As many of you know, when the stars and my mood align, I write a little fiction. About serial killers mostly. And now that I’ve got all this free time on my hands (note sarcasm font), I’ve been messing around with my most recent manuscript a little.
I pretty much never let anyone read what I write, but for some reason I’ve been feeling the urge to introduce you all to Deacon Hale, the badass hero of this particular tale. I might be shy, but he’s not. So… here he is, in the form of an excerpt from my novel.
By the time Deacon Hale spotted Tanya Harris, she was already dead. She just didn’t know it yet.
Deacon’s breathing was deep and even, his heartbeat a steady rhythm in his chest. He lay still, watching his target through the scope of his silenced Heckler and Koch PSG-1 rifle.
Deacon was positioned directly across the wide clearing from Tanya, his big body sprawled in the mix of damp leaves and late fall moss that covered the forest floor. The total distance between them was less than the length of two football fields. Maybe two hundred yards. The H&K was accurate up to six.
The rifle’s scope wasn’t equipped with night vision, but the moon was so bright that the trees cast long shadows on the ground in front of him. At this distance it was as good as shooting in full daylight. Not the easiest shot he’d ever taken, but damn close.
Deacon watched Tanya move forward, her image unnaturally large in the extreme magnification of his scope. She moved in a smooth rhythm, pausing every few feet and canting her head slightly to the left, scanning her surroundings.
The clearing was a ragged man-made circle that the forest had started to reclaim. At this distance, the black bag slung over her shoulder looked identical to the one open on the ground next to Deacon.
She was choosing a vantage point to set up her shot.
She moved with an ease that spoke of intensive training and years of repetitive use. Deacon planned to use that repetition to kill her. As he watched, she stopped moving, finding an angle that she liked. Deacon watched her drop into a crouch and gently lower her bag to the ground. She unzipped it and started assembling her equipment.
The moonlight glinted along the familiar, stainless steel barrel of her Accuracy International AWSM. The AWSM was a bolt-action sniper rifle designed by a British firm. Some would rank it among the top sniper rifles in the world. It wasn’t Deacon’s favorite, but he’d never missed with one either.
Which brought him to Tanya Harris’ first mistake. She’d assumed that she was better at killing people than he was. She should have run when she found out he was coming for her. But experience and repetition—winning again and again—had smothered the primal instinct for survival that should have warned her to back away from this particular fight, from this particular opponent.
After all, she’d faced men like him before and always walked away. CIA operatives. Arms dealers. Religious fanatics. She’d worked for, double crossed, and eliminated them all. All for exorbitant prices and without any serious injuries.
That was about to change. Deacon figured there were better operatives out there, but he liked to think he got the job done. And the moment he’d decided to eliminate Tanya Harris from the face of the earth, her time had started to run out.
Across the clearing Tanya sighted in her rifle, shifting from side to side as she settled her body into the position it would hold for as long as it took for her prey to arrive. Eventually her black-clad figure stilled. She was good. If he hadn’t watched her pick that spot, he might have missed her on a scan of the tree line.
Deacon adjusted his aim, taking into account the slight wind blowing across the clearing and the distance separating them. When he was positive that he had the shot, he moved his finger gently back until it rested against the trigger. It would take three pounds of pressure to fire the rifle. Less than the average person used to press an elevator button.
He let his finger rest more fully against the trigger and watched her through his scope. The familiar smooth curve of her dark brow. The faint scar that slashed across her left cheek. The anticipatory gleam in her pale blue eyes.
Deacon cursed silently as a slow swell of adrenaline rolled through him at that look. He held himself absolutely still and waited for it to pass. Rage was not a useful emotion at the moment. To distract himself, he intentionally shifted his focus back to his mental list of the woman’s mistakes.
She might have survived her faulty assumption that she could survive a confrontation with him. If it was the only assumption she’d made. But she’d made a second one. And it had pulled the linchpin out of the grenade. She’d assumed that no person could sustain three deep punctures to the neck—almost having their head severed from their body—and survive.
Of the two, it was the more reasonable assumption. She’d been an assassin for almost a decade and never seen one person survive her signature triple punch to the neck.
But Deacon had.
He’d seen it twice, actually.