As soon as Sameen jumped out of the plane, she regretted telling Root she had her figured out and couldn’t be surprised. The fact that they had parachuted into unknown territory when they first met, in no way prepared her for a repeat performance. She willed herself to stop thinking of what she would do to Root when they got down to the ground, and instead, concentrated on getting there. She saw Root’s parachute open and watched as she drifted down into a heavily canopied area. It was a sure fire way to get stuck.
By the time Sameen maneuvered her body through the tall trees and was dangling by the chute, Root had cut her cords and was climbing down the vines.
“Am I the only one who wants to kill their wife on their honeymoon?” she said to herself, but Root’s voice came through the helmet.
“You don’t mean that. Now, hurry, Sweetie. We are not going to find too many friendly people out here.”
“What? No wedding reception? No; you may now kiss the bride?” Shaw quipped, her sarcasm on full steam ahead. She found a knife in her small knapsack and cut the lines.
Just before making her way down the vine encrusted tree, Shaw noticed their plane was a tiny dot in the sky against the rising sun. “I’m really looking forward to the part where you tell me you booked us a room at the Four Seasons in a friendly town near here.”
As soon as Sameen touched ground, she realized the only thing they had, besides the silver briefcase, were the parachutes and small knapsacks that were very light. “I hate to be a stickler for details, honey, but did you happen to pack guns?”
“Just one each,” Root said because she was a stickler to details and she wanted to keep as many variables the same.
“You might want to wait to give me mine,” Shaw said, trying to sound menacing, but Root’s head tilted to the side and she grinned.
“Oh, here,” Root said digging into her small backpack and pulling out an aerosol can. She immediately began to spray Shaw from head to toe in a mist of bug spray.
Shaw stood there, staring straight ahead, expressionless. “If you put sunscreen on me…,” Shaw quipped, looking around to get her bearings.
“Okay, let’s go,” Root said, looking at her phone.
“Care to enlighten me? Are we meeting someone at a café that serves breakfast?” Shaw asked, walking behind Root.
“Carlos is going to meet us 9.65606 kilometers due north,” Root reported.
“Six miles? In this heat? Oh, geez,” Shaw said, already making plans for how they’d drink and stay alive.
“It’s going to rain halfway to our destination, so that’s good,” Root said cheerfully.
“You know, I should be conserving my energy,” Shaw said, climbing over fallen tree trunks,”… for when I kill you later, but I just have to ask – when did you make these honeymoon in hell arrangements?”
“After you left to get ready for the wedding,” Root replied. “I thought – what could I do that would duplicate the situation Shaw was in so that I can give her whatever prompted that look,” Root explained because she never lost patience with Shaw. She stopped and turned to look at her wife. “It was a very distinct look, Sameen.”
“Jesus, Root, so you’re flew us into a jungle to deliver iPhones so you can make sure I look the way I did that night?” Shaw asked. “I can’t even begin to list the flaws in your experiment here,” she shouted.
“No, there are none,” the tech genius said because she was all about stimuli and response. All Root had to do was to duplicate a similar situation, or in this case, a more heightened version. New York had Cole and arms dealers. Root had jungle, arms dealers, drug lords, government officials and the good guys.
It was a sure fire hit.
The couple walked in silence, but only because Shaw knew she needed to conserve her energy for the amount of yelling she was going to do once they were done. The bush gave way to an opened area of a long dirt road that rose above the sloped sides of the terrain. Root had stopped to pick fruit along the way and kept handing it back to Shaw, who consumed it immediately.
And as Root predicted, the sky darkened and the rain began.
“Doesn’t that feel good?” Root said of the cool falling liquid that hit their faces.
“Root?” Shaw said, looking at the vastness of the dark clouds. “We’re going to need to get to shelter.”
“It won’t last long,” Root said because she had the app that measured the weather in real time.
What Root hadn’t counted on was that rainstorms in Darian Gap were torrential. Six minutes after the much sought relief was granted, the dirt under their feet gave way as it became porous. “Root!” Shaw said, leaping forward to grab her wife as she began sliding down the slope.
“SAMEEN!” Root yelled, holding onto the heavy suitcase that aided the gravity that was pulling her.
Shaw looked around, but there was nothing like the vines in the rainforest they had left. “Sonova,’ she said as she sat on her bum and allowed the mud to propel her downward, hoping to catch up with Root.
A full minute and several hundred yards later, Root slid to her resting place. When Shaw’s feet hit a rock, it sent her forward so that she landed right on top of Root. Mud soaked and covered in muck, the women lay there, out of breath.
Shaw was certain there was mud in every crevice of her body. She rolled off and lay there as the rain mixed with the dirt on her body. Then, it stopped – almost as fast as it came.
“Are you okay?” Root asked as she tried to get up, but the suction of the sludge made it difficult.
“Yes, are you?” Shaw asked and Root nodded her head.
“Is this the look, Root?” Shaw asked, her eyes holding her in a cold stare.
Root looked because she thought Shaw was asking sincerely. “No,” she said and pulled herself up out of the mud. She extended a hand to her wife who then decided to make a list of the ways she was going to pay Root back for this.
Root found large leaves that collected the rain water and they used that to rinse out their mouths and drink.
“One, I’m going to tell Janine you need help,” Shaw started her list. “Two, I’m going to tell Fusco you want to join a bowling team.”
“What are you doing?” Root asked pleasantly.
“Listing the ways I’m going to get even,” Shaw said sincerely.
“Oh,” Root said, not one cell in her body threatened.
Shaw was up to number fifteen when the women finally reached their destination. Or what was supposed to be their endpoint. The small houses were burned out and empty. Root and Shaw hid behind the trees that surrounded the area.
“That’s not good,” Root admitted.
Shaw stopped her verbal revenge list and focused. She searched to see if anything was left that they could use. There was an old car on the far side that hadn’t been destroyed by the fire.
“I’ll go around and see if that car…,” Shaw was saying when Root was at her heel. “Stay here!” Shaw said; her eyes filled with urgency.
Root stopped following and watched as Sameen practically crawled to the other side of the area and slipped into the car. There was no key, so Shaw bent down to see if she could hot wire it.
Root thought she heard something off in the distance. She stared at the car as she inched closer. She slipped the suitcase in an opening between two bushes and stood still. Seconds later, she heard the gun click behind her. “Do not move, senorita,” the man said. Root dutifully put her hands up.
“I lost my tour group,” Root said, smiling pleasantly and turning so she could size him up.
He was very large and wore a handkerchief around his neck, stitched with Commando de Muerte, under a skull and danger. Root was calculating how hard she would have to hit him when they both heard the roar of the car engine, defying all odds and starting.
“Rest of my tour group,” Root smiled and hit him as hard as she could.
He didn’t flinch. In fact, Root thought if she had hit solid rock, her hand would hurt less.
“Loco,” he said as he shoved her to turn around and pushed her towards the car.
Shaw’s head popped up above the dashboard, excited that she remembered how to attach the wires to start the engine. There, in the distance, stood Root with her captor behind her.
Shaw assessed the situation and did the only thing she thought would help. She pressed her foot down on the gas, aimed the car at them, and took off.
“Getouttatheway, getouttathetway,” she kept saying to Root who calculated exactly when to lunge to the left. Her muck covered clothes made her very slippery and her accoster lost his grip on her. Sameen hit him hard enough to send him flying.
Sameen jumped from the car to make sure he was rendered unconscious. Then, she turned her sights on Root.
“Are you insane?” she asked, marching her disheveled body over to stand in front of her.
“He’s the first of many,” Root surmised, ignoring the question. “We have to go.”
“Oh, we have to go? Are you sure? Because I thought maybe we could spend the night in this lovely village!” Shaw barked.
“Sameen, I need you to focus,” Root said and it was warm and friendly. “If Elbar was going to meet us here, and ran into trouble, we have to figure out where they are.”
“Well, according to the tag around your friend’s neck, he’s part of the death commando gang. So, let’s not head back that way,” Shaw said, reading the man’s handkerchief.
“Let’s keep going north then,” Root said and started to walk.
“What about the car?” Shaw asked.
“Too noisy,” Root said and walked ahead.
Shaw threw her hands up in the air, but did go back to get the man’s gun. Something reminded her that Root brought one gun each for a reason. She emptied the man’s gun and threw it in the bushes. “I’m as insane as she is,” Shaw murmured to herself. She couldn’t explain why, but she felt it necessary to keep things the way Root wanted them.
“Oh, Sweetie, would you get the case? It’s between those bushes,” Root called back.
“Sure, and maybe I’ll pick up a dozen eggs and some bacon while I’m there,” Shaw barked.
Root smiled to one side of her face and slanted her head. “Save your energy, Sameen.”
Shaw did as she was asked and retrieved the heavy silver cast. “Sixteen; I’m going to tell Iris that you thought all of this up on your own based on a look. A look! Man, when she hears that, she’s going to have you on that couch for weeks!” Shaw said out loud.
Joining her wife, the two started on their trek again. The midmorning shower did nothing to ease the heat and Shaw was certain they were in venomous snake country. “I think a spider just laughed at my insect repellent, honey,” Shaw said sardonically.
“There’s a river,” Root called out. “We can bath there.”
“We’re going to bathe…out here?” Shaw asked, looking around.
“Our clothes will dry in minutes in this sun,” Root theorized.
“When we get home, no more watching those surviving the wilderness shows for you,” Sameen yelled as Root started to take off her clothes.
“One in, one out,” Shaw yelled and waited on the shore as Root went in the water. “Do you even know what’s in that water?” she asked, pointing her gun at the surface in case it was snake filled.
“It’s not clear, but it’s surprisingly refreshing,” Root said, rubbing the grime off her body. Then, she took her clothes and removed the dirt. Minutes later, she emerged from the water like Venus.
“You’re the only person I know who could find snake infested water refreshing,” Shaw said, watching the other shoreline carefully.
“I think the snakes are farther south,” Root said as if she had read that in the brochure.
“Well, let’s hope so,” Shaw said when Root was on solid ground. She took her clothes off, complaining of the filth and went into the water. Sameen had training on how to make the most of a short dip and she was in and out with minutes.
Root watched Sameen, not the other shoreline like she was supposed to. It proved too hard when her well-endowed, curvaceous wife was naked and glistening in the afternoon sun.
Unfortunately, Root wasn’t the only one noticing.
Men looking through high powered rifle scopes were too mesmerized to follow the order to shoot.