A fat drop of water slides down a dull, green thorn. For a moment, it hangs precariously from the tip, before falling heavily and landing on a hand already soaked with rainwater. For two days the owner of the hand has been here, with fine rain falling all the time and keeping him damp and miserable. A simple costume of greens and browns and greys makes him almost invisible through the shifting banks of fog and rain. He is no novice camper, sliding on slick mire and crashing into thorny, damp gorse bushes; he is willing to crawl across the ground and slither snake-like through the mud and spiky grasses that grow here if his success depends on it. Still, he wishes for a nicer setting than this cold, soggy moor. He pulls himself into his concealed hide, draws the long, slender rifle custom-made for him, focuses the top grade sights onto the lonely, worn building and settles in for a long wait above the slight valley containing the home of his target.
This house has seen better days; the main building is intact, but several tiles are missing from its slated roof, and the gutter has broken off along the north side. The owner misses both when the weather is like this, but his schedule does not allow him time to get them repaired, and to have the rubble of the garage cleared away. The garden consists of a gravel drive, lawns that are more mud than grass, and one gnarled old oak tree, clinging on despite the winds that have bent it almost to the ground. When he first saw this place, the assassin on the hill was sceptical that anyone would live here, but he had his orders, backed by good money.
A low sound cuts through the rain and into the assassin’s concentration. He knows what is about to happen – he watched his target’s routine yesterday. Just as the killer predicted, a black, average, and very muddy car rounds the bend in the muddy, rocky country lane, and begins a crunching, splashing approach to the house. As the car scrunches to a halt on the soaked gravel driveway, the assassin calmly lifts his gun to eye level, and focuses on the just-opening door of the car.
The person clambering out is tired, despite clear lack of physical exercise at any point during the last year. Small, beady eyes stare around him, and a hand holding a white handkerchief moves from its limp position by his side to mop his face, passing as it does so over the uneven lumps and troughs of his cheeks, and a greasy, piggish nose. He starts his customary waddle to the front door, which is flanked by two hanging baskets filled with withered off-white dregs of plants.
Eyes cold and hard, yet sparkling with intelligence, aim a deadly, noiseless weapon at the greasy forehead of his target. Muttering a psalm under his breath, his finger tightens on the trigger. At the last possible moment, the owner of the forehead moves, and the clean headshot is obscured by a hanging basket. Cursing silently, the killer changes his guns sighting. As the target unlocks his door, he will be shot through the back and into the heart.
Finally, after two days of lying in filth and feeling drips of water roll down his back, the assassin pulls the trigger.
The Teflon-coated bullet flies from the barrel, accelerating to speeds well above the soft sound of its discharge, spinning from the rifling of the gun. It strikes its target with pinpoint precision, slowing as it tears through soft, flabby flesh, but still fast enough to bounce off a rib and puncture through a lung before ripping a small nick in the fat deposits around the heart.
In his weak, unhealthy state, the doomed man cannot withstand such a blow, although other people might have survived long enough for the killer to end it with a headshot. The owner of the tumbledown house collapses onto his slippery, stone steps, breathing shallow and bubbly with blood. More crimson liquid flows onto the granite stairs, and drips into a puddle, curling and spreading into the water. The misty drizzle, which has been hanging for days, chooses now to solidify into a steady shower, heavy drops splashing mud and bloody water into the air.
Satisfied, the assassin turns and walks away, drawing a small black device from his pocket. He pushes the red button on it, and leaves, while white fire leaves no evidence of his ever being there.