Grease and Guile - Chapter 5: Light

  • The urge is always there. Like an itch begging to be scratched.

    My excursions have taken me further and further into the wasteland and away from the relative safety of home. This results in having to bed down in some pretty sketchy places. I once found a sleeping bag on the roof of an old church overlooking a cemetery. Run of the mill survival stuff these days.

    But one of the slightly more OCD things I do at night is toggle the flashlight function on my Pip-Boy. It’s not that I’m scared of the dark. Military training knocks that right out of you. There’s just something comforting about the rhythmic flipping on and off of it that soothes me in strange places.

    I know that illuminating my position is a strategic risk. But the tick-tock rhythm always seems to help my mood. 

    On. Off. Light. Dark. Click. Clack.

    Recently I was approaching a sturdy enough looking boathouse as night closed in. The primary sweep included exterminating the current residents with my shotgun. Damn bloodbugs sure are hard to hit with a rifle. As I sat down on a musty couch for a breather in the living room, I subconsciously started the ritual.

    On. Off. Light. Dark. Click. Clack. 

    That’s when I heard it. The distinct sound of gigantic wings closing in quickly. In my haste to find respite, I had neglected my usual secondary sweep of the outside grounds. The cluster of bloodbugs descending on my illuminated position sounded twice the size of the one I had already dealt with. 

    I quickly closed one of the two doors on the main level and planted a mine on the threshold of the other. I quietly backed up the stairs heading toward the second floor and waited. I flipped on my Pip-Boy once more to draw them through the door.

    Bang! Boom!

    I had targeted the mine just as the cluster flew over it. Blood, guts and wing remnants lined the now door-less entryway. I checked on and polished off the injured remnants while remedying my neglected secondary sweep. Just another routine night in the wasteland.  

    The more I think about it, the more I’m convinced my Pip-Boy light habit is about control. There are so many things here out of my control. Acid rain. Raider gangs. Roving Rust Devils. Mutated everything. Even the next sip of clean water is unpredictable. 

    But the certainty of that little light popping on and off is my current pacifier. Knowing that my decision, my action produces an expected result is just what I need to get through another night.