My name is Jafferty Prince and I know how the world is going to end.

It was a normal day to let your guard down.  Halloween.  The witches, goblins and fairy tale characters paraded through my yard and onto my porch by the dozens.  Each one with their hands and buckets out, asking for delicious treats.  My wife and I complied with every request.  Our children were out in the neighborhood doing the same thing to other houses and I fully expected the two of them to bring home as much candy as we gave away.  My wife and I were preoccupied between the visits from the masked troupes by the news on television.  The Pope had died and a new one was just chosen.  Smoke was pouring from the Vatican roof confirming the event.  Being devout Catholics our whole lives, it was enough to make us wish our children were home safe instead of out gathering treats.

“Well aren’t you a cute little giraffe!”  My wife grabbed a handful of candy and handed it to the cute little girl holding out her orange pumpkin.  Behind her, the child’s father beamed with pride as his daughter thanked us and ran away.  “So cute!”  She smiled to the older gentleman and pushed the door closed as he walked after her.

“I wish Adrienne would have went as something cute.”  My wife stirred the candy dish and made sure there were enough premium goodies on top for the next batch of visitors.

“She takes after her brother too much for that.  Paul wanted to be a pirate, so she was either going to be a pirate’s wench or a pirate herself.”  I laughed.  Truth was, they took both got their personality from me, but I would never admit that to her.

“My daughter will never be a wench!”  She shot me a glare and then turned back to the door.

“Trick or treat!”  It was a gruff voice.  It sounded too old for a child.

I looked over to see who was at the door, just in time to see it ripped out of my wife’s hand.  Two large individuals forced their way into our home.  They were both wearing black masks and dark clothes.  They slammed the door shut and flipped off the porch light, effectively shutting down business for the night.  My wife backed away from them as they advanced.  I switched into full protector mode, moving in front of her to confront the two men.  They had picked the wrong house.  I was former special forces and the dishonorable discharge didn’t do anything to erase the years of training.  I struck the first one with an elbow and then drove my fist into the second one’s stomach.

“Beth.  RUN!”  Even if I couldn’t stop the two of them, I would keep them occupied long enough for my wife to get away.  That was my only priority.

As she scrambled towards the door on the other side of the house, I took a fighting stance waiting for them to react.  They recovered fairly quickly and then attacked in unison.  The first punch nicked my head.  I was surprised by how hard it was, even deflected.  I got senses quickly.  Every second was a premium and it meant my wife was further away from these maniac home invaders.  I took a punch in my ribs and I heard one of them break.  This wasn’t natural strength.  I had sparred with men who were trained to debilitate with one strike and they were nothing compared to that.  I doubled over and another blow came, then another. First to the other side of my torso, then to my head.  I was nearly out.  I couldn’t maintain my balance.  At least my wife was safe.

“JAFFERTY!  They have our kids!”  My wife screamed from the kitchen.

That shook me back and a surge of new adrenaline rushed through me.  I barreled into the two men as I sprang to my feet and ran to the kitchen where the other exit to our house was located.  I could see my children in the garage.  The door was closed and two similarly dressed figures were holding them.  I needed a strategy.  I had a gun in my bedroom.  If I could get to it, I could dispatch the entire lot of them with four shots.  As much as it pained me, I had to turn away from the horrifying sight and get our only chance of survival.

I turned towards the bedroom, but before I could sprint, the two original men were on my again.  They were faster than I expected and there was nothing I could do.  They hit me over and over until I was on the ground with blood pouring from my mouth.  The two from the garage pulled my children into the house and held them there.  Through the haze of my consciousness, I saw one of them pull a rusty object from a hilt on his side.  I thought that was strange.  It was like a dull knife, but longer.  The blade appeared to be fashioned onto some sort of wooden handle that looked too large for it.  It was a very odd weapon.

“Jafferty Prince.”  One of them said.  I wasn’t sure which one was talking.  Things were a blur.  The voice sounded distorted and chalky.

I tried to find words to respond, but my mouth was full of blood and my brain couldn’t process the words I wanted to say.  I tried to stand.  Another hit came and I went to the ground again.  My wife screamed and started crying as one of the men grabbed her in a headlock.  I wanted the adrenaline to flow, but my body was just too weak.  I had failed them.  I tried to force the despicable images trying to rush through my head.  They were images all husbands and fathers fear, but never think they could actually happen.

“You have been chosen.”  The voice said.

I heard my wife scream again and then I saw the blade of the object go into her side.  It was like slow motion as it slid in and dug upwards.  She gurgled, but it punctured organs.  With a quick thrust it went deeper, then it was quickly pulled out of her.  The man holding her released his grasp and she fell to the ground.  Blood began to pool around her.  I crawled towards her, my eyes were filled with blood but tears were washing it away.  I almost touched her, but a boot pressed down on my hand.

“Please!”  It was a struggle to say even that.  I could tell that something broken was pressing on a lung.  My fate was clearly sealed as was my wife’s, but our children could live if they would just show one ounce of mercy.  I forced the words out.  “Please don’t hurt my children.”

“They are not necessary.”  The voice that spoke to me was the one holding the blade.

I saw my children being pulled into the house.  I hated that they had to witness me in that state, but I hated worse to look in their eyes as they saw their mother dying on the floor.  I had hope.  If they were not necessary, perhaps they could survive this horrific ordeal.  They would be scarred for life, but my family would take care of them.  Eventually, they could possibly put this behind them and lead somewhat normal lives.  I wouldn’t be there to walk my daughter down the aisle.  I wouldn’t be there to see my son achieve his dream of one day becoming a doctor.  I just prayed they would still find their way to those those destinations.

The one with the blade grabbed my daughter by her pigtail.  She was the spitting image of her mother in every way from the beautiful blonde hair to the emerald green eyes.  She got her personality from me, but at least she didn’t get my rugged, jagged look.  I never took time to appreciate her.  I was her father and I tried to give her everything I could, but I never really took time to acknowledge how precious she was, not like I should have.  Now I wouldn’t have the chance.  The man dragged her beside her mother.  He placed the blade against her stomach.  She screamed.

“No!”  I gagged on blood, but words were all I had.  “You said she wasn’t necessary!”

“You have been chosen.  They are not necessary.”  The blade slid into her the same way it was forced into her mother.  There was less of her and the blade went straight into her side and out her sternum.  It was sickening, absolutely horrific.

“Adrienne.  No!  Not my Adrienne!”  I screamed.  I cried.  I hadn’t felt tears since I was a boy.  I used to think I was just void of actual emotions.  The army did that to me, I always thought.  The things I did in the name of Uncle Sam, the things I did in the name of American freedom.  Was this my punishment for that?

The blade was ripped from her and she was deposited on top of her mother.  She fell without moving.  There was no life left in her and all life had left my wife as well.  Both of my angels were dead on the floor and I was not able to do anything.  I swore to protect them and here I was with that role and unable to fulfill those promises.  I closed my eyes and just wished for death.  There wasn’t anything left for me now.  My world had been extinguished in front of me.  The crying from my son shook me back to my senses.  I opened my eyes and saw him being pulled in front of the blade.

He stopped crying when the blade touched the skin showing underneath his pirate’s shirt.  He was trying to be brave.  I always taught him to be brave.  He didn’t have to be brave right now.  This wasn’t a situation where bravery was required.  This was a nightmare, the kind of nightmare you never wanted to witness, much less be a part of.  I tried to find words to comfort him.  I didn’t have anything to say.

“I love you daddy.”  My brave soldier, Paul.  He begged for war stories, tales of his daddy in battle.  I tried to make them sound glorious and gloss over the horrifying nature of what I had done.  How could I explain that to a ten year old?  Maybe if I had, he wouldn’t be so numb to the scene in front of him, then again, who wouldn’t be?  I focused on him.

“I love you too, Paul.  Be brave.  Close your eyes.”  I shook with rage and grief.

He did as I asked.  Always the obedient one.  The blade quickly went into him.  I had to look away.  There was nothing else for me to see.  I knew the outcome.  Everything I loved was dead.  I heard his body drop beside his sister and his mother.  I knew it was my turn.  I wish I could have been first, but at least I lived long enough to tell Paul I loved him.  I would never get the chance to say those words to Adrienne or Beth.  In some ways, I could be thankful they died quick.  There were terrible things in this world much worse than death and I had seen them while I served my country overseas.  I had to find solace in that.

I felt a pair of hands on each of my arms.  They hoisted me to my feet.  I would die on my feet.  I guess that would be the soldier’s death.  Even in my final moments, I tried to find some way to rationalize what was happening.  Did I do something to them?  Were they some form of terrorist group killing the families of soldiers who fought them in foreign wars?  I knew I would not live to find out the answer to all of the questions that were burning in my head.  It took a few moments to realize that I wasn’t dead, that the blade had not come for me.  I opened my eyes and tried to swallow my grief.

“Do it.  Kill me!” I snapped in one final vent of rage.

“Jafferty Prince.  You have been chosen.”  The same words again, almost like I should have known what they meant.  I didn’t.  Something went over my mouth.  I was too panicked to avoid breathing it in.  It was like copper in my mouth.  I knew it was Chloroform.  I had smelled it before and it was unmistakable.  Why would they be using it on me?  Why not kill me?  What was the point of knocking me out before they sent me to the same fate.  Then it hit me harder than the sleep was rapidly descending into.

They had no intention of killing me.