I’ve seen some completely messed up things since being frozen in Vault 111. The death of my wife. The kidnapping of my son. The world blown to hell. Humans turned into mutated freaks by FEV. But when the Brotherhood sent me to clear out Fallon’s Department Store, nothing prepared me for what I would find.
I cleared the place floor by floor. When I thought I was finished, I headed for the front door. That’s when I heard more super mutants. They were a level below me. I took my time making my way down the frozen escalator; trying to be as stealthy as I could. About halfway down the escalator, I saw them. Two of them in a corner, yelling at each other; arguing over something. I took aim with Righteous Authority and sent them both to hell.
Then I heard it. A faint sound coming from the corner. At first I couldn’t make it out. So I cautiously made my way toward it. I was thinking trap the whole time and looking for other places muties could come from. The sound were getting louder. It sounded like a radio, but muffled. I made it to the center of the room, to the remains of the jewelry counter, buried under rubble and some gruesome sacks the mutants carried around. I strained, trying to make out the sound, but it was too muffled. I looked around for traps or ambush spots.
While looking through the counter remains for a trap, I found a button under one of the shelves. I KNEW IT, it was a trap! Now I scanned even more intently. Where were they going to come from? When nothing showed, I looked at the button trying to find out what it operated. A quick examination showed it to be pre-war and not some trigger for a bomb or other device. I looked around and noticed the painted symbol on the counter – like how a kid would draw a sun for a school project. The only difference was that instead of a dot in the middle, there was an arrow pointing to the button. I glanced around the room and found another painted symbol on the wall where the muties were arguing and where the sound was coming from. Must be a room hidden there – which is why the sound was muffled.
Then it all just clicked. The sound. It was a woman’s voice and she sounded scared. Only one thing to do.
I pushed the button and trained the laser rifle at the wall; just in case. The wall moved outward into the room. The section of wall was thick and looked like concrete or very thick steel. When the wall section stopped, a second, regular, door moved back into the hidden compartment. I could see safes lining the inner walls. That little room was obviously the store’s vault. Where the valuables were stored when not on display in the jewelry department.
The sound had gotten louder and clearer. I could hear a woman in tears. I jumped over the counter and ran to the vault. I slowed as I saw the contents. Along with half-a-dozen safes was a skeleton in a blue dress hunched over a small table or cart with a radio on it. The radio was still on and was playing a recorded message. This is what I, and the mutants, had been hearing.
The woman had been inside the vault when the bombs hit. She felt the earth tremble as they did. I’m guessing the vault door only had one way it could be opened – the button under the counter. When everyone in the store died or left after the bombs fell, she was trapped. The message was a distress call from her forth day. She was begging for anyone to get her out. She was complaining about being thirsty. She was desperate.
No one ever came to open the door – not for 200 years anyway. She died in that concrete box of starvation and dehydration.
I have been a soldier for most of my life. I have seen the effect of weapons on the human body. I have seen was the post-war horrors can do to a human being. Nothing before this day has caused me to loose control of my emotions like this scene and the repeated pleas for help that no one heard. I fell to my knees and cried. I didn’t know what else to do.
When I finished, I stood up, turned the radio off and walked to the counter. Pressing the button again, I sealed the vault. I hope she found peace in the end.
This is what people with their fingers on the button never see. You can’t just drop a bomb and expect to only kill the intended target. There will always be someone innocent that suffers when they fall. This is why I know I’ll never be able to stay with the Brotherhood.