It’s 0900 by the time Jason climbs out of the volcano and gets to the bottom. He takes off the harness and puts it back into his pack. His truck is still as it was, meaning this place is deserted, and with good reason. Suddenly, a low rumble shakes the earth under Jason’s feet. He looks up and sees smoke coming from the volcano, meaning it’s almost time to rise and erupt. Jason has not thoughts this time, he only executes. He walks swiftly to his car, starts it and peels out. He looks in his front seat and sees a cylindrical container under his pack. He throws the pack in the back and opens it to find another map. He reads the map and memorizes the rendezvous point then gets his lighter and burns it like the first one, throwing it out the window when its three-quarters of the way burned.
A low rumble shakes the earth and causes him to almost crash, but he regains control and drives confidently on to the next point.
Lisa tosses and turns in her bed, struggling to keep her eyes closed. He won’t make it. He doesn’t have anything left, and you know that! He’s going to get himself killed are the only thoughts circling in her head. She tries to push them from her mind and get some rest, but her mind doesn’t want to cooperate. Of course, it doesn’t, not on this day. Not this event. Her breathing gets heavier as her breath becomes stifled. Her chest practically bouncing up and down as sweat begins to drip from her temples and down her neck. The sweat slowly trickles past her breasts and makes its way to her belly button, where it stays like the filling of a reservoir. She turns over on her stomach, then lays on her back, then her side, but no matter what position she takes it isn’t in the slightest bit comfortable. It feels hot like she’s on fire. She still tries to keep her eyes closed but her eyelids are turning against her, fighting to open and escape the dream world they’re being forced into. Finally, Lisa relents and her eyes shoot open. Her body bolts upright as if jolted with electric cables. She takes deep yet shallow breaths, looks around the room only to see the sun creeping into the sky as if exiting a hiding place. As her breathing becomes more controlled and her body relaxes, her eyelids become drowsy and now she fights to keep them up. Oh no, she thinks, you wanted to wake up. We’re up! She climbs out of bed and makes her way to the bathroom and looks herself in the mirror.
She looks like shit. Pure, unadulterated, shit. If her future husband ever sees her like this (which he most certainly will just give it a little time), he’d shoot first and ask questions never. Her eyes are bloodshot red, her hair messier than Medusa on her worst day, dried drool plastered on both her cheeks and sweat glistening all over her body. Oh God, she thinks, what the fuck and I looking at? She slicks her hair back and looks herself in the eyes, and the only thing that comes to her mind is, you gotta get some sleep or else this whole thing’s off.
Jason is pretty much in the same state as Lisa, except much worse. The confidence he had when he drove off has now faded, and his body’s starting to give him shit again. Deep shit. His hand keeps losing grip on the steering wheel, his vision keeps getting blurry, and the mask’s protection is wearing off somehow. The smoldering heat is getting to him and he doesn’t know why, or how. He wills his eyesight straight and his hand taught on the steering wheel and looks at the surrounding area. Nothing but magma and smoky skies for miles around. The sun is rising but the smoke makes it difficult to distinguish and the redness emanating from the magma makes it seem like nightfall is approaching rather than noon. Jason focuses ahead and sees the Castle by the Cracked Sea in the distance. Visibility is faint, but he can see it nonetheless. He checks his left pocket and confirms he has the diamond secured and drives on to his next point.
When he gets to his next rendezvous point, he’s met by a woman in all black. Again, couldn’t see her features if the Lord shone the light on her. The only indicator she was a woman being her slender, coke-bottle shape and outlined breasts. Jason takes a couple breaths, get out of the car and walks up to the woman.
“Do you have the target?” She asks.
“Secured,” Jason responds as he pulls out the diamond and hands it to her.
She hands him another cylindrical container, turns away, and disappears into the smoke. Jason walks toward his car and throws the container in then gets in himself. He leans his head back. Sweat drips from his nose and temples and his body starts to feel weak and light. He hasn’t eaten anything in two days, preparing for his mission. He’s always been one to forget that basic and essential activity. Now, it’s coming back to bite him in the ass more than fourteen years later. Did he pack any food? He checks his pack and it seems he did. . . somewhat. Just a couple granola bars and a bottle of water hotter than a California summer day. We’re talking about Satan’s corner office hot.
Fuck is the only thought in his head, mother always told me I’d starve to death.
He takes one more breath then picks up and opens the cylindrical container. He looks at the map to spot his next point but something’s off, it seems the X is right in the middle of the volcano. He looks ahead and sees smoke coming out in bulk. If he didn’t know any better, he’d say he was heading to a nuclear power plant. He looks at the map again (not for memorization, it’s already implanted in his mind), and thinks, if the X is in the middle of uninhabited mass, that means there’s a secret base somewhere. If I were to construct one in a volcano, where would I set up shop? He looks up and scans the volcano from a distance, looking for any potential point of entry annnnnddd there! About halfway up, he sees someone entering through some sort of door. He also sees a path and begins to follow it, he can’t see it all the way, but he can see it enough to tell that it’s a wrap-around (which makes things easier for him and his body, thank God). Then Jason does something he hasn’t done since his days as a cadet in black ops. . .he hesitates.
It’s now 12:00 as Lisa gets up for the second time and makes her way to the bathroom. She can hear all the preparations being made downstairs, chairs and tables being arranged, speakers being placed and tested for sound, vacuums sucking up the dirt, plates are being washed, dried, and set up at the dining room tables. Yes, she hears it all, which is why she’s one of the top commanding officers of Black Ops (well, she was. But, due to the amount of responsibility and lack of free time, she’s chosen to retire early).
She looks herself in the mirror one more time, and this time, she looks more like herself. The redness in her eyes are gone, her hair is more or less human now, the drool is gone, and the sweating has ceased. Although, there is a slight sign of baggage under her eyes along with some baby crows feet, those are nonetheless imperceptible to anyone standing at a reasonable distance of about one hundred feet and she can just cover those with some solid foundation and powdering.
Thirty minutes pass and she’s washed up and ready to attack the day (which isn’t much of an attack because all she has to do is try on her dress, make sure all the invitations were delivered, make sure all the preparations are in order, ensure security and escorts are present and ready for duty, ensure all the emergency precautions are ready to be taken at any time and most importantly. . .make sure her parents are satisfied at all times), since everything was scheduled and handled months in advance, all she’ll be doing is maintenance before her parents and other people start showing up.
“Alright Lisa,” She says to herself, “let’s get the stage ready.”