I didn’t want to kill them, but I did. I loved them so much that I couldn’t let them live in this world.
I killed my sons first. That was easy and done with a mix of sleeping pills and the last five oxycodone from a nasty dental extraction five months earlier. I’d ground it to fine powder and put it in the last of our chocolate pudding, which in this world of dead light was a luxury in itself. They became drowsy, and my wife and I lovingly carried them to bed. We tucked them in, told them we loved them, and kissed their foreheads as the red-orange of the sky bled through their bedroom curtains.
Our daughter, done with university studies as higher education no longer had any value, sat on our couch reading a book on her iPad. The iPad’s battery would soon expire and be as useless as technology faded from the planet. The internet still worked most of the time, but “who wants to read the same depressing shit day after day?” That was what she had said before abandoning life in the dorms.
“What are you reading,” I asked, leaning over her. She had the back light turned down to conserve power.
“Psalm 43.” She didn’t look up at me as I leaned over the couch back. “Not that I get much from it. God’s dead.” She had picked up reading the bible since she’d left home, but with what had happened to the world, she’d lost what faith she had gained. Reading passages was only a way to pass the time. “The burning is getting closer. Can you smell it?”
I nodded in agreement and kissed the top of her head. She returned to reading, and I hovered over her for three seconds before acting. I had practiced pulling her head back cutting her throat many times and had diligently researched what would happen in the moments after the carotid artery was cut. Her neck gave little resistance as I jerked her head back by her hair and slid the barber’s razor from ear to ear.
The blood sprayed out in a gush for one second, and then pulsed in time with her dying heartbeat. The pulse became weaker as her heart lost blood pressure. I had taken care to get her windpipe so there wouldn’t be any screams. There was only the rush of air from her body’s only highway for breath. It took mere seconds for her to die.
I eased her body on the couch and closed her eyes. Allow me to say that it isn’t like the movies when you close the eyes and they stay closed. They sprang open, staring dully at me. I felt a sharp pang of regret and hatred at what I had done, but it really was for the best. Hell was coming, and I didn’t want her to live through it.
I turned to the window with its open curtains. The horizon burned and so did the all-encompassing sky. Everything during the day was coated in Hell born red-orange, and a dull red at night. My daughter had been right; the sulfur stench had gotten worse in the past two days. Looking out I could see the silhouettes of distant flying objects locked in their dance of death with each other. We still had some fight and resources left. I sighed knowing that it was a very brave, but very useless attempt at hanging onto life. I closed the curtains and turned to the bedroom hallway.
My wife would be in our bed, listening to her audiobook, likely one she’d listened to once already because that was her comfort. I entered only to find her facing away from the door, folding laundry.
The clothes she folded weren’t even clean. They were clothes we had only worn once or twice since the water had become dingy with filth and decay, making it unfit to clean anything. At first boiling water had gotten rid of enough of the impurities, leaving a lingering smell of rot. Drinking it would quench your thirst if you were able to get past the faint tang of blood. Of course, drinking it on a regular basis would make you sick with bleeding mouth ulcers and growing tumors that made you curse a dead God and a joyous Devil. With civilized medicine being eradicated in the months leading to now, you avoided drinking the water in copious amounts. And don’t make me talk about bathing in it. That was a quicker way to die than drinking it.
“You don’t have to do that,” I said, standing in the doorway.
“It gives me something to do. The server to my Star Wars game was taken over by ‘the news’ yesterday. God, I need some coffee. I haven’t had any in a week. Is coffee too much to ask for?” She threw down the pair of socks she’d been matching, and leaned forward on her clench fists as she sobbed.
“Baby, I love you, and it will be okay. I promise.”
“It’ll be okay?” she growled. Her voice rose as she roared her response to me once more.
I knew she would whirl around to face me. Her face was one of rage at my false reassurance. I don’t think she consciously registered the baseball bat that collided with her temple. The swing knocked her to the floor. I dropped my bat, sat down, and held her convulsing body.
She looked up at me with bewildered eyes as her limbs twitched. That dying light that people mention in the eyes of the dying is real. I gazed tenderly into her irises as she retreated into eternal darkness. I stroked her bloody hair and ruined face, and smashed skull, not even offering an apology for I knew I had done what was right.
I laid her down on our bed, and pulled the comforter over her. It was now my turn.
I had my grandfather’s .45 automatic from the Korean War. That was my end. I wanted everyone’s end to be thought out and personal. I gave their ends much thought and consideration. Instead of being homogeneous for them all, I wanted their souls to know that I cared enough to research something individual and close to painless for each. I loved them from start to finish. There was no malice involved, except for me. And in that. this weapon of war and hatred would be mine.
I loaded a single hard ball round into the magazine and chambered that round.
I placed the muzzle to my head and squeezed the trigger. The world vanished for a moment, and then reappeared. I wasn’t in my bedroom; I was floating above a city. It might have been New York City or Melbourne, Australia. I didn’t know, I didn’t care. The sky was transitioning from red to red-orange and the only sound I could hear was the beating of furious wings; my wings. I had become what I feared would consume my family. In my desire to save them from the evil that had become our world, I had become what had killed hope, kindness, and love.
This work is copyrighted by Jason McKinney and cannot be reproduced in whole or in part with express permission from the author.