"I should go take her to see it", James O'Toole thought as he sat perched in front of his television set. The national six o' clock news was on and a special breaking report of an unforeseen eclipse was being broadcast. "I can surprise her" he thought to himself. James didn't have much save for the two-bedroom apartment, his wife Suzanne, and their ten-year old daughter Vanessa. He may not have had a lot of money to his name but he was by no means a poor man; however. What he didn't have in money he made up for in companionship and spirit. He was a damn good husband and father, at least that's what Suzanne and Vanessa had told him. "He's trying his best" echoed through his mind like the drums of war every time there was the least bit of silence in his apartment.

"She'd enjoy that, she's always been interested in whatever goes on up there" James thought as he was planning out what to do for Vanessa's birthday. Her birthday was in a week so he knew he had to get a move on it. "Maybe I can get her one of those fancy telescopes and we could watch the eclipse". As the news hammered on in the background, the door flung open and Suzanne and Vanessa walked in in an uproar of good spirits and laughter. The house was warm and vibrant again. James was no longer along with his thoughts, and that made him happy.

They didn't know what his actual job was. They had always thought he was some lowly desk attendant working for a big pharmaceutical corporation. Or at least that what he had told them. He couldn't tell them what he did. He, "swore an oath to secrecy", as they called it. He would tell himself that every night in hopes it would make him feel better. It didn't. He hated having to keep secrets from Suzanne. He loathed the idea of lying to her where their money came from. He loved her with every bit of himself and if that involved keeping her safe from the cold hands of the Authority than so be it. No matter how much he hated that secrecy, he loved knowing they're safe. That's all he ever wanted, for them to be safe and for them to be secure.

That night after he and Suzanne had put down Vanessa for bed, he received an email.

From: GDirector██@rcpnet.bz
Bcc: All current standing level 1-4 Authority Personnel
Subject: Point Alpha Protocol
«Begin Transcription»
To all current standing Authority personnel, I hope this message finds you all well. Not only are we in the midst of the end, but there is also nothing you can do about it. In fact, there is very little even we can do.

To get to the main point of this email, I'll keep it short. The council of global directors, including myself, have decided to initiate what we are calling as the Point Alpha Protocol. This does not concern the major portion of you; however, the portion which does includes the mass termination of all your positions. You will still receive all the salaries and benefits you have earned during your time here, your presence will not be needed however.

For those of you with families. We at the Authority urge you to spend the rest of your days with them. Cherish the moments you have, for there will not be many left. Truly love one another and be with the ones you love from this moment on. Make amends with any and all enemies you may have, as soon it will all be over and done with.

A select few level-4 clearance employees will be receiving a separate email detailing the Point Alpha Protocol. Please stay alert for such email as it will be coming shortly. To everyone else, enjoy the rest of your days here on Earth, and godspeed to you all.

Yours Truly, Global Director ██
«End Transcription»
Note: Message will be automatically deleted in 300 seconds.

James didn't know how to react. He obviously couldn't tell Suzanne or Vanessa. They would hate him for lying to them all these years. All he could do was what he just read, spend time with them and love them to the best of his ability.

Suzanne came up behind him. He jumped at first at the surprise of someone being up at this hour but he knew he had promised to finally watch that show he promised to watch with her. "Why is work emailing you now? Don't they know that people have lives outside of desks?" she asked him. He didn't have an answer. You never have an answer to those kinds of questions. "I need you to sit down" he told her, evading the question. She obliged without hesitation and pulled out the wooden chair next to the table they built together some time ago. She knew her husband wasn't a rash man, so when he began to exclaim quick demands she would listen. "I don't have a job anymore" he told her briefly before adding that he doesn't need one. "I don't understand." she responded back. Of course she didn't understand. No one would, even if they were explained everything. "I need you to just listen to me. I want you to quit your job. I want to take you and Vanessa on that trip you've always wanted. I want to spend all the time I can while we actually can." he told her. That's all she had to know. That's all any of them had to know. That's all any other Authority employee would be telling their family. "What are you saying James?" she replied with confusion. "I need you to just trust me, please. I can't explain and I wish I could, but I can't. It's too late to explain and I don't want to lose anymore time than what needs to be lost" he rebutted. She didn't know how to respond. They both just stared at one another with a blank slate of a face. They were both scared, but for different reasons. She thought her husband had gone mad, finally succumbing to the schizophrenia his family was predisposed to. He was scared of losing them sooner than he was supposed to. Suzanne got up after some time of just staring blankly at each other. She quietly gathered her things, woke up Vanessa, and they went on their way. James didn't know where they were going, and neither did they. All that mattered to Suzanne was that her husband had gone mad, and that they weren't safe. All that mattered to James was them. They were no longer with him, and away with them went that voice in the back of his head.

Although his face didn't show it, he knew he would no longer have to try to do his best. Because it would all be over, and it all wouldn't matter. Not him, not the trees rustling outside his two bedroom apartment, not the cars passing by on the rainy street below him, not the green hills he would trek as a kid with his school friends, not even the Earth and the stars in the black sky Vanessa loved, and especially not that voice in the back of his head telling him he that he was trying his best every silent moment that crossed over him. Nothing would matter, because all that could have meant something to him had been gone with the closing of that front door, on the night the sun began to blacken.

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