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And I the writer, shall write down on their heads the mark they share. For in them rests The Function for which I gave them when they were born. Open your mouths wide, young lovers should you ever decide to pull the trigger…

Valkery Moon sat across from her husband, looking at him intently as though she could bore into his soul and know what he was thinking. She could figure it out easy enough, though. They were both thinking of the same thing. Raphael wasn’t looking at her anymore. She followed his gaze to the clock and almost winced when she read the time. It was nearly seven pm. Once again, her eyes shifted, this time towards the door as she held onto her pistol, her grip tightening until her very hands shook from the pressure she was applying to them. Harold was seemed more calm about what they were about to do, although Valkery knew that her husband dreaded what they were going to commit. It’s not murder, though. We were ordered. She laughed slightly, despite herself. As if that makes any difference . Raphael looked at her with an eyebrow raised and Valkery quickly looked towards the ground.

It hurt Raphael to see his wife in such a mood, but as soon as the clock moved its larger hand onto the one position, he stood up. Picking up his twin revolvers, he loaded them both and put one of them in the holster around his waist. “Valkery, it’s time. We-”

“I know, my love. It’s now or never, I suppose,” Valkery interrupted as she stood, her auburn hair covering her hazel eyes as she walked towards the stairs. The Victorian style house had always been a haven for their family and its large corridors had always rung with the children’s laughter, arguments, and tears of both happiness and sadness. It was at this time that Valkery wondered how many tears she would shed after she committed her act of treason. It was hard to believe that very morning, they received the letter from The Crown, stating what they must do. There was little debate on the subject between the husband and wife, although their constant sobs didn’t allow for much speech at all.

“Will Janice go first?” asked Raphael. The question made Valkery jump slightly, after noticed that she had been standing on the second step for some time. She nodded slightly, still looking at the floor, the corner of her pistol gleaming from the light in the stairway.

“Yes. You know as well as I that she shouldn’t have to endure the sight,” her own cold, rational voice made her quiver as she spoke the words. It was true though. She loved Janice the best, although as a parent she should have loved them all equally. Maybe that was my downfall , Valkery thought as she continued to climb the stairs. “The last thing I want to see in the whole endeavor is her face after we…after we…” She broke into tears again as the heavy glass of her personage of the killer shatter amongst the floor. Raphael ran to her side and held her for those moments. However, after a minute, she pushed him away and ran up the rest of the length and Raphael quickly followed.

At the door to Janice’s room, Raphael touched the door handle. In an instant, he knew that she was asleep. It took no special power to do so, for his daughter always fell asleep before the others. However, she would also wake up before her brothers as well and more easily at that. Always the inquisitive child, she would rise if she became even slightly aware of any event, and more than likely seek out the source. “Should her innocence be rendered incomplete in our lives?” Raphael heard himself asking.

“Wait!”

Raphael turned around and Valkery was standing there. Her right hand, which was weaponless, was clenched into a tight fist and she was looking her husband directly into the eyes, while her own were wide with horror. However, Raphael realized that it was not his wife’s voice that he had heard. Valkery turned fully around, and Raphael stepped to the side to get a better view. Standing in the hallway was Forgo, the middle child. “I forgot to say goodnight.” Forgo moved his black hair from his eyes, rubbed them then looked at his parents’ hands holding the guns. “What are those for?”

Raphael was the first to speak, afraid of what his wife might say if he didn’t. “We were just about to put these away. We thought we heard something.” Valkery continued to stare at her son, who paused, wondering about what his father had told him. In Forgo’s delirium of sleep, he nodded with understanding. Valkery had already made her way to Forgo and was holding him.

“Mom! This is embarrassing!” Forgo said, annoyed as he would be at 14, but clearly joyous of the show of compassion. Valkery continued to hold on, kissing him on the cheek. This would be the last time with her child, and this is how she wanted them to remember her. How she wanted to remember that night. They said their “love you”s and Raphael and Valkery Moon motioned their child to bed. Valkery wasn’t crying anymore while she made sure her gun was loaded. Her husband noticed this and turned the doorknob to Janice’s room.

“The plans have changed. We’ll have to do Forgo and Janice at the same time, won’t we?” asked Valkery. Raphael looked back and let go of the doorknob for the second time that night. He put his arms around his love and pulled her close, speaking into her ear. “Please…we don’t deserve this moment. They don’t deserve…” And for the second time that night, she pushed him away, just as Zander would be left for second now that the timing had changed.

Why are we being tortured so? Raphael wondered as he stood in the middle of the hall, watching Valkery walk to Janice’s door, briefly looking at the one next to it, wondering how Zander will react. Raphael started walking to the end of the hall and stopped as he heard his wife’s voice, relieved that he didn’t have to see his children’s faces awake again.

“I know that this is all to keep The Function stable, but why our children?” she asked, her voice barely audible to her husband. “Why were do our children hold The Screwdriver Reversed? Why couldn’t it have been an old man, or a deathly sick child?” Valkery asked again. She gained no answer from her husband, but then again… .i. Did I ever expect one? From anyone? .ef. She heard Raphael’s breathing turn heavy and realized that he was crying.

“Valkery, as you have endured them in your womb, you must have known from the beginning you had something special,” Raphael said. “We were blessed when the last one was born.”

“How can you say that?” Valkery inquired, her head hanging as she took the first step into Janice’s room. “What was the purpose of their previous lives if they were to bring about destruction?”

“If they are kept alive-”

“Then the Lost Souls of The Function will escape. I would gladly put everyone else into the same fate! I would gladly use The Blade on myself, you, and the Crown if it were to keep our children alive!”

“Don’t scream, you’ll wake her. Unfortunately, we do not have that luxury, from what The Chosen Prophets have learned. They must die.” With those words, Raphael entered Forgo’s room and closed the door.

There was an eerie quiet as Valkery stood in the doorway of Janice’s room, door ajar. She flipped the light switch, bringing the darkness of the night running to the most hidden corners. Janice stirred and rubbed her eyes, finally sitting up to stare drearily at her mother. Her cherubim features accented the pink and white room she spent little of her time in. The walls were decorated with stuffed animals, sitting on the shelves; the silent jury to the trial and execution.

“Mommy?” Janice asked. Valkery raised her pistol, held it with both hands, and looked into Janice’s horrified eyes. “Mommy, what did I do?” This was exactly what Valkery didn’t want to see. Why did she have to flip the light switch?

If I had just waited a little longer, my eyes would have adjusted to the darkness , Valkery thought and her hands shook, sweat loosening her grip on the pistol. She steadied her gaze and fired.

Twin gunshots rang out in the household, and Valkery could only claim one as her own. Raphael had fired at the same time. Crying reached her eardrums and she looked up to see Janice crying. A bullet hole was in the bed rest, only centimeters away from her daughter, the wood flung about on the covers and on the carpet. She hadn’t done it.

“What the hell were you thinking?!” A smile reached Valkery’s face when she heard Forgo’s angry voice. Raphael hadn’t done it, either. She quickly stood up, for she had been kneeling after shooting, trying to sink into the floor with her shame. Running up to her daughter, she took Janice into her arms and through her many questions, she thought, Justice come from what I didn’t do. Zander would soon be awake and then answers would be due.



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