The local UAS forces are still around. In truth, it doesn't look as if they're going anywhere for a while yet. To a small degree our people are integrating with them, putting aside the recent past to help them hunt for food and stock up. They've paid back our kindness nicely, though, to make sure the gestures on our part are not seen as unappreciated or ignored.
They've swept the area so clear of zombies it's almost unreal. The one thing the UAS has going for them is weaponry and ammo, almost a ridiculous number of both. They're letting our folks patrol with them and even giving them guns--which they give back at the end of shift--to better clear out all the little hidey-holes we know about. It's an awesome use of resources in the truest sense of the word. I can't believe the UAS are willing to expend so much to protect this area, especially so soon after an armed conflict.
I don't know if there are larger things I'm unaware of behind this, but right this second I don't care. Haven is being worked on in the open because there are no zombies close enough to hurt anyone. Between UAS patrols and our own folks, there is now a free zone five miles across, centered on Haven. No zombies, no enemies breathing down our neck.
Almost like home. You know what I mean? The way the world used to be. I'm told people are working on the walls, fixing houses, my brother David doing his best to manage it all. Our home is going back up at a remarkable pace. Amazing what you can accomplish with the right conditions.
All of that makes me very happy, it honestly does. At the same time it's bitter knowing that soon enough I'll be leaving it behind. I don't regret the choice at all, I'm just stewing in how much I'll miss the people and the place. My brother and I, for example, have grown very close since The Fall. Without jobs and distance between us, we've had the time and conditions to become great friends. It's hell, knowing I won't be able to see him whenever I want. We won't be a world away or anything, but even short distances nowadays are potentially lethal. Saying hello every weekend or month is out of the question.
It comes down to life, really. Doesn't matter what the world is doing, whether it's chaos or ordered. People change. Things change. There is no perfect homeostasis, everything in a closed system where nothing can vary. We all have paths to choose, ways we want our lives to go. Mine is with my wife and a cluster of similarly-minded people. We need something smaller, more isolated. Something private and safe. Well, safer.
Dave and I grew up together, but when he moved out of the house and started a career we drifted apart. There was no fault in it; the man was building his own future. He got married, started a family, had a life of his own to manage. Those were all good problems to have. If it left him less time for his little brother, I certainly never held it against him. His happiness was always the important thing, just as mine was. It's the distance between us that made the times did see each other that much better. Reconnecting, laughing, sharing history. Beautiful stuff.
When The Fall hit us it was the shared loss that brought us closer. Dave is a busy guy around these parts, and if neither of us makes the effort it can be a week or more between seeing each other. Again, no fault. Not in him or anyone else I care about. We all have our own lives to lead, our own choices to make. I know for certain that the people I love and respect understand my choice to leave. But that doesn't mean we won't all miss each other terribly. I sit here in the wheelchair they hauled me to Haven in, watching people laugh and joke as they rebuild. Kids roam the streets even with rents in the walls, because there are enough people out there making it safe that they can, for a little while, just be kids again.
I see the home I fought so hard to defend rising from the ashes again, the love of its people so clear and pure, and pride burns in me. Pride and sadness. I love it here, in ways I can never express, and the people are dear to me. The only consolation I have is knowing that when we leave, behind us will be a place not dead or dying, but growing and evolving once more. When the day comes I can walk--or roll, depending--out of Haven, I can do so knowing I'm leaving it in better shape than I found it.
That'll have to do.