I found myself back on the pavement again.
This time, the street was totally deserted. I quickly got up again and checked my watch. 09:51. If I got captured, I would have to lose this watch. I should have bought an antique one. Too late now.
I looked around and decided the best point of observation would be a clump of bushes, just behind the bench I had sat on before. I walked up to them, then satisfying myself that no-one was watching, crouched down inside them.
From here, I could observe the Hitlers’ abode, the pavement where I had just appeared – and appeared before – and the high street the food shop was on, where young Wolfgang had been abducted. Perfect.
I checked my watch again and then fixed my gaze at that spot on the pavement…
The old woman came around the corner at the bottom of the street and passed the spot. Then, as I watched, my “earlier” self just – materialised.
No puff of smoke, no shimmer or flash of light. Just one split-second I was not there – the next split-second I was. Despite the lack of SFX, since it was real, it was an eerie sight.
I watched myself get up and walk down the street, then turn around and walk back, then pass and nod at Klara, then head towards the bench in front of me.
It was awfully tempting to have a chat with myself – but it would have introduced all sorts of paradoxes. Besides, I had a job to do.
Thus I remained crouching – and saw the other me get up, go to the Hitlers’ residence, do the deed and set off to the park.
Then the events I had come to see began. Klara came out of the house and bent over the pram. The scream I had been expecting never came. She just stood there. Minutes went by and she did not move.
Suddenly she turned, shut the front door and pushed the pram down the garden path. Opening the gate, she turned in the other direction and went off with the pram.
Thanks to the map I had, I knew where she was going. The wood where the baby was found was at the top of the road. I did not need to risk her seeing me – she would be back before long.
So I waited in the clump of bushes. It was twenty minutes before she returned, by which time my hideout was becoming a tad uncomfortable. However, I had to watch the drama play out.
She came towards me, then turned, crossed the road, went around the corner and trotted off down the high street.
I watched as she paused outside the food shop, saw as she snatched the baby, placed it in her pram and headed back my way. But before she got close enough to see me, I sped up the road and making sure I was unobserved, hopped over her fence and crept around the back of the house.
Fortunately, the back garden was a tangle of bushes (Alois was no gardener) and I managed to find a hiding place from where I could see into the living room and the kitchen.
And so I listened as Klara wheeled the pram up the garden path. I heard the front door slam and moments later she appeared in the kitchen, where she lifted the baby out of the pram, stared at it for several seconds, then proceeded to undress it.
She changed its nappy, then dressed it in new clothes, being careful to wrap them around the baby’s head, so only the little face was visible.
Finally she burned the old nappy and clothes in the kitchen’s cooking range.
Just then, I heard the front gate open. Klara had obviously heard it too – a look of terror swept her face. Quickly, she took the baby into the living room and laid it in a cot.
Alois came into the room.
I had never seen such a brute of a man. He scared me.
As Klara stood there, visibly shaking, his ugly face turned to the cot and became even more hideous. But after a second, I realised he was actually smiling. He bent his huge frame over the cot and tickled the baby’s chin. It smiled back up at him and he chuckled. Even his chuckle was filled with menace, but I saw Klara relax a little.
She knew she had gotten away with it.
I had now found out all I could. I just needed to get out of there, without being detected.
Making less sound than a shadow in brothel creepers, I crept out of the garden, down the side passage and hopped over the front fence and away.
I returned to the same park I had sat in, the day before. I was relieved to discover my other self had already vanished – but I still chose a different bench to wait on.
As the sun began to set, I ruminated on what I had learned. I had never been a fan of sci-fi, but I knew what the words “causal loop” meant. And now it appeared I was part of one.
But could it really be? If I had not intervened, would Wolfgang have led a blameless life and Adolf become the Führer? Or had I killed an innocent person and been responsible for a monster taking his place? In both scenarios, the result had been the same.
My head was beginning to hurt again…