The Time Twister

Suhana Kumar

Published Spring 2020

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Sarajevo, 1914

The air was smokey, clusters of particles floating through as if time had stopped. Maybe, in a
way, time did stop, and it was as if the streets of Sarajevo knew something was going to
happen. Or, as they say, the calm before the storm. He woke up at precisely 6:30, and dragged
himself out of bed to dress. He had to look his best, today was the big day. He grabbed the
letters that piled on the broken side-table and shoved them into his coat pocket, and finally,
retrieved a gun from his closet and putting it in his inside coat pocket. The boy looked into the
dirty mirror at his shorn hair as he covered his demons with a cap.

What did I get myself into?

But you promised me.

So why does it feel wrong?

His long, unkempt bangs fluttered in his face as he tugged on his cap, stepping out into the
streets. He doesn’t know why he was feeling so self-conscious, living in Sarajevo meant that you
were a nobody.

A nobody…

It took him 15 minutes to reach the street flocked with citizens, awaiting the arrival of the
Archduke of Austria-Hungary. There were posters everywhere, and news in Sarajevo went
around fast. The future heir to the Austria-Hungary throne, Franz Ferdinand, was here, and he
had his eyes set on newly-freed countries of the Ottoman Empire.
The boy tugged his scarf over his mouth with a sigh, and tried to blend in.

Archduke Franz Ferdinand was riding through the streets of the capital city of the
newly-captured Bosnia, a feeling of pride swelling in his chest. He looked over at his wife,
Sophie, who had one hand on her stomach, which held their unborn child, and looked over the
marvellous architecture. Even though he had been greatly warned by many of the Serbian
societies entrusted with taking him down, Franz Ferdinand felt no regret in ignoring their pleas
and coming to the broken country anyways. He wanted to give his citizens a new hope for the
future, a future in which the empire of Austria-Hungary may reign supreme.
As the Archduke and Sophie rode down a narrow cobblestone lane next to the river, crowds of
people cheered and pushed just to get a look at the royal family.
“Dear,” Sophie started, “I know you insisted on coming to Sarajevo, but I don’t know if this was
the best id–”
But before his wife could finish her sentence, he heard an explosion behind him. The Archduke
whirled around to see the car behind him in ruins. His eyes went wide. His bodyguards were
there, his friends, the men assigned to protect him at all costs, even if it meant laying down their
own lives. Shouts could be heard from the crowd as they dispersed in terror. What the Archduke
didn’t notice was the figure calmly looking over the scene, pulling his scarf tighter and leaving.

The boy shook his head as he lifted the cup of coffee up to his lips.
That damn cult, what was it called? Ah yes… The Black Hand. Ruined everything for me. Now
the Archduke is frightened, he knows what we’re capable of, what do I do?

You need to assassinate him, Sava, no matter what it takes. It’s the only way to prevent ultimate
world destruction.

How do you know that this will even happen, Mother?

I can see the future, and you know that.
The boy squeezed his eyes shut and gripped the table, and the voices finally stopped. He
rubbed his temples, thinking about the future of not only Europe, but what the world would have
to face with Franz Ferdinand still alive. He couldn’t let her down, he couldn’t let the world suffer.

“I think it’s time to go back to Austria-Hungary,” Franz Ferdinand announced to his team, a
frown spreading on his face. “I won’t keep up with this intolerance any longer.”
“But Your Highness, I suggest we plan a different route on the way back to the train station, we
don’t want this horrific attempt at assassination repeating itself.”
“Do the police know who did it?” the Archduchess peeped.
“A young man around 19 years old. Police traced him back to a Serbian secret order known as
the Black Hand, entrusted with the ultimate goal to bring down Austria-Hungary. And what better
way to do it than to assassinate its heir,” a bodyguard said darkly. Franz Ferdinand put a hand
to his chin and thought.
“We should focus on getting out of Bosnia for now, and we must settle this turmoil once and for
all. Re-plan the route,” the Archduke ordered. No way was he going to be assassinated by a
group of angry nationalistic teenagers. Not today. Not ever.
The heir of Austria-Hungary and his wife piled into the car and drove away, with his bodyguards
on their highest alert. They passed shops and restaurants, the whispers could be heard by the
townspeople of the events that happened earlier that day. Franz Ferdinand tried to tune out to
the voices, but failed. His car took a turn and went past a cafe with bright yellow umbrellas
strewn outside. Suddenly, the Archduke’s heart stopped. Sitting in one of the tables covered by
the yellow umbrellas was a figure. And just as if it was in slow motion, Franz Ferdinand watched
with wide eyes as the figure had gotten out of his seat, pulled out a gun from his jacket, and
pointed it at the car with a look of utter menace.
“Sophie!”
And the heir of Austria-Hungary saw red…
And then black.

He couldn’t believe it. Not only did he successfully kill the Archduke, but also his wife, their
unborn child, and a bodyguard. But before the boy had any chance of celebrating, the last thing
he heard was a gunshot wound before an immense pain filled his abdomen and spread around
his body like a wildfire. He looked up to see Franz Ferdinand’s remaining bodyguard with a gun
in his hand, wafts of smoke coming out. The boy clutched his stomach as he fell to the ground
with a thud, watching the police run towards him before his vision went blurry and blacked out
completely. And at that moment, time came back to life.

“What did you call me here for?” the inspector demanded as he briskly trudged into the medical
room. He stopped immediately as he set his eyes upon the body that lay across the table.
“There’s been a recent discovery, sir. I inspected the body of the boy who killed the Archduke
and I’ve found something… interesting,” the examiner said as the inspector eyed him with a
suspicious glare.
“And what could possibly be interesting about the body of a Serbian boy stupid enough to
trigger something he was too young to understand. We are at the brink of war!”
“That’s the thing, sir, only it wasn’t a… boy,” the examiner said nervously.
“What?” the inspector said in a dangerously low voice.
“The Serbian who killed the heir to Austria-Hungary was not a boy, sir, it was a woman.”

Berlin 1914

“Sava Petrovic, a 16 year old Serbian woman, who posed as a boy for more than half her life
and has been living on the streets since her parents’ deaths, killed the Archduke Franz
Ferdinand,” General Otto Schmidt explained to his league of generals at a military base in
Berlin. “At first we were unsure about her motives, and even almost came to the conclusion that
she was involved with the Black Hand, but we soon found out she was working alone. When
found, she carried only two things on her: a shotgun, which was the murder weapon to kill the
Archduke, his wife, and one of his bodyguards, as well as what we presume to be a letter.”
General Schmidt then proceeded to take out a bloodied piece of paper with spidery handwriting
on it. “I think reading this letter may very well help us understand why she did what she did.”

Mother,
By the time you read this (which may be never since you are dead), I have succeeded in killing
the Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria-Hungary. I have prevented world catastrophe, and a
dictatorship that will wipe countries off the face of this earth. I did exactly what you asked me to
do all those years ago. I remember specifically telling me, “Sava, if Franz Ferdinand lives, he will
eventually be corrupted by the Austrian-Hungarian government. He would’ve become
power-hungry and cruel, and will not stop until he has not only all of Europe, but the world in his
palms.” But now that the deed is done, I must also admit that I may not be alive at this point
either, since the act I committed may result in my untimely death. Goodbye, Mother, and I hope
to see you soon.
Yours,
Sava

By the time General Schmidt was finished reading the letter, the entire council was silent in fear.
“A… a seer? I thought they didn’t exist anymore,” one of the generals whispered.
“Oh they’re still around all right. A species of the human race that could potentially come with
disastrous consequences for the rest of the world,” sighed General Schmidt.
“So… does that really mean the Archduke may have become an evil tyrant?” a major spoke up.
“If it has been spoken by a seer, then it most likely is correct. Gentlemen, young Sava Petrovic
has changed time, and now the future is uncertain.”
“What does this mean, General?”
General Schmidt put his hands on the table and looked at the fearful crowd of military officers.
“It means it’s time for Germany to attack. It means war. ”

Somewhere in Belgium 1914

Deep in the campgrounds of the German army, a young corporal was nose deep in a book
recently written about the assassination of Franz Ferdinand. His eyes grazed the pages and
soon stopped at one name.
Sava Petrovic. A name lost forever in history as the Girl Who Twisted Time. She destroyed
something I believed in, something that could’ve made the world a better place. Where
Germany reigned supreme–
“Sir, your squad is requested in helping to attack Paris,” a private came into the tent. The
corporal slammed the book shut and looked up, his dark eyes swimming dangerously. He gave
a malicious smile.
“Alert the rest of the squad then. We are heading to France first thing tomorrow morning.”
The private gave a salute before exiting the tent.
“Yes, Corporal Hitler!”

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Kumar shares the following statement about their piece:

My name is Suhana Kumar. I’m from Vancouver, BC and am currently in my second year in Waterloo’s Arts and Business program, studying Speech Communication. Ever since I was young, I’ve always had a passion for writing and making stories. Back in high school, I was fascinated with the history of World War 1 and the assassination of Franz Ferdinand by the secret society known as the Black Hand. I started to think about the concept of changing history, and not knowing what actually happened during certain events. So, I wrote this short story about the assassination of the Archduke with a twist, adding in fantasy elements to create a story I hope history and fantasy-lovers alike can enjoy.