Maria stayed in the bathtub longer than usual. As she patted her hair dry and put on comfortable clothes, you kinda knew that she was not going to bed.
There was unrest in the city that night, With guns a-blazing, the rebels fought hard and managed to reach the capital. With only the elite presidential guards standing in the way of victory, it will be a showdown for the ages.
"I'm going out mama, papa! Please don't wait up for me." Maria said in a casual tone.
"At least tell us where you are going for your story..." Mrs. Santos' quivering voice cracked but Maria had already shut the door behind her. No one knew where she was going at this time of the night.
The sign by the door said, "Take an umbrella in case of rain." This is the place.
Maria lifted the terracotta pot and found the key. The door creaked while she slowly opened the shop door then abruptly closed it behind her.
The neon lights illuminated the place as she pulled the handle of the beer dispenser and pressed a button to open the hidden safe - she got the package and hurriedly left.
"I'm here." Maria thought to herself. It was almost midnight but there were people out in the streets.
"It's been a long time since I've used this safe house." It should be good barring any major surprises.
Scanning the outside for anything out of the ordinary, Maria walked swiftly and silently towards the back door to avoid being seen. Her training as an assassin hasn't failed her in ten years and she's not about to start bungling now.
Maria's pupils dilated and her iris widened as she entered the room. Swiftly scanning for signs of danger and traps, she went upstairs once she had determined that the room is clear.
Click. The small bedside lamp turned on; this was the only light turned on in the property to avoid attention from the outside.
Carefully placing the package on the vanity table mirror, Maria pulled the string like a kid on Christmas day as she used a baby hunting knife to cut through the masking tape.
Gazing at the contents of the box, eyes wide open, Maria's small lips beamed with a smile. The MK22 Remington sniper rifle was the weapon of choice for this job. She is now ready.
Ringgg... Ringgg... Her cellphone rang. She had not turned it to vibrate.
"Hello. Your mother said that you were out when I passed by your house. How's it going?" Antonio's low voice cracked.
"I'm good, Tony. I'm just following up on a lead here in the town of San Pablo. My source said that I might get a scoop of a story here. How about you?" Maria was on speakerphone with a disassembled sniper gun she was cleaning.
"I'm doing well. My family just got on a plane out of the country. Just as well, I don't want to worry about my parents with chaos in the streets. When will you be back?" Antonio said.
"Not sure when I'll be back. I guess when I've done my story for the International Edition. Everyone is looking for news about what's happening here." Maria replied casually.
Knock, knock, knock! Someone is at the door.
"I have to go. Talk to you when I get back, love. Bye." Maria hung up and hurriedly went downstairs, Sig P226 in hand.
Looking out the spyhole on the door, Maria's hands loosened the grip on the pistol - but still on alert. Settling down behind the mahogany door, she waited for the next knock on the door. This will confirm whether it's safe to open or time for some action.
It was safe to open the door.
"Mara, it's me. A familiar voice.
"Come in, Dusty. Quickly." Hearing her code name increased the adrenaline production in Maria's body.
"Close the door." Mara ordered.
Dustin gave Mara a peck on the cheeks, which found its way to her lips without a second thought. The darkness of night hiding away the secrets known only to Mara and Dustin.
"When the curtain moved, I felt a creeping sensation and gasped." She could see men with guns outside. Mara let out a shout.
"Wake up, Mara!" Dustin woke Mara up with a little shake.
"I'm awake. It was just a nightmare." Mara whispered as she went back to sleep.
"Good morning, Dusty. That coffee smells nice. What's the status?" Said Mara.
"Our sources validated the intel from Antonio's cellphone. We have 45 minutes to prepare." Dustin said matter of factly.
It was not the first time that they had used sexpionage to gather information on a target; this time it was Antonio and his boss.
"If we get Alejandro Reyes today, the fighting will be over. The backbone of this despotic government will be broken with the death of the Minister of Defense." Mara was almost whispering to herself.
With the rifle resting on the bipod, Mara adjusted the sights and scanned the bridge: a woman carrying grocery items, a stray dog, and a man with a child.
Nee-naw, nee-naw, nee-naw... The sirens announcing the target, her spotter in position, this will be the shot of a lifetime at 2,500 meters; a shot she had made once before. Can she do it again?
Poom..... The muffled sound of the rifle rippled through the morning breeze. It is done.
"Hello, Mama. I'm home! Maria barged in and hurriedly went upstairs while talking on the phone.
"Can you please wait five minutes for me to send my story? It's a big one." With her editor on the other end of the line, Maria Guadalupe Santos' feature story about the small rebellion that toppled a despotic government will be on the front page of every major broadsheet by the end of the day.