Passion for the PAST from historians of the FUTURE

The Black Hand by Jackson Pengilly

The Black Hand

By Jackson Pengilly

The moon silently slid behind a cloud, plunging the streets of Sarajevo into darkness.

Garvilo’s cat-like eyes peered out of the darkness, scanning the street for anyone.

His heart was racing a mile a minute as he began to contemplate what he was

planning on doing. After seeing that the street was empty he darted across the road

and into a narrow alleyway. He crept along the alley careful not to make a sound. As

he neared the end of the alley he heard loud slow footsteps from the street ahead.

Gravilo snuck to the end of the alley and from the shadows gazed out. There was

an Austrian guard slowly walking along the street. His head was hanging low after a

long night’s duty. He plodded right past Garvilo without noticing him. Blood rushed

to his head as he thought about killing the officer. The officer’s back was to him and

no-one was around. Just as he reached for his knife he stopped himself. “No,” he

thought to himself, “There is too much at stake to risk it all!” Anyway, if tonight went

according to plan then he would have done much more for Austria than simply killing

a single officer. After the officer was well out of sight he silently dashed around the

street and down once again an alley. Creeping silently down the alley he stopped at an

iron door that was set inside the wall. He quietly knocked on the door and waited.

Gravilo stood there and looked around waiting for the door to open but it seemed as if

it wasn’t going to open. He began to panic as he worried that maybe he was at the

wrong place or that it was a trap to get the rebels. Then, as he was about to flee,

a small shutter in the door slid open, revealing a set of large beady eyes staring

at him. “What is the colour of midnight?” groaned a voice from behind the door.

His mind froze as he attempted to recall the code word. “Uh, Sanguine” Garvilo

stammered. The shutter suddenly slid shut and then the door slowly opened. The

man behind the door was standing there in a robe that was as black as death itself.

His eyes were sunken into his face which was old and withered. His bony hand

gestured for Garvilo to step inside. Garvilo inched his way through into the room.

The room was unearthly cold and then as the old man shut the door the room was

shrouded in pitch black darkness. “Follow me,” ordered the old man as he grabbed

Garvilo’s arm and dragged him forward. Despite the old man’s appearance he had

a surprisingly strong grip. Garvilo was guided down some steps. The sound of his

footsteps echoed off the stone walls. They stopped outside a rusted iron door. The

old man produced a small key from within his cloak and opened the door. Light

flooded out of the room. The room was a basement that was lit by a roaring furnace

set within the wall. There were five other men standing there nervously. All were

about the same age as Garvilo, around eighteen or nineteen. Garvilo stepped inside

and then heard the door lock behind him. Garvilo was now alone with the five other


After an eerie silence a man who was about half a foot taller than the rest started

stammering “Wh-Whats your name?” He hurriedly readjusted his glasses and looked


“Garvilo. Garvilo Princip” he tried to say with as much boldness as he could muster.

“Good to meet you Garvilo. I’m Nedjelko” bellowed Nedjelko.

Nedjelko was the biggest of the five. He wore a brown suit and had a big bushy

moustache. He was beaming at Garvilo.

“I’m Trifun and this is my twin Vaso” called Trifun in a monotone drone.

Trifun and Vaso were identical in almost every way. They both were standing there

with their backs bent. They both had the same pale colourless eyes. They both wore

white dirty shirts with black trousers. They seemed to have no emotion in their pale

faces. Gravilo was wondering what could make two people like that. Completely

empty of any emotion at all.

“I’m Lazar” barked the last of the men. He had bright red hair that was poorly cut and

choppy. He had scars all over him and a particularly nasty one down his right cheek.

Lazar’s clothes were battered and torn and he looked like he had been living on the

streets. His eyes were darting around. He seemed to be twitching like he was always

on edge.

“Oh a-and I’m C-C-Cvjetko“ stuttered Cvjetko. He was polishing his glasses but only

seemed to be rubbing more dirt onto them. Then, as if he had been waiting for them

to introduce themselves, the old man stepped back into the room carrying a brown


The old man chuckled “Come now if you are willing and step forward and receive

your weapons and the mark of the Black Hand” said the old man with a sinister grin.

Lazar stepped forward almost instantly. He confidently picked up the handgun and

bomb and then refused the suicide pill. He then opened his palm. The old man pulled

what looked to be a fire poker out of the fire. The tip was white hot and fashioned like

a small cross.

“Ujedinjenje ili Smrt! (“Union or death” the old man roared as he slammed the tip of

the poker onto Lazar’s forearm. Lazar roared out in pain and then fell down to his


“No union is complete without sacrifice” the old man sneered.

Lazar staggered back to the others clutching his arm.

“Now, who is brave enough to join the ranks of the Black Hand?” the old man


The group looked around nervously. After seeing Lazar’s pain they were all reluctant

to go up.

“We will” said Trifun as he and his brother stepped forward without any sign of fear

on their faces. They both stretched out their arms and received the brand without

any sign of pain. The both picked up their weapons and walked back silently and

joined the group.

“Are the rest of you willing to join the Black Hand, or are you cowards?” goaded the

old man. After being up showed by the twins and then taunted, Nedjelko stepped

forward and said boastfully, “I am no coward. Ujedinjenje ili Smrt!” He received the

branding and picked up his weapons and despite his pain he seemed to have a

smug grin after proving himself.

“I to shall join the Black Hand” Garvilo announced as he stepped forward. Despite

having braced himself for the branding he still screamed out in pain. This only

seemed to amuse the old man who chuckled as he limped away with his weapons.

Now they had all been branded except Cvjetko who was standing there sheepishly.

“Come on,” Nedjelko encouraged, “join the Black Hand and serve your country”.

The old man gestured him forward silently. Cvjetko nervously shuffled forward and

then looking away he held out his arm. Despite his best efforts he too fell to the

ground in pain. He then struggled back to his feet, received his weapons and joined

the group.

“Brothers! You know your task, now don’t delay. I long for the death of Franz

Ferdinand.” The old man groaned. The old man then left, leaving the newest

members of the Black Hand alone.

“So why did you men want to join the Black Hand?” asked Nedjelko

“To fight for my country! Those damn Austrians need to know that Serbia isn’t to be

messed with!” said Garvilo who had now overcome his shock of the branding.

“I don’t care about Serbia or anyone else. I’m just in it for the fight. The rush of a kill.”

Lazar said with pleasure.

“I’m here for the same reason as you Garvilo. Serbia’s time to fight is now!” said

Nedjelko, “What about you two?” asked Nedjelko, looking at the twins.

“We would rather keep that to ourselves. You don’t get in our way, we don’t get in

yours,” said Trifun cryptically.

“Why are you here Cvjetko? You don’t seem like one who is keen on a fight,” asked


“I-i’m plenty brave I’ll have you k-know. I’m here because A-austria k-k-killed my d-d-

d-dad.” Cvjetko stuttered, almost choking on the word dad.

“I don’t care why you’re here as long as we get the job done,” growled Garvilo as he

began to head up the stairs to leave. Garvilo opened the door back into the alley and

stopped frozen as he came face to face with an Austrian officer.

“Hey! What are you doing out here out night?” the officer asked suspiciously.

Before Garvilo could answer a deafening bang ripped through the alley. The officer

clutched at his chest as blood started rushing out. He then fell to the ground and

stopped moving. Garvilo spun around and saw Lazar standing there, gun drawn, with

a devilish grin.

“What was that for! Now we are going to have officers from all over Sarajevo coming

to get us!” roared Nedjelko.

“Split up! We know what we have to do. Don’t communicate to each other until

the day of the assassination,” ordered Garvilo. He then sprinted away as fast as

he could. Despite all that had happened that night he still excited. Soon Franz

Ferdinand would be dead and Austria would have taken a might blow.

The plan had all gone horribly wrong. Garvilo was sprinting down the streets of

Sarajevo constantly looking over his shoulder to see if anyone was after him. It had

started out so well. Franz Ferdinand had arrived with minimal security. All the men

had gone to their spots, hidden among the crowd there to welcome the Arch Duke

to Sarajevo as he drove down the streets. The first sign of trouble was when the

motorcade drove right past Nedjelko. Nedjelko had, at the last minute, lost all his

courage and frozen, letting the car drive past! If Garvilo ever found him he would

have his head. But it got worst. When the motorcade past Cvjetko, he panicked. He

waited too long to throw his bomb and then when he did he his bomb fell short. It

rolled under a following car. As soon as it went off the whole crowd went into chaos.

There were screams of terror as the crowd stampeded in every direction. The Arch

Duke’s car sped away. Lazar pulled out his gun and then shouted “Union or Death”

and started firing insanely at the crowd. He was then shot and killed by an Austrian.

Cvjetko was captured, whilst the twins had mysteriously disappeared and Nedjelko

was gone. Garvilo had also managed to escape.

He stopped running and looked around to get his bearings. He was alone on the old

Latin Bridge. He gazed down at the river and watching his reflections he wondered

what would come of him. “Would Cvjetko rat him out to the officer, or would the

Black Hand kill him for failing his missions?” he thought. As the thoughts ran through

his head he thought of just giving up. He could just jump into the river and end it

all. However as he was thinking this he heard a car driving along the road coming

towards him. Fearing it was the police he turned around but found to his surprise

it was the Arch duke’s car. What a stroke of luck! The car was beginning to slow

down as they approached Garvilo. Garvilo fumbled around in his coat for his gun.

The car had stopped almost in front of him and was now turning around. Garvilo

could actually see Franz Ferdinand sitting there in his royal coat. Just then Garvilo

drew out his weapon and strode towards the car with a fire in his eyes. Franz’s head

turned towards him and a puzzled look came across his face. The look then turned

to utter fear as Garvilo levelled his gun and fired two shots directly at the Arch Duke.

The first bullet struck his wife in the chest, the second hit Franz Ferdinand in the

heart. Officers from the other cars tackled Garvilo to the ground and then subdued

him but it was too late. The Arch Duke of Austria was now dead and one of the

greatest wars of all time had just begun.


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