Frank’s Night Out ©
By William B. Lightfoot
The wind blew softly across Frank's blackened face, causing a lock of jet black hair to fall gently before his eyes. He swept the tress to the side, with an ebon colored hand, tucking it neatly under the dark knit cap he wore on his head. Frank low crawled silently, inching his way through the pre-dawn dew. It felt cool against his thighs as it soaked through the brown and rust colored pants he wore.
Frank eased himself up onto a smooth out-cropping of rock and onto his elbows beside a large barren oak. The stately hardwood had a thick abrasive bark that scraped the side of Frank's face as he maneuvered into place. The wound stung sharply, like an alcohol laced razor burn and watered his left eye. He blotted the dampness with a dark green handkerchief he had tied loosely around his neck. Careful not to use his hand directly, wiping the grease paint into his eye.
Frank did a good job blending in with his surroundings. There was no noise to disrupt the tranquil setting, not even the chirp of crickets, on this dark and ominous night. Frank was in tune with all of this and melted quietly into the landscape beneath him.
Now, sighting through a pair of army issue "Starlite" night vision goggles, he panned across the narrow strip of grass and rock below. There was a small amount of brushy undergrowth and a few larger trees, much like the ledge he himself had chosen.
The night sky was relatively clear, but with only a quarter moon to illuminate his quarry. The front of Frank's shirt was now sodden as well, sending a slight shiver, through his upper torso. But he was a professional and held his position firm.
After many long days and sleepless nights of watching and planning, Frank knew where his prey would be on this particular Autumn eve. Just like Frank, his target had a target of his own. This was a nasty business, as he knew all too well, but if you’re going to play the game, you had better know the rules. As far as Frank knew, there were none.
Frank felt an itching feeling across his lower leg, knowing right away that it was ants. Of the many excursions in training at Ft. Benning, before venturing out on his own, he was very familiar with the pesky insect.
There, directly down range, just off to his left, his eye caught the slightest of movement in the scenery below, causing Frank’s gaze to freeze. He traded in the night-vision goggles for the “Starlight” 3.5x10x50 sniper scope that was mounted on his custom-made 30.06 caliber high-powered rifle.
Now the ants were biting, they seemed to be chewing a friggin’ hole in his ankle, having gotten past his bloused fatigues and into his boot. Frank rubbed his foot against the weathered rock face, trying to alleviate the pain. Doing so in a silent battle that could not be won.
He removed the lens caps in a slow and easy motion, placing them on the ground beside the rifle. Resting the stock on the flat shelf of rock, Frank peered through the illuminating scope, concentrating intently on the slightly darkened area below, where he had seen the tell-tale movement.
There it was again, he was sure of the presence now. A movement so slight that it was barely discernible, but it was there nonetheless.
The air was almost still now, only the occasional breeze, blowing softly west to east. Not enough to affect the trajectory of Frank’s bullet, though. He was directly overhead and two hundred meters to the rear of his target. He would not need to allow for any deviation, as the conditions were nearly perfect.
Frank could just barely make out the all but invisible outline of a human form lying prone at the edge of a crag, much like himself. Frank observed his mark for a moment, watching the assassin ready himself. He knew it was dangerous, but he let his gaze linger for a moment, taking a few mental notes, enjoying the extremely rare opportunity to witness his competition in action, before properly eliminating their existence from the game.
Sweat had started to bead across Frank’s forehead, threatening to rain down into his eyes. He had to stay focused on the prize at hand, mustn’t let the excitement and adrenaline overwhelm him. He could not afford to falter in his mission if he wished to be victorious and hold the reputation as the best.
Frank reassured himself, getting back his composure. He told himself to stay calm, breathe, that’s it, nice and slow now. His heartbeat slowed as he went through the mental process of preparation for a precision shot. He would only have one chance, a single window of opportunity, the shot had to find its mark, it had to be fatal.
Frank resighted and quickly acquired the target once again. The figure was now very still, and the body was cunningly camouflaged, with a certain flair that only a true veteran could bring to the game.
Frank could barely make out the shoulders and then, moving up slightly, the small roundness of what would be the man’s head. Only an expert such as himself would have been able to pick up on the subtleties of the man’s camouflage efforts.
He sighted back down the night-vision scope, placing the crosshairs on the nape of the target’s neck. It being the only remotely visible, but nonetheless, an exposed area that had no masking. Frank pushed in the weapon’s safety with his thumb and curling his index finger, he laid it loosely upon the trigger.
Frank cleared his head of all thought, took in a deep breath and exhaled fully. At that point, he smoothly pulled back on the hairpin trigger of the high powered rifle. Frank’s weapon, which was fitted with a specially made silencer to allow accuracy in long range acquisitions, merely coughed in the still of the night.
Now there was silence once again, not just any silence, this type was very deep and profound. The kind of silence that can only be found in the deepest, darkest of catacombs. The blackness of the night was also different now. It was thicker and seemed to give off an insalubrious feeling that was inescapable. It seemed to loom heavily and absorb, actually swallowing all sound and color.
A 165-grain speeding projectile had pierced the back of Frank’s head, exploding the front half onto the smooth, gray sediment before him, painting it a dark crimson in color. A sharp contrast with the rest of the pallid terrain.
The ants were now marching single file, in ranks of three, up Frank’s cold, wet leg. They would be the only victors today.