It was the first thing they had taught him and he never forgot it. He could move unobserved in daylight, too; in other ways. But the night was his special friend.
Now the high piercing sound of the alarm cut through all other nocturnal sounds: the dree dree dree of the cicadas, the thunderous crashing of the surf against the grey sand and the black rocks sixty feet below, the wild cry of a disturbed crow far off over the massed treetops.
Abruptly, colour gilded the leaves of the ancient spreading sycamore as lights went on inside the house, but he was already away from the car, deep within the concealing shadows of the carefully sculptured hedge. There was little need of this protection now for he was dressed all in matt black: low boots, cotton trousers, long-sleeved shirt, lacquered reed waistcoat, gloves and a hooded mask that covered all his face save a strip across his eyes that had been smeared with lampblack mixed with a fine charcoal powder to eliminate the possibility of reflection; but his arduous training had been too well ingrained for him to take any target for granted. This precluded the possibility of an error in judgement that could lead to a lapse in security.
The porch light came on, insects fluttering around it. The noise of the car's alarm was too loud for him to be able to hear the door opening but he counted off the seconds in his mind and got it dead on ...
Barry Braughm stepped into the lemon light of the open doorway. He was in jeans and a white T-shirt. His open fly attested to the haste in which he had dressed. He carried a flashlight in his right hand.