Entry 1: The Metamorphosis
1st October 2025
I have never been particularly good with communicating my feelings to others. To speak on such matters has never come naturally to me. Even as a child, this was apparent early on. It was my mother who suggested to me that should I ever feel frustrated or if I felt that I couldn't talk to anyone at all, I should write my feelings down instead, so here I am.
Writing as if my actual name is Doktor Erik Schneider, a graduate from the Free University of Berlin. A widow, whose wife died after a short and aggressive battle with breast cancer. A man who speaks both perfect English and German, indicative of his upbringing by a German father and English mother. A man who seeks a new beginning in America after his wife's death. A perfect story and tragedy.
Erik Schneider is not real. Nor is his wife, his background…none of it is real at all. Erik Schneider is a role I must play, conform to as if I am the wolf in sheep's clothing.
More importantly, something has happened to me, something that I cannot talk to my family about. Not that I don't want to them about it but I am under an oath and promise not to. As for who I actually can talk to, I don't really know. I don't know if I can even trust anyone anymore. Trust is seemingly dangerous in this line of work I've found myself willing to accept and now entangled in, like an unwitting fly caught in the spider's web. Trust appears only to be a liability and a means of getting hurt. Once you get hurt, it's not so easy to rebound back. Never sell your heart to anyone.
It's been a long time since I've last written a journal. Life goes on, people come and go. Time passes by. Piece by piece, day by day, you gradually become a different person as your experiences shape your resolve and view of the world. I can see this in myself and it frightens me how my thinking has changed since not even a month ago. If it's only been a month, imagine how my thoughts would change in a year, two years even.
To begin, I've recently graduated from my PhD in Biochemistry. For a brief time, I had to contend with the unknown path after graduation. Where would I go next? What would I exactly do? I feel so naïve thinking about such concerns now, even though it has only been a few weeks, almost a month since I've completed my university studies.
Life suddenly becomes open. It's not just about finding a job and accepting career opportunities but at some point, a base must be established for family. It's time to think about the future and what I want from it, what I particularly want to achieve. For a brief time after graduation, I had been obsessed with the unknown, wanting to tackle it head on.
Everything rapidly changed in the blink of an eye, my life taking a complete turn forever. It had only been a few days after I finished the PhD when I received a letter addressed specifically to me. When I first saw it, I didn't think much of it. It was just another ordinary day in the week. I recognised the insignia of my university on the envelope. I opened the envelope, read it and was pleasantly surprised. I was to return back to the university the following day to talk to one of the professors about an award. My parents were proud of me, my siblings congratulated me. My life was perfect.
But when I opened that deceivingly innocuous letter, my life from there on was turned upside down. Only at that time, I didn't know that. I was so blissfully and painfully unaware.
The following day, I arrived at campus promptly. I always had a perchance for being early during university as a means to amend for my unorganisation and tardiness during high school. As I walked through the halls, I felt odd. I was no longer a student here but a guest. I had walked through these halls so many times during my undergraduate and postgraduate studies. A chapter of my life was gradually coming to a close and another was beginning to open. It was time to close it once and for all. Before long, I had arrived at the relevant faculty, making my way to the head of the faculty's office, where I was told to meet the professor about the award.
I swallowed, both nervous and excited. I had never expected to get an award, although who does. I composed myself, knocked on the door and patiently waited, keeping my thoughts focused instead of daydreaming.
To my surprise, the door instantly opened and I was face to face with a man who I had never seen at campus before. He was quite tall, nearly going head to head with the top of the door frame, making me feel quite small, even though I wasn't that short. He was around my father's age, more than likely slightly older, his blonde hair evidently greying. His eyes, an electric blue, had a cold and calculating look to them that made me hesitant, unsure. He was dressed formally, making me feel entirely too casual for the occasion, a fish out of water. I was sure this was the right office I was supposed to go to.
"It's good to see that you are early Doktor Schneider," the man commented, bringing me out of my unexpected daze. I was puzzled as to how he knew my name since I didn't know him. "Come in."
The man left the door open and walked back inside the office, striding past the desk and sitting on the chair behind the desk. I entered, closing the door behind me and faced the man in front of me. He sure made himself comfortable with his surroundings, his expression difficult to read or gage.
Before I could say a word, the man gave a nod of acknowledgement to me and gestured to the chair in front of the professor's desk.
"Have a seat Doktor Schneider," he calmly spoke with an authoritative tone. "I am Maximilian Richter, an agent and representative of the Gestapo."
At this announcement, my jaw almost dropped. The Gestapo had a reputation for being highly mysterious to the point that there were many stories and rumours about them although I supposed that was the way they liked it. Unpredictable. A powerful asset particularly in warfare.
It was clear he had been expecting me for whatever reason. Unsure of what to think and the fact that my curiosity got the better of me, I listened to him, entering the office and cautiously sitting down on the chair in front of him, sitting up straight and levelling my gaze at him. This man was most certainly not in the mood for pleasantries. We held eye contact for a moment.
"Do you love your country Doktor?" His voice was cold, causing a chill to envelope my spine whilst my thoughts spiralled with confusion.
In spite of my confusion, the man's gaze made it very obvious that this was a very serious matter. I was glued to the seat, unsure of where my voice had disappeared to.
The man adjusted his glasses while still holding eye contact with me. He was definitely judging me closely. I watched him relax back on the chair, his gaze then briefly shifted to paperwork in front of him on the desk, that I hadn't noticed before originally when I entered inside the office. I can only wonder what those papers were all about but perhaps I didn't want to know.
"I love my country with my life, Herr Richter," I found my voice at last, not forgetting to address the man himself. "I have grown up being an ardent supporter of the Greater German Reich. I know no other home."
I was surprised how natural I sounded, as if it were the most obvious fact in the entire world. For a moment, I forgot that I was even nervous or worried. I was merely having a discussion about my patriotism.
"If I had to or could serve the Reich in any way, I most gladly would," I added, keeping my gaze fixed on Richter.
I meant every word wholeheartedly and if I had to, I would prove it.
Richter continued to scrutinise me. I remained silent, briefly watching Richter place the papers to the side, away from him. He placed both hands on the desktop, our eyes met.
"That is excellent news to hear Doktor Schneider, most excellent," Richter nodded, allowing a pleasant smile to form across his lips.
If it could be called a smile was something else entirely.
I remained rigid on my seat, awaiting to see where he would take the conversation.
"You'll be doing the greatest of services to your country, should you accept this task that the Gestapo has selected for you to complete. You will become a hero to the Reich, forever remembered in German history when your task is complete."
My eyes widened with surprise and any words I may have had, eluded me all of a sudden. A hero to the Reich, forever remembered in German history. Such a bold and strong promise. I could only wonder and ponder upon the exact nature of the task that the Gestapo had chosen me to complete. Heroism was one thing but an enduring legacy was another. How peculiar would it be to be remembered and for all the children in the future to learn of your exploits in history classes, like that of the first Fuhrer himself. Such thoughts were admittedly very alluring.
I immediately chided myself for getting carried away with personal vanity. My parents brought me up better than that.
Serving one's country faithfully was the highest honour one could achieve in their lifetime. Remembrance, like any other additional detail, was nice but not the sole motivator. For the better of the Reich and its people. For the better of the Reich and its people. A mantra to live by.
Suddenly, I hit a roadblock in my thoughts. What skillset and expertise could I offer to the Gestapo? What had they seen in me that I had not? The only service I had done was standard: as an adolescent, I was a member of Hitler Youth. That wasn't too special since virtually all the boys were members and the girls were members of the female counterpart organisation, the League of German Girls, also known as the Band of German Maidens. More and more questions suddenly occupied my thoughts with little to no answers for them.
I had been wrapped up in my thoughts that I initially failed to notice Richter eagerly anticipating my reaction like a hawk.
"It would be an honour to serve the Gestapo Herr Richter," I answered, still remaining cautious, carefully gaging any change in Richter's expression. "Although I'm curious as to what I could exactly do for the Reich."
Richter's lips curved into a satisfied smile as he only cocked his to the side, nodding in response. I wasn't sure if I could entirely trust the man at all but that was just how I perceived Richter. Maybe it was on purpose by Richter to instil that sense of questioning, a way of differentiating the strong from the weak. God only knows how long Richter has been working for the Gestapo. I was nothing but a mere rookie, to be easily taken down.
"You've recently graduated from your PhD of Biochemistry Doktor Ritter. That is an immense achievement. Congratulations."
I didn't believe Richter's "well wishes" for a second but I would go along with whatever he said. I nodded slowly first.
"Thank you, Herr Richter," I forced myself to pleasantly smile.
Richter smiled briefly in response before resuming back to the business at hand. He either knew or didn't care about what I thought truthfully.
"Your welcome Doktor. Now, with your recent graduation, that makes you a biochemist at the least, someone with the expertise and understanding that is needed for this task," Richter answered, deliberating his choice of words carefully.
I eagerly anticipated the man's next choice of words.
"Even though you are not a member of the Gestapo yet Doktor Ritter, you can be trained. However, should you accept this task, you shall endeavour none of this to anyone at all. Not even your family will know that you have joined the Gestapo. It is a matter of utmost importance to the entire Greater German Reich. What is spoken of in this room, shall remain only between you and me. Is that understood?"
"I understand Herr Richter," I nodded, feeling my palms were slightly sweaty. I placed the palms of my hands on the top of my knees. "It's only between us. Since the Gestapo has chosen me for this task, I accept."
For God's sake, why couldn't the man just get on with the point of this meeting? I reminded myself to remain composed and patient, not to jump the gun just yet.
"Good," Herr Richter answered, seemingly satisfied, which was rather unusual coming from him in the short time I had come to know him over this meeting. "Now, that's been established, we shall move on to the task you'll be partaking in."
I nodded slowly again. Finally. I refrained from making any sighs or comments. Two ears, one mouth, I remembered. Use them wisely.
"The Gestapo has received intelligence from one of our best undercover agents based in America, detailing a grand research project, which has caught the attention of the American government to the point they are personally funding it. Other than the government funding the project, the details of the aforementioned project are scarce," Herr Richter paused for a moment. "The details were so scarce that we almost doubted the project's existence completely. It's been codenamed Project Light and it is being overlooked by the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, who are directly liaising with the White House."
I blinked. This was a much larger task than what I thought it would be. Going undercover in a foreign country, one of the Reich's greatest enemies at that too, was something I couldn't have anticipated at all. How funny my day was shaping out to be. Coming for a supposed award only to be surprised by something else entirely different.
Richter withdrew a few separate papers from a folder on the corner of the desk. He passed the papers to me and I began to read them, consolidating the deeper details.
"If you already have someone there, couldn't they just find out more information?" I carefully questioned as I glanced up from the papers.
"Our agent, unlike you, doesn't have expertise in biochemistry and already has a set task to complete. Here at the Gestapo, we're always looking for new members to bring and contribute something different to the agency, hence why we have chosen you," Richter replied, neither kindly nor unkindly but as a matter of fact. "You will infiltrate the company who are in charge of the project, Vita Technologies."
I raised my eyes at the mention of the company name. Vita. The Latin word for life. I continued to read the papers.
"The company is only a small one, relatively obscure, which should make getting involved in the project much easier. They're based in New York City. You will send whatever information you obtain about this project to your handler, who will watch your back and help you if you get in any sort of trouble. Do you have any questions?"
I glanced up from the papers again. Richter again awaited with that same eager expression on his face.
"I suppose I begin now then," I spoke carefully after a moment of silence had passed.
"You do," Richter nodded, slightly leaning back. "Everything you need will be accounted for. You won't have to worry about anything at all Doktor. I also forgot to congratulate you for your award as well. Well done."
"Thank you again Herr Richter," that news had been entirely unexpected, coming from nowhere and I couldn't help but genuinely smile.
Thankfully, that had been real.
"Now, we shall begin immediate preparation and planning for your eventual arrival to New York City."
This was how my life as an agent for the Gestapo began, how my life irrevocably changed forever as I knew it. I knew my life would change. That was a definitive fact but I didn't know or realise the extent of how I myself would change.
It was the day I died and the day that Erik Schneider was formed, fully coming to life.