The shot by fionan


									                                              THE SHOT
                                                               by Martin Shakespeare

“Remember, the shot is everything.
When the time comes, nothing else will exist, the world around you will vanish. Whatever is
happening is happening in a different dimension. There may be violence, people screaming, you
must ignore them. You will be a solitary entity, totally focused on the shot. If you miss, there will be
no second chance. Do not hesitate. Take the shot. It will be your one and only chance”.

Josephine ran those words though her head again and again. They were etched in her memory,
and would stay with her for the rest of her life, if she succeeded tonight, they would become the
most beautiful poem she had ever heard, if she failed, the words would haunt her forever.

She lay in the undergrowth, covered with foliage she had stripped from nearby bushes to conceal
her position, on a small rise about 20 metres from the fence overlooking the target’s house.

“Sometimes you may be able to get close to the target for the shot. Other times you may not be
able to and will have to take a long shot, and these are the hardest. A moving target will make it
more difficult and when you have only a few seconds for the shot, you must be quick and

These words were spoken to her just over eighteen hours ago, yet she could recall with vivid
clarity every tone and inclination the voice on the phone had used.

Shuffling slightly to ease an emerging cramp in her left calf, Josephine again fingered the
equipment in her arms. The cold metal was comfortable in her fingers; she had practiced with it for
so long it was like an extension of her own limbs.

“You must practice with your equipment, the feel, the weight, both loaded and unloaded must
become second nature to you. You must practice until you can strip down and reassemble the
equipment in the dark. You must be able to load and reload with your eyes closed, time will be
short, the luxury of light may not be with you. You must know your equipment intimately, so it does
not fail you. If it fails, you will lose the shot, and I say again, the shot is everything.”

Josephine had spent the previous three hours that evening, dismantling, cleaning, checking and
rechecking her equipment, until she was completely satisfied it was all in perfect working order.
Then, when she had found her hiding place in the bushes and settled in, she had tested it all again,
before finally loading it. Sometimes she carried a backup in case her primary jammed, but not
tonight. If she missed the shot with her primary, there would be no second chance. She would
have to move fast after the first shot, even if she missed, there would be no time for a second

“A lot of the professionals these days are using the new breed of equipment, feeling that digital
and infrared technology gives them the edge. True, in some cases the technology had made the
job easier, more shots can be taken quickly, the “spray and pray” method I like to call it but messy.
Any amateur can use that method and get lucky. The test of a true professional is being able take
that one important shot, and make it count.”
Josephine was old school. She preferred the traditional equipment, the quality and reliability was
in her opinion far superior to the new stuff being produced today. She considered herself an artist
and as such constantly challenged herself to be accurate and precise, to not waste a single shot.

It was getting cool now, and she was glad she had worn layers of warm clothing, all dark naturally.
Black boots and jeans over her tights and grey socks, black woollen fleece over her dark grey
jumper and shirt, black woollen cap and dark navy fingerless gloves. She blew warm air onto her
fingers and massaged them together to keep the blood flowing, she certainly could not afford to
have her fingers freezing at such a critical time.

Josephine glanced at her watch, (a baby G, black obviously), and saw the time was 7.43pm.
Eighteen or nineteen minutes before the target was due to appear.

“You must know your target, know their habits. Where do they live? Where do they work? Where
do they eat? Where do they shop? Do they use a gym? Is there a routine they have that you can
exploit? If they have security, is there any place their guard is lowered long enough for you to take
the shot? Study your target, research their daily routine. Live their life. Is there an elderly relative
in a nursing home they visit once a week? Is there a sport they play regularly? Do they have any
vices you can exploit to get close? You must be ruthless and use every weakness you find to your
advantage. Make use of each and every bit of information you can to get close enough for the

Josephine had not had the time to do a lot of research on the target, she was given the
assignment less than a day ago, and it was a rush job and had to be done tonight. Luckily the
target was a high profile figure, probably the best known figure in the country actually, so finding
information about him was not difficult, and as she kept herself well up to date with current affairs,
she knew all that was publicly known about him already. With a few careful phone calls she had
managed to glean a few more scraps of information that were invaluable, and made tonight
possible. It seemed the target liked to watch a particular American sitcom from seven thirty to eight
in the evening, then pop into the garden to exercise his dog, a five year old Tibetan spaniel called
Montgomery. For about five to ten minutes he would throw a few sticks and a ball for the dog, and
then retire into the house for the rest of the evening. Five to ten minutes, that’s all the time
Josephine had for the shot.

“When you have taken the shot you must escape quickly. You must not be caught or it will all have
been in vain. Always try to have an escape route. If you work with a colleague, as sometimes you
will, plan your exit together. But remember, the shot is everything. If it is a choice of your partner or
the shot, leave your partner. They would do the same. When working alone, move fast. Prepare
more than one escape route if possible, be flexible, if you are being chased you must learn to
improvise, if you have transport you may have to leave it and find alternate routes that are not
obvious to the chasers. Do not get caught.”

Josephine had hidden her car about two hundred metres away, behind some bushes just off from
the road. She had reversed it between the bushes so it was facing the road for a quick getaway.
The single car key and alarm were alone in the breast pocket of the fleece, she could unzip the
pocket and bleep the doors open whilst running, saving valuable seconds if she was chased, and
she was sure she would be. She had also checked the path to the car three times, moving twigs
and stones out of the way so she did not trip over as she was running.
Glancing at her watch Josephine suddenly realised it was two minutes to eight. Where had the last
15 minutes gone! Stop daydreaming she told herself, the time is now!
She made one final check of her equipment, all was in order.

“When the target appears, you must clear your mind of everything. Only the target exists. The
target and the shot must become one. At that one precise moment they must join. Only you will
know that moment, and you must not let it pass. Remember, the shot is everything.”

She took a slow deep breath to calm herself, held it for a second and let it out again. Slowly and
calmly she settled into her prone position, brought the equipment into line and focused through the
crosshairs, waiting.

Slowly, things began to happen. A light was switched on in the kitchen of the house. The back
door opened and a security guard came out and began to walk around the garden. A second
guard appeared a moment later, walked towards the fence and began to scrutinise the trees
beyond. For a second, Josephine was sure he was looking directly at her and her cover was blown,
but his eyes continued to scan the trees, without a flicker. It took all her willpower not to breathe a
big sigh of relief. The guards, satisfied that all was well, nodded to the open back door. With
excited barks, Mongomery the spaniel came racing out into the garden, running around in circles
and jumping up to each of the guards in turn for a quick pat. Settling down, he walked over to the
rose bushes for a quick sniff, then relieved himself on a particular bright yellow rosebush.

Josephine was only aware of all of this happening in her peripheral vision; her eyes were focused
on the back door, waiting for the target. When he finally walked out her heartbeat quickened and
she had to control her breathing with every fibre of her being. She followed the target’s
movements through the crosshairs waiting for the moment. The target bent down and ruffled the
hair on the back of Montgomery’s head before picking up a stick to throw for the dog. Josephine
followed his movements as he raised his arm to throw the stick, the crosshairs focused on the
bridge of his nose.

She took the shot.

Everything erupted at once. The dog began barking loudly and running around in a frenzy, the
security guards, stunned for a second, ran towards the fence in her direction shouting to each
other, one pulling out his radio to call for back up.

But Josephine had already gone. As soon as she experienced the noise and flash from the shot,
she had jumped to her feet, tightly clutching her equipment and began to run. The foliage that was
covering her dropped to the ground as she continued to run without a backward glance at the
pandemonium she had caused behind her.

When the phone rang the next morning, Josephine picked it up on the second ring.
“Hello.” she said, her hands sweaty, and her heart beating rapidly.
“Hi Josephine! Well you did it. Front page news! Didn’t think you would be able to pull it off but
you did. My colleagues and I here at the company are most impressed with the result, truly
“Thank you.” She replied, her throat dry.
“So much so, we want you to work for us at the company on a more permanent basis. We’ll meet
later today to discuss it further, OK?”
“Yes later will be fine” her heart beat doubled.
“Good, good. Well, congratulations again on an excellent job, but never forget, the shot is
everything. See you later.” With that the phone went dead.

Josephine let out a sigh of relief and looked at the newspaper again.
Covering half the front page was a coloured photograph with the headline in large bold print:

She had done it! She had finally proven herself worthy as a photographer for the daily Bugle. It
was true, the shot was everything!


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