My eyes opened without hesitation. I was lucid, and rested. A good start.
I put on the latest evolution of clothing selected for my pursuit. As I struggled toward my goal in the preceding months, clothing changed more than anything else. Past challenges, mistakes, and successes groomed my accoutrement beyond mere garb, and into nothing short of the purpose built machines of steel and polymer, and of plastic and silicone that I once regarded above simple garments. My clothes were tools. Good tools.
Quietly, I readied my equipment. Silence punctuated only by the backpack's zipper, and the M1A's action closing after one final chamber check. I kissed my dozing wife as I did every morning, and heaped straps onto my shoulders before stepping out into the stillness of a world frozen in the lull between drawn breaths.
The car beeped politely as it unlocked, and clicked gently as the trunk opened. I loaded the trappings of my current task into the eager car, and paused as I drew the trunk near closure. After a moment's hesitation, I slammed the trunk shut, hopped into the driver's seat, and drove off, trying to complete my intrusion upon the quiet as quickly as I could.
The traffic lights seemed to act more reluctantly as they granted me passage to the freeway. Free, at this unnatural hour, to exaggerate their lordship over my movements. The sparsely populated freeway lay before me, its usual cold indifference unchanged. It asks only that I get on and off as quickly as possible, and I do my best to oblige.
After a few curves, and appropriate application of the accelerator, I found myself completely alone on a stretch of the 12 lane freeway. Nothing in front, nothing behind. It felt wrong. Like aberrant actions in dreams; you feel that you must stop and question, but know that you won't be able to. I noticed the radio had been turned off.
I took my exit, and waited at the light. To my right, rows of closed shops leading to a city ready to burst to life. To my left, looming mounds of darkness silhouetted by moonlight. The light changed, and I turned left.
The darkness seemed to accentuate the twists and turns of the mountain highway. The drops off the shoulder had turned from slopes to beautiful valleys into an abyss whose glare hardened as each successful turn denied it of your substance. The will of the darkness pulsed rudely in the back of my mind, where I had banished it long ago. Far away, but never gone.
As the lights of men faded, the sky revealed the brightest of her bounty. Unfathomable gaseous monuments to our slightness deigned to share their light from impossible distances. A lifelong favorite cluster of these gods hovered over my destination. The oldest hunter known to this planet offered his consent before fading into the beginnings of the horizon's glow to leave me to my task.
I turned into the dirt clearing nearest my access point, quieted the car, and stepped out of my shell. As I moved the equipment off the car and on to me, my stomach growled loudly, threatening to expose me at my most silent if I didn't meet its demands. I opened the dense brick of nutrition I had brought along, and bit off a piece. Unlike the protein bars, this seemed to provide filling substance to my stomach, instead of small clumps of slow-release energy. My opponent sated, I adjusted the straps that clung to me, and closed the trunk.
The hunter gone, I now looked to the moon, which drifted imperceptibly toward a smaller mountain -my destination- on the horizon. It shined full, and urged me on with the knowledge that it too would soon be gone, and my magic hour lost. The moon somehow entranced me, and as an unintentional moment lost in contemplation elapsed, a shooting star appeared, and streaked in my intended direction before vanishing forever. Its swan song short, and without echo. But not unnoticed. My face brightened involuntarily at my luck, but my thoughts were still shrouded deep within my mind. I knew they had wished for something.