Monday, August 10, 2009

Aim (Part 1 of 2)

His crotch itched, but the soldier couldn't scratch. He couldn't even contract the muscles in his inner thighs to squeeze it away. Goddamn heat. Goddamn sweat. He loosed a slow, controlled breath, and the change in his posture raised the magnified image in his riflescope. He breathed in, and the image wanted to fall.

The man who was his target sat at a table through the windowpane. The man was waiting for tea. A small, empty cup rested within reach. Maybe a spoon. The rise and fall of the crosshairs moved up and down the man's chest. The soldier didn't waste energy keeping the crosshairs nailed. Not yet.

"Negative on the target," the spotter laying close to his left whispered.

The woman passed in front of the window again. The wife, presumably.

To the fire in the stove.

To the shelves.

To the cabinet where she stored honey.

"She may leave," the spotter said.

The soldier barely moved his lips. "I'm keeping it sharp."

"Wind is still negative," the spotter said. "Three hundred and fifty eight yards."

The woman bent, clearing the shot.

The soldier stopped his exhale.

In five seconds of holding breath, his heart would respond. His pulse would begin to pound. In the moment of near stillness, the soldier welded the crosshairs one tick left of where the target's sternum would be. The .50 caliber would cut him in half anyway. Only his shoulder, cheek, and fingertip touched the gun.

The soft trigger firmed.

But a blur of brown and white fabric flashed into view again.

"Negative," the spotter said. "Target not clear."

The shooter resumed careful breathing, restoring oxygen to still his cells again.

"She's pouring the tea," the spotter said. "She's pulling a chair."

Another slow-muscled breath.

"She's going to sit across from him."

The soldier willed his heart to slow.

"Negative on wind," the spotter said. "Three hundred and fifty-eight yards."

More blur. The target was blocked.

The soldier spoke through another thin breath. "Negative on the torso. Headshot. Positive on a headshot."

He could see the target's face and salt and pepper beard over the woman's shoulder.

The shooter raised a sliver.

The crosshairs passed beard.

Passed lips.

Passed a crooked, baked nose.

The soldier cleared his mind of everything but calm and the crosshairs. The peace of not needing to breathe. He dug his aim into the first deep wrinkles of the man's forehead and firmed the soft trigger.

In a moment, the flow of motion would rock it back.

The grand release.

Like giving birth.

In a.



lena said...

that was tense. like in those movies when you want to know what happens next and yet are afraid to open your eyes to actually see it.
Literally took my breath away.. waiting for Part 2.

Karen said...

What a powerful piece - sensory in every way. Like Lena, I'm glad there's a Part 2, but I'm a little worried about what that says about me...

Shadow said...

what an image. i found myself holding my own breath.....

Aniket Thakkar said...

Did I tell my Dad has undergone sniper training. :)

This made me wanna watch Enemy at the Gates again. The wait, stabalizing the breath, judging the wind, it takes a lot of skill to become a sniper. I suck at the waiting part. Probably thats why I wont ever be good at fishing, survailence or be a good sniper. But I am a good shooter with a sniper rifle. Love the power of pump action shot gun too, but nothing beats the elegance of a sniper rifle. :D

Now I eagerly wait for the next part. Something tells me he's gonna miss the target. :)

Adisha said...

Wow !!! Felt like I was standing right there :) Awaiting part two .

Charles Gramlich said...

I enjoyed this. I just watched a documentary on training snipers the other day. This felt very real.

Sarah Hina said...

Wow. I just let out a breath. :)

You know what I liked best? The wonderful control of tension in the storytelling that matched the sniper's patience and aim. Just expert, cinematic pacing and details. I loved the cataloguing of his body's responses as he's waiting to destroy another's. Can't wait to read the conclusion!

(We're your target, aren't we. ;))

Raj said...

awesome...and this u hear from a die hard counterstrike fan..that voice, that cool !!!

Hoodie said...

ooh, can't wait until part two -

You really can't go wrong when "crotch" is the second word of the piece, right?


Eric said...

This is an excellent piece of writing. Intense, accurate, and gripping. Nicely done.

Anonymous said...

Lena, if I got you to still yourself and hold your breath, then I did my job. :)

Karen, it says that you are engaged, curious, intense, and not likely to shy away. ;)

Shadow, squeeze the trigger in one motion, don't jerk or pull.

Aniket, so you're a good shot, eh? I believe it. :) Glad this rang true for you! As a hunter, I've done my share of practice, and the real thing.

Adisha, at this point, I'm planning on posting part 2 on Friday.

Charles, glad it felt authentic! I've watched those shows too. The mechanics of shooting is from experience, though.

Sarah, thanks for the feedback on the cinematic quality. :) I do strive to have the events play in the mind like a movie. Direct and intense. (And any "targets" had better pull down their window shades. ;) )

Scarlet, sniping in gaming can be a really cool role, no? I used to play Battlefield 1942.

Hoodie, yep, that was the secret. Harnessing the crotch is an express train to success. ;)

Eric, thank you! And welcome!! I very much appreciate the feedback on the writing delivery and believability.

Carrie Clevenger said...

Thank you for sharing that. It's good.

Vesper said...

I held my breath and released it with him... Very well done, Jason, almost too intense to bear...

the walking man said...

Good read no comment until part 2.

Terri said...

This is very real indeed; the breathing is how I was taught to steady a shot when hunting and yep, it works. Mission accomplished (at least to this point!)

Hoodie said...

Ha ha ha. "Harnessing the crotch is an express train to success."

That's a quote to remember.

Kareen said...

Absolutely deliciously intense! A gripping read from start to finish.

Kim Smith said...

Love this piece. Powerful and engaging. Looking forward to part two...

Anonymous said...

Carrie, thank you even more for reading it!

Vesper, I like that.... :) Almost too intense to bear. An author can definitely push it too far. Let's see if I do in the second part.

Walking Man, fair enough.

Terri, hard to maintain that focus when a live target is in your sights, isn't it? ;)

Hoodie, :)

Kareen, good to know that I can kick into thriller mode when need be. :)

Kim, thanks! Look for part two in my Friday post.

Jean said...

I could hear the quiet surrounding their careful whispers.
Held my breath 'til I couldn't no more ;-)

Margaret said...

Like all the others - I held my breath all the way through!

Immensely intense, captivating. Just brilliant!

Can't wait for part II.

Anonymous said...

Jean, you were there with them. Willing yourself not to move.

Margaret, there is something freeing about the action in thrillers. It can be such a pleasure to write. But I really don't see myself diving into the genre.

Bebo said...

perfectly captured!

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Bebo!!