By: Dev Bhatia
“Nobody simply murders the Archduke of Austria, let alone some nineteen year old wishful assassin.” Scorned Salus.
“Glory. Revolution. Freedom. Do these words mean nothing to you anymore? Years of planning and waiting for the right time, all for you to back out? I didn’t think so. You were destined to do this, the Black Hand chose you – consider it an honor.” Prompted Pravus.
Boldly marked red X’s imprisoned the days leading up to today, June 28th, 1914, on a ragged calendar. It was Sunday. Hoards of working class men, women, and children lined up along Appel Quay Road as the church bells tolled on.
“My oh my, just look at this crowd. How are you to even get a clear shot. This must clearly be an omen. Do as I say, and without a second thought, get on the first train back to Bosnia, your parents are surly worried of well being, for it has been years since you have ever seen them.” Blurted Salus.
Pravus challenged “No! Young Bosnia has waited years for such an opportunity. By eliminating the Archduke, you will be crowned a hero. Young Bosnia will unify all in Serbia. No more empire. No more tyranny from the Austro-Hungarian crown. Bosnia, Slovenia, and Croatia will unify as one Serbian state for its entire people. Gavrilo, this is bigger than any one person. You and your brothers can cause revolution, for the greater good of a nation. If not for you, then do it for the social justice of those oppressed by the crown. Be confident in yourself, and―”
“Just look at the mighty men lined up with pistols ready for firing and canes for beating! Should you succeed, you shall obey to pay a sum so hefty, that you beg for death. Twenty years, and should your trial of murder be postponed to just three weeks later, you will be imprisoned to the most gruesome and torturous forms of pain ever exhibited.”
The time ticked on – seconds, minutes, and hours.
Salus impatiently urged, “It’s already been three hours and the Archduke has still not arrived. Leave while you can, abandon the mission.”
“Be patient. The freedom of three nations – Croatia, Slovenia, and your motherland Bosnia – depends on the overthrow of Archduke Franz Ferdinand.” Pravus lectured. “You have consented to follow all plans of Young Bosnia & The Black Hand. If you quit on the revolution now, you’ll be known as a murderer of your country, an assassin of your Yugoslavian brothers, and a traitor of the revolution to free so many under dictatorial imperial rule. Not to mention – ”
“You are not this cruel person.” Salus yelled, “You are a mere boy that ought to be in school right now. A boy that ought to work hard to raise a roof over the head of his family. A boy that ought to understand right and wrong.” Salus let that sink in.
The clock tower chimed one, but had done so a while before as well.
“That was no chime.” Gasped Pravus.
Another loud bang had been heard.
“What was that?!” Cried Salus out of fear as smoke rose from a spot just fifty meters due east.
“He’s Here! The fireworks have begun, Archduke Ferdinand shall be here soon.” Quavered Pravus.
Intensively grasping hold of a loaded FN M1910 pistol, capable of killing with one shot, the slender bloke eagerly made his way to the front of the crowd, with clear view of the policeman, fireworks display, and automobiles soon to pass in front of him. He patiently waited for his time to strike.
“He’s protected by three other cars. Your measly little pistol isn’t accurate to take a shot from that far and he’s a moving target! Stop this madness, it’s not worth it” Blurted Salus.
Boom. Another blast went off, but it was no firework.
“What was that?! Why are the cars turning away from this road?”” cried Salus out of fear.
“Can it be? Maybe. Archduke Ferdinand may have just been assassinated by another member of The Black Hand.” cried Pravus out of joy.
“What are you doing just standing here. Flee the scene at once! Escape while you still can. Your safety is of utmost importance.” warned Salus.
“Wait a minute! How can you be sure this wasn’t a firecracker out of celebration for the Archduke. You must be certain before taking any course of action. Be the backup if the Archduke’s Gräf & Stift automobile manages to pass from Franz Joseph Street.” Pravus informed.
Moritz Schiller’s cafe was empty on Franz Joseph Street. The time ticked on, and what sounded like an engine seemed to be approaching.
“What’s that sound. My, my! Look Gavrilo! The Archduke and his wife. Right in front of you. Right now.” Exclaimed Pravus.
“Gavrilo stop! You don’t have to do this! Remember what I said before, please listen to me, you ought to make the right choice and this? This is not right at all.” Salus begged.
Without another thought, he pulled the trigger. Bang! The shot penetrated the neck of the elaborately dressed Archduke. But, the man did not stop there. Bang!
“Not Sophie too!” Archduke Ferdinand squealed as he desperately sought to breathe.
“Death of Tyranny!” Marveled Gavrilo Princip.