"Aim your sight!" Abasi Jabari snapped at the boy beside him.

Raphael Jabari raised the rifle up to his shoulder and peered down the sight at a massive moose. Sunlight revealed the sweat trickling down his bronze temple. He smeared his spare wrist beneath his thatch of black hair and squeezed his eyes shut in a determined blink. He wrapped a trembling index finger around the trigger. He swallowed deeply.

"Can't do it," he dropped his arms.

"You will do it," Abasi snarled in his ear, breath burning against his skin. "You are going to shoot that moose and skin him and gut him. And you will do it now."

Raphael swallowed again and raised the rifle to his shoulder. He squinted a sky blue eye to peer through the sight at the bull meandering over a field outside the woods. He steadied his breaths and counted to one, two, three –


Raphael aimed his sniper rifle a decade later at another man charging after the soldiers in his unit with an automatic.


The man dropped. Raphael raised his eyes and surveyed the desert beneath his perch. No sign that any more enemies were around. He disappeared behind the ledge to disassemble his setup. Another week meant the end of his deployment.

And that meant disappearing into a void.

His mother died back in Egypt. His father died two months ago. There was no employment in sight.

He strapped his rife across his back and started toward the other soldiers.