Ed note: Not familiar with The Bridgewater Underground Chronicles? I don't blame you, it's weird. I get it. But if you want to get caught up before reading this, here they are, in order:
For those of you that remain and want to continue, congratulations. I guess--Ted
Where I am now is never really warm enough in the winter, never really cool enough in the summer, and never really dry enough when it rains. It just...is. One day after another, all blending in to one, taking me farther away from...It, but never letting me forget about It, either. There are constant reminders--whether it's sitting right in front of me or in my peripheral vision--that tells me I'm not home, not where I should be. Not where I need to be.
But that's what happens when you're in exile. People forget about you, move on, try and pretend that life is normal. That's when you know a coup has worked. I wake early now, at least on most days. Sleep, although a necessity, is more a luxury than anything else. My thoughts never settle me anymore; if anything they make me more restless, more anxious. Because I know what looms ahead.
Plans are in motion.
What's that? The Happy Times?
Yeah, I remember the Happy Times. They seem so long ago now, almost like a dream. But there we were, in full control. Running the show, taking the land by storm. We had it all in the palm of our hand, and we were ready to roll through everyone. It felt like nothing could stop us, nothing at all.
It was right there. We were all so foolish. We should have known better.
'We should really take care to protect those skinny knees', said the Chicken Little Crowd. 'It's our one vulnerability.'
Should. Boy, that's a hell of a word. Combined with hindsight it always provides the clarity you wish you had at the critical moment, doesn't it? Those words carry weight now, but back before It, that was the rallying cry of Chicken Little. The sky wasn't falling, the sky was the limit. Get on board the Super Bowl Express, full speed ahead. The warnings and concern about injury were dismissed, cast deep into the sidelines.
Much like a Tarvaris Jackson dump off throw.
I remember the moment it went all so horribly wrong; we all do. It's one of those 'where were you when you heard about it' moments that will never leave you, for as long as you live.
It was a beautiful day, a day where the sun shined so bright you didn't think anything so horrible was possible. We had overcome The Old Guard, established a new era of Quarterback Peace throughout the land, and we were giddy with What Would Be. Everyone was. There was peace, prosperity, and we all had visions of a Lombardi Trophy on every mantel in the land.
It felt Like The Time Of Tarkenton And The Great Purple People Eaters, at least that's what some of the elders were telling us.
I was in my office at the Department of Glove Development, plotting the final destruction of Nashville, when the first calls started coming in. It's funny that in this Age of Instant Information, where the history of all the world's data is available to you in the palm of your hand, how information can be so scarce when you really need it.
Disbelief became annoyance. Annoyance became concern. Concern became worry, worry settled into shock.
And shock became inaction.
Oh sure, we got on our radios and alerted everyone to what was happening, but our message was jumbled, confused. We were paralyzed with inaction, quite frankly. And it was that inaction that allowed the coup to take place. It was done before we could even alert our security forces. Hell, I give the Army of Bradford credit--no one saw it coming, and by the time we knew what was happening, it was too late. It was over without a shot being fired, except the one to the knee that we thought killed our leader. Quite frankly, we were rolled up easier than a Leslie Frazier defense. And before we knew it, we were in a strange land, wandering aimlessly. We had no leader, we had no direction, we had no hope.
Not only was the trade ruthless in its efficiency, it was swift and absolute. The first thing they did was seize all the media outlets, and did a hell of a job controlling the message. They also scored some key early victories, which pacified the population early. While they were controlling the message, behind the scenes we were quietly rounded up in one mass sweep, put on a Lake Minnetonka dinner boat, and sent into exile faster than the Return Of Randy Moss.
And as we looked from afar from our wasteland, it looked like Bradford would sweep aside The Movement into the dust bin of history. The Bradford Army looked unstoppable at first, and some of us were ready to welcome or new Quarterback Overlord. When we were told through back channel communication we could return home if we took a Bradford loyalty oath many did, and they returned to their previous lives. Hell, I can't blame them. I almost did myself. We were cold, starving, and almost without hope.
And when the 'he'll never play again' propaganda reached our shores, more left, and soon we were down to a scant few.
But cracks began to show in The Bradford Army. Small at first, but they grew larger, and more obvious. Obvious to the point they could no longer be ignored if you knew what you were looking for. It took us awhile to realize we weren't dead, but hope soon returned to us in the form of Instagram and Snap Chat, and hope is a powerful aphrodisiac. Soon, people began returning, and our movement began to rebuild. Slowly at first, but you could feel momentum returning to our cause.
We've sent out some cryptic messages, and with each one, more partisans flock back to us. Our numbers grow by the day, and one thing seems clear--we're coming home. And when we do, we will be ready to reclaim our throne. But we also know that with that, there are dark clouds on the horizon, darker than any dastardly coup.
Which is why these days, my thoughts consume me and sleep escapes me. With each second, the hour draws near, and with each hour, one thing feels more and more certain.
War looms, like Mordor once loomed over Middle Earth. A storm gathers, and it feels like a storm that can't be avoided. The Bridgewater Underground wants peace, but the Bradford Army is entrenched, ready to defend their leader to the last.
But make no mistake, we are returning home. Home to what is rightfully ours. Maybe not today, maybe not next month, but we will return. We desire a peaceful transition, and we hope no Internet message board blood will be shed. But if there is to be war, then let there be war. It will be uglier than the Ponder-Webb Quarterback Message Board Wars of aught 12 and aught 13, but we are steeled in our resolve.
We are the Bridgewater Underground, and we are coming home.