"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)



My piece today is doing double duty:  I've revised my entry from the Hone Your Skills Blogfest using the wonderful suggestions I received, and amazingly, it fits with the prompt for Fiction Friday!  Let me know if you think this reads better.

Righting Wrong

I stood on the round metallic teleportation device in the middle of the room.  My eyes fixed on the only other person there. The old man busied himself with the console before him. He reached to push a button on the upper level, and the sleeve of his lab coat slid back revealing black ink tattooed digits. Faded, but indelible.

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

Nervous perspiration broke out in tiny droplets on my upper lip.  I brought my arm up and wiped it away on my sleeve.  Fear tightened my throat, and I knew my voice would crack if I tried to speak.

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

I steadied my voice.

"Should I have my gun drawn already?"

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

He paused, staring at his hands, unmoving. I knew he had thought this through many times, reliving it throughout the long nights leading up to this moment. Or maybe preliving it is a better word. He returned his attention to the console and made a few final adjustments.

"August 16, 1939. Are you ready?"

I placed my hand on the butt of the gun tucked inside the front of my jeans and closed my eyes.

I nodded.

My stomach lurched. Was I screaming? No, it couldn't be me, because I couldn't breathe. A high-pitched screech filled my ears, and my knees buckled. Tears squeezed from beneath my lids. And then it stopped.

I opened my eyes to see the scene exactly as the old man had described it.  I crouched in the southwest corner of the room.  The oval table was to my right.  He sat 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 laughed, disconcerting me.  I had never seen more than a frown turning his lips down at the corners.

The men became aware of my presence incrementally, as if in slow motion.  Expressions turned from surprise to confusion to concern as I removed 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. 

All fell silent for a millisecond, and then a buzzing roar filled my ears.  The gun dropped from my fingers, bouncing innocuously at my feet with a clatter against the hard wood floor.  The man nearest to my right tackled me, pushing me 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 stomach, wrenched my arms behind me, 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 large men flanked me, hurried me out of the building and into a waiting car.  We drove for miles, and as I stared at the passing German landscape, I wondered what would happen next.  A dark dank cell?  Torture?  Encampment and a cyanide shower? 

We passed through a large wrought-iron gate and came to a stop behind a dirty gray building. I was yanked from the car and propelled forward. Once inside, we walked down a dark corridor, turned left and passed several rooms before coming to a stop. The taller of the two stepped in front of me, and I heard the jingle of keys. He moved aside, and the other shoved me into the middle of a small cell.  Turning me around, he removed the cuffs from my wrists.  I heard the door shut behind me with a click.

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

A TV?  I blinked back the surprise.  My confusion grew when I found a remote control on top.  I picked it up, pushed a button, and watched images, color images, spilling from the screen.

Somber announcers with tears in their eyes.  Mourners 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 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:  The one thing your character regrets learning the most is…… 

To play along, visit Write Anything's [Fiction] Friday here.


Juli said...

How are you doing on your book? I love Fridays for the fact that you always have the most interesting things to read. Please, do not stop! I love it!

Renee said...

I agree Shelli...never a dull moment when you write!

Shelli said...

Hey, Juli! Good to hear from you, and I hope you're doing well. I finished the first draft of my first book, but there's a lot of work I need to do to revise it. I've been learning so much! I'm working on my second novel right now; I've gotten started, but I'm trying to flesh out my outline before diving into it deeper. Thanks for checking on me! And thanks for reading, it means a lot to me.

And, Renee, it means a lot to me, too, that you come and read! I'm glad that you enjoy it. It's very encouraging to me. I hope you're doing well, too. Hugs.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Juli and Renee. I didn't read this when it was for the Hone yor Skills fest, but I definitely liked this version!

HowLynnTime said...

whhhoooa! You nailed that historical paradox - he had not become the evil yet - like some other poiticians - he promised change and hope then -----

I don't get a tv with remote - but the rest is just awesome!

Shelli said...

Newt -- Thanks so much!

Lynn -- Thank you, I'm glad you enjoyed it! I was trying to convey an alternate reality where Hitler was the opposite of evil. I'll have to make some adjustments to the story to clarify that part. Thanks for your comments, they're helpful!

Scott said...

Wow. Not at all what I expected. I got the alternate reality - the TV made me think that. It was a very interesting and well-written piece.

Lynda said...

Interesting juxtaposition with the jeans and the remote controlled TV in 1939.

It would be interesting to add in a few more current items and some more period items with a little confusion on the part of the protagonist about the alternate reality, then flesh it out and make it into a complete novel or a novella.

I'm not sure why I'm surprised at your talent when I knew you could do anything you set your mind to, but I am in awe. Always thought writing was such an amazing profession and I'm thrilled that one of my nieces is one!

You are so inspiring!

Shelli said...

Scott, thank you so much!

Lynda -- Thank you, that seemed to be a common critique, that I needed to make the alternate reality clearer. I think I was able to fix it enough for a short story.

And boy, did I need to hear your kind compliment today! Feeling a little crappy about my writing. Thanks for the boost when I needed it most. Hugs. :)