|Starting map of Southbridge|
This is part 3 of my current play of Cataclysm: Dark Days Ahead. (The previous installments are here and here.) This is just for fun. If you want to learn how to install and play this free, rogue-like, zombie-survival game, check out my earlier posts here.
I'd hoped I'd left those 'blobs' behind, but I was still unsettled by the experience, so I thought I'd continue to explore south, along the west edge of town. I'd found a pair of binoculars, which helped, and when a day dawned bright and sunny, I though maybe it would be safe to explore an open area to the southwest, too. (I was still very worried about acid rain.)
There was forest to my west, and I'd run into more of those giant ants when I'd tried to go that way. This time, I went south to an office tower on the edge of town, then southwest across an open field, and I discovered another science lab, alongside a river, with a road leading north.
The lab had a small barracks, with beds and dressers, on the top floor (and a room filled with pits of goo on the other side - I closed the door and left that room strictly alone!), so it would probably work fine as an emergency base. Again, I didn't even attempt to explore the dark underground. Maybe someday.
Meanwhile, the day was still nice, so I went north along the river road. I really didn't find much. It looked like swamp on the other side of the river, and I could see an evac shelter far to the north of that, but there wasn't any way to get to the other side, bar swimming (and who knew what might be in the water).
After awhile, I found some wreckage in the middle of the road, and the bodies of scientists nearby (one of them animate), then more of those giant ants blocking the road further north. So I headed back to my temporary base.
(I was still having no luck in getting one of those ants to separate from the others. They were clearly hostile, and very angry at my presence, but even the big 'warrior' ants weren't willing to chase after me. After the blobs, that was kind of a relief, but it meant that I couldn't judge how dangerous they were without getting right in the middle of them,... and that didn't seem like a wise survival tactic to me!)
|Northern part of Southbridge|
The next morning, I was attacked by blobs again. I slept OK, despite the nightmares, but I awoke to find vast numbers of blobs moving my way from the north and northwest. (North, I could understand, since they were probably following my trail. But how did that long line of blobs coming from the west-northwest know where I was? Somehow, they clearly did.)
I spent half the day killing them, but I could still see blobs, far to my north, slowly heading my way. So I needed to try somewhere new.
My first experiment was to explore the sewers, since I'd found a manhole entrance in the middle of the street. It was unpleasant, and slow, but it seemed safe enough. (Obviously, I couldn't take my shopping cart with me, so this was just a scouting trip.)
The sewer went east, without any side corridors, until I found an exit that led to the subway system, coincidentally very near the subway entrance I'd explored in the middle of the night a few weeks previously. This time, it was daytime, and I had to fight a few zombies when I emerged - and then a zombear - but it wasn't too bad. (I'd found a machete, which was faster than my steel spear and did even more damage. Also, I'd traded my crowbar for a Halligan bar - which firefighters use - and I could do a lot of damage with that, too.)
Unfortunately, without my cart, I couldn't do much looting. And although I could move to the east side of town, if I wanted, I'd have to leave most of my stuff behind (again, without being able to use the shopping cart.) Plus, there were giant wasps very close by. I killed one of them when it attacked me, but then I scooted back down the subway entrance, and retraced my steps through the sewer, before I could be swarmed by them.
So the next day, I loaded up my cart and continued south. Past the office tower, I found a hotel that was off by itself, a bit, on the other side of a parking lot. It was full of zombies, but I could take them on individually. Of course, there were individual rooms with beds and dressers, and there was a basement with a swimming pool - and sewer snakes, admittedly - so I thought it would make a good base, at least temporarily.
I picked a room and boarded over the windows, then dragged dressers in front of them, for good measure. (The noise attracted a giant worm - that earlier sighting hadn't been my imagination after all - but I was able to kill it from a window without getting down into the dirt, myself. Actually, I chopped it in half with my machete, only to find both ends continuing to fight! But they weren't hard to kill after that - not like the blobs, luckily.)
I gathered stones from the fields nearby and built a fireplace with them. I was proud of that - it worked great! Then I looted a nearby library and a liquor store. (I needed reading material, for when the weather was bad - indeed, I was caught in acid rain again, though just briefly - and the liquor store was absolutely packed with booze. But even better than that, I found a road map that gave me some idea of the surrounding countryside.)
|Southern Southbridge and surrounding roads|
Then I started exploring nearby - trying to clear the zombies out of that side of town, if I could - when I got really sick. It was just the flu, I guess, but when I say "just" the flu, that really minimizes it. I was sick for weeks! (I was terrified that I might have caught some virus from the zombies. I mean, there was no one else around! How else could I have gotten sick?)
I was coughing so much at night that I kept having zombie dogs break through my boarded-over windows - and smashing through the dressers I'd barricaded them with - to get to me. Thank the gods there weren't any zombears, because I was so sick I never even woke up until they'd come that far.
Once I did wake up, the zombie dogs were easy enough to kill, but I had to keep rebuilding my defenses. (Why hadn't I dug pit traps outside the windows?) And one night, I woke up just as I was being poisoned by a giant spider. I was miserable enough already, and the poison certainly didn't help any! But I survived it.
And finally, about the first of autumn, I recovered completely. By then, I'd gone through most of my stash of food (I had plenty of water and fuel in the hotel, luckily), so I was really happy I'd accumulated so much food ahead of time. And I was happy I'd had a reasonably-secure hideout to recover in, too! I was lucky, in both respects. And I needed to remember that.
But with fall already here - and still no sign of other survivors - I had to start thinking about winter. What was I going to do next? And how could I best ensure my survival during the leanest part of the year?
My road map showed two large schools - community colleges, most likely - and those seemed to be likely places to find survivors, not to mention some of the resources - educational resources, primarily - that I'd need. One of them was far to the northeast, north along the road from that first science lab I'd found. But even with the lab in the middle, that would mean a lot of travel a long way from shelter, and I was still very worried about acid rain.
The other school was closer, but on the other side of town from me. Maybe I could skirt the town on the south. The river was that way, and I'd seen some swampy terrain from a distance, but most of that area was still a complete unknown to me. Or I could slowly clear a way across town. I'd been doing that already, to some extent, and the town still seemed to be fairly narrow at this point.
There was also that FEMA camp to the northwest. I had better weapons now, and more skill in using them. Plus, that liquor store had given me the supplies I needed to make Molotov cocktails. So maybe I could burn out that mass grave?
Well, first, when I got well enough to travel, I headed north to my closest stash of food and supplies and brought a wheelbarrow load of it back to the hotel. I wanted to be prepared in case I got sick again. Then I dug some deep pits in the dirt outside my boarded-up windows and set some sharpened sticks upright in them. Maybe that would discourage creatures from breaking in, next time.
|Current kill count (my hotel room is in the background)|
Finally, a day dawned bright and sunny, so I put some essentials in a shopping cart and headed off towards the FEMA camp. I traveled north, between the forest and Southbridge, as I had many times before, then cut northwest across that huge area of open ground, trying to avoid the slime pit to the north. But when I was halfway there, out in the middle of nothing, it clouded up and started to pour rain again!
Luckily, it wasn't acid rain, but it did turn to thunderstorms before I could make it to my nearest safe house, north of the crater (northwest of the blobs), and it turned to acid rain the next day. That's why I was worried about getting too far from shelter.
In fact, it rained and rained - thunderstorms, acid rain, heavy showers, drizzle. It just went on and on, day after day. I was going nuts, since I didn't have much to do - much I could do. I did explore around that part of town a bit - those few places I'd missed previously - and I found a rapier (yeah, an actual, honest-to-god rapier) and a .22 rifle and pistol, with ammo (with which I thought I could practice shooting a gun), but I was really going stir-crazy.
Finally, I woke to a sunny day, so I grabbed my cart and headed northwest again. As it turned out, there wasn't just one mass grave, but multiple mass graves, at the FEMA camp. I didn't even bother with my Molotov cocktails, because I didn't have nearly enough for that! The zombies weren't too tough, though. They'd been wandering through barbed wire so they were already injured, and they'd spread out enough that I could take them on one at a time.
I circled the camp, taking out the weaker creatures, then approached those soldier zombies in the middle. There were a half-dozen of them in a small building, and they saw me as I got closer. But they were so mindless that only two of them had sense enough to leave the building through the door, even after one had smashed it down (the others just bashed impotently on the bullet-proof glass). So it was easy enough to kill them one at a time, too - especially after I led them through barbed wire a few times.
I'd hoped to set up a base there, and I did find a solid concrete building in the center, with secure metal doors (only one entrance, admittedly). And I could see a river on the map not too far away, for water (not as convenient as I might wish, but workable). However, I just couldn't see sleeping in the middle of mass graves! I mean, I've become inured to a lot in the past few months, but that was taking it too far, even without the ever-present threat of zombies.
I did find some supplies, including an anvil! But I couldn't haul it all at once, so I loaded up my shopping cart and headed back to that temporary safe house, arriving just as it was getting dark, then went back for the anvil the next day.
It was getting cloudy by then, so I probably shouldn't have risked it, but I did a quick scout to the north after I got the anvil loaded up, and I found a survivalist shelter in the forest. It was small, and entirely underground, but it had a bed, a wood-burning stove, a source of water, and some supplies.
Frankly, it would have been the perfect place to build a log cabin, using the LMOE shelter as its basement, except that the ground was far too swampy to grow crops. (Admittedly, I'm far from ready to settle down as a hermit. I still need to find other survivors!) And as if it weren't swampy enough already, it started pouring rain again! So I grabbed what I could and headed back.
It's been raining pretty much nonstop ever since. If the winter is this wet, I may have to learn to use snowshoes! Despite the rain - and the ever-present risk of acid rain - I've been hauling cartloads of stuff south to my hotel base camp. It's been slow, wet, and boring, and my room is getting so full of crap that I probably won't fit inside, myself, before too long.
But with luck, I can use that as a base for awhile. I'm going to try to make it to that school, but it's probably going to take awhile. The southeast is still a complete unknown, but it's probably more city - which means more zombies, among other dangers.
Still, the acid rain scares me more than anything else, which seems to rule out the open plains and forests to the north and west (and even to the east, if I loop around that way). And assuming that I can still get food, the city seems like a better option for surviving the winter, too. I haven't seen those blobs in awhile, so maybe the nightmares about getting smothered in my sleep will finally stop.
Oh, and I finally encountered a warrior ant by itself. Those giant ants seem to be moving east, because I encountered what seemed to be scouts as I was hauling stuff back to my hotel room. That warrior ant wasn't as tough as I'd expected. In fact, although it clearly knew I was nearby, it didn't seem to know exactly where I was until I'd gotten quite close.
Of course, these are social insects, so I suspect that they don't do well on their own. Finding one ant by itself is a very unusual circumstance, and I shouldn't underestimate them. But I must admit that I'm far less worried than I was. At the very least, I could probably run away, setting a fire behind me to disrupt my scent trail.
Now, if I can just find a solution to the acid rain problem, the whole world would seem to be open for exploration.
Note: Here's part 4. And you can find my other computer game-related posts here.