My dearest Evelyn,
If you are reading this, then, against all odds, this letter has reached you, you have ignored my warning, and you have given up. I'm sorry that you are reading this, yet I am not; I am still partially the man I once was, and I am writing this letter now while I still can. Not that I would have written a letter before, but It allows me to keep that part of myself for as long as I continue writing.
I was a man of letters before, and you cannot imagine how it feels to put words to the page after fifteen years of silence. My hand may shake, but it's coming back faster than I could have anticipated. It's like riding a bike; you never forget how to read or write. And I presume it's the same for you, even if it takes effort to form thoughts in words.
You can still remember the conversations we had those fifteen years back, when we first joined the group. Those hushed whispers in the middle of the night, asking if it was the right thing to do. I knew it had to be done, but still, watching as our daughter forgot her first words was the most painful thing I had to watch. She's grown up well, but it's bittersweet to think that she won't understand this letter, even if you tried to explain it to her. After all, we restricted our gestures so that she can't even begin to understand.
Some nights I wonder if the children can even be considered human anymore. After all, we don't teach them about right, or wrong, or justice, or poetry, or any abstract concepts; we only teach them what they need to survive. If all the adults died off they could live and protect themselves, but that would be the limits of their existence. I have a feeling that Carol suspects there is more to the world, though; she was old enough when we joined that she might still remember something of the spoken word.
But at the very least, I can tell you that our preparations were not in vain. Our suspicions were correct; It came from the The Signal, and requires extended communication to spread. Words work exceptionally well, I've seen copies of The Signal reproduced on a single page, but all It requires is to instill a curiosity to learn more, and all the rest follows.
I was infected by the graffiti that covers every surface of the City, and probably every other city besides. At first it was merely beautiful, but when my mind found the words to fit the pictures it betrayed me. It tells the story of The Great Work, and what will come when it is completed.
The Great Work. Everything that It is building towards. And the strangest thing is that It makes sense. That's how It spreads, not through some virus or magic, but by merely making sense, to everyone, except the most cynical or the insane. I've heard that there a small pockets of death-worshipers who still remain free, so maybe pass that information along, if they still listen.
The Great Work promises immortality to all once completed. That's it. It's simple, and the most astounding thing is, we have proof that They have the answer. The heat-stones that the missionaries keep leaving us? They make energy from basically nothing. And they fit in your pocket. The Signal gave us that and everything we could ever ask for, except immortality. It ended war, ended suffering, ended need. And all they want us to do is complete The Great Work to tell Them that yes, we are here.
It might take a hundred years. It might take a thousand. The Great Work is asking for us to cage the sun, and I'm not sure how it would be done, but I'm told that The Signal contains plans for every step of the process. The beads of light we see rising to the sky? They ran a cable from space to the ground, and use it to send things into space. All from The Signal, all for The Great Work.
Everyone works towards The Great Work, even the babysitters and artists. Everyone works where they are strongest; I have enough expertise that with maybe a month or two of training I could work on informing others on what portions of The Great Work needs the most volunteers.
Come down to the City. The Great Work can always use more hands, and you can bring the children with you. They might be a challenge to teach about The Great Work; it might take years, but The Great Work will still be there by the time they learn.
I'm leaving this letter with one of the missionaries heading up in your direction, along with the antibiotics. You'll be on guard watch, or maybe Hans, and you'll yell at him to stop and one of the children will go out search him. They'll find this letter, and as usual, one of you will shoot him, and the children will burn the papers with the body. But if this letter somehow makes it to you, I'm begging you, come down to the City. We will be free to talk and write and read, just like in the old days, and we can teach our daughter the same. It's never to late to learn.
And once The Great Work is complete, The Signal specifies a Second Work, one use our sun to spread The Signal even farther out into space. After all, it's how we received The Signal, and it's our responsibility to spread it as far as we can. The Signal also specifies a reward for every world we spread The Signal to, but what they could be I cannot possibly begin to imagine.
I see that I wrote something on the outside of the letter before I started. I don't know why I wrote it now, but I'll leave it alone.
Come down to the City and join the Great Work. I'll be here, waiting.