It's late at night and I'm extremely tired. But when a baby cries, you have to check up on them. Right now he is crying. I can hear his screams through the baby monitor on my nightstand. Reaching out, I grab the receiver and press the button to see the video feed. Now I can see him flailing around in his crib, an upset look on his face. There's no chance he will be going back to sleep.
Sitting up in bed, I fling my feet over the edge and stand up. A quick stretch and I head to the kitchen to prepare a bottle. His cries echo through the dark and lonely house. My wife is not home tonight. She's been working hard lately and taking care of our son. I told her to go out with her friends tonight and get a drink. I guess she had a few too many and ended up staying at her friend's house for the night. It's fine. I think she deserves it.
As I shake up the bottle, my son screams louder. It's almost like he can hear the bottle being made. Or maybe he senses it. Who can say? Either way, I want to quiet him down and get back to sleep. Taking care of a child by yourself is tough work. I find myself thinking about single parents and can only commend them.
Heading back towards his room, I crack open the door and slip in. It's pretty dark in here but my eyes adjust fairly quickly. There he is. There's my beautiful boy writhing around in his crib. I find it funny when he gets so angry for a bottle. He acts like someone is trying to suffocate him. But the noise is piercing and I want it to end.
Scooping up my son, I stick the bottle in his mouth and try to shush him quietly and affectionately. Carrying him carefully to my bedroom, I prop myself up in the bed and watch television while he snacks. I don't dare look at the alarm clock on my nightstand. I really don't want to know how late it is.
He begins to slow down and his eyes shut. I know he's getting ready to go back to sleep but I must burp him first. This is the part I hate. Not because I'm afraid to hurt him but because I know it will wake him.
He begins to fuss again and I put the bottle back in his mouth. As I do, a familiar noise comes from the baby monitor. At first I'm confused but then the hair on the back of my neck stands up. I can see the image of my child's room on the monitor. There is no one in there. Yet somehow, there is a cry coming from the monitor. A cry that sounds exactly like my son's. I look down at my baby but he is sucking away at his bottle without a care in the world. I am unsure of what is waiting for us back in that room.
Standing in the clearing, I stared down the scope of my rifle. The familiar shake of adrenaline pumped through my veins but I took a deep breath to control it. With my hands more stable, I scanned the area for my target.
Everything seemed clear, but everything is not always as it seems. From my hiding spot in the treeline, I decide to continue to wait. Patience has always been my greatest attribute. I could wait here for hours. Days maybe. But I knew I wouldn't have to.
Right on cue, something stepped into the clearing and looked around. I would have to wait for a clean shot. It wouldn't take long. My target does not have the training I have. It would all be over soon.
My target advanced to the center of the clearing. My sights were clear and the cross hairs of my scope aimed square on his chest. I could probably take him down from here, but I felt cocky. I would let him get further. I would let him get closer. He would feel safe in this clearing. The adrenaline was back. Watching my target and knowing he was unaware of me made me feel so alive.
My finger danced on the trigger, itching to give it a pull but my pride would not let me. I wanted to push everything to the edge. I wanted to live there. My target would never see it coming.
He stepped closer and my heart thumped faster. Sweat streaked down my face and into my eyes but I ignored the burn. I could only focus on the vacant look on my target's face. He was clueless to the fact he was being watched. He had no idea his demise was only a few yards away from him. Just a few more steps and his fate would be sealed. I would be the victor.
The suspense was too much. I couldn't take it anymore. I had to take my shot. He was close enough now to feed my ego. I had watched him long enough. Taking in a deep breath, I stared down the scope yet again and placed the cross hairs on his center mass. Pulling the trigger several times, I watched as the spray of red covered his chest and bled to the grass below.
My target dropped to his knees in surprise and let out a yell of pain. "Jesus Christ, Brad, that's going to bruise."
I laughed as I popped up from my hiding spot.
"Did you have to hit me so many times?"
"Yes I did."
I laughed again and slung my paintball gun around my back. Once again, I was the victor.
Evan Bond, author of To the Wolves and Death Can Wait, is a thriller/suspense author. When not writing, he can be found hiking or camping in the beautiful state of Florida.