By: Benjamin J. Burton
Publication Date: April 7, 2023
Reviewed By: Holly Connors
A highly-skilled sniper, ghosts from his past, and a recurring Tom Petty song set the stage for the suspenseful short story I See You.
Ronald Stansfield is a killing machine. Trained in security, wet work, espionage, hand-to-hand combat, knife fighting, and even unarmed combat, his specialty is being a sniper. Working for Uncle Sam, if there was a mission that required a target "be taken out," Ronald was the man for the job. His career had taken him all over the world, from Africa to Asia, and everywhere in-between. He had seen many of his fellow Americans die, right in front of him, but he had also killed many enemies. How many exactly? It was hard to keep count and even harder to think about what he'd done while fighting with his conscience. It's better not to have a conscience.
We meet Ronald while he is in a "hide site," keeping tabs on a desert palace where a wedding will soon take place. At that wedding will be his target - the father of the bride, who is a very bad man (we never learn much about him). Because so many assassination attempts had been made against him, this "target" had decided to have his daughter's wedding at this secluded palace. That wouldn't stop Ronald, however, who had a lot of experience with taking out a target in similar situations.
While Ronald conducted a sweep of the building, waiting for his target to appear, he spotted a couple in their very fancy room having an argument. It was hard not to watch the pair as they argued. The fight continued to escalate until the husband violently slapped his wife. The wife stumbled, almost lost her balance, and then disappeared back into their bedroom. The husband turned his attention to his phone and failed to notice his wife return, and in an instant, she slit his throat with a knife. But things were about to get a lot more bizarre...
Ronald was stunned by what he'd just seen, but what happened next really freaked him out. The woman who had just killed her husband then pulled down the hood of her niqab and looked directly at Ronald. What he saw terrified him - the woman was Barbara Brenner, a woman he had killed five years ago in Austria for selling secrets to Russia. And she still had the bullet hole in the center of her head from his bullet. How was that possible?
The sniper was a good 1000 meters away from Barbara Brenner, or whoever or whatever this apparition was, and yet she was still laser-focused on him. She (it?) mouthed the words "I'll see you!" and then his phone rang and a verse from Tom Petty's song, "I Won't Stand Down," came through his phone. This was just the beginning of Ronald's nightmare...
I See You is a psychological thriller that will keep the reader guessing throughout. The story raises some interesting questions as Ronald tries to deal with his past, what he's done to others, and how he thought he was always on the side of justice Now he has to deal with the repercussions of his actions, and what happens will have you biting your nails. Right up until that airplane ride... At just over 50 pages, I See You is a quick read and can easily be done in one sitting. The only downside is that there are numerous editorial issues - from layout (some pages have very little text, with a lot of blank space) as well as misuse of quote marks and spelling errors. A clean-up of the text would go a long way with taking this story from good to great.
Quill says: I See You is a quick but intense read. With a little attention to editing, it could be a really awesome short story.