|The north end of Southbridge|
Note: This is part 2 of my current play of Cataclysm: Dark Days Ahead. Part 1 is here. For more information about this free rogue-like zombie survival game, including instructions for installing it and beginners' tips, check out my earlier posts here.
By morning, I was still worried about that portal, but I'd settled down a little. It looked to be a bright and sunny day for a change, so I thought I'd explore to the northeast a bit. I didn't find much - just lots of trees.
But just before I turned back, I came across a science lab, at the end of a road. The ID I'd taken from that zombie scientist got me inside, but it turned out to be disappointing. There were only a few rooms on the surface - apparently used for dissection! - and the stairs down looked dark and forbidding.
As a safe house, it had a couple of problems, including only one entrance (I wouldn't want to get trapped inside) and no nearby source of water, as far as I could tell. There was a giant spider spinning webs in the forest nearby, but no other threats (again, as far as I could tell). The road led off to the north through more forest.
With all the acid rain lately, I was worried about getting too far from shelter. The forest looked to be a lot safer than the city, but only while the weather stayed clear. And with the National Weather Service permanently out of business, I had no idea how long that would be.
So I turned back 'home.' I could always use the science lab as a temporary emergency shelter, so I might want to explore further down that road. But not right yet.
The next day - still nice, though it started to cloud up a bit later in the day - I headed southwest. There was a lot of forest that way, too, though I skirted the edge as I headed more towards the south. I was trying to find more buildings to loot, and I did find a house off by itself, at the edge of a crater.
I don't know what had happened there - it was all rubble now - but this house had been spared the fate of its neighbors. There wasn't anything useful inside, though. To the south, on the other side of the highway, was a big open field, and I could swear I saw a giant worm out there. Maybe not. Maybe it was just my imagination - especially since it didn't seem to be moving. But I wasn't interested in getting any closer!
And when I tried to skirt the crater to the north, I spotted some weird-looking zombies in that direction. I've learned that 'weird' means dangerous, so I didn't go in that direction, either. Well, this was just a scouting trip, anyway, so I headed west.
It was open in that direction, too, but I encountered more of those giant ants. Again, there wasn't just one or two, but swarms of them - and some were even bigger and more dangerous-looking than those I'd seen earlier. So I skirted them on the north, still trying to go west, and I came across a FEMA camp.
There were bodies all around it, and a couple of them stood up as I got closer - more of those 'scientist zombies.' I killed them - I had lots of rocks to throw, and a couple of bear traps to keep them from getting too close. Then I cut the head off every corpse I could find.
As I was doing that, I got close enough to see a bunch of zombies in armor - soldier zombies - inside the camp. They didn't see me, and I made sure to keep it that way. I wouldn't have worried about just one, since I'd have no problem killing it before it got close. I'd done it before. With enough rocks, even armor wears down, eventually.
But that was a slow process, and there's a limit to how many rocks I can carry. I needed something a lot better than rocks - and a lot better than the sharp piece of steel tied to a broom handle, which was my current melee weapon - to take out a bunch of soldier zombies all at once. So I turned around and tried to skirt the camp on the north, instead.
And I came across a mass grave. Well, calling it a grave is doing it too much justice, because it was just a huge open pit filled with bodies. And those bodies were starting to move.
If they'd been soldiers, they'd had their armor removed. That was one thing, at least. One at a time, I wouldn't even have broken a sweat (assuming there weren't any surprises - note that I was seeing all this from a distance). But I couldn't even begin to estimate how many bodies there were in that pit. I could see about a dozen of them starting to stand up, but that was just a tiny fraction of the whole.
So I left. Maybe I could make a few Molotov cocktails and set the whole pit on fire? But what would be the point? I'd still have the soldier zombies to deal with. And I couldn't see inside most of the buildings in the camp, so I had no idea what horrors I might find in them.
So I returned to the evac shelter. I was really feeling discouraged, because the southwest had turned out to be such a complete bust. My options were narrowing. I had plenty of food, and I was doing OK on toilet water for the moment (boiled before I drank any, of course), but I needed better weapons. And I needed the skill to use those weapons. I was getting pretty good at throwing rocks, but rocks would only take me so far.
|Temporary lodging in a fine home with a fireplace and garden pool|
The next day, I tried to skirt that portal on the east and southeast, but I ran into more giant ants in a forest clearing there, so I turned back. That night, I went back to town - maybe I was getting too nonchalant, but I still hadn't seen any dangers from that portal - and looted an electronics store and a garage.
The first didn't have much that I could use, but the garage held a portable welder (along with an assortment of random auto parts), so I took that back to the shelter and used it to make a steel spear. OK, it was little more than a sharp steel pole, I guess, but it was better than what I'd had.
And the following night, I went back into town (note that I was trying to avoid the playground as much as the portal, since I couldn't bear to see what had happened to all those kids) and entered the underground subway. The downside was that I couldn't get my shopping cart down the broken escalators, and it was pitch black down there, so I had to use my flashlight - and its precious batteries - the whole time.
But the upside was that it was completely free of dangerous creatures - indeed, any creatures at all. There was a lot of rubble, here and there, but most of it was clear - just a long tunnel east, then south. I walked for a long, long time without encountering anything at all. But finally - though the tunnel continued south - there was another subway exit to the surface.
It was raining, and very, very dark, so I couldn't see much (and I was seriously worried about getting lost). There was a street directly in front of the subway station, of course, and there seemed to be a radio station just to the west.
On the east was a house, where I found some food before... something started breaking through the windows in front. So I ran back to the subway station. By then, it was about 2 AM, and I was really tired. Unfortunately, I'd found no safe place to rest, so I ran all the way back through the tunnel again.
Naturally, I encountered a bear just before I arrived at the evac shelter (at nearly 5 AM), so I had the fight of my life when I was completely exhausted. But I got home at last and crashed on a pile of unused clothing, sleeping till early afternoon. Clearly, I needed a different plan.
So the next day, I loaded up my shopping cart with what I thought I'd need in a temporary base and headed back southwest to that isolated house on the edge of the crater full of rubble. It was just an ordinary house, but there weren't any others particularly close, so I hoped I'd be safe enough there while I explored the area nearby.
My sleeping pattern was still screwed up, so I cleared out some homes northeast of the crater that night (piling anything which looked like it might be useful in my temporary base), then slept rather late in the morning. But when I went outside, there was a weird kind of... goth zombie, I guess, trailed by a huge plume of smoke, heading right for me.
I grabbed my gas mask out of the shopping cart and attacked. I have no idea what that first zombie was, but it certainly looked dangerous, so I put it down first. Behind that, the smoke turned out to be coming from another zombie, one which exploded when I killed it (though without causing any damage).
I'm guessing that these weird kinds of zombies are the varying results of decomposition. Something must be keeping those dead bodies from decomposing, but it didn't seem to work all the time. I suspect that 'boomers,' for example, and those strange zombies which spit acid, were both decomposing, but in different ways.
Likewise, this 'smoker' zombie was probably decomposing much like a pile of overly-rich mulch, giving off heat and smoke, but no flame. Like boomers, it was filled with the gasses of decomposition, so it exploded when pierced. Unlike them - and unlike the 'spitter' zombies - it was dessicated and dry, so it didn't spray the place with noxious liquids afterwards. That's my theory, at least.
Anyway, I continued to look around, and I didn't see any more zombies nearby, but there was a big pool of black oil - or maybe tar - to the southeast, and what looked like animated blobs of oil were emerging from it. I didn't get close, but I didn't like the looks of it, especially that close to my temporary base.
|'Blobs' swarming a wrecked vehicle|
So I explored some more to the north and northeast, clearing out a few more houses (and killing a few zombies on the way). At one point, I had a zombie dog break through the window when I was exploring a house, and after killing it, I saw this giant wasp across the street next to a house covered in paper, like a giant wasp nest (reasonably enough, huh?).
This wasp was easily the size of the zombie dog I'd just killed, and it was clearly hostile. But like the giant ants I'd seen, it didn't come after me. (Given the size of the stinger on it, I was very glad about that!) I only saw one of them, but I was pretty sure I'd be swarmed by wasps if I got any closer. So I didn't.
That night, I moved my shopping cart - both of them, since I'd just found another at a nearby grocery store - to a house a bit further north. I left some stuff in that first house, but I was just uncomfortable sleeping so close to that oil pit (and rightly so, as it turned out).
The next day, I continued to explore - cautiously - to the east (staying south of that wasp nest). But I was clearing out a house when I accidentally stepped in front of a window to discover a mass of both zombies and those strange black 'blobs' immediately to the south.
At first, I thought they might be attacking each other, but apparently not. (If the zombies really had been a military project, that would make sense, I guess. It's harder to imagine that human beings had created those animated blobs, but... well, I just don't know. Either way, they seemed to be ignoring each other.)
No, I'm guessing that they'd all been attracted to that spot by the noise of a zombie which had accidentally gotten stuck in a car and was just mindlessly smashing its way out again. Certainly, they all turned to attack me when I stepped in front of that window.
Maybe I was just tired of running, but I thought I'd just wait and see if I could hold them off. There were only two windows there, side by side, and although there were a lot of zombies, they were all just the ordinary kind, which really didn't scare me much anymore. The blobs were a complete unknown, but I figured I could run back through the house, closing doors behind me, anytime I wanted.
Oddly enough, the zombies were faster than the blobs, so they got to the windows first. (Admittedly, they were also a bit closer.) Certainly, I had plenty of time to prepare, and as the zombies broke through the windows and awkwardly tried to climb inside, I had an easy time killing them, one after the other. Again, they were just the ordinary variety of zombie.
The blobs were... weird. As I say, they were even slower than the zombies. But when they took enough damage, instead of dying, they just split into two smaller blobs - both just as hostile as the original. Those smaller blobs weren't a big problem, except that they would spit again when damaged. Eventually, the pieces would be so small that they ceased to be mobile or even very threatening, though they still wiggled.
But the scary thing was that I couldn't keep them at the window. When I'd split a blob into two pieces, those pieces would fly all over the place - including inside the house with me. So I kept getting surrounded by blobs. I tried to kill those inside the house first, so I'd keep a clear escape lane, but that wasn't always possible. It was rather frightening.
Still, the blobs themselves, though numerous, didn't seem to be very dangerous. Eventually, I killed them all - and without taking a scratch, myself. But something about them was just... unsettling. Frankly, they made my skin crawl. Wherever the hell they came from, they didn't belong on my planet! And I wasn't too eager to stick around anywhere in their vicinity.
So I decided I needed to move on. Again, I loaded up one shopping cart with just what I thought I'd need in a temporary base and left everything else behind. (This time, I left my army jacket behind, too, along with other useful stuff, because it was getting into late spring/early summer, and much too hot to wear that much. But I was definitely going to need to return for it, sometime.)
Early the next morning, while it was still dark, I headed southeast, trying to skirt the pool of blobs to the south. Yes, I know what you're going to say. What about that giant worm I'd seen? Well, I'd seen no sign of anything like that on this trip, so I was thinking it had probably just been my imagination. (Do you blame me for having an overactive imagination, after what I've seen?)
Certainly, I didn't encounter anything dangerous, except for one lone blob, which I destroyed. I made it to a very nice house, with an apple tree in the front yard and a fireplace - and three external doors in different directions - which I figured would make a fine hideout. Since it was still dark, I went north and cleared out a house in that direction, dumping the stuff near the fireplace.
But then it got light, and I peered outside to discover another massive group of zombies and blobs to the east! In the light of day, I could see isolated blobs to the north and west, too, so I grabbed my shopping cart and headed south.
There was another nice house - almost a mansion - down there, complete with a fireplace and a garden pool. And it was right on the edge of town, too, with open plain and then forest behind it. Unfortunately, most of it had been built of glass blocks, with no curtains on the windows. It would do for a temporary base, but only if there was nothing dangerous nearby.
So I set about trying to clear the area nearby. I did OK, although there was a pack of zombie dogs which might have been a problem if I hadn't had bear traps in my shopping cart. But when I went back to the mansion, I discovered that I'd been followed by blobs - another huge mass of them coming down from the north (no zombies this time, though).
I fought them in the street, since I knew they were slow. When they looked like they might surround me, I moved away and let them follow. Through such tactics, I whittled them down. Maybe after that, I'd be safe down there.
Note: Pt. 3 is here, and the rest of my computer game posts are here.