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Short Story (Military)


In 1974, Mac's SAS squadron is stationed in Northern Ireland when they receive information that a suspected Provisional IRA sniper is about to collect a weapon from a cache. Coarse language. Two minute reading time.
Photo: TheDigitalWay/Pixabay.

Mac lay on his stomach in the mud of South Armagh, squinting through the torrential rain, trying to keep his eyes on the target farmhouse. It was pissing down. The downpour pounded on the hood of his Goretex camouflage coveralls, giving him a headache. The cold water gleefully found a gap and ran down his neck, laughing all the way. Shit! Still, he was used to being cold and wet … and hungry, and tired. It was part of the job.

He heard static in his radio earpiece. “Delta One this is Zero Alpha, suspect vehicle approaching from the south. White Land Cruiser, two up.”


Mac looked at the road to his right and saw the Land Cruiser, heavily obscured by the rain. It turned off the country road and headed up the track towards the farmhouse. Mac kicked Knobby awake and hit his radio pressel, “Zero Alpha, Delta One. I have a visual. Wait out.”


Knobby, lying next to Mac, had been under a tarp. Now he was enjoying the same drenching that Mac had been dealing with for the past hour. Mac said, “Time for you to earn your pay sleeping beauty.”


Knobby, roused from sleep, quickly took in the situation and Mac’s radio call. “Shite weather, but the rain won’t affect a bullet,” he said.


“True enough. Okay switch on, they’re stopping.”


The Land Cruiser pulled up outside the barn. As the occupants opened the car doors, the interior light briefly lit their faces. Bad drills leaving the interior light on, thought Mac as he looked through the scope of his L96A1 sniper rifle. Still, it makes our job easier. The two men disappeared inside the barn.


Mac made the radio call, “Zero Alpha, Delta One. Xray One ID confirmed. Request instructions.”


“Delta One, Zero Alpha. Are weapons visible?”


“Delta One, wait out.” Mac looked through his scope at the barn doors. The rain made visibility iffy. Mac squirmed in the wet mud, settling into a stable firing position. They’d been inside for several minutes. What the hell were they doing?


Eventually, the barn doors opened and James O’Donnell, labelled Xray One, emerged carrying something under a tarp which could have been a rifle, but it could have been a tool of some sort. Mac didn’t think O’Donnell was here for a spot of DIY, but he needed proof. The second man opened the back of the Land Cruiser, and as O’Donnell lifted the tarp over the lip of the boot, Mac saw it. The business end of an Armalite AR-18 rifle.


“Zero Alpha, Delta One. Confirm Xray One is armed. One long visible, placed in the boot.”


Zero Alpha came up on the net, “All callsigns, hold. The RUC are going in.”


Mac kept his crosshairs centred on O’Donnell’s head as police cars skidded off the road and sped up the farm track, their wheels spraying water, stones and mud. Lights and sirens blaring.


O’Donnell and his mate spun around towards the road when they heard the sirens. Mac watched O’Donnell’s face as shock gave way to resignation. He knelt down on the wet track and raised his hands in the air. The bastard was going to surrender! Mac knew that O’Donnell was linked to at least two bombings on the mainland. He definitely had blood on his hands, and he had him in his sights. He’d already taken first pressure on the trigger and only had to squeeze and the prick would be pleading his case to St Peter. But, the RUC were right there, weapons out, cautiously approaching the PIRA hard men. Mac waited until both suspects were handcuffed before he relaxed and turned to his mucker. “Right mate, back to barracks.”


Knobby raised an eyebrow.


Mac said, “What? Shoot a surrendering suspect?" He grinned, "the paperwork would take all night, mate. No, O’Donnell will have twenty years in prison to see the error of his ways. Now let’s get out of this sodding rain!”

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