Chapter 9: Fears Unearthed

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"All his fault. It's all his fault, Marion. You can't trust him." I heard an unknown voice say in the darkness. "What do you mean?" I asked. "He did this to you. His selfishness is what trapped you." The voice said. I watched as an image of Tuck pointed a gun at me and pulled the trigger.

Ding!

The elevator doors opened slowly. I had fallen asleep on Tuck's shoulder. "Marion, we're here." Tuck told me as I got up and wiped my eyes. "I had a weird dream. A voice kept saying that I couldn't trust you. And then I saw an image of you killing me. Weird stuff. Probably just all the sodium from that pretzel." I yawned as I stretched, and Tuck watched in a disturbed face. "Yeah. Yeah, that was probably it."

We walked out and observed our surroundings. We were inside the volcano, but there really weren't many volcano-y things to look at. No lava, or death. You know, typical Mount Doom stuff. A skinny man in a bath robe approached us. "Hello, lady and gentleman. Welcome to Uruthyn's Hottest Volcano, and by that, I of course mean Uruthyn's Hottest Sauna, because who likes volcanos?" He said with courtesy. I scratched my head, "Wait, so this isn't really a volcano?" "I guess you could say that." The man responded, "Would you care to relax for a bit? I mean, it's not everyday you visit the best sauna in the world!" I looked at Tuck, and Tuck looked at me. "Ah, what the hell." Tuck said as he threw down his pack and followed the man.

"So these are the dressing rooms. Once you're ready, the sauna is right there." He pointed to a pair of wooden doors across the room. "Wait, shouldn't there be two different sauna rooms? You know, for different genders?" I said in confusion. The man turned to me, "Oh, of course not! Everyone is the same here!" The man started to walk away. I tried to get his attention, "Well, it's just personal-" He had already gone back into his office. "-privacy" I said meekly. Tuck put his hand on my shoulder. "It'll be fine. I mean, everyone will be in towels. And nobody will really be looking around." He left to go get ready. "If you say so." I said once he was out of earshot.

I stood in the women's dressing room, absolutely brain dead. What could I do? I can't just be so defenseless and naked in front of everyone. How am I supposed to relax with that on my mind? I heard a knock on the door. "You almost done in there?" Tuck called. "Yeah, almost." I responded. I forced myself to get out of my garments. I grabbed a nearby towel and wrapped myself in it. I was about to leave the dressing room when something struck me. "Wait. Don't things always go the way I want in this place? Why am I being put in such an uncomfortable position?" It was quite the question, but frankly, I just didn't have the energy to dwell on it.

I entered the sauna. It was shaped like an amphitheater, with stone rows for sitting surrounding a large sauna machine in the middle. The room was nearly full. Teenage men and women, elderly men and women, middle-aged men and women. Everyone. I saw Tuck and made my way towards him. He looked relaxed enough, his hands behind his head and his eyes closed. "Hey. I'll just sit here." I said timidly as I sat next to him. "Hey! Isn't this great? We need to get a sauna installed back in the forest!" "Yeah, totally." I responded quietly. I was shaking uncontrollably. I could see other people staring at me and then whispering to their friends. I felt like every eye in the room was on me. I was sweating uncontrollably, but I'm pretty sure that was the sauna's doing. Tuck looked over at me, "Are you okay? You look a little stiff." I stood up quickly, clutching my towel. "I...I need to get out of here." I ran as fast as I could towards the exit. I busted through the door and into the dressing room. I sat down on a bench and gasped for breath. I put my hands over my face. "That was the worst thing ever. Like, ever ever." I said as I threw off the towel and got back into my gear. I immediately heard Tuck knocking on the door. "Marion, what's wrong? Can I help?" I opened the door to see him. "What happened back there?" He asked. I stared at the ground. "I'm not good around large groups of people. Especially when I'm not wearing pants." Tuck crossed his arms and laughed. "I can understand that. You know, you could've just said that you didn't want to go in." I stared at him stupidly. "Oh. Yeah, I guess so."

The man walked towards us again. "Well, now that you're done relaxing, I bet you want to get to the mountains. All you need is these." He took out two pair of shoes with spring-like attachments on the bottom. "Are those...Moon Shoes?" I asked. The man handed a pair to me and to Tuck. "All it takes is one bounce!" The man said enthusiastically. I slipped on the shoes and took a bounce. Next thing I knew I was shooting up through the volcano and towards the mountain peaks. The sky changed from red to green and I landed softly into a convenient pile of snow.

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