No Killer Instinct: R. E. Rothermich
In No Killer Instinct: What happens when an ordinary American businessman with no taste for violence and no espionage experience suddenly finds himself recruited for a top level covert mission with a multitude of lives at stake–including his own?
No Killer Instinct Genre: Mystery/Suspense/Adventure
EXCERPT: No Killer Instinct
Nearing Sassnitz, East Germany
February 7, 1988
Hauptmann Gerhardt Richter, Nationalen Volksarmee of the German Democratic Republic, stared out of a dirt-smudged window of the northbound train and saw nothing. Richter was totally immersed in his thoughts. Had the world around him actually started to change, he wondered, or was he just starting to wake up to the reality of his situation?
The train was beginning to slow down, still several kilometers from the rail yard and docking facilities of the ferry that would transport them across the eastern edge of the Baltic Sea to Trelleborg, Sweden. If Richter were to have directly answered his own questions, he could have simply responded “Yes” to both queries and would have been totally correct. The young, blond, blue-eyed captain was a victim of his own heritage.
The Richter family was steeped in German military tradition. His father presently held a high political office in the GDR, after having resigned his commission as a general in the NVA due to failing health. Gerhardt’s grandfather had served as a colonel in Adolph Hitler’s army.
Richter recalled the stories his father often told of his own father’s activities at Dachau. Privately, among his family and close friends, he actually laughed and made jokes about how the “mighty” colonel would march the Jews to their death and have their bodies stacked like firewood on a cart to be hauled away to some mass grave. Publicly, Gerhardt’s father adamantly denied any connection with the death camp and disassociated himself from anything pertaining to the Nazi party for fear of reprisal. There was never any remorse when he told these stories; they only seemed to become more graphic and more obscene as the years progressed. He often openly admitted he idolized his father and felt that he had been born one generation too late. These are the men I am expected to emulate? These are the men who had an impact on my military education and actually influenced my instructors? Gerhardt Richter had had these thoughts before, but lately they seemed to hang on for longer periods of time and were reoccurring much more frequently. In the past, he would force himself to shake these thoughts and clear his mind, but today was different.
All around him things were beginning to change. Young people talked of abstract things like political reform and religion; they uttered words like “justice” and “freedom.” Something was about to change; it had to. Richter could feel it in his bones.
Captain Richter welcomed his new assignment as commander of the guard to supervise the safety and well-being of East Germany’s finest athletes as they prepared to compete in the European Winter Games. In more realistic terms, it was his responsibility that none of the athletes, coaches, or trainers—or guards, for that matter—should attempt an escape to the free world. After all, that would cause a terrible embarrassment to East Germany.
The GDR had granted permission for its athletes to be showcased in this year’s competitions primarily to counteract the increasingly negative political publicity it had been receiving over the last several months, but also because the games would be held in and around Stockholm, and Sweden was considered a neutral country.
Richter was eager to accept any assignment that would remove him from the drudgery of another gray winter in Berlin. He had heard Stockholm was a beautiful city, even in the dead of winter.
Captain Gerhardt Richter got up and stepped over the other five soldiers in the cramped, smelly compartment of the special government train and into the passageway lined with athletes, coaches, trainers, and NVA guards. The captain was beginning to feel claustrophobic. The lack of ventilation made the smell of cigarette smoke, perspiration, and other unpleasant body odors that much more unbearable. An open-air cattle car would have been a huge improvement over this form of travel.
Making his way to the adjoining car, over the small platform above the couplings, he stopped as a gush of frigid air enveloped him. The noise of the train was loud, and the temperature was considerably colder here in a space only protected from the outside air by the flexible accordion-type material, but there was no one else occupying this space. The cold air was refreshing, and he could tolerate the squeaks, the grinding noises, and the clatter of the moving train. Gerhardt Richter lit a thin, wood-tipped cigar and promptly reverted to his previous mode of deep thought. The slightest fibers of an idea were beginning to form. Possible opportunities? Halfway through the slim cigar, one could detect only by very close observation, a certain glint in the Captain’s eye. The rest of his face remained carved in stone.