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The night was dark. Celestial bodies were the only source of light and companionship for Zach as he made his way through the brush. His heavy military boots grew heavier with every step, but to Zach fatigue was a well known friend. Anything that could make him stronger instantly became his companion. Despite his heavy boots, Zach made his way swiftly and silently up the mountainous terrain. Higher and higher he climbed; heavier and heavier his boots had become. He remembered his training; specifically, he remembered what his commanding officer had told him. “Pain is temporary weakness, with long term benefits.” The vivid memory returned to him in a torturous flashback. He remembered wading in the 10ft pool with a water jug hoisted over his head. He remembered the agonizing pain in his limbs. Instantly, Zach became rejuvenated. His limbs didn’t compare to how they felt on that dreadful day of training.
Zach pulled out his sleek GPS to check his location. Perfect. He was about a quarter of a mile away from the mansion. He found a sturdy tree and began to climb. His gear weighed heavy on his shoulders, but he was able to make it to the top. Skillfully, he held on to a limb of the tree with one hand. With the other, he reached into his gear for his hunting stand. The stand put up a good fight, but it was no match for this trained assassin. He assembled it very quickly without making a sound. Now it was time to put together his prized possession. He reached into his gear once more and pulled out a slender, heavy case. He flipped the two latches and took a moment to look at his prized possession. Pieces of a Barret .50 caliber sniper rifle rested neatly inside. He pulled the rifle out of its case and began to assemble the weapon. He had assembled and disassembled his rifle hundreds of times; it was almost a religious ritual for Zach. Without his rifle, he was nothing. He was a king without his crown, a pool without water, a car without keys. Zach began to recite the “My Rifle” saying in his head.
“This is my rifle. There are many like it, but this one is mine. It is my life. I must master it as I must master my life. Without me my rifle is useless. Without my rifle, I am useless. I must fire my rifle true. I must shoot straighter than the enemy who is trying to kill me. I must shoot him before he shoots me. I will. My rifle and I know that what counts in war is not the rounds we fire, the noise of our burst, or the smoke we make. We know that it is the hits that count. We will hit.
My rifle is human, even as I am human, because it is my life. Thus, I will learn it as a brother. I will learn its weaknesses, its strengths, its parts, its accessories, its sights and its barrel. I will keep my rifle clean and ready, even as I am clean and ready. We will become part of each other.
Before God I swear this creed. My rifle and I are the defenders of my country. We are the masters of our enemy. We are the saviors of my life.
So be it, until victory is America's and there is no enemy.”
There is an enemy of America that must die tonight.
The view from his stand was remarkable. The starry night was unblemished by clouds, and the moon was in full view. He took a moment to appreciate the beauty of this perfect planet. It seemed ironic to Zach that he was still able to appreciate the beauty in life after taking so many. He compared himself to the moon. To the untrained eye, he had only one side to him. For those who actually knew Zach’s occupation, they knew that he also had a dark side. They knew he was a war hardened soldier.
Zach reached into his gear one last time and pulled out his binoculars. Through the lenses, he saw the mansion. He checked his watch. In approximately ten minutes, his target would be sitting in his red velvet chair by the stone fireplace like he had every night for the past week. He would be enjoying his cigar reading a thick book in his silk robe; ready to be executed. This was eerily exhilarating for the soldier. Knowing that this evil man would soon die, and America would have one less terrorist to worry about.
This terrorist was different than the others. This terrorist had the potential to threaten mankind. He must die, and Zach must be the one to do it. The soldier raised the scope of the rifle up to his eye. Through the scope he scanned the windows. The crosshairs made their way closer and closer to the terrorist. There he was; just as planned. Like a predator stalking its prey, Zach watched the terrorist walk through the study and make his way to the red velvet chair, cigar in hand. Instead of taking a seat fireside, the man walked to the window hands on his hips. Although he was completely oblivious that his life would soon end, the terrorist appeared to be staring right at Zach. Zach felt the control he had over this man’s life consume him. Every inch of Zach’s body was tingling with power. I would be the one who kills this man. I will kill him. He will die. Zach became one with his rifle, and put his finger to the trigger. The crosshairs lined up perfectly on the terrorist’s head.
“Kill her.” The man in the robe said coldly. The tone of his voice felt no remorse, no feeling. What was one more life to take? He had taken so many that he had lost count.
His body guard dragged the woman to the back of the estate by her hair with ease as if she were a ragdoll. If it weren’t for the ductape, the woman’s cries of terror would have been heard for miles. She desperately clawed at the wooden floor; splinters of wood began to embed themselves in the quick of her nails. Her efforts were futile. The man’s muscles protruded through his shirt making it so tight that only a man of his strength would be able to peel the t-shirt off his body. He held the woman who was fighting for her life with one hand and opened the veranda style door. He hurled her a few feet in front of him and pulled out his silenced pistol in one fluid motion. Psst, psst. The gorilla-like man pulled the trigger twice.
The man in the robe made his way down the hallway only stopping to notice the million dollar Rembrandt piece that had recently been added to the collection. He pulled a fine cigar from inside his robe and put it to his lips. He struck a match and lit the $1,000 cigar. The tip of the cigar began to brighten to an orange-amber as he took a drag. He exhaled away from the painting; smoke began to permeate the hallway. It wasn’t necessarily the painting that intrigued the man. His thoughts were consumed by what would happen in the next forty-eight hours. In forty-eight hours, he would change humanity. He would have more of an impact on mankind than Rembrandt, Machiavelli, Aristotle, and Einstein combined. The world was his.
The study was abnormally cold. The scent of oak permeated the room and overpowered the smell of his cigar. As he leisurely made his way to the chair by the fireplace, he peered out of the wall sized window with his hands at his hips. He would soon have the world to himself and his few companions. The detonator would only react to his fingerprint; that way nobody else had the ability to detonate the sonic device before he made it to the safe house. The only place in the world that would have survivors would be the safe house located deep inside the mountain he lived on. The sonic device used technology that the rest of the world didn’t even know existed. After the detonator was activated, every human on Earth besides a select few would die. The sonic device had the capability to turn everyone outside of the safe house brain dead and useless.
He turned his back to the window and began to pace the room. Normally he would have sat down by the fire by now, but with a day like tomorrow in front of him, he was incapable of taking a seat.
What was he doing? Why was he pacing the room? Zach was frustrated with the movement of the terrorist. It would be nearly impossible to hit a moving target from a quarter mile away, even with a shooter like Zach. His palms began to sweat. This terrorist must die tonight. If the man did not take a seat within the next five minutes, Zach would have to go on a stealth mission and enter the mansion. That would put Zach out of his comfort zone; his place was a quarter mile away from the enemy. He was an excellent marksman, but a mediocre hand to hand combatant. He took his eyes from the scope and began to curse himself for not taking the shot when the terrorist was at the window. He honestly thought the terrorist would return to his chair, but when the man began to pace the room Zach knew he had made a mistake. In his business, mistakes were unacceptable.
From one end of the room to the other, the man continued to pace. Restless from the stress of the next day, he could not take a seat. His legs began to fatigue so, once again, the terrorist made his way to the window. He was staring up at the moon when, all of a sudden, the only cloud in the sky began to cover the full moon; almost as if it were denying the terrorist the right to appreciate its beauty.
Zach brought the scope up to his eye and scanned the windows for the man. He was pacing the room. Just as Zach began to lose hope of the man returning to his chair, the terrorist returned to the window. Zach aligned the crosshairs with the man’s head. It was strictly business. When Zach had a job to do, he took emotion out of the equation; whatever he was ordered to do, he would do. His personality was split like the two sides of the moon. That’s what made him the best at what he did. With tense muscles, the sniper took a deep breath and held it to steady his scope.
Time slowed to an almost halt. The bullet escaped the silencer of the rifle and began its journey to the man’s head in slow motion. The bullet slowly left its master; its only farewell was the recoil of the weapon. As it slowly turned and rotated, it soared over the moonlit treetops and made its way towards the mansion. A foot away from the wall sized window, the bullet stared the terrorist in the face.
His job was done. The people of the world would live to see another day, and Zach wouldn’t lose a night of sleep over the whole ordeal.