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
“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
“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.