"Everybody has a secret world inside of them. All of the people of the world, I mean everybody. No matter how dull and boring they are on the outside, inside them they've all got unimaginable, magnificent, wonderful, stupid, amazing worlds. Not just one world. Hundreds of them. Thousands maybe" ~ Neil Gaiman (A Game of You)


Righting Wrong

I stood on the round metallic teleportation device in the middle of the room.  I turned to face the only other man in the room.

"When you enter, you should arrive in the southwest corner," the old man said.  "The oval table will be to your right.  He will be sitting at the head of it, of course."

I nodded.  Nervous perspiration broke out in tiny droplets on my upper lip.  I brought my arm up and wiped it away on my sleeve.  I didn't speak for fear my voice would crack.

"You will have only a few seconds before their surprise turns to action.  You must act quickly."

Again, I nodded.  I steadied my voice.

"Should I have my gun drawn already?" I asked.

"No.  That would raise alarms immediately.  Let them see you and wonder first."

I could see the old man had thought this through, over and over, reliving it again and again throughout the long nights leading up to this moment.

"Are you ready?" he asked quietly.  I placed my hand on the butt of the gun tucked inside the front of my jeans.  I closed my eyes.

I nodded.

I opened my eyes to see the scene exactly as the old man had described it.  I was in the southwest corner of the room.  The oval table was to my right.  He was sitting at the head of it.  His impeccable black hair, parted down the right, gleamed, the broom bristle mustache twitched under his nose.  His uniform was crisp, and he held his hat casually in his left hand.  The swastika band was blood red around his left bicep.  He threw his head back and laugh, momentarily disconcerting me.  I had never seen more than a frown turning his lips down at the corners.

The men in the room became aware of my presence incrementally, as if in slow motion.  Expressions turned from surprise to confusion to concern as I pulled the gun from its hiding place and trained the sights on the laughing man.  I pulled the trigger and blood erupted from the clean white shirt beneath his jacket.  The smile faded from his lips as I pumped three more shots into his chest.  The room felt silent for a millisecond, and then a buzzing roar filled my ears.  I let the gun drop from my fingers, bouncing innocuously at my feet with a clatter against the hard wood floor.  I was tackled and fell to the ground next to it.

I waited for the crack that would signal the bullet meant for me.  It didn't come.  Two burly men rolled me onto my back, and I felt cold metal handcuffs coil around my wrists.  They hauled me to my feet, and I stood to face these men, his cronies and accomplices.  They stared back at me in horror, as if I were the butcher of millions instead of the man bleeding lifelessly at their feet.

The two men pushed me through the door, out of the building, into a waiting car.  They drove for miles, and I wondered what would happen next.  A dark dank cell?  Torture?  Encampment and a cyanide shower?  They pulled up in front of another building, pulled me out, pushed me through the door.  They led me down a corridor, turned left, and opened the door to a small room.  They shoved me forward, then turned me around and removed the cuffs from my wrists.  They left me standing in the middle of the room, alone, and I heard the door shut behind me with a click.

The room was sparse but comfortable, a blanketed twin bed in the corner, a round table and wooden chair in the middle.  A few books, a pad of paper, and a pen were stacked on the table.  Behind a small privacy screen were a toilet and a sink protruding from the wall.  And in the corner opposite the bed was a TV.

A TV?  But that hadn't been invented yet.  I blinked back the surprise.  I found a remote control on top.  I picked it up, pushed a button, and watched the images spilling from the screen.

I watched for hours.  Somber announcers with tears in their eyes.  Mourners spontaneously gathering on the stairs of the building I had been taken from, not just blond-haired, blue-eyed mourners, but brown and black mixed in.  A sea of flowers growing like a garden at the top, flowing down the steps like a waterfall.  Similar displays at German embassies in foreign countries.  Interviews with dignitaries from all around the world, in languages I couldn't understand, and then Franklin D. Roosevelt.

"The American people join our hearts to the great people of Germany and share their sorrow during this horrendous moment in history.  We honor this man who has done so much to further peace and prosperity in the world.  We vow to continue his fight against the very thing that took his life: blind hatred enforced by violence.  We will not stop or falter until every weapon has been safely buried in the ground.  Even in these darkest moments, his legacy shines brightly before us, a beacon to follow, and he will go down in history as the greatest man ever born."

Dear God, what have I done?


Today's prompt:

Your Main Character is a time traveler. He/She arrives at a destination but not all is as expected….


Anonymous said...

Whoa. Way to go Shelli. It's so strange that you would get this prompt and now. We had been discussing similar things in one of my classes not two days ago. Would we undo a memory or action if we could. What would be the repercussion. Hitler has come up before in such discussions. One has to wonder you know? Or I guess you just did. Well done. Very vivid and powerful imagery.

John Pender said...

I wasn't expecting that ending at all. Great job Shelli!

Anonymous said...

Wow, talk about a twist ending. Very good, I love how you hinted who the man was by your descriptions but the ending was just brilliant and so unexpected. Loved it.

Shelli said...

Carrie -- thank you, and yes, it's an interesting discussion, isn't it? I don't think I would ever go back and change anything. It's all about choices and consequences and learning, for me.

John -- Thanks! I'm glad it caught you by surprise.

Agatha -- Welcome! Thanks for coming by my blog. I'm glad you enjoyed my story.

Cathryn Grant said...

Wow, that was very thought-provoking. I didn't expect that ending either. It will linger for quite a while.

Very good job with tension, visuals, everything.

Laura Rachel Fox said...

I love the twist. Very thought provoking. It makes one wonder if you had the chance to change the past should you do it. It's easy to think that if someone could go back and take out Hitler then things would just automatically be better. I like how you've taken that idea and showed us a skewed outcome. Maybe everything does happen for a reason?

Anonymous said...

This is well wikkid! Taking the assassination idea in a completely different direction. Good setup and marvellous execution.
Adam B @revhappiness

Anonymous said...

ha, I am going to experiment my thought, your post get me some good ideas, it's really amazing, thanks.

- Thomas