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February, 81 days to go





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I'd been hearing for a long time —— back in The Hub, and elsewhere —— about the place known as Necropolis. The City of the Dead? I would have thought that it was just another pack of superstitions and myths, except that I'd already seen enough to convince me that, here on the Outside, just about anything was possible.

And the stories I'd hear didn't prepare me for the reality of the place by half. The Necropolis was inhabited all right, and by... by things that might have once been human, and might now just as well be dead.

Ghouls. Zombies. Gaunt, cadaverous beings they were, the skin rotting from their bones; my first thought was that they'd contracted some terrible wasting, disfiguring disease, and with a wild, heart-trumping terror I wondered if it was contagious.

I encountered the first of these creatures when I started exploring a building —— the sign called it a "motel," whatever that was —— and before long I was being chased by a pack of the things. They made such hopeless, easy targets, I held my fire at first. As they shambled out of the shadows, I wasn't even sure they had more intelligence than some kind of animal, but then I heard them calling to one another in low, garbled, unpleasantly liquid voices. Something about the way they kept emphasizing "fresh meat" wiped away any compassion I might have had for them. I killed a dozen at least before their numbers finally forced me into a sewer hole in the street.

The sewer system was a maze, dimly lit passageways zigzagging through the subterranean night in seemingly endless branchings of intersections, blind alleys, dead ends, and dank rooms filled with decaying, fetid tumbles of things I really didn't want to take a closer look at.

Mole rats. There were mole rats down there, shaggy, mat-furred crawlers like the monsters that had attacked me in Vault 15, though by this time I would gladly have faced an army of those crawling things instead of the shambling horrors I'd just escaped on the surface.

And there were corpses, too; the sewer's air was clogged with the foul stench of their decay, a smell so sickly and sickening I had to force myself to take each new breath. I tied a rag around my face to try to cut the smell; the effect was probably more psychological than anything else, but, at least, I was able to press on. The walls seemed to give of a soft, green-blue organic glow that made me wonder if I was exposing myself to deadly radiation down here, but I finally convinced myself that what I was seeing was the natural phosphorescence of decay, or possibly of some kind of fungus growing on the walls and floors and corpses. I was too glad of the light to question its source much. Had those tunnels been completely black, I know I never would have found my way clear of them.

Some time later, I encountered more ghouls.

I drew my SMG but held my fire at first, unwilling to blindly waste precious ammo. Instead of advancing on me, though, these pitiable creatures cowered; I tried talking to them and eventually convinced myself that all they wanted was to be left alone.

Interesting. I'd jumped to the conclusion that since the ghouls on the surface had attacked me on sight, all ghouls must be cannibalistic sociopaths looking for their next easy meal. It hadn't occurred to me that the ones I'd seen on the surface might have had some sort of agenda. I decided not to question too closely how they lived down here, how they survived, what they ate; so long as I didn't seem to be on their menu, live and let live was my motto... or, in this case, perhaps, it as live and let un-dead.

Day 74

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