He was late today. She could see him hurrying across the pavement. Twice, within the last hundred metres, he checked his watch. Yes, he was definitely late and he knew it. Too bad it wasn’t going to matter today. Not at all.
Carefully, she manoeuvred the assembled weapon around to follow him. Just like her father had taught her; and like always, she spent the final moments of his life, remembering her first lesson with father.
“POINT. AIM. FIRE. It should take no longer than 3 min. It should get the job done.” These were the only words he spoke in that session. The next 12 hours, she learnt to handle the weapon silently while her muscles screamed in agony.
Point. Aim. Fire.
She smiled and pulled the trigger.
She didn’t watch him crumple and fall down. She didn’t see the red of his blood spread garishly over the pavement. She didn’t wait to hear the screams that confirmed his gory end. Disappearing from the scene of crime was her priority and quickly, automatically, she started disassembling the weapon and packing it up.
But, it happened too fast and too soon and she was staring into the business ends of 10 guns belonging to the task force.
“You are under arrest for the murder of….” the officer authoritatively stepped forward. But, she had already tuned him out. She was remembering another lesson from that summer.
“You are not supposed to get caught. But, it will happen. When it does, silence will be your only weapon.” He had looked straight into her eyes when he said this and she knew that she would never betray him.
She smirked and let herself be dragged away.
It was 14 hours later and another officer walked in. He was suited up just like the others, his buzz cut close to his skull and his eyes shaded by dark glasses.
He stopped at the edge of the table and took a few steps back as if to get a better look at her.
“YOU are the sniper?” he asked as if he couldn’t believe it.
She stared at him silently with her eyebrows raised.
“Name?” he asked, pulling out his chair.
“Don’t have one,” she replied.
“Really? How come?” he said disbelievingly.
“My father didn’t give me one.” Her tone was flat.
“What about your mother?”
“What about the guy who taught you to shoot?”
“Was it your father? Did he teach you to shoot?”
“No. He died.”
“I thought it was your mother that was dead”
“My father didn’t give me a name and he died. Such things happen.” The corner of lips lifted slightly.
“Do you mean to tell me that people tend to die around you?” he asked probingly.
“I mean to say that people die. Period.” She was definitely smiling now.
“Because you kill them?”
“No, because they die.”
“So, are you telling me you are not guilty? At all?” he raised his eyebrows in vexation.
“You do your job. I do mine.” She replied nonchalantly.
“Your JOB? What is it? Killing innocent people?” he was shouting now, “Those people you involved in your “JOB” had families, responsibilities… they had a life! Now, because of you,” he pointed a finger at her, “they don’t! What kind of a job is that? Tell me! Explain it to me!”
She stared at him silently without any expression.
He banged the table in between them and bent down to look at her straight in the eye. “We are NOT done. I WILL be back” and he walked out.
32 hours later. The lady that walked in had a casual t-shirt and slacks. Her hair was tied back and she had a smile on her face.
“So, you don’t have a name?” she started.
“Well, I know you anyway,” she paused.
The girl looked up and smiled, calling her bluff.
“No, I’m not bluffing. I know you.” She came close to her and bent down to her level, “I used to be you,” she whispered.
“And who would that be?” the prisoner quipped with a smile.
“His daughter,” said the officer simply.
The girl’s eyebrows drew together and for the first time, her feathers seemed ruffled.
“I don’t think so,” she said darkly.
“Nameless. But, never aimless. That’s what we are, aren’t we?” the lady smiled. She drew up the chair, sat down and lowered her voice, “Point. Aim. Fire. Isn’t that right?”
The girl looked mutinous as she put her face close to the lady. “Who are you?” she demanded.
“I told you. I’m…or rather I was his daughter.”
“You are no daughter. Look at you! You betrayed him!”
There was silence in the room as girl and woman stared at each other. As one’s past met the other’s present.
“I was abandoned when I was five,” spoke the woman finally, “He found me and raised me in his style. I learnt how to assemble a gun before I could dress myself. I learnt to shoot before I could add two and two. That was his world and he was the world to me. I loved him with all my heart. Even when I got caught… I was like you then- tiny, sixteen and still thinking that father knows best.” she paused, “I couldn’t have been more wrong.”
“I will give you a choice today, choose wisely. Tonight, you will be shifted to a high security facility. I will visit you there tomorrow morning. If you are there, alive, I offer you a position in my special task force. If not…” she placed a 9mm Browning on the table between them. “Choose wisely,” she repeated and started walking towards the door.
At the door, she turned back.
“I was in here for 90 days before somebody offered me that choice. In those 90 days, there were 87 attempts to kill me; and 76 attempts to “break” me. I survived. But, I still have nightmares every single night. I have panic attacks every single day. I look over my shoulder every single moment. I have been to every therapy known and tried every medication there is. But, my fear wins every single time.” She trailed off and suddenly, the girl saw how aged the woman really is, how stiff her movements are and how much scar tissue was peeking out at her collar and cuffs.
“Do you know how I survived those 90 days?” the woman continued, “I thought he would come. I kept wishing, praying, crying for him to come. He didn’t. On the 90th day, I tried to kill myself. But, I survived and on the prison hospital bed, I was given this offer. My father died on that day and I was reborn. So, don’t call me a betrayer. I am a survivor and HE betrayed me!” and the named officer walked out leaving the nameless prisoner behind.
44 hours had passed since her arrest. She had spent the final 12 staring at the shiny weapon in front of her. She knew its each contour, each bore and its capacity in every situation. Yet, no weapon had captured her interest like this one. This one which held her life in its scratched barrel.
She remembered one cold evening when she protested against training in the freezing temperatures.
“I can do this! You know I can do this! I don’t need this training anymore! Why do you keep making me do this?” she had ranted.
Father had whipped around with his eyes blazing.
“You are my WEAPON and I keep my weapons well-polished at all times!” he had roared.
“I am his weapon.” She whispered to herself.
Slowly she picked up the pistol which was keeping her company for the last 12 hours and cocked it.
Point. Aim. Fire.
She smiled and pulled the trigger.
She got the call early in the morning. Tears filled her eyes as anger built up in her chest.
She had allowed herself to hope! Every single time she allows herself to hope only to face crushing disappointment a few hours later. Her fists clenched and she vowed revenge yet again.
There was not much to see in the body. One shot to the head and a life wasted. She made her way to the room they met in.
There, on the desk it was scratched out:
“Father, your weapon has served its purpose.”
And right then and right there, she remembered the screams, the blood and the pats on her back…and Officer Sara Dee broke down.