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The Cleaner

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When you kill a man, you take away everything they have, and everything they will ever have. It’s a big responsibility. It’s not something I enjoy, but it’s the only thing I’m good at. I don’t just go around killing people for fun. I work for my government, I’m a cleaner. Well, that’s what they euphemistically call me. I was recruited after I left the army. My job prospects were poor and my employment somewhat intermittent. Plenty of people leave the army with useful qualifications. I was trained as a sniper, not much call for that in civilian life.

We all need a job and money to live on. I never did do well at school, so my options were always going to be limited. The army is very good at finding a person’s true potential, mine was killing people. It’s not a boast when I say I’m good at it, it’s just the way it is. I was the ideal candidate. Being a solitary person by nature, I like to work alone. When people think about government hitmen, they usually think of someone like James Bond. I can assure you that what I do, and the way I do it is as far removed from what you see in the movies as it’s possible to get.

I don’t wear fancy clothes or drive an exotic sports car. Blending in is what’s important in my line of work. I could probably walk past you a hundred times, and you’d never notice me. Why would you? I’m just an ordinary man going about my business. It has to be that way. Sometimes I need to shadow my target for days, or even weeks, just waiting for the right opportunity. Using a rifle is not always the best choice. In fact, I rarely use it at all. Sometimes a simple accident or street robbery gone wrong is all that is needed. It all depends on how much time I’m given. For my last target, it was a rifle. My choices were limited as he was leaving the country the following day.

This was a rush job, and I don’t like rush jobs. Too many things could go wrong. For a start, I was given an unfamiliar weapon. It was a Russian Lobaev, DLX-5 Ranger. Commonly referred to as a Havoc. A very good and capable weapon by all accounts, but not what I would have chosen. Unfortunately, this had to have the appearance of a Russian hit. There’s not a lot one can do at a time like this, just accept the situation and get on with it. I received my orders quite late in the day. In fact, I was just about to start dinner.

The target would be arriving at a house in a fairly remote countryside location, sometime around 10 PM. The maps I was supplied, were very detailed. The house was set back from the road at a slight elevation. The closest I could safely get was two hundred and twenty yards. Unlike what you see in the movies, a headshot from that distance would be too risky. The target would be exiting a vehicle and walking the short distance to the house. If the first shot missed, he would have enough time to seek cover before I could reload. Fortunately, the DLX-5 fired armour piercing bullets. Not even a bulletproof vest could stop one of those.

My instructions were to wear a blue jacket and a cloth cap. There is a small supermarket about ten miles from the target. I was to park my car in the car park, go in and purchase enough food for three days. A man of similar appearance to me would drop the keys of his car into my shopping basket. I would do the same for him. This was our usual protocol for switching cars. The sat-nav in his car, a Range Rover, was set to my next location, a safe house three miles from the target. It was a small farmhouse set well back off the main road. From there, it was just over one mile by foot across farmland to the target.      

In the rear of the supplied vehicle was the rifle, five rounds of ammunition, and some warm waterproof clothing. It was now seven PM. As is usual in these circumstances, the rifle was fully assembled and with the sight already attached. It came with a canvas cover that resembled the type used to carry fishing rods. A nearby lake and river would be a good excuse in the unlikely event I was challenged. Being early is always better than being late and rushing. After making a flask of warm sweet tea and a cheese sandwich, I sat in the dark for a while to get my eyes used to the conditions.

Making my way to the firing location took about forty minutes. It was a cold winter's night, and the lack of a full moon did me no favours. Once I arrived, I found a good spot to set things up. A shallow ditch gave good cover and a small bush proved to be an excellent rest for the rifle. Having missed my dinner, I settled down with a cup of tea and a sandwich, it was now eight-thirty. A small amount of freezing water flowed through the base of the ditch. There was nothing I could do about it, the target could arrive early. It would be just my luck to see the target arrive as I was stretching my legs. As you can see, it’s nothing like the glamour depicted in the movies.

Time really drags when you are waiting in the cold and dark. It’s all too easy to lose concentration and focus. All you can do is wait, and wait some more. It was close to ten when I saw the vehicle arrive. As it pulled up to the house, some of those automatic security lights came on. I was all set to go as I clicked the safety off and took up first pressure on the trigger. One minor adjustment to the focus and I could clearly see a rather large man exit the vehicle from the driver’s side. He then walked around the front of the vehicle and opened the rear passenger's door. That was the first time I caught sight of my target.

A shudder went down my spine as he appeared to be looking straight at me. He couldn’t see me, of course; I was in a ditch two-hundred and twenty yards away, at night. I quickly composed myself and took the shot. The muzzle velocity of the DLX-5 is close to five thousand feet per second. I was only six-hundred and sixty feet away. The impact was almost instant. The force was so great that it tore a large piece of his upper body away. As the bullet passed through him, it struck the wall of the house, creating a large cloud of orange brick dust. His driver panicked and threw himself down behind the vehicle. All I could think of was how well the rifle performed.

I suppose my lack of empathy must come as quite a shock. I can’t explain it really, for me, it’s just a job. My target must have done something very wrong for my government to wish him dead. That’s not for me to decide. Like everyone else in life, I have a job to do. I like to think I do it well. There are plenty of people out there who want to take away or disrupt our way of life. It falls upon my government to identify these people; it’s my job to do the cleaning. If my little efforts allow people to sleep safer in their beds at night, I’m happy.

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Written by Brad_Naylor
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