When we’d tromped to the top of the hill, everybody stopped to gawk at the bush ahead. Judgin by where the sun was sittin we were walking away from the west coast. (That’s IF this lizard shitting world has got anythin to do with how earth worked.) Lookin down south ya see that as far as we could gander was scrub, like a little bit of Africa followed us from home. Straight out to the east had us starin into thick dark woods. The stream we’d be walkin took a sharp turn north to run between the hills on the west and the forest to the east. It looked like the smoke we spotted would take us two days up the river before we came to the source.
Still with the goal of finding civilized people in mind, we to got walkin up river. We made sure to keep rubbernecking for trouble while a couple of us foraged for anything edible. We were able to scare up some apples and tubers that seemed safe enough to eat for a kind of lunch. As we continued on down the stream we came to a dead patch. All birdsong stopped and the woods gave off an eerie silence that made my skin crawl. Doc Reed and the Archive noticed it too and said it seemed to be related to a strange tree. At first we went to move along but in the course of talkin about it, I insisted that if somethin nasty was waiting behind us, we’d better deal with it before it decided it could sneak up on us at night. It seemed that no matter what kind of bush you found yourself in, there was always some predator that thought it could have a nice solder snack once you bed down for the night.
We made our way back to the tree, which we soon realized was dead and also the only thing standing in a clearing under the canopy. Jack wanted to examine the tree, but I had a fishy feelin bout this one. I held him back and went to poke it myself. Doc Reed, the Archive and Jack all watched from a distance while I poked the tree round its base. There wasn’t much remarkable about the tree as l walked the way around it. Then this big damn centipede crawled outa some hole and tried to take a chunk outa my ass. It was green, black and about the size of my old Cocker Spaniel Sue.
Right then, almost a dozen of the little bastards dropped out of the trees to get a piece of us. One of em jumped at Jack and another on the Archive while five scally things circled me. I thought I was gonna get a big piece of em with the shotgun I held, but as I pulled the trigger I heard somethin click kinda funny in the barrel. I could barely turn away before the thing blew up in my hands. The little buggers started towards me and I reached for my hammer with bloody hands. As I did so I saw that the others weren’t doin much better. One of em had bit Jack and they were frantically backing up to get clean shots at the things.
The Archive pulled some magic out of his hat and started spittin huge ruts of flame at the bugs. We started gettin the upper hand and we slowly struggled to hack em down. Doc Reed did whatever it is that heals us up but this time he didn’t seem to need his pip boy, nor did it make any of Jacks weird mist when he did. I started splattin bugs like I was pest control and had a damn devil of a time keepin them off of my new painted armor. Soon there were just a few left and I managed to wrestle one down before kicking it unconscious against a tree.
When all was said and done Jack and Reed got us all patched up. Except that Jack got bit and it was pretty clear the little buggers were venomous. We put a mud pack on the wound to prevent more centipede venom from circulating but there wasn’t much more we could do right then and there. I took the one I had conked out and killed it but kept the corps in case it was worth somethin to the locals.
We moved off a ways before settling down to camp for the night. We would still hopefully reach the our destination the next day so we set about our tasks. As we foraged and set up shelter the Archive wandered off for a bit. He returned while we were roasting tubers and apples at our fire and proceeded to put down a mess of coins and old equipment. He explained that those centipedes had been gankin travelers and hawlin them back into their tree to make a nest. The Archive had apparently busted up the nest and taken whatever was left of the dead folks belongings for our trouble. The gold and odd ends were divvied up between us which while I’m happy with, felt a bit odd.
We settled down for the night and Doc Reed set up for a rotation for watches between himself, the Archive and myself in hopes that a full night of sleep would be good for whatever venom was in Jacks system. That boy has me worried. But, ain’t nothin to do for now.