As with many mish-mashes in my writing mind, two (or three) elements have come together at once. Seemingly at random. But maybe that is what creative writing is.
I enjoy speculative fiction when it deals with different time lines. This subject was one of my favourite in the Star Trek series. I have never really written anything speculative. Sometimes, in my historical works, I slip in a suggestion that this is where such-and-such began. My 3rd Century onion farmers, for instance, have ideas about growing which are ahead of their time.
For whatever reason, today I realized that, although one of those favourite time-travel topics is, "would you kill Hitler", I don't think any novel has been written about the actual consequences of such an act. I mean, I know I'd be in trouble because, since I am the child of a war bride, I would not exist. But what might be the world-wide consequences if Hitler had been stopped, oh, five years before the war. Follow through on that.
Well, I do have a short story where Kafka is offered the chance to kill Hitler. It is far-fetched, but not impossible. By not impossible, I mean that Kafka could actually have (in the real world) been in the position to kill Hitler. They were both on the same side in World War One, and Kafka (in reality) desperately tried to join the army. He was deferred because he was considered too valuable to civilian society. But, had he slipped away and gone to Germany and joined up and been in the trenches when Hitler was . . . hey,it's possible.
Now to the title. MY story is called KAFKA IN ZURICH (which he was in reality, at the time of my story). And from there this proposal commences. I include the first couple of pages with this blog. But, will a more forceful title attract readers and editors and publication. Is the title of this blog a good title? Should I be more aggressive still? "KILL HITLER!" "KAFKA KILLS HITLER" "KAFKA AND HITLER"
Ah - what will sell?
KAFKA IN ZURICH
Meet A. in Zurich. She is an austere, darkish woman, with intense eyes and a generous body. She takes me as younger than I am - everybody does. My height attracts her. "You are Franz Kafka?" she asks. "Yes." "The writer?" "Yes." Whenever I agree to this, it sounds like a confession. "I think you can help me." As she speaks, she unobtrusively removes a deck of cards from some inner pocket of her fashionable attire. "We both see the future, we just use different tools." "It is not difficult to see the future," I say. "Imagine the worst." A. then begins to regale me with the revelations of her cards. There is soon to be a war - which she calls the First of what will be Two World Wars. She goes on at length about some Austrian corporal with a moustache. She wants me to join the army so I can kill him. I point out that if this war indeed occurs, the Austrian corporal and I will be fighting on the same side. "All the easier to shoot him," she says. I can't argue with such logic, but ask if it is really my duty to upset destiny. She says that if the Austrian corporal survives this first war, he will start the second war. And during this Second World War, all my sisters will die in some unspeakable places of horror, where Jews are cooked in ovens. I am so surprised she knows about my sisters, that I neglect to ask what becomes of me. "Jews in ovens would be nothing new." A. says that what the Austrian corporal can cause will be beyond even my imagination. I tell her to check her cards, for this would make him truly evil. "Are you evil?" A. looks at me intently, with nothing less than naked expectation. How can I answer her something I've been unable to answer for myself? "I feel evil - yet I never do evil. For example, I would like to damage my father, but I act toward him as a perfect son. This perhaps makes me a hypocrite, but does it make me evil? Can I be evil solely through my thoughts?" "I'm asking the questions." A. smiles, but shows no humour. "So, perhaps I must answer with questions." I point to the cards spread in front of her. "Would it not, in fact, be evil to stop the Austrian with the moustache, for who am I to judge what destinies he may fulfil?" "But is it right for the Austrian to be in control of so many destinies?" "But if he is their destiny ..." I begin. "But if you are his," she responds. "If all is equal to all - then I should do nothing." I am worried about my sisters. I attempt to deflect the topic, but she is too astute not to realize what I am doing. A. lets me ramble about the weather and the beauties of Zurich, but when my meagre store of travellers' knowledge is exhausted, her quick smile is again forced. "A pretty castle of words, Herr Doktor Kafka." She taps the cards with her finger. "But let us remove this platter from the table first." "You expect too much of a sickly man." I nod toward the cards. "They say this Second war is still thirty years away. I will be too old and ill to do their bidding." "You are being deliberately obtuse." A. measures me with her eyes. "It is in the First war, barely three years from now, where you get your chance to kill him." Her eyes blaze until they become unfocused. "Squash him like an insect." "I still don't believe that one act of evil can cancel another."
"Think of your sisters." The words are hissed.