Chapter One - Dogs

About nine years since I took up this work.

Starting to wonder how much sicker my heart can get.

The cold heel of my boot digs into a cranny in the rock and the rifle rests on the tall, long stones in front of me; I have a good mile of firing range from up here, and can see the old, makeshift oil rig at work, with men and little children surrounding it, hollering, passing buckets of the ominous black gold to each other, packing the stuff away in their trucks to keep the loads warm.

My finger touches against the trigger and I wonder whatever in hell got to my head. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to know that coffee is the last thing you need before a mission like this. Jesus Christ, I wish I didn't have a life like this.

Pay's not the issue. Huh, most times the money ends up in my pockets even if I find myself sitting quietly for the six-hour shift, with a full mag. But then there are the times where the rounds leave the damned clip. And when they shell out to me, those damn government contractors; two hundred for every hour I waited for a target, plus a potential hundred for each kill-shot as bonus; the cash looks evil. This business, it makes you realize the savagery behind this. All of this. Human lives, starving people, desperate people; the value of their lives can be comprehended in terms of cold hard blood money.

But I'm not supposed to worry about it, they say; "You're not the enemy, Eva." Well...I have my doubts. But what can you do, you know? Funny thing about power; it keeps you in the system. I have my doubts. But the money always talks. You can buy out righteous men with money. Money is power. And they're offering me a slice of it.

I sigh, and the steam flutters in the wind, and disappears. Christ, this world. We're animals, we are. Dogs. The scope of the rifle comes to my eye and in the cold fog I can see the crouching figures of five armed strangers; Hm. They're moving slowly towards the rig. The workers there don't spot the approaching trouble.

Five targets...Mm...Scavengers, I think...Quieter than other brigands. They don't usually go for the oil; primarily the workers. They need food. Supplies. Tools. They get in and get out. Oil, money and government's not their business. I respect that. But the money still talks, it's all in my head. My finger meets with the trigger firmly; my lips shut tight as I hold my breath silently; a silhouette falls inside the dark cross-hairs.

"I'm sorry...I'm so, so sorry..."

The shot rings brutally through the heavy air.