In The Still Of The Night

A black car in a city scene Pic: Rex/Shutterstock

A Quick Twist In The Tale just for you…

No-one ever expected him; he was a consummate professional and always took his victims by surprise…

Author Rob Nisbet

His car is black, deliberately non-descript, nothing to make it stand out or attract the attention of any passerby. It draws-up slowly as he carefully checks the house numbers. He had driven along this street earlier in the day, wanting to get the lie of the land in daylight. Everything shifts a shade into uncertainty in the darkness of evening.

He is early, so he turns off the headlights and sits for a while, quiet and still. His breathing is the only sound, though he imagines the nervous pounding of his heart can be heard up and down the unfamiliar street. He checks the time on his phone. There is a light on in the front of number twenty-seven – as he had been told there would be – but the curtains are drawn. Good. He doesn’t want anybody passing by to see. No witnesses.

A couple walk along the pavement from behind. He watches them in his side mirror until they pass, then he pulls a photograph from an envelope. In the ailing orange glow of a lamp post, he stares at the smiling face of the woman, fixing her features in his mind, there must be no mistake. All he knows is that she is the PR to one of Britain’s top celebrities. Even this is more than he is usually told. A responsible job, he thinks. Arranging clandestine meetings, keeping secrets. He wonders what tales she could tell.

He checks the mirrors again and from the slim case on the passenger seat he assembles his rifle. In the silent car, the barrel clicks loudly into the polished wooden stock and is secured. Nobody has heard. The sights align and the trigger guard is engaged. On cue, his phone alarm beeps, his stomach spasms.

It’s always the same. He had spent the afternoon on the treadmill, but he knew it was apprehension rather than sit-ups that caused his insides to churn. No matter how many assignments he was given, he knew this was something he would never get used to.

Thankfully the road is quiet. He slips discreetly from the car. Even if he were seen from a neighbour’s window he knows he would not be recognised. He never accepts an assignment where he might be known.

♦    ♦    ♦    ♦    ♦    ♦

Avoiding the front door he moves stealthily round to the side of the house, one hand outstretched, feeling his way along a gravel path through almost total blackness. A tall gate, he knows, will be left unlocked and oiled. He pushes it open silently and latches it securely against a wall; he never knew how swift an exit might be required. He takes a breath of night air. Get in, do the job, get out again. It’s always at this point, keyed up and anxious, that his conscience kicks in. He thinks of the face in the photograph, imagines the smile twisted into a look of horror, and the screaming. They always scream.

Think of the money, he tells himself. He sets his mouth into a firm straight line, knowing deep down that he loathes what he has to do. He tries to blank out any thoughts of the woman. Think of the money; making a killing.

The back door, by arrangement, has been left open. He passes through an empty kitchen and allows his eyes to adjust to the light.

Platters of food lie prepared on the surfaces, he ignores them; nothing must distract him now. He moves into the hallway. There is a brighter light and voices in the room at the front: the room with the curtains drawn across the windows. He lifts the rifle to his shoulder and shoves at the door.

A ring of faces turns in his direction.

There in the middle is the one he has memorised. The woman is confused. Then comes the look of horror. He knows she will scream.

Somebody shouts from the crowd around her. “Happy birthday! We got you a stripping cowboy! Yee-ha!”

A Word From The Author…

“I imagined how apprehensive the man in this story would be feeling before he had to carry out his task… and I do like a twist ending.”

Another Quick Twist to read now…

Karen Byrom