How It Really Happened

How It Really Happened

Darkness pressed close, thick and heavy, like a cloak, like a blanket. Like a lover's embrace. Calm, steady, unbroken. A constant companion, familiar and, at the same time, strange. Where were the other signs of life; the shuffling of feet, the buzz of barely contained electricity? There was nothing to mark the passage of time, save only the steady beating of his heart.

One. Ba dum. Two. Ba dum.

A breath. He drew air deep into his lungs, letting it fill his chest. He exhaled slowly, silently.

This was what it meant to be alone.

He shifted his legs, lifting first one, then the other, before settling back down. Muscles, stiff from disuse, protested. He ignored the slight pain, concentrating on other things. He slid his hand over the cool metal beside him, checking the position of the rifle one more time before resting a finger next to the trigger, ready to twitch at a moment's notice, held carefully still until that moment came.

A sudden, sharp pin-prick of light burned the eye gazing through the sight. Even a dim, faraway light seemed bright as the morning sun after the heavy black darkness. As figures came into sight he carefully aligned the red hash marks until they rested in the center of a single head. There was a crackle close to his ear, shattering the stillness.

So much for solitude.

“Are you in position Lieutenant?” The voice was so soft, he wouldn't have caught it if the radio receiver hadn't been shoved so far into his ear.

“Affirmative,” was his ghost of a response. As if I haven't been here for the last two hours...

“Can you confirm target?”

“Confirmed. Target in sight.”

“Excellent Lieutenant. Fire when ready.”

The muscles in his trigger finger itched, aching to make the tiny movement that would end this long, boring stint in this tiny, dark place. His heartbeat marked the moments. One. Ba dum. Two. Ba dum. Three...

The muscles in his hand eased. “You know...” he barely dared to breathe the words.


“I have some serious problems with this mission.”

“Excuse me?” The ghost voice in his ear sounded surprised.

“Quite a prominent figure... as loved as he is hated... a family man, you know, he's got kids.”

“Sir?” Concern crept into the voice, tingeing it with alarm.

“I'm just not sure I want that kind of blood all over my hands, Sergeant.”

There was a distinct pause on the other end of the crackling line. For several long seconds, static was his only companion. When it returned, the voice was coloured with confusion. “You're just following orders, sir. No reason to feel guilty over that, is there?”

“I'm not so sure.” He could sense the sergeant's rising panic. He's wondering if my moral crisis puts the mission in jeopardy. He waited just long enough to let that fear sink in. It would make the sergeant easily malleable. That was what he wanted. Before the man could start some philosophical discussion on the duty of military officers, he swept on, “You see... Gay men aren't allowed to serve in the military.”

“Lieutenant?!” The voice was so high pitched this time, it almost hurt his ears. The voice cracked halfway through the single word and his lips curled into a smirk. It's a shame there's no one here to see it.

“And I'm super gay-”

“What are you-”

“So, you see, as soon as I'm finished shooting this guy-”

“...cannot seriously be having this discussion at a time like-”

“I won't be part of the military any more. And then there's just blood all over my hands.”

Silence. A long breath. Two. A flutter of his heart. Had he let the fear take a deep enough hold? Had he overestimated the mission's importance? Is the life, or death, of this one man so important, so monumental-

“What do you want, Lieutenant?” The voice's pitch was lower now. Tired. Resigned.

The grin returned. Victory. He must have spent that brief pause speaking to his superiors. Excellent. This is going exactly the way I expected. “Nothing all that extravagant. Nothing more than my rights as an American citizen. The right to serve in the military now that you know that I'm gay. The right to continue serving my country without having to hide my big, terrible secret. What any gay soldier would want, Sergeant. What every gay soldier wants.”

The voice was incredulous now. “You know what that would take! An emergency session of Congress-”

“I'm not going anywhere.”

“It could take hours!”

“Better get started. Intelligence says this is going to be a long meeting... ain't gunna last all day though.”

The steady crackle of the radio indicated the man on the other end had no response. Perhaps he's gone off to do what I asked, or try at the very least. He felt a momentary stab of guilt. He believed in what he was doing here, in the importance of bringing the man caught firmly in the cross hairs of his gun sight to death to save hundreds of thousands of innocent people. But opportunities like this were one in a million. One in a billion! And didn't the hundreds of other men and women in his position deserve this right, which had withheld for far too long?

Time passed slowly. Excruciatingly slow. His only companions were the press of the darkness, the solid mass of his gun, the steady static in his ear. There were muffled voices in the distance, where his target conversed with his fellows, unaware of the bullet waiting to pierce his skull. Unaware of the man with the stiff muscles longing to get back to the fresh air, to stretch and walk again. With nothing to measure the time, he lost track of it. He couldn't count so many seconds, wouldn't have wanted to try. It must have been hours; it felt like days. A week passed. A month. Could it possibly take so long to offer a simple answer?

“Alright Lorcasf, enough is enough. Complete your mission and get back here so I can tan your hide.”

He recognized the voice. How a quiet voice could be so forceful, he couldn't guess. It took real effort not to chuckle. Ah Major Harquail. Pulled out the big guns, did they?

“It's nice to hear from you again too, sir,” Domerin replied, realizing he'd never get away with something like this if he wasn't separated from the other man by several thousand miles and the desperate need for absolute quiet.

“Cut the shit, Lorcasf. Pull the damn trigger.”

“I'd love to sir. But I just couldn't live with the consequences.”

“The consequences are, if you don't pull that god damned trigger right now, I'm going to have you court-martialed the second you drag your sorry ass out of that hole!”

“I'm sorry to disappoint you sir, but you just won't be able to do that.”

“Excuse me, Lieutenant?” Major Harquail practically spat the rank. There was a dangerous, hard edge to his voice.

“It's just that I would have to be in the military for you to court-martial me. And seeing as how I'm terribly gay, I'm going to be expelled from the military as soon as I'm done shooting this man. So you can see sir, really, what both of our problems are.”

Major Harquail sputtered. Domerin was pretty sure rage prevented his words from fully forming. The major continued to sputter for several seconds. Domerin noted with some amusement that his voice went from enraged to flustered before it, too, finally disappeared, leaving him alone with the static once more.

Domerin Lorcasf was not known for his patience. He had a short attention span. He was spontaneous at his best. It wasn’t unheard of for him to abandon something he'd spent hours working on when boredom suddenly set in. If he were asked to define torture, this is how he would have defined it. Endless hours of nothing but staring through the sight of his sniper rifle, the red hash marks burned into his retinas. The muffled voices of the men in the room beyond were like white noise. He couldn't catch their words. He didn't care what they were discussing anyway.

He had reason to regret his actions. His muscles burned for movement. If only he had a long, pointed stick, he might have poked himself behind the eyes simply so that something would happen other than the steady crackle of static on his radio.

He should have known better, to be careful for what he wished. Something happened, something completely unexpected. And not what he wanted to happen. The steady structure of the conversation dissolved. It turned into noise. The noise of a crowd breaking up. His target rose to his feet, suddenly jerking his head out of the carefully positioned sight.

For a moment, time froze. What the hell did he do now? There was no choice to make. He had to take the shot. That was what he came here for. But if he spoke, or fired, or did anything other than breathe, they would hear it on the other end of the radio. His only bargaining chip would be washed down the drain. And after this I'll never be in a position to get another one...

Time came unhinged and began moving again. Not slowly. At full speed. Domerin acted without thought, without hesitation. He reached up and clicked off the radio. Silence filled his ears, so oddly loud it made his ears ring. Now he truly was alone in the darkness.

His hand gripped the cold steel of the gun and the red hash lines moved across his field of vision, a blur of tiny red flies. Then he saw the familiar forehead marked between them again. Energy flowed from his fingers like water down an unblocked stream. Warmth blossomed beside him. Light came with it, so bright in the darkness it was like a sun burning between his fingertips. He was careful, oh so careful, to hold that energy in check. He didn't need much. Just enough to ensure a quick kill. It didn't take many volts of electricity to kill when they were applied directly to the brain...

And then his finger finally twitched against the trigger.

It was over in a matter of seconds. The golden blur flew through the room. One moment he was a man, living and breathing. The next moment the electrified bullet pierced his skull and he ceased to be a man, no longer living, never again to breathe.

Chaos erupted inside the room. Shouts and screams reached his ears. Eyes darted everywhere looking for the source of the sudden, unexpected death. Fear gripped the hearts of others. Who would be next?

With an ease born only of long practice, Domerin disassembled the gun and packed it into the small case he used to carry it. He dared not leave it behind. Someday, someone would find this tiny hiding hole, and his particular talents did not allow him to wear gloves and still make use of his abilities. He dared not leave the gun with its incriminating fingerprints behind.

Then he crawled like a child, slithered like a snake through the dark places, with only his memory of how he'd gotten there to guide him out. He had to be quick. It wasn't hard to determine which direction the shot came from, and he didn't want to be there if someone took it into their head to pry walls open. Through tiny, tight tunnels he pulled himself until the voices faded away. When chaos and death were far behind, he breathed a sigh of relief.

He reached a larger room, halfway between his hiding place and his precious exit, and pulled himself into a sitting position for the first time in hours. He rested, willed his racing heart to calm, and filled his aching lungs with air. One would have thought he'd run a marathon. The rush of adrenaline which accompanied the pulling of the trigger took as much from him as any fist fight, any flight from the enemy. There he waited, until he was certain he could safely make his escape without the panicked crowd in the meeting room locating him.

It was then, in the silence filled with only his panting, he remembered his radio.

Surely they must have noticed his absence. Surely they had demanded an update, demanded he pull the trigger, tried to speak with him and realized he was no longer listening. Had he spoiled his gambit even though he managed to mask the sound of the gunshot? Slowly, heart pounding in his chest, he flipped the small switch and the familiar, friendly crackle returned to his ears. A moment passed. He held his breath. No voices came. He breathed out. A small eternity. Silence.

He opened his mouth to ask if there was any news when a sigh came across the line. Domerin clenched his jaw, certain he had imagined it, but then the familiar voice of Major Harquail reached his ears. This time it seemed tired, defeated.

“Alright Lorcasf. We have what you wanted. The bill is signed. It'll be all over the evening news in a few hours. Now eliminate-”

“Confirm target is destroyed, sir,” Domerin interrupted before the major finished his order. That sardonic grin came back to his lips. Relief flooded him, so full and so heady he thought it might carry him away. Could you get drunk on a feeling? He'd never felt like this before. He had challenged the system and he'd gotten away with it?

There was a pause on the other end of the line and then the Major's voice returned, surprised. “What? Lieutenant, are you telling me you put me through all this bullshit after you shot the bastard?!”

“Of course not, sir. You'd have called my bluff in two seconds.” After all, it was hard to pull something past a man like Major Harquail. “The meeting started to break up. I shot him about five minutes ago, sir. Mission objective complete.”

In the silence that followed, Domerin wondered what the other man was thinking. Did they realize he never really would have put the mission in danger? Would it save him if they did? Should he say something more, or had he crossed too many lines already?

“Very good Lieutenant,” came the answer finally, the tone completely unreadable. Domerin took that as a good sign and allowed himself a quiet breath of relief. “Pack it in and get your ass back to the rendezvous point.”

“Aye aye, Sir.”

Half an hour later Lieutenant Domerin Lorcasf's arms appeared out of a small, inconspicuous hole in a nearby wall, which was flanked by two soldiers. A familiar grip closed around his wrists and pulled him through the tiny opening, out into the light of day. It never felt so good to stand up, and the first thing the dusky-skinned soldier did was stretch his arms and legs until they felt as if they would pop out of their sockets.

“What took you so damn long, Lorcasf?” The gruff voice, which belonged to the grip that helped him from his dark hiding place, demanded as he lifted a cigarette lighter to the cigarette between his lips.

Domerin grinned, chuckled and held out his hand expectantly. The cigarette lighter fell into his palm when the grizzled, older officer finished with it, and Domerin eagerly tore through his pockets until he found a pack of his own cigarettes, lifting one to his lips. The sun was bright after too many hours spent holed up in darkness and he had to pause long enough to retrieve a pair of sunglasses before he could enjoy his smoke. “Oh you know, Captain,” he said with a shrug as he took the first drag from his cigarette. “Repealing an outdated, ridiculous law. Nothing I'm not sure you couldn't have done faster.”

His white haired captain grunted, then ordered the rest of the soldiers to pack up their equipment as he led the Lieutenant to the jeep that would carry them back to their home base. “You're lucky I didn't crawl in there and skin you myself, Lorcasf.”

Domerin's response was another grin. There weren't many men who would have responded to a superior officer the way he did. Then again, there weren't many superior officers he responded to in this manner. It helped to know exactly how much he could get away with. “Frankly, Old Man, I'm surprised they didn't get you on my case.” And he was relieved. He'd known he'd be able to stand up to anyone they could throw at him, but there was one man in the universe he never would have been able to argue with. His plan would have gone nowhere if Captain Gregory Barrow had demanded over the radio he get the damn job done.

The grey haired captain cast a sharp glance over his shoulder and it brought Domerin up short. There was something in the older man's glance that only a good friend could catch. All he said was, “They did.” After a short pause, during which Domerin's jaw fell open in surprise, he added, “But my radio just happened to be malfunctioning at the time.”

For a moment, Domerin stood staring at his superior officer, stunned and touched in his own way. He wasn't so foolish he couldn't read between the lines of what the older man said. Then the moment passed and he grinned, shook his head and chuckled. “I'm just lucky you're on my side, Old Man.”

“Just don't pull a stunt like that again, Lorcasf, or I'll break your backside.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.