Saturday, March 3, 2012


Every time, no matter who the mark is, you go through the same procedure: study, trail, choose the location, time, and weapon.  Finally, the moment comes to execute.           

It’s rote, you’re programmed, mindlessly hunting your prey through nameless cities, countless countries.  Always choosing different types of spots to avoid a pattern, but choosing spots with similar vantage points because you know what works.  You have a special system for breaking down a gun in under ten seconds, and you can reassemble it in less than twenty.

Resting your finger ever so delicately on the trigger of your Czech-made CZ-700 sniper rifle, you slow your heartbeat to match the footsteps of the target in your crosshairs.  You wait for that moment when you know you can’t miss, and squeeze off a beautiful shot, flawlessly and effortlessly exterminating your mark.

You break down your gun in record time – in just under eight seconds – but something feels wrong.  You can’t decide what to do next, and just stay there, crouched on the roof, holding your gun case and watching as your slow breath freezes in the air before you.

A thought comes to mind, and you feel the need to speak it out loud: “I’m not alone.  This was not anticipated.”  Hanging frozen in the air, each word looks the same as the last, a white cloud of vapour, and you suddenly realise that all words are meaningless.

Looking up at the moon, you notice it’s near full, but that is all; it offers no advice as to what you should do next.  So, you wait.  You hold your breath and listen carefully, but can hear only frozen silence.  You lean over the edge of the building and look down at the street.  The body of the man you killed moments before still lays motionless where it collapsed, vapour issuing forth from a hole in the head.

You really didn’t expect him to go anywhere.

You pick up your half-finished coffee from the roof ledge, and stand, mindlessly warming your hands on the cheap polystyrene cup.  You begin to shiver, your teeth start to clatter, sympathetic responses as your nervous system kicks into high gear.

Then you hear voices.

“There it is!”

Your already heightened senses  ratchet up even further and you detect a large group of people closing in.

You hardly see it coming.  One second you’re standing on a roof under the evening moon with the shining skyline stretched out before you, your hands smelling of grease and gunpowder.  The next second you’re on the ground, nearly paralyzed, muscles twitching like crazy while two faceless thugs in heavy black armour hold you down, pressing your face into the gravel, frantically screaming commands.

“Stand up straight!”

“Stay on the ground!”

“Hands above your head!”

“Hands behind your back!”

All of these sentences are thrown at you at once, and you, not knowing which instructions to follow, opt instead to turn yourself into a malleable piece of clay, to be moved and shaped however your assailants choose.  After all, they’re the ones holding the laser-sighted rifles.

“It’s still cognizant!”

A new voice.  “It’s still active!  The EMP wasn’t enough.”

“Subdue it!”

“Now, now, now!”

The men slap a mask over your face, and it fills with a sweet oily mist.

You try to move your hands, but find them cuffed behind your back.  You try to speak, but find that nobody is listening.  The flesh on your face is hurting and you turn your head over so the other side can have a turn being ground into the gravel.

Struggling, you’re overcome as you fight and lose.  Suddenly,  someone wrenches open the hatch between your shoulder blades, and you feel a handful of wires being tugged free from inside you; each tug causes a twinge of indescribable pain to shoot like lightning along your synthetic nerves into your brainpan.

Your eyes fall on the Big Dipper just as consciousness flits away.

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