Guilty Hands


He paused at the rooftop door. Deep breath. Last chance to focus. Last chance to think about quitting. The breath held, he opened the door.

Bent over, he ran towards the edge. Body low, almost on the ground. Like a snake hugging the roof. At the edge he sat, pulled the rucksack off his back. Black box inside. Two foot by one. He opened it, pulled out the butt, sight and barrel. Assembling was easy. He’d done it blindfolded before. Clip of bullets rammed home. Pull back the lever. One in the chamber. A look down the sight, and he was ready.

Another deep breath. Nerves had come from nowhere. Stomach in tatters, slishing and sloshing around. He held the breath, counted to ten then released.

He put the cover on the sight: the sun would reflect as he moved position. One last check of his watch. Sixty seconds to go. He turned round, rifle leaning on the roof edge. Barrel pointing roughly at the door. Butt into his shoulder. The sun to his left; he’d leave the cover on until the last second.

Sixty seconds. Ten deep breaths. A million thoughts through his head. Still not too late to quit. Five seconds left. Still not too late. One second…

The door opened across the street. The sight’s cover removed. One eye closed, looking down the barrel. Target in his sights. Cross hair on his chest. The target walked out, towards the car.

He followed him, the cross hair moving from his chest to head. Two steps away from the car, his finger found the trigger. Squeezing softly, he found the bite. The cross hair over the target’s left eye, he squeezed harder.

Immense noise. He saw the target’s head crack back, saw the line of blood shoot up, saw him slump to the floor.

Muscles that had been tight for an hour relaxed. He replaced the cover, laid the rifle on the ground.

A voice in his ear. “Target neutralised. Good work, Goody.”

Goody stood up, looked down at the street. His fellow officers were moving into the bank. The poor girl the target had used as a shield was being led away by another officer. She was in danger, that’s what he told himself. When he’d opened the car door and she’d broke free, he had to shoot. The robber would have shot her otherwise.

He turned, sat down and willed his shaking hands to remove the bullet clip.



~ fin ~

Charlie Wade was born in 1971 and lives on the edge of the Peak District in Derbyshire.  He’s written three novels, his most recent - Seven Daze - was published by Caffeine Nights in June 2013. Most of his short stories have appeared online in the usual places and also in print, including Out of the Gutter issue 7 and the ‘Off the Record’ and ‘True Brit Grit’ Anthologies.