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The Assassin Essay

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The Assassin lay watching. He was quietly content observing what lay in front on him. Beside him was his rifle, backpack and over his shoulders was slung a pair of field glasses. His face was thin and you could clearly pick out every contour of his face. His eyes though were deep and thoughtful, the eyes of a man who was used to death. The Snipers eyes watched over the city. It lay covered in darkness, only for the dim light of the moon that shone through the fleecy clouds. Now and again throughout the city, machine guns and rifles broke the silence of the night. The Sniper waited in patience for dawn. He was hungry, he had not eaten all night. Softly he brought out his sandwich from his pack. He finished it off with the last drop of water out of his flask. He paused for a moment, considering whether he should risk a smoke. It was dangerous. The flash might be seen in the darkness, and there were enemies watching. He decided to take the risk.

A few hours had passed. Nothing had changed. The Sniper had lowered himself on the arrival of dawn and was now waiting. Cautiously he peered over the low wall. There was a flash and a bullet whizzed over his head. He dropped immediately. He had seen the flash. It had come from the opposite side of the narrow street. He rolled over the roof to the corresponding wall and slowly drew himself up behind it, until his eyes were level with the top of the wall. There was nothing to be seen. His enemy was under cover, waiting for the precious moment to take fire.

Just then an armoured car came across the bridge and advanced slowly up the street. It was an enemy car, It stopped on the opposite side of the street. His heart beat accelerated. Suddenly the turret opened. A man’ s head and shoulders appeared, looking straight at the sniper. The sniper raised his rifle and fired. It was a perfect strike, the mans head clattered against the turret. From the opposite roof a shot rang out and the sniper dropped his rifle with a curse. The rifle bounced onto the roof. Dropping flat onto the roof, he crawled back to the wall. he tried to reach his rifle. He couldn’t lift it. He had taken a direct shot on his forearm. The blood was oozing through the sleeve of his coat.

Quickly he drew his knife from his pocket and ripped open the sleeve. There was a small hole where the bullet had entered. On the other side there was no hole. The bullet had lodged into the bone. It must have fractured it. He clammed his teeth to overcome the pain. He searched for his pack with his left hand. Then taking out his dressing, he ripped open the packet with his knife. He broke the neck of the iodine bottle and let the bitter fluid drip into the wound. A rush of pain swept through him. He placed the cotton wadding over the wound and wrapped the dressing over it. He tied the ends with his teeth. Time passed. Night had drawn in. He lay still against the wall, and, closing his eyes, he made an effort of will to overcome the pain. In the street below all was still. The armoured car had raced off speedily over the bridge, leaving only the dead machine gunner on the ground. The sniper stayed for a long time. The hours crept by as, he nursed his wounded arm and planned out how he would escape from his position and get his arm tended to. Morning must not find him wounded on the roof. The enemy on the opposite roof covered his escape. He must kill that enemy and he could not use his rifle. He had only a revolver to do it. Then he thought of a plan.

Taking off his cap, he placed it over the muzzle of his rifle. Then he pushed the rifle slowly upward over the parapet, until the cap was visible from the opposite side of the street. Almost immediately there was a report, and a bullet pierced the centre of the cap. The sniper slanted the rifle forward. The cap dropped down into the street. Then catching the rifle in the middle, the sniper dropped his left hand over the roof and let it hang, lifelessly. After a few moments he let the rifle drop to the street. Then he sank to the roof. Below, the noise of metal on concrete shattered the quiet of dawn. Crawling quickly to his feet, he peered up at the corner of the roof. His ruse had succeeded. The other sniper, seeing the cap and rifle had fallen, thought that he had killed his man. He was now standing with his head clearly silhouetted against the western sky. The Sniper smiled and lifted his revolver above the edge of the parapet. It was a hard shot in the dim light, and his right arm was paining him like a thousand devils.

He took a steady aim. His hand trembled with eagerness. Pressing his lips together, he took a deep breath through his nostrils and fired. His arm shook with the recoil. Then when the smoke cleared, he peered across and uttered a cry of joy. His enemy had been hit. He struggled to keep his feet, but he was slowly falling forward as if in a dream. Then the dying man on the roof crumpled up and fell forward. The body turned over and over in space and hit the ground with a dull thud. Then it lay still. The Sniper looked at his enemy falling and he shuddered. The lust of battle died in him. He became bitten by remorse. The sweat stood out in beads on his forehead. From watching on the roof, he revolted from the sight of the of his dead enemy. His teeth chattered, he began to gibber to himself, cursing himself, cursing everybody. He looked at the smoking revolver in his hand, he hurled it to the roof at his feet. The revolver went off with a concussion and the bullet whizzed past the Sniper’s head. He was frightened back to his senses by the shock. His nerves steadied. The cloud of fear scattered from his mind and he laughed. He still needed to escape from his rooftop position so he decided to leave the roof and look for his company commander, to report! Everywhere around was quiet. There was not much danger in going through the streets. He picked up his revolver and put it in his pocket. Then he crawled down through the skylight to the house underneath.

When the sniper reached the laneway on the street level, he felt a sudden curiosity as to the identity of the enemy sniper who he had just killed. He decided that he was a good shot, whoever he was, and had a similar technique as he did. He wondered did he know him. Perhaps he had been in his own company before the split in the city. He decided to risk going over to have a look at him. He peered around the corner. In the upper part of the street there was heavy firing, but around here all was quiet. The Sniper darted across the street. A sudden burst of machine gun fire tore up the ground around him with a hail of bullets, but he escaped its fire with ease. He threw himself face downward beside the corpse. The machine gun fire had stopped. Then the Sniper turned over the dead body and looked into his brother’s face.

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