Joe’s Book Club

I spend a few days hanging out with the Sorrows tribe – which is only marginally better than hanging out with the Mutants in the ski resort. On reflection, it’s pretty improbable that any of the tribals will snap and try to eat me, but to be fair the mutants were as peaceable as anyone else I’ve met in the wasteland and at least the mutants spoke English.

One thing that the Sorrows do have over the mutants is that they live in a area overflowing with food, so I’m pretty unlikely to starve here. Indeed, I’m positively overloaded with fruit, vegetables and meat that I gathered while exploring this old national park. Also, fresh water means that the water bottles I’ve packed are basically dead weight.

With so much going for it, you can probably see why there is fairly little motivation for me to move right now. I suppose that I could set up a trade route between the Sorrows tribe and the Dead Horse tribe… but there are only the two missionaries who are actually willing to trade – so it would be less a trade route and more a delivery service.

If it wasn’t for the imminent threat of attack from the White-leg tribe, you could almost imagine that this is how Joe might go out – slowly integrating into the tribes and occasionally fairing goods between Graham and Daniel, living in a place where the only danger was from animals rather than raiders, watching a new civilization grow free from the constraints of the old pre-war world.

But alas, it’s not to be – the White-Legs are coming, and that means that my stay here will only ever be a temporary affair.

 And all without even needing a GECK.

And all without even needing a GECK.

Still, the White-legs aren’t here right now, so I may as well enjoy the time I do have.

It could be easy to get bored here, but luckily I brought a few good books with me (or at least, useful books) and I spend my days reading them. It can almost feel my survival, repair and bartering skills growing.
And when the dry self-help books get too much I can always entertain myself with more of the survivalist’s diary (which is stored on my Pip-boy).

January 13th, 2097
The Coughers are gone finally. All 34 that still lived. Ate their dead for strength, then struck out SE.
Victory. 10 months of killing. All I feel is cold.
They deserved every goddamn bit of it.

January 17th, 2097
Thought I was dreaming but the screams were real. For a moment thought they’d tricked me, just pretended to leave Zion, then sent a patrol to track me down. But the screams were a woman’s.
Edged around corner in passageway to have a look. One Vaulter, ankle deep in bear trap. Leveled my SMG but the way she was crying stopped me.
How she screamed when she saw me. Been their boogey man a long time.
Name’s Sylvie. Claims she ran away from them. Calls them evil people, “children of the devil”. Turns out they were sick after all, something they caught in a Vault they lived in. She never came down with it (yet).
So help me, I’ve wound up being her nurse.

January 18th, 2097
Her story matches what I learned from my “interrogations” last year, but according to her – let’s just say it was bad to be a woman in that group. So when they left, she slipped away.
She knows nothing about living outside a Vault. Says she wants to learn.

September 9th. 2100
Never been so scared in my life.
Canada wasn’t scary, just sickening, the criminality of it.
The end of the world wasn’t scary. When I knew you and Alex were dead, I didn’t have anything left to be scared about. I just went on for some reason.
I wasn’t scared fighting the Vaulters. It was like I kept daring them to finish me. When I killed them, I think it was the closest I came to being happy in years
Sylvie is pregnant. And I am terrified.
Ridiculous old man. A father again at 47. In this world?
She’s so excited and so – trusting. Says it’s God’s will that we have this child. Like nothing can go wrong.
You see, Char, she doesn’t know about you and Alex. Never told her. Almost did sometimes but what you and I had, it seemed wrong to share it.
More like an old man not wanting his young wife to know how he failed the one who come before her.
Hiking into Toquerville for medical books and supplies. This will be done right.
I’m sorry, Char. Hope you can forgive me.

Canada. I’d read about that in the books back in good ol’ Vault 101. Not sure what was so criminal about liberating Canada and allowing it to join the USA, but apparently this guy had been part of the welcoming committe – Welcoming Canada and her oil to join the US of A.

March 5th, 2101
Baby was breech. Would’ve been a son. Michael.
Did my best to turn him. Failed. Must’ve done Caesarian too late. Had to put Sylvie out and she never woke up.
Buried them south of the Narrows. Well. This time I was by their side. So much better.
I think I can finally do it. Blow my fucking brains out all over this goddamn cave.

This guy… he has no damn luck.
It would have been depressing if that was the last entry in his story… however I have susaqunt entries from some of the other caves I’ve looted visited.

August 22nd, 2108
10 sets of tracks 1/2 mile NE of canyon entrance. Barefoot???

August 23rd, 2108
Saw them through scope. Corpses walking around. Finally gone crazy. Dementia maybe.

August 24th, 2108
I’m not crazy, they’re real. Goddammit they are real.
Rushed me the moment they saw me, snarling like animals. They look like corpses but don’t smell rotted.
I’ll be putting them out of their misery. Doing for them what I never could for myself.

September 3rd, 2108
The last of them. All gone.

February 5th, 2113
Happy birthday to me, happy birthday to me, happy birthday you useless old dinosaur, happy birthday to me.
Happy 60th. What do you get a man who has everything?
A bottle of whiskey and a 12 gauge slug through the roof of the mouth! Whoo!
Come now. What do I have to do to prove to myself that I’ve lived long enough?
I’m a shriveled old man. White beard. Seen enough sunrises and sunsets. Saw the big sunset, been hanging on through the long night 36 years now. Ridiculous.
Not kidding myself into thinking there’s anything on the other side of this. Fine. Things weren’t so bad before I was born.
Char and Alex. Sylvie and Michael-who-could’ve-been.
Thoughts of the beloved dead before dying.
Goodbye, Zion.

February 6th
Fucking didn’t do it, coward as usual. Maybe two bottles next year.

April 25th, 2123
24 of them, half boys, half girls. Youngest is 8 maybe, oldest 13-14. Dirty and scrawny, been on foot a long time. Children’s crusade.
Struck camp on nearly the same spot as los mexicanos, 30 years and a lifetime ago.
I’ve spent 2 nights listening to them. English. Literate. One of them reads stories while the little ones fall asleep.
They escaped someplace they call “The School” but can’t figure out where it was. When they want little one to behave they tell him to stop or “The Principal will get you.”
Principal better not show up or I’ll blow his goddamn head off. I can still shoot straight.

Have to say, I do feel a bound with the survivalist – we both lost the only worlds we knew and then had to make our way in a scary and unfamiliar world. He’s undoubtedly a better man than Joe, but then again he lost a lot more than I did and afterwards his world was largely one of solitude. Meanwhile the first person I met after having my life ripped away was a raider who wanted to shoot me in the face.

Perhaps I’m being too hard on myself. Sure, ol’ Joe is somewhat self-centred, but I did right some of the time – In Operation Paradise Lost I helped some kids escape slavery. And I helped Primm reinstate rule of law. Surely that makes up for shooting puppies, murdering an intellectually challenged mutant, looting corpses, shooting a man in cold-blood (even if he was a bandit) and leading a lovely, confused old grandmother to her death? Maybe?

Regardless, I hope this group of strangers work out better for my faceless friend than the last group did.


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