Friday, August 24, 2007

Twenty Six

Diana’s hiding place was a tumbledown shack at the side of the road.

In the semi-darkness, she paced the dusty room, then went to the window and looked out. The sun was rising and from this low hill she had a clear line of sight down the road to town, but there was still no sign of Strecker.

A movement in the rubble across the way caught her attention. She signaled with her flashlight and smiled when Will signaled in return, but resisted the temptation to invent silly new signals like she would have only a year ago.

She sat on a crate and returned her gaze to the road, letting her thoughts drift. This was the morning she had waited for nearly half her life. The boys had promised her the first shot. But as she searched her feelings, she was surprised to find neither happiness nor nervous excitement, but only a vague sadness that it had come to this. She took a sip of water from her canteen, checked her rifles again, then stood and stretched her arms overhead.

How long did it take to buy flowers? Strecker hadn't changed his plans, had he? No, Coyote would've known something. She resisted the urge to go to the side door and signal to him. If he sensed something important, he would find a way to tell her. Diana sat in the window again, resting her cheek against the sill. The road glowed faintly pink as the sky lightened. Somewhere nearby, a bird warbled a few hesitant notes.

Now Diana noticed a movement on the horizon. She sat up, every sense alert. The shape grew and resolved into a cluster. She flashed Will a signal, but paid no mind to his answer because the group of horsemen was growing larger fast, and she realized with surprise there were more than they had anticipated. Coyote was never wrong. Could these be the men they wanted?

She flashed another signal to Will and looked again. Two lead men. One man behind, flanked by two more. And behind them, four others. She frowned. It certainly looked like the group they were after, except for the size of the guard contingent. They passed behind an old wall at a curve in the road and Diana paced in frustration as she waited for them to reappear.

After what seemed like forever, they came around the bend, and now Diana understood. The two men in front and the two flanking Strecker were indeed his guards, wearing black. The ones behind were of some other affiliation, wearing uniforms she didn't recognize. Coyote had been right, after all. He had merely asked “them” the wrong questions.

She flashed Will a final signal and settled in to wait.

The group grew larger. She picked up one of her rifles and knelt out of sight from the road, watching through the scope as the men approached. Her hands were dry and didn't tremble as she rested her finger on the trigger. Her mind was as calm as if she were settling in for a nap on a summer afternoon. How could she feel so empty? Had death become so routine she no longer felt anything?

They were almost to her hill now, almost under her window. The men were relaxed, enjoying the cool spring morning. Strecker smiled at something one of his men said, then turned his attention back to the road. His bearing was straight and proud, his hair blazing in the morning sunlight. He carried a bouquet of spring roses for Jacinta.

Diana got him in her sights and pulled the trigger.


Palm Springs Savant said...

you know I actually decided to read through your blog and get caught on over the past week INSTEAD of finishing my Harry Potter book. Kudos for more fine work!

Alice Audrey said...

I wondered how she would feel at the actual moment.