October 28, 2287 – One of the first things they teach you in the Army is that mistakes can cost lives. Well, Preston and I almost made a tactical error that could have taken out the rest of the Minutemen. I don’t know what we were thinking, setting everyone up in a couple open buildings with nothing more than a few turrets and watch stands between them and the mutated creatures and dregs of humanity out there. I could blame Preston all I wanted if something happened to Jun, Marcy, Sturges and Mama Murphy, but deep down I’d know I’d have been responsible. I’ve done a lot of heavy lifting since I met up with these folks, and Preston seems to be looking to me as his lieutenant or something. It wasn’t my intention to be the Minutemen’s guardian angel, but if I hadn’t gone looking for Mutfruit by the river bank a few days ago, I could have been the cause of their destruction, or at least a party to it. I don’t know how I could have lived with that.
Just as a side note, I realize I kind of launched into this diary rather quickly, and haven’t taken the time to lay out in any detail exactly who I am or where I’m from, or how I actually got into that “icebox,” as Mama Murphy called it. I’m going to make an entry about that soon, so if someone who finds this diary someday wants to understand what happened, they’ll have a little more perspective.
For now, it’s probably helpful to know that the northern and western perimeters of Sanctuary Hills are bordered a small stream, then some high rolling mountains — the kind that you’ll find all over New England. The hiking areas out in back of our development aren’t the steepest, but the terrain is a combination of jagged, exposed chunks of granite that can reach as high as a house, and then fairly heavy undergrowth elsewhere. It’s rough if you’re breaking trail, but it’s that rugged, brush-covered rough, not “hiking the Rockies” rough.
Sanctuary Hills is one of the farthest suburbs outside of Boston, and just beyond it’s mostly wilderness until you start hitting smaller towns out toward the Berkshires to the West, or the cities of southern New Hampshire to the north. Along the eastern side of Sanctuary Hills is a reservoir, and its outlet circles around the development’s southern border, which can be crossed by a footbridge that leads to Concord.
Three mornings ago, I was on the northeastern border by the reservoir, looking for some plants that we might be able to transplant into our garden when I heard gunfire in the distance. Several shots. Maybe six or seven. It was far enough away that I didn’t think whoever it was was shooting at me, but it was close enough that I ducked down behind some brush for a while and stayed on high alert, just scanning the area up ahead for any signs of movement.
I stayed like that for maybe ten or fifteen minutes. The only sound was the brook trickling off the northwestern edge of the reservoir, and the wind whistling through some bare branches above me. I slowly made my way toward where I thought the gunshots came from, and eventually saw a woman next to a small raider camp against a hill by a giant outcropping of granite. It was a good place for a camp — she was tucked away, kind of into a corner, and had probably been there for a while. I looked back toward Sanctuary Hills, and could easily see the farthest house away from my own, on the edge of the development — the one we had set up with a generator and beds. She had to know we were there as she would have seen the lights when the sun went down.
I wasn’t about to murder someone in cold blood, but I got a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach thinking that the enemy was this close to sleeping bodies who didn’t have a clue what was out here. We had set up patrols, but with six people in all, and with the amount of ground that we had to cover to make a full sweep, it would have been easy for someone to slip in and cut a few sleeping throats before anyone knew what had happened.
I started to back away, thinking I was going to discuss the situation with Preston, when I tripped on a log and tumbled backwards on my ass. It made enough noise that the woman raised her pistol in my direction and yelled that she knew I was there, and not to come any closer. Goddammit. What now? Was she bluffing? Maybe she didn’t know I was there. Maybe she just said that whenever she heard something snap in the brush? She slowly started moving closer to me, in firing stance. I stayed absolutely still. Then, I heard the pistol go off, and a bullet cut through some brush to my left. I quickly grabbed my own pistol and aimed for her chest, fired off a few rounds, and down she went.
I laid back in the leaves and took a few deep breaths, trying to calm my nerves, then slowly got up and carefully stepped through the brush over to her body. She had some Jet on her, which I took for Mama Murphy. Hopefully I could get it to her without Preston noticing.
I stepped over her and walked on to her camp. There wasn’t much there, and it seemed as if she had been alone. Along with some assorted river fruits was a mattress, a campfire and a couple mannequins that looked like they were from the Museum of Freedom. What the hell were they doing all the way up here? Maybe keeping her company? I wondered if it was possible there were more camps like this around. Then I looked past the reservoir and realized Sanctuary Hills appeared perched like a little town on a hill. It may have been surrounded by water and bordered by mountains, but it was certainly visible. Not the best place to build a semi-permanent camp, and the way it was set up now? Well, unless and until we could figure out a way to get more people there, we were pretty much sitting ducks.
I quickly went back and explained to Preston and Sturges what had happened and that we needed to shrink our footprint here significantly if we had any expectation of surviving. People would come to take what we had. We needed to expect it, and we needed to be ready for it when it happened.
I had literally dodged a bullet — and that event might just have saved all of us.
We decided not to panic Jun, Marcy or Mama Murphy with what had happened, but instead just noted that we had done some strategic planning and realized that the area we were trying to protect with just six people was simply too large of a space.
Over the next two days we scrapped most of the leftover metal from the remaining houses, gathered up some fallen trees, cut down some others, and started to build a more easily defensible structure — a place where we could all sleep together in one building and store materials. In short order we had a small two story house with an open platform on the top where we could see for at least a mile or two in every direction. It wasn’t much to look at, but I felt a sense of relief just gazing at it, knowing that it was a solid start toward making sure we’d all be ready if someone or something tried to sneak up on us. We even moved the generator to the top under a canopy and hooked up our lights.
After the sun went down, we noticed a small wooden house or some kind of shack not far to the north along two more camps to the southwest that we’re going to have to check out. It seems the enemy was just over every hill, across every stream and river, and we hadn’t even known it. We had been out in the open, thinking that by simply leaving Concord and moving north, we were moving into safety. Nothing could have been further from the truth.
I wondered if there were more people like us out there — good people, who just wanted to be safe, who just wanted community and to rebuild our lives. But, am I a good person? That day by the river, I killed someone. I killed someone who hadn’t come to attack us. I killed someone who probably could have crept into Sanctuary Hills that first night if she had wanted to and who could have taken us totally by surprise. But she hadn’t. Maybe she saw Preston’s laser musket and thought better of it. Maybe she just wanted to live by herself, tucked against the mountain and the granite wall in her own little place.
My head started spinning. No. She had shot first. She had told me to stay where I was, and I had done exactly that. I hadn’t moved any closer. There was no reason for her to shoot at me.
I tried to put the issue to rest and just think about tomorrow. Maybe I’d make another try for that energy weapon in the Vault now that I was getting the hang of this Pip Boy.
But that would be tomorrow. Tonight, I was grateful to be alive. Tonight, there were six of us, hunkered down in our new digs. I said a quick thank you to the gods for the close call I got a few days ago that may have saved us all.