The Hunted – Vinny – Medium
“We have a mission to complete” shouted the Company Commander. He wore battle fatigues. He had taken charge of the Alpha Company recently on promotion to the rank of Major. “I want the enemy sniper taken out by sundown.” The order reached the sniper without further delay.
The sniper from Alpha Company aimed his rifle towards enemy territory. He looked through the powerful telescopic sight attached to his rifle. The valley was covered in snow. The terrain was unique. It was both beautiful and treacherous at the same time. There was no sign of the dreaded enemy sniper. He had a nick name for enemy sniper. “Joker” seemed appropriate. He liked to think of himself as “Batman”. Joker had already killed two of his buddies. The morale of the company had taken a severe hit. The battalion’s advance had come to a grinding halt.
Batman had steady hands and a calm demeanour. He took pride in his aim. His bullets seldom missed the target. “Shoot to kill” he remembered his training. Sniper duties tested patience. He lay absolutely still, eyes fixed on his telescope. His eyeballs were on the prowl. His inner calm paralleled the monks who inhabited the valley. He methodically scanned the valley ahead. Death lurked out there. There was still no sign of Joker.
Empty mind is a devil’s den. He thought of his son. He attended primary school. Instinctively, he took out his son’s photograph from his chest pocket. He gazed at the young innocent face. He missed his son. “Papa…I prayed that you don’t go this time.” his son had said during dinner. Batman had to sneak out of the house in the middle of the night. His wife stood at the doorway watching him board the military truck. His son was fast asleep. He remembered a quote from son’s textbook “Patriotism is a virtue of the weak”. The quote by Oscar Wilde had stayed with him for some time now. He wondered about the futility of war. His last bullet had hit the enemy between the eyes. He remembered his hands shake after the fact. He immediately brushed the thought aside. This was no time for poetry or self-doubt. He stuck his son’s photograph on the stone by his side. He eyes were back on the prowl. Still no sign of Joker. “Where was he hiding?” Batman wondered.
Joker’s index finger wrapped itself around the trigger. He shifted his telescopic crosshair from sniper’s head to the photograph. The innocent face of a child stared at him. It weakened his resolve. Humanity was raising its ugly head. The innocent smile disarmed him in a mysterious way. He tried to fight it. His mind was in a turmoil. He debated for a while. His heart raced as he shifted the telescopic crossbar back to the sniper. Joker saw Batman’s eyes staring at him. The valley echoed with the sound of a single sniper rifle gunshot. The radio crackled. A calm voice responded, “Mission accomplished.” The hands that held the radio shook like a leaf.