In the eerie stillness she lay in wait. A one hundred- year old oak tree concealed her shivering body. The crisp air was heavy with fog making it difficult for the moon to spread its light.
Because it was winter, the leafless trees cast long, spiky shadows on the mud-caked ground. Their fallen leaves, that were still visible, were soggy and trodden into the sludgy undergrowth.
Apart from the occasional car speeding towards the peak, the surrounding area was deserted. The faint murmurings of farm animals on the other side of the hill were carried through the stillness to the attentive ears of the hidden killer.
Her silent breath froze in the chilled evening air. With trembling hands, the cigarette between her teeth was lit the warming glow barely visible from the house or the road in front of the cottage.
Lights shone at the windows of the deserted house.
It had previously been two small country cottages, but the last occupant had bought both cottages and knocked through the adjoining wall to make a larger family house. Through the curtain-less kitchen window, a huge terracotta fireplace dominated the gigantic room. The decorating was mainly earth tones and the furnishing mahogany. The scene was comforting and strangely peaceful.
Surrounding the cottage were two or three farms. They produced mainly corn and in the summer undulating seas of gold could be seen from the upstairs windows. Now the fields lay fallow and bare, asleep for the winter.
A passing car’s headlight’s created a silhouette of the house. The killer’s body was rigid in anticipation, waiting for the victim to pull up the sweeping gravel drive. Her head was turned up toward the sky, like an animal sniffing the air for the signs that danger was approaching. Much to her annoyance, the car continued on the road, twisting and turning around the sharp bends all the way to the village.
The temperature was dropping and the fog was closing in. Minutes passed, but to the assassin it seemed like hours, she was getting impatient.
Another car approached. She was immediately alert.
This was what she’d been waiting for.
Her body relaxed. She checked her watch, 7:37. She would be done and out of there by ten to.
The small, black fiesta crunched up the drive at the side of the house before coming to a halt just in front of a neat flowerbed a few feet away from the door. The engine stopped and the lights were switched off. The occupant began collecting the bags off the back seat of the car.
She unlocked her door and began clambering out of the car grasping her shopping. As soon as she had slammed the door her position made her a perfect target-just a single bullet.
Her arm was raised, her finger poised on the trigger, ready to strike. She fired.
The shot killed her with a clean wound to the back of the head. Her body crumpled to the ground.
Carefully, using gloves the assassin picked up the bullet, placed it in a freezer bag along with her gloves and cigarette butt, and slipped it in her pocket. Stealthily she climbed the hill to where her car was waiting. Just before she got in she checked her watch. It was 7:56.