Ava was trembling violently, and not just from the cold. Her hand wobbled erratically, shaking the gun she held.
"I have to do this." She thought desperately. "It's kill or be killed."
She glanced at the hooded stranger down the alleyway from her. She couldn't tell anything about them. It was so dark she could barely see them, anyway.
"Just like before." She tried to tell herself. "Just a practice."
The mantra didn't help. If anything, it made her feel worse. She levelled the gun to the back of the stranger's head and hesitated.
"Can I really do this?" One part of her mind asked herself.
"I have to." Another replied.
"It's your life or theirs."
Unconsciously, Ava's finger had been tightening on the trigger during this internal battle. It wasn't until after the shot was fired that she realized what had happened.
The stranger jerked forwards, as if their feet had been swept from under them. They landed spread-eagled on the snow-covered ground, spilling blood everywhere.
Ava stumbled backwards, sweating. "Oh shiiiiiiiiiit... I've just committed murder... I'm a criminal..."
Somewhere off in the distance, sirens wailed, snapping her out of her reverie. Body plus only person around plus holding murder weapon equals prison sentence.
Ava ran. She ran so fast the world became a blur around her. She didn't stop running until she reached her house almost a mile away.
Sweating heavily, Ava slid the key into the door and fell through it, landing in a heap on the carpeted floor. Her flatmate, Laika, poked her head round from her bedroom door.
"Hey, you alright, Ava?" She asked.
"Yeah... I'm fine..." Ava panted. "Just tired..."
"Did you do it?" Laika asked, concerned.
Unable to say any more, Ava nodded. Laika frowned, as if expecting further elaboration, but got none.
"I think I'll go to bed now." Ava said wearily. The last thing she wanted to do at that moment was deal with Laika's wilful obstinance and interrogation.
She reached her room and faceplanted on the bed ; too tired to do anything, too anxious to sleep.
"I did it." She thought numbly. "I'm actually in..."