"Is that one of mine?"
It's becoming a regular question as my goal creeps closer. I look down, and I see a chap with no head: did I do that? Was that my work? In this instance - somewhere between the toxic sludge of the Greener Pastures Disposal Site and the MDPL-13 Power Station, if you're interested - no. I know this because the headless body - neck-sockets are becoming such a frequent sight that I'm beginning to read rather redundant Satanic instructions in the creases of bloody flesh - contains a Stimpak, which, at this point, is like discovering you have a recently-deceased Nigerian trillionaire cousin. (Seriously, they said they're wiring me the money when the exchange rate improves.) I am so hard up in the health department now that, at what was quite possibly the nadir of this little saga, I burst into an abandoned power station just so I could kill the radioactive cockroaches inside and suck the meat out of their carapaces. Points of health gained: several. Boss.
I've learned a little something about pride: it's a waste of time. Remember the Regulators? The inept Chuck Norrii of the Wasteland? I scoffed at their initial assassination attempt, but now the filthy buboes are following me wherever I go, and with laser rifles. Same deal with cockroach - sorry, "radroach" - meat: at the beginning, I was loaded up with Stimpaks from Doc Church. Now that I'm perpetually one-foot-in-the-furnace, I'm finding there's an entire banquet of gastric delights rolled out before me if I'd just lower my standards a touch. Mole-rat heads, Brahmin legs, Scorpion breast, even bags of human blood - if only Jennifer Paterson were still alive! (I suppose I can still eat the other one. Or Nigella Lawson.)
This is a rather prolix way of saying that things are looking up. Not 90-degrees-up, exactly, but getting there. I really can't tell you how happy I am to discover an entire field of grazing Brahmin after heading West from Greener Pastures. A sledgehammer does the trick with most of the cows in my immediate vicinity, but a few bolt, so I hurriedly blow off their legs with a spare sniper rifle. Another charges at me, and sends my glacially rising health back down to loud-heartbeat territory, so I bash all its limbs off out of spite. After that, though, it's a meat fiesta. PETA's probably going to get Trent Reznor to admonish me for this, but this has been one of the highlights of my journey since escaping Old Olney. I have so much Brahmin steak in my post-apocalyptic bumbag that I'm probably set 'til I reach DC. I guess, technically speaking, the steak is bluer than blue, and I'm not traditionally the type of sick freak who likes to go to a restaurant and order something so uncooked it looks like autopsy offal, but it tastes good. And I can't even really taste it.
I've given up on reaching Canterbury Commons, by the way. It's a cute place, and its superhero problem has some interesting implications, psycho-killer-wise - and, most importantly, it's where all the now-dead travelling merchants store their stuff - but I can't for the life of me find it. So, for kicks, I head North-East, and wind up at the gates of the Republic of Dave. Dave, if you're unaware, is the president-slash-dictator of the eponymous, diminuitively-populated metropolis in the top-right corner of Fallout 3's map. Dave is also awesome. I mean, isn't it astonishing that of all the dispossessed crybabies Fallout's apocalypse deigned to spare, Dave is literally the only one who thought of creating his own love cult? (No, the Children of the Cathedral don't count.) He and his two wives reign over a bunch of kids and two adults who absolutely worship him and see him as the saviour of humankind. I don't know about you, but I'd be down with that.