Murder never goes as planned.
This phrase seemed to follow me throughout my existence, like a heavy, heavy shadow that grows bigger as the sun sets. It’ll probably be etched on my gravestone, right next to “Here lies good ole What’s-His-Name” and “We hardly knew ye.”
Nobody knows my name. I’m not even too sure of it myself. I just don’t care anymore for some reason, although I like to think that it’s something suave and thrilling, like Rhett maybe, from that big Clark Gable film everybody loved. I honestly have no idea, though.
I’ve been called several names throughout the years. There’ve been dozens, like the Grim Reaper, the Caller, the Fourth Horseman… The list is endless. American President Frankie Roosevelt himself once dubbed me the Shade during one of his radio broadcasts. My personal favorite is the Hearse. I always liked the way that one sounded.
My handiwork is sprinkled all over the 1930s. Businessmen, executives, overlords, Boy Scouts, little old ladies. If someone wanted someone else to be dandelion fertilizer and that first someone had enough dough, they’d come to me, and their murderous wish is granted within the week.
Most call me a killer or an assassin, but I prefer the term catalyst. I do my job, collect my cash, and walk away. If I leave some crimson stains along the way, that’s no concern of mine.
As I crept through the darkness that night, I felt a new name for myself rising: Messiah. For the first time, I was moving without being told, acting without a superior. For the first time in my life, I had my own free will. I had come to this tiny corner of Europe to fulfill one of my own wishes. Tonight, the vilest man in history will die, and I will be the catalyst that took him down.
The trip here had been long and tiresome, but all I had to do was picture the Target dead before me, and I kept going. As I’d approached his hiding place, I was amazed that no one had stormed it already. It was hideous and snarling, with an electrified fence running around it. Sharp barbs topped the fence, like teeth on some nightmarish beast. This was Satan’s manor, staring back at me.
Through the blanket of midnight, I could vaguely make out the Target’s minions marching to and fro. Even their steps were rigid and hypnotized. They were armed with enough firepower to take the States, but so was I.
I made my way toward the compound. A handgun was strapped to my hip: a Beretta M 1934, loaded with a single 9mm Corto bullet. That one was for the Target. Another gun was slung across my shoulders: a Karabiner 98k, smuggled directly from the Nazi scumbags to me. The rifle was stiff and heavy like a sack of potatoes, but it didn’t weight me down. Rather, the idea of using it against these evil creatures that called themselves humans made me walk faster.
I knew that thousands of poor, innocent people were trapped inside this awful place. The Target made his living by torturing and humiliating, and he loved his job. He called himself a scientist, but he was merely a sick, twisted man with a few tools. Every single day, the man would choose dozens of prisoners and use them as experiments. Rumors had reached me that he was designing new poisons and weapons of war that only a mind as warped as his could dream of, and he tested them on the prisoners.
It didn’t matter their age, race, sexual or religious orientation. If they had a pulse, the Target used them in his experiments. I had heard that many of these test subjects weren’t recognizable as humans when they were finished with.
Not only were they killed, but they suffered unimaginably before their deaths. Pain like none other. In their final moments, they were worth no more than dirt. Agony and torment, all to please one cruel, soulless man.
My heart hammered just thinking about it. Tears poked the backs of my eyes, but I didn’t let them fall.
Why was this? I was so baffled and confused that I hadn’t slept in weeks. I, a catalyst, a killer, was feeling sorry for these people. The exact type of people I would gun down in exchange for a couple bucks.
It didn’t matter, I said to myself as I moved closer and closer to the Target’s compound. Something in my heart and mind was changing. Compassion, maybe? Who knows? All that was certain was the guns in my hands and my longing to shoot that wretched man in the gut.
I entered the compound. The Target’s bodyguards were surprisingly inept. Many smoked cigarettes and swapped stories with one another, so it was easy enough to stroll right past them.
Several short, stocky building dotted the compound. They looked like a soft breeze from an ocean would topple them. Grime and wear covered the stone walls, doors hung from their weak hinges, terrible smells floated from within. Smells that could make a charging elephant change direction.
The prisoners’ barracks. The Target couldn’t be crueler, herding the people into these decrepit shacks like cattle. I wanted to cry again, a sensation that was relatively new to me, but I fingered my Beretta and moved on.
I found a tall, plainly unattractive building deep within the hideout, like an office building dropped right in the heart of hell. Dim light shone out from a few of the windows, giant eyes growling at me, an intruder.
I entered before my nerves could get the best of me, but then I realized, surprisingly, that I wasn’t nervous. The Target was in here, and I was the catalyst that would finally put a stop to his madness.
A small antechamber led to an even smaller study. I slipped my gun from its holster, feeling sweat on my palm. The single bullet in the Beretta was meant for the Target, and I saw him sitting in a leather chair, scrawling information on a document.
His eyes moved up from the paper to me, as if I was an annoying gnat instead of an assassin pointing a gun at his heart.
I spoke, my voice hoarse. “Dr. Josef Mengele…” The name was vile to speak, yet satisfying. “Stand slowly.”
Dr. Mengele, the German Nazi Angel of Death, sighed and set his paperwork aside. His hair was plastered down to his skull, and his teeth jutted out like a horse’s as he smiled at me.
No doubt, this was the smile hundreds of broken, innocent Jews had seen as they died during one of this scientist’s experiments. How appropriate that he would die with that smile on his face.
A gunshot shattered the air.
Mengele nodded a couple times and scratched at his unshaven neck.
I stumbled backward, the Beretta slipping from my loose fingers. Hot, sticky blood dripped from my neck as I fell to my knees.
A uniformed guard stepped up beside Mengele and scoffed. He shot another round into my chest.
The doctor laughed. “Put the body on ice and move him to the laboratory. I want to take a look at him…”
I snarled one last time, the curved, foul smile of Dr. Josef Mengele being the last thing I saw.
I just hope he gives me a proper gravestone.
Murder never goes as planned, after all.