Just 500 steps. That’s all it will take me to reach him. Less than the journey from work to my home. Less than my Fitbit tells me I’ve already walked today. A smaller number than my mind can process. If I linger too long, the opportunity will be lost. So I take the first step, then the second, the third, fourth, fifth.
I stare at my feet, at the road beneath them, thinking of nothing but the faded tar and the numbers that are swiftly running through my head with every footfall. I can feel the people around me, going about their busy lives, their words nothing more than a mosquitoes hum, completely incomprehensible. 115, 116, 117, 118…
The words come from nowhere, and go nowhere either. They are simply left hanging before me, a tantalising morsel, asking me to follow them.
“No,” I say aloud, eliciting stares from passersby. I can feel their eyes on me, can feel the gooseflesh that forms at the nape of my neck, but I don’t look up from the road before me. Let them stare at the hunched over woman making her way through, strangely dressed and unfamiliar. They’ll forget all about me before too long, I’m sure of it.
“Or perhaps they won’t.”
“Stop,” I whisper. “Please.”
“I’m just saying that it’s something to consider.”
“I’ve done my considering. The decision’s been made. I’m here, aren’t I?”
“Doesn’t mean you have to go through with it.”
“Dammit,” I say, far louder than I’d intended. I stop in the middle of the street and raise my head to the sky. More stares, more muttering from the oblivious peanut gallery. “Now I’ve lost count.”
“Two hundred and ninety seven.”
I lower my head once more and continue.
298, 299, 300…
Nothing is familiar. I don’t know why I’d expected that it would be, but there’d always been a sense that once I got here, I’d simply know what to do, where to go. I’d been shown maps, of course, had stared at photographs for hours just to be sure that I would be in the right place at the right time, that I’d know him when I saw him. His features were burned into my memory from years of study, of preparation. I must have seen thousands of photographs, and if I closed my eyes I could see them still, each one clear as day. And though none of the buildings around me seem familiar (and why would they – they aren’t the target after all – they’re nothing but stone in the grander scheme of things), in the distance, a mere 50 paces away, I see what it is that I’ve been looking for. My feet quicken without my needing to push them to.
40… I think… I could be mistaken… but I think that might be…
25… There can be no more doubt.
10… My hand escapes from the pocket of my coat, and…
Adolf Hitler (1889-1937) was an Austrian-born artist and activist, but is most famous as the chancellor of Germany – the dictator who rebuilt the nation after World War I, and plunged it into World War II.
Write at least 500 words, either from the perspective of this historical figure, or someone observing them from the outside. You could focus on their character, their work, their achievements, or the perceptions that others had about them.