"The Father in the Cave"
24 of them, half boys, half girls. Youngest is 8 maybe, oldest 13-14. Dirty and scrawny, been on foot a long time.”— From Randall's diary, referring to the first members of the Sorrows.
Randall Dean Clark (known as "The Father in the Cave" by the Sorrows tribe) was a survivalist and former soldier inhabiting Zion National Park after the Great War of 2077. Through notes that Clark left on computer terminals throughout Zion and in his duffle bag, a sort of autobiography unfolds, beginning with the war and the loss of his family to the bombs. Clark's tale details how he waited out the worst of the radiation, then set out into the light once more, adapting to the new flora and fauna as it, too, adapted to this new world. It mentions him helping others survive, as well as raining vengeance on those who would butcher innocents. It shows him becoming "The Father", his life ending with the rebirth of a group of children into the Sorrows tribe and Clark unwittingly immortalized as their deity.
Randall Dean Clark (born February 5, 2053) was an American soldier prior to the Great War. He served in Canada during its annexation, describing the experience not as frightening, but "just sickening, the criminality of it". He had a wife and son in Salt Lake City, both of whom were killed when the city was destroyed in the war. When the bombs fell, Clark was driving home from one of his frequent solitary hiking trips in the wild. Guilt over the fact that he did not die with his family would haunt him for years to come.
A first indication of Clark's unsentimental practicality and ability to choose the best course of action in the face of grim realities was shown in his mercy killing of an old couple who had been blinded by the flash of the nuclear attack. His truck rendered useless by the EMP blast associated with the bombs' detonation, Clark hiked back to Zion and took shelter in a cave. Fortunately for him, the cave in question was a USGS research site that the associated scientific team hastily abandoned after the bombs fell, probably trying to get back to their families. The abandoned food stores left by the team proved invaluable to Clark, as the radiation levels outside forced him to remain in the cave for several months. The duration surprised him, as the Army had told him that nuclear fallout took only 2–4 weeks to clear.
Once it was safe to go outside, Clark was astounded by the new life forms that had developed, not the least with his sightings of other humans in Zion. His first encounter with a group of feral ghouls left him questioning his own sanity for a time. In his observations of a group of Spanish speaking refugees, having initially been skeptical of these new inhabitants, he ended up feeling compassion when one of the men broke his leg. Clark secretly called for help and left medicine. He tried to intervene directly when a Vault 22 expedition, escaping their mutagen infected Vault, established a camp in Zion and killed most of the refugees. Clark, unable to save the captives from their fates at the hand of the Vault 22 dwellers, eventually drove off the intruders using traps, explosives, and his own rifle from the War, along with a recovered set of Desert Ranger combat armor. A holotape that the player can find in a duffle bag at the Vault 22 dwellers' guard camp, entitled BEWARE - A VENGEFUL SPIRIT STALKS THESE CANYONS, indicates that by the time the Vault 22 refugees finally fled Zion, there were only 34 of them left alive out of an original 118. The holotape also claims that they had to defend themselves from the local tribals, but it mentions nothing of cannibalism or starting the assault on the tribals. Most of the rest had been killed by Clark, to whom the Vault 22 refugees had begun to attribute supernatural powers.
Clark's computer journals detail his memories of his first family, as well as his developing relationship with Sylvie, a vault dweller from the Vault 22 expedition, who was caught in one of Clark's bear traps when escaping from the infection. Over time, Clark and Sylvie became romantically attached and Sylvie became pregnant. Tragically, his new son, Michael, died as the result of a breech delivery, and Sylvie, who had been "put out" with chems, never woke up. Clark's new-found reason for living was once again shattered. The loss of a second family drove him to regularly contemplate suicide, but he never found the courage to go through with it.
It would appear Randall suffered from survivor's guilt, a mental condition where a person perceives himself or herself to have committed an injustice by undeservedly surviving a traumatic event that others have not survived. In Randall's case, he initially blamed himself for surviving the Great War while his first wife and son, Charlotte and Alex, did not, and later felt guilt for not saving Sylvie or Michael, though he had no training in obstetrics and had prepared as well as he could. This hypothesis is further reinforced by the aid he provided to the group of child survivors he encountered near the end of his life, as many victims divert their survivor guilt into helping others deal with traumatic situations.
Eventually he acknowledges humanity's "blind drive onward," becoming a godlike figure to a new group of children who enter the valley, the ancestors of the Sorrows tribe the player interacts with during the game. He remains unseen to this group, but leaves them notes and other messages preaching the value of kindness and mutual care. He assists them materially as much as he can, passing weapons manuals, medical books, and practical supplies on to them, always remaining concealed. In late 2123 he develops a terminal lung disease, which he assumed was cancer. Reluctant to shatter the illusions of the children by revealing himself, alive or dead, as merely a battered old man, he leaves them his last messages, personalized for each of the child survivors, assuring them that although he will be silent in the future, he will be "still watching and still caring." On January 23rd, 2124, realizing his end is near and having decided that he doesn't want another birthday, he climbs up The Red Gate to a place where the children will be unlikely to find his corpse and allows himself to die of exposure, looking up into the sky during his final moments. He died 13 days before his 71st birthday, surviving 47 years after the Great War.
In his last account, he attributes his long years of survival as a result of him not wanting to let his loved ones go. Their memories in his mind are the best and "only life" he could have provided them with. He concludes that, at the end of his life, the children, and the innocence that they represented, were "a gift" after all the troubles he endured in Zion, and bids farewell to the place one last time.
Behind the scenesEdit
- "The Father in the Cave" is inspired by "The Old Man in the Cave", an episode of The Twilight Zone where a computer known as the "old man in the cave" helps a small community survive by giving specific instructions on survival to a representative of sorts of the town.
- The Survivalist was designed by J.E. Sawyer, and his diary entries were written by John Gonzalez. He was conceived as a clever ex-military man without a lot of formal education.
- The name Randall Clark may be be an allusion to a similarly named character within Stephen King's novel The Stand, a post-apocalyptic novel also based around various states in the Midwest and Las Vegas, Nevada. Ironically, "Randall Flagg" in King's novel is a supernatural avatar of chaos and the central antagonist, juxtaposing The Survivalist's legacy as a guardian spirit. In the expanded version of the books epilogue he is implied to begin corrupting the tribals who discover him having escaped an atomic explosion, which is exactly the opposite effect of The Survivalist's efforts to care for and protect the people who never learn who he is, Randall himself discussing escaping nuclear destruction at the beginning of his story.