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Optics (standard:mystery, 5611 words)
Author: Das TierAdded: Aug 09 2001Views/Reads: 1942/1266Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)
A hired hitman with his arsenal of weapons and visual devices is confronted by his victim, who seems to know more about spotting targets.


Imagine you are looking through a spyglass. Its little round eyepiece is
exactly the diameter of your eye. There is only one border between your 
flesh and the lens, it is its metal rim; but as you keep it close, your 
eyelashes trimming the firm round shape exactly like they do with your 
eye, the cold metal grows warm, and you start to forget this is an 
artificial prosthesis. 

It is unlike looking through binoculars. It is a totally different
experience. You get asymmetrical. I can draw one comparison: imagine 
you are walking, and while one of your feet is still standing, the 
other has made a gigantic step ahead. At the same time you are miles 
away and still anchored in the here and now. The only way out, before 
you start to fall in the gap between, is to close one of your eyes. 

With the job I've had for several years now, sometimes I think the lens
has stuck to my eye, and I have to tear it off together with my eyelid. 
I look in the mirror and am afraid to see the reflection of a Cyclops. 
The poising between my short and far-sighted eyes is exactly the one I 
have to keep in my two lives -- one of them in the working, the other 
in the off-hours. These two lives completely overlap. It's the same 
city, the same day, the same clothes. The only difference is on which 
end of the spyglass I am. 

My spyglass is a Bausch & Lomb 6-24x40 Elite 4200 Rifle Scope attached
to a M21 rifle. My good old M21. It has no "or" alternative to its 
"hit" action. Together they work as one: the sight is a spotlight that 
captures one of the figures, one of those flat cardboard shades blurred 
by the distance, while others fade outside the little circle. I split 
in two: one me is there, yards away, and the other is holding the 
trigger, ready to bridge the gap with the speed of 1,000 fps. That 
assignment didn't seem any different from about a dozen I have had in 
last three years. Not a big score, I know, when compared to other 
hitmen; but I've always been the one for quality against quantity. I 
had an approach of my own that guaranteed ninety nine percent of 
success, no matter what the conditions were. And this time I was going 
to apply it in the usual way - find, fix, finish. It's a game that 
takes two to play, and one to win. He had let his eyes get in the wrong 
place, they said, he knows too much now. He has seen. And he can speak. 
Now either he or his tongue have to go. And I, Phil Gallo, aged 37, 
blood-stained by 12 deaths, am to hunt down both of them. 

People move around me, up and down the passages, between high walls of
steel and glass. Stone is not in favor nowadays; they like transparent 
buildings, with lots of windows like open mouths. They swarm inside 
those glass bowels, in the ribcage made of steel, and all private life 
they can get is the pretence of a shelter behind roller blinds. 

His name was Bruno Taut. A German crossbreed with proud American spirit.
Perhaps his mixed blood was to blame: an inborn disunity that tore him 
between his alliances. Or maybe, the reason was in his job. He was a 
physicist, specializing in theory of light, non-linear optics. This 
alone must have forewarned me, that this one will be a match for me 
with an equal knowledge of who, how and when to watch. 

I easily spotted him moving carelessly in the flow of shoppers in the
mall. It was one of the new buildings, and its arcade was made into a 
gallery with big shop windows and a transparent glass roof overhead. 
Transparent glass doors opened inside each of the tiny shops on both 
sides of the way, several fountains spurted transparent water, and the 
polished marble on the floor reflected transparent clouds in the 
transparent sky. 

It was a dull grey day. I imagined what this place should look like when
the sun shines. Cascades of blinks and reflections. A burst of light, 
mirrored in thousands of metal parts, from gigantic arches to polished 
doorknobs. Even the thought of it made my eyes hurt, and in that case 
it would be hard, almost impossible to do what I had come to do. For 
now, the black square of my aim's shoulders was a clear target ahead. I 
picked up speed, passing by the people between us, advancing the man 
like inevitable fate. My hand gripped the gun in my pocket. When we 
align, me right behind him, his step will falter, and before anybody 
notices what is happening, before anybody hears anything, I will be 

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