I repeat to you, gentlemen, that your inquisition is fruitless. Question me though you will, I can tell you nothing further regarding the whereabouts or disposition of Richard Upton Pickman.
Upon reflection, I should have suspected that the crumbling facades of Boston held horrors greater than the merely mortal, that the derelict red-brick tenements and unhallowed church-halls, where in olden times it was whispered that witches had held congress with forces unknown to us even now, would still harbor some hint of those ancient unspeakable abominations.
But what the hell, I thought I was just gonna play some Fallout.
I paid no heed to the nursemaid’s stories of HP Lovecraft, nor to the Commonwealth’s grim and squalid settings, that so unwholesomely resembled those of his stories – no, nor even to the unhallowed name of Boston, for I laughed when they told me that “Pickman’s Model” was set in that ancient and squalid seaport. Surely these were the tales of drunken seafarers, best forgotten in the days of super mutants and atomic science.
Until, that is, I came upon the portal to that nightmare realm –
I read the name of “Pickman” on the HUD and by some genetic memory inherited from ancestors long and best forgotten, I knew –
But the gravest threat came not from the charnel-house horrors that surrounded me, but from the endless numbers of raiders all looking for a man named Pickman.
Although at first repelled by the intolerable stench and infernal squalor, I soon felt a most peculiar emotion begin to stir within me – an almost imperceptible shift in my mental assessment of Pickman … a sense, almost, of recognition …
After all, it had been but moments before that these very same raiders had been attempting to extinguish my own life, and I was forced to confront the question of who had been the true villains of this tragedy.
And while I could find fault with his sense of décor …
I could find little of reproach in his choice of … material.
And so it was, that after interminable hours crawling through a raider-haunted tunnel system straight out of The Shining, I came upon Pickman in his nighted lair. Surrounded by raiders, he faced a ghastly and foreboding doom, until I made the decision that forever sealed both our fates. A decision made all the easier when the sumb^tching raiders opened fire on me.
Scant seconds later, I stood looting the corpses of the dead raiders, when I chanced to look into Pickman’s gaze:
I shall not recount the words that were spoken between us, for such talk is not for the ears of sane men, nor to be repeated in the wholesome hours of daylight. Suffice to say I let him live, for his art, while perhaps not so suitable for those of more … refined taste, nonetheless held within its crimson mysteries some vital key to heightened states of awareness.
Speaking of keys, he gave me one, after lecturing me to look deep within his masterpiece for the truth of what might lie hidden beneath those cryptic crimson arabesuques.
This assumed, of course, that I was able to find his masterpiece, as I had become quite disoriented in those non-Euclidean tunnels whose tortured geography combined with my natural accountant’s complete lack of spatial awareness to leave me hopelessly lost. My only hope for escape from that wretched place was a tunnel to the surface that led, quite naturally, to a bakery:
The memory of those labyrinthian hallways still haunted me, and I cringed in terror when my sneak was “DETECTED.” My quivering nerves were not soothed when I discovered it was only a cat:
Surely some greater abomination awaited me … oh, if only I had known then what I know now –
WAIT?!? What is that shadow on the wall?
It was just my trusty super-mutant buddy Strong:
I reeled back into the night, gasping for air, praying for some small shred of hope that I might find my way back …
Finally, after who knows how many twisting passageways, I found myself before Pickman’s final work –
How long I stood there gazing at his abominable painting, I cannot say. After what seemed like uncountable eons, the truth of that tenebrous masterpiece was revealed to me, as its lewd and mocking visions seemed to speak to some sinister shadow of myself:
As I rifled through Pickman’s final gift, I chanced to look upon a card called, simply, “Pickman’s Thank You Note.” I picked it up:
… somehow, he had known. Before even he had set eyes upon me, he knew what would come to pass. How long had he studied me, followed my movements through the Wasteland, drawn to the truth he saw, before ever I did … that we were indeed kindred spirits … killers, bathed in blood and horror. I looked back at the painting, my mind reeling in shock … I had vacantly tossed it aside in my search for the safe, but by God, Piper, it was a painting of me!