Bergen Catholic Talisman

on-line edition of our literary magazine

My Murder of the Archduke

John Mawad

My Murder of the Archduke

I knew this Black Hand League was always going to be the end of me. Since I joined it I had always felt like a madman. Never quite like myself.

GAVRILO”, I heard my radio sound, “The plan has failed…revert to backup!” My heart pounded. I quickly jumped into my car and headed towards the Appel Quay where the rest of my team was. I waited 7 minutes and 43 seconds before they hopped in my car. The street was in total ruins. I saw innocent, dying people on the ground rolling in pain. I was never informed of what the initial plan was until now.

Initially, the plan was to have seven man hide subtly in the buildings above while hundreds waited in the street to welcome the Archduke Franz Ferdinand before he was taken to city hall for his welcoming reception. Dragutin Dimitrijevic had ordered us to bomb the Archduke’s car as it came down the street. However, all of this failed when one of my teammates, Nedjelko Cabrinovik, evasively threw the grenade at the car. After doing so, the driver took quick action and sped from the scene while the grenade bounced off of the back of the car and rolled underneath the next car, exploding in mere milliseconds. The more I thought about the scene, the more my stomach churned inside of me.

What were we going to say to Dragutin? After all, he had given us a phial of poison along with a revolver and grenades to kill ourselves after the assassination was done. Why? Well, he did not want us to cowardly admit to the murder of the archduke and we all suffered from tuberculosis and had not much longer to live. I looked to my teammates Nedjelko Cabrinovic and Trifco Grabez. They both seemed to still be in shock. All color was drained from their face and their lips yellow. One thing was certainly going through all of our heads at the same time. Were we really determined to do all of this for the independence of Bosnia-Herzegovina from Austria-Hungary?

Everything was silent throughout the car ride back to the headquarters. We saw sirens blur and the shrieks of people were very faint. The hammering of our hearts pounded in our heads.

When we made it back to headquarters, I was shocked to see that the other four had made it there before us. My eye had barely twinkled when I saw Nedjelko swallowing the poisonous capsule as he was instructed. “NO!” I yelled. But it was simply too late. He had already jumped in to the River Miljacka.

I stared at him but quickly got out of visible site. I peeked back one more time to see that he had not died but rather that he was captured and arrested.

He’s a fool”, I heard a sharp, lifeless voice declare. “It is a harmless water-based solution.” It was our leader, Dragutin.

My breath became short and heavy but I tried to keep my calm. My hands were frigid and clammy. “Gavrilo Princip!” he yelled. “Y-yes sir” I stuttered. “Get out of here. Franz will be visiting the victims of the failed attack in the nearby” Dratugin ordered. I didn’t even answer. I paced out of that room as fast I was able to. I heard that cold, lifeless voice of his again, “And as for the rest of you dogs…”, he didn’t complete his sentence. I immediately heard five consecutive gunshots. He had killed the others and with that I sprinted to my car as my heart sank to my stomach.

I didn’t know what to do! Should I just kill myself now? I sat in my car with my revolver in my hand. Its black steel had such a glimmer in the light. I looked at the bullets sitting in the passenger seat and looked back up to the window of the room I was just in. I saw Dratugins pierce, blue eyes staring right through me. I immediately threw the car into first gear. Where was I going? Away from his site.

I decided to calm my nerves. I headed towards the café a few blocks from the hospital. I looked down at my coffee and back at the revolver that was now sitting in my jacket. I heard the sound of many cars coming down my street. The roaring of the Russian engines became louder and louder in my ear. “Its the Archduke!” I heard a little boy yell. Adrenaline packed my veins and my heart pounded with every little sound that came into my ear. I got up as if I was a madman. At that point I WAS a madman. The white sedan came into view. I saw its headlights, then its license plate number, and then the driver. I reached into my jacket and grabbed the revolver. I did not pull out the gun until I saw the whites of the eyes of the driver. There were three bullets I loaded into the gun I remembered as I put my finger in the trigger. The Archduke was now in sight along with his wife.

I pulled my finger once, the Archduke. One bullet.

I pulled my finger again, his wife, Sophia. Two bullets.

I turned the gun towards me. Three bullets…but I was tackled to the ground. I looked across from me and I saw blood on the ground. I was going to live with my heavy conscience in prison.

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