It’s been a long time since I wrote. Instead of recording my past few days, tonight, I’ll explain what’s happened.
I awoke recently with an empty mentats box on my lap. I was sitting alone in front of a fire in the middle of the Wastes, the pack brahmin that Scratch had acquired dead next to me. My hair was longer, and I spent two days wandering the wastes, trying to remember anything from what I assumed was only a few days of fugue. All I had was my pip-boy and a backpack and, in it, four dolls and my book. On the second night I saw a light to the south, and followed it until around midnight when I reached the small town. The gatekeeper recognized me and it took an hour to convince him to let me enter. I asked about Alla and Scratch, but he just narrowed his eyes at me and said I shouldn’t be staying long.
The people on the streets avoided me, each with a hostile glint in their eye. The carts and stalls on the street were either closed or busted up, sometimes both. I would have no problem leaving this village immediately once I was back on my feet.
As I entered a bustling inn, the main room fell silent. Fifty people staring death at me, and with no Alla by my side I shrunk in their gaze. I made my way to the bar and asked the innkeeper for aid. A genial little woman seconds before, her answers to my questions were curt but clear. The date was 09-17-3193. No, there was no work available in town. Eventually I lost my temper and asked what her problem was.
“Our problem? What’s our problem!?” Her answer was hardly sufficiently explanatory.
“Yes! What is your problem with me? Is this just an entire town of hateful little bastards or have I personally done something to offend you? Is it my clothes? I don’t even know where I got these,” I said, distracted by the outfit that I had never seen before. I was dressed as a woman, in a skirt and tank top. The only things I wore that were familiar were my boots, pip-boy, and pack.
As I looked around in confusion, a large man came at me and picked me up.
“We don’t need any more trouble here, so why don’t you just get out?” He asked calmly as he walked toward the door, carrying me.
I was in a daze as he threw me onto the street outside the inn. I sat for several minutes, blinking, trying to put everything together. I’d lost a year. I’d lost Alla and Scratch. I didn’t have my clothes, or any money, or my caravan. All I had were four stupid dolls, and I wasn’t about to give those up yet. As I tossed these concepts around in my head, trying to get them to stick, a skinny man approached me.
“How long have you been out?” He asked, offering me a hand. When I stared at him blankly, he grabbed my arm and pulled me up. “Time. How much time have you lost? I heard you ask the date.”
As he was brushing the dust off me, I counted. “Four hundred and seven days. I’ve lost more than a year.”
“Let’s get you out of the middle of the street. Come with me.”
I followed him through an alleyway to a rundown shack and he kept me talking. “Do you know why they are mad at you?”
“No, I’ve only just arrived.”
“Do you know where you are?”
“No, and frankly, I don’t care if everyone here is going to be so damn hostile. All I care about is getting my caravan back.”
We arrived at the shack and he bowed me inside. “Here, we can talk without the glaring townsfolk. I am Benetor.”
He gestured that I sit on a ruined couch by the door.
“You have been here before.”
Before I could protest, he continued.
“You were here a week ago, high on something. You rode a Brahmin down the main road and caused quite a bit of damage.”
I blinked at him, incomprehension clear on my face.
“Do you have any shards?” He asked, suddenly.
I checked my pockets and shook my head. “I have nothing but my dolls.”
He sighed and looked up at the ceiling. “I’ll give you a few shards for them, to get you started.”
A passionate wave of anxiety washed over me. “No! They’re all I have left!”
Slowly, he smiled, tucking his thumbs into the suspenders that were holding up his dirty dress pants and meeting my gaze firmly.
“How do you expect to survive with no money?”
“I can get money. I’m resourceful.”
“I have a proposition for you…” He said quietly, looking quite sinister.
I raised my eyebrows and smirked at him. “I don’t think I want anything to do with your proposition, Beneto.”
He whispered, “But what choice do you have?” and joined me on the sofa, too close for comfort. “My offer will keep you alive. Rejecting it would be… unwise.”
As he wrapped his arm around me, I snaked my arm around his back, hugging his waist. “You know, choice is a funny thing. There are never just two.”
And with that, I slipped the knife he’d been carrying in a sheath on his belt into my hand and then plunged it into his side. As I stood up, I removed it and then plunged it into his shoulder, severing a tendon. Another stab into his chest and he was sputtering while lunging at me. My fourth and final strike was his throat, severing his esophagus and an artery in one swipe.
And that is how Beneto died… Jackass.

I looted his ramshackle shack, and my current stock is as follows:
One pack containing four dolls wrapped in one blanket, six boxes of mentats, five fixers, seven pairs of different sized women’s underwear, a box labeled “scopolamine”, three more blankets, five jet, twenty stimpacks, four psycho, a box of one hundred syringes, four mutfruit, three bottles of pure water, one canteen full of irradiated water, a skirt, a tank top, and my book.
A purse with fifty shards.
A dirty outfit consisting of a fedora, slacks, suspenders, and a white business shirt, which I am wearing.
My boots.
Beneto’s boots.

Since then I have left that town and found another, where the folks didn’t recognize me but gave me some pointers where to look for Alla and Scratch. A journeyman I met in the town said he had seen a pair fitting their description heading west, so west it is.

I hope that I find them soon. I can’t handle the Waste too long without my Alla.

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I thought the fixer would help. It only takes the edge off, and I constantly feel stupid. Sure, I’m not going into stupour from withdrawal, but I sure do feel stupid. I have got to get mentats soon.
Scratch is starting to worry me. She hasn’t left her chain, but upon awakening last week I found her feeding a pack brahmin out of my bag. We were nowhere near a town or any people, as far as I could tell. It didn’t have anyone’s posessions, just the packs and a green ribbon tied around its neck. This isn’t the first time she’s mysteriously acquired gifts for me, either. The day before, I woke to the smell of tea- something I haven’t even seen since leaving home. The girl was just boiling it as if it was her job. Three cups, and she’d even gotten some sugar for it. Alla has become quite fond of the stuff. I think the little girl is starting to grow on me.
A few days ago, a man approached me.* He was in thin clothes, and it was obvious he had nothing besides the cloth on his back. We were in a deserted town, and Alla had been on high alert all day. The man sauntered up to us as if he was the King of the Wastes, grinning from ear to ear at me.
“I would like to propose a trade.” As I eyed him warily, and Anna trained her gun on the man, he continued. “I want the girl. I can offer you a wealth beyond your wildest dreams.” Scratch, who had been riding the new brahmin, glared at the man. I tilted my head, and Alla snorted. “I doubt you have anything you can offer us,” she said, eyeing the man with humour.
He smiled at me, sending a shiver through my spine. “Wealth is not always physical,” he said, and then began to walk away slowly. “I’ll find you again, when you’ve made up your mind.”
I was left thoroughly confused, and feeling cheated. “I didn’t get a word in edgewise…”
Alla looked at me, surprise evidenced by her raised eyebrows. “Did you need to speak? It looked like he was creeping you out.”
“He can’t have me,” Scratch asserted. “So why do you care?”
I look guiltily up at the girl. Of course I wasn’t going to sell her to the highest bidder, no matter what I may have said before. Like I said, she’s starting to grow on me.
Still, I feel too far off my game to make any sense of this. I need mentats and a good, cold Nuka to sort myself out.

*AN: as I typed this, “Anything Goes” came on the radio.

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We reached the city Alla told me of last night. They’ve been hit by some sort of disaster recently. I didn’t gather the specifics but there are many injured. I’ve broken into my personal stash of chems to make a few extra shards, and believe me, it’s worth it. I had to shell out more than I’d have liked for a few fixers, but after all I’ve sold it’s worth it. I got enough to hold me off until the next town, at least, so though I won’t be as acute as I’d like, I won’t have to deal with withdrawal…
I’ve decided not to sell the dolls. I just can’t see natural born Wastelanders appreciating them as much as I do. The exquisite, ageless perfection of them reminds me of home.
Due to the desperation of the city, while chems are going for a fortune, the rest of my stock has been left almost entirely unsold. The local shops ran out of chems days ago, and the rest of their stock is practically free, since no one wants to waste the shards on anything but recovery. I’ve finally gotten a few extra blankets, and all the ammo Alla could dream of. One shop had a set of exquisitely ornate tableware with plates, bowls, cups, and a few things I don’t recognize, like a sort of pitcher that has a very skinny spout instead of a lip. The shopkeeper called it a T-Pot. He didn’t know what it was for either. I got the entire set for a single Med-X, and some silverware that looked like real steel for a syringe.
This morning, a little girl asked me if she could travel with us. As if I want a kid following me around. I told her if she followed me I’d sell her to the first slavers I saw, and she came at me with a knife. I was so surprised, when Alla grabbed the girl she couldn’t help but laugh at me.
“You’d think you’d never met a wastelander before!” She said, pinning the squirming girl’s arms to her sides.
“But she’s just a kid!”
With that, the little girl bit Alla’s arm, breaking her grasp. She was soon returned to submission though, and I looked the girl over. “Are they all feral?”
“Most of them, though I kinda like this one. I think she left a bruise.”
I mulled the idea over in my head. If this girl was a child of the Wastes, she probably wouldn’t need much care. On the other hand, if she stole or destroyed my stock…
I shrugged. “I wouldn’t mind having a pet. But if she fucks with my business, you have free reign to do what you want with her.”
The little girl has stopped squirming and was glaring at me. “I’m not a pet, I’m a person.”
“Do you want out of this shithole of a city, or not?”
She responded with an angry “fuck you”, glanced around at the rusty metal room we were in, and then sighed.
We left late in the afternoon, well-supplied and with our new pet wearing a metal chain around her waist that I’d had Alla attach a leash to. Apparently her name is Scratch. She won’t talk about her parents, but she says she’s not an orphan so I hope we haven’t just stolen someone’s child.
Tonight, we are sleeping in the wild, a fire burning and Scratch tied to a nearby dead tree. It’s a cold night, and I’m thankful to have Alla close.

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I killed an ex-vaulter today. He seemed nice enough, and we were getting along fine until Alla found the doll in his bag. I admit, I may have overreacted. Over the past few days I’ve grown to quite like the little thing we found on the dead girl, and I’m quite afraid that I’m not going to be able to let it go when we reach a bigger city.
Either way, it turns out it was a different doll, so now I have two.

Currently in stock I have everything on the previous page (save the necklace, which Alla is quite happily wearing), plus what I got from the vaulter. On his body there were some shards, a 10mm, a knife, and a few rations of Fancy Lad snack cakes. In his bag (which will be useful on its own) were a couple of brahmin steaks, some clean water, a few books and magazines, and a few more weapons. I’ll probably sell the brass knuckles and baseball bat, but the pipe and assault rifle will come in handy so I’ll probably keep those for myself. He also had some clothing that fits me nicely, a blanket that I ended up wrapping my new doll in, and a very sturdy pair of boots. On his wrist was a device labeled as a “Pip-Boy” that looks like it has a stock-keeping function as well as some other options. I’ll play around with it, but I don’t know if I really want my stock traced digitally. You never know who’s listening.
It also has a radio, but either it doesn’t work or we are too far out of range of any stations to pick up music.
Alla says we should head North because she knows a good trading city there. Hopefully they will have a shortage of chems, so I can get a good price. Could use some more mentats for personal use, but money is the top priority right now.

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A while back I saw a wanderer with a book. As I watched her from a distance, she wrote in it. I can’t help but wonder what story she has to tell.

Scavenging, I found an empty book, and that would be you. If that strange girl in the wastes has a story to tell, maybe I do too. If not, I can always use this thing to keep my stock in order.

My stock is currently rather low. I have chems I found in a burnt-out school… I thought it was a raider hideout until I found the children. They were dead, but I couldn’t bring myself to loot their corpses. Alla was more than happy to do the deed for me, though I think she loses respect for me every time I show how squeamish I can be. I never thought I would have to sink so far as to disrespect the dead, but I suppose these days, the world I come from is a rare one. I wanted to cover them with a blanket at least, but with the recent fire, all of our blankets were gone so we had to take the few we found. It isn’t going to be a very comfortable night.

On the bodies we found very little. Some currency from the old world, a pair of eyeglasses, and one of the littlest ones was clutching a doll. It’s a nice one, I’ve seen ones like it before but they were always smashed into pieces like glass. Alla wrapped it in a blanket, so we’re down to a single one each. The doll should fetch a good price though, when we get to a big enough city.

There was some water and loose ammunition in the lockers near the children’s camp, but no weapons. Some of the ammunition had been destroyed and strung together like some sort of necklace. I’m thinking of giving it to Alla, because she seemed to like it. “Lots of perks make happier mercs!” as the old caravan saying goes.

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