to get your story clear in your head before the actual writing begins. Prematurely cranking out pages without first tending to the heavy lifting is an ideal way to eventually find yourself buried in copious amounts of pain, rewriting, and wasted time. But with a solid treatment, the actual crafting of your novel or screenplay should theoretically be a joy.
While the core idea behind the ‘The Terminator’ (1984) is surprisingly simple, it’s also mind-numbingly huge. The story’s resulting plot is therefore relatively complicated with lots of critical details about its world, so tightening everything up into a comprehensive summary was not a job for the unskilled. James Cameron’s legendary 17,000-word treatment of the piece is regarded as something of a clinic among writers of high-concept fiction.
Read, enjoy, learn.
A TREATMENT FOR A FEATURE FILM SCREENPLAY
Los Angeles ghetto.
Among the spray-painted school buildings a cat prowls
between the dumpsters. It looks up, freezing alert, at
something beyond human perception.
A sourceless wind rises, and with it a keening whine.
Papers blow across the pavement. The cat yowls and hides.
The whine intensifies and with it comes a wash of frigid
purple light. A concussion like a thunderclap right
overhead blows in all the windows facing the yard.
The cat’s eyes are wide as the glow dies.
Electrical discharges arc from the dumpster to a water
faucet and climb a drainpipe like a Jacob’s Ladder. The
sound of stray electrical crackling subsides.
In the middle of the previously empty yard stands a NAKED
Tall. Powerfully built. Handsome in an utterly
unremarkable way, except for the eyes, which are intense
blue and depthless.
He glances down, taking calm inventory of himself, then
scans his surroundings. At the horizon, occasional
lightning flashes presage a thunderstorm. He strides OUT
A beer bottle smashes on the ground. PULL BACK to include
its ex-owner and his two compatriots, YOUTH GANG MEMBERS
lounging on a jungle gym in the kindergarten playground.
They glance up as the naked man walks from between the
school buildings and comes purposefully toward them.
In response to their derisive catcalls, he says to one of
them without inflection, “Your clothes will fit. Give
them to me.”
The three toughs slide off the jungle gym and surround
him, all swagger and malign good humor.
With blinding speed the man backhands the one he addressed
in the throat and the punk drops, gagging on blood.
The leader has his switchblade out in an instant and has
slashed it across the man’s throat in the next.
The stranger pauses to glance at the blood streaming down
his chest without apparent concern, then kills the leader
with one punch in the belly. There is a wet sound as he
draws back his fist which glistens with blood to the
elbow. The leader slumps lifeless to the ground.
The third punk is already stripping off his clothes as the
man turns his gaze toward him.
This man is the TERMINATOR.
A light rain begins to fall. Terminator emerges onto the
street, hiking the collar of the punk’s jacket to hide his
The rain streams down over his face, running into and over
his eyes. They do not blink.
Another part of the city. Downtown. Seedy apartments and
storefronts. The streets glisten and hiss with desultory
late night traffic. SLOW DOLLY into an open alley lined
with trash containers, fire escapes, and a derelict
sleeping in the comfort of a recessed doorway.
The wet brickwork is hit with a purple glare and a
thunderous shock wave hurls trash into the air.
Rats scurry. Painted-over windows shatter.
A figure drops into frame as if out of the sky, and smacks
the pavement with a muddy splash. A naked man, young,
compact and muscular, rises in a defensive crouch,
ignoring the bleeding scrapes of his abrupt arrival.
KYLE REESE is wracked by spasms, shivering and panting
from physiological trauma. The rain drenches him as he
staggers to his feet and looks around. He runs unsteadily
to a nearby fire escape. On the first landing he crouches
beside another naked man who appears entangled in the
A closer look reveals that the man has been pierced
through the abdomen by the horizontal slats and through
the shoulder. He was materialized in the same space
occupied by the fire escape structure. He grimaces in
“Reese, you OK?” the wounded man gasps.
“I’m out of it.”
“You know what I have to do,” Reese says grimly.
“Don’t waste time on me, just find her.”
The man sags into unconsciousness and doesn’t struggle
when Reese presses the palm of his hand firmly over his
mouth, pinching the nostrils closed, and waits.
When it is over, Reese descends to the alley floor and
crosses to the stuporous drunk.
A police cruiser eclipses the alley mouth and a
searchlight blazes on, illuminating Reese just pulling on
the derelict’s filthy trousers. Two cops leap from the
car. They don’t know what’s going on but it sure looks
Reese bolts down the alley and a frantic chase on foot
begins. In a staccato sequence Reese vaults trashcans,
hurdles fences, dives over parked cars and dodges with
incredible agility through the stark-lit maze of alleys.
The cops separate and one circles around and confronts
Reese at an alley mouth with drawn revolver and
flashlight, only to be disarmed as he moves in by a
mongoose-fast blow and a devastating series of spinning
kicks which leave him in an unconscious heap.
Another unit arrives out front as Reese crashes into a
door, disappearing into the darkness within.
He finds himself in a department store and dashes into the
maze of aisles, crab-running low among the moving shadows
as searchlights and flashlights quarter the darkness.
A security dog hurtles toward him out of the shadows.
A dark blur with teeth, very Doberman, it leaps and Reese
spins, catching it by the throat in midair and arcing it
to the floor with unflinching precision. Suddenly on its
back and held by the throat, the dog yelps and stares at
Reese who leans very close and fixes it with a gaze of
uncompromising dominance. Some ancient communication
passes between the two.
Then he releases the animal and turns his back to take
some clothes from a rack. The dog backs away from him,
stiff-legged and confused.
Reese is rounding a corner donning a long overcoat when
another cop appears, running, gun forward.
Without slowing Reese runs toward him, leaping, twisting
in midair like a cat to dodge the one shot the cop has
time for before they hit the polished floor and slide.
Two quick punches and Reese is up again, running, tucking
a police .38 special in the pocket of his coat.
A side door in the alley opens and Reese slips out.
The first cruiser is parked in the alley, unoccupied.
Glancing around, he opens the car door, removes the
pistol-handled pump shotgun from the dash rack and slips
it under his coat where it is virtually invisible in a
vertical position. He walks unhurriedly out onto the
street, an innocuous pedestrian, lost in the rain and the
sporadic street crowd.
Kyle Reese 21 years old, hardened veteran, physically and
psychically scarred, trained from boyhood to deal and
elude death to the full extent that the human organism is
capable, steps into a phone booth…
Looks up a name:
Connor, Sarah J.
Slow dissolve to the name ‘Connor, S’ hand-lettered on an
apartment mailbox door, which is soon opened and its
contents removed by (you guessed it) SARAH CONNER.
19, small and delicate-featured, pretty in a flawed,
accessible way. She doesn’t stop the party when she walks
in, but you’d like to get to know her. Her vulnerable
quality masks a strength even she doesn’t suspects exists.
The night’s rain has given way to a typical L.A. morning
of diffuse sunlight. Sarah jogs back up to her apartment,
opening the phone bill enroute. She shrieks.
“Ginger, who the hell do you know in Des Monies worth
One of the bedroom doors is flung open and a human dynamo
appears, Sarah’s room-mate GINGER VENTURA: red-haired,
athletic, pretty when still, but stunning in motion… she
is dancing and laughing with uncontainable glee.
Before Sarah can protest she is hauled into the bathroom
where Ginger points triumphantly to a small test-tube in a
plastic stand. At the bottom of a couple of ounces of
yellow fluid is a dark ring of residue, a negative result
on the home pregnancy test.
“Beatin’ the odds, baby!” Ginger crows, and Sarah joins in
laughing. They do an impromptu jig.
Ginger demands a champagne toast and they dance into the
kitchen where she shakes up a warm 7-Up and sprays the
room with generic substitute.
Getting on with the day Sarah pours herself a quick bowl
of Rice Krispies, but Ginger dowses it liberally with the
soda, telling her over her protests that she’ll love it.
Sarah raises an appreciative eyebrow after the first
Ginger slips on the headphones of her Walkman-style
cassette player, to which she seems inoperably joined at
the hip, and begins maniacally tearing some lettuce leaves
into small pieces in a bowl.
“I feel so good I’ll even feed Pugsley for you, kiddo,”
she says, approaching a large terrarium beside the living
room couch and cautiously opening the door.
“Back I say! Back, fiend from Hell! Oh no… he’s gone!”
Sarah suggests she try the window.
Ginger finds her room-mate’s three foot long green-iguana
sunning blissfully on the windowsill behind the drapes.
With maternal gentleness Sarah carries Pugsley back to his
cage, giving the complacent reptile a kiss on its blunt
snout as she crosses the room, while Ginger groans in
“Nobody understands us, Pugsley,” Sarah murmurs, “They
just don’t take the time to find out what sensitive people
we really are under our unassuming exteriors.” Pugsley
eyes her vapidly before attacking the lettuce.
At the sound of a horn from the street below both girls
gather their school books and tromp down to meet MATT
BUCHANAN, Ginger’s boyfriend, who is giving her a lift to
class. Matt is leaning against the enormous 4-wheel drive
pick-up, dressed in a tank-top and cutoffs which leave his
weightlifter’s body well displayed. He is the assistant
manager of the health club at which Ginger is an aerobic
dance instructor part-time.
Matt is only a little smarter than he looks but, despite
his imposing appearance, is one of the kindest people
you’d ever want to meet, and his earnest affection for
Ginger is almost comical.
Sarah walks her moped out of the parking garage. Ginger
suggests that the three of them get together that night to
celebrate the results of her urine test, but Sarah reminds
her that she already has a date. By the surprised
approval this evokes from her two friends, we see that
this is no mean occurrence.
Sarah dismisses it as her ‘schmuck of the month club
selection’ which she’ll probably return unopened.
As she puts on her helmet and starts her scooter she
assures Ginger she’ll be able to pick her up from work at
the usual time and then takes off.
She whines down the street in that demure pose unique to
Sarah rides through the morning traffic, enjoying the warm
wind in her hair, the sun on her face and bare legs, and
the heavy scanning by guys in passing cars.
The day has not progressed far enough to manifest many
problems and she is in a good mood.
She is working hard toward fulfillment of her modest
dreams, waitressing part-time after her classes at the
Junior College, and taking some satisfaction in the fact
that life has not been handed to her on a plate.
Neither has there been any great pain or trauma, or any of
the hardening influences which might have prepared her for
what will soon come.
She passes without noticing a man on the sidewalk, wearing
ill-fitting punk clothes, and walking with an unhurried
but purposeful stride.
Terminator enters a parking lot between two buildings and
stops to watch as an elderly lady clambers into her car
and starts it up. He seems strangely intent on her
motions of shifting the transmission, releasing the brake,
etc., as if memorizing them.
His slow circling of the car makes her ill at ease and she
locks the doors, then hits the gas in the wrong gear and
drives forward over a concrete berm before she gets it
together and backs out.
When she is gone, Terminator punches in the side window of
an unattended car, unlocks it and gets in.
With a blow from the heel of his hand he smashes loose the
ignition switch and strips the wires with a brutal twist
of his fingers. Touching the proper wires together he
starts the car.
Imitating the woman’s performance flawlessly he drives
forward over the berm and backs out, tearing a deep gash
in the next car with his bumper and backing into the car
opposite. All without a flicker of concern in his
The stereo is playing Mozart as he pulls out into traffic,
which strikes an eclectic effect with his leather jacket
and ‘Black Flag’ T-shirt.
Terminator pulls up to the curb in front of a pawn shop
and goes inside. The man at the gun counter cheerfully
hands over for his inspection several pieces of perfectly
legal anti-human artillery: a Browning Hi-power .45, an
S-W .38 snub, an Israelli-made Uzi machine pistol still in
the box, a used AR-18 assault rifle (semi-auto only on the
last two) and a Mossberg eight shot pump shotgun with a
combat handgrip and forearm stock.
“Cash or charge?” is the pawnbroker’s only comment.
He only becomes concerned when his customer opens a box of
12 gauge shells from a display rack and calmly starts
loading them into the shotgun.
“Hey, you can’t do that…”
“Wrong.” says Terminator matter-of-factly.
He raises the barrel and pulls the trigger.
Terminator swings his car into a gas station and parks
beside the only phone booth, which is occupied.
Getting smoothly out of his car he opens the booth doors
and flings the man inside out into the parking lot without
a glance back.
A faint, reedy monologue issues from the dangling receiver
as Terminator leafs rapidly through the directory.
A macro shot shows his finger stopping beside a now
familiar listing: Connor, Sarah. In the big metropolitan
book there are four identical listings under that name.
Sarah is crossing the crowded quad after her last class of
She weaves among the throng of brave new faces, their arms
laden with tomes of calculus and Keats, their brains
febrile with thoughts of Pac-man and getting laid.
Sarah’s day takes its first turn for the worse as she
returns to her moped, parked on motorcycle row, and finds
the back tire flat. She is resignedly strapping her books
to the seat as a nerdy guy walks up and gets on his
Kawasaki next to her.
“Hi,” she says, smiling, “Are you mechanically inclined?”
She buzzes into the parking lot at Big Bob’s only fifteen
minutes late, and chains her bike to a light standard near
the fiberglass cherub holding his hamburger up in
perpetual homage to whatever deity watches out for fat
“Hi, asshole,” she says as she passes Big Bob, entering
the wholesomely appointed eatery under the scrutiny of
multiple surveillance cameras.
CHUCK BREEN, the day manager, pimply and officious,
watches her on one of several security monitors in his
closet-like office. He leans out to intercept her as she
passes by, berating her for being late.
When she is around the corner she flips him ‘the bird’,
forgetting about the corridor camera over the locker room
door. Chuck’s voice booms from the ceiling speaker: “Bad
attitude, Connor. As long as I’m signing your checks
you’re a ‘Bob’s Girl’ and don’t forget it.”
She marches wearily into the locker room.
“Big Bob is watching you,” one of the other girls jokes.
When her locker door slams shut she is transformed into a
‘Bob’s Girl’, with that production-line happy peasant
look… blouse, flared skirt and hair in a bun. She
pinches her cheeks and checks in the mirror to see if her
smile is vacuous enough, then goes out on the floor.
Soon she is bustling about, servicing the lunch rush.
When she stops by a table with several squalling kids,
both arms laden with steaming dinners, a two year old
dumps a scoop of ice cream into her hip tip pouch. She
pauses for a contemplative moment to repeat to herself her
motto: In a hundred years, who’s going to care?
The neighborhood is standing-issue L.A. suburban: stucco
houses set too close together, little plots jealously
guarded by stake fences. Kids are racing Big Wheels in
the street in the background as a car glides up to the
curb. Its front tire crushes a child’s toy truck.
Terminator gets out, pausing by the mailbox to check the
name, and walks toward the adjacent house.
The doorbell is answered by a frail middle-aged woman in
an apron and cleaning gloves.
“Sarah Connor?” says the visitor.
“No, she’s upstairs. Who shall I say is…”
Ignoring her, Terminator pushes past the diminutive woman,
crossing the foyer to the stairs. Her protests are cut
off in a gasp of alarm as he pulls the .45 from under his
jacket and snaps the cocking slide.
The old woman begins to screech in terror, darting back
and forth indecisively. Finally she goes back to the
front door and calls for help.
Installed on her bed for an afternoon of ‘soaps’ is the
wrong Sarah Connor. Electrode pads exercise her doughy
thighs as the 35 year old divorcee watches General
“What’s wrong, Mom?” she calls out distractedly.
The door bangs open and she stares in dumb amazement as
the good-looking, intense-eyed man in the ill-fitting
clothes raises a pistol and aims it at her face.
It all seems less real than General Hospital in that
half-second before he fires.
Downstairs, her mother is fumbling with the telephone when
she hears the shots. She shrieks with renewed terror as
the ceiling above her erupts with five exit holes in rapid
succession, followed by a dribble of blood.
In the bedroom, seen in a low angle shot, Terminator
stands with the .45 aimed down at the dead woman out of
frame below. He unhurriedly drops the clip, reloads the
weapon and replaces it under his jacket.
Then, crouching down, he removes a plastic-handled razor-
knife from his pocket and extends the five inch blade
slowly with his thumb. It is the type with numerous
break-off sections for renewing the point, and it extends
with a quietly ominous clicking.
In the foyer the old woman stands paralyzed as Terminator
reappears on the landing and walks down toward her, knife
He wipes the bloody blade clean on her apron, clicks it
shut and goes out the door.
She sags to the floor in a faint.
Some kids who have gathered nervously at the curb step
back as she walks out, gets in the car, and drives away.
He pulls a Milky Way bar out of his pocket and eats it as
he drives, in two bites, without removing the wrapper.
In the back room at Big Bob’s Sarah has her feet up,
taking a well earned coffee break. Chatting with another
girl, she is paying little attention to the early evening
news droning on a small portable TV in the background.
The anchorwoman is saying “In our top story locally,
police are at a loss for a possible motive in the bizarre,
execution-style murder of an Encino woman early this
afternoon. Sarah Connor was shot to death in her home by
a man witnesses describes as…”
The girl watching the news exclaims to Sarah that someone
with the same name as her was killed. All three of them
watch intently as the report continues.
Sarah gazed at the screen contemplatively, the coincidence
an uneasy reminder of mortality.
It is dusk when Sarah stops her scooter in front of the
health club where Matt and Ginger work. She goes inside
and waits while Ginger finishes the last few minutes of
her disco-aerobics class, energetically leading her
platoon of panting, cellulite-cursed women through their
rigorous paces to the beat of a Motown favorite.
When the tape ends her charges collapse with a collective
groan while Ginger, barely winded, cheerfully cajoles and
commends them variously before heading for the locker
While Ginger puts on her street clothes, including her
much-loved Walkman earphones, Sarah tells her about the
unsettling coincidence and its aftereffects: that her
mother actually called her at work to see if she was OK,
just because the news item gave her such a start.
Ginger turns to Sarah with an expression so bizarre that
she can barely keep from cracking up, especially with
Ginger’s vocal rendition of fifties sci-fi movie theremin
Sarah tells her friend that she’s nuts.
“Good nuts, I hope,” Ginger says.
The girls leave in high spirits, stopping by the weight
room so Ginger can say goodbye to Matt. She berates him
for not doing a full workout on his “lats” and “bi’s”,
kisses him and grabs Sarah by the arm.
She has been wistfully studying the other men as they pump
the massive, complex nautilus machines.
They seem to merge into kinetic sculptures of chrome steel
levers and tubes, and glistening muscle… a bio-
Outside, the girls climb onto Sarah’s little scooter and
drone off into the gathering darkness.
Later, Sarah and Ginger are preparing for their respective
dates: Ginger blow-drying with her headphones inverted
under her chin, Sarah trying on the fourth blouse in a
sudden attack of indecision.
Sarah answers the phone and Matt, thinking it is Ginger,
launches into one of his custom obscene phone calls in
which he describes in drooling detail the pleasures he
intends to inflict in her pliant flesh. Sarah,
suppressing her laughter, gives him enough rope to hang
himself and then sternly asks who it is.
Matt is grovellingly apologetic, and asks politely to
speak to Ginger. When she takes the phone he begins the
breathy monologue again. Ginger, with a conspiratorial
wink at Sarah says “Oh, hi Steve.”
Wounded voice: “This is Matt. Who’s Steve?”
The girls are weak from laughter when the doorbell heralds
the arrival of Sarah’s mystery date. Enter Stan Morsky:
aggressive, clean-cut law student with an upwardly mobile
smile and an I’m-so-smooth-I-hardly-believe-it-myself
style that instantly spells schmuck.
He makes a big hit with Sarah by spending 80 percent of
the time looking at Ginger until she gets him coaxed out
the door. Needless to say he drives a Porsche.
An unmarked car with a clamp-on light flashing and siren
blaring screeches to the curb behind three black-and-
whites in front of a Venice apartment building. LIEUTENANT
ED VUKOVICK, Homicide Division, strides through the crowd
gathered patiently for their ten-second glimpse of
something under a sheet, and wends his way up to the
scene, a third floor apartment.
On the floor is the crumpled body of a young woman, her
blue jeans and sweater bloodsoaked. Two bags of groceries
lie split open on the floor in front of her. Detectives
and photographers bustle about, taking evidence.
Vukovick is quickly briefed by DETECTIVE SGT. BUCKMAN: The
woman was shot repeatedly at close range. Large caliber
weapon. Got her just inside the door, so killer was
probably waiting in the apartment. One witness saw a guy
holding a pistol walk out like he was walking a poodle for
a piss in the park… his words. He’s making a statement.
The deceased’s name is Sarah Louise Connor…
Vukovick stops the report. Did he hear correctly? Two
homicides in one day with the same name?
“That’s not all that’s the same,” Buckman says, lifting
one of the girl’s pant-legs which has been slit up past
the knee. Also slit, from ankle to knee, is the skin and
muscle of her calf, peeled back like a hotdog bun to
expose the shin-bone.
Vukovick scowls. The same mutilation as the Encino
housewife, left leg only. Too fucking weird. The news
guys’ll have a field day with this… the first one-day
Vukovick’s lamentations are justified when he returns to
division headquarters and finds himself running a gauntlet
of reporters and minicam crews to get to his office. It
hasn’t taken them long to figure out that the killings
took place in the same order in which they are listed in
the phone book, and they want to know if he can offer
anything beside the idea that a maniac is working his way
through the L.A. directory starting with the C’s.
Vukovick reaches his inner sanctum with NO COMMENT and
washes down a handful of aspirin with coffee two hours
He asks if Buckman has called the third name again, the
‘next girl’, and the officer replies that he just keeps
getting an answering machine. A unit sent to the address
in the book reported that there was no answer to the
buzzer and the apartment manager wasn’t home either.
The Lieutenant ponders the reporters who, in his opinion,
have screwed up more good police work than any other
But he decides they may do more good than harm this time.
With the pattern revealed and potential victims alerted,
the killer may be wary of striking again if that is his
He goes back outside after telling Buckman to keep
calling. As the door closes on the babble and the lights,
Buckman begins punching out Sarah’s number.
The phone rings in the dark apartment, triggering the
loony phone message the girls have recorded on their
machine. In the bedroom the recorded voices are muffled,
and largely drowned out by Ginger’s moans as she and Matt
heave strenuously in the throes of lovemaking. Ginger is
still wearing her Walkman earphones and Matt, reaching out
to the night table without breaking rhythm, thumbs the
volume higher so she won’t be distracted by the call.
Ginger seems to enjoy his sure touch on her volume
Stan Morsky’s silver Porsche roars to the curb in front of
Sarah’s building and, killing the engine, he turns to her
expectantly. He invites himself up for a drink, but Sarah
declines gracefully, saying that her room-mate has company
and with a one-bedroom apartment it’s her night on the
Undaunted, Stan invites her over to his place for a
night-cap but she begs off, citing a long and fatiguing
She breaks off their goodnight kiss when he shows no sign
of doing so and thanks him for dinner with an edge in her
Stan asks petulantly what’s wrong. Didn’t they have a
nice dinner? Don’t they have a lot in common? Don’t they
both like dogs and swing-era jazz? He doesn’t get it.
Sarah sighs, abandoning graciousness, and turns on him
with a vengeance. Why does something have to be wrong?
Does she have to be defective in some way to not want to
leap into bed with a guy she has known for three hours,
two of which he spent telling her how much money he’s
going to make when he joins his father’s firm and the
other spent driving like Mario Andretti on diet pills?
Sarah enters the apartment, alone, and trudges to the
refrigerator, taking out a pint of ice-cream. She sits
down beside Pugsley, lets him out and plunges the spoon
into the ice-cream.
“Rum raisin,” she sighs, “It ain’t love but nine out of
ten doctors surveyed recommend it as a substitute for
She begins massaging the muscle of her left calf and we
see that a long-healed surgery scar runs downward across
her shin from just below the knee.
“Old war wound acting up,” she confides to Pugsley, who is
draped comfortably across her shoulders.
She becomes aware of a series of rising moans and gasps
emanating from the bedroom.
Sarah rolls her eyes in annoyance as her friend becomes
more and more demonstrative.
‘Oh, Matt… yes, yes’ Sarah mouths in a lip-sync parody.
When it shows no sign of abating Sarah grabs her jacket
and leaves the apartment, without checking the tape
machine holding Buckman’s messages.
She descends the poorly lit stairs to the parking garage.
Thinking she hears footsteps behind her she stops and
surveys the shadowed recesses of the parking structure,
but can see no movement. She unchains the moped, peddles
until the tiny engine cuts in, and whirrs out of the
On the street she passes a parked car in which a figure
sits hunched down, shadowed.
The car’s lights come on and it pulls out to follow her.
Within, closer, we see that it is Kyle Reese, his scarred
face set in grim lines as the streetlights play across it.
From the steering column dangles the ignition assembly
where it was ripped loose for hot-wiring.
Sarah winds up at a pizza parlor near her campus, a
favorite of the post-movie crowd. She nurses a glass of
wine at one end of the bar in morose solitude. She is
ignoring the newscast on the TV set above the bottle rack
until she hears her name again.
The newscaster is saying:
“…apparently the same pattern… police are refusing to
speculate on the apparent similarity between the shooting
death of an Encino woman earlier today and an almost
identical killing just two hours ago of a Venice resident,
who, incredible, has virtually the same name. Sarah
Louise Connor, a 24 year old legal secretary, was
pronounced dead at the scene in her beachfront apartment.
No connection between the two victims has been established
as of yet and…”
The bartender starts to turn the channel at the request of
another customer to catch the ball score, but Sarah
surprises everyone with her yell to leave it alone.
When the newscaster turns to the next item, Sarah makes
her way to the pay phone in the back. Looking up her own
listing she realizes she is the next in the progression.
Scanning the faces in the room she catches the
statistically normal number of covert looks for an
unattended girl on a Friday night, but they seem to take
on a new menace.
Kyle Reese looks up from his beer and looks impassively at
her. The light catches the burn scar on his cheek and
She backs into the women’s restroom and stumbles numbly to
She splashes her face with cold water.
In the mirror she confronts her terrified reflection: why
She slips out and walks quickly to the pay phone, only to
find it out of order. The cashier tells her that there is
a phone at the bar further down the block and she heads
out onto the street.
Why does everyone in the sparse crowd seem to be looking
People look at people, it’s natural. But what are they
thinking? What might one of them be thinking?
Glancing behind her she sees the guy with the scar leaning
against the wall. When she looks back again, he’s gone,
lost in the crowd somewhere.
She speeds up. An LAPD cruiser glides by on the far side
of the street. What could she tell him, anyway?
She reaches the bar and ducks quickly inside. Her
knuckles clench white as the scarred guy in the overcoat
approaches outside. He walks by, unhurriedly, without a
The gloomy interior reveals itself to be a less than
savory place. She draws stares, menacing in their own
right, as she weaves between the pool tables to the back
of the bar.
With an effort of will she walks, rather than runs, to the
pay phone and dials the police, only to be put on hold for
transfer to another department.
In the foyer of Sarah’s building Terminator stands
surveying the bank of call buttons. Through the steel
bars of the security gate he can just make out the door of
Sarah’s second floor apartment, number 203.
Ginger leaves a sleeping Matt and pads through the dark
apartment wearing a short kimono and her tape player,
bopping to herself in the silent gloom. The refrigerator
briefly illuminates the kitchen as she removes snack
fixings, and in that moment we see something moving in the
A sudden crash and flurry of motion. She drops half her
load in that startled moment and then fumbles for the
Ginger sighs with relief as Pugsley sits blinking among
overturned spice bottles on the counter top. She shoos
him away and begins slathering crunchy peanut butter onto
stalks of celery.
Rustling curtains play patterns of streetlight over Matt’s
The sound of a faint breeze.
In the background is the balcony, empty. The sliding door
Matt’s eyes open as he hears an ominous repeated clicking.
Right above him is the five-inch razor knife reaching full
extension in Terminator’s hand. It slashes viciously
downward, but Matt rolls and the pillow is slit open where
his throat had been.
Terminator grabs him by the hair and slashes down again.
Matt grabs his wrist in both hands.
The blade stops inches above his face.
The enormous muscles of his arms, which seem capable of
bench-pressing a Chrysler, strain and knot against the
pressure of the killer’s single arm… and still the blade
moves closer to his throat.
With a final heave Matt deflects the downpressure sideways
and the blade snaps with a clink against the headboard.
He rolls off the bed and slams his fists together into
He picks up a brass deco lamp and brings it down with
Unperturbed the intruder knocks the lamp away and flings
Matt crashing through the glass door onto the balcony.
In the kitchen, oblivious to the noise, Ginger croons in
rock and roll ecstasy, singing to the celery (between
Matt heaves himself up, powerful muscles gleaming with
sweat and blood from a score of cuts, and hurls himself
upon the intruder. The titans crash into the dresser,
reducing it to kindling, and then into the closet door.
The full-length mirror explodes.
Terminator places one hand on either side of Matt’s barrel
Sinks his fingers deep into the flesh. an inhuman grip.
Matt raised off the floor, contorted with agony, above the
Ginger is returning to the bedroom with a plate of celery
stalks and a glass of milk. As she approaches the closed
door a shape smashes through it in an explosion of
splinters right in front of her… Matt’s lacerated body
propelled halfway through the door by enormous force.
Ginger screams hysterically as the door is wrenched open
and Terminator steps through with that massive .45 drawn.
She makes it down the hall before the bullet punches into
her back, pitching her on her face just outside the open
In low wide-angle Ginger crawls forward, gasping,
drowning. The implacable figure looms behind her.
Her expression is agony and reeling, nauseating terror and
incomprehension rolled together.
Why am I suddenly dying? Her eyes roll, showing the
whites, like a horse tethered in a burning stable.
She scrabbles for a grip, pulling herself pathetically
into the bathroom, clutching the rim of the toilet.
Pan up as Terminator stands over her, takes aim, and
empties the clip.
In the silence that follows, the ring of the phone seems
deafening. Terminator ignores the girl’s recorded message
as he calmly inserts a new blade into the razor knife and
bends down. However his head snaps around when he hears
the incoming call:
“Ginger, this is Sarah. I’m in this sleazy bar called
Stokers on Olympic but I’m too scared to leave. I’m
really scared, kiddo… I think somebody’s after me and I
sure hope you play this soon ’cause I need you and Matt to
come pick me up. The police keep transferring me around
but I’m going to try them again.”
Cut to the bar as Sarah finishes the message by reading
off the number of the pay phone. She scans the crowd
nervously as she hangs up and dials another number.
In the apartment Terminator is sifting through papers in
the drawer of Sarah’s small desk.
Sirens wail, approaching.
He picks up her expired driver’s license, scans the
picture for a fraction of a second, tosses it down.
Pocketing her address book, he slips out the balcony door.
Meanwhile, Sarah has finally been transferred to Vukovick
who apologizes for the delay, listens to her halting
story, and tells her to stay put until he gets there. If
someone means her harm her safest bet is to be in a public
place, in view of many people. He hangs up and bolts from
the office with Buckman.
As Sarah locates an empty booth and sits down, we see
Reese with his back to her at the bar, watching her in the
She fiddles with her menu and orders something to eat,
glancing frequently at her watch.
The outside door opens and a figure stands silhouetted for
a moment against the streetlight.
Reese’s eyes flick to the mirror, to the figure.
He nurses his beer, looking a bit tightly wound. His
overcoat is done up to the top button but he begins slowly
to undo it.
There is a glint of metal in the shadows within.
Reese turns slowly on his stool as the figure brushes past
Sarah looks up.
Close: Reese’s hand sliding to the trigger of the riot-
Sarah sees Reese and gasps.
“Oh, my God,” she whispers to herself.
Then she sees the man standing in front of her.
We see his back as he sits opposite her in the booth.
“Lieutenant Vukovick?” she says uncertainly.
In a reverse we see it is Terminator.
Blue eyes so pure and deep. The eyes of a saint, perhaps.
The .45 is out and cocked and aimed directly between her
eyes before she can react in any way.
Reese’s riot-gun is whipped to a hip-firing position with
a snap of his coat falling back. She seems to be looking
down its barrel as well.
It is a frozen slice of nightmare, broken by the roar of
the shotgun as it blasts Terminator’s hand, knocking away
the automatic just as it fires.
Sarah screams involuntarily at the concussion so near her
Reese pumps up and fires two more rounds as Terminator
rises, blowing him backward over the booth divider.
Sarah scrunches down, caught in the firing line.
Lying on his back with three shotgun rounds in him,
Terminator seems somewhat dazed.
But only for a moment. The customers cowering in the
booth beside him scream even louder as he sits up and,
favoring his damaged hand, hauls out the concealed Uzi.
He rolls up, spraying the bar a moment too late to catch
the diving Reese.
Reese rolls like a cat and comes up firing, catching
Terminator as he tries for another shot at Sarah.
Patrons of the bar run, scream or dive depending on their
level of intelligence.
Tables crash over.
The front window is blown out.
Sarah is pinned by the body of a man who caught a burst
from the Uzi meant for her.
Terminator drops a spent clip and fumbles for another mag
with his bloody hand, which isn’t working too well but
shouldn’t be working at all.
Reese slides through the glass to Sarah’s booth, pulls the
dead man off her, and hauls her out onto the floor with
him, practically dragging her behind the bar.
Before his opponent can get his second clip in, Reese
leaps over the bar and at point-blank range unloads the
remaining three rounds into Terminator’s belly.
He crashes backward through two tables and a plate glass
window onto the street.
High proof alcohol is feeding a roaring fire behind the
bar and Reese tosses the Uzi into the blaze before
reaching for Sarah. She screams when he seizes her wrist
and struggles hysterically, totally overloaded.
“Come with me if you want to live,” he shouts, pointing to
the street where Terminator is rising unsteadily to his
feet. His coat and shirt are shredded and blood-drenched.
Sarah feels a lightning bolt of terror greater than she
ever could have imagined as the cold blue eyes fix upon
her once again and he clambers back through the window.
Reese runs, dragging her, toward the back of the place as
Terminator crashes through the wreckage behind them,
hurling flaming tables out of the way. Running headlong,
Reese hits the door of a back hallway, hauls Sarah
through, then slams and bolt-latches it.
Terminator hits the door a moment latter with enough force
to tear the latch screws half out of the wall.
Behind him the flames engulf a canister of cleaning
solvent. He slams the door again, ripping it open, in
time to see his quarry reeling out the back door into the
The can of solvent explodes, sending a fireball of
superheated gas hurtling down the corridor behind
Terminator as he clears the outer door.
Vukovick and another plain-car arrive out front, slowing
to a stop in the glass-littered street.
“What the fuck is going on?” he shouts, heading for the
blazing building. Two LAPD units arrive and he deploys
one of them to cover the rear.
In the alley Reese and Sarah have a bit of a lead but
their pursuer is bounding after them like a panther,
leaping trashcans and other obstacles. They turn the
corner into a narrower alley between buildings, caroming
off the wall without slowing. Reese is reloading on the
run, dropping shells.
He and Sarah pelt along beside a row of parked cars which
line the alley, leaving little room to run. As they crest
the last car he pushes Sarah hard, flinging her down.
Flings open the car door… a shield.
Drops to the ground.
Fires into the gas tank of a car down the row, just before
Terminator reaches it.
The resulting explosion fills the alley with fire, an
inferno channeled between the enclosing walls, with
Terminator cut off beyond.
Reese stuffs Sarah into the car and climbs in after her.
When he twists two wires together to start it, we
recognize it as his stolen car. The engine catches just
as a silhouette appears out of the wall of flame, leaping
from the roof of the blazing car ahead and impacting on
the hood of Reese’s.
Terminator slams his fist into the windshield, punching
Reese jams reverse and nails the throttle.
The killer gropes for Sarah, lacerating his arm.
The car shoots backward out of the alley as the bloody
fingers grasp her blouse and pull.
Reese cranks the wheel. They slew sideways into a parked
car and Terminator is thrown off onto the pavement.
Reese slams DRIVE and they hurtle forward, through a red
light and past the gathering minions of the law.
Vukovick scrambles the black-and-white to give pursuit.
Terminator rolls to a kneeling position, then slowly
stands upright, patting out his smoldering clothing as he
watches his quarry escape. Though his face is as
emotionless as ever, we sense that in his own way he is
not very pleased.
Sarah’s face is bloodless. Shock.
Reese has the hammer down and he knows what he’s doing.
Evasive turns and high speed sprints to gain distance,
running with lights off at ninety plus down backstreets.
He knows the rabbit stratagem and it’ll work at least
until they get some aerial units on the scene.
He asks her if she’s alright. Repeats the question to
reach her in the terrified corner of her mind.
“Who are you?” she says.
“Reese. Sent to protect you.”
“From who? I’ve never done anything to anybody.”
“I know. But you will. You just haven’t done it yet.
That’s why it wants to grease you… you’re targeted for
Sarah tries to make something of that while trying not to
see the landscape reeling and blurring by outside the
windows. Flashing reds fall in behind them.
“How could that man… how could he be still alive, after
you… after you shot him?”
“Not a man. It’s a Terminator. Cyber Dynamics Model
101.” Reese says it with commingled respect and hatred.
A glare of light outlines Terminator and he turns toward
its source. A spotlight on the black-and-white sent to
cover the alley.
Police and fire sirens warble counterpoint across the
landscape of the night, and two helicopters fencing with
searchlights circle the area.
Terminator heads toward the squad car with the purposeful
stride of an executive hailing an elevator filled with
“Freeze, turkey!” the cop shouts down the barrel of his
riot gun, and he does it very well too, with the
aggressive Academy stance and hoarse authority in the
voice… except that Terminator just ignores all that and
takes his gun and his squad car and leaves him stuffed in
This begins a three-way cat and mouse pursuit in which
Reese and Sarah attempt to elude both the police and
Terminator, and Terminator uses the police communications
to elude capture himself and home in on his quarry, which
he otherwise would have a hard time doing.
In fact, he takes part in the search as if he is a bona-
fide cop, answering to his unit number in a clipped
monotone which goes unnoticed in the melee of coordinating
half the city’s forces in a massive dragnet.
Vukovick, interpreting that Reese is the killer, with
Sarah his hostage, has pulled out all the stops to find
them, after the day’s triple-blow to the image of law
enforcement in this fair city.
During the pursuit Reese handles the car with nerves of
steel, briefing Sarah as they go.
She listens because it’s better than thinking… about
what has happened or will happen, or about the parked cars
and lamp-posts that are an insensible blur outside.
“See, this Terminator’s not a guy, it’s a machine. It’s
made to look human so it can infiltrate.”
“If it’s a machine, how could it bleed?”
He pauses to swerve onto a freeway on-ramp, which a
pursuing squad car misses in a lateral slide. He winds to
110 on the freeway and answers:
“It’s called a cyborg really. Cybernetic organism. A
machine put together with a living thing. The skin, and
some layers under it, the hair, the surface of the eyes,
and the inside of the mouth… all that stuff’s human
tissue, genetically designed for the cyborgs. But
underneath it’s all steel and titanium. Hydraulic
actuators instead of muscles. Controlled by a
microcomputer. It has to eat and breathe to keep the skin
alive, though a lot less than us… and there’s a little
tiny heart and internal organs about the size of a
chicken’s in a recessed compartment.”
“This is insane.”
“Yeah, tell me about it. See, it sweats and has bad
breath and feels totally human, so it can infiltrate real
well. I mean, they still used the 600 Series Hunter-
Killers and the other ‘roach patrol’ machines but…”
“I don’t believe any of this,” Sarah says. Frantic.
She seems about to scream.
“Yeah, well that’s OK. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t
happening. You’ve got to accept and understand what this
thing is. It can’t be reasoned with, it can’t be
bargained with, it doesn’t feel pity or remorse or fear…
and it absolutely will not stop, ever, once it has been
targeted. Unless it’s destroyed.”
Reese exits the freeway and blends into street traffic for
a while, abiding the law until he can find a place to
“A thing like that… I mean, nobody can build something
like that. Could they?”
“Hell no, not now. It’s from 2026. So am I. I’ll never
see it again though. One way ticket.”
Sarah looks at him as if he has jumped his tracks, and so
what if he was sent to protect her, who protects her from
When they stop at a traffic light she tries to bail out
but he catches her arm. She sinks her teeth into his hand
will all her strength, but his grip doesn’t slacken.
Reese has spotted a cop across the way, waiting in the
oncoming lane, and he shuts the door with his other hand
without loosening his hold on Sarah. He drives on when
the light turns green and slips past the unobservant
He lets go of her and she stares at the blood running down
his arm from the bite wound, and back at his grim, scarred
Is he a cyborg too?
He wipes his hand on his pants and looks at her.
“Can you kill it?” she asks, weakly.
“I don’t know.”
They stop in a dark parking lot to switch cars and Reese
breaks into a late model sedan, hopefully an inconspicuous
Helicopters can be heard, circling nearer, and several
cruisers flash by, lights blazing. An airborne
searchlight sweeps the parking lot, lighting the windows
as Sarah and Reese huddle on the seat. Two cruisers enter
the lot, searchlights flicking about.
The two wait, hoping their previous car not far away won’t
be spotted. The chopper roars far overhead. A light
flares briefly across the rear window.
Close up: Reese’s eyes. There is a momentary flash of an
image, a shard of the future, Reese’s world.
A building in ruins.
An incredibly bright light sweeps over it.
Reese in black fatigues, crouching in the rubble. He
wears a switchboard type headset and carries a strange-
looking rifle with CRT starlight scope mounted on it.
Roar of steel tank treads.
A machine, two stories tall, with searchlights, gun
turrets, infrared eyes, rolls by outside the wall.
Then Reese is up firing. Bolts of energy and needle-thin
beams pierce the night, the flesh.
Screams of men and electronics dying.
The vision ends on a bright flash.
“There was a war,” he begins, whispering almost in Sarah’s
ear as the helicopters circle, “Unlike anything you can
She stares at him, eye to eye, as he speaks his hypnotic
history. Though it tears into the recesses of all she
knows or thinks she knows to be true and sane, she begins
to believe him, and so doing begins to feel new horizons
of terror unreeling before her.
There was a war.
And it devastated the Earth.
Our weapons and their weapons were unleashed against their
makers by a third and unexpected player. The artificial
intelligence which had been created to control the bombers
and launch the missiles with their nukes and chemicals and
germs… the computer entrusted with that grave
responsibility one day decided to have done with the folly
that was Man and create real order and real intelligence
on the planet for the first time.
Humans were obsolete.
The cities fell and in the ruins the survivors were hunted
down and slaughtered by the gleaming patrol machines,
built by robots in the automated factories.
Large groups were rounded up into camps where liquidation
could proceed in an orderly and sanitary fashion.
Only one force opposed the cybernetic Reich. A single
man, a man who rose out of the slag heap to organize the
survivors against the pogroms, to resist the genocide, to
storm the wire of the camps and smash their metal
executioners into junk.
Reese holds her by the shoulders, speaking more eloquently
and earnestly, in his halting way, than he ever has in his
grim soldier’s life… knowing that only by convincing her
now can he save her life.
“This man… his name is Connor. John Connor. Your son,
Sarah. Your unborn son.”
The helicopter searchlight sweeps across their old car,
flicks back and holds. The cruisers turn and race to
Streetlights flash like comets over the windshield as
Terminator peers into the rows of parked cars. He spots
the gray sedan as it launches out of its space before any
of the other cops and pursues silently.
Behind the wheel Reese is still twisting the wires firmly
together as he maneuvers out of the lot. Terminator’s
black-and-white closes on a diagonal course.
The window is down, the shotgun barrel poking out.
Reese ducks, steering blind, as the windshield and side
windows explode inward and his car slams into the black-
and-white, spinning it into a parked truck.
Terminator catches up to them again on the street and they
streak through an intersection at a hundred plus with a
jewelled string of squad cars following.
Reese is feeding his last two shells into the pump as
Terminator draws near.
“Steer!” he yells at Sarah and leans out the window to
fire two-handed, still keeping the throttle mashed down.
She grabs the wheel and screams as they approach an
intersection, red light their way and an Alpha Beta truck
Reese and Terminator are staring down each other’s barrels
as the gap closes and the cyborg draws alongside.
Sarah jams the car into reverse.
The sedan slews with screaming rear tires.
The shotguns roar.
Terminator’s shot tears out the doorpost next to Reese’s
shoulder, while Reese’s stars the other’s windshield,
blocking his vision as he hurtles past them into the
Terminator clips the back of the semi, skids, vaults the
curb in a front-end roll and crashes upside down through
the counter area of an A and W.
A sign which reads DRIVE IN detaches from an awning and
drops across the crushed auto.
Reese and Sarah come to rest safely in a car with no
transmission, surrounded a moment later by an assortment
of LAPD, Sheriff’s Department and CHP cars and
Reese holds his hands up in plain sight.
A phalanx of cops, looking like they very much mean
business, approach the car. Sarah opens the door and runs
staggering toward one of the officers who pulls her away
Two cops run to the overturned squad car jammed into the
wreckage of the A and W, but their flashlights reveal that
it is empty.
The cyborg has vanished.
Somewhere in the labyrinth of division headquarters Sarah
sits, huddled in a blanket. Her eyes are fixed in the
middle distance. All reserves of tears and conscious
Outside the interrogation room Lt. Vukovick is mixing
coffee and discussing the necessity for having told Sarah
of her room-mate’s death with Buckman.
Buckman reports that Sarah’s mother has been reached and
is on her way down from San Bernardino. They speculate on
the single-minded ferocity of her would-be killer, but
conclude that nothing adds up to anything at this point.
Vukovick carries the coffee in to Sarah.
She cowers momentarily at his entrance, and he sits beside
her, patiently holding the coffee while she sips it.
“That thing is still out there, somewhere, isn’t it?” she
“We’ll get him. He’s not what you’d call cautious. But
don’t worry about that… you’re safe here. How much
safer could you be? There’s thirty cops in this building.
Why don’t you just stretch out here and get some sleep
until your mother gets here.”
“The guy I was with says that it’s not human, that it only
“That’s a good way of putting it, with an animal like
that.” Vukovick’s patronizing smile reassures her.”
Is Reese crazy too?” she asks. It’s all beginning to seem
so distant now. How could she have believed…
“We won’t know that until we can get him to talk.”
Reese sits rigid in a chair, hands cuffed behind him.
He stares straight ahead, as if trying to will himself or
the two detectives interrogating him out of existence.
“Reese, Kyle A., Control Sergeant, DN8675309,” is all he
will tell them.
They remind him that there is no record of him with any
branch of the armed services, in fact no record under that
name anywhere, and that anyway the serial number is not
even in the right format. They pummel him with questions
but the answer is always the same: name, rank and serial
“Where’s Sarah Connor?” he growls.
Reese sneers but takes no pleasure in it. “You can’t
protect her. She’s dead meat.”
The room costs five dollars a night and that’s robbery,
but the fire escape outside the window adds an element of
strategic value. Terminator slips in through the window
and clicks on the single bare light bulb.
He’s a mess: a bloody scarecrow with bullet wounds in
stomach, chest, shoulder and right wrist… eyebrows
singed off, hair a charred stubble, left eye bloody with
embedded glass shards, left ear shot almost completely
He sits down at a small folding table on which he has set
out an array of small tools.
Removing the charred remains of his jacket, he props his
elbow on the table and examines his non-functional right
He picks up an X-acto knife and cuts deeply into the skin
of his forearm with an expression of mild concentration.
He pulls back a flap of skin to reveal a complex trunk of
hydraulics and sheathed cables, glistening with blood.
He wipes away the blood and, with small screwdrivers,
begins to disassemble the jammed mechanism around the 12
When repairs are complete he sutures the skin crudely back
in place with a needle and thread.
Close up, macro: the damaged eye. The point of the X-acto
knife enters and begins cutting away the ruined sclera and
cornea, revealing the faintly glowing lens mechanism
The eye-skin flops on the table.
The blood is wiped away with a rag, clearing the
electronic eye’s vision.
Several other repairs are seen in montage style: suturing
face and abdominal wounds, slipping a glove over the
damaged hand, wiping away the burnt hair and settling a
motoring cap on the blistered scalp.
A new shirt and overcoat hide the other damage.
With the hat pulled down, the collar pulled up, and
favoring his right profile, he seems unhurt. (though a
bit gaunt and pale). But a turn of his head brings the
balefully glowing left eye in its metal socket into view,
and Terminator will have to rely on shadows and distance
to get by on the street.
He removes the Mossberg, the AR-18 and the .38 from under
the stained mattress and leaves by the fire escape.
Reese is left alone in the interrogation room with DR.
PETER SILBERMAN, a criminal psychologist looking somewhat
crusty-eyed and put-upon at 3:00 AM.
Silberman convinces Kyle to answer some questions on the
basis that, with Kyle incarcerated, it may improve Sarah’s
chances for survival… since that is his purported
In the ensuing conversation Reese explains more about why
Sarah is in jeopardy.
In the future, in 2026, the tide of battle has turned
against the electronic genocide, in favor of the human
resistance fighters. As a desperate, last ditch maneuver
the computer has used a prototype of a time-displacement
field generator to send one of its infiltration units into
the past to kill his enemy before he is even conceived, by
killing his mother.
Connor’s forces captured the time field laboratory too
late to stop the Terminator but, by tracing the
coordinates used, were able to deduce the plan and send
back two men to intercept the assassin. At this point the
experimental equipment was destroyed to prevent recapture.
There will be no further help, interference or contact
from the future.
Silberman is fascinated.
According to Reese, due to loss of records during the
nuclear devastation, little information about the mother
of John Connor was available to the computer: only her
name, age, and the city in which she lived up until 1982,
after which she was known to have gone into hiding.
There was only one piece of information which would have
allowed the cyborg to identify her positively.
In Reese’s future, Sarah Connor is known to have died in a
raid at the age of 36 and been routinely autopsied by the
disposal machines. This revealed to the computer the two
steel screws set in her tibia for a compound fracture
suffered in a figure skating accident in her teens.
Silberman nods, noting that this would explain the curious
mutilation of the previous victims.
But he questions why neither Reese nor the other fellow
are using anything but present-day weapons, when
presumably they would have advanced weaponry and other
items of future technology at their disposal.
Reese explains that only a living thing can pass through
the time field, or in the case of the Terminator, a metal
structure completely enclosed by organic tissue. It had
something to do with the micro-field generated by all
Therefore: no advanced weapons, supplies or even clothing.
They were born into a new time like infants, naked and
alone. And without any hope of return.
Vukovick enters. Reese reiterates that the police will be
unable to protect Sarah.
The lieutenant says he’s supervised lots of protective
custody operations and to mind his own business.
Silberman leads Vukovick into the hall, leaving Reese
shouting that if it knows where she is, it’ll get her.
In the hall Silberman marvels at the extent and lucidity
of Reese’s delusion, and the clever way it is fabricated,
requiring no actual physical proof from the future world.
Vukovick is too tired to delve into Reese’s testimony,
delusion or otherwise. For all he knew the kid’s behavior
could be caused by watching Star Wars on PCP.
He shovels more aspirin, chewing them in the absence of
coffee, and asks Silberman to check on Sarah.
The psychologist enters the other interrogation room and
administers a sedative to her, then departs.
Out front he waits for the night desk sergeant to buzz him
out through the electric security door. In the foyer he
passes Terminator just coming in the front door, a pale
apparition in cap and dark wrap-around sunglasses.
The desk sergeant in his bullet-proof booth barely glances
at the visitor who identifies himself as a friend of Sarah
Connor and asks to see her.
“You can’t see her. She’s making a statement.”
“Where is she?”
“Look, it’s gonna be a while. You wanna wait, there’s a
Terminator scans the booth, the electric door, the rooms
beyond. In a handheld POV which has been optically
altered to resemble a digitized computer-generated image,
we see the room as Terminator sees it. Graphics are
overlayed, extrapolations of the structure of the walls,
wiring of the security systems etc., on top of the
“I’ll come back,” he says.
The desk sergeant isn’t watching as Terminator goes out,
nor does he notice the headlights getting brighter outside
the main doors, at least until Terminator’s car crashes
through the foyer, crushing him in the wreckage of the
Terminator vaults the hood of the car, heaves through the
splintered wall into the corridor, brandishing the
automatic rifle like a pistol in one hand, the .38 in the
other. The Mossberg dangles at his side on a shoulder.
Sarah jerks awake at the sound of distant shots.
Two cops run out of the coffee room into a burst of
gunfire. Terminator steps over them without breaking
Shots echo in the hallway as Vukovick whips open the door
to Sarah’s room.
“Stay here,” he says, turns the locking knob and slams the
door, leaving her alone.
She stares around the empty room in mounting panic as
frantic shouting and machine gun fire reverberate through
Terminator moves inexorably forward.
Sprinting for cover a cop dives behind a wall but the
cyborg targets on the sound and shoots through the wall,
Vukovick fires, puts two rounds into the intruder’s head
from a doorway ambush, only to see him turn, target and
One of the two detectives with Reese runs out, leaving the
other to watch the prisoner. A split second after the
door closes, a chair smashes across his back and Reese is
on him, scrabbling for the handcuff keys.
Sarah claws at the light switch and huddles in a corner of
the darkened room, unable to believe that she has
reawakened into the same nightmare.
The shooting is drawing near, relentless as a steamroller.
Office-bound cops in shirtsleeves are pulling M-16s from
A smoke grenade goes off.
Terminator kicks in a door, scans the empty office, moves
A locked door splinters under a burst from the AR-18 and
is flung open.
Cops behind desks in the briefing room open fire but the
intruder moves on, uninterested, taking a few body hits.
Sarah’s teeth are chattering with uncontrollable fear as
shots echo nearby.
There is the rhythmic thunder of the pump shotgun,
rattling automatic fire, screaming and the sound of
Crashing, splintering sounds.
More shots, closer now.
Smoke begins to seep under the door.
She stifles a cry as the doorknob is tried from the
Then a series of shots shatter the lock and she does
scream. The door bangs open and a figure stands
silhouetted in the smoky hallway.
She runs to him and they flee together, doubling back
through a suite of offices as gunfire rages in the
corridor. Reese stops, hearing his name called weakly.
Vukovick lies propped against a desk.
The dying cop holds out a set of keys and his personal
Colt Python .357.
“Blue Imperial. My space… it says Vukovick. That’s
with a V.”
Reese snatches the gun and the keys and is gone.
“Good luck, kid.”
Reese and Sarah squeal out of the parking lot in
Vukovick’s car as Terminator runs out of the headquarters
He aims carefully with the assault rifle, but it clicks
He watches them go, then sets off, limping, across the
The two of them make it north out of L.A. somehow but they
run out of gas on the open highway and roll the car into a
forested ravine to delay its being found. They huddle
together in a drainage culvert under the highway for the
remainder of the night.
A helicopter circles in the distance, searchlight probing.
A cruiser hurtles by above their heads.
Headlights flare and pass hypnotically.
Sarah finds out that Reese actually has a first name,
Kyle. She asks him why they sent such a young guy.
He describes being raised in the aftermath of the fall of
civilization. He has known only a life of unceasing
combat for survival against the machines.
He has been trained since boyhood in the use of weapons,
explosives and vehicles, living on hate, like a rat in the
ruins of the cities.
He shows her an electronically imprinted number on the
inside of his forearm, a souvenir of the death camp from
which he was freed by one of Connor’s squads.
He looks up, suddenly alert, at the distant barking of a
dog. He tells her the dogs are what saved them from the
Reese lets his gaze drift with the helicopter searchlight.
Sarah’s eyes slowly close as he talks on.
His voice fades as the helicopter’s roar is brought up,
sequeing into a vision of the future.
Pan down from the lights of an aerial patrol craft to
White ash blows in drifts among fire-gutted ruins.
Blackened bones lay everywhere in heaps, a ubiquitous,
People in rags scavenge for unburst cans in the rubble.
Searchlights sweep the night constantly.
A flying machine like an advanced chopper fires tracers
into the ruins a few blocks away.
Gleaming chrome Hunter-Killers grind through the debris of
the shattered streets on their tank-like tracks, flashing
read and blue lights. Their heads turn slowly, playing
high-intensity lights over the buildings.
Reese is among a squad of men in black fatigues, carrying
equipment and energy rifles.
They run low between hulks of cars, and down a long tunnel
into an underground parking structure.
They are met at the entrance by two armed sentries with
dogs, and the men are passed through one at a time as the
dogs check them out. Beyond is a large gathering, a
meeting of a major resistance cell.
At its center the commanding figure of Connor stands
conferring with his staff.
Off to one side are a number of family groups. Children
are huddled around an old TV set, seen from behind, its
glow bathing them. A reverse angle reveals that the set
has been gutted and a small cookfire crackles inside the
Nearby a gaunt kid has a large rat cornered and is
whacking it with a stick.
The uniformed men, including Reese, deploy to guard the
perimeter as more men arrive, wearing mismatched uniforms
or only rags, and armed with laser rifles, shotguns, sharp
Each arrival must pass the canine scrutiny.
Suddenly the dogs go crazy.
An arriving man, rag-dressed and innocuous, drops his
shawl to reveal an enormous energy rifle.
He begins blasting into the crowd, running toward Connor.
“Terminator!” someone screams.
The Terminator throws concussion bombs.
Beams sear the darkness.
Part of the roof collapses.
Fleeing children are burst by stray powerbolts.
Everything is lit as if by lightning.
Reese leaps for the cyborg, firing, and is cut down.
Impressions implode on him… of running feet, flashes,
screaming, energy beams raking the ground. Someone is
dragging him away. Connor.
The hellfire glare is unbearable.
Survivors flee into the labyrinth, some taking relic cars
which date from before the Big Nuke… old nineties and
Reese is loaded into one.
Reese lies crushed in the back seat as the car backs
toward a tunnel.
He fixates on an image as they pull away: an abandoned
child bawling amid the inferno. Beyond it, an injured dog
stands barking, lit stroboscopically.
Reese awakens to the sound of a dog barking far away.
It is light outside.
Sarah is asleep in his arms.
Was it his memory of the future or her dream vision
inspired by his narrative? She opens her eyes and gazes
at him with understanding. It was both, then.
Reese goes down to a small stream to wash his face and
returns to find Sarah gone. He catches up to her down the
road at a boarded-up gas station, standing in a phone
She shows him a listing in the directory: Cyber Dynamics
Corporation. She calls the number and finds out that it
is only a distribution office, that the main offices and
manufacturing plant are up north, in Silicon Valley.
She memorizes the address and leaves the booth.
Reese is upset. What the hell is she doing?
Her inspiration is to turn the tables, to take the
offensive instead of living the rest of her life in fear.
If Cyber Dynamics developed the defense-network computer
sometime in the near future, then by wrecking their plant
and burning the files… destroying that seed now… she
can beat the computer at its own game.
The computer has sent them a warning, inadvertently, which
may prevent the holocaust and reshape the future.
Kyle is too by-the-book to think in these terms. That’s
not his mission. He’s disturbed at the risk presented by
But Sarah has the bit and won’t be restrained. She tears
away, yelling “What are you going to do to stop me…
She marches ahead and sticks out her thumb to the passing
cars. Kyle is puzzled by this ritual until a tractor
trailer pulls over and Sarah runs for it.
“Where you headin’, sweetcake,” says the driver.
“North. Silicon Valley.”
“Goin’ real near there.”
“Come on, Kyle. Get in!”
Kyle rides sullenly as they reach the interstate and head
After a couple of hours the driver pulls into a rest-stop
to catch a short nap, because of ‘this one waitress in
Riverside who’s always real pleased to see me whenever I’m
down this way.’
Sarah and Kyle get out to stretch their legs.
In the picnic area people sit under the trees, enjoying a
beautiful day, and children race around, frolicking with
the family dog, playing frisbee and throwing paper cups of
water at each other near the drinking fountain.
Kyle shambles among them like a zombie, dirty and bloody
and withered behind the eyes.
Sarah goes to the pay phone and calls her mother in San
Bernardino who gushes emotionally to learn that Sarah is
safe. Sarah tells her to pack some things and go right
away to their cabin in the mountains, don’t ask any
questions, just do it… that she’ll call her there later.
Kyle stands among the children, an alien in this land
A little girl, about three and achingly beautiful, accosts
him with the boldness of innocence.
“You’re pissy,” she asserts, only to be bowled over by an
Irish setter which licks her face while she shrieks with
Kyle’s expression softens as he watches her. He seems to
want to smile but doesn’t quite know how to go about it.
Sarah and Reese leave the rest-stop and wander into the
adjoining woods along a narrow path, stopping in a
sun-dappled glade beside a small stream.
Kyle stands frozen at the center of the idyll.
The will seems to drain from him and he sags to his knees,
head lowered. His shoulders heave with silent sobs as the
beauty of this world, lost for all eternity, crushes in
Sarah kneels and puts her arms around him.
“It’s so beautiful,” he whispers hoarsely, “It hurts,
Sarah… worse than the bullets and the fire.”
She lays his head on her breast and it is a frozen moment,
a pivot for time.
Terminator sits in his room with the blinds drawn tight.
His misadventures are having a telling effect on his
Like a picture of Dorian Gray. He’s not getting older,
he’s getting repulsive.
A patch of scalp is blown away, leaving shiny metal under
A flap of skin dangles from his cheek, revealing some of
the drive cables which move his lips.
The skin is waxy white, bruised, and in some places
gangrenous. He ignores the few flies crawling around on
his face and hands as he sits scanning Sarah’s address
book at a rate of a half-second per page.
We see the book in his POV, the handwritten entries being
translated into CRT display typeface printing out in
columns to one side.
A voice from the hallway interrupts his scanning.
“Hey, buddy, you got a dead cat in there or what?”
Terminator raises his head and turns.
The POV pans to the door and a logic flow-diagram appears
overlayed in color-coded words, concluding with a list of
potential appropriate responses:
PLEASE COME BACK LATER
FUCK YOU, ASSHOLE
The last begins to flash and enlarges to fill the screen.
Objective view: Terminator says “Fuck you, asshole.”
The man goes away and he returns to his scan.
At dusk the two fugitives step down from the truck in
front of an economy motel just off the interstate.
The trucker wishes them well and rolls on.
At the registration desk the clerk eyes them warily since
they are on foot, without luggage, etc., but gives them a
key after Sarah helps Kyle count out some of the money he
has crammed in his pockets. Stolen, presumably.
Kyle checks the room, opening the back door and scouting
He tells her he’s going to walk into town, a half mile
down the road, to ‘do some shopping’.
He hands her the .38 he took from one of his
She won’t take it.
He leaves it on the dresser and goes out. She stares at
it with loathing.
Sarah calls the number of the family cabin in the
mountains, and is relieved to hear her mother’s voice.
They exchange concern over each other’s well being, but
when her mother asks where she is, Sarah doesn’t want to
Her mother says she thinks somebody might have been
following her when she drove up the hill, and she wants to
go somewhere else, so she better at least get a phone
number where she can reach her daughter.
Sarah gives her the number of the motel.
Her mother’s closing dialogue is heard voice-over with a
shot panning slowly across smashed furniture and a blood-
spattered wall of rough-finished planks, over a table with
an up-turned cup of coffee, onto Terminator in close-up,
talking in a perfect simulation of her mother’s voice.
He sweetly says goodbye, hangs up, and dials the number
Sarah gave to get the address from the desk clerk.
The .38 is still on the dresser when Kyle returns.
He sets down several bags and goes straight to work making
a number of bulky but powerful explosives by taking the
powder from dozens of shotgun shells and loading it into
foot long sections of 2″ plumbing pipe. He closes them
with thread-on caps and inserts fuses from common
fireworks. All the items he was able to purchase without
permits at hardware and sporting goods stores.
The plan is to wait until early morning hours, just before
dawn, when the Cyber Dynamics plant (now only a few miles
away) will most likely be deserted. Then they will break
in, rig the charges and as much gasoline as they can find
containers for, to create a blaze which will put the
company out of business forever.
According to Kyle’s sketchy knowledge of history, Cyber
Dynamics would become, within a few years, the leading
manufacturer of computer systems with their introduction
of a whole new class of mirco-circuit chips. This would
lead ultimately to their contract to create the 4800
Series ‘Skynet’ System, which would in turn incinerate
Sarah makes a sobering realization.
Neutralizing the computer at its source will mean that no
Terminator was ever sent, or even built, but it also means
that no Kyle Reese was ever sent either.
Will he dematerialize if they succeed, or if at any point
they do anything which alters the course of events that
Kyle doesn’t know.
Nobody knows much about the time-displacement game.
Probably not even the great computer itself.
Maybe he’ll just stay here anyway, even if the future
changes. You can go nuts thinking about it.
If the Terminator succeeds, John Connor will never have
existed and therefore the Terminator will never have been
sent, and therefore…
He and Sarah discuss some of the other aspects of the
The computer’s attempt to kill her has given humanity a
warning, which she will pass on to her son in years to
Where she will live in that fugitive period, and who she
will meet that will become John’s father, was not told to
Kyle by his commander, who of course would have known
these things from her telling. All that Kyle is telling
her is a result of briefing by Connor, who had been told
of present events by her.
There is only one direct message from her son, which Kyle
has memorized to give her:
“Thank you, mother. You have borne me and taught me well
and in a way I will have borne you and taught you.
The future is not irrevocable, but depends solely upon
your will. There is no fate but what we make.
You must be strong… stronger than you imagine you can
“And,” Kyle says, “he said to give you this message also:
‘You must wait to strike until the red eyes and the green
eyes meet.’ That’s all.”
“What does it mean?”
“He said you’d know when the time came.”
Sarah is asleep when Kyle finishes his work, putting the
explosives in a nylon satchel.
He takes up a vigil, sitting crosslegged and erect by the
window, cradling the Python.
The image of military discipline.
Sarah awakens and goes to him in the darkness.
“Tell me about my son, Kyle.”
He describes John Connor, the great man for whom many,
Kyle included, would die unhesitatingly.
Connor was the only father figure Kyle ever had, and in
that closeness Kyle was told stories of Connor’s legendary
mother, Sarah… the woman who taught her son to hate the
machines and prepare for their overthrow… who taught him
how to fight, to hide, to organize.
She was the hero behind the hero, and Kyle had loved that
courageous woman sight unseen.
“How can I ever be her, Kyle? I’m so scared I can’t see
straight. I’m none of those things.”
“You’re all of those things.”
“You must be pretty disillusioned by what you found…”
“How could I be… I love you, Sarah.”
“Was there a woman, back there in your time?”
She gazes at him.
“No,” he says after a pause.
Sarah leans forward and kisses him, but he is unable to
She continues, tenderly, and he suddenly latches onto her
like life itself. She kisses his neck and chest as she
unbuttons his shirt, and traces his scars with her lips.
Kyle carries her to the bed and they make love for a long
time… a tender pulsing center of a grim cosmos.
Sarah awakens hours later and Kyle is gone.
She sits up in alarm.
Has he vanished, been made to not-exist by something they
She searches the suite and finds him in the bathroom,
staring motionless out the tiny window. He cautions her
to silence with a gesture.
From the night outside comes a nearby barking and
growling. “Listen to the dogs.” he whispers.
A German shepherd lashes at the end of his chain as a
figure moves by him in the darkness, coming from the
Terminator walks directly to the door of Sarah’s room, a
gun in each hand, and kicks in the door, spraying the bed
with the AR-18.
In computer-scan POV we approach the bed, analyzing the
remains of rumpled pillows and bedsheets.
The POV shifts to the back door, which is ajar, and moves
toward it, through the door.
Terminator spins at the sound of an engine trying to
In the parking lot Kyle and Sarah are huddled below dash
level in a large customized pickup truck which is filthy
from a few days in the desert. There are two small trail-
bikes lashed in the bed.
Kyle has the thing hotwired and is pumping the throttle.
“Light is now,” he says to Sarah, who is holding a Bic
lighter near the tip of a fuse.
Terminator runs the length of the suite and stops at the
front door to level the AR at the pickup, which is backing
wildly across the parking lot.
He hears a sizzling sound and leaps out the door a moment
before a pipe charge lying in the shadows explodes,
wrecking the doorway.
As Reese peals out onto the street a guy on a Honda 750
pulls in and stops near Terminator, who is lying face-down
where the blast flung him.
“Don’t try to move, pal,” the rider says, going to
Terminator who is starting to rise.
Pushing the cyclist aside he retrieves his weapons and
walks toward the bike.
In computer-scan hand-held POV we approach the Honda and
the digitized image reduces to graphic outlines, with
separate systems color-coded, then rotates through three
axes to show plan, top, and side elevations… all in less
than four seconds.
Reese slides the truck into an on-ramp and guns it onto
the freeway, burying the throttle.
He becomes aware of a single headlight behind them,
The truck tops out at 110 and he holds it.
Terminator is tucked, getting as much speed out of the
bike as he can.
He raises the AR-18 against the windstream in a one-handed
Using the sporadic late night traffic, mostly 18 wheelers,
as cover, Reese hurtles through evasion maneuvers as
The cyborg fires.
Strafes the back of a truck trailer as Reese dives behind
it after a skidding feint.
Terminator swerves by the truck on the right and is forced
off the freeway, narrowly missing the barrier divider and
screaming down the off-ramp.
Without slowing he runs the red light at the bottom and
climbs the on-ramp.
Reese sees the motorcycle converging.
He tells Sarah to drive and she slides over him, switching
places without slowing.
He pulls the Colt Python from his overcoat pocket and
checks the load as Terminator closes.
Reese is out the window to the waist, aiming double-
Terminator clears the on-ramp divider and hurtles toward
them, falling in behind.
Sarah weaves, barely in control, terrified.
Reese fires. Once. Twice. Thrice.
Terminator rocks back from a round between the eyes that
bares metal, then fires.
Bullets rake the pickup.
The windows are blown out.
The side mirror explodes.
Reese is hit.
Drops the Python.
Sarah shrieks and grabs with one hand for Reese’s slumped
body, pulling him back inside.
He is moaning, stunned, with bullets in arm and chest.
She looks at Reese and feels all hope recede, leaving only
a yawning pit.
Terminator crosses behind the truck, gaining slowly,
coming up on Sarah’s side. They pass trucks and cars as
if they are parked and God help anyone who changes lanes.
Terminator fires and the door post beside Sarah’s head
clangs with hits.
The short burst empties the gun.
It hits the pavement a moment later, discarded.
Terminator draws his .38 and takes aim again.
They are entering an interchange, ahead lays a long
sweeping curve, two lanes wide and elevated.
Sarah watches the rear mirror.
An icy calm, born of rage, leashes the gibbering terror
rising inside her like a scream.
“Come on…” she coaxes, under her breath.
Terminator draws nearer, aiming at the back of her head.
“Closer…” she pleads.
Her breath is rapid. The slipstream roars. She watches
the gun in the mirror.
Terminator’s front tire passes the rear bumper of the
Sarah screams. And cranks hard on the steering wheel.
The glass behind her explodes as Terminator fires a moment
before the viciously swerving truck slams into it, sending
it flying into the guardrail.
Sarah fights for control of the slowing pickup as the
cyborg goes over the bars at a hundred miles per hour.
He hits the pavement, tumbling, rolling, sliding with a
chattering screech and spraying sheets of sparks as the
flesh strips away and steel screams against concrete.
Sarah is buffeted as the truck swaps ends violently,
smashing into the guardrail and grinding to a stop partway
around the overpass.
She checks Kyle who is pale but conscious.
Terminator slides into the guardrail, bounces up, tumbles
along the top for a moment and then pitches out into
space, dropping to another freeway below.
He lies face-down in the middle lane. Motionless.
After a long moment he slowly rolls over and sits up.
Low angle as he rises into frame: a mass of blood and
scraped metal from which two eyes glare, one blue and the
other glowing faintly red.
Headlights flare behind him and an airhorn blares.
A double-trailer Kenworth gasoline tanker smashes him down
and under with a metallic crash, and he rolls clattering
as the mass blurs above him. He ricochets between the
pavement and the undercarriage of the truck until a stray
bounce flings him up into the rear suspension where, with
inhuman reflexes and strength, he clings by his fingers
above the speeding asphalt.
In the cab the stunned driver hits the brakes, but his
partner tells him not to stop. They look at each other
for a moment and then he accelerates.
Sarah sees the truck drive on without leaving a body in
its wake and feels a premonitory dread.
She runs back from the railing to the crippled pickup and
searches the cab for keys to the motorcycles.
She finds them above the sun visor.
Beneath the speeding semi Terminator is crawling toward us
like a human fly, his head titled back, gazing ahead with
his one eye glowing like a coal.
He clambers onto the side beam of the trailer.
Leaps to the cab.
Rips the door open and flings the driver out.
He crawls into the seat, ignoring the terrified partner,
and begins calmly examining the controls.
In digitized POV we see an abstract of the instruments.
The shift lever is extended down into a three dimensional
schematic of the transmission.
Analytical data prints out rapid-fire.
Seen objectively, Terminator begins downshifting and
turning the wheel.
The driver’s partner opens the door and bails out as the
Sarah watches the tanker swing in a slow arc, tear through
the dividing fence and head back toward her on the wrong
side of the freeway.
She stares in numb horror.
The nightmare refuses to end.
She goes back to unlashing one of the motorcycles, tearing
frantically at the straps.
She pants with terror as she rolls the bike off the truck,
dropping it on its side.
Straining until she cries out involuntarily she lifts it
upright and starts kicking the engine over.
The tanker crashes back through the fence and starts up
the overpass. Sarah is trapped in that concrete corridor.
The bike catches and dies.
The truck bellows and downshifts on the curving grade.
She kicks again and again, mumbling prayers to the gods of
The bike catches and runs.
She hauls Reese, clutching his satchel, to the bike and
props him on the seat behind her. She can only pray he
won’t faint and fall off.
Sarah guns the bike and roars off.
Seconds later the tanker demolishes the pickup, tossing it
over the side like a beer can.
She hits level freeway with a quarter of a mile lead on
the tanker, but the little trail bike is overloaded with
two people and she can’t coax it above seventy-five.
The truck shifts up through the gears behind them, gaining
The distance closes.
Kyle blinks and looks back at a solid wall of metal and
lights roaring up behind them.
Sarah zigzags across the lanes but the truck stays with
them, closing, its trailers whiplashing violently.
They enter a tunnel… a mile of exitless concrete and
strobing fluorescent lights.
Sarah hunches down.
They hit eighty. The leviathan looms closer, its big
tires roaring like the hubs of Hell.
It is twenty feet behind them as they clear the tunnel and
Sarah leans violently to one side, almost dropping the
bike, and locks the brakes.
The bike slides, fishtailing.
The truck roars past, hitting its airbrakes a moment
The jake-brake thunders.
The trailers force her closer and closer to the guardrail
as Terminator tries to sandwich her.
The rearmost set of tires crashes into the guardrail five
feet in front of her as she slides to a stop.
Sarah cuts across all four lanes behind the stopped tanker
and rides down the embankment, spilling the bike and
rolling with Kyle through a line of trees to the retaining
She tugs at Kyle, forces him to crawl under the chainlink.
They find themselves in an industrial park.
She hears a grinding crash and looks up to see the tanker
rolling down the steep embankment toward them, flattening
trees and tearing through the fence.
With Kyle struggling to keep up she runs among the low
Like a juggernaut the truck follows, smashing through
parked cars and ripping away one corner of a building.
Moving slowly but with inexorable force it comes on,
flattening a pre-fab storage building.
Kyle fumbles with the satchel as they run.
They round a corner and gain time as the tanker slows,
tearing away the face of an office building.
Terminator watches from his mountain of machinery the tiny
figure of his prey running in the headlights.
It occurs to him that his target is suddenly alone.
Kyle, crouched in a dumpster inches from the side of the
passing tanker lights a fuse and wedges a pipe bomb under
the tank-cylinder of the second trailer.
Sarah is stumbling, wracked and exhausted, in the glare of
Kyle ducks down in the dumpster as the trailer passes him,
rolls on twenty yards, and explodes.
An unbelievable fireball erupts skyward.
The dumpster is enveloped by flames and is hurled, rolling
on its casters, down the alley.
Sarah falls before the blast as the forward trailer
explodes and an ocean of fire rolls forward, almost
The dumpster tips over and Kyle rolls out.
In the center of the inferno Terminator struggles
violently. His flesh fries and sizzles.
He tears loose from the twisted wreckage and collapses to
He sinks into a charred mass and stops moving.
Sarah crawls away from the intense heat and lies watching
the motionless figure in the blaze.
She staggers to her feet and circles around the building
to find Kyle. She finds him lying near the dumpster,
sheltered from the heat by its mass, and drags him away.
His head lolls.
He opens his eyes.
“We got it, Kyle.”
They embrace, silhouetted by the fire.
And the Terminator staggers out of the blaze behind them.
The last flakes of flesh are falling from him like burning
leaves and his gleaming structure is revealed in its
It looks like Death rendered in steel. A chrome skeleton
with hydraulic muscles and tendons of flexible cable.
In the eyesockets of the metal skull, the eyeballs swivel
with a whirr of their tiny servos, both glowing red now.
It turns slowly and fixes its gaze upon her.
Sarah chokes on a scream, crams knuckles in her mouth, but
it doesn’t help. Screams anyway.
The machine takes a staggering step toward them, dragging
one malfunctioning leg.
Kyle pulls her to her feet. They run to a building and he
heaves a potted plant through the glass doors.
They enter the dark offices to the sound of alarms.
Sirens can be heard in the distance.
They run down a hallway and bolt the door at the end
Terminator smashes into it, blasting it off its hinges,
and staggers through.
The two flee through a series of partitioned offices,
doubling back. It sees them through a floor-to-ceiling
window and makes an immediate right turn through the
Taking the shortest distance between itself and its prey,
it crashes forward, splintering partitions and flinging
desks out of the way.
Kyle and Sarah reach the manufacturing area and bolt the
heavy firedoor behind them.
Acres of machines stretch away into the darkness.
The Terminator hits the firedoor and the hinges squeal.
Kyle goes to the main breaker panel and activates the
machines, to mask the sound of their escape from the
hunter’s acute hearing.
The dark gallery is filled with whirring, clanking shapes,
chattering conveyer belts and improbable mechanisms
Hinges shatter and the door is hurled inward.
Shambling forward, the Terminator scans the darkness.
In digitized POV we see two figures dodging among the
machinery as red blotches of infrared on the cold
The cyborg chases them relentlessly through the animated
maze… over, under and through. Always gaining.
They enter a corridor-like alleyway between two mechanized
facades and run to the end, only to find the door locked.
They double back to escape the lethal cul-de-sac but are
cut off by the shambling silhouette of the Terminator.
Kyle summons his strength.
Time to start earning his soldier’s pay.
He wipes blood out of his eyes and pulls a length of pipe
stock from among the machines, holding it like a quarter
And makes his stand.
“Run!” he yells at Sarah, pushing her brutally as the
They trade powerful blows, steel on steel, until Kyle is
sledgehammered back, landing in a heap yards away.
The cyborg approaches Kyle’s broken body.
Sarah falls, gets up, runs on.
Close up: a fuse burning quietly.
Close up: Kyle’s bloody face, pressed to the floor as a
metal foot clangs down in front of him.
His eyes snap open.
The Terminator draws back for a death blow.
Kyle rolls with his last strength and raises the pipe bomb
he has been cradling.
It clangs into the cyborg’s abdomen and explodes.
Sarah is blown forward by the blast and skids on the
polished floor face first, to slam up against the door at
the end of the cul-de-sac. Pieces of scrap metal clatter
throughout the factory and rain down around her. Her leg
is broken by shrapnel and she lies slumped for a long
When she can find the strength and courage to look up,
Kyle and the Terminator are gone.
Unrecognizable clumps of burning debris lay scattered
Fire spreads into some plastic tubing and climbs,
triggering the sprinkler system. It begins to rain.
Sarah closes her eyes, letting the cool water bathe her,
washing away blood and the fear.
Now that it’s finally over, she can’t believe it.
The destruction of the cyborg and the loss of Kyle
neutralize each other, leaving a vacuum.
It is a long time before she can gather the will to move.
She sees a phone on the wall past the point of the
explosion and starts to crawl toward it, dragging her
She passes a large clump of metal debris.
It rolls over suddenly, becoming recognizable as the
Terminator’s head and arms, with half of the shattered
torso trailing wires and twisted steel.
It lunges for her.
She wants to scream this time, from the depths of her
soul, but there is no scream, only a dry shivering sob.
The Terminator drags itself scraping over the floor.
Sarah is shaking and weeping as she scrabbles away,
crawling in agony just ahead of the clutching steel
She wedges herself into one of the production-line
machines and flops onto a moving conveyer belt. She rolls
off weakly before going under a set of sorting rollers.
It is a nightmare jungle, dark, clashing, rain-drenched…
a tangle of cables and pipes and unforgiving mechanisms of
The cyborg tracks her, clambering through behind her,
dragging its body. It spots Sarah wedged like a trapped
hare in the back of a tiny crawlspace. There is no way
It crawls the last few feet, eyes bright and red in the
Right in front of Sarah is a small control box with a pair
of green lights above two unlit red buttons.
Water pours into her eyes. Something she should
remember… Something about eyes…
Hypnotized, she watches the Terminator reaching toward her
with one outstretched hand.
Sarah’s eyes are crazy now… she’s over the edge.
In that infinite instant the terror no longer matters, is
She sees the red eyes and the green eyes and they are
moving into alignment as the cyborg moves through the
Its hand reaches for her throat, to crush out her
miserable human life and end its long mission.
It comes even with the switchbox, with the two green
lights. Sarah screams through clenched teeth.
She hits the buttons beneath the ready-lights with both
hands and the massive hydraulic press thunders down, the
tons of mechanical pressure flattening the cyborg’s head
and body like tin-foil.
In the wreckage a pinpoint of red light dwindles and goes
The steel fingers have frozen an inch from Sarah’s throat.
Close up: Sarah. She can only stare, shivering as the
water runs over her.
Cut to the side rail snapping up on an ambulance gurney.
Sarah closes her eyes as they wheel her out past the site
of the last explosion where police are picking through the
As Sarah is taken out we hold on two employees of the
factory standing in the foreground. One, the plant
manager, bends down to examine a piece of the crushed
Terminator lying at the base of the hydraulic press.
A cop calls out to him, “Look, I told you not to touch
anything until we’re done. You got that?”
“Sure, officer,” the plant manager says.
He stands and palms a small object to his assistant.
“What is it?”
“Micro-computer chassis… but I’ve never seen stuff like
“It’s weird. Jap stuff, maybe.”
“Yeah. Keep it out of sight and get it to R&D Monday
Outside Sarah is being lifted into the ambulance. She
looks up and, as the doors are closing, sees the sign over
the entrance of the building for the first time: CYBER
DYNAMICS CORPORATION, INC.
SLOW DISSOLVE to the center capstans of a cassette tape
turning in a recorder.
Sarah’s voice is heard in VO.
“… and the hardest thing is trying to decide what I
should tell you and what not, but anyway, whatever I
record now I can always cut out before you’re old enough
to understand the tapes. At this point they’re more for
me… to help get it all straight.”
A pull back reveals Sarah sitting on the porch of a small
white-washed stone house overlooking a beautiful crescent
bay under a scowling tropical sky. There is the sound of
distant thunder, mixing with seagull cries.
It could be Mexico or points south. Maybe Greece.
One of Sarah’s legs is in a cast up to the hip and is
propped straight out on another chair opposite her. The
cassette recorder is in her lap, in the lee of her swollen
belly. She looks to be about six months along.
“I’ll always wonder,” she continues, “Whether you should
know about your father… whether that will change your
decision to send him. Did you already know when you sent
Kyle that you were his son… that you were sending him to
his death? What an awful burden that was, or rather will
be. Kyle was right… you can go crazy thinking about
this stuff. Well, I’ll do more later. I’m a bit
tired… think I’ll take a nap.”
Sarah shuts off the cassette recorder and crosses her
hands peacefully on her belly. Over her loose dress she
wears a leather shoulder holster.
The butt of a .38 revolver presses against her breast.
A serious, dark-complected woman brings her some tea.
On the beach below a boy runs by and yells something to
the woman in Spanish.
“What did he say, Maria?”
“There’s a storm coming in.”
Sarah gazes at the thunderheads way out there, rolling in.
Heat lightning pulses in their depths.
She sips her tea.
“Yes, I guess there is.”
Cameron’s 1983 screenplay draft can be read here.