January 8th, 2278
But I’m not sure how. That’s never a good sign.
The air outside feels real. I know it’s also highly irradiated but the crisp cool winter breeze against my face is exactly what I needed.
I seem to have stuffed my rucksack to the bursting point with every Institute widget I could find before escaping. Which would be great if I wasn’t trying to dodge bullets with a hundred pounds of bullshit strapped to my back right now.
“Oi, look out behind ya, feckin’ gobshite!”
I turn around to see a red-haired woman with a baseball bat trounce a man two steps behind me. The left side of his face goes soft as his body collapses into the gutter. She brandishes the bloody bat in my face as she closes the gap between us.
“You better remember who I am, Vault Dweller, because I sure as shite remember you. You’re the arse who killed all me customers. And I’ll be wanting proper compensation.”
I throw my rucksack in front of her and the weight makes an audible thud on the concrete.
“Take it. Take whatever you want. Go ahead and kill me too if you want. I don’t care anymore. I’m going to the Third Rail to get shithoused.”
I turn around and continue walking East. I can hear her heave the bag behind me and her footsteps catching up.
“So that’s it then? You’re not gonna fight me, but you’ll kill a whole theater of spectators in front of me?”
“That is correct.”
She scurries around me, panting with the extra weight but determined to match my brisk pace.
“That’s fucking bollicks. Is it because I’m a wee fragile girl and you don’t want to hurt me?”
“No. I am also a woman. And you would not be the first woman I’ve killed. You’ve done me no wrong. I have. Take what you feel you deserve and be on your way. I’m tired.”
“Oh aye, you’re tired, love? We’re all tired. You think you’re some kind of mysterious stranger with a heart of gold? We’ve all got tragic backstories here. You’re nothing special.”
She stops for a moment, falling behind as I dutifully press forward to make it to Goodneighbor by nightfall.
“You know what? I think you should carry all this shite for me. I mean, this is my payment, right? Well I only accept payment in caps or Psycho, so this won’t do me any good. I’m sticking on you until I am appropriately compensated.”
I stop to look at her. Her haughty face glistens from sweat despite the winter and her matted red hair shines in the pale sun. She has one boot defiantly planted on top of abandoned loot as I stare into her eyes. I can feel a deep unspoken sadness reflect back my own. And that’s the closest thing to trust or friendship I’m willing to accept right now.
I stoop in front of her and gesture toward one of the straps so she’ll remove her boot, “Sure thing, ma’am. I’ll carry that bag for you if it’s getting too heavy.”
“Now you wait just a goddamn minute, Vault-Tec…”
We awkwardly shake hands and proceed past Boston Commons side by side.
“By the way, I’ve got a hit of Jet left if you want. I was saving it for a fight but if you need it…”
“Oh please, I’m not some charity case. I take care of my own Joneses just fine thanks,” she says as she slams a Psycho needle into her arm.
“Fine then, just thought I’d offer,” I take the final puff off my inhaler and can already feel the strain of the weight on my back easing.
She gives an approving nod as our mutual highs kick in.
“Only thing better than picking a fight is getting stoned, am i right?”