A Dead Summer Night: Falling for Fallout

A Dead Summer Night: Falling for Fallout

Carlos Jackson, Copy Editor

   Middle school was one of the most emotionally grueling periods of time I’ve ever had to live through because it was extremely different from elementary school. Not only did I have to keep track of seven different classes, the content itself was harder with barely anything we learned from elementary school translating over. However the thing that made it grueling instead of difficult was the constant bullying by, what felt like, everyone. Day in and day out, I was constantly getting picked on in one way or another. People were telling me that I was a disappointment, constantly kicking me out of conversations, pretending to be my friend, and more. It got so bad to the point where I like to argue that if I hadn’t been bullied, I would be a different person nowadays. The only thing that really managed to stop me from going full-on insane was the love and support of my family; but even still, I never told them the full extent of the bullying, so there was only so much they could do.

   I didn’t see an end to it, to the pain. I thought that when I graduated middle school, I’d move on to high school and have to live through the same thing again. It was a nightmare to think about. My parents, however, offered me an end to all of it, an end to all of the bullying and emotional pain. They told me about this prestigious school, Hill Country College Preparatory High School. They gave me the obvious information about this school, that it was more advanced than a regular high school, and that it could help guide me into a better future. However, they put the most emphasis on this school being smaller, meaning that it would be easier for teachers to catch any bullying, considering it was less kids they had to look after. I honestly never thought I would have an end to it all, so when my parents offered one to me, I took it without thinking twice. I remember feeling this sort of mix of joy and relief from the fact that soon, there would be a solution to my problem.

   However, as time went on, a fear developed in the back of my mind. What if this wasn’t enough to stop it? What if I showed up to the school, and it would be all the same? It happened in middle school, what’s going to stop it from happening in high school? Those fears would last for a while, until one summer night.

   I bought “Fallout New Vegas” during eighth grade because I was in a post-apocalyptic phase at the time and “New Vegas” was considered to be one of the greatest games of all time. When I initially beat it, I considered it to be a pretty good game, just not one of the GOAT’s; however, I did like it enough to buy and play through all of its downloadable content (DLC) the summer before freshman year.

   The first of the DLC that I played went by the name “Dead Money.” The DLC played extremely differently from how Fallout is normally played, mostly because you have to be mindful of your surroundings; if you stayed in one place for too long, it’d quite literally be game over for you. However, the thing that made it grueling instead of  difficult was that all you had to work with was what the DLC gave you instead of the equipment that you had collected on your journey throughout the original game. I remember being halfway through the DLC thinking to myself that if I didn’t beat it in one sitting, that it would sit in the back of my mind and bother me until I picked it up again and beat it. So I stayed up late beating it, and I remember when I finally did complete the DLC, I felt a mix of joy and relief from actually managing to make it to the end.

   Afterwards, the game showed me a slideshow derived from the ending that I got, and then put me right back at the entrance point that you use in order to get into the DLC, and inside there laid a radio. The radio essentially presented me with a farewell from the in-game casino, and while I didn’t pay attention to the smaller details of the message, I understood what it was trying to say. It told me that no matter how hard it is, I need to let go of the grueling experience I just went through, and realize that now that I’ve gone through it, I’ve gotten a chance to essentially start over.

   When I got that message, I didn’t apply it to the context of the game. Instead I took it and applied it to my real life situation, my fear that high school would be just as bad as middle school. I took it as the game telling me that I need to let go of what happened in middle school, and realize that at this new school, I’d have a chance to begin again. It took about a week for me to fully digest that interpretation. By the time I did, I found myself not worrying too much about whether or not I would get bullied again.

   Within that week, I ended up buying and beating “Fallout 3” and its DLC’s and learning from that game that even in the most horrible of situations, hope can still exist, even if you’re the one giving it to others. Within that same month, I bought “Fallout 4,” and learned that if you persevere and never give up, you can survive anything. 

   Nowadays, if you were to ask the (as of 2022-2023) junior class of HCCPHS what Carlos’ favorite thing is, they would tell you “Fallout.” If you look at my staff bio on thewingspan.org, you’ll see that one of the things that I survive on is the wacky world of “Fallout.” Within that same bio, you can also see that I am wearing a “Fallout” T-Shirt, and in most of the articles I have written, you can find a Fallout reference hidden inside them. It’s clear to everyone around me that this franchise means a lot to me, and why it means a lot can be summed up in a quote from the series: “In a world filled with misery and uncertainty, it is good to know in the end, that there is light in the darkness.”