I’m nearly done climbing the hill. Gunshots echo louder with proximity to the top. Bells in my ears.

I drop to my knees before reaching the top of the hill.

And then drop to my chest. Crawling to the vantage point reduces the chances of getting spotted. It's more time to get the shot ready..

Grains of sand find their way to my skin as my uniform presses against the desert.

The sniper is on my back, Remington M21. I draw the gun, put it on the bipod and move to the edge of the hill.

Endless white flashes pop in and out of the darkness below. The silhouettes of guns held by bodiless arms are briefly visible after each trigger is pulled.

All this has to go ignored. I’m here to accomplish a mission. The sniper across the path has to be dealt with immediately. They’ve taken the life of several American soldiers and this has to come to an end.

From this vantage point I should be able to locate the shooter. The night vision scope is equipped.

Commence scan.

Down on the path the convoy is still halted. Surrounded by the enemy. The American soldiers are using their vehicles for cover. Hostile vehicles are blocking both ways out of the path. They’ll have to wait to be helped. Can't risk revealing my position to the sniper.

I aim the scope at the horizon. Searching for movement or light. There’s only more sand. The shooter must be camouflaged. I slide some feet down the hill. Go in my bag. I find the thermal scope and swap it with the night vision scope.

Desert nights are frosty. People stand out like steam in winter. The moment I look I find the shooter across the path, hidden by a boulder. Orangey heat signature. I only see the front of their face sticking out from beside the cold rock. He’s taking shots down at the soldiers from the convoy.

I line my shot. There’s no time for hesitation, lives are in danger. I focus on the wind and try to tune out the gunshots below. Relaxed shoulders, deep breath, pull the trigger.

The shooter’s gun drops. His body flattens out where he lays.
He slides from beside the boulder revealing the rest of his body and his face. It was a young boy. No older than 12 years old.