To all those who helped me get where I am today, who are too many to count and list in their entirety, ranging from beta readers, editors, and others who helped with forming this story to those that have simply helped me as a person and author to become better:
Thank you. This story wouldn't be what it is without your help.
Writing this story has been a labor of love. I don't remember the entire genesis of this story anymore. I remember that the various ideas came together on the bus, after hearing about a few terrible things that had happened. Whether I heard it over the news or from someone on the bus has been washed away by the flow of time. I do know that I took those horrible, true stories and forged a back story for Jason from them. Add to that back story a plot idea fermenting in the back of my head, and fortuitous timing, and you have what lies before you, a story which has touched more people than I imagined when I started it.
I owe thanks to many people for this story, too many to list here. But I do thank them, every last one of them. Thank you, you know who you are.
As for you, readers, before you read this story I need to provide a warning. This story is not -- I say again, not -- for the faint of heart. There will be darkness. If I do my job, you will come to love some of these characters. And in my writing, not even the main characters are immune to death. I don't intend to randomly have them killed by speeding cars, but people are going to die.
That said, this story is in many ways about choice. It's a theme that will pop up again, and again. People choosing to do something, or not do it. People's choices being influenced, but it's still their choice. And, at the same time, people who have had choice removed from them -- who are being forced into things they don't want to do. Main characters will die -- this I promise you! -- but their death will not be random, senseless acts, but will stem from their own choices and decisions.
So, consider this my warning dear reader: This story is not for the faint of heart. There is darkness, there is hell. But if you read it, I hope you take away the light -- a light which shines all the brighter for the darkness surrounding it.