I think I’ve been running for about three days – honestly, I can’t be sure. The exhaustion finally caught up to me yesterday afternoon, when I found a place to hide and passed out entirely. I don’t know what I expected… but finally leaving the Vault has left me feeling traumatized to say the least.

As a Marketing Specialist, I’ve been writing about Vault 76 community events and commissary promotions for nearly 20 years. Hell, the information campaigns for Reclamation Day probably took up 30% of my career inside. I’ve gotta say… the work has been mind-numbingly bland. My passion for writing always stemmed from a desire to inform and enlighten. The whole time I’ve been wandering out here, all I could think about was how to find the others and warn them of the dangers I’ve seen. 

Now I realize the existential threats in this world aren’t likely to be avoidable.  

Life Goes On Outside Vault 76

This writing is all I could think to do with myself, and I’m still not sure who will ever read it or how. Basically, I’m going to continue doing what brings me a sense of purpose, for as long as it continues to do so. I haven’t met anyone so far who isn’t horribly deformed or completely non-human, but I’m seeing evidence that they’re out here somewhere. If I can just find a printing press or some way to make copies, maybe I can get a paper started. Hopefully I’ll make contact with another person soon.

Stepping out of the portal a few days ago, I was still shaking off the remnants of what felt like a hangover. My parents brought me into the Vault when I was 15 – just a girl. I had no idea that 25 years later I’d be completely alone in a nightmare version of the world I once knew. I suppose I should have paid closer attention. Still, the view from the platform outside was breathtaking, and for a moment I felt a sense of hope.

I can’t remember what breathing felt like before we came into the Vault… as a teenage girl, I complained about the stale cycled air pretty frequently. This was like heaven, in comparison. It’s hard to believe the world’s been destroyed and reborn again, until you notice the mutations. The first day outside was harrowing. I stood and looked out over the hills and the trees before walking down the first set of stairs to find a dead body just laying there, rotting. It was my first indicator that the world was no longer controlled by …well, anyone. No security personnel, no Overseer even.

She left a note on her terminal in the Vault, and I snooped in her office before I left. Everyone was gone – the Mister Handies were on Autopilot. She said something about missiles, and setting up a camp once she got outside. I was still struggling to wake up completely, but I took the holotape and kept it in my Pip-Boy in case I need to review it.

Once I got down the stairs to the dirt path, I dodged a few odd little bots with laser weapons and quickly realized I’d need to arm myself. It wasn’t easy, but I steadied my resolve and went back to the body on the landing. There was a machete in his hand. It’s hand. God save me, I took it and didn’t look down.

At the end of the path, I saw a farmstead and thought maybe there was motion around it. The windows were open, or so I thought. The closer I got, the more my instincts told me that this was not going to be a welcoming situation. Something inhuman came shambling down the steps; it’s flesh was mottled with horrible burn scars and it had what looked like greenish chunks of glass or crystal jutting out all over it’s body. It was looking at me, but didn’t seem interested in conversation. The voice was guttural and creepy, and as it lunged at me it sounded almost as if it was trying to speak. I swing the machete and killed the first semi-living thing I had found outside the Vault. Honestly, I don’t think it was alive in the strictest sense – but I quickly learned it wasn’t alone.

Reclamation Day Is More Than A Marketing Slogan

While fighting my way through the barren fields, I saw what looked like statues of ash with glowing green cracks. I ended up running for the old lumber mill – somehow I vaguely remember visiting it before the Vault. My 5th grade class had taken a field trip there, and I remember being fascinated by the tools and the huge tree trunks piled up like lincoln logs. The logs were still there, but I had to fight of several disgusting ticks the size of raccoons.

There was a loft there with some crates and cinder blocks. I pulled them into a rough barricade around me and spent the night hugging my knees on the floor. The skittering sounds below told me that the ticks weren’t an anomaly, and I’m pretty sure I heard a man crying at some point in the warehouse beneath me. I didn’t dare make a sound.

The first morning came without any actual rest, and after several more hours of cowering I finally pushed myself up and out of the building. I had decided that I would try and make it to Flatwoods, looking for the Overseer’s camp along the way.

I took Dad’s old road map with me when I left the Vault, and I spent some time going over it while I was hiding out at the mill. He was a farmer at the Agricultural Research Center in Flatwoods, and he left a few scribbles in the margins about places I should visit when they opened up the doors on reclamation day. Maybe it’s terrible of me to think it, but I’m glad mom & dad both passed quietly in their sleep last year. They would never have survived the last 48 hours.