I never like exploring buildings, burned-out ones most of all. Aside from the practical dangers like raiders, other scavengers, or the occasional animal den, let alone broken and twisted metal, there’s also the grim reality that someone lived there, or worked there, or felt a connection to that place.

The worst is when someone has decided to defend that building long past its usefulness, holding on to the memories of the past rather than face the horrors of the present. They don’t see that they’re dying, out of food and poisoned by radioactive water, they only see a picture frame or a toy that reminded them of someone, somewhere, somewhen else. They can’t move on.

They’re living ghosts, tied to a place for reasons even they don’t know or recognize. Fanatical, wild, dangerous. They will use everything at their disposal to defend what’s “theirs,” no matter how inconsequential it may seem to the rest of us.

Maybe the wasteland itself broke these people, even before the radiation could. They hold on to half-dreamt memories of a “better time” or when they were loved. They don’t defend a place or a thing, they defend the very memory, the feeling that keeps them going, no matter how horrid an existence.

Looking at it as a scavenger, the worst part is that they never have anything of value anyway. It’s all broken dolls or the shape of a room or the way light hits a patch of wallpaper – never anything useful to the rest of us.

Came across a none-too-careful scavenger this morning, caught in a trap laid by a crazy old man who had been dead at least a month. Even gone, he was trying to defend what he thought was his, what was important to him.

The raider at least had a few Mentats and bobby pins on him. I’ll be putting those to good use in the days ahead.