I woke to an odd sound this morning. I haven't heard anything like since I was a young kid; so long that it took me at least a minute to recognize it for what it was: a young girl's sobs. That I am still alive is almost too much to try to believe on its own. But this was even harder to comprehend. Sara, the girl who has been catatonic for months, who we have all given so much for... she's finally awake. She can talk, feel, move on her own... It's incredible. I think she remembers everything that's happened around her. She hasn't said much about it all but she seems to know who I am, seems to trust me. She even asked where the others were. I didn't know how to tell her they were dead. I still can't really tell that to myself. Kal and I... shit, we were friends! And he's gone now. He walked into a gate to some fucked place and he didn't come back because it exploded into a bunch of useless pretty colors. And now he's just one more dead body, one more candle snuffed out in the breeze of my life's continuance. And all I have to show for this is cuts that will eventually scar and in time fade away with the passing of my own soul. Arkady and Damien gave their lives to so the rest of us could focus on our task, and JD spent his last anger to give us a chance at actually doing it. I am the only one of us who hasn't made that sacrifice, who still clings to life at the expense of others. Hell, even Jared and Alan, who joined what they knew was a suicide mission, gave more than I have. At least some of those who joined us, Zabulon, Dante and the Sage, managed to keep alive. But of the original Operation Wintergreen, I am the only one left.
But Sara is here. Whatever Kal did... it worked. And I have a purpose again. Getting Sara back from the Thief wasn't my job. That was Kal's. Mine is getting her home. To her parents, back in Colorado where this whole fucked up thing started. I don't know what I'll do after that. Where I'll go. I do know this, though: whatever ends up happening to me, whether I find happiness or die a poor and lonely man or suffer through mediocrity for the rest of this life, I am free. I can feel it in my bones. I still jump at every elongated shadow, I still worry at the noises at night. But I know, with every fiber that is me, that we won that night. And our victory, no matter how small, no matter how Phyrric, has saved this little girl from a twisted fate. I don't know what Kal did where ever he went... But the weight of my Stalker's haunting has left my shoulders, and all of his horror has gone away.
-Michael Henry Abner