If you're reading this post, I'm probably dead. I say probably because I've had some version or another of this thing sitting hidden on the blog waiting to be published since the first few weeks of The Fall. I schedule it with a delay of a few days, changing the length of time as needed. As of the time of this writing I've got it set for three days.
I've updated this so often it no longer contains a single word of the original. At first I intended to leave each iteration of my goodbye to all of you intact, simply adding on as necessary to fit the current circumstances. I even did it for a while but the post was large enough to qualify as a novella. I began to alter instead, deleting old things and adding new. I'm writing this now on the eve of the UAS assault. I know it's going to be bad, no matter what advantages we have.
My hope is you never get to read this, but if my time is over, well...
I have a few things to say.
I've often had to censor myself for the benefit of others. I've always been as honest as the situation allowed. I never shied away from the grisly reality we face as we fight off the swarms of zombies. I've not shirked in my duty to convey the horror stories the marauders carried out in real life. I've done so without guilt or shame because those are things that needed to be said.
And when it comes to the current threat, the UAS, I've failed you all. I've expressed doubt, that's for certain. But I've lied to all of you deep and broad. This conflict is one I think we could have nipped in the bud much earlier. Hell, I know we could have. The enemy was angry and starving and driven, but if we'd have dedicated the resources to understand the problem, to place agents in positions where we could convince key individuals that cooperation could be beneficial for both of us, this whole mess would be theory instead of fact.
I know these things because I've talked to nearly everybody you can think of. I spent a lot of time with the defectors from the UAS. They weren't a close-knit group like us, but the single binding thread was their belief that the majority of UAS citizens held barely more allegiance than they did. That nation, if you want to call it that, is held together by promises of better tomorrows and not much else.
There were discussions about trying to peel off UAS citizens in the way described above. They were considered and dropped. It was believed the enemy was too dedicated, too hungry, to make it a viable solution. Many in the leadership here disagreed, Will included. But he was overridden. It's no one's fault, really. It wasn't a matter of choosing war for the sake of war. It was all about survival and taking the course the majority of the leadership thought held the best chance of survival.
For some of us, anyway. If you're reading this, I'm likely not among them.
If that is the case, I ask you not to mourn. Please. Every day I've had since The Fall began is a day I probably shouldn't have been alive. I got lucky and I know it. I feel incredibly blessed to have had as much time as this. To see my wife survive and thrive, grow and change into--hard as it is to believe--an even more amazing woman. I've experienced a lot of great things, from the thrill of survival to the first green shoots of a new world growing from beneath the wreckage of the old.
I've lived through more terrible events than I can name. And no matter how hard I try, how far I come, their shadows never leave me. Maybe because I'm prone to spells of depression. Might just be I'm not built to endure that much. Capacity exceeded. No amount of rationalization or masking emotions can overcome that darkness. It's manageable but with me every day. Heavy.
I had an interesting conversation with Big K just before I sat down to write this. He's moving for the safety of the fallback areas before this assault bears down on us. He's a good man in a fight but barely able to shoot a gun, and our plans rely heavily on firearms.
It was the longest talk I've ever had with him as well as the most personal. I learned a lot about who he is, and I won't betray confidences. I'll tell you my own secrets, sure. But K carries a heavy burden as well, as I've said before. He's worse off than I am, actually. He can't seem to find that one thing to make it all worthwhile no matter how hard he looks.
For all that, the conversation gave me a measure of solace and peace. Should I die in this coming assault, I'll do so knowing I did my best and fought on despite a weary heart. If I live, I will make changes. I'll have to. Going on will mean finding a way to leave the horrors of the past somewhere they can't catch up. I don't know for sure how that's could happen, but I know it's the only choice I'd have. This sadness and grief is cutting off my wind a little more each day.
I've fought and killed before. Gone to war and walked through hell. That doesn't make me special, just one of you. It has been my honor to help where possible, to be your voice when you asked it of me, and to have some small place in your hearts at this watering hole, maybe the last one on earth people everywhere in our country can visit.
Thank you all so much. From the bottom of my heart, know that if this is the end, I go to it smiling. I may be gone, but because of you I learned how to live again.