It’s a beautiful day outside the Howard residence—hiding the terrors lurking within. “Don’t come downstairs, Henrietta,” Todd shouts from the basement apartment. “I’m locking the door. Don’t mind the noises, I’m playing a video game.”
Assuming that her handsome, leather-jacket-even-when-he’s-going-to-bed husband is working on Bethesda’s new hit game, she smiles and continues making fake accounts to sign in to Fallout 76 with.
“I’ve got nothing against you, little guy,” Howard says, eyeing the worried-looking goat in front of him. “But if it worked with Far Harbor, it can work with 76. I have to believe that.”
At his feet is a pentagram, an occult organization of candles, a Fallout 3 poster, a King of Queens box set that had been there anyway, and the knife that Servilius Casca used to kill Julius Caesar. “Malis bene facere ludum,” Howard murmurs, reading from a bloodied, leather-bound Introduction to Latin textbook. “Nos postulo ut pecuniam sex elder cartis bonum.”
The chalk begins to glow ethereally, and the goat bleats in fear. Closing his eyes, Howard wraps his fingers around the dagger and plunges it into the animal’s flesh. The glow pulsates and then fades into nothing. There’s a rustling from upstairs. “Sweetheart,” Henrietta calls. “Steam just emailed everyone who ever owned a Fallout game to tell people Fallout 76 is on Steam.”
“Is it working?” he shouts. The question hangs in the air: his future.
“No, doesn’t look like it.”