Everything was blurry, nothing seemed clear. There was a buzzing sound. The cowboy ranger woke up to the sight of a spinning fan. And soft old voice:
“You’re awake, how about that.”
The ranger tried to get up, there was an aching in his spine. Something seemed to be out of order. His spine was hurting all over. And his lungs were barely breathing in and out. Felt like he'd been swallowing a bulk of lead. And maybe he did.
“Whoa, easy there,” said the old man, “You’ve been out for a while, ten days to be exact.”
The ranger saw the man, he was bald, well, almost anyway. Wore a dark shirt, black gloves. Had a bushy moustache. He seemed familiar. He didn’t really know why.
“Wh... what happened?” asked the ranger.
“Th...” the old man tried to find the right words, “There’ve been some... unfortunate events. You’re lucky to be still walkin’ ‘round like this... err... how ‘bout yer name.”
“Name,” he repeated, “what do folks call you?”
The ranger blinked for a moment before he answered:
“Solmund, just call me Sol for short.”
“Right-o.” He replied, “I’m Doc Mitchell, and this is Goodsprings. Named after the water springs around these parts. Fortunate for us folks too, ain’t nothin’ like a good water source to go around a desert like this. Them folks back at the Hub must be jealous.”
Sol didn’t pay attention to anything he said. He was too busy looking around the house. It was a simple house, wooden planks on the floor, and a desk for what he assumed was for Doc’s work. There was also a chemistry set, too. And across the room was a Vit-o-matic Vigor Tester machine. Sol didn’t have that from where he came from. There weren’t a lot of technology back in Baja, just a bunch of duster wearing rangers sitting around a campfire, drinking moonshines and singing Old songs.
“Alright then,” said Doc finally, “no senses in keeping you in bed now, let’s get you up.”
He grabbed his arms and Sol followed him up. His feet was wobbly at first, it all felt like noodle limbs. He felt like falling over, but he was tough, he wasn’t about to give up. When he finally got up, he suddenly felt like whole again. His limbs were tougher than stone. Just like how he remembered it.
“Good, good,” said Doc Mitchell, “You’re doing better than I expected, how ‘bout try to walk over that Tester machine over there, take it easy now, it ain’t no race. We folks ‘round here don’t like races anyway.”
To both Doc’s and Sol’s surprise. His legs were quicker than a bull, walked all the way to the Tester in a matter of seconds. Doc was almost speechless.
“Wow, normal folks don’t get up like you do... well I s’pose you ain't no normal folk... go ahead.”
“What is it?” Solmund asked, “Some kind of... tester right?”
“Yup,” answered Doc, “Not much to it, just go ahead and try to push the lever, the machine will do the magic for yer.”
Solmund fiddled around the lever at first but when he gripped at the lever, it felt light, and it instantly pushed itself back towards the machine. The Tester lit up brightly the score. And Doc Mitchell’s jaw dropped to the floor.
“Would you look at that,” said Doc while looking at the intelligence meter, “maybe them bullets done you some good after all. You could go right ahead and be a teacher with them Follower folks.” Doc had no idea how true that was.
“Well, the rest of your statistics seems to be good, too, you really are not one of them normal folks, ain’t you?” He said. Sol didn’t answer though, he was busy thinking.
“Alright then,” mumbled Doc Mitchell, “Why don’t you come over to the couch over here. I’ve got a few questions, just to see if your brain function is working, and that nothing important... shifted.”
Solmund sat down, Doc grabbed a couple of documents and handed them to Sol.
“Right, just fill these out, nothing much, just yer name, Birthday, etc.” He gave him a pencil.
After a couple of minutes, Sol handed the paper back to him. And the very first reaction from Doc’s face was surprise:
“I think you’ve got some mistake here, your birthday, says right here you’re born in June 20th, 2221. Now I...”
“It’s not wrong,” Sol cut him off. Doc was still surprised, quite speechless.
“Yup, as sure as the day is sunny in Nevada,” he replied.
“But you...” Doc stuttered, “I mean, c’mon, you look like an older fella but you don’t look that old.”
“Unfortunately, I am.” Solmund said, staring at him unsteadily, “Is there a problem?”
“No, no, no,” he quickly added, “it’s just that I don’t see much folks around here going anywhere pass fifty. Radiation is nasty ya know.”
“Not in Vegas though,” Sol said, “One of the few things that don’t stay in Vegas.”
Doc Mitchell laughed. The mood got a bit lighter, Sol smiled internally. He’d always liked seeing normal folks smile, it felt... natural. It was one of those rare times when people don’t concern themselves with today's politics mumbo jumbo, just letting go and enjoy life as it was. He wished he could be this happy all the time.
“Alright, jokes aside,” said Doc, “I’ve got one more thing to ask yer.”
“Right...” He leaned forward towards Solmund, he sat there uneasily. A bit tense, “what’s the last thing you remember?”
This question struck him a chord. He had lived a very long life. Solmund grew up in a ranch in Baja. The place was a place filled with Desert Rangers. It was also a good place to trade, too. Crimson Caravan folks loved trading there for Brahmin hide. Most of it was Sol’s father’s work. He owned most of the ranch there. Sol’s father was name was James Solomon. He was like the father of the farmers and Brahmin herders there. People looked up to him. He was chief around those parts. Always knew how to make good deals with the Caravan. Heck, thanks to him, Sol’s ranch was one of the most prosperous places in Baja.
It was practically a self-regulating town. Caravan folks came in expect the Brahmin hide to be at top prices, but they didn’t mind none. Because it was of the best quality around the West.
Solmund also remembered his mother, her name was Daisy Elmer. She was a good person. She loved James very much. But Sol didn’t know much more about her, though, since she left when he was young. That was another thing that he remembered, the Desert Rangers. Those were the toughest, roughest sons of guns in the wasteland. They say that they chew nails and spit napalms. Sol saw a ranger did exactly just that. He was terrified of it.
But besides that stuff and a bit more from his childhood, nothing seemed to come through, especially recent events, a few years ago. That was where he lost his memory.
“Really?” Doc Mitchell said after listening, “hmm... son, it seems that you got a special condition, them folks call it selective memory loss.”
“Really? Does it damage the cerebral cortex or something?” Sol asked, Doc was surprised at his knowledge.
“Well... I’m not sure myself,” Doc assured, “But whatever it may be, I’m sure that your memories will come back eventually, proper rehab will do some good.”
“Here,” Doc handed back Sol’s clothes, “I kept them cleaned for yer while you were out cold. I apologize though, one of your stuff fell out while I was hanging it out back. It was a courier’s orders or something. I didn’t read through though.”
“It’s alright Doc, I won’t be needing the order anyway,” said Sol as he grabbed his belongings, “Thank you so much for everything.”
He didn’t have much on him when he came here. Nothing but a black cowboy hat, a pair of shades, his clothes and of course, his ranger duster and his Ranger Sequoia. He remembered these, got these a while back. Another thing Sol recalled. Maybe getting his memories back won’t be so difficult.
“If you don’t mind me asking,” Doc Mitchell said, “are you a ranger?”
Solmund was about to give a simple answer. But that got him thinking. Was he really with the Desert Rangers? He thought he found a sense of camaraderie while he was with the Rangers. There were a lot of ghouls, so many knew what it was like to be a cranky old man with problems in their knees. They had a mutual respect for one another. But now they’re with the NCR, the New California Republic. A faction that...
“No... I’m not a ranger, I used to be, when I was a wee lad, I joined the army, served a few years, they said that they moved me up ranks, making me just one step below full ranger in just under a few years of training... never really went out any official ranger mission, though. Although I kept the Sequoia and the duster they gave me. It reminded me of Baja...”
Doc smiled, “well, that’s great... I mean, I’ve never seen a ranger up close before.”
“Yeah... thanks again Doc.”
“Sure thing, be sure to check on Trudy, she’s going to help you out. Oh, and the robot cowboy, he knows what happened.”