There a so many worthwhile, relevant and necessary things I should be doing, so instead I decided to write the thoughts of a character at the end of a computer game. As you might expect, this contains MASSIVE SPOILERS!
My name is Shaun. I am eighteen months old and I live with my Mom in a place called Sanctuary. But all of those things are a lot more complicated than that; I look like I’m ten years old, for example, and I’m talking to you. I’m pretty clever for my age so tell me if I go too fast explaining everything.
Sanctuary is a settlement. That means it has people in it, whereas towns and cities don’t. Well they can have a few in settlements inside, but towns and cities are just large areas of ruins with just critters, monsters or bad people in them. By bad people I mean ones who don’t grow food or make things themselves, but try to take it off the ones who do. Only once they’ve done that it’s OK to kill them and take THEIR stuff.
I used to live in a place called the Institute, which was very different. I spent a lot of time in little rooms and it was quite scary just when I got out into the atrium, which looked s it went up for ever. I only say that because everyone thinks it must have been a huge deal seeing the sky for the first time. That’s rubbish. The thing about the Outside is how dirty everything is, even in a really nice place like Sanctuary. The Institute was all white clothes and washed hands, you went in a working shower with soap at least once every day. I was taught to wash my hands before eating, before touching my face, after using the toilet, everything. We had synths to dust and clean everything on a schedule, which I suppose wasn’t nice for them but it was for us.
Out here there’s dust over everything, there’s holes in the roofs and walls of the houses so it’s everywhere. Mom says some of it a special dust called fallout and it’ll still be falling for centuries, but normal dust gets blown around anyway and the outside is just too big to be dusted even by everyone together. When you sit down somewhere your bottom gets dirty if it wasn’t already, then that gets on the next place you sit, and of course some of it ends up on your hands, so pretty much there’s muck everywhere all the time. If you want water you have to pump a handle, and if you want hot water you have to put it over a fire, then carry buckets of it to a tub if you want a bath. There’s some soap about but not much, a lot of it is 200 years old. The toilets are very different when there’s one around at all, and the toilet paper is green rectangles with the faces of the people who got us into the nuclear war on it. One day Mom is going to build a hot water system but she keep being too busy with other things.
Really you just have to get used to being dirty. It’s not so bad once you realise that most of the time dirt isn’t going to kill you. Mom says she took a lot of time getting used to it, and because she hadn’t been got ready by the Institute she kept getting sick at first. That’s sick of germs, not sick of radiation, but she did a lot of that too.
People keep not believing me when I say I like the food. I love the food. In the Institute you got packets of goo, powders and gels. Out here you get roasted meat and veg and soup and fruit. The meat comes from animals, some of them look really disgusting and are dangerous when alive like bloatflies and mole rats. Only Mom, my new Dad and other people shoot them, cut them up and cook them, which is really cool.
I’m going to tell you the complicated stuff now. My Mom isn’t really my Mom. My DNA is a combination of hers and my father’s, by which I mean the man she was married to, but her son was my Father. Only I am sort of a copy of him that was made when he was sixty years old, and they made me to be like a child who was ten years old in the first place. That’s nice so I didn’t have to get embarrassed about wearing diapers.
I said my Father was sixty years old, but actually he was born right before the atomic war, so he was about two hundred and eighty when he died. But he spent nearly all that time frozen, so he’d only lived sixty-one. My Mom, who was also his Mom, was twenty-eight when she had him, so now she’s nearly two hundred and fifty. She got frozen as well and only thawed out just now, so she’s got thirty years of “mileage” as she says. People keep saying she looks younger because she was born before the war, ate healthy and didn’t keep getting shot or irradiated (although she’s made up for that since), but to me it’s more like everyone else looks older.
My Father in the Institute had my DNA and had me created, but Father was sort of like his job because he looked after the whole Institute and his DNA had been used to create all of the synths in the first place, although as a template because none of were are my twins. He spent a lot of his time on the other side of glass walls or watching me do things or testing me. Like when my Mom first arrived, he didn’t tell me who she was and we both got upset, because she thought I was her son and wanted to get me out of there, and I didn’t want her to, and then he turned me off. He never hugged me or played with me, so he wasn’t a Father that way. The synth assistants were the only ones who were actually nice in there, when people weren’t looking
There are so many words that mean loads of different things. My first father was called Nate and he got frozen with Mom, but he was killed when they took my second father away. He grew up and became the Father of the Institute, and had me made to be just like him physically. The man who now lives with Mom and tells me stories and teaches me how to throw balls is Dad, which is a Father who does the nice things, but his name is Preston Garvey and we aren’t related. I only have one mother though, she looks after me and I think she loves me but she knows I’m not the same one she gave birth to, I’m just a lot like he might have turned out. I’m kind of glad because it means she’s never seen me poop myself.
It’s even more complicated for me because I’m a synth. That’s what you call a person who was built by a machine, or a machine that looks like a human. I’m flesh and blood except apparently they have made improvements, and some of my brain is a machine which means I can remember stuff better than anyone else and do maths well, but it also means I can get reprogrammed. There are some words that can make me immediately stop like a statue, and others that could do worse things, but lucky for me nobody knows them. It’s just possible that Mom might remember the statue one, but she says she doesn’t because she doesn’t have a memory like mine, and she wouldn’t use it anyway. But then she killed her own son, so I’m going to be good in case. And you mustn’t tell anyone else I’m a synth because people get funny about them.
I have a lot of aunties and uncles. The best one is Uncle Nick. He’s a synth, but a Generation Two which means he has a robot body with plastic skin. Only his plastic skin is all torn up by bullets and things so you can see the metal parts underneath, so everyone knows he’s a synth. He could get it fixed but he doesn’t want to. He says that sometimes showing everyone what you are proudly can be just as good as them not knowing, and anyway people are less worried about machines that are obviously machines. Besides, Uncle Nick is so tough and so cool it doesn’t matter. He has the memories of a hard-bitten detective from before the war and wears a special trench coat and a hat called a Fedora. Uncle Deacon is a lot of fun, but you can never believe a word he says. Uncle Macready brings his own kid to play sometimes. Auntie Curie is a synth herself but newer then me, and we share tips on how to be human. Auntie Piper is lovely but sometimes she and Mom go off and get drunk and giggly. Auntie Cait is a bit scary sometimes, but I know Mom’s tougher than her. Uncle Sturges knows how to make loads of cool gadgets when Mom’s not around. The Atom cats are cool and Uncle Travis is really shy. Then there’s Mama Murphy, who’s really old and gets confused sometimes but is really kind.
Mom’s so nice to me most of the time, but she wasn’t always, not quite like Mrs Macready and her son. She looked really relieved when I got measured against the wall and turned out to be growing, because she’d been afraid I had been made to just be a child forever. She doesn’t look tough unless she puts on power armour, but people say she’s the best fighter in the Commonwealth. She can shoot the hairs off a stingwing’s back two miles over the horizon between wingbeats, but mostly she waits until they’re closer and then puts a bullet straight through their body. She’s also really smart, very good at science and fixing things, and people do what she says. She’s the General of the Minutemen and that means she’s like the leader of most of the Commonwealth. She blew up both the Brotherhood of Steel and the Institute and drove out most of the raiders and Super-mutants and monsters, so people don’t mess with her.
I don’t think it’s made her happy though. She gets sad sometimes too, sometimes she lets other people cheer her up, sometimes she insists on going off on her own. Some people say I’ve got to be really nice because she needs me and everyone else needs her. I guess she’s got plenty to be sad about. She saw the world before it was blown up, when things were green and every house was clean like the Institute and there were hardly any monsters or raiders around. She got frozen, then her husband got killed and her son was kidnapped. When she thawed out she learned how to be a badass and went after him, only it was after sixty years so he’d grown up and become leader of the Institute, who had kidnapped him in the first place. I thought the Institute was nice when I was there but turns out they were still killing and kidnapping people, using the synths as slaves, and worse things they won’t tell me. Mom had to pretend she was working for her son for a while, and she also had to fool someone else she won’t tell me about, so I guess they both said some very nasty things to her before the end. Father was dying anyway but it was Mom blowing up the Institute that finally did for him. She says the Institute lived by secrets and fooling people so it was fair to do that back to them, and the synths had to get freed, but it still couldn’t have been very nice. I think part of Father was kind of OK with it because he sent me to Mom at the end to be looked after. Besides, if he thawed her out and let her into the Institute after raising hell across the Commonwealth, he was either really stupid, or asking for it.
So life is pretty good, but I’m glad I didn’t see all the trouble myself.