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Chapter LXI

“Frankie, listen to me. You have to pull the trigger.”

Frankie was silent. The rifle rested at his shoulder, just like he had practiced. He had D sighted, the slender cross-hairs pointing to spot just over her right eye. There was a slight Eastern wind which would pull the rifle to the left. He made his calibrations and rested his finger on the trigger. Perhaps a dozen men who could make this shot. He was one of them.

“This is the way it has to be, Frankie,” Marcus said. Was that nerves in his voice, or genuine terror. “If she doesn’t die, then The Master will just go on. We get this one chance and that’s it.”

In the scope, D was going through a strange contortion. Her body shuddered and she threw her head backwards as she rose first to her feet and then straight up into the air, suspended a full foot above the ground. When he had her reacquired, she was looking right at him. This was impossible, but it was plainly and obviously true. The girl knew where they were.

“Why do we need to kill this man? Because D wants us to? What authority does she have?”

“Of for Chrissakes, Frankie! You saw what this man built in Antarctica. You saw the people he brought together for the AC’s. You fought the man’s snakes! He has to die.”

Dust began to blow away from D’s prostrate body. Not as if a wind had kicked up from some particular direction but more like some force was driving the sediment away from her.

Shield saw the turn of events and punched the dirt next to Frankie head.

“Fire!” he screamed. “Frankie, you have to take the shot!”

Frankie returned the cross-hairs to her right eye and made the adjustments. Around the witch, streamers of dust were beginning to whip up. There was something nasty coming their way. Oh hell, he thought to himself, she knew where they were. She’d stop his bullet before it’d even reach her. It was too late.

The sight wobbled and he touched the trigger. D was looking at him, her eyes locked with his. They looked normal now. Her lips pursed, pronounced a word, ‘do it.’

The rifle bucked in his hands and D’s head came apart in a jagged red splatter. Her body fell lengthwise.

“Oh my God!” Frankie said. Shield was clapping his shoulder and telling him what a fine shot he had made.

“Oh my God,” he said again, now more softly.

Frankie didn’t blame the mission leader for what he said. He was glad to be alive. Anyone would be after this long nightmare.

Frankie picked himself up and stumbled away from the mound of dust he had fired from. It was nearly dawn, a fresh pink haze was spreading over the mountains to the East.

“What have I done?”

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