The sniper shifted slowly, trying not to make any noise, knowing just how his target’s sensitive hearing could put paid to this in an instant.
He would not have a second chance.
He removed the thermal glove from his right hand; the nights were becoming cold now. Lying on the shooter mat helped insulate his body from the damp fir leaves, yet over the last three hours as the temperature dropped, his knees and back had started to ache. The man, clad in a dark green waterproof coverall and wearing a black wool ski mask, relaxed his body, hoping the tension and pain from his joints would dissipate.
Not long now.
After an interminable wait, scant minutes ago he had seen them arrive in the compact car. He had watched as they climbed out, ridding themselves of the journey’s cramps with self-indulgent stretches. Through the twelve power Bushnell Laser Rangefinder scope fitted to his weapon he could see they were tense, especially his target. That was to be expected. The house, with its grisly surprise, was in total darkness. Perhaps he should have left a few lights on hours earlier when he had been inside, before he set up his shooting hide among the fir trees. Maybe that would have changed their demeanour, their expectations.
No, he had done the right thing leaving the house in inhospitable gloom. This was not a reunion, a welcoming home for the travelers. This was reality, and reality bites.
He was tempted to take the shot as they walked over to the house, in those few metres before they disappeared inside. He recognized there was only one reason why not waiting crossed his mind: his own comfort; to shorten the time in the cold until action prevailed. When they discovered what awaited them, there was no telling what they would do. Calling the local cops probably was not going to be their first response. If they reacted as he expected, a search would be undertaken; a search for survivors.
Sooner or later they would emerge to check the garages over to the left of the main house.
Then he would have his opportunity.
Without taking his eye from the scope, he reached up with his left hand and pressed the range finder button, bouncing the laser off the now-closed house door. A double-digit figure lit up in red at the top of his cyclopean view. He was close, very close. He could not remember ever taking a shot this close. Yet the nearness was essential. He would only get one opportunity; he dreaded to think what would happen if he missed. They would kill him… or worse.
A scream; muffled from within by thick walls.
They had discovered the bodies.
It would not be long now.
He started to control his breathing; even at this short range, every little helped.
Minutes dragged by, his imagination filling in the details of how events must be unfolding.
Finally the door opened again.
He tensed. It was happening!
All three came out; all three had pistols in their hands. His target paused, looking toward the trees. Had he been discovered? Could she hear him? He held his breath, waiting for the moment.
The reticule in the scope was now tracking his targets’ every move. The others were closer, making a clean shot impossible. He took up the slack on the trigger. When the moment came, it would be an instant, fleeting and ephemeral. He had to be ready.
His chest was bursting. He let air escape from his mouth unhurriedly, fighting against the burning inside, knowing the ski mask would hide the telltale mist.
The target moved to the left, towards the garages.
He sensed his right hand cramping and willed his tendons to relax.
The crosshairs centered on her back.
With careful precision he raised the barrel until his sights highlighted his chosen aim; on the left side of her torso, just above the heart.
The weapon made a soft pfutt as he squeezed the trigger; audible to her, but too late.
Through the scope he watched as the projectile struck home and Katie Lindon crumpled to the ground.
the CULL continues in Blood Demon!