Saturday, July 23, 2011

"I Shot A Man in New Reno Just To Watch Him Die": Dehumanizing Stories of Excess From The Wastes

The Vault-Dweller ducked into an alleyway and hid behind a garbage can as the Bishop family's cronies ran past. They were ardently searching for the man who had fought his way into their casino. The man in question was easy enough to identify: He wore a blue cloth jumpsuit with a leather jacket over the top of it, and carried a dizzying array of weapons on his back, including a .44 Magnum, 3 different shotguns, a rifle, 2 sledgehammers, 10-15 pairs of clothes, and 6 sets of brass knuckles. This was, of course, in addition to the thousands of rounds of ammunition he was carrying for each weapon.

Even in the dangerous post-apocalyptic world they all shared together, the weaponry that Vault-Dweller carried would be considered overkill, but when questioned about why (or how) he was carrying that much equipment, his only answer was, "I need something to barter with."
As the footsteps of Bishop's men faded, the Vault-Dweller slumped back against the ruined brick wall. It was astonishing to think of how his life had changed since the Elder had entrusted him with the task of finding the Holy GECK. Yes, he had left his primitive, but wonderful village, and he had seen the world, and that was all well and good. He had also felt, though, that there was some force, telling him where to go, what to do, and when to do it. At first, he had thought this force to be a gift bestowed upon him by the village Shaman to assist in his quest.

Because nothing says trustworthy like a vacant, drug-addled stare.
It had helped him complete the Temple of Trials, obtain a sharpened spear, and find his way to the first town he encountered on his journey, Klamath. Once he got there, however, this guiding force began to feel more like a curse. It started with the small things... he picked fights with people, and wandered into their homes at all hours of the night. He felt compelled to pick fistfights with drug addicts, and he couldn't resist the urge to speak abusively to everyone he met. He would walk around town picking locks and walking into people's houses. When they'd get mad, he'd simply insult them, then run out of town as quickly as possible.

Still, of all the things the unseen force was telling the Vault-Dweller to do, STEALING seemed to be it's favorite. Like a drunk kleptomaniac, he sloppily attempted to steal everything in sight. What began by lifting a few beers off of drunks at the local bar, quickly blossomed into stealing pipe-rifles and handguns from hunters, switchblades and beef jerky from merchants, and soon bottomed out as he stole drugs from a filthy mattress as a crackwhore had a fever dream nearby.

There were times when the force's insistence seemed more erratic than normal, too. Those were the times that the Vault-Dweller feared most, for it was during these periods that he was led to do one unspeakable thing after another, committing violent acts and cussing out prostitutes with abandon. He insulted orphans on the street, then punched the children when they tried to retaliate. There was no rhyme or reason to the things the he was made to do, as if his hands were possessed by the spirit of some unseen, horrifyingly omnipotent child.

"Now, how do I shank hookers, again?"
By the time the Vault-Dweller had arrived in New Reno, many towns' inhabitants had already felt the wrath of his terrible guide, and by robbing the bodies of the dead, he had obtained an impressive stash of weaponry.

Glancing both ways in the alley, the Vault-Dweller shivered in spite of the warm, radioactive Nevada weather. It was thus bristling with weapons that he walked into the the Bishop Family casino in hopes of gathering some information about this new town. As he questioned a craps dealer to little advantage, he saw near the bar, a terrifying older woman who was eyeing him. He walked over to speak to her against his better judgement and, obviously, felt compelled to steal from her. Standing directly in her gaze, the Vault-Dweller's hands were not his own, and he began to rummage through her pockets, brazenly taking everything she had. Where once there was interest reflected in her eyes, now turned to rage as she realized that he wasn't even going to try to feign a conversation with her in exchange for the goods in her pockets, and she called casino security over to deal with him.

A firefight ensued, and like a dolphin with seasickness, the Vault-Dweller's escape became a messy, screeching haze, full of clicks and fury. When the gunfire finally ceased, there were skanky, unwashed bodies everywhere.
And less than half of those people were prostitutes.
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The Vault-Dweller ducked into a doorway off of the alleyway where he now took refuge, and found himself in a small, dark club. He avoided the gaze of the bartender, and slipped into a nearby booth, the irradiated vinyl crackling under the weight of his armaments. He buried his head in his hands, and rubbed his eyes wearily.

He would like to hope that this killing spree was his last, but the force had been with him too long. He knew better. He knew that there were still more homemade shivs to steal, and washed-up porn stars to steal them from. He knew that there were more mouthy jerks whose pockets he would fill with C4. He knew that there were more worthless, dirty Cat's Paw magazines to collect, and more old people to take advantage of.

The Vault-Dweller knew that as long as there was a single debaucherous act to commit in this world, the force wouldn't be satisfied until it had indulged in it, and he, the greatest warrior of Arroyo wept softly, thinking of the horrible things he had left to do.

"Hey jerk," He heard a voice say. He looked up to see a gangster in a dirty pin-striped suit and fedora standing over him. The Vault-Dweller's hand twitched and moved of its own accord toward a pistol at his side. "You're in my seat."

He surveyed the gangster, and knew the force would not suffer this man to live. He unbuttoned his holster, and looked up slowly at the gangster. A smile crossed his face, and the Vault-Dweller stood to meet his future.

8 comments:

  1. Glad to see you writing again! :D

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  2. Your greatest work and my greatest memories!

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  3. You know, I read this originally, wasn't quite sure what to say, and came back to read it again a few days later. Not exactly what I expected - but that's sort of what I like about this and your other posts. Have you been working on this for awhile, what prompted you to write it?

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  4. @ Nick and Keira
    Good to be writing again!

    @ Kender
    I think that those who play Fallout 2 have a special way of looking at the world for the rest of their days... Good to hear that it connected with you!

    @ Chalgyr
    I can't say I blame you! :)
    I played Fallout 2 when I was a much younger guy, and it occurred to me that I was making my character, a hunter-gathering warrior, do a variety of increasingly horrifying tasks, often just because this was the first game where I COULD! This idea struck me as being both funny (for me), and sad (for my naive character), so I thought I would write an article from his point of view.

    The title is, of course, a reference to a Johnny Cash song.

    I guess, to answer your question, I wanted to write something, but realized that as a creative writer I was in the mood to do something more narrative-oriented. So, I remembered this idea, sat down, and wrote it out!

    Hope you got some sort of enjoyment out of it! Don't worry... We'll be back to my regular (if you can call anything I write "regular") stuff in my next article. Thanks for reading and commenting anyhow!

    -BitNick

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  5. @8-bit

    You know, I played Fallout, Fallout 3 and New Vegas - I actually bought Fallout 2 recently from GoG.com when they had a sale. With references to the suit and vault-dwelling, I figured it was a reference to that series, but to what game I wasn't sure.

    Now, the creative writer comment of yours, and the initial one - do you do much creative/fictional writing in your spare time? Your blog posts obviously show humorous chops, but now I'm curious if you've got some other stuff out there I hadn't seen yet. Thanks for sharing it!

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  6. @ Chalgyr

    Sorry it's taken a while to get back to you on here!

    I really do recommend playing through Fallout 2... In spite of the fact that its pace is slower than that of Fallout 3 and New Vegas, it is, in my opinion, the best of the series. There is SO MUCH to do, and a huge variety of weapons. Truly, it's tons of fun.

    I have been known to do some creative writing, but have found less time for it since I have been in school. Still, I wanted to write something for 8BitVS, and found that I was in the mood for something creative (with a humorous touch, of course), so I dove in to this one.

    I am glad that I'm not the only person who thinks I'm funny though... :)

    -BitNick

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  7. @8Bit - no apologies needed. :)

    Believe me, you're funny, it's not just you thinking so. I really, really do not miss college. Even a little bit.

    I'm poking through Fallout 1 right now. I got that roughly the same time as I got Starcraft and Diablo and now that I recall the game better, I don't think I ever finished the first fallout. The slower pacing doesn't bug me at all - I've always been more of an RPG than FPS player, so while Fallout 3 was fun, it was more due to the RPG elements for me.

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  8. Like Chalgyr, I read this a few times...and I gotta say that though I have never played any of the Fallout games, I was suspicious that this was based on those because of the "Vault-Dweller" name.

    I don't remember where, but I had seen that name associated with Fallout before, so I kind of figured after reading the piece, and the "Glancing both ways in the alley, the Vault-Dweller shivered in spite of the warm, radioactive Nevada weather." that it was the Fallout universe...and then the comments helped confirm that!

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