As Shelia failed to ignore the ticking of that imaginary clock in her head, she peered through the sight of her M24. A gift from Knuckles and his crew, the rifle was military grade. It was one of three that she had found among all of the goodies in that van, and it would suit her purposes perfectly. There was only one route to the crumbling barn that she was hunkered down in. It was a dirt drive that ran relatively straight up to it from an old, country road that ran about five hundred yards to the east. The barrel of the M24 was aimed at the spot where that dirt drive met the old, country road. Shelia was ten feet up, sprawled out on a wooden plank that was just sturdy enough to hold her weight peering through a hole that was just big enough to aim her rifle through. The Blitzkrieg would never see her from the road, and he would never make it out of his vehicle.
The thought of incapacitating him and trying to squeeze information out of him had crossed her mind briefly. Though she had never heard of him, she knew his M.O. all too well. He wouldn’t stop until one of them was dead, and even if she was able to knock him out and incapacitate him somehow, he wouldn’t give her anything. On top of that, it felt like he wasn’t part of the Rosatti organization, just a pro with a very specific skill set that they brought in for a very specific purpose, killing Stiletto Rose. He wouldn’t know any more than he needed to, and he wouldn’t be the one killing her kids. That would be left to Wiggles. It would be worth putting the squeeze on that creep if she could get her hands on him. However, if she found him, she would find her kids too. Then there wouldn’t be a need to do anything but kill the sick bastard.
Shelia sucked in a deep breath and shook her head slightly, trying to get her mind back in the moment. Finding Wiggles was a top priority, but killing the Blitzkrieg was a more immediate necessity. She had to get the German assassin out of her way before she could move forward. He would keep coming until she put him down. Sliding up to her knees, she adjusted from a prone position to a crouch. It wasn’t ideal, but she had to give her elbows and shoulders a break. As soon as she had herself situated into a position that gave her an adequate shot through the small hole in the wall, an out of place noise down on the barn floor dragged her attention away from the road.
A random noise in an old barn shouldn’t seem all that odd. The place was falling apart. It was full of random sounds; wind slipping through cracks in the deteriorating planks that made up its walls, rakes and hoes and other tools with metal heads and rotting wooden handles hanging from nails and scraping or thumping against wooden posts that barely had the strength to hold the place up, and the filtered hum of cars zipping along Highway 41. This noise stood out among all of those other noises, like someone humming into a kazoo in the middle of a symphony. It wasn’t the sound of an inanimate object being blown around by a stiff wind. There was something accidental about it; like someone had been focusing so hard on suppressing any sound they might make that they missed one.
Shelia gathered herself and spun around, dropping the rifle and retrieving the .45 from the holster on her hip as she fell down onto her right shoulder. Her eyes followed the barrel as it swept the barn beneath her. Nothing looked out of place. A rusty tractor with no wheels on it grabbed her attention. It sat against the back wall of the barn to her left. There was enough room behind it that someone could hide back there. She scrambled back up to her knees, as she locked her aim on the rusty heap.
The standoff with the ancient tractor lasted through several moments of silence. The wind was still whistling and cars were still humming down the highway, but those had melted into white noise, relegated to just another aspect of Shelia’s surroundings. Her focus cut through them searching for the out of place sound, that accidental noise that didn’t fit with them. Then it came again. This time it was quick and the effort to suppress it was absent. It was a footstep directly beneath her, and it came a split second before a gunshot that was quickly followed by three more.
Bullets tore through the plank she was on, shredding the rotten, old wood and blasting splinters of it into the air. All four of them would be buried deep in her flesh had she not rolled forward off of the plank. As she flipped and spun toward the ground, that plank split where the bullets had ripped through it, both torn up halves flopping toward the ground. Just as her feet hit the floor – the left one less than squarely – a shape rolled out from beneath the collapsing platform. Shelia ignored the pain that erupted in her left ankle as that foot twisted awkwardly, planting her on her ass. Instincts took over, and she continued to roll backward with her momentum. By the time she was back on her feet, the shape that had rolled out from beneath the platform was just getting to his. She lunged toward him, grabbing his right wrist at the same moment that he grabbed hers. Both guns exploded at the same time. The barrel of hers was just as close to his ear as the barrel of his was to hers. His left ear drum had to be ringing just as much as hers was.
“We finally meet, Stiletto,” even though his tone was nothing less than a shout, the thick, German accent was unmistakable.
Shelia had finally come face to face with the Blitzkrieg. His blonde, short flat-top and narrow – almost pointy – nose gave him the appearance of a rat. The soft, blue eyes sitting above that pointy nose didn’t fit the rest of his rodent-like appearance. She only had a second to consider them as they flew toward her face. A moment later, his forehead smashed into her nose. The world exploded in a flash of white. She could taste the blood in her mouth and feel it coursing down to her chin while her cheeks burned. Instinctively, she let the momentum carry her backward, pulling him along with her. As her back hit the ground, her right foot shot up into his gut and launched him over the top of her depositing him on his back. She managed to get a hold of his gun as she lost her grip on his wrist. Unfortunately, he had gotten a hold of hers as they both scrambled back to their feet.
Shelia shot first, but the Blitzkrieg was quick. He ducked and managed to get two shots off at her feet. As soon as he dove toward the ground, she leapt up into the air flipping over the top of him and firing two more shots off. One of them clipped his thigh just before she landed on him. He got off one more shot, but Shelia managed to block his arm as he brought it up to aim. It missed, succeeding only in adding a little more volume to the ringing in her ear. She ignored it, grabbing his right wrist with her left hand and pinning his left arm down with her right knee. She was only able to hold him there for a few seconds before he managed to struggle out of her grip. It was long enough to smash the butt of the P220 combat pistol she had taken from him against his left temple twice. Once he finally flipped her off of him, she also managed to yank the .45 he had taken from her out of his grip. It flew twelve feet toward the barn wall before it hit the ground and skidded even closer to the wall.
Before Shelia had completely made it to her back, the Blitzkrieg was bearing down on her. He had a five inch boot knife in his hand. Shelia had precious few moments to wonder when he had gotten his hands on it as she pulled the trigger three times. Only one bullet fired, small mag, son of a bitch. Luckily, that one bullet clipped the diving German’s left shoulder enough to knock his thrust off its mark. It pounded the barn floor next to her head. Without a thought, she began pounding the butt of the empty pistol against the side of his head again. It took five good strikes before he backed off enough that she could get her right foot into his gut and kick him off of her. As he flopped away, she rolled to her feet, ditching the sidearm and yanking her tactical knife out of its sheath on the way. Not wasting any time, she lunged at him and pounded her blade into his throat just as he made it to his feet.
Shelia held the German assassin’s right shoulder with her left hand as her right dug the blade of her knife deeper into the side of his throat. He gurgled something inaudible while she watched those blue eyes that didn’t fit the rest of his rat-like appearance gray over. Every heavy breath that left her lips sent little droplets of blood splattering onto his face. The adrenaline coursing through her veins slowly dissipated, and she let his body fall to the ground. By the time the effects of it had completely worn off, she became acutely aware of burning pain in her left thigh. Exhaustion dropped her to the ground. The moment her backside hit the barn floor, she reached for that burning pain and found the handle of the Blitzkrieg’s knife. All of the nearly five inches of that blade were buried in the muscles along the back of her leg. A slight cry left her lips when she yanked it out. It mingled with the sloppy sound that the blade made as it left her flesh.
Shelia laid there watching the barn roof spin slowly above her for a few moments before trying her feet. The attempt didn’t work out so well. She fell back to the floor fighting her heavy eyelids. The battle lasted for a few minutes. With each passing second, her breathing became steadier. Those heavy lids finally won, as sleep finished her off.